US Sports Veteran
The latest NFL Power Rankings feature the same top-three as the past two weeks, but two new teams broke into the top-ten as the previously red-hot Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins went spiraling down into the teens. At this point, only four or five teams inspire much confidence. The rest all have nice records, but the substance isn’t there.
Last week’s ranking: 1
Patrick Mahomes led a game-winning drive in Week 11 to give the Chiefs their ninth win this season. It was a close battle with the Las Vegas Raiders, but Kansas City’s talented offense prevailed. The Chiefs have only given up 21 points or more on defense three times this season, while the offense is averaging 32 points per game.
Last week’s ranking: 2
Who needs Drew Brees when you have Taysom Hill? Sean Payton finally got to enact the fantasy he’s been in love with for the past year. Hill got his first NFL start and led the Saints to a 24-9 win over the Atlanta Falcons. While the versatile quarterback played well, New Orleans’ defense stole the show with eight sacks and 11 quarterback hits.
Last week’s ranking: 3
If we’re nitpicking, Pittsburgh’s play-calling left a lot to be desired in the first quarter. Ben Roethlisberger also made a silly throw late in the second half that cost the Steelers a chance at adding to their lead. However, Pittsburgh’s defense continued dominating, and Diontae Johnson had another big day.
Last week’s ranking: 5
The Bills went through a slump during the middle of the season, but they’re playing at a high level again. Buffalo scored 74 points between its last two games and have the NFL’s fourth-best passing offense. The Bills face the struggling Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers in their next two games.
Last week’s ranking: 9
The Raiders went up 31-28 with under two minutes remaining in their Sunday Night Football matchup against the Chiefs. Unfortunately, Mahomes worked his magic and handed Las Vegas its fourth loss this year. Of the three 6-4 teams in the AFC, the Raiders are clearly the best. They’re even better than most of the 7-3 teams.
Last week’s ranking: 11
Jared Goff’s mistakes in big games have to worry Rams fans. However, Los Angeles deserves credit for bullying Brady and Tampa Bay’s offense during the second half. If the Rams can cut down on their turnovers, they might escape with the top seed in the NFC West. However, the lackluster running game and inconsistent offensive line could become a problem in the playoffs.
Last week’s ranking: 10
The Colts outscored Green Bay 17-3 in the second half to force overtime. Philip Rivers had a fantastic outing, building on his hot streak extending back several weeks. Jonathan Taylor also got going on the ground, rushing for 90 yards. If the Colts can run the ball consistently, they should wrap up the AFC South.
Last week’s ranking: 4
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers had one of their worst halves of the season against Sean McVay’s Rams. Brady looked old, whiffing on open passes by three of four yards. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s secondary couldn’t slow down Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods. Tampa Bay’s lack of a running game also became problematic against Los Angeles’ defensive front.
Last week’s ranking: 8
Aaron Rodgers had a strong showing against the Colts, but Green Bay suffered from some misfortune in overtime. Marquez Valdes-Scantling fumbled on Green Bay’s second play in overtime, giving Indianapolis the ball on the 29-yard line. A few plays later, the Colts kicked an easy game-winning field goal. Overall, the two teams were extremely evenly matched, but Green Bay’s four turnovers ultimately decided the game.
Last week’s ranking: 12
Russell Wilson got his mojo back against the Cardinals, posting a passer rating over 100.0 for the seventh time this season and not turning the ball over. Seattle also got Carlos Hyde back. The former 1,000-yard rusher made an immediate impact, rushing for 79 yards on 14 carries. Newcomer Carlos Dunlap had a big night as well, recording two sacks and three quarterback hits. Seattle hopes to get Chris Carson back in Week 12.
Last week’s ranking: 14
The Titans picked up a massive win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11. The 30-24 overtime victory stopped a skid that saw Tennessee lose three of its past four games. Derrick Henry dominated, especially in the second half and overtime. He finished the game with 133 yards on 28 carries. A.J. Brown and Corey Davis also starred in the win.
Last week’s ranking: 7
The Cardinals came up short against the Seattle Seahawks last week, losing 21-28 on a Carlos Dunlap sack. Arizona pushed Seattle to its limits again, and I’m more afraid of the Cardinals moving forward because Arizona’s defense has outperformed Seattle’s by far. Vance Joseph’s unit allows 367.7 yards per game while the Seahawks give up a league-worst 434.9 yards per game.
Last week’s ranking: 13
John Harbaugh’s team is in trouble. They’ve fallen to third place in the AFC North by virtue of Cleveland winning on Sunday. The Ravens have lost three of their last four games. Outside of a Week 1 blowout against the Browns and a win over the Colts a few weeks ago, Baltimore hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record. Injuries to Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams are causing problems in Baltimore along with recent COVID-19 cases.
Last week’s ranking: 6
Miami’s five-game winning streak came to an end against the Denver Broncos. Tua Tagovailoa couldn’t create anything against Denver’s defense, and he faced constant pressure. The Dolphins did a good job defensively, holding the Broncos to 20 points. However, the loss signals that the Dolphins aren’t ready for a top-ten spot yet and are still a year away from competing for a title.
