As crazy as it may sound, there are only four weeks left in the regular season and as we are heading into the final stretch of what has been a very exciting year, it is time to rank these teams one through 32 once again,. This order is based on what I see when I watch the games or put on the film afterwards, in terms of pure talent on the roster, schematic advantages, situational success and overall team chemistry. So obviously teams who have already faced a tough schedule will be given more credit, but these aren’t college football rankings, where we bring up strength of record or what not, yet instead I am trying to tell you who I think are the best teams in the league. A lot of these have already played each other and I consider that as well, but just because one team beat the other eight weeks ago, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be ranked above – we are trying to assess the situation at this very moment.
1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2)
Alright, I don’t think we need see anything else from this team to put them at the top for now. The only real question I had with the Ravens was if they could beat one of the elite NFC teams, since Seattle hadn’t quite been there when these two faced off, and they won that heavyweight fight against the 49ers.They also beat down on the aforementioned Seahawks, Rams, Texans and Patriots. On offense Baltimore is borderline impossible to defend, because they just have so many different types of reads, kick-outs and lead blockers coming across the formation to go with the play-action and vertical shots off that. Even if their opponents are right, Lamar’s ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat, can change the complexity of a game just like that. With that being said, the Ravens defense is starting to catch up with the offense over the last few weeks. Over their eight-game winning streak they have recorded 20 sacks and 15 takeaways. Lamar is obviously an MVP front-runner, but John Harbaugh is also my coach of the year and they have made some great moves before and now in-season, especially with the acquisition of Marcus Peters. Travelling to Buffalo this weekend will be tough after the Ravens just won that tough battle, but we have seen plenty of teams run up the middle on them, which is a bad matchup against Mark Ingram coming right up the gut.
2. San Francisco 49ers (10-2)
Somehow the 49ers have gone from the NFC’s number one seed to being a Wildcard team in just one weekend. However, that is only the case because they lost to the my top team and the Seahawks have had a great season themselves. San Francisco’s only two losses have come against two other top five teams – Seattle and now Baltimore – and they could have easily won both those games. Kyle Shanahan is the premiere offensive play-caller in the game and some of these playmakers are starting to emerge for them – whether that is Emmanuel Sanders giving them a number one option in the passing game, rookie Deebo Samuel becoming a physical YAC-guy for them or Raheem Mostert rushing for almost 150 yards in Baltimore. Their gameplan on a weekly basis makes it tough for anybody to prepare and they have shown the ability to adjust as defenses lock into something. Moreover, their defensive front four is the most dangerous in the league, with a multitude of first-round picks and the ability to rotate guys through as the game progresses. I know he got NFC Defensive Player of the Week just recently, but linebacker Fred Warner is turning into a star for this defense and on the back-end they communicate and pass guys on very well. The Niners still control their own destiny with a trip to the Pacific Northwest in the season finale. Another tough road test in New Orleans is coming up however. I know it took a while for people to get familiar with my idea of San Francisco winning the NFC West, but if they truly make it through that gauntlet, they will have earned it.
3. New Orleans Saints (10-2)
I think you could argue which of the next three teams deserves to be in this spot, but I gave the Saints the edge, because I think they have they have the best combination of offensive and defensive line among that group and maybe overall in the league. New Orleans doesn’t have a very explosive vertical passing attack, but Sean Payton is the best at drawing up easy completions at the short and intermediate level and Alvin Kamara has the potential to go off in any game. Defensively, they are a completely different group with Marshon Lattimore in the lineup, because they can put him on the opponent’s top receiver and play different coverages around him. I felt bad for Falcons rookie tackle Kaleb McGary for having to line up against Cam Jordan that much, because that kid could barely put hands on him. As weird as it sounds with most of the stars being on the offensive side of the ball, this really is more of a defensive team with a great play-caller to go with it. In a funny way, the Saints could have a lot of interest in that 49ers-Seahawks matchup themselves in case they lose to San Fran this weekend, which would affect who they have the tiebreaker against in the race for the number one seed, as the already won in Seattle. If the NFC has to come through the Superdome, the Saints would immediately be a whole lot more dangerous.
