We won’t tell you a lie here at TSW, and this week’s games were not the best. A few notable outliers like the Seahawks’ win over the 49ers or the Ravens’ narrow loss to the Steelers gave us some life, but it was a dull time to be an NFL fan once again. We try to gather things together and get a clearer idea of what the league looks like in The Sports Wave NFL Power Rankings: Week Thirteen.
1: () Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3)
Tampa Bay didn’t look great offensively against the Falcons, but it didn’t really matter. When playing poor opponents, you can allow for a few mistakes. Brady’s failed checkdown that was returned for seven points before the half proved to be worrisome, but as they pitched a shutout in the second half it didn’t prove to be their undoing. They need to clear it up a bit, but they still seem to be as good as ever.
2: () Arizona Cardinals (10-2)
Murray finally got back to his team, who seemed to be doing just fine without him, and led them to a dominant win over the Bears. Much like the Bucs, they had a few errors, but generally looked like a team that’s preparing for a title run, with very little in the way of rust from their returning stars.
3: () Green Bay Packers (9-3)
Did the Packers need a late bye? No, but they’re not complaining. A rest like this might be all they need to make a run at the big one. Bears up next on Sunday Night Football.
4: (2) Los Angeles Chargers (7-5)
Suddenly, as if by magic, the Chargers are really good again. They dominated one of the NFL’s hottest young teams, though they let them back in with a few crucial mistakes, and came out looking like a contender once more. They were sloppy, and the injury to Joey Bosa is concerning, but they’re promising.
5: (2) New England Patriots (9-4)
As disgusting as it feels to say, the Patriots are now officially the AFC’s number one seed. Their offense, led by Mac Jones, is still wholly unimpressive, but Bill Belichick is possibly the greatest coach of all time, and finds ways to make this team win anyway. Their defense deserves all the credit for holding down an inconsistent but still powerful Buffalo offense on Monday Night Football in extremely windy conditions.
6: (2) Los Angeles Rams (8-4)
The Rams shredded the Jaguars to get back in the win column, but that much was to be expected. They were highly effective in all areas of the game and, despite a few chemistry issues, they looked exactly as good as they did to start the season. With any luck, they’re back on track, but that might be premature considering the slide we just saw from them.
7: (2) Tennessee Titans (8-4)
They only drop here due to the games from teams positioned right below themselves. No team was more in need of their bye week right now than the Titans. If they can get a little healthier, they can go toe to toe with anyone, and they get all the way healthy? Watch out. A get-right game coming up against the Jaguars next.
8: (1) Dallas Cowboys (8-4)
Sing Tony Pollard’s praises, Cowboys fans. His ability to keep the offense churning when Ezekiel Elliott fails to is one of the primary reasons that this team keeps on trucking. Getting his receivers back helped too, but Dak Prescott should consider himself lucky to have such a powerhouse of an offensive line and run game to keep opponents honest every game. Side note: If Micah Parsons isn’t the rookie of the year, who is?
9: (5) Buffalo Bills (7-5)
Buffalo has taken a nose dive again, seemingly out of nowhere. Credit the absurdly strong winds all you want, the Bills had all the pieces they needed to win this game handily, and they didn’t. With no-one to blame but themselves, again, they’re going to need to change something quickly if they still plan on a playoffs run. We’ve seen what this exact offense is capable of before, and their defense is better than last season by a country mile, so where is it all going wrong? You’ll find the answer in the trenches.
10: () Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
The Colts looked really good against the Texans, though admittedly it was the Texans, and they’ve established themselves as real playoff contenders over the midseason stretch. They’ve got a bye week, finally, and could use that break to get rested as much as any team in the league. They’ll need it; Their next three opponents are the Patriots, Cardinals, and Raiders.
11: () Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
Kansas City is back, but they’re finally starting to look a little different. A major issue for them all season has been their inability to win differently to the one way they want to do it, and they finally achieved that on Sunday. Defensive perseverance and the will to win on the ground are the bedrock of NFL championship success, and if Kansas can understand that better then perhaps they can go win another one.
12: () San Francisco 49ers (6-6)
Jimmy G is back, just not in the way that people wanted. With his run game stalling out, his team relied on his arm, and it fell short when they truly needed it most. San Francisco are one of the NFL’s best team when it’s all clicking, but lack consistency.
13: () Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
We loved the play call here at TSW, with Baltimore going for all the marbles instead of playing for overtime when Pittsburgh had found their groove. A man was open, but the pass-rush from an unblocked T.J. Watt affected the throw. Should Lamar have found his man anyway? Probably. Solid decision, poor execution.
14: () Cleveland Browns (6-6)
Well, this is one team that really needed a break. They look to heal up and figure out how to generate a little momentum ahead of a big game against the Chiefs next week.
15: (2) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1)
The Steelers owe this win in it’s entirety to T.J. Watt. 3.5 sacks and a pressure on the game-winning two-point conversion stop? Crown the man already. Team MVP, and heavyweight DPOY candidate. I’m so happy for them that they’ve already got him under contract long-term.
16: (1) Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)
This game was sloppy, but Cincinnati did one thing right above all else. They capitalized on their opponents mistakes, but made far too many of their own to allow for victory. Joe Burrow hurt his hand early, and played through it with poise, but it was clearly affecting him. It may be a significant concern going forwards.
