NFL Power Rankings Week 14: Dolphins, Washington, and Steelers rise while Vikings tumble

The NFL Power Rankings for Week 14 were fun to manipulate. There was a lot of movement, with many teams beginning to prove themselves.

The NFL Power Rankings for Week 14 are beginning to shape up now. For a while, teams were streaking in either direction and were either incredibly hot or freezing cold — but there wasn’t much movement overall. For the most part, that was because they’d started off in the opposite direction, and we needed a larger sample size to feel good about them. The top and bottom of the rankings are becoming clearer by the week, but both the NFC and AFC playoff pictures are a disgusting blob of mediocre teams.

NFL Power Rankings Week 14 | Tier 6: Awful to watch but somehow have won some games

I have no clue how they’ve done it at times, but each of these teams has multiple wins on the season. Some have even beaten good clubs along the way. But don’t be mistaken — they’re still very, very bad.

32) Houston Texans

The Texans might be the worst team in the league, but they’ve still somehow figured out a way to win two games. Whereas the Lions have figured out a way to lose all of theirs, despite being the more competitive team on most occasions. 

In fact, Houston’s point differential is worse despite having two wins. But the Jets — with three wins — are outscored by even more on average. The biggest difference with the Texans is their offense is obviously the worst in the NFL. They’re outgained by over 110 yards per game. The Seahawks are also outgained by over 100 yards per contest, but no other team heading into Week 13 had more than a 75-yard difference. 

Houston has scored fewer than 10 points in half their games this season. They deserve the last spot in the NFL Power Rankings for Week 14. 

31) Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s astounding to see teams with worse passing efficiency numbers than the Jaguars on the season. That is a testament to some of the awful passing attacks and quarterback play we’ve witnessed in places like Detroit, Houston, and Carolina. 

But don’t worry, their defense is bad, too. As the season progresses, I become more and more confident that the Urban Meyer experience will be one-and-done. I’m not sure where they’d go from there, but they need to seriously take a shot at someone who will throw everything they have at fixing this offense and developing their quarterback. 

30) Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions have won a football game, ladies and gentlemen! They exercised their demons and won a game even though they made a hilariously bad decision to go for it late in the game in their own territory.

They allowed Minnesota to score with enough time to get the ball back and march right down the field in what can only be described as an excruciating manner. But in the end, the Vikings somehow didn’t defend the goal line on fourth down with no time remaining, and Jared Goff snuck a pass in for the game-winning touchdown. 

I’ve long been under the impression that this wasn’t the worst team in the NFL — they were simply the best at losing football games late. This gets them away from a season with no wins and allows them to rise from the ashes of the NFL Power Rankings. 

29) New York Jets

Even though the Jets struggle with a lack of talent on their roster (particularly on defense), I still didn’t expect them to perform so poorly, especially as the season has progressed. They can’t defend anybody on the back end, and they can’t tackle, either. With two draft selections currently in the top 10, they’ll have their pick of the litter in an outstanding defensive class. 

They could go with one of the top pass rushers, like Aidan Hutchinson, George Karlaftis, or David Ojabo. They could also look at any of the top cornerbacks, and they should absolutely target Kyle Hamilton from Notre Dame to be a do-it-all safety. 

The best thing to come from today was that the game wasn’t an abject disaster for Zach Wilson. In fact, he looked pretty good early on! Mental progression can come as the season winds down, but fixing some of his mechanical deficiencies in the offseason should help correct some of his accuracy issues. 

28) Chicago Bears

Andy Dalton had a rough day at the office, as he was sacked 3 times and threw not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 interceptions. It looked as if the Cardinals saw the weather and the opponent and decided to give their QB the day off. They ran the ball at nearly twice the clip they threw it, and they marched downfield that way. 

That’s who the Bears are right now. The offense is so bad that the Cardinals used them as a tendency-breaker. Arizona never really felt pressed, even when the score was 24-14. Without Justin Fields quarterbacking this team, there is really nothing to look forward to. Hopefully, he returns next week against Green Bay.

NFL Power Rankings Week 14 | Tier 5: Bad teams but some fun pieces

The teams in this tier are bad, but some pieces make them fun to watch every week.

27) Atlanta Falcons

This is a bad football team, yet they still may end up winning eight games this season. With the Panthers, Lions, and Saints still on the schedule, Atlanta should feel good about its chances to score points and compete in those contests.

