NFL Radio Power 12, Week 12: Patriots, Panthers lead the way

Each week, SiriusXM NFL Radio’s hosts vote on the top six teams in both the NFC and AFC. This week’s voters include James Lofton, Bruce Murray, Alex Marvez, Bill Polian, Gil Brandt, The Opening Drive, other NFL Radio hosts, Brian Lauvray, Bobby Bonett, and you, the fans! (To participate in the fan vote, visit

All channel listings subject to change.

The Power 12 this week took a step back to discuss what each team should be thankful for this season. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with endless helpings of mashed potatoes, plenty of gravy and just the right amount of brussel sprouts. Enjoy!


1. Carolina Panthers (10-0)

Week 12 opponent: at Dallas Cowboys, Thursday 4:30 pm ET (SiriusXM channel 83, Internet channel 804)

Sitting at 10-0 and with nothing more threatening than a road trip to Dallas on Turkey Day standing between them and an undefeated regular season, the Carolina Panthers should be thankful for Cam Newton. Killa Cam’s entire arsenal has been on display this season. Missile-launching arm cannon? Check. Fast feet and brutalizing power on designed quarterback runs? Check. Brains and knack for improv to sustain drives? Check. Carolina’s defense is an extremely nasty and efficient unit that’s been pulverizing squads for the majority of the season, but make no mistake: Cam Newton is absolutely why this team is undefeated and likely to make a serious playoff run. The MVP race is between Cam and Tom Brady, that’s it.


2. Arizona Cardinals (8-2)

Week 12 opponent: at San Francisco 49ers, Sunday 4:05 pm ET (XM channel 226, Sirius channel 93, Internet channel 800)

Arizona’s run to 8-2 and the top of the NFC West has been nearly as impressive as Carolina’s undefeated start to the season. A week after outgunning and outlasting a very good Cincinnati team in the desert, ‘Zona heads to San Francisco to play a depleted and very bad San Francisco team. Bruce Arians and Cardinal fans should be thankful this Thanksgiving for not only a healthy Carson Palmer, but also a resurgent Larry Fitzgerald who has found new life as a slot receiver, and a rejuvenated Chris Johnson who looked washed up in New York and nearly lost his career after being shot last year.


3. Green Bay Packers (7-3)

Week 12 opponent: vs. Chicago Bears, Thursday 8:30 pm ET (SiriusXM channel 82, Internet channel 811)

The green and gold faithful should be happy to be cheering on their beloved Packers at Lambeau on Thanksgiving night. It’s the first Turkey Day home game at Lambeau since 1923 (a 19-0 Packer win over the defunct Hammond Pros). Call me crazy, I suspect that the Lambeau fans will be keeping it 💯 with an entire day of Thanksgiving to, uhh, “fuel” their spirit and cheering with brandy old fashioneds.


4. Minnesota Vikings (7-3)

Week 12 opponent: at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 82, Sirius channel 108, Internet channel 817)

Green Bay’s divisional neighbor and rival should be thankful for an entire team that appears to be hitting their stride earlier than anyone anticipated. 7-3 and with the inside track for the NFC’s first wild-card berth, the young Vikings are much better than most pundits or fans could have guessed.


5. Seattle Seahawks (5-5)

Week 12 opponent: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday 4:25 pm ET (SiriusXM channel 82, Internet channel 826)

Having swept the season series against their rivals in San Francisco with last week’s win, Seattle, in spite of the loss of Marshawn Lynch to a sports hernia surgery, should be thankful for a resurgent power-running game anchored by undrafted free agent Thomas Rawls. In spite of everything that’s gone wrong this season, with games still remaining against Minnesota, St. Louis and Arizona, the Seahawks control their own playoff destiny in the crowded and chaotic NFC.


6. New York Giants (5-5)

Week 12 opponent: at Washington Redskins, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 226, Sirius channel 133, Internet channel 820)

Even in the wasteland that is the NFC East, it’s good to be king. The New York Giants are still atop the division and should be thankful that, with a .500 record, they’re in “first” – while also remaining very leery of the Dallas Cowboys sneaking up behind their throne.


NFC fantasy football spotlight: Doug Martin (RB, Tampa Bay)

2015 stats: 188 carries, 941 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 21 receptions, 24 targets, 188 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown

Facing an absolutely awful Indianapolis run defense, Doug Martin, who just torched a much better Philly defense for over 250 all-purpose yards, shall feast on the Colts like so many Turkey Day leftovers. If Doug Martin isn’t available in your league and you’re in need an RB, you could do far worse than adding his backfield running mate Charles Sims.



