Photo courtesy Bleacher Report
After taking the week off for Thanksgiving, our sports staff has reassembled for the latest version of the NFL power rankings following Week 12. There wasn’t much movement at the top or bottom of the rankings over the two weeks, but some upsets caused some tumult in the middle. The high riser in this edition is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Arizona Cardinals took a big tumble.
1. Dallas Cowboys (10-1) —
How bout them cowboys?! In prime time on Thanksgiving day the Cowboys showed why they are the best team in the league so far. 10 straight wins is nothing short of remarkable.
2. New England Patriots (9-2) +1
Tom Brady won his 200th game last Sunday, tying him with Peyton Manning for the most wins ever. The defense has been keeping opponents out the end zone as well, and with the awful offense the Rams have, that won’t likely change this week.
3. Oakland Raiders (9-2) +1
With their comeback win over the Panthers, the Raiders will have their first winning season since 2002. The last time they achieved that, they made it to the Super Bowl. Derek Carr is a legitimate MVP candidate.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) +1
In one of the wildest games of the season, the Chiefs pulled out a late overtime win in Denver. Tyreek Hill had a receiving, rushing and punt return touchdown to lead Kansas City, which needs a win at Atlanta this week to keep pace with the Raiders in the division race.
5. Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1) -3
Despite the setback against the Buccaneers, Seattle is still in the drivers seat for a first-round bye. However, the offense needs to figure itself out as they failed to score a touchdown again. Protecting Russell Wilson might be a good idea.
6. Denver Broncos (7-4) —
Without Peyton Manning under center, the Broncos have been good, maybe better than most expected them to be. They had a solid defense to rely on last season, and this season is no different. After their loss to the Chiefs, the Broncos will head to Jacksonville to face the struggling Jaguars on Sunday.
7. Atlanta Falcons (7-4) —
As the leading team in the NFC South, the Falcons will set their sights on the Chiefs Sunday, a team that is currently in 2nd place in their division. This will not be an easy win for Atlanta, however, if Matt Ryan can continue what he has been doing all season long, this will be and interesting match to watch.
8. New York Giants (8-3) —
The Giants are on a six-game winning streak, and they look to continue their midseason form against the 6-5 Steelers Sunday. If it wasn’t for the rebirth of the red-hot Cowboys, the Giants would have control of the NFC East, however, having the second-best record in the NFC isn’t too shabby.
9. Detroit Lions (7-4) +5
In a season of rebirths and turnarounds, the Lions find themselves in first place in their division. After their last-minute win against the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day, the Lions look to extend their three-game win streak against the 5-6 Saints on Sunday.
10. Washington Redskins (6-4-1) —
Kirk Cousins is letting his play do the talking. With 20 touchdowns to seven interceptions on the season, the quarterback is making a case for a fat paycheck once his contract is up. As they head to Arizona Sunday, the Skins look to bounce back from their Thanksgiving Day loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) —
Pittsburgh had many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, as they defeated an Andrew Luck-less Colts squad in Week 12. Currently tied for first place in the AFC North, the Steelers host the red hot New York Giants Sunday.
12. Buffalo Bills (6-5) +6
The injury-ridden Bills kept their playoff hopes alive with a victory over the struggling Jaguars. They could once again be without leading receiver Robert Woods in Week 13; expect a heavy workload for LeSean McCoy as they look to upset Oakland.
13. Baltimore Ravens (6-5) +4
Boasting one of the league’s best defenses, each one of the remaining five games matters for the Ravens in the race for the AFC North title. The road looks a little more challenging for Baltimore, as their remaining opponents have a combined record of 30-24-1.
14. Miami Dolphins (7-4) +5
Not surprising to anyone who follows the playoff picture, if the postseason began this weekend, the Miami Dolphins would be in. There are obviously still a few weeks remaining, but keep an eye on the fifth and sixth seeds in the AFC.
15. Green Bay Packers (5-6) +5
With a victory over the Eagles, the Packers kept their season alive in the highly contested NFC North. Green Bay can make up more ground with a win over the Texans Sunday, although Aaron Rodgers’ hamstring injury could be a factor.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) +10
Tampa Bay provided the upset of the week as it’s defense held Seattle without a touchdown Sunday. Mike Evans, who had two touchdown catches in Week 12, might be the hottest receiver in the NFL right now. He and Jameis Winston have the Buccaneers just one game out of the top spot in the NFC South.
