Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Week 14 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: December 8, 2013 - 8:27 AM

What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Seahawks (11-1)
Why:
Time for a math test. What do you get when add up the league’s No. 1 pass defense, a top-3 running game, a top-3 passer rating and the second-best turnover ratio? Answer: The best team in the league and soon-to-be No. 1 seed in the NFC.

THE REST

2. Patriots (9-3); 3. Broncos (10-2); 4. Panthers (9-3); 5. 49ers (8-4); 6. Saints (9-3); 7. Eagles (7-5); 8. Bengals (8-4); 9. Lions (7-5); 10. Chiefs (9-3); 11. Cardinals (7-5); 12. Colts (8-4); 13. Dolphins (6-6); 14. Ravens (6-6); 15. Cowboys (7-5); 16. Giants (5-7); 17. Chargers (5-7); 18. Rams (5-7); 19. Jaguars (4-9); 20. Steelers (5-7); 21. Titans (5-7); 22. Raiders (4-8).

THE VIKINGS
23. Vikings 3-8-1 (Last week: 28):
Adrian Peterson is on pace for 1,611 yards rushing. He has 3,305 yards in his past 28 games, an average of 118 per game. The Vikings’ record in those 28 games: 13-14-1. That’s how important it is for the Vikings to find some consistent composure at the quarterback position.

THE REST

24. Bears (6-6); 25. Jets (5-7); 26. Packers (5-6-1); 27. Falcons (3-9); 28. Buccaneers (3-9); 29. Redskins (3-9); 30. Bills (4-8); 31. Browns (4-8)

WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Texans (2-11):
Cleveland temporarily wrestled this spot away from Houston when it lost at home to the Jaguars last Sunday. But the Texans really stepped up by falling for the 11th straight game at Jacksonville on Thursday. Last Dec. 23, then-Texans coach Gary Kubiak was 12-2 heading into that day’s home game against the Vikings. His next 17 games: 3-14, including a loss to the Vikings. Kubiak’s slide ended with his firing on Friday.

THE PICKS

VIKINGS
Vikings plus-6 ½ at Ravens. The pick: Ravens 34, Vikings 24.

When you’re old enough to remember Bud Grant coaching pre-1985, it always feels strange saying the Vikings are at a disadvantage outdoors in cold weather. The Ravens aren’t the team that won last season’s Super Bowl. But they’re very good at home and they’re in the playoff chase.

Last week: Bears plus-1 at Vikings: The pick: Vikings 28, Bears 17. The final: Vikings 23, Bears 20 OT. Record: 7-4-1, 6-6 vs. the spread.

UPSET SPECIAL
Chiefs minus-3 at Redskins. The pick: Redskins 28, Chiefs 23.
Why?:
Kansas City’s 9-0 start has become a confidence-shaking 0-3 slide. The collars are probably getting a little snug in K.C.

Last week: Saints plus-4 ½ at Seahawks: The pick: Saints 38, Seahawks 35. The final: Seahawks 34, Saints 7. Record: 4-9.

THE REST
Browns plus-11 ½ at Patriots: Patriots by 7.
Raiders plus-2 ½ at Jets: Jets by 3.
Colts plus-6 ½ at Bengals: Bengals by 7.
Panthers plus-3 at Saints: Saints by 7.
Lions plus-2 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 7.
Dolphins plus-3 at Steelers: Steelers by 6.
Bills plus-2 ½ at Buccaneers: Buccaneers by 3.
Titans plus-12 at Broncos: Broncos by 14.
Rams plus-6 ½ at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3.
Giants plus-3 at Chargers: Chargers by 7.
Seahawks plus-2 ½ at 49ers: 49ers by 3.
Falcons plus-3 at Packers: Packers by 7.
Cowboys pick at Bears: Cowboys by 7.

Record: Last week: 8-5; 6-7 vs. the spread. Overall: 101-76-1; 79-94-4 vs. the spread.

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Toronto - LP: A. Loup 4 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: J. Outman 6
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1 FINAL
Detroit - WP: R. Porcello 2
Atlanta - LP: G. Schlosser 3 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. Valverde 4
Seattle - LP: T. Wilhelmsen 2 FINAL
Miami - WP: M. Dunn 3
St. Louis - LP: S. Maness 2 FINAL
Washington - WP: R. Soriano 3
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Gomez 2
NY Yankees - WP: P. Claiborne 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: H. Bell 1
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: Y. Ventura 3
Cincinnati - WP: H. Bailey 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva 2
Chicago WSox - WP: E. Johnson 16 FINAL
Texas - LP: R. Ross Jr. 2
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Chavez 4
Philadelphia - WP: J. Diekman 10 FINAL
Colorado - LP: M. Belisle 9
San Francisco - WP: T. Lincecum 4 FINAL
San Diego - LP: R. Erlin 3
Arizona - LP: J. Collmenter 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: J. Wright 4
Baltimore 4 Bottom 5th Inning
Boston 0
Dallas 85 FINAL
San Antonio 90
Charlotte 88 FINAL
Miami 99
Washington 63 3rd Qtr 5:12
Chicago 69
Portland 8:30 PM
Houston
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Detroit 1 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd 4:22
Montreal 1
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
San Jose
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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Poll: Which quarterback is best in the NFL draft?

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