New Orleans came into the week with a playoff spot wrapped up, and they were joined this week by the Packers who clinched the NFC North with their win over the Lions, the Chiefs who clinched the AFC West, and the Steelers who clinched thanks to the Dolphins’ loss to the Chiefs. Elsewhere, the playoff races are just heating up. The Washington Football Team knocked off the 49ers to take a one-game lead in the NFC East, the Seahawks and Rams both won to say tied atop the NFC West, the Titans and Colts did the same to stay knotted atop the AFC South, and the AFC Wild Card race only got more congested with the Ravens’ victory over the Browns on Monday Night Football. Here is where we stand with three weeks remaining.
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32) New York Jets (Prev: 32)
After their best game of the season, the Jets went out and played their worst game against the Seahawks. Only three games stand between New York and a place in the history books where no one wants to be. If the effort is what it was on Sunday, then 0-16 is all but guaranteed.
31) Jacksonville Jaguars (Prev: 31)
Another week, another loss for the Jacksonville Jaguars. After back-to-back close losses, the Jaguars were obliterated by Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans. It was Gardner Minshew’s first game since the end of October, and he was very ineffective against the Titans’ defense. The Jaguars’ defense gave up 249 rushing yards in the loss.
30) Cincinnati Bengals (Prev: 30)
Sunday was the Bengals’ best chance to get another win this season, but instead, they were blown out 30-7 by the Cowboys at home. Brandon Allen continues to struggle as he fills in for Joe Burrow. While the stats aren’t terrible, he and the offense have had absolutely no momentum since Burrow was lost for the season.
29) Atlanta Falcons (Prev: 26)
Matt Ryan threw for three interceptions as his disastrous season only got worse against the Chargers. The Falcons dropped their second straight after decimating the Raiders three weeks ago. This wraps up yet another below .500 season for a team that always has Super Bowl hopes, but never seems to perform up to potential on the field. Atlanta also became the first NFC team eliminated from playoff contention.
28) Los Angeles Chargers (Prev: 29)
Justin Herbert rebounded from his worst game of the season, finishing 36-44 for 243 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in the Chargers’ 20-17 win over Atlanta. The defense intercepted Matt Ryan three times and made big plays at opportune times throughout the game. Austin Ekeler led the team in both rushing and receiving. The back finished with 79 yards rushing and 67 yards receiving.
27) Dallas Cowboys (Prev: 28)
It won’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, but the Cowboys finally beat a team in convincing fashion. They knocked off the Bengals 30-7 as Andy Dalton threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns against his former team. Ezekiel Elliott was ineffective yet again, and a big topic of the Cowboys’ offseason is definitely going to be how they plan to handle the back next season as he continues to fade from his once-dominant self.
26) Philadelphia Eagles (Prev: 27)
With Jalen Hurts under center, the Eagles picked up their first win in five weeks, and though they’re likely out of the NFC East picture, fans in Philadelphia will certainly be happy about what they saw on Sunday. The Eagles have struggled offensively against just about everyone but executed their game plan perfectly against the team that was atop the NFC heading into the week. Miles Sanders finally had a breakout game, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
25) Houston Texans (Prev: 23)
Despite their record, the Texans had been at least somewhat competitive in every game this season. That all changed on Sunday when they were demolished 30-7 by the Bears. The offense was horrible, and couldn’t move the ball at all against the Bears’ defense, but it was the defense that was most disappointing. They gave up 30 points and 410 yards to one of the worst offenses in the entire league.
24) Carolina Panthers (Prev: 22)
Mike Davis carried 11 times for 51 yards and two touchdowns, while once again filling in for the injured Christian McCaffrey. However, the defense was unable to stop Drew Lock, and the Panthers fell 32-27 and dropped to 4-9 on the season. Teddy Bridgewater finished 30-40 for 283 yards and found the end zone once on the ground.
23) Detroit Lions (Prev: 21)
In their last seven games against the Packers, the Lions have now covered the spread six times. However, the Packers are the ones hoisting NFC North trophies, while the Lions are on pace to finish below .500 for the third straight season. In the loss Sunday, Matthew Stafford was injured at the end of the game and replaced by Chase Daniel. Keep an eye on his status before placing any action on Lions’ games moving forward.
