The latest edition of the NFL Power Rankings includes a new (familiar) No. 1, a surging squad from South Beach, a sneaky team that might surprise in the playoffs and two budding young quarterbacks positioning their teams for playoff berths.
1. Patriots (9-2); Last week: 3
Tom Brady could probably win a ring with a bunch of my high school buddies. The one-legged 39-year-old man beat the Jets despite a balky knee on Sunday. Doubt him at your own risk.
2. Cowboys (10-1); Last week: 2
Dallas remains at No. 2 despite beating Washington on Thanksgiving. If not for Brady’s existence, the Cowboys, winners of 10 in a row, would occupy the top spot. Alas, Brady isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Jason Garrett’s team needs to take care of business in Minnesota or the Giants could seize control of the NFC East in a couple weeks.
3. Raiders (9-2) : Last week: 4
Welcome to the Black Hole, home of the most important pinky in the NFL. As long as Derek Carr can play with his painful appendage, the Raiders might be on a collision course with the Patriots in the playoffs. It’s time to take notice of their beastly offensive line.
4. Seahawks (7-3-1); Last week: 1
Russell Wilson & Co. tumble out of the top spot thanks largely to one glaring deficiency: The Seahawks’ rushing “attack” stinks. Thomas Rawls was supposed to inject their offense with some nastiness. Instead, he managed 38 yards on the ground in a 14-5 loss to Tampa Bay.
It wasn’t pretty, but Tom Brady got it done for the Patriots against the Jets.
(Al Bello/Getty Images)
5. Chiefs (8-3); Last week: 7
Kansas City took advantage of Gary Kubiak’s ill-conceived decision to try a 62-yard field goal in overtime to get in good position to secure a playoff berth in the final month of the season. Andy Reid’s team has already beaten Oakland and Denver on the road.
6. Giants (8-3); Last week: 5
Wait a second. Why did the Giants drop one spot after beating the Browns? Well, they’re the Browns. Now if they had toppled Nick Saban’s Alabama squad, it’d be a different story. A road test against the Steelers awaits before a monumental clash against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
7. Lions (7-4); Last week: 9
There’s nothing like getting a late-game present from Sam Bradford to take over sole possession of first place in the NFC North. Is it time take Detroit seriously now?
8. Dolphins (7-4); Last week: 10
Give Mike Tannenbaum credit for hiring Adam Gase, who has transformed Miami into a playoff contender. The Dolphins won their sixth in a row by holding off the 49ers. If the season ended today, Miami would have the second wildcard spot. Of course, the season doesn’t end today. They travel to Baltimore in the best game of the week.
Waiting for the Falcons to fall? So is everyone else.
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
9. Broncos (7-4); Last week: 6
Repeat after me: Take the tie. Take the tie. Take the tie. Take the tie. … Kubiak’s decision might have doomed the Broncos.
10. Falcons (7-4); Last week: 11
Raise your hand if you’re waiting for the typical Atlanta meltdown. So far, so good though. Matt Ryan rolled along by taking care of business against the underachieving Cardinals, who look like toast.
11. Washington (6-4-1); Last week: 8
Kirk Cousins’ crew made it interesting in Dallas, but close doesn’t count. Jay Gruden’s team exposed the Cowboys’ putrid secondary for whatever that’s worth.
12. Steelers (6-5); Last week: 13
Big Ben’s boys inched up one spot after beating the Luck-less Colts on Thanksgiving night. If they topple Eli & Big Blue this week, look for them to crack the Top 10.
Justin Tucker, a kicker, may be the Ravens’ MVP. A kicker!
(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
13. Ravens (6-5); Last week: 14
Justin Tucker might be Baltimore’s real MVP, which says all you need to know about John Harbaugh’s offense. The Ravens defense is the real deal, though. They’re exactly the type of under-the-radar unit that could help topple the Patriots in the playoffs.
14. Buccaneers (6-5); Last week: unranked
Jameis Winston is growing up before our eyes. So are the Bucs, who beat the Seahawks to win their third in a row. Tampa Bay is only one game behind the Falcons. Could they steal the NFC South?
15. Titans (6-6); Last week: unranked
I trust Marcus Mariota much more than Brock Osweiler these days.
MOVERS AND FAKERS: The Vikings and Texans fell out of the Top 15. Don’t be surprised if they don’t make another appearance this season.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News