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NFL Power Rankings: A new #1 after a big Week 12 sees changes across the rankings

Week 12 was a game-changer for the 2015 season. Kicking off with the traditional Thanksgiving triple-header, the results of this week's game


Week 12 was a game-changer for the 2015 season. Kicking off with the traditional Thanksgiving triple-header, the results of this week’s games has begun to really crystalise which teams are genuine contenders for the playoffs, and which teams will be looking forward to a top-5 draft pick next spring. With that being the case, it’s not surprising that there’s some big changes in the power rankings – in fact only three of the 32 teams stayed in the same spot as last week, and all of them are in the bottom four. The Giants were the biggest losers of the week, as their loss to Washington not only lost them the lead in the NFC East, but also dropped them a huge seven places in our power rankings; other notable tumbles down the rankings are the Cowboys, who dropped five places after losing Tony Romo for the year, and the state of Florida, whose three teams combined for a loss of nine places. On the positive side, the Lions’ beatdown of the Eagles saw them rise six spots, while the Jets and Texans each climbed four spots. And of course, we have a new team at the top of the rankings, only the third team to be placed #1 in 2015. Check out the full rankings below! Panel: Gur Samuel, Edd Hodsdon, Remy Cabache, Toby Durant, Pete Hallifax, Brandon Hamme

1. Carolina Panthers (11-0)

#Last week: #2 GS = 1, EH = 1, RC = 1, TD = 1, PH = 1, BH = 1

The Panthers routed Dallas on Thanksgiving after being billed as slight underdogs. Ron Rivera’s men are playing with a chip on their shoulder. Cam Newton is having an MVP season and the defense is one of the league’s deepest, toughest, and most disruptive. A strong running game coupled with a rapidly gelling passing attack makes Carolina the league’s best team heading into December. (EH)

2. New England Patriots (10-1)

Last week: #1 GS = 3, EH = 2, RC = 5, TD = 3, PH = 3, BH = 2

The Pats fell from the ranks of the undefeated with an overtime loss to the Denver ‘Brockos’, though I feel most Pats fans will be far more concerned with what happened to Hightower and Gronkowski. Luckily, neither seem to be too serious, so their Super Bowl dreams are still alive. (RC)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-2)

Last week: #4 GS = 5, EH = 3, RC = 3, TD = 2, PH = 2, BH = 4

The Bengals snapped their losing streak by dominating the Rams. The defense intercepted Nick Foles three times and Andy Dalton played well. Losing Jeremy Hill hurts them but the depth on offense means his potential absence won’t derail Cincinnati’s playoff push. (EH)

4. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

Last week: #3 GS = 2, EH = 5, RC = 2, TD = 4, PH = 5, BH = 5

Yes, their win against the 49ers wasn’t pretty but it was a win. They have shown they can blow teams out and they can grind out wins. This Cardinals team is very, very good and have to be seen as the Panthers biggest threat in the NFC. (RC)

5. Denver Broncos (9-2)

Last week: #6 GS = 4, EH = 4, RC = 4, TD = 5, PH = 4, BH = 3

Brock Osweiler makes the Broncos a much more dangerous team because Gary Kubiak can now run the offense he wants instead of sharing strategy with Peyton Manning. The defense has slipped slightly over the past couple of weeks, but DeMarcus Ware is due to return soon. Denver are primed for a playoff run. (EH)

6. Minnesota Vikings (8-3)

Last week: #7 GS = 6, EH = 6, RC = 7, TD = 6, PH = 6, BH = 6

The Vikings have struggled to get a convincing win all season and against high quality opponents they have failed to get the win. They are in a good position but have some huge tests coming up, which will be telling. (RC)

7. Green Bay Packers (7-4)

Last week: #5 GS = 9, EH = 10, RC = 6, TD = 10, PH = 7, BH = 7

The Packers’ renaissance was short lived as they suffered a surprise Thanksgiving loss to the Bears. There seem to be communication problems on offense, while the defense leaves a lot to be desired. It’s time to P-A-N-I-C in Green Bay. (EH)

8. Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)

Last week: #11 GS = 7, EH = 9, RC = 10, TD = 7, PH = 9, BH = 9

The Chiefs have been on fire since a 1-5 start. Maclin is making plays, Smith isn’t turning the ball over, but most importantly, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West have this team rolling through opponents. Defense is pretty hot too. (RC)

9. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

Last week: #10 GS = 10, EH = 8, RC = 8, TD = 8, PH = 10, BH = 8

The Seahawks proved they can still be contenders by beating Pittsburgh, but the defense looks shaky, allowing the Steelers to move the ball seemingly at will. Jimmy Graham is lost for the season but the offense looked stronger than it has for most of the season on Sunday. The Seahawks are primed for a wild card run. (EH)

