Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus what each team is thankful for


The NFL Power Rankings are a big fan of the holidays (who doesn’t love Thanksgiving football?), so we’re using this space this week to identify what we’re thankful for across the league. Whether it’s feel-good stories (Washington), great success (Steelers) or being creative (Jets), our NFL Nation writers picked one aspect of the teams they cover to toast this week.

How we rank in our Power Rankings: Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings: 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

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NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

Week 11 ranking: 1

What they’re thankful for: QB Ben Roethlisberger

At 10-0, the Steelers’ cup really runneth over with gratitude. The Steelers should be thankful for an undefeated record, including wins in trap games and against previously undefeated opponents. And, of course, there’s the three-game lead over the rest of the division. But the thing — or rather, person — the Steelers should be most thankful for this season is easy: Roethlisberger. Without the quarterback, the Steelers wouldn’t be in this position. He’s a calming, veteran presence capable of taking over a game, which he has done a couple of times this season. And his health is the difference-maker for a team that was 8-8 last year without him. — Brooke Pryor



Ryan Clark demands Stephen A. Smith respect the Steelers’ 10-0 record after Stephen A. calls the team more overrated than underrated.

Week 11 ranking: 2

What they’re thankful for: Coach Andy Reid

Sure, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and several others would be appropriate here. But Reid is the one who turned the franchise around. The Chiefs have a winning streak of at least five games in each of Reid’s eight seasons. They won no more than four games in four of the six seasons before his arrival. And there’s also last season’s Super Bowl win to break a 50-year championship drought. — Adam Teicher

Week 11 ranking: 4

What they’re thankful for: A cornucopia of quarterbacks

In a league where so many teams are plagued by their inability to find a QB they can trust, the Saints have now won games with Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston behind center over the past two seasons. Of course it helps that they have Sean Payton calling the shots and a defense playing at an elite level. But there is a lot to be thankful when you’re 8-2. — Mike Triplett



Stephen A. Smith debates Dan Orlovsky and Max Kellerman about why he believes the Packers are the fourth best team in the NFC North.

Week 11 ranking: 3

What they’re thankful for: A salary-cap magician

The Packers are facing perhaps their most difficult offseason in terms of managing the salary cap and cash spending, but fortunately they have one of the most respected capologists in the NFL in director of football operations Russ Ball. He has almost always made it so the Packers never had to release a player simply for salary-cap purposes rather than performance. The lowered salary cap for 2021 — combined with the megadeals for Kenny Clark and David Bakhtiari — ensures that Ball, along with GM Brian Gutekunst, are going to have to get creative again. — Rob Demovsky

Week 11 ranking: 7

What they’re thankful for: A franchise quarterback

Although he improved drastically in his second year, the jury was still out on Josh Allen being the Bills’ franchise quarterback. The thought was, by the middle of the 2020 season it would be clear whether he was worthy of the title. Ten games in, he has the Bills at 7-3, in position to win their first AFC East title since 1995, and ranks seventh in the NFL in passing yards. He is a legitimate MVP candidate at his best and a good starter at his worst. After nearly two decades of below-average play at the position, Buffalo fans can sit comfortably knowing Allen will captain this offense for years to come. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Week 11 ranking: 6

What they’re thankful for: QB Tom Brady

Who else? Did anyone think in a million years that Brady would choose a downtrodden franchise that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2002? In 2020, he has led the Bucs to a 7-4 start for the first time since 2010 and helped reinstall a winning culture. They’re far from a finished product, but few, if any, outwork Brady, whose impact can be seen everywhere — from execution in the red zone to Byron Leftwich’s playcalling and the performance of their young, but emerging, defense. — Jenna Laine

Week 11 ranking: 10

What they’re thankful for: The Carlos Dunlap trade

Dunlap leads Seahawks defensive linemen with 3.5 sacks despite playing only three games with his new team. That gives you an idea of how impactful he has been and how badly the Seahawks needed him. His second sack this past Thursday sealed their win over Arizona. He also has seven additional QB hits and five tackles for loss since coming over in a trade with Cincinnati last month. Before then, the Seahawks didn’t have nearly enough edge-rushing firepower with their best threat, Bruce Irvin, on injured reserve since September. — Brady Henderson



Tim Hasselbeck breaks down how the Colts’ defense helped them secure a win over the Packers.

