What a bizarre week for the NFL. The New York Jets got their first win of the season in Los Angeles against the Rams, while the Bengals took down the Steelers with Ryan Finley under center. Those two results changed a lot. The Cleveland Browns are now very much alive for the AFC North title since their final game of the season is against the Steelers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars own the first overall pick in the NFL Draft if the season ended today. Meanwhile, every single team in the NFC East is still alive, and the AFC Wild Card race is shaping up to be one for the ages.
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32) New York Jets (Prev: 32)
The Jets can’t even lose right. Through 13 weeks, the Jets were on pace to be the worst team in NFL history. Yet, in Week 15, they picked up their first win of the season and prevented an 0-16 season. However, in the process, they also removed themselves from the top spot in the 2021 NFL Draft, and unless the Jaguars win another game, they will likely not be getting Trevor Lawrence in 2021.
31) Jacksonville Jaguars (Prev: 31)
Congratulations to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Thanks to the Jets’ victory over the Rams, Jacksonville now owns the number one overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Other than that bit of good news, things in Jacksonville are a disaster. In their last two games, the Jaguars have been outscored 71-24. Perhaps Trevor Lawrence will be just what the doctor ordered in 2021.
30) Atlanta Falcons (Prev: 29)
The Falcons blew yet another massive lead, this time to Tom Brady, which only makes things worse in Atlanta. If being 4-10 wasn’t bad enough, now they’ll have to listen to all the talk about Tom Brady mounting a comeback against them just like in the Super Bowl. Remember that Atlanta fans? When your team blew it in the Super Bowl? Unfortunately for the Falcons, this is the only time they’ll be thinking about the Super Bowl until next year.
29) Cincinnati Bengals (Prev: 30)
The Bengals pulled off the second-largest comeback of the week when they took out the Steelers on Monday Night Football., It was just their third win of the season and their first since losing Joe Burrow for the season. Ryan Finley was just 7/13 for 89 yards, but Giovanni Bernard rushed for 83 yards and one touchdowns, and added another score through the air. The defense turned the Steelers over three times, while the offense didn’t turn it over once.
28) Houston Texans (Prev: 25)
For the second time in three weeks, the Houston Texans had a chance to beat the Indianapolis Colts and fumbled inside the red zone. It’s been nothing but bad luck for the Texans this season, as they drop to 4-10 and will look to rebuild around Deshaun Watson next season. In the loss, Watson threw for 373 yards and two touchdowns.
27) Philadelphia Eagles (Prev: 26)
Jalen Hurts looked very good against the Cardinals on Sunday, and one has to wonder if this season would have been different if the Eagles had gone to him sooner. The rookie finished with 338 yards passing and three touchdowns and added 63 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Most important, however, is that he didn’t turn the ball over once. The Eagles’ season is likely over, but the future does look bright.
26) Detroit Lions (Prev: 23)
The Lions’ defense is horrific. This season they have given up the third-most yards, fourth-most rushing yards, and the most points per game in the NFL. The offense has shown some signs of life, even without Kenny Golladay, but it’s hard to rely on a team to score more than 31.1 points per game to get victories. D’Andre Swift rushed for two touchdowns in the loss.
25) Los Angeles Chargers (Prev: 28)
The Chargers won’t be making the playoffs this season, but they certainly haven’t stopped playing hard. On Thursday night, they were able to knock off their division rivals in Las Vegas and likely end their chances at making the postseason. Justin Herbert continued to shine, throwing for 314 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
24) Dallas Cowboys (Prev: 27)
Ezekiel Elliott missed Sunday’s game, yet the Cowboys had one of their best team performances of the entire season. In Elliott’s absence, Tony Pollard rushed for 69 yards and two touchdowns. The defense turned the 49ers over four times, and if it weren’t for a Hail Mary as time expired, they would have gone back-to-back weeks holding their opponent to fewer than 30 points, after only doing so three times in their first 12 games. The Cowboys can still make the playoffs if they win out and Washington loses their remaining two games.
23) Denver Broncos (Prev: 22)
The defense was supposed to be the strong suit for the Broncos this season, and while they have had injuries and played the entire season without Von Miller, Saturday’s performance was inexcusable. They gave up 48 points and 534 yards in a home game. Yes, it was against the Bills, but Denver couldn’t do anything to stop the onslaught. Needless to say, the Broncos have officially been eliminated from the playoffs.
22) Carolina Panthers (Prev: 24)
The Panthers fell behind 21-3 and it seemed like all hope was lost, but they battled back in the second half and only gave up three points to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the final 30 minutes. Carolina still lost the game, but they are one of the teams that continues to fight, despite being outmatched in nearly every game they’ve played this season. The defense gave up just 291 yards to the Packers’ offense in the loss.
