NFL Week 12 Power Rankings

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BetMGM Jun 16, 2021, 2:20 PM
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It’s Thanksgiving Week in the National Football League (NFL), and we have so much to be thankful for around the NFL. Even in an odd pandemic season, the football has been very good and supremely entertaining. Thanksgiving Day brings three NFL games in the usual tradition, and it also means that December football and the playoffs are not far behind.

It’s been a strange year, and this will be a different Thanksgiving than usual for many, but there’s nothing like online sports betting to bring some normalcy and excitement to an otherwise strange holiday season. NFL betting is available for all three traditional Thanksgiving Day games, so be sure to get your bets placed in between plates of leftover turkey sandwiches and that extra slice of pumpkin pie.

So which NFL teams are thankful, and which ones are still wanting? We’re starting to separate the contenders from the pretenders as we head toward Thanksgiving. Let’s take a look at the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.

Tier I — The Clear Super Bowl Favorites

1. Pittsburgh Steelers 10–0 (Previous rank: 1)

The Steelers have been winning games all year, but now they’re starting to do so in impressive fashion. By its underlying metrics, the Steelers look more like an 8–2 team than an undefeated juggernaut, but those metrics haven’t seen Pittsburgh cruising the last two weeks. The Steelers beat Cincinnati and Jacksonville by a combined score of 63–13 with both games over by halftime. The toughest game left on the schedule comes on Thanksgiving night when the Ravens come to town. Pittsburgh won the first matchup, but the Ravens dominated the game on the ground but lost the turnovers battle. If the Steelers win the rematch too, we might have to start talking about 16–0.

2. Kansas City Chiefs 9–1 (2)

Driving wide receiver Demarcus Robinson of the Kansas City Chiefs comes up against two Las Vegas Raiders.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Patrick Mahomes feels inevitable at this point. It doesn’t really matter how far the opponent is ahead or how little time is left. If Mahomes has the ball, the Chiefs still have a chance. Heck, if Mahomes still has time left, the Chiefs might be the favorites. Sunday presented a rare chance to grab Mahomes at +EV NFL betting odds live in a prime time game, and Mahomes drove the Chiefs through the Raiders in crunch time like their defense was made of Swiss cheese. Mahomes is a heavy MVP favorite now, and the Chiefs keep their 1-seed hopes alive with a big revenge win against Las Vegas.

3. New Orleans Saints 8–2 (3)

You can argue that no team in the NFL had a better week than the New Orleans Saints. Sean Payton shocked everyone when he announced Taysom Hill as the starting quarterback over Jameis Winston with Drew Brees sidelined. Hill took a half to get going but scored two rushing touchdowns in the second half of an easy win and looked dangerous throughout, with zip on his passes and adding a new running dynamic threat at QB. Even better, the Saints saw both the Packers and Bucs take losses. New Orleans should coast to the division crown now, even without Brees, and they’re in the driver’s seat for the NFC 1-seed. That’s why the Saints join the Steelers and Chiefs in the top tier of the Power Rankings this week.

Tier II — The NFC War Zone

4. Los Angeles Rams 7–3 (6)

The Rams got their best win of the season Monday night in Tampa with a strong all-around performance. The offense was dynamic as Jared Goff looked sharp all game throwing to Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, and the defense was particularly strong in the second half as they shut down Tom Brady late to preserve the win. The Rams show no signs of slowing down after big wins over Seattle and Tampa, and they control their destiny in the NFC West. This is their high point in the Power Rankings so far, and they might be a Super Bowl sleeper at this point.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7–4 (4)

The Bucs lost a third prime time game Monday night, and yet again, Tom Brady did not look good with the game on the line. Brady threw two terrible interceptions and narrowly avoided disaster with a strip sack in the end zone that was ruled an incomplete pass, thanks to the infamous Tuck Rule. Tampa is now 5–0 against teams below .500 but only 2–4 against everyone else. Brady continues to struggle under pressure, and Tampa’s defense has looked creaky at times against the top teams too. Monday’s loss could be costly. The Bucs play the Chiefs next, and they’re probably stuck playing for a wildcard berth at this point. That means no week off for Brady and probably three road games just to get to a Super Bowl.

