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NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

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NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

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NFL POWER RANKINGS

The Appalachian Sports Desk will be releasing collaborative weekly NFL Power Rankings. The Appalachian sports reporters will be ranking NFL teams that will be averaged out to determine their rankings. Each writer will cover 2-3 teams and give their take on them.

This week’s biggest riser: Arizona Cardinals moved up 7

This week’s biggest drop: Dallas Cowboys moved down 6

 

1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) (Last week: 1↔️)

Philadelphia faced off against the Bears Sunday in their fifth-straight 30-plus-point game this season, the second longest streak in team history. While the offense admittedly did not look as strong as they have in previous weeks, Carson Wentz was still able to move the ball effectively and add a pair of touchdowns to his season stats thanks to an O-line that kept him (fairly) clean all day long. Jay Ajayi seemed to have trouble holding on to the ball, fumbling twice and recording a handful of tackles for loss and a false start on one of his more underwhelming performances of the season. The defense looked great, keeping the Bears out of the end zone all day, including a last-second interception to prevent a touchdown by Rasul Douglas. They held Mitch Trubisky to zero touchdowns and only allowed a single field goal late in the third. The Eagles are 10-1 with nine wins in a row, and this train just keeps on a rollin’.  -Garrett Wold

2. New England Patriots (9-2) (Last week: 2↔️)

Another week, another win for the New England Patriots. The scary thing for the rest of the league is that the Patriots are only getting better. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks is finally getting his timing down with quarterback Tom Brady, striking fear in all the secondaries across the the AFC. While the Patriots’ defense is not great, it is just good, but if Brady and the offense can keep scoring around 27 points a game, there is a lot of breathing room for the defense.  -Michael Pigg

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) (Last week: 3↔️)

Hitting a game-winning 53-yard field goal, Chris Boswell’s kick as the time expired came as a relief and a major joy for the Pittsburgh faithful at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh’s close, 31-28 victory against the Packers wasn’t a show of dominance, but it did show how the Steelers can handle the pressure in crunch time. Trailing late in the third quarter, Big Ben Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown from 1 yard out, knotting the game at 21-21. Again tied, this time at 28-28, the Steelers orchestrated a drive late in the game to get them into Boswell’s range. Antonio Brown’s past two games have been nothing short of staggering, making 20 catches for 313 yards and five touchdowns. If Pittsburgh’s stars can keep shining, then they’re going to be a favorite to take home the Lombardi Trophy. -Tyler Hotz

4. Los Angeles Rams (8-3) (Last week: 6⬆️)

 The Rams bounced back in a big way after a tough loss to the Vikings with a huge win over the Saints to put them back in contention for an NFC title. Los Angeles has began to rely more on second year Jared Goff to lighten up the workload for Todd Gurley, and it has worked. Goff threw for 354 passing yards and has once again found another new weapon in receiver Cooper Kupp during the absence of Robert Woods. Now sitting at 8-3, the Rams are only a few wins away from an NFC West title with a game against second place Seattle in two weeks. The Rams arguably have the most well-rounded team in the league currently from the defensive to the offensive side of the ball. -Jason Huber

5. Minnesota Vikings (9-2) (Last week: 4⬇️)

The Minnesota Vikings took care of business of the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, with quarterback Case Keenum throwing for three total touchdowns. When rookie running back Dalvin Cook went down with a season-ending injury early in the year, back-ups Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon were ready to be the next man up as they are averaging 124 yards per game. Every week the Vikings play they are constantly pressuring on the opposing quarterback, and next week they better continue this trend as they take on the surging Atlanta Falcons. -Michael Pigg

6. New Orleans Saints (8-3) (Last week: 5⬇️)

The Saints lost a good game to a great team; take nothing away from them. They have solidified themselves as a top team and will do so in the playoffs. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are the NFL’s best running duo and drive this offense. Don’t be surprised if they get away with a few playoff wins and possibly an NFC Conference Championship. This team is really good and won’t surprise me if they give the Eagles a run for their money. -Noah Gerringer

