There is not much movement at the top of the Week 12 NFL power rankings, as the top nine teams remain exactly the same from last week.
1. New England Patriots (9-1) | Last week: 1
The Patriots were able to get out of Lincoln Financial Field with a narrow victory against the Eagles to improve to 9-1 and keep control of the top seed in the AFC. Now, New England gets left tackle Isaiah Wynn back, which should give the entire offense a needed boost; Wynn will create more time and comfort for Tom Brady in the pocket while opening up more rushing lanes for Sony Michel and company. Brady is clearly not happy with the performance of the offense to this point, but I think they’ll start clicking ahead of the postseason—and it would certainly help if Antonio Brown is added back to the team, which I won’t be surprised by (if AB is cleared by the NFL) after his apology to Robert Kraft on social media yesterday.
2. Baltimore Ravens (8-2) | Last week: 2
With 203.8 rushing yards per game (by far the most in the NFL), a league-leading 34.1 points per game, and just 19.6 points allowed per game (sixth in the NFL), the Ravens are almost dominating like they are a powerhouse college program playing teams that can’t match up most weeks. MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson had yet another sensational all-around performance against the Texans, but it was the defense that was arguably even more impressive in the Week 11 win. Baltimore’s secondary shut down Houston, giving Deshaun Watson limited options when he did have time to avoid the pass rush.
3. Seattle Seahawks (8-2) | Last week: 3
The Seahawks are coming off their late Week 11 bye, and the extra rest should have given No. 1 receiver Tyler Lockett time to heal up after his concerning leg injury had him in the hospital after Seattle’s last game. Given their primetime success, Seattle is probably angry about the NFL moving their primetime start to a 1:00 PM ET kickoff at Philadelphia, but Pete Carroll’s team is successful off the bye and has had success against the Eagles in the past.
4. Green Bay Packers (8-2) | Last week: 4
Green Bay also had a Week 11 bye, and they were flexed into a primetime slot as they take on the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Aaron Rodgers is probably craving this opportunity to face a California team (one that passed on him at the top of the draft back in 2005) with control of a top seed in the NFC at stake, and we’ll see if the Packers defense is able to get back on track and play more consistently after some recent struggles before the bye.
5. New Orleans Saints (8-2) | Last week: 5
Week 11 was a promising bounce-back effort for the Saints after falling to the Falcons at home in Week 10, as New Orleans jumped out to an early lead at Tampa Bay and played well all afternoon. The defense forced four Jameis Winston interceptions including a pick-six, and the Saints scored a touchdown in every quarter of their eighth victory of the season. The Saints can essentially lock up the NFC South (they’d be four games up with five games to play) with a win versus the Panthers this Sunday.
6. San Francisco 49ers (9-1) | Last week: 6
He had a couple of interceptions, but overall, Jimmy Garoppolo was superb against the Cardinals this season, with eight total touchdowns in two games, including the game-winning score to Jeff Wilson Jr. on Sunday. Ahead of about the toughest stretch imaginable this late in the season (three consecutive matchups against teams currently 8-2), the Niners must get their rushing attack led by Tevin Coleman going—it’ll help if All-Pro tight end George Kittle, who is an excellent blocker, can return to the lineup after missing the previous two games.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) | Last week: 7
Kansas City’s defense was able to make some key plays, forcing four Philip Rivers interceptions in their 24-17 Monday win in Mexico City. Defensive end Frank Clark probably isn’t having quite the season the Chiefs expected when paying a big price to acquire him in the offseason, but he was a huge difference-maker against the Chargers. The bye week comes at the right time for the offense, as Tyreek Hill (hamstring) and Damien Williams (rib) are dealing with injuries that knocked them out of the Monday night game, and the offense was again not really close to where it was last year. Andy Reid might get things cooked up during the time off, and don’t be surprised if the Chiefs start rolling after the bye.