6. Green Bay Packers 7–3 (5)

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers gets ready to throw a pass.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

For one half, it looked like the Packers would add their most impressive win of the season as they dominated a very good Colts team, piling up the points early. But then Aaron Rodgers and his guys went silent in the second half, as they’ve done other times this season. The Colts clawed back to tie it late, and then Rodgers was unable to lead his guys to a win with a late chance and lost it in overtime. Green Bay remains relatively unconvincing overall. They can be an excellent front-runner against poor teams, but can they win when the going gets tough?

7. Seattle Seahawks 7–3 (8)

Russell Wilson certainly appears to have lost his lead in the MVP race, but all that matters this week is that the Seahawks got their season back on track with a huge Thursday night win over the visiting Cardinals. Seattle seems to have slipped off the radar, but they are very much in the mix of things. Sitting quietly at 7–3, the next four Seahawks’ opponents are Philadelphia, both New York teams, and Washington. The Seahawks could easily get back to 11–3, and this could be a big chance for Wilson to pile up stats and get back into the MVP race. Something to think about as you consider NFL betting picks.

Tier III — Safely in the AFC Playoff Hunt Now

8. Buffalo Bills 7–3 (9)

Beyond resting and getting healthy, the best thing that can happen during a bye week is watching all of your rivals lose. And that’s exactly what happened for Buffalo, who saw both New England and Miami lose in the division while the Ravens and Raiders fell a game back in a potential wildcard race too. The Bills are still stinging after that last second Hail Murray loss to the Cardinals before the bye. Will they come out fired up after stewing for an extra week off, or could that loss leave a hangover that haunts the team down the closing stretch?

9. Indianapolis Colts 7–3 (10)

The Colts have hit the rough part of the schedule and come out looking like a diamond so far. Indianapolis went to Tennessee and took the division lead with a convincing Thursday night win a week ago. This week they fell far behind the Packers but fought back in the second half, pushed it to overtime, and then shocked Aaron Rodgers there. But it doesn’t get any easier. The big Colts win was offset by a big Titans win, and now the teams have a rematch Sunday. Another Indianapolis win effectively puts them two games ahead of Tennessee, since Indy would have a tiebreaker by sweeping the Titans. In other words: win this week and you can start planning for a Colts home game in the playoffs.

10. Tennessee Titans 7–3 (13)

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans gets ready to receive the ball.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

Just when it looked like Tennessee’s season might be getting away from them, the Titans saved their season with a huge overtime win in Baltimore. The Titans and Ravens have a long history. They do not like each other. The teams have met three times in the playoffs this century where one of the teams was the AFC 1-seed, and the underdog won all three matchups, including earlier this year. The Titans got the upset, then danced on Baltimore’s field before the rematch, and then beat them again. Could we get another rematch when the playoffs come around? These teams are evenly matched and fun to watch.

Tier IV — The Flawed Playoff Contenders Trying to Stay In

11. Las Vegas Raiders 6–4 (14)

There are no points for moral victories in professional sports, but the Raiders earned our respect Sunday night against the Chiefs. It would have been easy to chalk the Raiders early 40–32 win over Kansas City as a fluke, but Las Vegas showed they are for real when they pushed the Super Bowl champs all the way once again. Patrick Mahomes got them in the final two minutes, but Pat Mahomes has gotten the best of more than a few teams. The Raiders offense is firing on all cylinders, and Derek Carr has complete control of this team. Vegas is proving to be an opponent no one wants to face in the playoffs.

12. Arizona Cardinals 6–4 (7)

Things change quickly in the NFC, and the Cardinals have fallen to the back of the contenders’ pack after a Thursday night loss to the Seahawks. Arizona could be flirting with disaster at this point. The Cardinals are a Hail Murray against Buffalo and any one of a trio of buzzer beating field goals against Seattle away from a four-game losing streak right now. In fact, the only convincing wins for Arizona this season have come against Washington, Dallas, and New York. Is it possible the Cardinals are a bit overrated right now? Something to keep in mind as you check NFL betting lines.

