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SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

OregonLive

With the Vikings taking the NFC North by storm, how does our top five shake out?

In the “Jeff Fisher Can’t Hurt Us Anymore” Bowl, Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings were able to defeat Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams. These two teams, both currently leading their division, have been two of the biggest surprises of this NFL season. With the wins, the Vikings solidify themselves as an NFC power and move up from their spot last week into our top five. See how the rest of the league shakes out and let us know what you think below.

   Ranking (Change)

1 (-)

Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)

Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)

Another week, another ho-hum victory for the Eagles, this one in dominating fashion over the division-rival Cowboys. Carson Wentz didn’t have a huge performance, but he didn’t need to; the running game and the defense shouldered most of the burden. On the ground, the four-headed monster of Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner combined for 202 yards and two TDs. The defense forced four Dallas turnovers and managed a touchdown of their own. As they proved on Sunday, this is a team that can beat you in a plethora of ways. (Kyle Trapp)

2 (-)

New England Patriots (8-2)

New England Patriots (8-2)

New England handled the declining Raiders in Week 11, recording its second road blowout in as many weeks. The team is first in passing and total yards, further proving Tom Brady can be an MVP candidate at age 39. Somehow, five of the Patriots’ final six games are divisional matchups and should be no problem for the juggernaut. The big contest will be in Week 15 against Pittsburgh, which will likely determine the AFC’s #1 seed. (Nick Cardozo)

3 (-)

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)

Ever since Ben Roethlisberger admitted that he “might not have it anymore,” following a blowout loss to the Jaguars, the Steelers have been red hot and are on a five-game winning streak. During this stretch, Roethlisberger is averaging 265.6 passing yards per game with 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are still dominating, both leading the NFL in their respective categories in terms of yards. However, it’s been the emergence of rookie receiver, Juju Smith-Schuster that has triggered this streak, as he’s hauled in 21 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns during it. Smith-Schuster has provided Roethlisberger with another reliable downfield weapon and has quickly slid into the second wide receiver spot across from Brown. The sky’s the limit for this Steelers team, as they look like a real threat to the Patriots for the top team in the AFC. (Ryan Grube)

4 (-)

New Orleans Saints (8-2)

New Orleans Saints (8-2)

According to win probability, with 4:42 seconds left in the fourth quarter, down by 15, and facing a 1st and 20, the New Orleans Saints had only a 0.5% chance at winning (that actually seems high to me). And while the Saints would be hard pressed to get that lucky again if they were to find themselves in a similar position, those five minutes are a microcosm of the massive improvements that the Saints have made. The defense made great plays when it had to, giving up 17 yards on the Redskins final three drives and forcing two punts. Drew Brees played great as always throwing for 164 yards and two touchdowns over the Saints final three drives. The backs played great as Kamara caught a TD pass and ran for a two-point conversion and Ingram ran for 51 on the Saints final drive. New Orleans is finally looking like a complete team. (Adrian Nelson)

5 (+2)

Minnesota Vikings (8-2)

Minnesota Vikings (8-2)

The Vikings’ defense is truly something special. This is by no means a secret, but they really proved it in Week 11, limiting the Rams, the league’s top scoring offense entering the week, to just seven points on Sunday. On the other side of the ball, Latavius Murray had one of his best performances in a purple and gold uniform, Adam Thielen continued his ascension to the league’s upper echelon of receivers, and Case Keenum showed once again he’s a solid starting quarterback. The offense is postseason good, and the defense could carry this team to the Super Bowl. (Kyle Trapp)

6 (-1)

Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

Sunday proved to be a challenge for the league’s second-ranked offense in terms of points per game (30.2), as the Rams managed just seven points against the Vikings’ tough defense. Jared Goff struggled to find a rhythm, passing for 225 yards and no touchdowns, while Todd Gurley mustered just 37 yards on 15 carries (2.5 yards per carry). It was just an all-around off game for the Rams; however, it’s nothing to panic about, as they are 7-3 and still leading the NFC West. Perhaps their biggest worry will be playing without their top receiver Robert Woods, who is out for at least two weeks with a sprained left shoulder. (Ryan Grube)

