Welcome to Week 12!
I’ll be honest, there was not a whole lot of movement since we last met, but that was mainly due to the contests we saw. Nothing really moved the needle, and what you saw before is more or less the same… but there is one significant change…. I’ll let you find it.
Biggest rise: Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons (up 3 spots)
Biggest fall: Carolina Panthers (down 6 spots)
1. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 2)
Record: 8-2 (2nd in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (away)
Fredy did in fact have it before me earlier this week: the Baltimore Ravens are the best team in the NFL as we speak. Will it last? Maybe, maybe not, but you cannot deny the winning streak they are on, and the wins they have put together on the way. Nevertheless, they have earned this position for the time being… and the QB is ahead in the MVP race because of it.
2. New England Patriots (PR: 1)
Record: 9-1 (1st in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Dallas Cowboys (home)
The Patriots defense had a bounce back game, and if it weren’t for a BS pass interference call on the first Eagles drive of the game, they only would have allowed 7 points (and after that you can argue if the Eagles earned a TD on their second drive). The offense is still a work in progress, but with OL Isaiah Wynn set to return, now is their chance to turn things around.
3. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 3)
Record: 9-1 (1st in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Green Bay Packers (home)
Playing division rivals always proves to be challenging, especially since you see them more than once. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals got an early lead and almost pulled this off, but the 49ers went down the field and won the game. It won’t get easier over the next 3 weeks, as SF faces Green Bay, Baltimore, and New Orleans.
4. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 4)
Record: 8-2 (5th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (away)
Not much has changed since they beat the 49ers almost 2 weeks ago. We’ve learned this season that it will never be pretty nor easy with this team, but as long as Russell Wilson is behind center, they will always have a chance to win… good thing they never traded him to the Giants.
5. New Orleans Saints (PR: 5)
Record: 8-2 (3rd in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Carolina Panthers (home)
New Orleans got a bounce back win in Tampa Bay (always weird to see Drew Brees playing outside), and are running away with the division. A win tomorrow would all but wrap up a third straight NFC South title, and with a win under their belts against Seattle and a game ahead against the 49ers, home field throughout the playoffs is absolutely still in play.
6. Green Bay Packers (PR: 6)
Record: 8-2 (2nd in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (away)
Coming off of their bye week, the Packers have their biggest test of the season as the face the 49ers. A win would put the Packers atop the NFC with 5 weeks to go in the season. Win that game, and their only truly challenging game to finish the season will be at Minnesota in Week 16. The Vikings are absolutely not out of the the race to win the division.
7. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 7)
Record: 8-3 (6th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: none (bye week)
The Vikings were down 20-0 at home before halftime to Denver last week and all looked lost… but believe it or not, Kirk Cousins led his team to a comeback victory (just doesn’t happen that often). Minnesota is all but certain to make the playoffs, the question remains where they finish. Games at Seattle and against the Packers won’t be easy, but if they win, they could very well end up with a bye week in the postseason.
8. Houston Texans (PR: 8)
Record: 7-4 (3rd in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Indianapolis Colts (home); won
After an embarrassing loss to the Ravens last Sunday, the Texans were able to win their second game versus the Colts, splitting the season series. An uncalled fumble by Deshaun Watson may have swung things unfavorably towards Houston, but one could argue it was karma for his TD pass being taken back during the first Texans-Colts game last month. They now lead the AFC South, but challenging games remain (including next Sunday versus New England).
9. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 9)
Record: 7-4 (4th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: none (bye week)
Patrick Mahomes won his first full start since Week 3 in a wild Monday Night game in Mexico that came down to the final drive. He was absolutely not his best, but the team was able to win, and that’s what matters. Once again, the dominance we saw from KC a year ago isn’t here yet, and after their bye week, they could very well be facing a 7-4 Raiders team in a de facto division title game… ever think you would’ve said that before the season began?
10. Oakland Raiders (PR: 10)
Record: 6-4 (6th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: New York Jets (away)
It was close, but the Raiders pulled of a win versus the Bengals (their third straight) to move to 6-4 on the year. They head to New… Jersey tomorrow to face the RED HOT Jets. Win that game, and as said above, the Raiders will have a chance to take control of the AFC West with a win at KC in Week 13, which is all you can ask for.
