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 12

Tis the season for major rankings shake ups. Hot streaks were snapped for the Dolphins and Vikings. Playoff hopes took a hit for the Patriots and Eagles. Meanwhile, the Ravens continue to struggle with an identity crisis as their postseason dreams fade and the Lions forgot how to score heading into Thanksgiving.

Needless to say, it is hard to feel quite as excited about the Thanksgiving Day slate of games as we usually would given the rising cases of the coronavirus across the country. That means this year we will be faced with much smaller gatherings, forced to see loved ones through computer screens and likely missing out on many of our usual traditions.

It has been a hard year for all of us, so I just want to take a chance to say thank you to everyone who reads this. It is a very useful outlet for me to feel productive in this ridiculous time. It is also a distraction from all of the real world issues we all face on a daily basis. I know that is a dangerous thing to ignore the social injustice and public health crisis going on around us, but I also know it is healthy to find a release that allows you to return to those much more serious and pressing issues with a renewed sense of energy.

So this holiday season, more than ever, I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for my family and friends who continue to support me and keep me sane. And, as always, I am thankful for football.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 27-3 at Jacksonville
The target on Pittsburgh’s back continues to grow. Having won 10 straight, the Steelers are winning games in different ways each week. Chase Claypool, Benny Snell Jr. and Eric Ebron each found the end zone. Defensively, Pittsburgh bent, but never broke. Four interceptions of Jake Luton made life very easy on the offense and kept the Jaguars out of the end zone. The intensity will escalate quickly with a desperate Ravens team visiting on Thanksgiving night. The Steelers could just about wrap up the division with a win.

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2. Kansas City Chiefs: 9-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 35-31 at Las Vegas
There is clearly something tricky for the Chiefs when it comes to facing the Raiders. Patrick Mahomes struggled in the first half, throwing an interception just before halftime. Kansas City’s offense found its footing in the second half, but the defense never seemed to get on track. Derek Carr tore up the secondary for three touchdowns and 8.9 yards per attempt. The Chiefs will be happy to move on with a win and avenge their one loss off the season, but this is not a team that Kansas City will want to see a third time.

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3. New Orleans Saints: 8-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 24-9 vs. Atlanta
Who needs Drew Brees? Apparently not Sean Payton, who picked up his sixth win over the past two years while starting a backup quarterback. While it wasn’t always pretty, Taysom Hill also validated Payton’s faith in him. While he was most impactful as a runner, Hill was highly effective as a passer. Completing 18-of-23 passes for 10.1 yards per attempt is more than good enough for the Saints to win games. It helped that the defense stepped up big time, intercepting Matt Ryan twice and limiting the Falcons to just 52 yards rushing. New Orleans also sacked Ryan eight times as Atlanta never reached the end zone. It might be a bit of an unconventional approach, but the Saints are still going to be a very tough team to beat.

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4. Green Bay Packers: 7-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 34-31 at Indianapolis
Green Bay led 28-14 at halftime, then proceeded to score just three points between the second half and overtime. Turnovers killed the Packers and most were self inflicted. A botched snap on the first drive cost Green Bay points. Aaron Rodgers got greedy and forced a pass to Davante Adams that was intercepted. Indy’s field goal to take the lead was set up by a Packers fumble on the kickoff return. Then of course, Marquez Valdes-Scantling coughed it up on the second play of overtime to set up the Colts’ winning field goal. Sloppy mistakes cost the team a chance at a road win against one of the AFC’s top teams. Now, the Packers are looking up at the Saints and Seahawks in the standings.

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5. Buffalo Bills: 7-3 (Last Week: 8)
Bye Week
Buffalo got a week off to put the heartbreak of last week’s loss behind them. That was made significantly easier by watching the Cardinals lose their next game. The Bills also now enjoy a full-game lead in the division thanks to a loss by the Dolphins and the Patriots shrink further into the background after they lost as well. In a season that seems to lack too many dominant teams, I don’t know that Buffalo is going to fill the void, but it sure has an opportunity it can take advantage of.

6. Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 (Last Week: 14)
Won 27-24 at Tampa Bay
Los Angeles is flying under the radar, but at 7-3, the Rams lead the NFC West and hold the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff race. Jared Goff is spreading the ball around and getting it out quickly. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods went off on the Buccaneers secondary. This offense still has the tendency to disappear too often, but the top-end potential of this team is a Super Bowl champion. If this defense continues to play at this high of a level, the Rams are going to be very tough to knock out in the postseason.

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7. Seattle Seahawks: 7-3 (Last Week: 11)
Won 28-21 vs. Arizona
For the first time all season, Seattle’s defense showed up to play. The addition of Carlos Dunlap paid some major dividends on Thursday night, coming up with the game-winning sack on Kyler Murray. Holding the Cardinals to just 21 points is actually a pretty big accomplishment. Without question, the Seahawks’ defense is still a weakness for this team. Seattle needs a performance like that to occur a bit more frequently to really look the part of a complete team.

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8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-4 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 27-24 vs. Los Angeles
Another primetime game and another failed test for the Buccaneers against a playoff contender. Tom Brady threw a pair of interceptions, including one on Tampa Bay’s final drive of the game trailing by three. He got very little help from his running game. The Bucs rushed for just 42 yards and 2.3 yards per carry as everything fell on Brady to create down the stretch. Tampa’s run defense did it’s job almost before hitting the field. Los Angeles kept throwing the ball, but it was a masterclass in route running and offensive scheming. This is a close loss to a good team, but those will end your season in January.

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9. Indianapolis Colts: 7-3 (Last Week: 12)
Won 34-31 vs. Green Bay
Sunday was a statement win for the Colts. The Titans had been the only decent team Indianapolis had beaten all season up to this point. Losses to the Ravens, Browns and Jaguars definitely made it hard to trust the Colts as well. The defense did catch a few breaks, but making opportunistic plays is crucial to winning football games. Still, it is unlikely any of Indy’s opponents will commit four turnovers again any time soon. There was an air of good fortune surrounding this win, but Indy needs to take the lucky break and build momentum from it heading into the home stretch of what looks to be a very tight divisional race.

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10. Miami Dolphins: 6-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 20-13 at Denver
Well, that certainly took the wind out of Miami’s sails. Riding high on a five-game win streak, the Dolphins were bullied by a much more physical Broncos team. Tua Tagovailoa was sacked six times and eventually benched. He finished with just 83 yards passing. The Dolphins defense made just enough big plays to give Ryan Fitzpatrick a chance, but he threw a game-ending interception in the end zone on Miami’s final drive. To be that close is impressive given how thoroughly the ‘Fins were outplayed. Denver ran for 189 yards at 5.7 yards per carry and Drew Lock was averaging nine yards per attempt. It was a humbling reality check for Brian Flores’ squad.

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11. Arizona Cardinals: 6-4 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 28-21 at Seattle
It was a bit of an off week for the Cardinals. Perhaps, Arizona had a bit of a letdown following an emotional win the week before. DeAndre Hopkins hauled in that ridiculous Hail Mary. Kyler Murray had a muted performance by his standards. The Cardinals entered Week 11 as the league’s top rushing team. Arizona finished with just 57 yards, more than 100 yards below its season average. This team is still on the rise, but the Cardinals took a major hit in the division standings.

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12. Las Vegas Raiders: 6-4 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 35-31 vs. Kansas City
No team has been able to challenge the Chiefs this year. No team other than the Raiders that is (and maybe the Panthers, weirdly enough.) Las Vegas took Kansas City to the wire, making Patrick Mahomes look mortal doing so. Derek Carr played nearly flawless. The interception on Vegas’ final drive put a damper on his outing, but the Raiders were in a pretty bleak situation before that play ever occurred. If nothing else, it shows that the biggest threat to the Chiefs returning to the Super Bowl might just be Jon Gruden’s squad.

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13. Tennessee Titans: 7-3 (Last Week: 14)
Won 30-24 at Baltimore
While maybe not as impressive a win as it would have seemed a few weeks ago, Tennessee bounced back nicely against Baltimore. Ryan Tannehill looked sharp and A.J. Brown looked damn near unstoppable at times. If that wasn’t good enough, Derrick Henry pulled off some late-game magic and Corey Davis went over 100 yards receiving again. The most impressive performance of the day though came from the Titans’ defense. Holding the Ravens to 3.9 yards per carry and containing Lamar Jackson was crucial. This was around the time last year that everything seemed to click for the Titans, so if this team can rediscover some of its 2019 magic, look out.

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14. Baltimore Ravens: 6-4 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 30-24 vs. Tennessee
What is wrong with the Ravens? The offense that dominated every team it faced a year ago looks lost. Lamar Jackson has dropped off a cliff. Baltimore’s offense is struggling to get receivers open and the offensive line is incredibly banged up. Now, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins are out after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thanksgiving against the Steelers. Baltimore is running out of time to turn things around. A loss to Pittsburgh would put the Ravens’ playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.

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15. Cleveland Browns: 7-3 (Last Week: 15)
Won 22-17 vs. Philadelphia
The marriage between Kevin Stefanski and the Browns’ offense feels like a perfect match. Stefanski wants to establish the run and use it to take the pressure off his defense and his quarterback. With both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt healthy, it is hard to find a way to stop that duo. Even though Hunt struggled running the ball against Philadelphia, Chubb rumbled for over 100 yards. Baker Mayfield didn’t exactly play well, but he avoided making too many mistakes. The defense came up with big plays when needed. Cleveland still does not really scare too many opposing teams, but it continues to grind out wins.

