NFL Power Rankings: Teams Ready to Make Late-Season Runs
This power ranking is all about the quest of identifying the teams that will improve to the finish of the season and turn that into a strong playoff run.
There are some clear front runners right now, but they better hope they keep improving because there are a host of teams gunning to run them down.
The teams that will make this late-season charge will be highlighted in my full power rankings below.
Langford's Week 12 NFL Power Rankings
1. Houston Texans
Every team has off weeks, and you can't blame the Texans for thinking they could sleep walk and still keep the Jaguars from being threat. Few teams can still win when they have off weeks.
2. San Francisco 49ers
What a performance against the Bears on Monday night. The 49ers looked amazing in all phases of the game.
3. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have one of the most inconsistent offenses I have ever seen. I will be shocked if this doesn't doom them in the playoffs.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Yes, the Falcons are tied for the league's best record, but they don't have the physicality or prowess in the run game to excel in the playoffs.
5. Denver Broncos
Why the Broncos Will Make a Late-Season Run
The Broncos have won five-straight games and they are really still learning how to play together. The passing offense has been amazing, but there are still some inconsistencies and communication issues that will only begin to disappear as the season rolls on.
The offense isn't all about the pass, either. Denver is 19th in the league in passing, but they have a physical offensive line and know how to get tough ground yards when they need to.
The defense is also making strides. It is fifth in opposing rushing yards and that number has nothing to do with what this team does best on defense: rush the passer.
This is a complete and well-balanced team that is built for the playoffs.
6. New England Patriots
The Patriots have the talent on offense to withstand the loss of Rob Gronkowski. They just need him to get back on the field for the playoffs.
7. Green Bay Packers
I was expecting the Packers to put up a more dominant performance against the Lions last week as they came off their bye, but they got the win and still have an eye on the playoffs.
8. Chicago Bears
The Bears are in trouble. The defense is losing its magic-turnover touch and the offensive line is dooming the offense.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
Somehow, someway Pittsburgh must find a way to stay in the playoff picture while Ben Roethlisberger recovers.
10. New York Giants
If it wasn't the Giants, it would be so easy to write this team off after their recent struggles. Let's see how they look coming off their bye.
11. Seattle Seahawks
If Seattle can ever figure out how to play on the road like they do at home, this team would be supremely dangerous.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers look great, but their schedule is about to get much more difficult.
13. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts' poor showing against the Patriots may be a sign of things to come as they embark on a tougher schedule.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Why the Cowboys Will Make a Late-Season Run
Dallas came oh so close to letting another win slip away against the Browns this past week, but this time, they made the plays at the end to win.
The Cowboys have now won two in a row to get to .500 on the season and build up some momentum and positive energy around this team. They will now carry all that momentum into two-straight home games and they are both winnable as they come against the Redskins and Eagles.
Dallas's schedule will get tougher after that, but this will be a much more confident team heading into the home stretch.
15. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings' next three games come against the Bears (twice) and Packers. Their season will be decided in that stretch.
16. Cincinnati Bengals
Why the Bengals Will Make a Late-Season Run
Heading into Week 10, the Bengals had lost four straight and appeared to be falling apart. Now they've won two straight and have been impressive in both.
Over the course of the last two games, Cincinnati has rediscovered its explosiveness, and that all starts with quarterback Andy Dalton. Before this two game winning streak, Dalton had thrown at least one pick in every game this year. Combined in his last two, Dalton has six touchdowns to no interceptions.
We can't pin this all on Dalton, either. He would not be able to do any if this if the offensive line hadn't been making big strides.
On the other side of the ball, the defense is making strides, as well. Two of the three lowest points they have allowed this season have come in the last two games.
The Bengals have two very winnable games coming up and they will continue to climb up the playoff ladder.
17. New Orleans Saints
The Saints still have long odds to make the playoffs, but there is no doubt this team is rising.
18. Detroit Lions
The Lions are so close to be in playoff contention. They just keep screwing up in the most inopportune moments.
19. Washington Redskins
The Redskins are easily the most entertaining bad team in the league.
20. New York Jets
Yay! The Jets won a game. Enjoy it, Jets fans. Your team plays the Patriots this week.
21. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals almost beat the mighty Falcons this week. Instead, they turned a five-game losing streak into a six-game losing streak.
22. Tennessee Titans
The Titans defense looked great against the Dolphins before hitting last week's bye, but it will take more than one performance before I am a believer.
23. San Diego Chargers
It could get ugly in San Diego before this season is over.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
Speaking of getting ugly, the Eagles should just forfeit the rest of their games and start rebuilding.
25. Buffalo Bills
The Bills' have very little talent and some very big contracts. That is terrible combo.
26. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are playing bad and staring at three-straight daunting games on their schedule.
27. St. Louis Rams
The Rams used the momentum gained from their tie with the 49ers to look completely noncompetitive against the Jets. Not good.
28. Carolina Panthers
At least Carolina isn't getting any worse.
29. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are getting worse. Much worse. This defense is a complete joke right now.
30. Cleveland Browns
The Browns will play teams tough, but they don't know how to win.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
The most shocking thing about this season is that the Jaguars aren't the clear-cut worst team in the league.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
How in the world did the Chiefs beat the Saints in Week 3? It will be their only win this year.
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