Sports 2.0 NFL Power Rankings 32-21
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14), Last Week’s Ranking: 32
Fourteen straight losses. It’s hard to believe the Jaguars were in the AFC Championship game just three years ago. At least they’ve clinched the first overall pick.
31. Houston Texans (4-10), Last Week’s Ranking: 30
Houston’s season just gets worse and worse. Somehow, they’ve got the fourth-most passing yards per game in the league, despite the DeAndre Hopkins trade, the Will Fuller suspension, and an injury forcing Brandin Cooks to miss time. J.J. Watt’s postgame rant was more than just frustration with this season and a sign of more significant organizational problems.
30. New York Jets (2-13), Last Week’s Ranking: 31
The Jets have won two games in a row. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. If rumors that head coach Adam Gase will be let go after Sunday’s game are true, things may be looking even brighter for the Jets’ future.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1). Last Week’s Ranking: 21
Losing two games down the stretch has eliminated the Eagles from a shot at the NFC East title. On the plus side, Jalen Hurts looks like a future starting quarterback and is also the team’s second-leading rusher. Now to figure out what to do about Carson Wentz…
28. Detroit Lions (5-10), Last Week’s Ranking: 26
Detroit was embarrassed at home last week against the Buccaneers, their third straight defeat. Matthew Stafford may miss the season finale against the Vikings. If the Eagles, Bengals, Texans, and Falcons all win and the Lions lose, Detroit could pick as high as third in the 2021 Draft.
27. Atlanta Falcons (4-11), Last Week’s Ranking: 27
The Falcons held the league-leading Chiefs to 17 points last week, a feat few football fans expected. Eight of their 11 losses have been by seven points or fewer. This team should be so much better than it is. On paper, it doesn’t make sense that Atlanta is 4-11.
26. New York Giants (5-10), Last Week’s Ranking: 24
Like the Eagles, the Giants have lost three straight, although all three losses were to teams in the playoff hunt (Cardinals, Browns, Ravens). Unlike the Eagles, the Giants still have a shot at winning the division and making it to the playoffs. They’ll need to get things going offensively to have a chance. A unit that has scored 26 total points the past three weeks doesn’t inspire confidence.
25. Denver Broncos (5-10), Last Week’s Ranking: 25
Drew Lock has thrown for 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions this season. If there are a few bright spots to point to, Tim Patrick is having a breakout season, Noah Fant and Jerry Jeudy will be great receiving options in the future, and the defense will get Bradley Chubb and Von Miller back healthy next year. There are plenty of pieces to build around in the Mile High City.
24. Carolina Panthers (5-11), Last Week’s Ranking: 28
Carolina pulled out a win against the NFC East-leading Washington Football Team last week. Christian McCaffrey has been ruled out for Week 17, and the Saints need a win and a Green Bay loss to clinch a first-round bye. It could get ugly, but the Panthers always play tough against New Orleans.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 29
Like the Jets, the Bengals are on a two-game winning streak. Doing that without Joe Burrow or Joe Mixon is quite impressive. While a showdown against the Ravens in Week 17 will be a tough challenge to end the year, Cincinnati shows a ton of promise for the future.
22. Minnesota Vikings (6-9), Last Week’s Ranking: 17
After allowing Alvin Kamara to put up historic rushing numbers (six touchdowns), the Vikings ended up with coal in their stockings in the form of elimination from playoff contention. Running back Dalvin Cook will miss the season finale after the death of his father. The Vikings could end up drafting as high as No. 9 or as low as No. 15, depending on Sunday’s results.
21. New England Patriots (6-9), Last Week’s Ranking: 24
The Patriots have lost three straight but moved up in the rankings because of the teams falling further behind them. It’s the worst season in New England in two decades. No player other than Cam Newton has more than three rushing or receiving touchdowns.
