Clay Matthews (and his hair) has the Packers thinking Super Bowl again.
Sadly, one team from this group (Rams, Cardinals, 49ers or Seahawks) is going to be making the playoffs this season.
Whining aside, it’s time for our special Thanksgiving edition of the NFL power rankings.
So sit back, relax, gobble down some turkey, and enjoy the read.
32. Carolina Panthers (1-9, Last Week: 32)
Week 12: at CLE
The Panthers’ schedule the rest of the way: at Cleveland, at Seattle, vs. Atlanta, vs. Arizona, at Pittsburgh at Atlanta.
If they wind up with the No. 1 pick, can a team that took two QBs in the 2010 draft (Jimmy Clausen in round two, Tony Pike in round six) take yet another quarterback at the top of the first round this year?
31. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8, Last Week: 31)
Week 12: at NYJ
Cincy blew a comfortable 31-14 halftime lead at home against the Bills, and wound up on the short end of a 49-31 blowout score.
Oh, Bengals. You are so Bengally.
30. Detroit Lions (2-8, Last Week: 30)
Week 12: vs. NE
Like the Bengals, the Lions blew an early lead on their way to losing handily.
Detroit has lost six consecutive Thanksgiving Day games, and it won’t get much easier when the red-hot Patriots come calling this time around.
Circling the Feisty Wagons!
29. Buffalo Bills (2-8, Last Week: 29)
Week 12: vs. PIT
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills absolutely blitzkrieged the Bengals in the second half of Sunday’s game on their way to 35 second-half points.
They scored on a 28-yard pass (Steve Johnson), a 27-yard fumble return (Drayton Florence), an 11-yard pass (Steve Johnson), a 32-yard pass (Steve Johnson) and capped it off with a 30-yard run (Fred Jackson).
Interim Coach Turnaround?
28. Minnesota Vikings (3-7, Last Week: 23)
Week 12: at WAS
Brad Childress has finally (mercifully) been fired.
Now it’s time for the Vikes to see what Leslie Frazier can do.
If Minnesota can make a run and finish, say, 8-8, how do they address the quarterback position heading into next year?
Aforementioned NFC West
27. Arizona Cardinals (3-7, Last Week: 28)
Week 12: vs. SF
For some reason, the 49ers-Cardinals game is this week’s Monday Night matchup.
Enjoy that one, ESPN!
26. San Francisco 49ers (3-7, Last Week: 25)
Week 12: at ARZ
San Francisco had a great opportunity to beat a playoff contender at home and vault themselves back into the playoff race.
Instead, the Niners fell flat on their faces in a 21-0 loss to the Bucs Sunday.
Bland. Bland. Bland.
25. St. Louis Rams (4-6, Last Week: 26)
Week 12: at DEN
Despite losing to Atlanta, the Rams showed that they have some fight in them.
They are the team that I’d pick to take home this division once it’s all said and done.
Sam Bradford is performing like a star with receivers like Danny Amendola, Michael Hoomanawanui, Laurent Robinson and Brandon Gibson.
24. Seattle Seahawks (5-5, Last Week: 27)
Week 12: vs. KC
Since Week 7, Seattle’s two wins have come at the hands of the awful Cardinals, while they’ve been blown out by the Raiders, Giants and Saints.
What’s Your Deal? Are You Just Bad or What?
23. Denver Broncos (3-7, Last Week: 22)
Week 12: vs. STL
After an absolute beatdown of the Chiefs the week prior, the Broncos went into San Diego and got beat down themselves by the surging Chargers.
How much longer will they let Josh McDaniels play with this thing?
22. Washington Redskins (5-5, Last Week: 21)
Week 12: vs. MIN
Yellow pants and all, the Redskins found a way to rebound from their debacle against the Eagles to secure an OT win over the Titans on the road.
Clinton Portis has been put on IR. Poor Clinton Portis.
21. Houston Texans (4-6, Last Week: 20)
Week 12: vs. TEN
The Texans have been kicked in the crotch for three straight games now.
They managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory against the Jets.
Remember when they were 4-2?
20. Cleveland Browns (3-7, Last Week: 19)
Week 12: vs. CAR
Cleveland will finally catch a break with the Panthers coming to town this week, following their Steelers-Saints-Patriots-Jets-Jaguars schedule gauntlet.
What’s with Browns QBs and ankle sprains? Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace have each missed much of the season nursing them.
McCoy suffered the injury against Jacksonville.
Likely Out of It, but Impressive Nonetheless
19. Dallas Cowboys (3-7, Last Week: 24)
Week 12: vs. NO
Free agent Bryan McCann (no, not All-Star Braves catcher Brian McCann) has helped throw the momentum into the Cowboys’ favor in two straight games now.
He had a 101-yard interception returned for a TD against the Giants and a 97-yard punt return TD against the Lions.
How Deion of him.
So, Are You Going to the Playoffs or Not?
18. Miami Dolphins (5-5, Last Week: 16)
Week 12: at OAK
Miami’s offense looked awful in the 16-0 home loss to the Bears last Thursday night.
It will need to get things straightened out in a hurry if they’re truly interested in contending for an AFC playoff spot this season.
