Week 12 featured many good games, which didn’t help provide much clarity at the top or the bottom of the NFL power rankings.
It looks like there is a clear No. 1 team in the NFL right now, but several teams can make an argument to be second. Luckily, that will play itself out the rest of the season.
The bottom of the rankings doesn’t have much separation, either. Many teams are playing bad football, and the struggling teams are tough to differentiate.
Records aren’t the only deciding factors in these rankings. How a team has played recently and head-to-head records will also be considered where applicable.
Let’s check out how the NFL looks entering Week 13.
1. Seattle Seahawks (10-1)
A bye week gave the Seattle Seahawks time to rest and get ready for their biggest game of the regular season. They will host the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football in Week 13.
Seattle is the lone team with only one loss. The Seahawks are a legitimate threat to go to the Super Bowl, especially if they have home-field advantage.
2. Denver Broncos (9-2)
No team has suffered a tougher loss this season than what happened to the Denver Broncos in Foxboro on Sunday night. They blew a 24-0 halftime lead and then lost in one of the most devastating ways possible. It looked like they would be able to settle for a tie at worst, but a turnover on a punt cost them the game.
Luckily, that loss could turn out to be irrelevant. If the Broncos win out, they will be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The loss was a little bit concerning. The Broncos held a 17-0 lead in the first quarter despite quarterback Peyton Manning throwing for only eight yards and zero touchdowns. He finished with only 150 passing yards in nearly five full quarters. His struggles in the cold seemed to continue last week, but he did a good job not making many mistakes.
3. New Orleans Saints (9-2)
New Orleans will head to Seattle in what could be a winner-take-all game for home-field advantage in the NFC. The Saints played on Thursday in Week 12, so they had a couple of extra days to prepare for this game.
It won’t be an easy game as the Seahawks have won 13 straight in Seattle. However, this game could decide who goes to the Super Bowl—because of home-field advantage.
4. Carolina Panthers (8-3)
After beating the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots in back-to-back weeks, the Carolina Panthers could have easily had a letdown against the Miami Dolphins this past week.
The Panthers fell behind 16-3 late in the second quarter, but they fought their way back in to score the final 17 points. A last-minute touchdown helped keep the pressure on the Saints as the Panthers remain only a game back in the NFC South.
5. New England Patriots (8-3)
The Patriots may have been very fortunate to escape Sunday’s game with a victory, but it still counts as a win. After a controversial loss in Week 11, they came out flat in the first half against the Broncos. Three fumbles led to 17 Denver points, which turned into a 24-point deficit at the half.
A huge deficit didn’t stop them from rallying. They outscored the Broncos 31-7 in the second half and won late in overtime.
If the Patriots can win out and get a loss from both the Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs, New England will get home-field advantage. Denver and Kansas City play this week, so the Patriots will just need the winner to lose a game in December.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
It was only two weeks ago that the Chiefs were 9-0 and in position to take control of the AFC West. Two consecutive losses have the team in a must-win situation this week at home. Kansas City will host Denver in a game that could decide the AFC West.
A loss to the Broncos would not only put the Chiefs a game behind the division leaders, but it would also give Denver the tiebreaker, which would mean Kansas City would have to finish with more wins in order to win the division.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
Heading into their bye week, the Cincinnati Bengals had a commanding 2.5-game lead over the other three teams in the AFC North. Wins by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12 have turned up the pressure on Cincinnati.
Here’s the Bengals’ upcoming schedule: at San Diego, vs. Indianapolis, at Pittsburgh. If the Bengals win their remaining two division games, they will win the division and get a home playoff game. However, their next two games will be important in terms of seeding.
8. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
San Francisco got an important win on Monday Night Football in Washington. After losing two consecutive close games, the 49ers needed to get back to winning. They faced a struggling Washington team at the right time.
9. Arizona Cardinals (7-4)
Not many people expected the Arizona Cardinals to be sitting in second place of the NFC West entering Week 13. That’s where they are, and they continue to push the 49ers to keep winning.
