Week 11 in the NFL featured rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson making his first NFL start, veteran quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Andrew Luck continuing to play at a ridiculous level, and an incredibly fun Monday Night Football game between the Chiefs and Rams that lived up to the hype, and then some.
Here’s a look at how those things and more impacted the NFL power rankings heading into Week 12.
How Chiefs vs. Rams impacted the power rankings
We expected the Chiefs and Rams to put on a show, and they did just that while offering a look at what could be coming (dare we say it) in February. Monday Night Football included three defensive touchdowns, 10 passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, and 1,001 yards of total offense.
Can there be a three-way tie in the power rankings? Because after the Saints beat the Rams, and the Rams squeaked out just a three-point win over the Chiefs in Los Angeles, it’s clear all three of these teams are great. Better than great. But as incredible as the Chiefs and Rams were on Monday — and have been all season — the Saints deserve their spot atop the rankings after winning nine straight games, including a 10-point victory over the Rams.
It’s clear all three of these teams have high-scoring offenses (Monday was the first time a team scored 50-plus points in a loss), and in Week 12 all three teams saw their defenses take a step forward, too. Maybe defense isn’t dying in the NFL after all!
The Chargers’ loss to the Broncos sends them from four to eight in the power rankings. They have a great opportunity to get back on track against Arizona next week. The Cardinals lost to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, which has them hitting rock bottom in this week’s rankings.
The Bears only moved up one spot this week — just like the Steelers, Patriots, and Texans — but they deserve recognition for how substantially they’ve turned things around. Chicago hadn’t won more than six games in a season since 2013 and already has seven wins through Week 11.
The Colts are on the rise thanks to Andrew Luck playing some of his best football yet. Luck has thrown at least three touchdown passes in seven consecutive games, the third-longest streak in a single season in NFL history. As long as Luck keeps playing at this level, the Colts are likely to keep winning and boosting their playoff chances. Heading into Week 12, FiveThirtyEight is giving the Colts a 23 percent shot at the playoffs.
The Ravens are also on the rise thanks to a win over the Bengals. The victory put the Ravens back into the playoff picture, at least for now. Next up the Ravens have games against the Raiders and Falcons, both of whom have losing records.
The Seahawks’ win over the Packers caused them to climb up the rankings and the Packers to fall. The 2018 Seahawks defense is no Legion of Boom, but it’s getting back to being among the league’s best units. They limited the Packers to just 48 rushing yards while the Seattle run game exploded with 173 yards on the ground.
In his first game calling the plays for the Bengals’ defense, Marvin Lewis seemed to be better at the job than Teryl Austin, but Lewis’ unit still allowed Lamar Jackson to break the Ravens’ single-game rushing record for a quarterback in his first NFL start. The Bengals let Jackson run all over them in the Ravens’ win. Cincinnati’s playoff chances are plummeting and even if they make it there, you’d have to expect them to lose in the first round ... again.
Alex Smith injury impact
Washington leads the NFC East but after Alex Smith’s injury, it’s hard to imagine that we don’t see a shift in the division. Because of his injury, Washington took a slight fall in this week’s power rankings. After recording two straight wins for the first time this season, the Cowboys are on the rise and seem to be in the best position to steal away Washington’s lead. Dallas and Washington play on Thanksgiving afternoon and due to a division record tie break, the Cowboys can claim the lead in the NFC East with a win. A Washington win would further complicate a strange NFC East in which the 3-7 Giants are trying to climb back into the division race after their own two-game winning streak.
What is happening to the reigning Super Bowl champs? The Eagles were crushed by the Saints, who continue to dominate week after week. Carson Wentz played one of the worst games of his career, completing just 57.5 percent of his passes with no scores and three interceptions. He finished the game with a 31.9 passer rating against an average Saints defense. While Smith’s injury offers an opportunity for the Eagles to capitalize on, Philly has offered little reason to believe they’ll take advantage.
NFL power rankings Week 12
|1||New Orleans Saints||1|
|2||Los Angeles Rams||3|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||2|
|5||New England Patriots||6|
|8||Los Angeles Chargers||4|
|17||Green Bay Packers||12|
|25||New York Giants||29|
|27||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||26|
|29||New York Jets||28|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||31|