Last Sunday night marked the year’s most anticipated game as the Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. The latter was trying to keep their perfect record alive while Denver wanted to assert their dominance as the league’s best team. Peyton Manning had a pretty solid day after racking up 323 yards and a touchdown, and his line held off KC’s vaunted defensive line the entire game. This proved to be the difference as the Broncos were in command of the contest, coasting to a 27-17 win. You can see the flip-flop this created in our Week 12 power rankings below.
1. Denver Broncos (9-1); beat Kansas City 27-17, moves up one spot – Denver may not have come close to their league-leading 41.2 PPG, but remember that they were facing a Chiefs defense which holds opponents to 12.8 PPG. Demaryius Thomas burnt the KC secondary for five catches and 121 receiving yards.
2. Kansas City (9-1); lost to Denver 27-17, drops one spot – The Chiefs don’t have to wait long for revenge because they face the Broncos in two weeks at Arrowhead. Alex Smith definitely kept pace with Manning after throwing for 230 yards and two TD’s, plus adding 52 rushing yards. However, Jamaal Charles (16CAR, 78RYDS) seems like he’s a little slower at this point in the season.
3. Seattle Seahawks (10-1); beat Minnesota 41-20, retains same ranking – This is about what everybody expected. Percy Harvin looks ready to contribute now after returning a kickoff 56 yards, setting up a Russell Wilson touchdown pass.
4. New Orleans Saints (7-3); beat San Francisco 23-20, retains same ranking – It was a hard-fought victory, but the Saints were able to down the Niners thanks to three fourth-quarter field goals by Garrett Hartley. The Saints defense continues to be vastly improved, as evidenced by how they held the tough San Francisco running game to 81 yards on 22 total carries.
5. Indianapolis Colts (7-3); beat Tennessee 30-27, moves up two spots – The Colts are now 8-0 coming off a loss under coach Chuck Pagano. It didn’t look good in the beginning, though, as the Titans went up 14-0 early on. However, Indy used three rushing touchdowns from Donald Brown (2) and Andrew Luck (1) to make a comeback.
6. New England Patriots (7-3); lost to Carolina 24-20, drops one spot – A controversial no-call marred the end of this game. Given that New England was on the road against a red-hot team, we can’t fault them too bad for losing this one.
7. San Francisco 49ers (6-4); lost to New Orleans 23-20, drops one spot – The same road-loss rule applies to San Francisco because it’s nearly impossible to win in the Superdome, no matter how good you are. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Niners offense looked a little anemic.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4); beat Cleveland 41-20, moves up one spot – The Bengals virtually assured themselves of winning the AFC North with this victory. Their defense/special teams stepped up big-time in light of a terrible start by Andy Dalton as they scored on a blocked punt and a fumble. The 31 points in the second quarter set a Cincy franchise record.
9. Carolina Panthers (7-3); beat New England 24-20, moves up one spot – Cam Newton is really starting to look like he did his rookie year – except this time he has a team behind him! The third-year QB is now a legitimate MVP candidate, while the Carolina defense has never looked better.
10. Arizona Cardinals (6-4); beat Jacksonville 27-14, moves up one spot – How do you win with 14 yards on 24 carries? Well for the Cardinals, it was a combination of good defense and 419 passing yards from Carson Palmer. The run game is a huge question mark moving forward, but Arizona keeps winning, so whatever…
11. Detroit Lions (6-4); lost to Pittsburgh 37-27, drops three spots – Detroit missed a chance to take command of the NFC North after blowing a second-half lead. Give credit to Pittsburgh, though, as they rebounded from a terrible second quarter and shut Detroit down the rest of the way.
12. Chicago Bears (6-4); beat Baltimore 23-20, moves up one spot – Many people, including ourselves, thought that Chicago was done when Jay Cutler went down with an injury a few games ago. But Josh McCown has stepped in and done admirably while keeping his team in playoff contention.
13. Dallas Cowboys (5-5); bye week, drops one spot – Dallas comes out of the bye week, suddenly finding themselves trailing the Eagles in the NFC East. Even their opponent this week, the New York Giants, is back in the thick of things thanks to a four-game win streak.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5); beat Washington 24-16, moves up five spots – My how quickly things change in the NFL. Once ripped for an awful stretch of offense, Philadelphia has been revitalized with Nick Foles under center. Sure Foles may not have the perfect speed to run Chip Kelly’s read option; however, it doesn’t matter when he keeps throwing touchdown after touchdown.
