2022 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 15?

BR NFL StaffDecember 13, 2022

2022 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 15?

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    Josh Allen
    Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    There's just one month left in the 2022 regular season, but while many division races are heating up, very little is settled. So far just one playoff spot has been locked up—the Philadelphia Eagles are in the postseason as at least a wild card after drubbing the Giants in New York.

    The Eagles have a commanding lead in their division (NFC East), but they aren't alone. The Buffalo Bills (AFC East), Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West) Minnesota Vikings (NFC North), San Francisco 49ers (NFC West) and Tennessee Titans (AFC South) all have multigame leads.

    However, those leads don't necessarily mean all is well. The Vikings are scuffling a bit after getting waxed in Detroit. The Titans are reeling after dropping three straight.

    Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are both falling further behind the Bills by the week. Ditto for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West.

    Then there's the matter of the NFC South—the division no team wants to win.

    Another wild week of NFL action has shaken the balance of power across the NFL from top to bottom, whether it's the surging Bengals and Lions moving up or the Giants and Jets moving down. And as is the case each and every week here at Bleacher Report, NFL Analysts Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton and Brent Sobleski have come together to slot all 32 teams from worst to first.

    The bookends are the same as a week ago. But plenty changed in between.

32. Houston Texans (1-11-1)

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    Jeff Driskel
    Sam Hodde/Getty Images

    Last Week: 32

    Week 14 Result: Lost at Dallas 27-23

    There are no moral victories in the NFL. For the Houston Texans, almost beating the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday counts the same as getting blasted by 40 points.

    But while head Lovie Smith expressed frustration with how things turned out while addressing reporters after the game, he also expressed pride with how his team has continued to fight despite loss after loss after loss.

    "We just didn't execute," Smith said. "We just didn't execute the way we needed to. Games like that, sometimes you feel like, did we deserve to win? Yeah, I thought we played throughout, all three phases. Where we are in our season, the guys just keep showing up to play that way."

    Things aren't likely to get any better next week against the Kansas City Chiefs. But as Davenport pointed out, for these Texans that might not be a bad thing.

    "Davis Mills isn't the future under center for the Texans," he said. "Neither is Kyle Allen. Or Jeff Driskel. The Texans don't need meaningless wins. They need a legitimate starting quarterback. And if the team wants their pick of attractive litter at the position in the 2022 draft, they need to stay under three wins—you know, just to stay safe."

31. Denver Broncos (3-10)

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    Russell Wilson
    RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    Last Week: 31

    Week 14 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City 34-28

    Sunday's loss to the Chiefs just about sums up the 2022 Broncos.

    The Broncos had their best offensive game of the season—and lost. Denver peeled off 21 points in less than four minutes of game time—but did so after falling behind 27-0. Russell Wilson had his best outing as a Bronco—but left the game with a concussion.

    Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy tried to put a positive spin on Denver's fifth straight defeat by talking up Denver's effort level while addressing the media after the game.

    "This team—we never finish how we want to but one thing I can say for sure is that we never quit," Jeudy said. "We just keep fighting throughout the game even when we were down 27-0, 21-0—we still kept fighting. If there's time on the clock, there's time in the game; there's still a chance."

    "A" for effort aside, the Broncos have now lost eight straight AFC West games for the first time since the AFL-NFL merger. Denver remains dead last in the league in scoring. Wilson's status for Week 15 is in question. And the only team benefitting from Denver's losses is the Seattle Seahawks.

    Other than that, though, everything's fine.

30. Chicago Bears (3-10)

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    Justin Fields
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Last Week: 28

    Week 14 Result: Bye Week

    It's not that often that fans of a three-win team are excited about the future. But while the Chicago Bears aren't winning games, they appear to have found their quarterback.

    Now they just need to keep him in one piece.

    If Justin Fields can log 95 rushing yards over the last month of the season (which would seem likely given that he's averaging over 75 yards per game), the second-year pro out of Ohio State will become the third quarterback in NFL history to gain 1,000 yards on the ground in a season. However, running the ball means more hits taken, and as head coach Matt Eberflus told reporters, the key for the Bears is mitigating that additional punishment.

    "I've said from the beginning for several weeks now, we want to be very protective of Justin to makes sure he is out of harm's way," Eberflus said. "That is either being smart by him working to the sideline, working out of bounds, sliding correctly. Or things like that, different designs that we might give our halfback."

    Getting Fields through the rest of the season is just Step 1 in Chicago's rebuild plan. And even bigger one will be how the team handles the 2023 offseason. Fields needs better passing-game weapons around him. The Chicago defense needs help at all three levels.

    There's a lot of work to be done if this year's excitement is to have any chance of meaning anything a year from now.

29. Los Angeles Rams (4-9)

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    Baker Mayfield
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Last Week: 29

    Week 14 Result: Won vs. Las Vegas 17-16

    The 2022 season has been an unmitigated disaster for the Los Angeles Rams. They have had arguably the worst season ever by a defending Super Bowl champion. But for one week at least, the Rams have something to smile about.

    It's not just that the Rams beat the Raiders. It's that the they did so with a quarterback in Baker Mayfield who wasn't even on the team a week ago.

    Mayfield leading the Rams to a comeback win in Los Angeles just two days after joining the team was a Hollywood ending—one that offensive tackle Rob Havenstein told reporters he was trying to process.

    "I've kind of never seen anything like what Baker did," Havenstein said. "He got here, what, Tuesday? Just unbelievable. The work and the effort and the mindset of the boys, the offense and defense and special teams actually putting together a complete performance there down the stretch. … Couldn't be happier for my boys. No matter what was happening, everybody had each others' backs."

