There was no shortage of heavyweight matchups with playoff implications in Week 14 of the NFL, so let’s waste no time getting into the latest power rankings.
1. Baltimore Ravens (11-2, Last week: 1): Baltimore has now won nine straight games, and six of those victories have come against teams currently in the playoff field (including Sunday’s win at Buffalo) and another against a Rams team that is making its own playoff push.
2. San Francisco 49ers (11-2, 5): The 49ers won the game of the year, as Jimmy Garoppolo put together a potential signature drive to give San Fran a last-second win in New Orleans. That concludes an impressive 2-1 stretch against three division leaders (Green Bay, Baltimore, New Orleans), and the Niners’ path to the NFC’s top seed is very clear.
3. New Orleans Saints (11-2, 2): New Orleans was a third-down defensive penalty or two away from ensuring the NFC would go through the Superdome this year. Instead, the Saints will need help if they’re going to avoid playing wild-card weekend.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4, 6): The Chiefs went into Foxboro and beat the Patriots behind a defense that’s seemingly improving by the week. Oddly, it’s the offense they’ll need more from moving forward, and Patrick Mahomes’ hand injury is unnerving, but KC looks like its rounding into form at the perfect time.
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-3, 5): The Seahawks have played three games this season decided by a touchdown or more — and they’ve lost two of three, including Sunday night vs. the Rams. Does that mean they’re not very good? They’ve been lucky? Both? Nothing at all? So many Seattle questions.
6. New England Patriots (10-3, 4): The Patriots’ three losses this season have been to Baltimore, Houston and Kansas City. Yes, it’s fair to wonder just how good they are and whether they can beat good teams. We won’t get an answer to either of those questions Sunday when they take on the lowly Bengals.
7. Green Bay Packers (10-3, 7): If you’ve watched the Packers at all this year, you know they’re almost impossible to figure out. They’re great offensively on script early in the games and get worse as the game goes on. They have the definition of a bend-but-don’t-break defense. With three divisional games left, how they finish is anyone’s guess.
8. Minnesota Vikings (9-4, 10): Minnesota remains perfect at home with a win over Detroit in a game that taught us absolutely nothing about a team that has feasted on poor competition and struggled with good teams all season long.
9. Buffalo Bills (9-4, 9): The bad news for the Bills is they lost to the Ravens. There’s not much shame in that, of course, and the good news is they were driving late with a chance to tie. Their gauntlet continues with back-to-back road games against the Steelers and Patriots starting Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
10. Los Angeles Rams (8-5, 12): The Rams are finally healthy, and the results are starting to show. But the playoffs still seem like a relative long shot, especially considering there’s a very real chance they win out to finish 11-5 and still miss the postseason (while a sub-.500 team wins the NFC East, no less).
11. Tennessee Titans (8-5, 11): Ryan Tannehill is playing better than the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes right now. Perhaps they should have made that switch sooner. Regardless, the Titans have their playoff destiny in their hands with two games in three weeks against the Texans to finish the season.
12. Houston Texans (8-5, 8): One week, you beat the Patriots. The next week, you get stomped by the Broncos (at home, no less). Sounds about right for Bill O’Brien’s team.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5, 13): Devlin Hodges played his role to perfection Sunday, completing 16 of 19 passes with no turnovers and letting a ferocious Steelers defense take care of the rest. They’ll need a similar effort from him Sunday night in a huge game against the Bills.
14. Chicago Bears (7-6, 16): The Bears, all of a sudden, are very much alive behind dramatically improved quarterback play from Mitch Trubisky. If they get in — and that’s still a big if — they’ll have earned it. The Bears finish the season with the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings.
15. Dallas Cowboys (6-7, 14): The Cowboys, as talented as they might be, just aren’t good. As USA TODAY points out, Jason Garrett’s team is now 0-6 against teams with winning records and 0-7 when trailing at halftime. Ultimately, it will cost Garrett his job, even if they win the division.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7, 19): The Bucs won’t make the playoffs, but credit to Bruce Arians for turning around the franchise, especially how bad it looked at times even this season. Arians claims the Bucs “don’t accept losing” anymore, and if that’s the case, they’ll be a fascinating team to watch next season.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7, 20): It’s possible the Eagles finish below .500 with no healthy NFL-caliber skill position players not named Zach Ertz left … and still make the playoffs. What a weird division.
18. Indianapolis Colts (6-7, 15): It’s been a valiant effort this season for the Colts, but allowing 545 yards to the Bucs on Sunday was a sign this team has just run out of gas.
19. Cleveland Browns (6-7, 18): The Browns won, and then their franchise quarterback called out the training staff about a player who reportedly doesn’t want to be there. They are a mess.
20. Oakland Raiders (6-7, 17): Free betting tip for Week 15: Bet the house on the Raiders, who are playing their final game in Oakland — against Jacksonville.
21. Denver Broncos (5-8, 22): We’re not going to get carried away, but Drew Lock torched the Texans’ defense Sunday. Lock has completed more than 72 percent of his passes and has a 111.4 passer rating through two games as the starter. More importantly, Denver has won both games.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (5-8, 23): LA is in a weird spot here. They should tank (games against Minnesota and Kansas City should help) and improve their draft spot with an eye on drafting Phillip Rivers’ successor, but do they really want to give up on what could be Phil’s final stand with the Bolts?
23. Carolina Panthers (5-8, 21): Normally, when a team fires a coach this time of year, it’s welcomed by the players. Ron Rivera’s dismissal seemed downright depressing to some Panthers players, and well, they lost by 20 to the Falcons.
24. New York Jets (5-8, 25): If the draft was tomorrow, the Jets would have the No. 9 pick. If they fall out of the top 10 despite still having a relatively meaningless season will be peak Jets.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9, 24): The 2019 Jacksonville Jaguars!
26. Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1, 26): Arizona, marred in a six-game losing streak, has a very obvious top draft need: they need to find guys who can protect poor Kyler Murray. The No. 1 pick has been sacked a league-high 46 times this season.
27. Atlanta Falcons (4-9, 28): Olamide Zaccheaus probably won’t have a memorable career, but it’s pretty fun his first career catch went for a 93-yard touchdown. Just as funny is the fact that he — not Julio Jones or anyone else from high-powered Falcons past — caught the longest touchdown pass of Matt Ryan’s career.
28. Detroit Lions (3-9-1, 27): What a lost season for the Lions, who will have to make a decision on Matt Patricia. He probably should keep his job given the injuries they’ve had to endure, but who knows.
29. Miami Dolphins (3-10, 29): Miami kicker Jason Sanders setting a franchise record with seven field goals in a game the Dolphins ultimately lost is a perfect encapsulation of their 2019 season.
30. Washington Redskins (3-10, 30): Not sure why Dwayne Haskins was in the game limping around as the Packers’ pass rush teed off on him, but he still did a nice job to keep that game somewhat competitive.
31. New York Giants (2-11, 31): Eli Manning had one very good half to make everyone feel good about him again, but the Giants still found a way to lose in Philly on Monday night.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-12, 32): Imagine if the Patriots actually were nefariously recording the Bengals’ sideline? That would be quite funny because the Bengals are quite bad.