Del Pilar’s Diatribe: NFL Power Rankings Week 15 Broken Down!

NFL Power Rankings Week 15

This week’s NFL power rankings bring another week of referee stupidity with bad calls and influencing the outcome of games. However, I will defend the referees on one call. The Kansas City Chiefs, because of botched calls, purposely or not, have helped put losses in the Chiefs column. That’s not conjecture, that’s a fact.

However, the play that QB Patrick Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid were complaining about – a receiver’s foot in the neutral zone – was the right call. It negated an incredible touchdown. However, it was a legal call, and the receiver was offside. Some analysts are stating true, but that call is never made. That’s a complete lie. You always see that call every 4-6 games and you always shake your head and go, come on ref! Unless it’s your team benefiting. That said, the refereeing is horrific this season and it appears it’s getting worse.

Look, it’s no secret the NFL and other sports have favorites they want to see in the playoffs and finals. That’s the business part. However, it doesn’t mean referees and the leagues are conspiring to keep a team out or help a team. Nevertheless, because gambling is now legal and growing in every state, doesn’t mean gambling won’t touch the game. It will. The dirty secret is that all leagues want gambling, regardless of what they say publicly. However, with the proliferation of gambling everywhere along with technology it’s only a matter of time before more corruption begins if it hasn’t already.

Remember, Tim Donaghy and the NBA betting scandal. That was only a decade ago. The league and government downplayed it and it never gained traction. It will happen again because it’s human nature! Here are some (not all) gambling scandals over the years, courtesy of Gary Rothstein, “The Most Notorious Sports Betting Scandals Of All Time.”

  • MLB – The Black Sox Scandal – 1920s
  • NFL – Players Paul Hornung and Alex Karras – 1960s
  • College Basketball – City College of New York Scandal – 1950s
  • College Basketball – Boston College Point Shaving – 1970s
  • College Football – Art Schlichter, Ohio State – 1970s
  • MLB – Pete Rose, Cincinnati Reds – 1980s
  • College Basketball – Tulane Green Wave University Basketball Team – 1980s
  • College Football – Boston College Eagles – 1990s
  • College Basketball – Northwestern University Wildcats – 1990s
  • College Football – Northwestern University Wildcats – 1990s
  • College Basketball – Arizona State University Sun Devils – 1990s
  • College Basketball – University of Toledo Rockets – 2000s
  • College Football – University of Toledo Rockets – 2000s
  • NBA Referee Tim Donaghy – 2000s
  • NFL Players Betting – 2010s
  • NFL Players Betting – 2020s

Our weekly reminder: we conclude the Bye Weeks (weeks 5-14), as the final two teams had theirs: and moving forward, every week brings us a full slate of games. Let’s get to this week!

  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Washington Commanders  

Moving forward, every week brings us a full slate of games. Let’s get to this week!

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

The Elites

1. San Francisco 49ers (1) Record: 10-3 (win vs. Seattle Seahawks 28-16) – What accolades can we give the Niners after their beatdown of the Eagles last week? They took care of business this week, handling the Seahawks, and while it wasn’t pretty despite the score and yardage output, people fail to understand division rivalries going past the numbers and records. Let’s not forget the Seahawks found their offense last week despite injuries to their quarterback and running backs at less than 100 percent.

Despite the loss to the Cowboys last week, they came in knowing the Niners as division rivals do and hoping the Pigskin Gods would find favor with them. However, even if starter Geno Smith (groin) had played, the game was never in doubt, and backup QB Drew Locke may have looked good, but when he’s terrible, it can cost the team. This week was no different, as he threw two interceptions, and the Niners got to him four times.

San Francisco has two enemies – injuries and themselves. When you’re this dominant, you can fall into a lapse, which happened against the Browns and through portions of this game. Then injuries can derail a team, as we saw during their three-game losing streak. The 49ers are now in a mode when they look at the film; they’re trying to perfect what they do in many ways versus what most teams must do – figure out how to get it together. The Niners have that already.

Over the past three games, their offense ranks No. 2 in passing and rushing. Defensively in that span, they rank No. 16 against the pass, and while the numbers don’t always show it, the Niners are now pressuring and hurrying quarterbacks much more than ever before. They’ve also begun to settle into defense coordinator Steve Wilks’ schemes. Against the run in that span, they’re No. 3, and barring injury, it’s their Super Bowl to lose.

At 10-3 and with tiebreakers over the other top-tier teams, the Eagles and Cowboys, the Niners will face the Cardinals, Ravens, Commanders, and Rams. The Ravens will be their test as the hype machine is in overdrive as they’re the AFC team with the best record. Never mind; they play too many teams too close. Nevertheless, the Niners control their fate for homefield advantage. They remain the No. 1 team in our NFL power rankings far away.

Elitism is on their Radar!

2. Dallas Cowboys (2) Record: 10-3 (win vs. Philadelphia Eagles 33-13) – Finally, finally, finally!!! The Cowboys beat a legitimate team, the Eagles. It was a victory they had to have. No matter how good the numbers are or the fanboys on their knees for them, the Cowboys always fold against their betters. Not this time, as they played with a balanced attack, which is surprising coming from a Mike McCarthy team.

QB Dak Prescott solidified his claim to the MVP, going 24 of 39 for 271 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The committee approach at running back went 32-138-01 rushing for a 4.3 yards per carry average –a tremendously dominant showing.

Defensively, the Boys only got to QB Jalen Hurts once but forced three fumbles and shut down the Eagles’ offense, keeping them out of the end zone. This game was the win they’ve been searching for, for years and is something to build off.

Over the past three games, the Cowboys ranked No. 3 in passing and No. 10 in rushing. That’s where you want to be as the season progresses. Defensively, in that span, they’re hurting with a ranking of No. 28 against the pass and No. 10 against the rush. That’s unsurprising because they’re a high-powered offense; thus, their secondary will be under constant attack as teams play from behind.  

While 10-3, the Niners still hold homefield advantage. Even worse, Dallas faces the rejuvenated Bills, high-flying Dolphins, and struggling Lions down the stretch. The Lions may have turned it around by then, too. They close with a fluff game against the pathetic Commanders, but to say that the schedule’s brutal is being nice. No one will deny they are elite if they can win against those teams. While they can’t move up our NFL power rankings, they have solidified their status as the second-best team in the league.

