NFL Power Rankings Week 5, 2016

One week after being throttled by the Philadelphia Eagles, the Pittsburgh Steelers got a dominating 43-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. See where this moves the Steelers in our Week 5 power rankings, and check out last week’s rankings here.

1. Denver Broncos (4-0); beat Tampa Bay 27-7, up 1 spot –  Trevor Siemian still has a sore shoulder, so we might see Paxton Lynch make his first NFL start. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing since Lynch threw for 170 yards and 1 TD against the Buccaneers last week.

2. New England Patriots (3-1); lost to Buffalo 16-0, down 1 spot – New England’s offense didn’t look good last week, and it seems like having Tom Brady out for four weeks finally caught up to them. But the good news for New England is that the Deflate-Gate fiasco is finally over.

3. Minnesota Vikings (4-0); beat NY Giants 24-10, same spot – Minnesota has passed some tough tests in the early going, and their defense has been outstanding. Our main concern, though, is their running back situation with Adrian Peterson now on IR.

4. Seattle Seahawks (3-1); beat NY Jets 27-17, same spot – It was hard telling that Russell Wilson had a sprained knee, as he threw for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1); beat Kansas City 43-14, up 2 spots  – Pittsburgh took advantage of early Chiefs’ gaffes and turned this game into a blowout early. They were leading 36-0 before KC finally scored.

6. Green Bay Packers (2-1); bye week, up 2 spots – The Packers didn’t play, but they still move up after losses by the Chiefs and Panthers.

7. Dallas Cowboys (3-1); beat San Francisco 24-17, up 4 spots – Dallas is certainly faring better this season than they did in 2015 without Tony Romo.

matt-ryan-falcons8. Atlanta Falcons (3-1); beat Carolina 48-33, up 4 spots – Matt Ryan threw for over 500 yards and is on pace to break the NFL record for most passing yards in a season.

9. Carolina Panthers (1-3); lost to Atlanta 48-33, down 3 spots – Carolina’s offseason losses hurt them, and it’s showing with an awful start.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2); lost to Pittsburgh 43-14, down 5 spots – Things look bleak after KC got destroyed by Pittsburgh. But Jamaal Charles should be rounding into form soon, and they have a relatively soft schedule coming up: Oakland, New Orleans, Indy, Jacksonville.

11. Arizona Cardinals (1-3); lost to LA 17-13, down 2 spots – With all of the talent that Arizona possess on both sides of the ball, it’s tough to see how they’ve started this poorly.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2); beat Miami 22-7, up 1 spot – With Vontaze Burfict back from suspension, the defense turned in an inspired effort. It also helped the Bengals’ cause that AJ Green tallied 173 receiving yards and a touchdown.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0); bye week, up 1 spot – We get to see another test for undefeated rookie Carson Wentz as the Eagles travel to Detroit.

derek-carr14. Oakland Raiders (3-1); beat Baltimore 28-27, up 3 spots – It’s a little early to declare the Raiders a playoff-bound team. But a 3-1 start shows that this Oakland unit isn’t the same joke that we’ve seen throughout the last decade-plus.

15. Baltimore Ravens (3-1); lost to Oakland 28-27, down 5 spots – Tough loss for Baltimore, which was on the verge of starting the season 3-1.

16. Buffalo Bills (2-2); beat New England 16-0, up 2 spots – We really thought the Bills were sunk following an 0-2 start. But Buffalo has surprised us with tough wins over Arizona and New England.

17. Houston Texans (3-1); beat Tennessee 27-20, up 2 spots – Houston may have lost JJ Watt for the season, but they still look like they could walk over a very weak AFC South.

18. New York Giants (2-2); lost to Minnesota 24-10, down 3 spots – Between injuries at running back and Odell Beckham’s emotions, New York is at a crossroads right now.

jeff-fisher-rams19. LA Rams (3-1); beat Arizona 17-13, up 3 spots – Jeff Fisher got his revenge for comments made by Bruce Arians a couple of years ago. More importantly, LA is tied for first in the NFC West.

20. Indianapolis Colts (1-3); lost to Jacksonville 30-27, down 4 spots – Things are getting so bad for Indianapolis that former Colts legend Reggie Wayne bashed the front office.

21. Washington Redskins (2-2); beat Cleveland 31-20, up 5 spots – After an 0-2 start where everybody was criticizing Kirk Cousins, Washington is now at .500 and in the thick of the NFC East race.

22. Miami Dolphins (1-3); lost to Cincinnati 22-7, down 2 spots – Injuries are really affecting the Dolphins, as they’re missing four offensive lineman, two linebackers, Arian Foster, and Jordan Cameron.

23. New York Jets (1-3); lost to Seattle 27-17, down 2 spots – The Jets opened with one of the toughest early schedules in the league, and it’s taking a toll on their record.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3); beat Indianapolis 30-27, up 3 spots – Jacksonville still hasn’t shown any signs of a breakthrough season, but this win over the Colts is nice.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3); lost to Denver 27-7, down 2 spots – After opening the season with a big win over Atlanta, Tampa Bay has now lost 3 straight games.

26. Chicago Bears (1-3); lost to Detroit 19-17, down 3 spots – Brian Hoyer has provided a nice spark in Jay Cutler’s absence, throwing for 302 yards and two touchdowns in this contest.

27. Detroit Lions (1-3); lost to Chicago 19-17, down 3 spots – Matt Stafford had a rough outing in this game, throwing for 213 yards and two interceptions.

28. New Orleans Saints (1-3); beat San Diego 35-34, down 3 spots – The Saints continue to roll on offense, but they haven’t stopped anybody all season.

29. San Diego Chargers (1-3); lost to New Orleans 35-34, down 4 spots – Philip Rivers continues putting up big numbers; but it’s not resulting in wins because the defense can’t stop opposing rushers.

30. Tennessee Titans (1-3); lost to Houston 27-20, down 1 spot – The highlight of the season has been the rejuvenation of DeMarco Murray. But what the Titans really need is to turn some of these close games into wins.

