Week 14 NFL Power Rankings – Who’s The New #1 After Pittsburgh’s Loss?

Take nothing for granted, remain vigilant and be warned! The strangest NFL regular season we’ve never seen is best epitomized as a constant and shapeshifting rollercoaster of seismic upheavals. New lows for Hawks Nation and a return to excellence for Cleveland and Buffalo – this is the 2020 NFL regular season: stars, power, turnovers, speed, Baker Mayfield justifying his number one overall pick in the draft status finally, superlative statistical anomalies galore, stunners, setbacks, comebacks, shortcomings, bewildering blitz calls, a terrifyingly dominant 6-6 Patriots team, last minute revenge opportunities dashed, even more Covid related drama, and another week with a final seconds Hail Mary touchdown game winner.

So now let’s completely overreact, overcorrect, project our beliefs and biases, all before we do it again next week too, with some ludicrous hot takes, completely subjective opinions, and commentary bound to mystify, please, but also incite rage and some euphoria as we slam head first into some fresh NFL Power Rankings. 

Onward!

1. Buffalo Bills: The dark horse in the AFC is not a dark horse anymore. And not a horse at all, actually – it’s a thundering blue beast, a Buffalo juggernaut. Seahawks fans remember their beloved team’s drubbing. And the Bills won their first MNF game this century. Josh Allen admitted recently, on a podcast, with no false modesty whatsoever, that he once threw a football 83 yards at Wyoming. A mile and change of elevation assisting the rocket’s frictionless air speed velocity, but still I couldn’t help also recalling and juxtaposing this anecdote with the gaudy commercial possibilities John Elway promised if I bought a purple Vortex Howler when I was 5. Allen sliced and diced a short-staffed yet brutal and revitalized San Francisco defense Monday. So credit where credit is due, plus some recognition for the hottest team in the league. The diminutive but blisteringly swift Cole Beasley is having the best season of his life. Yet the spotlight still falls on the QB. In 40 career games, Allen is the fastest to 50 passing TDs and 20 rushing TDs since Cam Newton. And with at least 132 passing attempts, plus 32 TDs and counting (after the first score Monday) Josh Allen still has not thrown a Red Zone interception. 

2. New Orleans Saints: It’s not going to last much longer – but for now, the Saints are the best team in the NFC. With Drew Brees banged up – and now back soon? How many ribs did he fracture again? – though returning this is the last time I can foresee Sean Payton with a real chance to win another Super Bowl. Hearty and healthy resurgences from Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and the aforementioned Brees all coming at the right time, Taysum Hill throwing his first TD passes, the air-tight special teams talent complimenting a stout and stifling defense, combined with what no one has forgotten – though the GOAT (Brady) might wish we would – New Orleans has twice proved they are adept where it matters, when it counts; punctuated by deft skills coming from their strangely clairvoyant extra depth at the QB position; and showing an innate capability to win tough games by humiliating my pre-season NFC dark horse, Tampa bay. All this leads me to believe they may go very far. 

3. Green Bay Packers: Last week, I was a devout atheist on these cheese heads. No longer! Aaron Rodgers is the league’s new MVP front-runner. This very, very bad man is not Green Bay history repeating itself, and not at all the tragic 75% of what he was, Brett Farve, in his last year under center in Wisco. Rodgers is first in TDs at 36, second in QBR, with 84.6 and third in interceptions, with only 4. Plus ESPN projects he’ll finish the season with 48 TDs. He is virtually flawless, and he’s far more consistent than Russell Wilson. His extensive playoff experience should guarantee the Pack, a team that finally has a strong ground game too, finds the closest thing to an easy path through an otherwise super stacked NFC field of teams. They may overtake the Saints for the number one seed, and if they do, then I can reasonably estimate their first true test of the post season will come in the form of a rematch of last year’s Lambeau smackdown with the Hawks, when and if they – and I expect they will – host a frigid, brutal NFC Championship Game.

4. Kansas City Chiefs: Uh-oh. The Chiefs almost lost a home game to Denver? They would have taken the top slot on this list if I did not feel a sneaking suspicion that this most recent run of, well, decent but not even remotely close to flawless victories, was the beginning of the end for this season’s title defenders. Did they peak too soon? Yes. Can they score at-will just like last year? No. Will they lose an opening round game to Baltimore if they lose a few games down the stretch, lose their shot at a number one seed, and Lamar Jackson sneaks in the back door and wins big at Arrowhead if the seeding shakes out how I want? Maybe. Maybe not. Although if I’m pressed to call it now – and the playoff seeding could change considerably come January, so this may not shake out the way I think it might – I do not see Mahomes, Kelce and Tyreek Hill surviving against a red hot Ravens team, nor Buffalo, Pittsburgh (perhaps the Pats?) after the bottom third of the league level squad out of the mile-high city provided the rest of the league a clear blueprint to defenestrate the former ketchup king of sidearm, quarter arm and no-look-pass-sling. They might even lose to the Browns. (Hey, remember? I told you before we began, that I would, before finishing, incite some pure rage, right?)

