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Online Exclusive: NFL Power Rankings

by Bart Snyder - Staff Writer
Thu, Nov 14th 2019 04:00 pm
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has taken the NFL by storm this season. He has planted himself in the MVP conversation and led the Ravens to the top of the AFC North.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has taken the NFL by storm this season. He has planted himself in the MVP conversation and led the Ravens to the top of the AFC North.

With the NFL season past its midpoint, the shape of the league is becoming more clear. There looks to be four truly elite teams, a lot of teams in the middle and a few truly bad teams.

1. San Francisco 49ers (8—1) – The final undefeated team has fallen. San Francisco doesn’t have a ton of star power on offense yet they have four games with over 30 points, including a 51-13 blowout of the Panthers. They have primarily been powered by their defense which ranks top 5 in almost every defensive statistic. The loss to Seattle should not worry them too much, as they still play them one more time and have a one-game advantage in the standings.

2. Baltimore Ravens (7—2) – OB Lamar Jackson is a one-man wrecking crew. Jackson has single-handedly made the Ravens the scariest team in the AFC. Jackson has more individual rushing yards than seven teams and the ability to make big plays with his arm The biggest concern for Baltimore is likely their lack of weapons for Jackson. Despite that, the Ravens still took care of the Patriots in their biggest matchup of the year.

3. New England Patriots (8—1) – The Patriots are good. No surprise there. The question is, just how good are they? The Patriots defense put on a show in their first eight games of the season, allowing just 60 points. The teams they faced, however, were highlighted by the Bills and Steelers. While most of these games were blowouts, it is still somewhat concerning that the first big opponent the Patriots faced, Baltimore, completely manhandled them.

4. Seattle Seahawks (8—2) – Thanks to persistence and a bad kick, the Seahawks are all of the sudden serious contenders for both the NFC West. When the offense is clicking, they can be one of the best in the NFL. Led by an MVP front-runner, QB Russell Wilson, the Seahawks look like a serious challenge no matter who they face. Their week 17 matchup against the 49ers at home could end up being one of the games of the year.

5. Green Bay Packers (8—2) – The Packers rebounded nicely from their Week 9 loss to the struggling Chargers by beating the Panthers in Green Bay. Even with a poor game against Carolina, QB Aaron Rodgers is having a great season and finally has a completely healthy assortment of offensive weapons. Outside of games with the 49ers and Vikings, the Packers have a relatively easy late-season schedule. 

6. New Orleans Saints (7—2) – The Saints weathered the storm. Who would have guessed that QB Teddy Bridgewater would go 5—1 in place of the injured QB Drew Brees? The Saints have the makings of a serious Super Bowl contender. Despite losing at home to Atlanta, the Saints still have a two-game lead in the division and play the second place Panthers twice in the final six weeks.

7. Minnesota Vikings (7—3) – The Vikings have one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. QB Kirk Cousins may not be part of the mobile quarterback phenomenon that is sweeping the league, but he doesn’t have to be. With WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to throw to and RB Dalvin Cook gashing teams for 4.9 yards per carry, the Vikings are breezing through the league.

8. Houston Texans (6-—3) – All three of the Texans’ losses are to other teams that are also in the playoff hunt, and only one of them was a divisional loss. On top of that, all the losses have been by one score. Star QB Deshaun Watson is quietly piecing together his best season yet, and the team has found a reliable running back in Carlos Hyde.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (6—4) – After starting 4—0, the Chiefs have run into some trouble. With a 2—4 record in their last 6 games, the Chiefs are just barely hanging on to the top spot in the AFC West. How much of the struggle was due to QB Patrick Mahomes missing games and not being 100% healthy is hard to tell. The Chiefs now need to go to all lengths to avoid mistakes the rest of the way.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (5—4) – After facing four of the best teams in the league through the first five weeks, the Steelers found themselves at 1—4. With one score losses to Seattle, San Francisco and Baltimore, all with a backup QB Mason Rudolph playing, many people were overlooking them. Pittsburgh then rattled off four straight wins to put themselves right back in the conversation. The Steelers are being led by their defense, which has shown no signs of slowing down.

