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Midseason NFL Power Rankings

It’s hard to believe the NFL Regular Season is halfway through the books. Here is where how we would rank all 32 teams at the midpoint of the season. Keep in mind, each teams’ win/loss record is borderline irrelevant. Moreso, these are the rankings based on how good we think the teams are right now.

1. Philadelphia Eagles 8-1

The Eagles are the most complete team in the NFL. Carson Wentz is the odds-on favorite to win the MVP and the defensive front is playing at an elite level. Those two elements generally equate to great success on the football field. It is even more remarkable that Philadelphia is doing this with all of their injuries. (Casey Gillespie)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-2

The Pittsburgh offense has struggled out of the gate and there have been questions about Ben Roethlisberger’s future. They looked to have snapped into gear lately and the defense is also starting to come together. The Steelers have all the talent and experience emerge from the AFC as the conference’s representative in the Super Bowl. (CG)

3. New England Patriots 6-2

The Patriots had a very rocky start on defense, but have somewhat stabilized over the past few weeks. The loss of Julian Edelman has been noticeable, but Tom Brady has had enough to work with on offense to be productive. New England is not the flawless team many of the prognosticators expected they would be, but they looked poised to return to the postseason for the 14th time in the last 15 years. (CG)

4. New Orleans Saints 6-2

Coming off a big win over the disappointing Bucs, New Orleans now sits atop the NFC South at 6-2. They won the first meeting against Carolina, who seems most likely to challenge them as division champs, with a rematch scheduled in the Superdome Week 13. They will also play the Falcons in two of their last four games, making it mandatory for them to keep up this momentum if they want a shot in the playoffs. (Chris Himes)

5. Kansas City Chiefs 6-3

Kansas City leads the AFC West as the only team over .500 and has the best chance of making the playoffs. Alex Smith is having a career year, and not many predicted Kareem Hunt to be Rookie of the Year. The biggest red flag is a bottom-5 defense, but their ability to cause turnovers and have Hill as a returner leaves them hope to go far in the playoffs. (CH)

6. Los Angeles Rams 6-2

The Rams are the most pleasant surprise of the season. New coach, Sean McVeigh has worked wonders to help Jared Goff make an enormous second-year jump. With the reemergence of Todd Gurley and additions in the passing game like Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, and rookie, Cooper Kupp. The defense has had pieces in place for the past few years, but it looks like the offense has caught up. (CG)

7. Carolina Panthers 6-2

The Panthers will play the Dolphins on Monday Night Football before a Week 11 bye. They’re coming off two division wins against the Falcons and Bucs, whom they will play again to close out the season. McCaffrey will play an even bigger role in the passing game now that Benjamin is gone, and Cam Newton needs to be smarter with the ball (11 interceptions, 5 fumbles). Many are still scratching their head at that Buffalo trade. (CH)

8. Seattle Seahawks 5-3

While the Seahawks are one of the better teams in the NFC, they don’t look like their usual dominant selves at the midpoint of the season. The defense has been great and has arguably played at their championship level of the past few years. Their limitations lie within their running game and offensive line. The line got a boost following the acquisition of Duane Brown before the trade deadline. (CG)

9. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-3

Things are finally coming together for the Jags this season. Behind a dominant defense, they seemed to have figured out their formula for success: control the ball with a run-heavy offensive attack, limit the chance for Blake Bortles to make big mistakes and ride a dominant defense. It’s nice to see all the high draft picks and big free agent signings start to translate to results on the field. (CG)

10. Dallas Cowboys 5-3

Dallas is coming off a convincing victory over Kansas City this past Sunday. Ezekiel Elliot is clearly the team MVP, and the Cowboys postseason hopes may rest on his ability to continually avoid a suspension. The defense is still very suspect, but if they can keep getting pressure up front on a consistent basis, they could cover up their liabilities on the back end. (CG)

11. Buffalo Bills 5-3

The Bills made moves in the preseason to suggest winning was not a priority in 2017. New head coach, Sean McDermott has done a tremendous job as the Bills miraculously find themselves at 5-3 at the halfway point. Buffalo is firmly entrenched in the playoff race and has a chance to return to the postseason for the first time since 1999. (CG)

12.  Tennessee Titans 5-3

The Titans are starting to put together some wins as Marcus Mariota’s health has gradually improved. The offense has plenty of weapons and it should only get better with Corey Davis now healthy. The defense is still very suspect and the more they are exposed, the more their playoff chances will shrink. But if Tennessee can stay balanced on offense and play ball control, they have a good shot to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. (CG)

13. Minnesota Vikings 6-2

The Minnesota defense has been phenomenal and Case Keenum has essentially held down the fort and done enough not to lose. Despite being 6-2, it’s hard to get super optimistic about the ceiling for the Vikings if they make it to January and will need Keenum to keep pace with the top teams in the NFC. If Teddy Bridgewater can return and is effective, the ceiling could be much higher. (CG)

14. Washington Redskins 4-4

The Redskins are coming off the most shocking win of the weekend after winning at Seattle. Things were beginning to trend downward following consecutive losses to their division rivals. Kirk Cousins was impressive, despite playing behind only one regular starter on the offensive line. If Washington can get healthy, don’t rule them out for making a run at a wild-card spot. (CG)

15. Detroit Lions 4-4

The Lions clearly have the talent on both sides of the ball to return to the postseason. Matt Stafford is playing very well and the defense has been solid. The Lions have a very good secondary and the defense as a whole could be even better if they could generate more consistent pressure from their front four. (CG)

16. Atlanta Falcons 4-4

How have the Falcons followed up blowing the Super Bowl? By starting 4-4 despite decent team statistics. It would be crazy to expect Matt Ryan to repeat 2016, but what about Julio? He is on pace for just two receiving TDs, which would be tied for a career low when he only played 5 games in 2013. Playing against the Cowboys with Zeke before traveling to Seattle will be quite the challenge, but will be a solid measure to determine if this team has a legit shot at the big game again. (CH)

17. Oakland Raiders 4-5    

The addition of Marshawn Lynch had many thinking this team had an easy route to the Super Bowl; unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. They only have one division one in three games, which is worst in the West. So what needs to be fixed? Their defense. They are ranked 28th in the league, while the offense sits at 10. Mack has yet to force a turnover this season and only has four sacks. They will take this week off and look to make a second-half run. (CH)

18. Baltimore Ravens 4-5

There may not be another team in the NFL more impacted by injuries than the Ravens. Unfortunately, Baltimore has not been able to overcome those injuries. Joe Flacco’s mediocre play has kept the offense very limited and the defense has not been the dominant unit we have been accustomed to seeing over the past 10-15 years. The Ravens appear to have an 8-8 ceiling. (CG)

19. Arizona Cardinals 4-4

Despite being without David Johnson and Carson Palmer, the Cardinals are not completely dead…yet. They have enough talent on defense to remain competitive but look like a 7-9 team at best behind Drew Stanton. Many people thought this would be the last hurrah for the aging core in Arizona, but injuries are making it look like the championship window has closed. (CG)

20. Los Angeles Chargers 3-5

Despite sitting at 3-5, the Chargers have too much talent to count them out of the playoff picture. They have an offense capable of being very prolific and arguably field the best defensive end duo in the NFL, with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Getting constant pressure on the QB without blitzing usually leads to good things. Los Angeles has a handful of close, excruciating losses in the first half of the season. If they can get better at finishing games, don’t sleep on the Chargers going on a run. (CG)

21. New York Jets 4-5

The Jets may be the biggest overachievers of the season to date. Every move in the offseason indicated this was a throwaway season. Apparently, the coaches and players didn’t get the memo. The defense has been solid and Josh McCown has led what has been an adequate offense. (CG)

22. Houston Texans 3-5

Losing their Rookie of the Year quarterback is devastating for the Texans. Although they’re in the weakest division in football, it will be near impossible to make the playoffs with Tom Savage at the helm and Watt out until next season. While the present seems gloomy, the future appears bright for Houston. (CH)

23. Denver Broncos 3-5

The vaunted Denver defense got taken to the woodshed this past Sunday to the Eagles, giving up 51 points, the most since 2010. Even if that was just a bad day, the bigger concerns are on offense and specifically at the quarterback position. Paxton Lynch is looking like a bust, especially if he cannot beat out Trevor Semenian or Brock Osweiler. The Broncos are a great example of a team that can have talent in so many places but cannot be successful with a terrible quarterback situation. (CG)

24. Miami Dolphins 4-4

The Dolphins may be the worst 4-4 team in the NFL. Their wins have been hollow and Jay Cutler doesn’t look like he is up to lead Miami back to the playoffs. Outside of a couple of playmakers, the defense looks mediocre and incapable of keeping the better offenses in check. It looks like .500 may be the ceiling for the Dolphins this season. (CG)

25. Chicago Bears 3-5

The Bears defense has kept them competitive through the first half of the season as rookie QB, Mitchell Tributzky continues to get eased into the NFL. A lot of credit has to go to John Fox, who has done a lot with a team that looked destined to lose 12-13 games back in the preseason. (CG)

26. Cincinnati Bengals 3-5

The losses to the offensive line this past offseason have been glaring, as the Bengals have struggled mightily to move the ball. Cincinnati looks primed to miss out on the postseason for the second straight year and one has to wonder if major changes are coming at the end of the season. (CG)

27. Green Bay Packers 4-4

The Packers without Aaron Rodgers were on a national stage Monday Night and it was not a pretty site. Brett Hundley managed the game fine, but the emphasis needs to be put on the word “managed”. Assuming Rodgers doesn’t return this year, it looks like a lost year for Green Bay. (CG)

28. Indianapolis Colts 3-6

Statistically, Indianapolis has the worst defense in the league. Offensively, they’re really missing Luck. Much like other terrible teams who look forward to the future, the Colts have two future stars on each side of the ball: Marlon Mack is looking like a solid replacement for Gore, and Malik Hooker leads the team with three interceptions. Fans are keeping their fingers crossed that Luck will return to 100% next season. (CH)

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-6

The recent move by the Bucs won’t sit well with fans favoring instant gratification. It’s smart for the future, as they don’t want an Andrew Luck situation. It’s frustrating for the fans who had so much hope going into the season, and for the team who has so much talent, to be sitting at 2-6 halfway through the season. And what’s worse, they used up their bye in week 1. The rest of 2017 doesn’t look good for the pewter players. (CH)

30. New York Giants 1-7 

This is a completely lost season for the Giants, and all signs point to blowing things up at season’s end starting with the inevitable dismissal of Ben McAdoo. It may also be time for the front office to prioritize finding the replacement for Eli Manning. (CG)

31. San Francisco 49ers 0-9

Despite being winless at the midpoint of the season, the 49ers should get someone of a jolt following the acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo last week. He is realistically another game or two away from taking the starting QB job away from the rookie, CJ Beathard. However, he should give the 49ers enough of a lift down the stretch to avoid a winless season. (CG)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-8

Much like last season, a major storyline of the season will be the question if the Browns will avoid going 0-16. Sadly, they may be even worse than last year. Passing up on Carson Wentz and most recently Deshaun Watson could haunt this franchise for as long as the NFL allows them to exist. (CG)

 

Source Credit: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/eagles/2017/11/05/carson-wentz-philadelphia-eagles-denver-broncos/834304001/

 

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NFL Power Rankings after the 1st Quarter of the Season

It’s hard to believe a fourth of the NFL regular season is in the books. While a lot can and will change, there is a decent sample size to assess where all 32 teams rank across the league.

1.Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)

It only took until Week 4 for there to be only one undefeated team left in the NFL. That happens to be the Chiefs and it has not been any fluke. The defense has been as good as to be expected, despite the loss of Eric Berry. The major difference has been the play of Alex Smith, who I’d like to think had a fire lit under him after the team traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. It also hasn’t hurt that rookie, Kareem Hunt has been the best running back in the NFL through Week 4. Kansas City looks like a team primed for a deep playoff run.

2. Atlanta Falcons (3-1)

The Falcons are very talented on both sides of the ball and have everything it takes to make it back to the Super Bowl. Before a disappointing home loss to the Bills, they were less than a yard away from also losing to the Lions. Therefore, the Falcons could very easily be 2-2 and still have a lot of very tough games ahead on the schedule. As long as the offense plays up to its potential and the defense continues to build off last year, the Falcons should be playing in January again this season.

3. Detroit Lions (3-1)

The Lions have been one of the more impressive and surprising teams to start the year. If not for a heart-breaking and questionable loss to the Falcons in Week 3, Detroit would be the lone undefeated team in the NFC. The most encouraging thing about this team is how balanced they are. Matt Stafford is playing exceptionally well, the running game is solid with a healthy Ameer Abdullah and the defense just keeps making plays. If they can stay healthy and keep it going, they could be a very dangerous playoff team.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)

While the Steelers have gotten off to a 3-1 start that has them in sole position of first place in the AFC North, the offense is yet to flash its full potential. It’s only a matter of time, given the plethora of offensive weapons. I can’t see a scenario where the Pittsburgh offense doesn’t get it together, win double-digit games and get back to the postseason.

5. Green Bay Packers (3-1)

The Packers picked up right where they left off, following a strong close out to the 2016 season. Aaron Rodgers has looked his elite self and is getting contributions from multiple players in the passing game. Mike Daniels may be one of the most underrated defensive players in the NFL, and when healthy helps the Green Bay defense function as an above-average unit. We know what the offense can do. The play of the defense will most likely determine if they can get back to the Super Bowl.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)

The Eagles are off to a 3-1 start thanks to a big second-year jump by Carson Wentz in addition to dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Generally, good QB play combined with strong offensive and defensive line play equates to success in football. The schedule-makers didn’t do Philadelphia any favors, being that they started their first two games and three of their first four on the road. The Eagles overcame the tough opening slate and have the makings of a legitimate playoff contender.

7. Carolina Panthers (3-1)

The Panthers are looking very similar to their 2015 team that went 15-1 and made it to the Super Bowl. In what was the biggest upset of the weekend, they went into Foxboro and defeated the mighty Patriots. Cam Newton isn’t quite playing in top form but he got a lot closer this past Sunday. If he can fully regain his MVP form from two years ago, Carolina could be in line for a postseason berth.

8. Denver Broncos (3-1)

The Denver defense looks like its dominant self through the first quarter of the season. The big difference and possibly the reason for being 3-1 has been the strong play of Trevor Siemian. The Broncos have been trying to solve the quarterback problem since the retirement of Peyton Manning. They’ve attempted to do so by spending a 1st round pick on Paxton Lynch, which is looking like a bust. The Broncos have enough talent on the roster to get back to the postseason as long as Siemian can keep up his performance.

9. New England Patriots (2-2)

It now seems pretty funny that there were a series of debates across the media landscape around the idea of the Pats repeating their 16-0 mark from ten years ago. The offense has been as potent as expected as they have averaged 32.3 points per game. The problem has been on the defense, which severely lacks a pass rush and has led to allowing 32 points per game. For as much of a defensive genius Bill Belichick may be, he has quite the challenge to sort out if he wants to get New England back to another Super Bowl.

10. Houston Texans (2-2)

It looks like Houston hit on Deshaun Watson and Bill O’Brien, who has been labeled a quarterback whisperer, appears to finally have a franchise QB to develop. The defense is elite, and there is very little evidence to dispute that through four games. The Texans will go as far as Watson and the offense will take them.

