NFL Power Rankings: Finally, consistency throughout the league in Week 12

2:01 | NFL
NFL Power Rankings: Week 12
Tuesday November 22nd, 2016

It took until darn near Thanksgiving but finally Power Rankings has a little consistency. Nine of last week’s top 10 teams are still in the upper reaches this week, and the situation is even more settled at the bottom—the only movement among the nine teams bringing up the rear came from a swap at spots 29 and 30.

What’s that tell us? Well, at one end of the spectrum, the legitimate playoff threats have carved out a little separation. At the other, it’s becoming more and more obvious by the week who’s going to be sitting home after Jan. 1.

Just six weeks remain in the regular season. This is where we’re at as December approaches:

  • 32
    32Cleveland Browns
    last week: 32
    record: 0–11
    Alabama would not beat the Browns, but you are lying if there’s not at least 0.1% of your brain thinking that maybe Alabama could beat the Browns. Cleveland’s now 1–23 in its past 24 games and was officially eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday.​

  • 31
    31San Francisco 49ers
    last week: 31
    record: 1–9
    I won’t pretend to know how Chip Kelly spends his downtime, but in my head he sits in a dark room, watching highlights of his old Oregon teams on mute, while he sings along to “Cat’s in the Cradle” or “Landslide” with tears in his eyes.​

  • 30
    30Chicago Bears
    last week: 29
    record: 2–8
    Jay Cutler’s done for the season. So is Zach Miller, in all likelihood. Alshon Jeffery? Still suspended for three more games, and now Jerrell Freeman has to sit for four. It’s like John Fox is driving a carpool and everyone is hopping out early because they can’t stand the conversation anymore.​

  • 29
    29Jacksonville Jaguars
    last week: 30
    record: 2–8
    Rex Ryan called Jacksonville “the best two-win team I’ve ever seen,” which is like saying, “That’s the best movie I’ve ever seen starring Rob Schneider.” Kidding, Rob. Big fan of your daughter’s music. Anyway, the Jaguars. They’re terrible.​

  • 28
    28New York Jets
    last week: 28
    record: 3–7
    My hunch is that Todd Bowles is sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick only because the Patriots are coming to town. May as well take one more big swing in 2016 before focusing on ’17. The alternative—that Bryce Petty isn’t any better than Fitzpatrick and has no hope of being the future starter—isn’t a very uplifting one.​

  • 27
    27St. Louis Rams
    last week: 27
    record: 4–6
    In 21 of Jeff Fisher’s 74 games as their head coach, the Rams have failed to score more than 10 points. That’s nearly 30% of the games since Fisher arrived in 2012. Take out those 21 games and Fisher actually has a 29-23-1 record as the St. Louis/L.A. coach, but unfortunately that’s not how this all works.​

  • 26
    26Cincinnati Bengals
    last week: 26
    record: 3-6-1
    The Bengals had the league’s seventh-ranked scoring offense last season. They’re sitting at 25 for the moment, and fading. There have been injuries and player departures, but it’s safe to confirm at this point that former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was a key piece—maybe the most important piece—to the puzzle.​

  • 25
    25Arizona Cardinals
    last week: 25
    record: 4-5-1
    Last year’s Cardinals offense set a franchise record by scoring 489 points over the course of the season. This year’s Cardinals would need to average 43.8 points per game the rest of the way to match their 2015 production. It’s just not clicking the way it once did.​

  • 24
    24Green Bay Packers
    last week: 24
    record: 4–6
    Until Sunday, the Packers had gone 64 years without allowing 40-plus points in back-to-back games. (The 1929 Packers allowed 22 points combined over their entire 13-game season.) It’s never happened three straight, so the Green Bay D could make a little unwanted history with another meltdown at Philadelphia.​

  • 23
    23Philadelphia Eagles
    last week: 17
    record: 5–5
    Officially, the Eagles have been charged with 17 drops this season. That number feels much too low, given how the receivers have played of late. Right now, I wouldn’t trust receiver Nelson Agholor to carry an egg from the fridge to the stove.​

