Week 13 was WILD! The Steelers suffered their first loss of the season against Washington. The Giants, led by Colt McCoy, upended the Seahawks in Seattle. The Jets won a game! Then the Jets somehow lost that game on one of the most inexplicable play calls in NFL history. Gregg Williams was fired the next day by Adam Gase, who still has the power to make those decisions despite being 0-12 this season.
All in all, it was a bizarre weekend, one that shook up the whole NFL landscape. As we continue to roll on in December, there is still a ton to play for in every NFL game. The race for the No. 1 pick is still going strong, Kansas City and Pittsburgh are dueling for the top seed in the AFC and the NFC wildcard picture is still wide open!
1. Kansas City Chiefs: 11-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 22-16 vs. Denver
The champs are back on top! You could argue they never really left. Kansas City has had some small bumps in the road, including Sunday night’s win over Denver, but this is still the team to beat until someone knocks them out of the playoffs. Patrick Mahomes had a muted performance by his standards, only throwing for one touchdown. He still topped 300 yards though, which goes to show just how high he has set the bar for his level of play. The Broncos did expose one the Chiefs’ biggest weakness though as they gashed the defense for 179 yards on 5.4 yards per carry. If it wasn’t for the fact Drew Lock threw two interceptions, there is a good chance Denver would have won this game. It’s good to see KC grind out a win, but improving that run defense is a must as the weather gets colder.
2. New Orleans Saints: 10-2 (Last Week: 3)
Won 21-16 at Atlanta
The Taysom Hill show continued in Week 13, this time featuring him showing out as a passer. Hill still did most of his damage on the ground, but with 232 yards and two touchdowns, this was his most complete performance yet. It was also nice to see Alvin Kamara more heavily featured. His usage had dropped since Hill took over at quarterback, but he had 88 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Kamara’s numbers in the passing game are still down, but Drew Brees should be back soon. Until Brees is back, it is clear the Saints are in very good hands between Hill and this stellar defense.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 23-17 vs. Washington
They are popping champagne in Miami! The 1972 Dolphins can enjoy another year knowing they are still the only undefeated team in NFL history. In Pittsburgh, this was a major wakeup call. The Steelers have been getting by in recent weeks without playing their best football. That finally caught up to them. It is clear the offense needs to rethink its approach. The Steelers rank 29th in the league in rushing yards and dead last in yards per carry. For the fourth straight week, Ben Roethlisberger threw at least 46 passes and he passed Tom Brady for the most pass attempts in the league this year. That usage feels unsustainable for the Steelers. This is still a very good football team. Getting James Conner back should help and Pittsburgh still has every chance to win the AFC, but it needs to step up over this final stretch.
4. Green Bay Packers: 9-3 (Last Week: 4)
Won 30-16 vs. Philadelphia
I feel like we might not talk about Davante Adams’ greatness enough. He is tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns after catching two more against the Eagles. He has the size and speed to stretch the field, but the route running savvy and sticky hands of a great possession receiver. Oh, and he missed two games this season, which means that while he might not lead the league in receiving yards, he is the only receiver in the NFL averaging more than 100 per game. It helps to have Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback, but let’s not sell Adams short of his own merits. His performance has been first-team All-Pro worthy this year. In non-Adams related praise, Green Bay did a solid job battering Carson Wentz and limiting the Eagles’ rushing attack. This team has it’s flaws but is undoubtedly a Super Bowl contender.