11. Washington Redskins (2-2)

The Redskins are coming off a hard-fought loss that can be seen as equally frustrating and encouraging. It was encouraging in that they were dominating the only undefeated team left in the NFL for most of the game Monday Night, yet frustrating in how it felt like they gave it away with mistakes and dumb penalties. Nonetheless, Washington is a solid football team that has greatly improved on defense. We’ll see how they deal with the loss of Josh Norman, but I think the Redskins will be in the mix until season’s end.

12. Buffalo Bills (3-1)

The Bills appear to have nailed their hiring of Sean McDermott, as he has led a team that due to their questionable roster moves in the offseason was not making winning a priority in 2017. Even if that was the case, McDermott surely didn’t get the message. They are coming off an extremely impressive win in Atlanta and find themselves in 1st place in an AFC East that the Patriots have owned for the past decade in a half.

13. Los Angeles Rams (3-1)

The Rams are one of the truly pleasant surprises in the first quarter of the season. Jared Goff looks like the QB that deserved to be selected #1 overall and Sean McVeigh is looking like a terrific hire. The offense has been very efficient and the playmakers on defense have done their part in helping the Rams get off to such a great start. It’s not crazy to suggest the Rams could win the NFC West.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

Despite having a delayed start to the year due to Hurricane Irma, the Bucs are right in the thick of what appears will be a very competitive NFC South race. Their win against the Giants was a great indicator of how mentally tough this team is, considering how desperate their opponent was playing in order to secure their first win. Third-year QB, Jameis Winston has all the weapons to help him have a breakout season and lead Tampa Bay to its first playoff appearance in ten years.

15. Seattle Seahawks (2-2)

While it came against the lowly Colts, the Seahawks got a much-needed dominant win on Sunday Night Football to even up their record at 2-2. The defense is still one of the NFL’s best, but the offense remains a concern due to its dreadful offensive line. Unlike the Giants who have similar strengths and weaknesses, they have a very mobile QB in Russell Wilson who can buy time with his legs in order to make plays in the passing game.

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

The diagnosis of the Cowboys is fairly simple. The offense is very good and the defense is mediocre at best. When you are very good on one side of the ball and bad on the other side, you have an average football team. Dallas sits at 2-2, an average record. They have playmakers in the front seven who will need to play even better in order to cover up for the inexperience in the secondary if they want to return to the playoffs this year.

17. Tennesee Titans (2-2)

The Titans were the chic preseason pick to come out of the AFC South. A lot of that rests on the health of Marcus Mariota, which is already a concern following an injury in Week 4. When he is in the game and mobile, Tennessee has one of the most dynamic rushing attacks in the NFL. The defense can be very vulnerable, as it showed list past Sunday when they were torched by Deshaun Watson in Houston.

18. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the NFL, with difference-making players at all three levels. The fate of their season rests on the health of Sam Bradford, which historically has been a pretty bleak bet. Case Keenum has played okay in relief and has managed to grab one win in three starts. But if Bradford doesn’t return soon, the ceiling for Minnesota is likely an 8-8 finish.

19. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)

The Cardinals have had a very up and down first quarter of the season as they sit at .500. Their wins came against teams with a combined record of 1-7 and losses are at the hands of teams with a combined record of 5-3. That is to be expected of a team who lost their best player, David Johnson in Week 1 but has enough talent on both sides of the ball to beat the bad teams.

20. Oakland Raiders (2-2)

The Raiders haven’t quite looked like the dominant 12-win team from a season ago. A lot of their hopes rest on the health of Derek Carr, who will likely be out for a few weeks following a back injury in Denver. Hopefully, EJ Manuel can hold down the fort and keep Oakland in the AFC West race until Carr returns.

21. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)

After starting 2-0 while outscoring their opponents 44-10, the Ravens have dropped their last two while being outscored 70-16. Sunday’s loss to the Steelers made me think they were still shell-shocked by the Jaguars in the drubbing they suffered in London. I don’t want to be too harsh because there is not another team in the NFL that has been hit by the injury bug as hard as Baltimore has. But they’ll have to figure out a way to right the ship or it could have the makings of a very long season.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2)

The Jaguars have been very up and down through the first four games. They have had two extremely impressive wins against the Texans and the Ravens and very bad losses at the hands of the Titans and Jets. The defense is playing very well as all of the top draft picks of the past few years are beginning to translate to results. Jacksonville’s season-long success hinges on a balanced offensive attack and needed improvement from Blake Bortles from last year’s disastrous campaign.

23. New Orleans Saints (2-2)

The Saints are off to a start that is very emblematic of who they have been since 2014, an average team that looks destined to be 7-9. The offense has been very good and Drew Brees looks like his usual elite self. Stop me if you have heard this before, but the defense is below average. The difference is the emergence of a few young promising players, specifically the rookie CB Marshon Lattimore. New Orleans is very much in the mix at 2-2 in what looks to be the best top-to-bottom division in the NFL.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)

The Bengals secured a desperate win this past Sunday after an abysmal 0-3 start. While Cincinnati has been an impressive 58-36-2 since 2011, the slow start to the season can very easily be attributed to the losses in free agency to their offensive line. They have dug themselves in an early hole, but still have enough talent and experience to go on a run and get back in the playoff race.

 

25. Los Angeles Chargers (0-4)

The Chargers may be the most disappointing team of the season to date. They have enough talent on both sides of the ball to suggest they could be a dark-horse candidate in the AFC West. With all of the talent, Los Angeles has had a tough time closing out games, which has been a chronic issue for this franchise. Three of their four losses have come by a total margin of seven points. If two of those games could have been converted to wins, the outlook for the Chargers would be looking a lot different. But like Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.”

26. Miami Dolphins (1-2)

The Dolphins are coming off a very embarrassing performance in London, as they were shut out by a mediocre Saints defense. They have beaten up themselves with penalties, which is something they have not been able to afford given their lack of playmakers on defense. Jay Cutler has been very underwhelming and the question has to be asked – Would the-the offense be any worse if it was being led by Matt Moore?

27. New York Giants (0-4)

Despite winning 11 games a season ago, the Giants could not have had a worse start to the season. The achilles heel has been their historically abysmal offensive line. This was their weakness in 2016 and one that the front office completely neglected in the offseason. Due to that, the running game has been nonexistent and passing game has been limited to quick hitters. They still have a very good defense, but it has not been enough to avoid an 0-4 start.

28. New York Jets (2-2)

It may be early. But its nothing short of remarkable that the Jets have already won two games in a season most prognosticators questioned whether they would win two games all season. Given the lack of proven talent on the roster and a true journeyman starting quarterback in Josh McCown, its a great of great coaching by Todd Bowles.

29. Indianapolis Colts (1-3)

As much as the Colts obviously miss Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett has been serviceable in relief. While he may be serviceable, he’s not good enough to make up for the talent deficiencies throughout the Indianapolis roster. If Luck doesn’t return soon, the Colts are likely headed for a 4-12 or 5-11 finish. If he can return and play at the level we can expect, the Colts have a chance to stay relevant throughout the season.

30. Chicago Bears (1-3)

While the Bears have a handful of promising young players on defense, the big bright spots lie within the dynamic running back combo of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Chicago may be a year or two away from competing for anything significant and it looks like the team has recognized that with their decision to start Mitch Trubisky for the upcoming Monday Night game against Minnesota.

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-4)

The Kyle Shanahan era has gotten off to an even tougher start than even probably would have imagined. The defense has put out two respectable performances in their losses to Seattle and Arizona, as they surrendered 12 and 18 points, respectively. The problem is that your defense has to be practically perfect in order to win with Brian Hoyer under center. San Francisco has a lot of promising young talent and it may not be until late in the season until we see that start to translate to tangible results.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-4)

After wondering if the Browns regret passing on Carson Wentz in 2016, they now possibly now doing the same with Deshaun Watson. Instead, they have to deal with the growing pains of Deshone Kizer as they attempt to evaluate if he can finally be the guy to end the QB carousel. At this point, that has to be the priority for the Browns as they are likely headed for another year at the bottom of the AFC North.

Source Credit: http://www.businessinsider.com/kansas-city-chiefs-backdoor-cover-2017-10

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Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 12-2 (Last Week: 1st)

The Pats avenged their AFC Championship loss in Denver this past Sunday, as they defeated the Broncos 16-3. The offense did just enough against a dominant defensive unit, and the New England defense completely shut down the Denver offense. The Patriots look poised for another Super Bowl run. (CG)

2. Dallas Cowboys 12-2 (Last Week: 2nd)

The Cowboys responded well to their Sunday Night loss to the Giants by holding off the red-hot Bucs on Sunday Night Football, 26-20. Ezekiel Elliot carved up the Tampa Bay defense, running for 159 yards and a score. The defense managed to force Jamies Winston into timely turnovers that clinched the victory. Next up is the Lions on Monday Night Football, for what will be the Cowboys fourth straight primetime game. (CG)

3. Oakland Raiders 11-3 (Last Week: 4th)

The Raiders clinched their first playoff appearance since 2002 after defeating the rival Chargers in San Diego 19-16. The defense, which has been a weakness, has stepped up as of late. The last time Oakland made the playoffs, they made it to the Super Bowl. We all know what the offense can bring the table, led by Derek Carr. But the defense will likely determine if the Raiders can get back to Super Sunday. (CG)

4. Kansas City Chiefs 10-4 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Chiefs had the past game against the Titans in control, leading 17-7 in the fourth quarter. The defense uncharacteristically gave up the lead, and eventually fell to Tennessee at home. Kansas City is still in great position to secure a playoff berth, but will need some help if they want to take back first place in the AFC West from the Raiders. (CG)

5. Seattle Seahawks 9-4-1 (Last Week: 6th)

Seattle clinched the NFC West title with its victory over the Rams Thursday night, making it the third division title in four seasons. Despite all the question marks surrounding this team, Seattle is atop the NFC poised to make another run at the Super Bowl. Seattle faces off against the Cardinals Saturday at Century Link Field. (DH)

6. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-5 (Last Week: 5th)

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they witness someone doing something and they ask themselves “Why not me?”. For majority of the season Chris Boswell has done his job when called upon (kick the ball through the uprights) and never fully received the love that his QB, WR, or RB have grown accustomed to. However things changed for Boswell on Sunday as he grew tired of watching division/life foe Justin Tucker bask in kicker glory each week as he’s racking up points for the Ravens. Boswell proved the haters wrong and knocked in six FGs in the win over the Bengals, finally earning his rightful spotlight. As for the rest of the Steelers team, they did alright and let the kicker have his fun as they mentally prep for a huge game against Baltimore on Christmas day. (JA)

7. New York Giants 10-4 (Last Week: 8th)

After a run of defeating inferior opponents, the Giants are coming off consecutive wins against teams with a combined record of 21-7 (Cowboys and Lions). The defense is entering dominant status, and just at the right time. If New York can find some consistency on offense, especially in the running game, they could be poised for a deep playoff run. (CG)

8. Atlanta Falcons 9-5 (Last Week: 10th)

Devonta Freeman eclipsed 100 yards rushing for just the second time this season, adding three scores in a blowout win over the 49ers. Matt Ryan continued his career-best season through the air despite not having Julio Jones for a second-straight week. With the Bucs loss, they increased their NFC South lead and are looking to extend it next week at Carolina. (CH)

9. Detroit Lions 9-5 (Last Week: 7th)

The Lions offense was stymied by the Giants offense, as they fell 17-6. Things will not get much easier for Detroit in their final two games. First they have the challenge of traveling to Dallas to face the 12-2 Cowboys, followed by a season finale against the Packers, who have won four straight. The Lions have exceeded expectations in 2016, but missing out on the playoffs after sitting at 9-4 would certainly be a disappointment, yet its not unlikely. (CG)

10. Denver Broncos 8-6 (Last Week: 9th)

The Denver offense struggled mightily against the visiting Patriots, only coming up with three points in the loss. The 16-3 loss to New England could be described as a microcosm of the 2016 Denver Broncos: inconsistent offense and great defense. The offense will likely be the reason the defending Super Bowl Champions miss the postseason. As the Broncos look to the offseason, they will definitely need to figure out the future of the quarterback position. Trevor Siemian has looked good at times, but Denver also invested a first round pick in Paxton Lynch. Next year’s training camp could be very interesting. (CG)

11. Baltimore Ravens 8-6 (Last Week: 14th)

After the ground game was nowhere to found in last week’s loss to the Patriots, the Ravens regrouped with a balanced attack in a home win vs the Eagles. While Joe Flacco wasn’t particularly on target for the afternoon, his kicker (and should be team MVP) Justin Tucker cemented his value for season and record books by becoming the NFL’s all time leader in field goal percentage. Next week’s game vs the Steelers has become pivotal for Ravens hope of making the post season. (JA)

12. Green Bay Packers 8-6 (Last Week: 11th)

The Packers were able to hold off the Bears in Chicago, bringing their win streak to four. Despite sitting at 4-6 just a  few weeks ago, Green Bay is starting to click. Assuming they are able to finish the season strong, they will be a team that no one wants to face in the NFC Playoffs. (CG)

13. Miami Dolphins 9-5 (Last Week: 15th)

The Dolphins completely thumped the Jets this past Saturday Night, led by a dominant performance of the defensive line. Miami is another team exceeding expectations and first-year head coach, Adam Gase has the Dolphins way ahead of schedule. Not too many people looked at Miami as a playoff team back in August, but a win in Buffalo could do wonders for their postseason chances. (CG)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-6 (Last Week: 13th)

The five-game winning streak came to an end Sunday night, as Tampa Bay (Jameis) turned the ball over four times and their pass rush couldn’t get past Dallas’ offensive line. They couldn’t get anything going on the ground, and their offensive line had a tough time trying to protect Jameis. The Bucs will have to win out if they want to make the playoffs. (CH)

15. Tennessee Titans 8-6 (Last Week: 17th)

I hate to say I called it but I did…kinda. In last week’s rankings I mentioned that a win over the Chiefs wouldn’t be easy but crazier things have happened and guess who came knocking this weekend? That’s right, Captain Crazy as the Titans pulled the road upset in a game where they definitely weren’t at their best. While Marcus Mariota had a great day through the air, he failed to find the end zone but if you had DeMarco Murray on your fantasy team you know that rookie/former Heisman winner Derrick Henry vultured two TDs on the ground. Fantasy talk aside, this W puts the Titans on a collision course with the Texans to end the regular season but first they’ll need to beat a pesky Jaguar team on Saturday. (JA)

16. Washington Redskins 7-6-1 (Last Week: 12th)

The Redskins struggled mightily, especially on defense in their loss to the Panthers on Monday Night Football. Aside from the monster contract that brought Josh Norman to town, the negligence of improving the defensive personnel was on full display. The offensive is explosive, but the defense will likely be the reason that Washington misses out on the playoffs. (CG)

17, Houston Texans 8-6 (Last Week: 18th)

Last week I suggested that if Osweiler-Hopkins connection could pick up steam the Texans could find themselves in the playoffs. Too bad I forget that Osweiler’s nickname is “The Sock” and he’s the worst squandering of NFL money since Albert Haynesworth. For Houston fan’s sake, Sock was finally pulled after two INTs in place for Tom Savage (No relation to Macho Man) who did just enough to keep the Texans from being upset at home by the Jaguars. A win next weekend over the Bengals would leave Houston with a 7-1 home record for the year. (JA)

18. Buffalo Bills 7-7 (Last Week: 21st)

While Rex Ryan may be a dead man walking, the Bills remain a team with a lot of fight and a good chance at a winning record. They took care of the lowly Browns, led by another strong rushing performance by Lesean McCoy. Next up is their division foe, the Dolphins, in what should be a cold weather game that should provide an advantage for Buffalo. (CG)

