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NFL 2018 SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

SI

After a strong win in prime time, how high will the Bears climb in our rankings?

Kirk Cousins tried to pump up the Vikings on Sunday by saying they were the reason their matchup with the Bears got flexed to Sunday night. No one tell him that the game’s move to prime time was actually because of the Bears. This Bears team, and specifically this Khalil Mack-led defense, is no joke. Bears’ headcoach Matt Nagy has also created a creative offense that has Mitchell Trubisky playing well. Did their performance jump them far enough to get them in the top five? Find out below.


   Ranking (Change)

1 (-)

New Orleans Saints (9-1)

New Orleans Saints (9-1)

New Orleans took it to the defending Super Bowl Champs. And yes, it’s a bit of a trick to refer to the third-place-in-the-NFC-East Eagles as “defending Super Bowl Champs” given the poor start to their season, but facts are facts. And the facts are that the Eagles are still a solid football, and that solid football was utterly dismantled at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. Maybe it’s the premiere of Creed II, but I found myself yelling for Philly to throw in the damn towel. And this Saints team will do that to you. This offense is right up their with the best in the league and the defense has found its footing after a shocking start. If they win out they’ll own homefield advantage and that should have teams frightened. (Adrian Nelson)

2 (+1)

Los Angeles Rams (10-1)

Los Angeles Rams (10-1)

Wow, what a game. What an absolute showdown between two of the league’s powerhouses. In what turned out to be the most hyped up game over the past few weeks, the Rams and Chiefs delivered, setting a new Monday Night Football record with 105 combined points scored. It was the intense back-and-forth contest that we were all waiting on the edge of our seats for, with Los Angeles ultimately coming out on top, 54-51. The final score may not reflect it, but there was actually some defense played in this one. The Rams capitalized on two ill-advised, late-game interceptions by Patrick Mahomes to seal the deal. Both Mahomes and Jared Goff were sensational. However, Goff’s extra year of experience was on display in crunch time. Goff completed 31-of-49 passes for 413 yards and five total touchdowns (one rushing). Sean McVay and company now get a much-needed bye week to rest up in preparation for their Week 13 matchup with the Lions in Detroit. (Ryan Grube)

3 (-1)

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

The Chiefs played an incredible game in Los Angeles on Monday night, and fell just short, 54-51 (what is this, NCAA basketball?). Their performance was very indicative of who this team is: incredibly fast and potent on offense, but also a bit too loose. Coach: check. Quarterback: check. Defense: absent. (Hunter Bonge)

4 (+1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)

Six straight. Sunday’s ugly come-from-behind victory over the Jaguars marked six straight wins for the Steelers, as they currently sit at 7-2-1 with a comfortable two-and-a-half game lead over the Ravens and Bengals in the AFC North. It was not an impressive showing by any means for the offense, as Ben Roethlisberger threw three interceptions, two of which were to Jalen Ramsey, who firmly backed up his preseason analysis of the “average” Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, second-year sensation James Connor struggled to find any room on the ground, as the former Pittsburgh Panther managed just 25 rushing yards on nine carries. However, their impressive comeback efforts yielded a victory. Big Ben led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives with his team trailing by 10, and the Steelers ultimately stole a 20-16 win from the struggling Jags. Not pretty, but it was effective. Pittsburgh will look to continue their current win streak Sunday when they travel to Denver to take on Case Keenum and the inconsistent Broncos. (Ryan Grube)

5 (+1)

New England Patriots (7-3)

New England Patriots (7-3)

You just know that Patriots spent their bye week fuming after the embarrassing loss that they suffered at the hand of the Titans. Bill Belichick rarely loses after byes and he rarely loses after losses. Not to mention they are playing against the lowly New York Jets. Short term the Pats should rebound and get right back on track. Long term, it’s fair to wonder where they stack up against the AFC elite of Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and even the Los Angeles Chargers. When Tom Brady is right then there are few teams that can beat them. The issue is will the 40-year-old be right when January comes. (Adrian Nelson)

6 (+3)

Chicago Bears (7-3)

Chicago Bears (7-3)

There isn’t a team in the NFL that I was more wrong about at the start of this season than the Chicago Bears. Spoiler alert: this is a playoff team. The trade for LB Khalil Mack is going to go down as one of the best offseason moves of this decade. Mack is paired with rookie LB Roquan Smith, which makes for one of the NFL’s toughest linebacking corps. (Hunter Bonge)

