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This week’s NFL Power Rankings feature a new team in the top slot. Also, the Pittsburgh Steelers begin a steep trip down the mountain, joining the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks after a trio of upsets.
Last week’s ranking: 2
Even with Taysom Hill at quarterback, the Saints have seized the top seat in the NFL Power Rankings. According to ESPN, New Orleans’ defense allowed 4.2 yards per play between weeks 8 and 12. For reference, the New York Jets (the league’s worst offense) averaged 4.7 yards per play entering Week 13. The Saints still need Drew Brees back to be Super Bowl favorites, but the defense is stepping up in a huge way.
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Chiefs are a fantastic team and my frontrunner to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but their offense is prone to slow starts. Dating back to Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers, Patrick Mahomes and company have taken their time getting into a rhythm. Kansas City can get away with that against a team like the Denver Broncos, but it won’t work against the NFL’s elite squads.
Last week’s ranking: 5
Josh Allen looked like an MVP candidate on Monday night, throwing for four touchdowns. Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs combined for 19 receptions and 222 receiving yards in the 34-24 victory. Star defensive backs Micah Hyde and Tre’Davious White also got involved, intercepting one pass each. The Bills have cracked the NFL Power Rankings’ top-three for the first time this season.
Last week’s ranking: 6
Aaron Rodgers looks more and more like the league MVP every week. He torched Philadelphia’s defense for 295 yards and three touchdowns a week after the unit held Russell Wilson to 230 yards and one score. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones also had massive games, combining for 269 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.
Last week’s ranking: 9
The Rams have wins over Arizona, Seattle, and Tampa Bay in the past four weeks. If not for a surprising loss to San Francisco in Week 12, Sean McVay’s team might crack the top-three on the NFL Power Rankings. The Rams have a great defense, ranking in the top three in passing, rushing, and total yards allowed this season. Los Angeles can easily win games when Jared Goff protects the football.
Last week’s ranking: 4
Sunday did not go as Tennessee expected. With Indianapolis winning, the Titans maintain a razor-thin lead in the AFC South. While Ryan Tannehill led a 28-point second-half surge, the Titans were too far behind to catch up with the Cleveland Browns. Down by 31 at halftime, Tennessee had to abandon Derrick Henry and the running game.
Last week’s ranking: 10
The Buccaneers entered their bye week having lost three of their past four matchups. While the Buccaneers have a dominant defensive front, the secondary is bleeding. Meanwhile, the offensive line has suffered injuries, and Tom Brady isn’t fully acclimated to Bruce Arians’ system. The Bucs are too talented not to be competitive, but they aren’t Super Bowl contenders unless things click in the season’s final month.
Last week’s ranking: 17
In Week 13, the Browns picked up their second win over a team with a winning record. The victory over Tennessee puts Cleveland in contention for the first time this season. Credit Kevin Stefanski for getting the most out of his guys. Baker Mayfield threw for four touchdowns while Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt gained 113 rushing yards. Myles Garrett also picked up where he left off after missing two games, raising his season sack total to 10.5.
Last week’s ranking: 3
Pittsburgh’s undefeated streak came to an end on Monday Night Football in a blaze of shoddy play calling and missed opportunities. T.J. Watt forced a fumble, but he tried to scoop the ball instead of just falling on it. Washington recovered. Eric Ebron dropped multiple passes for the second consecutive week. The Steelers only converted six of their 15 third downs and went 0-2 on fourth down. It was an absolutely miserable performance.
Last week’s ranking: 11
Indianapolis is tied with Tennessee for the AFC South division lead. In their final four matchups, Philip Rivers’ team faces the Raiders, Texans, Steelers, and Jaguars. There’s still a chance for this team to win the division, especially if Jonathan Taylor runs like he did on Sunday. The rookie amassed 91 yards on only 13 carries as DeForest Buckner and Justin Houston combined for five sacks.