8. Minnesota Vikings (8-3) | Last week: 8
The Vikings were trailing 20-0 at halftime against the Broncos, and it looked like they were going to get upset at home to start a potential second-half collapse in a crowded NFC playoff picture. But Kirk Cousins was fantastic in the final 30 minutes in a game Dalvin Cook and the run game couldn’t get much going, and the veteran quarterback has now tossed 21 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions this season. After the primetime win at Dallas and the comeback win versus Denver, perhaps Cousins has gotten over the hump and will play consistently well when his team needs him—whatever his mindset is right now, it’s working for him after it looked like he was pressing to prove the contract right for much of last year and early this year.
9. Buffalo Bills (7-3) | Last week: 9
Josh Allen was exceptional against the Dolphins, and the connection with John Brown (nine receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns) was really working for the Bills as they improved to 7-3. The progression of Allen isn’t getting the headlines of other young quarterbacks, but the Wyoming product has not thrown an interception in five games, and he’s a legitimate problem for defenses. On defense, I’d like to see Sean McDermott’s group have a shutdown outing this Sunday against the Broncos, as Buffalo will be in great shape if they can get to 8-3 heading into Thanksgiving.
10. Oakland Raiders (6-4) | Last week: 11 (+1)
I don’t know if it’s because they are a non-Los Angeles West Coast team or because some of the media insisted Jon Gruden didn’t know what he was doing in his return to the field as a “dinosaur,” but the Raiders are not getting much recognition for their amazing draft class. Rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby recorded four sacks for Oakland in their win over Cincinnati, and the highly-criticized moves the team made under Gruden last year look like they are going to work out in a big way.
11. Los Angeles Rams (6-4) | Last week: 13 (+2)
The revamped Rams offensive line held up well against the Bears, and Sean McVay clearly wanted to get Todd Gurley going with a season-high 28 touches as LA remains in the playoff mix behind the eight-win teams in the NFC’s wild-card spots. If the Rams are able to beat the Ravens on Monday night, it could be a huge momentum-builder heading into the final five weeks of the season—and it would put the team just one game back of a playoff spot barring a tie in the Packers-49ers game. Look for the Rams to get their play-action passing game going with the running game getting more respect and Brandin Cooks returning to the lineup.
12. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) | Last week: 14 (+2)
The Colts had an emphatic bounce-back from two consecutive losses, with a 20-point victory against the Jaguars to get back into first place in the AFC South. Now on a short week, Indy will go on the road to face a Texans team they already beat a month ago, and it would be huge to get the tiebreaker over at least one team in a tight division. Hopefully star receiver T.Y. Hilton, who has owned the Texans throughout his career, can suit up for the Colts.
13. Houston Texans (6-4) | Last week: 10 (-3)
It doesn’t get much uglier than the Texans’ 41-7 loss to the Ravens, and it was disappointing that one of the most highly anticipated games of the year did not come close to living up to expectations. Nothing went right for Houston, but they’ll immediately have an opportunity to put the loss behind them when they play tomorrow night against the Colts. Deshaun Watson in particular should have a major bounce back effort as a top primetime performer.
14. Dallas Cowboys (6-4) | Last week: 16 (+2)
The defense of the Cowboys has looked like a problem in the past two weeks, but it’ll be a promising sign if they are able to go into Foxboro and stop the Patriots offense this Sunday (despite New England’s struggles offensively, the matchup will be a big test). The franchise tag is likely coming barring a long-term extension, but Dak Prescott is obviously making a lot of money while playing out the final year of his rookie contract; Dak has three 400-yard games this season (and he had a 397-yard game against the Vikings in Week 10). We’ll see how he fares against Bill Belichick’s defense this week.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) | Last week: 15
After giving up 37 and 38 points in back-to-back weeks last month, the Eagles defense has stepped up to limit the Bills (13 points), Bears (14 points), and Patriots (17 points) in their last three games, with really strong stretches of play in those games. A healthier cornerback group has played much better than earlier in the season, but it’s the pass rush getting pressure that’s keyed this stretch of play. Offensively, the team needs the physical presence of Jordan Howard at running back, so hopefully he’s able to return after missing last week with a stinger.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) | Last week: 12 (-4)
Mason Rudolph did not play as poorly as the numbers indicate last Thursday, as he did give his receivers opportunities to make plays, but they just didn’t make them; also, losing JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner early in the game, and then Diontae Johnson later, was big blow to the offense. The biggest disappointment was the play of the defense, but they were on the road on a short week and will look to bounce back against a rookie quarterback this Sunday. It was good to see Maurkice Pouncey stand up for his quarterback after the terrible actions at the end of the game, and his three-game suspension should be reduced.
