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Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

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Aside from minor shuffling in the top 10, most of the contenders held court. They are starting to separate themselves from the also-rans, but no divisional race is even close to being decided. For the first time in NFL history, after 11 weeks there are currently 19 teams within one game of first place. While a good number of the pretenders will be weeded out in the next couple weeks, it makes for exciting football down the stretch.  (Last Weeks Rating in parenthesis)

1. (1) Atlanta Falcons (8-2) – Another game, another big win, another ho-hum 100+ rating for Matt Ryan, 100+ yard ground game. Falcons are quietly staring at 13-3.

2. (3) New England Patriots (8-2) – That Browns debacle seems like eons ago after the Pats dismantled the Steelers and took out Indy. No team likes to play on a short week, but a Thanksgiving game against Detroit will be warmly welcomed by Brady and the boys.

3. (4) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) – The Steelers took out their pent-up aggression against Oakland. They racked up 163 yards in penalties in the 35-3 blowout. This week’s game in Buffalo should be over early, unless of course the entire Steelers defense gets ejected.

4. (5) Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) – The Eagles did their best to keep the Giants in the game, but in the end their talent won out. If Vick stays healthy, they could be favored in the Super Bowl, if they fall short…that’s ok, Philly fans are a pretty forgiving bunch…

5. (2) Indianapolis Colts (6-4) – One bad pass from a 2nd straight comeback win against the Pats. They are nowhere near their peak, but this year they might find it at the right time, instead of week 14.

6. (6) New York Jets (8-2) – Sundays win marked 5 straight should-be losses for the Jets. Instead they went 4-1. At the end of the day, you are what your record says. In the playoffs they get tossed out, and so will the Jets if they don’t figure things out.

7. (8) New Orleans Saints (7-3) – Bad news for the NFC; the hangover seems to be wearing off and the Saints are getting healthy. Thursday’s game at Jerry World will show exactly where the Saints are.

8. (10) Green Bay Packers (7-3) – The Pack keep smashing teams and I keep underrating them due to injuries. All of their losses were by field goals, and at +106 they own the NFL’s best point differential by far. They travel to Atlanta in a game with major NFC implications, win that, and underrated will be a thing of the past.

9. (9) Baltimore Ravens (7-3) – If you don’t think the Ravens defense has lost a step, consider this…they just gave up 13 to the Panthers. Of their 7 wins, the only top 20 QB that they have beaten is Kyle Orton. Their secondary is easily exploitable, so they will need their offense to stay consistent or it’s one and one for Baltimore.

10. (7) New York Giants (6-4) – The Giants have lost two straight to divisional foes, getting outscored 60-37 in the process. Injuries have forced Mario Manningham and Derek Hagan into starting roles so Jet Blue might be in the shop for repairs.

11. (13) Chicago Bears (7-3) – Chicago keeps winning ugly, but that’s better that losing pretty. Their defense completely dominated the Tyler Thigpen-led Dolphins. Things get tougher this week when the travel to take on MVP candidate Michael Vick

12. (16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) – The best team the Bucs have beaten are the 4-6 St. Louis Rams; getting blown out by teams with winning records. 7 wins in 10 games a nice start, but this team shouldn’t have many more than 8 at the end.

13. (15) San Diego Chargers (5-5) – October is over, so the Chargers are streaking. I completely understand how they struggle to sell out home games. The fact that they waste talent in the first half of the season is offensive. They are dangerous though and will be hosting a wild card game in January.

14. (19) Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) – If you had the Jaguars leading the AFC south after week 11, you need a drug test. Jags fans should read the Tampa Bay notes. Aside from a home win against Indy, there isn’t a good one in the bunch. Tough schedule means Jack Del Rio won’t have to cancel his vacation plans in January

15. (17) Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) – A predictably easy win against the Cardinals keeps them atop the AFC West. The Chiefs aren’t a contender, but a relatively easy schedule coming in could give Chiefs fans meaningful games in December, which is a start.

16. (11) Miami Dolphins (5-5) – One of the most embarrassing performances of the year last Thursday doesn’t exactly breed confidence. Chad Henne should be ready to play this week, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

17. (12) Tennessee Titans (5-5) – Kerry Collins’ injury and Vince Young’s injury/hissy fit open the door for Rusty Smith. Matt McGloin has set a high bar in the MMTR* (Musberger Moxie/Talent Rating), but I have a feeling that ol’ Rusty may make a run for the record.

18. (18) Houston Texans (4-6) – The Texans were the latest in a long line of teams to have the Jets beaten and inexplicably give it away. If they lose to the fightin’ Rusty Smith’s this will probably be the last time you see the Texans on the good side of 20.

19. (14) Oakland Raiders (5-5) – Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2010 Oakland Raiders. AFC West teams are finally showing who they really are, in Oakland’s case, its bad news.

20. (26) Washington Redskins (5-5) – With 7 field goals combined, Sunday’s game was a testament of what an NFL red zone offense shouldn’t be. Someone had to kick the last one, and ‘Skins fans are happy it was Gano.

21. (23) Seattle Seahawks (5-5) – 4-1 at home, 1-4 on the road, but with Pete Carroll only 1 game away from bowl eligibility, expect him to pull out all the stops against the Chiefs.

22. (20) Minnesota Vikings (3-7) – Ironic that the Packers are the ones that in effect ended Brett Favre’s career. Whatever they left on the bone, the Falcons should surely take care of this weekend.

23. (21) St. Louis Rams (4-6) – The Rams have won more games this year than the previous two combined. A playoff run could be next, 7-9 may with the CFL south.

24. (28) Dallas Cowboys (3-7) – The Cowboys got going in the 2nd half to pull away from the Lions. Need to win out to have any hope of postseason, with that schedule, good luck.

25. (22) Cleveland Browns (3-7) – The Browns forced 6 Jaguar turnovers, and still managed to lose the game and possibly QB Colt McCoy. Re-enter Jake Delhomme, this has to end well, right?

26. (29) Buffalo Bills (2-8) – The Bills offense was unstoppable in the 2nd half against the Bengals. They overcame a 21 point deficit without the help of Frank Reich.

27. (24) Denver Broncos (3-7) – San Diego game was a microcosm of Josh McDaniels’ coaching career. Fans went from wondering if they would ever lose, to wondering if they would ever win.

28. (25) San Francisco 49ers (3-7) – 7-3 or not, getting shutout at homes by the Bucs is inexcusable. Singletary might want to suit up after giving up 162 on the ground.

29. (27) Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) – The Bengals blew a 31-14 halftime lead to the now 2-8) Bills. Not to pile on, but Carson is signed through 2014, and he’s not even the best Palmer on the team.

30. (31) Detroit Lions (2-8) – Before the season a 35-19 loss at Dallas might’ve been seen as progress, not anymore. At least Lions fans won’t have their Sunday ruined this week and will be too drunk to care on Thanksgiving.

31. (30) Arizona Cardinals (3-7) – Flashback to NFL league offices, April 2010: “OK, week 12, Monday night…should we go Green Bay-Atlanta or San Diego-Indy? Screw it we’re going San Francisco-Arizona… You’re welcome America.”

32. (32) Carolina Panthers (1-9) – The dream of breaking the 92 Seahawks record low (140) points in a season is fading after a 13 point offensive explosion on Sunday, but if anyone can do it, these guys can.

*MMTR is  explained in the Falcons write-up here: http://sidepoints.com/?p=235

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