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

Last week: #8 GS = 8, EH = 7, RC = 9, TD = 9, PH = 13, BH = 12

Yes, they lost, but they gave the Seahawks a run for their money. Their defense needs work but the offense is a powerhouse with Roethlisberger healthy. If he misses time from an apparent concussion though, the Steelers spot in the Wild Card chase could be in danger. (RC)

11. New York Jets (6-5)

Last week: #15 GS = 13, EH = 12, RC = 12, TD = 11, PH = 8, BH = 13

A sprinkling of Fitzmagic helped the Jets resurrect their wild card hopes with another dominant win over Miami. The defense looked strong once again while Chris Ivory was breaking tackles on punishing runs. Ryan Fitzpatrick played to his strengths and threw four touchdown passes to keep Geno Smith on the bench. (EH)

12. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

Last week: =#13 GS = 11, EH = 14, RC = 11, TD = 13, PH = 14, BH = 11

The Colts are in a dog fight with the Texans for 1st place in the AFC South and the 4th seed in the playoffs. They are 4-0 with Matt Hasselbeck and the defense played well. The AFC South battle should be interesting. (RC)

13. Buffalo Bills (5-6)

Last week = #9 GS = 14, EH = 18, RC = 13, TD = 15, PH = 11, BH = 10

Injuries and Rex Ryan’s questionable in-game coaching abilities have cost the Bills a run at a playoff spot this year, and were especially important against the Chiefs. Ryan was 0-2 on challenges, and didn’t contest two referee decisions that could’ve kept Buffalo’s hopes alive. After outgaining Kansas City 202-29 in the first half, Buffalo’s offense disappeared in the second half as Sammy Watkins saw his role diminished. (EH)

14. Houston Texans (6-5)

Last week: #18 GS = 12, EH = 13, RC = 14, TD = 14, PH = 18, BH = 17

The Texans are 6-5 and tied for 1st place in the AFC South out of nowhere. Their defense is playing lights out in every phase and their offense is scoring points regardless of the QB and running backs. They are in the thick of the playoff hunt. (RC)

=15. Atlanta Falcons (6-5)

Last week: =#13 GS = 16, EH = 19, RC = 17, TD = 12, PH = 15, BH = 16

The Falcons have finally dropped from a Wild Card spot after barely hanging on to it for the past few weeks. They have now lost five of their last six games and can’t seem to get anything right. After masquerading as a good team through the first part of the season, Atlanta’s shortcomings have been laid bare. (EH)

=15. Oakland Raiders (5-6)

Last week: =#16 GS = 20, EH = 11, RC = 16, TD = 16, PH = 17, BH = 15

The Raiders just managed to come out of Tennessee with a win but a win is a win. Their offense can be very good and their defense can come up with plays. The Chiefs resurgence is putting the Raiders playoff ambitions in a bad place though. (RC)

17. Washington Redskins (5-6)

Last week: #20 GS = 15, EH = 15, RC = 18, TD = 17, PH = 12, BH = 21

The Redskins move into a first place tie atop the NFC East with a big win over the Giants. Washington built a 20-0 lead and held on to deny a Giants comeback. With Dallas and Philly sinking fast and the Giants as unreliable as ever, the Redskins look like the best team in the division right now. (EH)

18. Chicago Bears (5-6)

Last week: #19 GS = 17, EH = 17, RC = 15, TD = 18, PH = 16, BH = 19

The Bears handed the Packers their 4th loss of their season and their second loss at Lambeau to another NFC North team. The Bears have looked much, much better for a while now. (RC)

19. New York Giants (5-6)

Last week: #12 GS = 18, EH = 16, RC = 20, TD = 20, PH = 19, BH = 14

The Giants dropped a game they really should have won against Washington, keeping the painful-to-watch NFC East race alive. Amazing catches by Odell Beckham aside, the Giants are fundamentally flawed without a running game or a consistent defense. (EH)

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)

Last week: =#16 GS = 19, EH = 20, RC = 19, TD = 19, PH = 20, BH = 18

The Buccaneers sunk themselves with a few costly penalties and individual errors. A win in this game would’ve put them firmly in the wild card race but this loss puts them in a tough positions to make a run at the playoffs. (RC)

21. Detroit Lions (4-7)

Last week: #27 GS = 21, EH = 21, RC = 21, TD = 22, PH = 24, BH = 20

The Lions seemed to have turned themselves around since their Wembley loss, decimating the Eagles on Thanksgiving. Jim Bob Cooter’s offense looks much stronger after trying to establish more of a ground game, while Matthew Stafford has played better. The defense is starting to realise its potential as the Lions attempt to mount a late-season comeback. (EH)