13. Cleveland Browns 7–3 (15)

The Browns continue to take care of business against bad teams, and at this point, the Eagles certainly qualify as a bad team. Cleveland is now a perfect 6–0 against teams below .500, winning those games by an average of about a touchdown per game. It hasn’t been pretty or particularly exciting, but it doesn’t have to be if the wins keep coming. The Browns are 1–3 against teams over .500 but still play the Jaguars, Giants, and Jets over the next month. If they just continue to beat up on the bad teams and occasionally beat a good one, they should coast into the playoffs.

14. Baltimore Ravens 6–4 (12)

Wide receiver Devin Duvernay of the Baltimore Ravens rushes with the ball.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

It feels like things are starting to snowball for the Ravens. Baltimore has lost three of four games now after losing three games all of last season, and the offense looks lost. The Ravens have not scored more than 24 points since before their October bye week, and now the team is facing a number of Coronavirus positive tests before a huge Thanksgiving night game in Pittsburgh. If they lose that one too, a 6–5 record could put the Ravens’ playoff hopes in serious jeopardy, as tight as the AFC race is. The only good news? Baltimore has the easiest closing schedule in football after this Steelers game.

15. Miami Dolphins 6–4 (11)

Miami’s luck finally ran out after a five-game winning streak that was always more about defense and special teams than offense. The offense went missing against a stout Broncos defense, and rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa was so poor that he was benched in the second half for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitz was better but not good enough, and the Fins lost an easy one. Miami has already announced Tagovailoa will remain the starter, but he’s going to have to fight to keep his job now. Luckily for Tua, he faces the Jets and Bengals in the next two weeks. If Tagovailoa can’t move the offense against those two teams, he probably doesn’t deserve to keep his job.

Tier V — There Is No NFL Middle Class

It’s official. There is no NFL middle class in 2020. This tier is completely empty. It’s just here to remind you how much space there is between the teams above this space and those below it.

The gulf between the haves and the have-nots could not be wider at this point. Every team above this empty tier is already planning for the playoffs — even if a couple AFC teams won’t get there. Every team below has already set their sights on the draft and next season.

Everything changes if the NFL playoff picture is forced to expand to eight teams, of course. And there’s always that one NFC East playoff team. But other than that, all but one team below this break are two or more games out of the playoffs with only six games to go, and it feels like an even wider gap.

Tier VI — The Best of the Rest

16. San Francisco 49ers 4–6 (18)

No team in the NFL needed a bye week more than these 49ers, who have been riddled by injuries up and down the roster all season. It’s hard to believe San Francisco played in a Super Bowl this actual calendar year, but of course that’s because this year has been 17 years long. The 49ers are finally starting to get a little healthier after the week of rest, but coming off of a three-game losing streak, that may not matter. They still have to play every division foe again, but perhaps that’s a good thing. The 49ers probably have to win out anyway, so they may as well give some Ls to the teams they’re fighting for the playoff spots too.

17. Chicago Bears 5–5 (19)

Tyler Bray of the Chicago Bears readies to throw as the Vikings charge at him.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Bears had a perfectly timed bye too, and it was a heck of a bye week. Chicago sat home and watched as the entire rest of the division lost. The Bears are only two games behind the Packers and still play them twice, the first one coming this Sunday night in Green Bay. This game could be the season for the Bears. A win pulls them within one in the division and wildcard race, while a loss likely buries them. The big question now is the other reason Chicago needed this bye: who starts at quarterback? Mitch Trubisky has been out several weeks, and Nick Foles did not finish the last Bears game either. Neither one has been healthy. Who gets the call down the stretch

18. Minnesota Vikings 4–6 (16)

Just when it looked like the Vikings had righted the ship, the bottom dropped out again with an ugly loss to the Cowboys. Just a classic Minnesota sports letdown. Kirk Cousins was terrific right up until he wasn’t, unable to move the ball with the game on the line late. But the bigger problem was the Vikings defense, which was supposed to have gotten back on track but couldn’t do anything to stop Andy Dalton and the terrific Dallas receivers. Minnesota has a good team and a winnable schedule, but this game was supposed to be winnable too. The Vikings can’t afford any more mistakes, and this one might have already been one too many.