31. San Francisco (1-3); lost to Dallas 24-17, same spot – Blaine Gabbert started off well in this contest, but he couldn’t generate any offense after the first half.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-4); lost to Washington 31-20, same spot – One bright spot for Cleveland has been Isaiah Crowell, who’s the league’s second leading rusher with 394 yards.

2016 NFL Power Rankings Week 2

Ben Roethlisberger, Pernell McPheeThe first week of the 2016 NFL season had a couple of marquee matchups, with the New England Patriots taking on the Arizona Cardinals, and the Denver Broncos facing the Carolina Panthers. The Patriots and Broncos both got the Ws, which has a serious impact on this week’s power rankings. And you can check out last weeks’ rankings here.

1. New England Patriots (1-0); beat Arizona 23-21, up 4 spots – Few people expected New England to win in Phoenix without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. But the Patriots did, meaning other teams better be afraid.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0); beat Washington 38-16, up 1 spot  – The Steelers’ stars were in good form, with Ben Roethlisberger tossing 3 touchdowns and Antonio Brown catching two of them.

3. Denver Broncos (1-0); beat Carolina 21-20, up 4 spots – Denver’s passing offense looks like it’ll struggle again, but the defense and run game looked very strong against the Panthers.

russell-wilson4. Seattle Seahawks (1-0); beat Miami 12-10, same spot – Hobbled by an ankle injury, Russell Wilson returned in the second half to throw the game-winning touchdown to Doug Baldwin.

5. Carolina Panthers (0-1); lost to Denver 21-20, down 3 spots – Carolina started out hot, but their offense stalled in the second half. Any visions of repeating last season’s 15-1 record are likely gone, but the Panthers are still a legit Super Bowl contender.

6. Arizona Cardinals (0-1); lost to New England 23-21, down 5 spots – Losing to a short-handed New England team at home is a tough way to begin the season. But we have faith that Arizona will climb the rankings again.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0); beat San Diego 33-27, down 1 spot – The Chiefs could have another budding star in RB Spencer Ware…or is it just that San Diego’s defense was bad?

8. Green Bay Packers (1-0); beat Jacksonville 27-23, same spot – Aaron Rodgers looked to be himself in the opener, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another.

aj-green-football9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0); beat NY Jets 23-22, same spot – A.J. Green torched Darrelle Revis again and again, ending with 12 catches for 180 yards.

10. Minnesota Vikings (1-0); beat Tennessee 25-16, same spot – Minnesota’s offense wasn’t very sharp with backup Shaun Hill starting. But two defensive touchdowns proved to be the difference-maker.

11. Baltimore Ravens (1-0); beat Buffalo 13-7, up 6 spots – A 66-yard touchdown reception by Mike Wallace proved to be the difference in this contest. The defense also looked stout, holding Buffalo to just 160 yards.

12. New York Giants (1-0); beat Dallas 20-19, up 7 spots – Eli Manning looked strong, throwing 3 touchdowns, including the game-winner to Victor Cruz.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0); beat Atlanta 31-24, up 7 spots – Thanks to 4 TD passes by Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay has a winning record for the first time since 2012.

andrew-luck-playoffs14. Indianapolis Colts (0-1); lost to Detroit 39-35, down 3 spots – Andrew Luck came alive in the last three quarters, throwing for 385 yards and 4 TDs. But it wasn’t enough as the Colts defense surrendered too much.

15. Houston Texans (0-1); beat Chicago 23-14, up 6 spots – After an early interception, Brock Osweiler looked solid in his debut, throwing for 231 yards and two touchdowns.

16. Buffalo Bills (0-1); lost to Baltimore 13-7, down 4 spots – After an excellent season last year, Tyrod Taylor looked completely lost against Baltimore.

17. Dallas Cowboys (0-1); lost to NY Giants 20-19, down 4 spots – Dallas probably didn’t want Dak Prescott throwing 45 times, but it happened.

18. Atlanta Falcons (0-1); lost to Tampa Bay 31-24, down 4 spots – Atlanta’s running game was surprisingly bad, totaling just 42 yards on 19 carries.

19. Miami Dolphins (0-1); lost to Seattle 12-10, down 4 spots – This Miami team looked as expected: a really good defense, coupled with a pedestrian offense.

20. New York Jets (0-1); lost to Cincinnati 23-20, down 4 spots – The Jets played Cincinnati down to the wire, but ultimately lost. This doesn’t bode well for a team that has a terribly difficult early schedule.

derek-carr21. Oakland Raiders (1-0); beat New Orleans 35-34, up 1 spot – Down by 14 points at the half, Oakland showed some real grit by mounting this comeback victory.

22. Detroit Lions (1-0); beat Indianapolis 39-35, up 4 spots – Calvin Johnson may be retired, but this Detroit offense doesn’t look to have missed a beat.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1); lost to Green Bay 27-23, up 1 spot – Jacksonville didn’t beat a superior Green Bay team, but they were very competitive and look like a .500 squad.

24. Chicago Bears (0-1); lost to Houston 23-14, down 1 spot – Jay Cutler was sacked 5 times and hurried on several other players, which isn’t a good sign for this offense moving forward.

25. San Francisco (1-0); beat Los Angeles 28-0, up 5 spots – While this isn’t the most-heralded team in San Francisco, it’s the first in franchise history to post an opening week shutout victory.

26. Washington Redskins (0-1); lost to Pittsburgh 38-16, down 1 spot – The secondary was torched, and Kirk Cousins looked bad on his first outing. But then again, Washington started off poorly last season too.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0); beat Cleveland 29-10, up 4 spots – The Browns were the perfect opponent for Carson Wentz to make his NFL debut and get some confidence.

28. San Diego Chargers (0-1); lost to Kansas City 33-27, down 2 spots – San Diego was off to a hot start against an elite defense. Then top receiver Keenan Allen went down for the season, and they looked like a different team.

29. New Orleans Saints (0-1); lost to Oakland 35-34, down 2 spots – Drew Brees did about all he could have, with 423 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. But the defense looks like it’ll be bad again.

