The NFL regular season is in the books with only one game left for each team. The Detroit Lions are off to their best start since 1994, while hoping that they can make it through this week without any serious casualties. With no games remaining on Sunday, here’s a look at what happened across the league last week and who would come out on top with another do-or run-in.
The “NFL Power Rankings Week 12” are the rankings of all 32 NFL teams. The rankings are based on a number of factors including last week’s performance, strength of schedule, and recent results.
We prefer to look forward to future events when ranking teams in order, as regular readers of the NFL Power Rankings know. This week is no exception, as we’re utilizing this space to have our NFL Nation writers select the most crucial game left on the schedule of the club they cover. (Well, some chose two, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.)
Many of our writers did a Bill Belichick and focused all of their attention on the upcoming game during this exercise. Some, though, went beyond the “on to Cincinnati” motto, anticipating matchups that may determine division championships (Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers or Buffalo Bills-New England Patriots, anyone?). and home-field advantage (you know you’re looking forward to the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets game on Boxing Day) or even matchups that may bring pride or settle draft positions (you know you’re looking forward to the Arizona Cardinals-Dallas Cowboys game in January). However, if you want to know which games to watch from now on, keep reading.
The following is how we rate our Power Rankings: Our power panel, which includes over 80 writers, editors, and TV personalities, assesses how teams perform during the season.
10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 Preseason
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND JAX | KC | LV | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN NE | NO | PHI | PIT | SF SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
3rd place before.
The most critical game left is Nov. 28 against the Rams.
The Packers have a legitimate shot at the NFC’s top seed. They’ve already defeated one of the other two-loss teams, the Cardinals, and the Rams are right there with them. Division games are essential, and the Packers still have four remaining, including two against the Vikings, but this one might determine who gets the bye in the playoffs. Demovsky, Rob
Previous position: 2
The most crucial game left is against the Patriots on November 28.
To begin with, this will be Mike Vrabel’s return to the stadium where he established his name as a three-time Super Bowl winner — and his second meeting with his former coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots are 2-4 at home, and everyone is betting that Mac Jones will lead them to the playoffs. Jones’ 69 percent completion percentage demonstrates his effectiveness as a quarterback. That should put the Titans’ secondary to the test. Turron Davenport (Turron Davenport)
1st place previously
The most crucial game left is against the Rams on December 13th.
This game will, for all intents and purposes, determine the NFC West. The division has devolved into a two-team competition between Arizona and the Rams, so a victory by the Cardinals on Monday night would go a long way toward securing their first division championship since 2015 — and at the very least one home playoff game. Three weeks later, the Cardinals will travel to Dallas for a game that might decide the NFC East. Josh Weinfuss (@JoshWeinfuss)
Previous position: 7
The most critical game left is against the Cardinals on January 2nd.
With a nearly four-game lead in the NFC East, it’s impossible to tell which of the next four division games is the most important. The game against the Saints on Dec. 2 at New Orleans is important for conference reasons, but the Cardinals meeting is much more important since home field advantage in the NFC might be on the line. After being thrashed 38-10 at AT&T Stadium a year ago, the Cowboys may feel they owe Arizona something. The Cowboys still have some business to take care of in order for that game to be as huge as it can be, but if they want to be true contenders, they’ll be in a position to grab the conference’s top slot. Todd Archer is a writer.
Previous position: 4
The most crucial game left is against the Cardinals on December 13th.
The Cardinals are in first position in the NFC West after a 37-20 victory against the Rams in Week 4. When these teams play again in December, this time on Monday Night Football, the division title might be decided. Until their early-October defeat to Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray, the Rams had won eight consecutive against the Cardinals under coach Sean McVay. Regardless of who wins the division, both teams are very certain to make the playoffs. Lindsey Thiry (Lindsey Thiry)
Previous position: 8
The most significant remaining games are against the Patriots on December 6 and against the Patriots on December 26.
The Bills still have important games against the Buccaneers and Saints on the docket, but the Patriots are the team to beat. Buffalo is in first place in the AFC East and has a chance to win the division for the second year in a row. The Patriots, on the other hand, are a half-game behind, and the division race might come down to their two December matchups, the first of which takes place on Monday Night Football. Will Mac Jones be able to hold his own against the league’s best scoring defense? These games will have a multitude of ramifications, given how the Patriots controlled the AFC East for so long. Alaina Getzenberg is a writer who lives in New York City.
Previous position: 5
The most crucial remaining game is against the Giants on Monday.
