NFL Power Rankings: Week 12 Standings and Review After Sunday's Games

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 19, 2018

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) looks for a receiver in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The NFL playoff picture received a bit of clarity in Week 11, as a few franchises took charge in their respective races, while others left the door open for other competitors to challenge them. 

In the AFC, Pittsburgh jumped over New England into the No. 2 seed, while Baltimore took control of the battle for the second wild-card position behind the Los Angeles Chargers. 

One of the two tight divisional races under the spotlight in the NFC got murkier, as Washington's lead in the NFC East is now down to one game, while Chicago opened up an advantage on Minnesota in the NFC North. 

Plenty will change over the final six weeks of the regular season, but we're starting to get an idea of which teams will fill out the playoff field.


NFL Standings


Division Leaders

1. Kansas City (9-1) 

2. Pittsburgh (7-2-1)

3. New England (7-3)

4. Houston (7-3) 


Wild-Card Race

5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3) 

6. Baltimore (5-5) 

7. Cincinnati (5-5)

8. Miami (5-5) 

9. Indianapolis (5-5) 

10. Tennessee (5-5) 

11. Denver (4-6) 

12. Cleveland (3-6-1) 

13. Jacksonville (3-7) 

14. Buffalo (3-7) 

15. New York Jets (3-7) 

16. Oakland (2-8) 



Division Leaders

1. New Orleans (9-1) 

2. Los Angeles Rams (9-1) 

3. Chicago (7-3) 

4. Washington (6-4) 


Wild-Card Race

5. Carolina (6-4) 

6. Minnesota (5-4-1) 

7. Seattle (5-5) 

8. Dallas (5-5) 

9. Green Bay (4-5-1) 

10. Atlanta (4-6) 

11. Detroit (4-6) 

12. Philadelphia (4-6) 

13. New York Giants (3-7) 

14. Tampa Bay (3-7) 

15. Arizona (2-8) 

16. San Francisco (2-8) 


Power Rankings

1. New Orleans

2. Kansas City 

3. Los Angeles Rams 

4. Chicago 

5. Pittsburgh 

6. Houston 

7. New England

8. Carolina

9. Los Angeles Chargers

10. Dallas 

11. Washington 

12. Seattle

13. Baltimore

14. Minnesota

15. Miami 

16. Cincinnati 

17. Green Bay 

18. Indianapolis

19. Tennessee

20. Atlanta

21. Denver

22. Detroit

23. Philadelphia

24. Cleveland

25. New York Giants

26. Jacksonville

27. Buffalo 

28. Tampa Bay 

29. New York Jets

30. Oakland

31. Arizona

32. San Francisco 


Ravens Take Charge In AFC Wild-Card Race

Baltimore shot up the AFC standings Sunday with a 24-21 win over Cincinnati led by Lamar Jackson in his first start at quarterback. 

The victory stopped a three-game losing streak for John Harbaugh's team, and it handed it an upper hand on the Bengals because it holds a better divisional record at the moment. 

The Ravens are far from safe in the race for the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but they've put themselves in the best position possible entering Week 12. 

Nick Wass/Associated Press

No matter who starts under center against Oakland in a week's time, the Ravens should be able to create some separation from the likes of Tennessee, Miami and Cincinnati, all of whom are tied with them at 5-5. 

In the best-case scenario for the Ravens, they can climb as high as the No. 5 seed, but they're going to need to make one game up on the Los Angeles Chargers before their Week 16 clash. 

As for the quarterback situation, it looks like Jackson will be the starter for at least another week, as Harbaugh noted it would be tough for Joe Flacco to play next week, per The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec

When Flacco returns, the Ravens will bank on his experience from winning the Super Bowl and an added dose of Jackson's influence, especially in short-yardage situations on the ground, to continue the playoff push. 

Qualifying for the playoffs won't be easy for the Ravens with back-to-back road games against Atlanta and Kansas City in Weeks 13 and 14, but they can create plenty of momentum for themselves with a big win over Oakland to follow up the divisional triumph against Cincinnati.


NFC East Is The Most Competitive Divisional Race 

The NFC East is the ugliest and most competitive divisional race to follow at the moment. 

Washington fell back to 6-4 in a loss to Houston in which it lost quarterback Alex Smith for the season, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, while Dallas jumped to 5-5 with a last-second victory in Atlanta. 

The Redskins and Cowboys will be under the national spotlight on Thanksgiving, as they clash with first place on the line in one of the best games on the Week 12 schedule.

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 21: Running back Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball in the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 21, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Depending on the result of the Thursday afternoon tilt at AT&T Stadium, the Philadelphia Eagles could  break into the NFC East race, despite a porous showing in New Orleans Sunday. 

A Dallas win combined with a Philadelphia victory over the New York Giants would put the three teams within one game of each other entering December. 

If Washington knocks off the Cowboys on the road, Philadelphia's challenge gets a bit tougher, but the Eagles have two remaining games against the Redskins and one versus Dallas.

Washington and Dallas have easier schedules than the defending Super Bowl champion, as there is one team with a record better than .500 on their remaining schedules. 

In addition to the three games left against the two teams ahead of them in the NFC East, the Eagles face the Los Angeles Rams and Houston in December, which makes a return to the postseason look difficult. 

If you look at the situation from a realistic perspective, the NFC East title will come down to Washington and Dallas, with Thursday's game playing a major role in deciding that. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.