11. Buffalo Bills (PR: 11)
Record: 7-3 (5th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Denver Broncos (home)
I thought it was a foregone conclusion the Bills would make the playoffs over a month ago, but now a little race is developing. They are still in a good spot at 7-3 (and Josh Allen just came off of a really good game), but they still have games against the Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers and Patriots. They’ll have to finish strong to earn a second trip to the playoffs in 3 seasons.
12. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 13)
Record: 6-4 (4th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: New England Patriots (away)
Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to a win in a high-scoring game against the Lions, moving the team to 6-4, but things will not be easy tomorrow in New England. The Patriots have not lost a game at home in over 25 months, and the Cowboys have not beaten a team with a winning record all season… will we learn anything new about this team, or do we already know who they are? Tune in Sunday to find out.
13. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 15)
Record: 6-5 (7th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Houston Texans (away); lost
The Colts bounced back with a win on Sunday against Jacksonville to move to 6-4, but a loss in Houston moved the team to 6-5, and lost them their spot atop the AFC South. The Colts are now on the outside looking in for the playoffs, but there is plenty of football still to be played. However, their margin for error is much slimmer.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 14)
Record: 5-5 (8th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (away)
It still remains to be seen how the Steelers will respond after the events in Cleveland last week, but at 5-5, they are still in the race for a postseason spot (albeit on the outside at the moment). Was their lost to the Browns a case of playing a more desperate team, or did Cleveland expose Mason Rudolph and the flaws of the Steelers? I don’t expect a loss in Cincinnati, but next week in their second game versus the Browns should tell us what we need to know.
15. Tennessee Titans (PR: 17)
Record: 5-5 (9th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars (home)
Remember: the Titans were on fire going into their bye week, going 3-1 in their first four starts under Ryan Tannehill. 4 of their remaining 6 games are against the Colts, Raiders, and Texans (twice), all teams currently ahead of them in the playoff race. If the Titans want to make the playoffs, and possibly win their division, their fate is in their hands due to this schedule. Lets hope the magic didn’t die out during the bye.
16. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 18)
Record: 6-4 (7th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (home)
Congratulations, you beat the Bears! Sorry, I won’t deny that I’ve been down on the Rams this season, it just simply has not been the same as a year ago. They will not have an easy road to finish the season, with games against the Ravens, Cardinals (twice), Seahawks, Cowboys, and 49ers. They’ll need to be nearly perfect to have any chance at making the postseason.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 16)
Record: 5-5 (8th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Seattle Seahawks (home)
The inconsistent team we’ve seen all season showed itself last Sunday against the Patriots. Well, that’s not entirely fair, as we know the injury bug has hit the Eagles hard, but the defense did look better (or maybe that was Marshall Newhouse looking the same). However, the offense was just awful. Maybe we can give credit to New England’s defense, but the Eagles were lucky to score at all (and those scores only happened in the 1st quarter). Tomorrow will be a tough game, but after that, the schedule lines up for them to have a chance to win the NFC East… can they do it though?
18. Carolina Panthers (PR: 12)
Record: 5-5 (9th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: New Orleans Saints (away)
After staring their season 0-2. Cam Newton was hurt, and under Kyle Allen, the team won 4 games in a row, and 5 out of their next 6. However, the last two games have continued a trend where Allen looks awful. His last 4 games he has thrown 9 INTs and has a passer rating of 60.3. Moving on from Newton looked simple a month ago when Allen was making no mistakes and winning games, but now… the calculus might be changing.
19. Cleveland Browns (PR: 22)
Record: 4-6 (10th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Miami Dolphins (home)
The Browns came out looking better due to other teams losing. We’ve said all season the Browns would benefit from an easier schedule in the second half, and that will continue tomorrow against the Dolphins. How will the Browns respond in the aftermath of the Myles Garrett situation will define their season, and likely the fate of Freddie Kitchens. You know how I feel about him, and that has not changed.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 19)
Record: 4-6 (11th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Tennessee Titans (away)
Jacksonville had a chance to stay within reach of a playoff spot with a win last week, but they were unable to beat the Colts in Indianapolis. With a game against the Titans tomorrow, a team similarly trying to find its way into the postseason picture, the game could ultimately be their last chance of doing anything this season due being in last place in their division. Can Nick Foles make some magic happen again? To be determined.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 21)
Record: 4-7 (12th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: none (bye week)
Fredy was texting me Monday telling me if the Chargers were to win, they’d be right there in the race for both the division and the postseason, that they weren’t out of it yet… then Philip Rivers threw a game-ending INT, and I texted him back “SIKE.” They teased us all season, but have lost too many close games that were absolutely winnable. At 7 losses, you can all but kiss their chances of making the postseason goodbye (sorry Peter Schrager).
