NFL Power Rankings: Chaos reigns as Saints, Bucs, Bills make big jumps
The NFL playoff picture? Fluid entering Week 14. Expect chaos to reign the final four weeks of the season.
The Saints and Buccaneers were on the rise this week, moving up five spots each. The Titans surpassed last year's win total and moved up seven spots in the rankings, and the Buffalo Bills were the biggest mover, jumping eight spots.
The list is as fluid as it's ever been at this point in the year. And I'm expecting potential playoff teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets to add more chaos to the rankings in the coming weeks.
|1||Panthers: Being the top team in the ranking isn't just about dominating the competition. You have to be able to win the tough game, on the road, without your best stuff. The Panthers did that in the Superdome in New Orleans, and the Patriots couldn't on the road at Denver, which is why they aren't here anymore. Last Week: 2|
|2||Bengals: Back-to-back blowout wins has the Bengals back on track, and they won in Week 13 without Tyler Eifert. They now own the top seed in the AFC and sit in the driver's seat with four games to play. Last Week: 2|
|3||Cardinals: RB David Johnson adds another dimension to this offense, bringing a physical presence to the run game. Once everyone is healthy, the Cardinals will have a stable of backs to lean on in addition to the deep passing game. Last Week: 3|
|4||Broncos: Brock Osweiler has shown he is a capable starter in the NFL. But his greatest value right now is doing what he has to do to win games on a very good team, and giving Peyton Manning the time he needs to get completely healthy. Last Week: 4|
|5||Seahawks: The Seahawks are quite possibly the most dangerous team in the league right now, and the schedule is favorable. The next three opponents have a combined 10-26 record. The Seahawks then face a huge season-ending game in Arizona. Last Week: 7|
|6||Patriots: Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and company have lost two in a row for the first time since 2012. Now that the Patriots have fallen to the third seed in the AFC (without threat of falling any further), they can focus on getting healthy and getting ready for the playoff push. Last Week: 5|
|7||Steelers: The Steelers showed just how explosive they are on offense, and this defense is quietly getting better. A win over the Bengals this week could vault them back into the playoff bracket and go a long way toward making them a dangerous threat come January. Last Week: 8|
|8||Chiefs: The defense has given up 20+ points just twice in the last eight weeks, and the running game is averaging 141 yards per game during this six-game winning streak. Most important, Alex Smith has already thrown 10 more deep balls (20+ yards) than he did all of last season, and has me thinking he can do something in the playoffs. Last Week: 9|
|9||Packers: Aaron Rodgers helped his team pick up an important win on Thursday night, but don't let the exciting finish cover up the fact that there are still issues with this team. Last Week: 11|
|10||Jets: I'm impressed by the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick and with what the Jets defense is doing without Darrelle Revis. They now "own" New York, but owning a playoff spot will likely come down to how the Jets play against the Patriots and Bills the last two weeks of the season. Last Week: 13|
|11||Vikings: Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner know what they're doing. Adrian Peterson needs to stop talking, buy into the game plan and run the ball with authority. Then Teddy Bridgewater HAS to make a play to win a game. Last Week: 6|
|12||Colts: Matt Hasselbeck turned the ball over and lost for the first time this season. Getting Andrew Luck back will help, but they need to play better up front on both sides of the ball to finish the job and win the division. Last Week: 10|
|13||Bills: The Bills currently hold playoff tiebreakers over the Jets and Texans. Tyrod Taylor has been the right QB for this team, and LeSean McCoy and Sammie Watkins have produced as advertised, but the defense is still not where it needs to be. Last Week: 21|
|14||Buccaneers: Jameis Winston had a 90 passer rating and averaged more than 8 yards per attempt in outplaying Matt Ryan on Sunday. He's thrown seven TDs in the last four games, winning three of those starts. Last Week: 19|
|15||Texans: The loss to Buffalo will hurt their playoff chances, unless they win the AFC South, which they can do with three division games still to come. Last Week: 12|
|16||Lions: The Lions did everything but win the game last Thursday. Still, they're loaded on offense, and if they win out, could finish 8-8, which would be a big victory based on how the season started. Last Week: 15|
|17||Bears: Three wins in four weeks had us thinking the Bears had turned a corner. But Sunday showed they just don't have enough playmakers on either side of the ball to be a consistent winner at this point. Last Week: 14|
|18||Raiders: The Raiders' playoff tease has ended with four losses in their last five games. They are a young team that is just making too many mistakes right now, but 2016 could finally be their breakout year. Last Week: 16|
|19||Redskins: The Redskins lost a game to the Cowboys on a strange punt return decision by DeSean Jackson and a kickoff unit that couldn't contain a return late in the game. As unbelievable as it may sound, the Redskins are still in first place. Last Week: 18|
|20||Falcons: This defense can't get to the passer, which means the Falcons can't stop the big play. They used to be able to outscore opponents, but Matt Ryan's struggles have paralyzed this team. It's in his head now. Last Week: 17|
|21||Giants: The Giants let another fourth quarter lead slip away. Without a defense, they can't finish teams off, which leaves no room for error on Tom Coughlin's game decisions, and an offense that relies too heavily on one player. Last Week: 20|
|22||49ers: Just when you think the 49ers are left for dead, they go and win a game no one thinks they will win. Credit Jim Tomsula for getting his guys to continue to play, and credit Blaine Gabbert for breathing a little life into this team. Last Week: 24|
Eagles: It was a stunning win over the Patriots, for sure, but don't be fooled. The defense has given up 118 points in three weeks, and the offense only scored two of the five touchdowns on Sunday. Last Week: 25
|24||Titans: The Titans have young talent in Marcus Mariota and Dorial Green-Beckham, who both had career days in the win over the Jaguars on Sunday. They still need offensive linemen and a runner to balance out this offense. Last Week: 31|
|25||Saints: Drew Brees threw three TD passes, the defense forced three turnovers, but the Saints still couldn't win. Too many little mistakes make it hard to win games. Last Week: 30|
|26||Cowboys: The Cowboys are back in contention even though they only have four wins. They finally won a game with a backup quarterback. Now let's see if they can climb the power pole. Last Week: 27|
|27||Dolphins: A Dolphins team with plenty of talent barely got by what's left of the injury-ravaged Ravens. The firing coaches as motivation thing isn't working anymore. Last Week: 29|
|28||Chargers: The defense can't get after anyone, the offensive line cannot protect the QB, the first-round RB can't hold onto the ball, so when Philip Rivers doesn't play well, this team has NO chance. Last Week: 22|
|29||Jaguars: Blake Bortles is putting up incredible numbers, but the defense isn't holding up its end of the bargain. Last Week: 23|
|30||Ravens: This team doesn't have much on the roster beyond heart and hustle, so when Matt Schaub turns the ball over twice, it makes it hard to win.Last Week: 28|
|31||Rams: The Rams haven't scored more than 13 points in over a month, which has cost the offensive coordinator his job, and the defense can't stop the run. Last Week: 26|
|32||Browns: Johnny Manziel gets the ball this week. Trent Dilfer echoed my sentiments when I spoke with him. You can move forward in confidence thinking that Johnny can lead your team to a championship. Last Week: 32|
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