NFL Week 12 Power Rankings: Where Our Bloggers Give The NFC East No Respect

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NFL Week 12 Power Rankings: Where The Titans Are Knocking On The Door

The difference between the haves and have-nots has perhaps never been as large in the NFL. For another week, the Colts, Saints, and Vikings controlled the top three of our NFL blogger power rankings, while the Lions, Bucs, Rams, and Browns bring up the rear once again. Parity indeed seems dead.

As for this week's power rankings, both the biggest riser and biggest faller participated in the Monday night game -- the Titans and Texans. Tennessee climbed up to 15th in our power rankings, five spots from last week, on the strength of their last-minute win over Houston. Maybe running the table and getting to ten wins isn't that crazy. Games against the Cardinals, Colts and Chargers will certainly not be easy, but the way the Titans are playing they're at least winnable. As for the Texans, the loss moves them back in the crowded pack of teams angling for the AFC's wild card spots, and our bloggers moved them back from 13th down to 19th.

And Browns fans, at least Eric Mangini will probably get fired after this season, right?

NFL Power Rankings

Brett Favre, MVP

Team Rank (LW) Record Comments
1 (1) Indianapolis Colts 10-0 SBN's Stampede Blue shines the light on the deserving (and underhyped) Jim Caldwell as possible Coach of the Year. Yes, Caldwell inherited a talented, veteran team, but he has handled the transition seamlessly, while changing the team's defensive schemes without any hiccups. At the very least, Caldwell should be receiving more recognition for what he's done.
2 (2) New Orleans Saints 10-0 SBN's Canal Street Chronicles makes the case that this Monday's game against the Patriots shouldn't be blown out of proportion; after all, there are few playoff implications and the teams play in different conferences. To which we say: sure, but it's Brady and Brees in a game that will tell us a lot more about where both teams stand. Count us among the geeked up.
3 (3) Minnesota Vikings 9-1 Brett Favre, MVP? Get ready for the (entirely justified) hype. After leading the league in interceptions last season, Favre has only thrown three this year, along with his 21 touchdowns. With their dominating front four and bevy of playmakers on offense, the Vikings continue to look like the most complete team in the NFC, and maybe the entire league.
4 (5) New England Patriots 7-3 Remember the Pats' early season struggles? Well it seems that they may have been due in large part to the absence of one pint-sized possession receiver: Wes Wel-kah. Expect fireworks when the Pats take on the Saints on Monday Night.
5 (7) San Diego Chargers   7-3 Note to Josh McDaniels: you should probably wait until after the game to tell the opposing team that you "own them" -- because when they beat down your team 32-3, you look a tad foolish. After starting the season 2-3, the Chargers are firmly in control of their own destiny, and look set to win another AFC West crown.
6 (4) Cincinnati Bengals 7-3 Bengals fans were willing to write off last week's loss to the Raiders as a mulligan (it's easier to do that when all the other teams in the division lose). A loss this weekend to the Browns would not be quite as forgivable.
7 (8) Arizona Cardinals  7-3 After bottling up opposing team's running backs en route to the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, the Cardinals have been gouged on the ground the past month. And with a trip to Tennessee coming up, SBN's Revenge of the Birds wonders whether the Cardinals will be able to slow down Chris Johnson and VY. While the Cardinals appear in control of the NFC West, if they're going to duplicate last year's run to the Super Bowl, they'll need to get back to shutting down opposing team's running games.
8 (6) Pittsburgh Steelers 6-4 As SBN's Behind The Steel Curtain notes, only the Patriots and Giants have had a better yardage gained/allowed differential than the Steelers. Poor special teams play helps explain this discrepancy.
9 (9) Dallas Cowboys   7-3 Will the Cowboys be able to put up points against the blitz-happy Raiders? While such a question may have seemed laughable a few weeks ago, the Cowboys' last two games have re-opened all the questions about Tony Romo and their offense. Expect a heavy dose of Marion Barber on Turkey Day.
10 (10) Philadelphia Eagles 6-4 The Eagles made more of a commitment to the running game last week, getting rookie LeSean McCoy 20 carries against the Bears. If they can continue to remember that they are allowed to hand the ball off, the Eagles should continue to be dangerous.
11 (15) New York Giants 6-4 It might not have been the prettiest win, but it was a win -- which is more than the Giants could have said for the past month, as Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News pointed out. With the Cowboys struggling to score and the Eagles still looking inconsistent, it's not outside the realm of possibility that the Giants could storm back and win the NFC East. 
12 (14) Green Bay Packers 6-4 Losing both Al Harris and Aaron Kampman for the season is certainly a blow for the Packers' defense as they fight for the playoffs. Still, the Packers' most glaring weakness is their inability to protect Aaron Rodgers. Unless they can improve in that area it's difficult to believe that they'll be playing in January.
13 (12) Baltimore Ravens 5-5 Ravens fans have to come to expect this: hang with one of the league's elite teams, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion in the final few minutes. Despite this, the Ravens remain only a game out of wildcard (along with a host of other 5-5 teams), and will have a chance to get into the race against the 6-4 Steelers this weekend. Don't write off the Ravens just yet.
14 (11) Denver Broncos 6-4 Remember when the Broncos were winning games like this? With their fourth straight loss, safety Brian Dawkins called a players-only meeting to clear the air after Brandon Marshall and Knowshon Moreno tussled on the sidelines last week. Hopefully that will spark the Broncos, because this week's game against the Giants has a season-defining feel to it.