4. New England Patriots (10-2)
There are two ways you can look at the Patriots right now – They are on their way to another first-round bye and home playoff game with an elite defense and we have seen them overcome deficiencies many times only to be the last team standing. On the other hand, you could also say the two things they could always depend on – great quarterback play and kicking – are now two of the three biggest question marks, with the other one being the play on the perimeter. For me to put them any lower than the second team in the AFC, I have just seen this story too many times, but they are not as dominant as we thought they were earlier in the year and they have struggled against the two best quarterbacks they have faced – Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. That doesn’t bode well for the next guy they guy they face – Patrick Mahomes, who can sling it around quite a bit himself. Still, the defense is so well-coached under Belichick and that secondary has the capability to fulfill different gameplans on a weekly basis. I think the offense could be fixed if fullback James Develin comes back and those young receivers step up a little, but being on your third/fourth kicker for a team that wants to win in low-scoring affairs is concerning. So I do understand some of the concerned Patriots fans, but this is still a 10-2 football team with the greatest coach of all time and a quarterback, who we have seen get it done in the playoffs time and time again.
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-2)
And just like that the Hawks lead the NFC West. You might ask why I have San Francisco over Seattle despite the Hawks leading the division and already having beaten them at Levi’s Stadium, but I just think Seattle doesn’t have the same amount of talent or advantages in scheme creativity that the 49ers do. I know it seems like he always comes through anyway, but Russell Wilson can’t bail his team out in every third-and-long situation with an offensive line that struggles in obvious passing situations. More importantly however, we have seen this team get burnt in the secondary on multiple occasions – the Bucs went off on them with 34 points and the Vikings had a lot of success through the air even with Dalvin Cook out for most of the second with another 30 points. With all that being said, the Seahawks only two losses have come against my number one and three teams while they already beat number two – so I can’t really drop them outside the top five. Russ has been a magician for them once again, but this year he finally has a shot to actually win the MVP trophy if his team earns a first-round bye. I love seeing Rashaad Penny finally getting going and they have several receivers, who they can target deep. On defense their two biggest additions have paid off – Jadeveon Clowney absolutely wrecked that 49ers game and has score two touchdowns already to go with blowing up a bunch of plays and safety Quandre Diggs has already paid off with a few big hits.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
So over the last week plus we have gone from “Could the Raiders still win the AFC West?” to “Are the Chiefs that third team in the AFC” and my answer is yes. I know Josh Jacobs went for over 100 yards against what people think is a really bad rush defense, but they never allowed that guy to control the game. I really like what they have shown on the back-end with mixing up coverages in recent weeks and how aggressive they have been with their blitz packages. That’s how I want them to play, because even if they get burnt sometimes, they want to be in more high-scoring affairs anyway. With that offense starting to get healthy – look the hell out! Nobody stresses you more with vertical concepts and ridiculous off-script plays, to go with creative play-design by an all-timer in Andy Reid, than these guys have done over the last two years. We have seen the recipe to beat this team, when you can punch them in the mouth with a strong rushing attack and by keeping Mahomes & company off the field, but if they get a head-start in games, they get you to play their game. Both the Chargers and Raiders averaged 4.9 yards a carry in those last two games, but they also combined for seven turnovers towards an opportunistic defense that has some playmakers. A guy I just picked up in fantasy myself in rookie back Darwin Thompson, who could be a true difference-maker down the stretch for them. If they win at Foxborough this weekend, I’m not counting them out for anything.
7. Green Bay Packers (9-3)
It was awesome to see a vintage Aaron Rodgers performance in the snowstorm. The entire offense has been running more smoothly from week to week, with Allen Lazard emerging as that second-favorite target on those post routes, both backs getting involved in the passing game and some other guys sprinkling in a few grabs. Defensively, I have always liked Mike Pettine’s scheme and the additions the Pack made over the offseason, but I’m not sure how I am supposed to really trust them. The Smith Brothers can absolutely get after the passer and they are loaded with young talent in the secondary, but they have been vulnerable right down the middle against the run and their youth on the back-end has shown at times against coordinators, who know how to attack their looks. That has led to allowing 6.1 yards per play – the worst mark only behind the Bengals, Cardinals and Dolphins. Overall I would like to buy into a team that has shown several flashes on defense, a balanced offensive attack and Aaron Rodgers making some magical plays, but I would put Green Bay just outside those three elite in the NFC, since I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that beatdown in San Francisco. They have a good shot at winning out with Washington coming to town and the rematches with all three divisional opponents, so if they win out, they could still earn a top seed, but if they slip once and lose a tight one at Minnesota, they could fall all the way to the Wildcard.
8. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
Are you finally a believer now? Leading up to their Thanksgiving game at Jerry’s World, everybody talked about how the Bills hadn’t played anybody and that they are frauds at 8-3. I also had the Cowboys winning that game because I saw the possibility of Zeke going off against a defense that has struggled against the top ground games, but after finally looking like the guy who has led the league in rushing, his coaches decided to just ignore him in the game-plan going forward. So that is still a concern for me to some degree, but if this group can get you in likely passing situations, they will make you hold the ball because of the way they take away areas you want to attack with they way they are taught situationally, and they have guys who can get home with their rush. Top draft pick Ed Oliver has really come along recently and made big plays for this unit. On offense the Bills might not be the most exciting crew, but they are heavily underrated in my opinion. Josh Allen has quietly thrown 11 touchdowns compared to only one INT since their bye in week six, looking like one of the top ten QBs in the league. John Brown has re-emerged as a go-to guy, Cole Beasley has been dependable in the slot and rookie Devin Singletary is only getting better every time he touches the ball. While nobody really talks about it, Brian Daboll has made this offense much more capable by calling plays from the booth and changing to a more fast-paced approach.
9. Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
That was a pretty weird and crazy game at Seattle. The Vikings had that mind-blowing pick-six off Russell Wilson trying to knock the ball down, but yet it really felt more like Minnesota was on the bad end on several plays. So to me, I don’t really feel like I should drop them too far down, but at the same time I wouldn’t pick them to win the North over Green Bay and they seem locked in for that sixth seed. With a healthy Dalvin Cook, the Vikes have one of the top rushing attacks in football because of their ability to mix up personnel and get that guy to the edge. They have two bona fide go-to weapons at receiver and a quarterback who has played his best ball yet. Defensively we have seen some cracks in the armor of this Mike Zimmer-schooled defense. Xavier Rhoades has turned into more of a liability than shutdown corner, they have been banged up across the secondary and we have seen great offensive play-callers stress the weaknesses of that scheme, especially by isolating their linebackers in coverage. When they have everybody on board, they are one of the more complete teams in the league, but we have seen that they have some depth issues, which can be a major problem in late December and leading into January. Minnesota hosts the entire NFC North for the second round of those matchups and go to Los Angeles to face the Chargers, meaning outside of Green Bay they should be favored quite heavily in every one of those games. They just can’t slip up along the way and give the Rams hope.
10. Houston Texans (8-4)
Finally we have seen the Texans slay the dragon, that has crushed their dreams and sent them home in playoffs so many times in recent years – all be it in the regular season. When Will Fuller is healthy, this is a different offense because of his ability to stretch the field. Kenny Stills and Duke Johnson have been excellent acquisitions, the O-line is a lot more dependable if you don’t drop back 40 times a game and Deshaun Watson has firmly established himself in that elite tier of quarterbacks. On defense, they have some young stars nobody really talks about – D.J. Reader is an immovable object in the run game with the ability to reach out for ball-carriers over two gaps while also providing push as a pass rusher, we have seen the swagger that linebacking crew has when they are coming to the stadium dressed up as some kind of SWAT team and Justin Reid is an absolute baller on the back-end. He has quickly become their communicator and playmaker for this unit. There are also some great news from the medical team, with J.J. Watt possibly returning for a playoff run. Is Houston finally ready to go on the road and win a big playoff game? We have yet to find out, but that domination by Baltimore kept me from moving them any higher for now.
11. Los Angeles Rams (7-5)
Wow, that came out of nowhere. The Rams were just a three-point favorite in Arizona on Sunday and many people picked the Cardinals to win outright, after they had been getting some momentum. Instead Sean McVay’s troops dominated that matchup from start to finish, being up 34-0 seven minutes into the second half. After being embarrassed on Monday Night at the Colloseum by the Ravens everybody wanted to label them done, but all of a sudden they are just one game back with the Vikings’ loss. Even though Jared Goff went for over 400 yards through three quarters and Sean McVay manufactured open receivers with room to run, they are a defensive team this year. Jalen Ramsey gives them a true shutdown corner to work around with coverages, Corey Littleton has a nose for the ball and they can really get after the passer. If they want to complement that unit however, they need to continue showing that ability to run the inside zone and build the offense around it. With rematches against the other three teams in the NFC West and a trip to Dallas, they will have to earn this after digging a hole for themselves to start the year. At this point they obviously need some help and continue to improve, but I think a lot of what they have done was with the idea of having a team that can get hot on the back-end. Did they start too late?