19. New England Patriots 4–6 (17)

We buried the Patriots after a four-game losing streak and eking out a win over the Jets, and they shocked us with a dominant win over the Ravens. So then we decided the Pats were still in this thing, and they went out and laid an egg against a mostly lifeless Houston team. And as poor as Baltimore has looked lately, that big New England win isn’t looking quite as big anymore. The Patriots are always well coached, but there just isn’t a ton of talent here. New England might still end up controlling who wins the AFC East again, like always — but it’s looking like they’ll have to do so as spoilers this year.

20. Carolina Panthers 4–7 (23)

How many times in NFL history has a team lost five straight games, lost its starting quarterback, and then gone out and shut out an opponent? It’s gotta be a pretty short list and it might just be these Panthers, who went out and stunned the Lions, 20–0. The winning quarterback was P.J. Walker, who is now a perfect 5–0 as a professional starting QB this year. The first four wins came in the rebooted XFL in the spring before the league shut down. Walker signed with Carolina this fall and now has his first win in the NFL too. He completed over 70% passes and had a touchdown but also had two ugly red zone interceptions, so Teddy Bridgewater’s job is probably safe.

Tier VII — The NFL Proletariat

21. Denver Broncos 4–6 (25)

Melvin Gordon of the Denver Broncos drives for a touchdown.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

The proletariat is the lower middle class, the worker bees if you will, and the Broncos have put in a yeoman’s effort this season. This is kind of what Denver has become in recent years. The Broncos have won between five and seven games for three straight seasons and look like they are headed to a similar destination this season. Denver continues to be just good enough on defense to keep a respectable record without ever getting a high enough draft pick to find the right quarterback to get this team going. Denver surprised Miami to halt their winning streak, but all it really did was push the Broncos one game further down in the draft order.

22. Los Angeles Chargers 3–7 (22)

The Chargers finally won a game with ease on Sunday thanks to the Jets. Justin Herbert got the win, but the real win came around the rest of the NFL. With Tua Tagovailoa picking up the loss and Joe Burrow’s injury sidelining him, it certainly looks like the Rookie of the Year award is Herbert’s to lose now. Herbert has been fantastic. He’s completed 68% of his passes for 2,699 yards and already has 22 touchdowns, with only six interceptions. Add in three more scores on the ground and the fact that he’s kept the Chargers competitive in every game, and it looks like LA has found its man both now and for the future.

23. Houston Texans 3–7 (24)

Now and then, it’s nice to have a little reminder of just how good Deshaun Watson is. Watson is a top five quarterback in the NFL but has been crippled his entire career by a comically bad roster, and this year’s is worse than ever. But Watson has been terrific all season and had a monster game against the Patriots, slicing up the defense with 344 yards and two passing touchdowns, plus another score on the ground. Just imagine what Watson could do if he had any protection, some weapons, or a defense at his back.

24. Detroit Lions 4–6 (20)

Just when you think the Lions can’t really get more embarrassing as a franchise, they go out and get completely shut out by an XFL quarterback making his NFL debut for a team on a five-game losing streak. The Lions are banged up right now and were missing Kenny Golladay and D’Andre Swift on Sunday, but it’s just inexcusable for this team to go scoreless against that Carolina defense. Matt Patricia should be very thankful for Thanksgiving traditions. If Detroit didn’t have a game on Thursday morning so soon after this disaster, he’d surely be out of a job right now.

25. Atlanta Falcons 3–7 (21)

The Falcons were competitive for one half against the Saints, but competitive only gets you so far. Matt Ryan was intercepted twice and sacked eight times, and Atlanta’s defense couldn’t stop the Saints’ third string quarterback, or tight end, or whatever Taysom Hill is. Atlanta still has to play the Saints again along with the Raiders, Chiefs, and Bucs twice. It’s hard to believe a team with this much talent can continue to lose so much, but the Falcons continue to move in the wrong direction. They’re a team to avoid in sports betting.

Tier VIII — The NFC East: At Least We’re Competitive!

26. New York Giants 3–7 (27)

Daniel Jones of the New York Giants readies up against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

The Giants are on a two-game winning streak. That alone should probably be enough to win the NFC East crown in this sham of a division. New York has won three games against the division now. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Giants have only one game left in the division. New York had a mixed week of news away from football. The division-leading Eagles lost to keep New York within a half game of the lead, but both Washington and Dallas won. The best news came via Burrow’s injury, since the G-Men play Cincinnati this week. Could the Giants extend their winning streak to three?