17. Tennessee Titans (5-5) | Last week: 21 (+4)
The bye week allowed star running back Derrick Henry to rest up for a heavy workload down the stretch as the Titans look to make a push for the AFC South crown. With a solid defense and Henry facing worn-down defenses in the cold weather, Tennessee can be a scary team.
18. Carolina Panthers (5-5) | Last week: 17 (-1)
The Panthers have had some ugly losses over the last couple of years, and their playoff chances took a big hit with their loss to the Falcons last Sunday. Kyle Allen will look to bounce back again, as he did earlier this season after Carolina was routed by the 49ers, but it won’t be easy playing in the Superdome. Christian McCaffrey became the first player in league history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the first ten games of a season, and he’s just having an absurd year to help keep the Panthers in the mix.
19. Cleveland Browns (4-6) | Last week: 27 (+8)
It’s really a shame that the play of the Browns in last Thursday’s win over the Steelers was overshadowed by the events at the end of the game. A confident Baker Mayfield had perhaps his best showing of the season, and the defense played with a lot of energy. But the actions of Myles Garrett have to be strongly associated with any talk about the Browns this week. Any excuses for Garrett’s actions—swinging a helmet as a weapon at someone’s head, which could have caused serious damage or killed them—are just plain stupid. There is no place for that anywhere, let alone a football field where it’s supposed to be an NFL fraternity at the end of the day. The indefinite suspension is more than justified, and I don’t think it would be outrageous for Garrett to be kicked out of the league while also considering his other dirty actions throughout the season.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6) | Last week: 20
Following the bye, the return of Nick Foles to the lineup for the first time since the season opener led to a ton of optimism in Jacksonville, but the Jaguars simply did not play well against the Colts. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone says that it was on him that Leonard Fournette only received eight carries in the loss, and I expect the Jags will get back to more of a balanced approach where Foles can do serious damage on play-action passes. But the biggest area of concern is the run defense; it must get better ahead of this week’s showdown with Derrick Henry.
21. Chicago Bears (4-6) | Last week: 19 (-2)
For all the talk about how the Raiders were foolish to trade Khalil Mack, the outside linebacker has not made a huge impact in some key games this season. Mack draws double teams, but there were one-on-one situations against the Rams where he was taking surprisingly odd and long routes to the quarterback, not getting close before Jared Goff would release the ball. Chicago’s playoff hopes are slim right now, but this is a crucial stretch for them either way, as Mitchell Trubisky needs to stay healthy and get more experience in Matt Nagy’s offense. Maybe the talk Nagy gave Trubisky at the end of the Week 11 loss before pulling him because of a hip pointer will give a spark to the former No. 2 pick.
22. Atlanta Falcons (3-7) | Last week: 23 (+1)
If we were starting the season fresh and re-ranking the teams based on how they are playing right now, the Falcons would easily be in the top ten (which bodes well for an entertaining Thanksgiving Night matchup against the Saints). Of course, that’s not how this works—but it’s still good to see the team respond to on-the-hot-seat head coach Dan Quinn since the bye week. Atlanta’s defense is making a ton of plays, and they’ll look to keep it going against Jameis Winston this weekend. Matt Ryan reached the top-ten in NFL history for career pass yards as he continues one of the most underrated careers ever.
23. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7) | Last week: 18 (-5)
This season especially, it seems that Chargers games (particularly games that most fans are tuned in to) are ending the same way, where it looks like they have a chance to win at the end before falling short. After his spectacular catch at the end of the Monday night loss, I’d like to see Mike Williams get more opportunities down the field, as he has zero touchdowns this year after scoring 11 total touchdowns in 2018—that’s been one of the most surprising developments of this season. LA likely needs five consecutive wins to have any chance at the postseason, but they’ll now have their bye week to regroup.