22) Denver Broncos (Prev: 25)
Drew Lock threw for four touchdowns, as the Broncos kept their incredibly slim playoff hopes alive with a win over the Panthers. The defense didn’t cause any turnovers, but they frustrated the Panthers’ offense for three quarters and did enough to hold on for the victory at the end. The Broncos would need an almost impossible number of things to go right in order for them to make the playoffs, but with three wins to end the season, they could finish 8-8 and somewhat salvage the season.
21) Chicago Bears (Prev: 24)
The Bears finally got themselves a win and they did so in very convincing fashion. Mitchell Trubisky threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns, as the Bears routed the Texans 30-7. The win ends the Bears’ six-game losing streak and keeps them in the hunt for a playoff spot as we head into the final three weeks of the season.
20) New York Giants (Prev: 19)
The Giants are now up against the wall after their loss to the Cardinals and Washington’s win over the 49ers. With three games remaining, the Giants are one game back, but they do hold the tiebreaker over Washington, so if the two teams end in a tie, they will win the division and earn the playoff berth. In their first loss in five games, the Giants scored just seven points against a Cardinals’ defense that has struggled of late.
19) San Francisco 49ers (Prev: 18)
Nick Mullens’ turnovers left the 49ers with no chance against the Washington Football Team. While it looks like the defense gave up a lot of points, they actually played incredibly well. They gave up just nine points and held Washington to just 193 yards of offense. However, Mullens had two turnovers, including a pick-six, and Jeff Wilson Jr. fumbled a ball that was returned for a touchdown, which made it impossible for the defense to keep them in the game. The 49ers already slim playoff chances now seem all but done.
18) New England Patriots (Prev: 15)
After beating the Chargers 45-0, the Patriots got destroyed on Thursday Night Football. The offense looked absolutely lost with Cam Newton under center, and it didn’t look much different when Jarrett Stidham came in. The Patriots will not win 10 games this season, and it is very likely they won’t be heading to the playoffs, even if they manage to win their final three games.
17) Minnesota Vikings (Prev: 14)
The Vikings missed a huge opportunity to defeat the Bucs and put themselves in a position to get the NFC’s number six seed. Instead, they lost, in large part thanks to Dan Bailey’s three missed field goals and one missed extra point. Minnesota is now on the outside looking in of the NFC playoffs. Dalvin Cook rushed for 102 yards and one touchdown in the loss. He is currently second in the league in rushing.
16) Las Vegas Raiders (Prev: 16)
Just like last year, the Raiders have fallen apart when it matters most. They have now lost two of three games and were blown out on Sunday. They’re one game behind the Dolphins and Ravens, and the Ravens wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if they started today. The Raiders lost the turnover battle 3-0, and they were outrushed 212-79. That’s not a good combination for winning football games.
15) Washington Football Team (Prev: 20)
Washington continues to play very good football at the right time. Their defense scored two touchdowns to help propel them to a victory over the 49ers and first place in the NFC East. They now hold a one-game lead over the Giants, but can’t afford to slip up, as they would lose out on the division if the two teams end up tied at the end of the season. Washington only recorded 193 yards in their win.
14) Arizona Cardinals (Prev: 17)
The Cardinals finally looked like the team from the first half of the season in their 26-7 win over the Giants. The defense held the Giants to just 159 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers. After spending one week on the outside of the playoff picture, they are now back in the seventh spot and one game ahead of the Vikings for the final position in the NFC playoffs.
13) Miami Dolphins (Prev: 9)
The Dolphins intercepted Patrick Mahomes three times, but they still weren’t able to knock off the Chiefs. They trailed by as many as 20, but they battled throughout the entire game and scored 17 in the fourth quarter to make it a game. Myles Gaskin didn’t play because of COVID, and the team rushed for just 80 yards, led by DeAndre Washington’s 35. Miami currently holds the tiebreaker over the Ravens thanks to their 5-4 conference record.
12) Baltimore Ravens (Prev: 13)
So, the Ravens’ season has not been nearly what those in Baltimore hoped for, but wow, Monday night was an epic football game and may have been the turning point for the Ravens. Lamar Jackson left the game in the fourth quarter with cramps, just to come back after Trace McSorley went down with an injury for a 4th & 5 play. All he did was throw a 44-yard touchdown and give the Ravens the lead. After the Browns tied it up, Justin Tucker nailed a 55-yard field goal to give the Ravens the victory and push them to a tie with the Dolphins for the last playoff spot in the AFC.
