Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 48th season reporting on the NFL in 2020. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 38 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee for 25 years and is a member of both the senior and contributor sub-committees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his ballot for Week 12:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers. (Previous week: 1) The Steelers know if they can keep a clean pocket for their two-time Super Bowl champion QB Ben Roethlisberger, good things will happen. And the Steelers have been keeping the pocket very clean of late. Roethlisberger has now gone 13 consecutive quarters without being sacked. Since his last sack in the third quarter of the Baltimore game Oct. 25, Roethlisberger has thrown 148 passes for 1,003 yards and 10 touchdowns with only one interception for the 10-0 Steelers.
2. Kansas City Chiefs. (2) The Chiefs beat the Raiders last weekend to avenge their only defeat in the last 54 weeks. But there is one team that continues to confound Kansas City – the team of officials that comprises the Carl Cheffers officiating crew. The Chiefs have drawn the Cheffers crew twice this season and finished each game with double-digits in penalties. Kansas City was penalized 11 times for 90 yards in Week 2 in Los Angeles against the Chargers and 10 penalties for 89 yards last weekend in Las Vegas against the Raiders. They represent the two high-penalty games of the season for the defending Super Bowl champions.
3. New Orleans Saints. (4) There will be life in New Orleans after Drew Brees. Over the last two seasons, when the 41-year-old Brees has been sidelined with injuries, the winning has continued in New Orleans. Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 last season when Brees was sidelined with torn ligaments in his right thumb. Last Sunday, when Brees sat the first of what looms as several games with 11 fractured ribs, Taysom Hill turned his first NFL start into a 24-9 victory over the Saints.
4. Indianapolis Colts. (9) The Colts host Tennessee this weekend in a first-place showdown in the AFC South. Both teams are 7-3 and just two weeks ago the Colts toppled the Titans in Tennessee. The 34 points scored by Indianapolis that day were the most allowed by Tennessee in a game this season. Both teams have the momentum from huge victories – the Titans beat the Ravens on the road in overtime and the Colts toppled the Packers at home.
5. Los Angeles Rams. (8) Jared Goff became the ninth NFL quarterback to throw 50 passes in a game this season Monday night against Tampa Bay. But he became the first of the nine to win his 50-pass game. Goff completed 39-of-51 passes for 376 yards with three touchdowns in a 27-24 upset of the Buccaneers.
6. Seattle Seahawks (12) D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett have combined for 17 touchdown receptions this season, tops of any NFL wideout combo. The Minnesota tandem of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson has combined for 15 scores, followed by the Green Bay duo of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling with 14.
7. Tennessee Titans. (13) The NFL’s leading rusher squares off against the AFC’s top run defense this weekend in an AFC South showdown at Indianapolis. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry has rushed for 1,079 yards with six 100-yard games, including a 103-yard effort against the Colts two weeks ago. It was the only 100-yard rushing game allowed by Indianapolis this season. The Titans are averaging 151 yards per game on the ground and the Colts are allowing just 89 yards per game. Something has to give.
8. Green Bay Packers. (3) Aaron Jones scored six touchdowns in Green Bay’s first four games before the bye, helping the Packers to a 4-0 start. But he’s scored only two touchdowns since the bye and Green Bay is no longer perfect at 7-3. Jones has only scored two of his eight touchdowns at home, both in the second game of the season against Detroit. With four of the next five games at Lambeau, the Packers need Jones to get a GPS to relocate the end zone.
9. Buffalo Bills. (6) The Bills acquired Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason for four draft picks, including a first rounder. He has proven himself worthy of that investment. His 73 catches for 906 yards both rank second in the NFL. He trails Keenan Allen of the Chargers by eight catches and DeAndre Hopkins of the Cardinals by six yards. Diggs is on pace to catch 117 passes for 1,450 yards, which would both be franchise records.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (5) For the first time since Week 3, all 16 teams will be in action this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But only two will play for the 12th consecutive weekend – the Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers. They are the only two teams still without byes, but those will come in Week 13.
11. Cleveland Browns. (15) Baker Mayfield has not thrown a touchdown pass in his last three games. He hasn’t thrown an interception in his last three games, either. Which helps explain why the Browns have won their last two games and have positioned themselves to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Cleveland sits 7-3 in large part because Mayfield is no longer turning the ball over. He has thrown only seven interceptions and lost one fumble through the first 10 games. He turned the ball over 23 times in 2019 to accelerate a 6-10 finish by the Browns. Cleveland has discovered under new coach Kevin Stefanski that defense and a running game can go a long way on Sundays.