24. Detroit Lions (3-6-1) | Last week: 22 (-2)
Jeff Driskel scrambled around and made plays to keep the Lions close against the Cowboys, but Matt Patricia’s defense was the issue in the loss. The unit did a good job of limiting Ezekiel Elliott and Dallas’ rushing attack, as well as not allowing Amari Cooper to do a ton of damage, but the pass rush and secondary did not play well overall. Injuries have obviously been an issue for Detroit, but they desperately need a victory at Washington this Sunday.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) | Last week: 24 (-1)
All four interceptions were not on him, but Jameis Winston’s continued issues with turnovers have continued under “quarterback whisperer” Bruce Arians. The former No. 1 overall pick has already matched a career-high with 18 interceptions, and he makes multiple “what are you doing?” decisions nearly every single week. They were behind early, but running the ball a franchise-low eight times with a turnover-prone quarterback is an issue. Tampa Bay’s secondary is likely to have trouble containing Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley this Sunday.
26. Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1) | Last week: 25 (-1)
Kyler Murray has said he is not used to losing—but Arizona’s struggles this season have certainly not been on the rookie quarterback. Murray is avoiding mistakes and making a number of “wow” plays, both with his accurate arm and dynamic legs; it’s not going to be much fun for the Niners trying to contain him over the years. Defensively, the unit is playing with a lot of energy and is in a much better spot than last year (thanks in part to some additions like linebacker Jordan Hicks), but the blitz leading to the game-winning score for the Niners was a crushing blow end to an entertaining game.
27. Denver Broncos (3-7) | Last week: 26 (-1)
It was a great sign that Vic Fangio was able to get his team to come out fired up and playing extremely well coming off the bye, but they appeared to run out of gas in the second half of their road loss to Minnesota. The defense had some lapses in coverage and gave up too many big plays in the second half, but the first 30 minutes was a promising sign as Fangio looks to build his defense. Also, while he couldn’t quite come down with a tough catch on a potential game-winning touchdown, it’s good to see rookie tight end Noah Fant getting heavily involved in Denver’s offense to start his career.
28. Miami Dolphins (2-8) | Last week: 28
The Dolphins were unable to stretch their winning streak to three games, as they had some trouble containing Josh Allen and John Brown. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores did say that Allen would be a tough matchup for the defense, and I think the unit might be slightly overmatched by talents like Allen at the quarterback position. We’ll see how Miami plays against a talented Cleveland offense this week.
29. New York Jets (3-7) | Last week: 29
After it was made known that Adam Gase would definitely be returning as the Jets’ coach in 2019 (as should be the case), it’s a very good sign that the team responded with an all-around effort in their rout of another struggling team (the Redskins). I think the Jets players are fully bought into the coaching staff led by Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and the roster just needs to add more beef this offseason before they can compete for a playoff spot.
30. New York Giants (2-8) | Last week: 30
Pat Shurmur is in his second season as the Giants head coach, but he should also be given more time to build his program with a young quarterback. Coming off the bye, hopefully the Giants were able to shore up things on the offensive line so that they can run the ball with Saquon Barkley more and protect Daniel Jones better.
31. Washington Redskins (1-9) | Last week: 31
Not much is going well for the Redskins this year, but at least second-year running back Derrius Guice was able to return to the field and make a big play after spending most of the season on injured reserve. It does not appear to be a positive sign that the Redskins offensive lineman were apparently unresponsive to rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ pep talk, and there’s a lot for Washington to figure out moving forward.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-10) | Last week: 32
This is obviously a trying season for the Bengals at 0-10, but at least the team did play hard in their close loss at Oakland in Week 11. Also, Cincinnati was finally able to get on the board with their first rushing touchdown of the season, which is pretty amazing (not in a good way). This Sunday against the Steelers will be a major challenge for rookie quarterback Ryan Finley.