There’s no more bye weeks and it’s time for Thanksgiving, which means playoff scenario season is on the way.
In Week 11, the teams at the top again held serve with the Eagles, Patriots, Steelers and Saints all earning wins again. The big game of the week ended up being a pretty comfortable, 24-7, victory for the Vikings over the Rams.
But it’s the season for giving thanks and every team — either climbing up the rankings or sliding toward the bottom — has reason to be thankful:
A battle with another team that entered the week 7-2 was a real test if Minnesota is for real. The Vikings passed with flying colors in their win.
The Rams were No. 1 in the NFL in scoring with 32.9 points per game. But after scoring just seven on the Vikings, Los Angeles dropped to No. 2 behind the Eagles because the team’s average fell to 30.3 points. After a rocky game against Washington, the Vikings defense is back, baby.
Reason to be thankful: Case Keenum is actually playing well enough to keep this team chugging along.
The thrilling victory over Seattle wasn’t the smoothest win. Just ask SB Nation’s Falcons blog, The Falcoholic, which was really feeling queasy when the team almost blew an 11-point lead in the final minutes:
I might vomit— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) November 21, 2017
But the Falcons got the win and, more importantly, looked a little more like the offense of 2016. After getting held to 17 points or fewer in four losses, the Falcons scored 27 last week and tied a season high with 34 points Monday.
The Chargers have a tendency to win or lose by painfully close margins. Sunday was a different story. With five first-half interceptions of Nathan Peterman, the Chargers blew out the Bills, 54-24, to improve to 4-6.
But what’s especially important for the Chargers is that the AFC Wild Card race is a bumbling mess. The Ravens and Bills are tied at 5-5, and the Chargers are just behind them. Get more wins than losses down the stretch, and Los Angeles might actually bounce back from an 0-4 start to grab a playoff spot.
Reason to be thankful: The only team left on the schedule above .500 is the Kansas City Chiefs, and that team looks like a shell of the one that started 5-0.
The Bills were 5-4 and in the second wild card spot, but for some reason they thought benching Tyrod Taylor for a fifth-round rookie would give the offense a boost. It most certainly didn’t, and it ended in disaster.
Aside from the horrible decision to start Nathan Peterman, the team is also terrible against the run all of a sudden. Maybe trading defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars — who are magically stopping the run now — wasn’t a great idea?
Reason to be thankful: At least the Peterman disaster was contained to a single game. You’re still .500, Buffalo.
Stick a fork in the Broncos, folks. They’re done.
Even when the defense held the Bengals to 190 total yards, it wasn’t enough to get a win. Firing Mike McCoy for struggling to score points with Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler as his options at quarterback isn’t going to fix things either.
Reason to be thankful: That draft pick in April is looking real good. The Broncos haven’t picked in the top five since taking Von Miller in 2011.
It was right there for the taking. Somehow, some way, the Browns had the ball in the final minutes of the fourth quarter with a chance to win against the Jaguars.
Instead, DeShone Kizer fumbled on a sack. The Jaguars did nothing on offense, the Browns got another shot, and Kizer fumbled on a sack again. The second one was recovered for a Jacksonville touchdown.
It’s really hard not to just feel sorry for Kizer at this point.
Reason to be thankful: Aside from the shiny new draft pick on the way, the Browns didn’t have a single penalty Sunday — something that hasn’t happened in 55 years. So that’s cool.
Full hope rankings
Weekly disclaimer: These aren’t your average power rankings and are instead an attempt to measure the current state of mind — or “hope” — for each team and fan base.
The NFL can be an emotional roller coaster, and one big week can shoot a team’s spirits through the roof and tank another’s hopes of finishing with the Lombardi Trophy in February or beyond. Teams near the top are feeling great after Sunday, while those at the bottom aren’t feeling too optimistic.
If you’re looking for a ranking of who would beat who, this isn’t always going to be the best gauge:
Hope rankings, Week 12
|2||New England Patriots||2|
|3||New Orleans Saints||3|
|8||Los Angeles Rams||4|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs||8|
|15||Los Angeles Chargers||25|
|19||New York Jets||19|
|21||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||24|
|24||New York Giants||32|
|27||San Francisco 49ers||26|
|29||Green Bay Packers||20|