Washington felt like a final nail in the coffin for a lot of potential developments entering the season for the Houston Texans. An improved offensive line looked like a pipe dream, the defense didn’t do much at all against the run and made Taylor Heinicke look great, and Davis Mills hit rock bottom.
The end has finally come! The time to speculate, dream, and wish upon Davis Mills has long gone, but in his wake of inevitable mediocrity, a benching in favor of Kyle Allen was not expected. A result like this required impressively bad quarterbacking, so bad that we can thankful for not having the experience again on Sunday. While I am not thankful for what happened with Davis Mills, I am thankful for the opportunity to see what he was on an NFL team. While the Texans were never capable of giving him a full complement of options or a great coaching staff, Davis Mills showed plenty enough on his own to answer the question of his ability as a starter.
But, that isn’t to say he’s a truly awful quarterback. He is bad, but there is a reason he started 10 games in the NFL. He is not a starter, but he took advantage of this opportunity to play well enough to guarantee a spot as a backup in the future. This is not the Hollywood finish that we may have dreamed of, but there are success stories to be found in the rubble.
Here are my personal power rankings entering Week 12 of the NFL Season. Happy Thanksgiving!
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) (Last Week: 1) - A close game against the Jeff Saturdays was quite the unpleasant surprise for Eagles fans looking to get this season of the ages thing back on track. Either way, it’s still a win, and the offensive line proved their mettle once again.
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-2) (Last Week: 3) - Sometimes it feels like Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are truly impossible to defeat. Kelce is fantastic at getting open and Mahomes is great at giving Kelce the perfect football to catch. The Chargers haven’t exactly had a consistent defense this year, but if Kelce and Mahomes are playing well, they might as well have the Super Bowl handed to them.
- Buffalo Bills (7-3) (Last Week: 4) - While we didn’t get to see the coveted snow game of the ages that mother nature had cooked up for us, we did get to see Buffalo motor past another A-for-effort performance by Jacoby Brissett in motor city.
- Dallas Cowboys (7-3) (Last Week: 8) - Beneath the quick feet and hard hands of Tony Pollard lies the field the Cowboys made their canvas; Through the hot pursuit of Micah Parsons of their defense, the Cowboys made art.
- Baltimore Ravens (7-3) (Last Week: 5) - You never want to be the team that ekes out a close victory against the Carolina Panthers, but this game gave another reason for Ravens fans to be thankful for Lamar Jackson. Carolina had done a great job stuffing the run all game, but it wasn’t enough to keep him out of the end zone when it mattered most.
- Miami Dolphins (7-3) (Last Week: 6) - Bye week, so they get to stay put! After the Bills loss to the Vikings and the Jets loss to the Patriots, the Dolphins are now in control of their destiny in the division. Dolphins fans get to be thankful not only for their first great season in well over a decade, but also the success of the Tyreek Hill trade. Tyreek Hill is a great player, but the improvement of Jaylen Waddle and Tua Tagovailoa on top of Hill has made them a Super Bowl contender for years to come.
- Tennessee Titans (7-3) (Last Week: 7) - The Titans seem to have a good defense regardless of who’s playing and who’s injured. Similar to the Giants, the Titans have made a season out of running the ball and good defense. But, unlike the Giants, players like Ryan Tannehill on offense and Jeffrey Simmons on defense offer up enough plays to make sure they aren’t as one-dimensional. The game-changing play always appears to be within arms reach of the Titans.
- Minnesota Vikings (8-2) (Last Week: 2) - I guess the Buffalo Bills game was their Super Bowl. You never want to judge a team off of just one game, but the Vikings will be hard pressed to beat the Cowboys in the even they meet again the playoffs.
- Seattle Seahawks (6-4) (Last Week: 9) - Bye week, so they get to stay put! The Seahawks will be thankful for the divine blessing of Geno Smith until the end of their days, and with only one month left in the season and several sub-.500 teams dotting the schedule, a playoff berth is almost certain.
- San Francisco 49ers (6-4) (Last Week: 12) - After Monday night’s 38-10 romping of the Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers appear prepared to make their late season push into the playoffs. Every week, the line up of George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Christian McCaffrey looks more impossible to stop.
- Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) (Last Week: 13) - The Bengals get to be thankful that, even after some theatrics in the first half, they get their revenge on a division opponent. The Bengals, like the 49ers, are improving steadily at the most important junction of the season, and a Super Bowl rematch once again looks like a real possibility.
- New York Giants (7-3) (Last Week: 10) - The Giants have been talked up as one of the worst 5-win, then 6-win, then 7-win teams in recent history, and after laying up a stinker against the Lions, it’s easier to see why. The Giants can be thankful that their gameplan of running the ball and relying on defense has worked so well thus far, but the limitations of this team continue to become more apparent as the season wears on.
- New England Patriots (6-4) (Last Week: 15) - After one of the ugliest and morbidly entertaining games to watch in recent history, Patriots fans get to be thankful for Marcus Jones winning the game on a miracle punt return touchdown in the final seconds. The Patriots took Jones in the third round of the 2022 Draft primarily because of his special teams ability, and while it’s very rare to see players taken that high for a purpose as limited as that, it is now literally responsible for a victory against the Jets.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) (Last Week: 14) - Entering December, the Buccaneers can be thankful that they aren’t worse than this. Throughout October, the Bucs’ poor rushing attack and declining defense make a losing record appear likely. Now, with the offensive line improving and the defense back to their old ways, a win streak to enter the playoffs almost feels inevitable.