3. Baltimore Ravens (4) Record: 10-3 (win vs. Los Angeles Rams 37-31 (OT)) – The hype started Sunday night over how good the Ravens are. They are good. They can be elite, but they’re not yet at that elite Super Bowl-ready level. Look at their games’ scores and data points, and remember, they were playing the now 6-7 Rams. They’re improving, but this isn’t the season you’ll see that elite dominance shine through and that will eventually emerge. Does that mean they don’t have enough to win it all this year? No, they can, but they aren’t invincible as the media would like you to think.

The Rams were on the road and ranked No. 24 against the pass over their last three games and No. 11 against the rush. It’s not like the Rams are the Niners, Cowboys, or even the Eagles, Chiefs, Bills, or Dolphins. Don’t put as much stock into this game as the mainstream media does. Offensively, in that span, the Rams rank No. 8 in passing and No. 3 in rushing, but their opponents have been the Browns, Cardinals, and Seahawks, and before you go, they played the Browns. Check out their numbers over their last few games. It seems as if I’m downplaying this win, and I am because the data reveals quite a bit.

Over their three-game span, the Ravens rank No. 11, up from their season rank of No. 19, and No. 1 in rushing. Defensively, they rank No. 11 against the pass and No. 20 against the rush. They’re trending where they want to be, and it’s better to win and get hype than lose. They begin the final stretch run against the Jaguars, 49ers, Dolphins, and Steelers, so their most extensive tests await.

If they can run that gauntlet, then yes, they deserve the reputation of being elite. That said, I believe teams improve as the season progresses – top-tier teams that is – and the Ravens are doing as I expected them. They remain a top-tier team in our NFL power rankings and move up a slot.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (3) Record: 10-3 (loss vs. Dallas Cowboys 33-13) –Two straight losses. Two straight blowouts. The Eagles aren’t right, but can they fix it as we head into the season’s final stretch? Look, there’s plenty of film on QB Jalen Hurts, and teams like the Niners are figuring out how to play him. You contain him; don’t overpursue. There’s a difference between a rushing quarterback who must look and use his legs not to get sacked versus a player overpursuing and allowing the quarterback an open lane. It’s a different mental process; if you contain, you can rattle him, force turnovers, and even the occasional sack.

This team’s issue isn’t about fixing what’s on the field. It’s about these players looking in the mirror and manning up. Sure, some are saying the playbook is predictable, and maybe they do need to tweak it, but it’s the same offense that’s been dominant for two years. It’s more whining and looking for excuses versus looking at themselves. That said, they have leadership and will eventually do that.

We’ve been saying the Eagles don’t look invincible, but their tenacity to win is why they were 10-1. However, it’s deep into the season. Injuries, playing hurt (not injured), the weather and more film for opposing teams to study are natural and what’s happening. Over the past three games, the Eagles have been ranked No. 14 in passing and No. 21 in rushing. That’s huge, as they need a rushing attack to balance the passing attack. Hurts can’t be your only key rusher, so they must get the rushing attack back on track.

Defensively, in that span, they ranked No. 31 against the pass and No. 28 against the pass, but they’ve also faced the Cowboys, 49ers, and Bills. In their defense, the numbers will skew, but these are the caliber teams they’ll face come playoff season.

Maybe it’s more than just manning up, and we’ll find out as they close out the season against the Seahawks, Giants, Cardinals, and Giants again. While these should be cream puff opponents, the way the Eagles are playing, all I can say is, “Any given Sunday!”

5. Buffalo Bills (9) Record: 7-6 (win vs. Kansas City Chiefs 20-17) – The Bills used the bye week to prepare for arguably their biggest game of the year. Another loss and their playoff hopes would likely be over, but they overcame and proved critics like me wrong. While the Chiefs outgained the Bills 346 to 327 offensive yards, they couldn’t overcome penalties, turnovers, and incompetence.  To their credit, the Bills took advantage, hung around, and pulled off the win.

Can the Bills continue their improbable resurrection? Over their past three games, they ranked No. 7 in passing and rushing. Implementing a rush attack for balance while keeping QB Josh Allen off his leash is what they should’ve been doing all along. A balanced offense always creates more excellent opportunities to win.

Defensively, in that span, they rank No. 7 against the pass and No. 17 against the rush, so they’re trending in the right direction and are one of the few teams that can legitimately beat anyone, including the top-tier teams. With their back against the wall, that’s their only current option. They’re in the thick of the battle for a wild card slot, three games behind the Dolphins. They face the Cowboys, Chargers, Patriots, and Dolphins on the final stretch, and the Cowboys and Dolphins are a mountain to climb. However, take solace, Bills Nation; they move up our NFL power rankings. 

6. Kansas City Chiefs (5) Record: 8-5 (loss vs. Buffalo Bills 20-17) – The referees have screwed the Chiefs out of potential wins with horrific calls on national television. The Chiefs, to their credit, from the coaching staff to the players, say it’s on them. Until this week, the irony is that the play quarterback Patrick Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid are whining about was a legit call.

Then, the analysts who state they never call that penalty are lying. You can count on the offsides by a wideout (their foot is in the neutral zone usually) at least once every few games somewhere in the league. It’s not often called, but it’s called. The Chiefs simply aren’t the elite team from a few years ago, and at 8-4 and behind in the race for homefield advantage, they now realize the dilemma they’re in. Again, I noted this a few weeks ago, so it’s validation when you start hearing it nationally. Remember, you’re ahead of the pack by reading this.

When elite, the Chiefs could overcome errors such as turnovers, dropped passes, and bad officiating, but those days are no more. The Chiefs have lost four of their last six and are trending in the wrong direction. Over the past three games, they ranked No. 10 in passing and No. 22 in rushing. The problem is that you can’t count on Mahomes anymore to put the team on his back with a receiving corps he can’t count on. TE Travis Kelce is 34 and is beginning to look it: great catches still, but few and farther between compared to a few years ago.

Defensively, in that span, they rank No. 17, down from their season rank of No. 6, and against the rush, they rank No. 23, so their defense is an Achilles’ heel. Earlier in the season, they were helping create wins. Again, this happens when you allocate all your salary cap monies into a few spots. In this case, Mahomes and one or two others are destroying their ability to build depth and maintain a receiving corp. Mahomes deserves the money, but there are consequences to that.

They’re only one game ahead of the surging Broncos and two games behind the Ravens and Dolphins for homefield advantage. They face the Patriots, Raiders, Bengals, and Chargers. All winnable, but none guaranteed. They should win the division but never say never. Regardless, their fall from grace continues in our NFL power rankings. 

7. Miami Dolphins (6) Record: 9-4 (loss vs. Tennessee Titans 28-27) – Now no one saw this coming, but we did learn quite a bit. The NFL is a league of attrition, and the Dolphins are hurting. They have a band-aid for an offensive line, their secondary is riddled with injuries and yet, their offense remains potent but eventually this could catch up to them.

