2020 NFL Awards: Picking the MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year and more

The NFL regular season is officially over! It was a wild year with elements that no other NFL season has ever faced. Between social justice initiatives (that have very noticeably faded as the year has gone on), COVID-19 and no offseason, there is no question that this season will be remembered forever.

Now that we are headed for the playoffs, it is time to hand out some end of the season awards. This has been one of the most fascinating MVP races in recent memory. Defensive Player of the Year is crazy competitive as well. There could be some history made with the Offensive Player of the Year award as well.

Let’s make this clear, I am not predicting who will win these awards, simply deciding who I would vote for if I had a vote in these types of situations. There were some really tough decisions to make, so I did my best to break down why I chose these players (or coaches) to win in each category. Let’s (hypothetically) hand out some hardware!

Coach of the Year

3. Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
When you end an 18-year playoff drought, you end up getting some love for Coach of the Year. Kevin Stefanski has turned the Browns around very quickly. A year ago, the Browns were a 6-10 team without much leadership. Now, Cleveland is headed to the playoffs at 11-5 and there is stability in the locker room. Stefanksi deserves a ton of credit for finally getting this team over the hump. The five-game jump they made this year is tied for the biggest turnaround in the league. This team still has some major shortcomings and has gotten blownout a few too many times, but Stefanski has really pushed them further than any coach in recent memory has.

2. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
While they did not make the same level of a jump as some of the other teams in the league this past season, it was hard to improve a whole lot from a 10-6 record a year ago. Buffalo still won three more games this year, locking up the No. 2 seed in the AFC and looking incredibly consistent in the process. There were some hiccups in the form of an early-season blowout against the Titans. The defense also unquestionably took a step backwards, but the Bills still competed with some of the top teams in the league and won their first division title since 1995. Sean McDermott did an excellent job leading this group and this team is poised to win its first playoff game in 25 years.

1. Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins
No team outperformed expectations more than the Dolphins this year. Brian Flores deserves so much credit for turning this team around in such a short time. Miami’s roster is full of unheralded names, players looking for a second chance and young players still learning how to acclimate with the NFL. Flores got the most out of that talent, handling a complicated quarterback situation in the process. While the regular-season finale leaves a sour taste in the mouth of Dolphins fans, finishing 10-6, one game out of the playoffs is a massive accomplishment. It bodes well for the future of the franchise and it is clear Miami has a leader in place to build behind.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

3. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
My third spot came down to James Robinson and Jonathan Taylor. I gave the edge to Robinson in the end for being a more consistent presence on the Jaguars offense throughout the season. Keep in mind, this was a 1-15 team. Jacksonville started three different quarterbacks and none of them were good. His offensive line is not a great one either. Yet, Robinson still finished tied for fifth in rushing yards and scored ten total touchdowns. He provided a ton of stability on an offense that had very little. Is Taylor more talented? Absolutely. But, I think Robinson had a better overall season, where Taylor essentially just got hot in the final six games of the year.

2. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
When you are breaking Randy Moss’ records, you are doing something right. Justin Jefferson had an unbelievable rookie year. He finished with 1,400 receiving yards, fourth-most in the league and most by a rookie receiver in the Super Bowl era, and punched in seven touchdowns. Jefferson showed a great ability to stretch the field as well, averaging the ninth-most yards per reception this season. As if that wasn’t enough, Jefferson dropped just two passes on 125 targets this season. In just about any other year, he likely would have won this award. In 2020 though, there was another guy named Justin who broke a bunch of rookie records this year.

1. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
This is just what we all expected, right? The third quarterback taken in the 2020 draft and the guy who couldn’t beat out Tyrod Taylor to start the season wins Rookie of the Year. That’s how it goes down in my book this year. Justin Herbert shocked everyone with the level of dominance he displayed this year. He set tons of records for rookie quarterbacks, including most passing touchdowns (31) in a season and most pass completions (396) in a season. He finished 38 yards shy of Andrew Luck’s record for passing yards by a rookie, becoming just the fourth rookie to pass for over 4,000 yards. Herbert actually averaged the most passing yards per game in NFL history, but didn’t start the first game of the season. He also posted the second-best completion percentage by a rookie ever, trailing Dak Prescott. Give Herbert the award. He has earned it.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

3. Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys
This ended up being a less-than-stellar race for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but there have still been some impressive performances. Trevon Diggs had some rough moments, as you would expect most rookie cornerbacks to when they are thrown into a starting job without an offseason or a preseason. Still, Diggs took his lumps and improved over the course of the season. He finished with a top-20 completion percentage allowed at 54.2 percent. He did give up five touchdowns, but also came up with three interceptions. He missed four games in the middle of the year, which knocks him down a bit, but still put together a solid first year.

2. Jeremy Chinn, S, Carolina Panthers
Is a safety, is he a linebacker? I don’t really have the answer to that one, but he is a damn good football player. Jeremy Chinn burst onto the scene for this young Carolina defense. He led the team in tackles this year and made a big impact with his playmaking. He had two forced fumbles, an interception and two defensive touchdowns. He did struggle in pass coverage, which holds him back from ultimately winning this award, but he feels like a Budda Baker or Jordan Poyer-type asset to this Panthers defense.

1. Chase Young, DE, Washington
This was not the forgone conclusion I think many expected coming into the year. Yet, there is no doubt in my mind that Chase Young should win this award. He is a dynamic player on a super talented defensive line. Young finished the year with 7.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. He didn’t just get home either, he knocked the ball loose, tallying four forced fumbles on the season. Young also recovered three fumbles and scored a defensive touchdown. There are few players who have been such a focal point of opponent’s offensive game plans than Young. I think he comfortably wins this award.

Offensive Player of the Year

3. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
In one of my power rankings a few weeks ago, I noted that we probably take Davante Adams for granted way too often. This is me doing my best to not make that same mistake. In 14 games this season, Adams had an NFL-leading 18 touchdown catches to go along with 115 catches, which is tied for second-most and 1,374 receiving yards, which is tied for fifth. Imagine the numbers he could have put up in two additional games! What I think people overlook is Adams’ ability after the catch, where he put up the second most yards in the league, trailing only Alvin Kamara. Adams is a complete receiver and one of, if not the best one in the game right now.

2. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Whenever you run for over 2,000 yards in a single season, you end up getting consideration for the top offensive player in the league. Derrick Henry, has continued to show that he is the most difficult running back to stop in the league. He had his fair share of ineffective games this season, but his usage is also one of the most impressive in league history. What limits Henry’s claim to the award is his role as a pass-catcher in the Titans’ offense. He finished the season with just 19 receptions. Henry deserves credit for how dominant he can be on any given week, but I don’t think he managed to outshine the next player on this list.

1. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
This award was first handed out in 1972, and never in its history has it been won by a tight end. That should change. Travis Kelce has, almost quietly, put together the most dominant season by a tight end in NFL history. With 1,416 receiving yards, he broke George Kittle’s record for the most by a tight end in a single season and ranked second in the NFL among all players. He finished tied for fifth in receiving yards and receptions among all receivers as well. What shocks me most about Kelce’s season is that he is third in the league in yards after the catch. As if that wasn’t enough, he has only two drops, one of the best marks in the league. Kelce deserves this award after the season he has put together.

Defensive Player of the Year

3. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
By far the most difficult award for me to figure out, Aaron Donald narrowly edges out Myles Garrett for the third spot on the list. A fixture in the Defensive Player of the Year by now, Donald put together another stellar year, racking up 13.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Both rank among the top six in the league. He once again dominated along the interior of every offensive line he faced. Donald is the best interior pass rusher in NFL history and he has shown no signs of slowing down yet.

