Power Rankings: Tigres grab top spot from Santos, Puebla's free fall continues
MEXICO CITY - The difference between regular season and playoff matches is always highlighted when describing the volatile nature of Liga MX.
Despite the inherent value of doing well during the first 17 games, it can all come crashing down once the postseason rolls around. Thus, a team's position in the league table can differ from their actual chances of winning the league.
This is precisely the criteria used to determine our Power Rankings, where Toluca leads the league table but frankly is not yet fancied to win the league with other teams such as Tigres and Club America nipping at their heels.
How can the 10-time champions prove doubters wrong? It will not be by racking up more points in the regular season, unfortunately. Here are the Power Rankings for Week 13:
1. TIGRES UANL (+2)
When Tigres hit their stride, they are the scariest team in Mexico due to the quality of their players and the effectiveness they have shown once reaching the playoffs. Once again, Ricardo Ferretti has geared his players up for the back end of the tournament, and the 4-1 rout of Leon on Saturday proves they are near unstoppable when they find their groove.
2. TOLUCA (no change)
It was an all-Quinones affair in Puebla, with Julian Quinones scoring for Lobos BUAP and Luis Quinones notching a brace for Toluca in their 2-1 win. The losers dominated possession at home (66 percent), while Hernan Cristante's team deftly sat back and countered for most of the match. It was a great result for Toluca considering they had less of the ball, less shots on goal and almost twice the number of fouls as the hosts.
3. CLUB AMERICA (+1)
A great win for the 12-time champions at home against a tough rival. Cruz Azul went ahead early and looked determined to save their season with a result at the Estadio Azteca. However, Club America roared back with pretty goals from Mateus Uribe and Cecilio Dominguez. Next up, Club America will attempt to balance the latter stages of the CONCACAF Champions League and Liga MX with star playmaker Jeremy Menez out to injury.
4. SANTOS LAGUNA (-3)
Usually, a chance to beat up on the last-place team in your league when you're all the way up at the top is a great way to stamp your authority. Santos miffed the opportunity completely and embarrassingly dropped all three points in Guadalajara against Atlas.
5. MONTERREY (+1)
Two wins in a row for Monterrey mean the sins of their earlier slump have been largely erased. The 2-1 win against Pachuca means Los Rayados are back in the driver's seat for a playoff spot. If they can keep this form up, they will be a tough out in the playoffs for any team.
6. MORELIA (-1)
At the Estadio Morelos, the hosts seemed overwhelmed that Chivas came out with the intent of dominating possession. By the time they reacted in the second half, they were down 2-0 from Rodolfo Pizarro's brace. Morelia have talent, and were close to salvaging a draw, but in the end, a home loss against one of the league's bottom-dwellers is a tough pill to swallow.
7. CLUB TIJUANA (no change)
Facing off against a team battling to avoid relegation is never an easy task. Tijuana was unable to steel themselves into a result against Veracruz on Sunday, and the early goal from Veracruz's Miguel Murillo meant Xolos faced an uphill battle against a team defending itself nearly the entire match. They failed to equalize but stay put in this week's power rankings.
8. PUMAS UNAM (+1)
After an uneven start to the season, Pumas still have a golden opportunity to make the playoffs. A draw against Necaxa at home will go down as a missed opportunity to rack up a three-pointer, but Pumas showed promise at times during the match.
9. NECAXA (+1)
Luis Quintana's red card opened the door for Necaxa to react against Pumas. In a wild game with many opportunities for both teams, Martin Barragan was able to score and secure the draw for the visitors, who escaped with a big result.
10. PUEBLA (-2)
The free fall continues for Puebla after yet another loss. Queretaro was able to take advantage of a crestfallen rival and pulled together for a late victory via an 84th minute goal from Edson Puch, after the teams had traded early first-half goals. After their brilliant start, Puebla now have more losses than wins on the season.
11. PACHUCA (+1)
A loss at home is usually not the way to rise up in the Power Rankings, but Pachuca were unlucky against a tough, motivated rival. Carlos Sanchez's late goal was just enough for Monterrey to squeak past Los Tuzos and take all three points.
12. LEON (-1)
Leon paid the price of playing two youngsters in the middle of the pitch against one of the most dangerous offensive teams on the entire continent. The inexperience from Jorge Diaz and Jose Rodriguez meant Tigres cruised to a 4-0 lead at half-time. Thankfully, the visitors showed mercy in the second half and refused to widen the gap further.
13. CHIVAS (+1)
Matias Almeyda's team is coming alive at the key part of the season. The win against Morelia doesn't change too much when it comes to their league table standing, but the momentum could be more than enough to make a playoff run - they sit just two points off the last playoff spot.
14. QUERETARO (+1)
Los Gallos have been especially uneven this season, equally capable of dropping big games and looking completely lost, and pulling together to grab big wins. The latter was the case against Puebla, where they thrilled the crowd with their late winner from Edson Puch.
15. CRUZ AZUL (-2)
The loss at the Estadio Azteca means Cruz Azul is practically eliminated from playoff contention. What's even worse is Pedro Caixinha's team played very well in the second half. They were, however, unable to put the ball in the back of the net and fell to 2-1 to their Mexico City rivals.
16. VERACRUZ (no change)
Veracruz is not playing for the league, as we all know -- they're playing for salvation. Three big points against Tijuana is especially sweet considering Lobos BUAP dropped their match last weekend.
17. ATLAS (+1)
Though Atlas has more losses than anyone this tournament, a win against the former league leaders is a positive way to appease the fans after a second manager was fired this season.
18. LOBOS BUAP (-1)
After the six-point swing stemming from their loss and Veracruz's win, Rafa Puente's team is dangerously close to the bottom of the relegation table. Next week they face a Cruz Azul team desperately looking to save face amidst a horrid season.
Eric Gomez is an editor for ESPN's One Nación. You can follow him on Twitter: @EricGomez86.