They fell behind the Ravens for homefield advantage, and we learned what the Dolphins are without Tyreek Hill (ankle) who went out with an ankle injury in the first quarter, returning in the fourth but not making a difference. When he plays, he elevates the offense and specifically, he’s their top producer. The offense drops a notch when he’s out. He’s the rare case indeed of making his quarterback better than he is when he’s in the game.

Over the past three games, the Dolphins ranked No. 1 in passing and No. 4 in rushing. Defensively they rank No. 9 against the pass and No. 4 against the run. Their opponents have been the Titans, Commanders, and Jets, thus some question how good they are.

They’re an offensive juggernaut but against formidable opponents they’ve yet to prove themselves. Regardless, their final stretch consists of facing the Jets, Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills. That’s a brutal finish but it will test and barring an injury, make them a better team when the playoffs begin. With so many upsets in our top-tier areas, who knows where the Phins end up in our NFL power rankings?

Better than Average but Still has Kinks to Work Out.

8. Detroit Lions (7) Record 9-4 (loss vs. Chicago Bears 28-13) – I’ve never believed the Lions belong with the elite teams in the league, despite other analysts and power rankings showing otherwise. They’ve been on the cusp but are falling out of even the top-tier conversation and are now hanging on, hoping to win the division and make a playoff run. However, they’re not trending in the right direction, and it’s because of inconsistency. I’m looking at you, Jared Goff!

Last week, they struggled to put the Saints away and allowed the Chargers, Bears, Packers, and Saints to hang around until the end. While they escaped against three teams, sans Packers, with a combined record of 14-22, they can now add another division rival with a losing record to beat them in the Bears.

The Lions must get back to fundamentals. At a time when the playbook should be fully expanding, they may have to take a step back and get back to fundamental schemes and play calling versus high-octane offensive firepower that’s firing blanks. A high-powered offense must know how to put a team like the Bears away, but they could not. Instead, they had four series with three punts and a turnover at one point.

They lack the maturity to focus long enough to become a consistent, confident offense. That begins with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and QB Jared Goff, who went 20 of 35 for 161 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.

The Lions have now lost two of their last three, and in that period (three games), they rank No. 15 in passing, way down from their season rank of No. 7. Rushing, they rank No. 6, which aligns with their No. 5 season rank. While they did amass 140 rushing yards, the lack of any passing attack helped create the loss. Until they rectify that, we’ve seen that they’re not top-tier but mediocre.

Defensively, it’s not pretty. In this three-game span, Detroit ranks No. 18 against the pass and No. 22 against the run. In that span, they’re ranked No. 29 in sacks per game. Losses will mount if you’re mediocre and can’t get to the quarterback.

It won’t get easier. The Lions face the Broncos, Vikings, Cowboys, and Vikings again. Those opponents are also still in the playoff hunt. This team can take another step forward as they did last season and overcome or fall apart and live up to their traditional loser’s reputation. They control their NFL destiny but drop in our NFL power rankings.

9. Denver Broncos (12) Record: 7-6 (win vs. Los Angeles Chargers 24-7) – It looks like the Broncos pulled their head out of their tushes after last week’s debacle against the Texans that saw them looking ahead, not taking the game seriously, and proving my two points with the slovenliness of their play.

That was the kick in the tush it appears they needed. They faced a top-tier defense in the Chargers. Over the past three games, they ranked No. 4 in pass defense and No. 12 against the rush. Yet the Broncos were able to post 322 offensive yards, with QB Russell Wilson going 21 of 33 for 224 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Their rushing attack put up over 100 yards as a team, but they must improve that 3.4 yards per carry average moving forward.

The Broncos have won six out of their last seven, and there’s a reason why. Their numbers aren’t showing it on offense, but their play and style are beaming with confidence and efficiency. They’re ranked No. 28 in passing, with Wilson playing much better, reducing turnovers, and playing intelligent, veteran football. If you remove the Texans’ debacle, where he threw three interceptions, in his most recent six games, he’s only thrown one interception.

They rank No. 11 in rushing the past three games, with Javonte Williams and Jaleel McLaughlin working as a tandem and Russell with key scrambles and designated runs. Defensively, in that span, they’re No. 12 against the pass, a big jump from their season rank of 24 and No. 11 against the rush.

This team is gelling and coming together at the right time, and although they’re sitting outside the playoff race, they’re not out with four games to go. They face the suddenly struggling Lions, hapless Patriots, worthless Chargers, and a Raiders team with no identity. The Pigskin Gods favor them with an easy schedule, but they’ll need help. However, at least for now, they’re moving back up in our NFL power rankings.

NFL Power Rankings: Pretenders or Contenders?

10. Cleveland Browns (15) Record: 8-5 (win vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 31-27) – Did the Cleveland Browns find a new quarterback off the trash heap for pennies on the dollar? The Browns now have a proven Super Bowl-winning MVP on the roster. However, at 38 years old, what do they have in veteran Joe Flacco? It’s enough to prove he can lead the team to the playoffs.

QB Joe Flacco went 26 of 45 for 311 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He looked outstanding in the role, showing the offense is just waiting for a quality quarterback to take the reins. However, mobile he is not, going 1 for -1 yards rushing. Flacco had the offense rolling with 389 offensive yards to the Jaguars 293.

This hole is what the teams needed to fill all season long. They’ve gassed their defense, and the NFL is a league of attrition, and at this point, it is what it is when your starters are beat up, depth or not. It’s why homefield advantage is such a godsend to these players.

Over the past three games, the Browns’ offense has been ranked No. 13 in passing yards, and that’s a big bump from their No. 23 ranking. In that span, they’re No. 24 in rushing, and that’s a massive drop from their season rank of No. 7. This team’s flipped their identity, but the truth is, that’s why they’re 8-5. They lack an offensive personality because they lack the quarterback to execute it.

In that same span, the Browns’ defense ranks No. 14 against the pass, a freefall from their No. 1 season rank, and they rank No. 19 against the run, another negative bump from their No. 11 season rank. This team has come back down to earth defensively. However, they hope Flacco will help create a better balance of offense to defense versus the defense having to carry this team. As the seasons progressed, they wore down.

They still must face down the stretch, the rejuvenated Bears, the upstart Texans, and always unpredictable Jets, and they close out with the rolling Bengals. They will likely get a bump in our NFL power rankings!