2. Xavien Howard, CB, Miami Dolphins
Sure, interceptions are a sexy stat. That only tells half the story for Xavien Howard. He has been targeted a ton this year, and I can’t seem to figure out why. Howard has allowed just 51.5 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed. While Howard did allow four touchdown passes this season, he was still one of the best lockdown corners in the league. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 48.3 when he was in coverage, trailing only Bryce Callahan for the best mark in the league. Between leading the league in interceptions and pass break ups, it is easy to see why he is in the running for the award.

1. T.J. Watt, EDGE, Pittsburgh Steelers
No player in the NFL has been more disruptive for opposing offenses this season than T.J. Watt. He led the NFL in sacks with 15 this season in 15 games and racked up 23 tackles for loss, also the best mark in the league. He also was tops in quarterback pressures and quarterback hits. Simply stated, Watt is the hardest player to stop in the league right now. That is evidenced even more so by him having the best pass-rush win rate in the league. ESPN detailed earlier this year how Watt has the fastest pass-rush get off in the league. Teams have had all year to try to figure out how to stop him, and right now, no one has an answer for Watt.

MVP

3. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
A few weeks ago, it seemed like Patrick Mahomes was running away with the award. Then he just kind of slowed down. He still put together a fantastic season. Mahomes finished with an impressive 38 touchdowns to just six interceptions. His 4,740 passing yards ranked second in the NFL, behind his draft mate Deshaun Watson. The biggest knock on Mahomes is his completion percentage, which is still solid at 66 percent. However, that ranks 16th in the league overall. Mahomes absolutely deserves to be an MVP finalist, but I don’t think he did enough to win the award again.

2. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
If you asked me at the beginning of the year, I would never have believed Josh Allen would be in the MVP conversation. Yet, here we are. Allen scored 45 total touchdowns in 2020, 37 through the air and eight on the ground. What has really jumped him from fringe starter to elite quarterback though has been his improved accuracy. Allen has always had a rocket for an arm, but he polished his technique. His completion percentage jumped up to 69.2 this year, the fourth-best mark in the league. As a result of all of this, he has the fourth-best passer rating and third-best QBR in the NFL. He has led this Bills offense that is solid, but lacks elite playmakers to a 13-3 record and put together a season that in most years would be enough to win this award. Unfortunately, he had to come up against this next guy.

1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
It took me a while to recognize just how great Aaron Rodgers has been this year, but I’m not missing it now. With 48 touchdowns, only five interceptions and a passer rating over 120, Rodgers put together one of the greatest seasons by a quarterback in NFL history. His QBR and completion percentage were the best in the league as well. What is even more impressive than any of that though is Rodgers throwing a touchdown on 9.1 percent of his passes this year. Russell Wilson had the second-best mark at 7.2 percent. Only Peyton Manning in 2004 and Ken Stabler in 1976 had better marks in the Super Bowl era. Without a doubt, Rodgers is deserving of the award this year.

2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 16

The unimaginable happened in Week 15. The Jets won a football game and this time they didn’t blow it in the final seconds either. Of course, there have been tons of jokes about New York not even being able to tank right, but I am happy to see the team avoid an 0-16 finish. I will talk more about that in the Jets’ section.

In other news, the Steelers inexplicably lost a third straight game, this time to the Bengals starting Ryan Finley at quarterback. Drew Brees looked like a man that has not played football in close to a month in his return from injury as the Saints lost their second straight game. Elsewhere, the Bears climbed back into the postseason picture and the NFC East continues to get more interesting. This is where I see each team following 15 weeks of action.

Chiefs Logo

1. Kansas City Chiefs: 13-1 (Last Week: 1)
Won 32-29 at New Orleans
Kansas City continues to weather the regular-season storm. New Orleans kept things close early, but Patrick Mahomes and company stepped up in the second half to close it out. Unfortunately, the Chiefs likely lost Clyde Edwards-Helaire for the rest of the regular season and possibly longer. On the bright side, winning either of their final two games will lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

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2. Green Bay Packers: 11-3 (Last Week: 2)
Won 24-16 vs. Carolina
It wasn’t the prettiest win the Packers have ever had, but they got the job done and extended their lead over the rest of the NFC. Aaron Jones rumbled for 145 yards and a touchdown in the win. Green Bay needs to play a bit more evenly after several offensive lulls in this contest. That won’t fly in the playoffs.

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3. Buffalo Bills: 11-3 (Last Week: 3)
Won 48-19 at Denver
Buffalo beat the doors off Denver behind another masterful performance from Josh Allen. He got plenty of help with 149 yards from the duo of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. The Bills defense also continued its late-season resurgence with its second defensive touchdown in as many weeks. This version of the Bills is going to be really tough to beat in the playoffs.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 10-4 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 32-29 vs. Kansas City
Drew Brees looked very rusty in his return from injury. He completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and threw a costly interception in the loss. It was not a great game from the Saints defense either, save a strip sack of Patrick Mahomes. Hopes of winning the NFC have pretty much vanished. New Orleans needs to right the ship over the next two weeks to build some momentum for the postseason.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-5 (Last Week: 7)
Won 31-27 at Atlanta
It was a slow start from the Buccaneers, but Tom Brady got the best of the Falcons when it mattered once again. He aired it out for 390 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The offense certainly missed the presence of Ronald Jones. However, it is the defense that had the most concerning performance. Matt Ryan finished with over 350 yards and three touchdowns. After a strong start, the Bucs are 3-3 in their last six and could use a jolt heading into the final stretch.

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6. Miami Dolphins: 9-5 (Last Week: 8)
Won 22-12 vs. New England
Miami officially put New England in its rearview mirror, at least for 2020. The Dolphins ended the Patriots’ 12-year postseason streak with a strong ground game and some stingy defense. It was another lackluster game from Tua Tagovailoa passing the ball, but he punched in two rushing touchdowns to earn the victory. With DeVante Parker and Myles Gaskin potentially returning soon, the offense should get a much-need jolt.

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7. Seattle Seahawks: 10-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 20-15 at Washington
The Seahawks ground out a crucial victory to reclaim the lead in the NFC West. Washington’s defense posed a number of issues, holding Russell Wilson to 121 yards passing and just one touchdown. Seattle’s defense pulled through with four sacks and a pair of interceptions. It was a gritty win, the type the Seahawks will likely need to pull off at least once in the postseason.

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8. Baltimore Ravens: 9-5 (Last Week: 10)
Won 40-14 vs. Jacksonville
Lighting up the Jaguars is hardly difficult these days, but it is still promising to see this offense continuing to click. Lamar Jackson put together another big performance, this time through the air as well as on the ground. Defensively, Baltimore stuffed James Robinson. He managed just 2.2 yards per carry. Gardner Minshew might have had two touchdowns, but it was too late to matter. The Ravens were in control throughout this one.

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9. Cleveland Browns: 10-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 20-6 at New York
After weeks of taking a backseat, it was the Browns defense who got top billing in this one. Cleveland kept New York out of the end zone, limiting its scoring to a pair of field goals. The Browns played a lot of bend but don’t break possessions, allowing the Giants to drive into the red zone, but coming up with huge stops when Joe Judge decided to go for it on fourth down. There is still plenty of room for the defense to improve, but they deserve credit for how they handled this game.

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10. Tennessee Titans: 10-4 (Last Week: 13)
Won 46-25 vs. Detroit
Don’t look now, but the Titans are picking up steam. After getting shelled in the first half of its Week 13 game against Cleveland, Tennessee has outscored its opponents 105-41 over the past 10 quarters of play. Ryan Tannehill is spreading the ball around and Derrick Henry is tossing defenders across the field. If the Titans can rediscover their pass rush, this team could be poised for another deep postseason run.