    Mayfield will all but certainly now be the Rams' quarterback over the last month of the season. And with retirement rumors swirling around Matthew Stafford for weeks, that four-week audition could have major implications for the future of both Mayfield and the Rams.

    "Good for Mayfield," Sobleski said. "Now, do it again. A season spiraling out of control in Los Angeles forced the Rams to start Mayfield only two days after they acquired him off waivers. Miraculously, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, who is now on his third team in six months, seemingly resurrected his flailing career by orchestrating a 98-yard game-winning drive in just over a minute-and-a-half. As of now, this is a really good story about a talented player regaining his confidence in the biggest moment on the national stage. Mayfield has played well for stretches before, though. Can he continue to do so? A lack of consistency became his downfall in Cleveland, and he never gained anything during his Carolina tenure. Maybe this time will be different."

28. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1)

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    Nick Foles
    Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

    Last Week: 27

    Week 14 Result: Bye Week

    As the Indianapolis Colts have navigated a miserable 2022 season that already saw head coach Frank Reich be fired, they have already changed the starting quarterback—twice.

    Maybe the third time will be the charm.

    Granted, Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday didn't explicitly say that Matt Ryan was going to get the hook for the second time this season. But after getting embarrassed in Week 13 in a game in which the Colts turned the ball over five times and were outscored 33-0 in the fourth quarter, Saturday also didn't say he wouldn't.

    "We're going to look at everything—no position in particular, but everybody—and look and see what we think is going to be best," Saturday told reporters. "I told the guys we've got a four-week season. That's almost a quarter of the season, and it's for all the marbles. So we need the best 11 on the field."

    Given that the Colts already tried youngster Sam Ehlinger under center (with disastrous results), it stands to reason that Nick Foles would be next up on the quarterback carousel. But while Ryan hasn't played well, he also isn't the only reason the Colts have face-planted in 2022.

    And from all indications, when the 2023 season dawns for the Colts, it will do so with the team's seventh different Week 1 starter in as many seasons.

27. New Orleans Saints (4-9)

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    Dennis Allen
    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    Last Week: 26

    Week 14 Result: Bye Week

    For many years under Sean Payton and Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints enjoyed great success—including the franchise's only championship. Payton and Brees are gone now—and so is the success.

    Head coach Dennis Allen has struggled in his first season, and those struggles aren't new to him—Allen's .245 winning percentage as head coach of the Raiders and Saints is…not good. In the opinion of John Sigler of Saints Wire, at least some of the problem is that in a day and age when more and more coaches are aggressive on 4th-and-short, Allen has a distressing tendency to play it safe.

    "Allen has kicked field goals on more short-yardage situations (fourth down with 1 or 2 yards to go) while tied or leading through just 13 games (5 times) than his predecessor Sean Payton did across three full seasons (3 times). The Saints are tied for the second-fewest fourth down conversion attempts (8) on the year so far. They rank second-highest in field goals and punts inside opposing territory. He's the least-aggressive coach in the NFL, and New Orleans' record reflects the consequences of that."

    Per Sigler, the Saints also lead the league in presnap penalties on offense, leading to speculation that Allen's first season as coach in New Orleans could also be his last.

26. Arizona Cardinals (4-9)

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    Kyler Murray
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 21

    Week 14 Result: Lost vs. New England 27-13

    The season has become a nightmare for the Arizona Cardinals.

    Mind you, it essentially already was. Entering Monday night's matchup with the New England Patriots, the Cardinals were a woeful 1-6 at home. The defense has been prone to mistakes and lapses. The offense had been inconsistent. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury was on the hot seat. About the only thing that hadn't happened was a devastating injury to a key player.

    You can guess where this is headed.

    On the first series of Monday's loss, quarterback Kyler Murray (who only this year signed a massive contract extension) had to be carted off the field after suffering a non-contact injury. Per ESPN's Josh Weinfuss, there is "little doubt" Murray tore his ACL.

    That wasn't even the only injury the Cardinals suffered. The team's most productive defensive lineman (Zach Allen) suffered a hand injury, and Arizona was already without top cornerback Byron Murphy Jr.

    Now, not only is the season toast, but the beginning of the 2023 campaign is in jeopardy as well. The Cardinals' entire approach to the offseason will likely change.

    Things have gone from bad to worse to catastrophe.

    There will probably be quite a few bleeps in the next episode of Hard Knocks.

25. Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

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    Desmond Ridder
    Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

    Last Week: 24

    Week 14 Result: Bye Week

    That the biggest story of the season for the Falcons happened over the bye week speaks to the kind of season it has been in Atlanta. But after losing four of five following a 4-4 start, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is shaking things up.

    It's Desmond Ridder time.

    A third-round pick out of Cincinnati, Ridder was outstanding last year in leading the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff. The 6'3", 211-pounder was also the B/R Scouting Department's highest-graded quarterback in the class of 2022.

    "Ridder shows enough advanced play that he can start for an NFL team as a rookie," Nate Tice wrote in the lead-up to the 2022 draft. "He's not a perfect prospect and might take some knocks early as he steps up a level in competition. But considering the improvement he showed his senior season and with still enough upside left to tap into, he has a path toward being a Pro Bowl-caliber player at the position if he gets in the right situation and can continue to work on his consistency."

    Whether Atlanta is the right situation is a matter for debate. But while we may not know how this will all play out, one thing is undeniable.