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
I’m so happy to see the Steelers switch to Devlin Hodges, because as bad as that whole helmet-tossing situation was, Mason Rudolph should have been cut right after that game against the Browns ended. There is no way anybody can tell me he looked like a capable NFL quarterback at any point. When you look at the way Pittsburgh took the ball out of his hands and drew up screens and mesh concepts over and over again, compared to letting “the Duck” air it out, they knew themselves that Rudolph can’t be trusted. It is incredible and one of Mike Tomlin’s finest coaching jobs that they are somehow 7-5 en route to a playoff appearance. I know the Patriots defense has done some historic things and the Niners are even ahead of them in some statistical categories, but no defense has carried their team quite like the Steelers’. That D-line is absolutely dominant with two guys coming off the edge like wrecking balls and big men who can push other big men straight back. They have a playmaking rookie linebacker in Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick has completely turned around that secondary with his ability to roam and always show up around the ball. I think Hodges can provide a few big plays through the air if they run the ball effectively with a more consistent sharing of carries, since they haven’t had anybody keep their touches at a certain number for weeks now.
13. Tennessee Titans (7-5)
Is there a hotter team right now not named the Ravens than these Tennessee Titans? Ryan Tannehill has given this team some splash since being inserted into the starting lineup and it is officially Derrick Henry time. The big fella once against is becoming one of the biggest physical forces in the game as we reach the second half of the year, rushing for an average of 165.3 yards and a combined five touchdowns over these last three weeks. While it never felt like they would win against the Chiefs or now in Indy, this is a complete team and it has actually been two blocked field goals that have made the difference for them. Tennessee easily lead the league with five(!) blocked kicks, but they are also quietly top ten in points allowed (19.5) and third-down percentage (36.3) on defense. Dean Pees is keeping offenses on their heels and he has rising young stars at every single level. This team is hitting its stride with their ability to pound the rock, have their QB come up with timely plays with his arm or legs, a defense that is always good for a takeaway and those clutch special teams. These guys simply don’t kill themselves and they seem to find a way to force the opposition into mistakes, which is demonstrated by them being top ten in turnover differential. I don’t think a lot of people want to play this squad right now and a win over Oakland would give them a heads-up in the Wildcard race, while still playing the division-leading Texans twice.
14. Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
Speaking of those AFC South, I don’t think anybody has had more demoralizing losses these last two weeks than the Colts. First they rush for 175 yards, pick up 19 first downs and possess the ball more than 33 minutes with an apparent fumble not even being reviewed to lose to the Texans 20-17 in a battle for the division lead and then last Sunday they are setting up for a field goal with the score tied at 17 a piece, but Adam Vinatieri gets his kick blocked for the second time that day and the Titans scoop this one up to give them the lead in the snap of a finger. On a third down later on Ryan Tannehill goes play-action and throws a deep touchdown pass to ultimately win the game by 14 points. All of a sudden Indianapolis is third inside its own division and need quite a bit of help to make it to the postseason with Pittsburgh being a game up and already having the head-to-head tie-breaker, as well as Houston being two games ahead for the South. The Colts still fourth in rushing yards and outside of that fluky final result against Tennessee, the defense has not surrendered more than 23 points since week four. However, they are now in the minus in terms of turnover differential and their all-time great kicker has become an absolute liability for them. I recently predicted that they would win their division, but I’m not sure how they will recover.
15. Oakland Raiders (6-6)
It’s kind of tough to really get excited about the Raiders after these last two weeks. They have lost by a combined score or 74-12 against the Jets and Chiefs, while looking like hot garbage for most of it. With that being said, they can still write their own story as they host one of the two main contenders for a wildcard spot in the Titans before going against three straight teams below .500 (Jaguars, Chargers and Broncos). On paper this squad does not look like they should be part of the postseason and I think that 6-4 record gave people expectations that were too high. For a team without a receiver that was more than WR3 last year, a below-average quarterback, rookies being counted on to turn around a historically bad pass rush and questions on the back-end to be at .500 with a chance to play in January is pretty remarkable. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock deserve a lot of credit for putting together a bruising ground game spearheaded by another rookie in Josh Jacobs and a defense that plays with youthful energy. The Raiders need to play a certain way to win games and I don’t believe they quite have the roster to compete with the AFC’s elite, but they are only a game back from the Steelers and Titans with a tie-breaker over the Colts secured already. If you want proof that they have exceeded expectations – they are 27th in average scoring margin, as opponents have scored an average of 7.2 points more than they do.