7. Carolina Panthers (8-3) (Last week: 8⬆️)

This game had “trap game” written all over it, and Carolina almost fell directly into that trap against the pesky New York Jets. Committing 10 penalties on Sunday, Carolina more than doubled their usual allotment, going into the game with less than an average of five penalties per game called against them this season. Overcoming their penalty struggles and mediocre play, they hung on for a 35-27 win over the Jets. Getting gashed for two big pass play touchdowns, the Carolina secondary struggled mightily to slow down the speedster Robby Anderson. Trailing 20-18 early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers capitalized on a Josh McCown fumble, where Luke Kuechly returned it for a 34-yard touchdown. Just over two minutes later, Kaelin Clay, a third-year product from Utah, scored on a 60-yard punt return to completely change the tide of the contest. Though they didn’t play well, Carolina made the necessary plays at the right time. Now, they travel to New Orleans for the top spot in the NFC South. -Tyler Hotz

8. Atlanta Falcons (7-4) (Last week: 9⬆️)

The Dirty Birds have finally taken off offensively. Atlanta has now won three straight games and four out of their last five. The 34-20 victory over Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers helped to boost the Falcons to an 7-4 record. However, the NFC South is still up for grabs between New Orleans, Carolina and Atlanta. One game separates the Falcons from perching on the summit. Anyway, Julio Jones broke out for the first time this season with 253 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Here’s a fun fact: Jones is the only player to have more than just one 250-yard receiving game. He currently has three written into the record books. Mohamed Sanu continues to possess a perfect passer rating with his 51-yard touchdown bomb to Jones. In regard to injuries, Desmond Trufant and Devonta Freeman are still in concussion protocol. The Falcons must continue to keep pace in the NFL’s toughest division this week within friendly confines versus a defensively dominant 9-2 Minnesota Vikings. Each and every upcoming week will be oddly similar to that of a playoff game. -Shane Harvell

9. Seattle Seahawks (7-4) (Last week: 10⬆️)

Although the task at hand was taken care of last week against a struggling 49ers squad in a 24-13 victory, more business still exists for Seattle to attend to. The 7-4 Seahawks continue to sit one game out of first place within the NFC West due to another LA Rams victory. In regard to the playoff picture, Seattle is clearly in the hunt as the first team missing the dance. They currently have tiebreaking rights over the LA Rams at least, however, the Falcons have a tiebreaker of their own over Wilson and company. Wilson must continue to carry his team upon his back to the Promised Land due to key injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor are two of the many irreplaceable veterans within the NFL. The “12th Man” will arguably host the best team in league this week in the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles -Shane Harvell

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4) (Last week: 7⬇️)

Jacksonville’s loss on Sunday was a hard one to swallow, especially since it came by the hands of their former 2011 first round pick. The Arizona Cardinals, led by former Jaguar QB Blaine Gabbert, squeaked out a last-second win over the Jaguars to snap their four-game winning streak. With no time left of the clock, 42-year-old Phil Dawson managed to kick a 57-yard screamer in between the uprights to give Arizona a 27-24 edge over the Jags. Both teams are guilty of huge mistakes that cost them the game, but at the end of the day, Gabbert had a slightly (I mean SLIGHTLY) better day than Blake Bortles which set them up to win. The Jaguars are now second in the AFC South behind the Titans and need some big statement wins if they want to finish the season on top. -Garrett Wold

11. Tennessee Titans (7-4) (Last week: 13⬆️)

For the second time this season, the Titans beat the Colts on the back of a second-half comeback. While second-half comebacks are always a good thing, being down to the Colts at any point in a game is not. This is also the second time the Titans have barely beaten one of the worst teams in the league and these are games they should be winning by a couple of touchdowns. You can’t hate too much though, the only number that matters is seven, the number of wins Tennessee has so far. That puts them in a tie with the Jags for the best record in the AFC South, and they currently hold the tiebreaker. -Ian Taylor

12. Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) (Last week: 15⬆️)

Thursday marked two straight blowout wins for the Chargers. Los Angeles shocked the Dallas Cowboys in their first Thanksgiving Game since 1969 with a 28-6 victory. The Chargers now sit only one game back in the AFC West as the Chiefs are falling apart, and have a real shot at making the playoffs with a division title or a wild card. Just a few weeks ago the Chargers were 0-4, but now, the defense has been stout, and Philip Rivers looks like his old self with a 400-yard game on the road against Dallas. If there are any weaknesses, it would have to be the kicker. Struggling at the kicker position all season, Nick Novak’s back forced him to miss the second half of the game and the Chargers had to use their punter as their kicker. He missed all his kicks, including extra points. With a game against Cleveland coming up, the matchup between the Bolts and Chiefs in Week 15 will be pivotal. -Jason Huber