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16. Carolina Panthers: 4-7 (Last Week: 20)
Won 20-0 vs. Detroit
Shoutout to P.J. Walker. In August of 2019, the Colts waived their former undrafted free-agent signing and added him to their practice squad. This past spring, Walker starred for the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL. On Sunday, Walker made his first NFL start and led the Panthers to a win. In addition to Walker, Carolina’s defense deserves a lot of credit for snapping this five-game losing streak. The Panthers join the Dolphins as the only teams to register a shutout this season. It was a big step in the right direction for a very young defense, holding Detroit to just 185 yards of offense. If this is what Carolina can do without Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey, I’m excited to see them at full strength.

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17. Chicago Bears: 5-5 (Last Week 19)
Bye Week
Like it has for pretty much the entire season, Chicago enters Week 12 with a question mark at quarterback. That’s a really bad place to be heading into a matchup with an angry Aaron Rodgers. Both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles are dealing with injuries. Even healthy, neither has been very good this year. Chicago’s only other option is Tyler Bray. It’s not like this is a new problem, but if the Bears have any hope of salvaging what is left in their season, they need someone to step up at quarterback.

Denver_Broncos

18. Denver Broncos: 4-6 (Last Week: 22)
Won 20-13 vs. Miami
Well, I did not see this coming. Namely because I picked the Dolphins in my survivor pool. The Broncos were fresh off a blowout loss to the Raiders and hosting one of the hottest teams in the NFL. On Sunday though, Denver looked like the ’85 Bears. The Broncos racked up six sacks and Justin Simmons came up with the game-sealing interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone. Yes, this defense played so well, it forced the Dolphins to bench their rookie quarterback. Offensively, Denver moved the ball well, but definitely could have come away with a few more points. It is hard to figure out how the team that averaged nine yards per pass and 5.7 yards per run managed just 20 points. Still, the Broncos will be happy to take the win and show some of the potential many saw entering the season.

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19. San Francisco 49ers: 4-6 (Last Week: 21)
Bye Week
I don’t know that a team has ever needed a bye week more than the 49ers did. Coming off the break, there is some optimism that Deebo Samuel, Tevin Coleman and Jerrick McKinnon all return to action in Week 12. That won’t solve all that ails this team, but considering that Kyle Shanahan had next to no offensive weapons to work with last time out, that trio returning will be a welcome improvement. San Francisco faces a tough matchup with Los Angeles. The Rams have won against the Seahawks and Buccaneers in back-to-back weeks. If 2020 has taught us anything though, it is to never rule out anything. Except maybe the Jets winning a game.

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20. Minnesota Vikings: 4-6 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 31-28 vs. Dallas
Minnesota’s recovery tour just went off the rails. A loss at home to Dallas was definitely not part of this script. The Vikings missed a golden opportunity to get to .500 and put pressure on the Cardinals for the final playoff spot. Instead, they fell two games back in the playoff chase and will potentially miss Adam Thielen after he was played on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Minnesota has been dealing with inexperience and absences on defense all year. Those issues showed up in critical moments down the stretch as Andy Dalton piloted a game-winning drive. There is still a chance for the Vikings to rebound, but this feels like a big blow to their postseason hopes.

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21. New England Patriots: 4-6 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 27-20 at Houston
Just when it seems like the Patriots had finally turned the corner, they lay an egg against the hapless Texans. Up to this point, Houston had not beaten anyone other than Jacksonville. Unfortunately for New England, Deshaun Watson broke out his Superman cape en route to a ridiculous performance. The Pats’ defense had no answer for him, even with Stephon Gilmore back in the fold. All season, I have made excuses for this team lacking the depth or top-end talent it was used to having due to opt outs or injuries. Those issues did not go away, but New England let them take over again on Sunday. This is a setback I don’t know if the Patriots can recover from.

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22. Atlanta Falcons: 3-7 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 24-9 at New Orleans
Even without Drew Brees, the Falcons’ defense could not stop the Saints. While that was true, it was the offense that was even more disappointing. Matt Ryan had an abysmal game. He also spent much of it picking himself off the ground. New Orleans’ defense sacked Ryan eight times in the contest. In addition to not pass block, Atlanta’s offensive line did not run block either. The Falcons front office has invested draft picks, cap space and time to building an offensive line, but until that finally gets fixed, this team is going nowhere.

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23. New York Giants: 3-7 (Last Week: 25)
Bye Week
Don’t look now, but the Giants might just be rounding into form. I know that statement doesn’t usually apply to a 3-7 team, but New York designated both Xavier McKinney and Oshane Ximines for return from the IR this week. Those two could be real difference makers on a defense that has been surprisingly good this year. It doesn’t solve Daniel Jones’ terrible decision making at quarterback, but hopefully it means he will be asked to do less. The Giants have a tough final six games, but they might just be able to grind out a division title.

24. Los Angeles Chargers: 3-7 (Last Week: 26)
Won 34-28 vs. New York
It was ugly and fittingly weird, but the Chargers finally snapped their losing streak. Justin Herbert put on a showcase, albeit against a bad Jets defense. Keenan Allen balled out as well, finishing with 16 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. The running game was a bit of a red flag, picking up 29 yards on 26 carries. There is some speculation that Austin Ekeler could return soon though, which would be a huge boost down the stretch. Los Angeles still has a ton of question marks left to answer before this team is ready to compete, but there is no question it has its franchise quarterback.

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25. Washington: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 20-9 vs. Cincinnati
I don’t care which team you are a fan of, it is good to see Alex Smith win a football game. He actually took a backseat to the running game and defense, but Washington looked in control throughout the game. Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin continue to shine. The front seven looks pretty dynamic as well. With a veteran quarterback and a defensive line capable of generating pressure without blitzing, Washington might just have the pieces in place to run the table. Stranger things have happened and this team is right in the thick of the NFC East race.

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26. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-6-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 22-17 at Cleveland
I am running out of excuses for Carson Wentz. Sure, he doesn’t have a great supporting cast, but he is just playing bad football right now. Maybe it is because he has been sacked on a higher percentage of his dropbacks than any quarterback in the league that he is pressing. Still, Wentz leads the league in turnovers by a wide margin. OK, so maybe I’m not totally done making excuses for Wentz, but come on, he is being hung out to dry every week. Philly needs to find a way to protect him and take some of the pressure off. Running the ball a bit more seems like a good place to start. Despite yet another brutal loss, the Eagles have not done anything that cannot be undone. This team somehow still controls its playoff destiny in the worst division maybe ever.

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27. Houston Texans: 3-7 (Last Week: 29)
Won 27-20 vs. New England
On one hand, I want to focus on the greatness of Deshaun Watson. It has unquestionably been overlooked this year in a lost season for the Texans. His playmaking skills were on full display as he threw for 344 yards, tossed two touchdowns and added another one on the ground. On the other hand, please someone get this man some help! Watson led the team in rushing with just 36 yards. He lost his top receiver this offseason in one of the worst trades ever. His starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil was out with an illness. Despite all of that, he was great. With no first-round pick, Houston has no incentive to tank. It can just sit back and watch Watson go off for now, perhaps while designing some offseason plans to rebuild his supporting cast.

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28. Detroit Lions: 4-6 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 20-0 at Carolina
In general, you don’t really want to share any of the same accomplishments as the Jets. That is especially true this season, but Detroit joins New York as the only teams to be shutout this season. I know that Matthew Stafford is not at 100 percent and the Lions were missing Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola, but come on. Nothing? This is a Panthers’ defense starting four rookies, with about three more that see significant playing time. Carolina does not have one of the league’s top defenses, yet Detroit was completely stymied. On top of all that, I lost my fantasy matchup this week because I started Matt Prater, who got me -1 points.

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29. Dallas Cowboys: 3-7 (Last Week: 30)
Won 31-28 at Minnesota
The Red Rifle returns! Andy Dalton made his triumphant comeback with a three-touchdown performance, leading Dallas to victory in the process. He was far from flawless, but stepped up when his team needed him to late in the game. Ezekiel Elliott finally broke out of his slump, topping the century mark rushing and adding a receiving touchdown. With every team sitting at three wins in the division, Dallas controls its own destiny just as much as any of them. A healthy Dalton definitely gives them the best chance to win this wonky division and make an improbable playoff appearance.

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30. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-7-1 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 20-9 at Washington
Sunday was hard to watch for Bengals fans. Joe Burrow continued to battle despite his pourous offensive line. He was ultimately carted off with a knee injury that turned out to be a torn ACL and MCL with additional structural damage. There is no positive way to spin this one. Given the extent of the injury, Burrow’s status for the 2021 season is already in doubt. Cincinnati was not going to be winning the AFC North any time soon, but this is a major blow to the team’s rebuild and a gut punch to a franchise that finally felt like it had begun to turn the corner. Here’s hoping that Burrow will make a full recovery as soon as possible.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-9 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 27-3 vs. Pittsburgh
So, maybe Jake Luton isn’t the answer at quarterback either. It might seem a little harsh to make that assessment after facing the Steelers’ defense, but four interceptions, 4.1 yards per attempt and a completion percentage below 50 are bad no matter how good the opposing defense is. James Robinson continues to make his case for Rookie of the Year, but the wide margin made it hard for the Jaguars to stay committed to the ground game. It is hard to find too many positives in a 24-point loss, but at least several two-win teams around the league won this week, strengthening the Jags chances as a top-five draft pick.