What’s up with those running backs? They both seem to have chosen to age 15 years at the wrong/same time.
17. Tennessee Titans (5-5, Last Week: 15)
Week 12: at HOU
This team was 5-2 once upon a time.
They has seen their season turn like a Bryan McCann-induced momentum swing (see what I did there?).
Vince Young is done. Kerry Collins is out. Randy Moss is doing nothing.
Hello, Rusty Smith era! I’m excited.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4, Last Week: 18)
Week 12: at NYG
The first-place Jaguars (weird, eh?) were 3-4 at one point this season, and have rattled off three-wins to take the lead in the AFC South.
Can MJD and company help deliver a costly blow to a scuffling Giants team at the Meadowlands this week?
15. Oakland Raiders (5-5, Last Week: 12)
Week 12: vs. MIA
Coming off of the bye, the previously red-hot Raiders were humbled by the Steelers 35-3.
With the struggling Dolphins coming in, though, there’s a good opportunity for a rebound.
14. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4, Last Week: 17)
Week 12: at SEA
KC was due for an easy victory, and Arizona coming to town was just what the doctor ordered.
Jamaal Charles had 88 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown. He has now rushed for 848 yards on just 139 carries this season (6.1 yards per carry).
Can you imagine what kind of numbers the guy would put up if he didn’t have to share time in the backfield with Thomas Jones?
Ready to Contend?
13. Chicago Bears (7-3, Last Week: 14)
Week 12: vs. PHI
The Bears are tough to figure out.
But they are 7-3 and very much in the thick of things in the NFC playoff picture.
Although they struggle offensively from time to time, their defense is what makes them dangerous. They rank third in the league in total defense.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3, Last Week: 13)
Week 12: at BAL
Raheem Morris and the Bucs just keep on winning.
There’s a chance that they could be one of three teams from the NFC South that makes the playoffs.
Undrafted rookie running back LeGarrette Blount has made a major impact this season. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has scored four touchdowns.
11. New York Giants (6-4, Last Week: 5)
Week 12: vs. JAX
The G-Men have suddenly lost two consecutive divisional games.
They would be on the outside looking in on the playoffs if they began today.
Turnovers are a problem for this team. A rash of injuries to the receiving corps don’t help matters, either.
10. Indianapolis Colts (6-4, Last Week: 7)
Week 12: vs. SD
The Colts have dropped to 6-4, and injuries are surely hurting them.
With tough losses to the Eagles and Patriots in recent weeks, Peyton Manning and Co. can’t be too happy to see the Chargers up next on the schedule.
Risers, as Usual
9. San Diego Chargers (5-5, Last Week: 11)
Week 12: at IND
This should’ve been the year that the injury-depleted Chargers finally weren’t able to climb back into first place after a slow start.
But here they are, right in the thick of things after having won three straight games.
As one of the few teams that has actually enjoyed decent success against the Colts in recent years, Sunday night’s showdown should be epic.
On the Verge…
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3, Last Week: 08)
Week 12: at BUF
Pittsburgh rebounded from the embarrassing defeat against New England to embarrass Oakland 35-3.
Will they be able to stop the suddenly high-flying Bills this week?
7. New Orleans Saints (7-3, Last Week: 9)
Week 12: at DAL
The defending champs have had little trouble dominating inferior opponents (except for those pesky little Browns).
But they face a stiff test when they finally visit the randomly-improved Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.
They’ll want some turkey-flavored revenge after Dallas ended the Saints’ bid for a perfect season last year at the Superdome.
6. Baltimore Ravens (7-3, Last Week: 6)
Week 12: vs. TB
Baltimore had no trouble in doing away with underachieving Carolina.
The Ravens will now turn their attention to overachieving Tampa Bay.
Ray Rice finally appears to be living up to his lofty fantasy draft position. He’s topped 100 total yards in three straight games since the bye.
5. New York Jets (8-2, Last Week: 2)
Week 12: vs. CIN
The Jets have now reeled off three last-second wins following their flat 9-0 defeat against the Packers in Week 8.
For a team with so much talent, it would be nice to see them play a complete game and dominate a lesser team. Like the Bengals, for instance.
4. Green Bay Packers (7-3, Last Week: 10)
Week 12: at ATL
The Pack have reeled off four consecutive wins, but face their stiffest test yet.
They travel to Atlanta to take on the 8-2 Falcons.
Aaron Rodgers certainly got his revenge on Brett Favre this season, throwing for 596 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions in two wins over the Vikings.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3, Last Week: 4)
Week 12: at CHI
Michael Vick finally turned the ball over for the first time (a fumble).
But he still racked up 293 total yards with a rushing touchdown in the win over the Giants.
His rollercoaster from NFL stardom, to jail, up to NFL superstardom is quickly becoming movie material.
2. Atlanta Falcons (8-2, Last Week: 3)
Week 12: vs. GB
A win on the road in St. Louis is more impressive than you’d think, as the Falcons just keep on winning games.
1. New England Patriots (8-2, Last Week: 1)
Week 12: at DET
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead combined for 190 total yards with two scores in the Pats’ win over the Colts.
Nope, I don’t think the Patriots are missing Laurence Maroney too much these days.
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