NFL Power Rankings – Week 12

November 18, 2008 | Thyrl Nelson

There were no big surprises this week, unless you’re Donavan McNabb that is, especially at the top of the rankings. With every team now at 10 games into the season, we seem to be getting a pretty good idea of what the playoff picture will likely look like. The Giants and Titans are both certainly well on their way toward locking up home field advantage, while a handful of teams look to be staking their claims to the first overall draft pick as well. The AFC East, NFC North and NFC South all have bunches of good teams grouped together and fighting it out tooth and nail as the home stretch approaches, while teams like the Broncos and Cardinals are enjoying an inordinate amount of relative power based on the control that they have in their divisions.

 

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Week 12 NFL Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)

 

1. Tennessee Titans (1) – 10-0 – The Titans are all but assured of their place in the postseason, and are starting to make teams respect their offense as at least somewhat multi-dimensional. An undefeated regular season is quietly becoming a possibility for this team. Next Week: vs. NYJ

 

2. New York Giants (2) – 9-1 – They may well be the best team in football, and they proved it again against the vaunted Ravens’ run defense on Sunday. Things are a little less certain for the Giants in comparison to Tennessee when it comes to controlling their division, but it will be of little consequence if the Giants keep playing like they have been. Next Week: @ AZ

 

3. Carolina Panthers (3) – 8-2 – Their win on Sunday against an overmatched Lions team was no thing of beauty, and Jake Delhomme continues to turn in bad passing performances against bad pass defenses. But the Panthers keep rolling along nonetheless. With two legitimate running threats, plus Steve Smith and that defense, these Panthers may be able to wait on Delhomme to shake off his funk. Next Week: @ ATL

 

4. Arizona Cardinals (4) – 7-3 – Lots of people still seem to be down on these Cardinals, and I’m not completely sure why. Their front 7 is as physical as any in football, Tim Hightower is breathing new life into the running game, and we all know what Kurt Warner and those receivers are capable of. They’re the best of a bad lot in the NFC West, but shouldn’t have to apologize for it. If anything they don’t travel well, all three of their losses came on east coast trips. They have 2 more trips East before the playoffs, and probably need to start thinking about playing into position for home field advantage. Next Week: vs. NYG

 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5) – The Steelers just keep taking shot after shot from the toughest teams in the league, and continue to find ways to eek out wins. They appear to be in good shape to get into the playoffs, and will likely be one of the most battle tested squads once the playoffs arrive. Next Week: vs. CIN

 

6. New York Jets (6) – 7-3 – The Jets find themselves in good position despite a couple of losses that they’d like to have back. The AFC East is a logjam, and while no team seems to possess talent that’s head and shoulders above the rest, with Favre at the helm in comparison to Pennington, Edwards and Cassel, the Jets have to like their chances. Next Week: @ TEN

 

7. Denver Broncos (10) – 6-4 – I’ve been apologizing for the Broncos’ high position in the rankings despite their modest success for weeks. A come from behind rally in the 4th quarter against Cleveland, followed up by a win against a quality Falcons team on the road have solidified Denver’s position. They also enjoy the relative power of residing in the AFC West, and have a pretty clear path to the playoffs at this point. Next Week: vs. OAK

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11) – 7-3 – The Bucs find themselves in this enviable position despite their revolving door at QB. The road to success will get just a little bit tougher from here without the services of Earnest Graham. The return of Cadillac Williams appears to have happened just in time for Tampa, but we’ll have to wait and see if he’s able to shoulder the load. Next Week: @ DET

 

9. Indianapolis Colts (17) – 6-4 – Writing the Colts off in week 6 just seemed to be premature. Since the Titans seem to have run away with the division already, the Colts can focus clearly on the wildcard for their playoff hopes. Recent editions of the Colts, who clinched early and used subs to play out the regular season string, have failed in the playoffs. It was only when the Colts had to play down to the wire to get into the playoffs that they went on to win the Superbowl. Watch out for the Colts. Next Week: @ SD

 

10. Baltimore Ravens (8) – 6-4 – Although a loss to the Giants shouldn’t have been surprising to anyone, the manner in which the Ravens were dismantled by those Giants, and particular their running game, was shocking. The Ravens have clearly seen what it is that they aspire to be, as the Giants beat them soundly, while playing Baltimore’s brand of football. They’re still in good position for a playoff run, but the schedule will absolutely make it an uphill battle. Next Week: vs. PHI

 

11. Green Bay Packers (12) – 5-5 – They exorcised their demons against the Bears, who had been in the driver’s seat in the NFC North, and who gave the Packers 2 of their 3 losses last season. In doing so they created a logjam atop the division, and just in time, as the Packers may be hitting their stride right now as well. Next Week: @ NO

 

12. Washington Redskins (12) – 6-4 – The efficient offensive machine that Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell looked to have built just a few weeks ago, is in drastic need of a tune up. Talent-wise, the Redskins may be undermanned in comparison to the rest of their division, they had better get back to taking care of the ball, and playing good defense if they hope to make a run in the AFC East. Next Week: @ SEA

 

13. Chicago Bears (7) – 5-5 – Unless Kyle Orton can return to the form he had before his injury, the Bears will likely find themselves out of the running pretty quickly. The loss to the Packers was the first in which the Bears were beaten really soundly, but it couldn’t have come at a worse time, or against a worse opponent. Next Week: @ ST.L

 

14. Miami Dolphins (18) – 6-4 – There is absolutely no resemblance between this team and the one that won just a single game a year ago. In addition to breathing new life into the league, Miami’s “Wildcat Offense” has been widely regarded as their “gimmick” all season. Meanwhile the Dolphins are putting together a more than respectable attack in many other aspects of the game, but their overall improvements as a team seem to be somewhat overlooked in the shadow of the “Wildcat”.  Next Week: vs. NE