19. Indianapolis Colts 7-7 (Last Week: 25th)

The Colts are coming off their most impressive win of the season, dominating the Vikings in Minnesota 34-6. Despite looking horrible for many parts of the season, Indy now is in position to sneak in the playoffs. In addition to needing help from the opponents of the Texans and Titans over the next couple weeks, they now face a very tough test when they travel to Oakland this coming Saturday. (CG)

20. Minnesota Vikings 7-7 (Last Week: 16th)

The Vikings are coming off an embarrassing home loss to the Colts, falling 34-6. It was a game where not a single thing went right. Barring a miracle, Minnesota will likely miss the playoffs. With each loss, especially those with anemic offensive performances, you have to wonder if the front office is regretting the trade they made for Sam Bradford. (CG)

21. Carolina Panthers 6-8 (Last Week: 24th)

After being bludgeoned by the Seahawks, the Panthers seem to have found a rhythm but it might be too late. They will need to win out with some outside help, or they could tank and get a high draft pick – they are no doubt in a sort of purgatory right now. The good news is they end their season against the Falcons and Bucs, the two teams who stand between them and any playoff hope. (CH)

22. New Orleans Saints 6-8 (Last Week: 26th)

New Orleans finished their season sweep of the NFC West, giving one of their best performances against the statistically-top defense. Brandin Cooks had the best game of his career, and Tim Hightower scored two touchdowns to Mark Ingram’s displeasure. The Saints return home to face the Bucs on Christmas Eve. (CH)

23. Cincinnati Bengals 5-8-1 (Last Week: 20th)

Coming off two consecutive weeks of finding TE Tyler Eifert in the end zone or as his bailout option, Andy Dalton struggled without his newest favorite target Eifert, who was out with an injury. This led to more targets for WR Brandon LaFell and RB Rex Burkhead. The effects of not having your favorite pass catchers have taken a toll on Dalton and with his shortcomings the losses start to build up. With one head coach being fired before the season’s over, you’ve got to imagine Marvin Lewis is feeling some heat from the front office. (JA)

24. Arizona Cardinals 5-8-1 (Last Week: 19th)

The lone bright spot for this team this season has been David Johnson. On Sunday, he broke the NFL record with 14 consecutive 100 yard games. DJ has already surpassed 1,000 rushing yards and is only 200 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards. He would be the 3rd player in history to accomplish this, joining Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig. The Cardinals travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks Saturday. (DH)

25. Philadelphia Eagles 5-9 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Eagles lost their fifth straight game when they fell to the Ravens in Baltimore 27-26. The defense has regressed each week in another game with multiple big plays given up to the opposition. While Philly looks to have their QB of the future in Carson Wentz, there are a lot of flaws on the roster that will need to be addressed this coming offseason. (CG)

26. San Diego Chargers 5-9 (Last Week: 22nd)

The Chargers are coming off a tough 19-16 loss to the Raiders that clinched a losing season for San Diego. The Chargers have been one of the more frustrating teams in 2016, considering seven of their losses have been by a touchdown or less. Despite a 5-9 record, San Diego has not been an easy out for anyone this year. But that also makes this year that much more of a disappointment. (CG)

27. Chicago Bears 3-11 (Last Week: 27th)

Despite sitting at 3-11, the Bears have been playing very tough over the past couple weeks. In consecutive games, Chicago has suffered three-point losses to the Lions and Packers. Matt Barkley has exceeded expectations and wish each strong performance, the possibility of him being the long-term starter is becoming more palpable. (CG)

28. New York Jets 4-10 (Last Week: 28th)

The Jets have now been embarrassed in their past two home games, losing by a combined score of 75-23. Despite winning 10 games in 2015, the Jets have been a major disappointment this season. It doesn’t get much easier for New York as they travel to New England in Week 16. (CG)

29. Los Angeles Rams 4-10 (Last Week: 29th)

The Rams lost another uninspiring contest to Seattle Thursday dropping their record to 4-10. Rumors are that LA is courting John Gruden as the next Head Coach. A possible great fit for that defense and the development of Jared Goff. The Rams host the 49ers on Saturday.  (DH)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-12 (Last Week: 30th)

It was another long day for Jacksonville with the offense sputtering through another Sunday that ended with a loss. Once again the Jags came close to pulling off an upset; this time against the Texans and they blew it. What they didn’t blow however was compassion and regard for family during the holidays as they fired HC Gus Bradley after the loss. Management claimed the firing needed to take place ASAP and it would give Gus a chance to focus on family with Christmas on the horizon. At least he was able to fly home on the team plane (ahem, Lane Kiffin). (JA)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-13 (Last Week: 31st)

San Fran lost its 13 straight contest to Atlanta on Sunday. San Francisco started the season with a victory against the LA Rams and are traveling to Los Angeles Saturday. Lets see if the 49ers can go 2-0 against the Rams and 0-14 against the rest of the NFL. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-14 (Last Week: 32nd)

Two games. That’s how many opportunities remain for the Browns to pick up at least one win before their season’s over and they can focus on screwing up another draft. Their most recent opportunity fell short in a 33-13 loss to the Bills where RG3 carried the team as best he could with his given tools. He scored Cleveland’s lone touchdown on the day with a run in the 3rd quarter. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend searching the internet for the “Owen 16” jersey. Very clever. (JA)

 

Photo Credit: http://www.denverpost.com/2016/12/19/photos-denver-broncos-new-england-patriots-week-15/

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Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 11-2 (Last Week: 2nd)

Tom Brady went off for 406 yards and three TDs in a stellar performance against Baltimore. A win like that against a tough team was exactly what New England needed. A tough test against Denver is next as the Patriots look to cruise on to a high playoff seed and yet another division crown. (AD)

2. Dallas Cowboys 11-2 (Last Week: 1st)

The Dallas winning streak was finally snapped by the only team to defeat the Cowboys this season. Sunday Night Football was a rematch of the Week 1 game when the Giants won in Dallas. The New York defense made Dak Prescott finally look like a rookie, something all other teams have failed to do during the 11-game win streak. The Cowboys return home for their second straight Sunday Night game to face the red-hot Bucs. (CG)

3. Kansas City Chiefs 10-3 (Last Week: 4th)

The Chiefs did what needed to be done to beat the Raiders last week to take lead in the division.  They create turnovers at the best rate in the league, and rarely turn the ball over themselves.  It has been an unorthodox recipe for success, but who can argue after winning 20 of their last 23 games. (CJ)

4. Oakland Raiders 10-3 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Raider train finally hit a speed bump after losing the division lead in a head to head matchup with the Chiefs.  Derek Carr was awful, and there has been plenty of speculation whether that was because of the matchup, temperature, or lingering finger issue.  They still have a solid lead for a wildcard spot, and look to get the train back on track this week in San Diego.  (CJ)

5. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-5 (Last Week: 7th)

What’s that? Your QB threw three INTs and may have earned negative points for your fantasy team? Welcome to the life of a Steeler’s fan who also draft Big Ben on their fantasy team. Let’s be real, Roethlisberger was awful this weekend in a win vs Buffalo and the only reason Pittsburgh pulled out the W is due to Le’Veon Bell. He was the epitome of ”putting the team on his back” rushing 38 times for 236 yds and 3 TDs. Stud. Win two of the next three and the Steelers are in the playoffs. (JA)

6. Seattle Seahawks 8-4-1 (Last Week: 5th)

Seattle got blown in Lambeau and showed the world just how important home field advantage is to them. Seattle has dropped two of the last three games and Russel Wilson did not look like himself on Sunday. Despite these factors, Seattle is still one of the most dangerous teams in the NFC. It will be crucial to play well down the stretch to grasp home field advantage. The Hawks take on the Jeff Fisher-less Rams on Thursday. (DH)

7. Detroit Lions 9-4 (Last Week: 8th)

The Lions against the Giants is turning out to be the game of the week. It’s time to believe the Lions are real. Everytime they are doubted, they win. I doubt they will beat the Giants this week. Does that mean the Lions will win again? (ZW)

8. New York Giants 9-4 (Last Week: 10th)

The enormous financial investment in upgrading the defense this past offseason is really paying dividends, especially after a 10-7 victory over the Cowboys. Even without Jason Pierre-Paul, the New York defense suffocated the Cowboys and their elite offensive line. The Giants now have a stranglehold on a playoff spot, with an outside chance of winning the NFC East. (CG)

9. Denver Broncos 8-5 (Last Week: 6th)

The Broncos lost a surprisingly defensive struggle against the Tennessee Titans 13-10 this past week.  That game had to be considered a near must win for Denver, as they were already sitting on the playoff bubble.  They face the Patriots (11-2), Chiefs (10-3), and Raiders (10-3) to end the season.  My personal belief is that they are too one dimensional to win enough of those games to make the wildcard. (CJ)

10. Atlanta Falcons 8-5 (Last Week: 9th)

Atlanta traveled to Los Angeles and pulverized the Rams. Their defense, which has been a major weak point, scored two touchdowns and forced five turnovers. Matt Ryan is having his best year thus far and solidifying his case as the NFC South MVP. They should manhandle the 49ers at home this Sunday. (CH)

11. Green Bay Packers 7-6 (Last Week: 13th)

Seattle got wrecked! The Packers can be explosive but man did they demolish the Seahawks, who also happen to be one of the more elite teams in the NFL. Rodgers is hot and there’s no other QB you want hot late in the season than Rodgers. With an easy game in Chicago, look for the Pack to make a wild card run. (ZW)

12. Washington Redskins 7-5-1 (Last Week: 11th)

The Redskins are coming off a gritty win in Philadelphia, thanks to big plays in the air delivered by Kirk Cousins. The multitude of offensive weapons was overwhelming for the Eagles defense and could present matchup problems for teams down the stretch and in the postseason if Washington secures a spot. Cousins has earned himself a long-term contract with the Redskins and realistically the next $100 million man. (CG)

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-5 (Last Week: 14th)

Another impressive defensive performance gives the Bucs their fifth straight win – something not done since 2002. Will they win the Super Bowl similar to that year? Doubtful, but they are giving fans hope of a playoff run. Here’s a crazy stat: Jameis Winston went without a touchdown for the first time since high school. (CH)

14. Baltimore Ravens 7-6 (Last Week: 12th)

Coming off an impressive win over the Dolphins, there was hope the Ravens could go into Foxboro and possibly pull the upset against the Patriots. But the Patriots still have Tom Brady and his clutch gene that Joe Flacco simply does not possess. New England all but eliminated the Ravens ground attack and forced Flacco to try and beat them through the air, resulting in him tossing the ball over 50 times. The team MVP Justin Tucker actually missed a FG attempt but still remains the Ravens best offensive weapon. The Ravens came up just short but should see some success vs the Eagles on Sunday. (JA)

15. Miami Dolphins 8-5 (Last Week: 15th)

The loss of Ryan Tannehill will be very significant for a team fighting for the playoffs. A tough stretch against divisional foes is all that remains for Miami. If they can hang on with their running game and win two of three, this could very well be a playoff team. Either way, it’s a been a positive step forward. (AD)

16. Minnesota Vikings 7-6 (Last Week: 16th)

The best way to get a win is the play the Browns, the 49ers, or the Jags. The Vikings got the Jags this time. Next week is the Colts and another must win game if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. (ZW)

17. Tennessee Titans 7-6 (Last Week: 19th)

Coming off a bye, the Titans were well rested enough to pull off the upset over the Broncos. However the bye week left the offense looking a little rusty vs Denver’s defense as Tennessee only totaled 253 yards of total offense. Credit the Titans D though for forcing two turnovers and shutting down the Broncos run game on the nine attempts they made during the game. A win vs the Chiefs won’t be easy but crazier things have happened this season. (JA)

18. Houston Texans 7-6 (Last Week: 17th)

After a week of failing to find any running room against the Packers, the Texans found the Colts defense much easier to run on with Lamar Miller carving up the Indy D. The win over Colts kept the Texans in playoff contention, but still tied with the Titans in the division. If the Osweiler-Hopkins connection can pick up steam in the next 3 games, the Texans could find themselves in the playoffs. Lose to Jacksonville on Sunday and the road gets that much harder. (JA)

19. Arizona Cardinals 5-7-1 (Last Week: 18th)

The playoff dreams were left on the soggy field in Miami on Sunday. Special Teams disappoints yet again and Special Teams Coordinator, Amos Jones, needs to be put on the chopping block. The Cardinals stand to lose a lot of talent in 2017 due to free agency.  Steve Keim will have to be on his “A” game to make this personnel relevant again. (DH)

20. Cincinnati Bengals 5-7-1 (Last Week: 21st)

While it wasn’t a complete beat down, the Bengals were clearly the better team on Sunday finishing up a sweep of the Browns on the season. Even though he only threw for 180 yards, Andy Dalton was the premier “game-manager” you look for in a QB when you’re simply trying not to lose. No turnovers and two TDs can be considered a good game for Dalton who was once again without leading WR AJ Green. The return of TE Tyler Eifert has given Cincinnati a second reliable target with Green out and one may wonder how they would have fared if he was healthy all season. (JA)

21. Buffalo Bills 6-7 (Last Week: 20th)

Reports are out saying that Rex Ryan is all but done in Buffalo. A nice stretch in the middle of the year could not be sustained as they find themselves 6-7. A lack of improvement in any facet could bring an offseason full of change for the Bills. (AD)

22. San Diego Chargers 5-8 (Last Week: 22nd)

The Charges are having an abysmal season from a health perspective, and that continued Sunday losing both rookie bright spot Joey Bosa and second year breakout running back Melvin Gordon to injuries.  The rumor mill is beginning to churn in San Diego, as news of an impending move are starting to trickle down to both players and beat reporters. (CJ)

23. Philadelphia Eagles 5-8 (Last Week: 23rd)

The warts of the Eagles became even more visible in their fourth straight loss, as their defense struggled to stop the high-powered Redskins’ offense. It was one of the best games in a long time for Carson Wentz, who was leading a promising game-winning drive late, before being stripped by Ryan Kerrigan, which iced the game. Philadelphia is virtually eliminated from playoff contention, but will try to snap its skid this Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. (CG)

24. Carolina Panthers 5-8 (Last Week: 26th)

Their season might be just about over, but they looked like the 2015 Panthers thanks to a huge defensive game against the Chargers. A Monday night matchup with the Redskins is next on their agenda, and Kuechly could make a return. (CH)

25. Indianapolis Colts 6-7 (Last Week: 25th)

In a game Indianapolis needed to pull even or potentially take the lead in the AFC South, they couldn’t put the Texans away. Sunday’s loss was the continuation of a trend we’ve seen all season with the Colts. Stay competitive early then attempt a comeback in the fourth quarter only to fall short. Andrew Luck wasn’t the same accurate gunslinger we saw last week and his combined three turnovers only make matters worse. Back to back road games await Indy as the season winds down. (JA)

26. New Orleans Saints 5-8 (Last Week: 24th)

The NFL’s top offense looked mortal for a second straight week behind a poor performance from Drew Brees. The Saints’ playoff chances are all but over now so they can just pad their stats and help fantasy owners for the next three weeks. They will look for revenge against the Bucs on Christmas Eve. (CH)

27. Chicago Bears 3-10 (Last Week: 28th)

The Bears are keeping things competitive but they just never come out on top. That’s what happens when you start Matt Barkley at QB anddon’t have Alshon Jeffrey. Chicago fans should hope to lose the rest of the way so they can grab whatever QB they desire in the draft. Another loss looms next week against the hot Packers. (ZW)