“The next one,” Tom Brady said. This week, to be exact. The New York Giants, to be precise. The Buccaneers have now lost two straight games for just the second time in Brady’s career, falling to 6-3. Worse, they seemed to be a shadow of their former selves in Washington. Coach Bruce Arians stated the team was “absolutely” lacking in emotion and that they needed to conduct some “soul searching” this week while still in contention in the NFC. Jenna Laine is a writer who lives in New York City.
Previous position: 13
The Chargers host the Chargers on December 16th, which is the most significant game left on the schedule.
The Chargers defeated the Chiefs in Week 3 at Arrowhead Stadium, thus this game is crucial in deciding the AFC West title. By defeating the Raiders on Sunday night, the Chiefs took exclusive ownership of first place, but they are still just a half-game ahead of both the Chargers and the Raiders. The Chiefs still have a lot of work to do to win their sixth division championship in a row, but this Thursday night game is crucial. Adam Teicher’s remark
Previous position: 6
The most crucial game left is against the Browns on December 12th.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Browns are still the Ravens’ strongest danger in the division, with a 19.6% probability of winning the AFC North. After the Ravens’ game against Pittsburgh in Week 14, the Browns had a bye week. If the Ravens can overcome these odds and win in Cleveland, they will have clinched their third AFC North championship in four years. Jamison Hensley (Jamison Hensley)
Previous position: 12
The most significant remaining games are against the Bills on December 6 and against the Bills on December 26.
The Patriots are on a roll, and if things keep going this way, their two December games against the AFC East-leading Bills will be crucial in winning the division title. The game is on a Monday night in Orchard Park, New York, on Dec. 6, and the clubs will face again three weeks later in Foxborough, Massachusetts. — Reiss, Mike
Previous position: 11
The most critical game left is against the Panthers on January 2nd.
The true test will come this week at Philadelphia, where the Saints will aim to avoid a three-game losing skid for the first time since 2016. Every game is crucial for a squad that is clinging to a postseason place by the skin of its teeth. But I’ll mark down the Saints’ home game versus Carolina in Week 16 on my calendar, since the Panthers are now the Saints’ closest wild-card rivals and have already defeated them in Week 2. Both teams, including Cam Newton, have a chance to be at their best by the conclusion of the season given that they’re getting healthier and acquiring crucial players. This game might be crucial for two clubs looking to reach their peak in January. Triplett, Mike
This week’s essentials include: • Check out the full schedule » | Check out the standings » • Every team’s depth chart » • Injuries » | Transactions » • Rankings of the Football Power Index » Additional NFL coverage »
Previous position: 9
The most critical game left is against the Steelers on Sunday.
It’s all about the next game, which is crucial since the Chargers have lost three of their last four games after starting 4-1, with the most recent loss coming at home against the Vikings. The offense struggled against Minnesota, accumulating just 253 yards and losing the time of possession battle by almost 12 minutes. The Chargers, who have also dropped games to the Patriots and Ravens in the last month, are in desperate need of a win against an AFC contender to get back on track for the playoffs. Beating the Steelers in front of a national audience, who are a half-game ahead of them in the wild-card rankings, might put the Chargers up for a second-half push. — Shelley Smith is a writer.
Previous position: 16
The Chargers play on December 5th, which is the most significant game left on the schedule.
Cincinnati is an underdog in six of its remaining eight games, according to ESPN’s FPI. To enter the playoffs for the first time since 2015, Cincinnati will have to steal a couple of games. The game versus the Chargers in Week 13 is practically a pick’em: Los Angeles is favored by 0.4 points, according to FPI. Cincinnati would want to win all four of its remaining games: at Denver, at Baltimore, at Kansas City, and at Cleveland. – Ben Little
Previous position: 10
The most crucial game left is against the Ravens on November 28.
The Browns are still in the middle of the AFC North competition, despite their ups and downs. The Browns can grab control of the North by defeating the Ravens in Baltimore on Thanksgiving weekend, followed by a bye week and a rematch with the Ravens in Cleveland on Dec. 12. Since 1989, Cleveland hasn’t won a division championship. With one, if not two, victory against Baltimore, the Browns might take a big stride toward that goal. Jake Trotter’s remark
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14th place before.
The most significant remaining games are against the Ravens on December 5 and against the Ravens on January 9.
The AFC North is wide open, and the Steelers sit second in the division, behind just the Ravens, despite matching the dismal Lions. Although every remaining division game is crucial, the Steelers still have to face the Ravens twice, including a game in Baltimore in Week 18. The division champion and some more playoff positions in the paper boat race are expected to be determined in the last weekend of the season. Brooke Pryor is an actress who plays Brooke Pryor.