7 (-3)

Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)

Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)

Los Angeles dropped a heartbreaker to the Broncos on a last-second field to fall to 7-3, but they still look like a team destined for a wildcard spot. Unfortunately for LA, the team couldn’t pick up a game in the division, with the Chiefs losing in a shootout to the Rams. At 7-3, the Chargers are firmly in control of the AFC wildcard and will look to bounce back next week against an underwhelming Arizona team. (Matt Fowler)

8 (-1)

Carolina Panthers (6-4)

Carolina Panthers (6-4)

As brilliant as Cam Newton has been this season, he’ll always be prone to the occasional head-scratching throw. He missed a wide-open Jarius Wright by a mile on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt, all but sealing Carolina’s fate in a 20-19 loss to the Lions. Two short weeks ago, the Panthers looked like noble challengers to the league’s upper-echelon, but after back-to-back losses it looks like this team hasn’t overcome the inconsistency that has plagued them in past seasons. (ktrapp22)

9 (-1)

Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)

Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)

The Vikings lost a close game against the division-leading Bears, who look like the real deal in the NFC North. The offense couldn’t muster much in the prime time matchup, while Khalil Mack was a force to be reckoned with once again. The Vikings turn right around for another NFC North clash against their bitter rivals in Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. A second straight loss could make the fans in Minneapolis start to panic. (Matt Fowler)

10 (+1)

Houston Texans (7-3)

Houston Texans (7-3)

In an improbable fashion, the Texans have won seven straight, tying a franchise record. With three straight home games upcoming, the AFC South is theirs to lose, even with a surging Colts team behind them. The passing game has been hurting since Will Fuller’s injury, and although it’s early it feels like the trade for Demaryius Thomas will end up being a loss. Deshaun Watson will have to make do with what he’s got, and Keke Coutee could end up being the X-factor down the stretch. (Nick Cardozo)

11 (+1)

Green Bay Packers (4-5-1)

Green Bay Packers (4-5-1)

After a strong start on Thursday night, the Packers’ offense faded, scoring just three points in the second half. The offensive line struggled in pass protection, allowing a season-high five sacks. Mike McCarthy’s questionable punt on 4th-and-2 has him under major scrutiny, and depending on how the rest of the year shakes out, he could be sent packing. With a talent like Aaron Rodgers, there’s simply no excuse for the results the team has seen lately. (Nick Cardozo)

12 (+2)

Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

Lamar Jackson is now 1-0 as a starter for the Ravens, and there’s no better way to endear yourself to fans than by beating a division rival. The former Heisman-winner ran all over the Bengals, finishing with 117 yards on 27 carries as he lead Baltimore to a 24-21 victory. His passing stat line (13-19 for 150 yards and an INT) shows he has a long way to go, however, so as long as Flacco is healthy, expect the Ravens to roll with him as they attempt to sneak into the playoffs. (ktrapp22)

13 (+4)

Seattle Seahawks (5-5)

Seattle Seahawks (5-5)

Sitting at 5-5, the Seahawks are heading into a season-defining game this weekend. With a win over the Panthers, the Seahawks would firmly place themselves into the driver’s seat for the fifth Wild Card spot in the NFC. With a loss, the Seahawks would significantly hurt their chances of gaining a playoff berth. No matter which way this game goes, we will look back at this game as the defining moment for Seattle. (Max Vukelich)

14 (-4)

Washington Redskins (6-4)

Washington Redskins (6-4)

Sunday was a day of losses for the Washington Redskins, as not only did they fall short of their comeback effort against the Texans, but they suffered a much bigger loss with the gruesome, Joe Theismann-like leg injury to Alex Smith. Smith suffered a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula bones in his right leg, thus drawing comparisons to the heartbreaking injury that Theismann suffered, ironically, 33 years ago to the day on Sunday. The good news for Redskins fans is that Colt McCoy looked promising in his relief of Smith. In a little over a quarter of crucial game action, McCoy manufactured two impressive touchdown drives, completing 6-of-12 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown to tight end Jordan Reed. Unfortunately, after McCoy led Washington down to the 45-yard line with eight seconds remaining, Dustin Hopkins’s 63-yard attempt fell about five yards short. They’ll have to put this disappointing loss behind them, however, as they prepare to take on the second-place Cowboys on Thanksgiving in a game that could have huge playoff implications. (Ryan Grube)

15 (-2)

Tennessee Titans (5-5)