28. New York Jets 4-9 (Last Week: 29th)

A solid comeback win against the 49ers saw Bilal Powell and Robby Anderson step up as offensive weapons. Bryce Petty looks like a gunslinger, although very inconsistent. Several practice squadders have been called up as the injuries pile on and new faces get opportunities. This Jet team may have a shot against a Matt Moore led Dolphin team this week. (AD)

29. Los Angeles Rams 4-9 (Last Week: 27th)

Jeff Fisher was fired and now I don’t have anything to talk about…Hopefully Les Snead is next… (DH)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-11 (Last Week: 30th)

First off, I wanna give props to Blake Bortles for not turning the ball over in a loss to the Vikings. With an opportunistic Vikings defense, the Jaguars taking care of the ball kept this game from getting out of hand. A highly rated draft class last year wasn’t enough to help the Jaguars over the hump this year but with a top 10 pick assured at the moment, perhaps in 2017 Jacksonville will right the ship. (JA)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-12 (Last Week: 31st)

San Fran lets another lead slip through their fingers and the losing streak is now at 12. Chip Kelley’s future is on thin ice and if San Fran loses out, I think Chip will be swimming with the fishes. On the bright side, Carlos Hyde has been running like a wild-man and appears to be the piece to build a unit around. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-13 (Last Week: 32nd)

With their original starting QB back in the lineup after getting injured in Week One, there was hope that the Browns may be able to pull an upset over in state rival Cincinnati. Nope. Even the return of RG3 wasn’t enough to spark Cleveland into a competitive game. The Browns play the Bills next in one of their final three opportunities to pick up win #1 on the season. (JA)

Photo Credit: http://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Patriots-beat-Ravens-with-defense-Tom-Brady-s-10792399.php

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Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

1. Dallas Cowboys 11-1 (Last Week: 1st)

It was looking like the Cowboys’ win streak would finally come to an end last Thursday Night in Minnesota. The Vikings looked in control late in the game, but the Dallas defense made a big stop on a two-point conversion attempt by the Vikings. Next up is Sunday Night Football at the Giants, the only team in the NFL to deliver Dallas a loss. (CG)

2. New England Patriots 10-2 (Last Week: 2nd)

The loss of Gronk for the year will be tough for the Patriots, no doubt. They did fare well against the Rams, using the short passing game and a solid ground effort. This isn’t the dominant Patriots we’ve seen before, but a deep playoff run should be expected for the elite franchise of the NFL. (AD)

3. Oakland Raiders 10-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

This year’s NFL Cinderella story now sits 10-2 for the home stretch of the regular season.  The combination of heroics in the fourth quarter from Derek Carr and Khalil Mack have been lethal.  Despite their incredible run, a loss in Kansas City this Thursday would cost them the division lead.  A win likely seals it. (CJ)

4. Kansas City Chiefs 9-3 (Last Week: 4th)

The Chiefs survived an early offensive onslaught in Atlanta this past week and ended up sealing the second NFL win of the season on an extra point returned for two (New Orleans had the first).  This team finds alternative ways to win and have left themselves in a position to take hold of the division against the Raiders at home on Thursday Night Football. (CJ)

5. Seattle Seahawks 8-3-1 (Last Week: 6th)

Seattle bounced back well after a loss to Tampa Bay with a dominating performance against Carolina. The offense looked explosive and the defense held Cam Newton to 182 yards. The defense sustained a huge injury with Earl Thomas breaking his leg. Even with the injury, Seattle looks poised to make a run at the Super Bowl yet again. (DH)

6. Denver Broncos 8-4 (Last Week: 5th)

The Broncos survived their week 13 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars despite a very… rookie-esque performance from Paxton Lynch.  They hope to have Siemian back this week’s matchup against a surprisingly good Titans squad.  They need every win they can get to close out this season as its starting to feel like they are on the outside of the playoffs looking in these past few weeks. (CJ)

7. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5 (Last Week: 9th)

When the Steelers are on, they’re on. Both sides of the ball were hitting on all cylinders as the Steelers earned an impressive victory over a strong Giants team 24-14. While Le’Veon Bell was once again a stud running the ball, the Pittsburgh defense deserves a lot of praise for keeping the Giants offense out of the end zone and picking off Eli Manning twice. A three game win streak has the Steelers thinking playoffs with a critical matchup vs the Ravens in two weeks. (JA)

8. Detroit Lions 8-4 (Last Week: 11th)

Jim Bob Cooter deserves a raise. Not only does he have Matt Stafford as a top-three QB since he took over mid last year, he wins without his top wide-out, Marvin Jones! Who are these Lions? With their next game being the Bears, the Lions can be 9-4 and almost guarantee their spot in the playoffs. (ZW)

9. Atlanta Falcons 7-5 (Last Week: 7th)

Atlanta pulled off the impossible, essentially losing the game on a two-point conversion when Eric Berry picked off Matt Ryan. Of course in hindsight this was a costly call, but it would’ve given them a three point lead. They currently are hanging onto the top spot in the NFC South, and will look to improve on that lead when they head out west to take on the Rams. (CH)

10. New York Giants 8-4 (Last Week: 8th)

After six straight wins, albeit against inferior competition, the Giants came up short at Pittsburgh this past Sunday. New York struggled to slow down the potent Steelers offense as they dropped to 8-4. The Giants are still in great position to lock up an NFC Wild Card spot, but face a tough challenge on Sunday Night Football in a rematch with the Cowboys, who they defeated in Dallas back in Week 1. (CG)

11. Washington Redskins 6-5-1 (Last Week: 10th)

The Redskins are coming off a tough loss in Arizona this past Sunday afternoon, 31-23. The defense struggled with the Cardinals offense and the offense was limited, settling for field goals all too often on big drives. Washington has now slipped to 7th in the NFC Playoff Standings, but has a good chance to rebound against the spiraling Eagles. (CG)

12. Baltimore Ravens 7-5 (Last Week: 15th)

Just when everyone was high on the Dolphins and their current win streak, the Ravens welcomed the Fish from South Florida to Baltimore in rude fashion. If I can say so myself, the Ravens looked hella impressive in the 38-6 win. Joe Flacco was on fire throwing just short of 400 yards & 4 TDs and avoiding taking any sacks to the tough Miami defense. Put it this way, the Ravens were up so big in the fourth quarter, they let second string QB Ryan Mallett come in for a few series like it was a college game! A win over the Patriots on Sunday will go a long way for Ravens confidence as they look towards the playoffs. (JA)

13. Green Bay Packers 6-6 (Last Week: 16th)

Green Bay vs. Seattle. Doesn’t get much better that that QB matchup. Like the Vikings, this is a must win game and is necessary to not only potentially make the playoffs but give this team the confidence they need to make a last season run. (ZW)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-5 (Last Week: 17th)

A four-game win streak puts Tampa near the top of the NFC South, and into a current wild card spot. The defense continues to make plays, forcing two turnovers and returning one for a touchdown. However, kicking troubles are an area of concern as they make a playoff push. The Bucs return home to play a key division game against the Saints. (CH)

15. Miami Dolphins 7-5 (Last Week: 13th)

A rough showing against the Ravens will make it an uphill battle for the Fins to make the playoffs. With that being said, this team has made strides to be relevant and has some very nice young pieces on offense to contend for a few years. I would look for a youth movement on defense in the offseason especially if Miami does not make the playoffs. (AD)

16. Minnesota Vikings 6-6 (Last Week: 12th)

Another loss, another mediocre look. Their record is who they are and not even Adrian Peterson can change that. Luckily for them, the hapless Jags come next in a must-win game to try and reach the playoffs. If they lose, well…they might start regretting the Bradford trade. (ZW)

17. Houston Texans 6-6 (Last Week: 14th)

The Sock showed a few glimpses of his former nickname “Glock” in a 21-13 loss to Green Bay. Osweiler surprisingly didn’t turn the ball over and happened to toss two TDs in a game the Texans let slip away in the final 15 minutes. There’s an argument to be made that if Lamar Miller or Jonathan Grimes could have found a bit more success on the ground, the Texans could’ve kept Aaron Rodgers and company off the field. The Texans now stand tied with the Titans atop the AFC South. (JA)

18. Arizona Cardinals 5-6-1 (Last Week: 21st)

The Cardinals avoided the first three game losing streak in Bruce Arians head-coaching career with a victory over the Redskins Sunday. It was a step in the right direction but the Cardinals will have to win out every game and get some help from other teams to remain in playoff contention. David Johnson continues to have an MVP season putting up his 12th consecutive 100 yard from scrimmage game. The Cardinals travel to Miami to face the Dolphins in a must-win game Sunday. (DH)

19. Tennessee Titans 6-6 (Last Week: 20th)

Much deserved bye week for the Titans in Week 13. (JA)

20. Buffalo Bills 6-6 (Last Week: 19th)

The Bills don’t seem destined for the playoffs this year after a tough loss to Oakland. Rex Ryan will do what he can to scratch out a few more wins, but the defensive effort has been underwhelming. A healthy Sammy Watkins will be a key to success going forward. (AD)

21. Cincinnati Bengals 4-7-1 (Last Week: 24th)

Achieving their fourth victory on the season, the Bengals outplayed the Eagles in every aspect of the game winning 32-14. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is completely eliminating the Eagles running game and forcing Carson Wentz to throw the ball 60 times. Yes, 60. Cincinnati cashed in on all those passes picking off Wentz three times or once every twenty attempts. Still without AJ Green, Andy Dalton continued to build rapport with other receivers and once again found TE Tyler Eifert in the end zone. Look for the Bengals to beat up on the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday. (JA)

22. San Diego Chargers 5-7 (Last Week: 22nd)

Nothing new this past week for the Chargers, who showed glimpses but ultimately faltered to a streaky Tampa Bay squad on the back of another River’s pick six.  The Bolts have been eliminated from the playoffs. (CJ)

23. Philadelphia Eagles 5-7 (Last Week: 18th)

The Eagles have now lost three straight and looked even heartless in their loss at Cincinnati than they did in the disappointing home loss to Green Bay on Monday Night Football a week earlier. The flaws in the Philadelphia roster are becoming more exposed each week and the 3-0 start is looking more and more like a tease. The Eagles are now needing to win out to have a shot at the playoffs, but the focus has likely shifted to looking ahead to 2017. (CG)

24. New Orleans Saints 5-7 (Last Week: 23rd)

Their fans and many “experts” were let down when the Saints lost at home to the Lions, and I was let down in DFS by Brees’ performance. The top NFL offense looked mortal against Detroit, who whooped them with their own offensive showcase. New Orleans will face a surging Buccaneers team next week, and need to win out if they want a shot at the playoffs. (CH)

25. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 27th)

After a tough loss to the Steelers last Thursday, the Colts came out of the nine day rest rejuvenated and firing hot with Andrew Luck back in the lineup. Luck was deadly accurate 79% of his passes along with four TDs. The biggest winner besides the Colts as a team from Luck’s return was TE Dwayne Allen who snagged three TDs against the Jets. Credit the Colts defense as well though, picking off both of the Jets QBs and only allowing 36 yards rushing.  With three teams tied up at 6-6 in the AFC South, Sunday’s game vs Houston could decide who makes the playoffs. (JA)

26. Carolina Panthers 4-8 (Last Week: 25th)

The Seahawks trounced Carolina on Sunday night, after the game started off horribly with a Derek Anderson interception. Cam was not the starter due to a wardrobe issue, even though he’s been wearing goofy clothes his whole career. Either way, their season is done. They should start looking forward to next year to revamp their offense and solidify the defense. (CH)

27. Los Angeles Rams 4-8 (Last Week: 26th)

Rams are 4-8 and have not had a winning season since 2008. With those results, Jeff Fisher is rewarded with a 2-year contract extension. I don’t understand it. He is a huge asshole that doesn’t win. I hope Eric Dickerson punches the trash stache right off his face.The rest of  NFL teams can rest assured that the Rams will not be relevant as long as Jeff Fisher is holding the reigns. (DH)

28. Chicago Bears 3-9 (Last Week: 30th)

Well, the Bears are bad, we know that but at least they beat the worse 49ers. Playing the Lions wont be fun as they are on a roll and the Bears are already looking at who on the team they can keep for the future and those who need to be kicked out the door. (ZW)

29. New York Jets (Last Week: 28th)

After their first true blowout and a definitive playoff elimination, I would expect a lot of changes for gang green. They are planning on starting Bryce Patty for the remainder of the season. The worst part of this team has easily been the lack of effort by the established veterans. Beyond San Francisco next week, it doesn’t look like there will be another win for New York. (AD)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-10 (Last Week: 29th)

There’s no avoiding it, this was a piss poor performance by the Jaguars. Blake Bortles turned the ball over three times (two INTs/one fumble) and the offense never even sniffed the red zone till the fourth quarter in a 20-10 loss to the Broncos. Even with the Jaguars out-gaining the Broncos by 130 yards of offense and putting together a decent defensive performance, they couldn’t find a way to win. Jacksonville remains squarely in the bottom 5 of teams in the league. (JA)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-11 (Last Week: 31st)

The losing streak continues and the QB situation is back to square one. The Niners were trounced by the Bears 26-6 and Colin Kaepernick was benched for Blaine Gabbert in the fourth quarter. This team has a ton of question marks that need to be addressed. San Fran faces off against the Jets on Sunday. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-12 (Last Week: 32nd)

Can’t lose on a bye week. Congratulations Cleveland. (JA)

 

Photo Credit: http://www.newsday.com/sports/football/dallas-cowboys-vs-minnesota-vikings-nfl-pictures-1.12695116

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Week 13 NFL Power Rankings

1. Dallas Cowboys 10-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

What else is there to say? The Cowboys have now won their tenth straight game following their Thanksgiving Day victory over the rival Redskins 31-26. Dallas now claims the top spot atop the NFL and with each successive win, the dreams of a deep playoff run are starting to sound more like reality. (CG)

2. New England Patriots 9-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Patriots continued to show a few weaknesses in a tight one against the Jets. Their defense continues to struggle in the intermediate passing game. Tom Brady seemed to be out of whack in the first three quarters, yet followed that up with an excellent fourth quarter drive to win it. They may not be the best in the league anymore, but still dangerous enough for a deep playoff push. (AD)

3. Oakland Raiders 9-2 (Last Week: 4th)

Could the Raiders be the best team in football?  I can already hear Cowboy and Patriots fans petitioning for that title, but after securing their first winning season in over a decade the Raiders are certainly in consideration.  At 9-2, the Raiders now lead their division with the Bills on deck this week at home. (CJ)

4. Kansas City Chiefs 8-3 (Last Week: 6th)

The Chiefs squeaked out a 30-27 victory over the Broncos this past week.  It may have taken two overtime field goals to secure the victory, but they are now sole owners of 2nd place in the division and in control for a wildcard berth.  They remain one game behind the division leading Raiders as they head to face a hot Falcons team this week in Atlanta. (CJ)

5. Denver Broncos 7-4 (Last Week: 5th)

Tying is like kissing your sister, right?  The Broncos gambled on a 62-yard field goal in overtime (which would’ve been the longest ever in OT) and failed.  This leaves Denver a game back of the Chiefs and would miss the playoffs if they started today.  This week’s matchup with a wiry but underwhelming Jaguars team could be just what this team needs to remain in contention. (CJ)

6. Seattle Seahawks 7-3-1- (Last Week: 1st)

Seattle was stonewalled by Tampa’s defense on Sunday and dropped to 7-3-1. Russel Wilson threw two interceptions and was limited to 151 passing yards. It was an ugly loss for Seattle, but they still have a choke-hold on the division due to lack of competition. Seahawks will look to get back on track when Carolina comes to town Sunday. (DH)

