In honor of Thanksgiving, this week’s power rankings will feature a list of what every team has to be thankful for this holiday season. But before we get down to football business, I want to wish you, your family and friends a happy holiday weekend. Gobble, gobble! Now, on to the rankings…
Last Week: 1
Green Bay Packers (10-0)What they’re thankful for: Um…duh, Aaron Rodgers, the best QB in the league this year.
Last Week: 2
San Francisco 49ers (9-1)What they’re thankful for: Coach Jim Harbaugh and his unique combination of intensity and toughness.
Last Week: 5
New England Patriots (7-3)What they’re thankful for: Um…duh, Tom Brady, the second best QB in the league this year.
Last Week: 6
Baltimore Ravens (7-3)What they’re thankful for: The team finally has a legit deep speed threat on offense in rookie wideout Torrey Smith.
Last Week: 7
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)What they’re thankful for: That four of their last six games are against teams with records below .500.
Last Week: 3
Houston Texans (7-3)What they’re thankful for: That at least one of their injured superstars, All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson, is finally returning from injury after seven weeks.
Last Week: 8
New Orleans Saints (7-3)What they’re thankful for: Atlanta head coach Mike Smith’s play-calling, which gave the Saints the game last week and the head-to-head advantage in the NFC South, which in turn gives the Saints the inside track on a home playoff game right now.
Last Week: 9
Chicago Bears (7-3)What they’re thankful for: The loss of Jay Cutler puts this team in a really tough bind heading into the playoff stretch run, so I’m going to have to say Chicagoans can be thankful for deep dish pizza. (I hear it’s the perfect complement to turkey and mashed potatoes.)
Last Week: 10
Detroit Lions (7-3)What they’re thankful for: The gift of Kevin Smith, the obscure running back who was picked up off the street and gave the Lions three touchdowns in his second game of the season.
Last Week: 12
Dallas Cowboys (6-4)What they’re thankful for: Tony Romo’s good health, which has resulted in America’s QB tossing 8 TDs and 0 INTs in his last three games with the ‘Boys, all wins.
Last Week: 4
New York Giants (6-4)What they’re thankful for: That they get an extra night to prepare for their Monday night game against the explosive Saints coming off a bye week.
Last Week: 14
Atlanta Falcons (6-4)What they’re thankful for: Tight end Tony Gonzalez, the ageless wonder, who at 34-years old is fifth in the league among tight ends in receiving yards.
Last Week: 17
Denver Broncos (5-5)What they’re thankful for: TTTTTEEEEEBBBBBOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!!!! (Did you even have to ask?)
Last Week: 15
Oakland Raiders (6-4)What they’re thankful for: The mid-season acquisition of quarterback Carson Palmer, who is rounding into form after a rough start in Oakland and has the Raiders at the top of the AFC West.
Last Week: 11
New York Jets (5-5)What they’re thankful for: Parity in the AFC this season, meaning they’re still in the running for a wild-card spot in the wide open conference.
Last Week: 13
Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)What they’re thankful for: Andy Dalton, whose play this year proves that he just might be the franchise quarterback of the future for a long time to come in the Queen City.
Last Week: 19
Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)What they’re thankful for: LeSean McCoy, who despite all the negative energy in Philadelphia has emerged as one of the most versatile and dangerous running backs in the league.
Last Week: 25
Miami Dolphins (3-7)What they’re thankful for: One of the most stunning turnarounds in NFL history, breaking off three straight wins following an 0-7 start to make their season relevant again.
Last Week: 21
Seattle Seahawks (4-6)What they’re thankful for: Marshawn Lynch, who is trying to single-handedly keep this offense afloat by scoring a touchdown in each of the Seahawks’ last six games.
Last Week: 16
Buffalo Bills (5-5)What they’re thankful for: This season’s hot start, which has kept them on the outside of the playoff race despite their recent 1-4 slide.
Last Week: 18
Tennessee Titans (5-5)What they’re thankful for: The AFC South’s putrid play this season, which has kept the Titans in the mix for a division title despite the fact that Chris Johnson has fallen off the face of the earth.
Last Week: 20
San Diego Chargers (4-6)What they’re thankful for: Same thing they’re thankful for every year, the wide open AFC West, which is still in their sights even after a horrific five-game losing streak.
Last Week: 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)What they have to be thankful for: The future - this team is so young, it was bound to hit a stumbling block this season, but don’t be surprised to see the Bucs back as a serious playoff threat next year thanks to their developing core players.
Last Week: 28
Minnesota Vikings (2-8)What they’re thankful for: Adrian Peterson’s ankle sprain is only minor and not career-threatening.
Last Week: 29
Carolina Panthers (2-8)What they’re thankful for: Cam Newton’s Rookie of the Year campaign makes them must-watch TV every week, even though their defense couldn’t cover a Pop Warner team.
Last Week: 27
Cleveland Browns (3-6)What they’re thankful for: No one on the team will be appearing on the cover of Madden next year (like Peyton Hillis did this year) and therefore, they won’t suffer from the game’s terrible cover curse.
Last Week: 23
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)What they have to be thankful for: Maurice Jones-Drew, the Little Bowling Ball That Could, who just won’t stop producing yards now matter how helpless the rest of his team’s offense is.
Last Week: 30
Washington Redskins (3-7)What they’re thankful for: Since the Eagles had so much hype and have played so poorly, the Redskins aren’t the most shocking disaster in the NFC East.
Last Week: 22
Arizona Cardinals (3-7)What they’re thankful for: Larry Fitzgerald, who despite playing with an inconsistent Kevin Kolb and his back-up (little known John Skelton from Fordham) has still managed to amass the sixth most receiving yards in the league.
Last Week: 31
Kansas City Chiefs (4-6)What they’re thankful for: Even though they lost star running back Jamaal Charles to a season-ending knee injury in Week 2, they still boast a top ten run offense thanks to good coaching and offensive line play.
Last Week: 26
St. Louis Rams (2-8)What they’re thankful for: That their mid-season pick-up, wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, may be the #1 receiver Sam Bradford can grow with in the future.
Last Week: 32
Indianapolis Colts (0-10)What they’re thankful for: Andrew Luck, NFL Draft Class of 2012.