Grumblings Media

Del Pilar's Diatribe: NFL Power Rankings Week 12 Broken Down!

Our NFL Power Rankings Week 12, once again, have refs rearing their pathetically bad calls - this time in MNF, where the Eagles benefited from bad and no calls.
Published on November 21, 2023

NFL Power Rankings

Our NFL Power Rankings Week 12 has the referees rearing their pathetically gray, ugly, disgusting bad calls. This time in the Monday night game, the Philadelphia Eagles were again the beneficiaries of bad calls or no-calls.

One comment on revenge games. Sure, the players want a bit of payback, but it’s more the fans and media that create greater hype than reality. If the losing Super Bowl team beats the champs, so what? You win a meaningless game in comparison to the game you lost. It’s one of the most overrated media hype jobs we experience.

Our weekly reminder: we are still in the Bye Weeks (weeks 5-14) season, with the following teams resting and licking their wounds:

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • New England Patriots
  • New Orleans Saints

Note: Numbers in parentheses by team name; note their ranking last week.

The Elites

1. Philadelphia Eagles (1) Record: 9-1 (win vs. Kansas City Chiefs 21-17) – This analyst loathes horrific refereeing and, once again, on national television, put the Eagles in positive situations as their calls affected the outcome of some drives. That said, the Eagles are an elite team, and perseverance is a trait instilled in their culture. They were the lesser team against the Chiefs, but that perseverance garnered them the win, not the referees. However, perception is the truth for many, and most will see another national game with referees favoring them. That’s also true, and the NFL refuses to fix the problem.

Any player can be contained, including QB Jalen Hurts, who went 14-of-22 for 150 passing yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. However, contain is the key word as he did damage on the ground going 2-29-2 and bailing his fantasy football owners out. RB D’Andre Swift had some key runs, going 12-76-1 and chipping in 3-31-0-3 receiving. They did just enough to steal the win and maintain their one-game advantage over the Detroit Lions for homefield playoff advantage.

Regarding revenge? Sheer stupidity – I didn’t see the Kansas City Chiefs players giving their Super Bowl rings up, and despite this win, the Chiefs still have the rings. Maybe it’s a motivator, but all this win does is rub more salt in the wounds because many will think, and rightfully so – they beat this team just now but couldn’t when it counted. Super Bowl revenge games are more media hype than anything else.

Despite this win, they still must face the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, and Seattle Seahawks; hence their road to homefield advantage isn’t guaranteed. However, if any team is resilient enough to pull it off, it’s this team.

2. San Francisco 49ers (3) Record: 7-3 (win vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-14) – Everyone wants to hate QB Brock Purdy, and they’re haters, period. He went 21-of-25 for 333 yards and three touchdowns. This game is how it should’ve gone down for him. He has RB Christian McCaffrey (21-78-0 rushing and 5-25-1-5 receiving) and WR Deebo Samuel (3-63-0-4) back. This team is as complete as it can get offensively. They were facing a Buccaneers squad that is 4-6 for a reason.

The Bucs are No. 30 against the pass and No. 6 against the rush. While they held McCaffrey under 100 yards, the West Coast offense is geared toward the short pass to offset a strong rush defense. Combine that with the 49ers’ No. 8 ranked pass offense, with backs that can catch, and this win was inevitable. The Bucs feast on lower-tier teams and lose against their bettors.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (2) Record: 7-3 (loss vs. Philadelphia Eagles 21-17) – If there is one game that epitomizes what’s happening to the Chiefs, it is this one. They have a glaring issue with their wide receiver corp. They lead the league with 26 drops; those drops cost them a win last night. They were offensively superior but couldn’t turn that into points. That fell squarely on the receivers, including TE Travis Kelce, with a critical fumble while going 7-44-1-9 receiving. The glaring issue is that he could only muster 44 yards on seven receptions. He’s looking old this season, and at 34 years old, he doesn’t have much time left.

Back to the receiver drops, there were five, and one was a potential game-winner. This loss is squarely on their shoulders, considering the passing attack is what drives this team with QB Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes went 24-of-43 for 177 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. How many yards did they lose with those drops? These drops are a recurring theme with these receivers; come crunch time against elite teams, they can cost them a game. We saw it with this one and in Week One with the Detroit Lions.

People love to lie and say a loss isn’t on one player, but in certain situations, it is, and you can put this loss squarely on the shoulders of WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who can burn most anyone on the field but had butter fingers when the team needed him. Then there’s WR Kadarius Toney, who validated his reputation with three drops.

Toney’s rep is one of a player who’s not tough and isn’t dependable, and that’s why the New York Giants moved on from him. Part of his draft profile was concerned with attitude and durability. The first-round bust is now costing the Chiefs as they lose their one-game advantage in the fight for homefield advantage. They’re now battling with four other teams with only three losses in the AFC.

Their passing offense is ranked No. 8, but how much higher would it be without 26 drops by the receivers? Their rushing offense is No. 15, showing even this high-powered offense has limitations and could cost Mahomes another Super Bowl ring. This offense has weaknesses that Mahomes hides, but against the elites, he’s showing he’s merely human.

In sports, no loss is a good loss. However, this type of loss will make the team angry because they lost this game. The Eagles didn’t beat them. Defensively, they did very well holding the Eagles to 238 total yards, and QB Jalen Hurts to 124 passing yards and sacking him five times. They did their job defensively. It’s the type of loss that should have them eating at themselves and wanting to take it out on opponents. They can use this to drive them the rest of the season.

