Packer Peter’s Power Rankings After Week 14

December 12, 2018

 

Former Packer Alex Wizbicki Passes

    What may have been missed in such a busy news period this past week, was the passing of former Green Bay Packer Alex Wizbicki. Alex played just one year for the Packers (1950), starting all 11 games in the defensive backfield – securing 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries - but his passing has extra significance because Alex was believed to be the oldest living former Packer player. Prior to playing in the NFL, he was a decorated World War II veteran having fought in the Pacific Theatre and earned the Bronze Star for Bravery at Okinawa. Rest in Peace, sir. 

 

On with the Power Rankings…

 

    At the top of the rankings, with the Rams loss to the Bears, the Saints move back to no.1 in our rankings, swapping places with the Rams who drop to no.2. The Chiefs stay at no.3 after winning this week, whilst the Patriots stay at no.4 (despite their last second loss to the Dolphins) only just above the Chargers. Both the Chiefs and Saints secured their playoff berths this week.

At the bottom of the rankings, 2 of the bottom 3 – the Raiders and 49ers – surprisingly pulled off victories against playoff chasing teams. The Cardinals, Bills, Jaguars and Jets were all eliminated from playoff contention this week.

 

The biggest risers this week are: Indianapolis (up 5) and Dallas, Miami and the New York Jets (all up 3)

 

The biggest fallers this week are: Washington (down 7) and Pittsburgh (down 3)

 

Qualified for the Playoffs

NFC – New Orleans, Los Angeles Rams

AFC – Kansas City Chiefs

 

Eliminated from Playoff Contention

AFC – Oakland, Buffalo, Jacksonville, New York Jets

NFC – San Francisco, Arizona

 

1. New Orleans Saints (11-2) (last week’s ranking: 2)

    For 2½ quarters, the Saints were struggling badly against the Bucs, as the offense stuttered for a second straight week. Enter the “do-it-all-man” Taysom Hill. With his team trailing 14-3 midway through the 3rd quarter, Hill stepped forward and blocked a Bucs punt which his team up deep in Bucs territory. The game completely changed from that point forward. The Saints scored on the subsequent drive and their defense then held Tampa Bay scoreless thereafter. New Orleans’ 28-14 victory gave them the NFC South division title for the second straight year.

 

Next up: The Saints travel to Carolina to play the Panthers on Monday Night Football. The Saints will sew up a first round playoff bye with a win and a Bears loss.

 

2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2) (last week’s ranking: 1)

    The Rams' stop at our no.1 spot lasted just 1 week as they lost a defensive struggle on Sunday Night Football to the Bears; 15-6. Los Angeles held pole position for the top seed in the NFC – win out and be at home for the playoffs – but this defeat sees them drop behind the Saints (due to an earlier defeat in New Orleans). Against a marauding Bears defense, Jared Goff had his worst outing of the season throwing 4 interceptions whilst completing less than 50% of his passes for just 180 yards. It didn’t get any better for the league’s leading rusher; Todd Gurley, who had just 28 yards on the ground on 11 carries. One of the few plusses for the Rams was their defense that had 3 interceptions of Bears QB Mitch Trubisky.

 

Next up: The Rams host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football. The Rams can clinch a first round playoff bye with a win and a Bears loss.

 

3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2) (last week’s ranking: 3)

    Harrison Butker kicked a 36-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Chiefs past the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 and secure Kansas City’s place in the postseason. The Chiefs trailed late in the 4th quarter, but Patrick Mahomes drove them downfield for the tying score on a 4th down pass to Damien Williams with 53 seconds left in the game. Mahomes threw for 377 yards and 2 touchdowns (he now has a league leading 43) and Tyreek Hill had 139 receiving yards as the Kansas City offense just moved past a good Ravens defense. Wideout Sammy Watkins missed the game due to a foot injury but the Chiefs added to their already potent offense during the week by signing Kelvin Benjamin after the former 1,000-yard receiver was waived by the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs remain the current no.1 seed in the AFC.

 

Next up: The Chiefs host their divisional rivals the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football. This is a crucial game for determining playoff participants and seedings in the AFC. The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West title and a first round bye with a win in this game. The Chiefs can also clinch the no.1 seed in the AFC with a win and a Patriots loss.