5. Pittsburgh Steelers: Every football fan and their brother said the Steelers were undefeated through eleven games because their opponents combined winning percentage was abysmal. I can’t believe Don DeLillo was right when he said, The future (of this team at least) belongs to (the wisdom of) the crowds. Well, maybe not completely. All of the man’s prose represents an enigmatic and very dark joke. But still, Pittsburg has a serious – not joking – problem in that there is an enormous blight in the diversity of their play calling. I’m not on Mike Tomlin’s staff, yet I know screen passes, check downs and quick slants need their opposite in acrobatics and explosiveness, any sort of shot or deep post route very well established, credible, and run successfully several times, before Ben throws underneath with some sort of reliable success. On the other hand, the Steelers defense was not half bad. And one of the Watt brothers not named J.J. is still outplaying his face of the league most years older brother down in Houston. Not all is lost. But the Washington Football Team had no business winning on the road this week. And yet, they did. 

6. Los Angeles Rams: Jalen Ramsey looks even better in pass coverage than Richard Sherman ever did during his golden years in the Seahawks Legion of Boom. Ramsey shut down DK Metcalf, stymied DeAndre Hopkins, blanketed and has disrupted passing threats from nearly ever single opposing offense, and he’s really only had one game where he wasn’t clearly the best defensive back in the league: earlier this season, recording just one tackle when the Rams lost to Buffalo on the road in upstate New York. This shows why teams won’t even throw to Ramsey’s side of the field when he’s covering star wide-outs. So far, this NFC West leading Los Angeles team has answered the bell, call, and then some, with monumental wins against Seattle, Arizona and Tampa Bay. Aside from their stumbles against Miami and Buffalo, they look daunting on both sides of the ball every week.

7. Seattle Seahawks: I don’t know anymore. Let’s just throw some stats at the wall and hope something sticks to reasonably paint a picture of what this team is, and perhaps what it could become, when and if they right the ship before sailing into January. When Chris Carson receives 14 or more carriers, the Hawks are 3-0. The same 3-0 mark exists when DK gets 10 or more targets. I don’t usually agree with Troy Aikman, as a rule – too many concussions and pro-Cowboys comments – but he said something along the lines of – and I’m paraphrasing here – No matter what, or who the Cowboys were playing, his stud WR, Michael Irvin would still receive at least 5 shots down the field per game from him, even if the legendary Deon Sanders had Irvin coverage duties every single play, the entire game. Didn’t matter who covered Irvin, because the stud wide-out was exactly that good to warrant even a very high amount of risk multiple times each half. For the Hawks, something must change, and soon, because DK has five games this year where he’s been targeted 6 times or less. So what gives? Whose fault is it? Who do we blame? And who will give us hope? Like I said, I don’t know anymore. Anyway, one silver lining, in only eight games, Jamal Adams has 7.5 sacks. Since the dawn of the sack statistic, in 1982, it’s the most from a DB other than Adrian Wilson’s 8 in 2005. One final note, this team better not lose to the Jets this Sunday.

8. Cleveland Browns: One of my favorite iconoclastic and provocateur sports commentators Colin Cowherd said before Cleveland squared up against Tennessee this last Sunday, and again, I’m paraphrasing: If the Browns lose to the Titans, the team would – on the plane ride home from Nashville, no less! – plan to have a very serious seismic upheaval of a conversation about the future of the Browns QB position. Well, the man, myth, the motormouth, and sassy Oklahoma legend, Baker Mayfield put all of Cowherd’s hype to rest this last week. Mayfield was 25-33 with 334 yards and 4 TDs. The man played like Aaron Rodgers, made his supreme craft look way too easy for the layman to duplicate. Now the Browns have 9 wins. Yes, it’s the first winning season in franchise history since 2007. Not half bad at all.

