Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking the 32 NFL teams. As always, these will be updated weekly, so be sure to watch out as teams move up and down. If teams continue to win, they will rise. If teams continue to lose, they will fall. Similarly, a loss does not necessarily equate to a team being ranked lower than their opponent. Upsets in the NFL do happen, so trends will usually be needed for a team to drop many slots.
Numbers in parentheses refer to last week’s rankings.
No.32: Detroit Lions (+0)
The winless streak has now reached double-digits. In the absence of Jared Goff, Tim Boyle stepped into action and was a catastrophe. This team fights, so that is admirable, but there is minimal football talent on this roster. The Fighting Dan Campbells may not end 0-16-1 (especially if they catch a discouraged Chicago Bears squad on Thanksgiving), but it will not be because the Lions are more talented.
No.31: New York Jets (-1)
Joe Flacco became the third quarterback to start for the Jets this season, and it went relatively well (considering the low bar that Zach Wilson and Mike White had set). If there are any takeaways for the Jets, Elijah Moore and Quinnen Williams had excellent days, so at least the youth is developing nicely. This team is poor, but it is a somewhat competitive version of poor.
No.30: Jacksonville Jaguars (-1)
After two impressive showings against the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars we all love returned to the field on Sunday. While the Jaguars only lost by 20, the final result could have been 300-10 rather than the 20-10. The Jaguars lost their best offensive player (Jamal Agnew) for the rest of the season, so the Jaguars could be staring at one of the bottom two spots in the coming weeks.
No.29: Atlanta Falcons (-1)
Without exaggeration, this Falcons squad might be the worst four-win team in the history of organized sports. Outside of A.J. Terrell, Chris Lindstrom, Grady Jarrett, and Cordarelle Patterson, this is the worst roster in the NFL. Matt Ryan has been a disaster in recent weeks, and the defense is disgusting. Without wholesale changes, this team will drop to No.31 for the beginning of the 2022 season (assuming Goff is the quarterback for the Lions).
No.28: Houston Texans (+3)
Tyrod Taylor seemed to knock off the cobwebs and return to being a competent NFL starter. The Texans have one of the poorest rosters in the NFL, but they at least have a capable starting quarterback, unlike the bottom four teams. David Culley has done a solid job of getting the Texans to be more competitive than their roster would dictate. The Texans may only finish with two or three wins, but that is two or three more than many expected.
No.27: Carolina Panthers (-1)
The Panthers seem to be stuck in a state of purgatory. With one of the NFL’s worst quarterbacks leading the offense, the defense was one of the best in the league. This week, Cam Newton had a solid day at quarterback, but former Panther Taylor Heinicke torched the defense. If this team could be consistent on both sides of the ball, they would be a shoo-in to make the playoffs.
No.26: New York Giants (-3)
What a disaster. The Giants put three good weeks in a row together, went on their bye, then showed up flatter than a piece of paper in Tampa Bay. Daniel Jones was poor after the first drive, and the Giants’ offense struggled mightily. Defensively, the Giants forced practically zero errors, just capitalizing on a tipped pass. While Jones had been capable for most of the first half of the season, games like these put his future in doubt.
No.25: Chicago Bears (-1)
Losing on a last-minute touchdown to a 6-3 team usually is not grounds for dropping a spot, but the Bears lost to a backup quarterback who was missing one of the NFL’s leading receivers. Regardless of the quarterback the Bears play, the rest of the roster has been killed with injuries. Khalil Mack is now out for the season, hurting any potential that the Bears had to make noise on defense.
No.24: Washington Football Team (+3)
The Football Team is beginning to round into form. After a gritty win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Heinicke and the offense had a productive day over a talented Panthers defense. Pending Monday Night Football, Heinicke was PFF’s highest-graded passer by over eight points (and deservedly so). The defense is not quite where it was in 2020, but they have winnable games down the stretch in a wide-open NFC Wild Card hunt.
No.23: Miami Dolphins (+2)
The Dolphins have won three games in a row which should be applauded. Tua Tagovailoa had a strong week against an albeit weak Jets secondary, but wins are wins. The Dolphins are behind the eight-ball in the AFC Wild Card picture, but it is trending up in Miami. It is likely too late for the Dolphins to sneak into the playoffs, but they are making progress for 2022 and beyond.