 

4. New England Patriots (9-4) (last week’s ranking: 4)

    The Patriots were just 7 seconds away from securing their 16th straight 10-win season and the AFC East division title when they lost to the Dolphins on an unbelievable multi-lateral 69-yard play. The 34-33 defeat of course doesn’t derail their season and they are still in position to pick up the division and probably the no.2 seed in the AFC. During the game, Tom Brady broke the record for the most career touchdown passes (regular season and postseason combined) en route to a 358-yard passing day with 3 scores. The Patriots blocked 2 punts but were unable to stop the Miami running attack which had 189 yards at 9.0 yards per carry. New England played the game without TE Dwayne Allen who was unable to play due to a knee injury.

 

Next up: The Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers – a big game, with equally as big AFC playoff implications. The Patriots can clinch the AFC East with a win, coupled with a Dolphins loss.

 

5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) (last week’s ranking: 5)

    In a tougher than expected game, the Chargers won their third straight - squeaking past the Bengals 26-21 and in the process keep themselves just 1 game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. The Chargers offense was held to just 288 yards in a spluttering but ultimately victorious performance. The offense is clearly missing the outstanding RB Melvin Gordon who again was missing this week due to the MCL injury he is nursing – it’s quite possible that he’ll miss this coming week’s game as well.

 

Next up: The Chargers travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football - in a game with huge divisional and playoff implications.

 

6. Chicago Bears (9-4) (last week’s ranking: 7)

    The Bears defense showed that it is truly for real as they beat up on the vaunted Rams offense en route to a 15-6 victory on Sunday Night Football. The Bears defense had 4 interceptions, 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, held the Rams to just 214 total yards and gave up just 2 field goals. The play of the defense meant that Chicago were able to overcome a tough night for the returning Mitch Trubisky who had 3 interceptions and just 110 yards passing (100 net). Jordan Howard led the Bears offense with 101 yards rushing (Chicago had 194 total rushing yards). The win moves the Bears ever closer to a playoff spot and in prime position to take the NFC North division title.

 

Next up: The Bears host the Green Bay Packers. The Bears will clinch the NFC North title with a win.

 

7. Houston Texans (9-4) (last week’s ranking: 6)

    After winning 9 straight, the Texans finally went down in a nail-biter to the Indianapolis Colts 24-21. Perhaps we should have known that the loss was coming when Houston trailed (17-7) at halftime – they never trailed at the half in any of the games in their 9-game winning streak. The Texans defense could never quite keep the Colts offense in check, giving up 436 total yards. For the Texans, DeShaun Watson threw for 267 yards and a touchdown but he was sacked 5 times. Houston played without LB Brennan Scarlett who was placed on injured reserve during the week - ending his season. Despite the defeat, the Texans remain 2 games clear of the Colts and Titans in the AFC North division title race.

 

Next up: The Texans travel to play the New York Jets in a rare Saturday match-up. The Texans will clinch the AFC South title with a win and losses by the Titans and Colts.

 

8. Dallas Cowboys (8-5) (last week’s ranking: 11)

    Dak Prescott threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper in overtime to lift the Cowboys to a 29-23 win over their divisional rivals. The victory puts Dallas within touching distance of the NFC East division title. Prescott passed for a career high 455 yards, on 54 attempts with 42 completions. The attempts and completions were also career high marks for Prescott. He also threw 3 touchdown passes (all to Cooper) but did have 2 interceptions and a lost fumble. Cooper had 217 yards receiving – also a career high. To add to the offensive explosion, the Cowboys also had 142 yards on the ground – led by Ezekiel Elliott who had 113 rushing yards. Also, Brett Maher kicked a 62-yard field goal for the Cowboys – the longest in the history of the franchise. The win was the fifth straight for Dallas.

 

Next up: The Cowboys travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts. The Cowboys will clinch the NFC East division title with a win (or if both the Eagles and Redskins lose).

 

9. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) (last week’s ranking: 10)

    The Seahawks scratched and scrambled their way to a 21-7 Monday Night Football victory over the Minnesota Vikings to move very close to a wildcard spot in the NFC. The Seahawks dominated much of this game everywhere but on the scoreboard before putting the game away in the final 3 minutes. The win was Seattle’s 4th straight. The Seahawks' ground game was again huge as they rushed for 214 yards (including 90 from Chris Carson), while their defense held the Vikings to just 276 total yards. Bobby Wagner had another big game with 9 tackles and a blocked field goal (when the game was only 6-0).

 

Next up: The Seahawks travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers. The Seahawks will clinch a playoff berth with a win. They will be the no.5 seed with a win and a Vikings loss.

