Way-too-early 2021 NFL Power Rankings

Welcome to the NFL offseason. The Buccaneers put a bow on the 2020 season by steamrolling the Chiefs 31-9 in a lopsided Super Bowl. Now, all 32 teams shift their focus to 2021. After a year like none we have ever seen before, we are heading for an offseason like none before.

There are at least a dozen teams that could make a change at quarterback. The NFL combine will not be taking place as usual either due to COVID-19 restrictions. On top of all of that, the salary cap is set to decrease by close to $15 million. This sets up one of the most interesting and pivotal offseasons in recent memory.

With tons of key players potentially switching teams, there is bound to be a lot of movement in these rankings before we get anywhere close to the start of the 2021 season. As it stands though, this is how each team stacks up following Super Bowl LV, as well as a quick look at each team’s biggest free agents.

Chiefs Logo

1. Kansas City Chiefs
2020 record: 14-2
Key free agents: WR Sammy Watkins, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Charvarius Ward, SS Daniel Sorenson, OLB Damien Wilson
Even coming off a drubbing in the Super Bowl, no team is better positioned to make another run at the Super Bowl than the Chiefs. The core of the team is signed through at least 2021 and Kansas City’s front office has done well in recent years to find solid contributors in the draft. As long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy, it is going to be hard to pick against him and Andy Reid.

Buccaneers logo

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: WR Chris Godwin, OLB Shaquille Barrett, LB Lavonte David, TE Rob Gronkowski, DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Antonio Brown, K Ryan Succop
Tampa Bay will not be going anywhere as long as they have Tom Brady. Yes, Brady will be 44 next season, but this team is built for success all across the roster. There are a number of critical free agents the team will need to lock up, but players like Gronk and AB are likely to stick around to keep chasing rings. There are probably a few other veterans around the league that would do the same thing. Call it the Brady effect, but this team is going to be a front runner to repeat.

Bills logo

3. Buffalo Bills
2020 record: 12-4
Key free agents: G Jon Feliciano, OT Darryl Williams, LB Matt Milano, CB Josh Norman, DE Trent Murphy, TE Tyler Kroft
Make no mistake, the Bills are for real. Buffalo has the offensive firepower and defensive grit to be one of the best teams in the league in 2021. Without a ton of crucial free agents, the front office could get aggressive in pursuing another corner across from Tre’Davious White or a more reliable tight end. If Josh Allen can come anywhere close to repeating his performance next year, Buffalo will be back in the postseason.

Packers logo

4. Green Bay Packers
2020 record: 13-3
Key free agents: RB Aaron Jones, C Corey Lindsley, CB Kevin King, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Allen Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan, DE Montravius Adams
Once again, the Packers found themselves on the doorstep of the Super Bowl, but could not break through. This team is still really close to putting it all together and finally getting Aaron Rodgers his second ring. Green Bay has some key offensive pieces to re-sign in Jones, Lazard, Lindsley and Tonyan, but this roster is pretty solid throughout. With the right additions at cornerback and along the offensive line, this team should be primed for another deep playoff run.

Ravens logo

5. Baltimore Ravens
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: OLB Matt Judon, DE Yannick Ngakoue, OLB Tyus Bowser, C Matt Skura, RB Gus Edwards, WR Willie Snead
It was a rocky start to the year, but what we saw from the Ravens in the second half of the season points to this team’s championship credentials. Baltimore has some clear holes to fill in the front seven on defense with Judon, Bowser and Ngakoue all out of a contract. The offensive line could use a boost and Baltimore is desperate for another receiver, but the foundation is still strong.

Browns logo

6. Cleveland Browns
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: OLB Olivier Vernon, SS Karl Joseph, DT Larry Ogunjobi, WR Rashad Higgins
I am very bullish on the 2021 Browns. Cleveland has arguably the best offensive line in the league, a deep group of offensive playmakers and a solid front seven. The secondary should be a bit healthier this season, but the Browns also have enough cap space to make a signing or two to bolster the unit. Baker Mayfield does not need to be Superman for Cleveland to take the next step. If he can avoid turnovers, this team should be in the thick of the division title race.