Last week’s ranking: 16
Kevin Stefanski’s Browns are in place to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. After a long drought, the Browns are winning against bad teams with a combination of defensive pressure and unstoppable running. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt continue anchoring the offense while Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon make their presences known on defense.
Last week’s ranking: 17
No Teddy Bridgewater, no problem. XFL star P.J. Walker led the Panthers to a 20-0 win over the Detroit Lions. Despite two poorly timed interceptions, the backup quarterback performed admirably. Even without Bridgewater and superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers remain a promising and threatening team.
Last week’s ranking: 15
Minnesota’s three-game winning streak came to an end against the Dallas Cowboys. The Vikings fell back into bad habits, allowing 180 rushing yards and 31 points on defense. Two costly fumbles also contributed to the defeat. Outside of the turnovers, Minnesota’s offense played as well as anyone could’ve hoped.
Last week’s ranking: 25
After flopping offensively against Cleveland, it seemed unlikely that Houston could prevail against the New England Patriots, who entered Week 11 riding high on a win over Baltimore. However, Deshaun Watson had one of his best games this season, and J.J. Watt chipped in with four swatted down passes.
Last week’s ranking: 18
The Patriots kept some momentum going against the Texans, but not enough to log a third consecutive win. Cam Newton arguably had his best game of the year as a passer, but Houston contained New England’s ground game. The Patriots continued struggling on defense as well.
Last week’s ranking: 19
The Falcons couldn’t win their fourth game in the past five outings. The Saints played surprisingly well on offense, and the defense swamped Matt Ryan in the second half. Atlanta is still a deadly upset candidate, but their flaws are wide open for better teams to expose.
Last week’s ranking: 23
On paper, the Chargers have all of the pieces to be a winning team. Against the New York Jets, Justin Herbert threw for three touchdowns, Keenan Allen caught 16 passes, and Joey Bosa recorded five quarterback hits. However, Los Angeles only topped New York by six points. It could take some serious movement this offseason to change the Chargers for the better.
Last week’s ranking: 30
Andy Dalton’s return signals a shift in power in the atrocious NFC East. Dallas’ offense looked rejuvenated against Minnesota, gaining 376 yards. The Cowboys can’t fix their defense, but the offense is good enough to get Mike McCarthy’s team to 7-9. The Week 17 matchup between Dallas and New York could decide the division.
Last week’s ranking: 24
The Giants picked up a huge win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10. New York has a slim chance of winning the NFC East, but a lot of that relies on Daniel Jones raising his game. New York’s defense is doing its job, but the Giants need a boost from their struggling offense.
Last week’s ranking: 20
If the 49ers were healthy, they’d at least be in contention for a playoff spot. Missing Nick Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, and Richard Sherman for most of the season has de-fanged a once-great team. Maybe trading DeForest Buckner away during the offseason wasn’t such a good move.
Last week’s ranking: 29
The Broncos still have a viable defense, which ranks among the league’s top-ten in passing yards allowed. The pass rush worked wonders against the Dolphins, dragging down Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa six times while delivering nine quarterback hits. The Broncos are 4-6, with all four wins coming in their last seven games.
Last week’s ranking: 28
Alex Smith’s comeback story continued on Sunday with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Washington’s high-profile defensive front played a major role in the game, racking up four sacks and 12 quarterback hits. Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin also continued developing, which gives Washington hope for the future.
Last week’s ranking: 26
Chicago’s offense is one of the NFL’s worst. Quarterback Nick Foles and running back David Montgomery are massive disappointments. The Bears rank 31st in total yards, 25th in passing yards, 32nd in rushing yards, and 31st in points scored. Luckily, Chicago’s defense ranks in the top-ten in yards and points allowed per game.
Last week’s ranking: 21
Without D’Andre Swift, Detroit’s ground game stagnated, and Matthew Stafford couldn’t move the ball. Swift joined Kenny Golladay as the latest crucial Lions offensive player to miss time. Detroit sank to a new low with its latest loss. Matt Patricia is a lame-duck head coach. Expect significant changes in Detroit this coming offseason.
Last week’s ranking: 27
The Eagles still hold the top seed in the NFC East, but they’re losing ground fast. Carson Wentz threw two interceptions against Cleveland as the Eagles dropped their second consecutive game. Philadelphia’s defensive front remains the lone bright spot for Doug Pederson’s team.
Last week’s ranking: 22
On Sunday, the Bengals lost Joe Burrow for the year. The rookie’s knee injury was the most significant outcome from Cincinnati’s seventh loss this season. It also highlights the team’s inability to protect its young quarterback. The Bengals have a solid young core on offense, but the offensive line and defense need serious remodeling.
Last week’s ranking: 31
Jake Luton is keeping Jacksonville in the Trevor Lawrence race with the New York Jets. The rookie quarterback threw four interceptions on Sunday, and Jacksonville didn’t score after its first possession. The Jaguars are one of the two or three least talented teams in the NFL.
Last week’s ranking: 32
If the Jets couldn’t take down the Chargers, who have routinely lost close games this season, they don’t have much hope for avoiding 0-16 this season. New York plays winning football teams in their next five games before facing off against the Patriots in Week 17. Barring an unforeseen upset, the Jets are well on their way to winning the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.
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