Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates with teammates after making the game-winning field goal to beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 at M&T Bank Stadium.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Week 14 NFL power rankings: Saints slide one spot

Kristian Garic
December 05, 2019 - 1:15 pm

1.  Baltimore Ravens (10-2):  What can you say?  The Ravens are clearly the best team in the NFL with Lamar Jackson at QB and a defense that can shut down opposing offenses.  Jackson continues to play at an MVP level.  Last week the Ravens outlasted the San Francisco 49ers for a 20-17 win to maintain the top ranking and now with the No. 1 seed in the AFC.  This is a team that has now won 8 straight games and the last team to beat them was the Cleveland Browns in week 4.  Head scratcher, right?  I think the way you beat this team is to get out to an early lead by double digits and take away the running game, forcing Lamar Jackson to beat you consistently with his right arm.  

2.  San Francisco 49ers (10-2):  San Francisco took the Ravens to the wire, and I can't drop them in my rankings.  The 49ers are still the best team right now in the NFC.  The defense is a legitimate championship D.  The offense with Jimmy Garappolo is still in question to me.  The 49ers can absolutely run the football, but at times can be vulnerable when forced to throw the football.  This week the 49ers come to New Orleans, the winner takes a leg up for the NFC's top seed for the playoffs.  Will dome-field advantage be enough?  We'll see Sunday at noon in the Superdome. 

3.  New Orleans Saints (10-2):  The Saints clinched a spot in the playoffs and the NFC South for the third season in a row.  The Big easy is a little uneasy about the Black & Gold.  Division titles are no longer the standard for the Who Dat Nation.  The Saints haven't even played their best football yet, and are sitting in prime position to take the lead in the NFC.  A victory over the 49ers would give the Saints an inside track on the top spot in the conference with three weeks to play.  Penalties plagued the Saints in recent weeks, and if they want to knock off the 49ers, the Saints need to play their best game of the year. 

4.  Seattle Seahawks (10-2):  Seattle just impresses every week, and could be the dark horse emerging in the NFC.  After beating the Vikings Monday night, the Seahawks are an incredibly dangerous team down the stretch here.  If Seattle gets home field advantage, they are my favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  The Saints will have something to say about that, rest assured.

5.  Green Bay Packers (9-3):  The Packers got back on track last week against the New York Giants.  Green Bay still has an NFC North Showdown looming with the Vikings who trail the Packers by one game in the division.  Green Bay is a contender because of Aaron Rodgers, but their defense will be a liability post-season.

6.  Minnesota Vikings (8-4):  The Vikings should have beaten the Seahawks Monday night, but that’s the NFL.  Woulda!  Coulda!  Shoulda!  RB Dalvin Cook left the game early with an injury.  If he’s out for a prolonged period of time, that will be a significant blow to Minnesota.  QB Kirk Cousins remains winless on Monday Night football.  Seattle gashed the Vikings usually stingy run defense for a tune of 218 yards.  Perhaps the Seahawks showed the rest of the NFC how to beat the Vikings.  Now, let’s not forget this game was in Seattle, one of the toughest road venues in the entire NFL for visiting teams.  The Saints won in Seattle this year!  Just wanted to point that out.

7.  New England Patriots (10-2):  What?  Yep!  I have the Patriots this low despite being the No. 2 seed in the AFC.  Tom Brady is visibly frustrated with his receivers.  The Patriots struggle to score points and move the football.  The defense has been touched up when facing better than average quarterbacks (DeShaun Watson & Lamar Jackson).  New England is miles behind the Ravens, and after a loss to the Houston Texans, the Patriots are closer to Houston than they are to Baltimore. 

8.  Buffalo Bills (9-3):  After dismantling the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day, the national media promptly went out and proclaimed "The Bills are for real.”  I don't know about all that.  Again, Buffalo hasn’t beat anyone of significance.  The Cowboys are a mess, nowhere near the elite of the NFC.  Sure the Bills will be in the post-season, but they’re not going anywhere.  I am giving Buffalo their respect, but I'm still not on board with the Bills. 

9.  Kansas City Chiefs (8-4):  The Chiefs are solid, but not great.  If you put Pat Mahomes II on the Bills, I'd really be high on this team.  He's that good, but the defense still struggles to get off the field in critical situations.  The Chiefs will make the post-season as AFC West champs.  It's worth noting the Chiefs are the one team (along with the Browns) that has beaten the No. 1 team in rankings, the Baltimore Ravens. 

