The NFL Power Rankings are all about Thanksgiving. Not only are we looking forward to feasting with friends and family, but this holiday gives us a chance to look back at what we cherish the most. NFL teams are no different in this regard.
Each team (yes, even the Bengals) has something to be thankful for this season. From superstar players to hotshot rookies to schedules that are about to get a lot more friendly, our NFL Nation reporters picked one thing that the teams they cover can be appreciative of. So dig in! Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.
Week 12 ranking: 1
What they’re thankful for: Having had QB Tom Brady for 20 seasons.
While this year’s team is defined more by its defense and special teams, Brady is 42, in the final year of his contract and helping keep things afloat on offense despite a short-handed personnel situation. He is the greatest leader in Patriots history. Given his uncertain contract situation, the franchise can be thankful for every day he still leads the huddle. — Mike Reiss
Max Kellerman is adamant that Tom Brady is not an elite quarterback and considers him a game manager.
Week 12 ranking: 2
What they’re thankful for: Lamar Jackson‘s arm, legs and energy.
Jackson has revitalized a locker room, an organization and a city. Before Jackson took over as the starting quarterback near the midway point last season, Baltimore had missed the playoffs in four of the previous five years and was stuck in a rut with a declining and, for no other word, boring offense. With Jackson, the Ravens are 14-3 and field one of the most exciting attacks in the NFL, averaging more than 30 points per game. No single player has changed a franchise more this year than Jackson. — Jamison Hensley
Week 12 ranking: 3
What they’re thankful for: Everything.
The Niners have shocked the football world by jumping out to a 10-1 start. Though the defense has been the focal point, it has taken a complete effort from the players and coaches to make it happen. This is a team that has unwavering confidence in what it can do when all three phases complement one another, which has yielded a group that looks every bit the part of a legitimate Super Bowl contender. — Nick Wagoner
Week 12 ranking: 4
What they’re thankful for: QB Russell Wilson.
Sunday’s game was a reminder of how fortunate the Seahawks are to have Wilson, even though he had a nondescript performance by his standards. The Seahawks improved to 9-2 with a win over the Eagles, who wanted to draft Wilson in 2012 and would have if Seattle had not snagged him at No. 75, 13 picks before Philadelphia chose Nick Foles. The win makes Wilson the first quarterback in the NFL’s 100-year history to post a winning record in each of his first eight seasons. He now has a league-high 24 touchdown passes and three interceptions after throwing one of each on Sunday. — Brady Henderson
Week 12 ranking: 6
What they’re thankful for: WR Michael Thomas.
I could choose something more clever, but instead, I’ll go with the blatantly obvious answer. The Saints probably rely too much on Thomas in a passing game that needs more reliable options — but he delivers every time. He is on pace for an astounding 151 catches and 1,806 yards. Turns out, the record-setting contract he signed this summer worth up to $20 million per year was a bargain. — Mike Triplett
Week 12 ranking: 7
What they’re thankful for: A revamped offense.
Mike Zimmer waxes poetic anytime Gary Kubiak is mentioned. Kirk Cousins has been lights out since Week 5, and the Vikings’ potent rushing attack is a threat no matter who they’re playing. The overhaul of Minnesota’s offense from a year ago has the Vikings with the league’s eighth-best unit, putting up numbers that rival some of the NFL’s top playoff contenders. The offense has carried its weight (and bailed out the defense too) through the majority of the season, which is a welcome departure from years past. — Courtney Cronin
Stephen A. Smith says the Packers were punked on national television and calls them soft after their blowout loss to the 49ers.
Week 12 ranking: 5
What they’re thankful for: No more planned trips to California.
The Packers are 0-2 in California and 8-1 everywhere else — and the losses at the 49ers on Sunday and at the Chargers earlier this month looked a lot alike. “Just a couple bad performances,” Aaron Rodgers said after the 49ers game. “I think both games we were bad on third down. Tonight, we were terrible on third down. We didn’t do a good job of establishing the run in both games.” The problem is that the Pack might have to go back to Northern California to play the 49ers in the playoffs. — Rob Demovsky
Week 12 ranking: 8
What they’re thankful for: QB Patrick Mahomes.
