Another wild (and somewhat controversial) week of the NFL has come and gone. As we head into the last quarter of the season, there is still a lot of important football left to be played. Buckle up. It's going to be a wild finish.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-12, Previous Ranking: 32)
Last Week: L, 19-10, at Chargers
Next Week: vs. Packers (6-6)
Another week, another Browns loss. Nothing new here. Keep reading.
31. New York Giants (2-10, Previous Ranking: 31)
Last Week: L, 24-14, at Raiders
Next Week: vs. Cowboys (6-6)
The Giants finally did the right thing by cleaning house (Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese). The Giants are still a lost cause this season, but at least they can head into 2018 with a fresh start.
30. Indianapolis Colts (3-9, Previous Ranking: 29)
Last Week: L, 30-10, at Jaguars
Next Week: at Bills (6-6)
Honestly, I'll be surprised to see Chuck Pagano back on the sideline in Indianapolis next season. There have been bright spots but this team has largely been a disaster this season. Time to move on.
29. Denver Broncos (3-9, Previous Ranking: 27)
Last Week: L, 35-9, at Dolphins
Next Week: vs. Jets (5-7)
And just like that, the Broncos have suffered their 8th-straight loss. John Elway must make major changes this offseason (especially at quarterback). The Broncos quarterback situation might just be the messiest in the NFL right now (even more than the Browns *gasp*).
28. San Francisco 49ers (2-10, Previous Ranking: 30)
Last Week: W, 15-14, at Bears
Next Week: at Texans (4-8)
The Jimmy Garoppolo era is underway in San Francisco. Jimmy G showed some promise on his way to leading the 49ers to their 2nd win this season in a deceptively hostile environment. Just wait until he has actual receivers to throw to beyond Marquise Goodwin.
27. Chicago Bears (3-9, Previous Ranking: 25)
Last Week: L, 15-14, vs. 49ers
Next Week: at Bengals (5-7)
This outing was not Mitchell Trubisky's best performance. The rookie has shown enough flashes to make the Bears believe that he is the future, as he still has a lot of room to grow.
26. Houston Texans (4-8, Previous Ranking: 26)
Last Week: L, 24-13, at Titans
Next Week: vs. 49ers (2-10)
Not much to say about the Texans at this point. A lost year due to too many injuries. But 2018 should be an exciting year for this team at full health.
25. Arizona Cardinals (5-7, Previous Ranking: 23)
Last Week: L, 32-16, vs. Rams
Next Week: vs. Titans (8-4)
What Larry Fitzgerald has been able to accomplish this season at his age is nothing short of incredible. Even with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, Fitz is closing in on his 9th 1,000 yard season. #FirstBallotHOFer
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8, Previous Ranking: 24)
Last Week: L, 26-20 (OT), at Packers
Next Week: vs. Lions (6-6)
It's crazy to think that just a couple of months ago, many people (myself included) thought the Buccaneers could be the team that surprised everyone. Through Week 13, we couldn't be more wrong.
23. Miami Dolphins (5-7, Previous Ranking: 28)
Last Week: W, 35-9, vs. Broncos
Next Week: vs. Patriots (10-2)
This game was arguably the best one the Dolphins have played all year. Not sure if that is them figuring some stuff out or more that the Broncos are a dumpster fire right now. Either way, quality win for a team that is no where as good as their record indicates.
22. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7, Previous Ranking: 20)
Last Week: L, 23-20, vs. Steelers
Next Week: vs. Bears (3-9)
Even with this loss, the Bengals still are holding on to a smallest of playoff hopes, but a lot needs to happen between now and January. Their matchup with the Steelers was anything but pretty (from either team), but the Bengals yet again let one get away from them.
21. Buffalo Bills (6-6, Previous Ranking: 17)
Last Week: L, 23-3, vs. Patriots
Next Week: vs. Colts (3-9)
The Bills have now dropped 4 of their last 5 games. After looking like a sneaky playoff contender, the Bills will have to fight the rest of the way in the hopes of securing one of the last Wild Card spots. Sitting a game behind the Ravens for the 6th seed, that is still possible.
