32. The Cincinnati Bengals (1-12) / LW: 31
Back to their losing ways, I probably shouldn’t have ever moved the Bengals out of the bottom slot in the first place. Secure the No. 1 pick, draft Joe Burrow and move onward and upward.
31. The New York Giants (2-11) / LW: 30
I was really rooting for Eli Manning to get that win on Monday Night to finish his career with an above-.500 record, but just like the Bengals this team’s sole focus should be securing the No. 2 pick to draft Chase Young from Ohio State — the best overall player in the upcoming class.
30. The New York Jets (5-8) / LW: 32
I understand that they have five wins on the year, but based on structure and future outlook I think things are extremely gloomy. People are questioning if Sam Darnold is the franchise quarterback, and management has already committed to another year of Adam Gase as its head coach. Lots of problems to fix in New Jersey this offseason.
29. The Washington Redskins (3-10) / LW: 29
We’ve seen a surprising string of games in Washington recently. Only losing to Green Bay by five is a positive result, and this comes a week after their big win over Carolina and two weeks after a win against Detroit. Not a ton of great talent and Dwayne Haskins still hasn’t looked legit, but I can see them being proud of their results this past month.
28. The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) / LW: 25
Isn’t it wild that the Jaguars were in the AFC Championship game less than two years ago? While Jacksonville’s offense hasn’t been great, its once-prolific defense is now allowing nearly 35 points a game over its last five. Not a good look for Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin.
27. The Los Angeles Chargers (5-8) / LW: 28
Another team, much like the Jets, where I don’t care about their record. They’ve only beaten one team currently inside the playoffs, and only beaten two teams that currently have a winning record. With a lot of questions of their own coming this offseason, I don’t feel great about the future of the Chargers one bit.
26. The Detroit Lions (3-9-1) / LW: 24
Not blaming Matt Patricia for this season because he’s missing his franchise quarterback and his playmaking running back, but I am worried about the bare improvements we’ve seen defensively. I’m not jumping ship, but if everyone is healthy in 2020 he must see an improvement in the win column.
25. The Miami Dolphins (3-10) / LW: 26
Unlike my rankings for the Jets and the Chargers, I feel great about the future of the Miami Dolphins. With three firsts this offseason, they have a chance to nail its quarterback, wide receiver, and pass-rusher of the future. All that, mixed with a roster that loves to play for Brian Flores, and things are looking up in Miami for the near future.
24. The Carolina Panthers (5-8) / LW: 17
Time, they are changing, over in North Carolina. With Ron Rivera out and Cam Newton possibly joining him, there’s a number of different avenues this team can choose to take this offseason. My best bet is they choose to flip things around with an innovative, offensive-minded head coach to begin a new era of Panther football. Maybe a Matt Rhule or Lincoln Riley from the college ranks.
23. The Atlanta Falcons (4-9) / LW: 27
Much like the Panthers, the Falcons have a real good chance at flipping the entire look of their team this offseason. With Dan Quinn’s defense continuing to be a thing of the past, they should also look for an offensive coordinator to pair up with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Co.
22. The Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1) / LW: 22
Almost had enough to take down Pittsburgh on Sunday, but too many turnovers and sacks on offense halted any late hopes. I’m really interested in seeing how Arizona chooses to revamp this offensive line, especially now that they have their franchise quarterback.
21. The Cleveland Browns (6-7) / LW: 18
Beating Cincinnati is only something the Jets weren’t able to do this season, so nothing to cheer about up in Cleveland. Same thing as the last month, an easy second-half schedule will make their record look way better than the team actually is.
20. The Denver Broncos (5-8) / LW: 23
Has John Elway finally found his franchise quarterback? I was shocked when Drew Lock fell to the second round this past April, and by the looks of it on Sunday he probably never should’ve. It’s only a small sample size, certainly, but I think Denver nailed it with this pick after years of failing to find decent quarterback play.
19. The Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) / LW: 20
It took a lot for the Eagles to mount that comeback on Monday night and beat the New York Giants, but fortunately for them a 6-7 record makes the division title well within reach. This is a really banged up roster with a mix of regressed talents, so it’s no surprise their
18. The Dallas Cowboys (6-7) / LW: 16
It’s a rough week when you make Mitchell Trubisky look like Lamar Jackson, and even more rough when you do so as a divisional leader. Rinse and repeat, this is the best team in an awful division and one that will see an early exit this postseason.
17. The Indianapolis Colts (6-7) / LW: 15
I originally had the Colts falling down to No. 19, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind could say the Colts would be just as bad as the Eagles or Cowboys playing in the NFC East. It’s draft season in Indy, so let’s just look forward to the offseason with higher hopes for 2020.
