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NFL Power Rankings Week 12: The Playoff Push Begins

Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the NFL season.

  1. Dallas Cowboys (9-1)- Previous rank: 1- Is there any stopping Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys? They’ve got a Thanksgiving test coming up against Washington, but these Cowboys are legit and they have been all season. At this point, the NFC will come down to Dallas and Seattle.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1)- Previous rank: 3- The Seahawks continue to roll, and right now the only threat to them in the NFC is Dallas. Somehow, Seattle always manages to struggle early in the season and then flip the switch right around the halfway point. They also still have the best defense in the league.
  3. New England Patriots (8-2)- Previous rank: 2- Tom Brady grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers. I’m guessing he’s pretty happy he ended up in New England though. LaGarrette Blount simply adds another dynamic to an already talented offense. Oh, by the way, Gronk didn’t even play against San Francisco.
  4. Oakland Raiders (8-2)- Previous rank: 5- The Raiders are 8-2. Hey, did I mention the Raiders are 8-2? Also, they’re in first place in the division.
  5. New York Giants (7-3)- Previous rank: 7- Eli Manning and the Giants have gone under the radar behind the high-flying Cowboys, but this team appears to be legit. They are definitely in position to grab a wild card, and perhaps even challenge the Cowboys for the division.
  6. Denver Broncos (7-3)- Previous rank: 6- Denver gets an extra week to prepare for when the Kansas City Chiefs come to town this upcoming Sunday. This game has been flexed to the primetime spot, replacing the Patriots and Jets. This is really a make or break game for both teams with the AFC West being so tight at the top. The extra week gives the Broncos a chance to get healthy especially on the defensive side of the ball.
  7. Detroit Lions (6-4)- Previous rank: 8- The Lions have trailed in the fourth quarter of every game this year. They’re 6-4. There are some things in the universe that are unexplainable. This is one of them.
  8. Washington Redskins (6-3-1)- Previous rank: 11- Woo! I love to see Kirk Cousins succeed in primetime! Captain Kirk is the man, I don’t care what anybody says! I already knew he was a good quarterback, but it just took everyone else a little longer to figure that out.
  9. Atlanta Falcons (6-4)- Previous rank: 9- As great as Atlanta’s offense is, their defense is equally as bad. That’s going to have to change if they want to make a deep postseason run. The Falcons get the disappointing Arizona Cardinals coming off the bye next week. Gotta win that one.
  10. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3)- Previous rank: 3- Kansas City’s offense has looked horrible over the past couple of weeks, and it finally caught up to them. Injuries to Marcus Peters and Dee Ford also badly inhibited the defense’s success against Tampa Bay. Justin Houston looked rusty, but that’s to be expected. The offense had better show up in Denver on Sunday night.
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5)- Previous rank: 12- With the Ravens losing yesterday, Pittsburgh has jumped right back into the divisional race. I’ve said it before, I expect the Steelers to pull away and take the division, but I don’t know how far this team can go in the playoffs. The offense has not gotten anywhere near the level they were playing at early in the season. The Steelers have Indy next.
  12. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)- Previous rank: 13- After starting the season 3-0, I doubt Philly expected to be sitting at 5-5 as we head for the home stretch. The running game has disappeared, and Carson Wentz can’t do it all by himself.
  13. Miami Dolphins (6-4)- Previous rank: 14- Miami’s offense was completely shut down for three quarters. Then they scored twice in less than six minutes to beat LA. Not even Adam Gase knows how that happened.
  14. Houston Texans (6-4)- Previous rank: 10- Not even our friends south of the border like Brock Osweiler. As much I think he’s a mediocre quarterback, that doesn’t make it OK to shine lasers in his eyes. Just let him make his mistakes on his own.
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)- Previous rank: 21- When Jameis Winston isn’t throwing interceptions or getting sacked, the Bucs tend to win. Doug Martin is improving every week, and I could see this team potentially sneaking into the playoffs. They’re still behind the Giants and Redskins, but who knows, maybe they can somehow steal the division title away from Atlanta.
  16. Buffalo Bills (5-5)- Previous rank: 18- Not a great game for Buffalo, but they picked up the road win. That doesn’t mean they’re going to the playoffs, but hey, a win’s a win. P.S. Rex is still on the hot seat.
  17. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)- Previous rank: 17- The Ravens lost a game they should have lost. In other news, water is still wet.