30. St. Louis Rams (0-1); lost to San Francisco 28-0, down 12 spots – Jeff Fisher’s first game in the new season couldn’t have gone any worse, which doesn’t bode well for his declarations of a winning year.

31. Tennessee Titans (0-1); lost to Minnesota 25-16, down 2 spots – DeMarco Murray had a polarizing game, scoring two touchdowns, but also being involved in two game-changing fumbles.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-1); lost to Philadelphia 29-10, same spot – With their starting quarterback out for the year, Cleveland’s prospects for the 2016 season look even more grim.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 7 (Oct. 16, 2014)

demarco-murrayWhile the Dallas Cowboys have definitely exceeded expectations, few people thought they’d go out on the road and knock off defending Super Bowl champion Seattle. But that’s exactly what the Cowboys did on the strength of DeMarco Murray’s sixth-straight 100-yard rushing game, which is why they climb in our rankings yet again.

1. Denver Broncos (4-1); beat New York Jets 31-17, retains same ranking – Denver went out on the road against a desperate Jets team and grabbed another win behind Julius Thomas’ two touchdown catches.

2. San Diego Chargers (5-1); beat Oakland 31-28, moves up one spot – The Raiders made this more of a contest than most expected; but still, the Chargers are off to a 5-1 start for the first time since 2002.

3. San Francisco 49ers (4-2); beat St. Louis 31-17, moves up one spot – NFL coaches recently voted Colin Kaepernick over Peyton Manning as the QB they least like to face. Kaepernick gets a chance to prove why this week in Denver.

lesean-mccoy4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1); beat New York Giants 27-0, moves up one spot – Philadelphia finally played some defense to go along with the offense while LeSean McCoy rushed for a season-high 149 yards.

5. Seattle Seahawks (3-2); lost to Dallas 30-23, drops three spots – Russell Wilson completed less than half of his passes at home, and Seattle heads out on the road for two games. Neither offers anything to cheer about right now.

6. Arizona Cardinals (4-1); beat Washington 30-20, retains same ranking – With Carson Palmer back from a shoulder injury, Arizona has a real shot at keeping their top spot in the dominating NFC West.

7. Indianapolis Colts (4-2); beat Houston 33-28, retains same ranking – Indianapolis welcomes a tough Bengals team that’s coming off a loss and a tie. This will definitely make for an interesting matchup.

tom-brady8. New England Patriots (3-2); beat Buffalo Bills 37-22, retains same ranking – Even with New England traveling to Buffalo, they never seemed threatened. Of course, Tom Brady’s 92% career-win rate against the Bills instills plenty of confidence.

9. Dallas Cowboys (5-1); beat Seattle 0-23, moves up two spots – Few would have predicted that the Cowboys would become a power running team this season. But with the way that Murray and the offensive line are playing, it makes sense.

10. Green Bay Packers (4-2); beat Miami 27-24, retains same ranking – Aaron Rodgers’ trick play towards the end even got plastered across mainstream news sites. What wasn’t in the headlines, though, is incredible his 15:1 TD-to-INT ratio.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1); tied Carolina 37-37, drops two spots – What happened to the outstanding defense that we saw the first three weeks? Traveling to Indianapolis doesn’t seem like a very good place for the defense to find themselves again.

12. Detroit Lions (4-2); beat Minnesota 17-3, retains same ranking – Detroit beat a toothless Vikings squad on the road, but problems remain. Matthew Stafford can’t seem to play without Calvin Johnson and the Lions’ kickers have missed 10 field goals.

joe-flacco13. Baltimore Ravens (4-2); beat Tampa Bay 48-17, retains same ranking – Baltimore scored the most road points in franchise history while the team’s offense reappeared.

14. Chicago Bears (3-3); beat Atlanta 27-13, moves up two spots – Jay Cutler may have a little tunnel vision after targeting only five players against Atlanta. But as his 381 passing yards and 100-yard games by both Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall suggest, it worked!

15. Carolina Panthers (3-2-1); tied Cincinnati 37-37, drops one spot – Coming off of the first tie in franchise history, Carolina rolls into difficult matchups against Green Bay, Seattle, New Orleans and Philadelphia.

16. New Orleans Saints (2-3); bye week, drops one spot – New Orleans looks for their first road win of the season in Detroit this week.

17. Cleveland Browns (3-2); beat Pittsburgh 31-10, moves up five spots – After mounting a huge comeback only to fall short in Week 1, Cleveland hammered the Steelers at home.

18. Miami Dolphins (2-3); lost to Green Bay 27-24, moves up one spot – Miami might have lost, but at least they looked better than just about everybody else who lost this past week.

19. Buffalo Bills (3-3); lost to New England 37-22, drops one spot – The Bills have a good opportunity to bounce back at home against Minnesota this week.

20. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3); bye week, retains same ranking – Kansas City faces a near-impossible situation in San Diego this Sunday.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 2 (Sept. 11, 2014)

percy-harvin-seahawksWe started the season by ranking Seattle number one, and there’s little reason to back off that prediction one week into the season. The Seahawks dominated the Green Bay Packers last Thursday to the tune of a 36-16 blowout. They’ll have no shortage of weapons either as Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards and two TD’s, Russell Wilson threw for 191 yards and a pair of TD’s and Percy Harvin gained 100 combined yards, almost dividing them equally between the air and ground.

Okay, now that we’ve ruined any element of surprise about who’s number one, there were definitely some changes in other spots of our rankings. That said, let’s take a look at the Week 2 NFL power rankings.

1. Seattle Seahawks (1-0); beat Green Bay 36-16, retains same ranking – Seattle picked up right where they left off last season by blowing out another high-profile opponent. We didn’t get to see much from Richard Sherman – only because Aaron Rodgers avoided throwing his direction the entire game. Sherman’s presence is one reason why the Seahawks had little trouble shutting down Green Bay’s uptempo offense as they looked unbeatable at home.

