Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We had a loaded week of games, including three on turkey day. There were a ton of notable results this week. The Ravens edged the 49ers to maintain their spot atop the power rankings. Seattle downed Minnesota and moves into first place in the NFC West with San Francisco losing. Baltimore also takes over in the AFC with New England falling in Houston.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Jets made the wrong kind of history by becoming the first team to lose two games in one season against teams that entered the game with an 0-7 or worse record. The Bengals can celebrate like they just won the Super Bowl, because they avoid joining the Browns, Buccaneers and Lions in the winless season club, but still hold onto the first overall pick at the moment. This might be the most active week yet in terms of teams shifting in the rankings. They look almost unrecognizable compared to a week ago given all the significant results.
1. Baltimore Ravens: 10-2 (Last Week: 1)
Won 20-17 vs. San Francisco
Week after week, Baltimore continues to show why it is the toast of the NFL right now. There is a mess of teams sitting at 10-2 right now, but the Ravens look the best of the bunch, besting the 49ers in some miserable weather on Sunday. It was far from a dominant showing, but Lamar Jackson continued to wow and the defense stepped up big time to make some critical plays. It felt like an old-school contest with both teams eclipsing the 150 yard-mark on the ground. Justin Tucker hit the walk-off winner and the road to the Super Bowl might just run through Baltimore.
2. Seattle Seahawks: 10-2 (Last Week: 2)
Won 37-30 vs. Minnesota
Seattle’s impressive run continues despite a near collapse. The Seahawks definitely let Kirk Cousins and company back into the game with a couple of costly mistakes, but made enough plays down the stretch to seal the win. The run game carried Seattle much of the night, finishing with 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It allowed the Seahawks to dominant time of possession at a nearly two to one ratio. Pete Carroll has this team atop the NFC West and in line for a first-round bye, but it cannot afford any slip ups with how tight the conference is at the moment.
3. New Orleans Saints: 10-2 (Last Week: 5)
Won 26-18 at Atlanta
The end of this game got very interesting in all the wrong ways for Saints fans, but the defense held on for a significant victory. New Orleans sacked Matt Ryan nine times and locked up the NFC South in the process. Pair that with a loss by the 49ers and suddenly the Saints can think about homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Those two teams will face off in the Bayou in the biggest matchup of Week 14. Winner will likely get that coveted first-round bye.
4. San Francisco 49ers: 10-2 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 20-17 at Baltimore
This was a tough way to lose given how well the defense played. Lamar Jackson tore up the 49ers on the ground, but San Francisco did a good job limiting him as a passer. Jimmy Garoppolo just could not find a way to spark the offense in the second half. It has been a great start to the season for San Francisco, and losing on the road to a top team is forgivable, but the offensive showing left a lot to be desired. Suddenly, San Francisco is facing the prospect of a road playoff game after leading the conference heading into the weekend.
5. New England Patriots: 10-2 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 28-22 at Houston
Welcome to the point in the year where everyone panics about the Patriots. It is happening a little later than usual, and this time might actually be warranted. Despite the final scoreline, New England trailed 28-9 in the fourth quarter of this game. A late push almost saw the Pats come all the way back, but it is clear this offense is not in a good place. Tom Brady struggled for most of the game, while the defense was far from dominant. There isn’t really much of a resume to make you think this team is ready to contend either, with only two wins over teams currently above .500. With Kansas City up next, the Patriots need to get back on track fast if they hope to hang onto that first-round bye.
6. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-4 (Last Week: 7)
Won 40-9 vs. Oakland
This felt like the weirdest Chiefs’ dominant performance in recent memory. Patrick Mahomes barely completed 50 percent of his passes, threw for one touchdown and was held under 200 yards passing. Kansas City did not break 100 yards rushing and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. Naturally, KC won by 31. The Chiefs defense led the way, forcing three turnovers. It was a bizarre game, but the result is all that matters as Kansas City builds a cushion in the AFC West. A showdown with the Patriots awaits.