16. Chicago Bears (6-6)
It has been a really weird season for the Bears. They came into the year as reigning NFC North champs with high hopes in their second year under Matt Nagy. They started off 3-1 despite Mitch Trubisky looking to have regressed due to a defense that once again looked elite, highlighted by that dominant performance against the Vikings in week four. They would go on to lose their next four against the Raiders, Saints, Chargers and Eagles, with their offense looking completely inept and people calling for Trubisky’s head. All of a sudden they have won three of their last four – even if the quarterbacks they have faced are Jeff Driskel, Daniel Jones and David Blough – and, dare I say, could sneak into this race. Assuming the team who finishes second in the NFC West will get the five-seed, it will come down to that final Wildcard spot. The Bears could still sweep the Vikings season series and while they lost their direct matchup against the Rams, those guys still have two primetime games against the Seahawks and Niners as well as travel to Dallas. With that being said, nobody in the league faces a tougher final stretch than Chicago – they host the Cowboys on Thursday Night, then travel to Green Bay, have the Chiefs at their house and then end with a trip to Minneapolis, where the Vikes are out for revenge. Even if his numbers have looked pretty good recently, let’s please not act like Trubisky has been playing that well, but if he can pick up some first downs with his legs and Nagy finally gives the ball to David Montgomery 20+ times per game, they could at least stay “in the hunt”.
17. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
We have reached the bottom-half of the league and at this point I would say nobody will make the playoffs anymore, but unfortunately someone has to win the pitiful NFC East. So at 6-6, without a single win over a team above .500, I reluctantly put the Cowboys at number 17. If they had won on Thanksgiving and separated themselves a little, they would have definitely been about four or five spots higher, because then they would have lost by four in New England and beaten a pretty good Buffalo squad. Instead they embarrassed themselves once again with an uninspiring performance on Turkey Day. Dak Prescott has turned the ball over three times in the last two weeks and that “feared” D-line is now exactly in the middle of the rankings, while the special teams have looked unprepared in spots as well. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but Jason Garrett should have been gone years ago, and from what he has shown this season this has to be his final run. It is not about showing little to no in-game adjustments or even the decision to not go for it on fourth down versus the Patriots on a day where they hadn’t made it to the red-zone all day, but to me the biggest joke was him going for it on fourth-and-one from his own twenty – clearly showing that he is hearing the critics. It already mentioned already how it made no sense to go away from Zeke, when he had been knifing through this defense from the start. The good thing for Dallas is that with Philly not taking any advantage, they are still controlling their own destiny for a division crown and home playoff game.
18. Cleveland Browns (5-7)
I really thought the Browns could make a run at a Wildcard spot and it looked like they were on their way to sweeping the Steelers and go over .500 for the first time this season, but a few incredible James Washington grabs combined with untimely turnovers and sacks taken by Baker Mayfield might have done it for them. The Browns’ talent at the offensive skill positions is top-notch and before the Myles Garrett-fiasco they had been a very stingy defense, but at this point they would need something close to a miracle to play in January. With the Bengals series still ahead, as well as going to Arizona and hosting a Baltimore team they have already beaten, they could certainly still win out, but they have already lost the head-to-head against Tennessee and for Tennessee to finish with less wins, it would take the Raiders to beat them this weekend, who then would only have sub.-500 team left on their schedule themselves, and Pittsburgh still has the Cardinals and Jets on the horizon. Baker has been just too up and down and this Cleveland locker room seems to be too player-driven from what I can tell. Having big personalities and talking that talk is fine if you can back it up, but the Browns have not performed consistently enough and it seems like they are headed for an 8-8 finish. Let’s see how they re-group this offseason.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
Holy smokes, what has gotten into this Bucs squad? I know they haven’t beaten any good teams outside of the Rams, but they have won now back to back games for the first time this season – a pretty strong performance over a surging Falcons team at that point and a shellacking of the Jaguars in Jacksonville. After throwing a pick on their opening drive against Atlanta, Jameis Winston has been playing really well and he just had his first turnover-free game all year. That offense is pretty darn explosive with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard to go with an offensive mind like Bruce Arians, who doesn’t simply abandon the run. Defensively they still have some serious issues in coverage, which has not allowed them to win games in which the offense has put up points, but they are second in rushing yards allowed and they have reached the end-zone four times themselves now. It would take an epic collapse by the Vikings, but the Bucs could win out and if the Rams went 2-2 the rest of the way, Tampa Bay would hold the tie-breaker over them. So these guys are definitely not officially eliminated. That stretch of four straight losses is what kept the Bucs from being a serious player this season, because at 6-6 I definitely would think of them differently and I don’t think anybody wants to play them right now.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
What an embarrassing loss for yet another NFC East team. I predicted a few weeks back that the Eagles would win the division, because of the schedule the Cowboys faced and the fact that Philly could once again go for a run later on in the year. Like I thought, Dallas has lost their last and left the window wide open, but unfortunately the Eagles decided to climb over the fence instead. That Seattle game seemed like one of those Philly won the last few years and even after they showed no signs offensively, I tried to believe that with some of their receivers coming back, they could turn this around. Well, they put 31 points on the board in Miami, but unfortunately the defense decided to not show up, after they had been playing their best all year at close to a hundred percent healthy. The Eagles have yet to play a complete game. Their wide receivers haven’t been dependable all year long, Wentz has had some bad misses at times and the defense just got roasted by Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker. As pathetic as they might and forgot my prediction for NFC representative in the Super Bowl, they are far from done. Dallas is only a game ahead and has both the Bears and Eagles ahead before going to Lincoln Financial Field. Philly on the other hand finishes with the Giants twice, at Washington and then hosting that high-stake game against the Cowboys.
