Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking the 31 NFL teams and the clown show known as the Jacksonville Jaguars. 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: Jacksonville Jaguars (+0)
Words cannot describe just how much of a disaster Urban Meyer has been with the Jaguars this season. Trevor Lawrence is regressing, but his weapons have not helped him. Meyer’s lack of brain cells continues to hurt Jacksonville’s best players as he has alienated James Robinson. The Jaguars are so poor in every regard, and they would be a shoo-in for 2-15 if they did not play the next team in the power rankings in Week 15.
No.31: Houston Texans (+0)
For once, Davis Mills was not an outright tragedy. He was not good, but he did have a solid statistical profile. The Texans were hit with the COVID bug heading into Week 14, but it would not have mattered either way. While the Texans likely have the worst roster in the NFL, they do not employ Meyer, so they will not be last (for now).
No.30: Detroit Lions (+0)
Without Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift, the Lions were not competitive in Denver. The combination of Godwin Igwebuike and Craig Reynolds had their moments, but the Lions were outmatched. It took 14 weeks, but the Lions were finally eliminated from playoff contention despite not winning a game until Week 13. Dan Campbell might not be the answer, but he is far from the Meyer tier of coaches.
No.29: New York Jets (+0)
The Jets have been overrun with injures, but the baseline would not be high regardless. Zach Wilson is not the worst, but he will need to pick it up in recent weeks even if he is playing with below-average weapons. It is difficult to judge a rookie quarterback under these circumstances, but Wilson may be forced to be without the likes of Corey Davis and Elijah Moore for much of the rest of the season.
No.28: Carolina Panthers (-1)
Cam Newton is a disaster. P.J. Walker is also a disaster. Sam Darnold was a disaster for much of the time he was starting. Matt Rhule is developing into a disaster. The defense is losing some of the momentum they had to begin the season. As a whole, the Panthers are pitiful to watch no matter which atrocity takes the snap.
No.27: Chicago Bears (-1)
The Bears scored 27 points in the first half against the Green Bay Packers, matching the most they had scored in a game all season. However, they forgot that football is a 60-minute game, and they scored just three points in the second half. Justin Fields had some moments, but it was not enough to cover against the Packers. The season is pretty much over, but the Bears are not yet eliminated from playoff contention.
No.26: New York Giants (-3)
Mike Glennon is a poor excuse for a quarterback. Daniel Jones is not anything special, but he is significantly better than Glennon. Without a competent quarterback, the Giants are not competitive, but when Jones is in, the Giants can compete. The defense has not lived up to the hype it generated in 2020, but there are worse defenses in the NFL. It happens to be worse on the green side of East Rutherford.
No.25: Atlanta Falcons (+3)
The Falcons are the worst 6-7 team in the history of any sport. They are limited on offense and defense, and they have just two players who have come remotely close to playing well for the season. Both Cordarrelle Patterson and AJ Terrell should make the Pro Bowl. Beyond them, this is a worthless franchise that would have gone 0-17 if the league was better.
No.24: New Orleans Saints (+1)
Like the Falcons, the Saints come into Week 15 with a 6-7 record. They are just 1-5 since losing Jameis Winston, and they would be a playoff lock with a healthy Winston. With Alvin Kamara back in the fold, the Saints are not out of the race, but they have an uphill path to the playoffs. However, they get games against the Panthers and Falcons in the coming weeks.
No.23: Philadelphia Eagles (+1)
The Eagles enjoyed a Week 14 bye. If Jalen Hurts is the starter, the Eagles have a higher ceiling, but Gardner Minshew seems to give the passing offense more of a floor. Sitting at 6-7, the Eagles are tied for the last playoff spot in the NFC, but they have a pair of games against the Washington Football Team. If one of those teams sweeps the series, they will almost certainly make the playoffs.
No.22: Seattle Seahawks (+0)
Russell Wilson is trending in the right direction as the Seahawks have now won back-to-back games. They have a tough trip to Los Angeles in Week 15, but a win would open up serious playoff chances for the Seahawks. If the Seahawks can win out, they can make the playoffs. Even one loss likely ends their dreams because of the tiebreakers they conceded with Wilson out.