5. Buffalo Bills: 9-3 (Last Week: 5)
Won 34-17 at San Francisco
In a strange year, there might be nothing stranger than the success of the Buffalo Bills. I’m not questioning the Bills’ talent. This was a very good team on paper entering the year. However, it is the way Sean McDermott’s team is winning games that I find so interesting. In 2019, the Bills allowed the third-fewest yards per game and ranked second in scoring defense. The offense did just enough to get by, with Josh Allen looking way more dangerous as a runner than as a passer. 2020 has totally flipped the script. Buffalo’s defense has struggled in 2020, ranking 21st in yards per game and 18th in points per game. Offensively, the Bills have been fantastic. So far they are 10th in yards per game and 8th in scoring. Josh Allen has looked fantastic as a passer, compensating in many ways for the team’s inconsistent ground game. The arrival of Stefon Diggs no doubt helped, but Cole Beasley has stepped up as well. This team is a tough one to beat right now and seems to be improving. Monday night’s win over the 49ers showed how dominant the Bills can be on any given night.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-5 (Last Week: 7)
Is this where the Buccaneers finally put all the pieces together? There are few rosters more talented than Tampa Bay’s, but the results have been mixed so far. Bruce Arians remains committed to throwing the ball 45-plus times per game despite Tom Brady’s struggles this year. Brady has had some vintage performances, but with the weather getting colder and a running back room with tons of depth, it might be time to tweak the approach a bit. A division title is basically out of the question at this point with Tampa needing to win out while New Orleans would need to finish 0-4 to make that happen. The Buccaneers should be focused on finishing strong and earning that top wildcard spot, inevitably setting up a matchup with whatever team limps to the NFC East title.
7. Miami Dolphins: 8-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 19-7 vs. Cincinnati
If it wasn’t for the fact that Mike Tomlin has the Steelers playing some phenomenal football on pretty much every day of the week, my (hypothetical) vote for Coach of the Year would definitely be going to Brian Flores. Beating the Bengals without Joe Burrow is not particularly impressive, but as we saw from Seattle, facing backup quarterbacks does not guarantee a victory. Miami’s defense forced two turnovers and held Cincinnati to 2.4 yards per carry. Outside of a blow coverage on Tyler Boyd’s 72-yard touchdown catch-and-run, it was a flawless performance from the defense. Tua Tagovailoa continues to settle in as the starter and the offense got a nice boost with Myles Gaskin returning. This team is going to be fun to watch grow down the stretch.
8. Los Angeles Rams: 8-4 (Last Week: 10)
Won 38-28 at Arizona
It was another solid win for the Jekyll and Hyde Rams. Los Angeles earned its eighth win of the season on Sunday, but this team has yet to win three games in a row in 2020. That is a bit of a concerning trend when you consider the Rams would likely have to win four straight to win a Super Bowl. The defense has rarely been the issue this year. Meanwhile, Jared Goff and the offense have been inconsistent. Against Arizona, Goff was locked in and the Rams’ running game was solid enough to get the job done. Troy Hill’s pick-six sealed the deal. L.A. is going to need this type of offensive performance on a weekly basis to be taken seriously as contenders.
9. Seattle Seahawks: 8-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 17-12 vs. New York
After carrying the defense all season, it seems like Russell Wilson and the offense have fallen into a funk. The offensive line fell apart against the Giants, giving up five sacks. Seattle’s usually reliable passing game also came up short, producing just 262 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Seahawks likely could have won this game if they committed to the running game more. Wilson and Chris Carson combined for 110 yards on just 20 carries. The whole game plan was puzzling. Facing Colt McCoy, Seattle had no answer for the running game, despite facing very little threat of having the ball pushed downfield. New York averaged 6.1 yards per carry and racked up 191 yards on the ground. The coaching staff really dropped the ball, costing the Seahawks’ first place in the division.
10. Cleveland Browns: 9-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 41-35 at Tennessee
Which side of this Browns’ win do you want to focus on? The first half, where Cleveland battered Tennessee and led 38-7 at halftime? Or the second half, where the Browns took their foot off the gas and got outscored 28-3? It was a bit reminiscent of their Week 4 win over the Cowboys. It showcased Cleveland’s potential and flaws in two halves of the same game. Second-half performance aside, the Browns picked up a crucial win and now have a stranglehold on the AFC wildcard. Kevin Stefanski’s crew won over a lot of doubters with this performance. They will have a chance to win even more against the Ravens on Monday night.
11. Indianapolis Colts: 8-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 26-20 at Houston
It wasn’t too pretty, but Indianapolis picked up a pivotal divisional victory. Jonathan Taylor finally seemed to regain his early season form with a strong performance. T.Y. Hilton continues to turn back the clocks as well with another great showing. Phillip Rivers took care of the ball as well, which is a winning formula given how staunch this Colts defense has been in 2020. Despite all the impressive stat lines and boxes checked, Indy still nearly lost this game. If not for a bad snap on the Texans’ final drive, there is a good chance the Colts would have dropped another winnable game. Rather than worrying about what could have been, Frank Reich can focus on stealing the division from the Titans, whose loss to the Browns gives the Colts a share of the division lead.