No.22: Denver Broncos (+0)
The Broncos enjoyed a Week 11 bye. They locked up Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton to large extensions, and both receivers deserve every penny on their contracts. Moving forward, the Broncos will just need a competent quarterback to throw passes to said receivers. If Aaron Rodgers (or Russell Wilson) is on the open market this offseason, the Broncos should push all of their chips to the center of the table and make the splash move.
No.21: New Orleans Saints (+1)
The Trevor Siemian experiment is not going well. While he had performed admirably in his previous two starts, it did begin to unravel against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was not awful, but he was not good enough for the Saints to overcome a slew of injuries. With everyone healthy, this Saints team would be among the best in the NFL. However, they are one of the most injured-afflicted teams, particularly at key positions. Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and both starting tackles have missed significant time.
No.20: Seattle Seahawks (-2)
Logically speaking, the Seahawks should rest Russell Wilson for the remainder of the season to secure a better draft pick. However, this plan falls through when you realize the Seahawks’ first-round pick conveys to the Jets for the Jamal Adams trade. The Seahawks are lacking talent and depth at most positions, and when Wilson is not playing at an MVP level, it gets ugly in the Pacific Northwest.
No.19: Cleveland Browns (-2)
Baker Mayfield had his best game of the season in Week 9 with an 87.7 passing grade. In the last two weeks, his combined grade is 85.1. The Browns are getting healthier with each day, but if Mayfield plays as poorly as he has in the last two weeks, it does not matter. His receivers have done him no favors, but Mayfield must be better.
No.18: Las Vegas Raiders (-2)
Since the bye week, the Raiders have entirely unraveled. Derek Carr is playing like his brother (David Carr), and the Raiders defense is back to its usual form. The Raiders may have started 5-2, but they are on a fast track to 5-12 at this rate. Even if they can steady the ship, they have blown any advantage they had from a hot start to the season.
No.17: Philadelphia Eagles (+4)
The Eagles may not fit the mold of a good football team, but they have found a path to victory in a run-heavy attack based on the skill set of Jalen Hurts. In the last four weeks, the Eagles have fired off three blowout wins and a close loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Eagles have run for 175 or more yards in those four games, controlling the clock and winning games.
No.16: San Francisco 49ers (+3)
Similar to the Eagles, the 49ers have found their groove in the last few weeks. Jimmy Garoppolo has guided the 49ers to three wins in four games, but the last two weeks have been particularly impressive. The 49ers have forced four turnovers and held their last two opponents under 300 yards in two blowout wins. The 49ers are limited with Garoppolo at the helm, but they play a style that could be dangerous in January (if they make it).
No.15: Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
The Steelers fought valiantly against the next team on the list, and they would have kept the same spot if the No.13 spot did not massacre a certain team from Orchard Park. On Sunday Night Football, the Steelers were without three of their four best defensive players, and it showed. The offense stepped up, particularly late, but it was not enough to overcome Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler.
No.14: Los Angeles Chargers (-1)
Speaking of Herbert and Ekeler, the Chargers weathered the storm and came up with a clutch final strike to knock off the Steelers. The Chargers also drop a spot after the No.13’s performance, but the Chargers have steadied their footing in the AFC playoff picture. They still have a matchup with the Chiefs, so the division is still controlled by the Chargers. Herbert had a huge bounceback performance after a slew of mediocre games.
No.13: Indianapolis Colts (+2)
The Colts went to Orchard Park and blasted the Buffalo Bills in one of the most impressive performances of the season. The offensive line was rock solid, but Jonathan Taylor stole the show with one of the best games by a running back in NFL history. Taylor racked up 204 yards from scrimmage and a quintet of touchdowns. Defensively, the Colts forced Josh Allen into one of his worst games as a pro.
No.12: Minnesota Vikings (+0)
The Vikings had one of the better all-around performances of the week. Kirk Cousins kept up his hot start by continuing to limit turnovers. Despite a handful of shaky moments from the secondary, the Vikings did just enough to pull out a win. Justin Jefferson is continuing his ascension, and the Vikings are in the thick of the playoff race. The Vikings are the only team in the NFL to not lose a game by more than 10.
