NFL Power Rankings Week 12: AFC East
When it comes to NFL Power Rankings, where do the NY Jets and the rest of the AFC East sit heading into Week 12?
Nov 23, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan shakes hands with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after the New England Patriots 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
After a crazy Monday night affair between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots that wraps up Week 11 in the NFL, things have remained the same within the AFC East. But the top of the AFC East remains unbeaten as the Patriots sit perched atop the standings seemingly with the division on cruise control.
There are still 6 important games left for the AFC East and much is still left to be decided including the intriguing AFC wildcard race in which the Jets could very well see a win and get in scenario Week 17 against the Bills.
So let’s break down the NFL Power Rankings for Week 12 in the NFL.
Next: 1. Still the champs
Nov 23, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) takes the field before their game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
1. New England Patriots (10-0)
The Patriots are 10-0 after beating the Bills on Monday Night Football in a tasty AFC East Week 11 match-up that certainly lived up to the hype. Though there were a lot of questionable refereeing going on that really muddied the game. But of course we all knew who would come out despite a good effort from Rex Ryan and company.
The intriguing question now is whether the Patriots can really go the rest of the way undefeated. At first glance most people would say no due to all the injuries at key positions for the Patriots, but with the way the Patriots have been winning games I wouldn’t be so sure. This team is finding different ways to win every week and they have a solid rhythm.
Also just so we can clarify it’s a foregone conclusion the Patriots are winning the AFC East after beating Buffalo, they have a 5+ game lead with division tie breakers over everyone, especially the Bills who they just swept. It seems like the AFC playoffs will be running through Foxboro come January.
What appeared to be a sexy match-up on paper in the preseason now looks much different in Week 12 between the Denver Broncos and the Patriots. No, this won’t be another chapter in the infamous rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, it’s going to be the first chapter in the Brock Osweiler vs Brady book. Can the Broncos get the upset? Everyone in the AFC East especially would love to see it happen.
Next: 2. So close yet so far
Nov 23, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) grimaces after being hit while throwing during the second half of the New England Patriots 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
2. Buffalo Bills (5-5)
The Bills had their chances, but ultimately too many mistakes to realistically have a chance at beating one of if not the best team in all of football. Tyrod Taylor missed some critical throws and when his throws were on target they were dropped. Which begs the question, can Taylor bring this team where they want to go?
Those questions will continue to linger until Taylor can win these kind of games, even with the loss to the Patriots, the Bills are still in the thick of it. The Bills’ season will be defined by this final stretch in which over the next 2 weeks they play the two teams ahead of them in the standings: the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans. Though the Bills had some identitity issues as Conor Orr from NFL.com kindly points out in his post-game review article Patriots stay perfect by once again foiling Bills, Ryan:
“Your team is down 20-10 against the best team in football. You are on your own 47-yard line and you have McCoy and Williams. On third down, you run an ill-advised stretch play. It’s fine. Everyone makes mistakes. On fourth down, though, you punt. Some will read this as a concession of sorts by Ryan, and the Bills eventually held the Patriots on the ensuing drive, but what is the point of “building a bully” if you cannot use them in situations like this? Is this not the precise reason why Ryan signed Richie Incognito? Now, a team with only one timeout remaining gets the ball back 2 1/2 minutes later no closer to a tie.”
Again to reiterate, the Bills are fortunate in the fact that they still hold their own destiny in their hands and the playoffs are still a very realistic possibility. They remain in 2nd place in the AFC East with tie breakers over the flailing Jets. Taylor got really beat up in the game and his status is questionable for the upcoming pivotal game with the Chiefs so we’ll have to monitor that throughout the shortened week.
Next: 3. So you're saying there's a chance?
Nov 22, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New York Jets strong safety Marcus Williams (20) smiles after a defensive play during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Jets 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
3. New York Jets (5-5)
Why is Marcus Williams smiling after going 1-4 over the last 5 weeks and sitting in 3rd place in the AFC East? Well somehow even though the sky appears to be falling, divine intervention has intervened for the Jets and suddenly they’re only a half a game out of the AFC wildcard. That just speaks to the crazy nature of the NFL that is more unpredictable than it’s ever been.
AFC WC: 1. PIT: 6-4 2. KC: 5-5 3. HOU: 5-5 4. BUF: 5-5 5. NYJ: 5-5 6. OAK: 4-6 7. JAK: 4-6 8. MIA: 4-6 PIT @ SEA, BUF @ KC coming up
— Joe Caporoso (@TurnOnTheJets) November 24, 2015
Here it is, the current standings for the AFC playoff race (wildcard) the Jets did themselves no favors by losing to the T.J. Yates led Texans, they simply muddied the picture further. In a game most analysts had the Jets dominating, they flopped. The offense is giving this team no margin for error, they continue to start games slow offensively leaving the Jets’ defense in vulnerable positions.
The AFC East is far out of reach for the Jets, but the playoffs aren’t. But after a 1-4 stretch the Jets are desperately searching for answers and if they don’t find it against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, you can count the Jets out this season. They need to sweep the Dolphins and start playing better football in all phases of the game. They shouldn’t still be in it, but they are and head coach Todd Bowles has got to turn things around.
It seems so long ago that the Jets were 4-1 with AFC East title hopes and the hype was continuing to build with Chris Ivory running over everything, Brandon Marshall catching everything, and Ryan Fitzpatrick playing ball control offense while not turning the football over.
When the Jets played the Dolphins across the pond, they did nearly everything right. Can they find that same magic on Sunday? It’s going to be tough against a scrappy Dolphins bunch, but the Jets have no choice as they need to win this game to keep their hopes alive.
Next: 4. The struggling Dolphins
Nov 22, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy (76) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) in the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Cowboys defeated the Dolphins 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports
4. Miami Dolphins (4-6)
The Dolphins’ playoff hopes are non-existent, they’re in the cellar of the AFC East and there’s no coming out of it, but they have the chance to play spoiler down the stretch with their interim head coach Dan Campbell. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has regressed during the course of the 2015 season, the Dolphins effort has been inconsistent and the team has understandably suffered.
So where do these Dolphins sit in the NFL Power Rankings? Well Elliot Harrison gave his 2 cents after 11 weeks of football and gave this little snippet on the Dolphins and their playoff chances in his weekly segment on NFL.com, NFL Power Rankings Week 12:
“Yet another 4-6 team trying to get in position for a wild-card stretch run. The problem for this particular 4-6 team? No offense, Fin fans, but your team has no offense. Miami went 1-for-10 on third down and gained just 210 yards in total. Ryan Tannehill’s pick-six to Rolando McClain wasn’t helpful. Sunday’s game at the New Meadowlands carries weighty wild-card implications.”
Next: Injury update on Darrelle Revis
Maybe I’m tossing out the Dolphins too quick, but probably not. It’s been a crazy NFL season so anything is possible, but the woeful performance against the Dallas Cowboys isn’t promising. It’s definitely do or die in the New Meadowlands for the Dolphins. They have a chance to spoil the Jets’ playoff hopes but I expect a tough gritty performance from Gang Green at home in Week 12.