The NFL Power Rankings return in Week 14 with a surprising amount of movement throughout. There were quite a few interesting results from the weekend, and some even more interesting trends that continued, which led to some significant jumps and tumbles.
Week 14 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 5 | Unadulterated Awfulness
32. Houston Texans
What we saw in the Houston-Cleveland game was nothing short of magnificent. The awfulness of the Houston Texans knows no bounds, and while there was an undeniably grim undertone surrounding the game, the Texans provided some dark humor that made everyone – except their own team – winners.
MORE: PFN Mock Draft Simulator
Houston’s defense didn’t allow a single touchdown to Deshaun Watson and the Browns’ offense. They even scored two points to help the offense. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Cleveland from scoring touchdowns. The Browns scored on a punt return, fumble return, and interception return for touchdowns.
31. Los Angeles Rams
John Wolford nearly beating the Seattle Seahawks was not on my bingo card. Neither was the Rams scoring 23 points, even if the Seahawks’ defense has struggled over the past few weeks.
In the end, Seattle’s offense simply had too much firepower, particularly in the passing game. The Rams’ roster is completely depleted, but the offense had a bit of juice for the first time in a long time.
30. Denver Broncos
It’s difficult to find the words to describe how tragic the Broncos’ season has been. Somehow they must figure out how to make things work offensively. A defense should not have to play perfect football in order to win a football game. And a modern offense with a $50 million QB can’t be the worst-scoring team in the NFL.
Tier 4 | Ugly Football Teams
29. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers finally got their week-long break in Week 13, after playing competent football in Sam Darnold’s first start. Incredibly, they’re not out of the NFC South divisional crown, despite their 4-8 record.
MORE: Is Baker Mayfield’s Career Salvageable?
The Seahawks game coming out of the bye week is their only remaining game against a winning team. It’ll take Carolina’s defense playing very well, Sam Darnold playing great football, and a lot of luck to win the division, but they’re not out of this yet.
28. Chicago Bears
A Chicago Bears game against the Green Bay Packers always feels inevitable. After blasting the Packers early and mounting a 16-3 lead, the Bears couldn’t hold onto it. Justin Fields finished 20 of 25, but the young QB threw an interception late that sealed Chicago’s fate, and then another to officially end the game.
MORE: How Justin Fields Is Immortalizing QB Position
Maybe Luke Getsy and company wanted to make sure they limited the hits he took during the game because there is no other excuse for arguably the league’s most prolific runner to only carry the ball six times.
27. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts had another difficult assignment in Jeff Saturday’s fourth game as head coach. The Dallas Cowboys entered 4-1 since Dak Prescott’s return, and their offense has been the highest-scoring team in the league over that time. It showed again on Sunday Night Football.
Meanwhile, the Colts’ offense is the opposite. Matt Ryan struggled mightily and will probably quietly slide into retirement after the season, and Indianapolis will once again be on the hunt for a quarterback.
The Cowboys were too much to handle for Indianapolis on Sunday Night football. The loss drops the Colts to 4-8-1, with many questions surrounding their future. The game was closer than the final score. Five Cowboys touchdowns in the fourth quarter put the game as out of reach as a game can get.
The Colts game plan to run the ball early and often helped keep them in the game against Dallas. A few big plays downfield propelled the Colts passing attack, but the Indianapolis offense looked better than it had for quite some time.
26. New Orleans Saints
The Saints’ loss still doesn’t mathematically eliminate them from playoff contention, but their current form is not good, and it would take a miracle for the South to lose enough games to let New Orleans into the dance.
Their defense folded in the end to a Tom Brady playing as if he had nothing to lose, a scary proposition for the rest of the NFL come playoff time. However, NFL teams can’t expect to win many football games only scoring 16 points. They’ve only scored more than 16 once since their Week 8 win against Las Vegas.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville’s defense is horrendous. According to DVOA, there are worse defenses, but the Jaguars’ worst might be worse than any defense in football. When teams can survive Jacksonville’s front seven, they dice their secondary.