15 (20) Tennessee Titans 4-6 VY just wins football games. While running the table might be a bit much for the Titans, with the Cardinals, Colts, and Chargers still up, 8-8 or 9-7 seems eminently doable for a team that appeared dead in the water after the "Boston Massacre".
16 (19) Jacksonville Jaguars 6-4 Don't look now, but the Jaguars would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. While it's hard to imagine them maintaining this pace unless they improve their pass defense -- and losing top corner Rashean Mathis will certainly not help -- MJD and Mike Sims-Walker give them enough playmaking on offense to keep them in the hunt.
17 (16) Atlanta Falcons 5-5 As SBN's The Falcoholic points out, Atlanta's end of season schedule is very favorable, outside of matchups against the Eagles and Saints. The Falcons will have to win at least one of those two games if they are going to have a realistic shot at the playoffs. 
18 (17) Miami Dolphins    5-5 SBN's The Phinsider zeroes in on the big question for Miami this season: can they beat a team that's "better" on paper than they are? While Miami nearly pulled off upsets against the Colts and Saints, they have yet to beat a win a game they weren't more or less favored to win. With games against the Steelers and Patriots still on tap, the Dolphins will have to if they're going to make the playoffs. 
19 (13) Houston Texans 5-5 Painful fact: the Texans could realistically be 9-1. With two losses coming on a failure to punch it in from the goal line, and two others coming on missed field goals, the Texans have lost four very winnable games. Even if they had only won half of those games, that would still mean a 7-3 record and an inside track on the playoffs. With the Colts coming to town this weekend, Houston will have to figure things out quickly if they're going to stay in the playoff hunt.
20 (18) San Francisco 49ers 4-6 Niners fans want to take a vacation from quotidian things like won-loss records, and imagine San Francisco turning it around while the Cardinals collapse, setting up a December battle for first place between the two. In the NFC West the past few years, crazier things have happened.
21 (21) Carolina Panthers    4-6 SBN's Cat Scratch Reader takes issue with Panthers beat reporter Darin Gantt's contention that the team's problems can be traced to franchising Julius Peppers, since it prevented the team from using its cap space on adding depth to the roster. But as Cat Scratch Reader points out, the bigger issue is that the team does not have adequate play at quarterback, which is hard to blame on franchising Peppers. Sometimes football is simple; you usually need a good quarterback to win, and the Panthers do not have one.
22 (22) New York Jets 4-6 After their scintillating start, Gang Green has dropped six of seven, and effectively out of the wildcard race. After crying in front of the team last week apparently did not help, head coach Rex Ryan will now take on a bigger role on the offensive side of the ball. Stay tuned for what Ryan will do next week if the Jets don't beat the Panthers.
23 (23) Chicago Bears 4-6 Bill Cowher would reportedly be "excited" about coaching the Bears, which has some Bears fans excited too. Somehow, I can't imagine Cowher and his trademark grimace would have much patience for Jay Cutler and his trademark petulance -- which is probably exactly what the Bears need.
24 (26) Washington Redskins   3-7 While Skins fans are debating whether Jason Campbell or the offensive line is more to blame for the team's poor play, early reports are that owner Dan Snyder has been scouting Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. Just what Skins fans want: Dan Snyder scouting.
25 (24) Seattle Seahawks 3-7 SBN's Field Gulls explains that you shouldn't be fooled if Seattle's run game starts producing better: they face a slate of easy run defenses down the stretch, and Justin Forsett has been a revelation, but their offensive line is still average at best (although they have played slightly better as of late). 
26 (27) Kansas City Chiefs 3-7 The Chiefs managed to follow the Bengals' blueprint against the Steelers, blitzing Pittsburgh into mistakes, and just making enough plays offensively themselves. While Matt Cassel's numbers have not been great, he at least gives them a chance to make plays down the field -- something few other bad teams can say
27 (25) Buffalo Bills 3-7 Now that is what Bills fans were expecting when Terrell Owens came to Buffalo this offseason. Too bad it's nine games too late to make a difference for the Bills.
28 (28) Oakland Raiders 3-7  What a difference a mediocre quarterback makes! After finally, belatedly benching Jamarcus Russell, the Raiders at least have a quarterback in Bruce Gradkowski who can hit open receivers. That, along with a few lucky breaks, were enough to get the Raiders their second victory over a team with a winning record this season.
29 (30) Detroit Lions 2-8 The Lions will most likely be without starting quarterback Matthew Stafford on Turkey Day, but they can take this consolation: Stafford is a man. For the first time in quite awhile, there is cause for real hope in Detroit.
30 (29) Tampa Bay Bucs 1-9 Former defensive coordinator Jim Bates does not seem long for Tampa Bay. After being demoted, Bates has not showed up at the team's practice facility for the past two days. The team is reportedly going back to the famed Tampa Two defense, which they had abandoned this year for a more aggressive defensive scheme. Given that they currently rank 29th in total defense, according to Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, this should decision should only help.
31 (31) St. Louis Rams 1-9 The Rams' passing "attack" has been so anemic this year that Rams fans responded to the news that Kyle Boller will replace the injured Marc Bulger with a collective shrug. It's not like it can get much worse, after all.
32 (32) Cleveland Browns 1-9 Eric Mangini must know his time in Cleveland is limited if he's resorting to complaints like this. Maybe he should try blaming himself for taking the timeout that let Matthew Stafford come back onto the field for the final play.
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