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32. New York Jets: 0-10 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 34-28 at Los Angeles
The Jets tank job for Trevor Lawrence stretched into its 10th week. New York became the first team eliminated from the playoffs, meaning fans can now start studying mock drafts until next April (as if we haven’t already been doing that since Week 3.) At least this week was entertaining. Breshad Perriman hauled in a long touchdown pass and the ageless wonder Frank Gore found the end zone as well. Still, I’ve just reached the point where it is hard to find any joy in watching this team any more.
Just
End
The
Season

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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

The top two teams stayed the same, but there was movement seemingly everywhere else in these rankings. With an overhaul happening in the middle of the pack, it is getting hard to separate the contenders from the pretenders. For now, let’s just dive into how the league stands after Week 10.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 36-10 vs. Cincinnati
Pittsburgh flexed its collective muscles in a dominant win over the Bengals. Ben Roethlisberger had no problem playing in windy, cold conditions, tossing four touchdowns. The defense continues to look like the best in the league. Joe Burrow deserves credit for getting up given that he was hit eight times in the game and sacked four times. It would be good to see this running game get back on track at some point. The Steelers are going to need to control the clock and move the sticks in bad weather as the season wears on.

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2. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-1 (Last Week: 2)
Bye Week
Kansas City got to take a week off to recharge before the home stretch. Sure, the Chiefs would like to earn home field advantage and a first-round bye, but they travel well. Kansas City ranks second in yards per game and points per game offensively. Its point differential is best in the league. The often overlooked defense ranks in the top 10 in points and yards allowed. Giving Andy Reid an extra week to prepare for the one team in the league to beat his side this year feels unfair. Topping the Raiders would be a nice revenge game for the Chiefs.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 7-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 24-20 vs. Jacksonville
Winning by only four, at home, against the Jaguars is not a great week. Green Bay slogged to a win in an ugly contest. The Packers once again struggled to stop the run and needed the defense to shut down Jacksonville’s potential game-winning drive to seal the contest. In short, this was way too close for comfort. Still, Green Bay extends its lead atop the NFC North and currently holds the top spot in the conference. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but the Packers have to be happy about where they stand.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 7-2 (Last Week: 5)
Won 27-13 vs. San Francisco
Don’t panic! Yes, Drew Brees is out for a few weeks, turning things over to Jameis Winston. This also happened last year and Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 as the fill-in starter. It is far from a guarantee Winston has the same success, but the Saints are finally healthy, outside of Brees of course, and have just one game remaining on the schedule against a team with a winning record. Winston looked solid as well in his limited duties in the second half. This is where Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook need to step up to make life easier on their new quarterback.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-3 (Last Week: 8)
Won 46-23 at Carolina
Tampa Bay bounced back in a big way. Tom Brady took care of the football and tossed three touchdowns. Ronald Jones made his presence felt by ripping off the longest run of the season by any player en route to a 192-yard performance. The Buccaneers’ defense was far from perfect, but made key stops to allow the offense to pad the lead. It was nice to see this team bounce back after a terrible Week 9 loss. The Bucs now head into a Monday night showdown with a tough Rams defense. If Tampa is going to win the division, it is going to build a lead while Drew Brees is out for New Orleans.

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6. Miami Dolphins: 6-3 (Last Week: 10)
Won 29-21 vs. Los Angeles
The Tua Tagovailoa hype train has to be closed to full if it isn’t full already. Miami’s rookie quarterback led the Dolphins to a fifth-straight win and third in a row with him under center. The Fins continue to get big plays from their special teams. A blocked punt and big returns from Jakeem Grant sparked the offense. Defensively, Miami continued it’s bend, don’t break approach. Xavien Howard came up with a crucial interception to flip momentum. Overall, this Dolphins team is extremely well coached and looking like a tough team to beat. It will be interesting if this group is just happy to be here or has its eyes set on a division title.

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7. Arizona Cardinals: 6-3 (Last Week: 11)
Won 32-30 vs. Buffalo
Oh my goodness! DeAndre Hopkins made the catch of the year to deliver one of the most thrilling finishes we have seen in quite some time. Kyler Murray deserves credit for making an incredible throw as well. Arizona might not be at the top of the contender heap, but this offense is one that no team wants to face right now. The Cardinals lead the league in rushing, thanks in large part to Murray scrambling. If the defense can step up down the stretch, there is no reason Arizona can’t win a division title and more this season.

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8. Buffalo Bills: 7-3 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 32-30 at Arizona
That was a heart-breaker. Buffalo seemed like it had pulled off a stunning, game-winning drive of its own. Stefon Diggs continues to excel in this Bills offense and deserves a lot of credit for helping Josh Allen take the next step in his development. His touchdown to put the Bills up 30-26 with just 32 seconds remaining seemed like the dagger. You have no doubt seen the DeAndre Hopkins catch by now. It is a tough pill to swallow and it doesn’t make this loss count any less, but Buffalo still played a really good game on the road after a cross-country flight. It is hard to find two teams much further apart than the Bills and Cardinals. Sean McDermott needs to refocus his team quickly though and build on the positives with the red-hot Dolphins closing in on a the Bills’ division lead.

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9. Baltimore Ravens: 6-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 23-17 at New England
What happened to this offense? Baltimore still ranks second in rushing yards per game, but only the Jets are averaging fewer pass yards per game. The Ravens are outside the top ten in scoring as well. Something just seems off about the unit as a whole. Poor weather in New England did not help, but Lamar Jackson continues to look shaky throwing the football. The offensive line has not played great either, with Matt Skura in particular having a really bad game on Sunday. There is still plenty of time to right the ship, but with the AFC loaded up with six-win teams, Baltimore’s margin for error is small.

10. Los Angeles Rams: 6-3 (Last Week: 14)
Won 23-16 vs. Seattle
Defense wins championships and possibly division titles for the Rams. Los Angeles accounted for six sacks and three turnovers as it shut down Seattle’s high-scoring offense. The running game did the scoring while Jared Goff put up some solid numbers, even if he didn’t find the end zone. Los Angeles heads into a tough stretch of games, starting with the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. The defense has proven it is championship caliber. If the offense can reclaim its 2018 form, the Rams are Super Bowl contenders.

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11. Seattle Seahawks: 6-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 23-16 at Los Angeles
For the second time this year, Russell Wilson has imploded in a critical NFC West matchup. He tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble. Those turnovers were likely the difference in a one-score game. Los Angeles had its way with the Seahawks offensive line as well, racking up six sacks. The return of Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde should help, but the level of concern is rising in Seattle. Since starting 5-0, the Seahawks have dropped three out of four and seem to be slowly falling apart. The place to start is taking care of the football. Wilson has ten turnovers in Seattle’s three losses this year. With a rematch against the Cardinals coming up on a short week, a solution needs to emerge fast.

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12. Indianapolis Colts: 6-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 34-17 at Tennessee
While it has been a bit of a rocky season for Indy, this definitely qualifies as a high point. The Colts move atop the division following a convincing win. Philip Rivers bounced back with an efficient outing. Nyheim Hines stepped up to lead the backfield. Rookie receiver Michael Pittman had his best game yet with 101 yards through the air. Indianapolis’ defense did not really have an answer for Derrick Henry, but after building a big lead, Henry was out of the equation. Ryan Tannehill had little success completing passes as the Titans tried to chase this game. Indy had a clear gameplan and executed it to perfection.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders: 6-3 (Last Week: 12)
Won 37-12 vs. Denver
This felt very much like a Raiders style win. Las Vegas pounded the rock to the tune of 203 yards and five yards per carry. Not to mention the four touchdowns Josh Jacobs and Devonte Booker punched in. Derek Carr didn’t do much, but he wasn’t asked to do much. Meanwhile, the defense made Drew Lock’s life miserable, intercepting four of his passes and sacking him twice. The Raiders offensive line had a stellar game, clearing massive holes to run through and not allowing Carr to be hit let alone sacked when he dropped back to pass. If Jon Gruden can replicate this style of play, the Raiders will be tough to beat.

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14. Tennessee Titans: 6-3 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 34-17 vs. Indianapolis
Tennessee was truly beaten in all three phases to open Week 10. Special teams gaffes, defensive errors and lackluster offensive production led to a long night. The Titans have had their identity rooted as a hard-nosed, grind it out team, but the defense has not lived up to that. Tennessee is giving up nearly 400 yards per game and it’s 26.1 points allowed puts them in the bottom half of the league. If the defense is going to continue to flounder, Ryan Tannehill must step up. The former Dolphins quarterback accounted for 5.7 yards per attempt on just 27 passes against Indy. He needs to start playing like the franchise quarterback they are paying him to be.

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15. Cleveland Browns: 6-3 (Last Week: 15)
Won 10-7 vs. Houston
Kevin Stefanski is already reshaping the Cleveland Browns just nine games into his tenure as head coach. Nick Chubb and Karrem Hunt ran the ball 38 times and totaled 258 yards of offense in an old-school affair. The Browns’ defense got an assist from the weather, but held the Texans in check. Deshaun Watson managed only 163 yards passing as the whole team was held under 250 yards of offense. It was not pretty, but it kept Cleveland level in the playoff race.

