NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Teams That Will Climb After Impressive Performance

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 28:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass during the NFL game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field on October 28, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A win is always a win, but style points count for something this time of year.

Come on, you don't think the Patriots are flying higher than most teams after dismantling the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday? Everyone likes to come out on top, but an impressive win can push a team over the edge.

Week 12 will feature a handful of lopsided games. That means a few teams will show the NFL world that they mean business.

Let's power rank the NFL teams and focus on a few that will turn in impressive performances on Sunday.

1. Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta can't climb any higher, and it's tough to say that this team will deliver a big performance versus a red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.

2. Houston Texans

Houston is going to walk into Ford Field and ruin Detroit's Thanksgiving, but a squeaker against Jacksonville last week still resonates in my head.

3. Green Bay Packers

If the Packers walk into Sunday night's game and thrash the New York Giants, it's time to hop this team up the board.

Green Bay is the NFC's most dangerous team. Atlanta has an advantage in the record department, but Aaron Rodgers is still the best quarterback in the NFL right now.

Depending on how Houston plays versus Detroit, Green Bay will be No. 2 by the time Monday rolls around. 

The Packers are scorching hot. The defense isn't as big a problem as it was last year, and the offense is just as good as it always has been. Now that Rodgers is in full swing, it's time to look out.

I'm not convinced that Atlanta leaves Tampa Bay with a win, and Houston will be tested. One way or the other, Green Bay climbs after Sunday.

4. New England Patriots

The Patriots will look impressive on Thursday, but it's the Jets. That alone makes it less impressive.

5. San Francisco 49ers

According to Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, Colin Kaepernick will start behind center for Jim Harbaugh's team versus the New Orleans Saints.

Monday night's performance makes you think that it will go well, but it's hard to tell.

6. Denver Broncos

Denver is going to whoop Kansas City. No one expects any different, and Denver won't be rewarded for it.

7. Baltimore Ravens

It's the Ravens, but they're on the road. Baltimore beats San Diego, but it probably won't be pretty.

8. Chicago Bears

According to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Sean Jensen, Jay Cutler hasn't been cleared for Sunday's game versus the Minnesota Vikings. Take impressive out of the equation.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Pittsburgh will lose to Cleveland on Sunday. Quarterback unrest is a bad problem to deal with. 

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay is going to hand Atlanta its second loss of the season on Sunday. 

Josh Freeman has been on fire as of late. He's thrown 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in his last four games, once again showing off the ability he showed as a rookie in 2010.

Doug Martin has helped Freeman this year. The rookie running back has exactly what it takes to be elite in this league, and he will exploit the Falcons' run defense on Sunday.

The Falcons have shown weaknesses, and Tampa Bay has won four games in a row. Tack another big one onto that total and watch this team move on up.

11. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota will face the Bears. That's either going to result in a disappointing loss or an ugly win—neither of which will move the Vikings up.

12. Indianapolis Colts

No matter how bad Indianapolis beats Buffalo on Sunday, the residual taste of last week's loss to New England will linger.

13. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle will beat Miami, but beating a team with three straight losses isn't exactly impressive.

14. New York Giants

The Giants had a bye week to ponder two consecutive losses. Too bad they face a scorching Packers team Sunday night, which will result in a third dropped game.

15. New Orleans Saints

New Orleans doesn't have the defense to contain Kaepernick, and the 49ers have the defense to contain Drew Brees. This team will cool down in Week 12.

16. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals will beat Oakland, and it will be decisive. In terms of overall league standing, this win may not mean much, but it will mean a lot in the AFC North.

Andy Dalton leads one of the league's better passing attacks, whether he always shows it or not. A.J. Green is virtually unguardable, Andrew Hawkins is a dangerous weapon and so is Jermaine Gresham. 

Defensively, Cincinnati has struggled to stop the pass, but Oakland has also struggled as of late. Because the Raiders refuse to run the ball, the Bengals will be able to sit on the pass and render Carson Palmer useless.

This team moves up next week because the Steelers' fall. Someone will have to step up.

17. Dallas Cowboys

Containing Robert Griffin III is impressive, but beating the Redskins isn't. Dallas has struggled with consistency, but this is a Thanksgiving Day game that it should win.

18. Detroit Lions

Detroit will lose to Houston after it realizes that a one-dimensional offense doesn't work against good teams.

19. Washington Redskins

Washington looked dangerous at mid-season, but that isn't how things look now. It won't be a happy holiday for RG3 and Co..

20. New York Jets

New England is going to wipe this team out on Turkey Day. The Jets have been a mess since Week 1, and that's definitely not going to change here.

21. Buffalo Bills

Indianapolis is going to take out its frustrations on Buffalo on Sunday, adding to this team's inconsistent play.

22. San Diego Chargers

Who would you rather pick? The Ravens on the road, or the Chargers ever. 

That's a tough one, and neither is going to be exceptional.

23. Tennessee Titans

It's hard to say who wins the battle of two terrible teams on Sunday, but beating Jacksonville wouldn't push Tennessee up the leaderboard.

24. Miami Dolphins

Miami will drop its fourth straight on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill isn't the problem, but he is going to need some help to take this team to the next level.

25. Arizona Cardinals

According to USA Today's Kent Somers, Ryan Lindley will make his first start on Sunday. Combine a first-time starter with a terrible offensive line and you will find yourself staring at your seventh loss in a row.

26. St. Louis Rams

The Rams will defeat the Cardinals, but beating a team with six straight losses isn't something to write home about.

27. Oakland Raiders

Oakland will fall to the Bengals, continuing its chain of underachievement. 

28. Cleveland Browns

Are my fingers really typing this? Cleveland is going to beat Pittsburgh. 

The Browns may be the NFL's youngest team, but this group is improving. Brandon Weeden isn't a Pro Bowl talent, but he's not nearly as bad as many people anticipated.

Adding to that, Trent Richardson is as advertised. The rookie running back has proved himself as a three-down back, assuming that he's healthy.

If the Browns receivers caught the ball more consistently, this team would be more successful. Even so, Pittsburgh's quarterback situation feels like trouble.

Look for the Browns to score a big win as they play trap game for the Steelers.

29. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia is going to have to do a lot more than beat a below-average Panthers team to restore faith in its franchise.

30. Carolina Panthers

Beating the Eagles would have been somewhat impressive weeks ago, but now it just feels inevitable. That's not a guarantee though. Carolina is a mess as well.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars could definitely beat Tennessee in front of their home crowd on Sunday, but that's not impressive. Neither team is very good.

32. Kansas City Chiefs 

The Chiefs are going to get smoked by Denver. I'm not sure what else to say about this team anymore.


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