- Washington Commanders (6-5) (Last Week: 17) - Another good win on both sides of the ball for Washington, they get to be thankful for Taylor Heinicke’s uncanny luck with dropped interceptions and the defense improving down the stretch. Since Ron Rivera has become the Commanders head coach, late season surges have defined this team. Can they get the whole way to the playoffs, again?
- New York Jets (6-4) (Last Week: 11) - What an ugly loss to the Patriots and what a deflating loss for Jets fans. Right when it looked like the moment had finally came for the Jets to be good again, they lay up 3 points against the Patriots. Zach Wilson, especially after his response to the media that gave a chance for every talking head to roast him, does not look like the quarterback of the future. How will the Jets get out of this?
- Los Angeles Chargers (5-5) (Last Week: 16) - Nothing can stop the Los Angeles Chargers from being the most average team in football, not even Justin Herbert.
- Atlanta Falcons (5-6) (Last Week: 19) - The Falcons get to be thankful for a close victory against Justin Fields, but maybe one that highlights their limitations at quarterback. Marcus Mariota has been acceptable, but limited through most of this season, and December can get ugly if Cordarelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier aren’t gaining over 5 yards every carry. Maybe it’d be better just to stick with this and see how the season plays out, but each passing week I get more interested in Desmond Ridder.
- Green Bay Packers (4-7) (Last Week: 18) - Whatever momentum the Packers could’ve hoped to have gained from the Cowboys victory is now gone, but they can still be thankful for being in the wildcard race in the NFC. An earlier loss against Washington can prove fatal, but a path to the playoffs does still exist…even if it starts with Philadelphia.
- New Orleans Saints (4-7) (Last Week: 23) - The Saints beat the Rams in the battle of disappointments, and are still alive in the NFC South race. It hasn’t been a good season, but Saints fans get to be thankful for the magnificence of Chris Olave.
- Cleveland Browns (3-7) (Last Week: 22) - What do the Browns get to be thankful for? Nick Chubb and the offensive line, I guess? This has been another painful season for Browns fans, who are now only two weeks away from losing surprisingly competent play from Jacoby Brissett and gaining accused rapist Deshaun Watson under center.
- Los Angeles Rams (3-7) (Last Week: 21) - The Rams are in full Super Bowl hangover mode. Their defense has been fairly reliable throughout most of this season, but on Sunday - against the Saints of all teams - it appears the bottom fell out. Pending a few more losses, we might get a chance to see what starting quarterback Bryce Perkins is made of.
- Arizona Cardinals (4-7) (Last Week: 20) - It was a tough ask of Arizona to travel to Mexico City and prepare for a healthier and more talented division opponent while their star quarterback is hurt, but they managed to be worse than expected. Hard Knocks might get really ugly.
- Detroit Lions (4-6) (Last Week: 27) - A huge win for Dan Campbell’s Lions now entering their first win streak of his tenure. On Thanksgiving, they’ll get a chance to prove their grit to the country as they host the Bills.
- Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1) (Last Week: 25) - While they’ve been much better under Jeff Saturday than I could have ever expected, the Colts are still a far cry from getting back in the playoff race. Maybe this is the offseason that the Colts will finally draft their next quarterback.
- Chicago Bears (3-8) (Last Week: 24) - The Bears, for the first time in a very long time, get to be thankful that they have a star quarterback in the making in Justin Fields. While his highlight-reel play style has not yielded many wins at this point, an offseason with clear weaknesses to tackle is exactly what a new coaching staff and front office needs to build a contender soon.
- Las Vegas Raiders (3-7) (Last Week: 30) - The Raiders are shockingly bad this year, but shockingly better than expected in some regards. The rushing attack and run-blocking has been solid, Derek Carr has continued to be good, and Davante Adams hasn’t exhibited any sort of drop off since joining the team. What gives, then? Bad passing defense and red zone defense, especially at the end of games, has been absolutely killer.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7) (Last Week: 28) - While they did lose…again…the Steelers continue to hang in games just enough that it feels wrong to call them a completely terrible team. They can be thankful for Kenny Pickett’s competent play behind a bad offensive line.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) (Last Week: 29) - Bye week, so they get to stay put! 3-7 is probably a record Jaguars fans have heard far too many times entering the winter, but a future to look forwards to is always something to be thankful for.
- Denver Broncos (3-7) (Last Week: 26) - There isn’t much to be thankful for as a Broncos fan. This is about as far as you can get from the expectations held by the majority of their fans entering the 2022 season. I guess they can be thankful for Baron Browning?
- Carolina Panthers (3-8) (Last Week: 31) - While the defense has shown some real ability for stretches during the season, there isn’t enough on offense to make a “quick rebuild” something really attainable. Where’s Matt Corral?
- Houston Texans (1-8-1) (Last Week: 32) - Still at the very bottom of my rankings, I think I’m more disappointed in the Texans this year than I was at this point last year. At least last year, the Texans were steadily improving as the season winded down; This year, it feels like nothing can save them from 1-15-1.
Next week, the Houston Texans fly to Miami to face the 7-3 Miami Dolphins. Since becoming a Texan via the massive 2019 trade, Laremy Tunsil could not have asked for more disparate results between two teams. One rebuilt itself in a single year and is going to win 30+ games in 3 seasons, while the other is the Houston Texans. Even though the Texans have now definitively lost that trade, Laremy Tusnil is still a great tackle, and can anchor a revitalized offense next year with a new quarterback. Miami provides an example to Houston that a few good draft selections can go a long way, so maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is closer than it appears.
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