    The stretch run for the Falcons just got a lot more interesting

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)

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    Mitchell Trubisky
    Justin Casterline/Getty Images

    Last Week: 23

    Week 14 Result: Lost vs. Baltimore 16-14

    There's no more margin for error in Pittsburgh. With one more loss, the Steelers will enter uncharted waters—the first losing season of head coach Mike Tomlin's career.

    In Week 14, the biggest reason for defeat was poor quarterback play. After rookie Kenny Pickett was sidelined by a concussion, veteran Mitch Trubisky entered the game and tossed three interceptions. Trubisky took the hit for the defeat while speaking to reporters.

    "A lot of stuff I could do better, but coming off the bench I just wanted to go in there, try to provide a spark," Trubisky said. "I thought we did a good job moving the ball, but I have to protect the football and that's obvious."

    With that said, Trubisky isn't solely the problem in Pittsburgh any more than Pickett was. And as Davenport noted, the Steelers' issues won't necessarily be easy to fix.

    "Pittsburgh's issues extend to both sides of the ball," he said. "The offensive line has been a problem for some time and remains a bottom-10 unit. So is the team's pass defense. The Steelers need bodies. Talent. Depth. Up front and in the secondary. And while Pittsburgh fans accustomed to success might not like it, losses help the team more than wins at this point. Better to crater for a year and then rebuild than to spend half a decade fielding mediocre seven- or eight-win teams."

23. Las Vegas Raiders (5-8)

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    Derek Carr
    Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 19

    Week 14 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Rams 17-16

    The Las Vegas Raiders have become the masters of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    With less than four minutes to go in Thursday's tilt with a Rams team that entered the week losers of six straight, the Raiders led 16-3. But the Raiders did what the Raiders have continually done this season—blow the lead. As a matter of fact, Thursday marked the fourth time this season that the Raiders have blown a double-digit halftime lead.

    No team has ever done that before.

    The Raiders continue to be their own worst enemy. Vegas turned the ball over twice and committed seven penalties for 94 yards, and head coach Josh McDaniels admitted to reporters after the loss that those unforced errors have plagued the team all season.

    "We didn't finish the game. The bottom line is, until we figure out how to stop losing games with mistakes that we do to ourselves, then it makes it very difficult to win," McDaniels said. "You can't really win until you stop from losing. Penalties and turnovers contribute to that."

    Any momentum from the team's three-game winning streak evaporated Thursday night. And the Raiders' chances of advancing to the playoffs evaporated with it.

    "The Raiders offense didn't have much rhythm after its opening drive, which resulted in a touchdown," Moton said of Thursday's meltdown. "Derek Carr finished with a career-low passer rating (36.9) in a single game. Somehow, wideout Davante Adams only saw seven targets. Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby, Jerry Tillery and Amik Robertson committed penalties that either extended one of the Rams' final two drives or helped Los Angeles move the ball. Lastly, the defense failed to limit chunk plays. The Raiders' latest defeat summed up their 2022 season. Right now, they can't get out of their own way to finish games."

22. Carolina Panthers (5-8)

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    Chuba Hubbard
    Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

    Last Week: 30

    Week 14 Result: Won at Seattle 30-24

    The Carolina Panthers aren't making a deep playoff run. They probably aren't making the playoffs at all. But given all the team has endured this season, even a 5-8 record deserves some credit.

    The Panthers have changed quarterback from Baker Mayfield to PJ Walker back to Mayfield and then to Sam Darnold. Matt Rhule started the season as head coach of the Panthers—and now holds the same position at Nebraska. Star running back Christian McCaffrey was traded to San Francisco.

    But after downing the Seahawks in Seattle, the Panthers are just a game out of first place in the NFC South. Interim head coach Steve Wilks lauded his team's resiliency while speaking to reporters after the victory.

    "With everything that we've gone through with coaching changes, getting rid of players ... all those different things and to see how those guys respond and came out and played today, it is pretty thrilling and emotional," Wilks said.

    The Panthers are running the ball well even after McCaffrey's departure—223 yards against Seattle. The defense is stepping up in big moments. But with an unsettled situation under center moving forward, turning this short-term success into long-term growth won't be especially easy.

    "The Panthers deserve more respect," Moton said. "At 5-8, they belong in the bottom half of the power rankings, but the scrappy NFC South club has won three of its last four games. Carolina has a run-first offensive identity and a formidable defense as the two main ingredients in its winning formula. While that approach doesn't draw casual spectators to the TV screen, the Panthers have made it work for them over the past month. Carolina's offense has accumulated at least 185 rushing yards in each of the team's last three victories. Meanwhile, the defense has allowed 15.5 points per contest since Week 10.

    "Don't sleep on the Panthers as a dark horse to win the NFC South if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to stumble every other week."

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)

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    Trevor Lawrence
    Justin Ford/Getty Images

    Last Week: 25

    Week 14 Result: Won at Tennessee 36-22

    The Jacksonville Jaguars won't make the playoffs this season. Or post a winning season. But the month of December isn't about the present.

    It's about the future—and the development of second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

    For the second time in three weeks, Lawrence was outstanding against a first-place team. Against the Titans, Lawrence set a new career high in passing yards with 368, completing 30 of 42 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

    It was just Jacksonville's second victory in their last 11 meetings with the AFC South-leading Titans, and Lawrence told reporters after the game that it felt good to finally get one against their rivals.