11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Prev: 12)
The Bucs defeated the Vikings 26-14 to all but lock up a spot in the NFC playoffs. With the Saints’ loss to the Eagles, they still have an outside shot at the division, but it is a very outside shot. Tampa Bay will now try to catch the Seahawks or the Rams, whichever doesn’t win the NFC West, in order to get the fifth seed in the NFC, and play the winner of the NFC East who will be the worst team in the playoffs this year.
10) Seattle Seahawks (Prev: 11)
The Seahawks bounced back from their worst performance of the year, by demolishing the New York Jets and keeping pace atop the NFC West with the Rams. Russell Wilson threw for four touchdowns, as he led the Seahawks to 40 unanswered points after falling behind 3-0. This week, they will travel to Washington to take on the red-hot Football Team.
9) Tennessee Titans (Prev: 10)
Derrick Henry rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns as the Titans defeated the Jaguars 31-10 to move to 9-4 on the season. Henry now has 1,532 yards on the season and is nearly 200 yards ahead of Dalvin Cook for the rushing title. With Sunday’s win, the Titans still hold the lead in the AFC South.
8) Cleveland Browns (Prev: 6)
While the Browns drop to 9-4, there is a lot to be said about how they battled back from down 14 and continued to battle even when Lamar Jackson came in and took the lead with under two minutes remaining. The Browns are still in a position to make the playoffs, but the AFC playoff picture is a lot more congested after the loss. Cleveland, Tennessee, and Indianapolis are all 9-4. The Dolphins and Ravens are 8-5. One of those teams isn’t going to make the playoffs. And for those of you who backed the Browns ATS Monday night, my condolences.
7) Indianapolis Colts (Prev: 8)
Jonathan Taylor rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns as the Colts defeated the Raiders and kept pace with the Titans atop the AFC South. Philip Rivers threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense turned over the Raiders three times, including a Khari Willis pick-six.
6) Los Angeles Rams (Prev: 7)
The Rams won a snoozer on Thursday night, defeating the Patriots 24-3. The defense was phenomenal and allowed just 220 yards while racking up six sacks and running Cam Newton out of the game. Cam Akers rushed for a career-high 171 yards and one touchdown in the victory.
5) New Orleans Saints (Prev: 3)
The Saints finally had their nine-game winning streak snapped in a 24-21 loss to the Eagles. There is doubt as to whether or not Drew Brees will play next week against the Chiefs, and if he doesn’t, it’s hard to imagine Taysom Hill pulling off the upset. Due to losing to the Packers in Week 3, they now need to have a better record than Green Bay over the final three weeks in order to jump back into the number one spot.
4) Pittsburgh Steelers (Prev: 2)
Have the Steelers been pretending all season, or are they just in the funk? Pittsburgh managed just 224 yards of offense on Sunday night, and the rushing attack ate up just 47 yards on the ground. The Steelers have dropped back-to-back games after starting 11-0 but were able to lock up a playoff berth thanks to the Dolphins’ loss.
3) Green Bay Packers (Prev: 5)
The Packers wrapped up the NFC North with their victory over the Lions on Sunday, and thanks to the Eagles, they are now in control of their own destiny as it pertains to the number one seed in the NFC. While the Saints get the Chiefs next week, the Packers actually have a fairly easy schedule from here on out. Their toughest game will be a home contest against the Titans and their other two contests are against the Panthers and the Bears. Things are looking very good in Green Bay right now.
2) Buffalo Bills (Prev: 4)
The Bills had their worst offensive performance of the season in the first half against Pittsburgh, and yet, they still led heading into the break. This is the sign of a defense that is finally starting to click as a unit. They turned Ben Roethlisberger over twice, including a pick-six right before half, which gave them a 9-7 lead. In the second half, the offense started to figure things out, and the Bills put the Steelers away for good. With three games remaining, they hold a two-game lead over the Dolphins and could wrap up their first AFC East division title since 1995 next week.
1) Kansas City Chiefs (Prev: 1)
The Chiefs got a bit of a scare from the Dolphins, but they were able to hold on and move to 12-1 on the season. Thanks to the Bills, Kansas City now holds the number one seed in the AFC. The only difficult game remaining game on their schedule is next week against the Saints, but Drew Brees may not play in that contest. With their final two games against the Falcons and Chargers, a win next week would likely grant the Chiefs the top seed in the conference.
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