11. Cincinnati Bengals (23) Record: 7-6 (win vs. Indianapolis Colts 34-14) – For those who read this, overall, you get some tidbits about players trending up or down. As stated with QB Jake Browning, you knew he was different when you saw him play. Despite seeing it, I ignored it his first week, as I wasn’t sure how accurate or how much of a fluke the performance was. Now we know. He’s the real deal and will be looking at a fat pay raise at the end of the season!

His last three outings have the Bengals offense ranked No. 6 in passing, up from their No. 16 season rank. Their rush attack comes in at No. 23, but that’s up from No. 31, and that’s a product of Joe Burrows going down and the coaching regime finally realizing they must add their rushing attack to the game plan.

Defensively in that span, their pass defense hasn’t improved, with a ranking of No. 26, whereas their rush defense in that time frame comes in at No. 6, way up from their No. 24 season rank. They seem to be coming together at the right time despite losing their $275 million quarterback because their 99-cent replacement is performing just as well right now.

They’re back in the playoff hunt and face the Vikings, Steelers, Chiefs, and Browns, and that’s a tough road to hoe. One wonders, despite how well they’ve played and the belief they can beat anyone, at what point does Browning face a defense he can’t handle? We’ll have to wait and see, but the Bengals will make a big jump in our NFL power rankings.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars (13) Record: 8-5 (loss vs. Cleveland Browns 31-27) – No team infuriates me more than the Jaguars. Jacksonville is talented but soft, and that’s a direct take on their Super Bowl-winning head coach, Doug Pederson, who by all accounts comes across as a fatherly, friendly figure. Granted, the Eagles haven’t won a Super Bowl since the team fired him, but they play much more physically and have willed themselves into an elite team. That’s the only thing the Jags are lacking. They were the better team against the Browns. They choked as they did against the Texans and the Bengals.

They’re one game ahead of their division opponents, the Colts, and Texans, who also lost, but their schedule is brutal.  But first, let’s see how their recent data breaks down. Over their last three games, they rank No. 1 in passing but No. 30 in rushing. One reason they lost this week was their lack of ability to create a rushing attack. They were held to 58 rushing yards and a 2.9 yards per carry average. This team is toast even if it makes the playoffs if they can’t establish a rushing attack and they don’t have a big bruiser like Derrick Henry. Too many one-dimensional teams have outstanding records but minimal playoff success without a rushing attack. With 30 years of hall-of-fame quarterback play, the Packers have only won two Super Bowls. The Marino-led Dolphins have none, and it doesn’t end there. The Jaguars and Pederson refuse to learn from history. They’re paying the price for it too.

Defensively in that span, they rank No. 32 against the pass and No. 16 against the run, and that’s a massive drop from their No. 4 season rank. This team is a fraud when you look between the lines, and they’re hanging on for dear life to first place in the weak AFC South. They still must face the Ravens, Buccaneers, Panthers and Titans. While they have a soft schedule, the Ravens can affect all that with a beatdown this coming week. Outside of the Bills, they haven’t beaten a top-tier team. They caught the Bills in the right situation, traveling from the States to the UK after the Jaguars had been there for an entire week.

The Jags will take a bump down, but it could just be the beginning of that trend, especially if Lawrence isn’t 100 percent, and yet, they’ll keep using him on the ground. That’s a recipe for disaster, but he’s all they have in short-yardage situations. This coaching and management team still has work to do, and this is not the Jaguars year, despite what we all thought.

13. Indianapolis Colts (10) Record: 7-6 (loss vs. Cincinnati Bengals 34-14) – The Colts played like I thought they would at the beginning of the season. This team sometimes plays on the edge as they try not to force errors, penalties, or turnovers and fail, resulting in some high-scoring, edge-of-your-seat football. They’re that type of team. One wrong play and everything goes South, and you get this week’s results. Eventually, the numbers catch up to you, and a lousy game emerges.

Did this week expose them? Yes and no, as the Colts are undisciplined and hurt themselves just as much as they help themselves. Most of the time this season, they’ve overcome. The play of QB Gardner Minshew keeps them on the edge, but in his defense, he has a horrible rushing attack to help when you consider it’s RB Jonathan Taylor (thumb). In his defense, he’s not played pain-free in a long time.

Over the past three games, the Colts are No. 9 in passing, up from their No. 17 season rank, and No. 27 in rushing, and that’s no surprise considering how inconsistent they’ve been and now Taylor’s out. It’s also a sharp decline from their No. 15 season rank.

Defensively, they’re No. 15 against the pass and No. 25 against the rush in the past three outings, and this ream reeks of mediocrity and that’s why they’re 7-6. However, they play hard and usually can compete against anyone. Again, when they lose, you can usually trace it to a self-inflicted wound.

Regardless, the Colts missed out on a great opportunity by stumbling and bumbling and causing too many penalties – nine times for 66 yards, turning the ball over (twice), and allowing the Bengals to sack the quarterback three times. You see, the Jaguars and Texans also lost. Had they won, they would be in a tie for first place and one game ahead of the Texans. No one gained anything this week in the battle for the AFC South, so the journey to the crown continues. The Colts face the reeling Steelers, a mirror-image of themselves in the Falcons; we don’t know who we are Raiders and the upstart Texans. They can win every game and lose them, too.

Injuries and weather will have a heavy hand in this stretch, but for now, the Colts will take a dip in our NFL power rankings.

14. Houston Texans (8) Record: 7-6 (loss vs. New York Jets 30-6) – No one saw this game coming, and it was an excellent opportunity for this team to gain ground against the Jaguars and share the division lead. However, they lost more than just the game. Last week, the team lost WR Tank Dell (fibula) and could be without QB C.J. Stroud (concussion) for multiple games.

They entered the game struggling as they ranked No. 21 in passing the past three games, way down from their No. 4 season ranking. No. 25 in rushing in that span, the same as their season rank. Their strength is passing, and they’ve not been playing at the level that has created many upsets. Facing the league’s best secondary, and once Stroud went out, the Pigskin Gods determined the Jets would triumph.

Their defense isn’t stout against the pass, and in the past three games, they ranked No. 25 against the pass, aligning with their season rank of No. 26. Their strength is against the rush as they’re ranked No. 7 for the season and No. 8 the past three games. However, Jets QB Zach Wilson came out of nowhere to destroy this secondary while the defense held them to 135 total offensive yards and got to the quarterback five times.

All the Texans can do is return to the drawing board and put this game behind them. Also, you should pray Stroud can come back this week, as they’re in the middle of the division and playoff hunt. They face the Titans, Browns, Titans (again), and Colts the rest of the way. They can beat every team here, but not without Stroud. This week is going to be a wait-and-see, and while Texans’ fans were laughing at the Jaguars and their woes with Trevor Lawrence (ankle), it turns out karma’s a biatch! The Texans’ reign in our NFL power rankings top 10 likely ends.