2. Denver Broncos (1-0); beat Indianapolis 31-24, retains same ranking – Denver’s first-half defense looked scary in holding the Colts to just a touchdown. However, they also let Indianapolis back into the game. Peyton Manning continues finding the open man, wherever they may be. This time, it was tight end Julius Thomas as he scored three touchdowns.

3. San Francisco 49ers (1-0); beat Dallas Cowboys 28-17, retains same ranking – Even without Aldon Smith, San Francisco made the Dallas offense look bad by getting in Tony Romo’s face and contributing to his three interceptions. Running back Carlos Hyde looks like a new player to watch this season as he rushed for 50 yards and a TD on just seven carries.

4. New Orleans Saints (0-1); lost to Atlanta Falcons 37-34 (OT), moves up one spot  – Despite a loss – a road loss to a division rival mind you – the Saints move up as everybody else around them also lost. The offense has gotten even better with the addition of rookies Brandin Cooks and Khiry Robinson. The main concern here, though, is the cornerback situation. Playing against elite Falcons receivers didn’t help mask this concern either.

5. New England Patriots (0-1); lost to Miami Dolphins 33-20, drops one spot – Another road loss to a tough division rival here. But it’s concerning how the Patriots were completely dominated in the second half after going into the locker room with a 20-10 lead. The offense is loaded with talent, however, they’ll have a tough time winning if the defense continues allowing players like Knowshon Moreno to rush for 134 yards.

nick-foles-eagles6. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0); beat Jacksonville Jaguars 34-17, moves up one spot – It seems like the Eagles should be moving up a little higher based on their blowout victory. But the worrisome aspect is how they were down 17-0 going into halftime against a Jacksonville team that isn’t markedly improved. Nick Foles was especially off, although he rallied to throw for 322 yards and one touchdown.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0); beat Baltimore Ravens 23-16, moves up one spot – Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green on a 77-yard touchdown pass with five minutes left to help earn Cincinnati a very nice road win. The only complaint here is that the Bengals left a lot of points on the board in the first half, settling for five field goals. If they’d just converted on some key third downs, they could have ended this game early, rather than allowing Baltimore to hang in there.

8. Green Bay Packers (0-1); lost to Seattle Seahawks 36-16, drops one spot – It felt right to give Green Bay a chance when discussing this game in our last power rankings. However, even with their scoring ability, they were no match for a Super Bowl champion opening up at home. The Packers are definitely a team that has a chance to stay in the hunt, but they’ve got some improving to do if they’re going to win a road playoff game.

9. Indianapolis Colts (0-1); lost to Denver Broncos 31-24, retains same ranking – We won’t fault Indianapolis too badly for losing by a touchdown at Mile High. But this one got ugly in the beginning, with the Broncos going up 24-0. Andrew Luck definitely looked every bit a top-5 quarterback, though, in leading his team back. Luck finished the day going 35-for-53 with 370 yards, 3 total touchdowns and 2 INT’s. He can do better, but this was an impressive day for a guy with few weapons around him.

10. Carolina Panthers (1-0); beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-14, moves up two spots – Despite Cam Newton sitting out with a rib injury, Carolina bolted out to a lead in this one and never looked back. The front seven looks amazing again while Kelvin Benjamin had a fantastic rookie debut with 93 receiving yards and a touchdown. It’ll be interesting to see if the Panthers can repeat last year’s success in a loaded NFC South division.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0); beat Cleveland Browns 30-27, retains same ranking – Despite a win, this was a somewhat disappointing home debut for the Steelers. They jumped out to a 27-0 lead, only to be outscored 27-3 afterward. Pittsburgh’s run defense was especially bad against a Browns team that racked up 183 yards on just 30 rushing plays. If the Steelers are to challenge Cincinnati for the AFC North crown, they’ll have to defend much better.

jay-cutler-buffalo12. Chicago Bears (0-1); lost to Buffalo Bills 23-20 (OT), drops two spots – Few would’ve predicted this upset with the Bears playing at home. Chicago opened well after going up 17-7 by halftime. However, they got little pressure from their expensive defensive line, which now includes Jared Allen. And Jay Cutler made some crucial throwing errors as Buffalo clawed back into this one. Fred Jackson’s 38-yard run, which ended at the Bears’ 1-yard line, set up Dan Carpenter’s game-winning field goal.

13. Arizona Cardinals (1-0); beat San Diego 1-0, moves up two spots – The Cardinals came alive in the fourth quarter to score 12 points and take this one away from San Diego. Carson Palmer picked apart a weak Chargers secondary for 304 yards and two TD passes. There was initially some fear that Andre Ellington would miss time for Arizona, however, the running back contributed 53 yards on 13 carries and looks fine.

14. Miami Dolphins (1-0); beat New England 33-20, moves up two spots – In a discussion on NFL prop bets, we liked the Miami Dolphins as darkhorses to win the AFC East. Well, it’s too early to call good on this prediction, but they’re definitely on the right path with a victory over the Patriots. The Miami D-line really came alive in the second half to put pressure on Tom Brady and halt New England’s attack.

15. San Diego Chargers (0-1); lost to Arizona Cardinals 18-17, drops two spots – San Diego went from an anemic first-half performance, to quickly scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter, to letting Arizona score a couple touchdowns in the fourth. Losing this game on the road isn’t such a terrible thing, but the Chargers are definitely hating how they lost.

NFL: AUG 16 Pre-Season Colts v Falcons16. Atlanta Falcons (1-0); beat New Orleans 37-34 (OT), moves up three spots – We want to move the Falcons up more following the win against New Orleans, but we’ll have to see how all aspects of their team develop. One thing’s for sure, though – the passing game is back! Matt Ryan threw for a franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns, and Julio Jones and Devin Hester combined for 215 receiving yards.

17. Baltimore Ravens (0-1); lost to Cincinnati Bengals 23-16, drops three spots – The run game is a mess in Baltimore after they booted Ray Rice from the team. Now, 29-year-old journeyman Justin Forsett will be starting while Bernard Pierce was surprisingly benched. As long as this keeps up, Joe Flacco will have to keep chucking the ball 60+ times a game.