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11. Indianapolis Colts: 10-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 27-20 vs. Houston
For the second time in three weeks, the Colts stymied the Texans at the goal line with a timely fumble recovery to preserve a victory. It was far from Indianapolis’ best defensive game as it gave up 373 passing yards to Deshaun Watson. However, it made the big play when it mattered and kept pace with the Titans in the AFC South.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

12. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 27-17 at Cincinnati
Now the sky is falling in Pittsburgh. This team has completely forgotten how to run its offense. Ben Roethlisberger is missing open receivers, players are not on the same page and these mistakes are putting the defense in impossible situations. All of Cincinnati’s first-half points came off turnovers. Mike Tomlin needs to get this team back to basics, and fast. The Steelers are in danger of blowing the division lead.

13. Los Angeles Rams: 9-5 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 24-21 vs. New York
I still don’t know what happened. If this was not the most embarrassing loss in franchise history, it has to be close to the top. New York was fresh off a 40-3 beatdown against Seattle. Los Angeles didn’t even have to travel! As has been the issue all season, the offense was out of rhythm and that cost the Rams a winnable game. L.A. is now facing a potential road playoff game.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

14. Arizona Cardinals: 8-6 (Last Week: 14)
Won 33-26 vs. Philadelphia
In one of the most exciting games of the weekend, Kyler Murray outdueled the man who followed him at Oklahoma. The Cardinals’ defense made life difficult on Jalen Hurts though with six sacks, bringing their total over the past two weeks up to 14! On offense, it was one of Murray’s best games of his young NFL career. He finished with 406 passing yards and four total touchdowns. He has still not looked quite the same running the ball since he suffered that shoulder injury, but this was a big win for the Cardinals as they continue to fight for the NFC’s final wildcard spot.

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15. Chicago Bears: 7-7 (Last Week 23)
Won 33-27 at Minnesota
After looking like they were dead in the water, the Bears have roared back into the playoff chase, sitting one game back of the Cardinals. Mitchell Trubisky continues to show signs of his 2018-level of play while David Montgomery is quietly having one of the best second halves of any running back in the league. This team seems to have found its footing at the right time.

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16. Washington: 6-8 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 20-15 vs. Seattle
Washington holds onto its lead in the NFC East, but that cushion shrunk as the Cowboys are now just one game back in the division as well. Dwayne Haskins’ continued ball-security problems showed up again with two more interceptions. In a five-point game where the defense limits one of the best quarterbacks in the league to just 121 passing yards, those are back-breaking mistakes. Now, Haskins’ status for Week 16 is in doubt due to some off-the-field issues with Washington’s season hanging in the balance.

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17. Dallas Cowboys: 5-9 (Last Week: 25)
Won 41-33 vs. San Francisco
Could the Cowboys really run the table? Dallas picked up another win, this time without Ezekiel Elliott. The defense is still one of the worst, if not the worst in the league, but it has been opportunistic. Two forced fumbles gave the offense a big boost. CeeDee Lamb’s return touchdown on the onsides kick sealed it. Dallas is winning the turnover battle and making plays on special teams. That is a recipe for success.

49ers Logo

18. San Francisco 49ers: 5-9 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 41-33 at Dallas
Another tough loss for the short-handed 49ers eliminates them from postseason contention. No team has had to adapt more in 2020 than San Francisco, who is now playing home games in Arizona. This team is not going to need a rebuild as much as it needs a refresh and to get healthy. A new quarterback and a few extra pieces on defense could get the Niners back in Super Bowl contention.

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19. Minnesota Vikings: 6-8 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 33-27 vs. Chicago
Minnesota’s playoff hopes took another massive blow. The defense could not slow down David Montgomery, who racked up 146 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Kirk Cousins played well enough, but once again, the Vikings came up short. They are still in contention for the final wildcard spot, but the path looks extremely unlikely at this stage.

Eagles Logo

20. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-9-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 33-26 at Arizona
The Jalen Hurts show went on the road and nearly picked up a crucial win. Unfortunately, the offensive line fell apart and Hurts was sacked six times in the contest. Meanwhile, the Eagles stay alive in the division race with a Washington loss. Philly now needs to win out to reach the playoffs. With games against Washington and Dallas coming up, the NFC East is going to go down to the wire. Of every team in the division, the Eagles somehow seem to have the best quarterback situation all of a sudden.

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21. New England Patriots: 6-8 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 22-12 at Miami
It is time for the Patriots to take a long look in the mirror. After years of lording over the NFL, New England has quickly sunk to mediocre. Now, the team will get reinforcements with players returning from opt outs in 2021, but this roster desperately needs to be turned over. It will start with figuring out a new direction at quarterback. Cam Newton continues to show he is not “the guy,” and it seems like the organization is not trusting Jarrett Stidham. A big offseason awaits the Pats.

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22. New York Giants: 5-9 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 20-6 at Cleveland
Colt McCoy couldn’t work his magic to pull off another stunning upset. You have to give Joe Judge credit for playing to win and stay aggressive throughout the game. Unfortunately, this is a young Giants team struggling to compete with tons of injuries at key positions. Not to mention, the team lost a pair of coaches and their star corner this week before playing. New York’s postseason hopes look rather bleak though with a trip to Baltimore up next.

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23. Carolina Panthers: 4-10 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 24-16 at Green Bay
Carolina did its best to slow down Aaron Rodgers. It forgot to plan for the other Aaron though. Aaron Jones gashed the Panthers defense for 145 yards and a score. This team is still rebuilding, which became even more evident on Monday when general manager Marty Hurney was fired. As the Panthers head for a top-five pick, it will be interesting to see if this team decides to take a young quarterback to take over, or will the front office build around Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina is an interesting team to watch this offseason.

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24. Las Vegas Raiders: 7-7 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 30-27 vs. Los Angeles
Don’t let the record fool you, the Raiders are terrible right now. Las Vegas has now lost four of five, and the one game they did win in that stretch came on a Hail Mary against the Jets. It is clear that this defense is not talented enough to compete. The Raiders will need to invest some serious resources to rebuild it this offseason and potentially search for a new quarterback.

25. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-9 (Last Week: 28)
Won 30-27 at Las Vegas
Make that back-to-back wins for the Chargers, who continue to show grit following their 45-0 drubbing against the Patriots. Despite the improved play of late, Anthony Lynn’s job should still be under scrutiny. Los Angeles seems to have its quarterback of the future on the roster and a solid young group around him. The team’s leadership needs to be sure Lynn is who they want to head into the future with. This offseason would be the time to make the change if there are any doubts within that organization.

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26. Houston Texans: 4-10 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 27-20 at Indianapolis
Another close divisional loss sinks the Texans lower and lower into the misery that is their future. This team has a few talented players and one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. However, it doesn’t have a permanent coach or general manager and has very little draft capital to rebuild a talent-deprived roster. It is a long road ahead for the Texans.

Denver_Broncos

27. Denver Broncos: 5-9 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 48-19 vs. Buffalo
Drew Lock’s play of late is raising more questions than it answers. After a strong performance in Week 14, he regressed again, managing a pedestrian 4.1 yards per attempt as he finished with just 132 passing yards. That doesn’t even account for the strip sack returned for a Bills’ touchdown. Lock got very little help from his defense though, as Denver let Josh Allen do whatever he wanted to. While it might be tempting to tear it down and star over, there are a lot more holes on this roster.

Lions Logo

28. Detroit Lions: 5-9 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 46-25 at Tennessee
Another week, another dismal defensive performance. Lions defenders are out here getting tossed around the field by Derrick Henry and letting Ryan Tannehill spout off for a nearly perfect day passing the ball. In yet another lost season for Detroit, this team is now officially back to square one. There are questions about Matt Stafford’s durability and the team is once again looking for a new coach. There is a reason why this franchise has not won a playoff game since 1991.

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29. Atlanta Falcons: 4-10 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 31-27 vs. Tampa Bay
2020 has been a really hard year for everyone for some really serious, real-world reasons. If you want to focus on sports though, no one has had it worst than fans in Atlanta. Between the Braves 3-1 collapse and the Falcons blowing at least one three-score lead per month, it has been brutal supporting the local teams. On the bright side, Matt Ryan looked much better. Unfortunately, the team is trending toward a top-five pick with more questions than it has answers.

