By Matt Flynn | Staff Writer
After a couple wild NFL weeks, here are our Week 12 NFL Power Rankings. Remember, this doesn’t go by record, but rather the quality of the team at the specific moment. Indy is without Luck, Denver is starting an inexperienced Osweiler, and the 3-7 Cowboys now have Tony Romo back. Keep this in mind along with recent trends, like the suddenly terrible Atlanta Falcons.
Also: before I begin, I’d like to lock in my Thursday picks before our weekly Pick ‘Em column this weekend.
I like Detroit over Philly, that game is just a straight-up pick, the line is even.
I like Dallas covering the spread and getting the win over favored Carolina.
And I like Green Bay against the Bears, but don’t wanna lay the (-9) line, so take the Bears for the spread, Packers for the game.
WEEK 12 NFL POWER RANKINGS:
#32. San Francisco 49ers (3-7) Change: None
- The nightmare season continues for San Francisco, permanently benching Colin Kaepernick and putting him on IR for the remainder of the year. Now, with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, a slew of practice squad running backs, and an aging defense, no wonder Harbaugh left. “I want cake now!”
#31. Baltimore Ravens (3-7) Change: -5
- Out is Joe Flacco, and it will be Matt Schaub, as they replace one vacant-faced quarterback with another. Except this one throws way more interceptions. Oh, and running back Justin Forsett is out for the year, as he and Flacco were both injured in last Sunday’s game. Good luck Baltimore. Maybe the other Harbaugh should start looking for college jobs. John, Jim, who cares?
#30. St. Louis Rams (4-6) Change: -6
- This Case Keenum concussion debacle was a really interesting story that was barely talked about, and now the Rams, despite the big Nick Foles offseason shake-up, are again without a quarterback. This season, and especially the last two games, have proven that an offense that anemic cannot spare even the best of defenses.
#29. Tennessee Titans (2-8) Change: +2
- It’s hard to justify an increase in rank after that ugly loss to the Jaguars last week, but I just think there’s something about this team that remains interesting despite the 2-8 record. In my heart of hearts, I think they would beat the aforementioned teams.
#28. Cleveland Browns (2-8) Change: +2
- A bye week was supposed to be a preparation week for Johnny Football transitioning into full-time starter material, but after a partying incident, Josh McCown will remain the quarterback. This team is a mess, but with McCown and some offensive pieces, they could remain semi-competitive.
#27. San Diego Chargers (2-8) Change: None
- This team still has Philip Rivers, but the bad defense and lack of targets for him have made them pretty terrible. This team is going nowhere fast.
#26. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) Change: -7
#25. Chicago Bears (4-6) Change: +4
- The Bears have actually been a half-decent team lately. Now they get Matt Forte back from injury, and played that stout Broncos defense really well last Sunday. They were a two-point conversion away from overtime.
#24. Detroit Lions (3-7) Change: +4
- Two wins in a row and a match-up against the Chip Kelly’s at home. I say that because the Eagles don’t exist anymore, it’s just the Chips. Calvin Johnson is healthy, and their coach is playing for his job. Desperation has paid off for Detroit.
#23. Miami Dolphins (4-6) Change: -6
- It’s tough to get a read on this team, but the best way to describe it is that they’re heartless. They just don’t seem to bring a serious intensity to their games, and last week against Dallas proved that. They have the personnel to win games, but they just don’t have the heart.
#22. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6) Change: +3
- Slow and steady wins the race, and now this team is one game out of the AFC South Lead. As their decent offense pulls games out, the Jags have a lot to look forward to in coming years, and with Matt Hasselbeck (Colts) and TJ Yates (Texans) currently the starters for the other two teams ahead of them, could we imagine Blake Bortles is the best quarterback in his division? Hmm…
#21. New Orleans Saints (4-6) Change: None
- They had a bye week, no movement here. Drew Brees and a terrible defense (now led by former Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen), so there’s an inevitable 6-10 or 7-9 record here.
#20. Oakland Raiders (4-6) Change: -5
- The Raiders little win streak may have been an outlier. They’re still okay, but with a shoddy defense and no running game, this team will remain pretty mediocre. Either way, it’s a success considering recent history.
#19. Washington Redskins (4-6) Change: -1
- Yes they were killed by Carolina, but their playoff hopes are still very much alive with an inconsistent defense to boot, but Kirk Cousins has been a hard-nosed quarterback this year and has pulled out games in the fourth quarter. They’re not a playoff team, but they’re decent.