Week 11 ranking: 11

What they’re thankful for: A legit defense

Top-ranked defense and Indianapolis are words that haven’t been in the same sentence too much over the years. But the Colts have a legitimate defense that has spent a significant portion of the season ranked No. 1 in the NFL. The unit, led by linebacker Darius Leonard and lineman DeForest Buckner, has forced 17 turnovers (12 interceptions, five fumble recoveries) this season, which are tied for the second most in the league. — Mike Wells

Week 11 ranking: 9

What they’re thankful for: Defense

Sean McVay built an offensive juggernaut in his first two seasons as coach, but now in his fourth season, the defense has taken over and ranks second in the NFL in efficiency and average points allowed per game (18.7). Defensive tackle Aaron Donald has set the tone with 32 pressures entering Monday night and nine sacks while Jalen Ramsey has not only been a lockdown cornerback, but has proved he can play various positions in the secondary. The Rams also have several lesser-known players who have stepped up, including cornerback Darious Williams, who leads the team with four interceptions. — Lindsey Thiry

Week 11 ranking: 12

What they’re thankful for: RB Derrick Henry

Henry easily is the player the Titans should be most thankful for. It’s always the team-first approach for Henry. He has become a leader and is quick to heap praise on teammates when asked about personal achievements. Henry is one of the Titans’ most consistent and explosive players. He takes a pounding week after week but still shows up in key moments. There’s no better example of his timely dominance than his 419 rushing yards in the fourth quarter/overtime this season. Henry’s two rushing touchdowns in overtime serve as proof that he is the finisher for the Titans — the gift that keeps on giving. — Turron Davenport

Week 11 ranking: 5

What they’re thankful for: Easy December schedule

After a Thanksgiving night game in Pittsburgh, the banged-up and reeling Ravens get a much-needed reprieve with the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL. Baltimore’s last five opponents have a combined 16-33-1 record (.333). The Ravens don’t look much like a playoff team right now after losing three of their past four games. But Baltimore should reach the postseason for a third straight season by taking care of the Cowboys (3-7), Jaguars (1-9), Giants (3-7) and Bengals (2-7-1). — Jamison Hensley



Dan Orlovsky says the Ravens don’t have an identity on offense and calls on Lamar Jackson to be the guy to elevate the team.

Week 11 ranking: 8

What they’re thankful for: QB Kyler Murray

Without Murray playing like he has, regardless of his ups and downs, the Cardinals wouldn’t be 6-4 and in the playoff picture. He has bailed out the Cardinals’ offense and coach Kliff Kingsbury on many occasions by using his legs to make plays, get first downs and score touchdowns when a play has broken down. He has been able to read the defense a specific way on an RPO or when Kingsbury has called a designed run. As Kingsbury said recently, Murray has covered for a lot mistakes and made them right. And, for that, Cardinals fans should be saying extra thanks this Thanksgiving. — Josh Weinfuss

Week 11 ranking: 14

What they’re thankful for: QB Derek Carr

Who else is old enough to remember when Carr was going to be replaced by $7.5 million backup quarterback Marcus Mariota by midseason? While Mariota has yet to be active for a game, Carr is thriving in this, his third season in coach Jon Gruden’s offense. Sure, many would like Carr to revert to his old gunslinger ways at times, but he has shown he can win by throwing deep, taking what defenses give him, or by commanding a punishing running game. — Paul Gutierrez

Week 11 ranking: 15

What they’re thankful for: The offensive line

In one year, the Browns have gone from having one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL to boasting one of its best. Cleveland, in fact, is top 10 in the league in both pass block and run block win rate. With the additions of Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. at tackle and the emergence of Wyatt Teller at guard, the Browns have no weaknesses up front. And the offensive line has been a driving force behind Cleveland’s turnaround. — Jake Trotter

Week 11 ranking: 13

What they’re thankful for: A healthy Xavien Howard

Howard has reestablished himself as the NFL’s best ballhawk and one of the best cornerbacks in the league. After missing 11 games with a knee injury in 2019, Howard is back and tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions. The Dolphins’ defense can be a lot more aggressive and productive with Howard patrolling the passing lanes, and his presence is definitely reason to be thankful. — Cameron Wolfe