 

10. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) (last week’s ranking: 9)

    The Ravens played one of their best all-round games of the season before going down in overtime 27-24 to the highly ranked Kansas City Chiefs. With Joe Flacco inactive again (hip injury), rookie Lamar Jackson started his fourth straight game and threw for 2 touchdowns (with no interceptions) and rushed 71 yards in another fine performance. The Ravens notched up a total of 198 rushing yards. With the loss, Baltimore’s position as the no.6 seed in the AFC becomes more tenuous as they are now tied with 3 other 7-6 teams in the conference. However, with the Steelers losing also, the Ravens remain just ½ game out of the division lead in the AFC North.

 

Next up: The Ravens host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) (last week’s ranking: 8)

    In a shocking upset, the Steelers went down 24-21 to the Oakland Raiders – a loss which comes as a big blow to their playoff hopes and potential AFC seeding position. The defeat was the Steelers third straight and whilst they stay atop the AFC North – they are only ½ game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens…a further loss could see them drop out of the playoff race altogether. At the end of the game, the Steelers had a chance to tie the game – but Chris Boswell slipped, and his kick was low and blocked. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 282 yards and JuJu Smith-Schuster had 130 yards receiving but the Steelers could only muster 40 yards on the ground without RB James Connor who sat out with an ankle sprain. Roethlisberger himself missed nearly the whole of the second half due to a rib injury sustained at the end of the first half – he sat out the whole of the third quarter and two-thirds of the fourth period (he was replaced by Josh Dobbs during this time).

 

Next up: The Steelers host the New England Patriots.

 

12. Tennessee Titans (7-6) (last week’s ranking: 13)

    RB Derrick Henry had a record breaking night on Thursday Night Football, as the Titans beat the Jaguars 30-9 to keep themselves in the middle of a tight AFC wildcard playoff race. Henry rushed for 238 yards on just 16 carries, with 4 touchdowns – including a 99 yarder. Henry’s 238 yards on the ground are a franchise record, while the 4 rushing touchdowns equalled the franchise’s top mark. The 99-yard run equalled the NFL record for the longest run, a mark set by Tony Dorsett in 1983. The Titans defense also had a strong night holding the Jags to just 60 yards on the ground and 255 yards in total.

 

Next up: The Titans travel to New York to play the Giants.

 

13. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) (last week’s ranking: 18)

    Andrew Luck threw for 399 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the Colts to a fine 24-21 victory over the Houston Texans – breaking the Texans 9 game winning streak. Luck has quietly put together an MVP type season. Catching Luck’s passes was receiver T.Y. Hilton who had 9 receptions for 199 yards. The Colts have now won 6 of their last 7 games and are tied with 3 other teams for the final wild card spot in the AFC (they are currently just outside the wildcard due to tiebreakers). 

 

Next up: Indianapolis hosts the Dallas Cowboys.

 

14. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1) (last week’s ranking: 12)

    The Vikings put up a disappointing performance – particularly on offense – as they went down 21-7 to the Seattle Seahawks in a crucial match-up with big playoff implications. Minnesota’s offense was shut out until the last minute or so of the game and was held to just 276 yards by a tough Seahawks defense. The Vikings defense played hard but couldn’t control the Seahawks running game – giving up 214 yards on the ground. Minnesota is now in a tough battle for likely the no.2 wildcard spot in the NFC. The Vikings played the game without CB Trey Waynes and WR Chad Beebe who were unable to play due to injury. On Tuesday (the day after the defeat), the Vikings fired offensive co-ordinator John DeFilippo – DeFilippo had been talked about in some quarters as a candidate for the Packers head coaching role.

 

Next up: Minnesota hosts the Miami Dolphins.

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) (last week’s ranking: 14)

    The Eagles playoff hopes took a huge blow with a 29-23 overtime loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. Carson Wentz threw for 3 touchdowns and 228 yards, but the Eagles were held to just 34 yards rushing and despite the defense forcing 3 big turnovers, Philadelphia couldn’t overcome a massive offensive explosion from the Cowboys. The Eagles gave up 576 yards to the Cowboys offense. Philadelphia now sits behind Seattle, Minnesota and Carolina in the race for one of two wildcard spots in the NFC.

 

Next up: The Eagles travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams on Sunday Night Football.

