Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) looks to throw in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium.

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Garic: Week 12 NFL Power Rankings - Big shake up in the top

Kristian Garic
November 21, 2019 - 12:04 pm
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1. Baltimore Ravens (8-2):  Quarterback Lamar Jackson is playing at an MVP level.  Former Saints running back Mark Ingram is doing his thing, and quietly the Ravens are the best team in the league.  The offense leads the NFL in scoring and the defense is 6th in the NFL in points allowed.  The Ravens play just one playoff contender in the final six weeks.  The Rams are up this week and that will be tough out, but San Francisco looms in week 14.   The Ravens are clearly the best team in the AFC and in my opinion the entire NFL.  Last week #2.

2. New Orleans Saints (8-2):  The Saints feasted on Tampa and QB Jameis Winston, collecting four interceptions on their way to routing the Bucs 34-17.  What’s crazy about this Saints team?  As Drew Brees says, I don’t think we’ve seen them at their best yet.  Sure the Black & Gold are good, but I think the ceiling of the Saints has not been reached.  Carolina awaits this week and then a Turkey Day matchup with the Falcons.  Roasted Falcon anyone?  WR Michael Thomas paces the league with 94 receptions and 1,141 yards.  How are we not talking about him as an MVP candidate?  We should be.  Last week #5.

3. New England Patriots (9-1):  How do I have two, 2-loss teams ranked higher than the Patriots with one loss?  Easy!  Have you seen their offenses?  The Patriots are pretty pedestrian at times.  Don’t think I’m the only one who’s noticed - this Patriots offense lacks the explosion they’ve had for nearly two decades.  New England has two wins against teams with winning records.  The defense is legit, but at some point the offense has to come around, if they plan on defending their Super Bowl title.   Last week #3.

4. Seattle Seahawks (8-2):  Kristian, how can you put them ahead of the 49ers, when the Seahawks are in second place in the NFC West behind San Francisco?  Glad you asked.  It’s simple really.  Um, first the Seahawks are simply better than the 49ers.  Secondly, it’s my rankings and that’s where I have them.  Seattle is starting to really figure some things out on defense, to go with the play of QB Russell Wilson (MVP candidate).  Seattle has one more game in week 17 against San Francisco and that will likely decide the NFC West division.  Last week #6.

5. Green Bay Packers (8-2):  The Pack attack enjoyed their bye week Sunday (my fantasy team suffered because of the open date).  I just don’t trust the Packers’ defense.  They are getting it done with smoke and mirrors right now on defense.  Sure, Aaron Rodgers is elite and he can do some severe damage in the post season.  The Saints are looking up at the Packers in the NFC seeding race, but I think that will change by the end of the season.  Green Bay’s defense is giving up 126.9 yards a game on the ground.  That is exactly why the Packers aren’t going to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  Home field advantage or not, put a team like the Saints or 49ers in Lambeau Field in January and they are built to win in frigid temperatures.  Last week #4.

San Francisco 49ers free safety D.J. Reed (32) recovers a fumble for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

6. San Francisco 49ers (9-1):  This is a ranking not divisional standing.  I’m tired of seeing the 49ers get pushed to the edge by far inferior teams.  The Cardinals gave the 49ers all they could handle in week 11.  San Francisco is not the best team in their own division and certainly not the best team in the NFC.   As fate would have it, the 49ers face the Packers this week in San Francisco.  Look at what awaits San Francisco down the stretch here.  This week against Green Bay at home, week 13 on the road against the Ravens, and week 14 on the road against the Saints.  Quickly the 49ers could be riding a three game losing streak.  I believe in the 49ers defense…just not so much in QB Jimmy Garoppolo.  He’s going to be good, but the lack of big game experience is sometimes a harsh reality in the NFL.   Last week #1.

7. Minnesota Vikings (8-3):  The Vikings might end up with 10 wins and not make the post-season.  That’s how stacked the NFC is right now.   That would be a shame, because Minnesota is really good.  I think perhaps better than Green Bay and San Francisco; they probably should be ranked higher.  Minnesota is stifling on defense.  On offense the Vikings are bludgeoning people on the ground, running for 142.5 yards a game.  SKOL! I think the rest of the NFC is hoping somehow the Vikings don’t end up as a #1 or #2 seed.  Going to Minnesota for anyone in the NFC for a playoff game spells doom.  Last week #8.

