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NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Eagles and Cowboys soar, Vikings and Jets crash

Matt Johnson
NFL power rankings Week 12
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the best NFL team in 2022? Sportsnaut’s Week 12 NFL power rankings examine the National Football League after Week 11, reviewing all 32 teams after a chaotic Sunday.

Just a few days after the Minnesota Vikings claimed the No. 1 spot in the NFL power rankings, they are now sinking fast after a blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking of teams in a freefall, losses raised significant long-term worries with the New York Jets and New York Giants.

It’s not all negative before Week 12 and Thanksgiving football. The Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles recovered nicely on Sunday with much-needed wins. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions and Washington Commanders are starting to make some noise.

Related: NFL games today

Let’s dive into the Week 12 NFL power rankings.

32. Houston Texans

The Houston Texans are last in the NFL power rankings, a tradition unlike any other. Houston controls its destiny for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and based on their schedule, there’s no reason to think the Texans won’t accomplish their mission.

  • Previously: 32nd in NFL power rankings

Related: NFL scouts view surprising name as QB1 in 2023 NFL Draft

31. Los Angeles Rams

  • Previously: 30th in NFL power rankings

Entering Week 12, the Los Angeles Rams have the third-worst point differential (-59) in the NFL and things keep getting worse. If the losing continues, which will happen, it’s fair to start speculating if Sean McVay and Aaron Donald might walk away in 2023.

Related: Cooper Kupp likely out for season

30. Chicago Bears

  • Previously: 29th in NFL power rankings

Losses are quickly piling up for the Chicago Bears, like dinner rolls on a Thanksgiving plate. At least Chicago is looking competitive on offense, but we haven’t seen that ability to complete the comeback. Fortunately, the long-term goals are the primary focus and Chicago can enter the offseason confident in Justin Fields.

29. Carolina Panthers

  • Previously: 28th in NFL power rankings

Young standouts like Brian Burns, Frankie Luvu and Jaycee Horn continue to prove they are building blocks that can help shape a great defense in the future. Sunday once again proved the Carolina Panthers desperately need a franchise-caliber quarterback and finishing near the bottom of the NFL standings is the best path toward that.

Related: ‘Serious candidate’ emerging for Carolina Panthers coaching job

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Previously: 25th in NFL power rankings

Kenny Pickett protected the football on Sunday and didn’t create avoidable sacks for himself, small progress for the rookie. There are little bright spots to take away from every Pittsburgh Steelers game, even as they race toward a premium pick to land a much-needed offensive tackle in 2023.

27. Denver Broncos

  • Previously: 24th in NFL power rankings

A critical change didn’t make any real difference for the Denver Broncos offense on Sunday. It’s a sign of desperation from Nathaniel Hackett, one of the last acts of a head coach feeling the pressure. It won’t surprise anyone if NFL Week 12 is one of Hackett’s last games in Denver.

26. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Previously: 31st in NFL power rankings

The Las Vegas Raiders won, but defeating the Broncos in overtime isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for the club. What should really concern fans is the report suggesting owner Mark Davis can’t afford to fire Josh McDaniels.

Related: NFL scouts rave about 2024 prospect Caleb Williams

25. Arizona Cardinals

Syndication: Arizona Republic
Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 22nd in NFL power rankings

There is nothing positive to say regarding the Arizona Cardinals in 2022. We’ve hammered the organization for inexplicably extending Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim, continuously bringing it up is beating a dead bird. Coincidentally, that bird’s pulse would be just as effective of a play-caller as Kingsbury.

This isn’t even based primarily on the Monday Night Football performance. Arizona simply isn’t a good football team, it’s a poorly-coached unit and the front office has constructed one of the worst rosters for a non-rebuilding team in the NFL.

24. New Orleans Saints

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 26th in NFL power rankings

It’s challenging to have an optimistic outlook for the New Orleans Saints even when they win. New Orleans isn’t a playoff contender, quite frankly it’s closer to the bottom of the Grand Canyon than the top of the mountain top. More than $50 million over the 2023 salary cap and without a 2023 first-round pick, the Saints need to tear everything down and rebuild.

Related: NFL stadium rankings

23. Green Bay Packers

Syndication: The Post-Crescent
Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 18th in NFL power rankings

The Green Bay Packers simply aren’t a good football team. Injuries, whiffs on draft picks, investments in one-year wonders and alarming regression from Aaron Rodgers all play a part in the collapse. The only true surprise is that some believe Jordan Love, who the coaching staff has made it quite clear it doesn’t trust, would be an upgrade under center.

