Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys Soar, Broncos Plummet, and Eagles Hold On

The NFL Power Rankings are back, and there are a few big movers heading into Week 12. How many "elite" teams remain?

The 2022 season has been unique, and it’s made the NFL Power Rankings incredibly complex to navigate throughout the first half of the season. However, now that we’re through 11 weeks of play, it’s becoming clear who is and who is not contenders.

No team in the NFC has fewer than three wins, which is a respectable mark. However, that doesn’t mean those teams have a hope of rattling off enough wins to compete for the playoffs. And looking forward to the 2023 NFL Draft is not a problem.

Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 6 | Unadulterated Awfulness

Draft season can’t come soon enough. Luckily, Pro Football Network has a Mock Draft Simulator with premium features for free.

32. Houston Texans

The Texans lost the Commanders’ game on their second offensive play of the game. Davis Mills dropped back to pass and threw it directly to Kendall Fuller, who jumped the out route and scampered for the score.

Texans fans can take solace in knowing if they want the top quarterback in the NFL draft, they can have the best QB in the class because they are clearly the worst team in the NFL.

Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 5 | Ugly, But There Are Positives

It seemed unfair to lump the Tier 5 teams in with the Tier 6 teams. Each team in Tier 5 has shown spurts of competence in one way or another throughout the season, while the team in Tier 6 is lost causes.

31. Carolina Panthers

Well, it’s probably safe to say that the Panthers’ offense is in a better spot when PJ Walker is on the field. The Ravens’ defense has been better as the season’s worn on, but it’s not quite the juggernaut that should hold many teams to just three offensive points.

Carolina’s defense had a great game plan against Baltimore. They know Baltimore wants to win the game on the ground, and they decided to take that away from them. And with some talented coverage players on the back end, the Ravens’ receivers struggled to get anything going.

Carolina is a bad football team, but from a talent perspective, they’re not that far away from being a contender, especially in an underwhelming NFC South. If they make a good hire and draft the right QB, their fortunes could change quickly.

It seemed unfair to lump the Tier 5 teams in with the Tier 6 teams. Each team in Tier 5 has shown spurts of competence in one way or another throughout the season, while the teams in Tier 6 are lost causes.

30. Denver Broncos

The Broncos just can’t figure out how to score points. It’s clear that Nathaniel Hackett is in over his head. One-and-done coaching stints don’t happen often, but he’s had to delegate multiple responsibilities this season because of his own incompetence, and it could eventually cost him his job.

MORE: NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 11

Denver simply can’t waste a top-five defense on their offense with an offensive-minded head coach. They’ve only managed 20 points twice this season, and their 23-point outing in a loss to Las Vegas earlier this season was their highest total of the season.

29. Las Vegas Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders beat the Broncos today, but that doesn’t really mean much, given Denver’s inability to score points. Even in a win, the Raiders’ deficiencies shined bright.

Denver could only manage 16 points because they’re incompetent, but Russell Wilson still managed arguably his best day as a Bronco through the air.

However, after Denver’s first three drives, the Raiders’ pass rush started getting home and disrupting the Broncos’ passing attack enough to kill a few drives.

The one positive to take from the game was that Davante Adams was well fed, something Las Vegas needs to continue doing if their offense is to move the ball with any sort of consistency. Josh Jacobs remains a positive as well, but the Raiders’ run game can only take them so far offensively.

28. Chicago Bears

Speaking of fortunes changing quickly, the Chicago Bears feel leaps and bounds better now than they did six weeks ago. Justin Fields went from a QB struggling to get anything going in the passing attack to arguably the most exciting QB in the NFL.

Fields still has a ways to go as a passer, particularly in the quick game. But he has all the physical tools to succeed as a passer and just needs to hone in his quick-game operation. It would also help for Chicago to add another receiver and some offensive line help.

27. Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams can officially close the book on their season. Cooper Kupp most likely won’t see the field again in 2022, and Matthew Stafford is once again in concussion protocol after just coming back from a concussion that forced him out of last week’s game.

Stafford’s wife Kelly has been outspoken about concussions, and seeing her husband go through this again for the second time in as many weeks has taken a massive toll. She made her feelings known after the first time he entered concussion protocol on her podcast.

Maybe we see Stafford again in 2022, but maybe we won’t. Rams coach Sean McVay and All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald have both flirted with retirement, and the roster has disintegrated before our very eyes.

They won their Super Bowl, but those days look behind them.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers

The score won’t reflect it, but Pittsburgh really hung in there against the Cincinnati Bengals. They were down just four points heading into the final quarter, but the Steelers’ offense just couldn’t keep things moving when they needed to.