7. Atlanta Falcons 7-4 (Last Week: 9th)

Atlanta is back! Not really, they beat the Cardinals who have underachieved this year. And who predicted Taylor Gabriel being a breakout star? This dude complements Julio well. The Falcons are top-five in total offense, but bottom-ten in defense, which tells us they might not be able to go deep in the playoffs. They will play at home against the Chiefs, who just played in one of the best games of the year. (CH)

8. New York Giants 8-3 (Last Week: 8th)

It’s not always pretty, but the Giants continue to get it done as one of the NFL’s hotter teams. If they weren’t being overshadowed by their division foe Cowboys, more people would be talking about their six-game winning streak. The G-Men have beaten up on on weaker opponents as of late, being that their past five victories came against teams with a combined record of 14-41-2. They have one of the tougher games of the season this coming Sunday, as they travel to Pittsburgh to face the well-rested Steelers. (CG)

9. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-5 (Last Week: 10th)

Turns out the Steelers just needed to play some weaker competition after the four game losing streak and after a win over the Browns last week, they followed it up with solid victory on the road vs the Colts. Pittsburgh simply picked Indianapolis apart through the air with most of the damage being done via the Ben Roethlisberger/Antonio Brown combination which accounted for three TDs. Factor in the 120 yard output from Le’Veon Bell on the ground and it’s easier to see why the Steelers coasted in this victory. A home game vs the Giants is up next. (JA)

10. Washington Redskins 6-4-1- (Last Week: 7th)

The Redskins fought hard, despite coming up short in Dallas on Thanksgiving. Kirk Cousins is keeping up his high level of play, as he leads one of the NFL’s most potent offensive units. Washington is entrenched in the NFC Wild Card race and will be a force to be reckoned with if they can finish strong down the stretch and earn a postseason berth. (CG)

11. Detroit Lions 7-4 (Last Week: 16th)

They keep on winning! How? No one knows but does it matter? 7-4 with a one game lead in the division over the helpless Vikings…could the Lions be playoff bound? (ZW)

12. Minnesota Vikings 6-5 (Last Week: 11th)

The Vikings had the game won then Sammy Sleeves threw it away, literally. A pick in the end caused the Vikings to lose another and let the Lions take the division lead. After a 5-0 start, they have been 1-5. Not good. (ZW)

13. Miami Dolphins 7-4 (Last Week: 14th)

Miami has really taken care of business lately and Adam Gase seems to be a tremendous pickup for a lost franchise. Tannehill still ranks as a sub-par quarterback, but has enough weapons and a healthy offensive line to get by. I believe the Fins will be fighting for a wildcard spot with the contenders in the AFC West. (AD)

14. Houston Texans 6-5 (Last Week: 12th)

The loss against the Chargers was an ugly offensive showing for the Texans who went 4-11 on 3rd down and oh yeah, Sock Osweiler threw three INTs. Combine that with the Lamar Miller fumble and you’ve put yourself in a bad spot for a very winnable game. Though he was far from stellar, it was nice to see Osweiler find a rhythm again with Deandre Hopkins who’s had a very quiet November. Houston seems to only win at home and with two road games to start December, there’s a chance the Titans could jump them in the AFC South. (JA)

15. Baltimore Ravens 6-5 (Last Week: 15th)

With a win over division rival Cincinnati, Baltimore is 4-0 over the rest of the division and sits on top of the AFC North at 4-0. It wasn’t a pretty victory so to speak, but once again the Ravens can always lean on one of the best legs in the league with Justin Tucker. Other than a single touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman, Tucker led the team with 13 of their 19 points. If they can steal a win from the rising Dolphins on Sunday a wildcard playoff spot may be in the works. (JA)

16. Green Bay Packers 5-6 (Last Week: 20th)

Rodgers was Rodgers again and the Packers D looked fantastic against the Eagles. Are the Packers good again or are the Eagles that bad? Probably both. (ZW)

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-5 (Last Week: 27th)

After getting off to a rough start, Tampa Bay has won three in a row and sit a game behind the Falcons in the NFC South. Mike Evans performed very well against Richard Sherman, hauling in two touchdowns in the first quarter. Alterraun Verner played one of his best games following his dad’s passing, intercepting Russell Wilson and swatting away two passes. Their defense looked more like Seattle’s, adding another interception, six sacks, and allowing just three points. The Bucs head out west to improve on their win streak to face the Chargers. (CH)

18. Philadelphia Eagles 5-6 (Last Week: 13th)

The loss on Monday Night Football to the desperate Packers exposed the Eagles’ flaws in every which way. For the second straight week, they faced a mobile QB, a matchup they struggle with given their vulnerability at cornerback. Philadelphia, with their lack of weapons in the passing game, also struggled mightily to move the ball on offense. The Eagles seem to have just enough holes to keep them from reaching the postseason. (CG)

19. Buffalo Bills 6-5 (Last Week: 18th)

They hung on to win against the awful Jaguars after getting embarrassed by them in London last year. With Oakland, Pittsburgh and Miami still left on the schedule, we shall see how good the Bills really are. Sammy Watkins healthy will be key to meaningful games at the end of the year. (AD)

20. Tennessee Titans 6-6 (Last Week: 19th)

The win over the Bears may have not come as easy as expected, we are starting to see Marcus Mariota elevate his game at the pro level. The former Heisman winner has been on a tear lately with 11 TDs & 2 INTs during the month of November even achieving the highest QBR rating for week 12 according to ESPN Stats & Info. A tough matchup vs the Broncos in two weeks will tell if the Titans have truly turned the corner. (JA)

21. Arizona Cardinals 4-6-1 (Last Week: 17th)

This team may be the most disappointing teams in Cardinals history. Arizona went from Super Bowl Contender to Playoff Pretender. Leading up to the season, the WR core was thought to be one of the best in the league, turns out it’s one of the worst. Larry Fitzgerald is 33 years old and the player with the best hands on the team is an RB! Steve Keim will have to work his magic in the off-season if he wants to keep this aging team relevant in the next few years. Washington comes to town on Sunday. (DH)

22. San Diego Chargers 5-6 (Last Week: 21st)

Three touchdowns from quarterback Phillip Rivers was enough for the Chargers to edge a spiraling Texans squad on the road in week 12.  The Bolts offense and defense seem to be clicking more as of late, but at 5-6 it’s just too little too late. (CJ)

23. New Orleans Saints 5-6 (Last Week: 23rd)

New Orleans showed no mercy against their former defensive coordinator, putting up 49 points behind 555 offensive yards. Willie Snead threw a touchdown to Tim Hightower, Brees had another stellar home performance, and Mark Ingram had a game similar to the San Fran blowout. The defense also came up big, although this is the Rams we’re talking about. They host the Lions next week who are coming off a last-second Thanksgiving win. (CH)

24. Cincinnati Bengals 3-7-1 (Last Week: 22nd)

A loss to division rival Baltimore eliminated any chance of the Bengals reaching the playoffs. The loss cannot be placed entirely Andy Dalton or the run game any longer. It’s clear the Bengals woes on offensive rest squarely on the offensive line, giving up three sacks and only allowing the team to reach 64 yards on the ground. Without AJ Green for essentially the past two games, the Bengals have looked to TE Tyler Eifert to become the go-to receiver. The Eagles visit Cincy on Sunday as they hope to reach win number four. (JA)

25. Carolina Panthers 4-7 (Last Week: 24th)

Playoff hopes are all but over for the Panthers, who lost in a shootout against the Raiders. Jonathan Stewart topped 90 rushing yards for the first time since Week 8, adding two scores on the ground. What the Panthers did well was expose the Raiders weak defense, which shows they might not make a playoff run either. They will head back out west to face the Seahawks, who are looking for revenge following a loss in Tampa. (CH)

26. Los Angeles Rams 4-7 (Last Week: 26th)

Jared Goff threw for three touchdowns in Sunday’s loss to the Saints. He gave the offense a spark and if the Rams can get some resemblance of a passing game, they could be dangerous team. Look for the Rams to string a couple of wins together to improve their current 4-7 record. We all know Jeff Fisher’s Rams will finish the year at 7-9. (DH)

27. Indianapolis Colts 5-6 (Last Week: 25th)

On top of a quick turnaround Thursday night game without their franchise QB, the Colts simply didn’t have enough to overcome the Steelers losing 28 -7. Without Andrew Luck we expected Indy to lean on Frank Gore and the run game to take some pressure of backup QB Scott Tolzien, so did Pittsburgh. The Colts were unable to amass 100 yards on the ground and in an effort to be sly, had Tolzien make 36 pass attempts (2 INTs). Hopefully Luck will return for Monday nights’s game vs the Jets. (JA)

28. New York Jets 3-8 (Last Week: 28th)

They played New England very tough and you have to give Ryan Fitzpatrick and Quincy Enunwa credit for that. The defenders are still taking plays off and committing atrocious penalties. Todd Bowles is sticking with Fitz for the rest of the year which shows you how he feels about the other QBs. Expect a high draft pick and several trade rumors this offseason. (AD)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-9 (Last Week: 29th)

Week 12 was another game where Blake Bortles has shouldered all of the offensive production for the Jaguars, leading them in rushing along with his passing numbers. Thankfully though, Bortles didn’t have any turnovers regardless of being sacked twice and looking rather uncomfortable in the pocket most of the day. A team that analysts agreed had a highly productive draft still needs another class or two to hopefully right the ship, but will Gus Bradley be around for 2017? (JA)

30. Chicago Bears 2-9 (Last Week: 30th)

Another close game, another loss. Tanking time? With Jeffrey being suspended and a free agent and Cutler hurt, it’s time to take a look at the young talent for the future. Matt Barkley, surprisingly, had a great game. Hmm… (ZW)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-10 (Last Week: 31st)

Sundays loss to Miami extended the 49ers losing streak to ten. San Fran has looked more competitive since Kap took over the job and they face a winnable match-up Sunday versus the Bears. The most exciting thing on this team is Colin Kaepernick’s t-shirt selection… (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-12 (Last Week: 32nd)

As expected in a game vs a strong Giants team, the Browns lost again. You’re not shocked. While Josh McCown and Cody Kessler have shown that they can be capable QBs when given a chance, a change in offensive philosophy needs to take place starting at the top. Whether it’s poor drafting or just bad play calling, the offensive line has been absolutely horrible allowing multiple QBs to be injured and RBs zero room to make much of anything happen. If there’s any silver lining for the Browns future, it’s that they have a bye in Week 13. (JA)

Photo Credit: http://thelandryhat.com/2016/10/10/cowboys-dak-prescott-ezekiel-elliott-milestones/

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Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

1. Seattle Seahawks 7-2-1 (Last Week: 1st)

Momentum is gathering for Seattle as we head into the final stretch of the season. Russel Wilson is mobile, Thomas Rawls is back and running as violently as ever and the defense looks complete with the return of Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks look like the most complete team in the NFC and should take care of business Sunday as they face a weak secondary in Tampa Bay. (DH)

2. Dallas Cowboys 9-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

The Cowboys set a franchise record by winning their ninth consecutive game this past Sunday. The Ravens kept the Dallas offense in check for much of the game before the Cowboys pulled away and won 27-17. The run-heavy ball control offense continues to be a recipe for success. The upcoming Thanksgiving game against the rival Redskins could be one with a lot of offensive fireworks. Dallas enters the contest as a touchdown-favorite. (CG)

3. New England Patriots 8-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Patriots avenged their Sunday Night Football loss to Seattle by taking care of business in San Francisco against the hapless 49ers. The Niners remained competitive through the first half before New England pulled away en route to a 30-17 victory. New England now travels to East Rutherford, NJ to face the underachieving Jets with a good chance to improve to 9-2. (CG)

4. Oakland Raiders 8-2 (Last Week: 4th)

Good teams find a way to win, and that is (surprisingly) exactly what the Raiders have been doing this season including this week’s fourth quarter comeback against the Texans. The thing that is most impressive is that the Raiders completely overhauling their approach each week based on their opponents.  Against the Broncos, they went ground and pound against one of the league’s best secondaries. This week against a stout Texans run defense they got their backs involved in the passing game to the tune of 199 yards.  Raider Nation is back and 8-2. (CJ)

5. Denver Broncos 7-3 (Last Week: 5th)

The Broncos will continue to lean on their defense this week against a banged up Chiefs squad.  We will see if their underwhelming offense can put together enough to keep them in this vital divisional game.  (CJ)

6. Kansas City Chiefs 7-3 (Last Week: 6th)

The Chiefs are still banged up, including number one wide out Jeremy Maclin, going against one of the best defenses in the league this week.  The importance of this  matchup with the Broncos cannot be understated for the Chiefs.  Both teams are 7-3 and still in the race for both the division and a wild card spot behind the 8-2 Raiders. (CJ)

7. Washington Redskins 6-3-1 (Last Week: 9th)

The Redskins are coming off a dominating performance against the Packers this past Sunday Night. The offense is really starting to click and Kirk Cousins is playing very well. Cousins has thrown for more more yards through ten games than any other NFC QB has in NFL history. That is quite the feat when considering how many great quarterbacks have played in this division. Washington gets a tough test when they travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving with the goal of avenging their loss back in Week 2. (CG)

8. New York Giants 7-3 (Last Week: 10th)

Even if it is not pretty, the Giants continue to get it done. New York has reached the 7-3 mark following a 22-16 win against the Bears. The defense continues to play very well, making it difficult for opponents to have big offensive performances. The Giants will now travel to Cleveland to face the winless Browns with a great opportunity to go to 8-3.