Tennessee Titans (5-5)

Going into last weekend’s game against the Colts, Tennessee looked like they finally had everything figured out. The defense was playing well, but more importantly the offense was finally clicking with a healthy Mariota leading the way. However, after their blowout loss and Mariota getting hurt again, this week’s game could serve as a playoff elimination game if their competition for the Wild Card spots keep winning. (Max Vukelich)

16 (+3)

Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

After a string of awful road performances, the Cowboys have won back-to-back road games, and seem to be coming along at the right time. Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch has been outstanding, and continues to prove how important it was to get insurance for Sean Lee. The defense is allowing the third-fewest points per game in the league, and with Ezekiel Elliott starting to get hot, the Cowboys have an opportunity to take the division back from Washington. With Alex Smith’s injury, that shouldn’t be too difficult. (Nick Cardozo)

17 (+3)

Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

The Colts are in the middle of an incredible run (four straight wins) and will look to keep themselves in the playoff hunt this week against Miami. No one knows exactly what’s going to happen in this division, except that Jacksonville will finish last, of course. Indy has a very manageable schedule down the stretch and is peaking at the right time. (Hunter Bonge)

18 (-2)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)

The Bengals started this season hot but have since leveled off to a gentleman’s 5-5. That’s what the very essence of the Bengals is, people: 5-5. But it’s the Cincinnati Bengals of the world that keep everything in balance. (Hunter Bonge)

19 (-1)

Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

A loss to the Browns last week stopped the surging Falcons right in their tracks, and they couldn’t regain their footing against the Cowboys at home on Sunday. In what was a borderline must-win game, Atlanta was torn up by Ezekiel Elliot, who contributed over 200 yards from scrimmage and a score. On offense, the Falcons’ inability to finish drives continued, as they managed just a lone touchdown compared to four field goals in a 22-19 defeat. (ktrapp22)

20 (-5)

Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

The Super Bowl hangover has been in full effect for the defending champions, particularly over the past four weeks, as the Eagles have dropped three of four to bring their record to 4-6. To make matters worse, the Cowboys picked up their second consecutive win, which sinks Philadelphia to third in the NFC East standings. Not ideal for a team still hoping to defend their title. Sunday’s performance was an all-time low for Doug Peterson and company, as they were manhandled by the Saints in every fashion en route to a 48-7 thumping. Their secondary was gashed by Drew Brees to the tune of 363 passing yards and four touchdowns, while their front seven became the latest victim of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. With the division race quickly slipping out of their hands, the Eagles will have to turn it around. They’ll get a good opportunity to begin that process Sunday, as they get the 3-7 Giants at home. (Ryan Grube)

21 (+1)

Denver Broncos (4-6)

Denver Broncos (4-6)

The Broncos allowed an uncharacteristic 384 yards through the air on Sunday, but still managed a way to climb back from a double-digit deficit and win on a field goal as time expired. The offense as a whole has been underwhelming, but still boasts the best yards per rush attempts in the league at 5.2, allowing them to stay in games against superior opponents. If Denver can pull off an upset against Pittsburgh this week, they may have a tiny glimmer of playoff hope with a soft schedule after this week. (Nick Cardozo)

22 (+2)

Detroit Lions (4-6)

Detroit Lions (4-6)

Detroit snapped a three-game losing streak in Week 11, upsetting Carolina with a last-minute stop on a two-point conversion attempt. The Lions have arguably been the most up-and-down team this season in a league full of them. The move for Damon Harrison has immediately paid off, with the defense allowing just 55 yards per game over the last two weeks. With the Bears and Rams coming up, it doesn’t look great for Detroit, but their moves indicate they weren’t exactly going all-in this season. (Nick Cardozo)

23 (-2)

Miami Dolphins (5-5)

Miami Dolphins (5-5)

After a week to rest up on the bye, Ryan Tannehill was announced as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback for the final stretch of the season. Tannehill will look to replicate the early season magic when he led the team to a 4-0 start before it came tumbling down. A matchup against the red hot Colts doesn’t bode well for Tannehill to shake off the rust and still win the game. (Matt Fowler)

24 (-1)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)

The Jaguars have hit rock bottom after blowing a 16-point lead to the Steelers last week. Everything seemed to be going their way as they dominated the defensive side of the ball and slowly generated points. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off late for this game and maybe even their season. It’ll be hard for the Jags to stop their fall down the standings and down our rankings. (Matt Fowler)