7. Green Bay Packers: 9-3 (Last Week: 8)
Won 31-13 at New York
The Packers did what they needed to do in dominating the Giants. There were still some signs of recovering from last week’s beatdown against San Francisco. It took Green Bay a long time to truly put the game out of reach and the ground game struggled a lot in the snow. Aaron Rodgers was red hot despite the wintry weather, tossing four touchdowns. The Pack are back on track heading into the final four games of the regular season.
8. Houston Texans: 8-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 28-22 vs. New England
Welcome to the party Houston. The Texans announced themselves as contenders on Sunday night by taking down the reigning champs. While they almost blew it, this was truly a dominant display. Deshaun Watson was masterful and the defense did a good job of frustrating Tom Brady for most of the night. I’m sure Bill O’Brien will have much to say about the near collapse, but the win keeps Houston atop the AFC South.
9. Minnesota Vikings: 8-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 37-30 at Seattle
Minnesota dug itself another hole, and this one was too deep to climb out of. The Vikings will have no one to blame but themselves after committing a number of errors that ultimately cost them a chance to win. Dalvin Cook had a game to forget, but Mike Zimmer did not do enough to establish the run in this game. There were things to like from this outing though, as Minnesota hung tough on the road with one of the best teams in the NFC. Close only counts in horseshoes, but the Vikings have easily-identifiable areas for improvement.
10. Buffalo Bills: 9-3 (Last Week: 11)
Won 26-15 at Dallas
Don’t look now, but the Bills are just one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East. Can Buffalo really start thinking about its first division title since 1995? It might be a bit early for that, but beating the Cowboys on Thanksgiving keeps those dreams alive. Josh Allen played great, accounting for two scores and no turnovers. Devin Singletary continues to emerge as a true multi-use back as well. Defensively, the Bills gave up a ton of yards, but forced two turnovers. Buffalo gets it biggest test yet with a visit from Baltimore on the horizon.
11. Tennessee Titans: 7-5 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-17 vs. Indianapolis
Are the Titans for real? Tennessee currently sits just outside the AFC playoff picture and is just a game back of Houston in the division. The Titans also own a win over the Chiefs this year as well. Ryan Tannehill is 5-1 as the starter as he and Derrick Henry continue to revitalize this offense. The defense continues to make big plays as well with two interceptions and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. Tennessee will get a chance to prove itself in this final stretch with games against Oakland and New Orleans and a pair of contests with Houston remaining.
12. Los Angeles Rams: 7-5 (Last Week: 14)
Won 34-7 at Arizona
These are the Rams we expected to see for most of this season. Jared Goff threw the ball all over the yard, hitting the 300-yard mark before halftime, and finishing with 424 and a pair of scores. Los Angeles had a productive day running the ball as well, led by Todd Gurley. This might have been against one of the worst defenses in the league, but it keeps LA’s playoff hopes alive and provides something to build on moving forward.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-5 (Last Week: 15)
Won 20-13 vs. Cleveland
Pittsburgh won again and I’m still extremely confused as to how. The offense is missing it’s starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Delvin Hodges made his first NFL start against the Browns and led them to an important victory. The defense got after Baker Mayfield and Joe Haden pulled the plug on his former team’s comeback bid with a late interception. Pittsburgh is holding onto the final AFC playoff spot at the moment, but must face the Bills and Ravens to close the season.
14. Dallas Cowboys: 6-6 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 26-15 vs. Buffalo
Dallas got punched in the mouth on Thanksgiving, losing the third of its last four games. That once prolific offense struggled to put up points for the second week in a row as well. The deficit was really instrumental in how this game unfolded. After falling behind early, the Cowboys had to abandon the run. That played right into the Bills’ hands, who have a great secondary, but are suspect against the run. Dallas is somehow still comfortably leading the NFC East, but this team has first-round exit written all over it right now.
15. Chicago Bears: 6-6 (Last Week 20)
Won 24-20 at Detroit
Are the Bears finally on the right track? Maybe. Their jump in rankings is more about the teams around them struggling and less about them. So many teams on the outside of the playoff bubble lost this week, but Chicago pulled out a much-needed victory. Even though Detroit’s defense is terrible, it was good to see Mitchell Trubisky excel. He finally got over the 300-yard mark passing on the year. The Bears are truly a long shot to reach the playoffs, but they have another winnable game coming up when they face the Cowboys.