    "It's been a while since we won here, and that ended today so it's exciting," Lawrence said. "Just the start of what we hope to do to finish this season out and what we're going to have to give ourselves a shot to make a run in the playoffs."

    Again, those postseason aspirations are probably more wishful thinking than real possibility—the Jaguars have one two-game winning streak this year and face three teams with winning records the rest of the way.

    But the Jaguars are dispelling their status as a tomato can—one win at a time.

    "Trevor Lawrence achieved Super Saiyan mode," Sobleski said. "The best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck is finally playing to expectations. Since Lawrence threw his last interception during the final weekend of October, he's completed 71.8 percent of his passes for 1,382 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Jacksonville has won three of its last five contests with an outside chance to capture a playoff spot. Overall, the Jaguars remain inconsistent, but they're receiving elite play from their quarterback, which makes them dangerous. Lawrence is now consistently performing well and making the caliber of throws that will eventually place him among the game's best signal-callers."

20. Cleveland Browns (5-8)

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    Deshaun Watson
    Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 18

    Week 14 Result: Lost at Cincinnati 23-10

    Any realistic chance the Cleveland Browns had of making the postseason in 2022 is gone after the team lost in Cincinnati this week. But the reality is that Cleveland's postseason hopes have been slim for some time. The rest of this season is about building toward next season.

    And in that regard, there were some positive signs in Week 14.

    Deshaun Watson didn't play great in his second start for the Browns—26 completions in 42 attempts for 276 yards and a score with an interception. But relative to his performance a week earlier, it was a step in the right direction.

    "The game is going to continue to speed up," Watson told reporters after the game. "Each week is going to get better. Today was another learning lesson. Just need to continue to improve. The progress is always taking one step forward. The biggest ultimate goal is to get the W."

    The challenge for Cleveland in the offseason will be improving the team without much in the way of resources with which to do so. Cleveland's first-rounder in 2023 belongs to the Texans, and the team has less than $4 million in projected cap space next season.

19. Green Bay Packers (5-8)

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    Aaron Rodgers
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Last Week: 22

    Week 14 Result: Bye Week

    The 2022 season has not gone at all according to plan for the Green Bay Packers. They already have more losses this season than in 2021 and 2020 combined. However, while general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters the season hasn't met expectations, he made it clear towels are not being thrown, either.

    ''We were certainly expected to be competing for a championship—and we are still in it, if we're able to dig our way back into this thing," Gutekunst said. "We still kind of feel like we have the ability to do that. But this season has not gone as we expected."

    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers echoed that refrain, but he admitted that if Green Bay does get eliminated from contention, it's possible that veteran players (Rodgers included) could be shut down for the year.

    "Look, I'd love to finish the season out. But I understand this is a business," Rodgers said. ''There's a lot of us older guys who play a decent amount and they might want to see some younger guys play. Hopefully, we don't have to have that conversation. But if that conversation comes up, I'll approach that with an open mind and without any bitterness or resentment."

    The Packers are likely one loss away from throwing in the towel.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)

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    Tom Brady
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    Last Week: 16

    Week 14 Result: Lost at San Francisco 35-7

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a mess offensively. And as it turns out, Tom Brady may be partly to blame.

    As reported by Mike Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle, Brady has been holding meetings with his skill-position players on Saturdays this season and making adjustments to the game plan—adjustments his coaches aren't made aware of until the game is going on.

    "The level of responsibility that Brady imposes upon himself has always been massive, and this year, he's taxed to the max," Silver said. "One example: On the night before each game, Brady runs a separate meeting with the Bucs' skill players during which he goes over the game plan, makes tweaks to assignments and formations and provides a revised blueprint— one which first-year head coach Todd Bowles, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and the rest of the staff are left to discover in real time once the game begins."

    Those "adjustments" aren't working—after a miserable performance against San Francisco, Tampa is 28th in the league in scoring. Moton sees a franchise in big trouble.

    "We must officially retire hope that the Buccaneers eventually snap out of their offensive daze for a strong finish to the season," he said. "At this point in the campaign, teams have already solidified identities. The Buccaneers have a decent but inconsistent defense with a clunky offense. Despite the cachet of the players at quarterback and wide receiver, the Buccaneers have an underwhelming aerial attack. Brady isn't in complete sync with wideouts Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones. When that group has an off day, Tampa Bay's ground attack isn't good enough to move the ball with consistency.

    "The Buccaneers have eclipsed 22 points in a game once this season," he continued, "and that happened against the Kansas City Chiefs, who had a two-score lead for most of the contest. Tampa Bay must rely heavily on its defense to limit opponent scoring opportunities, but that's a risky proposition with a unit that ranks in the bottom half of the league in passing touchdowns and rushing yards allowed."

17. Detroit Lions (6-7)

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    Jared Goff
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Last Week: 20

    Week 14 Result: Won vs. Minnesota 34-23


    When the Lions were floundering at 1-6, it looked like it was going to be a very Detroit season. That Dan Campbell's second year as head coach might be his last. That like in so many disappointing seasons, Lions gotta Lion.

    But then the Lions squeaked past the Packers and Bears. Stunned the Giants in New York. Blasted the Jaguars. And now worked over the Vikings. The Lions have one loss in their last six games—and that was a last-second defeat to the Bills on Thanksgiving.

    After torching the Vikings for 330 yards and three scores, quarterback Jared Goff told reporters the Lions never gave up on the season—and now they have their sights on an even bigger goal.