12. Tennessee Titans: 8-4 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 41-35 vs. Cleveland
The final scoreline does not indicate just how poorly the Titans played in this football game. Tennessee trailed 38-7 at halftime. Baker Mayfield put on a clinic for how to shred defenses. Cleveland also imposed its will on the Tennessee defense in the running game. Three turnovers ultimately undercut the Titans’ ability to stage a comeback. They deserve credit for dominating the second half and closing things down to a one-possession game Overall, this was a performance to forget for Mike Vrabel’s squad. Hopefully, the Titans are already on their way to putting this debacle behind them given how well they played in the second half.
13. Baltimore Ravens: 7-5 (Last Week: 12)
Won 34-17 vs. Dallas
Beating the Cowboys does not erase the memories of the past few weeks, but it is a nice step forward. Lamar Jackson looked closer to the reigning MVP with 94 yards rushing and three total touchdowns. He still wasn’t the world beating player we saw last year, finishing with only 107 passing yards and an interception. Perhaps his passing totals were more of a byproduct of how successful the Ravens were running the football. Baltimore finished with just shy of 300 yards on the ground and averaged an absurd 7.9 yards per carry. If the Ravens can even come close to replicating that success against the Browns, this team will be back in business.
14. New England Patriots: 6-6 (Last Week: 17)
Won 45-0 at Los Angeles
The Patriots might not be what they once were, but they are still a very solid football team. And Bill Belichick is one hell of a coach. It helped to face the struggling Chargers, but this was a decimation. This was Thanos with all six infinity stones level domination. The defense made life miserable for Justin Herbert and New England’s special teams came up with a bunch of big plays. Somehow, the Patriots managed 45 points in a game where Cam Newton threw for just 69 yards. The Pats still have a ways to go to make it back into the playoff race, but they have a chance now heading into the final quarter of the season.
15. San Francisco 49ers: 5-7 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 34-17 vs. Buffalo
San Francisco continues to grind through everything 2020 can throw at them. It was a bit of a lopsided loss on Monday as the 49ers got doubled up by the Bills, but Kyle Shanahan’s side showed grit. A pair of Nick Mullens interceptions ultimately undermined what was a really strong performance from him. Unfortunately, the absences on the defense have reached a point where the team can no longer overcome them. Josh Allen lit up the 49ers’ secondary to the tune of 375 yards and four touchdowns. If not for a bad exchange between Allen and Zack Moss inside their own five yard line, this likely would have been a true blowout. Impressively, San Francisco is still in the playoff hunt, even if their chances took a big hit with this loss.
16. Arizona Cardinals: 6-6 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 38-28 vs. Los Angeles
Arizona has the look of a young, inexperienced team that is struggling to adapt to the rigors of an NFL season. With a second-year quarterback, second-year head coach and a very young defense, there was always bound to be growing pains. After some-early season success, the Cardinals have settled into this middle of the road team where they belong. Kyler Murray still needs to learn how to take care of the football, committing two more turnovers on Sunday. He also averaged a meager 4.4 yards per attempt. This was a tough test against a talented Rams’ defense, but it highlighted the Cardinals’ clear room for improvement.
17. Minnesota Vikings: 6-6 (Last Week: 18)
Won 27-24 vs. Jacksonville
Minnesota does not like to make things easy. One week after scraping by the Panthers in the final seconds, the Vikings needed overtime to finish off the Jaguars. Learning to win tight games is an important skill, but not playing down to your opponent is another one. The offense has room for improvement, but far from the problem. Mike Zimmer needs to whip his defense into shape. Giving up 24 points to a Mike Glennon-led offense is not a great look. They did intercept Glennon twice and force two fumbles, but still could not close things out in regulation. Things are going to get much tougher for Minnesota as it steps into the ring with Tampa Bay.