17. Tennessee Titans (6-6) -1
The Titans continued their up and down ways as they followed up a loss to the Colts with a victory over Chicago in Week 12. Marcus Mariota seems to have the offense clicking and is beginning to look the part of professional signal caller. A bye week couldn’t come at a better time for Tennessee as several key players will be nursing injuries during the week off.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) -9
The Philadelphia defense surrendered 300 passing yards for the first time this season when Aaron Rodgers lit them up for 313 yards and two touchdowns in Week 12. The loss may have put the final nail in the coffin for any playoff hopes the Eagles were clinging to.
19. Minnesota Vikings (6-5) -7
The return of Adrian Peterson can’t come soon enough for the Vikings offense, which looked out of sync in their loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving. Minnesota had little success throwing the ball and virtually no run support as its dominant start to the season seems like a distant memory.
20. San Diego Chargers (5-6) +3
Philip Rivers threw for three touchdowns Sunday and the defense picked off Houston three times as the Chargers downed the Texans. The Chargers don’t look like a 5-6 team, but their inability to close out games this year has been their demise. San Diego will host Tampa Bay in Week 13 in a must-win game for both teams.
21. Houston Texans (6-5) -6
The Texans are clinging desperately to the division lead in the AFC South, but they’ll need better play from Brock Osweiler if they want to seal it. With the Titans idle this week, a loss to the Packers would put Houston in a tie for first place.
22. New Orleans Saints (5-6) —
Drew Brees’s season seems to be going largely under the radar. His MVP-caliber play has put the Saints right back into the NFC South race. If the Falcons want to win that division they’ll need to hold off an offense that is hitting on all cylinders in New Orleans.
23. Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1) -10
What a difference a year makes. The first of the two NFC title game teams comes into our rankings at 23. The offense that carried the Cardinals through the last season has gone dry. Carson Palmer’s age is showing and the receiving corps (minus Larry Fitzgerald, who’s been phenomenal) is M.I.A. If David Johnson isn’t doing it, it’s not getting done in Arizona’s offense.
24. Carolina Panthers (4-7) —
If Arizona’s season has been disappointing, Carolina’s has been crushing. Coming off a Super Bowl appearance, the Panthers’ playoff hopes are officially on life support. Carolina has been competitive since their disappointing start to the season, but they just left themselves too little room for error.
25. Indianapolis Colts (5-6) —
The Colts weren’t feeling very thankful on Thanksgiving with Scott Tolzien at quarterback. Tolzien threw two interceptions to his lone touchdown and 205 yards in a 28-7 loss to the Steelers. Andrew Luck will be back at quarterback after missing Week 12 with a concussion.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1) -5
Because a game can end on an offensive penalty, the Ravens didn’t have to punt to the Bengals at the end of their Week 12 matchup and risk a return, fumble or other miscue. Ravens punter Sam Koch held onto the ball while the offensive line held everyone in sight, then backed out the back of the end zone for safety and a 19-14 win. That pretty much sums up Cincinnati’s season.
27. Los Angeles Rams (4-7) —
Jared Goff showed some improvement in his second start with the Rams with 20-of-32 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns to one interception. However, the Ram defense leaked like a sieve and the Saints put up 49 points. The Rams remain bad.
28. New York Jets (3-8) —
The Jets led the Patriots until the final two minutes of their Week 12 matchup. However, turnover machine Ryan Fitzpatrick saved his single turnover of the game for his denouement with a fumble two plays into what would have been a game-winning drive. LeGarrette Blount ran for a first down and iced the game for the Patriots. The Jets look for redemption by hosting the Colts in Week 13.
29. Chicago Bears (2-9) —
Ouch, losing a game on a dropped pass. Kudos to the Bears for fighting hard against a solid Titans squad with Matt Barkley throwing for them. The Bears are underperforming, they aren’t talentless. Whatever quarterback they take with their first pick should have an okay time next year.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) —
Speaking of underperforming… Gus Bradley is all but fired, and Blake Bortles is on thin ice. He has amazing talent but his mechanics are just gross. The Jaguars would be smart to try and recruit Mike McCarthy, whose seat is hot in Green Bay.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-10) —
You know what’s been getting ignored in all the awfulness that’s been the 49ers season? Kaepernick’s play. He’s been looking more like his old self, and he was about five yards away from overtime. That defense is horrible.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-12) —
The good news for the Browns this week is there’s no way they can lose. It’s their bye week.
Reporting by: Ryan Willie, David Roura, Mark Wait, Devin Olsen, Kaleb Searle, Brad Curnow and Adam Cichoski.
I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, but I’ve always had an intense love of sports. I’m studying journalism in an attempt to turn my love into a career. I’m a huge Utah Jazz, Tennessee Titans, and San Jose Sharks fan. If it’s a sport, I’ll watch it.