Who would have ever thought the offense would be the Chiefs’ problem? Since the loss of WR Tyreek Hill, this team’s aerial dominance has taken a hit. Despite winning a Super Bowl without Hill, it’s clear the receivers are this team’s Achilles heel and nowhere near as good as their corp of previous years.

4. Baltimore Ravens (4) Record: 8-3 (win vs. Bengals 34-20) – Once Bengals QB Joe Burrows (torn wrist ligament), this game was over. There is no way an untested quarterback with three years of practice squad experience would change the outcome. This win keeps them tied atop the division with the surprising Cleveland Browns and one game ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This division is arguably the best overall in the league.

However, they didn’t leave unscathed. The NFL is a league of attrition, and rushing quarterbacks tend to get nicked up and less proficient and productive as the season progresses. QB Lamar Jackson (ankle) is proof of that, not being able to reach the Super Bowl, much less make it deep into the playoffs. That’s history, but this new offense is helping his health. However, he got hurt, and while it is minor, we won’t know how it affects him moving forward. Remember, he’s missed 11 games over the last two seasons, and the mounting injuries slow him down.

Regardless, ankle or not, Jackson went 16-of-26 for 264 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also rushed for 54 yards (9-54-0) along with the team banging out 157 rushing yards (31-157-2) to showcase their No. 1 ranked rush offense. This team is beatable, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts have proven, so their road to a division championship is not a given.

The TE Mark Andrews (ankle) loss has become much more problematic. Originally thought to be a season-ender, per the team, there’s an outside shot he can return this season. However, a cracked fibula and damaged ligaments mean this is a long-term process, but if they can get him back for the playoffs, that’s huge.

However, the playoffs aren’t a lock. They’ve yet to face the 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chargers won’t be a walk in the park either, but an expected win regardless, but the four other teams aren’t a given.

Elitism is on their Radar!

5. Detroit Lions (5) Record 8-2 (win vs. Chicago Bears 31-26) – Sometimes you have to understand you can toss out the records for division games. Both teams tend to know the nuances of one another, and games are much more physical and close in scoring than fans and analysts want to admit. Was that the case here? Partly, the Bears have been competitive in four of their last six games, but there’s no doubt the Lions may have been looking ahead. It almost cost them.

However, as a Lions fan, you should be concerned. They’ve allowed 26 (Bears), 38 (Chargers), and 38 (Ravens) points in three of the last four games. They’re ranked No. 13 in pass defense and No. 5 in rush defense. However, they’re also ranked No. 12 in most points allowed. They must improve both the pass defense and start lowering these scores. The only caveat is that two of those games’ high scores are against a high-powered offense (Chargers) and an up-and-coming high-powered offense (Ravens).

On a bright note, QB Jared Goff led a combat down by double digits with less than five minutes left in the game (4:15). Goff held it together despite a horrific three-quarters of play. He went 23-of-35 for 236 passing yards, two touchdowns, but three interceptions. He overcame adversity to put the team on his shoulders and come back and win the game. That’s huge in the growth of an NFL quarterback and team. Once Goff left the soap opera of a Rams franchise buying a Super Bowl and thus jettisoning him, he went to a culture that helped him continue his growth (after setbacks) into what we’re seeing today.

Offensively, the Lions rank No. 6 in passing and rushing, so it’s about maturity, winning close games, and creating a culture of “expected success.” They’re on their way, and the only legitimate schedule threat is the Dallas Cowboys. The future looks very bright for Goff and the Lions.  

Better than Average but Still has Kinks to Work Out.

6. Dallas Cowboys (6) Record: 7-3 (win vs. Carolina Panthers 33-10) – Let’s be honest – the Cowboys were supposed to beat up the Panthers as they did here. Their players left unscathed, and it was a tremendous confidence-building game. Remember, “any given Sunday,” so to destroy the opponent as expected isn’t always easy, but it shows the Cowboys handle business they must.

However, they’re still two back from the Eagles, and their schedule isn’t a creampuff. They face the Commanders (twice), the Seahawks, Eagles, Bills, Dolphins and Lions. While the Commanders should bow out to the better team, division games mean you can throw out the records. If anything, the Commanders are losing games at the end that they could win. In other words, those two games could be competitive. However, the rest are all against teams vying for the playoffs. This team could be on the outside looking in.

7. Miami Dolphins (8) Record: 7-3 (win vs. Las Vegas Raiders 20-13) – were the Dolphins overlooking this game? Considering the score, it would seem so, but the Raiders are playing better ball since Antonio Pierce took over as head coach. This game wasn’t the best performance we’ve seen from the Dolphins, and they’ve yet to beat a team with a winning record, but they took care of business despite some gross errors, precisely three turnovers. That’s what elite teams do. They can come back after putting themselves in a hole or keep the lesser team at bay despite miscues.

Tua Tagovailoa had a great night statistically, with 28-of-39 for 325 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. As a team, the rushing attack, while not invisible, didn’t crack 100 rushing yards (99), and the team will have to do a better job in between the tackles. Also, the West Coast offense is predicated on the short pass to the back to compensate for fewer carries, and in that, they did get the ball to their backs – 8-52-1-10, and while adequate, we need to see better production.