18. New York Giants: 5-7 (Last Week: 22)
Won 17-12 at Seattle
Only in 2020 does Colt McCoy make his first start for the Giants and lead the team to a road victory over the Seahawks. That is probably giving McCoy too much credit. It was really the defense and running game that powered New York to a season-changing win. Wayne Gallman racked up 135 yards at 8.4 yards per carry to lead the way. The Giants’ defense forced two turnovers, sacked Russell Wilson five times and did a solid job in pass coverage. Considering that New York opened the season 0-5, this four-game winning shape is incredibly impressive. If Daniel Jones can get back on the field and the Giants can take care of the football, they are going to be a tough out every week.
19. Washington: 5-7 (Last Week: 23)
Won 23-17 at Pittsburgh
Don’t sleep on Washington! This team has a new head coach, is on its third quarterback of the season and has a roster comprised of a lot of mostly unknown players. Probably their most notable player is their current quarterback, who has worked his way back from one of the most horrific injuries in sports history. What Alex Smith is doing is remarkable and it is his steady veteran leadership that Washington desperately needs right now. However, Washington’s defense is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Holding the Steelers to 4.9 yards per play is pretty incredible. This is the type of scrappy play that could win Washington the division.
20. Carolina Panthers: 4-8 (Last Week: 19)
While there are still some major questions surrounding this team, it is hard to argue that the Panthers’ outlook is worse than it was last year. The rebuilt defense is coming off two straight impressive showings. Teddy Bridgewater has played even better than I think most would have expected. If Christian McCaffrey had not struggled through a lost season due to injury, it is fair to wonder if Carolina would be in the playoff hunt right now. Instead, Matt Rhule is looking at a top-10 pick with a very tough decision to make. If a quarterback slides to them, will the front office grab its quarterback of the future, or look to build around Bridgewater? How the former first-round pick plays in these final four games will likely determine the answer to that question.
21. Las Vegas Raiders: 7-5 (Last Week: 16)
Won 31-28 at New York
Say it with me: the Raiders are not a good football team. Jon Gruden’s squad seems to have found a solid game plan to compete with the Chiefs. Otherwise, this team has fed on bottom of the barrel teams and gotten blown out a few times. One week after a 43-6 drubbing against a four-win Falcons team, the Raiders were taken to the brink by the winless Jets. In fact, Las Vegas should not have won this game. If not for a truly head-scratching decision to leave a rookie undrafted corner in single coverage with Henry Ruggs, the Raiders would be a .500 team in a tailspin. There is a chance Vegas could correct some of these mistakes, but it seems like this team is just a pretender lucky to be in the playoff conversation.
22. Atlanta Falcons: 4-8 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 21-16 vs. New Orleans
It was another tough loss to New Orleans, but Atlanta looked much more competitive than it did even a few weeks ago. At 4-8, the Falcons have to be thinking about their future. They have an interim head coach and general manager at the moment. They also have an aging roster featuring high-priced players like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. These next four games offer plenty of opportunities for the front office to evaluate the entire roster and figure out what the best direction will be for the franchise. Do they stock up for one more run with Matt Ryan and company, or is it time to turn over the roster and think long-term rebuild.
23. Denver Broncos: 4-8 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 22-16 at Kansas City
Denver’s defense looked sharp, limiting Patrick Mahomes and holding the Chiefs to just 22 points, but the story once again has to be Drew Lock’s struggles. After finishing 2019 with a 4-1 record as the starter, expectations were sky high for the Broncos. Lock was surrounded by tons of young talent and the defense looked like it was ready to bounce back. Injuries to Courtland Sutton and Von Miller definitely quieted some of the hype, but no one expected this. Lock has regressed to the inaccurate quarterback lacking confidence we saw during his senior year at Missouri. He trails only Carson Wentz in interceptions this season, but has three fewer games this year. His completion percentage is the worst in the league and Lock also has the highest interception rate of any qualified passer. It is too soon to give up on him after just 13 games in the NFL, but there are some major red flags here. Denver needs to find someone to help him develop this offseason.
24. Houston Texans: 4-8 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 26-20 vs. Indianapolis
Houston came up just shy of a second impressive victory in a row. Deshaun Watson drove the offense right down the field and had the Texans in position to win the game, but a bad snap, and subsequent fumble recovered by the Colts, ended their drive two yards short. It was nice to see Houston put up that much of a fight the same week it lost Will Fuller and Bradley Roby for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. The Texans are still the NFL’s equivalent of a rudderless ship, but Watson keeps them competitive no matter how bad his supporting cast is.