    "Yeah, things sucked early on obviously and who knows how long that could've lasted, but we trusted ourselves, trusted the work we put in, trusted Dan and trusted the coaching staff and we're almost back to .500 now and who would've thought that at 1-6," Goff said. "We've got a long way to go, but with that being said, we're 6-7 and the reality is we still have to win quite a few games to get to the playoffs. Sure, we're doing a lot of good things right now, but we have four more and if we can win all of them, I'm sure we'll have a great chance, but we'll see how it goes."

    The Lions. In playoff contention. In December.

    Will wonders never cease.

16. New England Patriots (7-6)

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    Mac Jones
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 17

    Week 14 Result: Won at Arizona 27-13

    The New England Patriots are in the playoffs—at least for now.

    In a week when two of the teams ahead of them in the AFC East lost, the Pats took care of business—and in taking care of the Cardinals, they took over the No. 7 seed in the AFC bracket.

    It was a game won in very Patriots fashion. The offense wasn't prolific by any stretch: Rhamondre Stevenson suffered an ankle injury, and the ground game barely cracked 100 yards; Mac Jones didn't throw a touchdown pass and had a passer rating of just 75.3. But as has been the case more often than not this year, the defense carried the day: The Patriots held the Cardinals under 325 yards, limited Arizona to 4-of-14 on third downs and forced a pair of turnovers.

    For his part, Davenport isn't sure these Patriots will do damage in the playoffs. Or even get there. But he does know this isn't a team that anyone wants to see down the stretch.

    "New England's last three games are brutal," he said, "with the Patriots facing the Bengals, Dolphins and Bills. But none of those teams wants to face New England in a pivotal game. The Pats muck things up. Force opponents to play their style of game. And that defense keeps them in the game just about every week. That makes them dangerous."

15. Seattle Seahawks (7-6)

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    Geno Smith
    Steph Chambers/Getty Images

    Last Week: 12

    Week 14 Result: Lost vs. Carolina 30-24

    In the NFL, Cinderella showing up to the ball is one thing. But as the Seattle Seahawks are finding out the hard way after losing three of their last four games, staying is another story altogether.

    The problems Sunday aren't hard to identify. With rookie running back Ken Walker III on the shelf, the Seahawks managed fewer than 50 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense that couldn't stop anyone early in the season has resurfaced—Seattle allowed 223 rushing yards and 4.8 yards per carry.

    Seattle safety Ryan Neal admitted to reporters that the team's defensive issues have cropped back up at the worst possible time.

    "We gotta fix this ... because you've seen what happened. And it's been the same thing the past two weeks, and teams see it and they're gonna attack it," Neal said.

    At 7-6, the Seahawks now find themselves eighth in the conference. And with the surging 49ers next up on Thursday night, the Seahawks' division title chances could be gone in the next few days.

    "A harsh reality is becoming clear in Seattle," Davenport said. "And that reality is that the Seahawks have no margin for error. They can't afford to not have a run game to lean on. Can't afford for Geno Smith to turn the ball over. Can't afford for the defense to revert to its early-season struggles. The Seahawks may be better than we expected in 2022, but that doesn't make them good. And with three straight games coming up against winning teams, the postseason looks like a long shot."

14. New York Jets (7-6)

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    Mike White
    Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    Last Week: 13

    Week 14 Result: Lost at Buffalo 20-12

    When the New York Jets hit the bye week, they were 6-3 and one of the surprise success stories of 2022. But since the off week, the Jets have dropped three of four, and as Moton said, they may have lost more than just a football game Sunday.

    They may have lost any real chance of advancing to the postseason.

    "The New York Jets will go into the final stretch of the campaign with uncertainty at quarterback, which seems like a recipe for a late-season collapse," Moton said. "Three weeks ago, the Jets benched Zach Wilson, who, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, lost confidence in himself and has to work on his mechanics. On Sunday, Mike White took some bone-rattling hits to the ribs from Buffalo Bills defenders and checked into a hospital after the game. Head coach Robert Saleh called it a "precautionary" decision, but the fifth-year signal-caller may have to play through an injury if available. Joe Flacco has completed 58 percent of his passes in four games (three starts) this season. By the way, Gang Green lost lead running back Breece Hall in Week 7.

    "The Jets have a top-10 defense," he continued, "but they won't be able to match the pace of high-scoring opponents that remain on their schedule. The Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins all have top-10 scoring offenses."

13. New York Giants (7-5-1)

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    Saquon Barkley
    AP Photo/John Minchillo

    Last Week: 11

    Week 14 Result: Lost vs. Philadelphia 48-22

    The shine is officially off the New York Giants.

    There was a time when the Giants were one of this year's better stories. Under first-year head coach Brian Daboll, they started the season exceeding expectations in a huge way. When they downed the Texans on November 13, they were 7-2.

    But New York's offense sputtered. The defense buckled under the weight of carrying a team. And as Moton said, after getting blown out at home by the Eagles, the Giants are well and truly reeling.

    "Despite three losses and a tie over the past four weeks, the Giants are clinging to the No. 7 seed in the NFC playoff picture, but don't count on Big Blue to make the postseason," he said. "The Giants will continue to fall in the standings and in these power rankings because they don't have enough offensive playmakers. Running back Saquon Barkley struggled to move the ball on the ground before he popped up on the injury report with a neck issue last week. He hasn't eclipsed 63 rushing yards in a game since the Giants played the Houston Texans' 32nd-ranked run defense in Week 10.

    "Now that Barkley may have to play through an injury," Moton continued, "we're going to see how much the Giants need upgrades at the skill positions. Darius Slayton, Richie James, Isaiah Hodgins and Daniel Bellinger won't elevate the offense from its funk. New York has scored fewer than 24 points in four consecutive outings."