11. Dallas Cowboys (5-—4) – After opening with a 3—0 record against some of the worst teams in football, the Cowboys then dropped three straight to fall to 3—3. Despite their only notable win being against the Eagles, the team has blown out the bad teams and played tough games against the good teams. Three of the Cowboys four losses were by only four points, while the fourth was only a 10 point loss.

12. Tennessee Titans (5—5) – Could it be possible that QB Ryan Tannehill is the answer to the Titans prayers? Already sporting a stout defense and one of the better running backs in the league, the Titans decided to bench the struggling QB Marcus Mariota. Tannehill has since led the Titans to a 3-—1 record, including a huge win over the Chiefs in Week 10. The Titans still have two games left against division-leader Houston.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) – The Eagles has been a mystery all year. One week they lose to the Lions, the next they beat the Packers. The Eagles play the Patriots and Seahawks in their next two games. Afterward, they face the Redskins, Dolphins and Giants twice. With one more game against Dallas as well, the Eagles could very possibly have a shot at winning the NFC East.

14. Carolina Panthers (5—4) – The Panthers have done what they’ve needed to in order to stay competitive this year. RB Christian McCaffery is having a career year and rookie QB Kyle Allen has seemingly stolen the spot of incumbent QB Cam Newton. The Panthers still have two games against Atlanta and a game against Washington.

15. Buffalo Bills (6—3) – The Bills’ defense has made up for what is one of the worst offenses in the league. QB Josh Allen has shown improvement in his short passing game, but has still been unable to find a rhythm on deep passes. The team’s play-calling has been poor at best, and the defense has started to reveal its weaknesses. A bad loss to a struggling Browns team just adds to the frustration for Bills fans. There is still time to work out the issues but the Bills have a tough stretch of games late in the season.

16. Indianapolis Colts (5-—4) – With former QB Andrew Luck retiring before the start of the season, no one expected the Colts to do much of anything. QBJacoby Brissett had other plans. Brissett has helped keep the Colts competitive, but an injury kept him out in Week 10 against Miami. The offense looked lost against the Dolphins without Brissett at the helm. If he can stay healthy the rest of the season, the Colts could be serious contenders.

17. Oakland Raiders (5-—4) – While the Raiders may be 5—4, their only real notable win was against the Colts. In their losses, the Raiders have lost by two or more scores scores three times. The offense has been clicking, but the defense presents a large issue. If Oakland can find a way to at least patch it up in the second half of the season, with a relatively weak schedule, the Raiders have a chance at the playoffs.

18. Los Angeles Rams (5-—4) – The Rams are in serious trouble. After starting 3—0, the team has lost four of its last six games. The Rams now sit third in their own division, as well as outside of the Wild Card. QB Jared Goff is struggling this season and RB Todd Gurley is not what he used to be. The Rams need to right the ship, and fast, if they want to stay in the mix this season.

19. Chicago Bears (4—5) – They are who we thought they were. Their defense has been what we all expected this year; a tough squad that does not like to allow opponents to score. Only two opponents have scored more than 20 points against the Bears in a game this season. They say defense wins championships. The Bears are testing this theory, and it’s not working.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-—5) – Minshew Mania…. is over. The Jaguars announced before their bye week QB Gardner Minshew, the rookie sensation who took the league by storm, will be back on the bench with QB Nick Foles returning from an injury. Minshew had some great performances in his time as a starter, but his last start, a 26-3 loss to the Texans, was not one to admire. The Jaguars don’t have too tough of a second half schedule, so whether it is Foles or Minshew, they are not out of it yet.