7. Los Angeles Rams
2020 record: 10-6
Key free agents: C Austin Blythe, OLB Leonard Floyd, RB Malcolm Brown, CB Troy Hill, TE Gerald Everett, SS John Johnson, WR Josh Reynolds, LB Sam Ebukam
Los Angeles created themselves a two-year window to go win a championship by acquiring Matthew Stafford. The Rams’ biggest obstacle to accomplishing that goal will be finding a way to supplement the roster with limited draft capital. L.A. is projected to be $25 million over the cap as of right now. They are likely going to lose a lot of their key role players. Stafford is not a mobile quarterback, so if the Rams cannot find a way to protect him, this is going to be a really ugly collapse.

Seahawks logo

8. Seattle Seahawks
2020 record: 12-4
Key free agents: LB K.J. Wright, RB Chris Carson, DE Bruce Irvin, G Mike Iupati, DT Poona Ford, LB Shaquem Griffin, CB Shaquill Griffin, G Ethan Pocic
Seattle played two halves of a great season. The offensive was unstoppable in the first half while the defense looked helpless. In the second half, the offense ground to a halt while the defense found its stride. It all culminated in a disheartening first-round playoff loss. The Seahawks have some critical free agents to re-sign and a number of holes left to fill. Russell Wilson will give them a chance to be great, but the supporting cast is not ideal. Mike Iupati’s retirement is just another sign that this front office needs to invest in the offensive line. If the Texans have taught us anything, it’s that you need to keep your franchise quarterback happy.

Dolphins logo

9. Miami Dolphins
2020 record: 10-6
Key free agents: C Ted Karras, LB Elandon Roberts, DT Davon Godchaux, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
It all falls on Tua Tagovailoa now. With a solid amount of cap space, a few premium draft picks and a great coaching staff, Miami seems to have the foundation in place to be successful this year and beyond. The theme of this offseason will be finding Tagovailoa some help. Miami knows it needs to find a No. 1 receiver and to solidify the offensive line. Expect the team to be in the running back market as well. With a strong offseason, the Dolphins could definitely push themselves into the top five.

Titans logo

10. Tennessee Titans
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: WR Corey Davis, TE Jonnu Smith, DT Da’Quon Jones, OLB Jadeveon Clowney, LB Jayon Brown, K Stephen Gostkowski
Tennessee could not take that next step forward after an AFC Championship run in 2019, but the Titans did well to avoid falling apart as well. It is clear the Titans have a formula that works. They just need to reinvest in the front seven on defense to get back on track. Jadeveon Clowney did not work out and you can bet the front office will be looking for some pass rushing help this offseason. Some really interesting free agent decisions exist too in Corey Davis and Jayon Brown.

49ers Logo

11. San Francisco 49ers
2020 record: 6-10
Key free agents: OT Trent Williams, CB Richard Sherman, FB Kyle Juszczyk, DE Solomon Thomas, CB K’Waun Williams, RB Jerick McKinnon, FS Jaquiski Tartt, RB Tevin Coleman
How does a 6-10 team that lost both its offensive and defensive coordinator end up 11th? Well when pretty much your entire roster is hurt and you still find ways to win football games, that inspires a lot of confidence for when you do get Nick Bosa and company back on the field. This is going to be a crucial offseason for the 49ers, who could be a player in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. Cutting Jimmy Garoppolo would get this team up to roughly $45 million in cap space, so big decisions lie ahead.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

12. Arizona Cardinals
2020 record: 8-8
Key free agents: CB Patrick Peterson, WR Larry Fitzgerald, RB Kenyan Drake, G J.R. Sweezy, DT Corey Peters, OLB Markus Golden, OLB Hassan Reddick, OT Kelvin Beachum
The future still seems bright in Arizona, even after a rough finish to the season. Kyler Murray is clearly the team’s franchise quarterback. The defense had some bright spots. This team is still a few key pieces away from truly contending and the front office has some tough decisions to make regarding Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald. Finding a new running back will be on the to-do list as well. This offseason is critical for the Cardinals.