16. Philadelphia Eagles: 5-7 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 37-31 at Miami
The spiral continues for Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Philly dropped its third game in a row with a devastating loss to Miami. Wentz actually played fairly well, with his interception coming on a Hail Mary that was batted around to end the game. It was the Eagles defense that had absolutely no answer for Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker. Parker had 159 yards and two touchdowns, while Fitzpatrick threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles still control their playoff fate, but this team seems to have a new unit that falls apart every week.
17. Indianapolis Colts: 6-6 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 31-17 at Tennessee
In what was a clear litmus test for both teams in this contest, Indy proved once again that injuries and kicking woes were too much to overcome. With Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton still out, this offense is playing with a skeleton crew. It is a testament to this team’s core that they are still competitive and sitting at .500, but the Colts need to get healthy to really make a playoff push. It might not take anything more than a 9-7 record to reach the postseason in the AFC after all.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-7 (Last Week: 21)
Won 28-11 at Jacksonville
Jameis Winston failed to throw a touchdown pass and the Bucs won by 17. This defense came to play, chasing Nick Foles from the game. Tampa came up with three turnovers and scored a touchdown on one of them. Peyton Barber punched in a pair of touchdowns as well. There is definitely something to be excited about for this club after winning back-to-back games for the first time this season. It is not out of the question for the Buccaneers to win out, but it is just as likely they finish 0-4. Time to see if Tampa Bay can find some consistency.
19. Cleveland Browns: 5-7 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 20-13 at Pittsburgh
It was another frustrating loss for the Browns, who lost all the momentum they had built in recent weeks. Pittsburgh was about as beat up and inexperienced at key positions as Cleveland could have hoped, but it could not make that matter. Baker Mayfield was uninspiring. Nick Chubb had a subpar game. The Steelers also got to Mayfield five times in the contest. Considering the expectations for this team, specifically the offense, heading into the year, Freddie Kitchens is in some hot water with this latest performance.
20. Oakland Raiders: 6-6 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 40-9 at Kansas City
Oakland entered Sunday with a chance to take the lead in the AFC West. Instead, the Raiders laid an egg for the second week in a row, getting blown out in a game they needed to win. It was an awful performance from the offense. It committed three turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown. After a second-straight lackluster performance, Oakland has to stop worrying about the playoffs and simply focus on executing. The AFC’s final playoff spot is still up for grabs, but the Raiders will have no shot at it if they keep playing in their current form.
21. Denver Broncos: 4-8 (Last Week: 27)
Won 23-20 vs. Los Angeles
Drew Lock played much like you would expect from a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start. He had some good plays mixed with some bad and really didn’t light up the box score. Lock did push the ball downfield and make some tough throws to lead the Broncos to a victory. Without Von Miller or Bradley Chubb, the defense still played well and made enough plays to give Denver a chance to win. With injuries piling up, these final four games represent nothing more an evaluation period for young players, mostly notably Lock.
22. Carolina Panthers: 5-7 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 29-21 vs. Washington
I wanted to drop Carolina even further after this dismal performance, but so many teams around them in the rankings also lost. Saw what you want about Kyle Allen, I expected a lot more from this defense. The Panthers gave up 248 yards rushing, 8.3 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns. Considering Washington is playing with a rookie quarterback, this is completely unacceptable. Carolina is in free fall right now after losing four straight and looking like it might be headed for a rebuild of some kind.
23. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-8 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 23-20 at Denver
Los Angeles lost its eighth game of the season and its eighth one by fewer than eight points. This last one was unbelievably unlucky considering the controversial pass interference call that set up the Broncos winning field goal. Defensively, the Chargers need more out of their front seven playing against a rookie quarterback in his first start. LA hit Drew Lock exactly zero times. It has been a lost season for the Chargers, who may have to start thinking about moving on from Philip Rivers.