Defensively, this defense forced three turnovers (interceptions), and it proved too much for the Raiders to overcome and held Raiders’ former stud RB Josh Jacobs to a mere 39 rushing yards. You take out the rush attack and force a rookie quarterback to try to beat you, and it’s predictable. The Dolphins took care of business, and their actual tests will come facing the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills. While they have a two-game division lead, nothing’s a given here with these three high-powered offenses yet to meet. Remember, the Bills embarrassed them once already.

8. Cleveland Browns (7) Record: 7-3 (win vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 13-10) – Give the Browns credit. They should’ve lost this game but held on to win. The truth is the Browns are on borrowed time. The Steelers have the No. 29 passing offense and No. 15 rush offense. Defensively, they rank No. 22 against the pass and No. 23 against the rush.

This game was perfect for QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who went 24-of-43 for 1165 passing yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He was damn lucky he was facing the Steelers. He did rush 3-20-0 and gave it his all to eke out a win. However, if there is a team at 6-3 at kickoff (now 6-4) that you could say is a fraud, it’s the Steelers. Lady Luck finally left them.

If QB Deshaun Watson (shoulder) had any gas left and was injury-free, then we’re talking about a possible Super Bowl run. However, you’ll find fans and management convincing you why his brand is still on the upswing. The kid is only 28 but looks washed up and doesn’t seem to have the “want” to become elite. Then again, his $230 million contract is fully guaranteed despite the fact he’s a bad citizen and hasn’t won anything. The Browns, to be so close, through their ineptitude, are more than likely to be at home come the Super Bowl.

The Browns won’t get far once the playoffs begin with their quarterback play, and this elite defense has given up 24 or more points in six games this season. Regardless of their No. 1 against the pass and No. 10 against the run, they can also be preyed on. Despite being 7-3, this team has a lot of work to do. Don’t let the 49ers win fool you. That falls under “any given Sunday” because the odds are the Niners win 9-out-of-10 times. Don’t forget the referees gifted them the Colts win. This team doesn’t remind anyone of the Eagles or Chiefs yet.

NFL Power Rankings: Pretenders or Contenders?

9. Houston Texans (9) Record: 6-4 (win vs. Arizona Cardinals 21-16) – Everyone’s raving about the Texans. However, they’re blind to a team with a magical run but many deficiencies. If the Cardinals expect to beat the Chiefs, Ravens, Dolphins, and Bills come playoff time, they should’ve handled the Cardinals.

The Cardinals ranking on offense doesn’t matter as QB Kyler Murray just returned, but the Texans and their No. 24 pass defense with their top tier No. 7 ranked rush defense struggled to contain him. They gave up 123 rushing yards to Arizona and 319 total yards. While not horrific, again, if you want to have a deep playoff run at this point in the season, you must take care of business.

The bright spot continues to be C.J. Stroud, who went 27-of-37 for 336 passing yards, two touchdowns but three interceptions. He had zero interceptions in his first five games when there wasn’t a lot of film on him. He’s thrown five interceptions over the past five games, thus the league may be catching up to him.

Regardless of where the team ends up this season, it’s been an enormous success with their rebuild, and losing the first overall pick in the final game of the season last year may have been a blessing in disguise after watching the overall No. 1 pick in Bryce Young, slowly turning into a bust. It’s too early to say that, but it’s not looking good.

The Texans have a critical game this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars and only have to face the Browns, whereas the Broncos, Jets, Titans (twice), and Colts are winnable games. They have a serious shot at winning this division.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (11) Record: 7-3 (win vs. Tennessee Titans 34-14) – The Jaguars had to have a comeback game after last week’s 34-3 blowout by the Niners. The Jags were facing the No. 15 rush defense and No. 17 pass defense, it would be an expected win, but it would also be a game. That was not true. QB Trevor Lawrence had a solid game, going 24-of-32 for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also went 5-17-2 rushing, and combined with his passing; those are elite fantasy football numbers. Regardless, we’re still waiting for him to become that elite quarterback many still believe he can be, but no one can argue this performance.

Joining the fun was WR Calvin Ridley, who went 7-103-2-9 in a monster game for him. Overall, they amassed 389 total yards, controlled the time of possession, limited their penalties (4), and got to the quarterback twice. This dominance is expected for a team like the Jaguars – on the cusp of competing with the top-tier teams. They took care of business but must continue to improve with the Texans on the docket next week for what will determine the division leader. Then they have the Browns and Ravens to follow. This young team will be battle-tested if they make it to the playoffs and that’s the best experience an up-and-coming can get by playing top-tier teams.

11. Buffalo Bills (14) Record: 6-5 (win vs. New York Jets 32-6) – If you’re a Bills fan, don’t look too deeply into this game. This game is akin to the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the St. Louis Rams in a must-win game back in Week 3. The Jets are regressing, and the Bills not only needed to right the ship, they wanted revenge from their Week 1 upset by the Jets.

QB Josh Allen played color by numbers, taking what the No. 5 ranked but over-tired and beat-down Jets’ secondary gave them. He went 20-of-32 for 275 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Bills were always in command of this game and eventually wore the defense down. The Bills’ ground game, shockingly ranked No. 9 for the season, gashed the No. 27 ranked rush defense for 130 yards (38-130-0) for an unimpressive 3.4 yards per carry.