 

16. Miami Dolphins (7-6) (last week’s ranking: 19)

    Truly a miracle in Miami. The Dolphins trailed 33-28 with 7 seconds left and were on their own 31-yard line…then came a pass from Ryan Tannehill that was lateralled multiple times before Kenyon Drake ran it in for a touchdown from 52 yards away. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was playing deep safety on the final play, but despite having the angle couldn’t make the tackle to prevent Drake getting into the end zone. The Dolphins 34-33 victory moved them above .500 for the season and keeps them in playoff contention in the AFC. It was an incredible back and forth game with both teams having more than 400 yards of offense, with Miami rushing for 189 yards. The Dolphins had 2 punts blocked in the first half but were able to overcome the setbacks thanks to 3 touchdown passes from Tannehill, including the incredible final play. Miami had to play this game without league interception leader Xavien Howard who underwent minor surgery during the week. It’s possible he’ll be ready to go next week. 

 

Next up: The Dolphins travel to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Vikings.

 

17. Carolina Panthers (6-7) (last week’s ranking: 15)

    The Panthers were unable to turn opportunities into a win, as they lost to the Cleveland Browns 26-20 and took a hammer blow to their playoff hopes. After starting the season 6-2, the Panthers are now 6-7 (having lost 5 straight) and are behind the Seahawks and Vikings in the race for an NFC wildcard spot. Cam Newton threw for 265 yards but had a crucial interception in the last minute of the game which sealed the loss. LB Luke Kuechly forced 2 fumbles, both recovered by Thomas Davis, but it wasn’t enough. The Panthers had to play without K Graham Gano who missed the game due to a knee injury – he was replaced for this week (at least) by Chandler Catanzaro (who was cut by the Bucs earlier in the season).

 

Next up: The Panthers host the Saints on Monday Night Football.

 

18. Denver Broncos (6-7) (last week’s ranking: 17)

    The Broncos fell behind 20-0 by halftime to the San Francisco 49ers and despite reducing the deficit to 20-14, they couldn’t come all the way back as they fell to a hugely disappointing loss that is a massive blow to their playoff hopes. Denver gave up over 400 yards of offense, including 210 passing yards to TE George Kittle. Unfortunately for the Broncos, WR Emmanuel Sanders tore his achilles tendon in practice during the week and is out for the remainder of the season – a big blow for Denver as they sit on the edge of a playoff spot. He was replaced on the roster by Andre Holmes who was waived by Buffalo. The Broncos also picked up CB Jamar Taylor to replace Chris Harris Jr. who broke his right fibula last week.

 

Next up: The Broncos host the Cleveland Browns on Saturday Night Football.

 

19. Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) (last week’s ranking: 21)

    In his first game as (interim) HC, Joe Philbin used (and lost) both of his challenges for the game within 2 minutes of the start but no harm no foul as the Packers easily handled the Falcons 34-20 to just about keep their playoff hopes alive. 

    Aaron Rodgers had a solid game throwing for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns, Aaron Jones had 78 yards rushing and Davante Adams had 7 catches for 81 yards as Green Bay came from 7-0 down early in the game to move to a 34-7 lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. The biggest play for the Packers came on defense from Bashaud Breeland who returned an interception for a touchdown – he also had a fumble recovery in the 4th quarter. By not throwing any interceptions, Aaron Rodgers broke the NFL record for consecutive passes without an interception – the record was previously held by Tom Brady (with 358). On the offensive line, Lucas Patrick started at LG in place of Lane Taylor, Justin McCray started at RG in place of Byron Bell and Jason Spriggs started at RT in place of Brian Bulaga. All of Taylor, Bell and Bulaga were on the inactive list. Versatile offensive lineman Adam Pankey was activated from the practice squad during the week. 

 

The Packers are now 11th in offense (10th in passing, 19th in rushing) and 15th in Scoring offense

 

The Packers are now 16th in defense (8th in passing, 24th in rushing) and 17th in scoring defense

 

Next up: The Packers travel to Chicago to play the Bears.

 

Packers Play-off Watch:

With the Bears win over the Rams, the Packers are eliminated from contention for the NFC North divisional title.  The Packers still make the playoffs as a wildcard team with the following combination of results:

 

  • Packers win remaining 3 games

AND

  • 3 of the following 4 things happen:

    1. Panthers lose 1 more game

    2. Seahawks lose 3 more games

    3. Vikings lose 2 more games

    4. Eagles and Redskins lose 1 game each 

OR

Cowboys lose 3 games (as long as the week 17 game between the Eagles and Redskins is not a tie)

 

                  The Packers can be eliminated from playoff contention this week as follows:

  • A Packers loss

AND, EITHER of the following:

  • A Vikings win

  • An Eagles win and a Redskins win

 

According to the New York Times Playoff Scenario Calculator, the Packers only make the playoffs in about 35% of scenarios (up from last week’s 25%) even if they win all 3 of their remaining games.

