NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 12November 24, 2020
NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 12
It's Thanksgiving week. The 12th week of the 2020 NFL regular season. And as the postseason stretch run kicks off, some teams have much to be thankful for.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are thankful for a 10-0 start—the best in franchise history. The New Orleans Saints are thankful for depth at the quarterback position after Taysom Hill filled in admirably for an injured Drew Brees. The Seattle Seahawks are thankful for a hard-fought win over the Arizona Cardinals that put them back in first place in the NFC West.
At least they were until the Los Angeles Rams downed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday night and took it right back.
And the Kansas City Chiefs are most assuredly thankful for Patrick Mahomes after a come-from-behind win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday night.
Of course, not all teams are so fortunate. The Green Bay Packers were done in Sunday by four turnovers in Indianapolis. The New York Jets remain winless after falling in Los Angeles. The Cincinnati Bengals suffered a brutal injury in Washington. And the Baltimore Ravens are reeling after dropping their third game in the last four weeks against the Tennessee Titans.
After another wild week of NFL action, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Brad Gagnon, Brent Sobleski and Gary Davenport have gathered to sift through the week that was and re-rank the league's teams from worst to first.
The top team from last week hasn't changed—but the top 10 has.
32. New York Jets (0-10)
Last Week: 32
Week 11 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Chargers 34-28
The New York Jets are the best team at being bad in all of the NFL.
It behooves the Jets to keep right on losing. After all, they possess the worst record in the league. That means the first pick in the 2021 draft. Which means Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
There's a very real chance the Jets could be staring at the third 0-16 season in NFL history. The next five games on New York's schedule are against teams with winning records—home dates with the Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders, followed by trips to meet the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams and a game at MetLife Stadium against the 7-3 Cleveland Browns.
If the Jets don't figure out a way to pull off an upset, the Week 17 game at Gillette Stadium against the rival Patriots could be all that stands between them, Lawrence and NFL history.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9)
Last Week: 31
Week 11 Result: Lost vs. Pittsburgh 27-3
Very little has gone right for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020. Since stunning the Indianapolis Colts back in Week 1, the Jaguars have dropped nine in a row—with the latest loss a drubbing at the hands of the undefeated Steelers.
But rookie running back James Robinson has been an exception. By virtue of his 94 total yards Sunday against the Steelers, Robinson became the fifth UDFA in league history to eclipse 1,000 total yards ina season. With six games left in the season, he is well within reach of the record of 1,328 scrimmage yards by an undrafted rookie, set in 2001 by Dominic Rhodes of the Indianapolis Colts.
Other than that, though, it has been a season of misery and despair. Sunday's loss tied the franchise record for consecutive defeats in a single season—and this is a team that has done its share of losing over the years.
With the 7-3 Browns up next, a 10th straight loss is more likely than not. But if you are the "glass half full" type, every loss by the Jags gets them one step closer to potentially drafting Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields.
30. Detroit Lions (4-6)
Last Week: 24
Week 11 Result: Lost at Carolina 20-0
Every time it appears the Detroit Lions might be making strides, they go out of their way to remind everyone that they are not good.
Sunday, the Lions hit a new low in Carolina. For the first time since 2009, the Lions didn't score a point in a blowout loss to the Panthers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford (who was questionable for the game with a thumb injury) struggled in a bad way, but he didn't use his hand as an excuse.
"Obviously, it's disappointing to lose a game," Stafford told reporters. "Obviously, not fun to be part of a game where we don't score any points. Really don't even threaten it. We got to play better on offense to give ourselves a chance to win."
"Yes, the Lions were without Kenny Golladay and D'Andre Swift in this game and had a banged-up quarterback," Davenport said. But that doesn't change the fact that like every other team in the NFC North that isn't the Packers, the Lions just aren't very good. If they play against Houston the way they did against the Panthers, it's going to be an ugly Thanksgiving in the Motor City."
"Stick a fork in Lions head coach Matt Patricia, because he's done," Sobleski added. "It's a matter of time before the team's ownership group decides to make a move. An embarrassing 20-0 loss to the Panthers only adds fuel to the fire after early-season mistakes in crucial moments to cost the team. Patricia is now 13-28-1 in three seasons, and the Lions aren't getting any better under their current leadership group."
29. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7-1)
Last Week: 27
Week 11 Result: Lost at Washington 20-9
The Cincinnati Bengals lost more than just a football game Sunday. The final score against the Washington Football Team probably feels pretty unimportant.
The Bengals' worst nightmare in 2020 came true Sunday when quarterback Joe Burrow was carted off the field in the second half after taking a shot to his left leg. He tore his ACL and MCL and suffered other structural issues, per ESPN's Adam Schefter and Ben Baby. The first overall pick in the 2020 draft tweeted that he will see fans next year.
It's a disaster for the Bengals, who also placed star running back Joe Mixon on injured reserve this week. Burrow had been one of the few bright spots for a bad team this year, and with him on the sidelines, the Cincinnati offense could do absolutely nothing.
There were some signs this season that the Bengals were improving, but with Burrow's year over, another two-win campaign is a depressingly real possibility.
"The offseason essentially begins now," Gagnon said. "Ideally, the Bengals don't win again and accumulate as much draft capital as possible so that they can do more to protect and support their franchise quarterback in 2021. On paper, this team is awful without Burrow and Mixon."
28. Atlanta Falcons (3-7)
Last Week: 23
Week 11 Result: Lost at New Orleans 24-9
After Raheem Morris took over as the interim head coach in Atlanta, the Falcons built up a nice little head of steam—three wins in four games heading into the bye week.
In Week 11, the Falcons returned from that bye—and all their momentum went bye-bye.
The Falcons looked well and truly awful against the rival Saints on Sunday. Quarterback Matt Ryan was running for his life most of the afternoon, suffering eight sacks and 11 QB hits. When he wasn't on his back, he was inaccurate and error-prone, throwing a pair of interceptions while posting a passer rating of just 48.5.
Ryan gave due credit to the Saints after the loss.
"They did a good job of rushing different packages the entire day, stressing our pass protection," he told the media. "They did a good job of covering on the back end. I've got to tip my hat to them. We have to play better in a couple of weeks when we see them again."
Nothing that happened Sunday gave much of an inkling that the second meeting will turn out any differently than the first.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)
Last Week: 22
Week 11 Result: Lost at Cleveland 22-17
The fact that the Philadelphia Eagles are still in first place in the NFC (L)East is darkly hilarious—because with each passing week, it becomes more and more apparent that the Eagles are almost laughably bad.
Against the Cleveland Browns, the same problems that have plagued the Eagles all season long were plainly evident. The offensive line was a sieve, allowing five sacks and twice as many quarterback hits. Carson Wentz continued to be a turnover machine, throwing two more interceptions (including a pick-six).
Wentz's struggles have led some to speculate that he could be benched—a notion that head coach Doug Pederson refuted Sunday:
"If you get to that spot where you don't start him or you bench him, I think you're sending the wrong message to your football team that this season is over, and that's a bad message. We have to work through this. When times get tough, sometimes that might be the easy thing to do. This sport is bigger than one guy. We all have a hand in it and we all have to fix it. "
Whoever wins Thursday's game between Washington and Dallas will pass the Eagles for what passes for first place in the league's worst division.
And with Philly about to embark on a ridiculous schedule stretch (Seattle, at Green Bay, New Orleans, at Arizona), things are almost certainly headed downhill from there.
26. Dallas Cowboys (3-7)
Last Week: 30
Week 11 Result: Won at Minnesota 31-28
The Dallas Cowboys have had precious little to cheer about in 2020. Beating the Minnesota Vikings for win No. 3 coming out of their bye week isn't going to change the fact this has been a miserable season in Dallas.
But in Week 11 at least, the Cowboys finally started to look a little like the team the franchise expected to field in 2020.
There was no Dak Prescott, of course—he's been on the shelf since breaking his ankle in October. But Andy Dalton had easily his best game of the season, throwing three touchdown passes and posting a passer rating north of 100. Running back Ezekiel Elliott topped 100 yards on the ground in a game for the first time this season. A Dallas defense that has been terrible most of the season made just enough big plays to earn the win.
As awful as the Cowboys have been most of the season, the playoffs remain a real possibility. If Dallas can get past the Washington Football Team on Thursday at Jerruh World, they will move to 4-7 and take over first place in the NFC East.
25. Washington Football Team (3-7)
Last Week: 29
Week 11 Result: Won vs. Cincinnati 20-9
The Washington Football Team has a legitimate chance to win the NFC East.
