Here are my power rankings through Week 12. The top doesn’t change too much, but the Cowboys and Titans are big movers this week.
1. New England Patriots (8-2) – Wins over the Colts and Steelers over the last two weeks are highly impressive. New England visits Detroit next, with a big one looming on Monday, December 6, against the New York Jets.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) – The win over the Giants, if anything, improves Philadelphia’s stock. They showed they can win when Vick and company aren’t firing on all eight cylinders, as the defense stepped up big. Another tough game is on tap for Sunday, as the Eagles face the 7-3 Bears.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) – Their 35-3 dismantling of the Raiders keeps them in firm control of the number three spot, and they’re as close to a mortal lock to go 8-3 as it gets with Buffalo up next.
4. Green Bay Packers (7-3) (+2) – The Coach Killers visit the Falcons next Sunday, and we should have a much better idea which is a true contender in the NFC after that game. They’re tied for the fewest points allowed in the league, but their lack of a running game is still a concern.
5. Atlanta Falcons (8-2) (-1) – Their record leaves me unimpressed for some reason, and I’m eagerly awaiting their game against the Packers to learn a lot about both teams.
6. New York Jets (8-2) (-2) – They’ve won three out of four games despite not bringing their “A” game. They’ve got one more week to figure it out, with a Thanksgiving meeting with Cincinnati serving as a tune up for the aforementioned game against the Patriots.
7. New Orleans Saints (7-3) (+3) – Who dat say they can’t win six straight? The Saints have three in a row with Dallas, Cincinnati and St. Louis on the horizon. Look out for the defending champs.
8. Baltimore Ravens (7-3) (-1) – They haven’t had an impressive victory since an opening day 10-9 decision over the Jets, unless you count a win over the Charlie Batch-led Steelers on October 3rd as impressive. Since, they’ve beaten Denver, Buffalo, Miami and Carolina while losing to New England and Atlanta. Let’s see a quality win.
9. New York Giants (6-4) (-1) – It’s hard to believe they’re on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but they should be able to avoid a second half collapse with Jacksonville, Washington and Minnesota lined up for them. Any less than two wins in those three games will spell disaster, as they close the season with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Washington – the last two on the road.
10. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) (-1) – A rare hiccup from Peyton Manning could have spelled doom for the Colts, but they’ve caught some breaks in their division. The Titans and Texans use to look like big threats, but now have big problems. The Jaguars have given up 50 more points than they’ve scored and somehow lead the AFC South. Go figure.
11. Chicago Bears (7-3) (+1) – The Monsters of the Midway are tied with the Packers for fewest points allowed in the league, but their offensive line and Jay Cutler continue to underwhelm. Their seven wins come over opponents who are a combined 23-47, and even that number is inflated by a five win Dolphins team that is down to Tyler Thigpen at quarterback.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) (+1) – Their wins aren’t all that impressive, and the next three weeks will shape their season. They take to the road to play Baltimore, host Atlanta, then visit Washington. It’s looking like 10-6 is going to be the record required to get a wild card spot, so the Bucs better perform well over that stretch.
13. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) (+1) – I don’t know what to think of this Chiefs team. Their defense isn’t quite as good as it once looked, and I don’t trust their offense in big games. They should still make the playoffs, though.
14. San Diego Chargers (5-5) (+3) – Three straight wins meet three very tough games against the Colts, Raiders and Chiefs. Don’t be shocked if that Chiefs game is for the division lead.
15. Oakland Raiders (5-5) (-1) – Remember when they were the team on the rise last week in the NFL? Neither does Al Davis. Miami should serve as a nice rebound game next week, though.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) – Points for: 220. Points against: 270. Leading the AFC South? Somehow.
17. Tennessee Titans (5-5) (-6) – I’m caught in a moral dilemma, as I should drop them even further after the Vince Young ordeal. Jeff Fisher is a better coach than Gary Kubiak though, and the NFC West is a joke. Thus, here they stand. Will they be divided and fall?
18. Houston Texans (4-6) – I could spend an hour writing about their collapse against the Jets. They did the one thing they couldn’t do – gave up a big play down the sideline. Defensive coordinator Frank Bush should be feeling some heat emanating from his desk chair. They hold their spot thanks only to the NFC West.
19. Seattle Seahawks (5-5) - If the Big East deserves to lose its automatic qualifier to the BCS, the NFC West should lose its automatic spot in the playoffs.
20. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – They’ve been competitive, even in defeat, other than a blowout loss at Detroit. They need a couple of wins against Denver and Arizona to get into serious playoff contention in the weakest division in the league.
21. Washington Redskins (5-5) (+2) – It’s probably too late for a playoff run in D.C., but you never know.
22. Dallas Cowboys (3-7) (+7) – The good news for Wade Phillips is that Matt Millen still has a job. The bad news is, his resume is looking worse and worse with every win Jason Garrett gets. Seven spots is a huge jump, but find a team below the Cowboys that scares you more than they do.
23. Cleveland Browns (3-7) (-2) – I oh so badly want to move them up, but they’re still 3-7. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but they should have four wins in a row coming up the way they’ve been playing: Carolina, Miami, Buffalo, Cincinnati. They’ll probably go 3-1, realistically.
24. Detroit Lions (2-7) (-2) – This team just doesn’t know how to win close games against other bad teams.
25. Minnesota Vikings (3-7) (-1) – I predicted weeks ago that Brett Favre would retire in season. It’s looking like a real possibility now.
26. Miami Dolphins (5-5) (-1) – I know they’re 5-5, but would you rather fave Matt Stafford, Brett Favre or Tyler Thigpen. Enough said.
27. San Francisco 49ers (3-7) (-1) – This season is over. Could Mike Singletary be the third coach this year to lose his job the Monday after a game against the Packers? Mark your calendar for that game on December 5.
28. Arizona Cardinals (3-7) (-1) – Five straight losses have taken them out of contention.
29. Denver Broncos (3-7) (-1) – They’ve lost five of six, and have three in a row on the road after this week’s game against St. Louis. It could get ugly in Denver.
30. Buffalo Bills (2-8) – Two straight wins give the Bills some hope of ending the season with some promise of improvement next year. A game against the Steelers next week does not.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) – They lost by 18. To the Bills. Marvin Lewis is just thankful he’s not playing Green Bay this week.
32. Carolina Panthers (1-9) – So is John Fox, although his contract status makes it pretty obvious that he’ll finish the season and then look for a new job.
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