Sports 2.0 NFL Power Rankings 20-11
20. Washington Football Team (6-9), Last Week’s Ranking: 18
Letting go of quarterback Dwayne Haskins was the right move for the embattled franchise. Part of turning things around in the nation’s capital involves getting rid of the players who are counterproductive towards success. Haskins hasn’t impressed on the field and was causing problems off it. On to Week 17, where they still have a chance to clinch the division title with a win over the Eagles.
19. Los Angeles Raiders (7-8), Last Week’s Ranking: 20
The Raiders also moved up despite a loss. Again, bigger losses by other teams necessitated the drop. Their last two losses have come by a combined four points. For a team that’s trying to break from mediocrity, they’re still learning how to win. The same squad that has beat playoff teams like the Saints and Chiefs have also lost to the Falcons and Patriots, though both were on the road. A win against Denver in Week 17 will be a great momentum builder for next year.
18. San Francisco 49ers (6-9), Last Week’s Ranking: 19
San Francisco really impressed me with a win against the Arizona Cardinals last Saturday night. Starting their third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard, the 49ers went on the road and beat a team gunning for a playoff spot. After all the adversity of this season, San Francisco will be a fierce competitor next season once everyone is healthy again.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9), Last Week’s Ranking: 22
The Chargers’ last three wins have all been by three-point margins. It’s a great response from a young team after a 45-0 blowout at the beginning of December. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is still in the Top 10 in yards and touchdowns. Win or lose, they almost always keep things competitive and interesting throughout. This will be an enjoyable team to watch next year.
16. Dallas Cowboys (6-9), Last Week’s Ranking: 16
The Cowboys have won three straight and are carrying surprising momentum towards the playoffs. Washington holds the tiebreaker for the division title, but those teams have reversed fortunes over the past three weeks. Even if they miss the playoffs, the resiliency after losing their starting quarterback Dak Prescott is still commendable.
15. Arizona Cardinals (8-7), Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Last week’s loss to the division-rival 49ers was frankly inexcusable. The Cardinals have lost five of their past eight, and if not for the “Hail Murray,” that would’ve been six. While they still control their own destiny, the Cardinals are playing more like pretenders than contenders. They’ll play the Rams in L.A. in Week 17, where both teams need a win to clinch a playoff spot.
14. Los Angeles Rams (9-6), Last Week’s Ranking: 13
Perhaps the Rams were still shell-shocked from their stunning loss to the New York Jets. A road loss to Seattle sent things from bad to worse, as they lost quarterback Jared Goff to a thumb injury that required surgery. There’s a chance he could return for the playoffs, but for Week 17, they’ll hand the reins to John Wolford, who has never thrown a pass in an NFL game and signed Blake Bortles as a backup. Win and they’re in; lose, and the Rams are playing the waiting game.
13. Chicago Bears (8-7), Last Week’s Ranking: 14
The Bears have won three straight, all against teams who will miss the playoffs. Next up in Week 17 is a showdown with the Green Bay Packers, who need a win to lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If they’re for real, they’ll show it. If they aren’t, they’ll show it. A win and a Cardinals loss get the Bears into the playoffs, which seemed nearly impossible three weeks ago. Defense and a running game travel well in the playoffs. If they can get into the mix, they’re a dangerous bunch.
12. Indianapolis Colts (10-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 10
This is where we get to the mucky part of the rankings. Six teams have a 10-5 record, and only one has emerged as the leader of the bunch. The Colts have the dubious honor of being the only team to lose to Jacksonville this season and have lost to three of the other 10-5 teams head-to-head. They’ll get a chance to redeem themselves against Jacksonville this week, though the Colts are still on the outside looking in. Amazing how a 1-14 team can impact the playoff picture in such a major way.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 15
Pittsburgh responded in a big way last week with a win over the Indianapolis Colts. The run game is still a glaring concern, accounting for a pathetic 22 yards the entire game. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot, so they’ll be resting starters in Week 17. It’s the closest thing they’ll get to a bye week this season, as COVID-19-related rescheduling forced the Steelers to give theirs up.