Week 11 ranking: 16

What they’re thankful for: LB Roquan Smith

Smith is playing at an All-Pro level. The inside linebacker leads the NFL with 15 tackles for loss and ranks tied for third with 96 total tackles through Week 11. Smith, 23, arguably has been the best player on Chicago’s ferocious defense; a unit that also features former Pro Bowlers Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller. The eighth overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft, Smith’s upside is enormous. The Bears might perpetually struggle on offense, but the defense should be in good hands with Smith for years to come. — Jeff Dickerson

Week 11 ranking: 17

What they’re thankful for: LB Fred Warner

Since good health certainly isn’t on the list of things the Niners can be thankful for this season, their appreciation for the continued ascent to stardom of their middle linebacker undoubtedly is. While much of their star power has been lost to injury, Warner has been the one constant in the middle of the defense, offering durability, productivity and leadership in large doses. Warner is finally getting the recognition he deserves as one of the league’s best linebackers and is in line for a massive contract extension, perhaps as soon as the coming offseason. — Nick Wagoner

Week 11 ranking: 18

What they’re thankful for: RB James White‘s presence

The outpouring of support for White on Sept. 20, when he was preparing to play a prime-time game against the Seahawks before learning that his father was killed in a car accident, speaks to how revered he is across the NFL. His presence, and the class and leadership he exudes on a daily basis, makes the Patriots better on and off the field. — Mike Reiss

Week 11 ranking: 19

What they’re thankful for: LBs Eric Wilson and Eric Kendricks

These two are the glue that has held the Vikings’ defense together. Kendricks is having another All-Pro-type season while Wilson has emerged in the absence of Anthony Barr and leads all NFL linebackers with three interceptions. Minnesota’s defense has experienced constant ups and downs given injuries and the youth/inexperience on the defensive line and in the secondary. Kendricks and Wilson are critical factors in maintaining stability, and Wilson’s play on special teams (he blocked an extra point against Dallas) is worth noting, too. — Courtney Cronin

Week 11 ranking: 20

What they’re thankful for: QB Teddy Bridgewater

Moving on from franchise quarterback Cam Newton drew criticism and angst from many outside Bank of America Stadium, but Bridgewater has proved to be everything the coaching staff was looking for, and more. He has handled the transition with class and dignity and has shown that he is more than worthy of replacing the best quarterback — maybe best player — in franchise history. Bridgewater has shown you can perform at a high level and be humble and fun-loving without being the center of attention, as Newton often was because of his celebrity status. — David Newton

Week 11 ranking: 23

What they’re thankful for: Some backbone

Sure, their bad moments have been really bad. They have 13 players on injured reserve (a list that includes Von Miller, Courtland Sutton and Jurrell Casey), have dealt with several COVID-19 cases, had an unexpected bye when the Week 5 Patriots game was moved and have 12 players 23 years old or younger on the roster. Yet they’ve kept digging in and shown some toughness, highlighted by Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins. That won’t get them a merit badge, but there have been more talented teams that didn’t work this hard to try and overcome as much as this team has. — Jeff Legwold



Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Dan Orlovsky get into a heated debate over whether it’s time for the Eagles to bench Carson Wentz.

Week 11 ranking: 21

What they’re thankful for: C Jason Kelce

Kelce will start his 100th consecutive game Monday, extending the longest active streak among centers. He will do so in pain, as he suffered an elbow injury against the Browns on Sunday that limited him to the point where his teammates had to buckle his chin strap for him. Yet he continued to play, as he has through so many injuries over his 10-year career. It’s part of the reason why he is one of the most revered Eagles of all time. — Tim McManus

Week 11 ranking: 25

What they’re thankful for: QB Justin Herbert

Herbert has taken the Chargers to a new level and is on pace to set several rookie quarterback records. He has kept fans invested and interested — even as they started 3-7 — and could ultimately be what draws fans in the Los Angeles market to the Chargers. His 2,699 passing yards have been 99 percent fun to watch. And his new haircut just tops it off. — Shelley Smith