The Rest of the Best or Pretenders

15. Green Bay Packers (11) Record: 6-7 (loss vs. New York Giants 24-22) – What a shocker. The Packers were surging, and this game looked like a “W” on their way back into the playoff hunt. QB Jordan Love went 25 of 39 for 218 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. However, the Giants got to him twice and forced two fumbles. Yet, this game came down to the end with a shocking undrafted free-agent rookie, stealing the limelight from the up-and-coming Love.

This team is in a learning year I’ve said all season. It’s about Love learning to become the team’s leader, execution of plays, and chemistry on the playing field. The fact they’re in the playoff hunt is a bonus but also shows the quality development we’re seeing.

Over the past three games, the Packers are ranked No. 18 in passing and No. 17 in rushing having increased their per game average by about 15 yards more per game. Defensively in that span they rank No. 18 in pass defense, down from a season rank of No. 8. Against the run they’re No. 31 so clearly this is a team playing much better than the numbers show. However, eventually, it’ll catch up to them.

Despite that, they’re in the playoff hunt and will face down the stretch, The Bucs, Panthers, Vikings, and resurgent Bears. That’s a winnable schedule but as you can see this team can be inconsistent and play up or down to their opponent. They’ll take a dip in our NFL power rankings.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20) Record: 6-7 (win vs. Atlanta Falcons 29-25) – In what turned out to be a thrilling game, the Bucs and QB Baker Mayfield had a game-winning drive, and for all purposes, this was the type of game you expect from teams with winning records and above-average offenses. Remember, despite all the errors in this game, the Bucs have a new quarterback and offensive coordinator. The Falcons have a young quarterback who needed seasoning versus “vajayjay” fanboys demanding his benching. The point is that teams like this should improve as the season progresses, and at least for one week, we saw two inconsistent offenses do well.

In breaking this game down, the Bucs, in their last three, rank No. 27 in passing and No. 10 in rushing. Defensively, in that span, they’re No. 22 against the pass, up from their No. 30 season rank. They rank No. 24 against the rush, well down from their season rank of No. 10. Those aren’t numbers you take seriously come playoff time.

However, they’re tied for first at 6-7 with the Falcons and Saints, but they control their destiny as they have the tiebreakers in hand. Look, this team is mediocre, and this division has been the weakest in the NFL for years. In Tom Brady’s final season, which was a playoff season, they went 8-9 and exited in the wild-card game.

They face down the stretch the rejuvenated Packers, who are in the playoff hunt, as well as the AFC South-leading Jaguars, and close it out with two division foes in the Saints and Panthers. They can win all those games, but it won’t be easy if they don’t. Look for the head coach to be gone (Todd Bowles) as he’s been mediocre as the Bucs head coach with a 14-16 record and a 40-57 career record. If he goes, then the odds are Baker Mayfield may be one-and-done in Tampa, depending on the new regime and what direction they take. Where do they rank this week in our NFL power rankings? It’s likely a bump up.

17. Los Angeles Rams (14) Record: 6-7 (loss vs. Baltimore Ravens 37-31 (OT)) – The Rams, when healthy, can compete with most but don’t have the overall depth to manage even a few injuries, as we’ve seen. This team has top-tier talent with their passing offense, and their rushing attack is playing surprisingly well of late. Overall, they can be mediocre and inconsistent, and while they can compete with anyone, they don’t have the guns to win out, as their 6-7 record proves.

The Rams rank No. 24 against the pass over their last three games and No. 11 against the rush. Over that span, they ranked No. 8 in passing and No. 3 in rushing, but their opponents have been the Browns, Cardinals, and Seahawks. It’s not like they can’t compete to win, but the lack of depth and experience tends to hurt them, as the NFL is a league of attrition.

This game is what you call a loss you can grow from. This team comprises highly-paid veterans and mid to poorly-paid youth. Their youth is learning how to play and hopefully will grow into players who can win games rather than lose them. Despite still being in the playoff hunt, this is what they’re playing for – experience, maturity, and the future.

They start the final stretch facing the Commanders, Saints, and Giants and close it out against the 49ers. That’s not a brutal stretch, but the Saints and Giants aren’t “gimme” wins, especially the Giants, who are playing well now.  

NFL Power Rankings: Get it Together and Overachievers

18. Minnesota Vikings (21) Record: 7-6 (win vs. Las Vegas Raiders 3-0) – It seems unlikely that an opponent would hold the Vikings to three points this season. It’s that kind of season with so many quarterbacks going down. Early on, we were all in love with Joshua Dobbs – after all, he’s the American Dream in living out his boyhood fantasies.

This analyst pushed that with a caveat my co-host on Points on the Board, Eddie Aparicio, pushed back on. I wasn’t seen as a top analyst and one of the best fantasy football players in the industry because I speculated. I’m good because I know how to combine statistical traits with something I call reality. I do not live in the moment but analyze today and yesterday and any “x” factors to predict tomorrow.

Dobbs’s fall from grace is no surprise. We hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it did. In their past three outings, the Vikings ranked No. 29 in passing, a massive drop from their No. 8 season rank. In rushing, they rank No. 13, a big tick up from their No. 27 rank, but expected since the passing attack has been inconsistent at best since QB Kirk Cousins (Achilles) went down to injury.

Defensively, both teams were lights out. After all, only three points are unheard of in today’s NFL game! Against the pass the past three games, the secondary has risen to the challenge, ranking No. 9 and No. 4 against the rush. While their playoff hopes are slim, their defense must carry them because they have no answer at the quarterback position.

They’re not going anywhere, but as long as there’s hope, there’s a reason for them to keep playing hard. However, they have some quarterback decisions to make moving forward, but does it matter? Dobbs or Nick Mullens? I’m not being truthful; at this point, Mullens showed he could move the offense as he was responsible for getting them to three points.

Down the stretch, they face the surging red-hot Bengals, the downtrodden but talented Lions, the rising Packers, and the Lions again. They’re likely not the favorites in those matchups, but we’ll see. However, despite only a three-point win, they’re likely not dropping in our NFL power rankings.

19. Atlanta Falcons (17) Record: 6-7 (loss vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29-25) – Even before the season began, morons, yes, I said morons, were demanding the removal of Desmond Ridder as the team’s starting quarterback. Here’s how it works – fanboys don’t recognize a player, or he’s not a highly-touted first pick, they don’t want him. Ridder is still making rookie-like mistakes, but he’s only in his second year and has shown flashes of brilliance and stupidity. That’s part of the growth process.