9. Atlanta Falcons 6-4 (Last Week: 7th)

Atlanta is coming off a bye and needs to pick it back up if they want to win the NFC South. They will host a wishy-washy Cardinals team on Sunday, but their defense needs to step it up. Players to Watch: Arizona will likely play stout defense, so Atlanta will need to make sure their D takes the field if they wanna win. (CH)

10. Pittsburgh Steelers 5-5 (Last Week: 8th)

After a rough four weeks of consecutive losses a visit to Cleveland was just what the doctor ordered. The 15 point over the Browns was a throwback to Steelers teams of the past; stout defense with a heavy dose of the run game, led by Le’Veon Bell who finished with 146 yards. Pittsburgh will look to start a win streak on a short week before a Thanksgiving night road game vs the Andrew Luck-less Colts. (JA)

11. Minnesota Vikings 6-4 (Last Week: 12th)

After losing 4 in a row, the Vikings got back to their winning ways with mistake free football. No game is bigger for this team than winning on Thanksgiving against the rival Lions for first place in the NFC North. Are the Vikings a good team or a bad team? We’ll find out this week. (ZW)

12. Houston Texans 6-4 (Last Week: 13th)

With last week’s game plan of keeping Brock Osweiler from throwing the ball as often turning out to be a success, you’d imagine the coaching staff would continue the trend on a international Monday night game vs the Raiders? Wrong. The Texans coaching brass allowed Senor Sock to huck the ball almost 40 times even though their run game was finding success against the Raiders. Laser pointing aside, many of the Houston fan base will agree that their franchise may have made an error paying this QB so much money. Regardless, they still lead the AFC South and have a home game vs the Charges on Sunday afternoon. (JA)

13. Philadelphia Eagles 5-5 (Last Week: 11th)

The Eagles are coming off a tough loss after being dominated in Seattle. It served as a good barometer due to the inflated expectations after a handful of impressive wins earlier in the season, proving the Eagles are not quite ready to contend. The lack of weapons in the passing was glaring, which didn’t make things any easier for rookie QB, Carson Wentz. The performance of the defensive line was disappointing, considering it seemed like this matchup against the Seattle offensive line was where the Eagles had an advantage. (CG)

14. Miami Dolphins 6-4 (Last Week: 20th) 

Until late in the game, it looked like the Dolphins win streak would finally come to an end. But Miami managed to comeback when it mattered most, despite struggling to move the ball most of the day. In each successive week, the hiring of Adam Gase is looking like an ever better move of the Miami front office. Now they welcome the 1-9 49ers with a good chance to go to 7-4 and keep pace in the AFC playoff race. (CG)

15. Baltimore Ravens 5-5 (Last Week: 15th)

After coming off a one point victory over the worst team in the league, the Ravens had to turn around and play the best team on the road. Failing to dominate the Browns last week can’t do much for your confidence and it showed in the loss to the Cowboys. The Baltimore defense couldn’t force 3-and-outs when needed in hopes of keeping the ball away from the rookie tandem in Dallas. While the loss is far from a season ender, it does keep the Ravens from owning the top spot in the AFC North. A tough matchup with division rival Cincinnati is on the horizon. (JA)

16. Detroit Lions 6-4 (Last Week: 18th)

Seventeen carries for 19 yards. No offensive touchdowns. Sounds like a losing team to me…except the Lions are winners yet again! Two touchdowns by special teams and their D has the Lions sitting atop the NFC North. Big Thanksgiving day game against the 6-4 Vikings. Winner will have first place in the division all to themselves.  (ZW)

17. Arizona Cardinals 4-5-1 (Last Week: 14th)

What a disappointing season it has been for the Big Red. Other than the Defensive Line, every aspect of the team has been underwhelming. The Cardinals would have to win 5 out of the 6 remaining games to have a chance at making the playoffs. Discussion has changed from playoff chances to who will be leading this team in 2017. Arizona takes on Atlanta this Sunday. (DH)

18. Buffalo Bills 5-5 (Last Week: 16th)

The Bills got back to .500 following a 22-16 victory in Cincinnati. Despite the injury to Lesean McCoy, Buffalo has to feel good about Sammy Watkins potentially returning to the field soon. That should certainly make Tyrod Taylor happy, who despite playing well has not yet thrown for 300 yards in any game this season. (CG)

19. Tennessee Titans 5-6 (Last Week: 17th)

Just when you think the Titans might be legit, they end up letting one slip away vs divisional nemesis Colts. With two outstanding performances by Marcus Mariota in previous weeks, the 2nd year QB cooled off just a tad but still threw 2 TDs without any turnovers. Unable to avenge a loss the Colts this week, look for the Titans to take out their frustrations on the lowly Bears in Chicago on Sunday. (JA)

20. Green Bay Packers 4-6 (Last Week: 19th)

Aaron Rodgers threw for 351 passing yards and 3 TDs and yet the Packers lost by 18 points. The Redskins are decent but c’mon. This Packers defense needs to figure something out fast or Rodgers will be out of the playoffs for the first time since he acquired the starting job in 2008. (ZW)

21. San Diego Chargers 4-6 (Last Week: 22nd)

The red-headed stepchild of the AFC West this year looks to bounce back against Houston after their bye.  Expect off-season discussions to continue to swirl around the Bolts if they continue to under-perform.  (CJ)

22. Cincinnati Bengals 3-6-1 (Last Week: 21st)

In a game that Cincinnati needed to get back on track, they failed to secure a home win over the visiting Buffalo Bills. After losing AJ Green on the opening series, Andy Dalton had trouble connecting with his other WRs and ended up throwing two INTS to Bills CB Stephen Gillmore.  This is the second week in a row where the Bengals were unable to find much success in the run game. To have any outside chance at a wild card spot, a run game is going to be mandatory especially with three divisional games in the next four weeks. (JA)

23. New Orleans 4-6 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Saints lost a close one to the Panthers on the road, thanks to two turnovers by Brees. But they should have some more confidence in their defense for stuffing the run, sacking Cam twice, and allowing only 223 yards. They return home to face the Rams then Lions, both of which look winnable. Players to Watch: The Rams have one of the best defenses, so New Orleans will have to match them and keep it low scoring. (CH)

24. Carolina Panthers 4-6 (Last Week: 25th)

Carolina has won three of their last four, but still sit at the bottom of the NFC South. Their defense is playing much better, allowing 17.5 PPG in that span. They will make a tough west coast road trip, facing the Raiders and the Seahawks. Player to Watch: Jonathan Stewart hasn’t been too great the last 3 games, but should perform better against the 26th-ranked Oakland run defense. (CH)

25. Indianapolis Colts 5-5 (Last Week: 27th)

Coming off a bye week, the Colts pulled off a season sweep vs their division rival Titans. This was a much needed win to keep Indy’s playoff hopes alive and keep them from falling below .500 on the year. The victory didn’t come without any casualties though, with Andrew Luck being placed under the concussion protocol after the game. Look for the Colts to lean on veteran RB Frank Gore with Luck being out and a quick turnaround vs the Steelers on Thursday. (JA)

26. Los Angeles Rams 4-6 (Last Week: 24th) 

It is a sweet feeling to see victory get snatched from Jeff Fisher and that is exactly what Miami did on Sunday. Miami scored a go ahead touchdown with 36 seconds remaining in the game. Jared Goff was not asked to do much in his debut and managed no turnovers. The Rams defensive is really good but you can’t win games if you can’t move the ball. LA takes on New Orleans on Sunday. (DH)

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 26th)

The Bucs ended the Chiefs ten-game home winning streak this past week, getting closer to the top spot in the NFC South. Jameis continues to do well despite not having Vincent Jackson with Humphries and Shepherd filling in well. They face the Seahawks Sunday afternoon, arguably the best team in the league. Player to Watch: If and when Mike Evans is shut down by Richard Sherman, look for Adam Humphries to make big plays. (CH)

28. New York Jets 3-7 (Last Week: 28th)

The Jets are coming off a bye and curiously have decided to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick this Sunday against the Patriots. With the postseason all but out of reach, one would think New York would try to see what they have in their young QBs on the roster. It’s a tough decision to explain, unless the Jets think they are still capable of going on a run, something even the most optimistic Jets wouldn’t bet on happening. (CG)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-8 (Last Week: 29th)

With a three point lead heading into the final 15 minutes of action, it looked like the Jaguars were going to pull off a road upset over the Lions. Not surprisingly though, the Lions came back to squeak out a victory. That’s now two weeks in a row where the Jags have outgained their opponent in total yards and TOP only to come up short. A road game against the Bills will wrap up November for the Jaguars. (JA)

30. Chicago Bears 2-8 (Last Week: 30th)

The bad news is Jay Cutler is out for the season and Alshon Jeffrey is still suspended. The good news is the Bears can finally move on from their mediocre bad-attitude Cutler and start rebuilding for the future. This team sucks. (ZW)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-9 (Last Week: 31st)

San Fran dropped to 1-9 with an expected lost to New England on Sunday. Kaepernick has looked better in every game he has played but the team is still in shambles. The Niners take on Miami this Sunday. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-11 (Last Week: 32nd)

Just when the season could get any worse, Cleveland lost their QB who’s shown the most promise in a loss to Pittsburgh. Even with the barrage of injuries Cleveland’s faced this season at the QB position, they at least were able to turn to Week 2 starter, Josh McCown. Considering the performance by Steeler’s defense, McCown wasn’t absolutely dreadful and actually threw a single TD pass to Gary Barnidge. With five games left on the season there’s still hope for acquiring one W for the Browns. (JA)

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Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

1. Seattle Seahawks 6-2-1 (Last Week: 4th)

Seattle got sweet, sweet goal line revenge against New England Sunday night. Seahawks won 31-24 with a late goal line stand and now gain control over the NFC West. Seattle was able to put up 31 points against a tough New England defense despite their atrocious offensive line. Pete Carroll and company look like a top contender in the NFC. Seattle hosts Philadelphia on Sunday.  (DH)

2.Dallas Cowboys 8-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

I keep waiting for Dak Prescott to look like a rookie and thought it was a lock that they would fall in Pittsburgh this past Sunday. Much to my surprise, it didn’t happen. The offense, specifically the run game led by Ezekiel Elliot continues to roll. Dallas has now won eight straight and it is no longer premature for them to think about earning home field advantage in the postseason. (CG)

3. New England Patriots 7-2 (Last Week: 1st)

The Patriots finally lost, but there should not be much to worry about in Beantown. They played tough against the Seahawks and I don’t see their elite position changing much. The Gronk injury doesn’t appear to be serious. Look for a nice comeback against the lowly 49ers next week. (AD)

4. Oakland Raiders 7-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

Nothing has changed for the Raiders coming off their bye week.  Expectations are for the Raiders to finish strong in a tough division .  The AFC West is dominating and would own both wildcard bids were the playoffs to start today. (CJ)

5. Denver Broncos 7-3 (Last Week: 7th)

In a wild finish, the Broncos edged the Saints on a blocked extra point returned for two points in the waning moments.  The AFC West is tough right now, but the Broncos have managed to keep pace despite a struggling offense which has seen an uptick in turnovers as of late. This week’s bye comes at a perfect time for the Broncos to be fresh for the stretch run. (CJ)

6. Kansas City Chiefs 7-2 (Last Week: 6th)

The Chiefs overcame an early 17-point deficit to pull out a 20-17 win against the reeling Carolina Panthers.  While they may not be the flashiest in the league, good teams find ways to win and the Chiefs are doing just that having won 17 of their last 19 matchups.  The AFC West is dominating and would own both wildcard bids were the playoffs to start today. (CJ)

7. Atlanta Falcons 6-4 (Last Week: 5th)

Atlanta is starting to show they aren’t playoff contenders after another disappointing performance. They go on a bye this week and will need to miraculously revamp their defense if they want to win a weak NFC South division title. (CH)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-5 (Last Week: 13th)

It was a herculean effort by Ben Roethlisberger in the loss to the Cowboys throwing for over 400 yards and 3 TDs. Perhaps if the run game could have gained ground (no pun intended), the Steelers would’ve been able to keep the Cowboy’s rookie sensations off the field. The Steelers comeback attempt came up about 20 yards too short of the end zone to pull off the upset.  After a rough four weeks, Pittsburgh should be able to right the ship with a game against the winless Browns on Sunday. (JA)

9. Washington Redskins 5-3-1 (Last Week: 17th)

The Redskins gutted out a gritty win against the sliding Vikings, who came into Washington desperate to break their losing streak. The Washington offense continues to roll, however it may be fair to say it still has not yet clicked on all cylinders. When it does, watch out. Washington is right in the thick of the things and the defense is the only thing that could keep them from making their second consecutive playoff berth. (CG)

10. New York Giants 6-3 (Last Week: 10th)

The G-Men are coming off a hard-fought home win on Monday Night Football against the underachieving Bengals. The defense is returning to dominant form, something that will be key for the team down the stretch. Despite the explosiveness on offense, Eli Manning pitched another inconsistent game. It looked bleak at times following some of really bad interceptions, but Manning made up for those poor decisions by delivering when it counted the most, especially a key touchdown pass on fourth down to Sterling Shepard late in the game. (CG)

11. Philadelphia Eagles 5-4 (Last Week: 12th)

The Eagles got back on track by defeating the Falcons 24-15. The defense was dominant, keeping the #1 NFL offense in check and making Matt Ryan uncomfortable all afternoon. The balanced running attack was critical to their success and Philadelphia may have created the blueprint for defeating Atlanta, a team very undersized on defense. They face a tough task ahead as they will travel to Seattle. (CG)

12. Minnesota Vikings 5-4 (Last Week: 8th)

Four in a row. What a season turnaround for the Vikings and Sammy Sleeves. One month, best in the NFL, the next, you are surrendering the division to the Lions. The only good news is that the Packers aren’t very good either and they have every opportunity to right the ship. (ZW)

13. Houston Texans 6-3 (Last Week: 16th)

Even behind a less than spectacular performance on defense, the Texans found a way to win against division bottom dweller Jacksonville.  Though the Texans were out-gained on offense, their run game carried the load when called upon. I think this was an attempt to keep Sock Osweiler from throwing the ball as often and it turned out to be a solid game plan by Bill O’Brien. Hey, Osweiler even threw two TDs in the victory. We’ll see if this strategy continues on Monday night vs a strong Oakland team. (JA)

14. Arizona Cardinals 4-4-1 (Last Week: 11th)

The Cards squeaked out a victory against the 49ers on Sunday to improve to 4-4-1. Surprisingly, Arizona struggled to run against the Niners defense that previously allowed seven consecutive 100 plus yard rushers. Arizona is still trying to find their offensive identity. A match-up against Minnesota, one of the best defenses in the league, will not make things any easier. Arizona will need to win the next two games to contend for an NFC wildcard bid. (DH)

15. Baltimore Ravens 5-4 (Last Week: 20th)

Sometimes wins are just meant to be. Example: Your QB throws two INTS and you barely hit the century mark in rushing. But when you play the Browns, you can afford to not be on your ‘A’ game or ‘C+’ game for that matter. The Ravens simply outperformed the Browns Thursday night winning 28-7. For the first time in 4 weeks, Justin Tucker wasn’t the best offensive player for Baltimore.  The Ravens will need to tap into that ‘A’ game if they want to have a shot at beating the Cowboys in Dallas. (JA)

16. Buffalo Bills 4-5 (Last Week: 15th)

The Bills had a much needed bye after dropping three in a row. Other than the victory against the Patriots, they have looked to be a middling and inconsistent team. It may be playoffs or bust for Rex Ryan. There are about 5 winnable games left on their schedule, so be on the lookout for a battle down the stretch for second with the Dolphins. (AD)

17. Tennessee Titans 5-5 (Last Week: 24th)

It took almost three years, but the Titans have now won ten games in the last the three seasons combined! They accomplished this feat in Week 10 behind an outstanding performance from Marcus Mariota and one hell of an outing from DeMarco Murray. But the real MVP for this massive success in Titans franchise history is the O-line. The big uglies did their part in helping Tennessee almost eclipsing the 50 point threshold vs a potentially overrated Packers team. A chance to avenge an early season loss is on the horizon against division foe Indianapolis. (JA)

18. Detroit Lions 5-4 (Last Week: 14th)

The best possible scenario during a bye week is when the rest of the division loses. That’s exactly what happened this past weekend thrusting the Lions into first place! If the season ended today, the Lions would be in the playoffs. (ZW)

19. Green Bay Packers 4-5 (Last Week: 9th)

R-E-L-A…P-S-E. Relapse. The Packers got destroyed by the Titans in an unfathomable way. At this point, the defense looks like one of the worst in the NFL and Aaron Rodgers can’t be relied on to score 50 points a game to keep them in it. Mike McCarthy’s tenure may be coming to an end with how this team is responding to adversity. (ZW)

20. Miami Dolphins 5-4 (Last Week: 26th)

Ryan Tannehill looked very solid in an even matchup against the Chargers. The running and passing games are now starting to dial it up. The toughest portion of their schedule is likely done with, yet Miami will need help from the stacked AFC West to think about a Wild Card spot. (AD)

21. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 19th)

Some have called it New York magic on their fourth down conversion late in the game to seal the victory, but ask a Bengals fan and they’ll tell you it’s because their team sucks. While the Bengals clearly aren’t the worst team in the league, their recent play has definitely left fans wanting more. Besides Andy Dalton’s anti-clutch gene, the team is missing a successful run game and aggressive defense that Cincinnati possessed in previous seasons. A game vs Buffalo on Sunday is an opportunity to get back on track. (JA)

