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NFL Power Rankings (12/11/18)
1) New Orleans Saints (11-2)
Last Week Ranking: 2
Last Game: beat Tampa Bay 28-14
Next Game: at Carolina (MNF)
The Saints win their second straight division title for the first time in team history thanks in part to backup QB/utility knife Taysom Hill and this momentum changing punt block.
2) Kansas City Chiefs (11-2)
Last Week Ranking: 4
Last Game: beat Baltimore 27-24 in OT
Next Game: vs. L.A. Chargers (TNF)
Chiefs clinch a playoff berth with a clutch performance by Patrick Mahomes. He’s even got a little Magic Johnson in his game.
3) Los Angeles Chargers (10-3)
Last Week Ranking: 3
Last Game: beat Cincinnati 26-21
Next Game: at Kansas City (TNF)
With the offense misfiring and the defense giving up 144 yards on the ground, it was up to the Chargers special teams to be the difference. Michael Badgley went 4-4 on field goals including a team record 59 yarder at end of the half and the game clinching score.
4) Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
Last Week Ranking: 1
Last Game: lost to Chicago 15-6
Next Game: vs. Philadelphia
Rams score the lowest points in the Sean McVay era and hit a season low in yards (206.)
5) Chicago Bears (9-4)
Last Week Ranking: 8
Last Game: beat L.A. Rams 15-6
Next Game: vs. Green Bay
Bears dominate with a performance reminiscent of the 1985 champs with three sacks, four interceptions and a safety. Chicago holds Todd Gurley to 28 yards on 11 carries.
6) New England Patriots (9-4)
Last Week Ranking: 5
Last Game: lost to Miami 34-33
Next Game: at Pittsburgh
Miami has been a house of horrors for New England in the Brady/Belichick era. And the weirdness started early. Stephen Gostkowski missed his first extra point of the season. Later, he missed his fifth FG attempt of the year.
Entering Sunday’s game, Brady was 7-9 on the road against the Dolphins and has thrown 15 interceptions. And while he had a great game (27 of 43 for 358 yards and three touchdowns, zero turnovers,) he gave allowed a sack at the end of the first half when they were out of timeouts. That decision cost the Patriots a chance at three points.
The biggest stunner of the day belongs to Belichick. Why would he keep 10 defenders and Rob Gronkowski near the goal line when Miami needs 75 yards?
“Every time we practice it it’s for a Hail Mary,” Gronkowski told Boston.com. “But you’ve just got to be ready for anything.”
A Hail Mary? With Ryan Tannehill throwing? No offense, but he’s not exactly John Elway or Patrick Mahomes back there. Even if Miami throws a quick pass and gets out of bounds, it’s still 50-60 yards to the end zone. Maybe you put Gronk in then. But with 75 yards to go, the Patriots should have had all eleven defenders. Their best one, safety Devin McCourty, was not on the field for the final play.
The only thing more improbable than the final play was seeing Bill Belichick outsmart himself. His decision cost New England a victory.
So I guess that means the Patriots are gonna tear it up from here on out, doesn’t it?
7) Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
Last Week Ranking: 7
Last Game: beat Minnesota 21-7
Next Game: at San Francisco
Bobby Wagner’s 100th career game is one for the scrapbook. He played every down on defense, lead the team in tackles (9) and blocked a Minnesota field goal attempt.
8) Houston Texans (9-4)
Last Week Ranking: 6
Last Game: lost to Indianapolis 24-21
Next Game: at N.Y. Jets
Houston sees their streak stopped at nine. Moreover, they miss a golden opportunity to secure the second seed in the AFC playoff race. A porous Texan o-line gives up five sacks and seven hits on Deshaun Watson.
9) Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
Last Week Ranking: 9
Last Game: beat Philadelphia 29-23 in OT
Next Game: at Indianapolis
The Cowboys now own the longest current win streak in the NFL with their five straight win. The question isn’t if they can make the playoffs anymore, it’s how far can they go? (Hint, the answer is far, but not far enough.)
10) Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
Last Week Ranking: 13
Last Game: beat Houston 24-21
Next Game: vs. Dallas
The red-hot Colts currently own the tie breakers against the Dolphins and Titans in the crowded AFC playoff chase. No matter how the season ends, Frank Reich has done an incredible job with this team.
11) Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
Last Week Ranking: 10
Last Game: lost to Kansas City 27-24 in OT
Next Game: vs. Tampa Bay
Baltimore had the right game plan against the Chiefs. They ran the ball well (198 yards rushing,) and put pressure on Patrick Mahomes (two sacks, 15 hits, one interception.) But Lamar Jackson showed his limitations and the Ravens are missing a game breaker on offense.
12) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)
Last Week Ranking: 11
Last Game: lost to Oakland 24-21
Next Game: vs. New England
The Steelers are trending downward at the worst possible time. They’ve lost three straight games and only hold a half game lead on Baltimore. Their last three games are at home against New England, at New Orleans, and hosting Cincinnati.
13) Tennessee Titans (7-6)
Last Week Ranking: 16
Last Game: beat Jacksonville 30-9
Next Game: at N.Y. Giants
Talk about coming out of the blue. Derrick Henry’s 238 rushing yards was 180 yards better than his previous season high (58.)