No.11: Cincinnati Bengals (+0)
The Bengals took a trip to Nevada and whacked the Raiders. It was a defensive masterclass for the most part as both Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard had exceptional days. Joe Burrow did not have the most efficient day for the offense, but Joe Mixon did have a strong day on the ground. The Bengals currently occupy the No.6 seed in the AFC, and they control their destiny in the AFC North.
No.10: Dallas Cowboys (-5)
What was that? Yes, the Cowboys were missing Amari Cooper and Tyron Smith, and CeeDee Lamb left mid-game, but it was a generally uninteresting performance from one of the best offenses in the NFL. To put into perspective how poor the Cowboys were on offense, only the Jordan Love Packers scored fewer points against the Kansas City Chiefs than the Cowboys did on Sunday. Micah Parsons was a standout once again, but the offense was simply poor.
No.9: Buffalo Bills (-5)
The Bills had not lost by double-digits until the Colts came to town. The Colts dominated the Bills by 26, and most of the game was out of reach. Allen was a disaster, earning a passing grade in the 30s. The defense could not stop anything on the ground in one of the more pathetic efforts of the season. The Bills still have upside, and they control their destiny in the AFC East, but they have been wildly inconsistent.
No.8: Los Angeles Rams (-1)
The Rams were on their bye week during Week 11. Unlike the last two weeks, they did not add a multi-time Pro Bowler. As a whole, the Rams have a steady footing in the playoffs, but Weeks 9 and 10 were ugly. Matthew Stafford was underwhelming, and the defense was dominated at the point of attack. For as much superstar talent as the Rams have, they need to play like it in the coming weeks.
No.7: Tennessee Titans (-4)
This is less about the result (a home loss to the Texans) and more about the injuries that are beginning to take their toll on the Titans. Ryan Tannehill’s idea of compensating for the missing pieces was to fire seven turnover-worthy plays, the most in a game by a quarterback since 2016. Jeffery Simmons graded out well once again, but it was not enough to hold the Texans to 22 points.
No.6: Kansas City Chiefs (+4)
On the bright side, the defense seems to have figured out how to function. On the downside, Patrick Mahomes has not had even a 72.0 passing grade since Week 4. The offense is still workable without Mahomes’ magic, but the fear factor is diminishing by the game. However, the Chiefs have finally gotten Chris Jones back to playing at an All-Pro level. The Chiefs are 7-4, and they have a reasonable path to 13-4 and the best record in the conference.
No.5: Baltimore Ravens (+4)
Without Lamar Jackson, the Ravens held on for dear life to shock the Bears in Chicago. Tyler Huntley had plenty of ups and downs, but he came through on the biggest drive of the game. The defense is putting the pieces together for most snaps, but they have a knack for allowing the big play. No team in the NFL has allowed more yards or touchdowns from explosive plays than the Ravens.
No.4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+4)
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers were back, firing on most cylinders in a demolition of the Giants. Despite playing without Vita Vea, the Buccaneers allowed the Giants to have just one remotely meaningful drive in a dominant Monday Night Football performance. Antonio Brown needs to return for the Buccaneers to reach their full potential, but this week was a step in the right direction for the reigning champions.
No.3: New England Patriots (+3)
Every team in the NFL has a goofy loss in the last month besides the Patriots. The Patriots now lead the NFL in point differential (while the Bills hold a slight edge in average margin of victory). The Patriots have a four-game gauntlet against the Bills (twice), Titans, and Colts that they can prove themselves with. Their reward is the Jaguars in Week 17 and the Dolphins in Week 18. The Patriots are currently the No.3 seed in the AFC, but they could be the No.1 seed as soon as Sunday night.
No.2: Green Bay Packers (-1)
While the Packers did lose on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers played at an MVP level, so all is not lost (besides Elgton Jenkins). The Packers still have a handful of pieces to add back into the lineup, but they are serious contenders to win the Super Bowl. The Packers do not have a bad loss since Week 1, and one of the other two losses came without Rodgers.
No.1: Arizona Cardinals (+1)
For yet another week, this ranking assumes Kyler Murray will be the starter in the next week of action. Colt McCoy has performed well in two of three starts, but Murray is necessary for the Cardinals to be genuine Super Bowl threats. DeAndre Hopkins similarly needs to return, but this ranking assumes he will be healthy for the Cardinals’ next game. The Cardinals will use their Week 12 bye to ensure the health of their two superstars before heading to Chicago in Week 13.
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
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