13. Detroit Lions (6-4) (Last week: 12⬇️)

The Lions played in the best game on Thanksgiving Day, but didn’t quite come out with the win. Detroit fell to the NFC North division leader and rival Minnesota Vikings by a final score of 30-23. The loss snapped a current three-game winning streak, leaving Detroit with a respectable 6-5 record and three games behind Minnesota for the division lead. With the Vikings game out of the way, Detroit has five games left and all of them are against teams with losing records. The Lions played well later in the game after spotting the Vikings a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. Matthew Stafford and emerging star wideout Marvin Jones kept up their connection they have shown all season with Jones finishing with 109 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. If Detroit can figure out how to put together a complete game of football and play at a high level for all 60 minutes, they will have a chance to make some waves in the latter part of the season. -Silas Albright

14. Baltimore Ravens (6-5) (Last week: 16⬆️)

The Ravens returned to Monday Night Football for the first time since their loss to the New England Patriots in Week 15 of the 2016 season, and they did it in style, picking up their second consecutive win for the first time since Week 2 with the 23-16 victory at home against the Houston Texans. The Baltimore offense started out slow, punting their first three times out before grabbing two touchdowns and a field goal to end the first half. Their defense is still their driving force, getting quarterback Tom Savage to fumble while defensive backs Anthony Levine and Tony Jefferson both grabbed their first interceptions of the year. The Ravens still lead the league in interceptions with 18 while being tied for seventh in forced fumbles with 12, and as a team, they still own the second wild card spot in the AFC. But kicker Justin Tucker sits at 10th in the league in field goals attempted. While his percentage is great, missing only three kicks all season, two from more than 50 yards, the Ravens’ offense is not efficient enough to succeed in the postseason at that rate. -Brooks Maynard

15. Washington Redskins (5-6) (Last week: 17⬆️)

Kirk Cousins and his guys were able to rebound from a heartbreaking loss to the Saints with a 20-10 win on Thanksgiving over their wilting division rivals, the New York Giants. Washington now holds a 5-6 record and has a lot of work to do if they want to make a late playoff push. The remaining schedule for the Redskins is intriguing. They face matchups with some mediocre teams that are also in the playoff hunt and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Washington is just two games behind the fourth wild card spot Atlanta who is 7-4, but there are four teams between the Falcons and the Redskins. -Silas Albright

16. Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) (Last week: 11⬇️)

So, Kansas City followed up possibly the worst loss in the NFL this season with a disappointing 16-10 defeat to the Buffalo Bills. Never trailing, the Bills stifled the Chiefs’ offense, allowing just over 250 yards of total offense on the day. Andy Reid’s once dynamic offensive scheme has become stale and uneventful in the middle of the season, correlating to two straight performances with 10 points or less put on the scoreboard. Somehow, the Chiefs still control their own destiny in the AFC South, but the resurgent Los Angeles Chargers and pedestrian Oakland Raiders now sit only one game behind them. Taking on the Jets in Week 13, maybe we will see first round draft pick Patrick Mahomes II finally overtake Alex Smith as the starting quarterback. -Tyler Hotz

17. Buffalo Bills (6-5) (Last week: 18⬆️)

After a controversial switch last week at the quarterback position, the Buffalo Bills went back to the captain of the team Tyrod Taylor. Switching back to Taylor allowed for the Bills to pick up the victory against the Chiefs. Although is was not pretty, it is exactly how the Bills want to play football. They want the quarterback to be a game manager and the defense to be dominant. Technically, the Bills are still alive for a wild card, but it seems like the Bills are still struggling to find its identity and at this point, it might be a little too late. -Michael Pigg

18. Arizona Cardinals (5-6) (Last week: 25⬆️)

Who in the world saw this coming? Arizona upset the once 7-3 Jaguars 27-24 in dramatic fashion. Frankly, it’s hard to categorize any victory over Jacksonville as a upset in regard to recent years. Phil Dawson connected on a 57-yard field goal to seal the deal as time expired. With the victory, the Cards improved to 5-6 on the year and three games back of the LA Rams in regard to the standings. Gabbert played quite well and threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns. In the running game, Adrian Peterson rushed for a conservative 79 yards on 20 total carries. The defense also created some havoc by forcing three Jacksonville turnovers. Arizona, yet again, faces another tough task for this upcoming week in the hosting of the 8-3 LA Rams. -Shane Harvell

19. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) (Last week: 20⬆️)

This is the most confusing team in the NFL. Their record says bad. Their quarterback says good. Their rushing game (despite this last game) says bad but their red zone defense says good (the best in the NFL). I don’t really know how to analyze this team so I’ll just continue with what I’ve been saying. Don’t be fooled by Joe Mixon. He’s an athlete, so of course he’s going to have a decent game. However, one game does not make you an NFL back. If the Bengals are smart, they will trade him in the offseason to improve their offense and support Andy Dalton. If not, then look out 2018, the Bengals are bad again. -Noah Gerringer

20. Dallas Cowboys (5-6) (Last week: 14⬇️)

I don’t know what I’m supposed to write anymore. No matter how much those guys on ESPN tell you, there is no chance they will make the playoffs. The only thing is it’s not because of what we all thought. Sure, Zeke is a huge loss for the Cowboys at the moment and definitely a giant reason for missing the playoffs, but the rushing game is doing just fine. They are averaging 4.7 yards per rush which is the second-best mark in the NFL. First downs aren’t hard to find either. The problem is the passing game. Dak cannot throw the ball if he is constantly getting sacked. The O-line either needs to get back to 100 percent healthy or they need to make some moves. The same goes for defense. Sean Lee is the leader by far, but that does not mean he is the entire defense. -Noah Gerringer

21. Oakland Raiders (5-6) (Last week: 19⬇️)

It was supposed to be a breakout year for the Raiders after shocking the football world last season, but the Raiders have struggled in a year where their division is awful. But thankfully for Oakland, the division is so bad that the Raiders only sit one game back from the division lead and are tied with the Chargers for second thanks to a win against the last place Broncos. Oakland will be without Michael Crabtree for a week after he lost his second chain in a fight with Broncos’ Aqib Talib, but still have a game against the Giants next week to likely move to 6-6. Then the season is in their own hands with a game against the Chargers and Chiefs still on the schedule. -Jason Huber

22. Green Bay Packers (5-6) (Last week: 23⬆️)

Green Bay fell victim to one of the NFL’s last-second field goal games this weekend, losing to the Steelers 31-28. There is some good news to this, as backup QB Brett Hundley showed a lot of improvement and the Packers played a complete game, but the Steelers were just better. Hundley and the Packers offense gave up zero turnovers, throwing 17-27 passes for 245 yards, while the defense forced three turnovers of their own. At the end of the day, the Steelers played a great game and out-performed the Packers. Antonio Brown had an unbelievable 169 yards and two touchdowns on his own and the Packers just didn’t have an answer. Green Bay will look to pick up a much-needed win against the Buccaneers next week, and give the people of Green Bay something to be excited about. -Garrett Wold

23. Houston Texans (4-7) (Last week: 21⬇️)

The Texans lost to the Ravens on Monday Night Football, taking their record to 4-7. The defense looked dominant again, but the offense could not get points up on the board. Tom Savage leads the league in fumbles, which is quite shocking. He will need to clean that up in order for the Texans to get moving on offense. -Eric Jackson

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) (Last week: 22⬇️)

With 13 minutes, 47 seconds left in the game against the Falcons, the Buccaneers were only down by 7 points against a top-10 team in the league. The Bucs lost, but they continue to be surprisingly good without Jameis Winston, and are going to be a problem for other teams for the rest of the season. While that is a good thing, it’s pretty bad that this season is ending with the hope that you’re the best trap team in the league. -Ian Taylor

25. New York Jets (4-7) (Last week: 24⬇️)

The Jets took another loss this week, 35-27 against the Carolina Panthers, bringing their record to 4-7 and 1-5 in their last six contests. Quarterback Josh McCown was decent yet again, completing 52 percent of his passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns. He also fumbled once however, as did rookie wide receiver JoJo Natson, while leading rusher Bilal Powell managed only 34 yards and no touchdowns. The Jets are currently tied for fifth in total punts, averaging 5.5 per game and adding seven to their total on Sunday. With their offense and defense currently sitting at 23 and 19 in total statistics respectively, and their remaining schedule being the fourth toughest in the league according to ESPN.com, the road ahead will be a long one for the Jets. -Brooks Maynard