8. Houston Texans (6-4):  The Texans were throttled by the Ravens 41-7 last week.  I’m not going to penalize or drop them too far, after losing to my top ranked team.  The problem I have with the Texans is on defense.  Houston is near the bottom of the league in just about every important defensive category.  On offense protecting QB Deshaun Watson has been a problem.  Houston has given up 32 sacks.  That’s not a good recipe for success.  Last week #7.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4):  I love watching quarterback Patrick Mahomes II sling the rock.  He will threaten Drew Brees and Tom Brady’s passing records before it’s all said and done.  However, Mohomes is not going to have the rings of the aforementioned Brady and Brees with that defense.  The cold hard facts for the Chiefs…they can’t stop the run and can’t establish the run.  They are entertaining, but not a true contender in the AFC.  With that said, if you haven’t been to Arrowhead Stadium, go!  It’s a bucket list stadium to watch an NFL game.   Last week #9

10. Buffalo Bills (7-3):  Ok, here’s the deal.  I have been harsh in previous rankings with the Bills.  They are 7 and 3, but are they really beating anyone of significance?  The Bills have six…count them…six wins against teams that will be picking in the top five of the NFL draft in April.  It’s pretty hard for me to properly respect the Bills.  When the Bills actually beat someone of note, I’ll put them higher in my rankings.  I could make a very good argument that the Raiders, Cowboys and Colts should be ranked higher.  Last week #11

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett greets offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) and wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) as they walk to the bench during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-4):  Bobby Hebert would probably hit me over the head for ranking the “Cowgirls” this high.  I think I would deserve it too.  It’s the same song and dance with Dallas.  Beat up on weak teams and get beat up by strong teams.  Nonetheless, the Cowboys do lead a very week NFC East division.   It’s a real possibility for the Vikings (who beat the Cowboys) to miss out on the post-season while Dallas gets in the dance, because they win their division.  How would that make you feel if you are a Vikings fan?  Dallas isn’t going anywhere.  The only real test they have remaining is this week against New England.  Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles (Rams) Philadelphia and Washington remain for Dalllas.  Hardly a daunting final six games, but whatever…Jerry Jones.  Last week #15.

12. Indianapolis Colts (6-4):  The Pony’s lead the AFC South, which is pretty average at best.  I do like the Colts just not in love with them.  They are good, but nothing more.  Offensively Indianapolis ranks in the middle of the NFL, and the defense is slightly better.  The Colts come to New Orleans in week 15 for a Monday night showdown with the Saints.  The biggest reason the Colts aren’t legit?  They are -3 in the turnover margin.  That’s not winning football.  Last week #13. 

13. Los Angeles Rams (6-4):  Right now the best division in football is the NFC West.  The Rams having a winning record and they’re in third place.   The Rams face the Ravens this week (gasp).  Los Angeles went back to their roots, when they beat the Bears on Sunday night, running the football and play action passes.  When the Rams are clicking on offense, that’s their game.  L.A.’s offensive numbers reflect where they are.  The Rams defensive numbers are much better than a team that is 6-4 and in third place.   Like the Colts, the Rams are -3 in the turnover margin.  That is the exact reason Los Angeles is looking up at the Seahawks and 49ers in the west.   Last week #13

14. Oakland Raiders (6-4):  Who had the Raiders above .500 through 10 games this season?  If you’re being honest, nobody!  Here they are in second place and within striking distance of the Chiefs.  For what we saw on HBO’s Hard Knocks with the Antonio Brown debacle, I think Coach Jon Gruden is a viable candidate for NFL “Coach of the Year” honors.  I’m serious!  That roster is not very good, yet here Gruden is…getting the most out of his team.   So, the Silver & Black are back, right?  Not really.  Five of their six wins came against teams with below .500 record.  Just win, baby!  I guess that’s right?  Last week #12