20. Washington Redskins (5-7, Previous Ranking: 14)
Last Week: L, 38-14, at Cowboys
Next Week: at Chargers (6-6)
Miscues, injuries, and dumb mistakes have plagued the Redskins this season. Things will only heat up into the offseason when the awaited Kirk Cousins saga (drama?) continues.
19. Green Bay Packers (6-6, Previous Ranking: 22)
Last Week: W, 26-20 (OT), vs. Buccaneers
Next Week: at Browns (0-12)
With a win over the Buccaneers, the Packers managed to keep their playoff hopes alive. With a win against the Browns in Week 14, the would-be 7-6 Packers would be getting their leader back in the form of Aaron Rodgers. At that point, if they were to win out, 10-6 could be good enough for one of the Wild Card spots.
18. Kansas City Chiefs (6-6, Previous Ranking: 15)
Last Week: L, 38-31, at Jets
Next Week: vs. Raiders (6-6)
Throwback to whenever the Chiefs were the unquestioned best team in the NFL. Fast forward to Week 14, and the Chiefs have now lost 6 of their last 7 games. The AFC looked like it was theirs but just like that, we now have a 3-way tie for first place. This could be the most exciting divisional race in the NFL over the last 4 weeks.
17. New York Jets (5-7, Previous Ranking: 21)
Last Week: W, 38-31, vs. Chiefs
Next Week: at Broncos (3-9)
The Jets snuck away with a win against the imploding Chiefs and get another favorable matchup in Week 14 against the Broncos. In August, the Jets looked primed to potentially go winless. Now, they're trying to keep their Wild Card hopes alive.
16. Detroit Lions (6-6, Previous Ranking: 13)
Last Week: L, 44-20, at Ravens
Next Week: at Buccaneers (4-8)
This team's success has gone with Matthew Stafford's ability to take over games. After dropping 2 in a row and with Stafford getting more and more banged up each week, the Lions season could quickly be coming to an end.
15. Oakland Raiders (6-6, Previous Ranking: 19)
Last Week: W, 24-14, vs. Giants
Next Week: at Chiefs (6-6)
The Raiders looked lost earlier in the season. Now, they have a chance to take over the AFC West and move closer to a playoff berth. Oakland and Los Angeles are both hotter than the Chiefs right now and with a win over the Chiefs this week, the Raiders could begin putting away Kansas City's chances of a playoff berth.
14. Dallas Cowboys (6-6, Previous Ranking: 18)
Last Week: W, 38-14, vs. Redskins
Next Week: at Giants (2-10)
The Cowboys are still on the outside looking in in the NFC playoff race, but with Sean Lee expected to return this week and Ezekiel Elliott returning for the final 2 games of the year, the Cowboys could sneak their way into the playoffs if they can manage a way to win out. Not holding my breath, though.
13. Baltimore Ravens (7-5, Previous Ranking: 16)
Last Week: W, 44-20, vs. Lions
Next Week: at Steelers (10-2)
Are the Ravens the AFC team that is peaking at the right time? Their defense continues to dominate and lead them to victory. Sitting 3 games back from the Steelers, Baltimore has a chance to narrow the gap in the AFC North title race. Lose, and the Steelers clinch. The Ravens will only go as far as Joe Flacco's consistency will take them.
12. Tennessee Titans (8-4, Previous Ranking: 12)
Last Week: W, 24-13, vs. Texans
Next Week: at Cardinals (5-7)
The Titans are in first place in the AFC South and control their destiny at this point. But honestly, of all the teams above .500, the Titans might be the least exciting. They are meh on both sides of the ball, but I give them credit because they find ways to win each week, which is the most important thing.
11. Atlanta Falcons (7-5, Previous Ranking: 8)
Last Week: L, 14-9, vs. Vikings
Next Week: vs. Saints (9-3)
Dan Quinn made some questionable decisions in this one, but that doesn't take away from how dangerous the Falcons could be in the playoffs. They'll need some help to win the NFC South, but there is still a real possibility that both Wild Card spots go to South teams.
10. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6, Previous Ranking: 11)
Last Week: W, 19-10, vs. Browns
Next Week: vs. Redskins (6-6)
Of the 3 teams tied for 1st in the AFC West, the Chargers are probably the most complete team. It's hard to believe that this team started the year 0-4. As long as they don't have one of their signature Chargers' losses, this is a team that could make some noise in the playoffs.
