NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Who Is the Best Team in the AFC?

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IINovember 23, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13:  Tom Brady #10 of the New England Patriots against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

There is no question the 10-0 Green Bay Packers are the best team football, followed by the 9-1 San Francisco 49ers. Both the Packers and the 49ers are in the NFC, but for the AFC, it's virtually a toss-up.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans are all 7-3 and have had quality wins thus far, but each team has had its share of meltdowns. All four teams are without a doubt playoff contenders, but which one stands out as the best team in the AFC? 


Pittsburgh Steelers

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after throwing a touchdown pass against the Cincinnati Bengals during play at Paul Brown Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Ge
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Steelers have had wins over the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals but have been swept by their division rivals in the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans. That means the reigning AFC champs are not the best in the conference, as they have lost three games against elite talent. 

However, you can never count the Steelers out, as they have the NFL's second-best defense as well as the ninth-ranked offense. They are without a tough opponent to beat, but they have lost three critical games this season. 


New England Patriots

The New England Patriots will also be an elite team with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm, but they have had a rather rocky season thus far. The team has had quality victories over the New York Jets twice, the Dallas Cowboys, as well as the Oakland Raiders but has fallen short against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants. 

The thing about the Patriots is they have one of the league's best offensive attacks and the league's worst defense, which simply is not a recipe for success. However, they have found ways to make it work so far in 2011. 


Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 20:  Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates his second touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 31-24. (Photo by Larry French/Ge
Larry French/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens are by far the most inconsistent team out of the four. They have swept the Pittsburgh Steelers, beat up on the New York Jets and knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals but have lost to the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Seattle Seahawks, which is extremely alarming. 

The main thing about the Ravens is not Joe Flacco's ability to be a top-tier passer but their ability to stay consistent, which they have not done so thus fa in 2011. 


Houston Texans

I hate to do it, but without Matt Schaub I do not see the Houston Texans making any noise in the 2011 postseason. 

Granted, the Texans will likely win their division and host a playoff game in January, but they are simply not good enough to win without Schaub. 

I realize they have one of the NFL's top defenses and arguably the league's best rushing attack with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, but Schaub is the team's most important player. Without him, the remainder of the season could be disastrous. 

Houston's faith now lies on Matt Leinart's shoulders, which is something I would not want happening to my football team.


So, who is the best team in the AFC? The New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 21:   Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots huddles with teammates against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half at Gillette Stadium on November 21, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC. Why? The Steelers have lost the season series against the Baltimore Ravens, the Ravens have lost against three lousy opponents, while the Houston Texans' season could be done without Schaub.

The Patriots may not have an elite defense, but it's good enough to get victories, considering how they beat up against the Jets twice this season following up their embarrassing playoff loss from a year ago. 

New England is a tough competitor with Brady at quarterback, and as Brady's playing at an elite level, the Patriots are a very difficult team to beat. 


Tony Santorsa's Week 12 Power Rankings

1. Green Bay Packers

2. San Francisco 49ers

3. New Orleans Saints

4. New England Patriots

5. Chicago Bears

6. Baltimore Ravens

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

8. Detroit Lions

9. Houston Texans

10. Atlanta Falcons

11. New York Giants

12. Cincinnati Bengals

13. Dallas Cowboys

14. Oakland Raiders

15. Denver Broncos

16. Philadelphia Eagles

17. New York Jets

18. Buffalo Bills

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

20. Tennessee Titans

21. San Diego Chargers

22. Seattle Seahawks

23. Cleveland Browns

24. Miami Dolphins

25. Washington Redskins

26. Carolina Panthers

27. Kansas City Chiefs

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

29. Arizona Cardinals

30. Minnesota Vikings

31. St. Louis Rams

32. Indianapolis Colts 


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