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NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Review and Reaction to 2016 League Standings

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2016

Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys are playing like legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys are playing like legitimate Super Bowl contenders.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Another week of NFL action is officially in the books. Week 11 concluded on Monday night with a thrilling contest between the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans in Mexico City.

The Texans-Raiders matchup, which ended 27-20 to the Raiders, was just one of several in Week 11 that carried playoff implications. Teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Washington Redskins took another step toward playoff contention with victories. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers saw their postseason hopes take serious hits with disappointing losses.

What does all of this mean in relation to the league landscape? That's what we're going to review today. We'll be going through our latest power rankings based on Week 11's results as well as each team's standing record.

We will also examine some of the more notable rankings after this latest slate of games.

       

Week 12 Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings After MNF
RankTeamRecordDivisionDiv. Record
1Dallas Cowboys9-1NFC East2-1
2New England Patriots8-2AFC East2-1
3Oakland Raiders8-2AFC West2-1
4Seattle Seahawks7-2-1NFC West1-1-1
5Kansas City Chiefs7-3AFC West2-0
6New York Giants7-3NFC East2-1
7Denver Broncos7-3AFC West1-2
8Atlanta Falcons6-4NFC South3-1
9Houston Texans6-4AFC South3-0
10Washington Redskins6-3-1NFC East2-1
11Detroit Lions6-4NFC North1-2
12Minnesota Vikings6-4NFC North1-2
13Miami Dolphins6-4AFC East2-1
14Pittsburgh Steelers5-5AFC North2-1
15Buffalo Bills5-5AFC East1-3
16Indianapolis Colts5-5AFC South2-2
17Philadelphia Eagles5-5NFC East0-3
18Baltimore Ravens5-5AFC North3-0
19Tampa Bay Buccaneers5-5NFC South2-1
20Tennessee Titans5-6AFC South1-3
21Arizona Cardinals4-5-1NFC West2-1-1
22Carolina Panthers4-6NFC South1-3
23New Orleans Saints4-6NFC South1-2
24Green Bay Packers4-6NFC North2-1
25Los Angeles Rams4-6NFC West2-1
26San Diego Chargers4-6AFC West1-3
27Cincinnati Bengals3-6-1AFC North1-1
28New York Jets3-7AFC East1-1
29Chicago Bears2-8NFC North2-1
30Jacksonville Jaguars2-8NFC South1-2
31San Francisco 49ers1-9NFC West1-3
32Cleveland Browns0-11AFC North0-4

       

Notable Rankings

1. Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 20:   Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Ima
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

There is still a sense that the New England Patriots might be the best overall team in football, but it's hard to argue with how the Dallas Cowboys are playing right now. The team is fielding an efficient-enough defense and is thriving on offense behind the legs of Ezekiel Elliott and the arm and mind of Dak Prescott.

The Cowboys have now won nine straight games and appear to be the cream of the NFC crop.

Over the weekend, that Cowboys offense was tested by the Baltimore Ravens and the league's top rushing defense (76.0 yards per game allowed). The team put up 27 points on the Ravens and at times made moving the ball look easy.

Ed Werder @EdwerderRFA

#Cowboys take first lead over #Ravens on short Dak-to-Dez TD throw, completing 10-play, 92-yd drive vs No. 1-ranked defense

Of course, the most impressive thing about Dallas' latest game was the calm the team carried after falling behind early against the Ravens.

"The poise that Dak had to get us back into it, that was really important to us," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com.

Dallas should be one of the toughest teams to enter the postseason this year, and they appear ready for a lengthy run after 2016. With Prescott and Elliott helming the offense, the Cowboys could be legitimate contenders for the foreseeable future.

      

10. Washington Redskins

Mark Tenally/Associated Press

The Washington Redskins are also making some noise in the NFC East, though they have been doing it while playing a little bit under the radar. This makes Washington an extremely dangerous team, as the Green Bay Packers found out on Sunday.

Green Bay was absolutely manhandled by the Redskins on Sunday night, and Washington appeared to prove a couple of things en route to their 42-24 victory.

For one, it seems the Redskins do have a franchise quarterback in Kirk Cousins. While Cousins may have struggled a bit early in the season, he has been solid as of late—he has 3,091 yards passing this season with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was phenomenal against Green Bay, going 21-of-30 for 375 yards and three scores.

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Kirk Cousins since becoming Redskins full-time starter: 26 games, 637-927 (68.7%), 7257 yards, 46 TDs, 18 INTs, 100.4 QB rating.

The Redskins also seem to have found themselves a starting running back in Rob Kelley. Against a Green Bay run defense that is rated third overall by Pro Football Focus Kelley racked up 137 yards rushing and three scores. If he can continue to lead the rushing attack efficiently, the Redskins offense is going to be very, very difficult to match up against.

“It’s going to be tough to get him out of [the starting job] now,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Kelley, per Liz Clarke of the Washington Post. “He’s a strong back, has great vision and runs extremely hard, so we’re thrilled to death.”

Though the Redskins may have a difficult time overtaking the Cowboys in their division, they could easily work their way into the playoffs and be a very scary team to face once there.

       

27. Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the first quarter of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are still technically alive in the AFC North race, but they all but had their playoff hopes dashed after falling to 3-6-1 on Sunday.

For a team that was looking to make its sixth consecutive trip to the postseason, this is a huge disappointment.

The problem is that Cincinnati just isn't playing the same type of quality football it has in years past. While the Bengals have been efficient on offense—372.7 yards per game, 10th in the NFL—they have been a veritable disaster on the other side of the ball.

Pro Football Focus rates the Bengals just 25th in overall defense.

To make matters worse, Cincinnati lost two of its top offensive players to injury on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, running back Giovani Bernard tore his ACL:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Source: #Bengals running back Giovani Bernard tore his left ACL today.

Star receiver A.J. Green suffered a strained hamstring, though, unlike Bernard, he may have a chance to return this season. The hamstring isn't torn and Green won't require surgery, according to head coach Marvin Lewis.

"If there was any positive news, it would be that," Lewis said, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. "I think he's moving today maybe better than even expected, so that's good."

Having Green out for any length of time, though, could end Cincinnati's playoff hopes altogether. The Bengals' best chance of sneaking into the playoffs now is to win out, and that isn't likely to happen with the team's best offensive player on the sideline.

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