21. Denver Broncos (4-8)
We are moving into the range of “basically eliminated”. The best team among that group for me is Denver. Obviously 4-8 is not the expectation any of their fans or the front office had, but they have been fighting in pretty much every game this season. Their only losses by more than one possession came against the Packers, Chiefs and Bills – all of those with at least eight wins on the season. That is despite playing three different quarterbacks and losing Bradley Chubb for the season early on. They have lost three games on walk-off field goals and they were up 20-0 in Minnesota at halftime. Of course you could certainly argue that they have not been able to finish games, but this group has some things to build around. Philip Lindsay has looked dynamic in a more featured role in recent weeks, Courtland Sutton has emerged as number one receiver, Noah Fant has shown flashes and they have a top ten defense, even without their second-best player on that side of the ball. These last four weeks left are about seeing what they have in Drew Lock, who I thought was worth a first-round pick despite needing some development, and potentially being a thorn in the sight of the Texans, Chiefs and Raiders. I mean after the Raiders made them look bad in the season-opener, how sweet would it be for the Broncos to keep their division rivals out of the playoffs with a win over the them in week 17?
22. Carolina Panthers (5-7)
This team has been in absolute free-fall ever since winning four straight before getting destroyed by the 49ers at 4-2. Since then they have lost five of their last six, including being denied at the goal-line once again by the Packers, losing 29-3 to a two-win Atlanta team, missing the go-ahead chip-shot field goal at New Orleans and just last weekend being run all over by another two-win squad in the Redskins. They might still be first in totals sacks and have the NFL leader in scrimmage yards, but fans see the future of this franchise a whole lot different since the earlier portions of the year and big changes are coming with the firing of Ron Rivera. Kyle Allen does not appear to be the obvious long-term answer anymore and that front-seven that we hyped early on can now allowed over 400 yards on the ground these last two weeks. The positive points here – D.J. Moore is turning into star in front of our eyes, Christian McCaffrey has only been held under 100 yards from scrimmage by the Bucs, they have seven different guys with 4+ sacks and their cornerback duo is outstanding, Obviously Panthers fans are disappointed with how the season went after all the promise this team showed with Cam being out, but that is still a pretty good roster and maybe some change will do them good .
23. Los Angeles Chargers (4-8)
You could look at the Falcons or Browns here as well, but the Chargers might just be the most disappointing season of any team this year. Last season they won almost all of those one-score games, but they have come up short in eight of the nine they have had so far. Looking at their roster, they should be fighting the Chiefs for the AFC West, but instead they are fourth in their own division. At this point they are plus three in point differential on the season, but they have turned the ball over in critical moments, not been able to get those late stops on defense and simply not come out on the winning end. Philip Rivers has thrown eight interception over the last three games and there is no talking around it – he has looked old. Last season he played at a pretty high level and the Chargers might stick with him for another year, but the physical gifts have just fallen off. Right now the Bolts bottom five in giveaways (22) and turnover differential (-10), which is not a winning recipe. They are done for now, which is a shame, but that roster is still really to contend and I love the toughness Anthony Lynn has installed in them.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)
I had pretty high expectations for the Jags after what felt more like an off year in 2018. With pretty much anybody being an upgrade over Blake Bortles and some reinforcements on the offensive line to go with a young, talented defense, they seemed to be ready to make another run. Instead Nick Foles went on IR after just one offensive series and they were kind of forced to trade away superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey. They actually came a two-point conversion short of winning in Houston week two and beat both the Titans and Jaguars after that with the mustache-wearing sensation Gardner Minshew running around and making plays. Unfortunately he had his worst performance against the Texans in London and the coaches decided to go back to Foles after he returned coming off their bye week. After the veteran struggled through these last two games, Jacksonville now decided to go back to the rookie, who has definitely shown some promise. They have now lost four straight by a combined 83 points and need a spark. In a lackluster season, there are some things to get excited about – D.J. Chark is a star in the making, Leonard Fournette has looked like a workhorse back for large stretches and rookie Josh Allen gives them a guy coming off the edge, who could make Jannick Ngakoue expendable this offseason. Unfortunately that Foles contract has some guarantees left for next year and nobody in the coaching staff or front office seems to be totally safe right now.
