NFL Week 12 Power Rankings: Vikings leap into top 3

The Eagles and Patriots are the two teams to beat.
Patriots, have look of special group
Dion Lewis helped give the Patriots a jolt in the kick return game. Getty Images

1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) Def. Dallas 37-9. Last Week: 1

 

Perhaps the Eagles, down their own Pro Bowl left tackle, middle linebacker, and running back, were tired of hearing about how beset by injuries the Cowboys were. They lost their second kicker of the season for good measure on their way to spotting Dallas a 9-7 halftime lead. In the second half, they’d outscore Dallas 30-0, convert three of four two-point conversion attempts, and run the Cowboys out of their own building. They have a four game division lead with six games to go.

 

2. New England Patriots (8-2) Def. Oakland 33-8. Last Week: 3

 

You may have heard that Bills rookie Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half Sunday. Tom Brady has thrown four interceptions himself. Over the past two seasons. Bill Belichick can remain salty about having to play in Mexico Sunday, but it did nothing to stop the Patriots, who are winning wherever they take the field. Brady has now thrown for 300 yards in three different countries, which is pretty cool.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings (8-2) Def. LA Rams 24-7.  Last Week: 5

It’s hard to imagine a more convincing or complete performance than the one delivered by the Vikings Sunday. They had 280 passing yards, 171 rushing, limited the NFL’s leading offense to 254 yards and Todd Gurley to 56, and dominated the fourth quarter on their way to victory. They allowed no sacks and turned the ball over, you guessed it, zero times.

4. New Orleans Saints (8-2) Def. Washington 34-31 (OT.) Last Week: 2

The Saints took a week off from their normal dominating victories to deliver a comeback one against Washington at home. Drew Brees had as much to do with this victory as the running backs, coming up with 375 passing yards, two touchdowns, and clutch plays before Mark Ingram bowled over Washington in overtime. No word yet on the status of star rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who the Saints lost in the first half.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2) Def. Tennessee 40-17. Last Week: 7

The Steelers offense had its most explosive game of the 2017 season Thursday night, for once matching their defense’s performance. Ben Roethlisberger had his first game with more than two touchdown passes, tossing four, and missed a 300-yard game by one yard. If Big Ben and the offense is finally getting on track, the rest of the league should bare notice, because they’ll join a defense second in the league in scoring defense.

6. Carolina Panthers (7-3) Bye. Last Week: 6

The Panthers return from their bye week to face the Jets, and they may get Greg Olsen back just in time. Their veteran tight end has returned to practice for the first time since injuring his foot in Week 2. The last time the Panthers and Jets met, during the 2013 season, Olsen led all receivers with 88 yards in a 30-20 Carolina victory.

7. Los Angeles Rams (7-3) Lost to Minnesota 24-7. Last Week: 4

The Falcons gave the Rams a reprieve in their division by beating Seattle, but if the Rams struggle again against the Saints this week, questions will have to be asked about a team with victories over the Colts, 49ers, Cowboys, Jaguars, Cardinals, Giants, and Texans but losses to Washington, Seattle, and Minnesota.

8. Atlanta Falcons (6-4) Def. Seattle 34-31. Last Week: 11

With wins over Detroit in September and Seattle Monday night, Atlanta now sits in the driver's seat for the final Wildcard spot in the NFC. But they’ll be driving down a bumpy road to the playoffs, with games left against Minnesota, Carolina, and two contests against the Saints. A year ago they sat at 6-4 as well, and that season ended alright. Ish.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) Def. Cleveland 19-7. Last Week: 8

Between a bye week, suspension, and unproductive outing a week ago, it had been over a month since Leonard Fournette had his last 100-yard game. But Sunday the Jaguars turned in a performance that looked straight out of early 2017: 28 carries and 111 yards for Fournette, a defense allowing just 134 passing yards and nabbing two interceptions, and an interception-free day from their own qb.

10. Detroit Lions (6-4) Def. Chicago 27-24. Last Week: 12

The Lions may never run the football and play turnover free the way they aspired to begin the season. But they had more than enough firepower to dispatch the Bears behind a 299 yard, two touchdown performance from Matt Stafford despite spotting their opponents an early lead for the second straight week. They can’t afford to do the same this Thursday in a huge Thanksgiving matchup with the Vikings.

11. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) Lost to Atlanta 34-31. Last Week: 9

The Seahawks had a chance to take the division lead from Los Angeles Monday night. The problem? At this point the Seahawks are pretty much synonymous with Russell Wilson, and he may be a better passer than Jon Ryan and a better runner than Luke Wilson, but he can’t do it week in and week out on his own.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) Lost to NY Giants 12-9 (OT.) Last Week: 10

Tyreek Hill provided the longest catch (38 yards) and run (16) of the night for the Chiefs, but their big plays have gone the same way Alex Smith’s game managing did Sunday (two interceptions.) The Chiefs still look pretty in their division, but they need to sort out four losses in five games quickly, before the Chargers and Raiders start getting ideas.

13. Washington (4-6) Lost to New Orleans 34-31 (OT.) Last Week: 15

Washington has faced a brutal schedule this year, with games against the Rams, Chiefs, Seahawks, Vikings, Saints, and two against the Eagles. They’re just 2-5 against those teams after letting Sunday’s game against the Saints slip away, but easier times are in sight and they start with the Giants this Thanksgiving.