Bengals Logo

30. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-10-1 (Last Week: 30)
Won 27-17 vs. Pittsburgh
Bengals fans rejoice! Your team knocked off the Steelers and kept your hold on the No. 3 pick in the draft! Cincinnati played its best defensive game of the year, frustrating Pittsburgh’s offense all night long. It was opportunistic and made some clutch plays to secure a very exciting victory. These final few games will be great for the front office to continue to evaluate the roster while planning for its future with Joe Burrow.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-13 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 40-14 at Baltimore
Congratulations Jaguars fans! Your team is now two losses away from landing Trevor Lawrence! With Jacksonville losing it’s 13th straight game and the Jets somehow knocking off the Rams, the Jags are in line to land the first overall pick. It hasn’t really been a fun season, but the outlook for the team under a new general manager with the best quarterback prospect to come out since Andrew Luck is incredibly exciting.

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32. New York Jets: 1-13 (Last Week: 32)
Won 24-21 at Los Angeles
This was easily the most disappointed I’ve ever been after a Jets win in my life. I am thrilled the team will not finish 0-16. I really wanted them to avoid making that type of history. However, it is bittersweet, because I know how much of a difference Trevor Lawrence could make to this franchise. However, this could also open up a world of possibilities for the offseason. What the Jets decide to do with the No. 2 pick will be one of the biggest talking points of the offseason. For the next two weeks though, I will be rooting for the Bears and the Colts to slip up big time against the Jaguars and open the door for the Jets to reclaim the top spot in the draft.

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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

For the second time this year, I am going to use this space to encourage everyone reading to vote. And this time, it is for something far less important.

Voting for the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl closes on Thursday. I still do not really understand why the league closes voting with three weeks left to play in the season, but that’s a different argument to make.

We are given the power to help decide who reaches the NFL’s All-Star game! Granted, there is no football game being played this year, but a Pro Bowl appearance makes a huge difference in players’ careers. Often times when players are being considered for the Hall of Fame, voters will look at how many Pro Bowl appearances they made during their NFL career. Some players have specific bonuses and salary elevators attached to Pro Bowl appearances.

You can cast your votes at https://www.nfl.com/pro-bowl/ballot/. Have some fun shaping the future of the NFL and rewarding these players with some well-earned recognition!

Chiefs Logo

1. Kansas City Chiefs: 12-1 (Last Week: 1)
Won 33-27 at Miami
It was far from Patrick Mahomes’ best game as a pro, but the Chiefs ground out a tough victory over the Dolphins. After a rocky start, Kansas City’s defense stood strong. As a unit, it sacked Tua Tagovailoa four times and held Miami to just 3.3 yards per carry. Mahomes, despite his three interceptions, did finish with close to 400 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. If there is one concern surrounding this team right now, it is the ground game. Clyde Edwards-Helaire averaged just two yards per carry throughout the game. As they get deeper into the season and play in some bad weather games, establishing the run is going to become important.

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2. Green Bay Packers: 10-3 (Last Week: 4)
Won 31-24 at Detroit
If the Packers drafted Jordan Love for the purpose of firing up Aaron Rodgers, mission accomplished. Rodgers leads the league in passing touchdowns and has just four interceptions so far this season. This is supposedly without much of a supporting cast. At least that was the chatter about Green Bay all offseason. Rodgers needed another receiver other than Davante Adams to rely on. Turns out, he has plenty of other options to work with, namely Robert Tonyan and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. With the Saints losing this weekend, the Packers are now in line to earn a first-round bye. They have no margin for error right now, but hold the tiebreaker over the Saints.

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3. Buffalo Bills: 10-3 (Last Week: 5)
Won 26-15 vs. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has been struggling of late, but this is a huge win for Buffalo. The Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995 (good year, by the way). So yes, huge. What might be more significant though was the resurgence of Buffalo’s defense. Leslie Frazier’s unit held the Steelers under 250 yards of offense and gave up just two scoring drives all game. It also scored a touchdown of its own when Taron Johnson returned an interception 51 yards to the end zone. Ugly as it might have been at times, winning is all that really matters this time of year and the Bills did so in convincing fashion.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 10-3 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 24-21 at Philadelphia
New Orleans was in the driver seat to take the top spot in NFC heading into the weekend. Dropping a crucial game to a rookie quarterback making his first start in the NFL is a problem. The Saints’ defense had no answer for the Eagles’ rushing attack. After 55 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, both Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders went over the century mark. This is a major red flag for the defense and an indictment of the offense. Philly’s defense has struggled all year and was missing multiple starters in the secondary. A late touchdown made the score line look more respectable, but the Saints need to step it up down the stretch.

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5. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-2 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 26-15 at Buffalo
The sky isn’t falling in Pittsburgh, but things are not looking good. Ben Roethlisberger and this whole offense is struggling. The Steelers were unable to crack 250 yards of offense against. I talked about it last week in these rankings as well, this Bills’ defense is not as good as it was last season. Roethlisberger threw two interceptions, including a pick-six. This loss costs Pittsburgh control of the AFC. The Steelers now need the Chiefs to drop a game to have any shot at earning the No. 1 seed in the conference and the first-round bye that comes with it. At this point though, Mike Tomlin just need to rework the approach across the board. Pittsburgh had a great start to the year, but that means nothing if the team collapses down the stretch, there are going to be some serious questions asked in the offseason.

6. Los Angeles Rams: 9-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 24-3 vs. New England
Los Angeles’ defense is for real. Led by Aaron Donald, the Rams accounted for six sacks and chased Cam Newton from the game. The Patriots finished with 220 yards of offense. Los Angeles now leads the lead in yards allowed per game. The Rams also rank third in sacks and scoring defense. Another huge talking point here has to be Cam Akers’ breakout game. The rookie from Florida State accounted for 194 yards from scrimmage, most of it coming on the ground. Jared Goff didn’t really do much and had an interception, but all he needs to be is average if the Rams can run the ball like this and the defense keeps playing lights out.

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7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-5 (Last Week: 6)
Won 26-14 vs. Minnesota
Tampa Bay got a bit of a boost from Dan Bailey missing four different kicks, but this was a complete victory. The defense racked up six sacks and while the offensive line kept Tom Brady clean. Brady, in turn, took care of the football, even if the passing game was not as potent as we have seen it this season. 13 games into the season, it still feels like this Buccaneers team is trying to get on the same page. On paper, they are one of the most talented teams in the league. They just haven’t shown it on a consistent basis.

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8. Miami Dolphins: 8-5 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 33-27 vs. Kansas City
The door is opening for Brian Flores to steal the Coach of the Year award with Pittsburgh slipping in recent weeks. Despite the Dolphins ultimately losing, Miami pressed Kansas City and made life very difficult on Patrick Mahomes. The defense continues to excel this season, even against top-end competition. Tua Tagovailoa is slowly improving. He still makes the mistakes you would expect of an inexperienced quarterback. When you consider how well he performed without any of his top three running backs, the Dolphins can feel good about how close they were. At full strength, it seems like Miami could be very dangerous in the playoffs.

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9. Seattle Seahawks: 9-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 40-3 vs. New York
Looking for the cure to losing to an NFC East team at home. The Seahawks found it in the form of the team that shares a stadium with the side that handed them their worst loss of the season. Playing the Jets just makes everyone look better (except the Raiders). Russell Wilson had four touchdown passes and the Seahawks rumbled for 175 yards on the ground. Defensively, Seattle had three sacks and held the Jets to just 185 yards of offense. Geno Smith even got some playing time. It does not erase the issues that showed up the week before, but a 37-point win makes it a bit easier to swallow.