22. Chicago Bears (PR: 20)
Record: 4-6 (10th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: New York Giants (home)
You know that meme with Stephen A. Smith (sorry, I’m mad him too right now, but stay with me) where he pauses and goes “THE LAKERS STINK”? Replace ‘Lakers’ with ‘Bears’ and you’ll find all you needs to know about this team. I’m still not sure what happened with Mitch Trubisky to end the game last week, but we all know anything revolving him only looks worse by the week. As for the Bears, I’d say their season is a warp.
23. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 23)
Record: 3-7-1 (12th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: none (bye week)
Even in defeat the Cardinals look impressive, and its all you can ask for during Year 1 of the Kingsburry/Murray Era. I had my doubts about Kliff before, but I think this organization is in a good spot moving forward, and although shipping off Rosen seemed cruel and unusual, it was a bold move, the type of boldness that propels teams to years of success. I’m buying the future of this team.
24. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 27)
Record: 3-7 (13th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (home)
Break up the Atlanta Falcons! With back-to-back wins at New Orleans and Carolina, the Falcons are finally figuring it out. Could it be bad because it might make their first round pick in 2020 worst and keep Dan Quinn around for another season? Maybe, but the Arthur Blank seems to like him (and stability), so maybe it works out. I’m not sure, but I’m also not qualified to make those decisions.
25. Denver Broncos (PR: 26)
Record: 3-7 (13th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Buffalo Bills (away)
The Broncos are like the Chargers, but it just makes you feel sad when they lose close games. They had leads against the Bears, Jaguars, Colts and Vikings in the 4th quarter, but lost each game in seemingly heart-breaking fashion in the final seconds. It has made for a rough first-year for Vic Fangio, but I think he is a good enough coach to build from this in the future.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 23)
Record: 3-7 (14th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Atlanta Falcons (away)
Jameis Winston has thrown 13 interceptions during his past 5 games… which averages out to over 41 during a 16-game season (you read that right). He’s a lost cause at this point. The question now becomes what they do at the position next offseason, and if Arians is committed to working with that person moving forward.
27. Detroit Lions (PR: 25)
Record: 3-7-1 (11th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Washington (away)
The Lions and Jeff Driskel played the Cowboys close, but they lost yet again, continuing their downward slide. As I’ve said before, it’s disappointing considering how competitive they looked to start the season, and if they had won some of those close games… you can’t play a game of ifs, you are what you record says you are, and right now, the Lions are 3-6-1… and looking ahead to 2020.
28. New York Jets (PR: 29)
Record: 3-7 (14th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Oakland Raiders (home)
Here come the New York Jets! Like Miami before them, the Jets have now won back-to-back games, beginning to look like a competent football team. Can they play the role of spoiler against the Raiders tomorrow? Well, they already did once this season versus Dallas.
29. Miami Dolphins (PR: 28)
Record: 2-8 (15th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Cleveland Browns (away)
Miami could not pull of a third straight win, losing to the Bills at home and moving to 2-8. It was good for their draft outlook, and all they can look forward to finish this season is either that, or upsetting some teams that come in their path (Miami fans would probably root against the latter)
30. New York Giants (PR: 30)
Record: 2-8 (15th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Chicago Bears (away)
The Giants lost 6 straight games going into their bye week, and are showing even though they seem to have the right QB, the rest of the team does in fact suck. I’d be in favor of a coaching change here, and I think having the chance to work with Daniel Jones and Saquan Barkely for the next few seasons will be very appealing to the best offensive minds in the NFL.
31. Washington (PR: 31)
Record: 1-9 (16th in NFC) | Week 12 opponent: Detroit Lions (home)
Well, they lost to the Jets… Haskins seems to care, but does anyone else?
32. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 32)
Record: 0-10 (16th in AFC) | Week 12 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers (home)
Another week, another loss (albeit a close one). 6 more games to go, can Cincy get their elusive first win of the season? I agree it was time to let Marvin Lewis go, but he deserves a chance with a team that gives a damn, because looking at this team now, you have to applaud what he did there for 16 seasons.
Photo above via CBS Sports
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