No.21: Las Vegas Raiders (-2)
Here’s a tip for the Raiders: if you want to get embarrassed, continue to disrespect other teams. The Raiders trailed for all but one offensive play on Sunday in one of the most thorough beatdowns the NFL has seen in 2021. Derek Carr is turning into a pumpkin unless he targets Hunter Renfrow. Maxx Crosby’s incredible pressure rate is dipping, and the Raiders have lost all of their early-season luster.
No.20: Washington Football Team (-3)
The Football Team only lost by seven, but it took a comically bad performance from Dak Prescott for the game to be close, to begin with. Taylor Heinicke may have his fair share of flashes, but games like this are why he is not a starting-caliber quarterback. He struggled mightily. With Jonathan Allen on the COVID list, his status against the Eagles on Sunday is up in the air.
No.19: Cleveland Browns (+2)
Baker Mayfield had a solid game even if the Browns did not score in the second half. Nick Chubb had another rough game, but his talent is too great for worries. On the other hand, Kareem Hunt is banged up once again. The Browns nearly had a collapse for the ages, but they held on to knock off the Baltimore Ravens and move to second place in the AFC North.
No.18: Denver Broncos (+2)
Rest in peace, Demaryius Thomas. Playing a football game was the last item of business on anyone’s mind in Denver on Sunday. Across nine seasons with the Broncos, Thomas racked up 9,055 yards and 60 touchdowns. He made four Pro Bowls, and he helped the Broncos to a pair of Super Bowls. He scored six playoff touchdowns, and he was a member of the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 squad.
No.17: Baltimore Ravens (-1)
Anything is possible, but the Ravens are just missing too many pieces to be a serious contender. Lamar Jackson is nursing an ankle injury, so if he can go on Sunday, he will not be the same. The Ravens have suffered five season-ending injuries to their top 13 defensive players, and the likes of Calais Campbell and Anthony Averett have been on the injury report nearly every week. The Ravens would be lucky to win another game this season.
No.16: Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
After going down 29-0, Ben Roethlisberger played his best football in nearly three seasons. He was stellar in the comeback effort even if it came up short. Chase Claypool had a dominant performance, but his antics cost the Steelers precious seconds late in the game. For as much applause as Roethlisberger and Claypool deserve, they would not have been in that situation if the defense could stop Dalvin Cook.
No.15: Minnesota Vikings (+3)
Kirk Cousins is losing his luster, but the Vikings did hold on to beat the Steelers on Thursday Night Football. Cook had a dominant performance, consistently gashing a nonexistent Steelers run defense. Justin Jefferson continued his All-Pro-caliber season, tacking on another touchdown. Sure, the Vikings nearly blew a 29-point lead, but they were the better team for most of the game. The Vikings are the best of the 6-7 clump in the NFC, but they are likely to shoot themselves in the foot again in the coming weeks.
No.14: Miami Dolphins (+0)
Why are Week 14 byes a thing? The Dolphins celebrated by watching their running back room get decimated with COVID. They do play the Jets in Week 15, so they could win even if they played 10-on-11 football, but it is annoying from a fantasy perspective. Regardless, the Dolphins are red-hot, and they could sneak into the playoffs with more losses from other contending teams. Perhaps no team has benefited more from the nosedive that the Ravens are taking.
No.13: Tennessee Titans (-2)
The Titans did win by 20 over the Jaguars. They also have Julio Jones back. So, why did they fall? Both of the next two teams have fairly healthy rosters as currently constructed. The Titans are likely in the top eight if they are fully healthy, but they are not healthy just yet. However, they have nearly done enough to clinch a playoff spot despite their health.
No.12: Cincinnati Bengals (+0)
Joe Burrow is a top-five quarterback. Joe Mixon is having a sensational season. Ja’Marr Chase opened his All-Pro window up with two touchdowns in Week 14. The Bengals did come up short against the next team, but it took muffed punts, a dropped Chase touchdown, and other tomfoolery for the game to be close. If the Bengals and San Francisco 49ers played again, the Bengals would likely pull out the win.