The Chiefs couldn’t get it right at football’s most important position for most of their history, almost always playing a quarterback who was a discard from another team. With Mahomes, they’re the envy of the league, now and for the foreseeable future. This season hasn’t gone the way the Chiefs had hoped thus far, but it still could turn out well. The biggest reason for that hope is having Mahomes as their quarterback. — Adam Teicher
Week 12 ranking: 10
What they’re thankful for: RB Carlos Hyde.
The Texans traded for Hyde on cut-down day for guard Martinas Rankin, who wasn’t expected to make Houston’s roster. The change of scenery has worked out well for Hyde and the Texans, who enter Week 13 ranked seventh in rushing this season. Hyde has played in all 11 games, with 836 yards on 174 carries, and is on pace to shatter his career high in rushing yards. — Sarah Barshop
Week 12 ranking: 12
What they’re thankful for: WR John Brown.
The Bills signed Brown to a three-year contract this offseason to serve an integral role in their passing offense. Not only has he stabilized Buffalo’s offense, he is the AFC’s leading receiver through 11 games. Brown is on pace for 85 catches and 1,245 receiving yards — which would both be career highs in his sixth season. Without him, the Bills’ passing game would take a drastic hit. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Pat McAfee and Rex Ryan agree that it’s time for Jerry Jones to fire Jason Garrett after the Cowboys’ loss to the Patriots.
Week 12 ranking: 9
What they’re thankful for: QB Dak Prescott.
How is the answer anybody but Prescott? He came into the season with pressure to perform for a new contract, and he has exceeded just about everybody’s expectations. Before Sunday’s loss at New England, he was the league leader in passing yards. He still is on pace for a career high in touchdown passes. Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL, and the Cowboys know Prescott is their guy for the next decade. And they will have to pay to keep him. Even so, they will remain extremely thankful for him because they know how hard it is to find a quarterback. — Todd Archer
Week 12 ranking: 11
What they’re thankful for: DT Aaron Donald.
Through the ups and downs this season, Donald continues to earn every dime of his six-year, $135 million extension. Sure, Donald has only eight sacks (not quite on pace for the 20.5 sacks a season ago), but he is drawing double-teams — and even triple-teams — while his teammates continue to benefit from his presence. — Lindsey Thiry
Week 12 ranking: 13
What they’re thankful for: General manager Chris Ballard.
Ballard has helped the Colts weather the storm of Andrew Luck’s retirement in late August. The Colts likely would be in position for a top-five draft pick had Ballard not been adamant about putting together a complete roster, instead of one that relied heavily on Luck’s talent. The Colts have a defense that is in the top half of the NFL statistically, and they have the third-ranked rushing offense in the league — all while being right in the thick of the AFC South race. — Mike Wells
Mark Sanchez doesn’t see either the Colts or the Texans making a deep run in the AFC playoffs.
Week 12 ranking: 17
What they’re thankful for: QB Ryan Tannehill.
The Titans turned their season around after hitting rock bottom in a shutout loss to the Broncos five weeks ago. Tannehill came in and promptly guided the Titans to a 4-1 record, with three game-winning drives along the way. Now Tennessee is in the hunt for the AFC South title or a wild-card spot. Its red zone offense is the best in the NFL, scoring 13 touchdowns in 14 red zone visits. Tennessee is averaging 29.4 points per game in the five games since Tannehill took over, after averaging 16.3 points in the first six games without him. — Turron Davenport
Week 12 ranking: 14
What they’re thankful for: The easiest closing schedule in football.
The injury-riddled Eagles are a wreck on offense, and they don’t look like they have any business being in the playoffs. But their final four opponents (they play the Giants twice) have a combined record of 12-32, offering a pathway to the postseason. Philadelphia might be favored in every game the rest of the way. The Cowboys have failed to pull away, and Dallas plays at Philadelphia on Dec. 22 in a game that could decide the division. — Tim McManus
Week 12 ranking: 16
What they’re thankful for: S Minkah Fitzpatrick.
He cost the Steelers a haul to acquire, but Fitzpatrick has been worth every pick — and then some. His recovery of Devin Bush‘s forced fumble on Sunday kept the Steelers from losing to the winless Bengals, giving Fitzpatrick two fumble recoveries with Pittsburgh this season in addition to his five interceptions. Without him, the Steelers wouldn’t be in the playoff race. — Brooke Pryor
Week 12 ranking: 15
What they’re thankful for: Their rookie class.
