32. The New York Jets (4-8) / LW: 28
You lose to Cincinnati, you deserve to end up at the bottom of this list. The Jets follow up their most impressive win of the season with their most embarrassing loss of 2019, handing the Bengals their first win of the season. This team is the perfect blend of dysfunction, bad coaching and a scarce roster.
31. The Cincinnati Bengals (1-11) / LW: 32
I wanted to give Cincy a week where they aren’t bottom-feeding this ranking, and after beating the Jets they’ve earned the right to move up one spot. Be careful, however, as I’d hate to see them win a few more and miss out on the No. 1 pick.
30. The New York Giants (2-10) / LW: 31
Bad team loses to a really good team, not much else to say. Pat Shurmur’s odds of staying here past 2019 are looking pretty slim, making for another dramatic offseason in New Jersey.
29. The Washington Redskins (3-9) / LW: 30
While they aren’t mathematically eliminated, the Redskins would need a lot in order to win the NFC East. The two-headed ground game of Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice has been fun to watch, and Dwayne Haskins is starting to pick things up one week at a time.
28. The Los Angeles Chargers (4-8) / LW: 26
If I’m the Chargers, I’m benching Philip Rivers for the remainder of the season to see what this team looks like with Tyrod Taylor. They could certainly still choose to draft a rookie in the upcoming draft, but I’d at least like to evaluate all options before heading into the offseason.
27. The Atlanta Falcons (3-9) / LW: 25
Younghoo Koo and the kickoff team made things extremely entertaining on Thursday night with their two onside kick recoveries, but the Falcons offensive line is so bad it took every ounce of luck to come close to beating New Orleans.
26. The Miami Dolphins (3-9) / LW: 29
The Dolphins win on Sunday is why I firmly believe Brian Flores has Miami heading in the perfect direction over the next five-plus years. They’re creative, they’re well disciplined and are able to use those strengths to mask a lack of talent against teams that are maybe more talented but less disciplined. Excited to watch this continue to grow in Miami.
25. The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) / LW: 24
So now, with Gardner Minshew back as the starting quarterback, the Jaguars are facing a terrible cap situation with a backup quarterback who received an $88 million contract last offseason. This could be another devastating cap hold for the Jaguars, who might see some of its better players depart because the money simply isn’t there to retain them.
24. The Detroit Lions (3-8-1) / LW: 21
It’s just an unlucky season for Detroit. They shouldn’t be expected to perform at a high level without Matthew Stafford and Kerryon Johnson, but they were still able to hang in there against Chicago. I don’t think it’s fair to evaluate Matt Patricia based off this season, but I will start to worry if they’re just as bad with their best players back in 2020.
23. The Denver Broncos (4-8) / LW: 27
He wasn’t great on Sunday, but Drew Lock looked the part in his career debut for Denver. Taking down the Chargers isn’t a difficult thing to do in 2019, but I’m looking forward to watching their offense through the remainder of the season.
22. The Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1) / LW: 20
Whether it’s Steve Wilks or Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals’ Achilles heel is the Los Angeles Rams. This game just served to further illustrate their many holes on defense and struggles on the offensive line.
21. The Chicago Bears (6-6) / LW: 23
Chicago beat Detroit, who was on its third-string quarterback. Does it really matter? They’re still “in the hunt,” but we all know this team won’t come close to making the postseason.
20. The Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) / LW: 18
Ouch. Three awful-looking games in a row, and the Eagles have solidified themselves as a bad team with several flaws. Where are the Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz of 2017? The 2019 team could certainly use them.
19. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) / LW: 22
An easy win for the Bucs, who look the combination of great and awful just about every week this season. This is going to be a fun offseason for all of us to watch down in Tampa, with major decisions looming surrounding its most important position.
18. The Cleveland Browns (5-7) / LW: 17
While I really did expect the Browns to knock off Pittsburgh, I can’t say I was shocked by the result. This is a bad team feasting off an easy schedule, and will probably end up around the 7-9, 8-8 type finish. This team doesn’t lack talent, it lacks maturity, which is why I think Cleveland should take a shot at Mike McCarthy or Ron Rivera this offseason to replace the immature and inexperienced Freddy Kitchens.
17. The Carolina Panthers (5-7) / LW: 16
Just three weeks ago I was praising Carolina for holding its own against Green Bay on the road. Since then they’ve completely fallen off a cliff, and finished it off by firing Ron Rivera after his team blew a 14-point lead to the 2-9 Redskins. Just a total collapse, and at the worst possible time.
16. The Dallas Cowboys (6-6) / LW: 14
Twelve games in and zero victories over opponents with winning records. Like I’ve said for two months now, this is sadly the best team in a bad, bad division.
15. The Indianapolis Colts (6-6) / LW: 13
While the Indy faithful are ready for the 2020 NFL Draft, there’s a really good shot we’re talking about the Colts’ playoff chances in just a few weeks. Tennessee and Houston don’t have easy schedules by any means and play each other twice more, while the Colts have three opponents that are toward the bottom of the barrel. I’m ready to see what Chris Ballard does this offseason too, but let’s not count out the Colts sneaking into the playoffs here.