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates after throwing a touchdown against the New England Patriots in the second half at NRG Stadium.
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

10.  Houston Texans (8-4):  The Texans smoked the Patriots Sunday night.  Houston is a team that could be a problem for the AFC.  The defense is starting to come around and DeShaun Watson is starting to really come into his own at QB.  Watch out for the Texans down the stretch.  The Texans have two of their final four games remaining against the surging Titans.  That will decide the AFC South division.

11.  Tennessee Titans (7-5):  Don't look now, but one of the hottest teams in the AFC right now is the Titans.  QB Ryan Tannehill is 5 and 1, since taking over for Marcus Mariota.  The Titans play the Saints and Texans twice down stretch.   Tennessee has their sights set on overtaking the Houston Texans in hopes of winning the AFC south.  

12.  Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5):  Go ahead and give the AFC coach of the year honors to Mike Tomlin.  It's amazing that the Steelers are above .500 considering the team is playing with their third QB of the season.  I don't know if the Steelers are going to make the post-season, but if they do, Tomlin is the clear cut AFC coach of the year. 

13.  Los Angeles Rams (7-5):  The Rams look great one week and average the next.  This is a team that is clearly struggling to find their identity offensively and very much looks like a team that didn't get over their Super Bowl loss to the Patriots last February. 

14.  Indianapolis Colts (6-6):  Here comes the run of average teams.  The Colts are a great story.  Pretty good defense and an offense that has to play nearly perfect in order to manufacture points.  The Colts are a long shot to make the post-season, but still have some building blocks going forward. 

15.  Chicago Bears (6-6):  Ok, so let me be clear here.  I'm not all of a sudden in love with the Bears, but I think they are better than the Cowboys.  After torching a porous Lions secondary, the national pundits have declared Mitchel Trubisky as THE guy now for the Bears!  Stop all that non-sense.  Trubisky feasted off a very, very bad Lions defense, nothing more and nothing less. 

16.  Dallas Cowboys (6-6):  The Cowboys are a soap opera.  That's never a flattering way to be described as an NFL team.  Owner/GM Jerry Jones in essence told his players that the coaching isn't good enough and don't buy into what they’re teaching.  The Cowboys were embarrassed by the Bills on turkey day.  The bigger turkey of that afternoon was Jerry Jones, after being spotted coming out of the locker room with tears in his eyes.  Ha!  Dallas, have fun with your owner and general manager. 

17.  Oakland Raiders (6-6):  The Raiders are starting to show their true colors.  The offense can’t score points.  In their last 8 quarters the Raiders offense put up 12 points.  The Raiders were blown out this past week by the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs.  The Silver and Black are not back and are pretenders this season.  Hey, hats off to them for getting six wins; I didn’t think that was even possible from this team. 

18  Philadelphia Eagles (5-7):  I mean you get just flat out beat by the Dolphins and you should be ashamed.  The Eagles are so yesterday's news.  Philadelphia had a chance to makeup some ground on the Cowboys in the NFC east and laid an egg against the downtrodden Dolphins. 

19.  Cleveland Browns (5-7):  So they lose to the Steelers after dominating them a few weeks ago.  Oh by the way, their Coach Freddie Kitchens was spotted wearing a shirt that read "Pittsburgh started it" followed by the Thursday night brawl that lead to multiple players getting fined and suspended.  Kitchens said, "My daughters wanted him to wear the shirt to the movies and I would do it again."  Oh wow!  That's exactly why Kitchens will be fired at the end of the year.  You can't be immature as a head coach.  You think Sean Payton would wear that in public?  Not a chance.  Kitchens displayed the immaturity his team has played with the entire season.  Cleveland should be in the market for a new coach.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) catches a pass as Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Donald Payne (54) defends during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

20.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7):  Don’t look now, but the Bucs might be playing their best football of the season.  Tampa ripped off two straight wins, granted it came against the Falcons and Jaguars, but still…if you’re Tampa Bay, you take wins any way you can get them.  None of this matters for the future of Jameis Winston in Tampa.  The Bucs will be on the hunt for a new signal caller. 