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16. Minnesota Vikings: 4-5 (Last Week: 20)
Won 34-20 vs. Detroit
Minnesota ground out a vital victory on Monday Night Football to stretch it’s winning streak to three. The Vikings have a real chance of making a playoff push, sitting two games back of a potential wildcard spot. Even though Dalvin Cook had an off night, the offense did just enough to eke out a win. It was another strong showing from this defense, despite all the missing players in the secondary. Chicago has a tendency of making every opposing defense look good, but it was still important for Minnesota to execute. With three home games against the Cowboys, Panthers and Jaguars up next, it is very possible the Vikings continue this run to a 7-5 record.

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17. New England Patriots: 4-5 (Last Week: 23)
Won 23-17 vs. Baltimore
After almost needing overtime to beat the winless Jets, the Patriots told everyone to calm down about the death of the dynasty by beating the Ravens. This game far from erases every doubt surrounding the team, but New England showed grit and determination to pull off the upset. Damien Harris led the running game as he continues to emerge as a feature back. Cam Newton took care of the football again to help his defense out. Not being forced into any sudden change situations, New England’s defense played lights out. They held the league’s leading ground attack well below its season average and limited big plays. A loss would have effectively ended this team’s season, but now, the Patriot’ playoff hopes have new life.

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18. Atlanta Falcons: 3-6 (Last Week: 17)
Bye Week
It is still a long shot, but the Falcons are not out of the playoff picture. The road to get there will be tough, but it might have gotten a little easier. Atlanta is set to face New Orleans twice in the next three weeks. Drew Brees is out for at least one and possibly both of those contests, meaning the Falcons will face Jameis Winston instead. They split their two meetings with Winston’s Buccaneers in 2019 and intercepted him four times. Atlanta is likely going to need to win both those games and beat the Raiders to have any shot at playing meaningful games in January.

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19. Chicago Bears: 5-5 (Last Week 16)
Lost 19-13 vs. Minnesota
Bad just got worse for the Bears. In what was already a rough offensive showing, Nick Foles was carted off the field in the final minute of Chicago’s loss. His status for Week 11 and beyond is unclear. Tyler Bray stepped in with Mitchell Trubisky still dealing with a shoulder injury. It did not go well. The Bears’ losing streak is at four now as the offense continues to sputter. Even with a chance to still reach the postseason, I believe the team’s focus has shifted to finding its quarterback of the future this offseason.

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20. Carolina Panthers: 3-7 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 46-23 vs. Tampa Bay
Thankfully, Teddy Bridgewater’s injury is not serious. That was about the only good news to come out of this game. Carolina got pushed around by Tampa. Tom Brady picked apart the young defense and Ronald Jones gashed them for a 98-yard touchdown run. The offense missed Christian McCaffrey, who has already been ruled out for Week 11 vs. the Lions. It is important to remember this is a rebuilding year for the Panthers, but five-game losing streaks are hard no matter what your season expectations.

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21. San Francisco 49ers: 4-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 27-13 at New Orleans
San Francisco dragged it’s injury-decimated roster to New Orleans and lost in disheartening fashion. Nick Mullens threw two interceptions, the running game was nonexistent and the defense could not contain Alvin Kamara. At this point, the 49ers are just evaluating their depth and aiming to give playing time to younger players. This has been a lost season with all the injuries. The fact that San Francisco has four wins is remarkable and speaks to the talent throughout this team. Still, it is hard to see things turning around with so many key players missing.

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22. Detroit Lions: 4-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 30-27 vs. Washington
Detroit almost blew another massive lead, but Matt Praeter’s heroics likely saved Matt Patricia’s job. He nailed a 59-yard field goal as time expired to win the game. It almost distracts you from the fact the Lions led this game 24-3 before giving up 21 unanswered points. Matthew Stafford had a stellar performance, hooking up with Marvin Jones Jr., D’Andre Swift and Marvin Hall on touchdown passes. Obviously, the blown lead is cause for concern, but Detroit can feel better trying to solve that issue after a win.

Denver_Broncos

23. Denver Broncos: 3-6 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 37-12 at Las Vegas
Denver had another slow start and this time never actually got going at all. Drew Lock had a day to forget with four interceptions. The defense got bowled over by the combo of Josh Jacobs and former Bronco Devonte Booker. This was a dud across the board and it raises some serious questions about this team. The team has faced some crucial injuries and opt outs, but the Broncos’ recent sluggish starts are concerning. It seems like this team is not learning from the mistakes it is making, instead, repeating them each week. If this slump continues, Vic Fangio’s seat could get pretty warm.

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24. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-5-1 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 27-17 at New York
Just when it seemed like the Eagles were ready to coast to an NFC East title, they laid an egg in a crucial game. Philly still leads the division by virtue of having two fewer losses than New York, but this does not bode well for the team’s future. Carson Wentz was horrible, the defense could not stop the run and the offensive line still didn’t play well. The excuses for the Eagles’ shortcomings are getting old. No one in this division truly deserves a playoff spot at this stage, but it is becoming clear Philly has a lot of work to do in order to even fall into a division title.

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25. New York Giants: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 27-17 vs. Philadelphia
Don’t ask me how, but the Giants have a legitimate shot of reaching the playoff. This win swung the whole divisional race. Dropping to 2-8 while the Eagles moved to 4-4-1 might have felt insurmountable. Now, New York is right in the hunt. Daniel Jones is FINALLY playing some turnover-free football. Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris formed a solid tandem in the backfield. Meanwhile, the defense suddenly looks pretty good. The Giants have allowed more than 26 points only twice this season. New York’s upcoming schedule is tough, even with Cincinnati up next. Just because the Giants have a chance to reach the playoffs doesn’t mean it is likely.

26. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-7 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 29-21 at Miami
I could probably leave most of the Chargers recap from last week in place considering how predictable they have become. Los Angeles lost another one-possession game in which it felt like it could have come out on top if not for a crucial mistake or two. A blocked punt and a poorly timed interception doomed the Chargers this time around. Justin Herbert struggled a bit in his worst outing of the season, failing to top 200 yards passing. No one’s job should be in jeopardy, but it would relieve a lot of pressure if L.A. could just win a close game.

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27. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-6-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 36-10 at Pittsburgh
The growing pains for this young team were on full display in smackdown in Pittsburgh. Joe Burrow struggled to find open receivers and spent much of the game picking himself off the dirt. Defensively, Cincinnati was a mess. Big Ben had his way with the secondary even though the Steelers had no established running game. As this season drags on, the Bengals must identify other ways to measure success, because games like this are discouraging. This team is on the right path though and simply needs to stay the course.

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28. Washington: 2-7 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 30-27 vs. Detroit
Alex Smith came very close to engineering one of the comebacks of the season. Smith threw for 390 yards and took care of the ball this week, but it was not enough to overcome Washington’s poor start. The team had to abandon the run game after trailing by 21 points, but that is something Ron Rivera needs to prioritize going forward. Washington is way more focused on the future than any success this year. That being said, they are still in the playoff conversation given how weak the NFC East is.

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29. Houston Texans: 2-7 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 10-7 at Cleveland
This might have been the most painful weekend Texans fans have experienced in quite some time. Their team managed just seven points in a depressing loss to the Browns. A few hours later DeAndre Hopkins made one of the best catches in recent memory to seal an improbable win for the Cardinals. The infamous Hopkins-David Johnson trade already looks like one of the worst in NFL history. For Hopkins to be second in the league in receiving yards on a 6-3 team while David Johnson sits on IR as Houston’s offense flounders is particularly agonizing.

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30. Dallas Cowboys: 2-7 (Last Week: 30)
Bye Week
Dallas faces one of the most interesting offseasons of any team in recent memory. Heading for a top-five pick in a quarterback-rich draft, the Cowboys could easily draft their quarterback of the future. However, the team already believes it has its long-term answer at quarterback in Dak Prescott. He is a free agent after the season and the two sides already had one rocky summer of negotiations. Keeping Prescott and trading down is likely the more popular option here, but this is one of the teams to watch when the season ends.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-8 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 24-20 vs. Green Bay
It was quite the fight from Jacksonville, but ultimately the Jaguars could seal the deal. Jake Luton was decent in his first start. James Robinson continued his campaign to win offensive rookie of the year. The defense played surprisingly well against what is usually one of the best offenses in the NFL. If that Jaguars team shows up more consistently, Jacksonville could be in for a turnaround as early as next year.

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32. New York Jets: 0-9 (Last Week: 32)
Bye Week
New York took a week off from disappointing their fans to get healthy for the home stretch. At this point, there are several fans rooting for the Jets to lose out, ensuring they land Trevor Lawrence. The Jets would be hard pressed to pick up many wins heading into a second half where it has the fourth-highest strength of schedule of any team in the league. Given the inept coaching and overall lack of talent on the roster, I fully expect for the Jets to lose every time they take the field.

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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

Welcome to Election Day 2020. I know this is an NFL Power Rankings article, but that is definitely not the most important thing going on in the U.S. today. And if you are about to spout off about how sports aren’t political, you clearly have not been paying attention.

