<
>

NFL Week 12 Power Rankings: Why all 32 teams are thankful

play
Clark is high on the Bears in Week 12 power rankings (0:27)

Ryan Clark ranks the NFL's best teams and breaks down why the Bears are a real threat following their impressive 25-20 win over the Vikings. (0:27)

It's that time of the year again to count your blessings, and NFL teams should be doing it, too.

In the Week 12 edition of the Power Rankings, our NFL Nation reporters adopted a Turkey Day theme and found a reason each team should be giving thanks.

How we rank: Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluated how teams stack up through the first 11 weeks of the season.

Previous rankings: 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

1. New Orleans Saints (9-1)

Week 11 ranking: 1

Thankful for: Drew Brees and Sean Payton are better than ever in Year 13 together. Brees has been doing some amazing things for a long time, but nothing compares to the insane season he is having at age 39 (25 TD passes, one interception and a 76.9 completion percentage). Meanwhile, Payton is still coming up with creative new wrinkles on a weekly basis for an offense that is averaging 48 points per game over the past three weeks. -- Mike Triplett

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1)

Week 11 ranking: 3

Thankful for: Owner Stan Kroenke. Not only did Kroenke commit to building the team's new stadium in Inglewood, set to open in 2020, but he committed to big paydays for several players, including defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, with a six-year, $135 million extension, and defending NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley, with a four-year extension worth up to $60 million. Kroenke's willingness to cut checks ensures that the Rams will have the opportunity to be a dominant team for seasons to come. -- Lindsey Thiry

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

Week 11 ranking: 2

Thankful for: A homegrown quarterback. For most of their first 58 seasons, the Chiefs went almost exclusively with another team's discard at the game's most important position. They finally committed to making it work with one of their own and they were rewarded with Patrick Mahomes. Even though he's in his first season as the starter, Mahomes looks like he's going to be one of the best for many years to come. -- Adam Teicher

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)

Week 11 ranking: 5

Thankful for: Le'Veon Bell. So what if the Steelers got sick of answering Bell questions. His absence has galvanized the team on the way to a 7-2-1 record. Heck, they shouldn't have cleaned out his locker. They should have left his stuff there as a reminder that this wild season is working. The Steelers might miss Bell late in the year, but clearly they wanted to show they can win without him. -- Jeremy Fowler

5. New England Patriots (7-3)

Week 11 ranking: 6

Thankful for: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for a 19th straight season. Around this time in 2017, some questioned how much longer the duo would be together because of tension, with speculation swirling that perhaps 2018 wasn't even a guarantee. But that would be like breaking up turkey and stuffing -- it just wouldn't seem right. -- Mike Reiss

6. Chicago Bears (7-3)

Week 11 ranking: 7

Thankful for: Hiring head coach Matt Nagy. Bears fans grew completely detached from the team when John Fox was in charge. Nagy is the complete opposite of Fox. He's young, energetic, engaging and offensive-minded, exactly what the Bears needed to escape the doldrums of the NFC North. The Bears won 14 total games from 2015 to 2017. Nagy already has the Bears at seven wins with six games left to go in his first season at the helm. -- Jeff Dickerson

7. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)

Week 11 ranking: 4

Thankful for: Anthony Lynn. The no-nonsense head coach for the Chargers started his tenure 0-4 in 2017, but since then the Chargers are 16-6. This season, Lynn has the Chargers at 7-3 and on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Lynn has dealt with the relocation of his franchise to Los Angeles, playing in a temporary home where opposing fans take over the stadium, and the organization cycling through six kickers. Through it all, Lynn has been a steadying influence, holding players accountable for their performance on the field. -- Eric Williams

8. Houston Texans (7-3)

Week 11 ranking: 10

Thankful for: Colts coach Frank Reich going for it on fourth down in overtime in Week 4. Instead of what would have likely been a tie game had Indianapolis just punted, the Texans' defense made a big stop to get the ball back in Colts territory and the Texans won on a field goal as time expired. That win was the first of seven in a row, and had the teams tied, Houston would have only a one-game lead over Indy in the AFC South with one matchup left this season. -- Sarah Barshop

play
0:37

Clark on Cousins: 'He just was not good enough'

Ryan Clark explains that the Vikings' defense needs to get more turnovers and Kirk Cousins must perform at franchise-quarterback level to make a run in the playoffs.

9. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)

Week 11 ranking: 8

Thankful for: The receiving duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Minnesota's offense runs through Thielen and Diggs, who act as interchangeable chess pieces in John DeFilippo's system and allow Kirk Cousins to orchestrate a consistent passing attack. Thielen became the first Vikings player with consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons since Randy Moss, and by the end of the 2018 season the Vikings could boast two 1,000-yard receivers (Diggs has 713). It would be the first time the franchise has achieved such a feat since Moss and Cris Carter each surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in 2000. -- Courtney Cronin

10. Carolina Panthers (6-4)

Week 11 ranking: 9

Thankful for: Home games. The Panthers have been dreadful on the road, going 1-4, with their only win a miraculous comeback from a 17-0 fourth-quarter deficit against the Philadelphia Eagles. They are 5-0 at home, a big reason they are in playoff contention. They have won 10 straight at home. With three of their final six games at Bank of America Stadium, if they can remain perfect at home and steal a win or two on the road, they should be playoff-bound. -- David Newton

11. Seattle Seahawks (5-5)

Week 11 ranking: 15

Thankful for: New offensive line coach Mike Solari. The shoddy offensive line play that eventually got Tom Cable fired is no longer an issue for the Seahawks. That group is better across the board under Solari even if the sack numbers don't show it. The Seahawks are averaging a league-best 154 rushing yards per game, and in a testament to the job Solari has done instilling a new blocking scheme, Seattle rushed for 273 in a recent loss to the Rams despite missing top tailback Chris Carson and starting right guard D.J. Fluker. -- Brady Henderson

12. Green Bay Packers (4-5-1)

Week 11 ranking: 11

Thankful for: Their brutal road stretch almost being over. They came out of their bye week with four out of five on the road. They have only one left -- at Minnesota on Sunday night. They haven't won on the road this season, losing all five. The past three have been particularly gut-wrenching: at the Rams, where Aaron Rodgers never got the chance for a game-winning drive because of a fumbled kickoff; at the Patriots, where they were tied 17-17 and going down to score when Aaron Jones fumbled; and at Seattle last Thursday night. -- Rob Demovsky

13. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

Week 11 ranking: 16

Thankful for: Controlling their playoff fate. Before Sunday, the Ravens had not won a game in 31 days, dropping three straight and watching their season spiral out of control. After beating Cincinnati, Baltimore owns the No. 6 and final playoff spot in the AFC. The stakes are high for the Ravens. If Baltimore doesn't end a three-year postseason drought, this could be the final season for coach John Harbaugh. -- Jamison Hensley

play
0:59

Schefter: Sanchez acquistion 'made a lot of sense' for Skins

Adam Schefter breaks down the Redskins' acquisition of Mark Sanchez as their backup quarterback.

14. Washington Redskins (6-4)

Week 11 ranking: 12

Thankful for: No one else signing Adrian Peterson before Aug. 20. That enabled the Redskins to grab him once injuries piled up at running back, starting with expected starter Derrius Guice. Many wondered what Peterson had left; now you have to wonder where the Redskins would be without him. Peterson has rushed for 723 yards and six touchdowns. He has given the Redskins enough offense for them to have a one-game lead in the NFC East after 10 games. He has helped not just on the field, but with his attitude and demeanor in meeting rooms and in the locker room. -- John Keim

15. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

Week 11 ranking: 20

Thankful for: Josh McDaniels' change of heart. He verbally agreed to be the team's head coach before leaving owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard at the altar when it was time to sign his contract. McDaniels' decision to remain in New England is the best thing to happen to the Colts outside of Andrew Luck's return and their solid offensive line play -- it allowed Indianapolis to get a coach, Frank Reich, who has formed the perfect pairing with Luck. The Colts may not make the playoffs this season, but this franchise is finally headed in the right direction again, and Reich has played a significant factor in that. -- Mike Wells

16. Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

Week 11 ranking: 19

Thankful for: The presence of Amari Cooper. He has been a Cowboy for only three games, but he has changed how the offense operates. He gives Dak Prescott a receiver who can win on the outside with his route running, creating separation for easier throws. He gives Ezekiel Elliott more room to run, as evidenced by his back-to-back 100-yard games. As defenses begin to adjust to him the more he plays, it will be incumbent on the coaches to find creative ways to get him the ball. Next April, the Cowboys might be wishing they had that first-round pick they gave up to the Oakland Raiders to get him, but right now Cooper is helping them make a playoff push. -- Todd Archer

17. Tennessee Titans (5-5)

Week 11 ranking: 14

Thankful for: Having four of their final six games at Nissan Stadium. After beating the Patriots at home, Tennessee has a 10-3 record at Nissan Stadium dating back to last season. In Week 10, the offense took a step back and struggled like it did during the team's three-game skid earlier this season. They are clearly a better team at home but have to find a way to win on the road, starting with their clash with the Texans on Monday Night Football next week. -- Turron Davenport

18. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

Week 11 ranking: 13

Thankful for: A Super Bowl in the bank. There's no such thing as a grace period in Philly -- the city is piping-hot following a 48-7 shellacking in New Orleans that dropped the Eagles to 4-6 -- but fans can break-glass-in-case-of-emergency to coddle their shiny new Lombardi Trophy. Upper management can find perspective there, too, which is good news for a coaching staff that might otherwise be in trouble given the maddening breakdowns in the operation. -- Tim McManus

19. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)

Week 11 ranking: 17

Thankful for: A.J. Green. The Bengals realized how much they missed him when they didn't have him to go to on a crucial fourth-down play against the Ravens last week. But after missing two games, things look on track for Green to potentially make a return this week. If Green can come back against the Browns, things certainly look brighter for the Bengals than they did a week ago. -- Katherine Terrell

20. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

Week 11 ranking: 18

Thankful for: Matt Ryan's health. The 33-year-old onetime MVP hasn't missed a game since the 2009 season -- his second year in the league -- when turf toe sidelined him for two contests. Ryan has averaged 965 offensive snaps per season in his career. -- Vaughn McClure

21. Miami Dolphins (5-5)

Week 11 ranking: 21

Thankful for: A below-average AFC East. The Dolphins are stuck in mediocrity once again, but they are still in the thick of the playoff race thanks to having two division opponents -- the Jets and Bills -- to get fat on. The Dolphins have swept the Jets already, and they can pick up another pair of wins against the Bills in December if they play decent ball down the stretch. Despite mounting injuries and Brock Osweiler at QB, Miami still has a chance to make the playoffs. They should be thankful for playing the AFC East bottom-dwelling Jets and Bills (a combined 6-14 record) twice a year. -- Cameron Wolfe

22. Denver Broncos (4-6)

Week 11 ranking: 23

Thankful for: Their rookie class. The Broncos' class of '18 could serve as a benchmark moving forward, and one of the most productive players in it -- running back Phillip Lindsay -- wasn't even drafted. But Lindsay, Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman and Josey Jewell have all started games this season. After the 2017 draft class had limited impact, the Broncos needed more from this year's incoming rookies, and they have certainly delivered. Lindsay is in the running for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, while Chubb is already on the short list to be considered for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. -- Jeff Legwold

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)

Week 11 ranking: 22

Thankful for: Owner Shad Khan's failed bid to purchase Wembley Stadium. That has -- for the moment, anyway -- dulled the talk of the franchise relocating to London. That means there won't be continual rumors and "sources" speculating that the Jaguars would be headed overseas at any moment throughout the offseason. Now the franchise can concentrate on finding a quarterback and revamping an offense that went out of style in the 1970s. -- Mike DiRocco

24. Detroit Lions (4-6)

Week 11 ranking: 24

Thankful for: Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golladay. Johnson might miss Thursday's Thanksgiving game with a knee injury, but he has been the explosive player Detroit has been looking for in the backfield since Barry Sanders retired. Meanwhile, Golladay is becoming the team's top receiver, with the size/speed/strength combination Detroit last had with Calvin Johnson (although at this point there's no comparing the two). Between Johnson and Golladay, the Lions have two young skill position players who could be the centerpieces of the offense over the next half-decade or more. -- Michael Rothstein

25. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1)

Week 11 ranking: 25

Thankful for: A fervently loyal and devoted fan base. The Browns have not had a winning season since 2007. They've lost at least 10 games in nine of the past 10 seasons. Yet through change and nonsense and a "Perfect Season Parade" (to mark last season's 0-16 record) and the news that a former national security advisor may interview to be the team's coach, the fans keep showing interest and showing up. They're like the clown toy with the weighted base: Every time they're hit, they bounce right back for more. -- Pat McManamon

play
1:43

Cruz: Giants can 'run the table' in the NFC East

Victor Cruz joins First Take to break down why he thinks the Giants can win out and finish atop the NFC East despite their 3-7 record.