12. Arizona Cardinals. (7) Give Cardinals GM Steve Keim credit for a quick rebuild of the Arizona offense. A very quick rebuild. In 2018, Arizona ranked last in the NFL in offense. This week the Cardinals rank first. Keim drafted QB Kyler Murray with the first overall pick of the 2019 draft then made two trades, acquiring RB Kenyon Drake from the Dolphins in October 2019 and WR DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans last May. Hopkins leads the NFL in receiving yards with 912 and Drake ranks 10th in rushing with 641 yards. Murray is having an MVP-caliber season with his 19 touchdowns passing and 10 rushing for the 6-4 Cardinals.
13. Las Vegas Raiders. (11) Maxx Crosby needs some help. He was one of the NFL’s biggest surprises in 2019, arriving in the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick and finishing his rookie season with 10 sacks. Crosby is on pace for another double-digit sack season in 2020 – but he’s all the Raiders have up front. Crosby has six sacks but Las Vegas has only 11, second fewest in the league.
14. Baltimore Ravens. (10) Mark Ingram was one of the NFL’s top backs in 2019, rushing for 1,000 yards and helping power the Ravens to a 14-2 finish on his way to the Pro Bowl. He’s all but disappeared from the offense this season, rushing for only 232 yards. But the 6-4 Ravens still lead the NFL in rushing, averaging 160 yards per game. Gus Edwards and rookie J.K. Dobbins have filled the void. Edwards has rushed for 376 yards and Dobbins 380 to supplement the 575 yards by QB Lamar Jackson.
15. Miami Dolphins. (14) Tua Tagovailoa’s best has always been good enough, both in high school in Hawaii and college at Alabama. He was an elite talent who played like it. But for the first time in his career Tagovailoa was benched for poor performance last weekend by the Dolphins. He completed only 11-of-20 passes for 83 yards with six sacks when Miami coach Brian Flores replaced him in the fourth quarter of a 20-13 loss at Denver with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tagovailoa will be back in the lineup this weekend against the Jets.
16. Minnesota Vikings. (16) Kirk Cousins has thrown for 20 touchdowns on the season but 14 of them have come in Minnesota’s five home games. The good news for Cousins and the 4-6 Vikings is that their next two games are home against Carolina and Jacksonville.
17. New England Patriots. (17) It took Damiere Byrd 38 games over five seasons with three different teams to finally show the NFL the type of player he was at South Carolina when he caught 68 passes, averaging 18.6 yards per reception, as a senior. A lack of size (5-9, 180 pounds) hurt his draft stock and Byrd wound up signing with Carolina as a college free agent in 2016. He caught 12 passes in his first three NFL seasons with the Panthers, then caught 32 passes for the Cardinals in 2019. The Patriots signed him as a free agent in the offseason and he has emerged as their top wideout this season with 32 catches. He posted his first career 100-yard game last weekend against Houston, catching six passes for 132 yards and a touchdown.
18. Chicago Bears. (18) The Bears struggled to pass the ball with Mitch Trubisky and are struggling to throw it now with Nick Foles. Trubisky started the first three games of the season and threw six touchdown passes against three interceptions. He was benched in favor of the former Super Bowl MVP Foles but the passing game has remained dormant. Foles has thrown seven TD passes against seven interceptions in his seven starts, which explains why the 5-5 Bears rank last in the NFL in passing.
19. Carolina Panthers. (23) Pro Bowl RB Christian McCaffrey has played only three of Carolina’s eight games but still leads the Panthers with six touchdowns. Which explains why the Panthers are scuffling along at 4-7 this season. McCaffrey became just the third player in NFL history to collect 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving in a single season in 2019 when he led the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,392. That caliber of talent is irreplaceable, as the Panthers are finding out this season.
20. Denver Broncos. (25) Denver has played without its best player, pass rusher Von Miller, all season because of a freak ankle injury suffered in practice on the eve of the season. But the 4-6 Broncos still have a pass rush, ranking seventh in the league with 28 sacks. Denver has had a pair of six-sack games against the Jets and Dolphins and four-sack games against the Patriots and Chiefs. Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed have 6 ½ sacks apiece.
21. San Francisco 49ers. (24) The defending NFC champions have a defense that is again Super Bowl ready, ranking in the Top 10. The 49ers finished second in defense last season and ranks seventh this year. But San Francisco is 4-6 because it can’t keep its offensive skill healthy. The 49ers have started two different quarterbacks, four different running backs and seven different wide receivers. And the best player on offense, tight end George Kittle, has missed the last two games with a broken foot and remains out indefinitely.
22. Houston Texans. (27) The Texans traded their Pro Bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in the offseason for former Pro Bowl RB David Johnson, then let their own 1,000-yard rusher Carlos Hyde leave in free agency. It hasn’t worked out the way Bill O’Brien had hoped when he made those personnel moves. The Texans have fallen from ninth in the NFL in rushing a year ago to 31st this season. The defending AFC South champion has already lost more games (seven) than it lost in 2019 (six), and O’Brien has since been fired.
