The Week 12 NFL Power Rankings are as crazy and chaotic as ever. Last week’s power rankings saw plenty of movement, but I think this week might have it topped. As always, we’ll start at the bottom, which is still obvious as one team hasn’t even won a game yet. But, you’ll want to read to the end because the No. 1 team might surprise you (I know it surprised me)!
32. Detroit Lions (0-9-1)
Last Week: 32
I’m done giving the Lions credit for almost winning against good teams. You hear me? DONE!!! Sure, the Lions’ defense has been decent at times and has given them plenty of opportunities to get wins this season. But, that offense is just a dumpster fire. The last two weeks the Lions’ offense has had multiple golden opportunities to put games away and they’ve squandered it. This isn’t even fun anymore. This team is just sad in every sense of the word. Once again, they’re at the bottom of the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.
31. New York Jets (2-8)
Last Week: 30
Mike White SZN is officially over. The Jets are back to being the picture of futility, this week behind the dead, rotting corpse of Joe Flacco. In Flacco’s defense, he did ok against a Miami Dolphins defense that absolutely terrorized his successor in Baltimore last week. But, that Jets defense is a problem. They didn’t give up a billion touchdowns this week, which is an improvement. But, it didn’t matter as they still couldn’t do enough against the Dolphins’ dysfunction.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8)
Last week: 29
Trevor Lawrence regressed to the mean this week against San Francisco. He didn’t make any major mistakes, but he also didn’t help much. The Jags’ only touchdown of the day came on a James Robinson run. The current state of the Jaguars can pretty much be summed up by that Rayshawn Jenkins punch. Yeah, we get you’re upset about the way things are going right now. But, acting out is only going to make things turn out worse for you. The latest Jaguars rebuild doesn’t seem to be getting off on the right foot.
29. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)
Last Week: 27
The Falcons were shut out at home on Thursday, and that might not even be the most embarrassing part of that game. Poor Matt Ryan couldn’t get anything going this week as he finished with 153 yards and two picks. Eventually the Falcons decided enough was enough and they let Josh Rosen try to finish the game. He got three plays in and threw a pick six. Welp, better give Felipe Franks a shot. One play, interception. That has to sting.
28. Miami Dolphins (4-7)
Last Week: 28
The Dolphins are now winners of three in a row with games against the Panthers, Giants, and a rematch with the Jets up next. Don’t be surprised if they claw their way back to .500 before a brutal three game stretch at the end of the season against the Saints, Titans, and Patriots. It’s probably fools gold. But, it’s a nice bone to throw to Dolphins fans who have to be wondering what the hell happened to their lofty expectations going into the season.
27. Houston Texans (2-8)
Last Week: 31
A huge boost for the Texans this week as they managed to come away with a win against the formerly unstoppable Titans. It wasn’t exactly a complete team victory. But, Tyrod Taylor took advantage of some chaos created on defense to get the Texans out to a 19-0 lead by the second drive of the second half. Ultimately, that proved to be enough to sit on. And sit on it they did.
26. New York Giants (3-7)
Last Week: 26
The Giants fell victim to the Tom Brady revenge game this week. Daniel Jones looked bad, but quite frankly he just looked like Daniel Jones. The Giants are a broken football team with a lot of problems that are going to need to be solved in the offseason.
25. Chicago Bears (3-7)
Last Week: 25
You know things look bad for the Bears when Andy Dalton coming in for Justin Fields provides enough of a spark to almost pull them to victory. Then again, Andy Dalton was the Raven killer for years in Cincinnati. So, it seemed fitting that he would be the catalyst for Chicago to come away with the upset. Ultimately, that’s not what happened, which is why they stay put deep in the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.
24. Seattle Seahawks (3-7)
Last Week: 23
I thought for sure this team would start winning once Russell Wilson got back. Maybe it wasn’t all Geno Smith’s fault? Ha. No. He was definitely awful in clutch situations. But even with Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are struggling to generate offense and they’re losing. Might be all the reason Russ needs in the world to move on ASAP.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1)
Last Week: 21
Hmmm. The Steelers at No. 23 in the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings… this seems familiar for some reason. Oh yeah, because they were hovering around this area for weeks before they went on a run and fooled everyone into thinking they were good. It kind of reminds me of how they almost won that Chargers game. A lot of weird calls by the refs set the Steelers up for a “miraculous” comeback. But, ultimately undone by the fact that this football team simply isn’t very good at the moment.
