The NFL is racing toward the finish line as COVID plays a massive issue in big games down the stretch. The Steelers and Ravens game has been postponed nearly a week, the Broncos played without a quarterback, and a slew of big-name players have found themselves on the COVID-19 list. This will be a playoff push like we’ve never seen before, but with plenty of interesting storylines in both conferences, it will be as exciting as always.
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32) New York Jets (Prev: 32)
The Jets are now just five games away from a winless season. With Sam Darnold back under center, New York achieved just 10 first downs and three points in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. Next up, New York takes on the Raiders, who were just obliterated by the Falcons. It is the second most winnable game remaining on the Jets’ schedule.
31) Jacksonville Jaguars (Prev: 31)
The Jaguars have now lost 10 straight games but came very close to pulling off an upset over the Browns. Mike Glennon threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns, while James Robinson continued his stellar rookie season with 128 rushing yards and one touchdown. However, Jacksonville could not connect on a two-point conversion to force overtime, which ultimately dropped them to 1-10.
30) Cincinnati Bengals (Prev: 30)
The Bengals’ offense mustered just 155 yards without Joe Burrow, and yet, they had a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter. Brandon Wilson set a franchise-record when he returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, which was the only true scoring threat until late in the fourth quarter. Brandon Allen threw for 136 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, and Cincinnati turned the ball over three times in the loss.
29) Dallas Cowboys (Prev: 29)
There was a lot of excitement in Dallas heading into Thanksgiving’s matchup with Washington, but the Cowboys got destroyed on their home field, and they once again seem destined to finish at the bottom of the NFC East. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for just 32 yards as the offense once again struggled. The defense was dissected by Antonio Gibson and the Washington run game, which finished with 182 yards and three touchdowns.
28) Los Angeles Chargers (Prev: 26)
Austin Ekeler’s impact was immediately felt when he finished with 25 touches and 129 total yards in the Chargers’ loss to the Bills. LA put up a fight against Buffalo, but they couldn’t score when it mattered most. While the Chargers have been competitive in most games this season, their only three wins have come over the Bengals, Jaguars, and Jets.
27) Philadelphia Eagles (Prev: 27)
The Eagles have lost three straight games, and their first place spot in the NFC East is officially gone. Philadelphia’s offense continued to struggle under Carson Wentz, as they scored less than 20 points for the third straight week. Their next three games are against the Packers, Saints, and Cardinals. The Eagles need to find a way to win at least one of those, or their season is likely over.
26) Detroit Lions (Prev: 25)
After another embarrassing loss, the Lions finally fired head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn. The Lions are now 4-7 and destined for another below .500 season. In Patricia’s three seasons, they were never even remotely close to making the playoffs, and now a franchise that has had no success in the last 30 seasons seems like they’re about to suffer through even more years of rebuilding.
25) Washington Football Team (Prev: 28)
Antonio Gibson became only the second rookie in NFL history to score three touchdowns on Thanksgiving, as the Football Team easily handled the Cowboys on their way to a tie atop the division standings. With Daniel Jones expected to miss at least one game, and the Eagles and Cowboys struggling to do anything right, Washington seems like the current favorite to win the NFC East. However, their next three games are against the Steelers, 49ers, and Seahawks, all teams that should be favored over Washington.
24) Houston Texans (Prev: 24)
Deshaun Watson threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns as the Texans knocked off the Lions 41-25 on Thanksgiving Day. Houston has now won three of their last four games and could play spoiler for the Colts, who will meet twice over the next three weeks. Will Fuller V finished with six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns, but he will miss the rest of the season due to PEDs. The defense turned over the Lions three times, including a JJ Watt pick-six.
23) New York Giants (Prev: 23)
The Giants would have moved up, but with the injury to Daniel Jones, it’s hard to imagine them having much success with Colt McCoy under center. After Jones went down with an injury, the Giants very nearly blew the game against the struggling Bengals. However, they held on, and if the playoffs were to start today, the Giants would win the NFC East. They have won three straight games, and as long as Jones doesn’t miss too much time, this division is well within their reach.