12. Washington Commanders (7-5-1)

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    Terry McLaurin
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Last Week: 14

    Week 14 Result: Bye Week

    The Washington Commanders have exceeded expectations this season. At 7-5-1, they are in the thick of the wild-card chase in the NFC. After starting the season 1-4, they have lost just once in their late eight games.

    Much of the team's success has been credited to quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who took over under center when Carson Wentz got hurt and held on to the job even once Wentz was healthy. But while speaking with reporters, Heinicke made it clear that the team's trio of wide receivers (Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and rookie Jahan Dotson) have made life easy for him.

    "Those guys are huge playmakers, and you continue to see it every week," Heinicke said, "so the more that I can get them the ball, let them do their thing, the better we'll be. You see what Curtis does all the time with the ball in his hands. Terry is always getting open and making big plays. So the more you can give them opportunities and get the ball in their hands, I think the better this team is going to be."

    With that said, making the postseason isn't going to be easy for Washington. Beginning next week against a Giants team Washington tied in Week 13, the stretch run for the Commanders contains three games against teams with winning records—including a home date in Week 18 against the Cowboys that could carry enormous stakes.

    "A late bye week couldn't have been positioned better for the Commanders," Sobleski said. "Without stepping onto the field, Washington benefited greatly from Sunday's outcomes. The 7-5-1 squad leapfrogged the fading New York Giants in the NFC East and the overall playoff picture. Ron Rivera's club won't catch up with the Philadelphia Eagles or the Dallas Cowboys, but it can do some damage on the bottom end of the bracket. Washington has lost only once in its last eight games. The team now has an identity on offense by riding its new workhorse, Brian Robinson Jr. Plus, the defensive line could receive a significant boost with Chase Young's return to the lineup at any point before the regular season ends. Their approach may not be pretty, but the Commanders are not a team others want to face at the moment. "

11. Tennessee Titans (7-6)

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    Derrick Henry
    Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 10

    Week 14 Result: Lost vs. Jacksonville 36-22

    Barring an epic collapse, the Tennessee Titans are going to win the AFC South for a third consecutive season. But that collapse has already begun…

    And the Titans are in trouble.

    After getting drilled at home by the Jaguars, the Titans have dropped three straight for the first time since 2018. Over the past two weeks, they have been outscored 71-32—and the games weren't as close as even those lopsided numbers indicate.

    Tennessee turned it over four times against the Jaguars, with running back Derrick Henry accounting for two of them. Henry had a huge first quarter before completely disappearing in the second half, and he confessed to reporters afterward that he has to play better.

    "I got to be better," Henry said. "No excuse on that. Just fall on the ball and play another down."

    For head coach Mike Vrabel, the skid means it's gut-check time for the Titans and their players.

    "We are going to have to be able to weather the storm and find out who is willing to give us that extra push here down the stretch," Vrabel said.

    The Titans had better get it together—with two games left against teams with winning records before visiting Jacksonville in Week 18, the last thing Tennessee needs is for that game to mean something.

10. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)

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    Keenan Allen
    Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 15

    Week 14 Result: Won vs. Miami 23-17

    If it wasn't for bad luck, the Chargers would have no luck at all. Seemingly every season, the Bolts are beset by injuries. This season is no different, but Sunday night the Chargers got a key offensive piece back, and it made a world of difference.

    After missing most of the season with an ankle injury, Mike Williams returned with a fury Sunday, reeling in six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. With his full complement of pass-catchers back, Justin Herbert savaged the Miami defense to the tune of 367 passing yards and a score while earning the praise of head coach Brandon Staley.

    "He played with great energy tonight that really affected his teammates in a positive way," Staley told reporters. "He made a lot of winning plays, really good decisions throughout the game."

    Herbert set the record for the most passing yards in a player's first three seasons.

    Downing the Dolphins could turn out to be huge—the Chargers are in a three-team logjam with the Jets and Patriots and just a game back of Miami and the No. 6 seed. Any tiebreaker in a team's favor is a valuable commodity.

    The Chargers could also benefit from a relatively easy closing stretch. The Bolts play just one more team with a winning record, and that's the 7-6 Titans, who have lost three straight.

9. Miami Dolphins (8-5)

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    Tua Tagovailoa
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Last Week: 7

    Week 14 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Chargers 23-17

    Much has been said and written about the growth that Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has shown this season. About the progress he and the Dolphins offense have made in Mike McDaniel's first year as head coach.

    That positive momentum was stopped dead in its tracks Sunday night. Playing against a short-handed Chargers defense that has struggled much of the season, the Dolphins posted just 55 yards of offense in the first half. Tagovailoa was terrible for the whole game, completing 10 of 28 passes for 145 yards.

    While talking to reporters after the game, Tagovailoa was the first to admit he didn't play well at all.

    "It was very disappointing for us to go out there as an offense and show what we showed," Tagovailoa said. "That's not to our standard. That's not how we play football here, and that was very disappointing. To go out and play the way that we played, especially on my part, is unacceptable. No one really to blame but myself. We'll be better from this."

    Miami's two-game West Coast swing was a disaster—losses at San Francisco and Los Angeles that have devastated the Dolphins' chances of winning the AFC East. Next week's trip to Buffalo has now become absolutely critical.

    And the whispers around Tagovailoa have started again.

8. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)

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    Anthony Brown
    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Last Week: 9

    Week 14 Result: Won at Pittsburgh 16-14

    The good news for the Baltimore Ravens is that they squeaked past the rival Steelers to maintain their hold on first place in the AFC North.

    The bad news is that the team is running out of quarterbacks.

    With Lamar Jackson already out with a knee injury, the team turned to Tyler Huntley under center. But when Huntley was knocked out from the Steelers game with a concussion, the Ravens were forced to trot out an undrafted free-agent rookie in Anthony Brown.

    And Brown answered the call.

    Granted, the stats weren't overwhelming. But Brown played most of the second half and led the team on a clock-chewing drive that resulted in a field goal that essentially put the game out of reach. While speaking to the media after the game, tight end Mark Andrews said Brown earned the respect of his teammates Sunday.

    "It was super impressive just the way he commanded the huddle, the way that he brought us all together and all that," Andrews said. "Acting like he had been there before, and [I] just have a lot of respect and love for the way he came in and handled it."

    "John Harbaugh's team is grinding out wins, even though it is not playing particularly well," Sobleski said. "The Ravens have won three of four since their bye without scoring more than 16 points in any of those victories. Level of competition certainly played a role during that stretch, as they beat the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. Jackson continues to deal with a knee injury that could linger for another week or two, and Huntley is in the concussion protocol. Still, Baltimore sits atop the AFC North with a favorable schedule, with the Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers next on the docket. A division title remains a realistic possibility."

7. Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

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    Jordan Hicks
    Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4

    Week 14 Result: Lost at Detroit 34-23

    It seems odd to say that a 10-3 team has problems. But the Minnesota Vikings have very real problems.

    Sunday against the Lions, Minnesota's beleaguered defense allowed a whopping 464 yards of offense. It marked the fifth consecutive game that the Vikings have allowed over 400 yards—the longest streak in franchise history. After the latest collapse, the Vikings have the worst defense in the entire NFL.

    After the defeat, Vikings head coach Kevin O' Connell told reporters that changes could be coming on that side of the ball.

    "I think it's a combination of some things," O'Connell said. "But I think we need to take a look at what we can do to potentially help our guys be in a position to make more plays, be a little bit more aggressive possibly, but ultimately I think we need to generate more [pass] rush, however we do it. And then just try to limit explosives. And what that looks like, it's a variety of things, but I think if we're doing our jobs effectively, we've got to take a look at it to try to improve our football team."

    Davenport thinks it may be too little, too late.

    "The Vikings have been living dangerously for some time," he said. "It's rare for a team to have a record as good as Minnesota's while being outscored and outgained. It's also probably not sustainable, and we're starting to see that. The Vikings are going to win the NFC North. But their defensive deficiencies are going to keep them from making a deep run in the postseason."

6. San Francisco 49ers (9-4)

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    Brock Purdy
    Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    Week 14 Result: Won vs. Tampa Bay 35-7

    It looks like we're going to have to find a new nickname for San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy. Because "Mr. Irrelevant" just isn't accurate.

    For the second straight week, the final pick in the 2022 draft played well in Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Iowa State standout didn't post huge numbers (185 passing yards, two passing scores, one rushing score), but he showed excellent command of the offense and the Niners had zero problems moving the ball most of the afternoon.

    "He did an awesome job," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after game. "I think all you guys saw that. He made a ton of plays. He made the plays that were there. He made a lot of plays that weren't there. He did a great job in the pocket. ... It's really impressive how he played."

    The game wasn't without adversity—wide receiver Deebo Samuel was carted from the field with a nasty-looking ankle injury. But San Francisco appears to have dodged a bullet, with reports indicating that Samuel avoided major injury.

    "It's fair to wonder how these 49ers will fare in the postseason with a seventh-round rookie under center," Davenport said. "But Purdy deserves a ton of credit for how well he has played in his first two games. San Francisco is as good defensively as any team in the league. And if the 49ers can beat the sliding Seahawks on Thursday night, they will clinch the NFC West. If Purdy can lead this team on a deep playoff run, San Francisco will face the mother of all quarterback controversies in 2023."

5. Dallas Cowboys (10-3)

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    Tony Pollard
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    Week 14 Result: Won vs. Houston 27-23

    The NFL is a results-driven business. And on some level, all that matters is that the Cowboys were able to come back and get the win against Houston to stay two games back of the Eagles in the NFC East. Head coach Mike McCarthy said as much while addressing the media after the game.

    "We can sit here and talk about all the things that didn't go right," McCarthy said. "And I get it. But at the end of the day, you have to go win the game in the fourth quarter."

    With that said, though, it's at least a little unsettling that Dallas team with Super Bowl aspirations trailed a one-win Texans team for most of the afternoon. The defense looked a step slow. The offense was out of the sync for most of the contest.

    Dallas has won six of its last seven games, and if the team comes out sharp next week in Jacksonville, Sunday's semi-stumble will be forgotten soon enough. But if this was less aberration and more harbinger of future problems, we should know soon enough. Starting with the 12-1 Eagles in Week 16, the Cowboys close the season with three straight games against teams with winning records.

    If they play the way they did Sunday against those teams, and things could get dicey in Big D.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)

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    Sam Hubbard
    Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    Week 14 Result: Won vs. Cleveland 23-10

    The Cincinnati Bengals haven't generated a ton of buzz in recent weeks. But after taking care of their cross-state rivals for their fifth straight victory, perhaps they should be.

    The win contained a career first for Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. For all the third-year pro has accomplished, he was 0-5 against the Browns before throwing for 239 yards and two scores Sunday.