This Raiders rookie class might be the best in franchise history in terms of instant impact. Consider: Oakland’s rookies rank first among all NFL rookie classes in rushing yards, receptions, scrimmage yards, touchdowns and sacks. Running back Josh Jacobs has rushed for 957 yards; defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell have 7.5 and 3.5 sacks, respectively; and tight end Foster Moreau has four TD catches. It almost makes up for Sunday’s embarrassing 34-3 loss at the Jets. Almost. — Paul Gutierrez
Week 12 ranking: 18
What they’re thankful for: QB Kyle Allen.
You’re probably thinking Christian McCaffrey should be here, right? But most knew what McCaffrey could do when starting quarterback Cam Newton was shut down after Week 2. Nobody imagined Allen would lead the team to four straight wins after an 0-2 start under Newton and would get the team to 5-3 before their current three-game losing streak. And his most impressive performance came on Sunday in a 34-31 loss at New Orleans in which kicker Joey Slye missed two extra points and a potential game-winning 28-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining. — David Newton
Earlier in the season Rex Ryan called Baker Mayfield overrated. After Cleveland’s three-game winning streak, Rex says he’s underrated and claims the Browns will make the playoffs.
Week 12 ranking: 22
What they’re thankful for: Baker being Baker again.
After struggling through the first half of the season, Baker Mayfield has returned to being the QB that nearly won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors last season. Over the past five games, Mayfield ranks fifth in the NFL in both Total QBR and TD passes. He is coming off his best performance of the season, finding Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. for touchdowns in the same game for the first time all season. And he quietly has helped position the Browns to make a run at their first playoff berth in 17 years. — Jake Trotter
Week 12 ranking: 19
What they’re thankful for: S Derwin James.
Losers of two straight and sitting at 4-7, the Chargers can be thankful for the eventual return of one of the team’s top playmakers. On injured reserve since the start of the season after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot, James has been working on the side for the past few weeks and could be back on the field as early as Sunday against the Broncos. “There’s a chance,” Anthony Lynn said. “I’m not going to say he’ll be back, because I don’t like to put a timetable on it. But there’s a chance.” — Eric D. Williams
Week 12 ranking: 20
What they’re thankful for: Their defense.
The Bears’ offense is often sloppy and ineffective, but the defense usually keeps them in games. Case in point: Sunday’s victory over the Giants. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky played slightly better, but the offense made several big-time blunders that kept New York in striking distance. That is, until Khalil Mack recorded a strip sack that gave Chicago the ball on the New York 3-yard line. The Bears scored what proved to be the winning touchdown three plays later. Chicago’s defense might not be as good as it was last season, but the unit still comes up with timely plays. — Jeff Dickerson
Week 12 ranking: 21
Even in a lowlight of a season, Golladay and Jones are showing to be a potent receiving duo. Both receivers have a chance to top 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019 — remarkable considering Matthew Stafford has been out the past three weeks. The Lions have both players, as well as Stafford, under contract in 2020, so there is something to build on offensively in Detroit, even in a season going nowhere. — Michael Rothstein
Week 12 ranking: 24
What they’re thankful for: QB Kyler Murray.
The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft has been everything the Cardinals had hoped for and then some. His long history with Kliff Kingsbury’s offense helped him hit the ground running, which allowed for the Cardinals to avoid early-season speed bumps that typically come with starting a rookie quarterback. Then there has been his physical talent. His play has been outstanding. He has improved every week and maybe most importantly has learned from his mistakes. Murray has shown that his running ability is elite and his arm is right up there with it. — Josh Weinfuss
Week 12 ranking: 26
What they’re thankful for: A lighter remaining schedule.
The Bucs’ first 11 opponents are a combined 53-44 this season (if you count the Saints and Panthers twice, they’re 67-52). The Bucs’ final five opponents are a combined 23-31, with only two of those teams (the Colts and Texans) having winning records. Also, three of the final five games will be at home (including against both winning teams). As the Bucs’ record suggests, they aren’t a very good football team, but they stand to improve from back-to-back 5-11 records over the past two seasons. — Jenna Laine
Week 12 ranking: 28
What they’re thankful for: An easy schedule.