This win was necessary, but it doesn’t mean new offensive coordinator Joe Brady is the next whiz kid guru, especially after you study his resume. However, they can build on it and grow, and they’ll need to. They have yet to face the Eagles, Chiefs, Cowboys, Chargers and Dolphins. I put the Chargers there because it’s likely to be a close game, and while the Chargers give those away, never say never on any given Sunday! Another note: they’re also two games back from the division-leading Dolphins.

The Rest of the Best or Pretenders

12. Denver Broncos (16) Record: 5-5 (win vs. Minnesota Vikings 21-20) – Does anyone doubt that Nathanial Hackett, former Broncos head coach, is inept and never should’ve gotten the gig? Anyone with half a football mind would agree. The rest are on the teat of Aaron Rodgers’ as he’s the only one left for any football love for Hackett.

The Broncos struggled to score touchdowns, but remember where this team was a year ago and just five games ago when the Dolphins posted 70 points on them! The Broncos prove my belief in reality that it takes time, sometimes up to a year, for a team to learn a playbook, build chemistry, and adapt to a new culture with discipline. We’re seeing that with their last four consecutive wins. That includes wins against the Chiefs and Bills and this week against a resurgent Vikings on a four-game winning streak.

While not looking like his glory days with the Seahawks, QB Russell Wilson is showing some of that old form. He went 27-of-35 for 259 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. This game was a scrappy battle dominated by field goals for the Broncos. It’s a sign while they’re playing better, they still have significant red zone issues, and that’s normal.

Their defense came through as well, forcing three turnovers and containing QB Josh Dobbs, and they pounded him with double-digit hits (10), one interception, and three forced fumbles, with one being a turnover. This win was an overall team effort, and the Broncos have something to build on.

Technically, they’re still in the playoff hunt but are two games back of the division-leading Chiefs and have yet to face the Browns, Texans, Chargers (twice), Lions, and Raiders. Can they win out? Yes, as their wins against the Bills and Chiefs show, they can hang with anyone now. However, they must be perfect and do better than their average 21.7 points per game season against these offenses. Then again, they held the Chiefs to nine points and the Bills to 22 points.

Their defense has stepped it up. Ironically, I questioned coordinator Vance Joseph, who has them humming along and keeping opponents in check. It’ll be fun watching this team, but again, they must be as close to perfect to even think about the playoffs, and even if they run the table, their record may not be good enough to get in.

13. Seattle Seahawks (12) Record: 6-4 (loss vs. Los Angeles Rams 17-16) – This was a shocker. As stated, when division games happen every week, you can toss the records out the window. These two teams have had some monumental games, including upsetting one another, as this week proved. I’ve said it all along: QB Geno Smith (elbow) is a game manager at best who can make the deep throw. His game is limited, but what makes game managers great quarterbacks are keeping turnovers down and being accurate. This week, he was doing his job, going 22-of-34 for 233 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions before injury.

Once backup Drew Locke entered the game, the Rams took advantage, and it was too late when Smith returned. What is shocking is the rushing attack only amassed 68 yards facing the No. 20 ranked rush defense. Maybe it shouldn’t be, as the Seahawks’ rush offense only ranks No. 27 near the league’s bottom tier. Without a rushing attack, any team can beat Seattle. That’s what we saw on Sunday. Smith can’t carry this team, and it takes a complete effort for them to dominate.

Right now, they’re ranked No. 26 in passing offense, No. 27 in rush offense, No. 19 in pass defense, and No. 17 in rush defense. They’re not even a playoff-worthy team now, and their opponents are more physical than they are. That’s supposedly their strength – being physical with a strong, savage rushing attack to go with an efficient passing attack that can go deep. You add a ball-hawk, hard-hitting defense led by their secondary, and we see none of those traits anywhere right now.

When you look at the fact they still have the 49ers (twice), Cowboys, and Eagles on tap, their playoff hopes may not materialize. This would’ve been different a month ago, but this team isn’t trending in the right direction.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (13) Record: 6-4 (loss vs. Cleveland Browns 13-10) – This team finally hit the wall, or Lady Luck said, sayonara. They’re that bad. The Steelers have the No. 29 passing offense and No. 15 rush offense. Defensively, they rank No. 22 against the pass and No. 23 against the rush.

The scapegoat will be offensive coordinator Matt Canada, but some of the playcalling is questionable in his critic’s defense. However, Pickett looks lost, and the game’s speed may be too much for him. He went 15-of-28 for 106 passing yards, no touchdowns, but in a positive, no interceptions. He’s ranked No. 25 in NFL passing and a reason the team lost this game. Until the team understands if it’s Canada or Pickett, we’ll not know. However, the team does, and we’ll likely see Canada gone after the season.

As we all know, RB Jaylen Warren was the only bright spot for the team, going 9-129-1 rushing and 3-16-0-3 receiving. He ripped off a 74-yard touchdown run, but this team needs a balanced attack and greater consistency on defense.

They face the Seahawks and Ravens, which will likely determine their playoff hopes because the Bengals, Cardinals, Patriots, and Colts are winnable games despite having one of the league’s most inept offenses.

