NFL Power Rankings Week 14 | 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.
9) Indianapolis Colts
It’s still a long shot for the Colts to catch the Titans in the AFC South, but this team has played some very good football recently. In fact, since October 1, the Colts are 7-3. Their bye week comes at a fantastic time, as they’ll come out of it facing the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.
Like the Eagles and Washington, the Colts are imposing their will on the offensive line. Their run/pass splits from Week 13’s victory over the Texans are a product of being up early and by a lot. But an overarching theme for this team is running the ball well and having Carson Wentz avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Defensively, they’re full of high-variance playmakers. That could come in handy in the playoffs, as they may be outmatched on paper in the Wild Card round. But they’re the kind of team that has very high highs and could surprise a team or two in January.
8) Los Angeles Rams
The Rams and Matthew Stafford needed a get-right game, and there are few better options than Jacksonville for that to come to fruition. The Jaguars did their best to hang in there, but the second half was all Rams.
Stafford and the aerial assault had a great game, and Sony Michel had a solid day on the ground as well. He toted the rock 24 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. Additionally, the Rams’ offensive line looked better than it has in weeks.
Next week is for all the marbles in the NFC West. The Rams travel to Arizona to try and get revenge on their divisional opponents for handing them an emphatic 17-point loss in Week 4.
7) Buffalo Bills
The Bills have been wildly inconsistent on offense all season. The Monday Night Football game against the Patriots had awful weather and shouldn’t be used for or against either team in an argument about who’s better.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing for us to truly learn from their game against the Patriots. The outcome is only important for record and seeding purposes. That was barely football. At best, it was football from a bygone era. Heck, through three quarters the opposing quarterback only had attempted 1 pass.
6) Dallas Cowboys
Placing the Cowboys appropriately in the Week 14 NFL Power Rankings is a bit tricky. Their defense has performed as a top-five unit in the league this season. Dallas’ offense has immense talents everywhere you look, yet they don’t currently seem to have much firepower on that side of the ball.
They’re probably one of the more well-rounded teams in the NFL, but they’re not playing like it. The Cowboys haven’t run the ball well in what feels like a lifetime, and the passing attack looks stale in comparison to its early-season output.
Dallas beat the New Orleans Saints, but it was not pretty along the way. If Taysom Hill doesn’t hurt his finger in a way that rendered his arm practically useless, I’m not sure the Cowboys win that game. The offense must figure it out before the playoffs sneak up.
NFL Power Rankings Week 14 | 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 we enter December.
5) Green Bay Packers
The Packers needed a bye week. They’ve lost integral pieces to their offensive line, and Green Bay must decide how they’ll best combat that. The bye also gets them one week closer to hopefully seeing David Bakhtiari back on the field.
Yet, the offense hasn’t necessarily struggled, despite the losses on the front line. Their schedule is not too difficult after the bye, giving them a shot at the top seed in the NFC, with the ability to get key pieces back for a playoff run.
4) New England Patriots
No team has played better over the past month, but I still wonder about the Patriots’ ceiling. They had a particularly difficult matchup on Monday Night Football – they weren’t just facing the Buffalo Bills, but the weather as well.
I wondered how the Patriots’ passing attack would look with winds reaching 50 mph. It turns out, they didn’t have much intent on finding out. Through three quarters, Mac Jones had only thrown 1 pass, which he made look nearly impossible. I went into the game believing we probably wouldn’t learn much, and the weather made sure of that.
3) Kansas City Chiefs
Their top-three ranking might feel a bit ahead of the curve, but with the way Kansas City’s defense is performing, I believe they’re the most dangerous team in the NFL aside from a Tampa Bay squad getting healthy and a Cardinals club that’s been the most consistent in the league.
The Patriots have been consistently good for the better part of two months, but the Chiefs are more dangerous at their best. Since Week 8, Kansas City’s defense ranks third in the NFL in EPA/play against, which is almost inconceivable after watching their start to the season.
As long as they don’t lose their minds offensively trying to secure the football, Kansas City is one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Despite their “struggles,” they’re still just outside the top 10 in EPA in that same timeframe the defense has found success.
The Chiefs dominated the Broncos on the scoreboard, and they did it without getting their best day from Patrick Mahomes. In fact, this was one of the worst outings I’ve seen from Mahomes. He missed throws at an alarming rate. But I’ll take the full picture over a one-game sample. If the defense can continue at the pace they’re on, no team is more terrifying once the playoffs roll around.
2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are three constants in this life: Death, taxes, and Tom Brady throwing touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski.
The Buccaneers have played with their food a lot in their days with Brady. There was a time where this game was 20-17 after an awful mistake from their 44-year-old passer that resulted in a pick-six.
Yet, Tampa Bay did a good job of taking advantage of the Falcons’ underwhelming safety play via the passing attack. Brady was outstanding, aside from the one big mistake.
It was a bit surprising to see the Falcons have some success on the ground against the Buccaneers, but that isn’t something that should be a worry moving forward. Tampa Bay’s game against the Bills next week might decide whether they can usurp the Cardinals for the top seed in the NFC.
1) Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals came in and took care of business against an inferior team, and they didn’t have to press themselves at all throughout. Playing the Bears allowed Kyler Murray to slowly work his way back into the game after missing four weeks and three games.
The rain could have influenced their run-heavy approach today, but it was also a good day to buck certain tendencies they may have had with Murray at quarterback. Next week is the biggest game of the season for Arizona.
If the Cardinals beat the Rams, they’ll control their own destiny. That would give them a comfortable lead in the NFC West, and as long as they can take care of business the rest of the way, it’ll be difficult for anyone but the Buccaneers to catch them in the NFC.
The Cardinals spend another week at the top of the NFL Power Rankings in Week 14.