9. Carolina Panthers (8-4, Previous Ranking: 7)
Last Week: L, 31-21, at Saints
Next Week: vs. Vikings (10-2)
If the Panthers really want people to believe in them as a contender instead of an inconsistent team, they need to win both games in their 2-game home stand. Snagging a win away from the NFC #1 Vikings and a Packers team that could have Aaron Rodgers back would be the vote of confidence that this team needs.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4, Previous Ranking: 9)
Last Week: W, 30-10, vs. Colts
Next Week: vs. Seahawks (8-4)
The Jaguars absolutely owned Indianapolis this season. This team will continue to ride the waves of their elite defense, but if Blake Bortles has any hiccups, I don't know how far they'll go. Defense wins championships, but at some point, your quarterback needs to help you out.
7. Seattle Seahawks (8-4, Previous Ranking: 10)
Last Week: W, 24-10, vs. Eagles
Next Week: at Jaguars (8-4)
Huge win for the Seahawks against the red hot Eagles. Russell Wilson has played MVP-caliber football this year, but it has largely gone unnoticed because of the struggles Seattle has had this season. Either way, the Seahawks remain 1 game behind the Rams with the ever-important Week 15 matchup looming.
6. New Orleans Saints (9-3, Previous Ranking: 6)
Last Week: W, 31-21, vs. Panthers
Next Week: at Falcons (7-5)
In my opinion, the Saints are the best team in the NFC South and if they can beat the Falcons one (if not both) of the times they play over the next 4 weeks, this division is all but theirs. The Saints are my favorite to represent the NFC this February.
5. Los Angeles Rams (9-3, Previous Ranking: 5)
Last Week: W, 32-16, at Cardinals
Next Week: vs. Eagles (10-2)
The Rams' formula moving forward should be pretty simple: win and control your destiny. After securing their first winning season since 2003, Los Angeles is in the drivers seat in the NFC West and could jump into a 1st-round bye if the Vikings or Eagles slip up over the next 4 weeks.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2, Previous Ranking: 3)
Last Week: W, 23-20, at Bengals
Next Week: vs. Ravens (7-5)
The Steelers have no won 7 games in a row after a humiliating loss to Jacksonville. It hasn't been pretty, but the Steelers have found a way to win games even when adversity is telling them they shouldn't. Resilience is the sign of a dangerous winning team. Also, continue prayers to Ryan Shazier. Not matter what team you follow, this is bigger than football. Here's to a safe and speedy recovery.
3. Minnesota Vikings (10-2, Previous Ranking: 4)
Last Week: W, 14-9, at Falcons
Next Week: at Panthers (8-4)
Minnesota's 8th win in a row might have been their most impressive to date. Going to Atlanta and beating the surging Falcons is no small task, nor is completely shutting down Julio Jones. The Vikings are the real deal and they're doing it all with a quarterback that is working on a $2 million contract. Case Keenum has been nothing short of impressive this year.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2, Previous Ranking: 1)
Last Week: L, 24-10, at Seahawks
Next Week: at Rams (9-3)
Slight bump in the road for the Eagles, but that doesn't mean that they aren't still the real deal. After beating up on some of the NFL's bottom-feeder teams, the Eagles simply didn't play the type of football needed to succeed in a hostile environment Personally, this loss couldn't have come at a better time for the Eagles. Being brought back down to earth could be the motivation this team needs to keep pushing forward. A victory against the hot Rams could be the moral boost this team needs to prove that the loss to Seattle was simply a fluke.
1. New England Patriots (10-2, Previous Ranking: 2)
Last Week: W, 23-3, at Bills
Next Week: at Dolphins (5-7)
After the Eagles have held the #1 spot for a while, the Patriots slide up to the top spot, and rightfully so. After a historically bad start, the Eagles have appeared to turn into the Patriots that we are familiar with. One thing to consider is that this defense hasn't been tested with "elite" offenses in recent weeks. I'm convinced that New England's defense has improved, but time will tell if they can hold up throughout the playoffs.