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Opinion

NFL power rankings: Week 13

Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers drops back for a pass during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 02, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
9th December, 2020
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Week 13 in the NFL proved to be unlucky for game schedulers, teams with zero losses or wins and Carson Wentz. So, how do they stack up?

1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-1)
Last week: 2
I get that the Steelers are ahead of KC in the NFL standings, but I’m putting the Chiefs back on top, as they left points on the field against the Broncos, so should’ve won by more and – unlike Pittsburgh – didn’t lose valuable players to injury.

It could well be short-lived though, as the Chiefs take on Miami next week.

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1)
Last week: 2
The Steelers made the ’72 Dolphins wait on being able to celebrate still being the only team to go through an entire season unbeaten, but the corks would’ve been popping in Miami.

Plenty of drops from the wide receivers in this game, but I’m more worried about the fact they had a few defensive players pick up injuries – in linebacker Robert Spillane, Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick heading to the sideline at various points.

Worrying for the top defensive unit in the league going forward, especially considering they were dusted in that second half by Washington.

3. New Orleans Saints (10-2)
Last week: 3
To be fair, it was against the Falcons defence, but Taysom Hill is showing some real promise at quarterback. Completing a number of third and long passes to make the early going pretty easy for the Saints.

Finishing on 27 of 37 completions for 232 yards and two touchdowns, while running for another 83 yards, things were all under control until a fourth quarter slumber see them let Atlanta back into it – relying on the defence to keep the Falcons from taking the lead.

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4. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
Last week: 4
Bills remain rock solid at number four this week following a rock solid win against San Francisco. I was surprised to learn that quarterback Josh Allen has never had a redzone interception. Ever. Never ever ever? Not in the NFL at least.

So even though Pittsburgh may be fairly disgruntled at losing their unbeaten tag, they will also have their hands full next week against these Bills. Get the popcorn ready.

5. Green Bay Packers (9-3)
Last week: 5
It’s pretty clear that once the Packers get to within 10 yards of the opposition goal-line, that Aaron Rodgers is going to look for – who else – Davante Adams.

Green Bay’s lead wide receiver added two more touchdowns and 121 yards for good measure. Probably cruised a little bit to leave the door somewhat ajar for Philly, until running back Aaron Jones slammed it closed with a highlight reel 77 yard touchdown run. Speaking of cruising – next up is Detroit.

6. Cleveland Browns (9-3)
Last week: 8
Well, check you fullas out! The Browns marched into the match-up of 8-4 teams teams and looked very efficient. More than that, Kevin Stefanski’s team looked smart – using trick plays and sharp offense to score, then forcing a rarely seen Derrick Henry fumble.

By the time the Titans could figure out what was going on, Browns receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones was breaking free like High School Musical on his way to a 75-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield. Baker didn’t let up either – keeping things rolling for a 38-7 halftime lead. Game over.

7. Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
Last week: 6
What in blue blazes happened here?! Even with the offense oddly struggling, the Hawks defence and special teams held the Giants scoreless until midway through the third quarter.

Yet they still lost? Granted, there are some reasonably serious offensive line issues on this team, but there’s a bunch of stuff to work out yet. Starting with a New York rematch – the Jets that is – next week.

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Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

8. Tennessee Titans (8-4)
Last week: 7
These Titans are running hot and cold like a demonic shower tap. Last week, they scorched Indy in Indy, only to return home and have freezing old water poured down their own backs, by the Browns.

On the upside though, even with the Colts winning this week, Tennessee remains in the AFC South lead, plus have the Jaguars and Lions over the next fortnight, so having a short memory is in order.

9. Indianapolis Colts (8-4)
Last week: 9
Speak of the devils! Indianapolis gladly welcomed back DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry from the reserve/COVID list – which instantly added a bit of juice to their high-functioning defence.

They needed to as well, with Deshaun Watson trying to lead late-game heroics to steal the result. While they didn’t technically force the game-sealing fumble, they damn sure recovered it.

10. Los Angeles Rams (8-4)
Last week: 10
Quarterback Jared Goff has been getting a bit of grief lately about his performances, so it was a good time to lay on a decent performance. Goff threw for 351 yard and a touchdown, while spreading the ball among his receivers.

For me, he is a slightly-better version of Matt Ryan, meaning that if your defence and running game can provide the right balance, then Goff will succeed.

Lose that balanced diet and the wheels start to wobble a bit. Good thing the defence keeps performing and now the running game is improving at just the right time.