  • 22
    22Baltimore Ravens
    last week: 19
    record: 5–5
    After losing in Dallas on Sunday, Joe Flacco declared, “We should beat this team. I’m not kidding.” Not sure about “should” but ... could? Yes, but that’s why the Ravens have been so frustrating this season: They’re constantly teetering between being a strong AFC contender and mediocrity.​

  • 21
    21Tennessee Titans
    last week: 15
    record: 5–6
    Five straight losses to the Texans and, with Sunday’s result, now 11 consecutive losses to the Colts. The Titans’ attempt to ascend the AFC South has a firm cap until they break those droughts. When you run the 110-meter hurdles, you can’t just walk around the hurdles to get to the finish line.​

  • 20
    20Pittsburgh Steelers
    last week: 21
    record: 5–5
    The Steelers managed to snap their four-game skid, but they did so while scoring just one offensive TD against a Browns team that had been allowing 30.1 points per game. Time for Pittsburgh to decide if it’s a real contender or not.​

  • 19
    19Minnesota Vikings
    last week: 22
    record: 6–4
    Fifty-four years ago, there was Amos Marsh and Mike Gaechter. Sunday, it was Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson. Not since Marsh’s 101-yard kickoff return and Gaechter’s 100-yard pick-six on Oct. 14, 1962 had two teammates scored 100-yard TDs on the same day until Rhodes and Patterson did it Sunday.​

  • 18
    18Indianapolis Colts
    last week: 23
    record: 5–5
    Not that there’s ever a good time to suffer a concussion, but on a short week before a critical game is rough. That’s the reality facing Andrew Luck, who is all but certain to sit the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day nightcap against Pittsburgh. A tough break for a team that finally was trending in the right direction.​

  • 17
    17New Orleans Saints
    last week: 12
    record: 4–6
    The Saints have lost 44 times in their history when allowing fewer than 250 yards of offense to the opposition. But it’s only happened twice since 2011, both times vs. Carolina: —a 17–13 setback in ’13 and Thursday’s 23–20 defeat.​

  • 16
    16San Diego Chargers
    last week: 14
    record: 4–6
    True, the Chargers have scored more points this season than everyone but the Falcons, but they’ve also lost more fumbles (11) than any other team. Philip Rivers is tied for third in interceptions, too, with 11. If Mike McCoy winds up jobless in the coming months, he can blame his team’s inability to take care of the football.​

  • 15
    15Carolina Panthers
    last week: 18
    record: 4–6
    At just shy of 3.6, the Panthers on Thursday averaged fewer yards per play than any other winning team so far this season. Not since 2006 had Carolina come away victorious in a game in which it failed to top that 3.6 ypp plateau. (h/t to Pro Football Reference for the research.)​

  • 14
    14Houston Texans
    last week: 9
    record: 6–4
    The Texans’ trip to Estadio Azteca wound up being like so many of the U.S. national team’s visits there, right down to the laser pointers and the back line of defense forgetting how to, ya know, play sports at a key moment. If they can bottle Brock Osweiler’s performance, though, that would go a long way toward holding on in the AFC South.​

  • 13
    13Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    last week: 19
    record: 5–5
    Jameis Winston tossed his 20th touchdown pass of the season during Sunday’s impressive road win in Kansas City, putting him just two back of his rookie-year total. With the Bucs now just a game back in the division, we’re about to find out if Winston still has it in him to rise to the moment, as he often did at Florida State.​

  • 12
    12Buffalo Bills
    last week: 16
    record: 5–5
    Sunday marked the fifth time this season the Bills have finished with fewer than 200 yards passing. They’re 4–1 in those contests, as strong a hint as any that this team typically goes as its run game and defense go. Week 12’s home game against Jacksonville is must-win, both for the Bills’ playoff chances and Rex Ryan’s status.​

  • 11
    11New York Giants
    last week: 11
    record: 7–3
    Since the start of October, the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins are a combined 17-3-1, and the Giants haven’t tacked anything on to that loss column in more than a month. Feel free to take the “they’re not very good” tact on New York, but ... well, people said the same thing about the 2007 and ’11 Super Bowl champion teams.​

  • 10
    10Detroit Lions
    last week: 10
    record: 6–4
    If the NFL ever decides to take really drastic measures and boost its ratings by using the ol’ cliffhanger, to-be-continued TV trick, the Lions would be a perfect fit. Detroit trails the Jaguars by four in the fourth quarter, Ford Field is silent and nervous, ominous music plays while the camera zooms in on Jim Caldwell not blinking for 30 seconds. Fade to black. Roll scenes from next week’s episode.