18. Detroit Lions (1-0); beat New York Giants 35-14, retains same ranking – It’s hard to tell if the Lions defense is any better, seeing as how New York’s offense is so bad. But the offense definitely looks upgraded with Golden Tate there to take some pressure off of Calvin Johnson in the receiving corp.

19. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1); lost to Tennessee 26-10, drops two spots – The Chiefs are a candidate for this year’s most de-improved team – if only because their schedule will be far tougher. Of course, a home game against the Titans shouldn’t be that tough, although Kansas City made it that way. With Dwayne Bowe and RT Donald Stephenson suspended, and LB Derrick Johnson and DT Mike DeVito lost to Achilles injuries, things only look to get worse. Their one saving point is that they still have Jamaal Charles.

20. New York Jets (1-0); beat Oakland Raiders 19-14, moves up one spot – A win over the Raiders has to be worth something, right? The defense played well, as expected. But the offense also looked pretty efficient, with Geno Smith going 23-for-28 on passing attempts with a touchdown. Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson also combined for 170 yards on just 23 carries.

21. Tennessee Titans (1-0); beat Kansas City 26-10, moves up three spots – Credit the Titans with going into a playoff team’s den and taking away a solid victory. It’s still early to tell just how good Tennessee is, especially with questions surrounding their running game. However, Jake Locker looked strong while racking up 266 passing yards and a couple of TD’s.

josh-mccown-bucs22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1); lost to Carolina Panthers 20-14, drops one spot – This is definitely one case where the score makes things look closer than they were. Tampa Bay’s new-look offense was stifled early on, and Doug Martin did not look good at all (9 rushing yards on 9 attempts) before getting hurt. Josh McCown’s results were pretty mixed as he threw for 183 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s.

23. Minnesota Vikings (1-0); beat St. Louis 34-6, moves up three spots – We don’t want to get too excited about this team until after they play New England. However, you can’t deny that they had a very good start at St. Louis. WR Cordarelle Patterson looks like a big-time weapon for this offense as he rushed for 102 yards on three carries and added 26 receiving yards.

24. St. Louis (0-1); lost to Minnesota Vikings 34-6, drops four spots – The year couldn’t have started any worse for the Rams. Just two weeks after losing Sam Bradford for the season, Shaun Hill exited this game with a thigh injury. That leaves inexperienced Austin Davis in the driver’s seat. Can Zac Stacy and the running game get anything going?

25. Houston Texans (1-0); beat Washington 17-6, moves up two spots – Last year, Houston won their first two games before going 0-14 the rest of the way. So let’s not get too excited about this victory. Nevertheless, their defense was pretty outstanding – especially the $100-million-man J.J. Watt. He had a sack, blocked an extra point and recovered a fumble in this contest.

26. Buffalo Bills (1-0); beat Chicago Bears 23-20 (OT), moves up two spots – Hard to see the Bills being much better than last year. However, seeing is believing, and they looked good against Chicago. The key to this season will be E.J. Manuel’s confidence and if the second-year QB can develop into a leader.

27. New York Giants (0-1); lost to Detroit 35-14, drops four spots – People wondered if the offense would truly be as bad as it looked in the preseason. And these questions were put to rest as the Giants unleashed a truly awful offensive performance. Eli Manning highlighted this performance by throwing for 163 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

28. Dallas Cowboys (0-1); lost to San Francisco 28-17, drops three spots – The score doesn’t put into account how bad the Cowboys were outclassed in the first quarter. They eventually did some good things after the game was out of hand, but this team looks poor on both sides of the ball right now.

29. Cleveland Browns (0-1); lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 30-27, moves up one spot – Hats off to the Browns for putting up a fight after going down by four scores in the early going. Brian Hoyer moved the offense and generated 230 passing yards and one touchdown. Rookie Terrance West also looked strong while piling up 100 rushing yards on 16 carries.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1); lost to Philadelphia Eagles 34-17, moves up one spot – Based on whether you go with the first or second half, the Jaguars are either a top-10 team or the league’s worst team. Allen Hurns had the best debut out of any rookie after collecting four catches, 110 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Jacksonville won’t win much if Toby Gerhart continues averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry.

31. Washington Redskins (0-1); lost to Houston Texas 17-6, drops two spots – Tough call here on if the Redskins or Raiders are worse. We’ll give Washington the benefit this week because they do have some players who’ve been great in the past – RG III and Alfred Morris. Plus, they should pick up a couple of wins in the weak NFC East.

32. Oakland Raiders (0-1); lost to New York Jets 19-14, retains same ranking – Derek Carr played fairly well in his rookie debut, going 20-for-32 en route to 151 passing yards and two touchdowns. But the run game was just awful as it managed only 25 yards on 15 carries. Headed by veterans Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, this unit has got to do better.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 16 (Dec. 17, 2013)

St Louis Rams v Seattle SeahawksLast week was not kind to the favorites, as league powerhouses like Denver, New Orleans and New England all lost. Two of these games involved desperate teams in San Diego and Miami trying to remain alive for a playoff spot. Speaking of which, the 2013 NFL Playoff picture is beginning to look a lot clearer, but there are still a few division races and Wild Card spots left to be decided. With just two weeks left in the regular season, we’re in for some exciting football!

1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2); beat New York Giants 23-0, moves up one spot – Seattle hasn’t put up the gaudy offensive numbers that Denver has this season. But they are a complete team, and it’s the chief reason why they have the league’s best record. It’s practically a given that Seattle will have home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and they’re the only team that we see as a clear-cut Super Bowl participant.

2. Denver Broncos (11-3); lost to San Diego 27-20, drops one spot – It’s really hard to tell where Denver fits in when it comes to the posteason. They’ll now be deadlocked in a battle with Kansas City and New England for the AFC’s two first-round byes, and the Patriots hold a tiebreaker over them. It’ll be interesting to see what their defense does against elite teams, given that they couldn’t stop San Diego from marching downfield in a home game.