Previous position: 19
The most crucial game left is against the Patriots on December 19th.
Seven AFC clubs are now in contention for one of the AFC’s last two playoff positions, with records of 6-4, 5-4, and 5-5. If the Patriots started today, they’d be in the playoffs, while the Colts would be on the outside looking in. By defeating the Colts in Indianapolis, New England might put their postseason aspirations on life support. That is, if the Colts are still in playoff contention when the two teams meet in Week 15. Since the 2009 season, the Colts have not defeated Bill Belichick and the Patriots (nine straight losses). Mike Wells’ remark
Previous position: 24
The most crucial remaining game is against Washington on Sunday.
In the last month of the season, I easily could have chosen one or both of Carolina’s two games versus NFC South foe Tampa Bay, since the Panthers will almost certainly need to win one to reach the playoffs. I chose Washington because the Panthers have lost three straight at home and need to win at Bank of America Stadium in order for the Buccaneers games to be important. Because it’s the return of former Carolina coach Ron Rivera and Cam Newton’s return to the starting lineup, it’ll be an emotional game. A flop here would be a tremendous setback after a strong triumph in Arizona on Sunday. David Newton is an author.
Previous position: 17
The most critical game left is against the Bengals on Sunday.
Yes, against the Bengals on Sunday at home. No, there isn’t some old-school dispute between Ickey Woods and Ken Anderson to resolve. It’s just that the Raiders’ season is once again on the verge of unraveling, and until Las Vegas wins a game, it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Or did you miss a 6-4 start in 2019 that ended in a 7-9 finish, or a 6-3 start last year that ended in an 8-8 finish? These Raiders began 5-2, but after humiliating losses to the Giants and the Chiefs at home, they don’t seem like the team they once were. Gutierrez, Paul
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Previous position: 20
The most crucial remaining game is against the Packers on Sunday.
The Vikings are now at No. 8 in the NFC playoff standings, just a half-game behind Carolina, whom they defeated in Week 6. With a 4-5 record, the Vikings must win consecutive games to be in contention for one of the last two wild-card positions. Also, remember what Aaron Rodgers said to Chicago Bears fans? “I own you,” you say. He has an even stronger case against Minnesota, having thrown 50 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in his career, according to Elias Sports Bureau, the greatest ratio of any quarterback against a single opponent. The Vikings are a long way behind the Packers in the NFC North standings, but games like these are always more important. Courtney Cronin (Courtney Cronin)
15th place before.
The Chargers play on November 28th, which is the most significant game left on the schedule.
This will be the Broncos’ first game back from the bye, as well as their first since Sunday’s 30-13 defeat to the Eagles. And it’s at home, where the Broncos are only 2-3 this season, with three of their toughest defeats coming in front of their home crowds — against Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia. Instead of postgame anger, the Broncos need to come out of the bye with some on-field enthusiasm. If they want to stay in the thick of the AFC West competition, they need to win this game to get their stretch run off to a good start. Legwold, Jeff
22nd in the previous ranking
The most crucial game left is on Sunday against the Jaguars.
Please forgive the cliché, but the fact for the 49ers is that the next game is, and will continue to be, the most important on the schedule. If you’re hoping for a playoff run, they’ll have to defeat teams like the Jaguars. If you’re a pessimist who believes the season is already lost, this is the sort of game where youngster Trey Lance may eventually take over as the starter. In any case, the Niners aren’t in a position to look beyond their next opponent. Nick Wagoner is a writer.
Previous position: 23
The most crucial remaining game is against the Saints on Sunday.
Securing a wild-card slot is the only realistic way to make the playoffs. The Eagles are currently one game out of the last playoff spot. One of the clubs they’re up against is the New Orleans Saints. If the clubs finish with the same record, a victory Sunday may give them a crucial tiebreaker lead over New Orleans. After defeating the Panthers and Falcons earlier this season, Philly already has the tiebreaker over them. If they can win their first home game of the season against the Saints, they’ll be in good shape for a late playoff push. Tim McManus, Ph.D.
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Previous position: 21
Sunday’s game against the Cardinals is the most significant remaining contest.
To catch the Cardinals or Rams in the NFC West standings, Seattle will need a miracle. However, with both Kyler Murray and backup Colt McCoy out, Sunday’s game seems to be a chance for the Seahawks to capture one of the shock victories they’ll need to finish 9-8 and qualify for the conference’s seventh playoff position. In the final five games, there’s a high possibility they’ll be favored (versus Washington, Houston, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco). If they win all five, which is a huge if for a 3-6 club, they’ll need to upset a favorite opponent to reach nine victories. The Seahawks’ greatest opportunity to do so on Sunday may be due to Arizona’s quarterback woes. Brady Henderson’s quote
Previous position: 18
The most crucial remaining game is against the Patriots on Thursday.
