NFL Power Rankings: Week Fourteen

lynchHow much can the Power Rankings change when only one of the top nine teams loses and it comes against another top nine team? The answer: not much, at all. Even with the Seahawks loss in San Francisco, Seattle is still the best team in the NFL. Denver has a lot of questions on defense, the Patriots have even more questions to answer with Rob Gronkowski’s injury, and the Saints are a dominant force…at home.

With that, the Seahawks remain on top despite falling to 11-2. The Bears definitely made the biggest statement of the week with their blow out of Dallas, so we’ll see if they take control of the NFC North. For now, they’ll be rewarded with a spot in the Top Ten.

Biggest Rise: Bears +4

Biggest Fall: Cowboys -4

7bab9-seahawks1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2, LW: 1): The Stat: 341, 13.6. Everyone knows the Seahawks are a run first team, pounding it out to set up the pass. It turns out, when they do throw the ball Russell Wilson and Seattle are extremely effective. Seattle is 31st in the NFL with just 341 pass attempts, but 2nd overall with 13.6 yards per completion.

2. Denver Broncos (11-2, LW: 2): The Stat: 64. Broncos kicker Matt Prater had never kicked a 60-yard field goal before Sunday, not in the NFL, college or high school. With time for one more play at the end of the 1st half, Prater got his chance to show what he’s made of. What resulted was an NFL-record 64-yard kick, breaking the 63-yard mark held by Tom Dempsey, Matt Elam, Sebastian Janikowski and David Akers.

3. New England Patriots (10-3, LW: 3): The Stat: 11.6. How in trouble are the Patriots now that Rob Gronkowski is gone for the season? Well, it could be a struggle. This season New England has averaged 11.6 more points per game with Gronk in the line up. The good news is that they’re still winning games either way. A major part of that is because the Pats are 6-1 in games decided by 3 points or fewer.

45d26-saints4. New Orleans Saints (10-3, LW: 4): The Stat: 11-0. Don’t mess with Drew Brees and the Saints at home in primetime. Over the past four seasons, New Orleans has played eleven Sunday night, Monday night or Thursday night games at the Superdome. The Saints have gone 11-0 in those contests, and their quarterback has thrown 37 touchdowns against just four interceptions.

5. San Francisco 49ers (9-4, LW: 6): The Stat: 14, 2; 2, 6. How big of a difference does Colin Kaepernick make to the fortunes of the Niners? A pretty big one, it turns out. Kaepernick never seems to throw the ball too much, but how he takes care of the ball is of the utmost importance. In San Fran’s nine wins, Kaepernick has thrown 14 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. In their four losses, he has two touchdowns and six picks.

6. Carolina Panthers (9-4, LW: 5): The Stat: 6-6. If the Panthers’ offense isn’t rolling on all cylinders, at least they know they have this year’s most accurate deep ball kicker. There are only four kickers in the NFL who are perfect from 50+ yards, and Graham Gano is one of them. In fact, he’s 6-6 from long range. The best one other than Gano is Seattle’s Stephen Hauschka at 3-3.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3, LW: 7): The Stat: 4-0. Andy Reid was pushed out of the NFC East at the end of last season after 14 years walking the sidelines in Philadelphia. Turns out, he didn’t forget out to win in that division. The Chiefs are 4-0 against the East this year, and they ran through it in blow out fashion. The 45-10 win at Washington Sunday made their point differential +17.5 in those four wins.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4, LW: 8): The Stat: 3,582. AJ Green had 72 receiving yards Sunday, pushing him past Jerry Rice for the third most yards of any receiver in his first three seasons. Green has 3,582 yards through the air so far. Rice had 3,575. The two guys ahead of him still are Randy Moss (4,163) and Torry Holt (3,786).

9. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5, LW: 9): The Stat: 217. When the game started, you couldn’t even see the Lions’ white jerseys through the snow. By the time it was over 8.6″ had accumulated on the grass at Lincoln Financial Field. What happened in between was a masterpiece of a performance by running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy rushed for an Eagles franchise record 217 yards, 148 of it in the 4th Quarter, topping the 1949 mark of 205 by Steve Van Buren.

