If the NFL playoffs started today, six of the top 10 rushing teams in the league would be in the postseason, including two of the top three.
So is running the ball back in vogue?
I wouldn't go that far, but in the Cleveland Browns and the Tennessee Titans, who are ranked first and second in rushing this season, you have two teams that are bucking the trend of being pass-first offenses -- and winning by doing so.
The Browns pound it with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, while the Titans feature bruising running back Derrick Henry. But the question is whether either team passes it well enough to make a real Super Bowl push. The Titans do for sure with their big-play threats on the outside for Ryan Tannehill to complement Henry. The answer isn't as clear for the Browns and Baker Mayfield.
The Titans won two playoff games last season where Tannehill didn't throw for 100 yards, but those are more aberrations than the norm for even the most run-heavy offenses. At some point, the Browns and Titans will have to throw it better to win games.
For now, the running game is working well enough to put them in a position to be in the playoffs as they ready to meet in big games for both teams this Sunday.
Anticipating watching two teams pound the rock might seem odd, but I can't wait to see it. Pound the rock, fellas.
The Titans are up to seventh in my Power Rankings this week, while the Browns are up to No. 8. One of them will likely be even higher next week.
I still think you throw to score and run to win, but these two are proving you can run to win if you have a running game that is special.
At least for now anyway.
|They didn't look great in beating a depleted Ravens team, but they keep on winning. At some point, they have to run the ball better.||--||12-4-0|
|They continue to roll up big numbers on offense. Can they be stopped? It sure doesn't look like it.||--||14-2-0|
|Taysom Hill is 2-0 as a starter, even if the passing numbers have been pedestrian. The idea is to just keep winning until Drew Brees is back.||--||12-4-0|
|They are explosive on offense, even lighting up a good Bears defense Sunday night. The defense is also playing better, which is a must.||1||13-3-0|
|The defense has come alive the past two weeks. That makes Seattle a Super Bowl contender again.||2||12-4-0|
|It wasn't pretty against the Chargers, but the defense was better. That's big going forward. They face a tough road game against the 49ers Monday night.||2||13-3-0|
|They are in first place in the division and have done it with two impressive road victories. They face a tough one this week with the Browns.||2||11-5-0|
|They just keep running their way to victories, which is a change from most teams. Now they face a big game against the Titans on the road.||3||11-5-0|
|It was amazing to see how different their defense was without DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry on their front. They looked like a different team against the Titans.||5||11-5-0|
|That was a bad letdown loss to the 49ers at home. Now they have to regroup on the road against Arizona.||4||10-6-0|
|They head to their bye off two straight losses. It's amazing how their season has turned so quickly.||1||11-5-0|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick to the rescue. Doesn't that seem like something we've heard before. Should he stay in to make a playoff push?||2||10-6-0|
|What happened in Atlanta? Derek Carr and the offense both struggled in a big way. They can't afford to lose games like that.||--||8-8-0|
|They faced big odds in trying to beat the Steelers without Lamar Jackson and many others. Now the schedule gets a little softer. They can still make a run.||2||11-5-0|
|Losing consecutive road games has them reeling a bit. Now they have to turn it around quickly with a big division game on tap with the Rams.||--||8-8-0|
|They keep on scrapping to win games, even if they aren't pretty in doing so. That's a testament to Bill Belichick's coaching.||1||7-9-0|
|Deshaun Watson has been on fire the past five games to keep their small playoff hopes alive. They play an enormous division game at home this week against the Colts.||3||4-12-0|
|Rallying to beat the Panthers might have saved their season. Their playoff hopes are still alive as Kirk Cousins continues to play well.||2||7-9-0|
|Winning at Los Angeles against the Rams speaks volumes about this team. They have fought through a lot of injuries and COVID losses, but they are still alive.||8||6-10-0|
|They are playing so much better under Raheem Morris. They aren't out of it as they ready to face division-rival New Orleans for the second time in three weeks||2||4-12-0|
|That was a tough loss at Minnesota, but that defense is starting to come together. That unit will be nasty in a year or so.||3||5-11-0|
|The COVID-19 quarterback disaster of last week might have cost them any little playoff shot they had. It was their own doing, though. They now head to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.||3||5-11-0|
|They can't win games, even if they have a big-play quarterback. As this season continues to go in the wrong direction, you have to wonder if coach Anthony Lynn will be back.||2||7-9-0|
|Does it really matter who plays quarterback? This season has gone to a bad place, whether it's Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky. Changes are coming.||1||8-8-0|
|They've won three straight to get back into the division race. But now they face a tough road game at Seattle and likely will be without quarterback Daniel Jones.||--||6-10-0|
|Can you believe they are tied for first place in the division? The schedule gets a little tougher the rest of the way, but that defensive front will keep them in games.||3||7-9-0|
|They fired general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia after an embarrassing Thanksgiving Day loss. It was only a matter of time.||3||5-11-0|
|The offense just isn't good enough. The questions about Carson Wentz are real as they continue to go in the wrong direction.||2||4-11-1|
|That Thanksgiving Day performance against the Washington Football Team was awful. There were a bunch of questionable coaching decisions as well.||1||6-10-0|
|Without Joe Burrow, they showed some fight against the Giants. That's a good sign for a young team.||--||4-11-1|
|They fired their general manager Dave Caldwell to get a jump on the process. Coach Doug Marrone almost certainly will go after the season.||--||1-15-0|
|With their remaining schedule, it's hard to believe they will win a game. The progress they seemed to be making went away against the Dolphins.||--||2-14-0|