What? Why are you looking at us like that?
Seriously. Stop laughing.
To be fair, Sunday's win over the Cincinnati Bengals wasn't especially impressive. Washington managed just 272 yards of offense and converted only four of 13 third downs. The win also came in part because the Bengals could do nothing offensively after Joe Burrow departed.
But at 3-7, Washington is one of three teams that sit just half a game back of the Philadelphia Eagles in a laughably bad division. Washington may have the best defense in the NFC (L)East. Next week's Thanksgiving trip to Dallas is the first of four games down the stretch against teams with losing records.
If Washington can find a way to win those, 7-9 may well be enough to take the division—at which point Washington will probably get waxed on Wild Card Weekend.
24. Denver Broncos (4-6)
Last Week: 28
Week 11 Result: Won vs. Miami 20-13
It's been a rough stretch for quarterback Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos. The second-year signal-caller threw four interceptions last week against the Las Vegas Raiders, and Denver entered Week 11 losers of three of its last four.
Lock didn't play great against the Miami Dolphins—18-of-30 passing for 270 yards and a pick. But the young quarterback made plays when he needed to, and Denver's run game and defense performed well in an upset win over the surging Dolphins.
Tailbacks Melvin Gordon III and Phillip Lindsay both topped 80 yards on the ground, combining for 166 yards and two scores on 31 carries. Denver's pass rush made Tua Tagovailoa miserable, dropping the rookie quarterback half a dozen times.
One win isn't going to transform another mediocre season in Denver, but it was the team's most impressive victory of the season.
23. Houston Texans (3-7)
Last Week: 26
Week 11 Result: Won vs. New England 27-20
The Houston Texans haven't had much to cheer about in 2020. Entering Week 11, Houston's only two wins of the season had come against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Beating a deeply flawed New England Patriots team isn't going to fix all that ails the Texans or turn around what has been a mostly miserable season. But star defensive end J.J. Watt was glad to see the team come out on top.
"It was all right," Watt told reporters. "We got a win. That's what you're looking for. That's what you're going for, so it was good."
Watt's future with the franchise is one of the massive questions the team faces in the offseason. The franchise has already begun the search for a new head coach and general manager—a search included seeking quarterback Deshaun Watson's opinion, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
But for one day at least, all the uncertainty took a back seat to the welcome (and all too rare in 2020) sight of the Texans' winning a ballgame.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (3-7)
Last Week: 25
Week 11 Result: Won vs. New York Jets 34-28
Justin Herbert is on quite the roll.
It hasn't consistently equated to wins yet—Herbert is just 2-7 as the starter for the Bolts. But in throwing for 366 yards and three scores against the New York Jets, he made some NFL history. Per ESPN's Field Yates, Herbert is the first rookie quarterback to post three-plus passing touchdowns five times.
Veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen continues to be impressed by Herbert's development as a quarterback.
"It's been special," Allen told reporters. "He's a special player. He's been making some special plays. Throwing it. Running it. Throwing it out of bounds when he needs to. Throwing to the checkdown when he needs to. He's evolving into a great player."
The Chargers aren't a playoff team—surrendering 28 points to the winless Jets is evidence of how far the defense has to go. But they appear to have found their quarterback of the future.
For a rebuilding NFL team, that's a massive step in the right direction.
"Hey, the Chargers finally showed they can start strong and finish a game, albeit against the woeful Jets," Sobleski quipped. "Still, the victory is an important building block for a team that's suffered multiple excruciating losses this season. Herbert continues to look amazing with his seventh straight multiple touchdown-pass effort. Los Angeles really isn't as bad as its 3-7 record indicates. In fact, the Chargers rank 16th overall with a minus-13 point differential."
21. San Francisco 49ers (4-6)
Last Week: 19
Week 11 Result: Bye Week
If you asked the San Francisco 49ers what they are thankful for in 2020, you would most likely get all kinds of stink-eye, followed by grumbles that they will be thankful when this godforsaken season is over.
To say the 49ers have fallen victim to a Super Bowl hangover is both a massive understatement and not entirely accurate. The Niners admittedly haven't played at nearly the same level as a year ago—but that's largely because the team has been beset by injury after injury after injury after injury after please God make it stop.
San Francisco's starting quarterback is hurt. So is its best running back. And top pass-catcher. And best edge-rusher. And No. 1 cornerback.