22. San Diego Chargers 4-6 (Last Week: 18th)

The Chargers are being outpaced by their divisional foes.  The red-headed stepchild of the AFC West this year, the Bolts lost a close game to the Dolphins sealed by a Phillip Rivers pick six.   Expect big offseason questions to start bubbling to the surface for the duration of the season. (CJ)

23. New Orleans 4-5 (Last Week: 22nd)

New Orleans lost a heart-breaker in the final minutes on a blocked extra point but Drew Brees managed to throw for 300 yards, the most against Denver this year. They travel to Carolina Thursday night to face the last place Panthers – remember how wild that first matchup was? Players to Watch: Everyone, this could be another high scoring affair. (CH)

24. Los Angeles Rams 4-5 (Last Week: 27th)

Woot, woot. The Rams climbed one game closer to their predestined 7-9 record with their win against the Jets Sunday. This was possibly the most boring game in NFL history. Jeff Fisher- please start Jared Goff On Sundayversus the Dolphins, you desperately need to give your fans a reason to watch. (DH)

25. Carolina Panthers 3-6 (Last Week: 21st)

The Panthers blew a 17-point lead to the Chiefs as karma for Cam dabbing. Kelvin Benjamin’s fumble 4th-quarter fumble nailed the coffin shut when it led to a game-winning field goal by Cairo Santos. They host the Saints on Thursday Night Football, hopefully it will be as fun as their last meeting. Players to Watch: Everyone, this could be another high scoring affair. (CH)

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-5 (Last Week: 25th)

The Bucs won their first home game of the season, beating up on the Bears and exposing the real Jay Cutler. Doug Martin is finally back and will look to get back into the swing of things after having a not-so-great statistical game. They travel to Kansas City next week as underdogs. Player to Watch: Mike Evans got a lot of criticism for his presidential protest, will he make up for it on the field? (CH)

27.Indianapolis Colts 4-5 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Colts were on a bye Week 10. (JA)

28. New York Jets 3-7 (Last Week: 28th)

Wow this is a bad team. Bryce Petty should handle the reigns from here on out as he showed some better decision making than Ryan Fitzpatrick has in a tough loss to the Rams. The Jets should really consider going all-in for a high draft pick. The future may be bleak for head coach Todd Bowles. (AD)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-7 (Last Week: 30th)

Turnovers continue to derail Jacksonville’s opportunity to win games.  The Jags out-gained the Texans in total yards, third down conversions, and even won the time of possession battle but failed to do enough to upset the Texans. Blake Bortles continues to play like a man possessed but when you try to do too much it can sometimes result in one of the strangest INTs I’ve ever seen. A road game against the Lions is on deck. (JA)

30. Chicago Bears 2-7 (Last Week: 29th)

The Bears got back on track this week as being one of the worst teams in football. They only had one touchdown with three turnovers by Cutler. Looks like a top-5 draft pick to me. (ZW)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-8 (Last Week: 31st)

The Niners lose yet again. Their losing streak has extended to eight games. There is a reason for encouragement…the Niner’s defensive line played much better and Kaepernick is improving each game. Unfortunately, I do not think the losing streak will be snapped on Sunday because a pissed off New England team is coming to town. Good luck… (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-10 (Last Week: 32nd) 

In this week’s saga of “Lose for Leonard”, the Browns did enough to hold on to their chances of landing the number one pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Not saying that Leonard Fournette will be chosen as the first overall pick or even help Cleveland if they drafted him for that matter, but you have to wonder if they’ll truly go winless this season. As long as no one else gets injured before the end of the year, perhaps Cleveland’s GM will just chalk up 2016 as extended scout team prep work for next season. (JA)

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Week 9 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 7-1 (Last Week: 1st)

Not many teams look better than the Patriots right now. They buried a tough Bills team with Tom Brady throwing 4 TD passes. They can rest up on their bye this week before hosting the Seahawks Sunday Night. Interesting to note they traded one of their best defenders, Jamie Collins, to Cleveland for a conditional pick. (AD)

2. Denver Broncos 6-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Broncos stayed the course in their week eight matchup against a rival Chargers squad.  With an all-around mediocre offensive output, their defense led the way again battering Phillip Rivers throughout the game and putting up points themselves with a pick six in the second quarter.  A win against a flaming hot 6-2 Raiders team this week would be a huge step towards legitimizing the Broncos super bowl aspirations. (CJ)

3. Dallas Cowboys 6-1 (Last Week: 5th)

In the fourth quarter of Sunday Night Football, it was looking very likely that the Eagles would hand the Cowboys their second loss of the season. Despite Dak Prescott’s worst game of his young career, he came up big when it mattered most by delivering touchdown passes late in regulation and a game-winner in overtime. The defense, despite suffering injuries in the secondary to Morris Claiborne and Barry Church, continues to overachieve. Right now, the Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFC. (CG)

4. Oakland Raiders 6-2 (Last Week: 6th)

Holy Derek Carr.  The Raider’s third year quarterback absolutely thrashed the Buccaneers in week 8 to the tune of 513 yards passing and 4 touchdowns while completing 66% of his throws. That was the positive take away for the Raiders.  On the concerning side, they set the NFL record for the most accepted penalties in a single game with 23 totaling 200 yards, and still haven’t found the dominant running game they planned for this preseason.  They now lead the league in penalties per game at a clip of 10.8 per game… No one wins the Super Bowl leading the league in penalties (unless you’re the ’14 Seattle Seahawks). (CJ)

5. Seattle Seahawks 4-2-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

Seattle has left the door open in the NFC West with a loss against  Atlanta Sunday. Russell Wilson is still not healthy and the success of the offense is completely dependent on him.  If Russell Wilson can get healthy and start making plays with his legs the Seahawks are contenders for the Super Bowl. If Russell Wilson continues to be hobbled the Offense will struggle and the door to the NFC West Title is wide open. Seattle hosts Buffalo on Sunday. (DH)

6. Atlanta Falcons 5-3 (Last Week: 7th)

Atlanta bounced back from a 2-game losing streak after beating the Packers in the final minute. The offense played well despite limited production from Julio Jones, and the defense did just enough to stop Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons will head south to face the Bucs on Thursday night football, and are probably excited to start throwing the ball against them. Player to Watch: The last time Julio Jones had 29 receiving yards, he caught 7 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown the next week. (CH)

7. Kansas City Chiefs 5-2 (Last Week: 11th)

The Chief’s offense is in flux after beating the Colts in week eight.  Alex Smith was concussed (possibly twice) and replaced by Nick Foles.  Spencer Ware also left the game with a concussion.  And then Jamaal Charles’ regular season is over after being put on IR Tuesday to have a second knee surgery.  You know things are grim when your team is kicking the tires on RBs Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard for a possible roster spot (via ESPN). With an added vertical threat in the passing game, there are rumblings that the Chiefs offense could be even better with Nick Foles under center.  Only time will tell as Andy Reid prepares his team for this week’s matchup against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. (CJ)

8. Minnesota 5-2 (Last Week: 4th)

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Even a great defense isn’t enough when your offense only puts up 10 points. The Eagles and Bears beat the Vikings, easily, with a combination of hitting Sam Bradford and not caring about their paltry running attack. Losing to the Eagles is one thing. Losing to the Bears? Not cool. (ZW)

9. Green Bay Packers 4-3 (Last Week: 8th)

Losing to the Falcons isn’t a horrible loss. They are a good team. The future doesn’t look so bright, however, when you look at their running game. The total combined rushing attempts by running backs was 13. The total rushing attempts by Aaron Rodgers was six. Rodgers out gained all of the running backs combined by 12 yards. (ZW)

10. Philadelphia Eagles 4-3 (Last Week 10th)

For the second time this season, the Eagles had a win in their grasp that they simply let slip away. Despite the talent, specifically on defense, the Eagles are showing that they are very much in rebuilding mode with their inability to close out games. Carson Wentz continues to impress, despite being surrounded with weapons that strike fear into opposing defenses. This upcoming game against their rival Giants will tell us a lot about if the postseason is a realistic possibility for the Birds. (CG)

11. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-3 (Last Week: 9th)

We’ll see if the bye week was long enough recovery for Big Ben before a road contest vs Baltimore. (JA)

12. Houston Texans 5-3 (Last Week: 14th)

In past power rankings, I’ve praised Brock Osweiler, commending his rocket of a right arm and well deserving of the nickname “Glock Osweiler”. And unless Houston is playing at home, Brock quickly becomes “Sock Osweiler”. Thankfully, the Texan’s defense shouldered the load at home and helped at another W to the win column against the Lions. I thought the Lions would catch the Texans slipping last week and was proven wrong. With a road game in 2 weeks at Jacksonville, don’t be shocked if the Sock makes an appearance and the Jaguars put one over on Houston. (JA)

13. Washington Redskins 4-3-1 (Last Week: 16th)

No one feels like a winner following a tie game, but the Redskins deserve credit for fighting back against the Bengals in London. Washington trailed by ten in the fourth quarter, yet engineered a comeback to force overtime. If Dustin Hopkins would have converted on a chip-shot, game-winning field goal, the Redskins would be sitting pretty at 5-3. The offense is dangerous, but vulnerabilities on defense could keep Washington out of the playoff picture. (CG)

14. Arizona Cardinals 3-4-1 (Last Week: 12th)

Another massacre occurred at Bank of America Stadium with the Panthers beating the Cards 30-20. Cardinals fall to 3-4-1 and the preseason Super Bowl expectations are quickly vacating the Valley. The talent is still under performing and now injuries concerns are looming. Offensive lineman Jared Veldheer was put on IR with a torn tricep, Tyrann Mathieu is out 3-6 weeks with a dislocated shoulder and Larry Fitzgerald has a low ankle sprain. The Cards can take this week to heal because they are on bye. (DH)

15. Buffalo Bills 4-4 (Last Week: 11th)

The Bills have fallen back to Earth a bit after beating up on some weaker teams. I would imagine they will have trouble against Seattle this week as well. Any contribution from the returning Percy Harvin will be a surprise to many, but could be a factor in a weak AFC wild card race. (AD)

16. Cincinnati Bengals 3-4-1 (Last Week: 15th)

According to a fact I just made up: When you fly over five hours, there’s less oxygen in the air and there’s a slight chance that less oxygen over a five-hour span can kill brain cells. That “fact” was in full display in overtime as the Bengals game ended in a draw vs the Redskins in London. Don’t get me wrong, during regulation Andy Dalton continually found AJ Green downfield and also welcomed the return of his safety valve TE Tyler Eifert. Both RBs and Dalton found the endzone during the first 60 minutes but all momentum was lost in OT. A bye week should restore oxygen levels before a Monday game against the Giants. (JA)

17. New York Giants 4-3 (Last Week: 17th)

The Giants are coming off a bye and will face a crossroad game this Sunday when they welcome the Eagles. A win do wonders for New York’s confidence through the second half of the season, while a loss could make a quest for the playoffs a very steep uphill battle. Consistency, or lack thereof, is the theme of the Giants season up to this point. Which team will show up Sunday? (CG)

18. Detroit Lions 4-4 (Last Week: 18th)

Pedestrian. Average. The entire team. That’s what .500 means, right? The team only goes as far as Stafford’s arm can take them. When he has a passer rating of 100 or more, the team is 4-1. Otherwise, they are 0-3. (ZW)

19. San Diego Chargers 3-5 (Last Week: 19th)

Week eight’s matchup with a ferocious Denver defense gave flashbacks to a ’15 Chargers offensive line that couldn’t protect their quarterback.  Rivers was hit 17 times, sacked four, and threw three interceptions including one that was returned 49 yards for a touchdown. Not all is lost for the Chargers though, as Melvin Gordon might’ve had his most impressive game on the ground yet and their defense continues to outperform expectations.  Rookie Joey Bosa looks to be one of the rare exceptions performing well after a hold out and has been a dominant force for the Bolts. (CJ)

20. Tennessee Titans 4-4 (Last Week: 23rd)

Can we all take a moment and give some respect to the Titans for surpassing their win total from 2015? Tennessee jumped out to a 27 point lead against division rival Indianapolis on Thursday night behind the accuracy of Mariota (18/22) and the legs of DeMarco Murray. Two more wins and the Titans eclipse the total wins from the 2014 AND 2015 season. They’ll have a winnable game on the road vs the Chargers next followed by a home visit from the Packers in the coming weeks. (JA)

21. Baltimore Ravens 3-4 (Last Week: 20th)

Justin Tucker earned a well deserved chance to rest his leg on the bye week. (JA)

22. New Orleans 3-4 (Last Week: 24th)

I saw so many Seahawks fans in Nola this weekend, but the Saints weren’t fazed. New Orleans bounced back from a sloppy loss to Kansas City behind a great performance by Drew Brees. The Saints have won three of their last four, and may make it four for five heading to San Francisco next week. Player to Watch: With Mark Ingram staying on the sidelines following a fumble, look for Tim Hightower to get scooped off waivers and have a field day against the league’s worst run defense. (CH)

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-4 (Last Week: 21st)

The Buccaneers played terrible this week, losing to the Raiders who committed an NFL-record 23 penalties. Missing Doug Martin is not the issue; the inconsistent quarterback play is the issue. They should also consider finding a new kicker, and not draft one so high next time. Next game will be Thursday night hosting the Falcons – and it’s very possible Matt Ryan torches the secondary for a second straight game. Player to Watch: It will be tough to watch, but let’s see if the Bucs secondary can play well this time. (CH)

24. Carolina Panthers 2-5 (Last Week: 25th)

Carolina finally didn’t lose a game, whooping on the Cardinals Sunday afternoon. The defense showed glimpses of the 2015 team who made the Super Bowl, forcing 2 turnovers and sacking Carson Palmer eight times. They can also pat themselves on the back for holding David Johnson to just 24 yards. The Panthers will head to Los Angeles next week to face the Rams coming off a bye. Player to Watch: If the Panthers’ defense can play like it just did against a weak Rams offense, they’ll have a shot at a 2-game win streak. (CH)

25. Los Angeles Rams 3-4 (Last Week: 22nd)

There are whispers in LA that Jared Goff may be under center this Sunday. Can the Rookie QB stop the 3 game losing streak coming off the bye? Can that horrendous offensive line protect who ever gets the start? Can Todd Gurley break a run longer than 20 yards? These questions will be answered Sunday when Carolina comes to town. (DH)

26. Miami Dolphins 3-4 (Last Week: 26th)

If Miami can beat the Jets this weekend, they could no doubt solidify being the second best team in the division. They have a favorable schedule the rest of the way and may be able to contend for a wild card. Not many teams have separated themselves from the pack, and an easy schedule may just be what the doctor ordered for Miami. (AD)

27. Indianapolis Colts 3-5 (Last Week: 28th)

This was an all around disappointing loss for the Colts. The offense seamed completely out of sync and even when the defense knocked the Chief’s starting QB out of the game, they couldn’t slow down Kansas City’s passing attack. For a team that couldn’t muster 300 yards of offense, Indy needs to find a spark somehow before a road game at Green Bay on Sunday. (JA)

28. Chicago Bears 2-6 (Last Week: 30th)

Don’t count the bears out! With a rejuvenated Jay Cutler and a ferocious ground game with Jordan Howard, the bears actually looked like a competent team this week crushing the Vikings. With a bye week and a not too difficult schedule ahead, don’t count them out yet! (ZW)

