November 29, 2011
1. Green Bay Packers (11-0) — Sunday’s game at the Giants could be the biggest remaining hurdle towards 16-0. How bad do the Packers want to run the table?
2. New England Patriots (8-3) — With a two-game lead and the tiebreaker on their side, the Patriots have almost locked up the AFC East. The schedule sets up well for a run at home-field advantage.
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3) – The Ravens stay on top of the AFC North with a Thanksgiving Day win in the Harbaugh bowl. Now they must avoid any more letdowns.
5. San Francisco 49ers (9-2) – Despite the loss, the Niners show they can compete with the NFL elite. They can clinch the NFC West with a win against St. Louis.
6. Houston Texans (8-3) – The Texans pick up another win but lose another quarterback. Now it’s up to rookie T.J. Yates to lead a playoff run.
7. Atlanta Falcons (7-4) – Atlanta has won five of the last six. Sunday’s trip to Houston looks more winnable with the Texans down to the third-string quarterback.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) – It wasn’t pretty in Kansas City but a win is a win. Huge game in the AFC North this week against Cincinnati.
10. Dallas Cowboys (7-4) – America’s Team has moved to the top of the NFC East with four straight wins. They need to make it five in a row before a critical meeting with the Giants.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – The Bengals continue to exceed expectations. If they can do that on Sunday and beat the Steelers, it would go a long way towards getting them to the playoffs.
13. Oakland Raiders (7-4) – It’s a two team race in the AFC West. Oakland has a one-game lead but the more difficult schedule.
14. New York Jets (6-5) – The Jets got back on track with a win over Buffalo. They should pick up a couple more wins with Washington and Kansas City in the next couple weeks.
15. Tennessee Titans (6-5) – The Titans beat Tampa Bay in what was essentially an elimination game. They can knock the Bills out with a win this week.
16. New York Giants (6-5) – The Giants are in big trouble after losing three straight and the undefeated Packers are up next. The good news is they still play the Cowboys twice so they can control their fate.
18. Buffalo Bills (5-6) – The Bills are on life support after four losses in a row. They will have to run the table for the week 17 game at New England to matter.
19. Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) – With the loss to New England, the Eagles have a stranglehold on the most disappointing team of the year. How much worse will it get?
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) – The Bucs are another disappointing team in the NFC. They need to beat Carolina to avoid falling into last in the NFC South.
22. San Diego Chargers (4-7) – What happened during their bye week? The Chargers were 4-1 before the bye and are now 0-6 after.
23. Miami Dolphins (3-8) – The Dolphins have won three of four. They could give the Bills a run for third in the AFC East.
24. Washington Redskins (4-7) – They broke the six-game losing streak against Seattle. They could start a new streak with three teams fighting for the playoffs coming up next.
25. Minnesota Vikings (2-9) – The Vikings have lost three straight. If they don’t find a way to beat Tebow it could become six straight with the Lions and Saints coming up.
26. Seattle Seahawks (3-7) – The Seahawks blew a 10-point lead against Washington. At least they have a short week to think about it.
27. Carolina Panthers (3-8) – The Panthers are much better than last year but aren’t getting many wins to show for it. But they have found their quarterback.
28. Kansas City Chiefs (4-7) – The defense played well against the Steelers but the offense couldn’t get it going. Will they turn to Kyle Orton this week?
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) – Jack Del Rio has been fired. This franchise has a lot of work to do.
30. Cleveland Browns (4-7) – They put up a fight against Cincinnati but came up short. And there’s more bad news; four of the last five games are against Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
31. St. Louis Rams (2-9) – The way this team has played its hard to find another win on their schedule. The best chance appears to be at Seattle.
32. Indianapolis Colts (0-11) – The Colts could make a run at 0-16. They are at New England and Baltimore for the next two.