There’s a new team atop the latest NFL Power Rankings. In a controversial and close decision, the Buffalo Bills usurped the Kansas City Chiefs. Josh Allen is currently outplaying Patrick Mahomes. While the Chiefs are still attempting to rediscover their dominance from last year, the Bills are gearing up for a deep playoff run with several crushing wins. Meanwhile, the NFC has come to life in the past two weeks, snatching up four of the top six spots.
Last week’s ranking: 2
If I had to bet on who would win a game between the Bills and Chiefs tomorrow, I’d still lean toward Kansas City. However, the Chiefs are struggling while Allen and Buffalo are steamrolling their competition. The Bills are the most complete team in the AFC, which could cause problems for Andy Reid’s team unless they pull together in the next three weeks.
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Chiefs are beginning to worry me. They’ve won in close games all season, but the 17-14 victory over Atlanta was far from smooth. Mahomes didn’t look right, and Kansas City couldn’t put together a rushing attack without Clyde Edwards-Helaire. At some point, Kansas City can’t keep getting the benefit of the doubt.
Last week’s ranking: 3
While Drew Brees remains a concern, Alvin Kamara and New Orleans’ offensive line are as good as ever. Kamara amassed 155 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns against Minnesota on Christmas day. Meanwhile, Jared Cook and Emmanuel Sanders stepped up in the absence of Michael Thomas. However, the passing game is far from a definite strength at this point.
Last week’s ranking: 5
It looked like a college game when Tom Brady and the Buccaneers took the field against the Detroit Lions. The Bucs pulled Brady at halftime, after the future Hall of Fame already amassed four touchdowns. Mike Evans had a huge afternoon, making ten receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He’s closing in on his seventh consecutive season with 1,000 receiving yards.
Last week’s ranking: 6
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers demolished the Tennessee Titans in a snowy Monday night showdown at Lambeau Field. Green Bay held a comfortable lead in the first half before widening the gap in the second, posting a stunning 40-14 victory. While the NFC seems like a toss-up this year, Green Bay is stringing together win after win.
Last week’s ranking: 10
The Seahawks clinched the NFC West title with a win over the Los Angeles Rams. It wasn’t pretty, but Pete Carroll’s team sits atop their division for the first time since 2016. With their offense struggling, Seattle’s defense is beginning to find an identity. The Seahawks haven’t allowed over 21 points in a game since Week 10 (23 points to the Rams).
Last week’s ranking: 4
Tennessee never stood a chance against Green Bay. The Packers jumped on Ryan Tannehill’s team early, and the Titans never recovered. Derrick Henry still ran for 98 yards, but that didn’t do much good once Green Bay extended the lead to 33-14 late in the third quarter. Tannehill also had an uncharacteristically bad game. The Titans don’t have a good enough defense to compete for a Super Bowl this year.
Last week’s ranking: 9
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Other times, it just pays to have a lucky man at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Tua Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter, leading Miami to a comeback win. Myles Gaskin played a pivotal role in the outcome, amassing 169 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
Tagovailoa is still Miami’s starter going forward, but head coach Brian Flores isn’t afraid of switching to Ryan Fitzpatrick late in games.
Last week’s ranking: 15
Pittsburgh clinched the AFC North by overcoming a 17-point second half deficit against Indianapolis. Ben Roethlisberger finally began connecting on intermediate and deep throws, finding Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster for touchdowns. The pass rush also played a role, sacking Philip Rivers five times. However, the Steelers don’t have a good enough running game to make a deep playoff run right now.
Last week’s ranking: 11
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are cruising to a strong finish against a weak end-of-season schedule. Baltimore has four wins in a row, including one against the ten-win Cleveland Browns. Jackson finally looks comfortable in the offense, and the Ravens are getting healthy on both sides of the ball. Baltimore closes out the season against the 4-10-1 Cincinnati Bengals.
Last week’s ranking: 7
Indy had a chance to clinch their spot in the playoffs against Pittsburgh, but the Colts gave up 21 points to the Steelers in the second half. Pittsburgh’s surge destroyed a 17-point lead. Now, the Colts are on the outside looking in. They need to win in Week 17 and have one of the other 10-5 Wild Card teams lose to make the postseason.
Last week’s ranking: 12
Jared Goff let the Rams down again as Sean McVay’s team only scored nine points in a 20-9 loss to Seattle that gave Russell Wilson the division crown. Aaron Donald and Los Angeles’ defense can’t be pleased with how poorly the offense has played in recent games. The Rams are in danger of missing the playoffs if they lose to Arizona next week.
Last week’s ranking: 8
Is anyone surprised that the Browns found a way to lose to the New York Jets? Yes, they were missing four wide receivers, and the offensive line also had an injury issue, but they’re the Jets. A lackluster running game and poor decisions by Baker Mayfield put Cleveland’s playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Browns face a win-and-in situation this week.
Last week’s ranking: 16
On Sunday, Chicago overtook Arizona for the final Wild Card spot in the NFC. David Montgomery and Mitchell Trubisky continued their hot streaks as the Bears pounded the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-17. Don’t overlook the role Chicago’s defense is playing in this turnaround either.