 

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) (last week’s ranking: 20)

    The Bucs played a good game against the Saints for nearly 3 quarters but special teams mistakes (2 missed field goals by Cairo Santos and a blocked punt which led to a touchdown) and an offense which went awol in the second half saw Tampa Bay fall 28-14 to New Orleans. It was a defeat that surely put an end to the outside playoff hopes that the Bucs had going into the game. Tampa Bay’s defense played strong, holding Drew Brees under 200 passing yards and the Saints as a whole to under 300 total yards of offense.

 

Next up: The Bucs travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens.

 

21. Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) (last week’s ranking: 22)

    Baker Mayfield threw for 238 yards and a 51-yard touchdown to Jarvis Landry to lead the Browns to another impressive victory – this time 26-20 over the playoff hopeful Carolina Panthers. The Browns defense made a huge goal-line stand late in the 4th quarter and then in the last minute, Damarious Randall picked off Cam Newton to preserve the win. As well as his 51 yard reception, Landry also had a 51yard run – the first Cleveland player to have a 50+ yard run and reception in the same game since 1991. Myles Garrett had another sack, which lifts him 12.5 for the season. The Browns had to play without star rookie CB Denzel Ward who is still in the concussion protocol.  

 

Next up: The Browns travel to Denver to face the Broncos in a Saturday Night Football match-up.

 

22. New York Giants (5-8) (last week’s ranking: 24)

    The Giants blew away the Redskins in the first half – moving out to a 34-0 halftime lead – before easing off and easily beating Washington 40-16. The Giants had 222 total rushing yards, including 170 from Saquon Barkley (who had 159 in the first half alone and was rested for the 4th quarter). His total included a 78-yard touchdown and took him over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. Eli Manning had 3 touchdown passes and the Giants defense came up strong with 5 sacks and 3 interceptions including one returned for a touchdown by Curtis Riley. The Giants played without both WR Odell Beckham Jr. and S Landon Collins. Beckham sat out with a short-term quad injury but Collins is out for the remainder of the season after he underwent surgery on his left shoulder to repair a torn labrum. Collins is an unrestricted free agent after this season, so it will be interesting to see what the Giants do.

 

Next up: The Giants host the Tennessee Titans.

 

23. Washington Redskins (6-7) (last week’s ranking: 16)

    The Redskins fell behind 34-0 by halftime and slumped to a 40-16 defeat to the Giants this past Sunday. Without starting QB Alex Smith and his back-up Colt McCoy, Washington played with recently signed veteran Mark Sanchez under center – and he was harassed by the Giants defense all day before he was benched in the 4th quarter. Sanchez went 6 of 14 for 38 yards and 2 interceptions as well as being sacked 5 times. He was replaced by Josh Johnson with the Redskins trailing 40-0. Johnson had only been signed by Washington earlier in the week. Johnson mustered 2 late scoring drives (passing for a touchdown and running for another) but the game was long gone. It was enough, however, for Johnson to earn the starting job for this coming week. The Redskins defense gave up 227 yards rushing to the Giants, while Adrian Peterson was held to just 16 yards on the ground. The defeat was the fourth straight for the Redskins and it’s hard to see where their next win may be coming from.

 

Next up: The Redskins travel to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) (last week’s ranking: 23)

    The Bengals played their best game for several weeks, but they still fell to their fifth straight defeat – a loss 26-21 loss to the Chargers. Cincinnati racked up 144 yards on the ground with Joe Mixon gaining 111 and the Bengals defense held the Chargers to just 288 yards of offense but it wasn’t quite enough in a very tight game. One more defeat would likely officially eliminate the Bengals from playoff contention.

 

Next up: Cincinnati hosts the Oakland Raiders.

 

25. Detroit Lions (5-8) (last week’s ranking: 25)

    Despite being held to just 218 total yards, the Lions beat the Cardinals 17-3 in a poorly played game between two teams who appeared to be two of the NFL’s worst. The key play of the game, which had so few big plays, was a 67 yard interception return for a touchdown by Lions’ CB Darius Slay. Detroit has now scored only one offensive touchdown in their last two games.

 

Next up: The Lions travel to Buffalo to play the Bills.