Arizona is averaging 30.3 points per game during its current four-game winning streak. The Cardinals had beaten up on some inferior teams early in the streak, but they took it to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. They held a 27-3 lead at half and stretched the lead to 31 in the third quarter.
Quarterback Carson Palmer has been the biggest part of the team’s success. He has completed 69 percent of his passes and averaged 286.5 yards over the last four games, and he has eight touchdowns to only two interceptions during the winning streak.
The defense has also played well recently. Opponents have scored 14 points or fewer in three of the last four games. If they can knock off San Francisco later this season, the Cardinals could sneak into the playoffs.
10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
The Colts beat the Broncos in Week 7 and looked like legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Since their bye in Week 8, they have looked like a completely different team.
Here are the deficits the team has faced in its last four games: 18, 38, 14 and 31. They have somehow found a way to win two of those games, but that’s a dangerous way to play games. Indianapolis has to get off to better starts if it wants to make noise in the postseason.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)
Philadelphia has won three in a row, including its first home win in 11 tries. Three of the Eagles' next four games are at home, but they are all against teams contending for the postseason. The Minnesota Vikings are the only team with a losing record left on the Eagles’ schedule.
If the Eagles are going to get into the playoffs, they are going to have to earn it.
12. Detroit Lions (6-5)
After blowing leads against teams with losing records in each of the last two weeks, the Detroit Lions have failed to take advantage of their depleted division. The Lions are the only team—in contention—in the NFC that has a healthy quarterback.
Losing the last two games has allowed the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers to hang around despite playing with backup quarterbacks.
13. Dallas Cowboys (6-5)
Dallas needed a win and it got one against the New York Giants. A win would have put the Cowboys in a tie with the Eagles atop the NFC East, but a loss would’ve put them in a tie with the Giants. They got the win and now control their own destiny.
14. San Diego Chargers (5-6)
If the San Diego Chargers had any hope of making the postseason, Week 12’s game in Kansas City was a must-win. They rallied to win a shootout in the final minute to snap a three-game losing streak.
Five of the Chargers’ six losses have been by one possession. Those close losses may come back to haunt the team if it misses out on the playoffs. However, 5-6 is good enough to be tied for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.
15. Baltimore Ravens (5-6)
The defending champs have gone through some tough times this season. Their last five losses have come by a combined 15 points. Until Week 12, their previous two wins came on walk-off field goals. That’s seven straight games decided by one possession.
Baltimore’s 16-point win over the New York Jets last week was a nice and easy victory. Now the Ravens have a crucial AFC North showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football.
16. Chicago Bears (6-5)
Without Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears aren’t looking like they will be able to make the playoffs. They got blown out in St. Louis this week, but they have been in the same boat as the Ravens. Seven straight games had been decided by one possession. Unlike the Ravens, they were on the wrong end of a blowout this past week.
17. Green Bay Packers (5-5-1)
Down 23-7 early in the third quarter and their playoff hopes on the line, the Green Bay Packers turned to Matt Flynn. He did a good job of bringing them back into the game, and he even led his team to 19 straight points to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
A tie against the Minnesota Vikings isn’t something to cheer about, but it’s better than a loss at this point. The Packers are trying to stay in contention while Aaron Rodgers recovers from his injury. A Thanksgiving date with the Lions could decide the Packers’ fate.
18. St. Louis Rams (5-6)
Two straight blowout wins have the St. Louis Rams feeling good. Unfortunately for them, they are in a stacked NFC West. It looks like they have caught fire a little too late as they sit two games back of second place.
19. Tennessee Titans (5-6)
Tennessee lost two straight games, both inside its division, by a combined five points. Despite those two losses, the Titans sit in the sixth spot in the AFC.
The next three weeks are going to be tough. The Titans have to go to Indianapolis and Denver, and then they host the Cardinals. If they can find a way to steal a win or two in those three games, they could get into the playoffs as they play Jacksonville and Houston the final two weeks.
20. Miami Dolphins (5-6)
Miami had a chance to take over the final playoff spot in the AFC, but they couldn’t keep the Panthers out of the end zone in the final minute.
Six of their past seven games have been decided by one possession, and the team has lost six of its last eight games. The Dolphins have a favorable schedule down the stretch, but they have to start playing better if they are going to make the playoffs.