22) Denver Broncos (Prev: 18)
What do we make of the Broncos after this week? They’re certainly not going to make the playoffs, but they’re also not nearly as bad as the final score against the Saints indicated. Kendall Hinton got the start with no quarterbacks available and went just 1/9 for 13 yards and two interceptions. The defense wasn’t able to stop the Saints’ offense, but with their own offense barely on the field, it’s not surprising they could not do much to stop New Orleans.
21) Carolina Panthers (Prev: 20)
Jeremy Chinn scored defensive touchdowns on back-to-back plays to give the Panthers a two-score lead over the Vikings, but Carolina could not hold on and fell to 4-8 on the season. Carolina will be on bye this week then should have most of their team healthy for the remainder of the season. However, with eight losses to their record, it is unlikely they will be able to make any playoff push even if they win out.
20) Atlanta Falcons (Prev: 22)
The Falcons’ defense turned over the Raiders five times, as they took down Las Vegas 43-6 in their most dominant performance of the season. The Falcons are now 4-7 and finally out of last place in the NFC South. They have won three of their last four games ahead of a home matchup with New Orleans and Tayson Hill.
19) Chicago Bears (Prev: 16)
The wheels have completely come off in Chicago. After starting the season 5-1, they have dropped five straight games, the latest of which was an embarrassing Sunday night beatdown at the hands of the Packers. The offense under Mitchell Trubisky was expectedly bad, but the defense could not stop Aaron Rodgers at any point. While the yardage discrepancy doesn’t look like much, the Bears trailed 27-3 before scoring their first touchdown of the game.
18) New England Patriots (Prev: 21)
The Patriots immediately fell behind 10-0 to the Cardinals, but the defense clamped down for the remainder of the game to secure a much-needed 20-17 victory. The offense managed just 179 yards and turned the ball over twice, but a massive goal-line stand before the half was enough to keep New England within striking distance. At 5-6, they remain in the conversation for a playoff spot, even if they trail numerous teams in the crowded AFC.
17) Minnesota Vikings (Prev: 19)
Kirk Cousins connected with Chad Beebe with just 46 seconds to secure the comeback victory and move the Vikings to 5-6 on the season. Cousins finished the day with 306 passing yards and three touchdowns. He was also able to lead two fourth-quarter 75-yard touchdown drives to give Minnesota the 28-27 victory. Minnesota overcame three turnovers, including two on back-to-back plays that resulted in defensive touchdowns for Carolina.
16) San Francisco 49ers (Prev: 17)
The 49ers are missing numerous players, were just informed they can’t play their home games in their home county, and yet they still managed to go on the road and knock off one of the best teams in the NFL. At 5-6, the 49ers are now just one game behind the Cardinals for the final NFC playoff spot. Even if they don’t manage to get in, what Kyle Shanahan has done with this team despite the injuries and distractions has been remarkable.
15) Las Vegas Raiders (Prev: 12)
What in the world happened to the Raiders this week? After going wire-to-wire with the Chiefs in Week 11, Las Vegas played their worst game of football this season, and they now find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the AFC playoff picture. Derek Carr threw one interception and fumbled the ball three times to account for four of the Raiders’ five turnovers. The Raiders will look to snap their two-game losing streak against the Jets this weekend.
14) Baltimore Ravens (Prev: 15)
The Ravens have had the worst outbreak of any team thus far this season, and it has led to their game against Pittsburgh being postponed until Wednesday. It also means that their next game against the Cowboys will be played next Tuesday. These delays should give the Ravens time to get the outbreak under control and hopefully get their players on the field.
13) Arizona Cardinals (Prev: 13)
The Cardinals have lost three of their last four games, and if they don’t turn things around quickly, they’re in serious danger of dropping out of the playoffs altogether. Kenyan Drake rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns but was stopped short of the goal line at the end of the first half, in a sequence that proved to be a turning point in the game. Arizona takes on the Rams this week, and a loss there could signal serious trouble for the Cardinals.
12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Prev: 7)
The Bucs seem to play worse every single week, and one has to wonder if this is a team that can become a contender at this point. For anyone who missed the game, the final score is not indicative of how lopsided it was. The Chiefs led 17-0 and were about to make it 24 when the Bucs recovered a fumble and gave their offense a chance. Tom Brady put some drives together, but two huge interceptions kept the game out of reach. Tampa heads into their bye at 7-5, but with how the rest of the NFC is currently playing, a playoff berth likely isn’t far off. However, Super Bowl aspirations are certainly starting to look unrealistic.