While much fanfare will be made of who wins the presidential election, I encourage you not to overlook campaign races in the Senate and House of Representatives. These are the people who confirm Supreme Court justice appointments, design stimulus packages and decide where our nation’s money is spent. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that those who serve in the United States Congress hold an enormous amount of power over our lives.

The bottom line is, please vote. I won’t tell you to lean one way or the other. By now, you have likely made your decision. Simply, show up, and make your voice heard. Be part of the process that our country quite literally fought a war to establish and has fought many more since to protect.

Of course, I will also be praying for everyone’s safety on this day. There is the obvious threat in the form of the coronavirus to everyone’s health, but reports of potential riots and retaliations regarding the outcome of the presidential race have circulated in the media. I truly hope that we can all wake up on Wednesday morning unscathed.

Believe it or not, voting and football go hand in hand this year. The NFL has made a huge push to have its players and coaches vote. So with that semi-reasonable transition, let’s get to the football.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 28-24 at Baltimore
Are the ’72 Dolphins sweating yet? They really shouldn’t be given how much time is left in the season, but the Steelers passed their biggest test of the year so far on Sunday. It was a gritty AFC North showdown. Pittsburgh’s defense gave up a shocking 265 yards rushing, but came up with a big play when it mattered. Minkah Fitzpatrick broke up Lamar Jackson’s potential game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone to seal the win. Despite its struggles against the run, Pittsburgh still had success on defense, forcing four turnovers, including a pick-six. T.J. Watt and company also racked up four sacks. With a two-game lead in the division, Mike Tomlin has to be loving life right now.

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2. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 35-9 vs. New York
One week after leaning heavily into the running game, Patrick Mahomes balled out against the Jets. The 2018 MVP tossed five touchdown passes and added 416 yards through the air. While shutting down New York’s offense is far from impressive, Kansas City took care of business convincingly, holding the Jets to 221 yards of offense. The defending champs are proving to be versatile and adaptive to whatever it takes to get the job done. That is a scary prospect for the rest of the league.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-2 (Last Week: 2)
Won 25-23 at New York
This was not the blowout many people expected. To say the Buccaneers struggled to get past the Giants would be an understatement. Tampa struggled to establish the run and the defense nearly blew the game, but Daniel Jones’ ineptitude saved them. New York had a surprising amount of success running the ball against this usually stout defense. Part of that might have been by design though as Todd Bowles just blitzed Jones all night. The tactic earned his team two crucial interceptions. Maybe this was just a trap game with the Bucs looking ahead to next week’s showdown with the Saints. Either way, Tampa Bay was lucky to collect a win.

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4. Seattle Seahawks: 6-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 37-27 vs. San Francisco
Seattle bounced back in a big way, battling through injuries at key positions to take care of the 49ers. This game was even more lopsided than the final scoreline might indicate. The Seahawks led 30-7 in the fourth quarter before Nick Mullens came in to spark a late push. Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf look close to unstoppable at this point, connecting 12 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns. DeeJay Dallas played incredibly well in relief of Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, scoring a pair of touchdowns. As of now, the road to a Super Bowl runs through Seattle. If the Seahawks can avoid the mistakes they made against the Cardinals, it is likely to stay that way.

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5. Baltimore Ravens: 5-2 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 28-24 vs. Pittsburgh
Baltimore has not looked like the team that dominated the 2019 regular season. While 5-2 is still a fairly impressive start, the losses have come against the top two teams in the conference. On one hand, it shows that the Ravens certainly belong near the top of these power rankings. On the other, it is a bit concerning that they are struggling against the teams they will need to beat to reach the Super Bowl. Lamar Jackson is nowhere his MVP form of a year ago. His four turnovers are the biggest reason why Baltimore lost at home versus Pittsburgh. This team is still incredibly talented, but it seems like something is off right now.

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6. Arizona Cardinals: 5-2 (Last Week: 8)
Bye Week
Arizona benefits from Green Bay and Tennessee losing to a pair of previously one-win teams in Week 8. The Cardinals have flashed incredible potential on offense with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. They also seem to be hitting their stride. Arizona is on a three-game win streak, dominating the hapless Jets and Cowboys before making a statement against the Seahawks. Sustaining this positive start is the next step. Arizona draws Miami, Buffalo and Seattle again in its next three games. If Kyler Murray and company are 8-2 at that point, then it will be time to start talking about a Super Bowl run.

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7. Green Bay Packers: 5-2 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 28-22 vs. Minnesota
It was not the same issue as the meltdown in Tampa, but this loss actually feels quite a bit more damaging to the Packers’ long-term chances. It became clear last year that Green Bay could not stop the run. Never was it more evident that problem had not been fixed than on Sunday. Dalvin Cook bulldozed his way for 226 total yards and four trips to the end zone. Kirk Cousins attempted only 14 passes the entire game. It was clear Minnesota was intent on just running the ball down Green Bay’s throat, and the Packers could not stop it. With Kwon Alexander and Avery Williamson both moving at the deadline, the front office missed a chance to bolster it’s biggest need. This is not a good sign going forward.

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8. New Orleans Saints: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
Won 26-23 at Chicago
As the Bears like to say, it’s better to win ugly than to lose pretty. New Orleans beat Chicago at it’s own game, slogging through a multiple-possession overtime game before Wil Lutz finally hit the game-winning field goal. Drew Brees had a solid game despite missing his top two receivers, Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, again. He didn’t actually get much help from his receiving corps, it was just Alvin Kamara putting the offense on his back once again. He didn’t score, but he finished with 67 yards rushing on 12 carries and 96 yards receiving on nine catches. It was a bit concerning to see Chicago rack up 23 points, but the defense did account for five sacks and an interception. Hard to ask for much more than that.

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9. Buffalo Bills: 6-2 (Last Week: 11)
Won 24-21 vs. New England
Are they the new kings of the AFC East? While everyone is taking the Patriots to task for losing a fourth-straight game, it is important to remember this was just a three-point win for the Bills. Josh Allen struggled again, completing just 11-of-18 passes for 154 yards and an interception. If not for that costly fumble by Cam Newton, New England was in position to force overtime or even potentially win the game in regulation. It was nice to see the running game show up, both Zack Moss and Devin Singletary racked up 80-plus yards rushing, but Buffalo is not playing its best football right now.

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10. Tennessee Titans: 5-2 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 31-20 at Cincinnati
Tennessee allowed one loss to turn into two. After dropping its first game of the season while facing the undefeated Steelers, the Titans slept walked through a bad loss to the Bengals. Cincinnati was fielding a completely make-shift offensive line, yet the Titans could not get to Joe Burrow. No sacks and no turnovers is not good enough from Mike Vrabel’s defense. The Titans offense rumbled for 218 yards on the ground, but managed just 20 points. It really felt like these team was just not focused enough coming off a loss. Tennessee needs to regroup quickly with the Bears, Colts and Ravens up next.

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11. Indianapolis Colts: 5-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 41-21 at Detroit
Lost in the midst of a wild NFL weekend, the Colts quietly dominated the Lions en route to a three-score victory. Philip Rivers put together arguably his best performance of the season to make up for a lackluster running game. Indy as a team averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor was a big part of the team’s struggles, totaling just 22 yards on 11 carries. The secondary continues to look middle of the road, surrendering over 300 yards and three touchdowns to Matthew Stafford, but managing an interception as well. The run defense continues to be one of the best in the league, holding Detroit to just 29 yards on the ground. Suddenly, the Colts are tied atop the AFC South.

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12. Miami Dolphins: 4-3 (Last Week: 15)
Won 28-17 vs. Los Angeles
The Tua Tagovailoa era started with a resounding thud for him personally, but the Dolphins picked up the slack on defense and special teams in a gutsy win. Miami made Jared Goff’s life miserable and were rewarded with four turnovers by the former No. 1 pick. One of those was a fumble returned for a touchdown. Jakeem Grant showed off his speed on a punt return touchdown as well. Tagovailoa will need to step up after failing to reach 100 yards passing in his debut as the starter, but it is clear the Dolphins are capable of finding other ways to win.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders: 4-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 16-6 at Cleveland
It wasn’t pretty, but Las Vegas got it done in some awful weather on the road. The defense played so well, holding Cleveland under 250 yards of offense. Josh Jacobs played the role of feature back again with 31 carries for 128 yards. This brand of football is sustainable and effective, especially as the weather gets colder across the country. The biggest thing missing from this being a dominant style of play is a pass rush. Only the Jaguars have registered fewer sacks than the Raiders this season.

14. Los Angeles Rams: 5-3 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 28-17 at Miami
Despite the final score, the Rams defense was spectacular again. Unfortunately, the rest of the team forgot to show up. Jared Goff looked awful, committing four turnovers. He does not deserve all the blame though, as his offensive line had it’s worst game of the season. He might have only been sacked twice, but Goff got hit eight times, including on both of his interceptions and the fumble that was returned for a touchdown. These were the same issues that plagued Los Angeles a year ago. Sean McVay needs to find some consistency for this team.

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15. Chicago Bears: 5-3 (Last Week 14)
Lost 26-23 vs. New Orleans
It was a valiant effort from the Bears to force overtime, but once again the lack of offensive fire power showed up when it mattered. Chicago got a chance to win the game in overtime, but Nick Foles was sacked twice and the Bears had to punt it back. The offensive line was an issue all game, allowing five sacks on the afternoon. Chicago played fairly well defensively, but this was a game where it really could have used a turnover to change the momentum and help the offense out. The Bears are still right in the thick of the playoff race following a Packers loss, but this team needs to find something to avoid this losing streak dragging on for too long.