25. Atlanta Falcons (4-8)
What do you even make of these Falcons? They start the season 1-7 before pulling off two straight upset wins over the division rival Saints and Panthers and now they are back to losing at home to the Bucs and that rematch against New Orleans. We have seen those guys really want to fight for their coaches and I don’t think anybody is cheating with their effort, but it just hasn’t been enough. The defense has improved since making some changes over the bye week, but they are allowing an average of 26.9 PPG and they have allowed 24 points in all but three games – their three wins. Their communication has been awful and they were on a historically bad pace with their sack production leading up to their off week. The offense definitely has shown signs with Calvin Ridley putting himself in the conversation for the best number two receiver and Austin Hooper being one of the best tight-ends in the game in this Dirk Koetter offense. With that being said, they have scored a large amount of their points late in games, when things were already out of reach already. Atlanta is now minus eleven in turnover differential and if not for a couple of successful onside kicks on Thanksgiving, they would not have been particularly close in that contest. They looked really good on paper and I like Dan Quinn, but that’s now two years of “not enough”.
26. Arizona Cardinals (3-9)
What the hell was that? I was actually pretty excited for that slate of afternoon games, but this game and the Raiders-Chiefs were so one-sided, that most of my focus went to Chargers-Broncos. After putting up 25+ points three games in a row and being in those contests basically until the last play in all of the, the Cardinals looked like that crew from a year ago and never belonged on that field with the Rams, despite being just a 3-point home underdog. I still believe Kyler Murray is the real deal and he will give those guys the opportunity to build something around him, but with 41 sacks on the season this O-line needs some help and somehow their best receiving still might be 36-year old Larry Fitzgerald – outside of Christian Kirk maybe. Defensively is where I am actually really concerned. Arizona is ranked 31st both in points allowed (29.2) and defensive third-down percentage (47.2). Patrick Peterson has looked unrecognizable since coming back from his suspension and for as good as Chandler Jones, Jordan Hicks and some others have been individually, they have not been able to stop any particular area. Despite being +3 in turnover differential, they average the least amount of time of possession (under 27 minutes) and are mostly defined by a talented rookie signal-caller.
27. New York Jets (4-8)
This had to be such a deflating loss for Gang Green. The Jets had scored 34 points in three consecutive games before not even reaching the end-zone in a 22-6 loss to the formerly winless Cincinnati Bengals. They have gone from offseason darling back to a joke of franchise, then giving the fanbase some hope and finally proving that they are far from competing for a playoff spot, while the Bills actually have firmly established themselves. Rarely do you have a team that can defend the run, but can’t run the ball themselves, but somehow the Jets are 31st in offensive rushing yards, while having the toughest run D at just 75.2 yards allowed per game and only 2.9 yards a carry. So they are forcing them to attack them outside, where they struggle mightily, and they solely depend on second-year quarterback Sam Darnold to spread the ball around or they won’t run any offense. Their offensive stats are heavily influenced by the three weeks of Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk, when they could not move the ball whatsoever. If Jamal Adams buys back into the franchise, C.J. Mosley’s monster contract gets validated by him actually playing and Quinnen Williams lives up to his potential, they could have a real defense, but they need to draft some help on the O-line to help out their QB. Right now they are tied for ninth-most giveaways (20) and they only scored 20+ points once outside that three-game winning streak.
28. Miami Dolphins (3-9)
I know the Dolphins were outscored by 137 points through the first four weeks of the season and their previous two wins came over the Jets and the Brian Hoyer-led Colts, but I think Brian Flores is building something special down in South Beach. Despite getting rid of their starting left tackle and young star safety, their number one corner being lost for the season, them being on the fourth starting running back and being publicly called out for tanking, this Miami team has fought in every single game since that first quarter of the season. In no way did I expect this game against the Eagles to even to be close, especially considering what was on the line for Philadelphia. Outside of maybe two players on offense and defense combined – DeVante Parker, who has been spectacular ever seen the promising rookie receiver Preston Williams has been out, and 13th overall pick Christian Wilkins – I don’t think there is anybody on that roster who would start for a .500 team out there. The ‘Phins now have three other teams in this bottom six coming up until their season finale in New England and could easily win a couple more of those. This team has been fun to watch with Ryan Fitzpatrick going off in spots and punter-to-kicker touchdown passes, and they will likely have four picks inside the top 60 as well as over 100 million dollars in cap space to sign free agents.
