NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Did the AFC Take Back the No. 1 Spot?
NFL Power Rankings: Who Found It and Who Lost It This Weekend?
This NFL weekend, we saw the "men" separate from the "boys" in the league, and now is the time that power rankings really start to mean something.
For many teams, these next few weeks will decide whether they have a shot at making a postseason appearance, and for others...
Well, now they're just playing for pride.
So who really proved themselves this past weekend?
And which teams' true colors started to show?
Here are NFL Power Rankings for Week 12.
32-21: The Bottom Of The League
Here are the teams that just didn't make the cut:
32 (32). Carolina Panthers: The Panthers bring up the rear yet again after a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. There's always next season, boys!
31 (30). Detroit Lions: The Lions will always have a special place in my heart, but it's time to say goodbye to Detroit for the season.
30 (25). San Francisco 49ers: I wanted to believe in the Niners. I really did, but they got shut out by the Bucs...at home!
29 (29). Cincinnati Bengals: You lost to the Buffalo Bills! By 18 points!
28 (24). Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings fired Brad Childress, and now Brett Favre can officially assume the title of head coach.
27 (31). Buffalo Bills: Don't look now, but the Buffalo Bills have won two games in a row!
26 (27). Denver Broncos: It definitely was not a good weekend for the Denver Broncos.
25 (26). Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals had the unfortunate task of becoming the punching bag of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
24 (23). St. Louis Rams: The good news for the Rams is that even after that beating from the Atlanta Falcons...They're still No. 2 in their division.
23 (28). Dallas Cowboys: How 'bout them Cowboys? (I had to.) Dallas is back in action, and Jason Garrett is 2-0!
22 (20). Cleveland Browns: Sorry, Brownies. I held off from dropping you last week after that loss to the Jets, but I have to knock you down a couple notches this week.
21 (21). Seattle Seahawks: I never know what to expect with this Seattle team. One week they stomp the Cardinals. The next week they get stomped by the Saints. I just can't keep up!
20. Houston Texans
Last Week's Rank: 17
Why They Fall: I know that the New York Jets are a tough team to beat, but the Texans really let this game slip through their fingers.
Houston is fourth in the AFC South, and this is the Texans' fourth straight loss.
19. Washington Redskins
Last Week's Rank: 22
Why They Climb: It makes me very happy to put the Redskins back up in the top 20.
In a word, they're "interesting."
They bounced back from that stomping at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles and a short week and pulled off the win over the Titans.
18. Tennessee Titans
Last Week's Rank: 13
Why They Fall: Last week, I made the mistake of giving the Titans the benefit of the doubt after their loss to the Dolphins, but this team has some serious work to do.
It's too bad Randy Moss doesn't play quarterback...
17. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week's Rank: 18
Why They Climb: Ladies and gentlemen, the Jacksonville Jaguars are first in the AFC South!
I am really starting to like David Garrard this season. He had a rough game against the Cleveland Browns, but this team refuses to give up.
This is the second week in a row that the Jags made a clutch comeback in the fourth quarter, and I smell playoffs!
16. Miami Dolphins
Last Week's Rank: 14
Why They Fall: I had some very high hopes for the Miami Dolphins, but quarterback issues have been their downfall this season.
The Dolphins failed to score a single point against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and if you can't score points at home, you have a serious problem.
15. Oakland Raiders
Last Week's Rank: 12
Why They Fall: You really had me going there, Raider Nation!
I thought that this was going to a terrific season for Oakland, but this team looked pathetic against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Luckily, the Raiders are still second in their division, and they still have a shot at a very good season.
But the San Diego Chargers are going to put up quite a fight for your spot.
14. San Diego Chargers
Last Week's Rank: 15
Why They Climb: Welcome to the NFL, San Diego!
It's about time you showed up!
Jokes aside, the Bolts will continue to climb in these rankings as the season progresses, and it's only a matter of time before they top the AFC West.