21. San Diego Chargers (4-—6) – While the Chargers do have wins over the Colts and Packers, they also have losses against the Broncos and Lions. QB Phillip Rivers is having a lackluster season and the run game has been extremely hit or miss. With two games left against the Chiefs and one against the Vikings, San Diego will be lucky to escape the season with less than 10 losses.

22. Cleveland Browns (3—6) – The Browns are still the Browns. After some big offseason moves and the high expectations for QB Baker Mayfield in his sophomore season, many people expected a playoff appearance. Instead, Mayfield has struggled mightily and the team as a whole is not living up to expectations. Alongside second-year standout RB Nick Chubb, a big win over the Ravens and last week’s win over the Bills are the only things keeping Cleveland clinging to hope.

23. Denver Broncos (3—6) – The Broncos are just not very good. They have three wins, but two of those are against the struggling Chargers and Browns. The lack of any real offensive weapons as well as a mediocre quarterback in Joe Flacco have hurt the team as they have not scored more than 24 points in a game. This includes only two games with 20 or more points. The team outlook looks pretty bleak here.

24. Detroit Lions (3—5—1) – The Lions were primed to go as far as their defense would take them this season. As expected, the offense is solid, at least when QB Matt Stafford is leading it. The defense has been the team’s weak point, and now that Stafford is likely out multiple weeks, the Lions really have no strong points.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-—6) – QB Jameis Winston has had some beautiful games this season, however, just like he has his entire career, he has had trouble with turnovers. If Winston could keep the ball away from the other team, the Buccaneers could very possibly be in a position to make the playoffs. They have lost four of five games and all of those losses have been by nine or fewer points.

26. Arizona Cardinals (3—6—1) – The Cardinals could be winless as easily as they could be 7—3. The team has beat weak opponents while losing to tougher opponents. Despite this, they have managed to challenge their tougher opponents. Seven of the Cardinals nine games have been decided by one score or less. This team could be one or two weapons away from playing solid football.

27. Miami Dolphins (2—7) – Could the Fitzmagic be back for yet another five game stretch? After starting 0-—7, the Dolphins have won two in a row. While those games were against the struggling Jets and the Brissett-less Colts, they are wins. On top of that, the Dolphins also held late leads in each of their last two losses. The team still does not show many signs of being good, but they are at least starting to make games interesting.

28. Atlanta Falcons (2—7) – The Falcons managed to give us Week 10’s biggest shocker. They went in to New Orleans and knocked off the 7—1 Saints, managing to look like the Falcons that we are much more used to. Despite this, the Falcons are still only 2—7 and just lost two of their offensive weapons in RB Devonta Freeman and TE Austin Hooper. The defense a concern, as it has allowed 24 or more points in all seven their losses.

29. New York Jets (2—7) – The Jets entered the season with high hopes and eyes on the playoffs after signing star RB Le’Veon Bell. This excitement very quickly wore off as the team started 0—4. They managed to pull off a surprising win over the Cowboys before dropping three in a row. A win against the struggling Giants does not provide much hope, but a relatively easy second half schedule could see them end the season on a high note.

30. New York Giants (2-8) – After a somewhat promising 2—2 start to the season and the early emergence of QB Daniel Jones, known as “Danny Dimes”, things were looking up for the Giants. Jones quickly regressed to looking like the rookie he is and a serious injury to superstar RB Saquon Barkley has crushed any hopes the team may have built up. The Giants have a long way to go before they see this rebuild pay off.

31. Washington Redskins (1—8) – The Redskins are almost in as rough a spot as the Bengals. With their only win coming against the Dolphins due to a failed two point conversion, the Redskins could easily be 0-9. To make matters worse, the team just placed its best player, OL Trent Williams, on the non-football injury list.

32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-—9) – Entering the season, the Bengals did not have the look of the last winless NFL team. With generally reliable QB Andy Dalton and star WR AJ Green, the Bengals looked like they would manage to win a few games and further prolong their consistent mediocrity. Now that Miami has won twice, Cincinnati fans can start their own “Tank for Tua” campaign.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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