Over the past three games, the passing attack ranks No. 20 and No. 9 in rushing. Their strength is the rush, but Ridder showed vast improvement, going 26 of 40 for 347 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also chipped in 4-15-1 rushing. Turnovers are the key to Ridder lasting in the NFL and being seen as a franchise quarterback. He sits at No. 5 in interceptions with nine, but he’s tied with five other players.

It’s a growth phase; improvement comes with reading the field, going through the reads, and having an offensive line to protect him. He’s tied for No. 8 in most sacked quarterback numbers with 31, breaking down to 2.6 per game. He went down three times against the Bucs. It’s not just him. The worst part? His offensive line is in shambles, with four key players hurt. How bad and how long depends, but the point is, it could get worse for Ridder because of those injuries.

Defensively, in the last three games, they’re No. 13 against the pass and No. 21 against the rush. As you can tell, this team is in a rebuild mode, but since it’s the NFC South, the weakest division in sports for years, they’re in the playoff hunt. At times like now, it’s putting undue pressure and could hurt this team long-term if they don’t win the division because that could trigger changes by the owner that set back what they’ve accomplished so far.

Over the following weeks, they face the Panthers, the Colts, the Bears, and the Saints, and all those games are winnable, but they’ll need help as the Bucs own the tiebreakers.

20. New Orleans Saints (22) Record: 6-7 (win vs. Carolina Panthers 28-6) – The Saints needed this one, and regardless of the fact they faced the worst team in the league, they had lost three straight, and their playoff hopes were dimming. Let’s not sugarcoat this. At 1-12, the Panthers are ranked No. 30 in overall offense this season – No. 31 in passing and No. 18 in rushing. Defensively, they’re at No. 30 this season – No. 3 against the pass and No. 22 against the rush.

They needed this game, and they responded despite their miscues. As most of you know, I believe that falls on the doorstep of offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael. Eventually, the team came around and was able to handle the Panthers easily, but against better teams, they will struggle and fail, and that’s why they are 6-7.

Offensively, in the past three games, the Saints ranked No. 16 in passing and No. 17 in rushing. In that span, defensively, they rank No. 2 in passing yards allowed but dead last at No. 32 against the rush. Overall, this team is mediocre at best, and even their vaunted, so-called elite defense can’t stop the run.

If this team had better chemistry and an actual offensive coordinator, they could be one of those lower, top-tier teams no one wants to play. As it stands, their lack of ability to come together despite their talent leaves them mired in mediocrity. However, they’re in the playoff hunt, tied with the Falcons and Bucs for first. With an upcoming schedule of the Giants, Rams, Bucs, and Falcons, they control their destiny, which is a winnable schedule. Saints Nation, the Saints may move up slightly in our NFL power rankings, but they’ll have to earn it.

21. Seattle Seahawks (16) Record: 6-7 (loss vs. San Francisco 49ers 28-16) – The Seahawks have lost four in a row and are beat up. QB Geno Smith (groin) did not play, and despite looking solid for much of the game, backup QB Drew Locke didn’t have enough to take out the league’s only elite team. Lock went 22 of 31 for 269 yards, two touchdowns but two interceptions, but was taken to the mat four times (sacks).

The Seahawks had 324 offensive yards, most of it coming through the air as their stable of backs came in beat up with Kenneth Walker (oblique), and Zach Charbonnet (knee) nursing injuries. This offense was handicapped when it couldn’t afford to be, and the result was never in doubt.

Technically, the Seahawks are still in the hunt despite losing their last four. Over the past three games, they’re No. 12 in passing and No. 28 in rushing. That’s the bane of their 2023 season. These teams are usually physical and run with savagery to punish opponents. This team can barely run right now, and it’s affecting their play in wins and losses.

In that same span, they’re No. 29 against the pass and No. 30 against the rush, and that’s not a ranking that gives you confidence they can even make the playoffs. Again, technically, they’re not out of it, but in reality, they are. They still must face the Eagles, Titans, Steelers, and Cardinals. That’s not a terrible schedule, but the way they’re playing, any team right now, is a tough matchup. Their drop continues in our NFL power rankings.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (18) Record: 7-6 (loss vs. New England Patriots 21-18) – Last week, it was about Cardinals running back James Conner getting revenge against his former team, the Steelers. This week, it was about JuJu Smith-Schuster getting his revenge. The Patriots are not very good, as their 2-10 record proves. However, like the Cardinals against the Steelers last week, they wanted this game more. The Steelers are in a funk, and that’s on coaching because there doesn’t appear to be veteran solid leadership.

Over the past three games, this team ranks No. 8 against the pass (183.7 yards allowed per game) and No. 5 against the rush, allowing only 85.3 yards per game. How the Patriots beat them is simply a “who wanted it more” scenario.

With a subpar passing attack, the chances of Mitch Trubisky being successful are slim. Ultimately, he plays scared – a clear product of a Bears team with a history of not developing and destroying quarterbacks. At this point, his future career, even as a backup, is likely in question once the season concludes. He went 22 of 35 for 190 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception while chipping in 8-30-1 rushing. This team needs more from the position, and one must wonder if the fired offensive coordinator wasn’t the only issue.

Offensively, they rank No. 29 for the season and No. 18 for the past three games, averaging 212 passing yards per game. As you can see, that’s not very good. Their strength has been their rush, and in that span, they’re No. 16, averaging 121.7 rushing yards, but could only muster 82 this week. That was huge in their loss. Well, outside of coaching mistakes and game management issues.

I said last week that no matter how weak the schedule, every game would be a battle, but even then, we thought they’d come away with a victory over a doormat like the Patriots. They’re still in the playoff hunt and face the Colts, Bengals, Seahawks, and Ravens. All those teams are still in the playoff hunt. The likelihood of the Steelers continuing their fall in our NFL power rankings may continue.

NFL Power Rankings: Rebuild and Retool Teams

23. Chicago Bears (25) Record: 5-8 (win vs. Detroit Lions 28-13) – Life’s funny; when I was in the industry, we always prided ourselves on seeing player development and focusing on and understanding that process as the season went along. Most don’t do that and follow first impressions. When they see a player play poorly, they wrongfully assume that’s the case every week. Now that the national media acknowledges the growth, we’re seeing in QB Justin Fields, I say it’s about time. I’ve been reporting on that for weeks now.

The Bears’ offense the past three outings ranked No. 25 in passing and No. 4 in rushing. Their defense in that span ranks No. 6 against the pass and 15 against the run. Their season ranks are No. 23 against the pass and No. 2 against the run.