 

15. New England Patriots (9) – 6-4 – New England let an important one get away against the Jets, and now may have their backs against the wall against a Dolphins team that has had their number for years. I’m sure that there’s fight left in these Patriots, but the road to a division title just got a whole lot bumpier. Next Week: @ MIA

 

16. Dallas Cowboys (20) – 6-4 – While they didn’t look good in doing it on Sunday, the Cowboys picked up a much needed win. Panic may have done to the locker room what no person had been able to figure out how to. Panic may have put the egos in check on this team and rallied them, if that’s the case, expect them to climb back up the rankings pretty quickly. Next Week: vs. SF

 

17. Minnesota Vikings (15) – 5-5 – The schedule may have been too much for Minnesota to overcome this season. While they aren’t out of it yet, their schedule won’t get any easier from here. With 6 games left, the NFC North is a three team dogfight, Minnesota seems to be the least likely to climb over the rest to get to the finish. Next Week: @ JAX

 

18. Atlanta Falcons (13) – 6-4 – It’s been a magical season so far for Mike Smith, Matt Ryan and the Falcons, but playing behind Tampa and Carolina in the AFC South may be the spoiler that ruins it. The Falcons will have their work cut out for them if they want to have a chance in the NFC. They’ve been up to the challenge so far, we’ll see if they can sustain it. Next Week: vs. CAR

 

19. San Diego Chargers (14) – 4-6 – As bad as they’ve been, the Chargers, if they were able to get things together, could still wrestle the division away from the Denver Broncos. With that said, the odds of them getting it together are getting longer by the week. Travel, injuries, tough breaks and coaching may be too much for even the most talented teams to overcome. Next Week: vs. IND

 

20. Philadelphia Eagles (16) – 5-4-1 – Based on their record, they could still be a factor in the playoff hunt, but based on their 0-3 record in the division, they’ll have a tough time pulling it off. They’ve been relatively healthy so far, but haven’t been able to take advantage as yet. Next Week: @ BAL

 

21. New Orleans Saints (23) – 5-5 – There’s no quit in these Saints, but unfortunately, there isn’t much defense either. The Return of Reggie Bush should breathe some life back into these Saints, but looking up at 3 teams in the division probably means that their fate is already sealed. Next Week: vs. GB

 

22. Cleveland Browns (22) – 4-6 – The Browns didn’t look like a team that had quit on Monday night, but they didn’t look like a team with much to be hopeful about either. The Brady Quinn era is underway in Cleveland, and that may have to be enough to keep the fans interested and Romeo Crennel employed. Next Week: vs. HOU

 

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (24) – 4-6 – The Jags put up a valiant effort in trying to end the Titans undefeated streak on Sunday, but in the end came up short. I’m not sure what it is that’s changed so much in Jacksonville from last season to this one, but I’m sure that a shake up is in order. How they finish the string in this disappointing season will likely be a good gauge of their character as a team. Next Week: vs. MIN

 

24. Houston Texans (25) – 3-7 – Another big effort from the Texans on Sunday, and another disappointing loss to show for it. It seemed that this season got off on a bad note for the Texans, and they were never able to recover from it. They do seem to be steadily improving week by week, and if they could ever get healthy they could be dangerous. Next Week: @ CLE

 

25. Buffalo Bills (21) – 5-5 – At 5-5 in the AFC East, the Bills are far from done mathematically. But as losers of 4 straight and 5 of their last 6 games, the Bills are in freefall, and could be lucky to salvage an 8-win season. Next Week: @ KC

 

26. San Francisco 49ers (26) – 3-7 – It was a long time coming, but the Niners got back into the win column on Sunday, and looked pretty good doing it. The jury’s still out on Mike Singletary as leader of a franchise, but Vernon Davis appears to have found his comfort zone after a rough start with the rookie coach. Next Week: @ DAL

 

27. Seattle Seahawks (27) – 2-8 – The return of Matt Hasselbeck didn’t necessarily mean the return of the Seahawks offense last week, but it should certainly make things a little bit better going forward at least. Now if they can just get some others healthy on offense, they might pick up a couple of wins. Next Week: vs. WAS

 

28. Cincinnati Bengals (30) – 1-8-1 – It wasn’t a loss, and holding the Eagles offense scoreless in overtime on Sunday is a big step for this Bengals defense. They’ve got some momentum now, we’ll see if it carries into Pittsburgh with them. Next Week: @ PIT

 

29. Kansas City Chiefs (28) – 1-9 – Tyler Thigpen is quietly becoming a real NFL quarterback. Given the limited receiving options that he has to choose from, that’s big news. If Larry Johnson is able to bring back an effective running game for the Chiefs they could give some teams some trouble. Next Week: vs. BUF

 

30. St. Louis Rams (29) – 2-8 – The Rams resurgence now appears to have been nothing more than a glimmer. Depending on how quickly Steven Jackson is able to get back on the field for these Rams, they could be simply left going through the motions from here out. Next Week: vs. CHI

 

31. Oakland Raiders (31) – 2-8 – The big news out of Oakland this week isn’t another firing, tirade or shakeup, it’s that Jim Fassel wants in as the head coach of the Raiders. Actually, the big news is that anybody wants to be the coach of the Raiders. Next Week: @ DEN

 

32. Detroit Lions (32) – 0-10 – I’m not sure why, but I wouldn’t bet against these Lions if they went into the Thanksgiving game with Tennessee winless, and the Titans undefeated. It’s probably because the spread will be off the charts. Good luck with the first pick overall Detroit. Next Week: vs. TB

 

Peace

T

(thyrl@wnst.net)

 

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