3. San Francisco 49ers (10-4); beat Tampa Bay 33-14, retains same ranking – It certainly doesn’t look like San Francisco can win the division title from Seattle at this point. So the Niners are going to have a tough road to the Super Bowl. But the way that they’ve been playing late in the season, it isn’t hard to see San Francisco winning a few big road games.

jamaal-charles4. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3); beat Oakland 56-31, moves up two spots – Once thought to purely be a good defensive team, Kansas City keeps surprising people with their offensive weapons. The biggest weapon by far is Jamaal Charles, who made Oakland’s defense look horrible on screen passes. Charles caught eight passes for 195 yards and 4 touchdowns in this route.

5. New England Patriots (10-4); lost to Miami 24-20, drops one spot – The Patriots’ string of late-game comebacks finally came to a halt in this contest. They did get close, though, but Tom Brady’s fourth-down pass was intercepted in the end zone by safety Michael Thomas. Even with the loss, New England still has a chance at home field advantage in the AFC.

6. New Orleans Saints (10-4); lost to St. Louis 27-16, drops one spot – This was definitely a surprising outcome as the Rams picked off three Drew Brees passes that eventually resulted in touchdowns. Brees hasn’t played his best football of late, but there’s no reason to panic. New Orleans still holds the second seed in the NFC, and they could go a long way towards securing this spot by beating Carolina.

7. Carolina Panthers (10-4); beat New York Jets 30-20, moves up one spot – The Panthers still have a shot at the NFC South crown, with this weekend’s game against New Orleans possibly being the deciding factor. At home and looking for revenge, we like Carolina in this one.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5); lost to Pittsburgh 30-20, drops one spot – Seen as many people’s dark horse team to win the Super Bowl, the Bengals looked far from champions in the first quarter – getting outscored 21-0 by the Steelers. It’s hard to tell how Cincinnati is going to come out every week. And this inconsistency is haunting them down the stretch.

9. Arizona Cardinals (9-5); beat Tennessee 37-34 (OT), moves up one spot – Arizona might be the best team to miss the playoffs this year. Of course, they play in the NFL’s toughest division (apologies to the AFC West), so it’d be understandable if they do miss the postseason. The Cardinals got some surprising help from their run game against Tennessee (36CAR, 145YDS, 2TD). It’ll be tough to pull off the same feat against Seattle and San Francisco in their last two games.

trent-richardson-colts10. Indianapolis Colts (9-5); beat Houston 25-3, moves up one spot – This was almost like an exhibition game for the Colts as they prepare for Kansas City. They’ve now won two straight after a mid-season slump that saw the Colts defense and run game exposed. Indy is back to using Trent Richardson at running back (19CAR, 64YDS). Will this continue?

11. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6); lost to Minnesota 48-30, drops two spots – Philadelphia blew a golden opportunity to take a two-game lead over Dallas in the NFC East. Nick Foles continued his amazing run with 428 passing yards, 3 TD’s and an interception. But it wasn’t enough as Philly’s D gave up 382 passing yards to Matt Cassel and three rushing TD’s to the unknown Matt Asiata.

12. Baltimore Ravens (8-6); beat Detroit 18-16, moves up two spots – Baltimore isn’t letting a difficult late-half schedule keep them out of the playoff race. Their defense looked strong on the road against a high-powered Lions team. They harassed Matt Stafford into three interceptions, and Justin Tucker added an incredible game-winning, 61-yard field goal. The Ravens are now in control of their playoff destiny, but that may not mean much with difficult remaining games against New England and Cincinnati (away).

13. Miami Dolphins (8-6); beat New England 24-20, moves up two spots – Ryan Tannehill looked pretty outstanding in this game as he threw for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns. Miami’s defense was able to do just enough to slow down Tom Brady and preserve the win. With remaining games against the Bills and Jets, it’s very possible that the Dolphins could leap-frop Baltimore for the final AFC playoff spot.

jay-cutler-bears14. Chicago Bears (8-6); beat Cleveland 38-31, moves up two spots – Jay Cutler looked every bit like he hadn’t played in a football game since Nov. 10th. However, he shook off this early rust and led the Bears to a comeback win over Cleveland. Cutler got some major help from Alshon Jeffrey, who jumped up to make an outstanding TD catch in double coverage.

15. Dallas Cowboys (7-7); lost to Green Bay 37-36, drops three spots – After playing an excellent game for 57 minutes, Tony Romo tossed two interceptions in the game’s final three minutes to let Green Bay steal this one. The Cowboys aren’t out of the playoff race yet, but if they don’t go to the postseason, they can look back at this one and remember why.

16. San Diego Chargers (7-7); beat Denver 27-20, moves up one spot – Few people saw San Diego grabbing road wins in Kansas City and Denver this season. But they’ve done what they had to in order to keep chasing a postseason bid. Ryan Matthews has experienced a career revival, highlighted by the 127 rushing yards and touchdown he put up against the Broncos.

17. Green Bay Packers (7-6-1); beat Dallas 37-36, moves up one spot – A couple of weeks ago, Green Bay looked like they were done for without Aaron Rodgers. But two wins later and they’re challenging for the NFC North crown. Rookie Eddie Lacy has really done a solid job of keeping the Packers alive, and he turned in 171 total yards and a TD in this comeback victory.

18. Detroit Lions (7-7); lost to Baltimore 18-16, drops five spots – Detroit fans aren’t happy after seeing their Lions lose four out of the past five games. Stafford’s three interceptions from this contest have spawned questions about whether he’s really Detroit’s QB of the future. As you can see, things are a mess in Michigan.

antonio-brown-steelers19. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8); beat Cincinnati 30-20, moves up three spots – After starting the year 0-4, Pittsburgh has played respectably, going 6-4 over the last 10 games. Antonio Brown really made a difference in this win as he scored two touchdowns in a 64-second span (catch and a punt return).