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10. Baltimore Ravens: 8-5 (Last Week: 13)
Won 47-42 at Cleveland
While he might not totally be back in his 2019 form, Lamar Jackson is starting to show shades of the play that made him the league’s MVP. He racked up a Monday Night Football record 124 rushing yards and looked electric in the open field. It was the second straight week where the Ravens’ running game looked nearly unstoppable. Now, the defense might need to pull itself together after surrendering 42 points, but it sure seems like Baltimore is headed in the right direction again.

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11. Indianapolis Colts: 9-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 44-27 at Las Vegas
I think it is safe to say that Jonathan Taylor is finally healthy again. Indianapolis’ rookie running back rumbled for 150 yards and two touchdowns, including a 62-yard scamper. T.Y. Hilton continues his revival as well. He hauled in two more scores and clearly seems to be clicking with Philip Rivers right now. The secondary struggled again, giving up 345 yards through the air, but did intercept Derek Carr twice. The Colts are tricky to figure out, but right now this simply feels like a good, but not great team.

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12. Cleveland Browns: 9-4 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 47-42 vs. Baltimore
It was a loss, but Cleveland proved a lot to the rest of the NFL with this performance. The Browns hung 42 points and pushed the Ravens to the brink on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately, their defense decided to get a head start on the holiday break. The Browns defense surrendered 231 yards on the ground and gave up some big passing plays down the stretch that ultimately cost them. That was also with Lamar Jackson missing almost an entire quarter of action. This is a huge improvement from the 38-6 drubbing they took in Week 1 though and a sign the Browns are a playoff-caliber team.

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13. Tennessee Titans: 9-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-10 at Jacksonville
Tennessee did not let their debacle in Cleveland carry over to their matchup with Jacksonville. The Titans took care of business in convincing fashion. It helps when you have Derrick Henry running over the entire defense. Henry racked up 215 yards rushing and two touchdowns. While many think of Henry as a power back, he has proven throughout his NFL career that he is an effective outside runner as well. The Titans might have another budding superstar as well. A.J. Brown made one of the best catches of the season with one-handed touchdown grab. He went over 100 yards receiving as well. Tennessee benefitted from facing some terrible quarterback play, so it is hard to truly evaluate how the defense fared. Just know that the Titans’ defense is going to need to step up against better competition as well.

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14. Arizona Cardinals: 7-6 (Last Week: 16)
Won 26-7 at New York
Where did that pass rush come from? Arizona entered the weekend with solid production from its pass rush, ranking in the top half of the league. Sunday took that to a whole new level. The Cardinals sacked Giants’ quarterbacks eight times, including a franchise-record five takedowns from Hasson Reddick. New York clearly had its struggles and this level of dominance is unlikely to be sustainable, but it is a positive sign for the defense. Kyler Murray has not been as electric since he sustained a shoulder injury against the Patriots. The defense is going to need to step up down the stretch for Arizona to reach the postseason.

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15. Washington: 6-7 (Last Week: 19)
Won 23-15 at San Francisco
This is exactly what we all expected, right? Washington leads the NFC East with a 6-7 record after reeling off back-to-back wins over the Steelers and 49ers. Ron Rivera’s crew also managed to win without scoring an offensive touchdown. In 2020, this is pretty much par for the course, especially for this division. Unfortunately, Alex Smith is dealing with a calf injury and could miss this week’s game against Seattle. That’s a really tough matchup at full strength, which means Washington’s outlook is rather bleak. However, Washington seems to find a way to win, even when it doesn’t make sense.

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16. New England Patriots: 6-7 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 24-3 at Los Angeles
For the first time since 2008, the Patriots will not win the AFC East. With their dismal loss to the Rams and the Bills’ victory over the Steelers, New England now has to hope for a miracle run at a wildcard spot. Those prospects are looking pretty slim as well. While the Patriots defense has actually held up pretty well despite all the absences this year, it is clear the offense needs some major turnover. The offensive line struggled on Thursday night and the Pats clearly have a need at quarterback as well. That doesn’t even cover the clear lack of talent at receiver. This is going to be a critical offseason for the Patriots as they truly looked to begin the post-Tom Brady era.

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17. San Francisco 49ers: 5-8 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 23-15 vs. Washington
This was a really tough loss for the 49ers. The defense managed to force Alex Smith out of the game, bringing out Dwayne Haskins. Washington managed a meager 95 yards passing and did not score an offensive touchdown. Sounds like a recipe for a San Francisco victory, but instead the 49ers lost by eight. Two defensive scores for Washington made the difference. It was a matter of the offense not being able to get out of its own way. If the 49ers had just taken care of the football, they would have won this game easily. That is much easier said than done, but this was a frustrating outcome that all but ends the 49ers’ playoff hopes.

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18. Minnesota Vikings: 6-7 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 26-14 at Tampa Bay
This was a tall task, but still a blow to the Vikings’ playoff chances nonetheless. Minnesota should have been a little closer if Dan Bailey could have made a few more kicks, he missed four, but even if he had made all of them, the Vikings still would have lost. While Bailey will take a lot of flack, the offensive line deserves a lot of blame as well. Minnesota actually moved the ball decently well, but had too many drives stall after costly sacks. The Vikings allowed Kirk Cousins to go down six times. It was a lackluster performance from a group that is on the fringes of the playoff conversation.

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19. New York Giants: 5-8 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 26-7 vs. Arizona
The high of knocking off the Seahawks wore off quickly. Daniel Jones played through a hamstring injury and probably wishes he spent the game on the bench instead. He was sacked six times and struggled as a passer. It was clear his lack of mobility limited him throughout the game. Colt McCoy finally came in, but it was far too late. The Giants managed just one scoring drive and fell behind Washington in the division race. The offensive line was atrocious on a day where it really could not afford to be. New York now faces a huge uphill climb.

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20. Las Vegas Raiders: 7-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 44-27 vs. Indianapolis
It was another week where the Raiders looked like pretenders, getting blown out for the second time in three weeks. Derek Carr did not have his best game as the offense sputtered. Las Vegas averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and committed three turnovers. The Raiders kept it close into the second half, but went down 44-20 in the fourth quarter after Khari Willis’ pick-six of Carr. A meaningless late touchdown made it look a bit more respectable. If Vegas does somehow limp into the postseason, don’t expect a deep run. This team has some major holes to fill and might need to consider a new direction starting in 2021.

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21. Denver Broncos: 5-8 (Last Week: 23)
Won 32-27 at Carolina
Drew Lock finally looked like the promising passer we saw at the end of last season. He tore up the Panthers for four touchdowns and 280 passing yards. He needed to be on fire as well with the defense giving up six yards per carry and three touchdowns. Strangely, the secondary held up despite missing its top three cornerbacks. It helped that the front seven came up with four sacks, but still an impressive showing under the circumstances.

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22. Carolina Panthers: 4-9 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 32-27 vs. Denver
This is not the type of post-bye week performance you would’ve hoped for from the Panthers. Carolina came out a little flat, finally coming alive in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, 17 fourth-quarter points were not enough to overcome the deficit. Most of the issues started on the defensive side of the ball though. Drew Lock carved up the Panthers’ secondary for four touchdowns and an average of 10.4 yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater did his best to carry the offense without DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey. There is not much else to play for this season, but Carolina still has chances to gain meaningful experience in these final few games. For such a young team with a new coaching staff, there are still chances to grow.

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23. Chicago Bears: 6-7 (Last Week 26)
Won 36-7 vs. Houston
Chicago bounced back and kept its playoff hopes alive with a crucial win. Perhaps even more importantly, the Bears snapped a six-game losing streak. The pressure that comes to end a skid like that is enormous, so this should provide some immediate relief. Beyond that, Chicago dominated this game. David Montgomery’s 80-yard touchdown run on the Bears’ offensive play was a sign of things to come. Mitchell Trubisky tossed three touchdown passes and the defense wreaked havoc all game long. Seven sacks, a safety and two forced fumbles is the type of outing we have been waiting for all season from this unit. Things just got way more interesting for the Bears heading into the final three weeks.