14) Miami Dolphins (7-6)
Last Week Ranking: 21
Last Game: beat New England 34-33
Next Game: at Minnesota
Move over Stanford/Cal, you’ve got company.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
Last Week Ranking: 12
Last Game: lost to Dallas 29-23 in OT
Next Game: at L.A. Rams
The Eagles’ 2018 season in a single play.
16) Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
Last Week Ranking: 14
Last Game: lost to Seattle 21-7
Next Game: vs. Miami
When the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins in the offseason, many pundits (including myself) thought that was the one thing to put Minnesota over the top. They have a talent laden roster on both sides of the ball and running back Dalvin Cook returning from injury.
But after another pitiful showing, I’m starting to think that maybe Washington was right to let Cousins walk. While his stats have been nice, he leads the league in fumbles and is 1-4 in primetime games this season. When the lights are brightest, Cousins has come up small.
17) Cleveland Browns (5-7-1)
Last Week Ranking: 18
Last Game: beat Carolina 26-20
Next Game: at Denver
The Browns fifth win is the most for the franchise since 2014. But Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer thinks they could have won more if the Browns’ brass wasn’t so stubborn. And she’s right.
18) Green Bay Packers (5-7-1)
Last Week Ranking: 19
Last Game: beat Atlanta 34-20
Next Game: at Chicago
Packers win raises their playoff chances to 5 percent. Yay?
19) New York Giants (5-8)
Last Week Ranking: 26
Last Game: beat Washington 40-16
Next Game: vs. Tennessee
Saquon Barkley had 14 carries and a season-high 170 yards with two runs of 78 yards and 52 yards.
20) Denver Broncos (6-7)
Last Week Ranking: 15
Last Game: lost to San Francisco 20-14
Next Game: vs. Cleveland
Broncos defense gives up 389 yards to the lowly 49ers and put their already slim playoff chances in jeopardy.
21) Carolina Panthers (6-7)
Last Week Ranking: 17
Last Game: lost to Cleveland 26-20
Next Game: vs. New Orleans (MNF)
The Panthers’ fifth straight loss has a familiar ring to them. During this losing streak, Carolina has given up fifteen plays of 20+ yards for 613 yards on those plays.
22) Detroit Lions (4-9)
Last Week Ranking: 25
Last Game: beat Arizona 17-3
Next Game: at Buffalo
The Lions won on Sunday and the fans are upset about it.
23) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-9)
Last Week Ranking: 20
Last Game: lost to New Orleans 28-14
Next Game: at Baltimore
After taking a 14-3 lead, the Buccaneers turned back into the Yuckaneers with ten penalties, two missed field goals, and a punt block. Let the finger pointing begin.
24) New York Jets (4-9)
Last Week Ranking: 31
Last Game: beat Buffalo 27-23
Next Game: vs. Houston
Sam Darnold had his most impressive performance in his rookie year. And the New York media is surprisingly tentative about crowning him as the savior.
25) Atlanta Falcons (4-9)
Last Week Ranking: 23
Last Game: lost to Green Bay 34-20
Next Game: vs. Arizona
During their five game losing streak, the Falcons have averaged a pedestrian 17.6 points per game. When you've got Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley on your offense, that's unacceptable.
26) Buffalo Bills (4-9)
Last Week Ranking: 24
Last Game: lost to N.Y. Jets 27-23
Next Game: vs. Detroit
The Bills may have something in rookie QB Josh Allen, but at running back. In the last three games, he’s rushed for 335 yards. During his three years at Wyoming, Allen ran for 767 yards and 12 touchdowns.
27) Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
Last Week Ranking: 29
Last Game: lost to L.A. Chargers 26-21
Next Game: vs. Oakland
In a season where coaches are gambling and taking chances, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Bengals haven’t converted a two-point conversion since 2015.
28) San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
Last Week Ranking: 32
Last Game: beat Denver 20-14
Next Game: vs. Seattle
In this lost season, the 49ers have found themselves a gem in George Kittle. The 2017 5th round pick from Iowa had seven catches for 210 yards and an 85 yard touchdown. He’s on pace to break the NFL single season yardage mark for a tight end.
29) Oakland Raiders (3-10)
Last Week Ranking: 30
Last Game: beat Pittsburgh 24-21
Next Game: at Cincinnati
Looks like Jon Gruden is cleaning up the roster and the front office.
30) Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)
Last Week Ranking: 27
Last Game: lost to Tennessee 30-9
Next Game: vs. Washington
It’s been 19 years since the Jags made the playoffs in consecutive seasons. It ain’t happening this season.
31) Washington Redskins (6-7)
Last Week Ranking: 22
Last Game: lost to N.Y. Giants 40-16
Next Game: at Jacksonville
Things got so bad for Washington, they benched Mark Sanchez for Josh Jackson. Johnson was the first pick of the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football a week ago. He told reporters that he learned who his teammates were by playing Madden.
32) Arizona Cardinals (3-10)
Last Week Ranking: 28
Last Game: lost to Detroit 17-3
Next Game: at Atlanta
This upcoming draft for the Cardinals has to address their abysmal offense. They are dead last in the NFL averaging a paltry 242.4 yards a game, fifty yards behind the next lowest team (Buffalo, 292.0 ypg)