14. The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) / LW: 19
I have Pittsburgh making the biggest jump of the week, but it’s really just because a number of teams severely disappointed over the weekend. This offense still has no hum to it, and all they were able to do was beat a bad Browns team. Of their six wins since Week 7, only one of those teams has a winning record — the 7-5 Los Angeles Rams. With two easy wins coming up against the Cardinals and Jets, this team probably makes the postseason, but I really don’t want to have to watch this team in the playoffs.
13. The Oakland Raiders (6-6) / LW: 12
Rough two weeks for the Raiders, dropping contests to both the Jets and Chiefs by pretty sizable margins. Derek Carr has supposedly become the check-down Charlie of 2019, and defenses are begging him to throw the deep ball. In terms of pure enjoyment, I’d much rather see the Raiders take this wild card spot than the Steelers.
12. The Tennessee Titans (7-5) / LW: 15
Okay. The Tennessee Titans are very good with Ryan Tannehill as its quarterback. Not only has he opened up the downfield passing game, but he’s cleared up the line of scrimmage for Derrick Henry to run amuck over opposing front sevens. It’ll take a lot to get that final wild card spot, but I’d much rather see this team in the postseason than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
11. The Los Angeles Rams (7-5) / LW: 11
Any ailment for Sean McVay is cured with a simple game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams have feasted on Arizona in the McVay era and it was no different this past week, and just when we thought we could write off LA they’re still hanging around hoping for that final playoff slot.
10. The Minnesota Vikings (8-4) / LW: 8
Is this the beginning of the massive Minnesota collapse I’ve been preaching since Week 7? The Vikings held their own on MNF and Kirk Cousins didn’t look awful, but there’s something funky with this Minnesota team and I just can’t put my finger on it. Fortunately for them, they have three very winnable games through the rest of the season with only one upcoming opponent boasting a winning record.
9. The Houston Texans (8-4) / LW: 10
The theme of the 2019 season to me has been the story of other-worldly talents continuing to mask flaws with coaching staffs and roster makeup. Deshaun Watson did that yet again, this time passing all over the vaunted New England secondary and making it look easy. There are too many holes in this roster for me to trust them in the playoffs, but Watson has them surging through the regular season with ease.
8. The Buffalo Bills (9-3) / LW: 9
I’ve said it for nearly a month now, but Josh Allen continues to look more comfortable at the helm and is playing his best football ever. Taking down Dallas said more about the Cowboys than the Bills, but this is a legit NFL team and one that the No. 3 or No. 4 seeds should be worried about come playoff time
7. The Seattle Seahawks (10-2)/ LW: 6
Another week, another narrow victory for Seattle. Now atop the NFC, I just don’t know if this team can count on lucky wins from now through February. I expect the Seahawks to finish the regular season with a wild card spot, but their defense has been playing at a higher level recently and is making for less hero-ball from Russell Wilson.
6. The Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) / LW: 7
With the seasons that Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson have all been having, is it fair to say we haven’t given Pat Mahomes enough love? His 16-game average makes for nearly 4,800 passing yards, and he’s on track to finish with the seventh-best TD:INT ratio of all time. There’s not an amazing defense or offensive line to support him, but he could very well carry his team through the AFC playoff picture.
5. The New Orleans Saints (10-2) / LW: 5
New Orleans’ offense just hasn’t totally clicked this season, and unless a quarterback that can launch it down the field or a wide receiver that can take the top off the defense magically appears between now and January I have some concerns. Home-field advantage will be huge for New Orleans, but there’s too many good defenses in the NFC that make me worried about long-term success.
4. The New England Patriots (10-2) / LW: 1
Well, you’ve told me all along that I was wrong and here I am finally owning up to it. When facing either a great team or a great quarterback, the Patriots are 0-2. With Kansas City humming and coming to town this weekend, we could very well see another drop in the standings by Week 15 and even more concern up in the Northeast.
3. The Green Bay Packers (9-3) / LW: 4
I was a little worried about how long New York was able to hang around, but I still feel pretty confident in my NFC favorite on making a trip to Miami this winter. The only problem is that, as of right now, there’s one team playing at a higher level on all three facets of the game.
2. The San Francisco 49ers (10-2) / LW: 3
San Fran went toe-to-toe with Baltimore for 60 minutes and could’ve walked out victorious if not for the most accurate kicker of all time hitting a dagger as time expired. Its defense proved to be a solid match for the power-run offense of Baltimore, and left us all wondering if we’ll see this matchup again in February.
1. The Baltimore Ravens (10-2) / LW: 2
Baltimore has taken each daunting task, week after week, and spat its opponents out with few blemishes. What’s been most impressive through this stretch is the steady improvement of its defense — now forming the most lethal team in the National Football League.