7 (+1)

Carolina Panthers (7-3)

Carolina Panthers (7-3)

Coming off a bye week, the Carolina Panthers find themselves at 7-3 but remarkably not leading their division, as the New Orleans Saints have come out of nowhere this year to try and put a stranglehold on the NFC South. The Panthers are back to the formula that brought them three straight division crowns before their reign was broken up by last year’s Atlanta Falcons team - defense and running the ball. The Panthers are currently the fifth best team in points per game given up and they rank seventh in rushing yards per game on the offensive side of the ball. With Greg Olsen set to come back, it could be just the bump their passing game needs to push them over the edge. (Adrian Nelson)

8 (+2)

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)

If I were a player on the Jacksonville Jaguars defense, I would find myself becoming physically enraged at Blake Bortles. The Jags defense has been spectacular. They are first in defensive yards given up per game, first in points given up per game, first in takeaways, and first in turnover differential. Blake Bortles is not first. He is 26th in yards per game, 21st in touchdowns, 26th in passer rating, and 18th in QBR. The Jaguars are the prototype for how to win games in the regular season, but lose in the playoffs when your QB craps the bed. Hopefully no though, as Jaguars fans don’t deserve it. (Adrian Nelson)

9 (-)

Seattle Seahawks (6-4)

Seattle Seahawks (6-4)

Despite letting up 34 points in the box score, Seattle’s defense looked surprisingly good in its first game without Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor. The unit held Matt Ryan to under 200 passing yards, while no Atlanta rusher broke 43 yards on the day. Turnovers are what really killed Seattle, leading directly to 14 points for the Falcons. The roster has enough talent to win games without some of its top defenders, but that’ll be much more difficult with games against the Eagles, Jaguars, and Rams looming. (Nick Cardozo)

10 (-4)

Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

This season has so far been a tale of two halves for Kansas City. Following a flawless 5-0 start with quarterback Alex Smith being brought up in the MVP conversation, the Chiefs are tanking with a 1-4 record over their last five. Their once dominant, high-powered offense seems like a distant memory, as during their downfall they are averaging just 19.6 points per game, compared to 32.8 during their previous five-game win streak. Smith doesn’t look like the same MVP-caliber quarterback, throwing three interceptions in his last two games, and rookie sensation Kareem Hunt hasn’t topped 100 rushing yards since Week 5. This recent stretch isn’t generating much optimism for Chiefs’ fans; however, once looked at as the toughest division in the NFL, the AFC West currently has just one team with a record above .500 and that’s the Chiefs. (Ryan Grube)

11 (+3)

Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

With a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, the Atlanta Falcons may have very well saved their season. If the season ended today, the Falcons own the sixth seed in the NFC. Now while there are four teams within a game of Atlanta, the Falcons do hold an advantage. Via head-to-head wins, the Falcons own the tiebreaker over the Lions, Seahawks, Packers, and Cowboys. The season has broken exactly right for them. They obviously still have work to do, but they are in great position to grab a Wildcard spot if they are able to keep up their recent level of play. The offense may be clicking, averaging 31 points over their last few games. They’ll need that if they want to make any noise in January. (Adrian Nelson)

12 (-)

Detroit Lions (6-4)

Detroit Lions (6-4)

A missed game-tying field goal let Detriot escape Chicago without overtime, as the Lions nabbed a crucial victory Sunday afternoon. They remain behind Atlanta in the playoff pecking order by virtue of a tiebreaker, but this is a team right in the thick of things as we enter the homestretch. Matthew Stafford is getting hot at the right time, throwing for 1,332 yards and seven TDs since their Week 7 bye. The running game, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired, as Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick combined for just 57 yards on 20 carries against the Bears. (Kyle Trapp)

13 (-2)

Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

Over the past two weeks, we have seen just how valuable Ezekiel Elliott is for Dak Prescott and the team’s overall success. The Cowboys have dropped two straight since Elliot’s suspension was reinstated for what seems like the 10th time this season and they’ve mustered just 16 points total to their opponents’ 64 over that stretch. Alfred Morris has proven that he is no Zeke, averaging 72 rushing yards per game during the losing streak, while Elliott put up nearly 98 (97.8) a game. Dallas’ playoff hopes are slowly dwindling, as they still have tough matchups against the Chargers, Redskins, Seahawks, and Eagles. They’ll need to string together a couple wins before Elliott is scheduled to return in Week 16 if they want a shot at a Wildcard berth. (Ryan Grube)

14 (-1)

Tennessee Titans (6-4)

Tennessee Titans (6-4)

Going into last week’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, many fans thought that the Titans, who held a 6-3 record, were a pretty good team. They are not. They are average at best and going into the game, a game where they lost by 23, they had been outscored on the season. The good news for the Titans is that you only need to be an average team to make the playoffs in the AFC because, besides the Patriots and Steelers, no one is very good. For the Titans, it’s pretty simple: they’ll go as far as Mariota takes them. He threw four INTs last game, but has generally been pretty good, ranking 13th in QBR. If he ups his game and goes back to limiting his mistakes, then the Titans should be alright. (Adrian Nelson)

15 (+1)

Washington Redskins (4-6)

Washington Redskins (4-6)

Wow, talk about a collapse. The Redskins looked well on their way to another impressive road win, as they led the Saints 31-16 with just over three minutes remaining. Two punts, two scores, and a two-point conversion later, and they were headed for overtime, where the ‘Skins would eventually come up short. Washington’s defense to close out halves has been abysmal, as they surrender the most points in the NFL in the final two minutes of each half (3.20); the next closest team gives up just 1.75. Injuries have also haunted the Redskins, and the news of Chris Thompson missing the remainder of the season with a broken fibula does not sit easy with them. However, it’s not time to write this team off just yet, as none of their final six opponents have a record above .500. (Ryan Grube)

16 (+2)

Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)

Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)

The previously 0-4 Chargers have fought their way back to second-place in the AFC West after their 54-24 drubbing of Buffalo in Week 11. The defense is top five in both interceptions and sacks, showing it can affect opposing offenses in multiple ways. On offense, Philip Rivers has been quietly effective after the team’s shaky start. Since that fourth loss that put Los Angeles in their biggest hole of the season, Rivers has an 11-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. We’re finally seeing why this team was generating buzz in the offseason. With the Chiefs trending down, the Chargers could come back and steal the division. (Nick Cardozo)

17 (+4)

Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

Baltimore looked outstanding in Week 11, recording their third shutout of the season, this time against Green Bay in Lambeau. The defensive unit forced five turnovers and covered up a mediocre day by the Ravens’ offense. Nobody should’ve been surprised, however, as the Ravens have been beating up on bad teams all season. The problem is that they can’t actually beat any good ones. To date, their only wins are against Cincinnati, Cleveland, Oakland (starting E.J. Manuel), Miami, and Green Bay. That kind of resume won’t typically get you to the postseason. (Nick Cardozo)

18 (-3)

Buffalo Bills (5-5)

Buffalo Bills (5-5)

Over the past three weeks, Buffalo’s season has been turned on it’s head. With a dominant defense and an offense that protected the ball, the once 5-2 Bills looked like a serious playoff contender. Since then, the team has given up 135 points across three games while scoring just 55 points of their own. For those too lazy to do the math, that’s an average loss margin of 26.67 per game. To make matters worse, the Nathan Peterman experiment was an utter failure, as the rookie quarterback tossed five interceptions in just one half. Buffalo still has a chance to end its postseason drought, but they need to turn things around awfully soon. (Kyle Trapp)

19 (-2)

Oakland Raiders (4-6)

Oakland Raiders (4-6)

