NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Updated Standings, Predictions Before MNF

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 19, 2018

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 18:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass in the second half of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 18, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Eagles 48-7.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The long-anticipated matchup between the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and 9-1 Los Angeles Rams will take place on Monday evening to cap a wild Week 11 that featured 10 games decided by five points or fewer.

We'll see if the Chiefs-Rams battle lives up the hype, but until then, here's a look at a fresh set of power rankings alongside the latest AFC and NFC playoff standings.

We'll also quickly break down each conference wild-card race and spin it forward with thoughts on the contenders' future schedules and their eventual fates.


NFL Power Rankings

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)

2. New Orleans Saints (9-1)

3. Los Angeles Rams (9-1)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)

5. New England Patriots (7-3)

6. Houston Texans (7-3)

7. Chicago Bears (7-3)

8. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)

9. Washington Redskins (6-4)

10. Carolina Panthers (6-4)

11. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)

12. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

13. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

14. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)

15. Miami Dolphins (5-5)

16. Tennessee Titans (5-5)

17. Seattle Seahawks (5-5)

18. Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

19. Green Bay Packers (4-5-1)

20. Denver Broncos (4-6)

21. Detroit Lions (4-6)

22. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

23. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

24. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1)

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)

26. New York Giants (3-7)

27. Buffalo Bills (3-7)

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7)

29. New York Jets (3-7)

30. Arizona Cardinals (2-8)

31. San Francisco 49ers (2-8)

32. Oakland Raiders (2-8)


KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs drops back to pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half on November 11, 2018 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter G. Aiken
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

AFC Playoff Standings

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1, AFC West leader)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1, AFC North leader)

3. New England Patriots (7-3, AFC East leader)

4. Houston Texans (7-3, AFC South leader)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3, AFC Wild Card)

6. Baltimore Ravens (5-5, AFC Wild Card)

7. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)

8. Miami Dolphins (5-5)

9. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

10. Tennessee Titans (5-5)

11. Denver Broncos (4-6)

12. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1)

13. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)

14. Buffalo Bills (3-7)

15. New York Jets (3-7)

16. Oakland Raiders (2-8)

The AFC playoff race took a turn for the bizarre on Sunday, as five teams are now tied for the final wild-card spot with 5-5 records.

Baltimore may have the easiest schedule down the stretch out of this 5-5 group. While games against the Chiefs and Chargers loom, the Ravens also have home matchups vs. the 2-8 Oakland Raiders, 3-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 3-6-1 Cleveland Browns.

If the Ravens hold serve in their home trio and find a way to win one of their other three matchups (the Ravens also face the Atlanta Falcons on the road), 9-7 may be good enough to take the final wild-card spot.

The Cincinnati Bengals are in free fall: After starting the season 4-1, the Bengals are 1-4 in their last five games and have some tough matchups ahead at the 7-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers and 7-3 Los Angeles Chargers.

Cincinnati needs star wideout A.J. Green (45 catches, 687 yards, six touchdowns) back from a toe injury as soon as possible. He had an outside chance of playing Sunday at the Ravens and was listed as doubtful, but he eventually sat out.

The Miami Dolphins look like they will be bowing out of the wild-card race soon. A season-ending injury to No. 1 wideout Albert Wilson (26 catches, 391 yards, four touchdowns in seven games) has hurt the offense, but the team has also lost other players to injured reserve (e.g. defensive end William Hayes and guard Josh Sitton). After starting 3-0, the Dolphins have gone 2-5 in their last seven games.

Indianapolis may roll into the playoffs. Winners of four straight, the Colts just beat the Tennessee Titans 38-10 in a game that didn't even seem close. Indianapolis only faces one team (the Houston Texans) with a winning record in its final six games.

The Titans took a punch in that aforementioned loss, but they also beat the 7-3 New England Patriots 34-10 in Week 10, so they're clearly capable of hanging with some of the NFL's best. Four of their final six games will also be at home. A road matchup with the Texans looms next Monday, however.

Overall, it looks like the Colts and Ravens have the best shots at the final wild card, with the Titans not too far behind. The Bengals and Dolphins may be out of the playoff race by mid-December.


NFC Playoff Standings 

1. New Orleans Saints (9-1, NFC South leader)

2. Los Angeles Rams (9-1, NFC West leader)

3. Chicago Bears (7-3, NFC North leader)

4. Washington Redskins (6-4, NFC East leader)

5. Carolina Panthers (6-4, NFC Wild Card)

6. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1, NFC Wild Card)

7. Seattle Seahawks (5-5)

8. Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

9. Green Bay Packers (4-5-1)

10. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

11. Detroit Lions (4-6)

12. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

13. New York Giants (3-7)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7)

15. Arizona Cardinals (2-8)

16. San Francisco 49ers (2-8)

The Carolina Panthers' and Minnesota Vikings' Week 11 losses made the NFC wild-card race much tighter. Eight teams are now within two games of each other for the final two wild-card spots with six weeks to go.

At 6-4, the Panthers seemingly have an edge on everyone else, but their 2018 road woes are a significant cause for concern. They are now 1-4 on the season away from Bank of America Stadium, with the lone win coming at the now 4-6 Philadelphia Eagles following a 17-point comeback.

Two of Carolina's three remaining road games are against three-win teams (the Bucs and Browns), although home and road matchups versus the scorching-hot Saints loom.

The Vikings' end-of-season schedule is brutal, with five of their final six games against opponents .500 or better and the seventh being a road matchup at the Detroit Lions, who are hanging around at 4-6. Winning the NFC North is a tall order given that the Bears have a two-win advantage (and the tiebreaker right now) over the Vikings with six games to go.

Seattle has two games with the 2-8 San Francisco 49ers and a matchup against the 2-8 Arizona Cardinals. If the Seahawks can win those three and find a way to take one game against the Panthers or Vikings, that might be good enough for a wild-card berth. A home date with the Chiefs also lies ahead.

The Dallas Cowboys and Eagles are fortunate enough to play in the NFC East, so they have two realistic routes to the playoffs.

The division-leading 6-4 Washington Redskins have lost two straight and are now without starting quarterback Alex Smith for the remainder of the season after the 14-year-pro suffered a horrifying leg injury on Sunday against the Texans.

Dallas gets the 'Skins at home on Thursday, while the Eagles face Washington twice. Wins there would help keep Dallas' and Philadelphia's seasons alive.

The Green Bay Packers, Falcons and Lions are close to falling out of the playoff race. Like the Panthers, the Pack can't buy a win on the road, where they are 0-5. They'll be underdogs at the Vikings and at the Bears.

Barring an upset, the Falcons will fall to 4-7 with a loss at the Saints on Thursday. The Lions host 7-3 Chicago on Thursday.

A nine-win record might be good enough for the sixth seed. Right now, the Panthers (because of their one-win edge on the field) and the Seahawks (because of their schedule) have the best chance to achieve that feat.

Those teams face off against each other Sunday, with the winner having the inside track at a wild card.