NFL power rankings

By Brian Billick

Brian Billick is an acclaimed NFL game analyst for FOX Sports and a Super Bowl-winning coach.

Yes, the Texans had a scare, but they still got the W and nobody else near the top stepped up to claim the throne. I’ve got a line on who’s hot and who’s not going into Week 12.

1 Texans 9-1

I’m just as surprised as the next person that it took the Texans 73 minutes to land the knockout punch on the Jaguars, but no one else had dominating enough wins to jump 9-1 Houston.

2 Broncos 7-3

J.J. Watt and Charles Tillman have company in the defensive player of the year conversation, and his name is Von Miller. He has seven sacks and three forced fumbles over the last three games.

3 Falcons 9-1

With five interceptions on Sunday, Matt Ryan clearly wasn’t at his best, but it says something about a team that can find a way to win even with a minus-5 turnover differential.

4 49ers 7-2-1 +4

The 49ers were good on Monday night, but were they too good without Alex Smith? I smell a quarterback controversy moving forward.

5 Packers 7-3 +1

It hasn’t been easy, but the Packers are now on a five-game winning streak, their longest since they opened the 2011 season with 13 straight.

6 Patriots 7-3 +3

Winning on the road is a tough task in the NFL, but it’s just as noteworthy when a team dominates at home against a team they should beat. It sounds odd, but a championship caliber team handles business when they are supposed to.

7 Ravens 8-2

The Ravens defense may be struggling against the run, but they are good when and where it counts. They are a top-10 scoring defense and lead the league in red-zone defense. Not too shabby for a defense without their leader in Ray Lewis and their best corner in LarDarius Webb.

8 Bears 7-3 -4

This team saw what life was like without Jay Cutler last year and addressed it by signing Jason Campbell. After last night, I’m not sure that was the solution. Maybe a couple new offensive linemen?

9 Buccaneers 6-4 +1

Even with two head-to-head games remaining with the Falcons, it is probably too late to catch them for the division championship. But the Bucs are in prime position to earn a wild-card spot.

10 Steelers 6-4 -5

This team is at its best outside the scope of the original play, and that can’t happen without Big Ben extending plays the way he does with his pocket awareness and sneaky athleticism. Now that task will be left to Charlie Batch…not quite the same.

11 Seahawks 6-4

I hate the passer rating statistic as a talent evaluator, but it can be used as a baseline for comparison, and there isn’t a QB in the league with a better passer rating at home than Russell Wilson. Still need to do it on the road though.

12 Saints 5-5 +1

Joe Vitt’s return to the sidelines has been monumental for the Saints. If nothing else, it has lessened the burden on Drew Brees and has allowed him to be just the quarterback of this team.

13 Giants 6-4 +1

I’m not sure a 9-7 team makes the playoffs this year unless they win their own division, and that may be the case for the Giants. But then again, it seemed to work out pretty well for them last year.

14 Bengals 5-5 +3

The Bengals are playing their best football of the year at the best time of the year. At 5-5, they are in the thick of a wild-card race with the Steelers and the Colts.

15 Colts 6-4 -3

With Andrew Luck throwing three picks and the defense giving up 59 points, the Colts may have come back down to Earth on Sunday, but they are still in the driver’s seat for the wild-card race.

16 Vikings 6-4 -1

With six wins, the Vikings are clearly in contention for the wild card, but when looking at their schedule, it is tough to find two wins in their remaining six games.

17 Cowboys 5-5 -1

Don’t look now, but Tony Romo hasn’t thrown an interception in three straight games.

18 Redskins 4-6 +2

RG3 had just one incomplete pass on Sunday. He was 14 of 15 for 200 yards and four touchdowns. I’d say that is pretty efficient.

19 Lions 4-6 -1

Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford have found the chemistry that eluded them earlier in the season, but it hasn’t helped them in the win column with two straight losses.

20 Jets 4-6 +7

The Jets scored 14 points off of three turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over themselves. Mark Sanchez completing 75 percent of his passes doesn’t hurt either.

21 Cardinals 4-6

The Cardinals had six takeaways and were plus-5 in turnover differential and still lost. I guess that’s what happens when you only gain seven first downs and go just 2 for 16 on third-down conversions.

22 Bills 4-6 +1

The Bills were also awful on third downs, converting just 2 of 12 on the night, but were able to overcome it by scoring two special-teams touchdowns — one punt return and another kickoff return.

23 Dolphins 4-6 -4

The Dolphins just aren’t explosive enough on offense to compete every week. They are 0-6 when surrendering more than 18 points in a game … you need your offense to do a little more than that.

24 Titans 4-6 +1

If the Titans can use Jake Locker’s athleticism the same way that Washington is using RG3, they will control the ball and help to bail their defense out.

25 Browns 2-8 +1

The Browns committed 12 penalties for 129 yards and that can be the difference in a one-possession ball game. Five of their eight losses this season have been just that.

26 Rams 3-6-1 -2

If the opposition can take away Danny Amendola, there isn’t much left to get burned by.

27 Chargers 4-6 +1

The Chargers have now been swept by the Broncos for the first time since the 2005 season.

28 Eagles 3-7 -6

Even if they aren’t going to compete for Andy Reid, the players can’t afford to just lay down now. Other teams are watching and they need to prove they are good teammates for the future, in Philly or elsewhere.

29 Panthers 2-8 +1

Linebacker Luke Kuechly can flat-out produce in this league. He now has six straight games with double-digit tackles.

30 Jaguars 1-9 +1

Where has Justin Blackmon been all season? Oh, we are blaming that on Blaine Gabbert too…

31 Raiders 3-7 -2

The Raiders had more first downs, more total yards, more passing yards and fewer penalties than the Saints on Sunday, but lost the turnover battle, and that usually means a loss in the books.

32 Chiefs 1-9

I never thought I would see fans wearing bags on their heads in Arrowhead Stadium. That used to be the one of toughest places to win in the NFL … used to be.