26. New York Giants (3-7)

Week 11 ranking: 29

Thankful for: Saquon Barkley. Every time the rookie running back touches the ball, it seems he makes at least one defender miss and has a chance to "take it to the crib," as his buddy Odell Beckham Jr. likes to say. Barkley is must-see TV, and his 361 yards after first contact is fourth in the NFL. -- Jordan Raanan

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7)

Week 11 ranking: 26

Thankful for: Talented pass-catchers. Despite being 3-7 with a revolving door at quarterback and a defense that is approaching historically bad, the Bucs have arguably the best group of receiving targets in the league with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. When the offense doesn't turn it over, they're a pretty tough group to stop. -- Jenna Laine

28. Buffalo Bills (3-7)

Week 11 ranking: 27

Thankful for: A projected $83 million in salary-cap space in 2019. When GM Brandon Beane was hired after the 2017 draft, he told ownership it would take about two seasons to clean up the team's salary-cap situation. That goal -- along with unforeseen events such as Eric Wood's retirement and self-inflicted wounds such as an August trade for Corey Coleman -- has led to Buffalo having a league-high $58 million in dead money against the salary cap this season. The Bills can use their 2019 spending power, second only to the Jets at $89 million, to improve their offensive line and skill positions. -- Mike Rodak

29. New York Jets (3-7)

Week 11 ranking: 28

Thankful for: A young quarterback with promise -- Sam Darnold. For the first time in five years (since the Mark Sanchez era), the Jets won't go into the offseason desperate to find a starter in free agency or the draft. That is a tremendous relief. They believe they have their guy in Darnold. Now the trick is developing him and surrounding him with better pieces. -- Rich Cimini

30. San Francisco 49ers (2-8)

Week 11 ranking: 30

Thankful for: Blossoming young offensive talent. The Niners have had their share of disappointments on defense, with players failing to take the next step forward this year, but they are building a solid foundation on offense. George Kittle looks like a top tight end in the league, Matt Breida is the next hidden Shanahan-coached running back gem, and RT Mike McGlinchey is already one of the game's best run-blocking tackles. Even undrafted QB Nick Mullens is showing signs of developing into a solid backup. The 49ers would like more from receivers such as Dante Pettis, but if nothing else is to be gained from this season, there are some talented youngsters who should be even more prepared to contribute in 2019 when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo steps back onto the field. -- Nick Wagoner

31. Oakland Raiders (2-8)

Week 11 ranking: 32

Thankful for: A second victory in 10 wild, injury-filled, star-crossed games. While the Raiders' 23-21 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday improved Oakland's record to 2-8, it also decreased the team's chances of "winning" the No. 1 overall draft pick, which would go a long way in helping the team's reconstruction project. With a loss against the Cardinals, the Raiders would have had a 73 percent chance of landing the top pick, per ESPN's Football Power Index. By beating Arizona, those chances dropped to 22 percent. Still, victory is the ultimate deodorant, and things were rank in Oakland -- until the Raiders made a Thanksgiving turkey out of the Cardinals. -- Paul Gutierrez

32. Arizona Cardinals (2-8)

Week 11 ranking: 31

Thankful for: David Johnson. There'll be a lot of coal in the Cardinals' stocking this holiday season after a 2-8 start, but their one bright spot -- like star on top of the tree bright -- is their star running back, especially during the past few games under the direction of interim offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Johnson has been much better in the three games since Leftwich took over. On Sunday, he had 137 rushing yards. That came a week after he had 183 yards from scrimmage. Johnson is playing as close to his 2016 All-Pro level as he has all season, and that's thanks largely to Leftwich. -- Josh Weinfuss