10. Chicago Bears (7-6, LW: 14): The Stat: 1,000. Mike Ditka’s No. 89 was the number of the night for the Bears, but 1,000 had just as much meaning for Chicago. In last night’s game, three different Bears players hit a 1,000 plateau of some kind. Matt Forte got to 1,000 rushing yards for the fourth time in his seven seasons, Brandon Marshall reached 1,000 receiving yards for the seventh time in eight years, and Robbie Gould is the 52nd player in NFL history to score 1,000 points.

11. Indianapolis Colts (8-5, LW: 11): The Stat: 13. The Colts have done a lot of things wrong recently. A big part of that is sticking themselves into early game deficits they can’t dig out of. One thing they are doing right is holding onto the football. Indianapolis has turned the ball over just 13 times in 13 games, the best total in the NFL. Five of those 13 came in one game, and in their eight wins they’ve given the ball up just five times.

12. Baltimore Ravens (7-6, LW: 15): The Stat: 0:04. There were four seconds on the clock when Joe Flacco threw the game winning touchdown pass to Marlon Brown. That’s the latest in regulation Baltimore has ever scored a touchdown to win. The Ravens have scored last minute, game winning touchdowns six other times, but never this late in the game. They scored with 14 seconds left twice.

13. Arizona Cardinals (8-5, LW: 13): The Stat: 8-3-2. The Cardinals have surprised plenty of people with their 8-5 record in the extremely difficult NFC West, but they’ve been even more surprising to the odds makers out in Las Vegas. Arizona is 8-3-2 against the spread this year, meaning they’ve come out on the positive side of the spread 10 out of 13 weeks.

14. Dallas Cowboys (7-6, LW: 10): The Stat: 475. Tony Romo upped his December TD:INT ratio over the last four years to 30:5, but he’s still a horrible December QB I guess. On the other hand, his defense gave up 475+ yards for the 6th time this season, and that’s a single season NFL record you’d rather not have. Dallas has also given up 490+ yards five times. No other team has done that more than twice this year.

15. Detroit Lions (7-6, LW: 12): The Stat: 33. Sunday wasn’t a marquee day for the Detroit offense, but here’s an unsurprising stat to turn that frown upside down. Since the start of the 2011 season, Calvin Johnson leads the NFL with 33 touchdown receptions. That’s a touchdown every 1-1/3 games. He’s two ahead of Dallas’ Dez Bryant on that list.

16. San Diego Chargers (6-7, LW: 17): The Stat: 4. The Ravens and Dolphins at 7-6 are in the driver’s seat for the final playoff berth in the AFC, but the 6-7 Chargers and Jets are still firmly in the hunt. San Diego and New York have company too. Surprisingly enough, four teams started 6-7 or worse and made the playoffs between 2002 and 2012. The 2008 Chargers were one of those, starting 5-8, making the playoffs and winning a game once they got there.

17. Miami Dolphins (7-6, LW: 18): The Stat: 48.7. The offense hasn’t been too bad in Miami this year, and part of that is because they’re giving themselves a chance in the field position battle. The Dolphins’ Brandon Fields leads the NFL with a 48.7 yard average on his 66 punts. Because of that, Miami is 9th in the NFL, having opponents start at their own 26.9 yard line.

18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1, LW: 21): The Stat: 880. Eddie Lacy set a Packers rookie record with his 222nd carry, but Mason Crosby did something no one in the league has done. His 880 points are the most ever by a player in just his first seven seasons. Mike Vanderjagt held the previous mark of 874. Crosby has made 181-of-231 field goal attempts and 337-of-339 extra points so far in his career.

19. New York Giants (5-8, LW: 16): The Stat: 19.9, 8.1. The Giants are doing a lot better with the process of not turning the ball over, but New York puts itself in bad positions over and over because of their bad return game. The Giants are 30th in kick off return average (19.9 yds) and 21st in punt return average (8.1 yds).

20. New York Jets (6-7, LW: 23): The Stat: 87.3. The Jets have been used to seeing bad Geno Smith for a few weeks now, but they didn’t get that rendition of the rookie quarterback on Sunday. Smith finished the win against Oakland with an 87.3 total QBR. That’s good, but it’s even more ridiculous when you realize that number was better than  his combined QBR from the previous seven games.