1. New England Patriots (10-0)

Week 12 opponent: at Denver Broncos, Sunday 8:30 pm ET (SiriusXM channel 83, Internet channel 818)

The NFL’s very own 1% have as much to be thankful for as anyone this season. Despite injuries to Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman in recent weeks, to say nothing of the knee sprain Danny Amendola suffered on Monday night, the Pats still have their all-universe quarterback and mutant tight end. So long as Brady and Gronk are on the field and Belichick stalks the sidelines, New England will be the favorite. Except maybe this week. This week’s epic collision between the unstoppable offensive juggernaut of New England and Denver’s immovable defense is missing the media narrative of “Brady vs. Manning,” but this game will still be a damn good game. If young Brock Osweiler can crack the Pats’ defense, then New England very well may suffer its first (and possibly only) loss of the regular season. The Sunday nighter this week is appointment watching (or listening, if you’re driving back from some Thanksgiving destination).


2. Cincinnati Bengals (8-2)

Week 12 opponent: vs. St. Louis Rams, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 231, Sirius channel 81, Internet channel 806)

A two-game losing streak can’t really tell us too much about this Cincinnati squad. No, the Bengals should not have lost at home to the Texans two weeks ago. Still, the game against the Arizona Cardinals was an incredibly competitive match-up of two very good teams, where the outcome was still to be decided with minutes to play. Now with the very good St. Louis Rams defense coming to the Queen City, the Bengals will have to respond. A win against the Rams will keep the Bengals right on track, and all losses to the Texans will be forgiven. A loss? Things could snowball quickly thereafter. Still, should be a firecracker of a game, and the Bengals should be thankful for having one of the deepest and most balanced teams in the NFL.


3. Denver Broncos (8-2)

Week 12 opponent: vs. New England Patriots, Sunday 8:30 pm ET (XM channel 226, Sirius channel 93, Internet channel 809)

A week after snatching a victory in his baptismal against the Bears on the road in very chilly Chicago, and Brock Osweiler gets to face the defending Super Bowl champs at home. Fortunately, Osweiler showed no fear against a better-than-it-seems Bears defense. He routinely took shots down the field and generally moved the ball much better than Peyton Manning has all season. Even better news for Broncos fans is the fact they have one of the best defenses of the past 20 years, and that should afford Osweiler some leeway even against a team as dangerous as the Pats.


4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)

Week 12 opponent: at Seattle Seahawks, Sunday 4:25 pm ET (SiriusXM channel 83, Internet channel 824)

Steelers fans should be thankful that their team is 6-4 after the staggering amounts of injuries and suspensions they’ve dealt with. Yinzers of all stripes have to be happy that with slightly more than a quarter of the season to go, the Steelers are right in the thick of the AFC’s wild-card chase. And, if Cincy, has too many more losses, the Steelers are oddly enough in line for a possible divisional crown. Unlikely, but it’s the NFL, and weirder things have happened.


5. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5)

Week 12 opponent: vs. Buffalo Bills, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 230, Sirius channel 113, Internet channel 815)

And here come the Chiefs! Although, a slot behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Power 12, the Chiefs, thanks to their head-to-head victory over Pittsburgh and a cotton-candy soft closing stretch of their schedule, have even better odds of making the postseason. If KC makes the playoffs, they would be only the second team to ever qualify after starting the season 1-5. Chiefs fans, Andy Reid, everyone, should be thankful for that.


6. Houston Texans (5-5)

Week 12 opponent: vs. New Orleans Saints, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 233, Sirius channel 136, Internet channel 812)

Since their 44-26 obliteration at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, a game in which they also lost Arian Foster, the Texans have allowed a total of 29 points in the past three games. That’s an average of 9.7 points/game. The Texans are choking the life out of teams, and JJ Watt is wreaking havoc like only he can do. With games against New Orleans and New England coming up, that points per game average is going to go up, but I would not want to be on the Texans schedule right now. One team that is on Houston’s schedule (next week as a matter of fact) is Buffalo. The Bills, Texans and Chiefs are all right there with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a wild card, not to mention the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars. What I’m trying to say is that the AFC playoff chase is just heating up, and it is insane, and only going to get more bonkers. All NFL fans should be thankful for a chase this outright bonkers.


AFC fantasy football spotlight: Delanie Walker (TE, Tennessee)

2015 stats: 53 reeptions, 66 targets, 617 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns

Marcus Mariota’s favorite target gets an incredibly soft and vulnerable Oakland defense this week. The Raiders, who have been adequate on defense, simply cannot stop tight ends, and Delanie Walker should be the next TE to abuse the Raiders “turnstile” defense.



Power 12 Tracker Week 12

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