  18. Tennessee Titans (5-6)- Previous rank: 16- After going down 21 points early, the Titans fought back, which is what I like to see. They couldn’t complete the comeback, but the future looks a little brighter each week in Nashville.
  19. Minnesota Vikings (6-4)- Previous rank: 20- OK, the Vikings scored 30 points. BUT, not because of their offense. They got a kickoff return for touchdown and a pick six. The offense is still an issue for Minnesota, particularly the running game. This team needs Adrian Peterson more than I need Thanksgiving break. If the defense can get back to the way it was playing early in the season, maybe this team can win the division, but don’t expect a deep run.
  20. New Orleans Saints (4-6)- Previous rank: 15- This one’s tough for the Saints. They really needed this game against a Carolina team that they’re capable of beating on the road. The Saints have another winnable game next week against Los Angeles in New Orleans. Because they lost this one, they have to win that one.
  21. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)- Previous rank: 22- Somehow, the Colts are still hanging around in the division conversation. They should probably start looking for a new running back next season, because the ghost of Frank Gore is just not going to cut it.
  22. Green Bay Packers (4-6)- Previous rank: 19- I had faith in the Packers. I really did. Then the second half against Washington happened. Now, I no longer believe in them. I don’t think firing McCarthy is the right answer, but if that’s not it, what is?
  23. Carolina Panthers (4-6)- Previous rank: 23- The Panthers almost blew another big home lead for the second straight week, but they managed to pull out the victory over New Orleans. Carolina’s star linebacker Luke Kuechly went down with a concussion, which is a huge loss for the Panthers. Carolina has a tough game on the road against Oakland coming up, and they really can’t afford to drop more than one or maybe two games the rest of the season if they still want to make the playoffs.
  24. San Diego Chargers (4-6)- Previous rank: 24- As I stated last week, the Chargers are completely eliminated from playoff contention at this point. I know they’re not mathematically eliminated yet, but with where the rest of the AFC West is right now, they are. That doesn’t mean they can’t spoil someone else’s potential trip to the playoffs. For instance, the Houston Texans, who San Diego plays next week. In order for them to win that one, Phillip Rivers will have to be better than he was last week. Maybe the bye has given him a chance to refocus.
  25. Los Angeles Rams (4-6)- Previous rank: 26- Jared Goff’s first start was uneventful to say the least. That’s pretty much how the entire season has gone for the Rams.
  26. Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1)- Previous rank: 27- Carson Palmer’s career is slowly and painfully coming to an end. Larry Fitzgerald is next. The defense wasn’t horrible, but this team pretty much lives and dies by David Johnson. Not the recipe for long-term success.
  27. Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1)- Previous rank: 25- Well, the Bengals are done. They were done before, but now Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green have both suffered what appear to be season-ending injuries. Bye bye, Marvin Lewis.
  28. Jacksonville (2-8)- Previous rank: 28- Gus Bradley is done in Jacksonville. He has to be. In the words of former Kansas football coach Charlie Weis, have you seen the crap that’s out on the field?
  29. New York Jets (3-7)- Previous rank: 29- The Jets-Pats game got flexed off of primetime for good reason. The Jets suck. Period. Todd Bowles said he doesn’t want to name Bryce Petty the starting quarterback because he’s afraid players will start to checkout, but if players are going to checkout because of a QB, this team’s got much bigger problems.
  30. Chicago Bears (2-8)- Previous rank: 30- Jay Cutler is not the answer for Chicago. The Bears need to seriously consider finding a new quarterback. Jordan Howard is the lone bright spot of this team, but he’s uproven.
  31. San Francisco 49ers (1-9)- Previous rank: 31- Similarly to the Browns, San Francisco should probably start considering who they’re going to take with the second pick in the draft. Also similarly to the Browns, they need to figure if Chip Kelly and Kap are their guys.
  32. Cleveland Browns (0-11)- Previous rank: 32- If Cody Kessler can stay healthy, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t be the starting QB of the future in Cleveland. For a team that has missed on literally every QB they’ve drafted and/or traded for since I’ve been born, Kessler is not that bad. This would allow the Browns to focus on other positions with the number one pick in the draft. Until then, keep dreamin’ Cleveland.

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Feature photo courtesy of Keith Allison.