They’ve improved against the pass but have softened against the run, but expected as teams can no longer just beat them through the air. Thus, rushing numbers at this point will improve against them as opponents look for a more balanced attack to beat them.

Offensively, it’s not the numbers but the execution and play style we’re now seeing from QB Justin Fields. He’s being patient, staying in the pocket, and going through his reads. Sure, he looked terrible in the first half but came out with adjustments in the second, resulting in some solid throws that broke the game open. Fields went 19 for 33 for 223 passing yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions while adding 12-58-1 rushing, giving fantasy football owners a big day. You combine his growth with a team rushing attack that’s well above average, and this team is finally beginning to see some results in terms of development and maturity and, eventually, a foundation.

They’re playing for next year but have won the last three out of four and should have beaten the Lions two weeks ago. Despite the naysayers, it looks as if this team’s finally turning around. They’re making a late-season push in our NFL power rankings.

24. New York Giants (26) Record: 5-8 (win vs. Green Bay Packers 24-22) – Okay, so one of the owners of Grumblings Media is a hardcore Giants fan and he’s hoping for a high pick for a franchise quarterback. Thus, he hates it when I begin sending him texts, “TOMMY,” “TOMMY,” “TOMMY,” “TOMMY!” Let’s be honest this is a different Giants team led by Tommy DeVito and while his numbers aren’t flashy, he’s effective. They’ve won three of their last four and just took out the surging Packers despite almost giving the game away. Sure, Tommy’s not the future but he’s made the Giants fun to watch, or is he?

The Giants amassed 367 offensive yards while overcoming two fumbles and finishing strong. That’s the key here. They look like a team learning they can win. Defensively they converted three turnovers and got to Jordan Love two times. It was efficient but also showed DeVito can run the two-minute drill and that’s where quarterbacks make a difference. In crunch time.

The Giants have won three of their last four and over the past three they rank No. 27 in passing and as bad as that sounds their season rank is No. 32. However, their rank in this span is No. 18 in rushing, and with Saquon Barkley there’s room to improve. Defensively, they’re No. 10 against the pass, an improvement over their No. 18 season rank but No. 26 against the run. You have a team beginning to surge but there’s a reason they’re 5-8.

They have yet to face the Saints, Eagles, Rams, and Eagles again and that’s not a walk in the park but this season’s effectively over for them. To begin evaluating and continuing to improve on the play calling and execution, this is a great opportunity to face better teams to achieve greater success in the long run. They’re slowly working their way out of the cellar dweller section of our NFL power rankings.

25. Tennessee Titans (27) Record: 5-8 (win vs. Miami Dolphins 28-27) – Now the Titans are going through turmoil and what had never been questioned until recently is the team’s psyche and if head coach Mike Vrabel’s time in Nashville should end. However, this game showed a Vrable-type team. Playing out of their league and hanging tough and coming out with the win.

What we’ll hear is how much QB Will Levis is growing and there’s no doubt, he came up big doing what the Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t done this season yet. Beat a team over 500! Kidding aside, he beat an AFC powerhouse, and coupled with his four-game performance with his first start, maybe there is a future with him. Levis went 23 of 38 for 327 yards, one touchdown, and one pick-six interception.

The rushing attack was nowhere to be found with RB Derrick Henry going 17-34-2 rushing and 1-17-0-4 receiving. If not for the touchdowns fantasy football owners counting on him would lose. That position will be re-evaluated in the offseason, but one must assume we’ve seen the best of Henry, and it may be time for the Titans to determine the value of a 29-year back with eight seasons in the league.

The Titans’ defense did enough to slow down the Dolphins’ scoring prowess to eke out a win and it was earned. They were able to get to Tua five times and forced a turnover. Maybe this gives the team momentum and they’re technically not out of the playoff hunt but at 5-8 they’re too far gone, and this team has too many issues to seriously compete. They’ve yet to face the Texans, Seahawks, Texans again, and Jaguars. It’s an AFC South battle for the most part but that’s a tough schedule for them to overcome. That stated, they may be basement dwellers in our NFL power rankings but they’re working their way up.

26. New York Jets (30) Record: 5-8 (win vs. Houston Texans 30-6) – WOW! The Jets put up 30 points – their highest total since Week 5 against the Broncos when they posted 31 points. This performance was a massive step forward for QB Zach Wilson, albeit too late, as their season’s all but over. This game’s weather outlook didn’t see us imagining 30 points from New York more so than the Texans posting that number.

Over their last three, the Texans are ranked No. 25 against the pass and No. 7 against the run, so it wasn’t surprising to see Wilson go 27 of 36 for 301 yards, two touchdowns, and, more importantly, no interceptions. It wasn’t an error-free performance, as he fumbled once. Ironically, it looks as if offensive coordinator Nathanial Hackett finally had a good scheme laid out. Attack a team’s weakness!

However, the defense came through as the game was close until the second half. Their pass rush took QB C.J. Stroud (concussion) out on a clean hit, but his head imitated a golf ball bouncing off that turf, and it was game over for him with the potential to miss more.

The Jets are technically still in the playoff hunt, although they can’t win the division. They’ll need their defense to play at the elite level again. Over the past three outings, they ranked No. 1 against the pass and No. 18 against the rush. That No. 18 rank is well up from their season rank of No. 28. Their offense must keep grinding during practices, but it is what it is.

They face the Dolphins, Commanders, Browns, and Patriots, and the truth is, all but the Dolphins are legitimately winnable, and their pass defense is playing lights out right now, so never forget, “any given Sunday.” While it’s likely hopeless, they still have something to play for! The Jets do move up in our weekly NFL power rankings this week.

27. Los Angeles Chargers (19) Record: 5-8 (loss vs. Denver Broncos 24-7) – Justin Herbert (finger), the $262.5 million quarterback, cannot win big games against top talent but has a contract that hampers the team’s ability to win championships. Now he’s hurt. This team sucked with him, and they’ll suck even worse without him. If that’s even possible with a 5-8 team, and despite how pathetic this team continues to be, they’re not out of the playoff hunt. However, they won’t be with Herbert’s services for at least one week.

The Chargers don’t have much, if any, passing attack without Herbert, so let’s not even worry about that. Can their rush attack carry them? Over the past three games, they ranked No. 31, so no, it can’t. As a team, they only garnered 76 rushing yards this past week – at a time when the team needed that crew to step up. They’re terrible as RB Austin Ekeler may be a fantasy football beast, but he can’t run between the tackles.