NFL Power Rankings: Get it Together and Overachievers

15. Minnesota Vikings (21) Record: 6-5 (loss vs. Denver Broncos 5-5) – The Vikings are turning me into a believer. Sure, they lost, but they had a chance to win this game and extend – against all odds – a four-game winning streak into five. God Bless QB Joshua Dobbs. He almost pulled it out again and is finally getting his due from the media and analysts. He faced a surging Broncos team that many perceive as terrible. That was once the case, but new head coach Sean Payton has turned this team around, proving former head coach Nathanial Hackett is an idiot.

This defense contained QB Josh Dobbs, who still went 20-of-32 for 221 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. However, he fumbled three times, losing one, and the team had three turnovers, two by Dobbs. The rushing attack ranked No. 21, outdid themselves, and, as a team, gashed the Broncos for 175 yards (36-175-1), with Alexander Mattison leading the way, 18-81-0.

This team was playing above itself the past four games, and statistically, it was bound to catch up to them. It was close but not a shocker in an away game in a loud stadium with a quarterback still learning the ropes and a Broncos team finally playing better and beginning to play at their talent level.

However, the Vikings have questions. Where do they go from here? I do not believe WR Justin Jefferson (hamstring) won’t sacrifice himself for anyone, but in his defense, hamstring injuries are tricky and can become chronic. Right or wrong, that means the team can’t count on him. QB Kirk Cousins (Achilles) is gone for the season, and overall, this team ranks No. 15 in passing and No. 21 in rushing. Conversely, they rank No. 26 in pass defense and No. 12 in rush defense. Injuries have cost this team, questionable offseason moves (see running back), and terrible contracts that have impacted their salary cap, too.

They’re not out of it, as the NFC North isn’t strong outside the Lions. The problem is that they’re now three games back from the 8-2 Lions, who are dominating. It’s a significant advantage they play them twice and never say never, but we don’t see them winning out, especially since four division games are on tap (counting the Lions), and these teams tend to play each other tough.

You toss in the Raiders, and it’s not an easy road, but then again, it’s not impossible, so look for them to continue to give it their best versus looking ahead to evaluating talent for next year. No, with Dobbs and the fans riled up with hope, they’ll continue to gut it out.

16. Indianapolis Colts (20) Record: 5-5 (Bye Week)

17. New Orleans Saints (22) Record: 5-5 (Bye Week)

18. Los Angeles Rams (25) Record: 4-6 (win vs. Seattle Seahawks 16-17) – While we always say teams have players who check out when their season is lost, some veterans play for pride, and that’s what is happening to the Rams. Technically, they’re not out of the playoff picture, but at 4-6, it’s barely a long shot. Again, this team isn’t giving up, and you can toss records out when division teams know one another as well as these two do.

This game boiled down to the defense coming up big once Seahawks QB Geno Smith (elbow) went down. Drew Locke wasn’t able to move the team, which allowed the Rams to catch up and barely secure the win (missed Seahawks field goal).

Regarding the playoffs? That’s likely a pipe dream. Sure, continue to field a team of starters and try, but the truth is this team is playing for next year – players for roster spots and Sean McVay (head coach) underlings for their jobs.

Their offense is ranked No. 22 overall, No. 23 in passing, and No. 22 in receiving yards. They would have to go on a hell of a run to make the playoffs, and while their defense isn’t as bad, ranked No. 10 against the pass and No. 20 against the rush, they still have to face the Browns, Ravens, Saints, and 49ers and that’s a big mountain to climb and conquer.

19. Los Angeles Chargers (15) Record: 4-6 (loss vs. Green Bay Packers 23-20) – Who’s shocked that the Chargers lost another close one? They’ve lost to the Saints, Titans, Vikings, and Raiders – three teams with a combined record of 19-23, with only the Vikings with a winning record. They’re not very good, so this loss is no shocker to SoCal (southern California) fans and intelligent analysts like us! All you hear is how the Chargers’ mistakes are killing them. We’re like a broken record from a team with no fundamentals and discipline.

Word on the street is that head coach Brandon Staley is an arrogant bully. He got the job because of the Rams Super Bowl run. You know, the season they rented players to win it all. Rex Ryan put it best about Staley, and I’ll add the team should’ve fired him already. He’s not qualified to be a head coach.

Ignore the yardage because the only thing that mattered this week was that final score. The team couldn’t score enough touchdowns offensively despite the yards between the twenties. QB Justin Herbert went 21-of-36 for 260 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, and the rushing attack was solid, if not outstanding, with the team gaining 150 yards on the ground.

However, this defense is atrocious, and we saw Staley lose it when reporters questioned his defensive play-calling. They’re dead last (No. 32) against the pass, and being that bad means the No. 11 ranking against the rush is a bit deceiving as teams destroy them through the air as Jordan Love did with the game-winning touchdown.

Technically, they’re still in the playoff hunt and are three games behind the Chiefs, but with the Ravens, Broncos (division twice), Raiders (division), Bills, and Chiefs still on tap, we can confidently state, put a fork in them. That pass defense will get eaten alive, especially with Staley calling the plays!

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18) Record: 4-6 (loss vs. San Francisco 49ers 27-14) – The Bucs feed on mediocre teams, and their only legitimate win against a team vying for the playoffs is the New Orleans Saints, who are 500.