Colts logo

13. Indianapolis Colts
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: DE Justin Houston, DE Denico Autry, WR T.Y. Hilton, S Malik Hooker, CB Xavier Rhodes, TE Trey Burton, RB Marlon Mack, WR Zach Pascal, QB Jacoby Brissett
Not included in that list of free agents are Philip Rivers and Anthony Castonzo, both of whom retired. For the third straight year since Andrew Luck retired, the Colts do not have a plan at quarterback. Perhaps Jacob Eason is the answer, but it is hard to feel too strongly about a player who has yet to attempt an NFL pass. Meanwhile, Indy has a bunch of free agents at key positions on defense and several players close to needing extensions. Thankfully, the Colts have nearly $80 million in cap space to reshape this roster.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

14. Pittsburgh Steelers
2020 record: 12-4
Key free agents: WR Juju Smith-Schuster, RB James Conner, OLB Bud Dupree, OT Alejandro Villanueva, DE Tyson Alualu, FS Sean Davis, LB Robert Spillane, CB Mike Hilton, OT Zach Banner
Pittsburgh’s offensive line is in shambles and Ben Roethlisberger is mulling retirement. Big Ben will probably be back, but the Steelers are going to need to rework his contract to avoid a $41 million cap hit. This offense has a number of critical needs and the Steelers have limited cap space to work with. Maurkice Pouncey is gone as well after announcing his retirement. All eyes will be on the draft for Pittsburgh. Don’t be surprised if a couple of big-name players walk away in free agency.

Saints logo

15. New Orleans Saints
2020 record: 12-4
Key free agents: QB Jameis Winston, DT Sheldon Rankins, FS Marcus Williams, DE Trey Hendrickson, CB P.J. Williams, TE Jared Cook
When you are $70 million over the cap and your future Hall of Fame quarterback is about to retire, you are in for a pretty steep drop. There is still plenty of talent on the roster, but New Orleans has a number of major question marks. With key players on defense headed for free agency and no cap space to re-sign them, the Saints could be headed for a rebuild. I think they will be aggressive in trying to stay competitive, but it is hard to see the path forward right now.

Cowboys logo

16. Dallas Cowboys
2020 record: 6-10
Key free agents: QB Dak Prescott, DE Tyrone Crawford, LB Sean Lee, C Joe Looney, OLB Aldon Smith, S Xavier Woods
This ranking mostly stems from the belief that the Cowboys will bring back Prescott. Before his injury, Dak Prescott was putting up MVP-type numbers. Dallas’ offensive line was decimated by injuries as well and the defense crumbled. Still, with the offensive firepower at Prescott’s disposal and a number of key players returning from injury, this Cowboys team should be in the mix to win the NFC East.

Vikings logo

17. Minnesota Vikings
2020 record: 7-9
Key free agents: FS Anthony Harris, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, LB Eric Wilson, LB Todd Davis
The Vikings have very few free agents to tend to. Anthony Harris and Ifeadi Odenigbo are quality starters, but Eric Wilson and Todd Davis were rotational players this year and could easily be allowed to walk. Minnesota’s defense needs a huge turn around in 2021 after a very disappointing 2020 season. There is room for improvement on the offensive line as well. This is a make-or-break year for Kirk Cousins and potentially Mike Zimmer.

Panthers logo

18. Carolina Panthers
2020 record: 5-11
Key free agents: OT Russell Okung, G John Miller, RB Mike Davis, LB Tahir Whitehead, WR Curtis Samuel, OT Taylor Morton
Reports have placed the Panthers in the middle of conversations for Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson. It is clear the front office feels it needs to upgrade at quarterback. With a young defense, there is a lot to like in Carolina. One major area for concern is the offensive line. Three of the team’s starting linemen are headed for free agency. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers spend some draft capital to rebuild their offensive front.

Patriots Logo

19. New England Patriots
2020 record: 7-9
Key free agents: QB Cam Newton, G Joe Thuney, CB Jason McCourty, RB James White, DT Lawrence Guy, C David Andrews, DE Adam Butler, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Damiere Byrd, CB J.C. Jackson, DE Deatrich Wise
New England is primed for a makeover this season with tons of cap space, several key free agents and, potentially, a new quarterback on the way. The Patriots will have a bit more talent, specifically on defense, with several players likely to return after opting out of the 2020 season. Bill Belichick has his work cut out for him to overhaul this roster.