24. Atlanta Falcons: 3-9 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 26-18 vs. New Orleans
After an uninspiring first 55 minutes, the Falcons suddenly sprang to life and almost made an unthinkable comeback. In the end, Atlanta dropped to 3-9. The patchwork offensive line gave up nine sacks to the Saints and failed to open too many holes for the run game. It has been another injury-plagued year that will end in disappointment. Atlanta will have some major questions surrounding the franchise this offseason.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-8 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 28-11 vs. Tampa Bay
Nick Foles has only played three games for the Jaguars, but looks like he might be a very expensive mistake. Doug Marrone pulled the former Super Bowl MVP in favor of Gardner Minshew. The offense responded better under Minshew and finally stopped turning the ball over. The 2017 AFC championship game feels like a lifetime ago now and Jacksonville feels much closer to a rebuild than it does a return to the postseason.
26. Arizona Cardinals: 3-8-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 34-7 vs. Los Angeles
Even when they weren’t winning, it was easy to highlight the positives in every performance for Arizona. That was much harder to do on Sunday. The Cardinals were overmatched by a Rams team that seemed very prepared for the matchup. The secondary continues to rival the worst in the league after giving up an astronomical number of yards to Jared Goff in the first half. Kyler Murray also looked lost and confused for much of the game, taking six sacks and tossing an interception. Expectations were never high for Arizona this year, but performances like this should not be happening.
27. Washington: 3-9 (Last Week: 28)
Won 29-21 vs. Carolina
Wait. Washington has won back-to-back games? Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice powered the offense to an impressive win. Dwayne Haskins continues to look very raw, missing on a lot of passes and showing lots of room for improvement. Still, he avoided turning the ball over, which has to count for something. There is no way this team will rush for nearly 250 yards every week, but this looks like a winning formula.
28. Miami Dolphins: 3-9 (Last Week: 31)
Won 37-31 vs. Philadelphia
Miami definitely isn’t tanking anymore after taking down the Eagles. The Dolphins still have a long way to go, but Brian Flores deserves a lot of credit for this team’s recent success. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to make plays for an offense lacking proven playmakers and DeVante Parker played the best game of career. The defense did just enough to hang on for the win. The result won’t really mean much in the standings, but it a sign this team is headed in the right direction.
29. Detroit Lions: 3-8-1 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 24-20 vs. Chicago
I’ve got to give the Lions a lot of credit. Most teams would’ve folded heading into a divisional game on a short week with an undrafted rookie quarterback making his first start. Instead, Detroit was incredible competitive and actually looked fairly polished offensively, given the circumstances. Having Kenny Golladay made that easier, but when David Blough and and Bo Scarborough are doing a lot of the heavy lifting, this was impressive. The defense is still a mess, but that’s nothing new. The Lions are approaching things with 2020 vision.
30. New York Jets: 4-8 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 22-6 at Cincinnati
Welcome back to the roller coaster ride that is the New York Jets. After battering a playoff-hopeful Raiders team, the Jets looked lifeless against a winless Bengals team. It is clear Adam Gase is still struggling to figure out how game plan for the talent he has available. Injuries have decimated this roster, but that humility remains the same. New York continues to end up on the wrong side of historic losses and the list of offseason needs continues to grow.
31. New York Giants: 2-10 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 31-13 vs. Green Bay
Not to be outdone by the inept Jets, the Giants were overmatched in a snow storm on Sunday. The Packers are a very good opponent, but there is a lot to be concerned about with this team. Saquon Barkley seems to have regressed from last season. Daniel Jones had a rough outing, but those are to be expected from a rookie quarterback. The larger issues exist on defense, where New York offered little resistance for Aaron Rodgers. It is hard to stop the future Hall of Famer, but this was another questionable showing defensively.
32. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-11 (Last Week: 32)
Won 22-6 vs. New York
It finally happened! The Bengals will avoid the company of the Browns, Lions and Buccaneers after winning their first game of the year. Predictably, it was against the Jets. Andy Dalton looked pretty sharp in his return to the starting lineup. His stats don’t even do his performance justice given how many touchdown passes Cincinnati dropped in the contest. This probably doesn’t save Dalton’s job long term, but it does buy him credit from grateful fans who are undoubtedly thankful to avoid that embarrassing bit of history.