22. Indianapolis Colts

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 23rd in NFL power rankings

After a game-opening touchdown drive, the Indianapolis Colts offense fell flat on Sunday. It’s a combination of numerous factors, a majority of which can’t be fixed until this offseason. As for Jeff Saturday, he is easily surpassing expectations for a coach in his second week who last worked on the sideline for a sub-.500 high school team.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Colts, check out #ForTheShoe rumors, rankings, and news here.

21. Cleveland Browns

Syndication: USA TODAY
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 19th in NFL power rankings

Assuming the Cleveland Browns lose in Week 12 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a safe bet, quarterback Deshaun Watson will return to a 3-8 team. Even in the best-case scenario, so much more must go right to make the playoffs. So, the final six games will be about creating something to build upon in 2023.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars

Syndication: Florida Times-Union
Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 21st in NFL power rankings

Coming out of the bye, the Jacksonville Jaguars should feel reasonably confident about where they stand. Trevor Lawrence is showing a few signs of improvement and Travis Etienne clearly boasts the talent to be a featured star in the offense. A lot of losses are coming, but that just means a higher draft pick.

19. Atlanta Falcons

NFL: Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 20 in NFL power rankings

Marcus Mariota (35.8 QBR) did nothing on Sunday to prove he deserves the starting job over Desmond Ridder. Yet, because the Atlanta Falcons defeated one of the worst teams in the NFL, Arthur Smith isn’t backing down. It’s not the smart long-term play, but plenty of worse decisions are made by teams every Sunday.

18. Detroit Lions

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Giants
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 27 in NFL power rankings

It’s hard to decide which is more unbelievable; the Detroit Lions have the longest winning streak in the NFC or Jamaal Williams leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns. Detroit’ seemed ‘s season looked over a few weeks ago, now it has wins over the Packers, Bears, New York Giants and a one-score loss to the Miami Marlins.

Related: Detroit Lions schedule

17. New York Giants

Syndication: The Record
Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 12 in NFL power rankings

The New York Giants went 1-1 in the easiest portion of their schedule, somehow getting wiped off the field at home by the Lions. It’s the last thing the team wanted before making the trip to face the Dallas Cowboys on short rest. It’s very possible the Giants’ freefall is here.

Related: New York Giants schedule

16. Seattle Seahawks

Syndication: Arizona Republic
Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 14 in NFL power rankings

It’s a temporary dip for now, but the Seattle Seahawks have an outstanding shot at flying back up consensus NFL power rankings in the weeks ahead. Matchups against the Raiders, Rams and Panthers are all winnable and a three-game win streak would secure a nine-win season no one saw coming.

15. Washington Commanders

NFL: Washington Commanders at Houston Texans
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 16 in NFL power rankings

The Washington Commanders are 5-1 since Oct. 10, a stretch that the defense deserves even more credit for than they are receiving. Sticking with Taylor Heinicke as the starting quarterback is the right decision, just keep in mind Washington is barely cracking 20 PPG during this stretch and that suggests this run will end before January.

14. New York Jets

NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 11 in NFL power rankings

Zach Wilson isn’t a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. Maybe he will be in 2024, but nothing we’ve seen in the first 20 games suggests he is anywhere close to making the leap within the next year. Quarterback is the most important position in sports and it will prevent the Jets from reaching greater heights in 2022.

13. New England Patriots

NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 17 in NFL power rankings

In many ways, the New England Patriots season has been unpredictable. If there is one thing fans can count on, though, it’s Bill Belichick vs the Jets. The defensive game plan worked perfectly again, pushing New England two games above .500. Unfortunately for fans in Boston, the good vibes will probably end with consecutive Thursday games vs the Vikings and Bills.

12. Los Angeles Chargers

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 15 in NFL power rankings

Similar to last week, we came away impressed by the Los Angeles Chargers in a loss. This team seems to be dealing with more devastating injuries to impact players than any other team. Despite that, Los Angeles is taking Super Bowl contenders down to the wire. With the schedule now softening up, the wins should come.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL: International Series-Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 13 in NFL power rankings

There’s a feeling of optimism coming out of the bye week for the New England Patriots. Tom Brady and Byron Leftwich had the time they needed to make adjustments for the second half and we’ve seen more than enough to believe in this defense. Considering the NFC South is a cakewalk, Tampa Bay can coast into a playoff spot.