23. Los Angeles Chargers. (28) Austin Ekeler hasn’t played in six games but he still ranks second on the Chargers in rushing with 248 yards, just 73 behind the team leader, fourth-round draft pick Josh Kelley. Ekeler left the fourth game of the season against Tampa Bay with a hyperextended knee and hamstring injury, and there is no apparent timeline for his return. The Chargers are plodding along at 3-7 in the meantime.
24. New York Giants. (21) It’s a sad commentary for a division when its best team ranks 24th in this week’s rankings. But when Daniel Jones represents the most stable quarterbacking in the division, you can understand the woes of the NFC East. Dallas and Washington are playing their backup quarterbacks and Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz is playing like a backup QB with his league-leading 14 interceptions and four fumbles. Jones has not turned the ball over in his last two games and the Giants have won them both to improve to 3-7 – the first two turnover-free games of the season for him.
25. Dallas Cowboys. (29) Every team in the NFC East has three victories with the Eagles a half game in front of the pack at 3-6-1. Dallas, Washington and the Giants all sit 3-7. Dallas has the best offense (6th in the NFL) in the division, Washington the best defense (also sixth in the league) and Philadelphia the best pass rush (an NFL-runnerup 34 sacks). The Cowboys still have home games left with Washington and Philadelphia and a season finale on the road against the Giants.
26. Washington. (30) Washington has now won three games with three different quarterbacks. Dwayne Haskins beat the Eagles in the opener, Kyle Allen beat the Cowboys in October and Alex Smith beat the Bengals last weekend. Smith is a remarkable story. He suffered a life-threatening injury when he broke several bones in his leg in the 10th game of the 2018 season. He returned to the field last October after a 23-month absence, coming off the bench in back-to-back weekends against the Rams and Giants. He started for the first time two weeks ago against Detroit and then beat the Bengals – his first win in 741 days. He’s your NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
27. Philadelphia Eagles. (22) If the Eagles are to win the NFC East, they will have earned it. Their next three games are against the other three NFC division leaders and Super Bowl contenders – Seattle, Green Bay and New Orleans. The Seahawks and Packers are both 7-3 and the Saints 8-2. The more the Eagles take the ball out of the hands of QB Carson Wentz and put it into the hands of RB Miles Sanders, the better their chances of surviving this stretch.
28. Detroit Lions. (19) The 4-6 Lions suffered the first shutout of the Matthew Stafford era last weekend, losing at Carolina 20-0. Detroit selected Stafford first overall in the 2009 NFL draft and over the next 11 seasons and 158 starts he put points on the scoreboard. Until Carolina. Detroit’s last shutout came in 2009, an October 26-0 shellacking by the Packers -- a game Stafford missed with an injury. He failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season against the Panthers.
29. Atlanta Falcons. (20) Stafford wasn’t the only Pro Bowl quarterback who couldn’t find the end zone last weekend. Matt Ryan also failed to throw a touchdown pass and his Falcons had to settle for three field goals in a 24-9 loss to the Saints. It was the first time Atlanta failed to score a touchdown since a 2017 loss to Minnesota, 46 games ago.
30. Cincinnati Bengals. (26) A torn ACL last weekend at Washington has spoiled Joe Burrow’s chance for NFL Rookie of the Year and also Cincinnati’s season. The Bengals had a chance to win on any given weekend with Burrow, the first overall pick of the 2020 draft after a Heisman Trophy season at LSU. He posted four 300-yard games, including a 406-yard game against Cleveland, and kept the 2-7-1 Bengals competitive throughout the first 11 weeks of the season. The drop off to his backup Ryan Finley is precipitous.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars. (31) The season looked promising for the Jaguars in their rebuild when they opened the season with a surprising victory over the Indianapolis Colts. But there has been very little promising since then. The Jaguars have lost nine consecutive games since the opener to all but ensure themselves a Top 5 draft pick in 2010. About the only position Jacksonville won’t need to address in the draft is running back. Undrafted college free-agent James Robinson ranks third in the NFL with 762 rushing yards. He’s had three 100-yard games and scored seven touchdowns.
32. New York Jets. (32) Can the Jets become only the third team to go winless since the NFL implemented a 16-game schedule in 1978? The 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns both finished 0-16. The Jets are 0-10 and play the next five games against teams with winning records – home against Miami (6-4), Las Vegas (6-4) and Cleveland (7-3) and away against 7-3 the Seahawks and the 6-3 Rams. Their only hope for a victory may come in the season finale when the Jets visit the 4-6 Patriots.