20. St. Louis Rams (6-8); beat New Orleans 27-16, moves up three spots – St. Louis forced some turnovers in this contest and got a big victory. Besides the turnovers, Zac Stacy’s 133 rushing yards were crucial as well.

21. New York Jets (6-8); lost to Carolina 30-20, drops two spots – Now eliminated from postseason contention, New York has a lot of questions to answer in the offseason. Will head coach Rex Ryan be back? Will Geno Smith be the starting QB again? It’s difficult to answer either of these puzzlers.

22. New York Giants (5-9); lost to Seattle 23-0, drops two spots – Things have gone from bad to worse for Eli Manning after he threw five interceptions in this game. By all means he should be back and starting again next year. But will the two-time Super Bowl champ cement his status as a franchise player, or have the Giants looking towards younger talent?

23. Tennessee Titans (5-9); lost to Arizona 37-34, drops two spots – What a collapse for the Titans, who, just two weeks ago, were playing a meaningful division game against the Colts. It looks like the bottom finally fell out and Tennessee will be in rebuilding mode next season.

24. Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1); beat Philadelphia 48-30, moves up one spot – It took nearly an entire season to do, but it seems like Minnesota has finally found a quarterback in Matt Cassel. Whether it remains this way next year is a complete mystery.

25. Atlanta Falcons (4-10); beat Washington 27-26, moves up three spots – Atlanta was the beneficiary of seven Washington turnovers, scoring 20 points off these opportunities. Steven Jackson had two rushing touchdowns in what’s been an otherwise dismal season for him.

ej-manuel26. Buffalo Bills (5-9); beat Jacksonville 27-20, moves up four spots – Sure a win over Jacksonville doesn’t normally warrant this big of a jump. But the Bills are the only team down this low to actually win. EJ Manuel was the star for Buffalo as he combined for three total touchdowns.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10); lost to Buffalo 27-20, drops three spots – Jacksonville fought hard amid all of their injuries. Jordan Todman (109YDS) did a good job of filling in for Maurice Jones-Drew, who’s out with a hamstring pull.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10); lost to San Francisco 33-14, drops two spots – Tampa Bay can begin their search for a new coaching staff in about two more weeks. Other than that, there’s nothing really exciting to say about this team.

29. Cleveland Browns (4-10); lost to Chicago 38-31, drops two spots – Once again, the Browns were leading a good team late, only to falter in the waning moments. They squandered a game where they got two defensive touchdowns.

30. Oakland Raiders (4-10); lost to Kansas City 56-31, drops two spots – If the Raiders were banking on Matt McGloin as their QB of the future, they might want to re-evaluate this decision after his four interceptions against KC.

31. Washington Redskins (3-11); lost to Atlanta 27-26, retains same ranking – Mike Shanahan’s odd Kirk Cousins experiment was met with mixed results. Cousins put up 381 yards and 3 TD’s, but also threw 3 picks as well.

32. Houston Texans (2-12); lost to Indianapolis 25-3, retains same ranking – Judging from the way they played against the Colts, it seems as if Houston has truly given up on the season.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 13 (Nov. 28th, 2013)

drew-breesThis year is shaping up to feature one of the most exciting playoff races in NFL history. Now 12 and a half weeks into the season, the AFC Wild Card race is no clearer than it was in Week 1 – with five teams tied at 5-6, and three more teams still in the mix with a 4-7 record. Currently, Tennessee is at the top of the 5-6 heap for the sixth seed; but that could easily change over the next five games.

Divisional races don’t look much clearer since the NFC East, NFC North and AFC West titles are still up for grabs. Taking all of this into account, our job for the Week 13 NFL power rankings is a VERY difficult one! But here goes anyways…

1. Denver Broncos (9-2); lost to New England 34-31 (OT), retains same ranking – Denver easily looked like the NFL’s most dominant team against New England as they jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead. However, the Patriots came storming back and scored on their first five possessions of the second half. But provided this game was at Mile High, we think the Broncos would’ve walked away.

2. Seattle Seahawks (10-1); bye week, moves up one spot – With losses by the Broncos and Chiefs, Seattle suddenly finds themselves with the league’s best record. They’ll have to fight to keep this pretty 10-1 mark as the Saints come to town in Week 13.

3. New Orleans (9-2); beat Atlanta 17-13, moves up one spot – Road wins usually aren’t easy to come by, even against a two-win team. The Saints didn’t look their sharpest, but they did enough to get the job done. Now a huge road contest against Seattle looms ahead.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2); lost to San Diego 41-38, drops two spots – Nobody expected the Chiefs defense to give up 41 points to the Chargers at home. So this one was a definite shocker for a top-3 defense. But we do have to say that the Kansas City offense looked the best it has all year – especially Alex Smith, who threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns in keeping pace with Philip Rivers (392YDS, 3TD).

tom-brady5. New England (8-3); beat Denver 34-31 (OT), moves up one spot – Tom Brady sparked a huge comeback as he threw all three of his TD’s in the second half. The Patriots got a little help in overtime, as Denver’s Tony Carter ran into Ray Allen’s punt, giving New England the ball at the Broncos’ 13-yard line. From here, it wasn’t difficult for Stephen Gostkowski to kick the game-winning field goal.

6. San Francisco 49ers (7-4); beat Washington 27-6, moves up one spot – The Niners’ vaunted running game wasn’t at the level it usually is (76 yards on 33 carries). But Colin Kaepernick made up for this with one of his best games after throwing for 235 yards, 3 TD’s and no interceptions.

7. Carolina Panthers (8-3); beat Miami 20-16, moves up two spots – Aside from the Chiefs, the Panthers have quietly become the NFL’s second-biggest surprise team. They’ve now won seven straight games and are looking like a playoff team for sure.