22. St. Louis Rams (4-7)

Last week: #24 GS = 24, EH = 24, RC = 22, TD = 21, PH = 23, BH = 29

The Rams have definitely lost any chance of returning to the playoffs. The defense is good and gave up only 24 point to one of the best offenses in the league, but the offense is so bad. Gurley and Austin are the only bright spots, but they aren’t capable of carrying that bad a unit. (RC)

23. Philadelphia Eagles (4-7)

Last week: #25 GS = 25, EH = 26, RC = 23, TD = 25, PH = 22, BH = 27

The Eagles lie at the NFC East wayside as a broken team. Conflicting reports about Chip Kelly’s future emerge every week as tension on the sidelines increases. None of the roster appears to be working as Chip Kelly’s grand experiment lies in ruins. (EH)

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)

Last week: #23 GS = 26, EH = 23, RC = 24, TD = 28, PH = 26, BH = 24

The Jags were just one game behind the Colts and Texans and looked to be coming together, but their youth and their shortcomings are showing with their inconsistency and mistakes. They won’t be making the playoffs. (RC)

=25. Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Last week: #21 GS = 28, EH = 27, RC = 26, TD = 26, PH = 21, BH = 26

Any boost the Dolphins got from Dan Campbell’s ascension has finally run out. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t developed as a quarterback since being drafted, which has cost offensive coordinator Bill Lazor his job. Ndamukong Suh polarises the locker room seemingly every week as the Dolphins stumble to the end of a terrible season. (EH)

=25. New Orleans Saints (4-7)

Last week: #26 GS = 23, EH = 28, RC = 27, TD = 23, PH = 25, BH = 28

The Saints failed to score a touchdown for the first time in 155 games and Drew Brees lost his 45-game touchdown pass streak. The problems are not only on the defensive side of the ball. (RC)

=27. Dallas Cowboys (3-8)

Last week: #22 GS = 27, EH = 29, RC = 28, TD = 24, PH = 27, BH = 22

With Tony Romo out for the rest of the season, the Cowboys’ chances of making the playoffs are over. The defense couldn’t hang with Carolina for the whole game, while Matt Cassel takes over again after being 0-4 as a starter during Romo’s first absence. If the MVP award was judged on how valuable each player is to their team, Tony Romo would be a lock right now. (EH)

=27. San Diego Chargers (3-8)

Last week: #30 GS = 29, EH = 25, RC = 25, TD = 27, PH = 28, BH = 23

The Chargers managed to get a win out of the Jags and Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers looked good. But they have no ground game and their receivers are not good. The defense gave up over 20 points again and were very close to giving the game up, late. (RC)

29. San Francisco 49ers (3-8)

Last week: #29 GS = 22, EH = 30, RC = 29, TD = 29, PH = 29, BH = 30

Despite languishing in the depths of a bad season, the 49ers had a decent performance against Arizona, holding the Cardinals to 19 points and making it a close game. The defense has some bright spots, but also fails to make big plays. Blaine Gabbert is an upgrade over Colin Kaepernick, but lacks the supporting cast to truly make a difference. (EH)

30. Baltimore Ravens (4-7)

Last week: #28 GS = 30, EH = 31, RC = 30, TD = 30, PH = 30, BH = 25

The Ravens managed to throw away a big 2 touchdown lead and give the Browns every opportunity to win, but came out with the W in spectacular fashion. Yes, they now have more wins than some of the teams ranked above them, but as the last 2 wins have been very close against the Rams and Browns, this team has a lot to work on. (RC)

31. Tennessee Titans (2-9)

Last week: #31 GS = 32, EH = 22, RC = 32, TD = 31, PH = 32, BH = 31

A lack of weapons has held Marcus Mariota back in his rookie year. With virtually no protection up front and no support on the perimeter, Mariota has still had the Titans contending in games they have no business in. The defense has been good for most of the year, but injuries have held them back. (EH)

32. Cleveland Browns (2-9)

Last week: #32 GS = 31, EH = 32, RC = 31, TD = 32, PH = 31, BH = 32

The Browns just can’t catch a break. They have a chance to win it with their rookie kicker, who had never missed a field goal and who hit the game winner against the Ravens last time they met, but it was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Only the Browns. (RC)


Gur Samuel

Hi! I'm Gur and I'm RealSport's Editor-in-Chief. I'm also currently the site's tennis editor, and contribute to our NFL, wrestling and Formula 1 coverage as well. I'm also an NFL analyst for CNN International and contributor to SB Nation, and have contributed to, or been interviewed by, various print, broadcast and online media, including the BBC, Mail Online, ABC, NBC, CBS, the Boston Globe, and Yahoo! Sports.

NFL Power Rankings: A new #1 after a big Week 12 sees changes across the rankings

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