25. Detroit Lions: 5-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 34-30 at Chicago
The Darrell Bevell era got off to a good start as the Lions earned a solid win over the division-rival Bears. Matt Stafford stepped up with some of his top targets out, throwing for 402 yards and three touchdowns in a winning effort. As he so often does, he stepped up in the fourth quarter and led two touchdown-scoring drives to earn the victory. I think there is very little chance Bevell will be given a chance to be the next head coach in Detroit, but he definitely didn’t hurt his chances.
26. Chicago Bears: 5-7 (Last Week 21)
Lost 34-30 vs. Detroit
Down Kenny Golladay or D’Andre Swift, coming off a huge loss on Thanksgiving and having just fired their coach, this was the perfect time for the Bears to face the Lions. Or so it seemed. We briefly forgot Chicago’s propensity to take favorable situations and fumble them away. It was a weird battle of futility in which the Bears managed to blow a 10-point fourth quarter lead. It truly seems like Matt Nagy’s days in Chicago are numbered. That 5-1 start feels like it might as well have been a decade ago, and that’s not just because 2020 has made this year feel like at least 27 crammed into one. If Nagy cannot end this six-game skid soon, he will certainly be gone.
27. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-8-1 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 30-16 at Green Bay
Is the Carson Wentz era over in Philadelphia? It has been temporarily put on hold at the very least. Jalen Hurts will start in Week 14 against the Saints. It is hard to argue with that too. This has been a lost season for the Eagles. Injuries decimated this roster across the board. Poor drafting in recent years also showed up big time as those injuries exposed how little depth this team really has. No, Wentz does not deserve all of the blame for the Eagles’ struggles this year, but he has definitely been part of the problem. Sunday was another disappointing showcase of how much this team struggles on offense with him at quarterback. Wentz avoided turnovers, but completed just six of 15 passes for 79 yards and was sacked four times. Philly trailed by 17 points when he was pulled. There is a way back for Wentz, and the Eagles better hope he finds it given his contract situation.
28. Dallas Cowboys: 3-9 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 34-17 at Baltimore
Dallas is hurtling towards a top-five pick after yet another loss. Andy Dalton was solid again, but an early deficit put too much pressure on him. The Cowboys were forced away from the ground game as Dalton finished with 48 pass attempts. That deficit grew mainly due to Dallas’ inability to stop the run. Baltimore rushed for nearly 300 yards and finished with 7.9 yards per attempt. That’s more yards per attempt than most team average passing! It is looking more and more likely this team just hits the reset button at the end of the year. Mike McCarthy genuinely could be gone after just one year.
29. Los Angeles Chargers: 3-9 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 45-0 vs. New England
This was a total meltdown in every phase of the game. Anthony Lynn’s seat was already probably a bit warm, now it is scorching hot. I am actually a little surprised he was not fired on Monday. It was a rough game for Justin Herbert and the offense. He tossed two interceptions and averaged 3.9 yards per attempt. Los Angeles also gave up two special teams touchdowns. Overall, it might be best if the Chargers just throw out this game tape and reset themselves for the rest of the season.
30. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-9-1 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 19-7 at Miami
Life without Joe Burrow continues to be extremely tough for the Bengals. The combination of Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley for just 193 yards passing. Cincinnati’s offensive line also gave up six sacks. The Bengals defense actually looked pretty sharp, holding the Dolphins to just one touchdown. This season has been a humbling reminder of how tough it can be to even be an average team in the NFL and that rebuilds often take a few years. Thankfully, the Bengals are in prime position to draft Penei Sewell in the upcoming draft to help shore up the offensive line.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-11 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 27-24 at Minnesota
Jacksonville easily has one of the three worst rosters in the NFL, but it is finding ways to be much more competitive than many would expect on a week-to-week basis. The Jaguars took the Vikings to overtime, overcoming four turnovers to keep this game close. Losing close is pretty much the best-case scenario for the Jags though as it means they stay in the race for the number one pick. It still allows them to fairly evaluate the rest of the roster to see which young players are worth keeping around for the future.
32. New York Jets: 0-12 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 31-28 vs. Las Vegas
I have run out words for this team. Where is the simulate to the end of season button?
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