21. St. Louis Rams (5-8, LW: 19): The Stat: 22.4. How much of a difference has rookie running back Zac Stacy made on the Rams offense? Before he took over as the primary back, St. Louis ran the ball just 28.5% of the time. Ever since, the Rams have run the ball 52.2% of their plays, a difference of 22.4%. It’s made an even bigger difference than Sam Bradford’s season ending injury. The Rams are running the ball 14.9% more than before he was out.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8, LW: 20): The Stat: 3. Troy Polamalu put a charge into the Steelers faithful Sunday when he returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown and a Pittsburgh lead. Of course, fans are pretty used to Polamalu coming up with big plays. That was the third pick six of his career and the 5th defensive touchdown overall for the difference making defensive back.

23. Tennessee Titans (5-8, LW: 22): The Stat: 12. Even after allowing Peyton Manning to throw four touchdown passes Sunday, the Titans still lead the NFL, giving up just 12 TD passes all season. Tennessee leads the Panthers and 49ers by one on the list. The Titans haven’t done quite as well in causing turnovers though. They’re 21st with just 10 picks this season.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9, LW: 27): The Stat: 80. At the start of the season most of the excitement around the Buccaneers was based on the running game and exciting young back, Doug Martin. Things certainly have changed since then, but the focus is still on the running attack. With Martin and back up Mike James both out for the year, Bobby Rainey has taken over, and his 80-yard touchdown run Sunday is the longest in franchise history.

25. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1, LW: 24): The Stat: 7. The Vikings still lost, though they joined in to give us one of the greatest finishes we’ve ever seen in a football game. Another positive for Minnesota is that the Vikes broke an eight-game streak of not turning takeaways into points. They turned one Baltimore turnover into a touchdown Sunday, giving them just 48 points off turnovers this season. 27 of those came in the season’s first two weeks.

26. Oakland Raiders (4-9, LW: 25): The Stat: 5-of-7. The Raiders have definitely struggled the last few years, coasting to a 24-37 record since the start of 2010, but Oakland has been just fine against this week’s opponent, Kansas City, winning 5-of-7. That didn’t stop the resurgent Chiefs from beating the Raiders 24-7 earlier this year.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9, LW: 30): The Stat: 3. If the Jaguars had better quarterback play they might be in a little better shape. Jacksonville has turned the ball over 20 times this year, but 17 of those are interceptions, 28th in the league. Their running backs haven’t lost the ball a single time. The three fumbles all came from wide receivers. Of course, the backs aren’t picking up the yards either. They’re the only team in the NFL without 1,000 rushing yards.

28. Buffalo Bills (4-9, LW: 26): The Stat: 0. Times haven’t always been easy on the Bills offense this year, but Week 14 against Tampa Bay was particularly bad. It was the first time all season Buffalo didn’t have a single red zone score. In fact, they never even reached the red zone against the Buccaneers.

29. Cleveland Browns (4-9, LW: 31): The Stat: 1,400; 19.7. Josh Gordon is the shining star of the Browns organization right now, and he’s three weeks away from doing something that hasn’t been done in 62 years. Gordon leads the NFL in both receiving yards (1,400) and yards per reception (19.7.). If he holds up both numbers, it’ll be the first time a player has led both categories since Crazy Legs Hirsch did it in 1951 for the Rams. Also, Gordon’s 774 receiving yards in the last four weeks crushes the record Calvin Johnson (747) set earlier this season.

30. Atlanta Falcons (3-10, LW: 28): The Stat: 260. When the Falcons signed Steven Jackson in the offseason, chances are they didn’t expect to be dead last in the NFL in rushing attempts this year. It turns out that’s exactly where they are. Atlanta has 260 rushing attempts in 2013, 17 less than Dallas for last place. They’re also 30th in rushing yards at 81.2 per game.

31. Washington Redskins (3-10, LW: 29): The Stat: 6.7, 46.2. It’s gone from bad-to-worse for the Redskins and Quarterback Robert Griffin III. The defense continued to not hold up their end of the bargain Sunday, giving up five touchdowns and a field goal on Kansas City’s first seven possessions. RG3 didn’t help much either, though. His 6.7 Total QBR and 46.2 completion percentage were both the lowest of his career.

32. Houston Texans (2-11, LW: 32): The Stat: 221, 123. As the Texans continue to lose, their pass defense just keeps playing well. Houston has allowed 221 pass completions this year, best in the NFL. Also best, their 123 passing 1st downs given up. In fact, they’re second in the NFL in total first downs allowed with 221.

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