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24. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-8-1 (Last Week: 27)
Won 24-21 vs. New Orleans
Talk about a spark! Jalen Hurts took the keys to the offense and ran it really well, quite literally. Hurts’ running ability opened up so much for the Eagles, including an 82-yard touchdown run by Miles Sanders. Both finished with more than 100 yards on the ground. Hurts made a few key plays through the air and the defense played one of its best games of the season. While the playoffs are now a longshot for Philly, this is a good sign and makes the team much more fun to watch. Now, what to do about Carson Wentz’s contract….

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25. Dallas Cowboys: 4-9 (Last Week: 28)
Won 30-7 at Cincinnati
Andy Dalton had to feel pretty good about his return to Cincinnati. He tossed two touchdowns and protected the football en route to a big win. He got a ton of assistance from his defense. Dallas forced three fumbles in the contest and Aldon Smith even returned one for a touchdown. This team is still a mess, but it is nice to see the Cowboys play a complete game. Unfortunately, it might be too little, too late if this team is planning on making a run at the playoffs.

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26. Houston Texans: 4-9 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 36-7 at Chicago
This one stings a bit. The one thing Houston could hang its hat on was that they had the right quarterback to lead it into the future. That is absolutely still the case, but it turns out having a good supporting cast can make all the difference. Mitchell Trubisky clearly outplayed Deshaun Watson in this one, turning down the heat on Bears general manager Ryan Pace just a notch for the decision he made back in 2017. Without question, Watson still would’ve been the right pick, but the Bears made life very difficult for him. Watson was sacked six times and watched his teammates cough up the football twice. Needless to say, Watson some help.

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27. Detroit Lions: 5-8 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 31-24 vs. Green Bay
Reality set in for Darrell Bevell as his team came up short against Green Bay. Matt Stafford looked solid if unspectacular. He got very little help from his running game or defense. Aaron Rodgers had all day to pick apart the Detroit secondary. Meanwhile, the Lions finished with just 51 yards of rushing. Detroit is headed for one of the toughest offseasons of any team in the league. With a middling roster, no coach and an aging quarterback, this team could use an overhaul. On the bright side, they aren’t the Jets or Texans.

28. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-9 (Last Week: 29)
Won 20-17 vs. Atlanta
Los Angeles bounced back in a big way from the drubbing it took from New England the week before. The Chargers ground out a hard-fought victory, thanks in large part to the key takeaways on defense. Austin Ekeler looked like the lead back L.A. was hoping for all season, finishing with 148 yards from scrimmage. Anthony Lynn might have saved his job for another week with this win. It is not totally safe yet, but he is still employed right now.

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29. Atlanta Falcons: 4-9 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 20-17 at Los Angeles
Matt Ryan took another step closer to ending his tenure in Atlanta. Ryan cost the Falcons a chance to win this game on several occasions with three interceptions against the Chargers on Sunday. While it is pretty easy to just pin all the blame on Ryan for a disappointing loss, the lack of a run game is pretty significant as well. Atlanta has the third worst yards per carry average in the league after Week 14. Overall, the early magic that seemed to come from Raheem Morris taking over as the coach seems to have faded. The Falcons are still only two weeks removed from a 43-6 romp, but the 4-9 record speaks for itself. Keep in mind the Chargers were coming off a 45-0 loss the week before.

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30. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-10-1 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 30-7 vs. Dallas
Bengals fans might just want to stop watching games on Sundays and go watch Joe Burrow highlights for the rest of the season. For one, Burrow had an exciting start to his Bengals career and is a fun player to watch. Also, the Bengals stink without him. Brandon Allen did manage a touchdown, but it was a brutal game for the Cincinnati offense. Three lost fumbles and a 23-point blow out is always tough. Just remember that things will get better.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-12 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 31-10 vs. Tennessee
After a few weeks of competitive losses, the Jaguars resumed the roll of AFC South doormat. Derrick Henry quite literally ran over the Jacksonville defense for 200-plus yards. Even if the defense had shown up, it would not have mattered. The offense was lifeless, failing to get any real traction going. Facing a Titans’ defense that gave up 38 points in one half just a week ago, managed 10 total points in the game. On the bright side, Gardner Minshew and his fantastic mustache are back starting at quarterback starting next week.

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32. New York Jets: 0-13 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 40-3 at Seattle
Did you guys see that Marcus Maye interception? What a play! Oh yeah, the Jets lost by 37, but at least they had one positive highlight and didn’t get shutout! The bar is set sooooooo low for this team right now. Still waiting on that simulate to end of season button.

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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-5 (Last Week: 7)
Bye Week
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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20. Carolina Panthers: 4-8 (Last Week: 19)
Bye Week
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5

Four weeks down and we know a lot more about the NFL than we did at the beginning of September. Some things have stayed the same. Kansas City is clearly the best team in the league and the Jets are unquestionably the worst. Others have changed quite a bit. The Bills are a Super Bowl contender while the Cowboys look like a big pretender.

The league also spent much of the week dealing with the fallout of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Titans had 18 players and staff members test positive for the coronavirus. Jeffery Simmons tested positive as recently as Monday, which puts Tennessee’s Week 5 game vs. Buffalo in jeopardy. With their game this week against the Steelers already postponed, this could be a real headache for the league office.

On top of that, Cam Newton tested positive on Saturday for the virus, ruling him out of Week 4’s matchup with the Chiefs. It also caused the game to be delayed to Monday night from it’s original Sunday afternoon start time.

In the midst of the health concerns, players still found a way to remind everyone about what is truly important. Za’Darius Smith did it best with a simple, but powerful message for Breonna Taylor written on his undershirt. Important reminder to everyone that there are much bigger things than football.

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1. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 26-10 vs. New England
Patrick Mahomes and company were not quite as dynamic as we have come to expect, and yet the Chiefs still coasted to victory. Kansas City is a much more well-rounded team this season. The defense has allowed only 17.5 points per game so far, the second best average in the league. Sure, they got an easier assignment facing a Cam Newton-less Patriots offense in Week 4, but this came one week after shutting down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. At the quarter mark of the regular season, there is a distinct gap between the Chiefs and every one else in the NFL.

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2. Seattle Seahawks: 4-0 (Last Week: 2)
Won 31-23 at Miami
Russell Wilson had a disappointing game by his standards. With only two touchdowns and his second interception of the season, Wilson needed some help from the defense. Seattle’s secondary was not perfect, but two timely interceptions of Ryan Fitzpatrick were enough to hold off the resilient Dolphins. This was a tricky game for the Seahawks, who played in the early window after traveling 3,300 miles. Taking care of business is always important as Russ and company stay unbeaten.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 4-0 (Last Week: 3)
Won 30-16 vs. Atlanta
Don’t look now but the Packers are 4-0 and seem to be gaining momentum. This team has not been at full strength in recent weeks, but that has not stopped them from comfortably winning football games. Green Bay’s has outscored opponents by an average of 12.75 points per games, the best mark in the league. With a bye week coming up, Davante Adams has a chance to get back to 100 percent before the Packers get a showdown with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

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4. Baltimore Ravens: 3-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 31-17 at Washington
That is much more like it. Granted, Baltimore played a much worse opponent in Week 4 than the undefeated Chiefs, but this was the style of play we have grown accustom to for the Ravens. Lamar Jackson was off and running, including a career-long 50-yard touchdown run. Mark Andrews dominated the red zone with two touchdowns of his own. The defense also had a good outing with a forced fumble and three sacks. Baltimore is capable of playing even better than this, but this performance was more than enough to take care of Washington.

