Our rankings heading into Week 12:
|Green Bay Packers
|The Packers picked up their tenth win of the season, but it wasn’t an easy one against Tampa Bay. If Green Bay has a weakness, it’s on defense, but getting into a shootout with Green Bay is something most teams can’t do successfully.
|San Francisco 49ers
|The 49ers have a short week to prepare for Baltimore in what looks to be a great Thanksgiving night game. The 49ers pretty much have their division locked up, but now can play for a first round bye and, if Green Bay slips up, home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
|This weekend’s matchup against the Chiefs should be no problem for a well-rested Steelers team coming off of a bye week.
|The Ravens moved to first place in the AFC North with a win over the Bengals. Thursday’s game against the 49ers will be another tough test.
|New England Patriots
|It might not have been pretty early on, but the Patriots regrouped from a lethargic start to beat the Chiefs 34-3 on Monday Night Football and take a two game lead in the AFC East. Next up is a trip to Philadelphia and a game with the up-and-down Eagles.
|New Orleans Saints
|The Saints were on a bye last week and have the Giants up next on Monday night. They have some tough teams coming up and the Saints will look to maintain their lead over Atlanta up to their week 16 matchup with the Falcons.
|Detroit won in a shootout with Carolina, 49-35. We know that the Lions can make comebacks and score points, but where is the defense in Detroit? If Carolina can shred up the Lions D, what will the Packers and Saints do in the next two weeks?
|The Bears win against the Chargers resulted in a bigger loss, as Jay Cutler broke his thumb and will miss the rest of the regular season. If the Bears can survive the rest of their fairly favorable schedule without him, he could be back in time for the playoffs.
|The Texans lead in the AFC South was preserved as no divisional rivals were able to gain ground during Houston’s bye week. The Matt Leinart era begins in Jacksonville when the Texans resume play next week.
|New York Giants
|The once-surging Giants have now lost two games in a row. Their brutal schedule continues with games against the Saints and Packers in a seven day span.
|Atlanta bounced back from their previous loss to the Saints and kept within one game of the NFC South. They can’t afford to let up as there are two teams currently ahead of them in the wild card standings.
|Dallas had trouble with the lowly Redskins, but came out on top in overtime. The Giants’ loss against the Eagles puts the Cowboys in the driver’s seat for the division title.
|Though the game finished with under a touchdown separating the two teams, Oakland’s 27-21 win over Minnesota gives them a one-game lead in the AFC West. The Raiders host the Jay Cutler-less Bears next week.
|New York Jets
|On a short week with a lot of talk about how Tim Tebow’s option-based offense couldn’t succeed in the NFL, the Jets managed to give the game away on a late drive on their way to a 17-13 loss in Denver. Now two games back in the AFC East, the Jets host Buffalo next week.
|Andy Dalton and the Bengals fought hard against the Ravens, but came up just short. Even if this isn’t their year, they’ve clearly got a bright future with the talent they’ve brought in.
|The free-fall continues in Buffalo as the Bills fell 35-8 to a Miami Dolphins team which looked dead in the water just weeks ago. Another game with the Jets doesn’t bode well for the short-term hopes of Bills fans.
|San Diego Chargers
|The Chargers fell 31-20 on the road to Chicago and a talented team seems once again to be lost on the field. San Diego will need to regroup and win at home against the Broncos next week to keep their AFC West hopes afloat.
|All he does is win; mostly. Another late Tim Tebow game-winning drive stunned the Jets and puts Denver just one game back of Oakland in the AFC West. Can the magic continue when Denver visits San Diego next week?
|The Eagles continue to stay alive. A loss this weekend against New England could be the fatal blow to a much-hyped season.
|The debut of rookie quarterback Jake Locker gave some spark to the Titans, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a 23-17 loss to Atlanta. Tennessee hosts Tampa Bay next week and will need better production out of Chris Johnson if they hope to compete.
|Tampa Bay Bucs
|Tampa Bay played better than expected against top rated Green Bay, but ended up with a loss anyway. The Bucs have some winnable games left on their schedule, but at 4-6 they are essentially out of the playoff race.
|Seattle, a team many picked to be the worst team in this division, are in second place right now with 4 wins. An 8-8 finish is possible, but unlike last year, that won’t get them into the playoffs this time around.
|The Dolphins’ 35-8 win over Buffalo is just the most recent in a series of solid wins for a team that looked terrible early on in the season. It may be too late to achieve anything meaningful this season, but at least they haven’t given up completely heading into a Thanksgiving game against Dallas.
|Kansas City Chiefs
|With Tyler Palko replacing Matt Cassel at QB, there was little hope for Kansas City on the road in New England. With their 34-3 loss to the Patriots, the Chiefs fall back in the tight AFC West race heading into another tough game against Pittsburgh.
|Arizona wasn’t able to win a third game in a row and got beat handily by the 49ers. At 3-7 the Cardinals are out of the playoff hunt barring a miracle and will enter the offseason with more questions than answers at the QB position.
|The Browns are somehow only 2 games behind in the Wild Card, but with the majority of their division games still to come, its hard to imagine them contending in any way.
|With a chance to win the game from the Browns’ 1-yard-line and three seconds on the clock, rookie Blaine Gabbert couldn’t convert and the Jaguars fell 14-10. The loss hurts Jacksonville’s chances of moving up in the AFC South as they prepare to host the Texans next week.
|Carolina pushed the Lions, but came up short again. Cam Newton, while struggling at times, continues to impress overall. The Panters are in line for a decent draft pick and will build around their young star.
|The Vikings lost a close game to Oakland and lost RB Adrian Peterson for at least one week to an ankle injury. The Vikings won’t be in a hurry to bring him back as this season is lost and will use the remaining games to get rookie QB Christian Ponder more experience.
|The Redskins just can’t seem to win. Changes are coming this offseason.
|St. Louis Rams
|St. Louis lost again, dropping them to 2-8 on the season. They still face the 49ers twice and also have the Steelers and Bengals on the list. 4 total wins would be pushing it for this team this year.
|The good news: the Colts didn’t lose this week for the first time all season. The bad news: it was their bye week. Indianapolis hosts Cam Newton and Carolina this weekend as they continue to search for their first victory in a lost season.
Commentary breakdown: Alex (AFC North, NFC East), Brian (AFC East/South/West), Pat (NFC North/South/West).