21) New York Giants (Prev: 20)
Will Joe Judge’s decisions to go for it on fourth down in the red zone cost the Giants a playoff berth? The Giants had three red zone trips in the first half, yet they only scored three points because of a failed fake field goal and a failed fourth-down rushing attempt. The defense couldn’t get off the field all night, but they did only give up 20 points in the game, so those missed scoring chances proved massive. The Giants are still one game behind Washington, but they still have a chance to win the division.
20) San Francisco 49ers (Prev: 19)
The defending NFC champions have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. It was a season marred by injuries for the 49ers, and if they can stay healthy next season, they should have the ability to contend in the best division in football. In Sunday’s loss, they outgained the Cowboys 458-291, but they turned the ball over four times, and they gave up a kick return touchdown to CeeDee Lamb with time winding down.
19) New England Patriots (Prev: 18)
For the first time since 2008, the New England Patriots will not be in the NFL playoffs. To put that into perspective, the Cleveland Browns haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, one of the only other two years since 2001 that the Patriots also failed to make the playoffs. It was an absolutely remarkable run for Bill Belichick and company, but without Tom Brady, the Patriots’ offense didn’t look good at any point this season. With home games against the Bills and Jets remaining, they will just try to finish the season at .500.
18) Minnesota Vikings (Prev: 17)
The Vikings had a chance to put the Bears behind them and continue to put pressure on the Cardinals, but instead, they fell 33-27 at home against their division rivals, and they would need a miracle to make the playoffs. The defense could not stop David Montgomery. The Bears’ running back finished with 146 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. In the loss, Dalvin Cook rushed for 132 yards and one touchdown.
17) Las Vegas Raiders (Prev: 16)
The Raiders love to give their fans false hope. Just five weeks ago they were 6-2, and they looked like they were destined to put up a fight for a playoff spot. However, since then, they have lost four out of five, and their only win was on a miracle play against the Jets. Add to that, two of their four losses were to the Falcons and Chargers, two teams that, on paper, they’re better than, and that only makes matters worse. Marcus Mariots performed well after Derek Carr went down with an injury. He threw for 226 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, and rushed for 88 yards and one touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to secure the victory.
16) Washington Football Team (Prev: 15)
Dwayne Haskins and Washington very nearly pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback against Seattle, but their final drive stalled. However, the fact that this team was in it late shows just how much they have progressed since earlier in the season. Despite the loss, thanks to results from around the league, they still hold a one-game lead in the NFC East. They could wrap up the division this week with a win over Ron Rivera’s old Carolina team and a loss by the Giants.
15) Chicago Bears (Prev: 21)
The Bears’ win over the Vikings was massive in that it keeps the Bears just one game behind the Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot, and it also essentially eliminates Minnesota from contention. David Montgomery had a huge day, rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns, and Mitchell Trubisky took care of the football and did exactly what he needed to do to leave Minnesota with the W. That’s back-to-back wins for the Bears who had lost six straight after starting the season 5-1. If they win out, they just might be able to redeem themselves.
14) Arizona Cardinals (Prev: 14)
Kyler Murray outdueled Jalen Hurts, as he led the Cardinals to a 33-26 victory. Arizona still holds onto their one-game lead for the final playoff spot in the NFC thanks to the win. Murray finished the game with 406 yards passing, three touchdowns, and one interception, and he added another touchdown on the ground. While Arizona amassed 526 yards of offense, their three turnovers were enough to keep Philadelphia in the game until the final drive.
13) Los Angeles Rams (Prev: 6)
The worst loss of the season belongs to the Los Angeles Rams. Their inconsistency finally caught up with them, as they handed the Jets their first win of 2020. The Rams can still win the NFC West, but a loss to an 0-13 team could ruin the psyche of this team moving forward. The offense wasn’t great, but the defense struggled to get off the field, with the Jets possessing the ball for 34:15. Next week’s matchup against Seattle is for everything. Wouldn’t it be very 2020 Rams to beat the Seahawks after losing to the worst team in the league?
12) Baltimore Ravens (Prev: 12)
The Ravens hammered the Jaguars this week, in what was easily one of their most dominant performances of the season. Baltimore is currently tied with Miami for the final AFC playoff spot, but they are on the outside looking in due to tiebreakers. Their final two games are incredibly, and while that is great for their chances of going 11-5, it may actually hurt them since they won’t be taking on any other contenders. They could win out, finish 11-5 and still not make the playoffs.