9. Tennessee Titans: Aside from their recent garbage time exploits in offensive stat stuffing and then making the game’s final score look but not seem, nor feel a lot closer than all that tipped the actual balance of play on Sunday – the astonishingly efficient all-new dynamo Cleveland Browns eviscerating the Tennessee defense – the Titans throughout the game looked sloppy, confused, and tired. Very, very tired. However, Ryan Tannehill still ranks 5th in QBR and interceptions and sixth in TDs. The Titans were down 38-7 at halftime against the Browns, which allowed Tannehill to soon complete 29 of 45, for 389 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Tennessee will need a blowout against the 1-11 Jaguars if they want to salvage any pride before fending off the late Wild Card push from the revitalized Baltimore Ravens.

10. Indianapolis Colts: I expect they will leapfrog the Titans before the end of the regular season. But I will never trust Phillip Rivers because he has never and to this day does not remotely begin to pass the eye-test for me. Who wants a temperamental tyrannosaurus rex for a QB? I don’t, and the dreadful Chargers didn’t anymore either. Despite all this and more, Rivers has the Colts in decent position for a playoff appearance. This week’s game against Vegas is must-win. And maybe it’s just me, I don’t know, but if I were a Colts fan, I wouldn’t want this recent ESPN headline anywhere near the team’s overall buzz, conversation, head space, “Colts rookie Rodrigo Blankenship still gets a kick out of Lego sets.” I’d rather hear more about the Colts defense: the main reason Indy is in the hunt. Darius Leonard leads the team with 86 tackles. And Justin Houston has 7.5 sacks.

11. Baltimore Ravens: The best throwing running back in the NFL is back, baby! The former NFL MVP, and recently Covid clear, Jackson did and played exactly well enough against Dallas Tuesday evening to merit the greatest dual threat weapon ever kind of hype that comes at him as if he’s magnetized while on the move. Or Teflon, maybe, because no one playing with a star on their helmet could hang onto him and stick Jackson, nor any other Baltimore ball carrier for that matter. The Ravens picked up a staggering 294 yards on the ground against a Cowboys defense now maybe wishing they were still under the stewardship and coaching staff of the once pariah (via too much encouraging clapping?) Jason Garrett. The Ravens are a long way off from threatening anyone in the post season. But Baltimore has big games against, the Browns, Jags, Giants and Bengals, where they could absolutely gather enough steam at the right time. Watch out for Jackson.

12. New England Patriots: A team with a 6-7 record is not exactly what constitutes nor cuts a menacing figure in the NFL. And yet, somehow it’s terrifying when one considers how many setbacks Cam Newton and Belichick and the rest of the team have suffered since the first three weeks of the season. After winning a slugfest and a rock fight against Arizona, New England exhibited a masterpiece on both sides of the ball, and on special teams, ultimately gashing the Los Angeles Chargers 45-0. Then they fell back to earth with a loss to the Rams last night. A .500 record for this team at the end of the season seems inevitable.

13. Miami Dolphins: They’re good, 8-4, but they’re just not a serious threat once the post season arrives. They did once dispatch with the Rams. But they should have taken more away from dreadful Cincinnati, a team opposite Miami’s vibe right now because the Bengals don’t have anything to play for – with Burrow out – aside from pride. And what’s more, the Dolphins may actually miss the playoffs. The Pats look way better. And Miami’s upcoming schedule features games against KC, New England, Vegas and Buffalo. And yeah, so, yikes – can you say 8-8?

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The more I think about their losses to New Orleans, KC, LA and the Bears, the more I begin to suspect Minnesota will demolish Tampa this week. One team has something to prove, and the other team has at QB, the GOAT, the guy with nothing to prove, even if he does claim he wants to play past 50. That being said, there was a huge difference between Nolan Ryan and Jamie Moyer at their end of their middle-age defying professional throwing careers.

The rest of the league.

15. Minnesota Vikings
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. San Francisco 49ers
18. New York Giants
19. Washington Football Team
20. Las Vegas Raiders 
21. Denver Broncos
22. Chicago Bears
23. Detroit Lions
24. Carolina Panthers
25. Houston Texans
26. Atlanta Falcons
27. Los Angeles Chargers
28. Philadelphia Eagles
29. Cincinnati Bengals
30. Dallas Cowboys
31. Jacksonville Jaguars 
32. New York Jets

About Jackson Pappin 34 Articles
Jackson Pappin is a freelance writer. A 2018 WSU Edward R. Murrow College of Communication alumni, he writes fiction, journalism, columns, essays and poetry. His work has been published in Anastamos, The Oregonian, The Spokesman Review, The Seattle P.I. Reader Blogs, The Daily Evergreen, The Central Circuit, LandEscapes and at the Spectra Art Gallery. His writing is available at https://jacksonpappin.blogspot.com

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*