Oakland is just 2-6 in its last eight games, and hasn’t won consecutive games since wins in Weeks 1 and 2. A quick look at the numbers, though, and it makes complete sense why the Raiders have struggled this year. They’re 31st in the NFL in sacks with just 14, and have yet to record an interception on defense, which broke the record for the longest interception drought to start a season weeks ago. It doesn’t matter how Oakland’s offense performs if the defense can’t rush the passer or make any big plays on the back end. (Nick Cardozo)

20 (-)

Green Bay Packers (5-5)

Green Bay Packers (5-5)

Okay, Aaron Rodgers, we get it. You proved your point; this team simply cannot function without you. Since going down with a broken collarbone against the Vikings in Week 6 and handing the starting duties over to Brett Hundley, the Packers are 1-4 and their offense is averaging just 13.4 points per game, compared to a 4-1 record and 27.4 points per game with Rodgers under center. Although head coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers is making “really good progress” and is on track to return in Week 15, Green Bay will need Hundley to lead them to a couple wins before then. With a matchup in Pittsburgh against the red-hot Steelers in Week 12, it’s unlikely it starts this week. (Ryan Grube)

21 (-2)

Denver Broncos (3-7)

Denver Broncos (3-7)

Following an impressive 3-1 start, the Broncos have now dropped six straight while failing to put up more than 23 points during that span. Their once dominant defense seems non-existent, as they are surrendering 25.9 points per game (tied for 27th in the NFL) and Brock Osweiler does not seem to be the answer on offense. Since taking over the starting quarterback position in Week 9, he is averaging just 227.7 passing yards per game, while posting a touchdown to interception ratio of 3/4. Although five of their final six games come against teams with sub-.500 records, Denver might have dug themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of at this point in the season. (Ryan Grube)

22 (+1)

New York Jets (4-6)

New York Jets (4-6)

After a rough performance against the Buccaneers in Week 10, the Jets were off this past week. Their remaining schedule is one of the toughest in the league, so despite being just a game out the playoffs, their prospects look unlikely. The biggest question remains whether or not we’ll see Christian Hackenberg start a game for Gang Green down the stretch, as the team evaluates its quarterback options for the 2018 season. Todd Bowles, who is potentially still coaching for his job, says it’s unlikely he benches Josh McCown. (Kyle Trapp)

23 (+2)

Houston Texans (4-6)

Houston Texans (4-6)

Tom Savage picked up his first win of the season with a 31-21 bounce-back win over the Arizona Cardinals at home. Without Watson, the Texans lack star power aside from DeAndre Hopkins, who is earning his five-year $81M extension. Hopkins has had a phenomenal season and through 10 game has 62 catches for 879 yards and nine touchdowns. However, the most impressive accomplishment has been that his production has not taken a hit under Tom Savage. In the three games since Watson’s injury, Hopkins has 17 catches, 273 yards, and two touchdowns. He has been keeping this offense on track singe-handedly. (Adrian Nelson)

24 (-2)

Chicago Bears (3-7)

Chicago Bears (3-7)

Coming off his best game as a pro, Mitchell Trubisky had a solid, albeit unspectacular encore. Perhaps his biggest highlight was leading the Bears on a potential game-tying drive with a minute-and-a-half left. However, a missed Connor Barth field goal cost Chicago a shot at an overtime victory. Despite the heartbreak, it was a solid performance for the Bears that showcased their potential for the future. Most encouraging was the play of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, who combined for 169 yards and two TDs on the ground. (Kyle Trapp)

25 (+2)

Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)

Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)

Typically, teams that start the year 0-3 fall out of playoff contention quickly. But with this year’s weak AFC, Cincinnati has been able to fight back into the Wildcard conversation. Even though there’s hope, the team is dead last in yards per game and near the bottom of the league in points per game. A big reason for Cincinnati’s woes is the complete absence of a run game, with the team putting up just 68 yards per game on the ground. While the Bengals are technically in the hunt, those paltry offensive numbers show just how lucky they are to be there. (Nick Cardozo)

26 (-2)

Arizona Cardinals (4-6)

Arizona Cardinals (4-6)