11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Prev: 11)
The Bucs trailed 24-7 in the third quarter, but they mounted a huge rally to pick up a win and move one step closer to clinching a playoff spot. While many are drawing comparisons to the Tom Brady Super Bowl comeback against the Falcons, they’re ignoring the fact that the Bucs looked downright terrible for more than half of this game. While that is okay against a team like Atlanta, they will need to be better than that come playoff time. Right now, they look destined to play the winner of the NFC East.
10) Miami Dolphins (Prev: 13)
With just two games remaining, the Miami Dolphins are in control of their own destiny as it relates to the playoffs. There weren’t many who thought it was possible when the season began, but the Dolphins are 9-5 and currently clinging onto the final AFC playoff spot. While the schedule moving forward looks tough, they will get the Raiders who are losers of four of their last five, and in Week 17, they will play the Bills who may have nothing left to play for.
9) Seattle Seahawks (Prev: 10)
The Seahawks led 20-3 heading into the fourth quarter, but they barely held on to defeat Washington 20-15. While the game was far from perfect, they got a huge gift from the Jets. Seattle can lock up the NFC West this weekend with a win over the Rams. Russell Wilson had just 121 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the victory.
8) Pittsburgh Steelers (Prev: 4)
Remember when the Steelers were 11-0 and on their way to the number one seed in the AFC? That sure does feel like a long time ago. Pittsburgh has now lost three straight, and while the loss to Buffalo is excusable the losses to Washington and especially Cincinnati simply aren’t. Pittsburgh trailed from start to finish against the Bengals, even though Cincinnati was starting their third string quarterback. Big Ben and the offense turned the ball over three times in the loss, while the defense forced zero turnovers. The Steelers not only won’t be getting a first-round bye, they’re also in danger of losing the AFC North.
7) Tennessee Titans (Prev: 9)
The Titans’ victory over Detroit was one of their most complete games of the entire season. They turned the Lions over three times, Ryan Tannehill finished 21-27 for 273 yards and three touchdowns, and Derrick Henry rushed for 143 yards and one touchdown despite not playing much in the fourth quarter. The Titans still sit atop the AFC South, but they have yet to clinch a playoff berth, and they will be playing their final two games of the season on the road.
6) Cleveland Browns (Prev: 8)
Baker Mayfield finished 27-32 for 297 yards and two touchdowns, as the Browns easily dispatched the Giants to secure 10 victories on the season. Cleveland has looked great in their last two games, and with the Steelers losing to the Bengals, they can actually still win the AFC North. On the other hand, they can still miss the playoffs. The AFC is that good. But with how the Browns have been looking, maybe they are, too.
5) New Orleans Saints (Prev: 5)
The Saints got Drew Brees back, but they couldn’t keep him on the field against the Chiefs on Sunday. New Orleans held the ball for just 18:46 and picked up 15 first downs compared to 34 for the Chiefs. In his first game back from injury, Brees finished with 234 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, but he completed just 15 of his 34 passing attempts. The Saints have now lost back-to-back games after winning 10 straight.
4) Indianapolis Colts (Prev: 7)
The Colts held off the Texans for the second time this season, and they continue to keep pace with the Titans atop the AFC South. In the victory, Philip Rivers was 22-28 for 228 yards and two touchdowns, while Jonathan Taylor added 83 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Next week, they will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the suddenly inept Steelers. A win there would make it likely that, at worst, they would enter the playoffs as the AFC’s fifth seed.
3) Green Bay Packers (Prev: 3)
The Packers put on a clinic in the first half, but they slowed down in the second half of their victory over the Panthers. That being said, the game was never in doubt, and with the Saints’ loss, the Packers are just one victory away from wrapping up the NFC’s number one spot. Aaron Jones rushed for 145 yards and one touchdown in the win.
2) Buffalo Bills (Prev: 2)
Josh Allen had one of his best games in the NFL, as the Bills demolished the Broncos in Denver on Saturday. The third-year pro finished with 359 passing yards and two touchdowns, and he added 33 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Buffalo wrapped up their first division title since 1995, and passed the Steelers for the number two seed. If anyone is going to challenge the Chiefs in the AFC, this seems like the team with the best chance.
1) Kansas City Chiefs (Prev: 1)
Everything just seems to be clicking for the defending Super Bowl champions right now. They possessed the ball for 41:14 in their victory over the Saints on Sunday, and they outgained New Orleans 411-285. The final score shows a close game, but it never felt like Kansas City was out of control in this one. Patrick Mahomes threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
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