The NFL is now headed into the last quarter of the season and many playoff contenders are facing major injury concerns. On the top of that list are the Houston Texans, who have a long list of injuries despite being tied for the best record in the AFC.
The team has been without All-Pro defensive end Mario Williams for the past two months after putting him on the injured reserve with a torn pectoral (ouch). If that wasn't a big enough hit, the team was forced to put QB Matt Schaub and back-up QB Matt Leinart on injured reserve as well the past couple weeks. They have also been without Pro Bowlers RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson for stretches this season as well. It's tough to be a Texan right now.
The Texans are definitely not the only team struggling with injuries. The Bears lost starting QB Jay Cutler for the season, the Raiders have been without RB Darren McFadden since he hurt his foot on October 23, and the Lions won't have RB Jahvid Best for the rest of the season due to a concussion. I guess it's just that time of year, when every team is dealing with injuries, some more than others.
Here are the NFL Game Power Rankings for Week 13:
1. New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers
Average Ticket Price: $207.30
The Packers head into this game still undefeated, but they will face a team with plenty of experience knocking off undefeated teams. As you may remember, it was the Giants that ended the New England Patriots’ undefeated run in 2007 in Super Bowl XLII (as a Pats fan, I've been trying to forget). This game doesn't have the same implications, but you can bet the Giants will be fired up.
2. New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts
Average Ticket Price: $204.33
Speaking of the Patriots, they welcome a version of their rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, to Foxboro this Sunday. This version is without QB Peyton Manning and still without a win this season. As long as the Patriots don't fall asleep on the field, they should win this one easily.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Average Ticket Price: $170.64
The Cincinnati Bengals have been one of the best stories of the season, and now is the time for them to start showing whether they are truly a contender or just a pretender. If the Bengals are able to win this weekend, they will tie the Steelers in the standings and double the number of wins they had all of last year.
4. Chicago Bears vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Average Ticket Price: $157.84
If the starting quarterbacks for both teams weren't out, this would be a great game. Unfortunately, Bears QB Jay Cutler has a broken thumb and isn't sure he'll be back this season, while Chiefs QB Matt Cassel is definitely out for the remainder of the season with a hand injury of his own. So it will be a match-up of Caleb Hanie vs. Tyler Palko. Never heard of them? That's ok; neither have any of their teammates.
5. New Orleans Saints vs. Detroit Lions
Average Ticket Price: $147.03
Drew Brees reminded everyone last Monday why he still needs to be mentioned as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL after throwing for 4 TDs and running for another against the Giants. If stopping Brees wasn't hard enough, the Lions will be without All-Pro DT Ndamukong Suh, who decided to kick a Green Bay Packers player last week, resulting in a two-game suspension.
6. Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys
Average Ticket Price: $133.87
The Cowboys are finally looking like the team people have been predicting the past couple seasons, reeling off four wins in a row and taking over sole possession of first place of the NFC East. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have not played well this season and are all but eliminated from playoff contention.
7. Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Average Ticket Price: $106.47
Before the season started, few would have thought the Seahawks and Eagles would have the same record going into Week 13. At 4-7, both teams are out of the playoff hunt and are now playing for pride the rest of the year.
8. Houston Texans vs. Atlanta Falcons
Average Ticket Price: $104.11
Oh poor Texans, they just can't catch a break. The team is 8-3 and bound for the franchise's first playoff appearance, but season-ending injuries to starting QB Matt Schaub and back-up Matt Leinart have them down to their third string QB T.J. Yates. They will have to rely heavily on running back Arian Foster for the rest of 2011.
9. Washington Redskins vs. New York Jets
Average Ticket Price: $89.58
Prior to last week's game vs. the Bills, New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said the team needs to win the last six games of their season for a shot at the playoffs. They barely got the job done last week, but things may be easier this week against the struggling Redskins, who lost six straight before beating the Seahawks last week.
10. Minnesota Vikings vs. Denver Broncos
Average Ticket Price: $79.15
For those who are counting, Tim Tebow is now 5-1 as a starter this year and has infected the entire football world with Tebow fever. The young QB should thank the Broncos defense for helping to win those games, as they have only allowed an average of 15 points per game in the last four games.
11. Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders
Average Ticket Price: $67.73
Tim Tebow may be the talk of the AFC West, but it’s the Raiders that lead the division at 7-4. After struggling in his first two starts, QB Carson Palmer has won three straight games and is now 3-2 since taking over for the injured Jason Campbell. The Raiders will need to win games against bad teams like the Dolphins if they want to fend off the Broncos.
12. San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
Average Ticket Price: $66.02
The 49ers lost only their second game of the season last week, but they should be able to quickly rebound against the hapless Rams. No team has scored fewer points this season than the Rams, while no team has allowed fewer than the Niners. This may be an even bigger mismatch than the Colts-Patriots game.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. San Diego Chargers
Average Ticket Price: $60.78
Has any team been more disappointing than the San Diego Chargers? The team started out 4-1 and looked like the team everyone always thought they could be. But since then, they have lost six in a row and are now in last place in the AFC West. If they lose this week, we will start seeing major changes in San Diego, probably sooner rather than later.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers
Average Ticket Price: $60.45
Panthers QB Cam Newton quickly made a name for himself as one of the most dynamic young players in the NFL during the early season, but in the last few weeks he has started to come back to earth. In his last three games, Newton has thrown only one touchdown, while throwing five interceptions.
15. Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Average Ticket Price: $60.44
Ever since the original Browns left Cleveland to become the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, the city has wanted a winning team. Well, this isn't the year. The Browns have struggled in nearly every game while winning only four games. In those games, the Browns have only won by a combined 16 points.
16. Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans
Average Ticket Price: $54.80
Oh, how quickly the Bills have fallen. After starting 5-2, Buffalo has lost four straight games and is all but out of playoff contention. The Titans, on the other hand, still have a very real shot, and a win against the Bills could draw them one game closer to the AFC South-leading Texans.
Come back next Thursday for the Week 14 rankings!
Rankings are based on the average price of tickets sold on the TicketNetwork Exchange as of 11/30/2011 at 12 p.m. EST.