Last week’s ranking: 7
Seattle has significant flaws. With a loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, the Seahawks dropped back to second in the NFC West. The running game was productive, but Seattle abandoned it too early. With Russell Wilson struggling down the stretch, perhaps Pete Carroll should rely more on Chris Carson’s legs.
Last week’s ranking: 16
Baltimore entered its Tuesday night matchup against the Dallas Cowboys in desperate need of a win. The Ravens were 1-3 in their past four games and were watching their playoff hopes slip away. Luckily, Baltimore dominated with 294 rushing yards as the Ravens thrust themselves back into the playoff picture. Three of Baltimore’s final four opponents have losing records.
Last week’s ranking: 8
After a humiliating 43-6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12, the Raiders escaped Week 13 with a miracle game-winning touchdown by Henry Ruggs. Once Las Vegas gets Josh Jacobs back, the offense should improve by leaps and bounds again. However, the near-loss to the New York Jets should raise some red flags. Statistically, Las Vegas’ defense is one of the worst in the NFL, allowing the fifth-most points per game.
Last week’s ranking: 13
Miami’s quarterback situation still worries me. Tua Tagovailoa had a solid day against the Cincinnati Bengals, but his only game against a good secondary was horrendous. Luckily, Miami’s defense continues supporting the offense. The Dolphins are the only team to force a fumble in each game this season. Xavien Howard is the best cornerback in football, and Miami sacked Cincinnati’s quarterbacks six times on Sunday.
Last week’s ranking: 14
The Vikings were hugging a cliff and about to fall off during their first six games, but Minnesota and Mike Zimmer have come back from the precipice. They hold the final wild card spot in the NFC, overtaking the Arizona Cardinals. It’s harder to find a hotter trio than Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, and Justin Jefferson. We’ll learn a lot about the Vikings over the next few weeks as they play Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
Last week’s ranking: 15
If Bill Belichick gets his team to 8-8, let alone into the playoffs, he deserves the Coach of the Year award. New England’s roster is a mess. They have no true No. 1 pass-catchers and probably no No. 2 options either. Cam Newton couldn’t start on 80% of the NFL’s teams. New England’s once-mighty defense even ranks outside the top ten in yards allowed this season.
Last week’s ranking: 23
Head coach Joe Judge is one of the NFL’s fastest rising stars. He led New York to an upset win over the Seahawks last weekend, keeping the Giants atop the NFC East. Even without Daniel Jones, New York silenced Russell Wilson and one of the league’s top offenses. The Giants have a tremendous defense and play harder than most teams in the NFL.
Last week’s ranking: 22
The Washington Football Team strung together their third consecutive win on Monday, toppling the previously undefeated Steelers. Despite losing Antonio Gibson early in the contest and Terry McLaurin only making two catches, Alex Smith guided Washington’s offense to 20 second-half points. Washington’s defensive front dominated Pittsburgh’s offensive line all night.
Last week’s ranking: 12
Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury had a lot of analysts on their side a few weeks ago, but support for Arizona’s playoff push is dwindling. The Cardinals now have the same record as the once 1-6 Vikings. While Minnesota has five wins in its last six games, Arizona is 1-4 in its past five outings. The Cardinals couldn’t contain Los Angeles’ running game on Sunday, and Jalen Ramsey blanketed DeAndre Hopkins.
Last week’s ranking: 18
All things considered, the 49ers did a good job scoring 24 points against the Bills. San Francisco was one Nick Mullens red zone interception away from making it a close contest in the fourth quarter. The 49ers have a long shot to finish 8-8, but I think it’s more likely they close out the year 7-9.
Last week’s ranking: 19
The Panthers are ahead of schedule on their rebuild, and Teddy Bridgewater looks like he can function as a franchise quarterback. Mix in Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Christian McCaffrey, and you’ve got a dynamic offense. The defense is also making strides with Brian Burns and Jeremy Chinn.
Last week’s ranking: 20
Deshaun Watson has MVP-level potential, but he’s struggling to work with a lackluster roster. Watson took five sacks against the Colts as he tried to will the Texans to their fifth win. When you have a quarterback get Keke Coutee and Chad Hansen over 100 receiving yards in a single game, that’s a special performance.