And that's not even the entire list.
In the NFL's best division, it has been too much to overcome.
At this point, the last-place 49ers are playing out the string on a disappointing season.
20. New York Giants (3-7)
Last Week: 21
Week 11 Result: Bye Week
The New York Giants headed into the bye week with more positive momentum than at any point during the season. After winning two straight, the 3-7 Giants are right back in the mix to potentially win the woeful NFC East.
But while most teams welcome a week off, for the Giants the bye has been a disaster.
First, offensive line coach Marc Colombo was fired—reportedly because of a number of heated confrontations with head coach Joe Judge.
Then the Giants were hit by a COVID-19 outbreak that resulted in multiple positive tests among players and the closing of team facilities.
Now, the Giants are dealing with the fallout of firing a coach who was popular with his players, and the extra practice time the team would have had over the week off has become Zoom meetings.
It's not an ideal situation. The Giants will have Week 12 to tighten things up against Cincinnati before a four-week gauntlet that will make or break their chances of winning the division—at Seattle, Arizona, Cleveland, at Baltimore.
It would take two wins in that span (and victories over the Bengals and Cowboys) just to get to 7-9.
Don't hold your breath.
19. Minnesota Vikings (4-6)
Last Week: 18
Week 11 Result: Lost vs. Dallas 31-28
Over the past several weeks, the Minnesota Vikings have built up a decent head of steam. Sunday's tilt with the Dallas Cowboys offered the Vikings a chance to win a fourth straight game and get back to .500.
Instead, many of the same issues that plagued the Vikings during the team's 1-5 start manifested again in a three-point loss.
Offensively, the Vikings played well. Dalvin Cook had another 100-yard rushing effort, quarterback Kirk Cousins had a nearly flawless 314-yard, three-touchdown effort and Adam Thielen caught eight passes for 123 yards and two scores.
But Cousins and Cook each lost costly fumbles, and the Minnesota defense struggled mightily, allowing 376 total yards, 31 points and conversions on five of 11 third-down attempts.
"The Vikings don't have a terrible schedule down the stretch," Davenport said. "Just two of the Vikings' last six games are against teams who are currently above .500. But with six losses already on the season, it's probably going to take winning out to make the postseason. If Sunday was any indication, that ain't happening. The question then becomes the future of Mike Zimmer in the Twin Cities."
18. New England Patriots (4-6)
Last Week: 16
Week 11 Result: Lost at Houston 27-20
The New England Patriots are done.
Granted, there's an outside chance the Patriots could catch the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East or earn a wild-card spot. But losing in Week 11 to a two-win Texans team made such a feat seem about as likely as winning the Powerball—twice.
It was an ugly defeat that exposed all that's wrong with the Pats. The inability to move the ball through the air with consistency. The lack of athleticism on defense. It was a loss that led Gagnon to say aloud what most are thinking—the dynasty in New England is dead.
"It's probably over now unless they run the table," he said, "which is extremely unlikely considering the state of the roster. This is a mediocre team. As scary as it feels, we're allowed to admit that now."
The team's remaining schedule doesn't do the Patriots any favors. Next week's home date with the Arizona Cardinals is the first of four matchups against teams with winning records over the season's last six games.
Given that, just going 8-8 in 2020 may not be that much more likely than a postseason run.
17. Carolina Panthers (4-7)
Last Week: 20
Week 11 Result: Won vs. Detroit 20-0
In the grand scheme of things, Sunday's shutout win over the Detroit Lions doesn't mean a lot for the Carolina Panthers. After dropping five games in a row, the Panthers weren't going to the playoffs in 2020.
But for Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker, Sunday's game was absolutely a big deal—the former XFL standout finally got his chance to start a game in the NFL. While Walker wasn't great in relief of an injured Teddy Bridgewater, he made plays when he needed to. It was a dream come true—or more accurately, his mom's dream come true.
"It's crazy," Walker told reporters. "About a year and a half, two years ago, she called me and said, 'I had a dream you were playing for the Panthers.' I'm like, 'That's weird, me being in Indianapolis at the moment.'"
It's funny how life works out sometimes.