The schedule softened at just the right time. At 1-7, the Jets were on the brink of disaster, as speculation swirled about Adam Gase’s job security. The schedule brought them the Giants and Redskins — 2-7 and 1-9, respectively, at the time. The Jets won both contests, giving them enough confidence to beat the Raiders. Up next are the Bengals (0-11) and Dolphins (2-9), setting up a potentially fascinating December. Timing is everything in sports. — Rich Cimini
Week 12 ranking: 23
What they’re thankful for: Les Snead.
The Rams’ general manager was willing to part with two first-round picks and a fourth-round selection in return for disgruntled Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey, which sets the Jaguars up with 18 picks over the next two drafts. Whether it is the current regime of Dave Caldwell and Tom Coughlin or a new one, whoever is making draft decisions for the Jags in 2020 and 2021 will have two first-round picks in each draft, a huge advantage in trying to drag the franchise out of the AFC South cellar. — Mike DiRocco
Week 12 ranking: 25
What they’re thankful for: Julio Jones‘ presence.
Arguably the best receiver in the league, Jones creates havoc even when not making catches. He’ll draw added coverage, opening opportunities for guys such as Calvin Ridley and tight end Austin Hooper. Jones’ catch radius means Matt Ryan doesn’t always have to deliver the perfect throw, and Jones isn’t afraid to get physical as a blocker in the run game. Plus, Jones plays through pain while absorbing a beating every week. “He’s the ultimate teammate and competitor,” Ryan said of Jones. — Vaughn McClure
Week 12 ranking: 27
What they’re thankful for: OLB Von Miller.
The Broncos still have two players remaining on their roster who were with the team for every season of their five-year playoff run — Miller and Chris Harris Jr. But along with his prolific sack totals, Miller always has tried to be the team’s unofficial social director. He often reaches out to the team’s younger players. And when the team returned from its defeat in Minnesota — the Broncos surrendered a 20-0 halftime lead — Miller organized an impromptu dinner at a suburban Denver steakhouse. Several players said it came at a good time in what has been a difficult season. — Jeff Legwold
Week 12 ranking: 29
What they’re thankful for: Three first-round picks.
The Dolphins are serving a healthy holiday helping of hope in the form of valuable 2020 draft picks. 2019 has been a bit of a lost season for the Dolphins, but for 2020, they are projected to have their own top-five pick and two other mid-to-late first-round picks, via Pittsburgh and Houston, along with a projected 14 total picks that could be used to attack key needs, such as quarterback, edge rusher and offensive tackle. They’re thankful that they have a plan, and the hope is that it will help them escape mediocrity. — Cameron Wolfe
Week 12 ranking: 30
What they’re thankful for: QB Daniel Jones.
The No. 6 overall pick at least gives the organization hope for the future. He has flashed enough to think there just might be something special there. Take away Jones and this could’ve gone down as the worst season in Giants history. Yes, it has been that bad, but at least they seem to have found the successor for Eli Manning in the midst of this disaster. — Jordan Raanan
Week 12 ranking: 31
What they’re thankful for: WR Terry McLaurin.
McLaurin leads all rookie wideouts with 638 yards receiving and also has five touchdowns. He easily could have a lot more given how often he has been open. The Redskins loved McLaurin after the Ohio State pro day and were thrilled that he lasted until the third round. He’s not only fast but smart. Against Darius Slay, for example, he got open by using the corner’s patience against him and attacking him off the line rather than by stutter step. McLaurin enjoys the on-field chess match. He has been the best thing to happen to the organization this season. — John Keim
Tim Hasselbeck understands why the Bengals are going back to Andy Dalton at quarterback for the rest of the season over Ryan Finley.
Week 12 ranking: 32
What they’re thankful for: The No. 1 pick.
Dreaming about having the top overall pick in next year’s draft is the only solace for a team still winless after Week 12. Luckily for the Bengals, they have a two-game lead on the rest of the pack for the No. 1 selection. If the offense keeps struggling, Bengals fans will keep dreaming about the possibility of someone such as LSU’s Joe Burrow wearing orange and black next year. — Ben Baby
Published at Tue, 26 Nov 2019 13:11:44 +0000