The Jaguars did survive a huge scare today when Trevor Lawrence’s leg bent awkwardly on a tackle. Speaking of Lawrence, he continues to flash brilliance, even when his performances don’t look statistically impressive.
24. Las Vegas Raiders
Things sure did start out ugly for Las Vegas against the Chargers. A Derek Carr pick-six was an impossibly bad start, but once again, Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams came to the rescue. Jacobs has been arguably the best back in the NFL this season, and it’s a shame it’s been wasted on a team outside the playoff hunt.
However, the Raiders are starting to build something. Their roster is still in shambles, and Carr’s future is murky, but this team could have imploded completely and instead has won three straight.
23. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals needed a break. Only the Texans have a worse team DVOA than the Cardinals, who rank poorly in all three phases of the game on a play-to-play basis.
With only four wins and a $189 million quarterback who is underperforming, they need to quickly turn things around if Kliff Kingsbury wants to be the Cardinals’ coach in 2023.
And while Kingsbury is culpable, Steve Keim’s part in all this shouldn’t be ignored. The Cardinals grossly overachieved a season ago with a roster that had no business stacking together wins. The floor fell out from underneath them this season.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers – and specifically Kenny Pickett – keep looking better as the weeks progress. However, not all is well.
Pittsburgh has a way of creating havoc in their receiving corps. George Pickens had a slight tirade on the sideline today. Diontae Johnson’s inconsistent play can be maddening at times. But hey, Pat Freiermuth is a dude!
The Steelers improve to 5-7 and are keeping hopes alive for a .500 season to keep Mike Tomlin’s streak alive. If they keep running the ball as well as they are, and Pickett keeps taking care of the football, there’s a chance they do it.
21. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns’ offense was horrendous today. Deshaun Watson looked like a QB who hadn’t played a professional game, or practices much in an official manner with a team, should look. He was incredibly rusty, which the Browns can live with as they sit firmly outside of the Wild Card hunt.
20. Atlanta Falcons
I didn’t think we’d get to a point where the Falcons should legitimately consider replacing Marcus Mariota, but he has arguably been the reason why the Falcons’ offense has come up short the past two weeks.
Unless Desmond Ridder looks absolutely lost during practice, it might just be time to give the rookie a shot. If things go horribly wrong, they can swiftly go back to the veteran. But he’s missed too many throws over the past few weeks to continue defending him.
19. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are playing themselves out of a franchise quarterback, but they’re starting to look like a legitimately decent team, which is something fans must appreciate, given their run since firing Jim Caldwell.
MORE: Lions Prove They Can Contend Now and in the Future
Brad Holmes seemingly hired the right guy for the job. He and his scouting department have built up the trenches to a point where the team is legitimately competitive when the quarterback and secondary decides to play decent football.
18. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are inevitable against Chicago. Aaron Rodgers is now 24-5 against the Bears and a big reason why the Packers have overtaken Chicago for the most wins in NFL history. It was fate that they’d pass them in a game they played against one another.
It turns out Joe Barry may not have learned a damn thing from the Packers drubbing against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, but the Bears didn’t seem willing to consistently put the ball in Fields’ hands on the ground. His 56-yard touchdown scamper was beautiful but highlighted Green Bay’s inability to defend option runs.
Week 14 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 3 | The Playoff Contenders
17. Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers seem to write the same story every season. They put together a pretty roster, win a few games early, and then everyone important gets hurt and they lose steam down the stretch, either just sneaking into the playoffs or missing them entirely.
In a tough AFC this season, it’s looking like they’ll miss out on the playoffs once again. Brandon Staley might not need to be fired, except for the fact that he deemed the Chargers’ offensive structure good enough to go into 2022 with. Employing Joe Lombardi might be his greatest mistake, but his reputation as a defensive guru hasn’t done anything for him as a head coach.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a position to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the NFC South with a win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.
Tampa Bay hasn’t played good football recently. They’ve lost four of their last six games, and their offense simply can’t seem to put enough points on the board. Tom Brady may not look like your normal 45-year-old, but he doesn’t quite look like the 44-year-old version of himself, either.
