The NFC was dominating the top of the rankings for most of the season, but as we progress, the AFC is catching up. Three of the top five teams now reside in the AFC, however, two of the most dangerous teams in the league come from the NFC and are ranked at No. 6 and No. 12 respectively.
This week, the Bears fell four spots—more than any other team—to No. 7, while the Redskins gained the most ground, moving up five spots to No. 19.
Week 12 not only provides us with three servings of turkey, but three servings of football as well. The Texans and Lions will start us off with an appetizer, the Cowboys and Redskins will serve as our main course and the Patriots and Jets will finish off the evening as our dessert.
Here are the rest of this week's rankings.
Teams’ previous ranking in brackets.
1. Houston Texans (1): Matt Schaub put up Madden-like numbers. But what happened to that defense?
2. Atlanta Falcons (2): Great teams overcome bad games to win. Five interceptions from Matt Ryan would definitely qualify as a bad game. The last two weeks, the Falcons have looked like a very average football team.
3. San Francisco 49ers (5): It’s tough to find something more important to a football team then a solid backup quarterback. It doesn’t matter who San Fran names as their starter now: they know their No. 2 guy can win games.
4. Baltimore Ravens (4): The Ravens took control of the division with their win against the Steelers. Even without Ray Lewis, they are playing solid defense.
5. New England Patriots (6): The Patriots put up eight touchdowns (three defensive) against the Colts. I expect them to try and outdo that mark on Thanksgiving as they face the Jets.
6. Green Bay Packers (7): They may be No. 6, but they’ve won five straight and are doing it without many key players. They’d be one game behind Atlanta for the No. 1 seed if not for that Monday Night Meltdown by the replacement refs.
7. Chicago Bears (3): We’ve seen this story before; Jay Cutler gets hurt and the Bears quickly fall out of contention.
8. Denver Broncos (9): Denver has a comfortable three-game lead in the division, but it feels like they’ve already clinched.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8): The Steelers will go with Charlie Batch under center this week. In other words, the running backs are likely to see a lot of action.
10. New York Giants (10): The Giants had the week off and should be fully prepared to face Aaron Rodgers and company in Week 12.
11. Seattle Seahawks (11): The Seahawks have a chance to be good for a very long time. They have a lot of young talent and a fiery head coach. They are a team that could cause problems for other teams should the make the playoffs.
12. New Orleans Saints (14): It was only two months ago the Saints were as low as No. 27 in these rankings. Here we are at Thanksgiving and they have cracked the top 12 and have rebounded from that awful 0-4 start. The question is, do they have enough in the tank to keep their winning ways and make it to the post-season?
13. Minnesota Vikings (13): The Vikings have been a surprise at 6-4, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they finished the season at 7-9.
14. Indianapolis Colts (12): The Colts received a rude awakening at the hands of the Patriots, giving up 59 points. But they get to face the Bills in Week 12, so expect them to get back on track.
15. Dallas Cowboys (15): The Cowboys remain at No. 15 for the fifth straight week. They had no business beating Cleveland, but they did. So that’s got to count for something, right?
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16): Tampa didn’t have any business winning their game either, but they did. They’ve won five of their last six and have yet to lose a game by more than seven points.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (17): As good as AJ Green is, he is still underappreciated. The man is averaging 90 yards and one touchdown every single week. If he played anywhere but Cincinnati, I think he’d be the talk of football.
18. Detroit Lions (18): The Lions just can’t close out games. At 4-6, they appear to likely be out of the NFC North race.
19. Washington Redskins (24): Robert Griffin III had another mesmerizing game, throwing four times as many touchdowns as incompletions. RGIII will get his first taste of Thanksgiving football this week as the Redskins travel to Dallas.
20. Tennessee Titans (20): The Titans’ division hopes are long gone, and if they don’t start winning consistently, their Wild Card hopes will quickly disappear too.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (19): The Eagles stink. It’s mind-blowing how a team with so many talented players can be so bad in nearly every aspect. Andy Reid is a phenomenal coach, but it’s time to start fresh.
22. Miami Dolphins (22): Four of Miami’s last five losses have been by five points or less. If they can get some weapons at the receiver position, they could be a playoff team in the next couple of seasons.
23. Arizona Cardinals (21): Who is Ryan Lindley? Apparently he might be the starting quarterback for Arizona this week. But for all I know, he’s the guy who delivered my pizza last week.
24. San Diego Chargers (23): The Chargers are just not a very good team anymore. Sure, they have some talented players, but they just aren’t a good football team. How much longer can Norv Turner survive?
25. Buffalo Bills (26): I’m not saying they will, but it wouldn’t totally shock me if the Bills won their next six games and finished 10-6. Do I think they will? No. Do I think they can? Absolutely.
26. New York Jets (27): As much as I hate Rex Ryan, I do sort of feel bad for him. It’s tough to coach in the NFL when you don’t have a true NFL quarterback on the roster.
27. St. Louis Rams (25): The Rams have got to get some talent around Sam Bradford. He has a lot of talent but has very little to show for it.
28. Oakland Raiders (28): The Raiders used to have a pretty solid defense, they just got nothing from their quarterback. Needless to say, those roles have done a complete 360.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (31): The Jags have managed something no team has ever done. They lost, but moved up two spots in the rankings! Was this the breakout game Justin Blackmon needed?
30. Cleveland Browns (30): The Browns have been competitive in almost every game this year, but they just can’t finish teams off. Brandon Weeden needs some more help in the passing game.
31. Carolina Panthers (29): Carolina blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead and lost their eighth game of the season. It’s just a matter of time before Cam Newton has an epic postgame press conference.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (32): After leading in the regular season for the first time at Heinz Field last week, the Chiefs managed the same achievement this week against the Bengals. Sadly, they were promptly outscored 28-3 after gaining that lead.