16. The Chicago Bears (7-6) / LW: 21
The Bears offense has been clicking the last few weeks but not enough to completely throw me off the scent that Mitchell Trubisky still can’t be relied on as a starting-caliber quarterback. However, now with a winning record, I feel better about how Matt Nagy has been able to build his team back up after a rough first half.
15. The Oakland Raiders (6-7) / LW: 13
Oakland has fallen off a cliff the last few weeks, both offensively and defensively, but I still have them in my top half in terms of organizational structure and future outlook. I’m really excited to see this team in Las Vegas making a playoff push in 2020.
14. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) / LW: 19
Another team I think has a lot of potential in 2020, the Bucs are just a less turnover-prone quarterback and mended secondary away from being a legit team capable of making the NFC playoffs. While Jameis is an captivating quarterback to watch, I’d love to see a more accurate downfield thrower paired up with Bruce Arians, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
13. The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) / LW: 14
I give Mike Tomlin all the props in the world for making this team a playoff contender this late into the season, but at the end of the day I’d much rather see them give up this playoff spot to a team with a somewhat capable offense. Even with Juju Smith-Scheuster and James Conner set to return, their offense lacks the structure to last a full 60 minutes and a pop to keep up with other top programs.
12. The Houston Texans (8-5) / LW: 9
Worst loss of the week has to be the AFC South leading Texans being blown out by the Broncos, one week removed from beating the New England Patriots. I wanted to move them down further, but if I didn’t overreact to the Packers losing to the Chargers or the Saints losing to the Falcons then it wouldn’t be fair to overreact to Houston.
11. The Tennessee Titans (8-5) / LW: 12
While there’s a real likely chance of the Titans regressing back to the mean, the fact that they’re scoring one point per minute played in the Tannehill era is absurd — almost .3 points per minute more than second place. I really hope the Titans have a chance to sneak into the playoffs, they have a chance to make some noise if they can keep this level of play up.
10. The Minnesota Vikings (9-4) / LW: 10
Good by the Vikings for flat-out dominating the Lions last week, I would’ve been uneasy if they followed up their MNF loss to the Seahawks with a sloppy performance against a bad team. They’ve still got a game advantage over the Rams at this point, but I’d be worried about the collapse of a lifetime if I’m a Vikings fan.
9. The Los Angeles Rams (8-5) / LW: 11
Not that the Cardinals or the Seahawks have great defenses by any means, but Sean McVay seems to have his groove back after months of poor outings. They’ll most likely need to win out in order to make the playoffs which is no small feat, especially with games coming up against the Cowboys and 49ers.
8. The Seattle Seahawks (10-3)/ LW: 7
I was tempted to move the Seahawks below the Rams but, through this point, Seattle’s been more consistent football team. Too many of their wins are close to make me feel comfortable about their Super Bowl odds, but a 10-3 record has them in a position where they could still finish the year as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
7. The Buffalo Bills (9-4) / LW: 8
Buffalo impressed me with its ability to keep things close with Baltimore, matching their physicality from quarter to quarter. Josh Allen did miss a few deep shots that could’ve been the difference between a win and a loss, but overall he’s been a much better quarterback the last six weeks or so.
6. The New England Patriots (10-3) / LW: 4
My confidence in the Patriots continues to crumble, this time after they failed to put points up against an average Kansas City offense. Its defense clamped down in the second half, but there just aren’t enough playmakers on offense to consistently push the ball down the field.
5. The Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) / LW: 6
Good job by the Chiefs for finally getting their victory over the Patriots, but I still didn’t walk away feeling great about their overall look. The offense was great in the second quarter, but outside of that they really didn’t have many long, sustained drives. Without a string of games with brilliant offensive showings, I think this team has upset potential early in the playoffs if a team like Buffalo or Tennessee can rough them up.
4. The New Orleans Saints (10-3) / LW: 5
Just like with the Bills, I was impressed by how the Saints showed up against a team like the 49ers. I have been critical in the past of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, but both were brilliant against a tough San Fransisco defense.
3. The Green Bay Packers (10-3) / LW: 3
Am I worried about how Green Bay has random games where they just look average at best? Definitely. At the end of the day, I’m still putting my full belief in that when playoff time comes around, Aaron Rodgers is going to take his game to another level and rejuvenate this Packers offense when it matters most.
2. The San Francisco 49ers (11-2) / LW: 2
San Fransisco has gone through a gauntlet of tough opponents this year and has showed up in every single game. They’re getting a little banged up on defense, and I’m not in love with their secondary, but there’s no denying this is one of the premiere teams in the NFL.
1. The Baltimore Ravens (11-2) / LW: 1
There’s nothing more to really say about Baltimore this week. Well coached, MVP quarterback, linear philosophy and an improving defense. The Ravens are the king of the hill through 14 weeks, and we’re due for an exciting postseason.