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5. Buffalo Bills: 4-0 (Last Week: 5)
Won 30-23 vs. Las Vegas
The Buffalo Bills are here to stay. Buffalo is 4-0 for the first time in 12 years. Strangely, the offense continues to carry this group. After a season where the Bills defense finished third in yards allowed and second in points allowed, coach Sean McDermott cannot run it back. Buffalo is giving up 25 points per game and the sixth-most passing yards in the process. If McDermott can get the defense back to its 2019 form, this might be the best team in the league.

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6. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-0 (Last Week: 7)
Bye Week
It was an unexpected bye week for the Steelers. With the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, their Week 4 matchup was pushed to Week 7 instead. It gives the Steelers a chance to recharge before heading into a brutal 13-game stretch (not including the playoffs) without a break. Pittsburgh should still reach the postseason regardless, but the task certainly becomes tougher with this new schedule.

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7. New England Patriots: 2-2 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 26-10 at Kansas City
Cam Newton might have earned some MVP votes after we saw how badly the Patriots offense struggled without him. Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham combined for four turnovers, including a horrible pick-six on a Julian Edelman dropped pass. Lost in the lackluster showing was that New England could still run the ball. The Pats racked up 185 yards on 5.1 yards per carry. Defensively, this was a solid showing as well. Take away the pick-six and the Chiefs offense only managed 19 points. A healthy Newton will get this team back on track.

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8. New Orleans Saints: 2-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 35-29 at Detroit
It was not perfect or pretty, but New Orleans got the job done to get back to .500. On one hand, you have to worry about how slow the team started. Going down 14-0 to Detroit is not a great sign. On the flip side, the Saints then rattled off 35 unanswered points before the Lions finally climbed back into it. Drew Brees was fantastic, posting an 88.2 QBR in the win. New Orleans still has a lot to work out going forward, but Michael Thomas should return to face the Chargers. That should make things run a whole lot smoother.

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9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-1 (Last Week: 9)
Won 38-31 vs. Los Angeles
I never thought I would write this, but if Tom Brady could just take care of the football, the Buccaneers would be winning games a lot more comfortably. But it’s 2020, so anything can happen. Brady threw yet another pick-six against the Chargers and the Bucs got off to a very rocky start, trailing 24-7. Los Angeles made enough mistakes to let Tampa back into the game though. Brady took advantage and finished the day with five touchdown passes. There are clear signs of how dominant this offense could be when healthy and clicking. I don’t know if we have seen a complete game from this Buccaneers team yet, which is scary considering the 3-1 record.

10. Los Angeles Rams: 3-1 (Last Week: 10)
Won 17-9 vs. New York
This was ugly. Los Angeles’s offense looked great on the first drive of the game and then disappeared for pretty much the rest of the contest. If not for the fact they were facing an inept Giants offense, the Rams likely would have lost this contest. Jared Goff had a pedestrian day, totaling 200 passing yards and a touchdown. The revived run game fell apart as well to the tune of 2.5 yards per carry. Give the defense credit for holding things down with five sacks and an interception, but L.A. needs to play better than this.

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11. Tennessee Titans: 3-0 (Last Week: 12)
Bye Week
The Titans will be a very interesting team to watch over the next few weeks. The league is investigating whether or not Tennessee violated coronavirus protocols in the lead up to Week 3. With more players continuing to test positive, it is possible their Week 5 game will be pushed back after the team already took an unexpected bye in Week 4. Mike Vrabel says the team has been embracing the virtual preparation, but I have to imagine there is going to be some rust to knock off once the Titans finally return to the field.

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12. Indianapolis Colts: 3-1 (Last Week: 14)
Won 19-11 at Chicago
The Colts defense looks like the real deal. Indianapolis has the second-best point differential in the league, tied with the Chiefs. Allowing a league-low 56 points through four games makes that possible. All of that should be taken with a grain of salt though. Indy has faced the Jaguars, Vikings, Jets and Bears. They have a combined record of 5-11 so far. The Colts face a much better test against the red hot Browns, fresh off a 49-point outing in Dallas. If the defense shuts down Baker Mayfield and company, then they will earn their spot among the NFL’s elite.

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13. San Francisco 49ers: 2-2 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 25-20 vs. Philadelphia
The injury bug finally caught up to the 49ers. Even with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle back in action, it was the absence of Jimmy Garoppolo that loomed large in San Francisco’s loss. Nick Mullens threw two interceptions, including the game-clinching pick-six. C.J. Beathard replaced him and sparked the offense, but it was too little, too late. The defense did its best despite playing shorthanded. Picking up three sacks and holding the Eagles offense to just 18 points is enough to win in most weeks. While the loss is disappointing, better days are on the horizon for the 49ers.

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14. Arizona Cardinals: 2-2 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 31-21 at Carolina
Arizona crumbled again as Kyler Murray continues to struggle. After two weeks as the league’s exciting young team, the Cardinals have fallen apart in back-to-back weeks. Murray does not deserve all the blame. The defense could not contain Teddy Bridgewater or slow down the running game. Arizona has a lot of young pieces playing in key positions, but this was still a letdown. The Cardinals should find the cure to all that ails them in Week 5. A trip east to face the Jets should get them back on track.

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15. Las Vegas Raiders: 2-2 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 30-23 at Buffalo
It was another close, but not good enough type performance from the Raiders. Derek Carr was spectacular, but the defense could not slow down Josh Allen. Carr also did not get much help from a usually reliable running game. Josh Jacobs managed an unimpressive 3.2 yards per carry. Las Vegas also lost the turnover battle 2-0, which was likely the difference in the game. One sack and zero turnovers is simply not enough from the defense. The Raiders are still very much in playoff contention, but definitely feel like they are on the fringes of that conversation.

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16. Cleveland Browns: 3-1 (Last Week: 19)
Won 49-38 at Dallas
Wow. For a lot of reasons, wow. Cleveland dropped 49 points on Dallas, by far the most in Week 4 and the most by any team so far this season. By the scoreline, this game looks like an old fashion shootout. However, the Browns led 41-14 entering the fourth quarter. The Cowboys cut that lead all the way down to three before Odell Beckham Jr. finally put the game away. Turnovers continue to be the key to Cleveland’s success. It owns a league-best +6 turnover margin through the first four games. There is still some bad news though. Nick Chubb is going to be out for an extended stretch. Thankfully, the Browns have one of the deepest backfields in the league. They will need it heading into a matchup with the Colts.

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17. Chicago Bears: 3-1 (Last Week 17)
Lost 19-11 vs. Indianapolis
The Nick Foles era didn’t get off to the best of starts. The veteran quarterback had his own shortcomings, averaging only 5.9 yards per attempt and throwing an interception. He got absolutely no help from his running game though. Chicago averaged a woeful 1.8 yards per carry. It went up against a tough Indianapolis defense, but that level of inefficiency is unacceptable. On the other side of the ball, the defense that Matt Nagy keeps praising needs to step up. One sack and no forced turnovers is not good enough for a team that boasts Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson and Robert Quinn. The Bears definitely look a lot more like pretenders than contenders after Week 4.

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18. Minnesota Vikings: 1-3 (Last Week: 23)
Won 31-23 at Houston
Good to see Minnesota finally get in the win column. The Vikings rode their offensive formula to success: feed Dalvin Cook and don’t ask Kirk Cousins to do too much. Minnesota threw the ball just 22 times in the win, but put up 31 points in the process. Cook rumbled for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, clearly leading the way for the offense. Not to be overlooked though, Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson both went over the 100-yard mark as well. This type of big-play attack off play action feels sustainable, even against better competition.

19. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-3 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 38-31 at Tampa Bay
The Chargers looked poised to shock the NFL. Leading 24-7 with halftime closing in, Los Angeles was nearly halfway through what would have been a statement victory. This was only two weeks after the Chargers had nearly knocked off the defending champs after all. Youth and inexperience showed up again though for L.A. Tampa outscored them 31-7 the rest of the way. Losing by seven to the Buccaneers is not a bad result, but the Chargers still have a bitter taste in their mouth. On the bright side, Justin Herbert is continuing to look like a franchise quarterback in just his third NFL start. He needs to step up with Austin Ekeler out for the next four to six weeks.

