NFL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 12

BY ADAM GREENE

Look who’s back atop the rankings. The team no one seems to believe in, especially me, continues to pile up victories over legitimate opponents. I am prepared to not believe in them all the way to the Super Bowl if that’s what it takes.

I owe you that, Cardinals fans. As these rankings are completely arbitrary, I do try to be fair. As such, Arizona regains the No. 1 ranking, the Detroit Lions continue to sink to the bottom and rest shuffle accordingly.

1. ARIZONA CARDINALS (9-2)

After a week away from No. 1, the Cardinals return to the top of the rankings where they’ve spent most of the season. And they once again did it with their B team starters, all but ending the Seattle Seahawks season and maybe Pete Carroll’s career as an NFL head coach. Last week: No. 5

2. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-3)

I’ve made peace with the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots will play in Super Bowl LVI. Get used to the idea. Sure, the Bucs don’t look like world beaters and neither do the Pats, but Tampa didn’t look great last year at this time either and we know how that turned out. Yes, it’ll be a nightmare, but we can get through this together. We need to gird ourselves for the real possibility that we’ll all witness a Super Bowl where Tom Brady or Bill Belichick is guaranteed to get another ring. Last week: No. 6

3. LOS ANGELES RAMS (7-3)

Los Angeles got the bye it needed in order to make sense of two embarrassing prime time losses in a row. They also should be able to integrate Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. into their schemes now with the extra prep time. We’ll see how much it matters when they face off against the Green Bay Packers on the road Sunday. Last week: No. 7

4. BALTIMORE RAVENS (7-3)

Baltimore is either a team of destiny or the luckiest bunch of schlubs to ever play the game at this point. The Ravens are a play away per game from being 2-8, but are a Titans loss away from holding the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Last week: No. 8

5. TENNESSEE TITANS (8-3)

So apparently the Titans can beat the good teams, but soil the bedsheets when facing a team that goes a month between victories. Good to know. Last week: No. 1

6 GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-3)

Aaron Rodgers’ toe injury might not have been a football related after all. Turns out, it’s Covid toe, or it isn’t. After calling it Covid toe Tuesday, Wednesday Rodgers held his foot up to a Zoom camera and claimed it was just a fracture, forcing Rex Ryan to learn how to do a screen capture in real time. As Rodgers can always be trusted when it comes to COVID-19 information, who knows? Covid toe is a very real thing that Rodgers might have suffered in spite of taking every rhinoceros erectile dysfunction suppository he could find. Maybe he needs to call Joe Rogan and get more advice, maybe on how to fit his whole foot in his mouth. Regardless, if it is a fracture, he would have suffered it somehow while riding his couch on an Invermectin high. Either way, Rodgers’ COVID-19 carelessness might have cost his team a game again last week with the Rams coming to town Sunday in a battle for the NFC’s No. 2 seed. Last week: No. 2

7. DALLAS COWBOYS (7-3)

I feel like Kellen Moore got a little too much love from the public and media so Mike McCarthy has decided to interject himself more into play calling and game planning and the results have been exactly what we’re seeing now. I, of course, have no proof of this conspiracy theory other than the Cowboys’ recent performances on the field, but that’s enough for me. Last week: No. 3

8. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (7-4)

A month after being left for dead, the Chiefs are leading the AFC West, have a home playoff game in their pocket and their title defense looks back on. Last week: No. 9

9. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-4)

We got a one year break from the Patriots being good. And thanks to Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we didn’t even get to enjoy it. Last week: No. 10

10. BUFFALO BILLS (6-4)

If you think you have no clue which Buffalo team will show up week to week, you’re dead on. According to Football Outsiders, Buffalo’s week to week DVOA has a variance of 46.6 percent. The all time record for a full season was set by the 2005 San Francisco 49ers at 38.2 percent. Last week: No. 4

11. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (6-4)

I’m not sure what LA’s last minute win over the Pittsburgh Steelers proves about how good they are. Of course, you could pretty much say that about every team in the AFC. Last week: No. 12

12. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-5)

The Colts are surging at the right time, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could present a brick wall come Sunday. But a win there, not only puts them on the path for the playoffs, but shows how dangerous Indy can be when they’re in there. Last week: No. 13

13. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (5-4-1)

That 27 point fourth quarter against a Brandon Staley defense shows that the Steelers can still show up when it matters most. Unfortunately for them, the first three quarters of the game are pretty important too. Last week: No. 11

14. CLEVELAND BROWNS (6-5)

I don’t know if Baker Mayfield is costing himself money by playing through his injury and looking awful or costing himself money by just playing like Baker Mayfield. Either way, Cleveland needs to keep the calculator out every game and the checkbook hidden. Last week: No. 14

15. CINCINNATI BENGALS (6-4)

The Bengals bounced back after two dumb losses before their bye and now currently hold a spot in the AFC playoff seeding. They can slide right back out of it with a loss to Pittsburgh Sunday. Last week: No. 17

16. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (5-5)

Two straight wins, one very impressive over the Rams, have put the 49ers back in the playoff hunt and, with the current state of the NFL, just getting into the postseason could be enough. Everyone in there will have a shot. Last week: No. 18

17. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-5)

Mike Zimmer was my preseason pick as a potential first head coach fired. Now he might not even be the third. Much to his chagrin, if the Vikings can sneak into the playoffs, he may end up keeping this job. I can’t imagine a worse fate for the guy. Last week: No. 19

18. CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-6)

We all got a little too high on Cam Newton after a week back with the Panthers, but to nearly pull off two straight victories shows exactly what he can mean to this team. They’re still my No. 7 seed pick right now with Newton as the starter. Last week: No. 15

19. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-5)

Taysom Hill got a new contract with the Saints that pays him $40 million or $95 million if he ends up the starting quarterback. Meanwhile, the team has brought in two guys who have beaten him out as the starting quarterback. The only thing that can explain Sean Payton’s continued devotion to Hill is that the dude is secretly his son. Last week: No. 16

20. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (5-6)

It didn’t matter that I couldn’t figure out this Eagles team. They had themselves figured out enough for all of us and now they’re right back in the hunt. Here’s a fun fact: Jalen Hurts’ numbers through his first 15 starts are almost identical to Lamar Jackson’s. Last week: No. 22

21. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (4-6)

A monster win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was followed by a huge win over the Carolina Panthers. I’m not ready to plug the WFT into the playoff machine just yet, but Ron Rivera has this team playing significantly over its head. Last Week: No. 23

22. DENVER BRONCOS (5-5)

With the week off, the Broncos got to figure out what they want to accomplish. Do they want to battle for a sixth or seventh seed in the playoffs and immediately lose or sim to the rest of the season, fire Vic Fangio, and start all over with their new draft capital? Last week: No. 20

23. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (5-5)

The Raiders have been a tough team to write about for me over the last few weeks. I want to keep it fun here. It’s supposed to be fun. What’s happened to Las Vegas is not fun at all anymore. If it’s that bad for me, how much worse must it be for them? Last week: No. 21

24. MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-7)

Don’t look now because the Dolphins have won three straight games. Seriously, don’t look, because they’re probably losing this Sunday to the Panthers. Last week: No. 26

25. ATLANTA FALCONS (4-6)

After four years of being on the cutting edge of losing NFL game technology, the Falcons have settled on not scoring touchdowns as their go-to course of action. It’s hard to argue with the results. Last week: No. 25

26. CHICAGO BEARS (3-7)

Word on the street, if that street is the internet and particularly Twitter, is that head coach Matt Nagy will be fired after Thursday’s game with the Detroit Lions regardless of the outcome. That should be good news for Chicago fans and Nagy, who can really get the jump on his Black Friday shopping. Last week: No. 27

27. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (3-7)

When you’re sitting here as a team that’s perennially made the playoffs over the last decade with the same record as the New York Giants and Chicago Bears, you know something has really gone off the track. There will be no postseason this year for Seattle. Their head coach is 70 and it might be time to go ahead and push his canoe out into the river and fire flaming arrows into it. And remember that Russell Wilson trade idea in the offseason? It doesn’t sound like such a bad deal now, does it? Last week: No. 24

28. NEW YORK GIANTS (3-7)

It would have really helped Joe Judge’s case if his team could have put up a real fight against the Buccaneers Monday night. It wouldn’t have saved his job, but it might have helped him land on another team as a special teams quality control guy or dude who mops up the locker room postgame. Last week: No. 28

29. HOUSTON TEXANS (2-8)

Not only have you knocked yourself out of the top pick in the 2021 NFL draft already, Texans, but that win Sunday puts you at No. 4. You keep this up and all these horrible team management and personnel decisions will amount to nothing. Last week: No. 31

30. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-8)

No one on the planet has benefited from the chaotic NFL news cycle this season more than Jags head coach Urban Meyer. Six weeks ago he was good as fired. Now everyone has forgotten he exists and just sucks. Last week: No. 29

31. NEW YORK JETS (2-8)

I have horrible news for Jets fans who hope this team maximizes its draft capital and doesn’t screw up their positioning like they did last season — they play the Houston Texans this week. Last week: No. 30

32. DETROIT LIONS (0-9-1)

The Lions’ tradition of trying to ruin everyone’s Thanksgiving before your racist uncle even gets to share his thoughts on the Jan. 6 US Capitol insurrection or the COVID-19 vaccine mandates is in full effect. Jared Goff, according to reports, is likely going to start Thursday when they host a Bears team led by Andy Dalton. Goff and Dalton have a lot in common if you think about it. Mainly the fact that you wouldn’t want either of them starting for your NFL team. We still have 0-16-1 on the table, Jared. Don’t blow it. Last week: No. 32

Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.

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