"Kudos to the Panthers, head coach Matt Rhule and backup quarterback P.J. Walker.," Sobleski said "The team that looked like a preseason contender for the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft remains competitive and snapped its recent five-game losing streak in the most unlikely of circumstances. Walker, who played in the XFL earlier this year (y'know, before the pandemic hit), let it all hang loose in his first NFL start and injected the squad with a little life. A young Panthers defense, meanwhile, posted the season's first shutout. Carolina is building in the right way."
16. Chicago Bears (5-5)
Last Week: 17
Week 11 Result: Bye Week
The good news for the Chicago Bears is that Week 11 finally put their losing streak on hold.
The bad news is that it took the bye week for that to happen.
Injury was added to insult at the end of Chicago's Week 10 loss to the Vikings when quarterback Nick Foles was slammed to the ground and injured. Head coach Matt Nagy said Foles' injury isn't as bad as the team feared, but even if he is ready to face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 12, the team may try to give its floundering offense a jolt by switching to Mitchell Trubisky under center.
"When you lose four games in a row, it's all on the table. Everything's out there," Nagy said. "The No. 1 thing with Nick and with Mitch that we are concerned with right now is to make sure their health is the No. 1 priority."
Trubisky is nursing a shoulder injury of his own. Given how the offense looked with him at quarterback early in the season, it probably won't make much difference anyway.
15. Cleveland Browns (7-3)
Last Week: 15
Week 11 Result: Won vs. Philadelphia 22-17
The Cleveland Browns were dealt a big blow ahead of Sunday's matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles when star edge-rusher Myles Garrett tested positive for COVID-19. But you couldn't tell the NFL's sack leader was absent on the field in Week 11—Cleveland's defense harassed Carson Wentz all afternoon, sacking him five times and forcing three turnovers.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski talked up the way the defense rose to the occasion against Philadelphia.
"With Myles out, we were counting on those guys to step up," Stefanski said. "OV [Olivier Vernon], he did it today. We are counting on him. I told him that."
The Browns got another big game from running back Nick Chubb, who carried the ball 20 times for 114 yards. Baker Mayfield was far from perfect, but for the most part he avoided the kinds of mistakes the Browns can't afford.
Cleveland isn't a team without flaws. The Browns are 1-3 against teams with winning records with a point differential in those games of minus-64.
But at 7-3, the Browns are in the thick of the playoff race. And with the one-win Jaguars next up, the Browns have an excellent shot at notching their first season of .500 or better football since 2007.
14. Miami Dolphins (6-4)
Last Week: 10
Week 11 Result: Lost at Denver 20-13
The Miami Dolphins headed to Denver in Week 11 as one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
Once they got to the Mile High City, though, they cooled off considerably.
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had all kinds of problems with the Denver defense Sunday. He threw for fewer than 100 yards and was sacked more times than in his first three starts combined. Brian Flores pulled the rookie signal-caller late in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Tagovailoa took the benching about as well as could be expected.
"Whatever was going to be best for the team," he told the media. "When I was in there, we couldn't really get things going. Coach felt it was best to put Fitz in to give us a spark. When I heard that—it's really what's best for the team."
Tagovailoa will start Sunday against the winless Jets, but as Gagnon pointed out, some of the shine came off Miami in Week 11.
"It's possible we got too excited about the Dolphins, who clearly don't have much stability yet at quarterback and lack offensive balance," he said. "Teams aren't taking them lightly anymore, and in a couple of weeks, their schedule becomes a nightmare. Maybe they're a year away."
13. Las Vegas Raiders (6-4)
Last Week: 12
Week 11 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City 35-31
If the Las Vegas Raiders come up short in a bid for the playoffs in 2020, the team may look back to the last two minutes of Sunday night's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs as a season-defining moment.
For most of the game, the Raiders went toe-to-toe with the defending champs. With less than two minutes to play, they held a lead and had a chance to move within a game of the first-place Chiefs while sweeping the season series.
It was right there for the taking. But a depleted defense couldn't get a stop late, and when Travis Kelce caught the game-winner with just under 30 seconds left, any realistic chance the Raiders had of winning the AFC West went up in smoke.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden told reporters after the game that it was a tough loss to take.
"It's hard to swallow right now," Gruden said. "We're giving great effort. We've got to get some people back out on the field playing. Hopefully we can."
As things stand, the Raiders are still the seventh seed in the AFC, and their opponents the rest of the way are a combined 14 games under .500.
