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NFL power rankings coming out of Week 12, broken down by tier

It’s the Steelers and then everybody else in our power rankings, but the top tier of “everybody else” is reeeeeeally good.

Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates a touchdown following a catch during their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NFL has one or two more games to go to close out Week 12. The Eagles host the Seahawks on Monday Night Football, and theoretically the Steelers are hosting the Ravens on Tuesday to close out the week. It remains to be seen if the latter game will happen due to Covid-19, but for now it remains on the schedule.

In the meantime, we’re trying a little something different with our power rankings. Rather than rank teams 1-32, we’ve broken them down into tiers. They’re ranked in their respective tier by record, but teams with the same record are not purposely situated one over another. It’s just to group teams with similar teams in terms of where they stand.

Undefeated tier

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)

They may or may not play in Week 12 depending on the Ravens Covid-19 outbreak. In the meantime, they remain undefeated they remain in their own tier.

Top tier — not undefeated edition

Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)
New Orleans Saints (9-2)
Seattle Seahawks (8-3)

The Chiefs handled the Bucs and the Saints did what they needed to against an undermanned Broncos squad. Seattle handled its business on Monday to remain in this group. The tier below is also going to be in the playoffs with them, but this group is the most likely along with Pittsburgh to make serious noise in January.

Going to the playoffs tier

Buffalo Bills (8-3)
Tennessee Titans (8-3)
Cleveland Browns (8-3)
Green Bay Packers (8-3)
Los Angeles Rams (7-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)

The NFC is a little different than the AFC in this regard. The Rams and Bucs both lost, but with the Bears getting thumped in Green Bay, their playoff statuses don’t take a notable hit.

The parity tier — AFC edition

Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
Arizona Cardinals (6-5)
Baltimore Ravens (6-4)
Miami Dolphins (7-4)
Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

The parity tier — NFC edition

Chicago Bears (5-6)
San Francisco 49ers (5-6)
Minnesota Vikings (5-6)

The added playoff spot leaves a lot more teams in the mix for a playoff berth. It also takes the NFL’s drive for parity close to a logical end point of everybody being alive for a playoff berth in December.

Last week, we had separate tiers for “in good shape” and “work cut out for them.” This week, we’re splitting these eight teams up by conference. Any of these eight could make the playoffs or miss the playoffs, and I don’t know that any of us would be surprised. However, the NFC teams are a step down from the AFC teams for the time being. And so, we keep them close together, but separated.

Not out of the playoff race, but too many questions tier

Detroit Lions (4-7)
New England Patriots (5-6)

If Detroit was in the AFC, they’d be down in the playing out the string tier, while if the Patriots were in the NFC, they’d be in the parity tier. Such is the luck of the draw for conferences. Detroit is only two games back of Arizona, while New England is two games back of the Colts and Dolphins. It would be an upset if either team made the playoffs, but I’m not quite prepared to drop them completely out of this.

Playing out the string with some optimism tier

Denver Broncos (4-7)
Carolina Panthers (4-8)
Los Angeles Chargers (3-8)
Houston Texans (4-7)
Atlanta Falcons (4-7)
Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1)

These teams aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but their seasons are done and they’re playing out the string. Some of these teams have reason for optimism while others have some soul-searching to do. The Chargers and Bengals are hoping they’ve found their franchise quarterbacks. The Texans have their franchise QB and now need to find a coach. The Falcons’ future is entirely uncertain with Matt Ryan. The Broncos need to clear up their Covid-19 issues, but are hoping Drew Lock is their guy. And the Panthers are sort of in the middle with some reasons for optimism but some significant questions.

NFC East tier

New York Giants (4-7)
Washington Football Team (4-7)
Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1)
Dallas Cowboys (3-8)

The Giants and Washington both won and now we await the Eagles on Monday against the Seahawks. The NFC East is going to remain in its own tier in our power rankings because we need to isolate dumpster fires.

Trevor Lawrence tier

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10)
New York Jets (0-11)

The Jaguars fired their GM and the Jets did not look any better with Sam Darnold and his wide receivers back. The tanking continues!