NFL Power Rankings: Nos. 20-11
L, 29-21 vs. Redskins
The 49ers must have torn the hearts out of the Panthers back in Week 8, because Carolina has won just one game since and takes yet another hit in our NFL power rankings.
This loss to Washington essentially ends any slim bid for the playoffs, and it could be costly in determining whether or not head coach Ron Rivera sticks around into next year.
L, 20-13 @ Steelers
At least this AFC North bout didn’t feature anything close to the fisticuffs between Browns EDGE Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Both weren’t on the field in Week 13, of course, yet Cleveland’s loss to Pittsburgh essentially tells fans who’ll likely land one of the two AFC Wild Card spots this season.
Hint: It won’t be the Browns.
W, 28-11 @ Jaguars
Quite a nice jump for the Buccaneers in our NFL power rankings, and it was nice to actually see Tampa Bay’s defense shoulder the majority of the load over the Jaguars.
Head coach Bruce Arians’ squad can play spoiler in Weeks 14 and 16 against the Colts and Texans, respectively.
W, 24-20 @ Lions
Like the Bucs, the Bears get a boost in our NFL power rankings. Although one has to wonder if that has more to do with just how bad some of the other teams are behind Chicago at this point.
Mitchell Trubisky needed this bounce-back game, tossing for 338 yards and three touchdowns against one interception. It’s anyone’s guess if that’s enough to save his future as a starter. But it certainly didn’t hurt.
L, 26-15 vs. Bills
It’s still a shame to think a scuffling team like the Cowboys, who lost in embarrassing fashion on Thanksgiving to the Bills, are in position for the No. 4 NFC seed, while a team like the 10-2 49ers could fall all the way to No. 5.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might not be able to do anything about that, but he might do something about his head coach, Jason Garrett, sooner than later.
Whether or not he will is another question.
L, 6-6 vs. Titans
In an ideal world, the Colts would have won at home against the Titans and the Texans would have lost to the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. That would have given head coach Frank Reich and Co. a big deal of help determining the AFC South standings.
Neither scenario panned out, though, and Indianapolis is now third in the division. Reich will need some help along the way to get back into the playoff picture.
L, 40-9 @ Chiefs
OK, one might understand the Raiders’ Week 12 stinker on the road against the Jets. After all, this game against the Chiefs was the one head coach Jon Gruden and Co. were likely circling.
Again, a stinker. And a brutal one, considering Oakland was just a game behind Kansas City in the AFC West standings not too long ago.
W, 20-13 vs. Browns
Believe it or not, and after such an ugly start to the year, the Steelers are holding onto a playoff spot and look halfway decent at 7-5.
They get a nice boost in our NFL power rankings as a result, and who thought quarterback Devlin Hodges would be an interesting little story?
Well, he is.
W, 34-7 @ Cardinals
They’re not dead yet in the NFC playoff picture, but the Rams sure are desperate. And that desperation showed up nicely in the win over the Cardinals last Sunday.
Now, things get tougher. Los Angeles hosts the Seahawks before traveling to take on both the Cowboys and 49ers in back-to-back weeks. Hopefully for the Rams’ sake, that desperation continues.
W, 31-17 @ Colts
Running back Derrick Henry has essentially pushed the Titans towards the top of the AFC South, as well as much higher up in our NFL power rankings, too:
Henry’s astounding 149-yard, one-touchdown effort against the division-rival Colts is exactly what Tennessee needs to do to create separation from the lower half of the division. And it wouldn’t be out of reach to catch the AFC South-leading Texans, either.
Good thing Houston and Tennessee get to play each other twice to round out the last three regular-season games of 2019.