Defensively, there has been improvement with a pass defense ranked No. 4 over the past three games, and that’s a massive jump from their season rank of No. 29. Against the run, they’re No. 12, and that’s another big tick up from their season rank of No. 25. If anything can propel this team into a wild card slot, it’s going to have to be the defense.

Can they beat anyone? Of course, they beat up the Patriots for their last big win, and if you can’t recognize sarcasm, people, I can’t help you. Regardless, they face the Raiders, Bills, Broncos, and Chiefs down the pike. I say, put a fork in them as I believe players will begin to check out once they’re officially out of the playoff hunt, but technically, they’re still in it. How far can they drop in our NFL power rankings, and how fast will the team wait before firing Brandon Staley once the season’s over?

Playing for Draft Positions: NFL Power Rankings Worst of the Worst

28. Arizona Cardinals (29) Record: 3-10 (BYE WEEK)

29. Washington Commanders (29) Record: 4-9 (BYE WEEK)

30. Las Vegas Raiders (24) Record: 5-8 (loss vs. Minnesota Vikings 3-0) – Most teams will play hard for their interim coach in their first game or two, and then reality sets in. Interim head coach Antonio Pierce isn’t different from this, with two wins to start and three straight losses. He’s not likely to stick around once the season’s over, but they’re still in the playoff hunt for now.

For anyone who believes firing Josh McDaniels was the right move – not so fast. No, I wasn’t a fan, but you must allow a team’s coaching staff enough time to determine how well their schemes work – at least two years to build a foundation. You can always replace players, and now that’s gone. Look, McDaniels has a reputation, but this week’s offense shows how much worse this team is without him calling the plays. The original hope would’ve been for McDaniels to improve over time, but it appears he’s so egotistical that it was no longer an option for the team. What is Raiders Nation left with?

During this three-game losing streak, they’re ranked No. 17 in passing, a slight tick up from their season rank of 22, and ranked No. 29 in rushing. Defensively, they’re ranked No. 19 against the pass in that span, down from their season rank of 11. They’re No. 12 against the rush, a big tick up from their No. 25 season rank. However, it’s not enough in any of these categories.

This team struggles in every phase of the game, but it shouldn’t be surprising when you dump your star quarterback (Derek Carr) and your running back (Josh Jacobs) decides to hold out, and now he’s hurt again with a knee injury. We predicted Jacobs’s down season here at Grumblings Media. The quarterback situation was solid, but not a player in Jimmy Garoppolo, who at this point in his career will not take you to the promised land, much less playoffs with mediocrity surrounding him. The truth is, we hear more whining from WR Davante Adams than playing.

This team is a wreck from the inept abilities of owner Mark Davis to steer the franchise, to the front office that can’t build a franchise, to the coaching staff that can’t coach well enough for the franchise to the players and who care more about themselves individually than they do the franchise and winning.

The Raiders close out the season facing the Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, and Broncos, and odds are they find themselves on the losing end more than winning. They’re most definitely moving down in our NFL power rankings.

31. New England Patriots (31) Record: 3-10 (win vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 21-18) – The odds of anyone seeing this game coming are slim to none. The Steelers have been struggling all year, but most saw this game as one to regroup and get back on track. The Patriots thought otherwise, and the key here is a 2-10 team playing hard and not quitting, likely giving the Steelers a playoff death blow.

In the last three games, the Patriots have averaged 155.7 passing yards per game, good enough for No. 30 in the league in that span. However, that’s even worse than their season average of 189.5 (No. 24). Against the Steelers, QB Bailey Zappe went 19 of 28 for 240 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. On the ground, they’ve done well the past three outings, averaging 125.3 yards per game for a No. 14 ranking in that span, well up from their season rank of No. 22 and 101.9 yards per game. RB Ezekial Elliott had his best game as a Patriot with 22-68-0 rushing and 7-72-1-8 receiving, and he made a big difference in their upset.

They had an above-average game facing a Steelers pass defense that, despite the team’s two losses out of their previous games, played stout. In their last three outings, they only allowed opponents 183.7 passing yards per game for a No. 8 ranking at that time – up from their season rank of No. 20. However, they broke down against a subpar backup.

Maybe former Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had a hand in that, going 4-90-0-6 and Elliott’s big receiving game out of the backfield. You also add in the Steelers’ rank of No. 5 against the rush, allowing 85.3 yards per game; thus, Elliott’s game is a bit surprising, but where he excelled was in receiving, and he and Shuster were vital in the victory.

The Patriots may play themselves out of the overall No. 1 pick in the playoffs despite it appearing to be a lock for the Chicago Bears via the Carolina Panthers. While winning now upsets the fans. Realize, players are playing for their jobs and Patriots Nation, you don’t want anything to do with a “vajayjay” as a quarterback, and that’s USC “pajama boy” Caleb Williams. The Patriots will be moving up our NFL power rankings. Well, maybe.

32. Carolina Panthers (32) Record: 1-12 (loss vs. New Orleans Saints 28-6) – So, how’s interim head coach Chris Tabor doing? Not good is stating it nicely. In his defense, it begins with bad ownership, continuing to management, coaching, and the players. How’s offensive coordinator Thomas Brown doing? He created a great game plan, mustering six offensive points – SIX OFFENSIVE POINTS! Panthers Nation – that was your worst performance of the season in points. This team has quit – they’re waiting for the season to end.

That’s not even the worst of it. On a fourth-and-1, the Panthers, showing they could rush against the Saints, going 39-194-0 rushing, a 5.0 yards per carry – what did they do? What did Brown call? He ran a play with an empty backfield. That epitomizes this sad sack bunch! Let’s not forget Tabor’s title was “special teams coordinator” before taking the interim head coaching title. The Saints blocked a punt where the player got there with enough time; the referees ruled it a fumble. Coaches get fired for that, but Tabor is owner Dave Tepper’s boy, but he won’t be the next head coach.

For those who thought a regime change was the answer – you got it, and it’s no better than we all knew it would be. The Panthers can’t go any lower, and right now, no team can supplant this pathetic excuse of an NFL franchise!

This team is giving the Chicago Bears the most incredible gift with their expected first-overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft because of a player who looks more of a bust than a franchise quarterback in Young. It’s too early to tell, but Bill Walsh said you can tell if a player is an NFL quarterback within the first 20-odd games and Young is on track to be a bust.

However, it’s still too early, and not all of it falls on him because poorly run franchises tend to destroy young quarterbacks more than help. This team can’t go any lower in our NFL power rankings, and they’ve earned the status of the worst team in the NFL so far this season.

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