12. Baltimore Ravens (6-4)
Last Week: 7
Week 11 Result: Lost vs. Tennessee 30-24 (OT)
The Baltimore Ravens are sweating.
The Ravens entered the 2020 season as one of the leading contenders to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LV. But after losing in overtime to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, if the season ended now, the 6-4 Ravens wouldn't even make the playoffs.
There's no one reason the Ravens have lost three of four. The defense has been inconsistent. The offense has sputtered, as if opponents have figured out how to contain Lamar Jackson.
Now the Ravens have to travel on a short week to play an undefeated Steelers team that has already beaten Baltimore once this year. Lose that game, and perspiration could turn to desperation PDQ.
Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins insisted there's no panic in the Ravens locker room:
"We have guys that have leadership. We know we have to get better. We know we have to find a way to win the game. So, that's what I feel in the locker room right now — leadership [and] that we're going to bounce back.
"That's what we're focused on right now. We can't control the past; we have to move on to the future. We'll look at the film, correct what we need to correct, and we’ll be ready to go."
We'll see if the Ravens are singing the same tune come Friday morning. But Sobleski's confidence in Baltimore is bruised.
"Lamar Jackson stated the truth after Sunday's 30-24 overtime loss to the Titans: 'It looked like [the Titans] wanted it more than us.' These aren't the same Ravens as last season. They have issues along their offensive line, the system isn't clicking in the same manner and Jackson hasn't developed as expected. Baltimore remains in the thick of the playoff hunt, but that's a far cry from being the NFL's best regular-season squad, as it was a year ago."
It gets even better for the Ravens, who will now be without running backs Mark Ingram II and Dobbins for their Thanksgiving matchup with the rival Steelers after the pair tested positive for COVID-19.
11. Arizona Cardinals (6-4)
Last Week: 6
Week 11 Result: Lost at Seattle 28-21
Week 11 was an opportunity for the Arizona Cardinals to make a true statement. One week after the team's thrilling "Hail Murray" win over the Buffalo Bills, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals were presented with a chance to open up a lead on the Seattle Seahawks by sweeping the season series.
That didn't happen—the Cardinals fell by seven Thursday night. Injury was also added to insult in the game. As Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported, Murray suffered a sprained AC joint when he was slammed to the ground by Seattle defensive end Carlos Dunlap II.
However, the injury isn't expected to cost Murray any games.
"Kyler Murray should be fine by his next start," Rapoport said. "Nothing that happened last night, no injury to his shoulder, is expected to keep him out either next start or long-term. That's the good news."
That's assuredly the silver lining to this loss—especially with a trip to New England and the first of two meetings with the Los Angeles Rams up next.
10. Seattle Seahawks (7-3)
Last Week: 13
Week 11 Result: Won vs. Arizona 28-21
Heading into Week 11, the Seattle Seahawks were sliding. A Week 10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the team's second in a row. Seattle had fallen out of first place in the NFC West and out of the top 10 in these power rankings.
But over the eight-plus years that Russell Wilson has been the team's starting quarterback, the Seahawks have never lost three straight games—and they weren't about to start now.
It wasn't just Wilson who helped stop Seattle's losing streak—although the fact that he didn't turn the ball over played a large part. Carlos Hyde helped get the ground game going, averaging over five yards a carry and finding the end zone. Seattle's beleaguered defense played one of its best games of the season, allowing just 314 yards of offense and sacking Kyler Murray three times.
It was a reminder that when it comes to adversity, few teams have proved better at overcoming it in the past decade than Wilson and the Seahawks.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
Last Week: 5
Week 11 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Rams 27-24
The 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have something in common with the cast of Saturday Night Live: It appears they are not quite ready for prime time.
Monday night's tilt with the Los Angeles Rams marked the fourth time this year that the Buccaneers have played under the lights. Tampa has one win in those outings, and after throwing two interceptions and two touchdowns in Week 11, Tom Brady still has as many picks (five) as touchdowns in those night games.
That isn't to say the loss is Brady's fault. It's not on him that the Buccaneers couldn't run the ball worth a lick against a stout Rams defense. It's not on him that Tampa was carved up by Jared Goff to the tune of 39 completions and 376 passing yards.
This was another opportunity for the Buccaneers to show they deserve mention alongside the NFC's elite. And while they do own a blowout win over the Green Bay Packers, they have now dropped three games against the sort of teams they could expect to see in the playoffs.