The Falcons must find something good after a 43-3 thrashing by Dallas, their worst defeat since 2004. When you consider that the Falcons haven’t won at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season and that they’re playing the Patriots in Atlanta for the first time since the Falcons lost to New England in Super Bowl LI (while trailing 28-3), there’s a slew of storylines that can be put to rest with a win on Thursday. Plus, with the club sitting at 4-5 in the NFC Central, a win might help the team’s playoff chances. Michael Rothstein is a writer and producer.
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Previous position: 27
The most crucial game left is on Sunday against the Panthers.
It’s not just against coach Ron Rivera’s previous club, but it’s also the next game, and when you’re 3-6, the next game is always the most crucial. But it’s even more so in this circumstance since Washington is coming off its most comprehensive victory against a solid team in a couple years (Tampa Bay). If it wants to reclaim any type of wild-card position or gain momentum from that win, it has to follow it up with another solid performance — and a win. ‘John Keim’
Previous position: 25
Sunday’s game against the Ravens is the most significant remaining game.
For the Bears, this Sunday’s game is a last-ditch effort. If the Bears lose against Baltimore, any late-season, magical playoff run is over. Everything for Chicago is on the line, including the future of coach Matt Nagy, who can’t afford any more defeats on his resume if he wants to maintain his job. The Bears’ whole organization is up against a brick wall. Many things will be decided in this weekend’s game against the Ravens. Dickerson, Jeff
Previous position: 26
The most crucial game left is against the Buccaneers on Monday.
The Giants, who are presently 1.5 games out of the No. 7 seed, will need to pull off a big upset if they want to even pretend to be in the postseason picture. Yes, it’s improbable. According to Caesars Sportsbook, they are 11.5-point underdogs on the road against the reigning champions. Perhaps becoming healthy during the bye week will help? Jordan Raanan is a writer.
30th in the previous ranking
The most crucial game left is on Sunday against the Jets.
I’m sure the interviewing coaches are rubbing off on me: Because it is the next game on the schedule, this week’s game is the most crucial. Currently, I’m four games behind. The Dolphins’ margin for error is razor-thin after a two-game winning run, as they can’t afford to lose another game over the next few weeks. Miami is a long shot to reach the playoffs, but the Dolphins have the third-easiest remaining schedule in the NFL (according to ESPN’s FPI), with games against the Jets, Panthers, Giants, and Jets again on the horizon. However, a loss to the Jets in Week 11 would put an end to such chances. — Louis-Jacques Marcel
Previous position: 29
The most critical game left is against the Jaguars on December 26.
It’s all about trying to salvage face at 2-7. Because these were the two weakest teams in terms of record last season, and because of the rookie quarterback clash of Zach Wilson vs. Trevor Lawrence, this is a crucial game. Which group has made the greatest progress? Which QB is making the most progress? This is a pride game, not a standings game. Cimini, Rich
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Previous position: 28
The most critical game left is against the Texans on December 19th.
In a season-opening defeat to Houston, a squad that was widely considered as the weakest in the NFL entering into the season, the Jaguars looked terrible. They were unable to line up properly, had an excessive number of guys on the pitch, and played sloppily. That is still the Texans’ only win. The Jaguars must defeat Houston in order to demonstrate that they have made considerable development since September, particularly under Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Mike DiRocco’s remark
Previous position: 31
The most critical game left is Nov. 28 against the Jets.
The Jets and Jaguars are two of the Texans’ final eight opponents, each with two victories. The greatest opportunity for a win could come against the Jets in Week 12 at home. It’s the game that will have the largest influence on draft position. Houston’s only win this season came against the Jaguars in Week 1. The Texans (1-8) are a half-game behind the Lions (0-8-1) for the top selection. Sarah Barshop is a writer.
32nd in the previous ranking
The most crucial game left is against the Bears on November 25.
The Lions are still looking for their first win in coach Dan Campbell’s debut season, and they’re fighting for pride. Although the playoffs are no longer an option, the Thanksgiving Day game has been a fixture in the franchise’s history since 1934. If they lose every other game, the one game they want to win is this annual Christmas classic, which is watched by NFL fans all around the globe while eating turkey and dressing. Ironically, the Christmas battle began more than eight decades ago versus the Bears, so it’s always a huge event. This year is no exception. Eric Woodyard’s remark
The “nfl picks week 11” is a list of the NFL Power Rankings for Week 11.
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