14. Baltimore Ravens (5-5) Def. Green Bay 23-0. Last Week: 17

The Ravens shut out victory was their third such game in 2017, something that hasn’t happened in the NFL since 2003. The defense forced five turnovers and sacked Brett Hundley six times, so why aren’t the Ravens both ranked higher and winning more often? The answer lies on the offensive side, where the Ravens accumulated just 219 total yards and averaged 2.2 yards per rush.

15. Tennessee Titans (6-4) Lost to Pittsburgh 40-17. Last Week: 14

The Titans came into Thursday night’s loss on a four game win streak, but certainly failed to dispel doubts about the quality of wins that came over Indianapolis, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Cincinnati. Marcus Mariota’s four interception game gave him 10 on the season, matching a career high.

16. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) Def. Buffalo 54-24 Last Week: 22

They may have been beneficiaries of the Bills’ as much as stars in their own right Sunday, but the Chargers have been busy winning games while the Chiefs have been busy losing them. They’re 4-2 after an 0-4 start and Philip Rivers is back to his normal production during that stretch, with 11 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.

17. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) Lost to Philadelphia 37-9. Last Week: 13

The Cowboys managed to “limit” Philadelphia to four sacks a week after allowing eight, and got 112 yards rushing against a team allowing just 71 on average. That’s about where the positives end on a night where Dallas was shown just how large the gap is at the moment between first and second place in their division.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) Def. Miami 30-20. Last Week: 23

So often turnovers have been a bane of both the Buccaneers this season and Ryan Fitzpatrick, but they were the beneficiary of five takeaways against Miami, and held onto the ball themselves for their second straight victory. Rookie tight end O.J. Howard had an encouraging performance, with his first game in a month over 16 receiving yards.

19. New York Jets (4-6) Bye. Last Week: 20

Both the Panthers and Jets will be coming off a bye when they play this week. For the Jets, the season at this point has to feel both successful - they were predicted by many to be the worst team in the NFL, a fate they’ve clearly avoided - and disappointing - they were once 3-2.

20. Houston Texans (4-6) Def. Arizona 31-21. Last Week: 27

Tom Savage won for the first time as the Texan’s starting quarterback this season, but the victory didn’t come without a cost. Rookie running back D’Onta Foreman became the latest Texan to be lost for the season when he tore his achilles following his first career touchdown.

21. Oakland Raiders (4-6) Lost to New England 33-8. Last Week: 18

The Chiefs struggles are keeping them from falling entirely out of the division race, but Oakland is still going in the wrong direction. This team can’t string together good performances or right the ship offensively, as they follow a somewhat-successful win against the Dolphins with failing to score until garbage time in the fourth quarter Sunday.

22. Green Bay Packers (5-5) Lost to Baltimore 23-0. Last Week: 19

A week after it looked like there may be some offense left in Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers following their win over the Bears the Ravens delivered a cruel wake up call. Absent Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones, the Packers managed just three yards a rush, and Davante Adams is the only receiver that appears to be on the same page with Brett Hundley.

23. Arizona Cardinals (4-6) Lost to Houston 31-21. Last Week: 21

Adrian Peterson’s every-other-week streak was broken against Houston, where he carried the ball 14 times for 26 yards, his third performance under two yards per carry in his last four games. Without Carson Palmer and David Johnson, the Cardinals are not contenders in the NFC.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (4-6) Def. Denver 20-17. Last Week: 28

The Bengals became the latest team to take advantage of Denver’s turnovers, winning despite gaining just 190 yards against the Broncos. They might even think about managing the same thing next week, with a game against the Browns upcoming.

25. Chicago Bears (3-7) Lost to Detroit 27-24. Last Week: 26

The Bears get a surprising loss in a game where they were leading 10-0 and racked up 222 rushing yards on 7.4 yards per carry while defending their lead. Losing Leonard Floyd to injury is something they could ill afford with Philadelphia knocking on the door.

26. Indianapolis Colts (3-7) Bye.  Last Week: 24

The bye week came at a good time for the Colts, who expect Jacoby Brissett to play two weeks removed from a concussion against Pittsburgh. The team has a tall order against the Titans, smarting from their own performance against the Steelers and with their own long week to rest up following a game on Thursday.

27. Buffalo Bills (5-5) Lost to LA Chargers 54-24. Last Week: 16

The Bills solution to an overwhelmed defense was to bench quarterback Tyrod Taylor and, in a way, it paid off. Taylor’s replacement, rookie Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half, giving the Chargers such short fields that the Bills defense could only allow 429 yards this week. It’s been a bad November.

28. Miami Dolphins (4-6) Lost to Tampa Bay 30-20. Last Week: 25

It wasn’t just five turnovers littering the statline for the Dolphins, losers of four in a row, but 17 penalties. They mounted an impressive comeback behind Matt Moore in the second half, but with two games against the Patriots in the next three weeks, they’d be better off not handicapping themselves to start.

29. New York Giants (2-8) Def. Kansas City 12-9 (OT.) Last Week: 31

The Giants defense showed up for one of the few times this season Sunday, intercepting the Chiefs three times and keeping them out of the endzone on the way to an overtime victory.

30. San Francisco 49ers (1-9) Bye. Last Week: 29

Forced to have the momentum of their first victory immediately shelved by a bye week, the 49ers now have to face a Seahawks team desperate to remain in the playoff race.

31. Denver Broncos (3-7) Lost to Cincinnati 20-17. Last Week: 30

Stay tuned to find out how John Elway will insult a defense that just suffered its sixth straight loss while allowing 190 total yards to the Bengals.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-10) Lost to Jacksonville 19-7. Last Week: 32

The Browns continued to set NFL marks for futility Sunday, falling to 1-25 under Hue Jackson.

 
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