This team ranks deep in the 20s in both offensive and defensive EPA allowed per play. Depending on whether you like regular DVOA or its “weighted” cousin, they’re even less impressed with the Falcons.

The most unfortunate development here is winning these games takes them farther from where you’d like to be in the draft. They have needs everywhere on the roster, including their future at QB.

26) New York Giants

The Giants have been inept offensively for a few seasons now, and today was at least some proof it’s not all on Daniel Jones. Mike Glennon might have a great vantage point over the offensive line given his height, but it doesn’t help him deliver passes in a timely or accurate manner. 

Now, it’s fair to point out that Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard weren’t available for this game. However, the Giants averaged under 4 net yards per play on the day, and the rushing attack actually outpaced their efforts through the air. 

Defensively, it was death by 1,000 cuts. The Dolphins had scoring drives of 11, 14, 7, and 10 plays. New York’s defense has played better recently since their slow start to the season, but the offense that was hardly there to start has completely disappeared. 

25) Seattle Seahawks

Divisional games can be weird, but could this have been Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offensive resurrection? Maybe, but there were some eyebrow-raising plays from Wilson that weren’t positive. All Seahawks contests are difficult to describe because even in the many years they consistently won double-digit games, they were never able to play in normal games. 

They fumbled 4 times in this one, losing 2 of those along the way. However, they also turned over Jimmy Garoppolo multiple times and picked up a fumble of their own. It would take Seattle running the table to even have a hope of sniffing the playoffs. And with games still to come against the Rams and Cardinals, fans might want to transition to the draft content here at PFN. 

24) Carolina Panthers

In what was a shocking move, Matt Rhule and the Panthers fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Maybe they felt there were irreconcilable differences that would have forced this divorce after the season, or perhaps Rhule wanted to allow Brady the opportunity to get into the college coaching carousel? 

Carolina is a mess. They can’t keep Christian McCaffrey healthy, and they can’t find any semblance of consistent quarterback play. They made a mistake trading assets for Sam Darnold, and they haven’t found any real success with their backup options either. 

It’s a shame because their young defense has a ton of talent. Hopefully, Rhule and Co. can figure out the one position that matters most. 

NFL Power Rankings Week 14 | Tier 4: Pretenders

These teams have won games and made some believe they would make a playoff push, but each has flaws so significant that we can only see them making a playoff run if we squint really hard while also dropping acid. 

23) New Orleans Saints

Taysom Hill and that Saints offense looked more dangerous than they have since the loss of Jameis Winston, even without Alvin Kamara and both outstanding offensive tackles. That is until Hill injured his finger. Had that not happened, who knows how Thursday’s game against the Cowboys would have turned out.

It’s a shame the Saints continuously allow top-10 defenses and an elite offensive line go to waste. Obviously, running out a receiving corps headlined by Marquez Callaway is rough, but we can only place so much blame on the disappearance of Michael Thomas.

Sean Payton’s played with fire for years now, doubling and tripling down on Hill, while the team seemingly forgets to find a compliment for Thomas. Oh yeah, and they still don’t even have a hint toward the answer of “who is the next franchise quarterback.”

22) Las Vegas Raiders

This is a broken team. We shouldn’t blame them; they’ve been through more off-field turmoil this season than any team since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the National Anthem to raise awareness for social injustice. 

The Raiders already couldn’t run the football, and then they lost their deep threat wide receiver to an awful decision of his own. To make matters worse, Las Vegas lost Darren Waller to injury. 

But the real culprit has been their defense, which really has struggled to get stops since the first few weeks of the season. Even though Maxx Crosby continues to affect the opposing QB, it never seems to be enough for the defense to suffice. 

21) Minnesota Vikings

I wish I could find some words of encouragement for Vikings fans, but after what happened against the Detroit Lions, I imagine nothing could cheer them up. 

Losing to a winless team as you’re fighting to remain in the playoff picture is inexcusable. And the pessimism is multiplied when we take a peek at the rest of the Vikings’ schedule. Three of their final five games are against the Bears and Steelers (twice), but they also have contests against the Packers and Rams. 

Even if they win all three against Chicago and Pittsburgh, making the playoffs at 8-9 feels like a bit of a stretch. Minnesota’s biggest hope is that Washington and Philadelphia can cannibalize themselves in their two matchups, as those are the two teams they’re battling for playoff contention. You know what? Maybe eight wins will be enough, after all.  

20) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are a roller coaster. They can’t run the ball. They can’t block well in the run or passing game. Regardless, they continue to compete in most of the games they play. The Ravens were a fraudulent No. 1 seed, but they still should have been able to come in and take care of business. 

The issue is that T.J. Watt exists, and nobody in black, white, and purple had an answer for him. And just like that, the Steelers are somehow back in playoff contention. Watt makes a massive difference, and Pittsburgh gets a reeling Minnesota team next before facing a depleted Tennessee club. 

This opportunistic team could end up being 8-5-1 when they roll into Kansas City in Week 16. Then, the Steelers finish with a frustratingly inconsistent Browns squad before taking on the Ravens in the regular-season finale. 

19) Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles’ offensive line is a problem … for whoever has to face them in any given week. They dominate at the line of scrimmage. Philadelphia only averaged 4.5 yards per rush, but they pounded the rock an astonishing 41 times, even without having a clear threat to run at the QB position. 

Sure, it was against the New York Jets. That, in fact, is the same reason we shouldn’t get too worked up about Gardner Minshew’s performance. However, simply taking what the defense gives is something he does well enough, and that was everything the Eagles needed. 

Jalen Hurts should be able to play in two weeks against Washington, and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t named the starter ASAP by Nick Sirianni in order to avoid any sort of unnecessary speculation. 

18) Washington Football Team

Washington might not be an incredibly strong football team on offense, but there’s no questioning how gutsy Taylor Heinicke and Co. are. If they can avoid mistakes and play good defense, they give themselves a shot to win late. It’s one of the reasons they’re rising in the NFL Power Rankings here in Week 14. 

Against a Raiders team that needed a win to keep them in a comfortable spot in the AFC playoff picture, Washington went out and willed themselves to a hard-fought victory. That puts WFT in the seventh seed ahead of their division rival Philadelphia Eagles. 

They still have to face the Cowboys twice, who have dominated them when Dak Prescott has been healthy in his career. However, they also battle the Eagles twice before ending the season with the Giants. It’s a race for mediocrity and the seventh seed between themselves, the Vikings, and the Eagles. 

NFL Power Rankings Week 14 | Tier 3: They look like playoff teams, but each has significant flaws

Some teams have a quarterbacking issue. Others are going through a rash of bad injury luck. These teams can step on the gas and make a playoff run, but things must start falling into place.

17) Cleveland Browns

The Browns desperately needed a week off, if only for the health of their starting quarterback. Since the Bengals game in Week 9, the Browns have struggled offensively. They’ve scored 7, 13, and 10 points in those three games. 

But if they can get things going offensively, the outlook on this team will be far different. The Patriots game was a tough look for the defense, but they’ve played better since their early-season woes. Still, a defense with as much talent as Cleveland’s shouldn’t struggle as much as they have in 2021. 

16) San Francisco 49ers

There are multiple reasons the 49ers failed against the Seahawks. Seattle sold out on stopping the run, and they forced Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers to effectively beat themselves. San Francisco managed only 2.8 yards per carry on the ground. 

The Seahawks didn’t even do a particularly good job at stopping the 49ers receivers from winning most of the game. Garoppolo was hitting them, and they were making plays after the catch against a struggling Seahawks defense. 

Nevertheless, a safety on third-and-8 made it a tie game, and Garoppolo made two bad decisions that turned into INTs. But this is what we’ve come to expect from him. He’s a quarterback with whom the Niners can win a boatload of games. However, he can also go through stretches of being one of the main factors in their losses. 

Still, this game does little to hurt San Francisco’s playoff hopes. They get to face the Falcons and Texans, and they also get a game against a depleted Titans team. That would get them to nine wins on the year, which, given the schedules of the other “contenders”, is probably going to be enough for the sixth seed. 

15) Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are in possession of the second-longest win streak in the NFL. Listen, I’m not positive they can maintain success with the offense’s current form, but it’s working for now, and that’s all that matters. 

Miami’s Thursday Night Football win against the Baltimore Ravens was impressive. The other four teams they’ve beaten on their streak are the Texans, Jets, Panthers, and Giants. They haven’t had to go out and play in a shootout during that time. 

But it might not matter. They’ve adopted the “Patriot Way” during this run. Miami is allowing other teams to beat themselves. They are playing outstanding defense and avoiding turnovers on offense. 

They head to the bye week feeling good. With the Jets, Saints, and Titans remaining on the schedule, the Dolphins won’t have to play a different style unless things somehow go awry. There’s a legitimate chance this team is 9-7 heading into Week 18 against the New England Patriots. 