Sports 2.0 NFL Power Rankings 10-1
10. Miami Dolphins (10-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 11
The Dolphins hold the No. 10 spot. Rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick in the dramatic comeback win against the Raiders last Saturday night. While the “Fitz-magic” worked for the win, Miami placed Fitzpatrick on the COVID reserve list Thursday. There’s no safety net for the rookie from Alabama against the Bills this weekend, even with the Bills resting starters.
9. Cleveland Browns (10-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Last week’s loss to the Jets was a colossal blunder, even without their top four receivers out under COVID-19 protocol. The Browns shut down their facility Thursday due to COVID-19 issues, and the team ruled out defensive back Denzel Ward from Sunday’s game after a positive test. While the Steelers will be resting starters Sunday, the Browns still need to win to clinch a spot, especially with the Colts hot on their heels.
8. Tennessee Titans (10-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 5
The Titans suffered their largest defeat of the season last week at Lambeau Field, giving up more than 200 passing and 200 rushing yards. Their defense has been the Achilles heel all season, but a win in Houston on Sunday would lock up the AFC South. The Texans allow more than 150 rushing yards per game on average, so Derrick Henry could be in for another monster game.
7. Baltimore Ravens (10-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Baltimore is picking up steam in the nick of time. A four-game winning streak has the Ravens ahead of the Browns for the No. 6 seed, and they’ll face the Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1) to close out the regular season. The defense has looked stronger, the offense is rolling, and Lamar Jackson looks like an MVP again.
6. Seattle Seahawks (11-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 7
The Seahawks defense has looked like the second coming of the “Legion of Boom” over the last few weeks, and the offense seems to be back in sync. They wrapped up the division against the Rams last week and may rest starters on Sunday if the game gets out of hand either way. Pete Carroll’s bunch is always dangerous in the playoffs.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 9
I may not have given enough credit to Tampa Bay’s defense the past few weeks, but they’re proving me wrong. Yes, they played the Lions last week, but the Bucs allow the fewest rushing yards per game this season while ranking in the Top Five in sacks and takeaways. Not to mention, they’re also the fifth-highest scoring offense in the league. I still don’t buy into the running game, where they’re generating the fifth-fewest yards per game, but they’re going to be a scary team to face in the playoffs.
4. New Orleans Saints (11-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Alvin Kamara ran wild against the Vikings on Christmas to the tune of a historic six rushing touchdowns. Drew Brees is healthy again, and Michael Thomas is likely to return for the playoffs. The Saints can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win and a Green Bay loss, but unfortunately, finishing second in the conference doesn’t carry a bye week this season.
3. Green Bay Packers (12-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Last week, Green Bay made a statement with their 40-14 win at home over the Titans. A win against the Bears Sunday will lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and Aaron Rodgers has become the favorite in the MVP conversation. It’s an excellent time to be a fan of the Green and Gold.
2. Buffalo Bills (12-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 2
The Bills throttled New England on the road last week and will end up with either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the playoffs. Josh Allen has thrown for 13 touchdowns against two interceptions during their five-game winning streak and also has three rushing touchdowns in that span. Stefon Diggs leads the league in receiving yards. The Bills are the second-best team in the league only because of…..
1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 1
The Chiefs are still the top team in the league. It’s hard to argue at this point. While anything can happen, there’s a reason the Chiefs are +130 to win the Super Bowl while the next closest team is +525. The offense is dynamic, and the defense is good enough to hold the lead. A 10 game winning streak leaps you to the front of the back when the next longest streak is half that (Bills and Packers with five each). They’re my pick to win it all this season.
Thank you for joining in with the Power Rankings throughout the season! I won’t continue these rankings into the playoffs but will pick them up before Week 1 next season. Until then, enjoy Week 17, enjoy the playoffs, and cheers to a happy and healthy new year!