This week’s power rankings will be a bit shorter with some quicker thoughts as we try something different. It might be a one-week thing but feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. The 2019 Week 14 NFL power rankings start with a new No. 1 team.
1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2) | Last week: 2 (+1)
The Ravens are now in control for the top seed in the AFC, and they leap the Patriots for the No. 1 spot in the power rankings. Baltimore has dominated for much of the season, but it’s a promising sign that they were able to win a close game against another top team from the other conference. Earl Thomas might be getting a little ahead of himself with the matter-of-fact Super Bowl prediction, which seems like a bad idea; but at least the team has supreme confidence right now.
2. New England Patriots (10-2) | Last week: 1 (-1)
I did not expect New England’s defense to give up 28 points to Houston, but a major issue was the struggles of the offense—it’s difficult for a defense to cover for an inconsistent offense every single week. When Tom Brady and company started clicking, they made it a game late. I don’t like to question what teams are doing, especially a team like the Patriots, but I do not understand why they aren’t pounding the ball with Sony Michel more. In the past two games, they have gotten off to great starts running with Michel on the opening drive before not using him as consistently throughout the rest of the game. It might be as simple as stacked boxes from opposing defenses, but it’s surprising how much Michel was phased out the other night.
3. Seattle Seahawks (10-2) | Last week: 3
With 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny emerging as a major factor in the past couple of weeks, the Seahawks have an exceptional one-two punch at running back between Chris Carson and Penny. The potent running game paired with Russell Wilson makes the Seattle offense tough to stop. Pete Carroll’s defense made timely plays in the Monday night win against the Vikings.
4. New Orleans Saints (10-2) | Last week: 4
The Saints need to get their onside kick recovery team on track, and Sean Payton appeared to be blaming special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi for the mishaps against the Falcons; but the two recoveries by Atlanta were squarely on star players Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, who were not aggressive in attacking the ball—Payton apparently just did not want to blame them, though. Anyway, New Orleans had a mini bye to prepare for an NFC matchup against the 49ers.
5. San Francisco 49ers (10-2) | Last week: 5
The rain might have helped, but San Francisco’s defense was up to the task against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. The potential Super Bowl preview was played with a lot of energy, so hopefully the 49ers are ready to face a top-tier team for the third consecutive week when they face the Saints. It won’t be an easy task playing in the Superdome as the Niners look to avoid a three-game losing streak.
6. Green Bay Packers (9-3) | Last week: 6
The Packers were able to bounce back from their dud on the West Coast, playing in the type of game Green Bay loves in a snowy East Rutherford. Now, they’ll return home to Lambeau Field for the first time in December this season, which is incredibly tough on opposing teams. Facing a rookie quarterback at home, the Packers should get to 10-3.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) | Last week: 7
Kansas City’s win over Oakland essentially locked up the AFC West, as they are basically three games up with four games to play when you consider they own the tiebreaker—and they did it in convincingly against the division rival. The Chiefs appear to be surging, and this Sunday’s game at Foxboro is a must-watch for all sports fans.
8. Buffalo Bills (9-3) | Last week: 8
I think the Thanksgiving victory for the Bills might have put them on the map for most of the country that has probably not even watched them play this season, but they are a legitimate contender that can make noise in January. Josh Allen was phenomenal in the win, and he’s proving countless people (people that will act like they knew he would be good all along, or chalk it up to playing with a good defense or something else without giving Allen credit) wrong. Buffalo earned a primetime flex for Week 15 after improving to 9-3.
9. Houston Texans (8-4) | Last week: 10 (+1)
Deshaun Watson wasn’t close to as doubted as Josh Allen entering the league, but he’s proving he should have been an easy top-five selection (clearly No. 1 overall in my opinion) when he entered the league in 2017. Watson avoided mistakes against Bill Belichick’s defense and moved the ball efficiently to help the Texans get their second consecutive win versus a challenging opponent following the ugly loss to the Ravens a few weeks ago.
10. Minnesota Vikings (8-4) | Last week: 9 (-1)
They came up short, but Kirk Cousins and the Vikings did a nice job of not panicking and battling back in Seattle, as Minnesota’s defense surprisingly put them in a difficult position with a slow start to begin the second half (though a fumble by Dalvin Cook didn’t help). The Vikings simply can’t expect to come back and win against tougher opponents like the Seahawks, and it’d be a good sign if they can have a completely dominant performance against the Lions this week.