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11. Miami Dolphins (8-4)
Last week: 11
Couple of key pieces returned this week for Miami – in the form of rookie running back Myles Gaskin and rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Overall, the team did look a tad dusty though, as the Bengals put up a spirited fight – literally and figuratively.

They eventually overcame the resistance for a comfortable win and now get ready to host the Keizer Chiefs next week. And yes, there is a guy named Keizer playing for the Chiefs (who knew?!).

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
Last week: 12
A nice little week off for Tom Brady to bowl into more strangers’ houses, Bruce Arians to changes hats, Gronk to practice his wrestling moves and Antonio Brown to….well… who knows what he’d get up to.

Seriously though, a good time to regroup and get ready for a big charge towards the playoffs. Cos, you know they’re expecting big things.

13. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
Last week: 12
Easy money! That was the call from Orlando Brown Jr, as J.K. Dobbins ran into the endzone for a touchdown and to completely extinguish the light of the Cowboys.

Really good time to get a whole stack of players and their mojo back, with Lamar Jackson making plays with his legs and arms. But I do worry about how much running they make him do. Now for the bright lights of Monday Night Football at Cleveland.

14. Las Vegas Raiders (7-5)
Last week: 15
Everyone’s kinda focussing on the fact that they nearly lost to the winless Jets, but hold up one second. Because LVR tight end Darren Waller piled up 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

For a wide receiver that’s pretty awesome going. For a tight end? That’s a whole other level. Another belter of a game coming up for these boys too – against the Colts. Bring it on.

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15. New England Patriots (6-6)
Last week: 16
If these power rankings were based on best performance, the Pats would be on top this week. They down-trowed the Chargers in what was a complete and utter destruction. defence, offense and special teams – they all beat the pants off the hapless Bolts (thus the “down-trow” call) and are now in an interesting spot.

If they can tip up the Rams on a short turnaround, then the Browns and Raiders lose next week, it’ll be game on for the wild card spot. Which is a real surprise.

Cam Newton

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

16. Arizona Cardinals (6-6)
Last week: 14
Do you get the feeling the Cards had won their Super Bowl, when they had an overtime win against the Seahawks? Since then they’ve gone 1-4, with the sole win being on the “Hail Murray” play against Buffalo.

Generally speaking, they don’t look like they have the same pep in their step, verve in their swerve. Not sure what they can do to turn it around, but they better get it figured out before this season becomes a lost one in the desert.

17. Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
Last week: 17
Got taken to overtime by a desperate Jag unit, but all in all, they just had slightly too much class in this spirited encounter. And that was despite kicker Dan Bailey having struggles – missing two extra points and a field goal in regulation.

The Vikes running game was bottled up in the first half, with just 44 yards running yards. But in the second, Dalvin Cook got, well, cooking with 99 yards and Kirk Cousins got going too. This is a good team.

18. New York Giants (5-7)
Last week: 20
I have to admit, with all the stuff going on earlier in the season, I was calling this team the Stark family during the first couple of seasons of Game of Thrones.

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But credit where credit is due (and they deserve a lot of it), this year has turned out to be a more like (spoiler alert) one of the later seasons, where things gradually started to turn, even though they got a bit weird. Anyways, pulling off a huge upset with Colt McCoy as the quarterback and Wayne Gallman at running back tells you all you need to know.

Go, G-Men!

19. Washington Football Team (5-7)
Last week: 21
In the space of 24 hours, the NFC Least had become NFC FEAST, with two teams picking up huge upsets. This team already showed it was going to fight this year and now that quarterback Alex Smith has returned to start for the Team, they are now on a hot streak – even knocking off the top of the pops Steelers.

They didn’t look likely at all in the first half, but really did make the necessary adjustments to have the run of play in the second half, with Smith making key plays to Cam Sims, Logan Thomas and J.D. McKissic.

20. San Francisco (5-7)
Last week: 18
My brain went a little bit glitchy watching the 49ers playing in a home game, while attacking and end zone with ‘ARIZONA’ emblazoned across it. And while they did lose by 10 to the Bills, they did get wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk back to team up with Deebo Samuel, whom both made significant plays.

One can only imagine what they could do if Kittle and Jimmy G came back. Oh, and half of their defence.

21. Detroit Lions (5-7)
Last week: 22
It seems as though interim coach Darrell Bevell has been a breath of fresh air in Detroit. Or maybe it was from removing the pollution, that was Matt Patricia. Either way, the Lions overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth to storm home with a couple of touchdowns to steal this game from the tumbling Bears.

Matt Stafford and Adrian Peterson are showing that they’ve still got a bit sizzle – both posting respectable numbers against a vaunted defence.