Last week’s ranking: 21
After a massive upset win over the Raiders, Atlanta came out flat against the Saints. The Falcons did have a chance to win on a Hail Mary, but the pass fell incomplete. Matt Ryan has plenty of weapons to work with, but Atlanta’s offense just hasn’t put it all together this year. The defense still needs significant remodeling.
Last week’s ranking: 27
Matthew Stafford led his 31st career fourth-quarter comeback against the Chicago Bears. Adrian Peterson ran for two touchdowns as the Lions rallied from a ten-point halftime deficit. Marvin Jones also played a huge role, and breakout star T.J. Hockenson contributed 84 yards. With Matt Patricia out of the building, the Lions are showing some life.
Last week’s ranking: 28
Denver put up a fight against Kansas City on Sunday night. The defense held Mahomes to 22 points, but Drew Lock couldn’t pull off the upset. Melvin Gordon ran for 131 yards in the loss. The Broncos are an incredibly talented team with an above-average defense, but the quarterback play and coaching aren’t there.
Last week’s ranking: 25
After starting 5-1, the Bears have lost their last six games in a row. That’s likely the nail in Matt Nagy’s coffin, and general manager Ryan Pace should follow him out the door after this season. Chicago never recovered from drafting Mitchell Trubisky over Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.
Last week’s ranking: 24
Anthony Lynn’s time in Los Angeles is limited. The head coach oversaw a 45-0 shutout loss to a New England team with limited offensive options. Justin Hebert had the worst game of his career, throwing two interceptions. Between Hebert, Joey Bosa, and Derwin James, the Chargers have hope for the future, but any success will come under a new head coach.
Sources: As disappointing as the #Patriots loss was, no #Chargers head coaching change is imminent. The organization has a tremendous amount of respect for Anthony Lynn, always has, and would prefer to evaluate everything at the end of the year.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 7, 2020
Last week’s ranking: 30
Jacksonville took Minnesota to overtime before falling short. Say what you want about the Jaguars, they’ve come within one score of beating the Browns, Packers, Texans, and Vikings in the past five weeks. That doesn’t change the fact that Doug Marrone is a lame duck coach.
Last week’s ranking: 29
The Eagles are crumbling before our eyes. Head coach Doug Pederson pulled Carson Wentz for Jalen Hurts on Sunday, and the rookie provided an immediate spark. Pederson declared Hurts the team’s starter for their game against the Saints on Tuesday. Supposedly, internal pressure from ownership and the front office has been building to start Hurts.
It seems like Pederson is on his way out in Philadelphia. The former Super Bowl-winning head coach seems disinterested with the Eagles, and there may be mutual interest in a separation.
This comes just a few weeks after a @BleedingGreen reported, "Doug Pederson wouldn’t be totally unhappy if he ends up getting fired."
— Luke Stansfield (@Luke_StansNFL) December 7, 2020
Last week’s ranking: 26
If not for the two teams below them on this list, the Cowboys would easily be the worst team in the NFL. Andy Dalton is having his worst season as a pro, the offensive line is banged up, the defense can’t stop anything, and Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t lived up to expectations. It’ll be interesting to see how Dallas handles the Dak Prescott situation this offseason and whether Mike McCarthy returns for a second year.
Last week’s ranking: 31
Cincinnati is one of the worst coached teams in the NFL. The Bengals entered 2020 with a ton of talent on offense, but Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending injury, A.J. Green is a shell of himself, and Joe Mixon hasn’t played since Week 6. At least Cincinnati has another top-five pick in the draft and can provide Burrow with some more protection or maybe fix the defense.
Last week’s ranking: 32
The Jets were only a few plays away from winning their first game this season when defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called a Cover 0 blitz. The play sent seven or eight pass rushers while leaving New York’s defensive backs in single coverage, and Henry Ruggs burned them for a game-winning touchdown. The Jets fired Williams on Monday.
The #Jets have fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, per sources.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 7, 2020
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