11. Tennessee Titans (7-5) | Last week: 11
As stated last week, Derrick Henry does not get talked about enough as one of the top players in the league, regardless of position. Over his last 16 games, Henry has 1,725 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns, and he’s the first player since former Titan Chris Johnson (2009-2010) with over 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing in a 16-game span. The Titans should be in the mix every game late in the season with a player like Henry at running back.
12. Los Angeles Rams (7-5) | Last week: 13 (+1)
The passing attack of the Rams got going in major way following the team’s embarrassing loss to the Ravens, torching the Cardinals in a 34-7 win. Jared Goff threw for 323 yards in the first half of the victory, showing the ability that makes him a potential superstar quarterback if given protection on the offensive line. Los Angeles remains in the playoff mix and has a big opportunity this Sunday night against the Seahawks.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) | Last week: 15 (+2)
There are five ten-win teams in the NFL through Week 13, and the Steelers had to play four of them in their first five games. Yet, despite a plethora of injuries to key players, the Steelers are 7-5 and in position for an AFC wild-card spot. Mike Tomlin is simply an amazing head coach that adjusts and does what it takes to remain competitive and get wins in a highly competitive league.
14. Oakland Raiders (6-6) | Last week: 12 (-2)
A wild-card spot is still in play for the Raiders, but their loss to the Chiefs was extremely disappointing. The last two weeks have been about as bad as it gets for a team looking to make the postseason, but they might be able to bounce back as they return to the Black Hole, where they are 4-1 this season. At the very least, they should play a lot better than they have recently.
15. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) | Last week: 14 (-1)
A couple of close losses to AFC South foes drops the Colts to .500 while dealing with a bunch of injuries as of late, and now three of their final four games will come on the road. The good news is Marlon Mack appears set to return at running back for Indy after missing the previous two games, and he’ll be needed against a stout Tampa Bay run defense this weekend.
16. Dallas Cowboys (6-6) | Last week: 16
Following a promising opening touchdown drive, the Cowboys did basically nothing offensively against the Bills on Thanksgiving, and they still have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season. It won’t be easy as Dallas heads to Soldier Field tomorrow night, and star second-year linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will miss another game.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) | Last week: 17
Obviously, the Eagles could be a few spots lower than this in the power rankings, but they are just one game back in the NFC East and would win the division by winning out. However, as they showed last week in Miami, they are basically a bad team right now and might struggle to win another game let alone four straight. Carson Wentz had one of his better games this season, but he still left some throws on the field in the Week 13 loss.
18. Chicago Bears (6-6) | Last week: 20 (+2)
Their only game against a winning team in the stretch was a loss, but the Bears have won three of their last four games to get to 6-6 with a chance to make a run over the final quarter of the season. But their remaining schedule is about as tough as you can imagine: vs. Dallas, @ Green Bay, vs. Kansas City, @ Minnesota. Matt Nagy needs to get his team to take a one-game-at-a-time approach and hope they play well enough to be in the mix at the end.
19. Cleveland Browns (5-7) | Last week: 18 (-1)
The Browns were in a good spot up 10-0 at Heinz Field, but it felt like the Steelers were going to bully them once they tied the game, and that’s what happened in the second half. Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t alone in a subpar performance, but he was held to just 29 yards at Pittsburgh, which pretty much sums up how this season has gone for Cleveland. There’s been a ton of hype, but the Browns just aren’t very good.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) | Last week: 24 (+4)
It’s understandable because they’re a below .500 football team, but the play of Todd Bowles’ defense over the past couple of weeks has not been getting a lot of attention. The unit has been ferocious getting after the quarterback (led by Shaquil Barrett’s 14.5 sacks), and stud rookie linebacker Devin White had the best game of his first NFL season with seven tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown versus the Jaguars.