22. Denver Broncos (5-5)
Last Week: 22
The Broncos are going to come out of their bye week the same way they started this season: almost nothing accomplished yet. But, with the potential to make something happen. Aside from Detroit, the rest of the Broncos schedule consists of teams they will be competing against for a playoff spot (Chargers, Chiefs, Bengals, Raiders). If they do well during that stretch, the playoffs are a realistic goal. I don’t necessarily expect them to perform well enough to get there. But, you never know!
21. Carolina Panthers (5-6)
Last Week: 20
The boost the Panthers got from Cam seems to have worn off, although Cam himself played mostly well. Unfortunately, the Panthers struggle with consistency, which is a big reason why they lost this game. They had a chance to go win it at the end, but the Panthers’ lack of talent surrounding Cam let him down when it mattered most.
20. Washington Football Team (4-6)
Last Week: 24
Although the Washington Football team isn’t as good as many of us thought they would be this year, the NFC East as a whole has definitely improved. WFT seems like they are trying the same basic strategy that got them to the playoffs this year, just with a strong offense this year instead of a strong defense. Problem is, you won’t win the NFC East this year with a sub .500 record.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (5-5)
Last Week: 17
Man. That promising start the Raiders had has just completely imploded at this point. At first, it looked like the Raiders were going to overcome their off-field issues. Then, those issues kept piling on. The chemistry and doubt started to creep in. Now, they’ve lost three straight and just dropped a key game against a team they’ll likely be competing against for a wild card spot. I’m not ready to totally count them out, but I’m getting close. For now, they just barely remain in the top 20 of the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.
18. New Orleans Saints (5-5)
Last Week: 16
I knew the Winston injury was going to be a huge problem for the Saints. I know they’ve had some good wins this year, but all that goes out the window when you have to play the rest of the season with Trevor Siemian as your quarterback. And now they’re handing out extensions to Taysom Hill even though he isn’t even playing? I’m at a loss, genuinely.
17. San Francisco 49ers (5-5)
Last Week: 18
It wasn’t the flashiest game for Jimmy G. But, it was probably the exact way that you would expect him to come away with a decisive victory. By taking what the defense gave him when they gave it to him. Despite only throwing for 176 yards, he finished with a 126.3 passer rating. That’s indicative of a player who made a lot of smart decisions and protected the football well. Truly, however, the 49ers dominated this game through their lethal ground committee that combined for 171 yards rushing. Their place on the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings doesn’t move much because it was a boring win against a bad team. But, they have a lot of winnable games coming up on their schedule. So that ranking could change before too long.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
Last Week: 19
The Eagles have been showing some moxie lately. All the credit in the world to Nick Siriani, who seems to have his boys playing efficient, tough to beat football. Jalen Hurts wasn’t the most electrifying passer of all time this week. But, he rushed for 69 yards and three touchdowns. You absolutely can not go wrong with that.
15. Cleveland Browns (6-5)
Last Week: 15
The Browns are better than that. They got the win against the Lions, but it was an ugly win that brought up more questions than answers. Right now the Browns live and die with the inconsistency of Baker Mayfield. There’s a lot of things that need fixed for the Browns before I’m ready to call them a playoff team. But, they’re right on the edge, as evidenced by their placement in the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.
14. Buffalo Bills (6-4)
Last Week: 4
The Bills are in freefall mode right now after losing to the Jaguars two weeks ago and getting absolutely destroyed at home by the Colts this week. It’s not the end of the world, but the Bills go from being on top of the AFC a couple of weeks ago to now barely holding onto the AFC’s No. 7 seed. Their upcoming schedule is ROUGH so this one could come back to bite them.
13. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
Last Week: 14
The Colts put up a statement win over the Buffalo Bills this week. The Colts are now winners of three straight and five of their last six. Seems like they’re getting hot at the right time as the playoff race really starts heating up. That said, their next four games are against the Bucs, Texans, Patriots, and Cardinals. They’ll rise much farther than their Week 12 NFL Power Rankings spot if they can come away from that stretch looking good.
12. Minnesota Vikings (5-5)
Last Week: 13
The Vikings pulled off one of the clutchest victories I’ve ever seen against their arch rival this week. I actually turned the game off after the Stokes interception because I thought it was over, not realizing it would get overturned. The Vikings managed to reground and continue down the field to sink the game winning field goal. What’s insane is, despite their terrible start to the season, they would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (6-4)
Last Week: 12
The Chargers desperately tried to hand that game over to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But, the football gods had other plans. Those plans involved a beautiful pass from Justin Herbert to Mike Williams that crushed the Steelers’ souls. They had to overcome their own choking habits and some really inconvenient refball. But, they pulled the win off. Don’t let the close final score get it twisted either. The Chargers largely dominated for much of this game. The result was only really in doubt within the final five minutes.
10. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)
Last Week: 10
It’s difficult to get a read on the Baltimore Ravens right now. There will certainly be those who will blame this too-close-for-comfort game on the absence of Lamar Jackson. But, this is the kind of game the Ravens have played all year. Super close games against theoretically inferior opponents. They got it done near the end, but the Ravens have some major flaws right now they need to work out before we consider them true contenders.
9. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
Last Week: 9
With the Cardinals winning this week, the Rams are now a game and a half behind first place in the NFC West. They’ll need to beat the Packers and Jaguars over the next two weeks ahead of their Week 14 rematch with the Cardinals to be in position to retake the division. They have a pretty solid two-game lead on the wild card race, so it seems pretty unlikely they would miss at this point. But, they have their sights set higher than a mere wild card berth.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
Last Week: 11
The Bengals bounced back in a big way this week with a statement win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Sure, the Raiders look like they’re about ready to throw in the towel on the 2021 season. But, they’re still in position for a playoff spot same as the Bengals. Cincy hasn’t tasted victory in nearly a month at this point, so getting back in the W column was huge for their season going forward. They’re now allowed back into the top 10 of the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)
Last Week: 8
The Bucs ended their two-game losing streak on Monday night against the Giants. Tom Brady doesn’t typically deal well with being embarrassed, which is usually bad news for the next team up. He made the Giants pay for the sins of the Football Team and Saints with 307 yards and two touchdowns on the night. There was a really ugly interception thrown deep in Bucs territory early in the second quarter that led to a game-tying touchdown. But, the mistake was compartmentalized and it was basically a slaughter from that point forward.
6. Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
Last Week: 3
Dak Prescott was very bad this week in a game that seemed like a prime opportunity for the Cowboys to make a statement. Instead, he threw two interceptions on 43 passing attempts. He finished with an abysmal 10.0 QBR. That second pick at the end of the game was killer. The Cowboys were putting together a strong drive from their own three yard line. A 10-point comeback with 2:35 left in the game would have been improbable, but they had a shot. That was, until L’Jarius Sneed came down with the game-sealing interception.
5. Tennessee Titans (8-3)
Last Week: 1
Now THAT was more like what I expected to see from the Titans without Derrick Henry. Maybe it took a few weeks for the impact to actually register in this crazy NFL season? Hard to say. But, the Titans tried to throw the ball 52 times and Ryan Tannehill, predictably, threw a bunch of interceptions with that much expected of him. The good news is Adrian Peterson had a pretty solid day running the ball, despite being a billion years old.
4. Green Bay Packers (8-3)
Last Week: 2
Everyone on the planet thought the Packers won that game on the Eric Stokes interception. Turns out it wasn’t a catch after review, and the Vikings simply won the game by having the ball last. That’s what happens when Rodgers and Cousins combine for a total of 726 yards through the air and seven touchdowns. Literally, the difference in this game was just whoever ended up with the ball last. But, that still tells you something about this Packers defense that WAS playing well before this week.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
Last Week: 7
The Chiefs’ offense struggled to put the game away this week. Luckily, the defense finally showed up, holding the Cowboys to zero touchdowns the whole day. Don’t look now, but the Chiefs look like they’re creeping back to being at the form we all expected them to be this season. They’re not quite there yet, but I think it’s just a matter of time before they break through and the rest of the AFC goes on notice. For now, I have them as the second best AFC team in the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.
2. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)
Last Week: 6
The Cardinals are back to impressing me by winning without Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins. Granted, the Seahawks aren’t exactly world-beaters this year. But, they’re still a decent team with a top 5 quarterback. The Arizona retirement home is in full swing this week as Colt McCoy, James Conner, Zach Ertz, and AJ Green all made big impacts for this team.
1. New England Patriots (7-4)
Last Week: 5
Bill Belichick and the Patriots are back. Mac Jones looks like the true successor to Tom Brady when he dominates opponents like this. Not with flashy, gaudy numbers. But, with solid, strategic, and precise ball placement. Then, there’s the classic three headed monster at running back featuring dudes you’ve never heard of before combining for 134 yards on the ground. It sure looks like the old empire is ready to rise again from the ashes to the top of the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.