Week 12 Power Rankings: Dangerous Seahawks climb back into top 10
Nine teams hold winning records at the moment. That's it.
The NFL's transcendent mediocrity will make for some fascinating playoff races—at least 25 teams have a realistic shot—but also poses a challenge when it comes to Power Rankings. Very few teams deserve to be ascending. Most spots, especially those from 10 through about 22, are more or less interchangeable.
Nevertheless, here's how things stack up as Turkey Day arrives:
This was as close as New England has come in 2015 to slipping from the Power Rankings top spot. The Giants and Bills—not to mention a rash of key injuries on offense—have made the Patriots look vulnerable, if not quite beatable. On the other hand, Sunday will mark 11 months and one day since Bill Belichick's team last loss (Dec. 28, 2014 at Buffalo).
Washington has been competitive in most of its games this season and was coming off a 33-point rout of New Orleans. But it looked like Charleston Southern trying to hang with Alabama for much of Sunday. The Panthers were thoroughly dominant, with Cam Newton throwing for as many touchdowns (five) as Washington had turnovers.
Yes, up a spot after a loss. The Bengals acquitted themselves well in a hard-fought loss at Arizona, so they get a bump. Storming back from 14 down against that foe is no easy task. Plus, ya know, like every team in the league stinks this season so someone has to be in the top five.
The rallying cry proved prophetic last season, but can we cool it with Aaron Rodgers' "R-E-L-A-X" clip? It's trailing only "I am your father" and "Bond, James Bond" in the overplayed soundbite rankings. ("I am serious ... and don't call me Shirley" is No. 1 among underplayed soundbites.) Regardless, the Packers heeded Rodgers' year-old advice Sunday—they again looked like Super Bowl contenders in rolling Minnesota.
A win over the Bills this week would make it a lot tougher to envision a Chiefs-less playoff field. Kansas City has the league's easiest remaining schedule (after the 5-5 Bills, it's five straight with sub-.500 teams), and its defense has been lights out since about mid-October.
The Seahawks are still very much alive and very much a threat. Their first ten games, though, sure make that 5-5 seem rather accurate. They have yet to beat a quality team (the Tony Romo-less Cowboys don't count) and have fallen short against every playoff contender (plus the Rams). Knocking off Pittsburgh would change the story.
From the defense giving Tom Brady all he could handle to the offense stalling out behind a struggling QB, Monday's loss was prototypical Rex Ryan. The Bills clearly are a solid team. They're running out of time to prove they can be anything more.
Has anyone alerted the Giants that they're supposed to step aside so the Cowboys can win the division now? This isn't a great team by any means, but it's still a first-place one as we head into Thanksgiving. The NFC East remains New York's to lose.
The Buccaneers are a playoff contender. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's happening ... sort of like the "Point Break" remake that debuts on Christmas Day. Jameis Winston might even be able to storm back for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors if he turns in a couple more five-touchdown outings.
Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal all missed Sunday's loss to Denver. At one point during the game, Jay Cutler attempted a pass to what I believe was just a chair with two shovels taped to it for arms. The injuries are a shame, because a win over the Broncos would have made things very interesting for Chicago.
"We expect to be better than we were," head coach Jack Del Rio said Monday of his team's lethargic offensive performance in Detroit. "There’s no sugarcoating that." If his team doesn't snap out of it immediately, the promise following a 4-3 start will be gone until 2016.
The Falcons' season is on the brink following their fourth loss in five games. And it's really the offense that is causing the ship to anchor. Atlanta has turned it over 16 times combined over its past six games, including four in Sunday's loss to Indianapolis.
There is ample material to harp on regarding Washington's road performances. In the Redskins' defense, though, their last two trips took them to New England and Carolina—teams with a combined 20-0 record.
Recently fired coordinator Rob Ryan said Sunday on the NFL Network that he's been blamed for everything in New Orleans, "including Katrina." Oof I guess it probably was unrealistic to to expect that Ryan's mouth could play a little defense on his brain.
A two-game win streak has the Jaguars firmly entrenched in the playoff race, which is the latest piece of evidence that NFL parity has gone cuckoo bananas this season. WR Allen Robinson is the league's least talked-about star.
The Dolphins did not give up a safety this past weekend, snapping a three-game run. They did, however, allow a pick-six—Rolando McClain picked off Ryan Tannehill to open Dallas's 24-14 win. Miami finishes with four of five at home, but it's hard to see that mattering.
Had Detroit held on to a 21-3 lead in San Diego or Calvin Johnson held on to the football at the goal line in Seattle, the Lions would be a wild-card threat. As is, each win merely drifts them into the middle of the NFL draft pack.
Baltimore won Sunday but lost Joe Flacco in the process, making him the 15th player on this team to hit injured reserve in 2015. The entire season basically has played out like the plot of "Final Destination" for the Ravens. Check for buses before crossing the street, Matt Schaub.
With his team trailing Seattle by 16 in the fourth quarter Sunday, Jim Tomsula thrice opted to punt on fourth downs. He then fruitlessly used two timeouts when Seattle had the ball in the closing minutes. Tomsula is a likable guy and, by all accounts, a solid position coach but he continues to prove he's in way over his head.
The Titans now have lost two straight to AFC South rival Jaguars. They've also beaten Houston just once in the past four seasons and are mired in a 1-13 drought against Indianapolis. Tough to crawl out of the basement when you can't beat anyone else in the division.
The Chargers came out of their bye week with a 30-point home loss to Kansas City, extending their losing streak to six games. When reached for comment about this franchise's possible relocation, the city of Los Angeles said, "Nah, never mind. We're good."