Now two losses back of the New Orleans Saints (who swept Tampa this season), the Buccaneers are probably relegated to chasing a wild-card spot at this point. But there's no time for them to feel sorry for themselves.
Next Sunday, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs come to town.
8. Tennessee Titans (7-3)
Last Week: 14
Week 11 Result: Won at Baltimore 30-24 (OT)
The Tennessee Titans are not an easy team to figure out.
Last week against the Colts, the Titans looked like a second-tier contender—a flawed team that was a clear step below Indianapolis in the AFC South.
But in Week 11 against the Ravens, the Titans reminded us all of something we should remember from last year's playoffs: Counting Tennessee out isn't especially wise.
The Titans rode their workhorse to a big win in overtime Sunday. Bruising running back Derrick Henry had 28 carries for 133 yards and the game-sealing score in extra time. However, despite the Titans' gutsy win this week, at least one analyst remains dubious about Tennessee's chances of a February trip to Tampa.
"Derrick Henry is unbelievable," Davenport wrote, "and Ryan Tannehill is an underrated quarterback. But the Titans secondary is shaky, and the pass rush is all but nonexistent. Tennessee is a good team—but not good enough to make it through the AFC playoffs and on to Super Bowl LV."
7. Indianapolis Colts (7-3)
Last Week: 9
Week 11 Result: Won vs. Green Bay 34-31 (OT)
The Indianapolis Colts are having a fine season. But that season lacked a signature win over a quality opponent prior to Week 10.
Now, after blasting the Tennessee Titans and downing the Green Bay Packers in overtime on Sunday, the Colts have piled up two of those in a row.
The Colts got a true team effort against the Pack. Offensively, Indy got another solid game from veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and piled up 420 yards of total offense. Defensively, the Colts were opportunistic, grabbing four takeaways.
"While contenders like the Ravens, Dolphins and Raiders stumbled in Week 11, the Colts appear to be peaking," Davenport said. "This week's rematch with the Titans may well be a de facto AFC South title game, but the Colts have a fairly tough slate down the stretch that includes trips to Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. How well the team fares in those contests will go a long way toward demonstrating how far the Colts are capable of going once the calendar turns to January and the postseason starts."
"In back-to-back weeks," Sobleski chimed in, "the Colts managed impressive victories over the Titans and Packers. Both of those opponents are legitimate playoff squads with the Packers making a claim as the NFC's best overall squad prior to Sunday's contest. Indianapolis' top-ranked defense didn't cave to Aaron Rodgers and Co. Instead, the unit made a play when it needed one the most in overtime."
6. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
Last Week: 13
Week 11 Result: Won at Tampa Bay 27-24
It's time to start taking the Los Angeles Rams seriously as a Super Bowl contender.
Since coming out of their bye week, they have put together a pair of statement wins. First, they downed Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks at home. Then they took the show on the road and defeated Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It wasn't exactly a flawless performance. Jared Goff threw a pair of second-half interceptions, and the Los Angeles ground game was nonexistent. But the Rams didn't need to run the ball as Goff chewed the Buccaneers to pieces with short passes. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods were unstoppable, combining for a staggering 23 catches for 275 yards.
That is not a typo.
Eleven weeks into the 2020 season, it's not the Seahawks who are in first place in the NFL's best division. Or the Arizona Cardinals. It's the Rams, who possess a top-five defense and an offense loaded with skill-position talent.
The Rams are for real, and the stretch run in the NFC West is going to be ridiculous.
5. Buffalo Bills (7-3)
Last Week: 8
Week 11 Result: Bye Week
The bye week came at an inopportune time for the Buffalo Bills, in that it gave them an extra week to stew while watching replays of the "Hail Murray" play that brought about their third loss of the season.
Despite that heartbreaker, the Bills are 7-3 for the second year in a row and come out of the bye in first place in the AFC East.
The schedule sets up relatively well down the stretch for the Bills. Only two of the team's last six games are against teams that sport a winning record—a prime-time tilt with the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14 and the season finale against the surprising Miami Dolphins. Both of those games are in the friendly confines of Bills Stadium.
Part of the reason the NFL schedules so many intradivisional games on the last weekend of the regular season is to add some drama to Week 17.