11) Cleveland Browns (Prev: 14)
The Cleveland Browns are 8-3 and have one of the best rushing attacks in football now that Nick Chubb is healthy. They’ve won three straight but will get a much bigger test this week when they travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans. A win there would turn a lot of heads. A loss would signal that perhaps the Browns aren’t yet for real. After all, seven of their eight wins this season are against teams with losing records.
10) Miami Dolphins (Prev: 10)
The Dolphins did exactly what they needed to on Sunday. They took care of the Jets without any problems and remain in the playoff race and just one game behind the Bills in the AFC East. Next week, they will face the Bengals, and whether it is Tua or Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, the Dolphins should have no problem with Cincinnati. However, Miami will have to avoid a trap scenario, as their Week 14 matchup pits them against the 10-1 Chiefs.
9) Indianapolis Colts (Prev: 6)
Without DeForest Buckner, the Colts’ rush defense had absolutely no hope of stopping Derrick Henry. But the offense didn’t look sound either. After trading touchdowns early, the offense went quiet and fell behind 35-14 before halftime. The Colts are now 7-4, but out of all the teams in the AFC playoff hunt, they likely have the easiest schedule. They will face the Texans twice, the Raiders, the Jaguars, and the Steelers in their last five games.
8) Los Angeles Rams (Prev: 5)
There is no more inconsistent quarterback in all of football than Jared Goff. Some weeks he looks like one of the best in the league, while in other weeks, he looks confused and sloppy. Sunday’s performance against the 49ers definitely fits into the latter category. Goff turned the ball over three times, as the Rams dropped a home game to the NFC West’s worst team. If Goff takes care of the football, the Rams are a contender to win the Super Bowl, but LA will be lucky to make the playoffs if he doesn’t.
7) Seattle Seahawks (Prev: 9)
The Seahawks easily defeated the Eagles on Monday Night Football and, thanks to a lot of help, sit alone atop the NFC West with just five games remaining. DK Metcalf led the way offensively, hauling in 10 passes for 177 yards in the victory. Despite a last-second Hail Mary, the defense still held the Eagles to just 250 yards of total offense in what was easily one of their best performances of the season.
6) Tennessee Titans (Prev: 11)
For anyone who was worried about the Titans’ collapsing, Tennessee made it clear that they aren’t going anywhere any time soon after their victory in Indianapolis on Sunday. Derrick Henry finished the day with 178 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and AJ Brown scored both a receiving and kick return touchdown. The Titans now have the upper hand in the division, and they have a very favorable schedule down the stretch.
5) Green Bay Packers (Prev: 8)
Aaron Rodgers threw for 211 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers poured it on against the Bears on Sunday Night Football. A week after losing a sloppy game to the Colts, Green Bay left nothing in doubt as they built up a 27-3 lead over one of the better defenses they’ve faced so far this season. With just five games remaining, the Packers have a three-game lead in the NFC North.
4) Buffalo Bills (Prev: 4)
The Bills turned the ball over three times against the Chargers, but they still managed to win by double-digits and move to 8-3 on the season. They currently hold a one-game lead over the Dolphins in the AFC East and will face a much tougher challenge than Miami next week when they travel to Arizona to take on the 49ers.
3) New Orleans Saints (Prev: 3)
The Saints easily beat the Broncos in one of the worst games in NFL history. The defense gave up just 112 yards and only 13 through the air, but it’s hard to put any real emphasis on the performance considering the Broncos didn’t have a quarterback. Taysom Hill threw for just 78 yards and one interception, but he did rush for two touchdowns. As did Latavius Murray, who added 124 yards on the ground.
2) Kansas City Chiefs (Prev: 2)
Tyreek Hill recorded 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter of Kansas City’s victory over the Bucs. The final score looks a lot closer than the game actually was, as the Chiefs jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back. Patrick Mahomes finished with 462 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs keep taking care of business but still need the Steelers to slip up to get the number one seed.
1) Pittsburgh Steelers (Prev: 1)
The Steelers are set to play the Ravens Wednesday, but there is still some doubt about whether or not the game will go off as scheduled. If the game is played, one would have to think that Pittsburgh will easily take care of the short-handed Ravens and move to 11-0.
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