George Pickens looks like an absolute stud and future No. 1 WR. Pittsburgh has always excelled in drafting receivers, and he appears no different. Pat Freiermuth is another outstanding weapon to have, and Diontae Johnson is no slouch.

The Steelers are an example of bad offensive scheme, play-calling, and quarterback play. The QB is young and they probably go into 2023 with Kenny Pickett, but he must show marked improvement next season as the starter. He was better against Cincinnati, but still has a lot to prove.

Against Cincinnati, it was their secondary that came up short.

25. Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions absolutely molly-whopped the New York Giants on Sunday. The Lions took the lead in the second quarter off a Daniel Jones interception and never let it go. Detroit had success running the ball on early downs and used a mix of the run and pass to pick up first downs.

The Lions allowed some yards defensively, as they tend to do. However, Detroit scored 14 points off turnovers. New York lost by 13. We thought Las Vegas was insane for making Detroit just a three-point underdog on the road, but as usual, Vegas knows better than anyone.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

I reference advanced metrics a lot as a supplement to what I see with my eyes, but no one stat should be seen as gospel, nor should one set of eyes. Jacksonville, at 3-7, have a better DVOA than the 8-1 Minnesota Vikings.

The fact is, they’ve lost close games and come up short in big moments in the red zone despite being good between the 20s. Meanwhile, Minnesota has gone on to win seven straight one-score games.

23. New Orleans Saints

I have to apologize to Dennis Allen and the Saints. I’ve ridiculed them for the decision to start Andy Dalton over Jameis Winston. However, the Rams’ secondary struggled against the Saints, and Dalton was magnificent for four whole quarters, posting a 149.6 quarterback rating. He posted a 14.4 CPOE and generated 0.38 EPA per play.

Aside from a big play to Tutu Atwell, the Rams’ passing attack struggled to generate much consistently against the Saints’ defense. At 4-7, it’s likely New Orleans is out of the playoff picture, but they still have games against the Falcons and Buccaneers, who hold the advantage over them in the division.

22. Cleveland Browns

Honestly, if the non-Amari Cooper weapons in the receiving corps could have made a few more plays in the red zone, Cleveland may have gotten out to a larger lead early, which could have changed the course of the game.

Cleveland battled back from down 18 points in the fourth quarter, making it a one-score game late. They even almost got the onside kick, which could have made things interesting, considering Jacoby Brissett took them 75 yards on consecutive drives.

The Browns’ offense has not been the issue all year. Heading into 2023, they need to think long and hard about how to change their fortunes on defense, because they have too much individual talent on that side of the ball to be so underwhelming.

Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 4 | Outside Shot at the Playoffs

It’s certainly not probable, but it is possible. However, three of the four teams in Tier 4 are in big trouble.

21. Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts have played their absolute tails off for Jeff Saturday over the past two weeks. They were within a minute of toppling the then 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, who they outplayed for most of the contest.

Gus Bradley’s defense played outstanding football but allowed two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter that allowed Philadelphia to crawl back into the game from a 13-3 deficit. The Colts’ inability to take advantage of the Eagles’ struggling run defense was the catalyst in the loss.

20. Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals are in trouble. The NFL is a wild place. The game season may feel like a lot over an 18-week span, but 17 is a small sample. Last season in that small sample, the Cardinals’ defense found themselves inside the top 10, even though it looked underwhelming from a depth-chart perspective.

This season, they’ve regressed, but it’s been the Cardinals’ offense that has let them down even more, which is somewhat of a surprise considering their quarterback’s monster contract and the head coach’s offensive specialty. Only the Colts, Broncos, Texans, and Panthers had a worse offensive efficiency ranking.

It looked like the Cardinals could have turned things around for the better against the 49ers on Monday Night Football, but the wheels fell off their operations after halftime.

19. Green Bay Packers

The Packers are 4-7 and very far outside looking in on a possible playoff push. After having themselves a nice week against Dallas, where the offense showed some fight during its 14-point fourth-quarter comeback, things didn’t go as well on Thursday Night Football.

Tennessee didn’t let them run the ball, and the Titans’ well-coached secondary didn’t allow any massive gains from the Packers’ passing attack, making them drive the field consistently.

On defense, it’s clear that Green Bay misses Rashan Gary on the defensive line.

18. Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta absolutely needed a win against the Chicago Bears to keep pace in the NFC South, and they snuck out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a three-point victory.

Atlanta struggled offensively against Chicago, particularly on third down. It took Cordarrelle Patterson’s NFL-record ninth kick return touchdown to spark the comeback. The Falcons’ defense was able to take advantage of a banged-up Justin Fields in the second half, and Younghoe Koo’s dependability continued on Sunday.

Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 3 | The Playoff Contenders

Each team here has a legitimate shot at the playoffs as the league starts to mold itself further.

17. Washington Commanders

The Commanders are on a roll. After starting the season 1-4, they’ve rattled off five of their last six games. Their only loss came against the Minnesota Vikings by three points, and just one week ago, they beat the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.

Taylor Heinicke may not be in Washington’s long-term future, but he’s the best option on the roster for the rest of 2022 and most likely for 2023. That is, unless they can somehow do a better job signing or trading for a veteran in the offseason than they did with Carson Wentz.

MORE: How the Commanders Turnaround Season Continued

Washington dominated the Houston Texans for four quarters. They weren’t great on third down, but they didn’t put themselves in a ton of third-down spots throughout the game. The Commanders’ defense demoralized the Texans’ offense, who couldn’t get anything going all game.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For as bad as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense has seemed this season, advanced metrics like DVOA still feel relatively good about the team overall. They have the eighth-best team DVOA, buoyed by the seventh-best defense in the league.

If Tom Brady and the passing attack can get going in the second half of the season, they’ll walk away with the division. But if they want a chance to contend in January, they must figure out how to run the ball more efficiently.

15. Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers played an outstanding game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Justin Herbert was great, and the Bolts’ defense hung in there against a Chiefs offense without a few of its wide receivers. Unfortunately for that defense, Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, and Andy Reid still exist.

In the end, the Chargers did what the Chargers do. They found a way to lose in the most exciting way possible. It was a Herbert interception that sealed the loss, but Herbert was far from the reason why the team didn’t beat Kansas City. The Chiefs are simply the Chiefs, and they just do not stop.

14. New York Giants

The Giants were 7-2 heading into their game against Detroit, but the nerds weren’t fooled. Entering the game, the Giants ranked 19th in DVOA compared to Detroit’s 20th-ranked team. That’s probably why Las Vegas only favored the Giants by three points at home, despite the juxtaposition of their records.

Daniel Jones had been good all season at avoiding turnover-worthy plays, but regression hit against the Lions, and it ended up being the difference in the game. New York also struggled to get anything going on the ground outside of Jones’ own legs, which didn’t help their offensive outlook.

13. New York Jets

It’s hard not to feel absolutely gutted for the New York Jets’ defense. They’ve battled all year, and they did so once again against New England, despite being on the field for the majority of the game.

It wasn’t all Zach Wilson’s fault. There were a few passes in the first half that should have been caught. But it’s clear that despite being 5-2 with Wilson as the starter, he is holding this offense back.

MORE: Robert Saleh Owes It to New York Jets’ Locker Room To Bench Zach Wilson

Maybe Mike White isn’t a better option, but we’re getting into the territory where it might be in the team’s best interest to make a change.

Yes, he was the second-overall pick in the NFL draft just a season ago. But this is a roster ready for the playoffs NOW, and he’s not ready to be a starting QB on a contending team.

12. New England Patriots

The Patriots won the Jets game in spite of themselves. They missed two field goals, and at one point, as Mac Jones had completed 10 straight, New England decided to run the ball four straight times, leading to a turnover on downs.

New England’s defense absolutely suffocated New York’s offense. The Jets could manage just two yards of offense in the second half, and could only manage 103 net yards for the entire game.

11. Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks began the 2022 NFL season as a “fun” team, but they’ve become one of the better teams in the NFC along the way. It started off as a team scoring points in bunches, having a QB that hadn’t started for six seasons with a poor defense.

But the defense has turned things around as the season has progressed, and the offense is legitimately good. The team that many believed would finish in last place in their division could end up winning it.

10. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have done an outstanding job integrating Christian McCaffrey into the offense, even if Kyle Shanahan loves him some Elijah Mitchell. If Shanahan can figure out a way to get George Kittle involved in the passing attack, the sky could be the limit for their offense.

They’ve ebbed and flowed defensively over the past two seasons, and their results seem to go as Nick Bosa goes. Jimmy Garoppolo has played well in relief of Trey Lance so far this season, seemingly showing off his abilities for another franchise for the upcoming offseason.

The 49ers’ skill position players are outstanding, and when their offensive line can be dominant, the sky is the limit.

9. Minnesota Vikings

Things in Minnesota always felt unsustainable. They’re certainly not a bad football team, they just weren’t the usual 8-1 team from a historical perspective.

Unfortunately for them, they ran into a pissed-off Cowboys team that was looking to take out a lot of frustration after falling apart against Green Bay the week prior.