Last week’s ranking: 17
Minnesota scored 33 points against New Orleans’ vaunted defense, but Mike Zimmer’s defense had no answer for Kamara. The Saints piled on 583 yards of total offense, including 264 rushing yards, and Minnesota eventually fell behind. The Vikings have to rebuild their defense during the offseason.
Last week’s ranking: 13
Kenyan Drake, DeAndre Hopkins, and Kyler Murray couldn’t figure out San Francisco’s defense. Arizona’s defense only allowed 20 points, which is usually good enough to win, but the inconsistent offense cost the Cardinals their potential ninth victory. The loss opened the door to Chicago encroaching on the seventh seed.
Last week’s ranking: 14
Washington made headlines Monday for releasing second-year former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins. That leaves the team with Taylor Heinicke and Steven Montez as quarterbacks if Alex Smith can’t play in the regular season finale against Philadelphia. In the midst of a two-game skid, Washington desperately needs the former Pro Bowler.
Last week’s ranking: 22
Somehow the Cowboys have a shot at making the playoffs. With a win next week against the New York Giants and a Washington loss, Dallas snatches the NFC East title. Andy Dalton has Dallas on a three-game winning streak that might salvage the season and save Mike McCarthy’s job. However, they’ll still lose in the first round even if they make the playoffs.
Last week’s ranking: 21
Justin Herbert set a rookie record with his 28th passing touchdown this season. That’s a hollow victory in a lost season for the Chargers. Injuries to Joey Bosa and Derwin James have crippled the defense, and the running game remains a huge concern for the offense. Los Angeles has the foundation of a winning football team, but it needs a new head coach and a revamped offensive line.
Last week’s ranking: 20
The Raiders only gave Josh Jacobs 13 carries on Saturday night, contributing to their slim lead heading into the fourth quarter. In a hectic final few minutes, Las Vegas scored nine points. However, a missed extra point by Daniel Carlson eventually gave Miami the win.
Last week’s ranking: 26
In classic Falcons fashion, Matt Ryan and company pushed the Chiefs to their limits before ultimately throwing the game away. A.J. Terrell dropped a game-sealing interception, which kept the door open for a Mahomes go-ahead score. Then, Pro Bowl kicker Younghoe Koo missed a field goal that could’ve forced overtime.
Last week’s ranking: 29
San Francisco showed up for the Saturday evening matchup against the division-rival Cardinals. Jeff Wilson Jr. averaged 8.3 yards per carry on his way to a 183-yard performance. George Kittle also made an impact in his return, recording 92 yards on only four catches.
Last week’s ranking: 19
After two decades of dominance, it’s time for Bill Belichick to hit the reset button. No one outside of some young offensive linemen should have a secure roster spot heading into 2021. The Patriots are in rebuild mode, and it all starts with overhauling the quarterback position.
Last week’s ranking: 24
Carolina built a 20-0 lead over Washington and barely hung onto it in their 20-13 win this past weekend. The Panthers have the young pieces to build a top-ten defense, but quarterback play and Christian McCaffrey’s health remain issues. If Smith played for Washington instead of Haskins, the Panthers would’ve lost.
Last week’s ranking: 23
It’s hard to tell how healthy Daniel Jones is, but I don’t think New York would’ve beaten Baltimore even if their second-year passer had a clean bill of health. Baltimore’s defense suffocated New York’s offense, which continues lagging behind without Saquon Barkley and a true top receiving threat.
Last week’s ranking: 18
The Eagles get one final look at Jalen Hurts this year before their hectic offseason begins. Philadelphia’s playoff hopes officially ended with a disheartening 37-17 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. Hurts committed three turnovers, and Fletcher Cox missed most of the game with a stinger. It feels like upheaval is imminent in Philly.
Last week’s ranking: 30
Oh no. After winning the last two games without Joe Burrow or Joe Mixon, there’s some support building for keeping Zac Taylor around for his third season in Cincinnati. The Bengals have plenty of young, talented players, but the organization could mess it all up with poor decision making this offseason.
Last week’s ranking: 25
The Lions didn’t stand a chance against Tampa Bay heading into their Saturday matchup. They stood even less of a chance after Matthew Stafford exited the game early in the first quarter. Without their one source of consistent offense, the Lions shriveled against Tampa Bay’s defense, only amassing 186 yards of total offense.
Last week’s ranking: 28
Denver should move on from John Elway and find someone new to run the front office. Drew Lock isn’t the answer for the Broncos, and that organization hasn’t found a stable replacement for Peyton Manning yet. They’re wasting the prime years of plenty of talented players.
Last week’s ranking: 27
J.J. Watt sounded off in his press conference about Houston’s inability to make the routine plays and commitment most NFL teams can. The future Hall of Famer is right to vent his frustrations because the Texans are too good to lose to teams like the Bengals (or at least they should be).
Last week’s ranking: 31
The Jets are on a hot streak. New York took advantage of the short-handed Browns, locking down Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and doing just enough to stay ahead of Kevin Stefanski’s team. The Jets have secured the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Last week’s ranking: 32
Jacksonville decided to start Mike Glennon over Gardner Minshew, which resulted in a disastrous 41-17 loss. Thanks to New York cleaning up Cleveland, the Jaguars are guaranteed the top selection in the upcoming draft.
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