    While speaking to reporters after the win, Burrow applauded the performance of Cincinnati's defense, which held running back Nick Chubb under 40 rushing yards and limited the Browns to less than five yards per play.

    "The defense played unbelievable and that really ended up being the deciding factor in the game," Burrow said. "And so that's kind of showing the kind of team we're becoming—we're able to win in a lot of different ways. You've seen it over the last couple of weeks on the defensive end and the offensive end and the kicking game. We're just a complete team right now."

    Davenport agrees that the Bengals are a complete team.

    That Cincinnati continues to play well offensively despite a carousel of injuries is impressive in its own right," he said. "But when the Cincinnati defense plays at the level they did Sunday, the Bengals are capable of beating any team in the NFL. The Ravens may technically be in first place in the AFC North, but make no mistake—the Bengals are the best team in the division right now."

    Sobleski added: "The Bengals are verging on elite status, as a team capable of winning games even when it is not at full force or playing as well as it should be. On Sunday, Cincinnati finally snapped its five-game losing streak to Cleveland without the services of wide receivers Tee Higgins (one snap) and Tyler Boyd (two snaps).

    "Zac Taylor's squad adjusted with a different offensive approach that included a key trick play for a touchdown and Ja'Marr Chase actually going off when facing Denzel Ward. Impressively, the defense helped control the game. Nick Chubb averaged over 100 yards per contest in the games he played during the aforementioned streak. Cincinnati held the top back to 34 yards on 14 carries. Good teams find ways to win. This squad did exactly that."

    The Bengals will have to continue overcoming adversity, however. Boyd is week-to-week with a dislocated finger, while Higgins' status for Week 15 is iffy because of a hamstring injury.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)

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    DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 11: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) called in plays at Empower Field on December 11, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. Denver Broncos lost 34 to 28 to Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
    RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    Last Week: 6

    Week 14 Result: Won at Denver 34-28

    On most levels, the Kansas City Chiefs are rolling. After outlasting the Broncos in Denver, the Chiefs remain undefeated in the AFC West. Kansas City has now beaten the Broncos a staggering 14 times in a row. Any combination of Chiefs wins and Chargers losses the rest of the way will give Kansas City a seventh straight division title.

    But the Chiefs have much loftier goals than just winning the division, and there's a problem—an issue that let the Broncos back into a game Kansas City led 27-0.

    After the game, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid tried to put a positive spin on the three interceptions Patrick Mahomes threw against Denver.

    "Every quarterback who has played in this league a while is going to have a game like that," Reid told reporters. "The great thing about him is that he kept firing, and he had a lot of big plays. You can't take away the three interceptions, but there sure were some good ones in-between those. It's a great learning experience, and every great one has had that."

    But Kansas City's 19 giveaways this season are the second-most among playoff contenders. And one of the great truths of football is that losing the turnover battle is going to get you beat.

2. Buffalo Bills (10-3)

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    Damar Hamlin
    AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper

    Last Week: 2

    Week 14 Result: Won vs. New York Jets 20-12

    Every NFL team deals with adversity over the course of a season. The Buffalo Bills have been no exception. They lost some key pieces on defense, including safety Micah Hyde (neck) and edge-rusher Von Miller (ACL).

    Damar Hamlin was tasked with stepping in for Hyde, and he has played well. After a win on Sunday in which the defense carried the day in bad weather, the 24-year-old Hamlin told reporters that the defense wanted to send a message after Miller was ruled out for the rest of the season earlier in the week.

    "We made a statement that Von is one of our brothers and with or without him we're going to try to get the job done," Hamlin said. "It's the next-man-up mentality. Our lineup is deep, down to the practice squad. It's a standard that we all uphold."

    The Jets actually outgained the Bills by over 70 yards, but when Buffalo needed to make a play to keep its opponent from scoring, the defense answered the call. The Bills recovered two fumbles and harassed Jets quarterback Mike White all day, sacking him three times and knocking him out of the game temporarily on two separate occasions.

    Coupled with the Dolphins' loss to the Chargers in Los Angeles, the win over the Jets put the Bills firmly in control of the AFC East, But with the No. 1 seed in the conference and a first-round playoff bye still on the line, there's no time for celebrating just yet.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1)

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    Miles Sanders
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1

    Week 14 Result: Won at New York Giants 48-22

    As far as statement wins are concerned, none was louder than the beatdown the Philadelphia Eagles administered to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 14.

    The visitors dominated from start to finish. They piled up 437 yards of offense while barely allowing the Giants to clear 300 yards. Wide receiver A.J. Brown and running back Miles Sanders combined for three touchdowns, becoming the first players at their respective positions to top 1,000 yards in a season for Philadelphia since 2014.

    As well as the Eagles played Sunday, head coach Nick Sirianni made it clear to reporters that the team has its sights on more than just beating up on rivals.

    "We got way bigger goals than this one," Sirianni said. "On to the next one. It's nice to get this win here because this is a good football team. It's nice to come out here and play well on the road."

    Davenport believes those goals are all well within the Eagles' reach.

    "Philadelphia has a loaded offense that can run the ball and pass with equal success," he said. "The team also has the NFL's best offensive line. A defense that leads the league in both takeaways and sacks and ranks second in yards per game allowed and seventh in points per game allowed. The Eagles just don't have a weakness. One iffy performance can be all it takes to sink a team in the playoffs, but if Philadelphia plays anywhere near as well as it is capable of, it is headed to the Super Bowl."