USA TODAY Sports

NFL Power 12 rankings, Week 12: Offensive Takeover

Seth Dunlap
November 20, 2018 - 7:20 pm
Categories: 

NFL Power 12 rankings – Week 12:  Offensive Takeover

As detailed in my column earlier, the NFL is entering an unprecedented era of offensive firepower and ingenuity.  It’s made the league incredibly compelling to watch, especially when a two of the NFL’s offensive juggernauts do battle, as the Chiefs-Rams thriller showed on Monday night.

There’s little surprise, then, that the top of our rankings are dominated by the league’s best offenses, but there’s at least one team hoping that defense still does win championships. 

On to the rankings for Week 12.  Again, these are predictions for the 12 teams that will make the playoffs, with a sorted ranking of those dozen teams.

 

NFL Power 12 - Week 12

1.  New Orleans Saints (9-1) LW-#1:  At some point there will be comparisons between this Saints offense and the other great units in league history.  I’m not sure that’s fair to those other offenses.  The Saints may break the all-time single season scoring records for total points, and points per game, but that still doesn’t do their offensive efficiency justice.  The Saints scored on eight of their 11 drives against the Eagles, increasing their season scoring percentage to 62.5% of their drives.  That’s supposed to happen in Madden, not real life.  Last week:  W 48-7 vs. PHI, This week: vs. ATL (TNF)

2.  Los Angeles Rams (10-1) LW-#2:  Who needs defense when you can score like this?  The Rams defense has allowed 127 points in their last three games, which includes two wins and a loss on the road to the Saints where they were tied in the fourth quarter.  Four of their final five games are against teams with losing records.  The #1 overall seed into the playoffs is within their grasp if the Saints slip up. Last week: W vs. KC 54-51, This week: BYE

3.  Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) LW-#3:  Forget about moving this team down in the rankings after that showcase on Monday night.  Kansas City’s two losses this season have come when they’ve scored 40 points at New England and 50 points in Los Angeles.  They did fail to capitalize on the Chargers loss, so are still only one game up in the division standings.  Patrick Mahomes threw six toughdowns but had three interceptions and two fumbles.  That can't happen if the Chiefs expect to be playing in late January. Last week:  L 54-51 @ LAR, This week: BYE

4.  Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1) LW-5:  The Steelers have now won six straight games to take complete control of the AFC North.   What’s gone unnoticed is that they’re doing it with defense, allowing just 18.2 points per game to their opponents during the winning streak, with no opponent eclipsing 21 points.  Pittsburgh is once again a Super Bowl threat in the AFC.    Last Week: W 20-16 @ JAX, This week: @ DEN

5.  New England Patriots (7-3) LW-#6:  Pretty good bye week for the Patriots, who watched Kansas City falter ahead of them, meaning they’re now one game back of the Chiefs for the top spot in the AFC.  They should wrap up the division in the next few weeks, with a critical mid-December battle in Pittsburgh likely to decide a first round bye and possible home field advantage in the playoffs, yet again.  Last week: BYE, This week: @ NYJ

6.  Chicago Bears (7-3) LW-#9:  The Bears had been beating up on a bunch of NFL also-rans leading into Sunday night’s matchup with the Vikings.  Chicago’s dominant defense controlled that game and proved the Bears won’t just be coasting into the playoffs on the back of a last-place schedule, but could be a threat once they get there.  Last week:  W 25-20 vs. MIN, This week: @ DET (THX)

7.  Los Angeles Chargers (7-3) LW-4:  Ouch.  The Chargers six game winning streak came to a crashing halt on Sunday when they lost to a rebuilding Broncos team. It was a very Chargers-type of loss, and could complicate their fight with Kansas City inside the AFC West.  Still, the Chargers look like a playoff lock in a conference where the second Wild Card berth may go to a team with nine, or maybe even eight, wins. Last week: L 23-22 vs. DEN, This week: vs. ARI

8.  Houston Texans (7-3) LW-#10:  The Texans are the first team in NFL history to win seven straight games after losing their first three.  They continue their stretch of close-wins, with a two point escape in Washington on Sunday.  They now have a two game cushion on the Colts and Titans in the AFC South, and can effectively eliminate Tennessee from the division race with win against the Titans on Monday. Last week:  W 23-21 @ WAS, This week: vs. TEN (MNF)

9. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1) LW-#7:  The Vikings, much like the defending champion Eagles, are a bit of an underwhelming disappointment this season.  They’ll likely need to win out, including a home victory in December against the Bears, to catch Chicago in the division.  That’s easier said than done, as they now travel to Green Bay, followed by road trips to New England and Seattle.  Anything less than 2-1 in those games would put Minnesota in serious danger of missing the playoffs, even as a Wild Card participant.  Last week: L 25-20 @ CHI, This week: vs. GB (SNF)

10.  Carolina Panthers (6-4) LW-#8:  The Panthers are quickly reverting to expectations.  They’ve lost back to back games, and their puzzling loss to the Lions on Sunday has fans second guessing head coach Ron Rivera, something that had become a bit taboo in Charlotte.  Rivera decided to go for two in the fourth quarter, instead of opting for a tying point after kick try.  Cam Newton misfired on what should have been an easy pass and conversion, and now the Panthers get nemesis Seattle in what is legitimately a must-win game for both teams considering playoff tiebreakers on the line.   Last week:  L 20-19 @ DET, This week: vs. SEA

11.  Indianapolis Colts (5-5) LW-UR:  Andrew Luck is playing some incredible football.   He has 13 touchdowns to just one interception in his last four games, and has now thrown for at least three touchdown passes in seven straight games.   He’s helped vault the Colts from 1-5 to playoff contention, and should be in any MVP conversation.   The Colts now have a chance to separate themselves from another playoff contender this week against Miami.  Last week:  W 38-10 vs. TEN, This week: vs. MIA

12.  Dallas Cowboys (5-5) LW-UR:  The NFC East race just got a lot more complicated with Alex Smith’s horrific leg injury in Washington.  The Cowboys are now Vegas-favorites to win the division, even though they trail Washington by a game in the standings.  Unexpected road wins in Philadelphia and Atlanta the past two weeks have resurrected the left-for-dead Cowboys.   Last week: W 22-19 @ ATL, This week: vs. WAS (THX)

Dropping out: 

  • Washington – LW #11
  • Tennessee – LW #12

Previous Week's Rankings

Listen to Seth Dunlap on "The Last Lap" weeknights from 8-11 p.m. CDT on WWL Radio

Comments ()