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) (last week’s ranking: 26)

    A week after shutting out the potent Colts offense, the Jags defense was ripped apart by the ground game of the Tennessee Titans en route to a 30-9 defeat. The Jaguars rushing defense gave up 264 yards and 4 touchdowns and as whole gave up 426 total yards. Cody Kessler started at QB for the second straight week, throwing for 240 yards and 1 touchdown but it was a night when the offense was kept in check and the defense struggled. Jacksonville has now lost 8 of its last 9 games. The Jaguars were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

 

Next up: Jacksonville hosts the Washington Redskins.

 

27. New York Jets(4-9) (last week’s ranking: 30)

    Sam Darnold played perhaps his best quarter of the season in the 4th quarter of this week’s game against the Bills to lead the Jets from behind to win 27-23. Darnold ended the game with 170 yards passing, with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. The win was sealed when Trumaine Johnson picked off Bills’ QB Josh Allen in the last minute of the game. The Jets played the game without LB Darron Lee who has been suspended for the final 4 games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The win broke a 6 game losing streak for the Jets, but despite the victory they were officially eliminated from playoff contention thanks to results elsewhere.

 

Next up: The Jets host the Houston Texans on Saturday.

 

28. Buffalo Bills (4-9) (last week’s ranking: 27)

    Josh Allen threw 2 crucial interceptions and the strong Bills defense was unable to hold off a Sam Darnold inspired rally as Buffalo went down 27-23 to the New York Jets. Allen threw for 296 yards and had another 100-yard rushing game (101 yards) but it wasn’t enough for the Bills to pull this one out. RB LeSean McCoy suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter, left the game and never returned. His prognosis going forward wasn’t known at the time of writing. Buffalo waived receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes this past week - Benjamin signed for the Chiefs a couple of days later, whilst Holmes was claimed by the Broncos. With the loss, the Bills were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

 

Next up: Buffalo hosts the Detroit Lions.

 

29. Atlanta Falcons (4-9) (last week’s ranking: 28)

    After moving out to an early 7-0 lead, the Falcons fell behind 20-7 at the half and 34-7 by the end of three quarters before falling to a 34-20 defeat to the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons scored 13 fourth quarter points which made the scoreline appear closer than the game actually was. Matt Ryan threw for 262 and 3 touchdowns but had a crucial interception that was returned for a touchdown. Julio Jones had 106 yards receiving. Kicker Matt Bryant had his first field goal miss of the season (a 53 yarder) in the first quarter. The Falcons are not quite officially eliminated from playoff contention but that should happen this coming week.

 

Next up: Atlanta hosts the Arizona Cardinals.

 

30. Oakland Raiders (3-10) (last week’s ranking: 31)

    Derek Carr threw for 322 yards and 2 touchdowns – including the game winner to Derek Carrier with just 21 seconds left – as the Raiders upset the Steelers 24-21…putting a bump in the road of the Steelers playoff hopes. Carr has played probably his best two games of the season in the last two weeks. Oakland’s defense also played tough – giving up just 40 yards on the ground. On Monday, the Raiders fired their GM Reggie McKenzie – McKenzie was a former front office executive with the Packers.

 

Next up: The Raiders travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals.

 

31. Arizona Cardinals (3-10) (last week’s ranking: 29)

    The Cardinals played a poor game against the Detroit Lions and went down 17-3. After somehow beating the Packers last week, Arizona returned to the form that they have showed for much of the season. With the loss, the Cardinals were officially eliminated from playoff contention. One bright spot saw Larry Fitzgerald surpass Jerry Rice’s record for career receptions with a single team. Rice had held the mark with 1,281 catches for the 49ers.

 

Next up: The Cardinals travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons.

 

32. San Francisco 49ers (3-10) (last week’s ranking: 32)

    Star TE George Kittle had an incredible game – with 210 receiving yards in the first half alone – as the 49ers upset the Denver Broncos 20-14. Kittle had no catches in the second half and his mark of 210 yards ended up just 4 yards short of the all-time single-game record for receiving yards by a TE. Despite falling just short of that mark, Kittle did break the 49ers franchise record for receiving yards by a TE in a single-season – becoming the first San Francisco TE to go over the 1,000-yard mark in a season. It was a game in which the 49ers jumped out to a 20-0 lead and then had to hold off a Broncos rally in the second half. QB Nick Mullens had a fine day throwing for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns. San Francisco’s win moves them to 3-10 for the season and whilst they are tied with the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals for the worst record in the league, they still own the pole position for the no.1 overall pick in the 2019 draft.

 

Next up: The 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks.

 

 

Find Peter on twitter here: @The_IT_Hedgehog

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