Week 11 ranking: 22

What they’re thankful for: The offensive line

Detroit’s offensive line — particularly the left side — has been phenomenal (save for Sunday against Carolina). Left tackle Taylor Decker is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Center Frank Ragnow also is at a Pro Bowl level. Rookie left guard Jonah Jackson looks like a stable blocker for years to come and should end up on a bunch of all-rookie teams. While right guard has been an issue, Tyrell Crosby has stepped in at right tackle and played well. But in another down Lions season, the offensive line has sparked a run game and protected Matthew Stafford pretty well. — Michael Rothstein

Week 11 ranking: 24

What they’re thankful for: WR health (when they can get it)

Julio Jones was limited again by a hamstring injury throughout Sunday’s loss at New Orleans — yet another reminder of how valuable his health is to the Falcons’ fortunes (Jones has 20 catches for 328 yards and three TDs this season). When Jones and Calvin Ridley are healthy, Atlanta would put its WR duo against any in the league. — Mike Triplett



Dan Orlovsky is adamant Daniel Jones and the Giants are the best team in the NFC East.

Week 11 ranking: 26

What they’re thankful for: Coach Joe Judge

While the Giants haven’t won much this season, it appears they might have found their coach. Judge has put his program in motion and the early returns are positive. The Giants are playing hard for their new coach and appear to be paving the road for success in the future with Judge at the helm. Finally, something to be optimistic about. — Jordan Raanan

Week 11 ranking: 28

What they’re thankful for: QB Deshaun Watson

As the McNair family looks for the Texans’ next general manager and head coach, they should be thankful for the quarterback they can build around. Although the Texans are 3-7, that record is not indicative of how well Watson has played. And on Sunday against the Patriots, he showed just how much he has had to do to will the Texans to a win, accounting for 380 of Houston’s 399 net yards. He also scored all three of the Texans’ touchdowns. — Sarah Barshop

Week 11 ranking: 30

What they’re thankful for: The NFC East

How can it be anything other than the NFC East? If not for the division, the final six games would be about draft positioning. At 3-7, the Cowboys have as many wins as anybody in the division. They’re in it, whatever that actually means. But if you’re looking for something different, go with rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb. He holds the team’s rookie record for catches in a season and has shown he can be a cornerstone piece for the future. — Todd Archer

Week 11 ranking: 29

What they’re thankful for: QB Alex Smith

In a year that has been occasionally bad or dreadful for this franchise, Smith has served as a feel-good story. There are some talented young players in Washington, notably receiver Terry McLaurin and defensive end Chase Young, but Smith’s play — coupled with his two-year recovery from a horrific leg injury — serves as an inspiration. On the field, Smith gives Washington a shot to finish strong. His knowledge and comfort in the offense has been evident and his calmness rubs off on the others. Even if Washington doesn’t win a bad division, Smith has helped develop its young players with his experience and wisdom. — John Keim



Stephania Bell goes into detail about Joe Burrow’s injury and explains how so much damage was done.

Week 11 ranking: 27

What they’re thankful for: WR Tee Higgins

Finding anything to be thankful for is incredibly difficult after Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury. However, Higgins has been one of the bright spots in a season that is quickly headed south. The second-round pick gives the Bengals another important piece to build around heading into 2021 and beyond. Higgins is poised to step into the role vacated by A.J. Green, who slowly is becoming the Bengals’ WR3 as he transitions into the next stage of his career. — Ben Baby

Week 11 ranking: 31

What they’re thankful for: RB James Robinson

Robinson is one of the very few bright spots for the Jaguars. He has been their best offensive player and is third in the NFL in rushing behind Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook with 762 yards and is the fifth undrafted rookie in NFL history to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards. If he stays healthy, he should break Dominic Rhodes’ NFL record for most yards from scrimmage by an undrafted rookie (1,328 in 2001) rather easily. — Mike DiRocco

Week 11 ranking: 32

What they’re thankful for: Bert Bell

Who? The late Eagles co-owner was the driving force behind the creation of the NFL draft in 1936 — and the draft is the only thing Jets fans can embrace as they endure the worst season in franchise history. The 2021 draft is particularly appealing because it might include a generational quarterback prospect, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. So as their 0-10 team careens toward the No. 1 overall pick, Jets fans can find solace in knowing there’s hope in the future. So, a Thanksgiving toast to Bert Bell, who beats Le’Veon when it comes to impactful Bells for the franchise. — Rich Cimini

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