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22. Chicago Bears (5-7)
Last week: 19
Sure, you could lambast the Bears for letting a double-digit lead slip, but to be fair, I was more surprised and impressed that they managed to score 30 points. Albeit that was effectively the end of any playoff aspirations for this beleaguered squad – falling to their sixth straight loss. Yes, they used to be 5-1. Crazy days.

23. Atlanta Falcons (4-8)
Last week: 23
For a second there I thought the Falcons were actually going to pull of the comeback win over the Saints. After getting outplayed for the majority of the game, the Derty Birds defence started getting some stops and the offense pulled within one score.

Only for Matt Ryan to remind us all that he’s the guy who will almost lead you to success.

24. Denver Broncos (4-8)
Last week: 24
These guys deserve some kudos for dragging the Chiefs into their style of football game. They unsettled them and really didn’t allow Patty andamp; Co. to get going. While Denver’s own Patrick – wide receiver Tim Patrick – continues to make plays for this team.

Had actually forgotten about Courtland Sutton, the team’s number one receiver who was lost for the season. Bring him back to team up with Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Noah Fant and this could be a dynamite offense. IF Drew Lock can make some big strides.

25. Houston Texans (4-8)
Last week: 25
The “fun again” Texans nearly continued the fun against the Colts. If not for a muffed handoff from centre Nick Martin to quarterback Deshaun Watson, they really did look like they would steal this game.

And if you look closely at the reactions of Watson and those around him, those were the reactions of a team that expected to win (rather than just hoping to beat a better-placed opponent). Oh well, maybe you can take it out on the Bears next week.

26. Carolina Panthers (4-8)
Last week: 26
No movement for the Panthers this week, due to them being on a bye, so I guess that’s fair. It’s a true bye week too, as their practice facility has been closed due to a COVID outbreak.

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But if you’re expecting the Panthers to put the cue in the rack and wait til next year, you’d better guess again. Word has it that they desperately want running back Christian McCaffrey back and the feeling is believed to be mutual.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1)
Last week: 27
Watching the Eagles get set on fire by the Packers, I kept hearing Roar Guru Willie La’ulu’s words in my head – “Wentz is not the answer”. And those proved spot on, as quarterback Carson Wentz was benched in favour of rookie Jalen Hurts.

Now, Hurts has been named to start next week, which becomes a huge issues for Philly. Namely because Wentz is due just over $34 million dollars next season and the cost of cutting him, would cost the Eagles $59 million. Yikes. So, unless Carson can make a gigantic comeback and become “the guy” again, there could be some serious fiscal pain in store for this franchise. If Hurts comes in and sets the world on fire, then things will become very interesting indeed.

28. Los Angeles Chargers (3-9)
Last week: 28
Usually the eternal optimist, I’ve really got nothing to say about the Chargers this week. Their game against the Patriots was grim. 45-0 grim, to be exact.

The worst loss in Chargers history. They got pretty much owned by Bill Belicheck and a guy named Gunner Olszewski, who was a menace on punt returns and even caught a receiving touchdown. Now, I suggest the Chargers go away and think about the choices they’ve made.

29. Dallas Cowboys (3-9)
Last week: 29
Put up a decent fight against the Ravens, but just couldn’t contain Lamar Jackson at key moments. But, you know, he is the reigning league MVP. The season is looking pretty dire for Dallas not, as both New York and Washington are now two games ahead. SO, it’s pretty much do or die from here on in, starting next week with the Bengals.

30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1)
Last week: 30
Wide receiver Tyler Boyd broke away for a nice 72 yard receiving touchdown in the first half, but that was about it for these poor souls. They did get a little bit feisty though – except the offensive line. A long shot of the field showing both teams brawling, showed the Bengals lineman over on the sidelines.

The punchline read: ‘The Bengals O-Line protecting no one, like they have been all year’. Now that is quality.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11)
Last week: 31
The Jags have not held an opponent to under 21 points since week 1 (the week that they won). But despite that, they continue to fight, scrap and hang in games, so one starts to get the feeling that if they could land a stud quarterback – could they steal a few of these results?

I kinda feel like they could. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got a bunch to work on, but giving them someone dynamic at the most important spot could start to turn things around for the spotty cats.

32. New York Jets (0-12)
Last week: 32
The Jets managed to win most of the game against the Raiders. If not for blowing coverage on a last second heave from Derek Carr, they would have actually won the whole game.

From that last second blitz, Jets defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams got given the boot. One suspects, he won’t be alone in the unemployment line at the end of this season.