#18. New York Jets (5-5) Change: -6
- The Jets are now in a free-fall after a 4-1 start and with Fitzpatrick at quarterback, the slide really has no end in sight. The secondary, which started this year as the best in the business, is now banged up and even the defense has become porous in recent games.
#17. Atlanta Falcons (6-4) Change: -8
- Talk about a free-fall, what has happened to the damn Falcons. They’ve completely lost the cohesion between offense and defense that they had to open the season. They’ve now lost games to bad teams and cannot score in the way that they would normally expect.
#16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) Change: +4
- Tampa clobbered the Chips in Philly last Sunday, and with the run defense as solid as it is, along with the return of the Muscle Hamster in Doug Martin, Tamps is realistically going to try and make a playoff run. Jameis Winston is legit, as well. ROY.
#15. Houston Texans (5-5) Change: +7
- Even without a quarterback, a bad division and a great defense have allowed Houston to make a little run in the past few weeks, capped off with a strong showing against the Jets last week. There’s no running game to be found, but with a talented group of receivers, the inconsistent quarterback play can be saved. I still like the Colts a little better, but this team is good.
#14. Indianapolis Colts (5-5) Change: +2
- A road win in Atlanta is not an easy victory, especially with a backup quarterback in the game, but surprisingly, that backup quarterback in Hasselbeck is actually 3-0 on the year and masking many problems in Indy. Get Luck back at the end, and this team is dangerous.
#13. Buffalo Bills (5-5) Change: -5
- The Bills had a real opportunity on Monday to beat the Patriots, instead, they lose another divisional game and quarterback Tyrod Taylor is questionable to play this weekend. The defense is solid, but increasingly banged up, and LeSean McCoy has quietly had a good season, but Buffalo is too inconsistent to be in the Top 10.
#12. Dallas Cowboys (3-7) Change: +11
- The biggest leap up goes to Dallas, who now has a shot to compete in the division with Romo back. It’s the only division where a 7-game losing streak barely hurts your chances, but man, can Dallas’ offense be dangerous when healthy. With Romo back, this is a damn good team.
#11. New York Giants (5-5) Change: +2
- The Giants have a championship pedigree and a veteran offense. If they can squeak out the NFC East at 9-7, they will be a dangerous playoff team. Also, they finally have a pass rush with JPP back.
#10. Denver Broncos (8-2) Change: +1
- I’m still not sold on Brock Osweiler, so despite the record, this team is a little lower than projected. I just can’t imagine them really making a run this year.
#9. Kansas City Chiefs (5-5) Change: +5
- Winners of four-straight, Andy Reid, and the Chiefs have found a formula that matches their top-tier defense with a serviceable offense. This team, if it can get into the playoffs as a 6th-seed, could make a run.
#8. Seattle Seahawks (5-5) Change: +2
- Seattle won an important game last week, and now with Atlanta falling off of the face of the Earth, one of the most consistently successful teams could jump back into the playoff picture. Sure, Lynch is hurt, but Russell Wilson will find a way to win games.
#7. Minnesota Vikings (7-3) Change: -1
- As sad as it is, Minnesota proved last week that they’re not quite ready to play with the big boys.
#6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) Change: -1
- Don’t pay attention to the one point drop, Big Ben is back, and the Steelers, with an excellent offense, should be able to continue to win games.
#5. Green Bay Packers (7-3) Change: +2
- The Packers got back on track last week with a big win over Minnesota, and with Eddie Lacy, possibly ready to resume being an elite runner, many Green Bay fans are back on the Super Bowl bandwagon.
#4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-2) Change: None
- Arizona is not an easy game to win, but can this damn team just win in Primetime? It can’t possibly be a coincidence.
#3. Carolina Panthers (10-0) Change: None
- Despite crushing Washington and being undefeated, Carolina still hasn’t really worked on adding more offensive weapons, so there’s a level of doubt to their long-term success. Other than that, this team has been awesome.
#2. New England Patriots (10-0) Change: -1
- It’s hard to pick against Tom Brady and the Pats, but a slew of injuries to the offense has made the league’s best quarterback look mortal the past two weeks. Until the offense can get back in a rhythm, they’re not an automatic #1 pick, undefeated or not.
#1. Arizona Cardinals (8-2) Change: +1
- I rank them up at 2 last week, and they respond by beating the Bengals on SNF. This team is headed for greatness, and if the season ended today, I’d have them against the Pats in the Super Bowl.
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