25 (-)

Cleveland Browns (3-6-1)

Cleveland Browns (3-6-1)

Revenge game for Cleveland? Not because the Bengals are their divisional rivals with whom they’ve shared many a close contest over the years, but because after being fired by the Browns, Hue Jackson returned to Cincinnati to join the coaching staff. Now a team and franchise that is not wanting for criticism from Jackson since his departure has a chance to deal their former signal caller another indignity. Should make for an entertaining matchup. (Adrian Nelson)

26 (+1)

New York Giants (3-7)

New York Giants (3-7)

The New York Giants are quietly winners of two straight and are only three games back of the division-leading Redskins, who lost their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. Mathematically you cannot count the Giants out. That being said, I’m more than comfortable saying that they won’t make the playoffs. With games remaining against the Bears, Titans, and Colts and road games against two NFC East rivals, the Giants may be able to win a few more, but really all they are doing is pushing themselves further away from the number one pick and a much needed impact player. (Adrian Nelson)

27 (-1)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7)

After going to Ryan Fitzpatrick for a few games, the Buccaneers are back to Jameis Winston once again as their starter. The rest of this season should be used to evaluate what you have in Winston and whether or not you want to keep him another year. If he plays well, he will earn a chance to start under a new coaching staff next season. (Max Vukelich)

28 (+1)

San Francisco 49ers (2-8)

San Francisco 49ers (2-8)

The 49ers now control their own destiny in the race for the first overall pick in April’s draft after the Raiders defeated the Cardinals on Sunday. However, with a game against Tampa Bay this week, that could quickly change as this is likely the 49ers best chance left on the schedule to get a win. Nick Mullens and the offense should keep rolling this week, but unless the defense plays well, it will be all for not. (Max Vukelich)

29 (-1)

New York Jets (3-7)

New York Jets (3-7)

The sky is falling for the Jets. They’ve lost four straight games and now find themselves at 3-7 and the season all but over. However, this season was never really about winning for a Jets team that realistically never had the weapons to do so. This season was about developing Darnold and they’ve started to do just that. The stat line hasn’t always looked pretty but the tape is a bit more favorable. He still has work to do to improve some decisions, but the raw ability is there. Jets fans should hope that he stays healthy and can put together a few wins to close out the season and build his confidence. (Adrian Nelson)

30 (-)

Buffalo Bills (3-7)

Buffalo Bills (3-7)

The Bills were off in Week 11, and the break gave Josh Allen more time to recover from the elbow injury that has kept him sidelined the past four weeks. The rookie quarterback is on track to start against the Jaguars at New Era Field on Sunday, and all eyes will surely be on him as he attempts to make the ever-outspoken Jalen Ramsey eat crow for his preseason comments. (ktrapp22)

31 (+1)

Oakland Raiders (2-8)

Oakland Raiders (2-8)

Sunday’s contest between the Raiders and Cardinals was one of the more uninspiring matchups of the 2018 season, as the two were essentially battling it out for the number one pick. Sorry, but a game where the majority of the fan bases for both teams—particularly on the Raiders’ side—are rooting for their respective team to lose doesn’t exactly garner much excitement. Nonetheless, Oakland walked out on top, as Daniel Carlson’s 35-yard field goal as time expired gave the Raiders a rare, less-than-much-needed victory for draft order stakes. Derek Carr was efficient, completing 19-of-31 passes for 191 yards, two touchdowns, and most-importantly, no turnovers. Moreover, in his first regular season action, rookie seventh-round pick Marcell Ateman paced the Raiders in receiving, hauling in four passes for 50 yards. The win was bittersweet, however, as Oakland fell from the first-overall pick to third in the pecking order. (Ryan Grube)

32 (-1)

Arizona Cardinals (2-8)

Arizona Cardinals (2-8)

In a rare game in which the Cardinals were favorites, they couldn’t get the job done against the dysfunctional Raiders, falling 23-21 by way of a last-second field goal. After a quick start that included a pair of first quarter touchdowns, Josh Rosen and company were stifled the rest of the way, as the rookie quarterback managed just 22 passing yards in the second half. Arizona is playing for silver linings at this point, and it was tough to find any in this performance. (ktrapp22)

Edited by Emily Berman.

SQuiz
Where did Mitch Trubisky go to college?
Created 11/21/18
  1. Florida St
  2. Michigan
  3. South Carolina
  4. UNC

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