The one positive is that this is a growth year for the team, with QB Baker Mayfield developing chemistry. However, their head coach, Todd Bowles, isn’t guaranteed to return if they don’t win the division or have a losing record. He’s not doing a great job after inheriting a Super Bowl-ready team from former head coach Bruce Arians.

They’re ranked No. 14 in passing offense, and again, Mayfield’s still learning the ropes, so that’s not a bad ranking. However, they’re dead last, No. 32, in rushing offense, which puts too much pressure on the passing attack. They knew they had a problem entering the season. That’s squarely on the shoulders of the front office and coaching staff.

Defensively, this team is ranked No. 30 against the pass, and that’s how teams tend to attack them, thus a No. 10 season ranking against the rush.

However, being only one game back from the Saints, who they beat, they are still in the playoff hunt and play the Saints once more. They could win enough to take the division with the Colts, Panthers (twice), Falcons, Packers, Jaguars, and Saints. Out of that group, the Jaguars is the only team where they are better. The rest? Well, it pays to be in one of the two weakest divisions.

Despite all their issues, this team has a legitimate shot to take the division.

21. Las Vegas Raiders (19) Record: 5-6 (loss vs. Miami Dolphins 20-13) – The Raiders beat up two New York teams with a combined record of 7-14. That said, there’s no guarantee that a Josh McDaniel-led team would’ve won. Then again, he did win three games, so who knows? The point is the Raiders played two losers before meeting up with a team with a .500 record. They even had three turnovers and were in the game for its entirety. It’s a situation where the Raiders are playing better, and the Dolphins likely looked ahead.

Is the team playing better and with more energy under Pierce? Yes, they are, but that tends to wear off after a few weeks. Moving forward is the real tell as they face the Chiefs (twice), Vikings, Chargers, Colts, and a resurgent Broncos. None of those games are a given; they are three games back from the Chiefs. This mountain will be too big to overcome, but look for them to continue playing hard and look for some upsets during this run, as every game is winnable. Yes, that includes the Chiefs because these two teams know one another exceptionally well.

However, with this current offense, don’t look for them to win out, and don’t be shocked if they go down most of these weeks. QB Aidan O’Connell was horrific, going 24-of-41 for 271 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. As Grumblings Media correctly predicted, we didn’t see a great year for RB Brandon Jacobs (14-39-0) after a work-horse season and an ill-advised holdout that set him back this season.

I’m the minority, and I will say WR Davante Adams is outstanding, but that was under QB Aaron Rodgers. Like many receivers, an elite quarterback makes them better than they are, and Adams falls under that. However, this week, he did well, 7-82-1-13, but his attitude and constant whining is an issue the team will have to address this offseason, whether it’s Pierce or a new regime. He still has trade value, and while not likely to go anywhere, they could fetch a pretty penny for him – see the Chiefs, Bills, and Giants as just three examples.

Statistically, this team ranks No. 13 in passing offense, No. 30 in rush offense and on the other side of the ball, No. 18 in pass defense, and No. 30 in rush defense. There are many holes to fill, and once this season is officially over for a playoff run, you can bet the front-office staff will tell the coaching staff it’s time to evaluate. However, owner Mark Davis is an imbecile and, since taking over this team in 2011, is 74-112 (.398 winning percentage) and has gone through five coaches. That’s about a coach every two years. Again, an imbecile! I feel for Raider Nation!

NFL Power Rankings: Rebuild and Retool Teams

22. Atlanta Falcons (24) Record: 4-6 (Bye Week)  

23. Green Bay Packers (27) Record: 4-6 (win vs. Los Angeles Chargers 23-20) – Give the Packers credit here. They never quit, and against the hapless Chargers, that’s not a bad deal, as the Chargers are notorious for losing games in the closing minutes. I’ve been stating this is a rebuilding year for the Packers, and this kind of win helps a team grow.

The Chargers are a high-powered offense (supposedly), and the Packers caught them when they’ve been struggling, as their No. 22 passing offense attests. They played many youngsters and came through this week, specifically on offense. Led by QB Jordan Love, who went 27-of-40 for 322 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, he showed some nice “touch” and accuracy with his throws.

The rushing attack also came through with 102 yards (28-102-1) against the Chargers’ No. 11 ranked offense. This win is a shocker, but it shouldn’t be. This team should begin to see improvement. While this season’s lost as they’re four games behind the division-leading Lions, it’s a great game to build on.

You can’t sugarcoat that the Packers are No. 25 in passing and No. 23 in rushing. They understand this and will continue to build toward next year and, at this point, begin to evaluate these younger players as they continue to work with Love as this team’s focal point and leader. Looking ahead, big games against the Lions, Chiefs, and division opponents, this team has the opportunity to continue growing through experience in big games. Be sad, Packers fans, but the NFL is cyclical, and they’re working their way back.

24. Chicago Bears (28) Record: 3-8 (loss vs. Detroit Lions 31-26) – Honestly, fan-hos are the worst. Their incompetence, ignorance, racism, and tribalism are at their peak in how bad we can get as a society when discussing sports. I told anyone who would listen that no “rush-first” quarterback has led their team to a Super Bowl. Eventually, you have to learn to play the position as a quarterback.