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20. Carolina Panthers: 2-2 (Last Week: 26)
Won 31-21 vs. Arizona
No Christian McCaffrey, no problem! That’s not exactly fair to the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, but Carolina moved to 2-0 without their superstar running back. Teddy Bridgewater tore up the Cardinals defense and the combination of Mike Davis and Reggie Bonnafon continue to do their best to shoulder the load with McCaffrey out. Defensively, the Panthers frustrated Kyler Murray. He might have finished with three touchdown, but he lost a fumbled and managed just 4.3 yards per passing attempt. Turns out Carolina might not be tanking for Trevor Lawrence after all.

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21. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-2-1 (Last Week: 24)
Won 25-20 at San Francisco
It wasn’t pretty, but the Eagles earn an all-important win on the road to (somehow) move atop the NFC East. Despite the horrendous start from the Eagles offense this season, it’s almost as if the past three games don’t matter because Philly is back in the driver’s seat in the division. Injuries continue to plague the team, with the offensive line and receiving corps completely banged up. If the Eagles can slowly start to get healthy, specifically getting Lane Johnson, DeSean Jackson and Jason Peters back, this team should have what it takes to reach the postseason in a historically weak NFC East.

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22. Miami Dolphins: 1-3 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 31-23 vs. Seattle
Miami hung tough once again with one of the best teams in the NFL. That won’t count for much come the end of the season, but it gives Brian Flores plenty to focus on as he continues to rebuild this roster. The negative side of Ryan Fitzpatrick showed up on Sunday. His two interceptions were likely the difference in the game. A 10-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter was nice, but it was way too late for that to be the only Dolphins drive that resulted in a touchdown. Miami feels really close to breaking through to the next level, but there is still work to be done.

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23. Atlanta Falcons: 0-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 30-16 at Green Bay
In a nice change of pace, the Falcons never had a lead to blow in a disappointing loss to the Packers. Green Bay looks like one of the best teams in the NFL, but other clubs have had no trouble putting up big numbers on that defense. Atlanta’s offense never really got into gear. Julio Jones left with a hamstring injury. Calvin Ridley was inexplicably held without a catch. Matt Ryan was left turning to former undrafted free agent Olamide Zaccheaus in big moments. The defense was a mess, but it is hard to defend Aaron Rodgers when the entire secondary is injured. Jaylinn Hawkins and Damonate Kazee joined Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen among the many injured Falcons defensive backs. At some point though, Dan Quinn has to be held accountable and his seat is only getting warmer.

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24. Dallas Cowboys: 1-3 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 49-38 at Cleveland
Dak Prescott is putting up video game numbers, but yet the Cowboys are a botched onsides kick away from being 0-4. He is currently on pace to shatter the single-season passing record, averaging over 400 yards per game. The issue is, he is almost always playing from behind because of Dallas’ inability to play defense. Prescott dragged the team back into the game and made the final score look somewhat respectable. In the end it was the turnovers (two by Prescott and one by Ezekiel Elliott) that killed the Cowboys’ chances. Given the defensive deficiencies, Mike McCarthy might have to focus more on establishing the run to keep his own defense off the field. There is no question Prescott can dominate through the air, but Dallas is struggling to hang on in these shootouts.

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25. Houston Texans: 0-4 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 31-23 vs. Minnesota
The first NFL coach is gone. This was probably two years after it should have happened, but better late than never. I firmly believe that Bill O’Brien the general manager ruined Bill O’Brien the coach. Houston’s roster has a ton of holes, but the team has no cap space and no draft capital. Up until this year, O’Brien had been able to coach up what talent he did have and reach the playoffs each year. His house of cards finally fell though after the Texans dropped their fourth game in a row. Perhaps this will be the shock to the system Houston needs to get going in the right direction, but there is also a good chance that a long rebuild is ahead.

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26. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-2-1 (Last Week: 29)
Won 33-25 vs. Jacksonville
Book it! Joe Burrow picked up his first NFL win on October 4, 2020. Maybe one day we will look back on this as the start of a great run for the Bengals. Until then, Burrow could use some help. He benefitted from facing a lifeless Jaguars pass rush and Joe Mixon going back to his Oklahoma days, but the defense still almost blew it. It is unlikely Mixon will rack up 180-plus yards and three touchdowns every week, but it is good to see him step up and complement Burrow in this offense.

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27. Detroit Lions: 1-3 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 35-29 vs. New Orleans
After taking a week off from blowing early leads, the Lions got back to doing what they do best. Detroit went up 14-0 quickly against New Orleans and then seemingly went into hibernation for roughly two quarters. When Matt Stafford and company finally woke up, it was 35-14 and the Lions ran out of time to pull off a comeback. Overall, it was another disappointing outing for Matt Patricia’s squad. Detroit has shown it is more than capable of hanging tough with the league’s top teams, but it just can’t seem to do so for 60 minutes.

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28. Denver Broncos: 1-3 (Last Week: 27)
Won 37-28 at New York
Despite their best efforts to hand the Jets the game on a silver platter, the Broncos headed back to Denver with their first win of the season. Brett Rypien tossed three interceptions, including a pick-six to keep things interesting. Lucky for him, the defense made Sam Darnold’s life hell, racking up six sacks. Melvin Gordon also came to play, rolling for 107 yards and two touchdowns against a usually stout New York run defense. If Rypien can settled down and avoid committing so many turnovers, Denver should be fine to weather the storm until Drew Lock gets back.

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29. Washington: 1-3 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 31-17 vs. Baltimore
Another week of wondering when the Dwayne Haskins experiment is going to end is in the books. The second-year quarterback actually put up some good counting stats with 314 yards passing. However, his 31.5 QBR tells the full story. Washington finished 4-for-13 on third down as well. Unfortunately for Haskins, he is not getting any help from his running game. Washington managed a meager 69 yards rushing on a lowly 3.1 yards per carry. The best way to help a young quarterback is by establishing the run. Until the offense can do that, Haskins is going to continue to struggle.

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30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-3 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 33-25 at Cincinnati
That Week 1 win over the Colts feels like a long time ago now. Jacksonville once again could not score enough points to keep up with its porous defenese. Gardner Minshew and company once again kept things competitive, but Joe Burrow had all day to throw and Joe Mixon tore the defense to shreds. This was always going to be a rebuilding year for the Jaguars, but I think the front office would like to see a bit more fight on the defensive side of the ball.

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31. New York Giants: 0-4 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 17-9 at Los Angeles
While there are those that still question New York’s decision to draft Saquon Barkley second overall in 2018, the former Penn State running back might just be proving his worth from the sidelines. The Giants have not scored a touchdown in either game since Barkley’s injury. Daniel Jones has picked up the slack rushing the ball in a lot of ways because of the lack of proven options at running back. The Giants actually ran the ball fairly well against the Rams, but still seemed to fall apart when they needed a big play. That is Barkley’s specialty.

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32. New York Jets: 0-4 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 37-28 vs. Denver
Another week, another disappointing loss. Perhaps more disappointing for all Jets fans is that reports surfaced almost immediately after the loss to the Broncos that the team would not be firing Adam Gase. There were even some rumblings that his job might be safe for the rest of the season. Beyond that being a huge mistake, it is killing the growth of their franchise quarterback. Sam Darnold did everything he could on Thursday night to carry the Jets to a win, but his terrible supporting cast and the horrible play calling from the sidelines once again let him down. New York does not deserve a player as loyal and committed to seeing it succeed as Darnold when it clearly has not shown the same commitment to him. The six sacks he took and sprained AC joint he suffered only serve to highlight the disparity.

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