17: (1) New Orleans Saints (5-7)
One can’t help but have sympathy for one of the NFL’s most beaten and battered rosters, as they managed to put up a fight for most of the game against one of the NFL’s top teams. That being said, the Saints have their problems. Their wide receiver core is sorely lacking, and their failure to do their due diligence at quarterback has been their undoing with the loss of Jameis Winston. Props to this defense though, they have everything they need to keep this team moving on that side of the ball.
18: (2) Washington Football Team (6-6)
The WFT deserved to win this one for their complete team performance, and their Hail Mary defense was excellent, putting pressure on Carr quickly and forcing him to throw early, doing their part to keep most of the Vegas receivers out of the endzone. Logan Thomas and Antonio Gibson are absolute stars.
19: (1) Las Vegas Raiders (6-6)
The Raiders fell to one of the NFL’s most mediocre teams, but it wasn’t for their defense. The offense was ineffective against one of the league’s worst pass-stoppers, and they failed to connect on a huge number of plays. Carr did enough, but was let down by his supporting cast.
20: (1) Miami Dolphins (6-7)
The Dolphins are starting to look like a real playoff team all of a sudden, and Tua looks like a franchise QB. Admittedly, their offense looks a lot like the Patriots offense has, with a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ style of play featuring a lot of short, quick passes. It’s been effective for every team that gives it a go so far this season, and until someone stops them doing it they’ll continue to move the ball.
21: (1) Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
Jalen Hurts who? Gardner Minshew is all anyone is going to talk about for the next week, and he deserves it. In his first game under centre for the Eagles, he earned a potential return invite to one of the less stable starting jobs in the league. Perhaps they should actually consider him, if they don’t believe Hurts to be the long-term solution.
22: (3) Minnesota Vikings (5-7)
Well, there it is. Minnesota’s heartbreaking and uplifting season continues, as they fall apart against the worst team in the NFL, make a heroic late comeback, then lose it again. Place the blame wherever you want, but most of it has to go to Mike Zimmer, who we may see in plain clothes this offseason
23: (3) Seattle Seahawks (4-8)
This offensive line might actually see Wilson leave the stadium in a body bag someday, and they’re about as good as any he’s had in his career. I say, without a shred of irony or a hint of a joke, that he should force his way out of Seattle as soon as possible. We all know how good he can be, and he showed it this week in their huge win over the 49ers, but he shouldn’t be on the Seahawks any more. This topic will absolutely come up again in the offseason.
24: (1) Denver Broncos (6-6)
The defense did well, as they were expected to, but the offense couldn’t take advantage of a still-weak Chiefs secondary. One or two unfavourable plays made the difference here, as costly mistakes by Bridgewater and company let the air out of Denver’s tires quickly, losing a game that was winnable right up to the end. Give some credit to this Broncos rookie class though, they’re carving out nice roles for themselves.
25: (1) Carolina Panthers (5-7)
The Panthers have a lot of questions to ask on their bye week, both short and long term. They have a softball against the Falcons next, but they’re not exactly hardballs themselves.
26: (1) New York Giants (4-8)
With Danny Dimes at home looking for more change in his couch, the Giants were unable to move the ball effectively against a difficult Dolphins secondary. The season is done, there’s really nothing left to do, but most teams would salivate at the prospect of having the Giants’ draft picks. They currently sit at _ and _ in the first round alone.
27: () Atlanta Falcons (5-7)
Finally, Atlanta seems to have found it’s run game, but it’s far too little, too late. None of it matters any more, and their offensive line appears to have traded their pass protection for their newfound run-blocking prowess. They were better than expected against the league’s reigning champions, but still not very good.
28: () New York Jets (3-9)
Zach Wilson has shown his potential, and they got going quickly in this game to prove it, but he was completely unable to get it going again in the second half. Still, he was good enough. The defense was not. They were shredded by Gardner Minshew and Dallas Goedert, and they couldn’t stop this Eagles offense from rolling though Jersey in style.
29: () Chicago Bears (4-8)
Dalton isn’t the answer, and everyone who has ever seen a football thrown will want Justin Fields back as quickly as possible. Admittedly, they went up against a tough and opportunistic defense that made plenty of plays, but it was their own mistakes that put them in the hole early. They didn’t stand a chance at digging themselves out again.
30: () Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
The Jaguars are as bad as they could be, but they’ve shown enough this year to expect growth next season. This is the light at the end of a terrible tunnel for Jacksonville fans, but until they start actually winning games then all we have is hope and speculation. Free agency will tell us more.
31: (1) Detroit Lions (1-10-1)
They’ve done it! The 2017 Browns and the 19– Lions can remain at their table alone with each other, as this Detroit team is no longer winless. Their 15-game losing streak is over and though we all expect them to start a new one very soon, they can take solace in their win. It was a good one, despite some boneheaded play calls late in the game almost costing them their win.
32: (1) Houston Texans (2-10)
Back to the league’s basement they go, as Houston is shut out by the Colts. Tyrod Taylor was benched for Mills, who also didn’t do anything. The season is over for them but, even after Detroit’s surprise win over the Vikings, they don’t seem able to leapfrog the Lions for the first overall pick.
Don’t forget to check out last week, and come back next time to see how another week of NFL action changes the board.