The Cardinals fell to the Tom Savage-led Texans in Week 11, which was no big surprise given Arizona was starting third-stringer Blaine Gabbert. The run game provided little help once again, as the team failed to reach 50 rushing yards for the second straight game. Arizona still hasn’t won consecutive games this season, and with the Jaguars and Rams up next, that’ll continue to be the case. (Nick Cardozo)

27 (+1)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)

Despite having a five-game losing streak, the Buccaneers find themselves back in the playoff race after winning two straight. Tampa has it all out ahead of them. They have four divisional games among their next six and an easy matchup with the Aaron Rodger-less Green Bay Packers. It certainly won’t be easy to sweep the remaining games in a very deadly NFC South, but coming into the season many thought the Bucs would be right there near the top of this division. To make it happen Tampa will need more from its running game. They are currently ranked third-to-last in rushing yards per game and cannot afford to be one dimensional against the remaining defenses they have left to play. (Adrian Nelson)

28 (-2)

Miami Dolphins (4-6)

Miami Dolphins (4-6)

How exactly do the Dolphins have four wins again? They’ve now lost four straight games and are bottom eight in scoring, rushing yards, and passing yards. It’s not just the offense performing poorly either. The defense allowed 30 points to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tampa Bay in Week 11, which marked just the second time all season the Bucs reached 30 points. With two of their next three games against New England, it won’t be long until the Dolphins are mathematically eliminated, which makes it all the more strange that the team was 4-2 at one point. (Nick Cardozo)

29 (+2)

New York Giants (2-8)

New York Giants (2-8)

The Giants’ secret to success might just be the AFC West, as they are 2-1 against them, compared to 0-7 against every other division. Their most recent win was easily their most impressive, as they shut down Kansas City’s offense on Sunday, limiting them to just nine points in the overtime victory. Many expected the front office to fire head coach Ben McAdoo ahead of Sunday’s game; however, he remained coach and led his team to their second win of the season. However, it’s not time for Giants’ fans to get excited just yet, as they have the third worst offense in the NFL (16.0 points per game) and are still headed for a top pick in the upcoming draft. (Ryan Grube)

30 (-1)

Indianapolis Colts (3-7)

Indianapolis Colts (3-7)

It’s a testament to mismanagement, this Colts season. They are 3-7 and probably the worst non-Cleveland based team in the league and for years have been a franchise that have lived or died by their quarterback. Since 2012 when Andrew luck came into the league, the Colts have not been able to build around him in any way. They have T.Y. Hilton who they drafted in 2012 with Andrew Luck and maybe have hit on a tight end in Jack Doyle, but that is all. They have no offensive line, are still putting out Frank Gore who at this age has to be running with a walker, and have a defense that has given up the most points per game in football this year. This team will not succeed until their management is gone. (Adrian Nelson)

31 (-1)

San Francisco 49ers (1-9)

San Francisco 49ers (1-9)

Fresh off their first victory of the season, San Fransisco had their bye in Week 11. The break has given head coach Kyle Shanahan more time to decide who will start at quarterback going forward, C.J. Beathard or Jimmy Garoppolo. Beathard played well in the win over the Giants, but there’s no question the former Patriot quarterback provides more upside. Even if he doesn’t start this week, expect to see Garoppolo under center some point soon, as the 49ers will surely want to evaluate their deadline prize. (Kyle Trapp)

32 (-)

Cleveland Browns (0-10)

Cleveland Browns (0-10)

After showing glimpses of progress in Week 10, DeShone Kizer was back to his old self on Sunday, turning the ball over four times in a 19-7 loss to Jacksonville. It’s truly a shame, as the Cleveland defense played admirably, limiting the Jaguars to just one offensive touchdown. That’s been the story all year long for the winless Browns, and while its tough to swallow this year, it provides a glimmer of hope for this team’s potential when they do finally find a franchise quarterback. (Kyle Trapp)

Edited by Jeremy Losak.

SQuiz
Where did Adam Thielen go to college?
Created 11/22/17
  1. Ashland
  2. Michigan
  3. Minnesota State
  4. Wisconsin

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