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16. San Francisco 49ers: 4-4 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 37-27 at Seattle
San Francisco simply cannot escape injuries. Kyle Shanahan deserves Coach of the Year consideration for keeping this team competitive with all of the players he has been missing so far. Jimmy Garoppolo is set to miss a few weeks and George Kittle is likely out for the rest of the regular season. Tevin Coleman also exited Sunday’s game. The 49ers made a push in garbage time against the Seahawks to make the score look respectable, but they were thoroughly outplayed. Trading away Kwon Alexander shows signs that this team might be thinking about the long-term and understanding success this season might not be in the cards.

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17. Cleveland Browns: 5-3 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 16-6 vs. Las Vegas
Turns out the Browns offense was not any better without Odell Beckham Jr. Now the weather definitely played a factor, but Cleveland’s offense looked hapless all day. Baker Mayfield didn’t turn the ball over, but he completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt. The windy conditions might have hampered the Browns passing game, but the team did not have as much success running the ball as it probably should have. This offense disappears far too often for the Browns to be considered real threats right now.

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18. Carolina Panthers: 3-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 25-17 vs. Atlanta
If you had told me at the beginning of the year that Carolina would be 3-5 halfway through the year, I would have been surprised. I didn’t think the Panthers would even be that close to .500 given the overall youth of the team, a new quarterback and a new coaching staff. It is important to remember how impressive a start this still is for the new direction of the franchise. Dropping three straight and seeing the offense struggle against a bad Falcons defense is disappointing, but Carolina is already way more competitive than most expected this season.

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19. Denver Broncos: 3-4 (Last Week: 25)
Won 31-30 vs. Los Angeles
What a comeback! I was ready to write off the Broncos after they went down 24-3 in the second quarter. ESPN’s win probability gave the Chargers a 98.7 percent chance of winning at that point. Denver finally completed its comeback on the final play of the game. Drew Lock shook off a slow start to throw three touchdown passes. The Broncos also need to give Phillip Lindsay the rock more. He has been really impressive since returning from injury and has been far more effective than Melvin Gordon. His 55-yard touchdown run energized the offense at a time where it desperately needed a jolt.

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20. Atlanta Falcons: 2-6 (Last Week: 24)
Won 25-16 at Carolina
Atlanta likely staved off full-on tank mode for another week. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Takk McKinley are all still on the roster despite trade rumors. I think a loss to the Panthers could have seen at least one of the players on the move. This was the best game the Falcons’ defense has played all year. Atlanta got after Teddy Bridgewater made just enough plays to preserve their second win of the year. It is hard not to dwell on what could have been if the Falcons had held onto some leads this year, but this team is definitely more competitive than its record would indicate.

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21. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-4-1 (Last Week: 22)
Won 23-9 vs. Dallas
I wanted to drop the Eagles a bit despite winning, but it is difficult to justify dropping them below some of these other teams. With New England, Detroit, Los Angeles and Carolina all losing, it mitigated their mistake-filled performance in a victory. Philly is winning games while far from full strength. I still don’t think this team is very good, Carson Wentz did have four turnovers, but it will clearly take advantage of mediocre competition. If it gets Miles Sanders and possibly a few of its offensive linemen healthy, Philly should win the NFC East comfortably.

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22. New England Patriots: 2-5 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 24-21 at Buffalo
Bill Belichick has his work cut out for him. New England actually played pretty well, but the only play anyone will talk about is Cam Newton’s late-game fumble. This team just does not have depth to close out opponents. Newton’s top receivers are Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd. Ja’Wahun Bentley and John Simon have been thrust into big roles on defense with players opting out. Give the Patriots credit for keeping this game close, but that doesn’t really count for much. On the bright side, it looks like they may have something special in Damien Harris.

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23. Detroit Lions: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 41-21 vs. Indianapolis
These are the losses that remind everyone why Matt Patricia is on the hot seat. Defensively, the Lions had no answer for Philip Rivers. Matt Stafford tried to drag the offense along without Kenny Golladay. He got no help from his running game though, as Detroit finished with just 29 yards rushing on 2.2 yards per attempt. 10 of those yards came from Stafford himself on one run. With him being asked to do too much, he turned it over twice and could not find a way to pilot a comeback. The Lions are toiling away in mediocrity again.

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24. Minnesota Vikings: 2-5 (Last Week: 26)
Won 28-22 at Green Bay
Divisional games are just weird. On paper, Green Bay should have blown out Minnesota. Instead, Dalvin Cook turned into Superman and carried the Vikings to a much-needed victory. The Packers might have one of the worst run defenses in the league, but this was still just a ridiculously impressive showing. The offensive line was creating lanes all game long and Cook hit them with authority. Keeping the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands was vital because the defense struggled to stop him and Davante Adams when he did have it. It wasn’t perfect, but Minnesota has a new outlook on the season.

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25. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-5-1 (Last Week: 27)
Won 31-20 vs. Tennessee
This time, the Bengals held onto their big first-half lead. In Week 6, Cincy built a 24-7 lead against Indianapolis, only to lose 31-27. In Week 8, the secondary made life just difficult enough on Ryan Tannehill to secure the win. That proved to be really important because the defense could not stop the run. Tennessee finished with over 200 yards on the ground. On the other side of the ball, the Bengals patchwork offensive line shocking did not allow a sack and overall played fairly well. Joe Burrow made some big plays and Cincinnati picked up a strangely comfortable victory. Heading into a bye week is much easier following a win.

26. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 31-30 at Denver
Just when we thought the Falcons had a lock on fumbling away leads late in games better than anyone else, the Chargers collapsed again. For the fourth straight week, Los Angeles blew a double-digit lead, although it did still come back to beat Jacksonville in Week 7. After a hot start, Justin Herbert got a little careless with the football and the defense simply could not hold up. After so many weeks of feeling like the Chargers were a good team that just kept coming off short, I’m starting to think this team is just not prepared to close out games. This was always a rebuilding year, so being competitive is a plus, but these losses are starting to pile up.

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27. Houston Texans: 1-6 (Last Week: 23)
Bye Week
As the dust settles on Week 8, Houston is now one of just three teams with one win this season. Given the direction this team seems to be headed, this would be the time most fan bases start thinking about the upcoming NFL draft. However, the Texans don’t have a pick until the third round as of right now and did not make any moves at the deadline to reclaim some draft capital. This team seems intent on winning this year. That’s a dangerous approach for a 1-6 team with few ways to improve going forward.

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28. Washington: 2-5 (Last Week: 28)
Bye Week
Washington gets a week off to recalibrate after an up-and-down start to the year. The team won it’s season opener in shocking fashion, then went on to bench its former first-round draft pick at quarterback, but somehow sits just 1.5 games out of first place in the division despite having only two wins. It is important to remember that Ron Rivera is committed to rebuilding this team and that was never going to happen in one offseason. Washington certainly has some of the right players in place to be successful one day. Patience is required to see that come to fruition.

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29. New York Giants: 1-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 25-23 vs. Tampa Bay
It is time to move on from Daniel Jones. Well, I guess right this second. He should probably start the rest of the season, but barring some kind of incredible turnaround, I am not buying any stock in him as the long-term answer at quarterback for the Giants. Jones makes the same mental errors every week. He flashes plenty of the potential that made him a top-10 selection, but his late-game interception that set up Tampa’s go-ahead touchdown and him being inexplicably late getting the ball out on what should have been the game-tying two-point conversion underline why his time should be up. Dion Lewis was wide open and Jones hesitated for way too long. On the bright side, New York is firmly in the running for Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance.

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30. Dallas Cowboys: 2-6 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 23-9 at Philadelphia
This might be the worst offense in the NFL right now and that is saying something. Mike McCarthy is floundering as the head coach of this team. Sure, he has to contend with some difficult injuries, but he is making terrible in-game decisions and seems to have no idea how to establish any sort of rhythm on offense. Keep in mind that his usually lifeless defense produced four turnovers on Sunday night, which Dallas turned into three field goals. This franchise is at a crossroads right now, and with each depressing loss, the Cowboys move closer to hitting the reset button.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Bye Week
It looks like the Minshew Magic show may be getting an early curtain. Gardner Minshew is unlikely to be active in Week 9 against the Texans. Jacksonville will turn to rookie quarterback Jake Luton in his place. Already with one of the least talented rosters in the league, this seems like just another step closer to a new quarterback and a new coaching staff next year. It has been a rough season for Jaguars fans, but it will all be worth it if the Jags land a franchise passer and James Robinson turns out to be the answer at running back.

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32. New York Jets: 0-8 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 35-9 at Kansas City
The hunt for Trevor Lawrence continues. New York watched several one-win teams pick up a second victory of the season, which inches the Jets closer to the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Before they get there though, Sam Darnold might have grounds to sue the team for reckless endangerment. The third-year quarterback re-aggravated his shoulder injury that kept him out of Weeks 5 and 6. His receiving corps got a slight boost against the Chiefs with Denzel Mims finally making his NFL debut, but he still has one of the worst supporting casts in the league. Not surprisingly, the Jets’ defense made Patrick Mahomes look like … well, Patrick Mahomes I guess. (Not so) fun stat: Mahomes threw for more touchdown passes in this game (five) than the Jets have all season (four). Pretty good sign the team could use a new quarterback and a new coaching staff.