21.  Carolina Panthers (5-7):  Ron Rivera is a gone pecan in Carolina.  The Panthers lost three straight.  Two of those loses came against the Falcons and Redskins.  It won’t get any easier down the stretch either.  The Panthers have Atlanta, Seattle, Indianapolis and the Saints to wrap up the season.   The season finale might be meaningless for the Saints, if they’ve secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC. 

22. Denver Broncos (4-8):  Rookie QB Drew Lock made his NFL debut and helped the Broncos to their 4th win of the season.  While he wasn’t overly impressive, Lock was efficient at times in his first NFL start.  The Broncos still don’t know if he’s the answer, but he passed the first test.

23.   Los Angeles Chargers (4-8):  It’s getting to the point where I can’t say much positive for the next handful of teams on this list.  The Chargers are finding new ways to lose games.  They’ve seemingly made it into an art form.  QB Phillip Rivers is not under contract next season and I would expect him to play elsewhere in 2020.  The Chargers will look to start over next season.  Every game the Chargers lost was by 7 points or less.  That’s the razor thin margin for error in the NFL.

24.  Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8):  Wait!  So after two games with Nick Foles back under center the Jags are bringing “Minshew Mania back?”  Mistake!  But ok, Gardner Minshew II will return as the Jaguars starting quarterback this week.  Talk about awful.  Jacksonville signed Foles this off-season to a four year $88 million dollar contract.  That’s an awfully expensive mistake.  I expect a house cleaning’s in store for Jacksonville.  Someone else will call the shots next year for the Jags.

25.  Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1):  The Cardinals lost five straight games, and rookie QB Kyler Murray is getting a good taste of what life is like under center with no other real talent around you.  Yes, I know Larry Fitzgerald is still in Arizona, but he’s not the threat he once was.  The Cardinals have a long way to go, but with some shrewd personnel moves, could revamp this roster quickly and contend in the future.

26.  New York Jets (4-8):  I would have the Jets higher than the Cardinals on this list, but when you lose to the previous winless Bengals, you shouldn’t be higher than 26.  This is exactly where the Jets belong.  They brought in Adam Gase to be head coach.  Soon enough the organization will figure out he’s not the answer.  Until then, the Jets will live in the basement of the NFL.

27.  Detroit Lions (3-8-1):  I couldn’t be more disappointed in a team.  The Lions were embarrassed on Thanksgiving by Mitch Trubisky and the Bears.  Trubisky lit up the Lions secondary for over three hundred yards passing.  You’ve got problems, when Trubisky tunes you up like that.  Motown is a mess and Matt Patricia will likely be let go at season’s end.

28.  Miami Dolphins (3-9):  So the Dolphins beat the Eagles!  There’s that! The Eagles are possibly the biggest disappointment in the NFL this year.  The Fins were tricky in their win, unveiling the lonesome polecat formation and getting a touchdown out of it.   While I’m on this subject…please stop referring to the formation as the swinging gate.  It’s called the Lonesome Polecat, invented by a guy named Tiger Ellison.  I’ve got the book!  History lesson here; not only is it a formation, it’s an entire offense.  Also, Mouse Davis gets credit for inventing the run and shoot offense.  That’s not who invented that offense.  The run and shoot was actually created by Tiger Ellison.  If you’ve read this far, you are now smarter.

29.  Atlanta Falcons (3-9):  Roasted Falcon never tasted better for the Saints on Thanksgiving Day.  The Falcons were carved up by the Saints and are officially out of playoff contention.  The Falcons gave up 9 sacks to the Saints.  Cam Jordan turned in a personal best four sacks against Atlanta.  Can we play the Falcons every week?

30. Washington Redskins (3-9):  Don’t look now, but the Redskins won two straight games.  Great.  Dan Snyder is going to hire Jason Garrett this off-season once the Cowboys let him go.  Washington…you keep doing you. 

31.  New York Giants (2-9):  The Giants lost eight straight games, and they haven’t even been close to be honest.  Changes are coming for Big Blue.  Pizza anyone?

32.  Cincinnati Bengals (1-11):  Dang it!  I was rooting for the Bengals to go 0 and 16.  I like train wrecks.  None the less, the Bengals won a game and are still in line to get the No. 1 overall pick in April.  Chili anyone? (Cincinnati is famous for their chili). 

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