With every NFL team in action in Week 12, there was a lot of opportunity for movement in the standings and power rankings.
Several squads took advantage of favorable matchups this week, earning key wins toward their playoff pushes. Others will look back at this week as a missed opportunity and could be headed toward a tough end of the season.
There is still time to turn things around, but here is a look at the latest power rankings through Sunday's Week 12 action.
|Post-Week 12 NFL Power Rankings|
|Rank||Team||Record||Week 12 Result|
|1||Dallas Cowboys||10-1||Win vs. Redskins|
|2||New England Patriots||9-2||Win vs. Jets|
|3||Oakland Raiders||9-2||Win vs. Panthers|
|4||Kansas City Chiefs||8-3||Win vs. Broncos|
|5||Detroit Lions||7-4||Win vs. Vikings|
|6||Denver Broncos||7-4||Loss vs. Chiefs|
|7||Seattle Seahawks||7-3-1||Loss vs. Buccaneers|
|8||New York Giants||8-3||Win vs. Browns|
|9||Atlanta Falcons||7-4||Win vs. Cardinals|
|10||Miami Dolphins||7-4||Win vs. 49ers|
|11||Washington Redskins||6-4-1||Loss vs. Cowboys|
|12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6-5||Win vs. Seahawks|
|13||Baltimore Ravens||6-5||Win vs. Bengals|
|14||Pittsburgh Steelers||6-5||Win vs. Colts|
|15||Minnesota Vikings||6-5||Loss vs. Lions|
|16||Buffalo Bills||6-5||Win vs. Jaguars|
|17||Tennessee Titans||6-6||Win vs. Bears|
|18||New Orleans Saints||5-6||Win vs. Rams|
|19||Philadelphia Eagles||5-5||Will play Monday vs. Packers|
|20||San Diego Chargers||5-6||Win vs. Texans|
|21||Indianapolis Colts||5-6||Loss vs. Steelers|
|22||Houston Texans||6-5||Loss vs. Chargers|
|23||Green Bay Packers||4-6||Will play Monday vs. Eagles|
|24||Carolina Panthers||4-7||Loss vs. Raiders|
|25||Arizona Cardinals||4-6-1||Loss vs. Falcons|
|26||Cincinnati Bengals||3-7-1||Loss vs. Ravens|
|27||Los Angeles Rams||4-7||Loss vs. Saints|
|28||New York Jets||3-8||Loss vs. Patriots|
|29||Jacksonville Jaguars||2-9||Loss vs. Bills|
|30||Chicago Bears||2-9||Loss vs. Titans|
|31||San Francisco 49ers||1-10||Loss vs. Dolphins|
|32||Cleveland Browns||0-12||Loss vs. Giants|
It doesn't matter how you win, just that you win.
No team has learned this more than the Detroit Lions this season. They have trailed in the fourth quarter in all 11 games this year but have somehow found a way to produce a 7-4 record.
Few of those wins were more important than the one on Thanksgiving Day, when two field goals in the final two minutes helped tie and eventually beat the Minnesota Vikings 16-13. All of a sudden, the squad is alone in first place in the NFC North.
Head coach Jim Caldwell explained the team's ability to keep coming from behind, per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com:
Our group plays loose and aggressive. That's kind of how we try to keep it. You can't play a ballgame uptight. They don't get uptight, even at the end of ballgames. In tough situations that are fairly tough for the most part and can be a little bit uncomfortable, it does not bother them.
They've been in it. They find a way. They believe in one another, and they keep trying to find a way to win.
The latest victory came thanks to a Sam Bradford interception deep in his own territory, which led to the game-winning Matt Prater field goal. However, all of these comebacks show it can't be a fluke.
Detroit doesn't run the ball consistently and has question marks in the defensive secondary, but this is starting to look like a playoff team on both sides of the football. With quarterback Matthew Stafford playing as efficiently as he has in his career, the Lions are extremely dangerous going forward.
Every time it seems like the Houston Texans are ready to take a step forward, they take a large step back.
Houston entered the week in first place in the AFC South, coming off a hard-fought loss against the Oakland Raiders. A home game against the inconsistent San Diego Chargers would be a way to take control of the division and prove that they are a real contender in the conference.
That didn't happen as quarterback Brock Osweiler struggled once again with zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
Michael Fabiano of NFL.com summed up the day for the signal-caller:
Michael Fabiano @Michael_Fabiano
No other way to explain Brock Osweiler's last throw except that he started the Chargers defense in fantasy...11/27/2016, 8:33:25 PM
The Texans weren't much better defensively as Philip Rivers passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns. While they remain in first place in the division, the 6-3 start is a distant memory, and there is legitimate competition in the AFC South.
Between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts, Houston will need to scratch and claw to remain on top of the standings. Based on the way the team played Sunday, this is a hard group to bet on.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After a 3-5 start to the year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are inexplicably in playoff contention.
The defense has been the key over the current three-game winning streak, allowing just 32 total points in the last three games combined. The unit came through with its best performance Sunday, holding Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks to just three offensive points in a 14-5 victory.
Seattle ended the game with 245 total yards of offense, three turnovers and was 1-of-11 on third-down conversion attempts.
Meanwhile, Jameis Winston continues to perform at a high level, completing 68 of 100 passes (68 percent) during the winning streak with an average of 287.7 passing yards per game.
With a healthy Doug Martin in the backfield and everyone playing to expectations, this team is surprisingly in contention in the NFC South and the wild-card race. This wasn't expected a month ago, but it would be a mistake to count the Buccaneers out now.
There is no question the Carolina Panthers are talented. This team went 15-1 a year ago with many of the same players, including elite quarterback Cam Newton.
Unfortunately, many of the bounces that were going their way in 2015 have gone against them in 2016.
ESPN Stats & Info noted how close many of the losses have been:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Panthers have lost an NFL-high 5 games by 3 or fewer points this season.11/28/2016, 12:45:49 AM
It all counts the same in the standings, but this is a depressing sight for a team that sits at 4-7.
The latest loss featured a comeback from a 24-7 halftime deficit only to lose the game on a field goal in the final minutes. Newton made some of his best throws of the season, but there were still enough mistakes on both sides of the ball to come away with yet another loss.
While Carolina isn't eliminated from the playoffs, the team will likely need to win out to even have a chance. This isn't a great situation for the defending NFC champions.
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