MORE: The Vikings Revealed Who They Are

Minnesota’s two significant losses this season have come against the two best teams in the NFC. Losing Christian Darrisaw was significant against Dallas, who rushes the passer better than almost every team in the league.

With the Patriots and Jets up next, the Vikings can still prove they’re worthy of respect among the best in the league.

8. Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals miss Chidobe Awuzie. Their secondary is having communication issues in bunches, and it led to multiple receivers running free for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Joe Burrow played well against Pittsburgh, with tipped passes at the line being the main culprit of any issues he had on Sunday. However, Pittsburgh’s defensive front is known to do that.

The Bengals will have no shortage of statement games upcoming. They play the Titans, Chiefs, Browns (with Deshaun Watson), Buccaneers, Bills, and Ravens. That’s an absolute gauntlet heading into the playoffs.

7. Tennessee Titans

It might be time to start believing in the Titans. If Tennessee’s passing attack can even be 80% of what it was on Thursday against Green Bay, this is a team that could compete in January.

There are few, if any, secondaries more well-coached than the Titans. They run a plethora of coverages on the back end, and they run zone coverage far more aggressively than most. If Tennessee can continue to get great safety play even without Amani Hooker, the sky is the limit for a defense we all thought was done for after Harold Landry III’s season-ending injury.

Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 2 | Conference Championship Contenders

It wouldn’t be surprising to see any of these teams in their conference championship game, based on their performance thus far.

6. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens’ receiving corps is ugly, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. Baltimore simply cannot avoid the injury bug. Their offense might end up being okay in the end, but it sputtered against Carolina to the point where they allowed a far less superior team to hang in for far too long on Sunday.

Baltimore’s defense is turning things around, but their passing attack is slowly devolving as the season progresses. If they are to compete in January, Greg Roman and Lamar Jackson need to find a way to find more passing efficiency.

5. Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins’ offense makes them a legitimate contender in the AFC, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding Buffalo’s current form. Tua Tagovailoa is playing the best football of his career, and in the Dolphins’ win against Cleveland last week, he showed there are far more weapons than just Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

The defense needs to be better, but that is a tall order. Their secondary is endlessly injured. If it wasn’t for the emergence of Kader Kohou, the cornerback room would be lost aside from Xavien Howard.

4. Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have looked good on offense since Dak Prescott’s return from injury, which was their biggest weakness early in the season. The defense has come back down to Earth after playing unsustainably-good football, and injuries in the secondary haven’t helped.

MORE: The Cowboys Revealed Who They Are

However, they’re giving Tony Pollard more touches and reaping incredible rewards. If Dallas can mesh play-action with the run game and be smart about how they’re operating in their dropback game, the offense should have no issues moving forward.

3. Buffalo Bills

Things were ugly for Buffalo for much of the first half, but they got going and didn’t stop once the hay bale started rolling downhill. They scored points on seven straight offensive drives, picking up 22 first downs on the final seven drives after having none in the first three.

However, the team’s red-zone struggles continue offensively. Buffalo went just two of five in the red area this week. Cleveland crawled their way back into this game late because they scored touchdowns where Buffalo was kicking field goals.

But after a weird week that involved about 70 inches of snow, coming out of Detroit against Cleveland with a win was the necessity.

NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Tier 1 | The Elite Teams

It didn’t take long to whittle this list down to two. It felt necessary to put Minnesota in here after last week, but they showed their true colors against Dallas.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

After two straight weeks of seeing the Philadelphia Eagles look lost on offense, it’s difficult to make the case that Kansas City isn’t currently the best team in the NFL.

Since Patrick Mahomes was inserted into the starting lineup, the Chiefs haven’t been knocked out of the playoffs before the conference championship. They’ve been the standard in the league.

However, Philadelphia’s balance between offensive and defensive success still outweighs the Chiefs’ league-leading offense. The Eagles have shown some kinks in their armor the past two weeks, but they found a way to beat Indianapolis in the end in Week 11.

Mahomes and the passing attack didn’t have the same efficiency we’re used to seeing against the Chargers, but they still found explosive plays. Mahomes is the best QB in the NFL and arguably the most talented passer ever.

1. Philadelphia Eagles

It took absolutely everything they had, but the Eagles came away with a victory against the Colts. Philadelphia has been incredibly well-coached this season, but Shane Steichen and the Eagles’ offense has not been good over the past two weeks.

However, they’ve also played two defenses playing relatively well so far this season in Washington and Indianapolis. Philadelphia needs to defend the run better going forward, but they’ll eventually get Jordan Davis back.

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