The Dolphins made the biggest jump in the Week 14 NFL Power Rankings.

14) Tennessee Titans

Just as the Browns needed a week off, one should have been forced upon the Titans whether they wanted it or not. From a players-used standpoint, they’re the most injured team in the NFL, and they’ve lost all three of their offensive playmakers. Other teams ahead of Tennessee soiled themselves this week, pushing them farther down the NFL Power Rankings, and in turn, raising the Titans’ stock. 

Additionally, their quarterback is unable to elevate the scraps left on the roster. Ryan Tannehill is not playing well thanks to a combination of unfamiliarity with his receivers, their inability to separate against man coverage, and his lack of consistently good decisions against zone coverage. 

That said, the game against the Patriots could have looked much different if the runners wouldn’t have coughed up the football twice in New England territory. The Titans looked like the best team in the AFC for a stretch, but the injuries have mounted up. Now, it looks like they’ll hope for better luck — and reinforcements — as the playoffs sneak closer. 

13) Denver Broncos

Who are the Denver Broncos? They’ve dominated two potential playoff teams in a three-week stretch, only to look lost against the Philadelphia Eagles in between those games. They have as many offensive weapons as a bus-driving quarterback could ever need, but they need their offensive line to get healthy in order to succeed.

Luckily, left tackle Garett Bolles returned against the Chiefs. In a jumbled AFC playoff picture, the Broncos could use any win they can find. With six games left, they still must face the Bengals, Raiders, Chargers, and Chiefs again. They do not have an easy road ahead.

The Broncos didn’t have an awful day against the Chiefs’ defense, even if they couldn’t put enough points on the board at the end of the day. They moved the ball, but they struggled on third down, fourth down, and in the red zone.

Javonte Williams showcased his potential as the lead back and as a pass catcher out of the backfield. With their remaining schedule to finish the season, a win at home against Detroit next week is critical if Denver wants to keep their playoff hopes alive.

12) Cincinnati Bengals

I’ve finally figured out the Cincinnati Bengals. They’re the league’s version of hormonal high schoolers. One day, they wake up and can beat anybody by 20. The next day, they can lose by the same amount. The problem is, I can’t tell what determines what kind of day it’ll be. 

And with the San Francisco 49ers up next on the schedule, I have no clue how to feel. The Bengals have been one of the best in the league at stopping the run, which should bode well against the 49ers. 

What has killed them offensively this season are the turnovers. They had 5 of them today, and their 19 on the season is tied for seventh-most in the league. Cincinnati’s 14 interceptions are tied for third-most in the NFL, which Joe Burrow needs to reign in.

11) Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens offense is broken, and a lot of it comes down to the play of their franchise quarterback. Lamar Jackson should be the first to admit he’s playing too careless with the football. He’s turned into a bit of a Carson Wentz figure, trying to extend every play no matter what’s happening. He is the personification of “doing too much.”

He threw an awful interception early, and he made multiple reads and throws throughout that could have gone the other way as well. These are the times it would be nice to be able to lean on J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards in the run game. Unfortunately, they’re not around, and neither is Ronnie Stanley. 

The line is struggling, Jackson is struggling, and with it come overall offensive struggles. Baltimore hasn’t scored 20 points since the Vikings game in Week 9, and the offense looks completely different since Stanley’s injury. 

Still, despite the injuries, we can still ask Jackson to be better because we’ve seen him do just that. They fall in the Week 14 NFL Power Rankings because their poor offensive performance has become a trend. 

 10) Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers’ game against the Bengals reminded me of the Formula 1 race that ended just hours before. It was chaotic. There were MASSIVE momentum swings, but eventually, the team that jumped out to the early lead won because they allowed the other to make the critical mistakes. 

That is not meant to dissolve the Chargers of their … Chargering. They still turned the ball over 3 times and blew a 22-point lead. I didn’t know who this team was before this game, and I’m still not sure if I do. I love their offensive potential. Heck, I even love their offense as it is, with coordinator Joe Lombardi taking some of the firepower away from Justin Herbert. 

But LA’s defense is still struggling. They don’t defend the run, and they don’t really have the talent to consistently see good results against the pass. The Chargers have a ton of potential, but I’m not sure if they’re ready to truly compete in the AFC. 

Bring some bodies in defensively and grab an upgrade to Jalen Guyton (who played well today), and we’re looking at a potential Super Bowl contender in 2022. 

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