20. Los Angeles Chargers
2020 record: 7-9
Key free agents: OLB Melvin Ingram, TE Hunter Henry, C Mike Pouncey, LB Denzel Perryman, G Dan Feeney
Los Angeles is headed in the right direction, but this team still has a long way to go before it is ready to compete for a title. The Chargers are breaking in a first-time head coach in Brandon Staley and have a patchwork offensive line. Mike Pouncey definitely won’t be back either after announcing his retirement. Justin Herbert gives this team a bright future, but there is still a ton of work ahead.

Giants Logo

21. New York Giants
2020 record: 6-10
Key free agents: DT Leonard Williams, OT Cameron Fleming, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, WR Austin Mack, RB Dion Lewis, RB Wayne Gallman
New York had some significant highs in 2020, taking the Bucs to the brink and beating the Seahawks in Seattle. Unfortunately, those were few and far between. Getting Saquon Barkley back will help this offense, but the team is still lacking playmakers. It seems like Joe Judge has reset the culture though and given the team a much brighter outlook. This defense is underrated and is capable of keeping New York in games.

Bears logo

22. Chicago Bears
2020 record: 8-8
Key free agents: WR Allen Robinson, QB Mitchell Trubisky, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, FS Tashaun Gipson, G Germain Ifedi, DE Mario Edwards
Chicago has a big decision to make this offseason. Consensus seems to be that Trubisky is not the answer at quarterback, but the Bears are not well positioned to find his successor. With Robinson unlikely to return, and an uninspiring offensive line, this is not exactly a prime spot for free agents quarterbacks either. How the Bears answer their quarterback question is going to determine their outlook for 2021.

Washington made up logo

23. Washington
2020 record: 7-9
Key free agents: G Brandon Scherff, DE Ryan Kerrigan, CB Ronald Darby, QB Kyle Allen
Washington’s defense is one of the best in the league. Now it needs to invest its resources in building an offense to match. Alex Smith is one of the league’s best comeback stories ever, but he is not the long-term answer at quarterback. He might not even be the short-term solution. With a sizable amount of cap space, Washington could get aggressive in finding some free agent additions, but everything hinges on the quarterback.

Raiders logo

24. Las Vegas Raiders
2020 record: 8-8
Key free agents: DE Jonathan Hankins, DE Takkarist McKinley, WR Nelson Agholor, LB Raekwon McMillan, OLB Vic Beasley
This franchise has been stuck in neutral for the past five years. Since a short-lived playoff run in 2016, the Raiders have been toiling away in obscurity and mediocrity. Derek Carr likely isn’t the answer at quarterback. Las Vegas’ defense is still one of the worst in the league. This team had it’s moment in the sun after stunning the division rival Chiefs, but it feels 8-8 is the ceiling given who the Raiders currently have on their roster.

Denver_Broncos

25. Denver Broncos
2020 record: 5-11
Key free agents: OLB Von Miller, FS Justin Simmons, SS Kareem Jackson, DT Shelby Harris, WR Tim Patrick, A.J. Johnson, RB Phillip Lindsay
Denver’ s offseason is going to be dictated largely by the decision the franchise makes at quarterback. There is some buzz about Deshaun Watson being interested in the Broncos. Drew Lock is still developing, but if the club is going to make a move like that, it would accelerate this team’s timeline significantly. They still have some key pieces on defense to lock up and a major decision looming regarding Von Miller. There is plenty of room for upward mobility.

Falcons logo

26. Atlanta Falcons
2020 record: 4-12
Key free agents: C Alex Mack, RB Todd Gurley, SS Keanu Neal, S Damontae Kazee, DE Charles Harris, K Younghoe Koo
Where in the world is this team headed? They still have Matt Ryan under contract through 2023 with a pretty easy out after 2021. The future of the club is going to be determined with what the Falcons decide to do with the fourth overall pick. Atlanta has a ton of options. They could find a successor to Ryan, pick their favorite non-QB prospect, or trade down and restock the roster. It is a tough call for new general manager Terry Fontenot.

Eagles Logo

27. Philadelphia Eagles
2020 record: 4-11-1
Key free agents: OT Jason Peters, WR DeSean Jackson, DE Vinny Curry, S Jalen Mills, RB Corey Clement, WR Greg Ward
Carson Wentz is in Indianapolis. Zach Ertz is likely to follow. The Eagles are in salary cap hell and headed for something of a rebuild. Philly has an intriguing young quarterback to work with in Jalen Hurts, but there are question marks all over this roster. Not to mention, the Eagles have a first-time head coach who is a relative unknown. This team does not have the cap space to replenish this depleted roster right away. It is going to be two years before we see the Eagles competing in the NFC East again?

