Week 12 wasn’t a week for the visitors, as 13 of the 16 match-ups were won by the home squad. With each passing week, the playoff contenders become slightly clearer.
This week teams like the Broncos, Falcons, Ravens and even Titans kept the playoff dream alive while teams like the Texans, Dolphins and Bears saw their playoff hopes go up in smoke.
As if the MVP race couldn’t get any tighter, quarterbacks Brett Favre and Drew Brees had stellar performances. Peyton Manning kept his team undefeated with three TD passes, and dark horse candidate Chris Johnson of the Titans ran wild again.
Teams’ previous ranking in ( ).
1. New Orleans Saints (1)
Any questions regarding who the best team in the NFL were answered on Monday Night Football. Drew Brees and Co. absolutely shredded the Patriots defense. The Saints should be marching to an undefeated season, and more importantly, a Super Bowl victory.
2. Indianapolis Colts (2)
The Colts have trailed in the fourth quarter five straight games, and five straight times they’ve pulled off the comeback behind QB Peyton Manning.
The Titans will give them everything they can handle in Week 13. A win will give them the longest regular season winning streak of all time. It should also be their final hurdle towards an undefeated season.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3)
Quarterback Brett Favre is arguably the MVP through 12 weeks. He’s showing no signs of slowing down and continues to make me eat my words from the preseason.
4. San Diego Chargers (5)
The Bolts kept rolling against the Chiefs. TE Antonio Gates had a monster game with over 100 yards and two touchdowns. Is this the year the Chargers make a deep playoff run?
5. Cincinnati Bengals (6)
Welcome back, Larry Johnson. Johnson ran for over 100 yards against a poor Browns defense. It appears the Bengals may now have one of the deepest backfields in all of football.
6. Dallas Cowboys (7)
The good news is Dallas moved to 8-3 and took care of the Raiders, something Philadelphia and Cincinnati failed to do. The bad news is that four of Dallas’ remaining five games are against teams with a combined 32-12 record.
7. New England Patriots (4)
There’s no doubting this team can get red hot at any given time and make a Super Bowl run, but if they make it that far you can be sure they will be hoping to face anyone but the Saints.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (9)
Philly got everything they could handle from the ‘Skins on Sunday and escaped with a three point victory to maintain the lead in the wildcard chase.
9. Arizona Cardinals (8)
Hang in there Matt Leinart—eventually you will get the best of Vince Young. The Cards hung tough with their backup quarterback starting his first game of the year in a difficult environment. LaRod Stephens-Howling had one of the greatest special teams games you will ever see, and by a rookie no less.
10. Green Bay Packers (12)
If not for the incredible season put up by his predecessor and two guys named Brees and Manning, quarterback Aaron Rodgers might be the NFL MVP. And with that offensive line, that’s quite an accomplishment.
11. Denver Broncos (15)
Can anyone figure this team out? This team is capable of beating any team in the league on any given Sunday. They are also capable of losing to any team in the league on any given Sunday.
12. Baltimore Ravens (13)
Baltimore finally had a close game go their way. They need to get their offense going again though. Since week eight, they have only scored over 20 points once.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (10)
Nobody saw the defending Super Bowl champs starting the season 6-5 and in serious danger of missing the playoffs. They should be fine though, as three of their remaining five games should be gimme wins while the two tougher games will be at home. What they don’t need is their star wide receiver calling out QB Ben Roethlisberger.
14. New York Giants (11)
Yuck. Six total points against a Bronco defense that had surrendered 117 points in their previous four games and had given up 23 or more points every week since week five. They aren’t out of it at 6-5, but quarterback Eli Manning’s health seems to be a more serious issue than originally thought.
15. Atlanta Falcons (16)
The Falcons narrowly escaped falling victim to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The health of QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner is a big problem. I don’t see this team making the playoffs at this point.
16. Houston Texans (14)
Was the Texans team that played the second half the same team that played in the first half? It sure didn’t look like it. Houston blew a 17-0 first half lead, but more importantly, they pretty much blew their playoff hopes.
17. Tennessee Titans (19)
What a game and what a final drive by QB Vince Young and the Texans. After an 0-6 start, this team is actually sniffing playoffs. Young is going to need some more magic next week, as the Titans play the undefeated Colts.
18. Miami Dolphins (17)
The Dolphins could not afford a letdown against the Bills if they wanted a shot at the playoffs. I guess they missed the memo, and at 5-6 it would appear as if Miami will be experiencing playoff football from the comfort of their homes.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (18)
The loss to the 49ers doesn’t kill the Jags season, but it likely means they will have to beat either the Colts or Patriots to try and win a wildcard berth.
20. San Francisco 49ers (21)
The 49ers will make the playoffs—in 2010. At 5-6, their hopes this year are all but gone. But I really like their chances next year, especially in a fairly weak division. The emergence of TE Vernon Davis and addition of WR Michael Crabtree will allow RB Frank Gore to have a big season next year.
21. New York Jets (22)
CB Darrelle Revis continued his dominating year with two picks, including one returned for a score. He added WR Steve Smith to the list of great wideouts that he has shut down this season.
22. Carolina Panthers (20)
Quarterback Jake Delhomme threw four more interceptions and apparently suffered a broken finger that may keep him out in week 13. After a string of productive games, RB DeAngelo Williams only ran for 40 yards and will likely to continue to struggle if the Panthers have to change quarterbacks.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (23)
RB Jamaal Charles is quite a playmaker, but otherwise the Chiefs are a mess and have very little talent on either side of the football.
24. Washington Redskins (25)
The Skins had the lead entering the fourth quarter, and QB Jason Campbell hit nine different receivers while throwing for 231 yards and two scores. But it wasn’t quite enough. Outside of a game against the Raiders, the remaining schedule for the Redskins is brutal.
25. Chicago Bears (24)
The Bears only ran 34 total offensive plays against the Vikings. Was trading for quarterback Jay Cutler really a good move? I think Kyle Orton would have been more then capable of going 4-7 through 11 games.
26. Seattle Seahawks (26)
Seattle beat the Rams in the least appetizing matchup of the week. RB Justin Forsett had himself a huge game with 130 rushing yards and two scores, causing fantasy players everywhere to scramble to their computers.
27. Buffalo Bills (29)
The Bills exploded for 24 fourth quarter points to beat Miami 31-14. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played very well and WR Terrell Owens had his second productive week in a row.
28. Oakland Raiders (28)
QB Bruce Gradkowski has thrown three touchdown passes in his two games as a starter this year. That’s one more then the Raiders had as a team through the first 10 weeks.
29. Detroit Lions (27)
QB Matt Stafford showed his toughness again by starting just four days after dislocating his non-throwing shoulder. Nonetheless, he threw four picks in a Thanksgiving Day blowout loss to the Packers.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31)
The Bucs came less than 30 seconds away from pulling out their second win of the season but were unsuccessful. However, they are playing much more competitive football as of late and could sneak out a win or two in the final five weeks of the season.
31. St. Louis Rams (30)
Many of my preseason predictions have already been proven wrong. However, I predicted the Rams would be even less successful this year than last. They finished 2-14 last year and it’s tough to do worse. However, the Rams face five tough games the rest of the way and could very easily finish 1-15.
32. Cleveland Browns (32)
It’s not usually a good sign when your quarterback is the second leading receiver for the game. The Browns will challenge the Rams for worst record, but with a game left against the Raiders, it looks like the Browns may be able to scratch out a second win.