No.11: San Francisco 49ers (+2)
George Kittle is the most clutch player in the NFC, and his clutchness is second only to Justin Tucker in the whole NFL. Jimmy Garoppolo is playing competent football, and Nick Bosa is back to his 2019 playoffs form. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are an incredible duo, and the offense is formidable. There are flaws, but Kyle Shanahan tends to mask them. The 49ers are the first team in the Super Bowl tier (as currently constructed, sorry to the Titans).
No.10: Dallas Cowboys (-2)
As mentioned in the Football Team’s blurb, Prescott was a disaster on Sunday. If he played to the caliber that Cooper Rush did against the Vikings, the Cowboys would have won by 40. The offense has been hit with injuries, and Tyron Smith is going to miss some time. The Cowboys are one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but they will need Prescott to be better.
No.9: Los Angeles Chargers (+1)
There are about five humans in history that could make the throw that Justin Herbert made to Jalen Guyton on Sunday. Wow. The Giants scored a late touchdown to make the score look nicer, but the Chargers dominated for 60 minutes. Joey Bosa had an excellent day. While the Chargers might be without Rashawn Slater for Thursday Night Football, they have likely done enough to make the playoffs.
No.8: Indianapolis Colts (+1)
Despite being on bye, the Colts woke up Monday morning in a playoff spot. They have a difficult game against the New England Patriots on Saturday night, but a win would go a long way to their playoff chances. They will need to split (at worst) with the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals to ensure their playoff chances, but the Colts could ride Jonathan Taylor to a pair of wins. The division is likely out of reach, but the Colts will be dangerous in the playoffs.
No.7: Buffalo Bills (-1)
The Bills will make the playoffs, and they could even win the division if they get help from the Colts on Saturday. Regardless, the Bills have just had two unfortunate games in a row. In Foxboro, the Bills were thwarted by the weather. On Sunday, Josh Allen outplayed Tom Brady, but the referees had other ideas. Sure, the Bills are only 7-6, but they will finish 10-7 or 11-6 quite easily. Both of those marks will make the playoffs.
No.6: Arizona Cardinals (-5)
The Cardinals open the true Super Bowl contender tier. They lost their third consecutive home game, a strange run of form. However, two of those three losses came against teams that currently rank higher than them, and the other came with Colt McCoy at the helm. Kyler Murray has not been quite the same MVP-caliber player he was early in the season, but the Cardinals need just one win in their last four games to clinch a playoff spot. They’ll clinch on Sunday when they beat the Lions.
No.5: Los Angeles Rams (+2)
Matthew Stafford was excellent for 60 minutes. It was his best performance in a high-pressure spot in 13 years. Aaron Donald demolished any plans that the Cardinals had on offense, and the Rams overcame the adversity of losing five starters to COVID. Jalen Ramsey, Darrell Henderson, and Tyler Higbee (among others) should be back for Week 15 as the Rams inch closer to the division crown.
No.4: Kansas City Chiefs (+1)
Patrick Mahomes was nothing special, but the defense had a special game in terms of turnovers. It can be fickle, but the Chiefs have been one of the best teams in the NFL at forcing them for the last month or so. If Mahomes returns to 2018, 2019, or 2020 form, the Chiefs will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for the third year in a row.
No.3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1)
Brady was not at his best on Sunday, but he did just enough to put his teammates in a position to succeed. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin had good games, and Breshad Perriman sent the Bills home with a loss. Leonard Fournette was effective, and the Buccaneers eked out their 10th win of the season. They did not clinch the NFC South, but they can do so by dispatching the Saints on Sunday Night Football. Congratulations, Bucs!
No.2: New England Patriots (+1)
The Patriots were the beneficiary of even more AFC chaos as the Bills lost again and the Ravens continued to lose pieces to injuries. The Patriots might not be the sexiest team in the league, but they bring consistency to a league that has had none this year. Mac Jones has his limitations, but he has not lost a game for the Patriots in the same manner that the other 31 (primary) starters have this season.
No.1: Green Bay Packers (+1)
They need to shore up their special teams, but the offense and defense are clicking on all cylinders. David Bakhtiari, Za’Darius Smith, and Jaire Alexander are about to return, making the Packers even better. Aaron Rodgers should be the MVP favorite despite missing a game and having a pair of ugly performances. Davante Adams and De’Vondre Campbell should join Rodgers on the All-Pro team.
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
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