With the Bills and Dolphins locked in a battle for a division that has belonged to the New England Patriots for the past decade-plus, that one could be for all the marbles.
4. Green Bay Packers (7-3)
Last Week: 3
Week 11 Result: Lost at Indianapolis 34-31 (OT)
The Green Bay Packers are stumbling—at least a bit.
One week after a surprisingly close matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Packers played a sloppy, turnover-marred contest in Indianapolis. And when wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling fumbled in Packers territory in overtime, it set the Colts up to kick a game-winning field goal that dropped Green Bay to 7-3.
Over the first nine games of the 2020 season, the Packers had just five giveaways. Against the Colts, the team had four. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried to put the down game in perspective:
"I think it is an anomaly based on the nine games we've played. We hadn't had more than two in any other game. A lot of zeros. Obviously we had a fumbled exchange, a pick, and a fumble on the kickoff and a fumble at the (end of) the game. Uncharacteristic, but they had six points off those four turnovers and we cashed in on their turnovers. So our defense deserves a lot of credit for making some good stands there when we turned the ball over."
However, Gagnon thinks there's some cause for concern in Titletown.
"I think it's fair to be worried about a Packers team that barely beat the Jaguars and has now lost to the Vikings and Colts this month," he said. "Turnovers, run defense and special teams are all worthy of concern. They need to get back on track ASAP."
3. New Orleans Saints (8-2)
Last Week: 4
Week 11 Result: Won vs. Atlanta 24-9
More than a few heads turned this week when the New Orleans Saints announced that Taysom Hill (and not Jameis Winston) would start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons with Drew Brees (ribs) on injured reserve.
As it turns out, Saints head coach Sean Payton knows stuff.
Hill didn't throw a touchdown pass against the Falcons, but leaning heavily on star wideout Michael Thomas, he completed 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards with a passer rating of 108.9. He also paced the Saints with 51 rushing yards and scored twice on the ground.
The real star of the game might have been the Saints defense. New Orleans allowed fewer than 250 total yards, turned the Falcons over twice and sacked Matt Ryan eight times.
"Beating a bad Falcons team isn't a huge feat," Davenport said, "but this was still a big win for the Saints. By virtue of the Packers' loss in Indianapolis, the Saints are the only two-loss team in the NFC. New Orleans also doesn't face a good team until hosting the Chiefs in Week 15, and if Hill can hold down the fort until then, the No. 1 seed in the conference should remain very much in play."
"The Saints have surrendered just 8.3 points per game the last three weeks, and they're now 6-0 in their last six games without Drew Brees," Gagnon added. "They might still land the top seed with Brees recovered by the time the playoffs roll around. You can see the stars aligning for them in the NFC."
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)
Last Week: 2
Week 11 Result: Won at Jacksonville 27-3
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in uncharted territory. In the long and storied history of the franchise, the Steelers have never been 10-0.
In some respects, these aren't your father's Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh has struggled to run the ball in recent weeks, and while the team fared better in that regard Sunday in Jacksonville, the Steelers still averaged less than four yards a carry.
These Steelers have been about throwing the ball. Diontae Johnson topped 100 receiving yards on 12 catches, while rookie Chase Claypool became the first wideout in the Super Bowl era to reel in 10 touchdowns in his first 10 games.
One thing hasn't changed: Pittsburgh's defense continues to give opponents fits. The Steelers allowed just 206 yards and three points while forcing four turnovers and notching a pair of sacks.
Heading into a big Thanksgiving matchup with the reeling Ravens, the Steelers are rolling.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
Last Week: 1
Week 11 Result: Won at Las Vegas 35-31
For a few minutes Sunday night, it looked like the Las Vegas Raiders might have the number of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders had downed the Chiefs in Week 5, and with less than two minutes left in the game, they held a three-point lead at Allegiant Stadium.
But the Chiefs had a secret weapon. The proverbial ace up their sleeve.
The Chiefs had quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
"I've got Pat Mahomes," head coach Andy Reid told reporters. "You give me a minute and a half and I'm pretty good right there. We can roll. I'd take him over everybody and I'm lucky to have him."
The win all but seals another AFC West title for the Chiefs, who are now three up on Vegas with six to play. The Chiefs also remain just one game back of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top seed in the AFC playoffs ahead of a tough matchup with the Buccaneers in Tampa this week.
No rest for the weary and all that.