NFL Power Rankings: Analysis of Every Team After Week 12 Thanksgiving Games
Thanksgiving Day football kicked off Week 12 in thrilling fashion. The Houston Texans needed overtime to defeat the Detroit Lions to retain the top spot in the power rankings spot in the process, and that was just the start of Thursday's holiday NFL action.
Robert Griffin III followed it up by leading his Washington Redskins to a one-score victory over the rival Dallas Cowboys. Then Tom Brady showed he didn't need Rob Gronkowski to light up the scoreboard as the New England Patriots crushed the New York Jets.
As the dust settles and fans begin to look ahead to the weekend's games, let's take a look at where every team stands heading into the remaining portion of Week 12. A deeper dive is taken into three teams that played on Thanksgiving.
1. Houston Texans (10-1)
After almost letting yesterday's game slip away a couple times, the Texans were able to regroup and pick up another win. That's the sign of a really good team. Winning even without its A-game.
2. Atlanta Falcons (9-1)
Atlanta might be the least talked about 9-1 team in history. It's mostly because the Falcons don't have any superstars who crave the spotlight, and that's bodes well for the team's chances moving forward.
3. New England Patriots (8-3)
The Patriots offense is in top form right now, scoring almost 50 points without Gronkowski. The team has done a much better job of striving to find a good mix between the run and the pass this season, which will benefit New England come playoff time.
There are still some concerns on defense, especially in the secondary. Adding Aqib Talib has already helped and Alfonzo Dennard has shown signs of promise. But players like Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty need to step up as well.
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-2)
Joe Flacco has been unable to string more than two solid starts together in a row. If he develops some consistency down the stretch—and there's no reason he can't—the Ravens will be a title contender.
5. Denver Broncos (7-3)
The Broncos faced a difficult schedule to begin the season, but it's starting to pay dividends now. Every aspect of the team is starting to play at a high level as they set their focus on a first-round bye.
6. Green Bay Packers (7-3)
A lot that was said about the Broncos works for Green Bay as well. More will be known about where the Packers stand after a measuring-stick game against the Giants on Sunday night, though.
7. San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1)
San Francisco's quarterback situation is worrisome. Having two quarterbacks that deserve playing time often turns into a mess. The 49ers must find a way to avoid issue that during the stretch run.
8. Chicago Bears (7-3)
It's a good thing the Bears were able to build an early lead in the race for the playoffs because injuries and a difficult stretch have caused a brief slide. Getting healthy is undoubtedly their biggest key.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4)
Greg Schiano deserves a lot of credit for where the Bucs stand. They were 1-3 entering their bye week and could have easily checked out mentally at that point. Instead, Schiano got them to fight back.
10. Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
Even though the Colts were given a wake-up call by the Patriots last week, it's too early to give up on them. Andrew Luck is going to keep them in the mix down the stretch as he continues to improve.
11. New York Giants (6-4)
It's time for the Giants to toughen up like they have in years past. They face a tough schedule the rest of the way, starting on Sunday against the Packers. Luckily, they are a late-season team.
12. New Orleans Saints (5-5)
Momentum is on New Orleans' side after winning four of its last five. The Saints have to find a way to maintain it during a rough stretch of games if they want to complete a terrific comeback to get into the playoffs.
How do you view the Seahawks?
13. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
The Seahawks remain undefeated at home. It's no fluke, either. They are a completely different team when playing in front of the raucous Seattle crowd, and now the playoffs are in reach.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)
Pittsburgh is basically the Chicago of the AFC. Everything was going well and then the injury bug hit, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy. The defense must step up to save the day.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)
Even though the Bengals only have one big win, they have managed to stay in the hunt by beating the teams they should beat. The schedule gets tougher, so fans will see where they truly stand soon.
16. Minnesota Vikings (6-4)
The Vikings have to play four out of their next five games on the road with only one of those coming against a sub-.500 team. It's a stretch that will probably leave them on the outside looking in.
17. Washington Redskins (5-6)
Robert Griffin III had eight touchdown passes in his first nine games. He has matched that total in the team's two games since its bye week—against division rivals no less. It's just another sign of him figuring out how to read and dissect NFL defenses.
Combined with Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon, there's a lot to like about the Redskins' offense looking toward the future. They rank 28th in yards allowed on defense, however, which limits the team's overall upside for the remaining part of this season.
18. Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
Just when it looked like the Cowboys were starting to make a charge toward the playoffs, they get beat at home by the Redskins. It pretty much sums up the last few seasons for Dallas.
19. Tennessee Titans (4-6)
The Titans let some winnable games slip through their fingers early in the season and it's probably going to come back to haunt them. They have shown the consistency necessary to go on a long run.
20. San Diego Chargers (4-6)
After watching several key players walk out the door over the past handful of season, it's time for the Chargers to add some pieces in the offseason or the disappointment will continue moving forward.
21. Buffalo Bills (4-6)
It's impossible to count the Bills completely out of the playoff race because they face such an easy schedule. But the hyped defense hasn't been good enough to count on them in pressure-packed games.
22. Miami Dolphins (4-6)
A couple poor performances in a row have put the Dolphins on the brink of falling out of the playoff picture. If they don't beat Seattle this week, it will be time to write them off.
23. Detroit Lions (4-7)
Detroit once again proved its offense can rack up a bunch of points even against a top defense. Matthew Stafford threw for 441 yards, two running backs scored touchdowns, and two wide receivers had over 100 yards. It was a complete effort if there ever was one.
Yet, the story hasn't changed for the Lions. No matter how dynamic the offense is, the defense isn't good enough to slow down opponents. Until the front office finds a way to change that, they will be an exciting team to watch and nothing more.
24. New York Jets (4-7)
The Jets had a chance to make a statement against the Patriots on Thanksgiving night and failed miserably. Now they'll need a miracle in order to make the postseason.
25. St. Louis Rams (3-6-1)
Although the Rams have shown glimpses of improvement in recent weeks, they are still a work in progress. They remain a couple key pieces away from becoming playoff contenders.
Are you surprised by the Cardinals collapse?
26. Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
It's amazing to think a team that started 4-0 could end up drafting inside the top five, but that's what the season is trending toward for Arizona. The Cardinals simply couldn't get back on track.
27. Cleveland Browns (2-8)
The Browns are a team to watch heading into next season. They have remained competitive in almost every game, and a couple offseason moves would lead to a big turnaround.
28. Oakland Raiders (3-7)
Even though the light at the end of the tunnel is barely visible, it's there. The Raiders' offense has made big strides. Now the front office needs to focus on fixing the defense.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7)
No team has run away with the NFC East. That means the Eagles are still technically alive. But, after watching them play in recent weeks, even the diehard fans are likely having doubts.
30. Carolina Panthers (2-8)
It takes one than a couple star players to win games in the NFL. The Panthers must find a way to add depth during the offseason. In other words, Cam Newton and Steve Smith need some help.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9)
The Jaguars are at the beginning of a multiyear process to get the franchise moving back in the right direction. Unfortunately for fans, that means some ugly play is on the horizon.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-9)
No, despite what the talking heads say, no college team could beat the Chiefs. By NFL standards, however, they are terrible. A lot of changes are needed before hope returns.
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