15. Tennessee Titans (5-5):  The music is far better than the football team in Nashville.  The Titans are average!  It’s win one…then lose one for the Titans.  This is a team that has no real identity.   Tennessee did beat the Chiefs in week 10, but again that’s a matchup that favored the Titans, because they can run the ball.  The one thing Tennessee does well is red-zone defense.  Because of that, the Titans give up just 19 points per game.  Tennessee has a point differential of just 6.  Compare that to the Ravens with 145 net points.  In other words, when the Titans win, it’s a close one.  Last week #17.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Johnny Holton (80) drops the ball as he dives in the end zone during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns won 21-7.
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5):  Oh man, here comes that run of average teams.  The Steelers defense is pretty strong, but the offense with Mason Rudolph at QB is just not that good.   I won’t bore you with where the Steelers rank offensively or defensive, but if you look at their record you can figure it out.  Pittsburgh is just a middle of the pack team right now and could end up much worse at the end of the season.  Perhaps the biggest reason the Steelers are an even .500 is because they are +9 in the takeaway/giveaway ratio.  That is a stat that you typically see from teams that are among Super Bowl contenders.  Five of the next games are winnable and just as losable for the Steelers.  Pittsburgh finishes the season at Baltimore, where the Ravens could be sitting on the AFC #1 seed and have decided to rest their starters.  Yes, I had the Steelers rated too high previously.  Last week #10.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5):  The Eagles haven’t really been great since winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago.  This is a team that can beat the best and lose to the worst on any given Sunday.  Gang Green is -2 in the turnover margin.  I can’t find a team in the league that shoots themselves in the foot more than the Eagles.  Their offensive numbers are decent; their defensive numbers aren’t terrible, but the silly mistakes have the Eagles in the company of the Titans, Steelers and Panthers…instead of where they should be….a much better team.  Last week #14.

18. Carolina Panthers (5-5):  Here kitty, kitty!  The Panthers come to New Orleans to battle the Saints.   Head Coach Ron Rivera could be in some trouble.  This week owner David Tepper said he will not stand for mediocrity.  That’s never a good thing to hear from your boss.  As you would expect from a team sitting at .500, there are plenty of flaws to point to.  The defense can’t stop the run and gives up 25 points per game.  Running back Christian McCaffrey is their offense, and I meant that in the literal sense.  He accounts for 45% of the Panthers’ offensive production.   The Cats can’t convert on third down; Carolina is an abysmal 30% on offense when facing a third down.  On defense, the Panthers can’t get off the field on third down.  Opponents are converting 41% of their third down opportunities against the Panthers.  Oh Goody!  Drew and the boys should have a fun time at home in the Superdome.  Last week #15.

19. Atlanta Falcons (3-7):  Huh?  With just three wins?  Let’s just be grateful that Atlanta started solving their problems too late to be a threat in the NFC South.  The Falcons are playing some pretty good football right now and head Coach Dan Quinn pressed the right buttons two weeks ago shaking up his coaching staff.  Saints fans won’t like it, but I’ve got to be honest.  Atlanta is a team that is starting to find themselves, after being lost for half the season.  The biggest reason Atlanta is 3-7 is they are -8 in the turnover margin.  The Saints get their second shot at the Falcons on Thanksgiving Day.  Last week #24.

20. Cleveland Browns (4-6):  Don’t look now, but the Browns won two straight games.  So the Browns might make a run at the back end of the season, right?  Stop it!  Cleveland lost their best player, after a wild helmet swinging fracas on Thursday night football.  Pass rusher Myles Garrett ripped off the helmet of Steelers QB Mason Rudolph and hit him over the head with it.  The NFL hit Garrett over the head with an indefinite suspension.   He is appealing that suspension, but I don’t see the league overturning this one.   The Browns have a very soft schedule the rest of the way.  Save from a week 16 battle against the Ravens, it’s a cake walk with two matchups with the winless Bengals.  Miami, Pittsburgh and Arizona are very winnable for the Browns.  Then again, this is the Browns we’re talking about.  Last week #21.

Indianapolis Colts safety Rolan Milligan (42) and cornerback Marvell Tell III (39) tackle Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Chris Conley (18) in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6):  Minshew Mania is over.  It was fun while it lasted.  Nick Foles is back under center for the underachieving Jags.  Jacksonville is coming off their bye week, so they should be rested.   The Jaguars play two teams with winning records down the stretch.  If Nick Foles still has some of that Philly magic, now would be a good time to put it to use.  Fun fact:  the Jaguars are the only NFL stadium with a swimming pool in the stands.  Last week #20. 

22. Chicago Bears (4-6):  The Windy City is churning with anger from Bears fans.  Head Coach Matt Nagy’s offense is terrible.  He’s the play caller and plans to continue to call the plays.   News Flash:  Nagy isn’t the problem, QB Mitchel Trubisky is the issue.  For the sake of getting redundant…I’m going to just move on.   Last week #25.

