NFL Power Rankings Week 13 | Tier 2: Talented but still inconsistent teams
It wouldn’t surprise me to see any of these teams make a run in the playoffs. But as of Week 13, none have proven consistent enough to be viewed as Super Bowl contenders.
11) Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis was probably the better team today against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but in the end, they couldn’t overcome their 5 turnovers. They lost 3 fumbles on the day, and Carson Wentz threw 2 INTs. Penalties also awarded the Buccaneers 4 first downs throughout the game.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski had the Colts’ number. That’s not surprising, given Indianapolis was down both of their original starters at safety. Wentz had a very Wentzian day! He made some massive plays that were part of why the Colts had a shot against the reigning Super Bowl champions. He also had a few plays that made you contemplate if life is worth living.
That roller coaster is what makes Wentz impossible to take your eyes off. It’s also what makes this team so much fun.
10) Los Angeles Rams
Losing three games in a row and looking inept offensively since the loss of Robert Woods doesn’t bode well for the Rams moving forward. They take a tumble in the NFL Power Rankings for that reason.
Furthermore, Los Angeles has struggled defensively more than we anticipated after the acquisition of Von Miller. The Packers suffered what looked to be an overwhelming number of injuries to key offensive linemen, but it hasn’t seemed to negatively affect them too much.
Matthew Stafford now has a pick-six in three straight weeks, and he looks like a shell of himself. He’s always been a streaky player, though, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he turned this around down the stretch.
9) Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game proves just how weird the NFL can be. It also provides a prime example of how important turnovers are. The Steelers averaged 5.1 net yards per play to the Bengals’ 5.7 and had a better third-down percentage.
But the Bengals turned Big Ben over 3 times, and former Steeler Mike Hilton returned an INT for a touchdown against his former team. The best part of the day was Joe Mixon’s explosion on the ground.
Like most rushing matchups between mediocre units, the offense prevailed. The other big plus was Cincinnati’s passing attack didn’t feel obligated to force targets to Ja’Marr Chase. Today was Tee Higgins’ day! That type of balance is critical as they come down the stretch.
8) Buffalo Bills
There is no more frustrating team in football. The Bills continue to pull at the heartstrings of the Mafia through their inconsistent offensive efforts. Defensively, they are still a juggernaut but have now lost star cornerback Tre’Davious White for the season.
From an expected points added (EPA) perspective, they still appear to be one of the top-tier teams in the league. Buffalo bludgeoned opponents in wins and had lost three close games before allowing the Colts to make them look like a generic FCS team on NCAA 14.
Their win against the Chiefs was thoroughly impressive. However, their six other wins have come against the Dolphins, Washington, Texans, Dolphins, Jets, and Saints. Only the Saints have sniffed success this year, and their offense went AWOL with Jameis Winston’s injury.
This four-game stretch with two games against New England and one each against the Panthers and Buccaneers will be the actual litmus test for this team.
7) Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys played in a Turkey Day football game that became nearly unwatchable thanks to Shawn Hochuli and his crew of flag-chucking bandits. Nobody tunes in to watch 28 penalties for 276 yards.
However, we also don’t tune in to the Cowboys to see them run the ball on early downs more than they pass it. It’s a departure from their early-season strategy and a cowardly call because they’re terrified of failing through the air without Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
Now, the receivers return, and Ezekiel Elliott might take a few weeks to rest his banged-up body. Watch them become pass-happy again, and in turn, start dog-walking defenses down the field.
6) Baltimore Ravens
We’ve all heard the saying about the rich getting richer. But just as the privileged stack success, the downtrodden continue to suffer at greater lengths.
So too do the Baltimore Ravens when it pertains to injuries. I’m pretty sure the Ravens needed to change from 12 pt. font size to 6 to fit all the player names on their injury report graphic. And that graphic doesn’t include the 16 — yes, 16! — players on the injured reserve.
It never looked pretty, but the Ravens were able to secure a victory against the Browns. They overcame 4 Lamar Jackson INTs, holding Cleveland to just 10 points. But now at 8-3, the Ravens appear in control of the AFC North and are somehow positioning themselves as the top seed in the AFC despite the injuries.
NFL Power Rankings Week 13 | Tier 1: Maybe these teams are separating?
Nothing is sure in the NFL in the year 2021. We’ve not seen any teams separate themselves, but a few of the more talented rosters are starting to look more consistent as December approaches.
5) Green Bay Packers
They keep losing more key players to injury, but it somehow hasn’t killed them. The Packers have been incredibly impressive despite losing every key offensive lineman. Aaron Rodgers’ broken pinky toe doesn’t seem to bother him too much, and even with Aaron Jones limited, it looks like the offense will survive.
Defensively, Green Bay is opportunistic. Their series success rate is low, but they make up for it in other areas. Good safety play elevates the secondary, despite the loss of Jaire Alexander. It’s yet another example of the NFL not valuing the position enough. The pass rush has improved throughout the season as well.
4) New England Patriots
Whew, buddy, if Mac Jones is going to be hitting intermediate passes at the rate he was today on top of his usual efficiency, this offense could be legitimately dangerous down the stretch.
The Patriots have always been a slow team in September and October. As we near November, New England is playing football at a more dominant level than anyone in the league. They’ve won their last four games by an average of 26 points!
They lost four contests early, so it wouldn’t be fair to put them at the top of the NFL Power Rankings. But in their current form, there aren’t four teams I think would beat the Patriots if they lined up next Sunday.
3) Kansas City Chiefs
There aren’t many things more terrifying to the NFL than a Patrick Mahomes team getting hot late in November. Kansas City’s defense has shown up in the second half of the season. They’re defending the run incredibly well, and Chris Jones has awoken on the interior. Melvin Ingram’s addition has brought attention elsewhere, and Frank Clark has risen from his casket like The Undertaker ringside.
But it’s Andy Reid and the offense that should terrify folks the most. They have the best series success rate in the NFL, meaning they gain a first down or touchdown more often than anybody in the league. They’re also first overall in success rate, and only turnovers tank their EPA/play.
The NFL never “figured out” this offense, and now they’re mad. Good job, media!
2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are still playing some pretty sloppy football, but Tom Brady and Co. aren’t worried about that in November, and we shouldn’t be, either. Only the Cardinals have played consistently good football so far through 12 weeks.
Tampa Bay is going to continue to get healthier on the back end, but the key for this team is keeping non-USAA member Rob Gronkowski on the field. Despite having a slew of receiving options at his disposal, Brady’s favorite target remains Gronk. The veteran tight end was the only Buccaneers pass catcher to average over 9 yards per reception on Sunday.
1) Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals’ bye week came at a great time. Kyler Murray hasn’t played football for a month after injuring his ankle late against the Packers, and DeAndre Hopkins has been on the mend for weeks. Arizona needed health to maintain its high standing in the NFL Power Rankings moving forward.
But make no mistake, even with the injuries, they’ve proven worthy of holding the top spot. Going 2-1 without their two star offensive players in divisional games against a desperate Russell Wilson and a 49ers team looking to make a playoff push was enough to feel good about the Cardinals as is.
With Murray and Hopkins back, they could legitimately be the only team on a tier of their own. That’s something we haven’t said all season.