21. New York Giants (4-7)
The Giants’ last-second loss to the Cowboys could be the dagger. New York had rolled off four straight wins after starting 0-6, and a win last week would have put the team only a game behind the Eagles for first place in the division. Now it looks like the Giants may have dug themselves in too big of a hole.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6)
For all of the doubters out there, never count out the Pittsburgh Steelers. They started the season off 0-4, but they have won five of their past seven to put themselves in contention.
The team’s last loss came in Week 9 to the Patriots. They allowed 55 points in that blowout loss. In three wins since that beating, they have allowed only 48 points combined. It looks like New England woke Pittsburgh’s defense up.
23. New York Jets (5-6)
Rookie Geno Smith is going through a rough stretch. It’s not all on him, but he didn’t look so hot on Sunday in Baltimore. He completed only nine of 22 passes for 127 yards and two interceptions. Smith had a total quarterback rating of 3.8 and a passer rating of 22.3. He has eight touchdowns to 18 interceptions on the season, which has to get better if the Jets are going to stay in contention.
24. Cleveland Browns (4-7)
The Browns haven’t officially been eliminated from contention, but their season is over. Starting in the second quarter of Week 11 to the end of the third quarter last week, the Browns were outscored 61-10. The Steelers added a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make it a 68-10 gap, but the Browns did get a touchdown near the end of the game. That’s not good, especially with the season on the line.
25. Buffalo Bills (4-7)
A blowout over the New York Jets led the Buffalo Bills into a bye week. They have three very winnable games, on paper, the next three weeks. If they find a way to sweep those three games, the Bills will be battling for a playoff spot in the final two weeks of the season.
26. Oakland Raiders (4-7)
Oakland lost in the final seconds, but it has to like what it has seen out of its quarterbacks this season. Terrelle Pryor has shown the ability to make plays with his arm and his legs. Matt McGloin is 1-1 as a starter, and he was only a few seconds away from being 2-0.
The final five games of the season could be rough. The Raiders still play three road games against contenders, but their home games will be even tougher. They will host the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos in two of their final three games.
Oakland has exceeded expectations, but it may not get another win this season.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8)
Tampa Bay started the season 0-8, but it has looked much better recently. The Buccaneers have won three straight, including two against contenders, and also had a 21-0 lead on the Seahawks in Seattle. Things are starting to click for the Buccaneers, but it’s too late to save their season.
28. Washington Redskins (3-8)
Washington has lost five of its last six games, and the losses are getting worse each week. It failed to score a touchdown against the 49ers on Monday Night Football, and the season is over at this point.
29. Atlanta Falcons (2-9)
Nobody saw this coming. The Atlanta Falcons have been hurt by injuries, but this team still had the talent to finish around .500. Instead, the Falcons have fallen quickly. They have lost five in a row and eight of their last nine. They have been making process, however. Their margin of defeat has gone down in each of the last three games, and it made its way down to a one-possession game in Week 12.
When San Francisco beat Washington on Monday Night Football, Atlanta became the first team officially eliminated from postseason contention. That comes one year after hosting the NFC title game.
30. Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1)
Tying the Packers should be a positive for the Vikings. They are 1-1-1 in their last three games, so they aren’t looking terrible. Now they have a chance in each of the next five weeks to play the spoiler.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)
It’s tough to move the Jacksonville Jaguars out of the last position, but they are looking better as of late. They have won two of their last three games, although both wins came against backup quarterbacks. The head-to-head victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday was good enough to give the Jaguars a boost.
32. Houston Texans (2-9)
Houston started the season 2-0, but it needed great comebacks in order to win those games. Those two wins came by a combined nine points. Since their last win in Week 2, the Texans have lost a franchise-record nine straight games.
The Texans’ early losses were blowouts, but they are at least staying competitive lately. Their last five losses have come by a total of 19 points. Those losses are starting to look worse, no matter what the final score says.
How bad has it gotten? Houston has lost to Oakland and Jacksonville at home the last two weeks.
*All stats are via NFL.com
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