15. Green Bay Packers (5-5); lost to New York Giants 27-13, drops one spot – Scott Tolzien is certainly no Aaron Rodgers….maybe not even Seneca Wallace. That said, will the Packers be too far out of the NFC North race by the time Rodgers returns from his broken collarbone?
16. New York Jets (5-5); lost to Buffalo 37-14, drops one spot – Geno Smith played absolutely terrible as the Bills’ pass rush forced him into three interceptions and a fumble. With the Jets in a muddled AFC Wild Card race, you wonder how long Geno will continue to start since New York needs wins now.
17. Miami Dolphins (5-5); beat San Diego 20-16, moves up four spots – Despite losing Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito to the bullying scandal, the Dolphins are still neck and neck with New York for the last AFC Wild Card spot. Miami relied on a bend-but-don’t-break defense to pull out this victory.
18. San Diego Chargers (4-6); lost to Miami 20-16, drops two spots – This will be a season of big regrets for the Chargers since they could’ve have easily been in the playoffs if a couple of plays here or there had gone their way. Last Sunday’s game against the Dolphins was a great indication of this as they missed several opportunities to win.
19. Baltimore Ravens (4-6); lost to Chicago 23-20 (OT), drops one spot – Every time Baltimore looks like they’ve got some momentum going, it gets deflated the next week. Of course, it was hard for them to get momentum of any kind going in Chicago, where high winds and monsoon-like rains delayed the game.
20. Cleveland Browns (4-6); lost to Cincinnati 41-20, drops three spots – Cleveland jumped out to a 13-0 lead after Joe Haden’s 29-yard interception TD. However, the bottom completely fell out in the second quarter as they allowed a 31-0 Bengals run.
21. New York Giants (4-6); beat Green Bay 27-13, moves up one spot – The NFL is about taking advantage of opportunities, and this is exactly what New York has done during their four-game winning streak. Beating a Scott Tolzien-led Packers squad was a good example of this. Now let’s see what they can do at home against a talented Dallas squad.
22. Tennessee Titans (4-6); lost to Indianapolis 30-27, drops one spot – Chris Johnson had a big first quarter as he ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Titans fell flat after this and have now lost five out of their last six games.
23. Oakland Raiders (4-6); beat Houston 28-23, moves up one spot – Given that they’ve used three quarterbacks this season and are still the Raiders, Oakland shouldn’t be alive in the AFC playoff race. But then again, it seems like nobody wants that last Wild Card slot.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6); beat Detroit 37-27, moves up two spots – Ben Roethlisberger looked good while throwing for 367 yards and four touchdowns, and the defense made some great second-half adjustments.
25. St. Louis Rams (4-6); bye week, retains same ranking – The Rams have plenty of momentum coming off a bye after the way they handled Indianapolis on the road. Now they host a difficult matchup with the Bears.
26. Washington Redskins (3-7); lost to Philadelphia 24-16, drops three spots – Robert Griffin III’s comments about how predictable his team’s offense was certainly doesn’t bode well for a team that’s already had a tough season. But the sad part is, he’s right and the Eagles subpar defense took full advantage of this.
27. Buffalo Bills (4-6); beat New York Jets 37-14, moves up two spots – So much for that stingy New York defense. Buffalo had their way in this one after harassing Geno Smith into four turnovers – two of which were Jairus Byrd interceptions.
28. Tampa Bay (2-8); beat Atlanta 41-28, moves up two spots – If Tampa Bay were in the AFC, they’d be in the hunt for a postseason bid. All jokes aside, the Bucs have played quite well over the past three weeks.
29. Houston Texans (2-8); lost to Oakland 28-23, drops one spot – Nobody can really figure out Gary Kubiak’s decision to play Matt Schaub towards the end, even though Case Keenum wasn’t playing too badly. It may be harsh to say, given Kubiak’s mini-stroke a couple of weeks ago, but he’s almost assuredly gone after eight years in Houston.
30. Atlanta Falcons (2-8); lost to Tampa Bay 41-28, drops three spots – Atlanta played pretty lifelessly in the first three quarters, making it seem like they’ve given up. Tampa Bay called off the dogs in the fourth quarter, which allowed Atlanta to score 15 points and make this game look less horrid.
31. Minnesota Vikings (2-8); lost to Seattle 41-20, retains same ranking – After 129 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s from Christian Ponder, is the Josh Freeman experiment back on?
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9); lost to Arizona 27-14, retains same ranking – Give credit to Jacksonville for obliterating the Cardinals’ running game and jumping out to a first-quarter lead. But they are still bad…