9. Houston Texans (7-4, Last Week: 11)
Week 12 Result: Defeated Indianapolis, 20-17
It was a nice recovery after getting embarrassed by the Ravens put the Texans back on top of the AFC South and gave them the inside track with five weeks to play. That offense will be tested well against the vaunted defense of the Patriots next Sunday night.
10. Buffalo Bills (8-3, Last Week: 13)
Week 12 Result: Defeated Denver, 20-3
Perhaps it is time to realize the Bills are legit finally. Josh Allen has been having a very good second season, and the Bills have already put themselves in a position to make the playoffs with a two-game lead in the wild card. However, the Bills have a tough four-game stretch coming that could make or break their season. Over the next month, they’ll see Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and New England before closing with the Jets. Fortunately, the Bills may only need to win two or perhaps even just one of those games to secure their spot in the dance. Also, a huge congratulations to Frank Gore on moving to number three on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, behind only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. We can’t wait to see Gore don the gold jacket in a few years.
11. Dallas Cowboys (6-5, Last Week: 8)
Week 12 Result: Lost to New England, 13-9
Dallas was completely shut down on offense as Dak Prescott wasn’t able to dance as much as he usually does, and Amari Cooper was held without a catch. In fact, he was only targeted twice, and the second was a killer incompletion on fourth down late in the game that all but iced the game for the Patriots. The NFC East is back to being the oddball division in the league, but Dallas is still the favorite to escape.
12. Indianapolis Colts (6-5, Last Week: 10)
Week 12 Result: Lost to Houston, 20-17
The Colts not only lost the AFC South lead on Thursday night to the Texans, but they also lost control in the playoff picture altogether. They are now in a four-way tie for the sixth spot in the AFC field with the Raiders, Steelers, and Titans. It gets worse when you consider they have already lost to the Raiders and Steelers. They get Tennessee next week, and the loser will be in a tough position with four weeks left, especially if it’s the Colts, who will then be in a lot of trouble with tiebreakers.
13. Tennessee Titans (6-5, Last Week: 16)
Week 12 Result: Defeated Jacksonville, 42-20
It’s been said before, but the Tennessee Titans are quietly sporting one of the best offenses in the NFL, as Ryan Tannehill has completely revitalized his career in the Music City. Tannehill was involved in four of the Titans’ touchdowns against the Jaguars, including two rushing. Tennessee is now tied for the last playoff spot in the AFC, and next week, they visit one of the teams in that tie, the Colts. In fact, their next two games are both against teams currently tied with them at 6-5 in the AFC, the Colts and the Raiders. A very important stretch, to say the least, for the Titans.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5, Last Week: 14)
Week 12 Result: Defeated Cincinnati, 16-10
The Steelers won, but boy was it ugly. They trailed at the half as Mason Rudolph was benched in favor of Devlin Hodges, who willed the Steelers to victory over the winless Bengals. Now the Steelers have a decision to make at quarterback and have to also prepare for the epic rematch with the Browns next week in a game that has huge playoff implications.
15. Oakland Raiders (6-5, Last Week: 12)
Week 12 Result: Lost to New York Jets, 34-3
The Raiders went into Week 12 and looked like they were going to cruise into a Week 13 battle for first place in the AFC West with the Chiefs with both teams at 7-4. Somebody forgot to tell the Jets that, and they proceeded to embarrass the Raiders. Now Oakland is in a mess for the second AFC Wild Card with three other teams at 6-5. They can erase all that and get right back in the division race by beating the Chiefs next week, as that game is still for first place.
16. Los Angeles Rams (6-5, Last Week: 15)
Week 12 Result: Lost to Baltimore, 45-6
Yikes. Have the Rams lost faith in Jared Goff? What has happened to Sean McVay? The Rams have gone from an offensive juggernaut and Super Bowl participant one year to a team with major question marks the next. Even the vaunted defense has been getting gashed. We knew there would be some regression, but this is quite the fall from grace for Goff after receiving his big contract. The Rams are now officially fighting for their playoff lives.