It seems like yesterday that NFL fans worldwide were awaiting the start of the NFL season. Now we are nearing the end of the regular season. The playoff picture is still wide open, with several teams getting ready to punch their ticket to the postseason. Here’s a deep dive into the Week 12 rankings for all 32 NFL teams and whether they have a shot at playoffs.
NFL Power Rankings: One Through Eight
The top eight teams going into Week 12 are the (1) Kansas City Chiefs, (2) Philadelphia Eagles, (3) Buffalo Bills, (4) Miami Dolphins, (5) Dallas Cowboys, (6) Minnesota Vikings, (7) Baltimore Ravens, and (8) San Francisco 49ers. All of these teams have an 85 percent chance or higher of making the playoffs. The Chiefs are ranked first overall, although the Eagles have the better record. The Eagles are 9-1, and the Chiefs are tied with the Minnesota Vikings at 8-2.
After the Washington Commanders and backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke found a way to beat the Eagles, the top spot in the NFL is anyone’s game. Each of these eight squads has the talent to come out on top. The Vikings and Titans are the two teams that continue to push and squeak out wins.
The Vikings had their worst game of the season this past week as the Cowboys hammered them into the ground. They were the only team in the top eight to lose in Week 11. Injuries have been plaguing the Ravens and could spoil their season as they struggle on offense. Over these last seven weeks, we could see the top eight fall apart if any teams start to stumble as they near the finish line.
NFL Power Rankings: Nine Through 16
The ninth through 16th-ranked NFL teams are the (9) Tennessee Titans, (10) New York Giants, (11) Cincinnati Bengals, (12) Seattle Seahawks, (13) Washington Commanders, (14) New England Patriots, (15) New York Jets, and (16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of these teams, they all have a 50 percent chance or higher of making playoffs. There are only 14 spots in the postseason, so if the season were to end now, two of these teams would barely miss out.
This is an odd grouping when looking at the list. It’s been a while since both New York teams were both good, and it’s something that I just haven’t adjusted to. The head coaching change to Robert Saleh for the Jets has quickly flipped their season from poor to great. The Giants only have Saquon Barkley as the notable name on the offense, yet they continue to find ways to win.
The Titans have been surprising as well. Between quarterback switches and wide receiver injuries, the offense led by Derrick Henry continues to win. The defense has kept them in several games when the offense struggled to produce. With the receiving core getting healthier and quarterback Ryan Tannehill back as the starter, this team can have a healthy playoff run.
NFL Power Rankings: 17 Through 24
The 17th through 24th-ranked NFL teams are the (17) Los Angeles Chargers, (18) Atlanta Falcons, (19) Green Bay Packers, (20) Arizona Cardinals, (21) New Orleans Saints, (22) Indianapolis Colts, (23) Detroit Lions, (24) Los Angeles Rams. The surprise here has been the Packers, Cardinals, and Rams. All three were considered Super Bowl teams leading up to the season, but all three have struggled to move the ball effectively; injuries haven’t helped.
Out of this group of teams, the Chargers lead the way with the best odds of making the playoffs. They currently have a 35% chance to make the playoffs and a one percent chance to win the Super Bowl. If wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams can stay on the field longer than a game, this team can once again be a powerhouse on offense with a top-five running back in Austin Ekeler.
The Chargers lead the grouping with a record of 5-5. At .500, they are one game short of a wild card slot. The NFC North has two teams at four wins with very little chance of making playoffs; they’d basically have to win out to semi-guarantee a shot in the postseason. The Rams went from Super Bowl champs at 16-5 to a miserable 3-7 record. From superstar to half a star.
NFL Power Rankings: 25 Through 32
The 25th through 32nd-ranked NFL teams are the (25) Chicago Bears, (26) Jacksonville Jaguars, (27) Las Vegas Raiders, (28) Pittsburgh Steelers, (29) Cleveland Browns, (30) Denver Broncos, (31) Carolina Panthers, (32) Houston Texans. The two surprises have been the Raiders and Broncos. The Raiders go out and sign arguably the best veteran receiver in the league from the Packers, Davante Adams. The Broncos go all-in and trade for quarterback Russell Wilson. Both teams are sitting at 3-7 with less than a five percent chance of making the playoffs.
These teams have either had a poor pass rush on defense, or their quarterback has struggled mightily this season. If you’re the Raiders, you have to worry about both. Derek Carr continues to struggle even though he helped recruit his college teammate, Davante Adams. However, the Jaguars should be able to bounce back next year as they continue to rebuild their program, similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It looks like quarterback Kenny Pickett is the future of the Steelers franchise.
The Chicago Bears have a tough road ahead as they struggle to find consistency on offense and defense. Quarterback Justin Fields has repeatedly shown that he’s another bust from Ohio State. Historically, OSU quarterbacks never pan out in the NFL. So what’s next, draft C.J. Stroud from Ohio State next year and try again? The Cleveland Browns have the weapons, but they’ve been rolling with a backup all season due to the news regarding Deshaun Watson in the off-season. Jacoby Brissett has played well this season. Time will tell if Watson was worth the money.
Who Should Make The NFL Playoffs, And Who Will Fall Short?
Per Pro Football Focus, seven NFL teams have over a 90% chance of making the playoffs. These teams are the Eagles, Chiefs, Vikings, Titans, Cowboys, Bills, and Ravens. Of these seven, only three have over a 90% chance of winning the division title. Therefore, the list shrinks to the Chiefs, Vikings, and Titans.
As we head into Week 12, there are currently ten teams with less than a ten percent chance to make the playoffs. Realistically, there are three teams with a strong chance of winning the Super Bowl. Only ten teams have a percentage chance of winning it all. Every year a darkhorse candidate has a late-season push. Will we see another one this year?