The week of Thanksgiving also throws a little bit of a wrench in the NFL schedule. Plus, we try not to overreact here in these NFL Power Rankings. The NFL is an unpredictable league, so unpredictable results are sort of built in.
However, last week offered one of the season’s more conventional outcomes league-wide (aside from a couple games, specifically the Giants’ win over the Chiefs). As a result, this week we’re keeping it short and aiming to pinpoint similarities between teams in a given tier. It can be rather interesting to see how teams that mirror one another’s strengths or weaknesses have ended up in comparable spots.
Def Pen 2017 Week 12 NFL Power Rankings, Tier One: The Top Remains the Same
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New England Patriots
- New Orleans Saints
- Minnesota Vikings
The league’s top four teams continue to roll. All except for the Patriots could pretty easily qualify as a surprise being this high up the NFL Power Rankings this late in the season. Though even the Patriots had a healthy number of doubters through the year’s first four games (or so). There might not be a truly historically great team in 2017, but these four have shown over the bulk of the season that the eventual Super Bowl champion should come from this group.
Even Laquon Treadwell is making plays* in Minnesota this year.
*a play pic.twitter.com/dW16LF6NXV
— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) November 25, 2017
Tier Two: A Little Too Much Roller Coaster Potential
- Los Angeles Rams
- Carolina Panthers
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Kansas City Chiefs
It’s interesting to view this tier of teams in the context of their quarterback. Though each has a solid defense, it would seem safe to say they’re only going as far as their signal-callers will take them. Together, it’s an interesting mix of an intriguing up-and-comer (Jared Goff) and a couple of the league’s been-there, done-thats (Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger). The other, Alex Smith, has been around the NFL block, but has had a mid-career resurgence this season … at least until the Chiefs offense cooled dating back a few weeks.
Tier Three: By the Hair on Their Chinny Chin Chin
- Atlanta Falcons
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tennessee Titans
- Seattle Seahawks
- Detroit Lions
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Green Bay Packers
- Washington Football Team
Between the Jaguars and Titans, one of them has to make the playoffs by virtue of winning the AFC South. Otherwise, these are teams hanging onto playoff hopes by the skin of their teeth. For a couple, it’s easy to pinpoint what missing – like Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, or a capable quarterback of any type in Jacksonville. In other areas, the problem isn’t so easy to diagnose. Such as the problems in Atlanta and Detroit’s annual collapse.
Tier Four: Where Hope Existed, No More
- Dallas Cowboys
- Buffalo Bills
- Baltimore Ravens
- Arizona Cardinals
- Cincinnati Bengals
While there are scenarios where each of the teams in this tier can still make the playoffs, they all appear to be on the slow downward spiral towards heading home after Week 17. Buffalo’s move to Nathan Peterman was especially perplexing, but all of these squads have had more than a few head-scratching moments from their QBs. Beyond Dak Prescott in Dallas, the other teams listed here might be seeing a change at the game’s most important position sooner rather than later.
Hi, I’m Dak Prescott with Zeke, and I have DirecTV.
And I’m Dak Prescott without Zeke, and I have cable. pic.twitter.com/60waHQLl2u
— Patrick (@PatrickMCausey) November 24, 2017
Tier Five: Remember When We Thought They Might Be Good?
- New York Jets
- Oakland Raiders
- Miami Dolphins
- Denver Broncos
- Houston Texans
- Chicago Bears
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At one point somewhere this season, every team in this group had reason to hope. Those hopes came crashing all the way down as the years progressed, though. Early on, the Raiders, Broncos, and even Texans looked to be Super Bowl contenders. That makes the slide down to the next-to-bottom tier in the NFL Power Rankings feel all the more brutal for their respective fan bases.
Tier Six: The Bottom Remains the Same
- New York Giants
- Indianapolis Colts
- San Francisco 49ers
- Cleveland Browns
Like the top four teams, the bottom four have staked out their place in the NFL Power Rankings for a few weeks now. It’s hard to say which of these are in the best shape going forward. It’d be tempting to lean towards Cleveland since they have a nice group of young players and future draft picks, but the franchise also has been in a perpetual state of rebuilding since getting the team back in 1999.