That is, he hadn’t* looked like the 44-year-old version of himself prior to the final two drives of the Saints game. Brady has played with a very reserved and careful nature behind a deteriorated offensive line in 2022, to the detriment of the offense. But if aggressive Brady is what we saw on the Buccaneers’ final two drives, they’ll be as difficult an out as any team come January.
Tampa Bay got the job done against their division rival — in nailbiting fashion — which created some distance between them and the Atlanta Falcons in the South.
15. New York Giants
The New York Giants-Washington Commanders game was a perfect encapsulation of what the NFC East is in 2022. The game was competitive and often ugly, but both teams battled their tails off to a tie.
The Giants haven’t been incredibly impressive to the eye in 2022. They’ve found some spark offensively with Daniel Jones’ rushes and some explosive Saquon Barkley runs, but overall they look like a team building toward something.
The fact they’re competing so quickly in Brian Daboll’s tenure is a good sign for their future.
14. Washington Commanders
Taylor Heinicke is not a good quarterback, but he is a magical one. He almost did it against Tampa Bay in the playoffs a few years ago, and he almost managed to against the Giants on Sunday.
MORE: Taylor Heinicke Can Lead Playoff Run
His 4th-and-4 throw to Curtis Samuel defied physics, especially for a QB with his limitations. And that’s the rub with Heinicke. His moments of brilliance cloud us from the fact he’s a mediocre QB.
However, if Washington’s defense continues to play well and the offense can avoid turnovers, the Commanders should make the playoffs in the NFC.
13. New York Jets
Mike White couldn’t replicate the magic he found for the Jets’ offense a week ago, but he didn’t play as poorly as his stat line would suggest. In the end, he gave his team a chance to win the game, but that chance went in and out of the arms of Braxton Berrios.
White threw the ball a ridiculous 57 times, and the Jets ran 83 offensive plays in the game. One could even say they outplayed the Vikings, but they went just one for six in the red zone, which ultimately cost them the game against the now 10-2 Vikings.
12. New England Patriots
The Patriots’ offense simply doesn’t have enough juice to consistently contend against quality opponents. Their passing attack has struggled all season, but it’s been the underwhelming rushing attack that has cost them the most on offense.
Losing Josh McDaniels has handicapped New England’s offense, and it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where they vastly improve things heading into 2023. But because Bill Belichick exists and their defense remains among the league’s best, they’ll continue to contend.
11. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle barely sneaking past Wolford and the Rams was arguably the most unexpected moment of the week. It took a Geno Smith touchdown pass to DK Metcalf with just 41 seconds left to get the job done against the lifeless Rams.
The Seahawks have played poorly now in each of the past three weeks, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. With San Francisco surging behind a great defense, Seattle needs to get right if they want a chance to win the NFC West.
10. Tennessee Titans
Every bad decision Jon Robinson has made over the past few seasons manifested itself today in the Eagles’ 35-10 massacre of the Titans.
A.J. Brown got his revenge and more against his former team, catching eight passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns. The Titans’ choice to ignore the tackle position was on full display as well. Ryan Tannehill was under siege all game, and their lack of receiver depth was center stage as it always seems to be.
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s usually strong defense struggled, particularly at cornerback. The Eagles did most of their damage through the air, which is the exact opposite of their performance from a week ago.
9. Baltimore Ravens
Ravens fans wait with bated breath to hear about the status of Lamar Jackson’s knee. The QB went down awkwardly on a sack and did not return to the game. Greg Roman’s offense looked lost for most of the game.
MORE: Does Lamar Jackson’s Injury Change AFC North Race?
But when Baltimore’s offense absolutely needed to make a few plays on their final drive, their run game found a way. They were a perfect three of three on fourth down and escaped the Broncos game with a win.
Tier 2 | Conference Championship Contenders
8. Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa had a flashback this week to the pre-Mike McDaniel era. His game against San Francisco was the worst we’ve seen him since last season. For most of the game, he was simply off, and it led to physical misses and mental miscues we hadn’t been seeing previously.
MORE: Tua Wasn’t Great; Dolphins Defense Has Problems
Miami’s defensive issues also showed up against the 49ers. Although San Francisco’s weapons provide a unique challenge, Miami had a golden opportunity to beat a 49ers team that had lost Jimmy Garoppolo early in the contest.
7. Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings followed a similar script to what Arif Hasan has laid out previously. They take a lead, proceed to blow said lead in the third quarter, and make things interesting in the fourth quarter before winning a one-possession game. They’re now 9-0 in one-score games.
MORE: Vikings and Jets Both Disappoint in Vikings Win
Minnesota has only lost games to the two best teams in their conference. Their offensive efficiency isn’t impressive, but they have impressive talent on that side of the ball. The Vikings may not be a traditionally good football team, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny their results.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
It’s tough to look at what this team has accomplished since losing to Cooper Rush and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 without believing they’re one of the league’s elite teams.
When Cincinnati lost Chidobe Awuzie, I thought their defense would suffer greatly. However, it turns out drafting a few defensive backs in the first two rounds of the NFL draft to sure the secondary up was a bright decision.
MORE: NFL Playoff Picture and Clinching Scenarios Week 13
The Bengals’ offense is filled with playmakers, and if it weren’t for a few uncharacteristic drops, the game could have looked even more out of reach for Kansas City.
5. San Francisco 49ers
If you would have told me that the 49ers would beat Miami by three scores playing Brock Purdy for the majority of the game, I would have called you a liar. But San Francisco caught Tagovailoa on his worst day of the season, and the 49ers’ offense continued moving the football without Jimmy Garoppolo.
If San Francisco really can just manufacture offense, they could be a massive problem to any team in the NFC. They’re built incredibly well from top to bottom, particularly on defense.
After the game, Kyle Shanahan announced Garoppolo broke his foot and will miss the rest of the season. Shanahan has not had great luck producing efficient offenses without Garoppolo in the past, so it’s unlikely a seventh-round rookie will be able to keep the Niners this high in the Power Rankings for long.
4. Buffalo Bills
On Thursday Night Football, the Buffalo Bills showed us the version we expect from them. James Cook is starting to find his groove in the run game, and Josh Allen avoided turnovers.
However, we have to talk about Allen’s need to not only take contact but seek it. He’s a massive individual, but every time he leaves his feet, the heart of Bills Mafia skips a beat.
Buffalo got up early and never let the game come into doubt. It was the type of dominance we’ve come to expect from this Bills team.
Tier 1 | The Elite Teams
3. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have arguably been the most dominant team in the NFL since Dak Prescott’s return from injury. They slipped up and lost a lead against the Green Bay Packers, but that’s what Rodgers does to Dallas.
The Cowboys’ complete makeup makes them difficult to poke holes in. While the rushing defense takes the brunt of the hate, they’re actually a decent run-defending team if it’s not a QB running the ball.
MORE: Biggest Strengths/Weaknesses for NFC Playoff Hopefuls
Fortunately, they didn’t need to worry about the Colts’ QB running the ball. The Cowboys’ defensive line smelled blood in the water against an underwhelming offensive line and dominated as a unit in their win, leading a defense that forced five turnovers on Sunday Night Football.
The game was close up until the final 15 minutes, when a few turnovers by the Colts opened up the floodgates, and Dallas kept the faucet running at full blast, scoring five touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t have their inevitable day on Sunday. The Cincinnati Bengals didn’t give the Chiefs an opportunity to. Kansas City only had eight offensive possessions in the entire game, and Cincinnati was more efficient offensively overall.
The Chiefs remain arguably the best team in the NFL. They’d won their previous five games, three of which came against playoff-contending teams. Patrick Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the NFL.
But for some reason, Cincinnati seems to be Superman’s Kryptonite.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
After last week, detractors wanted to say that the Eagles’ passing attack would be its eventual downfall. So they went out and threw the ball early and often against what, up until recent weeks, had been arguably the best secondary in football.
And while injuries have robbed the Titans of their coverage efficiency, the Eagles imposed their will. Their talented receivers separated whenever they wanted to, and Jalen Hurts played an outstanding game in a pocket that never really seemed to be congested.
Philadelphia is showing they can win in more ways than one.