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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 8

And then there was one. With the Titans and Seahawks losing in Week 7, the Steelers are now the only team yet to suffer a loss this season. Unsurprisingly, they find themselves at the top of this week’s power rankings.

It was a wild week of action. From late-game heroics by Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford to back-breaking miscues by Russell Wilson, Stephen Gostowski and the comedy group known as the Atlanta Falcons. Week 7 was definitely not short on entertainment.

The chaos resulted in a massive shake up in these rankings. Teams like the Buccaneers and Cardinals saw big jumps following their impressive victories while teams like the Raiders and Bears dropped significantly after disappointing performances. Here is how everything shakes out heading into the league’s midway point.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 27-24 at Tennessee
Unlike last week, Steelers fans had to sweat this game out. Pittsburgh almost blew a 17-point halftime lead and only won the game in regulation because Stephen Gostkowski missed the potential game-tying field goal. Ben Roethlisberger still could have won the game, but momentum was definitely swinging in Tennessee’s direction at that point. Not to mention, Big Ben threw interceptions in the game. As it stands, the Steelers are now the only perfect team left in the NFL. Pittsburgh has been battled tested up to this point, but it faces its biggest challenge yet with a trip to Baltimore up next.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-2 (Last Week: 7)
Won 45-20 at Las Vegas
So, that was not a one-time showing. The Buccaneers blew the doors off the Raiders just one week after demolishing the Packers. There is no question this team is playing the best football of any team in the NFC, if not the whole league. Tom Brady is looking like the Hall of Famer we saw for so many years in New England. Defensively, this team has playmakers at all three levels. Tampa has the stingiest run defense in the league right now, allowing just 66 yards per game. If the Bucs can keep this form up, they are going to be nearly impossible to stop.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 43-16 at Denver
Patrick Mahomes loves the snow. You would never know it was adverse weather conditions with how well the Chiefs’ offense operated on Sunday. Mahomes looked sharp, even if he didn’t have to do too much. Le’Veon Bell showed some flashes as well in his Kansas City debut. Defensively, this Chiefs’ secondary continues to impress. Daniel Sorensen came up with a pick-six and Tyrann Mathieu also intercepted Drew Lock. KC also forced four fumbles, recovering two of them. There might not be as much chatter about the Chiefs right now because the Steelers are still unbeaten, but make no mistake, this team is playing some great football. Now, Andy Reid’s squad gets a bye week … I mean plays the Jets in Week 8.

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4. Green Bay Packers: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 35-20 at Houston
Green Bay did not dwell on it’s loss to Tampa Bay, instead taking care of Houston in convincing fashion. Aaron Rodgers was on fire, targeting Davante Adams early and often. Jamal Williams had a strong showing as well in place of the injured Aaron Jones. Defensively, the Packers did the one thing they have struggled to do for the past two years by stopping the Texans’ running game. Houston easily own the worst rushing attack in the league, but even then, Green Bay held it below its season average. With a loss by the Bears, the Packers are back on top in the NFC North. They now face a divisional foe in the Vikings coming off a bye week.

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5. Baltimore Ravens: 5-1 (Last Week: 5)
Bye Week
Baltimore got a well-earned bye week at a great time. No, the Ravens are not currently contending with a number of injuries at key positions, but instead they got a chance to rest up ahead of a showdown with the Steelers. Baltimore has a chance to essentially eliminate Pittsburgh’s undefeated start. A win for the Ravens would vault them atop the AFC North. It should be a great game, as it almost always is between these two teams, and one that carries major playoff implications.

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6. Seattle Seahawks: 5-1 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 37-34 at Arizona
It was an uncharacterisitcally turnover prone night from Russell Wislon. He threw three interceptions, including one that sunk Seattle’s chances in overtime and set up Arizona’s game-winning field goal. The Seahawks were definitely a little shorthanded. Jamal Adams was out and Chris Carson left during the game. Still, Seattle had every chance to close this game out. Arizona scored 10 points in the final 2:28 to force overtime. Wilson had two chances to lead a game-winning drive in overtime, both came up empty. The lack of a pass rush proved to really costly again, as the defense could not bring down Kyler Murray all night. A three-point loss to a division rival is not a major red flag, but this game highlighted Seattle’s biggest Achilles heal.

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7. Tennessee Titans: 5-1 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 27-24 vs. Pittsburgh
Tennessee made a valiant comeback bid, but it proved to be too little, too late. Stephen Gostkowski missed a potential game-tying field goal in the final minute of play that sealed the Titans’ fate. The defense made plays, including three interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger, but could not find a way to get off the field on third down. Mike Vrabel’s team ranks dead last in defensive third-down conversion rate. Pittsburgh dominated time of possession to take a 24-7 lead at halftime. The fact that Tennessee found a way to climb back into this game was impressive. Don’t write the Titans off for losing a close game. This team has shown it can hang with the best of the best.

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8. Arizona Cardinals: 5-2 (Last Week: 13)
Won 37-34 vs. Seattle
Up to this point, it seemed like the Cardinals were mostly feasting on cupcakes or teams struggling with injuries. What Arizona managed to accomplish in the fourth quarter and overtime of this game shows it has the ability to hang with the top dogs as well. Kyler Murray continues to put up video game-like numbers. DeAndre Hopkins looks close to unguardable. The defense … looks very porous. It also made just enough plays to pull out the win. Russell Wilson had three interceptions coming into the game. He threw that many on Sunday night. Arizona is a serious playoff contender this season.

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9. New Orleans Saints: 4-2 (Last Week: 9)
Won 27-24 vs. Carolina
Even without its top two receivers, Drew Brees looked sharp in an important win. Carolina challenged New Orleans’ defense consistently, but the unit did just enough to hold on. With the possibility of getting both Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas back next week, this offense could look even better going forward. Unfortunately, there are no reinforcements coming for a defense that struggled to prevent big plays again. With how good the Buccaneers have looked in recent weeks, the Saints could be in trouble if they don’t step it up.

10. Los Angeles Rams: 5-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 24-10 vs. Chicago
This defense looked incredible on Monday night. The Rams did not allow an offensive touchdown in a drubbing of the Bears. Los Angeles racked four sacks and two interceptions, proving every Chicago critic right, at least for one week. Jared Goff and the offense did more than enough to get the win, even if it was not a spectacular showing. Outside of a Robert Woods fumble, it took care of the football. It would be nice to see the Rams pick up some bigger plays and just look a bit sharper on offense, but this is a win the organization can be proud of.

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11. Buffalo Bills: 5-2 (Last Week: 11)
Won 18-10 at New York
Boy, was that ugly. Buffalo pulled a Denver, kicking six field goals without scoring a touchdown to beat an AFC East team. While the Bills’ defense looked sharp against a terrible Jets’ offense, the offense was incredibly sloppy. Josh Allen lost a fumble and the team finished 3-for-11 on third-down conversions. Zack Moss did look pretty sharp in his return from injury though, picking up 72 yards on 10 total targets. Buffalo now gets to face a reeling New England squad. A win would truly signify the end of the Patriots’ reign, seeing as the Bills have not beaten the Pats since 2016.

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12. Indianapolis Colts: 4-2 (Last Week: 14)
Bye Week
Indianapolis looked like they might just unraveling following its loss to Cleveland. Cincinnati jumped out to a 21-0 lead. It felt like that was when Philip Rivers and company finally woke up. The Colts were extremely lucky to be facing an inexperienced team like the Bengals. Otherwise, this would have been a blowout. The defense locked down and gave Rivers a chance to lead a comeback. Give him credit for successfully seeing it through, but it is a little concerning that he needed to lead a three-score comeback against a one-win team in the first place.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-3 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 45-20 vs. Tampa Bay
That win over the Chiefs is starting to look like a fluke. Las Vegas got shelled by Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. He tossed four touchdown passes and racked up 369 yards. The Raiders were powerless to stop him, failing to come up with a turnover or a sack in the contest. For the offense, it was a brutal game for Josh Jacobs. He managed just 17 yards on 10 carries as Tampa shut down the running game. Derek Carr deserves some praise for his performance, but it is hard to feel good about anything that happens in a 25-point loss.

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14. Chicago Bears: 5-2 (Last Week 10)
Lost 24-10 at Los Angeles
Looks like everyone who doubted the Bears as a legitimate contender was right. Chicago’s offense was lifeless on Monday night, posting three points. The Bears’ lone touchdown came on the defensive side, well after the game had been decided. Nick Foles fell apart in the red zone all night, David Montgomery struggled and the offensive line did not do much blocking. Chicago is one of three teams with a winning record, but a negative point differential. This team might need to make some adjustments to personnel or scheme or something, because the Bears currently rank 27th in scoring.

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15. Miami Dolphins: 3-3 (Last Week: 16)
Bye Week
Brian Flores can add first shutout of the 2020 season to his resume. There should probably be an asterisk next to it indicating the shutout came against the Joe Flacco-led Jets’ offense. Myles Gaskin had another solid outing as the lead back, which is a great sign for the offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was his usual gunslinger self, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. We even got a glimpse at the future! Tua Tagovailoa saw a little bit of mop up duty at the end of the contest. Miami is suddenly one game back in the AFC East. Could this team possibly be making a playoff push a year earlier than most expected?