8. Arizona Cardinals (7-4); beat Indianapolis 40-11, moves up two spots – Yet another surprise team among our top 10, Arizona is quickly moving up the ranks. Their defense was particularly stout against the Colts, led by a Karlos Dansby 22-yard interception TD. Carson Palmer continues to make all the difference at quarterback, after throwing for 314 yards and two TD’s.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4); bye week, drops one spot – A road win against the Chargers would go a long way towards sewing up the AFC North title for Cincinnati. But San Diego is playing at a high level right now, so it won’t be easy.

karlos-dansby-interception10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4); lost to Arizona 40-11, drops five spots – The Colts continue their struggles with Reggie Wayne shelved for the season. A team that has road wins over Seattle and San Francisco, they’ve now been blown out by the Rams and Cardinals at home. This team should still win the AFC South, but that could change if they under perform yet again at home against Tennessee.

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-5); beat New York Giants 24-21, moves up two spots – Dallas finally cooled off New York and their four-game winning streak. Tony Romo (250YDS, 2TD) looked particularly good in leading a 14-play drive that set up the game-winning field goal.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5); bye week, moves up two spots – Nick Foles is riding the hot streak to end all hot streaks as he’s thrown 16 TD’s and no INT’s in the last four games. He’s going to need to continue being this good against a tough Cardinals defense.

13. Detroit Lions (6-5); lost to Tampa Bay 24-21, drops two spots – Matthew Stafford filled up the stat box in both good and bad ways after throwing for 297 yards, 3 TD’s and 4 INT’s. His last interception could be contributed to Calvin Johnson, though, as it went in and out of the star receiver’s hands on a potential game-winning drive.

14. Chicago Bears (6-5); lost to St. Louis 42-21, drops two spots – Nobody can seem to pull away in the NFC North as both the Bears and Lions failed to capitalize on great opportunities. In Chicago’s case, their run defense was atrocious as they gave up 258 rushing yards on just 29 attempts.

philip-rivers15. San Diego Chargers (5-6); beat Kansas City 41-38, moves up three spots – San Diego’s remaining schedule isn’t exactly the NFL’s easiest. But they still remain in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race thanks to a difficult win at KC. Their reward: hosting a tough Bengals team this week.

16. Green Bay Packers (5-5-1), tied Minnesota 26-26 (OT), drops one spot – After horrendous stints in Seattle and Oakland, Matt Flynn is back with a team where he can excel. The career backup came in for an ineffective Scott Tolzien and threw for 218 yards and a TD, helping Green Bay close a 16-point deficit. With Aaron Rodgers still out, Flynn will start against Detroit.

17. Baltimore Ravens (5-6); beat New York Jets 19-3, moves up two spots – Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 66-yard touchdown throw, and that’s pretty much all Baltimore needed to dust off a struggling Jets team.

18. Miami Dolphins (5-6); lost to Carolina 20-16, drops one spot – Miami was dominated in the second half, as they were outscored 14-0. With a complete lack of a running game, the Dolphins may be one 5-6 team that’s not truly in the AFC Wild Card race.

19. New York Jets (5-6); lost to Baltimore 19-3, drops two spotsGeno Smith is playing awful right now as he’s thrown 7 INT’s and no TD’s in the last four games. With New York in the midst of a playoff race, you have to wonder how long he’ll remain the starter.

20. Tennessee Titans (5-6); beat Oakland 23-19; moves up two spots – Ryan Fitzpatrick played really well in this contest, as he threw for 320 yards, 2 TD’s and no turnovers. Most importantly, he threw a 10-yard touchdown to Kendall Wright with just 10 seconds remaining, which kept Tennessee very much alive in the playoff hunt.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6); beat Cleveland 27-11, moves up three spots – After starting the year 0-4, Pittsburgh has now made a miraculous comeback, winning 5 of their last 6 games. The Steelers ended Jason Campbell’s good run at quarterback, after giving him a head injury and forcing him out of the game.

benny-cunningham22. St. Louis Rams (5-6); beat Chicago 42-21, moves up three spots – Whether it’s Zac Stacy or Benny Cunnhingham running the ball, St. Louis has suddenly put together a very good running game. Of course, they’ll hope that Stacy is ready to go after he was forced out of the Chicago contest with a mild concussion.

23. New York Giants (4-7); lost to Dallas 24-21, drops two spots – New York has definitely played better over the past five weeks, after starting the year a miserable 0-6. However, they missed a big chance to beat a quality opponent at home.

24. Cleveland Browns (4-7); lost to Pittsburgh 27-11, drops four spots – Cleveland can’t seem to run or pass the ball, which really puts pressure on their solid defense. Now they’re back to Brandon Weeden at quarterback, who gets a fairly soft matchup at home against the Jaguars.

25. Oakland Raiders (4-7); lost to Tennessee 23-19, drops two spots – The Raiders really have to be disappointed with how they gave up a near-last-second touchdown pass to lose. If only Sebastian Janikowski hadn’t missed two late field goals…

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8); beat Detroit 24-21, moves up two spots – Is it too late to save Greg Schiano’s job? If Tampa Bay keeps winning, anything is possible.

27. Buffalo Bills (4-7); bye week, retains same ranking – Buffalo finally got a much-needed bye week. Now let’s see if CJ Spiller comes out fresher from his injuries and can live up to the preseason hype.

28. Washington Redkins (3-8); lost to San Francisco 27-6, drops two spots – Bad teams seem to find controversy throughout the season. Last week, it was RG III seemingly bashing the coaching staff; this week, it’s his dad causing a stir by coming into the Washington locker room right after the game.

29. Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1); tied Green Bay 26-26, moves up two spots – Minnesota really missed a chance to grab a win in Green Bay. But a tie is no doubt better than a loss.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9); beat Houston 13-6, moves up two spots – For the first time all year, Jacksonville moves out of the league cellar! A big reason for this is running blocking and MJD, who ran for 84 yards and a TD against Houston.

31. Atlanta Falcons (2-9); lost to New Orleans 17-13, drops one spot – Atlanta overachieved last season, and they certainly weren’t built for injuries this year. But at least the defense showed some life against an excellent New Orleans offense.

32. Houston Texans (2-9); lost to Jacksonville 13-6, drops three spots – A team that was built to win a championship this season, Houston has truly been the NFL’s biggest disappointment. And now, they lose to the league’s former worst team at home.