Over the past few games he’s been in, we’ve seen a transition by QB Justin Fields into staying in the pocket, holding firm, and making some spectacular passes. Then, when you combine that with his legs to buy time and rush for critical yards, you have a legitimate dual threat at the position. Think Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, John Elway, Brett Favre, and Steve Young during their Super Bowl runs. Those were rushing quarterbacks who learned to stay in the pocket.

This week, Fields went 16-of-23 for 169 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions and also blew out the rushing yardage, going 18-104-0. While the passing yardage doesn’t look great, some came by, buying time with his legs. While a brutal loss, management and ownership can finally believe they’re seeing their franchise quarterback begin to mature and improve, whereas the previous seasons have been one nightmare after another.

They still have much to improve with the No. 23 passing offense, but he’s clearly on his way. This off-season will be significant for this team as their rebuild is now in a positive direction.

25. Washington Commanders (17) Record: 4-7 (loss vs. New York Giants 31-19) – The only bright spot you can say about this loss is that the defense had nine sacks. That’s about it. Their defense is utterly porous, ranked No. 31 versus the pass and No. 22 against the run. Players and coaches are playing for their jobs, but nothing can save head coach Ron Rivera. With a lack of leadership, a defensive specialist with one of the league’s worst, and he’s losing games they should be winning; it’s only a matter of time before offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy finally lands a head coaching gig!

QB Sam Howell doesn’t seem to be growing, but he’s been under duress more than he’s had time to throw. Opponents have taken him out 51 times this season – an average of five sacks per game. He has no rushing attack to help him as the team ranks No. 19 in rushing and is on pace to get sacked 79 times this season. That would take the top spot owned by David Carr in 2002 with the Houston Texans, which saw him go down 76 times.

It will not be surprising to see Rivera let go before the season’s end if only to send a message to the team. New ownership wants better results, and no one is off-limits. Then, evaluate what you have from the players and go from there.

Playing for Draft Positions – the Worst of the Worst

26. Arizona Cardinals (26) Record: 2-9 (loss vs. Houston Texans 21-16) – We’re not QB Kyler Murray fans, but give the kid credit, he’s looked solid with his comeback from an ACL tear. He went 20-of-30 for 214 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception. However, he needs time to acclimate to the team and build chemistry. The Cardinals’ goal is to begin evaluating including this past season, and looking toward their offseason needs. Despite how much is left. That’s not the actual team or coaching staff, but it will affect them because it will be time to start evaluating.

Youngsters will see time to determine their future; this team will go from there. Ownership should be happy with the job Jonathan Gannon’s done as head coach despite a 2-9 record. They play hard every week and many times are competitive. That’s where a rebuild begins – creating a culture where you leave it on the field and never quit.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (10) Record: 5-5 (loss vs. Baltimore Ravens 34-20) – Without Bengals QB Joe Burrows playing, this game was never in doubt. Throwing undrafted free agent Jake Browning into the fold, most fans probably said a prayer. After spending all three seasons on the Vikings (2) and Bengals practice squad, he didn’t look terrible, but he was no match for an elite Ravens’ defense. He went 8-of-14 for 57 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions to go on to lose.

When he came in, they were trailing 14-10, and despite a valiant effort by a rushing attack (ranked No. 31) that’s been on life support all season, we all knew the outcome. Despite the rush being an Achilles heel for the Ravens (ranked No. 19). Fans, look toward your head coach and front office for this season’s inept showings.

Bengals fans, you got your man for $275 million. The problem is you have no depth anywhere. Between the San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, and Minnesota Vikings, the Bengals join the ranks of overpaying for elite quarterbacks who’ve won NOTHING! Yet, not realizing you need a team around them and competent coaching.

Playoffs? To borrow one of the most infamous quotes in our NFL lifetime,

  • “Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game!” ~ Jim Mora, as New Orleans Saints head coach.

The Bengals face the Steelers (twice), Jaguars, Chiefs, and Browns. They’ll be underdogs, and there’s no guarantee they can beat the Colts or Vikings. I predict you can put a fork in this team.

28. New York Jets (23) Record: 4-6 (loss vs. Buffalo Bills 32-6) – The NFL has another bust to add to their list, QB Zach Wilson, overall No. 2 pick in 2021. Look, quarterbacks go to the New York Jets to die, so Wilson still has a shot somewhere else, but between inept coaching under the previous regime and an inept offensive coordinator in Nathaniel Hackett, who made his bones by calling plays for an already entrenched Hall of Famer in QB Aaron Rodgers. Let’s not forget he has no coaching ability and didn’t begin working towards Wilson’s strengths until after the game when Rodgers went down. Wilson has been horrific, but he’s had no help.

This take contradicts what the media says, but being adept means understanding the game from within the weeds. Nathanial Hackett, who owes his current career to Rodgers, started his career because his daddy was an NFL offensive coordinator. Yes, this offense is horrific, and it began with the play caller not utilizing his strength – a rushing attack with two quality backs. RB Breece Hall went 10-23-0, and Dalvin Cook was 2-13-0. When you’re running back is struggling, you don’t have only 13 attempts in a game!

The rush offense is ranked No. 25, and that’s a disgrace when you have Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook as your running backs. While this defense is overrated, they’ve had no help and have proven, unlike elite defenses like the “Steel Curtain” or the Ravens’ defenses under Ray Lewis, not to carry this team. At the same time, they rank a studly No. 4 against the pass but can’t stop anyone against the run, with a No. 27 rush defense.