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16. San Francisco 49ers: 4-3 (Last Week: 17)
Won 33-6 at New England
San Francisco has firmly put that blowout loss to Miami in its rearview mirror. Back-to-back impressive wins over the Rams and Patriots got this team back on track. Kyle Shannahan’s offense ran all over the Pats’ defense, nearly finishing with 200 yards. Unfortunately, Jeff Wilson, who accounted for 112 rushing yards and three touchdowns, exited with injury and will be out for a few weeks. Defensively, this team looked like it rediscovered its 2019 form with four interceptions. New England barely managed 250 yards of offense and failed to find the end zone. There are still some red flags despite the lopsided scoreline. Jimmy Garoppolo only threw five incompletions on Sunday, but two of them were interceptions. He must take care of the football in the second half of the season.

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17. Cleveland Browns: 5-2 (Last Week: 18)
Won 37-34 at Cincinnati
This was a costly loss for the Browns. Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. It marred what was an impressive bounce back performance from Baker Mayfield. He almost carried over the same issues that plagued him in Pittsburgh when his first pass went to the wrong team. Instead, he settled down and threw for five touchdowns, including the game-winning score with 11 seconds remaining. Cleveland’s defense had mixed results. It forced two turnovers and picked up four sacks, but surrendered over 400 yards to Joe Burrow. With five wins, the Browns can certainly think about the postseason, but they still have a lot to work on.

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18. Carolina Panthers: 3-4 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 27-24 at New Orleans
Teddy Bridgewater played way better, but it was still another loss for Carolina. The ground game disappeared as the Panthers finished with just 37 yards rushing. At 2.6 yards per carry, this was a rough outing for the offense. DJ Moore did stretch the field for a 74-yard score though to make the numbers look a bit more respectable. The defense did not fare much better, allowing Drew Brees to have a great game. This team is incredibly young, so you expect growing pains. Carolina is close, it just isn’t playing complete games right now.

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19. New England Patriots: 2-4 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 33-6 vs. San Francisco
Ouch. The Patriots got punched in the mouth on Sunday and had absolutely no response. Cam Newton tossed three interceptions. Jarrett Stidham threw another one in relief. San Francisco also ran over the defense, racking up 197 yards and averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The team that looked like it was ready to compete for another AFC East title over the first few weeks of the season is nowhere to be found right now. A crucial matchup with Bills is up next. This team genuinely might just like the talent to compete right now.

20. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-4 (Last Week: 20)
Won 39-29 vs. Jacksonville
Justin Herbert is a beast! Ok, maybe the Jaguars defense makes every opposing quarterback look incredible, but this was a great showing from the Chargers’ rookie. He aired it out for 347 yards, led the team in rushing with 66 yards and scored four total touchdowns. His connection with Keenan Allen was on full display as well. This team is not ready to contend for the division title yet, but it certainly feels like Los Angeles is headed in the right direction.

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21. Detroit Lions: 3-3 (Last Week: 24)
Won 23-22 at Atlanta
Detroit has quietly gotten back to .500 with back-to-back wins over reeling teams. However, that win over Arizona is looking better and better. Matthew Stafford came up clutch with a game-winning touchdown pass on the final play of the contest. He got some help from poor clock management on the side of the Falcons, but it was still an impressive drive. The Lions get a chance to prove themselves in Week 8 against the Colts.

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22. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-4-1 (Last Week: 23)
Won 22-21 vs. New York
Welcome back atop the NFC East! Philadelphia picked up a scrappy win over New York on Thursday Night Football. Let’s be honest, this team is not very good right now. The Eagles are struggling to win games against the worst teams in the league. However, these wins are important right now given all the injuries. If Philly can get a couple more starters back along the offensive line, this team might be close to the middle of the pack than it has show in recent weeks.

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23. Houston Texans: 1-6 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 35-20 vs. Green Bay
Get Deshaun Watson some help! He posted a dominant 93.2 QBR and his team lost in overtime without getting the ball. If that’s not a compelling reason to revisit NFL overtime rules, I don’t know what is. Back to Watson. He played a much smarter game, avoiding the risks he took the week before, but still could not overcome the Texans’ defensive deficiencies. After watching David Johnson run the ball 19 times for just 57 yards, Houston fans probably want to fire Bill O’Brien again. It is going to be a long few seasons while the Texans work to turn the team around.

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24. Atlanta Falcons: 1-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 23-22 vs. Detroit
How do the Falcons keep doing this? Atlanta found yet another way to blow another game, but they deserve style points for this one. Todd Gurley attempted to keep himself out of the end zone in order to let the Falcons run the clock more, but could not stop himself from scoring. As a result, Detroit drove the length of the field and scored on the final play to stun Atlanta yet again. This team could very easily be 4-3 with some better clock management and knowing how to recover onsides kicks. The talent is there, at least on offense. This team is heading for a very interesting offseason.

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25. Denver Broncos: 2-4 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 43-16 vs. Kansas City
Denver didn’t really need a ton of offense to take down New England. Beating the defending champs requires a lot more offense. Drew Lock struggled again, tossing a pick-six. He got plenty of help from the running game with 177 yards on the ground, but Melvin Gordon coughed it up twice. Overall, this was a clear reminder that the Broncos are still building up this young core. Competing with the Chiefs just is not possible for this group right now.

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26. Minnesota Vikings: 1-5 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
Minnesota got a much-needed week off to refocus and hopefully fix some of the many problems it has had this year. Kirk Cousins has been a turnover machine through his first six games. The secondary is also one of the worst in the league due to injuries and inexperience. Thankfully, Dalvin Cook should be back after sitting out Week 6’s contest. The playoffs feel very far away for the Vikings, who are already cutting ties with veterans like Yannick Ngakoue, who they traded for in September.

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27. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-5-1 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 37-34 vs. Cleveland
Cincinnai opened the game defensively with an interception of Baker Mayfield. Someone clearly forgot to inform them that the game would keep going. Mayfield torched the secondary for five touchdowns, all of them coming after Odell Beckham Jr. had left with an injury. On the offensive side, Joe Burrow continued to do his best Superman impression despite his pathetic offensive line and lackluster running game. Joe Mixon’s absence was apparent as the Bengals never really got into a rhythm running the ball. With one win in seven games, the outcomes don’t really matter from here on out. Cincinnati just needs to determine who is worth keeping around Joe Burrow and if Zac Taylor really is the best person to coach him.

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28. Washington: 2-5 (Last Week: 30)
Won 25-3 vs. Dallas
Don’t look now, but Washington is a half-game back of the division lead and a playoff spot. Given that the team has played three quarterbacks so far this season and allowed the third most sacks in the league, that is truly remarkable. It helps to play in the NFC East, especially against a Cowboys team playing Ben DiNucci after Jon Bostic made a blatantly illegal hit to knock Andy Dalton out of the game. Antonio Gibson had a nice day while Kyle Allen continues to settle into the starting quarterback role. Ron Rivera is definitely reshaping this organization and has so far lead a talent-deprived roster to two divisional wins.

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29. Dallas Cowboys: 2-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 25-3 at Washington
Losing Andy Dalton to a horrific hit definitely shifts the blame somewhat for the three points managed in this game, but Dallas still disappointed even with Dalton on the field. The former Bengals quarterback averaged 3.9 yards per attempt and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes before he left. The banged up offensive line continues to be an issue as well. Ezekiel Elliott did not have much running room and Cowboys quarterbacks were sacked six times. Dallas is entering fire sale mode now, despite the fact it is only a half-game back of the division lead. Planning for the future is definitely the move for this franchise given where it stands right now.

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30. New York Giants: 1-6 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 22-21 at Philadelphia
This game pretty much summed up the Giants entire season up to this point. The team lost its starting running back due to injury, the offense slept walked through most of the game and the defense played better than expected to keep things competitive. To top it all off, Daniel Jones became a GIF when he tripped over absolutely nothing to rob himself of a nearly 90-yard touchdown run. Giants fans can take solace in knowing their team was close to pulling off a win that would have moved them atop the NFC East, but instead, they can keep looking at mock drafts.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 39-29 at Los Angeles
Once again, Jacksonville’s defense made the opposing quarterback look like the league MVP. The Jaguars defense is allowing the third most yards and fifth most points per game in the league. The poor defensive performance wiped out a sensational effort from James Robinson, who accounted for 137 total yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line failed to protect Gardner Minshew once again as this team continues to get dominated in the trenches. Doug Marrone and his coaching staff are definitely on thin ice.

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32. New York Jets: 0-7 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 18-10 vs. Buffalo
Even when the Jets do things well, they still mess it up. New York held Buffalo without a touchdown but still managed to lose by eight thanks to a pitiful offensive performance. Sam Darnold struggled in his return from injury, throwing for a meager 120 yards and tossing a pair of interceptions. Adam Gase even passed off the play-calling duties, which clearly had almost no effect on the offense. There is some silver lining here. For the second straight week, the defense stepped up well on third down. The Bills and Dolphins combined to go 4-for-22 on third down over the past two weeks. This team is still headed for Trevor Lawrence, but it is nice to find a positive for how it is playing right now.

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