29. Washington Redskins (3-9)
Look at these guys now! Through ten games, Washington’s only win came early on against the Dolphins and they had not been within one score outside of that since week one. Now they have pulled off two straight victories over the Lions and Panthers, after this team looked to be completely lifeless just prior to that. With that being said, this team just isn’t very good. The Redskins are dead-last in both points scored with 14.4 and yards gained (262.4) per game and as much as Dwayne Haskins wants to take selfies with fans, Washington’s recent success has been due to their running game, defense and nearly perfect kicking/punting. I mean this game at Carolina was the first time they had even scored 20 points since week two. The Defense however has played pretty well when the offense has been somewhat competent, but they struggle to get opposing teams off the field, as they allow them to convert 46.7 percent of their third downs and 21.6 first downs per game. This is still one of the worst-run organization in pro sports and Dwayne Haskins has looked anything but impressive, but let’s see what changes they will make in the front office and coaching staff. I like some of those pieces on the offensive and defensive lines and Terry McLaurin has probably been the best rookie receiver so far.
30. New York Giants (2-10)
So how does it feel to be maybe be the worst sports team in New York? I know the Knicks suck, but the Mets were at least average and the Jets have twice as many wins as the G-Men. We haven’t heard a lot from the Giants organization recently about how everybody was wrong on Daniel Jones coming out of the draft. Since the rookie won his first two games as a pro, Big Blue has lost eight straight, with five of those teams at or below .500 and that even includes the team I have ranked right below them. They are ranked 25th in points scored and 29th in points allowed, leading to a losing margin of -9.1 points a game. They are tied with Jameis Winston’s Buccaneers for the most giveaways on the year and also tied with the Dolphins for the worst turnover differential at -14. For as bad as it has been, there are some bright spots – Danny Dimes looks like he could be the guy with more support around him, if he learns to hold onto the ball, Darius Slayton has made some big plays for them and in terms of talent, they have one of the more impressive defensive lines. To me it is time to make a change at head-coach and if that isn’t an offensive mind, find somebody who will utilize Saquon Barkley the correct way, as well as taking more pressure off their young QB.
31. Detroit Lions (3-8-1)
First of all, let’s start by saying this ranking does not take into account Matthew Stafford, since I don’t think he is coming back for a three-win team this season, and I just have yet to see the Lions win a game without. So I can’t put them any higher than this right now. I won’t say they haven’t been fighting, because they have been within a possession in every one of those contests without Stafford, but their season has completely gone off the rails. That’s a shame, since Detroit started the season off so well, as they were 2-0-1 heading into a matchup against Kansas City, which they almost won. The next week Trey Flowers was flagged twice for those controversial “hands to the face” calls and they ended up losing to Green Bay. They simply haven’t been the same ever since unfortunately. The defense, which I thought looked pretty good early on, is now near the bottom in yards and points allowed. The offense on the other hand is too dependent on deep shots to their duo of wide receivers and has not been able to run the ball consistently without Kerryon Johnson. I’m not sure if Matt Patricia hasn’t lost the locker room when he traded away starting safety Quandre Diggs and he has now entered the hot seat.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11)
The Bengals have finally won a game! Of course it doesn’t help them in my power rankings, since they are still the worst team in football, but at least they won’t have that shadow hanging over themselves and can move on. It is now too late for A.J. Green to come back and it is pretty clear that we will see a move under center, as they already benched Andy Dalton and have obviously seen enough from Ryan Finley to know he is not their guy going forward, as they went back to Dalton. To think this squad went into Seattle and came up just one point short of pulling the upset in the season-opener now is definitely a head-scratcher. Once again the defense has shown little resistance for the most part, as only Miami less takeaways than them and is tied for giving up an NFL-worst 6.2 yards per play. Offensively the Bengals are only ahead of Washington with 14.9 points scored per game, which is also pretty confusing even without their star wideout, since they brought in Zac Taylor to give Joe Mixon and the run game a boost, while Tyler Boyd has been very productive as well out of the slot. Whoever they are targeting in the draft, they now have avoided an 0-16 campaign and are still on track to grab whoever they have their eyes on with the first pick.