NFL playoff picture and power rankings have a new look heading into Week 14
Written by: Greg Lehr | @greglehr3
Power Rankings by: The Blitz Team | @Blitzalytics
Following an eventful Thanksgiving week full of NFL action, we head into the last month of the season with meaningful games to be played every single week. All of these games are bound to have an impact on the playoff picture. This past weekend alone made its mark on both the playoff seedings as well as our Week 14 NFL Power Rankings. The most notable outcomes, of course, were two of the top five teams suffering losses on the road against other playoff contenders (San Francisco losing in Baltimore; New England losing in Houston).
With the 49ers and Patriots still sitting at 10-2 on the season, there is certainly reason for each of them to remain in our top five in terms of power rankings, but more importantly, these losses knocked them out as the top seeds in their respective conferences (at least for the time being). Believe it or not, but if the playoffs started today, the San Francisco 49ers, who at this time last week held the #1 seed in the NFC, would now be the #5 seed and therefore forced to play on the road against a .500 Cowboys team in Dallas on Wild Card weekend.
On the other hand, the Seahawks' big win vs the Vikings on Monday Night Football gives them a 10-2 record on the year while moving them up to the top spot in the NFC (they currently hold the tie-breaker with the 49ers). With tight races across the top of each conference, we can expect these types of swings from week to week between now and the end of the year, especially with other important matchups still to come in December. For instance, San Francisco plays at New Orleans this week and finishes the year with a rematch against the Seahawks in Seattle. Both games are bound to hold huge consequences in regards to home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Enough about the same old teams at the top though, right? How about a shout out to the Cincinnati Bengals for getting their first win of the year? Andy Dalton returned to the starting lineup and immediately sparked a struggling offense that had not put up 20 points in a game since October 6th, while coming up a point short of the season-high of 23 (yikes), beating the Jets 22-6. Zac Taylor's first career win as a head coach also allows Cincinnati to avoid the embarrassing 0-16 mark in the NFL history books. Perhaps the best part of the weekend for the Bengals is that they still hold the lead for the top overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft! Now that is what we call a perfect storm for a team in their situation.
The Dolphins deserve some credit too, as they fought back from a two-touchdown deficit in the second half to beat the visiting Eagles for their third win of the year. If you want to get crazy, consider this; Miami's next three games are against the Jets, Giants, and Bengals (a combined 7-29). This Dolphins team, who continues to play hard for Brian Flores, could feasibly grab a couple more wins before the end of the season. Sure, a late mini-run would provide some optimism and momentum heading into next year, but falling in the draft order certainly hurts when there are so many holes to fill. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been entertaining in recent weeks, but obviously is not the long-term answer, while many unknowns still surround Josh Rosen. For now, Dolphins fans, just keep enjoying the sweet taste of victory while you can.
Playoff seedings, Wild Card races, and the NFL Draft order will continue to provide plenty of late-season drama at the top and bottom of the league - music to the NFL's hears. Where do all the teams in between find themselves in our Week 14 NFL Power Rankings?
Full NFL Power Rankings: Week 14
Rankings by: The Blitz Team
New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ers
New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Chargers
New York Jets
New York Giants