Even then, how real is that No. 5 ranking? They’re not as elite as the media portrays them, and QB Josh Allen carved them up for 275 yards and three touchdowns. This team is in disarray right now, and the coaches have no clue how to right the ship and won’t as long as Hackett’s there.

Technically, they’re not out of it being three games back, but they have yet to face the Dolphins (twice), Texans, and Browns, and even the rest of the winnable games they have aren’t a given as any team can beat them right now as long as they have Hackett calling the plays.

29. New York Giants (32) Record: 3-8 (win vs. Commanders 31-19) – In a surprising performance, undrafted, still lives at home, free agent QB Tommy Devito who went 18-of-26 for 246 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Luckily, he faced the 31st-ranked pass defense. However, he still had to show he could play in this league, and this game is a huge step toward that.

The rushing attack led by RB Saquon Barkley (14-83-0 rushing, 4-57-1-5 receiving) had a stellar game with 140 scrimmage yards. They didn’t perform well on the ground as a team, amassing only 91 yards despite facing the No. 22 rush defense. Obviously, there’s still a lot of work.

The defense was the bomb with six turnovers (three fumbles, three interceptions) and elevated them into the top 12 in forced turnovers from previously tied near the bottom. Never forget to take stats within context. This defense is still horrific, with a No. 28 ranking in pass defense and No. 31 in rush defense. They’re terrible. One final positive is that they also got to the quarterback four times. However, that’s actually under the margin of how many sacks the Commanders allow per game – 4.6. Regardless, this was a rare win, and the G-men defense will enjoy it.

Ironically, most Giants fans, led by our own, Big John, are pissed off! They want a top pick for a quarterback. Let’s set the record straight. This team needs a massive upgrade on its offensive line as they lead the league in sacks allowed with 63 – about six sacks per game. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand your quarterback will not be successful with a line that porous and will get injured. You would think Daniel Jones (ACL) and Tyrod Taylor (rib) would be a clue to this hidden problem – that’s sarcasm, people, and that’s not all!  

That’s one-half of the issues affecting the quarterback position. The other is that their receivers stink! Their top receiver is TE Darren Waller, who ranks No. 65 with 36 receptions, and WR Darius Slayton checks in at No. 61 with 419 receiving yards. As I said, they stink, but it’s not all on them. However, contrary to Waller’s limited success, he’s not as good as people’s perception of him – check his statistics! The point is that this team has no playmakers at receiver.

Then there’s the coaching situation, as this analyst believes it’s only a matter of time before head coach Brian Daboll loses this team unless he changes his leadership style from bully to mentor and teacher. I’m not sure he can. Regardless, this team is playing for a draft position, and players on the cusp are playing for jobs next year.

30. New England Patriots (30) Record: 2-8 (Bye Week)

31. Tennessee Titans (29) Record: 3-7 (loss vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 34-14) – How far and quickly did this team fall to the league’s bottom tier? Look, no matter what anyone says, losing teams begin to lose players at this point in the season. They don’t want to get hurt. They’re looking ahead toward next season and don’t give it 100 percent on the field. That’s not all players but some, and it is likely happening here regardless of what the head coach, Mike Vrabel, says.

The positive is that the Titans cap space opens up next year (about $100 million), and they’ll enter what is likely the beginning of a rebuild. The question is if Mike Vrabel will be leading that charge.

This week meant another look at rookie QB Will Levis, and opponents are sending wave after wave of blitzes because their line can’t handle it. Defenses got to him ten times in the last three games, a 3.3 average per game. Teams have blitzed 52 times since Levis became a starter with 41 pressures. You want to see what you have with the kid, but you must give him time to throw, too. They’re not.

What a waste on WR DeAndre “Show me the money” Hopkins, who checks in at No. 45 in receptions and No. 22 with yards – 42-650-4-78, which is a per game average of 4.2-65-0.4-7.8 which translates to four receptions, for 65 yards on eight targets and a touchdown ever 2-3 games. It’s not quite the elite wideout they thought they were getting. Sadly, everyone else knew!

We all know the rushing attack is miserable, with their rush offense ranking at No. 20, but this is Derrick Henry’s last season (likely). This team is done for the season and is playing for a draft position. Also, never say never, but the coaching staff could also be on the hot seat. They’ll continue with Levis to evaluate what they have on the roster and see what’s worth keeping. The Titans are playing ugly football.

32. Carolina Panthers (31) Record: 1-9 (loss vs. Dallas Cowboys 33-10) – This team is terrible. They lack discipline, as eight penalties for 90 yards attest. Sure, some will say the Panthers hung tough until after the second half, and maybe that’s something to build on, but at 1-9 and no first-round pick, it’s not only becoming a season no one saw this bad, but they have no gold at the rainbow, regarding the draft.

The only solace they can take is that they converted three fourth-down possessions during a drive. However, QB Bryce Young may be developing, but it’s sometimes hard to see. He went 16-of-29 for 123 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Young’s not playing well. Every time he moves forward with a bright play, he takes four steps back, usually including a pick-six. The passing offense is ranked No. 29, and the rush is No. 29. This team needs massive help via the draft and free agency.

That’s not to mention the No. 24 ranked rush defense. It’s been a long season for this team, and it’s not even over, and a longer offseason is yet to come, with the big question of what they really have in Young.