  • 9
    9Atlanta Falcons
    last week: 8
    record: 6–4
    “Think about it,” Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said this week, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The talent on all of the teams isn’t changing a lot now. The coaching isn’t changing a lot now. So why do some teams get better?” Quinn’s answer: mindset—teams that “want it” more succeed late in the season. That’s great if he can flip the switch on the Falcons for the final six weeks. Not so great for anyone banking on the Falcons making significant adjustments during their bye, after losing three of five.​

  • 8
    8Washington Redskins
    last week: 13
    record: 6-3-1
    Man, how about Kirk Cousins? He is (“You like that!”) really playing some (“Oooooooweeeeee!”) excellent football (“How do ya like me now?!”). Kirk! Do you mind? We’re trying to have a conversation here. Better go ahead and sign that $100 million contract before the death of Vine decreases your likability quotient by 50%.​

  • 7
    7Kansas City Chiefs
    last week: 3
    record: 7–3
    One bad home loss is all it took to make Kansas City’s footing a little wobbly. Now the Chiefs travel to Denver and Atlanta back-to-back before a Thursday night home game with division-leading Oakland. They need more from their offense—the Chiefs haven’t topped 20 points since Week 8.​

  • 6
    6Miami Dolphins
    last week: 7
    record: 6–4
    Miami could not have looked more out of sorts in the elements early Sunday if it had been raining slime from the Double Dare physical challenges. Adam Gase’s team found a way to win anyway, completing a 2–0 West Coast swing and positioning the Dolphins as the Chiefs and Broncos’ biggest threat in the AFC wild-card race.​

  • 5
    5Denver Broncos
    last week: 6
    record: 7–3
    The Broncos have won at least 12 games each of the past four seasons, a streak surpassed only by the Patriots’ current run of six in a row. Getting to that mark again will require a 5–1 close against a schedule that includes two games with Kansas City, one with New England, a trip to Tennessee and a Week 17 showdown with Oakland, possibly for the division crown.​

  • 4
    4Oakland Raiders
    last week: 5
    record: 8–2
    The last time Oakland secured its eighth win before Thanksgiving was 2000, the start of a three-year run that ended with a trip to the Super Bowl. So, there’s extra reason for Raiders fans to give thanks before they bite the head off a live turkey this holiday season. I assume that’s how the Black Hole crazies celebrate, yes?​

  • 3
    3New England Patriots
    last week: 4
    record: 8–2
    Week 11 marked the first time all season that the 49ers did not commit a turnover, but it was actually the sixth game in which New England failed to force one. The Patriots have come up with just nine turnovers on the year—and seven of those nine came in Weeks 2 and 3. That puts them only halfway to the franchise’s previous season-low total of 18, set by the 2005 team.​

  • 2
    2Seattle Seahawks
    last week: 2
    record: 7-2-1
    The Seahawks rushed for 150 or more yards in six games last season. They did it nine times in 2014, when the Marshawn Lynch–Russell Wilson combo was washing down Skittles with Recovery Water. Sunday marked the first time they have hit that mark in ’16, thanks to C.J. Prosise’s early 72-yard touchdown in a win over Philadelphia.​

  • 1
    1Dallas Cowboys
    last week: 1
    record: 9–1
    As MVP last season, Cam Newton accounted for 4,473 total yards from scrimmage. Dak Prescott is on pace for 4,449. Newton’s impressive combined TD total of 45 is probably out of Prescott’s reach (he’s at 21), but also note that Prescott has 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions since Oct. 16. Prescott may not win MVP honors, but he’s making a serious case.​

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