Week 14 NFL Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (12/05/17)
For the second time in a month, the Pittsburgh Steelers, away from the comfy confines of Heinz Field, trailed 17-3 at the half. And, for the second time in a month, they rallied against an inferior team and kicked a last-second field goal to win the game in regulation.
While the clunky 23-20 win over Cincinnati saw the Steelers rise only one spot – to No. 5 - in our Week 14 NFL Power Rankings, it did allow Pittsburgh to keep pace with the Patriots and retain the overall No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff standings. Pittsburgh hosts New England in two weeks.
Despite the loss at Seattle, which snapped their nine-game win streak and handed the NFC's No. 1 seed to the Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles remain the top team in our weekly rankings. The other three teams in our top four – New England, Minnesota and Los Angeles Rams – all won in Week 13 and remained flat week-over-week.
Can we just award Alvin Kamara Offensive Rookie of the Year now? Against divisional rival Carolina, the Saints rookie hybrid running back racked up 126 more yards and two more scores.
New Orleans has now swept the Panthers this season, enjoy a one-game lead on them and two-game lead on Atlanta, who they play Thursday night.
While New Orleans defense has regressed slightly - against better competition - in recent weeks, their offense is averaging an NFL-best 7.0 yards per play over the past three games.
Seattle hadn't been a 6-point dog on their home field in over six years before Week 13's game against the Eagles.
Heading into the game, Philadelphia's defense was on the rise as their opposition's yards per play plummeted. In fact, Weeks 10-12, they allowed just 3.9 yards per play. However, against Seattle, that metric jumped to an efficient 5.3. By “efficient,” you'll have excuse Wilson running for his life every other play. The quarterback completed 20-31 passes for 227 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and 31 more yards via the keeper.
In a season where the Seahawks have tried everything to get some semblance of a running game going, they may have found their guy. Third-year back Mike Davis has provided a spark the past two weeks. He finished with 64 rushing and 37 receiving yards against the Eagles' top-ranked rush defense.
Survive and advance. It's been Green Bay's mantra since Aaron Rodgers hit the shelf. It also encompasses how the Packers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Aaron Jones' lone touch in his first game back after spraining his MCL resulted in a 20-yard, game-winning touchdown in overtime.
Now, 6-6, the Packers still remain on the outside looking in on the playoffs, but get the 0-12 Cleveland Browns Week 14 with Aaron Rodgers expected return the week after. Green Bay finishes the season AT the Panthers, host the Vikings and AT the Lions.
Do you believe in miracles?
If the season ended today, last year's Super Bowl Runner-Up wouldn't qualify for the playoffs. Their 14-9 loss to the Vikings dropped them to 7-5 overall and 3-3 at home this season.
In what was an ugly game to watch, the Falcons converted only one of 10 third downs. Their yard per play average – which had been north of 6.2 the previous three weeks – dipped to 5.4 against the vaunted Vikings defense. Matt Ryan's 173 pass yards were the fewest in a game for him since 2013.
Atlanta's remaining four games all come against NFC South foes.
They say injuries are part of the game, but when it comes to the Redskins, enough is enough. Washington has been so banged up this season, they've been unable to hold full practices on multiple occasions and last Thursday – against the Cowboys – their offensive line was so depleted, inexperienced guards lined up at tackle just so Kirk Cousins could run the next play.
What is left of the Redskins got smoked by a Cowboys squad missing its starting running back and team leader on defense. Before the 38-14 blowout, the Cowboys had averaged 7.3 points per game the previous three weeks.
If they win out, Washington will finish 9-7. Based on the fact the top six NFC teams boast records of 8-4-or-better, it's lights out for Cousins and company.
How bad is the Chiefs defense? Well, when your offense averages 10.3 yards per play, but the opposition possesses the ball 43 out of 60 minutes, it's pretty, pretty bad.
Regardless of the game-changing penalties that allowed New York to retake the lead late in the fourth quarter, Kansas City's defense allowed a Josh McCown-led offense to convert 13-of-20 third downs.
After starting the season 5-0 and appearing to be a lock for the playoffs, the Chiefs are now 6-6 – tied with the Chargers and Raiders for first place in the AFC West - with a 2-1 divisional record the difference between an AFC 4-seed and 7-seed. Three of their final four games come against the division.