10. Cincinnati Bengals

Syndication: The Enquirer
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 9th in NFL power rankings

Division games can always be challenging and Pittsburgh is typically going to make things difficult for the Cincinnati Bengals. However, the defense provided some reasons for concern and the ease with which the offensive line collapsed at times is worrisome in a conference with the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.

9. Baltimore Ravens

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens
Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 3rd in NFL power rankings

Surviving is all that ultimately matters for the Baltimore Ravens, but there are red flags coming out of this matchup. Carolina’s defense had some relative ease in containing things. Another thing to keep in mind, the top of the NFL is very fluid right now but the Ravens’ schedule (@ JAX, vs DEN, @ PIT, @ CLE, vs ATL) sets this team up well for a confidence-building run before January.

8. Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 1st in NFL power rankings

Right when fans started thinking about the Minnesota Vikings as a Super Bowl contender, the team delivers one of its worst performances in years. Everything that could go wrong did on Sunday. In fact, the Vikings might literally burn the tape from this game. Unfortunately, things won’t get any easier as the Patriots’ pass rush is a nightmare matchup for Minnesota on a short week and consecutive losses would spell trouble in the NFC.

7. Tennessee Titans

Syndication: PackersNews
Dan Powers / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 6th in NFL power rankings

Everything the Tennessee Titans are doing right now is impressive, especially considering where this team was viewed following an 0-2 start. At the same time, all of it feels so eerily similar to what happened in previous seasons. Look at the Titans’ playoff history, and the current team then determine if you really trust them to avoid the same postseason heartbreak.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Titans, check out #Titans rumors, rankings, and news here.

NFL power rankings: Super Bowl contenders

6. Miami Dolphins

Syndication: Palm Beach Post
JIM RASSOL/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 4th in NFL power rankings

The Miami Dolphins boast the offense to challenge the Chiefs and Bills. Tua Tagovailoa is executing this offense perfectly and there is far too much speed and explosiveness for opponents to match. But if Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen gets the football lost, no one would trust Miami’s defense to record a stop right now.

It’s the absence of a reliable defense that holds Miami back right now. Every team above them – except Kansas City – has a defense capable of winning a playoff game on its own. In the Chiefs’ case, they have the most talented quarterback in NFL history with a Hall of Fame coach and tight end partnering with that quarterback.

5. San Francisco 49ers

NFL: International Series-San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 8th in NFL power rankings

The San Francisco 49ers are shaping up to be a dangerous playoff team in the NFC. Both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles struggle to stop the run and they do have some issues against opponents who can get home without blitzing. These happen to be two of the things San Francisco is best at. Of course, that is if Jimmy Garoppolo can avoid mistakes in critical situations.

Related: NFL offense rankings

Monday Night Football only reaffirmed the belief in San Francisco’s ground game and elite defense. However, it won’t erase the concern that Garoppolo might be the one player who ultimately prevents the 49ers from becoming Super Bowl champions.

4. Dallas Cowboys

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 10th in NFL power rankings

If the Dallas Cowboys took their previous matchup against Green Bay lightly, it was quickly made apparent they wouldn’t make the same mistake in Minnesota. Dallas overwhelmed the Vikings on both sides of the ball, delivering one of the best NFL performances in 2022. There are still a few questions that prevent the Cowboys from being viewed as the best team in the NFL, but they are in the running.

Related: Dallas Cowboys schedule

3. Buffalo Bills

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 7th in NFL power rankings

Sunday represents a nice step forward for the Buffalo Bills, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent just how many key absences are hurting the defense. When Tre’Davious White, Tremaine Edmonds and Greg Rousseau return, the Bills are the best team in the NFL.

Related: Buffalo Bills lost millions due to relocated home game

2. Philadelphia Eagles

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Armond Feffer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 5th in NFL power rankings

Jalen Hurts saved the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, just days after he might have done it if not for some gaffes by teammates and the officials. As Hurts ascends into the conversation of elite NFL quarterbacks, he and the Eagles’ defense are carrying this club to the top of the NFC.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 2nd in NFL power rankings

Patrick Mahomes does it again. Then again, everyone expected that when he got the football trailing by four with less than 120 seconds left in the game. Fittingly, Mahomes didn’t even need all that time to win it. The Chiefs are the best NFL team right now and they’re the Super Bowl favorite because Mahomes is like no player we’ve ever seen.