13. Chicago Bears
Last Week's Rank: 19
Why They Climb: The Bears hit a rough patch in Week 4, but this team is back in action. They have won three games in a row, and they are at the top of their division.
Unfortunately, the Bears still have some very good teams left to play this season, but as of right now, they are looking spectacular.
12. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week's Rank: 16
Why They Climb: There you go, Kansas City. You really had me worried for a while there after that stunning loss to the Denver Broncos.
But you came back in a big way against the Cardinals this week.
11. New York Giants
Last Week's Rank: 7
Why They Fall: The New York Giants added their second loss in a row against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, but considering how well the Eagles have been playing, the Giants put up a good fight.
With the Dallas Cowboys looking much better in the past two weeks and the Eagles and Redskins both winning on short rest, the NFC East is an extremely tough division.
And the Giants are keeping up.
10. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week's Rank: 9
Why They Fall: The Colts are a great team, but the dominant New England Patriots proved to be too much for Peyton Manning and his banged-up crew.
Indy is behind the Jacksonville Jaguars in their division, and next week, the Colts will have to host the red hot San Diego Chargers.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week's Rank: 11
Why They Climb: The Buccaneers had a great road win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, and they are holding their own in a tough division.
If the Bucs can beat the Baltimore Ravens next week, I will be sold.
8. New Orleans Saints
Last Week's Rank: 10
Why They Climb: The Saints had a big win over a pretty good team in the Seattle Seahawks this weekend, and this was their third in a row.
New Orleans struggled against the Browns in Week 7, but I think they will win at least four of their remaining six games.
7. Green Bay Packers
Last Week's Rank: 8
Why They Climb: The Packers were preseason Super Bowl favorites, and they have been living up to the hype in recent weeks.
They absolutely destroyed the Minnesota Vikings, and they have some other nice victories over the Jets and the Cowboys.
The Chicago Bears may have stopped the Pack in Week 3, but Green Bay will return the favor at the end of the season.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week's Rank: 3
Why They Fall: The Ravens had a big win this weekend...
But it was over the Carolina Panthers.
I don't want to take anything away from the Ravens, but plenty of other teams were more impressive this week.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week's Rank: 6
Why They Climb: The Eagles faced some significantly tougher competition on Sunday when they hosted the Giants, and even though Michael Vick didn't have as ridiculous of a performance as he did last Monday, the Eagles still got a nice win over a very good football team.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week's Rank: 5
Why They Climb: The Steelers really needed a win this past weekend, and boy did that get one!
Pittsburgh absolutely killed the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and they are back to the top of the league.
Next week, the Steelers host the Bills, and then they will look for revenge against the Baltimore Ravens.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week's Rank: 2
Why They Fall: The Falcons are the best team in the NFC, but they aren't the best team in the NFL.
I have already predicted a Falcons' appearance in the Super Bowl, and I stand by that prediction.
But there are two teams that have continued to stand out this entire season...
2. New England Patriots
Last Week's Rank: 1
Why They Fall: The Pats defeated a good Indianapolis team this weekend, and it seems like everything is going right in New England.
They have an elite quarterback in Tom Brady, and even their defense looks spectacular.
But another team in the AFC East looks just a little stronger...
1. New York Jets
Last Week's Rank: 4
Why They Climb: You know the Jets have to be amazing if I am putting them at No. 1.
I haven't given the Jets the benefit of the doubt all season, but they have continued to impress me. I make no attempt to hide the fact that I am not the biggest fan of Mark Sanchez, but the kid is the real deal.
There. I said it.
Week after week, the Jets have seen Mark Sanchez connect on clutch plays, and the progress this young quarterback has made in such a short amount of time is phenomenal.
So why are the Jets so good?
Talent aside (and they have a lot of it), the general vibe of the entire New York Jets organization is very positive. Rex Ryan has the respect and admiration of every single one of his players, and these guys are the most motivated bunch of athletes that I have seen in a long time.