26. Miami Dolphins (4-7) (Last week: 28⬆️)

At one point against the Patriots, the Dolphins had an 88 percent chance of losing. On the flip side, their 12 percent chance of winning was the best they had all day. Led by subpar gunslinger Matt Moore, the offense is continuing to be the physical example of lackadaisical. I feel bad for Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry. It really feels like every other member of the offense has given up on the season. Will they make the playoffs? Odds are no, and they’ll be lucky to crawl to .500. -Ian Taylor

27. Chicago Bears (3-8) (Last week: 26⬇️)

It seems like two steps forward, one step back for Chicago this season. On Sunday, the Bears faced off against the Eagles, one of the hottest teams in the league. The Bears really couldn’t get anything going on offense with Jordan Howard running for less than 10 yards and an overall negative rushing performance for the Bears. Trubisky wasn’t able to take care of the ball, throwing two interceptions against a stingy Eagles defense. You really have to take this loss with a grain of salt with Chicago facing the best team in the league. Some key injuries to the likes of Leonard Floyd and Adrian Amos really hurt the Bears on Sunday. Chicago will look to bounce back against the 49ers next week at Soldier Field. -Aman Hyrams

28. Denver Broncos (3-8) (Last week: 27⬇️)

The Broncos are falling lower and lower every week. This week they lost to the Raiders, but the main attention was focused on Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib, who got in a big fight. The fight may have been the only entertaining sight for the Broncos in the past few weeks.-Eric Jackson

29. Indianapolis Colts (3-8) (Last week: 29↔️)

I’ve written about this all year and it looks like I have to do it yet again. The Colts were clinging to a lead going into the fourth quarter versus Tennessee, but failed to close out the win. Leading 16-13 in the fourth, the Colts allowed Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray to march down the field and into the end zone with under six minutes left to play and were unable to muster up any points of their own, registering their fifth loss in six games and maintaining their membership in the three-win club. -Silas Albright

30. New York Giants (2-9) (Last week: 30↔️)

Overshadowed by their victory against the Chiefs in Week 11, the Giants are still awful. Playing in their first Thanksgiving Day game in eight years, the Giants were the worst team in a very sloppy game that was hard to watch. In total, the Giants only put up 170 yards on offense. In the second half, the Giants had 47 yards and one first down … that includes 36 yards in the final two minutes. The only touchdown came from a pick-six by Janoris Jenkins, who is now injured and will likely miss some time. The offense will not get any better, not without star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. The run game is inept, and the Giants season is a nightmare that was not expected for fans. Now, Eli Manning’s 210 game starting streak will come to an end as the Giants prepare to start Geno Smith (yes, THAT Geno Smith) on Sunday. Davis Webb will play as well eventually. This could be an abrupt end to the Eli Manning era in New York, and a tough one for all Big Blue fans. -Jason Huber

31. San Francisco 49ers (1-10) (Last week: 31↔️)

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo finally made his debut for the 49ers, albeit briefly, completing both of his pass attempts for 18 yards and San Francisco’s only touchdown of the day, a short pass to little-used receiver Louis Murphy. This was the only bright spot on the day for the 49ers, who dropped their 10th game of the season in their 24-13 loss to division rival Seattle Seahawks. Starting quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 22 passes but fumbled once and threw an interception, bringing his touchdown-to-interception ratio to four-six with a 29.4 quarterback rating since taking over for Brian Hoyer in Week 7. It is safe to say Beathard is not the answer the 49ers were looking for and they are a long way out of the playoff race. This means we should see a lot more of Garoppolo in the weeks to come. -Brooks Maynard

32. Cleveland Browns (0-11) (Last week: 32↔️)

The Browns lost again to the Bengals, continuing their winless season. Nothing is going well for the Browns right now, but when has it ever? Next week, Josh Gordon returns for the first time since 2014. He will see an increased role, but I am not sure it will make that much of a difference. Eric Jackson 

Rankings By: Jason Huber, Brooks Maynard, Tyler Hotz, Silas Albright, Eric Jackson, Shane Harvell, Aman Hyrams, Michael Pigg, Ian Taylor, Noah Gerringer and Garrett Wold 

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NFL Power Rankings: Week 12