Bengals Logo

28. Cincinnati Bengals
2020 record: 4-11-1
Key free agents: CB William Jackson, WR A.J. Green, WR John Ross, DE Carl Lawson, DT Mike Daniels, K Randy Bullock, P Kevin Huber
The key to this offseason will be protecting Joe Burrow. After the former Heisman winner spent much of 2020 running for his life, rebuilding the offensive line is the focal point. Expect the Bengals to be aggressive in the draft and free agency looking for ways to upgrade its current unit. Cincinnati has a few key free agents as well with William Jackson and Carl Lawson. There is a good chance that one of them departs, opening up another need on that Bengals defense. Cincy will need to stay patient, finding long-term solutions instead of short-team patches.

Texans logo

29. Houston Texans
2020 record: 4-12
Key free agents: DE J.J. Watt, WR Will Fuller, CB Gareon Conley, CB Vernon Hargreaves, DT P.J. Hall, DE Carlos Watkins
Things look bleak in Houston. Franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson wants out. J.J. Watt is gone. The roster has holes at cornerback, edge rusher, running back and wide receiver, just to name a few. Under normal circumstances, the Texans could be well-positioned to land a top prospect to accelerate this rebuild. Instead, Houston does not have a pick in the first or second round. The organization maintains that it wants to keep Watson and rebuild his trust, but it is looking like this team might be headed for a long rebuild.

Jaguars logo

30. Jacksonville Jaguars
2020 record: 1-15
Key free agents: OT Cam Robinson, CB Tre Herndon, WR Dede Westbrook, WR Keelan Cole, WR Chris Conley, CB D.J. Hayden, TE Tyler Eifert, P Dustin Colquitt
A new era is coming in Jacksonville. Urban Meyer takes over as head coach and presumptive No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence will be the team’s new franchise quarterback. Things are definitely looking up, but the Jaguars have a lot of work to do still. Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson offer exciting building blocks on defense, but the cupboard is pretty bare in the defensive playmaking department. Jacksonville’s secondary was one of the worst in the league in 2020. With a number of receivers headed for free agency, there is a clear need there as well. Lucky for the Jaguars, no one has more cap space this offseason, so Meyer and new general manager Trent Baalke will have every opportunity to reshape the roster.

Jets logo

31. New York Jets
2020 record: 2-14
Key free agents: FS Marcus Maye, WR Breshad Perriman, CB Brian Poole, LB Jordan Jenkins, S Bradley McDougald, CB Arthur Maulet, LB Tarell Basham
The Adam Gase experiment ended with a resounding thud as the Jets played their way out of contention for the No. 1 pick. New York now has a huge decision to make about Sam Darnold’s future. It is very possible he is traded this offseason to make way for a new rookie quarterback selected with the second overall pick. The Jets are also still in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, but it is seeming less and less likely they are the winners. At least the organization landed Robert Saleh to be the team’s next coach. His arrival should bring some much needed leadership to the locker room, but also means a scheme change and a likely massive roster turnover. New York is going to be busy this offseason.

Lions Logo

32. Detroit Lions
2020 record: 5-11
Key free agents: WR Kenny Golladay, DE Romeo Okwara, WR Marvin Jones, DE Everson Griffin, WR Danny Amendola, LB Jarrad Davis, S Durron Harmon, K Matt Prater
Welcome to the bottom of the pile, Detroit. With Kenny Golladay headed for free agency and Matt Stafford now in SoCal, the outlook for the Lions is not very inspiring. It is hard to get excited about anyone on this roster at the moment. Jared Goff gives new coach Dan Campbell a reclamation project, albeit an expensive one. The defense needs an overhaul after some poor roster building in recent years. With a ton of future draft capital now available, the future is a bit brighter in Detroit, but 2021 is going to be a year where this team bottoms out, sheds veteran contracts and looks to rebuild the foundation of the franchise.

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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.

Chiefs Logo

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.

Patriots Logo

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
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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.

Chiefs Logo

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.

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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.

Giants Logo

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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