21. Carolina Panthers (5-7) | Last week: 19 (-2)
It is a bit unfair to Ron Rivera that he was unable to finish this season as Carolina’s head coach, but Panthers owner David Tepper’s reasoning (to get a head start on the coaching search while not going behind Rivera’s back, which is respectful) makes some sense. The respect Rivera’s players had for their coach has been evident since the news broke, and I expect the former NFC champion will get another head coaching opportunity soon.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) | Last week: 21 (-1)
Because of the awesome defensive play from Tampa Bay, Nick Foles had virtually no chance for success last week, and when he tried to put together a drive late in the first half, a perfectly placed deep ball was dropped. Gardner Minshew will now get to start the final four games, and the rookie quarterback has an opportunity to earn the starting role for 2020, though a lot will come down to what the likely new coaching staff thinks.
23. Los Angeles Chargers (4-8) | Last week: 22 (-1)
Again, the Chargers lost a close game when it appears they have a decent chance to win, and they’ve dropped three straight to AFC West opponents following their promising win against the Packers a month ago. LA can play spoiler down the stretch, but this week they’ll just be looking to get back in the win column when they face Jacksonville.
24. Atlanta Falcons (3-9) | Last week: 25 (+1)
The success of the onside kicks by Younghoe Koo was a very uncommon occurrence which was probably as astounding as it gets in the kicking game, and at least it made the Thanksgiving nightcap an entertaining contest. After the final recovery put the Falcons in position for a game-tying drive, the series was a microcosm of their season—the offensive line didn’t give Matt Ryan time to make a play. Atlanta would have had a better chance at the upset if Julio Jones was on the field, but hopefully the star receiver can return this week against the Panthers.
25. New York Jets (4-8) | Last week: 23 (-2)
Whether it was overconfidence or just an off game, the Jets never felt to have a chance against the then-winless Bengals. Adam Gase’s team had scored 34 points in three consecutive games, and the offense will look to get on track against a Dolphins team they lost to earlier this year.
26. Denver Broncos (4-8) | Last week: 28 (+2)
Drew Lock flashed the natural ability that made John Elway take a chance on him in the second round of last spring’s draft, and the Mizzou product was guided by Courtland Sutton making big-time plays with a couple of touchdowns. Denver is only 2-3 in the last five games, but they’ve been playing pretty well in that span.
27. Miami Dolphins (3-9) | Last week: 29 (+2)
I said last week that the Dolphins would do well to get in a defensive battle with the Eagles, but Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker had other plans, putting up 37 points in a comeback victory over the Philadelphia. It looks like Brian Flores is on his way to building something in Miami, and his team is 3-2 in the last five games. Eric Rowe has been outstanding as a hybrid corner/safety for the Dolphins, and he received a well-earned contract extension for his play.
28. Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1) | Last week: 26 (-2)
Despite coming off the bye, the Cardinals could not get much going on either side of the ball against the Rams. Facing a stingy Steelers defense, things won’t get much easier for Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. Out of the playoff mix, Arizona is just looking for a promising finish to the year before adding more talent to the roster this offseason.
29. Detroit Lions (3-8-1) | Last week: 27 (-2)
The Lions were unable to pull off the Thanksgiving Day win against the Bears, but they made it a fun game to watch, mainly because of the play of rookie quarterback David Blough in his first career start. It’s great to see good guys like Blough get an opportunity and do well, and he has the look of a potential top-notch backup quarterback at the very least.
30. Washington Redskins (3-9) | Last week: 31 (+1)
Derrius Guice (ten carries, 129 yards, two touchdowns) and Adrian Peterson (13 carries, 99 yards) keyed the Redskins’ win against the Panthers, and the gameplan centered around a tough rushing attack and defense has led to two consecutive wins for Washington. This week at Lambeau Field might be Dwayne Haskins’ biggest test yet.
31. New York Giants (2-10) | Last week: 30 (-1)
Injuries are typically easier to play through if you keep moving around, but Daniel Jones showed his toughness while playing through a high-ankle sprain suffered in the second quarter last week. With Jones likely out for Monday night against the Eagles, Eli Manning is back under center and will look to help spoil the playoff hopes of a division rival he’s done battle with plenty of times over the years.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11) | Last week: 32
It’s always a relief when a winless team is able to get a win this late in the season to avoid the dreaded 0-16, and I think the Bengals might be able to get two or three more wins before the season ends. Cincinnati has not been playing poorly lately, and the win could take pressure off the entire team.