27. Washington Football Team 3–7 (29)

Washington and Dallas are a longtime classic NFL rivalry, but who could have expected we’d suddenly be interested in this Thanksgiving game? The winner in Dallas becomes the first NFC East team with four wins and takes the division lead heading into December. Alex Smith finally got his first win in nearly two years, and now he has a chance to push the Football Team into the division lead. Washington underwent a culture change this offseason, and the results are finally starting to come into fruition. Could they parlay their culture change into a division win and a playoff berth too?

28. Dallas Cowboys 3–7 (30)

The Cowboys are back, baby! CeeDee Lamb is the real deal at wide receiver, and the rookie ignited the Cowboys’ offense en route to a shocking road upset over the highly favored Vikings. Dallas blew its season early but has a chance to save it late. They still play every team in the division along with the 49ers and Bengals. That’s five games against teams in the bottom half of the Power Rankings. Up next is the traditional Thanksgiving game. Can Dallas keep the good times rolling? Those divisional NFL betting odds are starting to look pretty good.

29. Philadelphia Eagles 3–6–1 (28)

The Eagles are still leading the division, but another embarrassing performance by Carson Wentz and the gang leaves Philadelphia last in the division’s power rankings mini-tier. That was a winnable game against the Browns, but Wentz kept making mistakes all game. He threw a pick six and was sacked for a safety, and it’s starting to look like his job may be on the line, or lost already. He’ll have the chance to save things on Monday night in front of a home crowd this week. His task? Defeat Russell Wilson. (Gulp).

Tier IX — The Trevor Tank

30. Cincinnati Bengals 2–7–1 (26)

Chase Young heads onto the field with the rest of the Washington Football Team.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images.

Just when it looked like the Bengals had a successful season and something to build upon, disaster struck one of the NFL’s unluckiest franchises. Deep in his own territory, number one pick and new Cincinnati franchise QB Joe Burrow took a hit from his blindside and his knee buckled beneath him. It was clear immediately that Burrow was done, and we’ve since learned that he tore multiple ligaments, a devastating injury that can only remind Cincinnati fans of Carson Palmer many years ago. Palmer was never really right again, but Burrow is young and will be given all the time he needs, even if he’s not ready for the start of next season. Priority one, two, and three between now and then in Cincinnati? Get the franchise quarterback some protection.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars 1–9 (31)

After two competitive games with Jake Luton, the sixth round rookie finally looked the part as the Jaguars were dominated by the Steelers. Jacksonville has some interesting decisions to make down the stretch. All six remaining opponents are at least 4–6 and within sniffing distance of the playoffs, so it would be very easy to pack up shop and go 1–15, hope the Jets win a game, and put themselves in position to draft Trevor Lawrence or another top quarterback choice. Luton certainly doesn’t seem to be the answer, but should the Jags give Gardner Minshew another shot? If he does just enough to win another game or two but not enough to prove he’s the guy, it could be the worst of both worlds.

32. New York Jets 0–10 (32)

When you go down 24–6 at halftime to a 2–7 team, you can officially start dreaming about that perfectly imperfect 0–16 season. The path to 0–16 is pretty wide open for New York now. Just look at the remaining schedule: Dolphins, Raiders, Seahawks, Rams, Browns, Patriots. The next five opponents are all pushing hard for the playoffs, and that leaves only a final game in New England. If it comes down to that and the Pats are already out, could Bill Belichick out-tank the tankers to keep Trevor Lawrence out of the division? The real question is, would anyone really put it past him?

Place your Thanksgiving Week bets at BetMGM

You may not be doing much traveling this Thanksgiving season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let your wallet do a little traveling for you. So as you stay home and chow down on turkey and stuffing and all the fixings, don’t forget about online sports betting in Week 12. Might as well give yourself something to be thankful for, after all!

Before you place your bets this week, take a look at NFL betting lines and then visit your sportsbook casino online or onsite to place your Thanksgiving Week NFL wagers. Whether you make your picks based on these Power Rankings or any other method, you can always trust BetMGM to have some of the best sports betting odds around.To find out more about the NFL bets, as well as bets available for a number of other sports, be sure to visit BetMGM today.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.