29. New York Jets 3-5 (Last Week: 27th)

The Jets still seem to be playing like zombies but have won 2 in a row. They looked good in the second half against the Browns and match up well against the Dolphins next week. There are several veterans that could be dealt at the deadline for an underachieving team. (AD)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-5 (Last Week: 29th)

You gotta feel for Blake Bortles doing everything in his power to will his team to a victory. That’s the type of leadership you want out of guy drafted 3rd overall 2 years ago. Unfortunately, when you’re drafted high, it’s typically to a team in a slump. Bortles accounted for 91% of the Jags total offense including being the leading rusher. I believe Gisele made a comment once regarding how her husband can’t throw and catch ball all on his own…maybe Gus Bradley should incorporate some supermodel knowledge in his playbook? Perhaps that could get Jacksonville out of their perpetual slump? (JA)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-6 (Last Week: 31st)

For the first time in six weeks the 49ers did not tally a loss…because they were on bye. A high powered New Orleans offense is coming to town Sunday and all Niners fans can do is pray for mercy. The depleted Niners D may let up 50 points this week. If your a fan of good defense do not tune into this match-up on Sunday. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-8 (Last Week: 32nd)

The Browns lost. Again. The end. But seriously, for the 1st half Cleveland looked like they were on the verge of earning the first win of the season up 20-7 on the Jets at the half. Then the Browns we all know and love made an appearance in the 2nd half and Josh McCown tossed back-to-back INTs to give the Jets breathing room to comeback. For a team mired with injuries, there’s a chance they can get a touch better on defense with the acquirement of Patriots LB Jamie Collins. Hopefully he can play some snaps at QB/RB/OL to help this disaster of an offense. Expect Dak Prescott to put on a clinic next week in Cleveland. (JA)

 

Photo Credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-shactman/deflategate-super-bowl-wi_b_6517262.html

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Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 6-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

This is probably the best team in the NFL right now. The defense looks the toughest it’s been in some time. A matchup with the Bills could be sweet revenge after the Pats got shutout at home earlier in the year. (AD)

2. Seattle Seahawks 4-1-1 (Last Week: 3rd)

Seattle’s record moves neutrally to 4-1-1 with a tie against the Cardinals. Both teams had field goal attempts under 30 yards to secure a win but failed embarrassingly resulting in a 6-6 tie. Yet again, Seattle found a way to prevent a tally in the loss column. Russell Wilson only has 33 rushing yards on the season, and is clearly favoring his injured knee and ankle. Without Russell Wilson at full health, the Offense is predictable and lacking fire power. The Defense is still one of the best units in the league and should keep them competitive in every single game. Seattle heads to the Big Easy to take on the Saints this Sunday. (DH)

3. Denver Broncos 5-2 (Last Week: 6th)

The Broncos got back on track, snapping their two-game skid as they welcomed Brock Osweiler back to town and dominated the Texans 27-9. The defense looked Super Bowl-caliber again, and the offense was good enough. It is fair to question how far Trevor Siemian can take Denver in 2016, but their talent and experience throughout the roster should keep them in the hunt through December. (CG)

4. Minnesota Vikings 5-1 (Last Week: 1st)

Following their bye, the Vikings were dealt their first loss of the season and are no longer the last undefeated team in the NFL. Their loss to the Eagles exposed the flaws on their offensive line, proving that they are vulnerable against any opponent carrying a strong defensive front four. The defense remains an elite unit, thus why the panic button is not being hit just yet in Minnesota. (CG)

5. Dallas Cowboys 5-1 (Last Week: 5th)

Dallas is coming off a bye, following their dominating win at Lambeau Field in the prior week. Losses by some of the better NFC teams this past Sunday in the Vikings and Falcons, along with an underwhelming victory by the Packers, the Cowboys are slightly elevated with those aforementioned teams taking a hit. Now they face their division rivals in the Eagles for Sunday Night Football for a chance to take control of the NFC East. (CG)

6. Oakland Raiders 5-2 (Last Week: 9th)

The Raiders seem to have shaken off the perennial struggle of playing 1 PM EST games on the East Coast. They continue to look impressive following their convincing win over the hapless Jags 33-16. The offense continues to roll, which also continues to mask the weaknesses on defense. Oakland continues the Florida tour as they go to Tampa this coming Sunday to face the Bucs in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVII. (CG)

7. Atlanta Falcons 4-3 (Last Week: 4th)

After a hot start to the year, the Falcons have cooled off with their second straight loss. Dan Quinn made a very questionable call, going for it on their own 40 in overtime which helped San Diego kick for the win. They will stay home to face Green Bay next, who are eager to put up points against a weak Atlanta defense. Player to Watch: With a banged up Packers secondary, Julio Jones should have another huge game. (CH)

8. Green Bay Packers 4-2 (Last Week: 8th)

Fortunately for the Packers, they were able to shake off the brutal loss to the Cowboys just four days later on Thursday Night Football when they defeated the Bears 26-10. Once Brian Hoyer was knocked out of the game, Green Bay was able to go on cruise control before reaching 4-2. Aaron Rodgers is yet to look like his old, elite self, which gets more concerning with each passing week. The Packers face a real test this coming Sunday when they travel to Atlanta to face a Falcons team coming off back-to-back losses. (CG)

9. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-3 (Last Week: 7th)

Heading into Sunday without Big Ben and playing the Patriots, you’d think the pressure of Steeler-Nation might be overwhelming for Landry Jones to get the win. The 4th year QB with less than 40 regular season throws to his name leaned on playmakers Antonio Brown & LeVeon Bell to help bail him out at times. Jones put forth a respectable effort, sadly it wasn’t enough to pull out the win. A bye week comes next for Pittsburgh before a division game vs the Ravens. (JA)

10. Philadelphia Eagles 4-2 (Last Week: 15th)

The Eagles got back on track following their two-game skid, as their defense completely shut down the Vikings this past Sunday en route to a 21-10 victory. The defense looked like the unit we saw in Weeks 1-3 and the line completely dominated the Minnesota offensive line. It was very encouraging to see Carson Wentz, who had a horrendous first quarter littered with three turnovers, recover and make plays in later stages of the game to lead Philly to a win. Most QB’s, even experienced ones, wilt after a start that bad. But Wentz doesn’t appear to fall in that category. (CG)

11. Kansas City Chiefs 4-2 (Last Week: 13th)

The Chiefs’ defense turned out to be the difference-maker at home against New Orleans, holding the Saints to 21 points despite allowing over 450 yards. The Chiefs are now 5th best in the league for total defense, which is impressive considering their average offensive TOP. They will travel to Indianapolis next week to face a wishy-washy Colts team who’s also coming off a win. Player to Watch: If Jamaal Charles continues to sit with his repaired knee, Spencer Ware will continue to be their main offensive weapon. (CH)

12. Arizona Cardinals 3-3-1 (Last Week: 12th)

The Cards let a win slip through their fingers Sunday night in a contest where they had the ball for over 46 minutes compared to Seattle’s 28 minutes. There are mixed emotions in the Valley after this contest. The Cards dominated  in every aspect except Special Teams; yet, without a victory, the bad taste  still lingers in Arizona’s mouth. The Cards will have to fight the rest of the season for a playoff birth with the toughest stretch of opponents still on the horizon. (DH)

13. Buffalo Bills 4-3 (Last Week: 11th)

A back and forth matchup against the Fins didn’t go in the Bills favor. A hamstring injury to Lesean McCoy will limit the running game, which will be especially tough to recover from against New England this week. The Bills fared well in the first third of the season, but will face much stiffer competition from here on out. (AD)

14. Houston Texans 4-3 (Last Week: 10th)

Last week I mentioned that the Texans may get their first road win against the Broncos this week. My semi-optimism was a mistake. There’s “Oops. I made a right on red, officer” mistakes and then there’s “Oops. We paid $72 million for a QB who isn’t Tom Brady” mistakes. Perhaps it was Denver’s overwhelming defense that had Osweiler unable to get going or maybe it’s because he’s just not “elite enough”. Regardless of the reason, Houston needs to pull it together before a surprising Lions team comes to visit. (JA)

15. Cincinnati Bengals 3-4 (Last Week: 20th)

When you have a RB go for almost 200 total yards on 12 touches, your O-line is probably doing something right. Combine that with your stud WR going (8-169) and your QB completing almost 70% of his passes, your offense as a whole is rolling. That’s exactly what Cincinnati did in Week 7 to the winless Browns. After a tough loss to New England, the Bengals bounced back with their best offense showing of the season. Let’s see if it keeps going Week 8 across the pond in London vs the Redskins. (JA)

16. Washington Redskins 4-3 (Last Week 14th)

The Redskins finally found defeat again as they fell to the Lions in Detroit, snapping their four-game winning streak. The Lions have been on a roll, so its not an overly concerning loss for Washington. While the results of London games can be a little misleading, we should learn a lot about this team in their upcoming matchup against Cincinnati, another very talented team that has underachieved and will be playing very hungry in an effort to get back to .500. (CG)

17. New York Giants 4-3 (Last Week: 18th)

The Giants managed to get back above .500 following a hard-fought victory in London against the Rams. New York fell behind 10-0 early, but outscored LA 17-0 the rest of the way. Landon Collins made one of the best plays of the 2016 NFL Season. While the Rams do not have the most formidable offense, it was an encouraging performance for the Giants’ defense as they go into the bye sitting at 4-3. (CG)

18. Detroit Lions 4-3 (Last Week: 21st)

The Lions’ hot streak continues as they have now won three in a row after  defeating the Redskins 20-17 in another Matt Stafford-led, come-from-behind effort. This looks like a completely team than the one that sat at 1-3 a month ago and they are back in the NFC playoff race, primarily thanks to Stafford. Despite the injuries, this team has been very resilient and should be considered a tough out every week. Now they travel to a Houston to face a very vulnerable Texans team with the chance to win their fourth game in a row. (CG)

19. San Diego Chargers 3-4 (Last Week: 22nd)

San Diego should send thank you cards to Atlanta’s defense and Dan Quinn for helping them achieve a second straight win. Their top 2 rookie picks are panning out well thus far: Joey Bosa has 4 sacks in 3 games and Hunter Henry leads the team with 3 receiving touchdowns. The Chargers will play round 2 against the Broncos – will it have the same outcome? Player to Watch: Melvin Gordon has made incredible progress this year and should have a solid game against the Broncos mediocre run defense. (CH)

20. Baltimore Ravens 3-4 (Last Week: 16th) 

The Raven’s offense lives and dies by the leg of Justin Tucker. Another week, another double digit outing for the kicker, while the offense continues to spit and sputter. Joe Flacco threw 2 INTs and the offense had less than 10…yes, 10 total yards rushing. Any time you have 3 turnovers it’s going to be a challenge to win. Hopefully the bye week will help Baltimore sort out these offensive woes before the 2nd half of the season. (JA)

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-3 (Last Week: 23rd)

It was no Doug Martin, no problem for the Bucs who rolled over the 49ers behind 249 rush yards. The defense played as expected against a lousy Niners offense, forcing 3 turnovers and giving Kaepernick a rough afternoon. Tampa Bay will return home to face the Raiders, who are quietly having a solid 2016 campaign. Player to Watch: If Doug Martin (likely) sits again, Jacquizz Rodgers should have another big game against the Raiders’ porous defense. (CH)

22. Los Angeles Rams 3-4 (Last Week: 17th)

A four-interception game should prompt a change at the QB position, but not in Jeff Fisher’s world. He is sticking with Keenum under center and Goff will remain riding the pine. The Ram’s have dropped 3 straight and are now behind the Cards in the division. LA  gets a bye to rest after their travels from across the pond. (DH)

23. Tennessee Titans 3-4 (Last Week: 19th)

Looks like it’ll take another week or 2 for the Titans to surpass the 2015 season win total after a loss to division rival Indianapolis. While it wasn’t the “fuego” performance of the previous 2 weeks, Mariota had another good showing in Week 7 (minus the strip sack with a chance to rally in the 4th ). The Titans should get back to .500 after a Thursday night match vs the Jaguars. (JA)

24. New Orleans Saints 2-4 (Last Week: 24th)

urnovers are what really hurt the Saints, who lost to the Chiefs despite having 450+ offensive yards. Michael Thomas was finally held out of the endzone, but he’s looking to be the top rookie receiver this year. The Saints return home to face a stingy Seahawks defense. Players to Watch: It will be tough for the Saints to move the ball against Seattle, so their defense will need to play its best game and keep the score low. (CH)

25. Carolina Panthers 1-5 (Last Week: 26th)

Carolina fans are glad they didn’t see their team lose again, but may see that next week when they host the Cardinals. Maybe the Panthers figured out what’s going wrong and how to get back on track – or maybe they didn’t – we’ll find out Sunday. Player to Watch: He’s their leading receiver and shouldn’t have to worry about Patrick Peterson covering him – look for Greg Olsen to have a big impact. (CH)

26. Miami Dolphins 3-4 (Last Week 29th)

Another impressive win paired with a Jay Ajayi breakout game is a fine recipe for the Dolphins. They were criticized for their misuse of Lamar Miller, but the new regime seems to know who their go-to guy is. Miami can rest easy on their bye week before facing the Jets Week 9. (AD)

27. New York Jets 2-4 (Last Week: 27th)

I guess Ryan Fitpatrick will be playing “pissed off’ from here on out. He looked solid in relief of Geno Smith and the Jets leaned on the run game and defense against Baltimore. The Jets have a much easier stretch that begins against the Browns. Look for them to get back on track to shoot for a .500 finish. (AD)

28. Indianapolis Colts 3-4 (Last Week: 28th)

As four-point underdogs, the Colts rolled into Nashville with a chip on their shoulder and needing a victory to stay alive in the AFC South. Thankfully, Andrew Luck doesn’t lose to Titans and he has T.Y. Hilton to throw to each week. Indy will need to clean up the penalties (12-131) in Week 8 if they want a shot at beating the Chiefs at home. (JA)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-4 (Last Week: 25th)

Sometimes you feel for a guy attempting to put the team on his back and trying to will them to win. Unfortunately when that player is attempting to do too much, he makes risky throws, 2 of which result in INTs. This player is Blake Bortles. Discounting a late TD, the Jaguars were a complete mess this weekend vs former coach Jack Del Rio and his Raiders. After falling behind early, Jacksonville couldn’t get rolling on offense. The Jags have a chance to move out of the AFC South cellar with a win against the Titans next. (JA)

30. Chicago Bears 1-6 (Last Week: 30th)

Same old story for the Bears. They played the rival Packers tough in the first half, but after losing Brian Hoyer to injury. The Packers took control of the game as soon as Matt Barkley entered the game as the QB and Chicago fell 26-10, sliding down to 1-6. Its impossible to predict the effect on the team with Jay Cutler coming back this week, but it will be tough nonetheless, considering they are facing the Vikings coming off their first loss of the season. (CG)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-6 (Last Week: 31st)

Bad QB. Bad defense. Bad year. Finding things to highlight on this team is like searching for Roger Goodell fans. At least the Niner’s cannot lose this week because they are on bye. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-7 (Last Week: 32nd)

Just when I compliment Browns QB Cody Kessler, he gets drilled and is forced to leave the game. Seems to be the theme in Cleveland, QBs being injured that is, as they are now down to their 6 th QB this season. Thankfully the Stanford product, Kevin Hogan, possesses the running capability we all expected to see out of Mr. John Football. Hogan ended up leading the team in rushing and the Browns slogged through another week. Whatever the under is next week vs the Jets, take it. (JA)

Photo Credit: https://www.boston.com/sports/new-england-patriots/2016/04/14/patriots-2016-schedule-released