23.Arizona Cardinals (3-7):  I hope you enjoy these rankings, because this is about the point where it starts to get painful for me.  I’m really trying not to get repetitive from week to week.  The Cardinals pushed the 49ers to the brink last week.  So there is a moral victory, I guess.  Again, I really like QB Kyler Murray, but Arizona’s defense is hard to watch.  The Cardinals are trying to build something special; I just hope Murray is healthy enough, when they have a finished product.  Last week #26.

24. Denver Broncos (3-7):  Here I was touting Vic Fangio and the Broncos defense last week.  What do they do to reward my faith?  Oh, nothing really…just blow a 23 point second half lead to the Vikings on the road.  I get it, you probably read my thoughts on the Vikings earlier, but that is inexcusable.  Denver will be a team to watch in the draft.  Right now the Broncos would pick 7th in the first round.  With some assets on defense and some draft capitol of their own, I wouldn’t be surprised if Denver moves up to position themselves for the Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert sweepstakes.  At the very least, keep a close eye on the Broncos to sign a veteran like Teddy Bridgewater in free agency.  Last week #22.

25. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7):  Ok, my defense of the Chargers possibly making a run after beating the Green Bay Packers a few weeks ago, is flawed.  Since then, the Bolts lost two straight and QB Phillip Rivers put up Jameis Winston type numbers.  The side armed gunslinger threw seven interceptions in the past two weeks.  Yikes!  He’s thrown 14 this season.  Double yikes!  The Chargers might be in the market for a new signal caller this off-season, I’m just saying.   Rivers is 37 and perhaps has his best years behind him.  The Chargers took the most precipitous fall in my latest rankings.  Last week #19.

26. Detroit Lions (3-6-1):  I’m done with the Lions.  QB Mathew Stafford is banged up and missing time due to an injury.  Detroit’s defense can’t stop a nose bleed.  I tried to make the case for them a few weeks ago.  I can’t any longer, and especially after allowing the Cowboys offense to light up the scoreboard with 35 points last week.  QB Dak Prescott torched the Lions for 444 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Yet, ironically…Detroit move up one spot.  Gross!  Last week #27.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) catches the ball over New Orleans Saints cornerback Eli Apple (25) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7):  Coach Bruce Arians knows it, he just can’t say it.  I’ll do it for him.  Jameis Winston is not the franchise QB the Bucs thought he would become, when they drafted him first overall in the 2015 draft.  Winston is a turnover machine.  He’s now thrown 18 passes to other team this year.  Tampa is another team I’d watch this off-season either to trade up for a shot at the top QB’s in college or pick off a veteran in free agency. (See what I did there.)  Last week #23.

28. New York Jets (3-7):  If you are reading this far into the rankings, I applaud you.  The Jets are the better of the two bad New York teams.  Adam Gase is not the answer as their head coach, and this is where teams set their potential franchise quarterback’s growth back by miles.  The Jets did it to Mark Sanchez; they will do it again to Sam Darnold.  Last week…does it really matter?

29. New York Giants (2-8):  The G-Men were on their bye week in week 11, so at least Giants fans didn’t have to endure another likely loss.  The Giants have lost five straight.  New Yorkers, I encourage you to take in a good slice of pizza or a good Broadway play.  Cheer up, New York.  The Yankees are in the hunt for next season.  You also have the best bagels in the world.  Speaking of…I need to call my sister and have her ship me some. (She lives in The Big Apple.  Last week….ha!  You’re funny!

30. Miami Dolphins (2-8):  So Tanking for Tua took a turn for the worst Saturday, when Tua Tagovailoa suffered a dislocated hip and will likely fall out of the top 10 picks in the draft.  Heartbreaking.  I feel for Tua and his family.  Soooooooooooo now…is it “Junking for Justin (Herbert)?”  Last week…..seriously?

31. Washington Redskins (1-9):  I could make the case that the winless Bengals are better than the Redskins.  I know…I said that last week too.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda…that’s pretty much all you can say about the Skins.  Last week….really?

32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-10):  I’m kind of curious to see, if the Bengals can go winless for the season.  I’m kind of pulling for it.  I like history…leave me alone.  There is only one good thing happening to the Bengals right now.  They are in prime position to eventually draft a guy, who could eventually even make the Bengals legit.  LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is that guy.  Home sweet home?  Last week…..last…as Cincinnati’s ranked all season.

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