32. Detroit Lions, 0-9-1 ( - )
The Lions are still playing teams close, but they’ve lost all semblance of the promise they once showed. Injuries are taking their toll, but coaching has also been a disappointment.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-8 (-1)
I’ve posed this question before, but it’s very possible that this is the worst coached team in the NFL and that they’re ruining rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
30. Houston Texans, 2-8 (+1)
I’ve said a lot of nice things about rookie QB Davis Mills this season, but Tyrod Taylor is back and has this team rolling all of a sudden. They could turn this into a winning streak with a game against the Jets.
29. New York Jets, 2-8 ( - )
The Jets clearly don’t know what to do at the quarterback position, and they should probably figure that out for next season. As of right now, this one’s over.
28. New York Giants, 3-7 (-1)
Firing offensive coordinator Jason Garrett isn’t going to be enough. This is maybe one of the most overhyped and most poorly coached offenses in recent memory.
27. Atlanta Falcons, 4-6 (-1)
I’ve seen pundits trying to blame some of the Falcons offensive issues on the drafting of tight end Kyle Pitts because “you can’t draft a tight end so highly,” but this is more than that. Pitts is a certified stud and will take time. He just can’t be the only weapon as he is currently.
26. Chicago Bears, 3-7 (-2)
We’re back to Andy Dalton? Yay.
25. Carolina Panthers, 5-6 ( - )
Cam has played great in his return, but there were moments against Washington Football Team that have me remembering what soured the franchise on him in the first place. Down late, needing to need to make a play with his arm, he didn’t have it and was sacked, hit multiple times when an inferior defense dared him to throw.
24. Miami Dolphins, 4-7 (+4)
It’s easy to be real bullish on the Dolphins right now. They’re rolling through a win streak and have a great opportunity to continue that streak for the next month. Yet, before we get too excited, remember this was always supposed to be a playoff team.
23. Seattle Seahawks, 3-7 (-3)
Prior to the season, I was super stoked to watch this Seahawks offense. Now, I dread it. It lacks creativity, cohesiveness and consistency. It actually looked better (or at least like there was a plan) with Geno Smith at quarterback. Russell Wilson is either more hurt than he’s letting on or just completely disengaged.
22. Washington Football Team, 4-6 ( - )
Every week, I remember just how bad the Washington Football Team’s defense is and wonder how in the world they’re going to win the game. Yet, their offense has gotten adept at picking up that slack.
21. Las Vegas Raiders, 5-5 (-7)
The Raiders had a bump thanks to the switch from Jon Gruden to Rich Bisaccia, but now his version of this team is on tape and (thanks to the loss of wide receiver Henry Ruggs) isn’t any better.
20. Philadelphia Eagles, 4-6 (+3)
I’ve been lower on the Eagles than most all season, but the offensive line getting healthier and quarterback Jalen Hurts progressing has made all the difference. The rest of the schedule is Jets plus NFC East opponents and things could continue to look up.
19. Minnesota Vikings, 5-5 (+2)
Between now and Christmas, the Vikings have a pretty easy schedule. They’ve made things difficult for themselves with all of the close losses, but they’re still in the hunt and quietly one of the more offensively excellent teams in football.
18. Denver Broncos, 5-5 (+1)
There are things to like about the Broncos—especially defensively—but fans and local media are already discussing draft picks and who the next head coach should be.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-4-1 (+1)
The Steelers are 5-4-1 and haven’t had a quality win since beating the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. The second half of their schedule is rough and they’ll need to be at their best to pick up a single win for the rest of the year. They haven’t been at their best for a while.
16. San Francisco 49ers, 5-5 (-1)
The 49ers match up really well with the Vikings who are just a few spots lower on this list. If they can continue to patchwork a running game and get the ball into Deebo Samuel’s hands anywhere on the field, they could make some noise in a wide open NFC playoff race.
15. New Orleans Saints, 5-5 (-1)
Losers of three straight, the luster is coming off of a once-feared defense and the offense looks inept outside of running back Alvin Kamara.
14. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-4 (-5)
The Bengals were talked about as the best team in the NFL just a few weeks ago, and while they’re certainly not that, they’re able to beat teams in the middle of these here rankings and about half of their future opponents fall into that category.
13. Cleveland Browns, 6-5 ( - )
Kevin Stefanski is generally thought of as one of the top young coaches in the NFL, and I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, but this team has all the look of a poorly coached team. Penalties are a consistent problem and neither side of the ball are outplaying their talent. An injured Baker Mayfield isn’t helping, but it’s not the only issue.
12. Indianapolis Colts, 6-5 (+3)
I’ve been a Colts honk all season long and have consistently reminded you in this space that they’re playing better than their record. Still, as exciting as the Bills win was, they need QB Carson Wentz to play better than 11 completions against the NFL’s best—they have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.
11. Los Angeles Chargers, 6-4 (-1)
Week 11 saw the Chargers stop a top rushing attack for the first time this season. Can they continue that over the second half of the season? If so, this is one of the more talent teams on paper in the middle of this list.
10. New England Patriots, 7-4 (+2)
I try to avoid wide swings in my rankings, but I am relatively convinced that, right now, the Patriots are playing like a Top 5 team and they have the opportunity to get there with games against the Colts as well as the reeling Titans and Bills (twice) to close out the calendar year. If you told me you didn’t think the Patriots would lose another game, I don’t think I’d argue too much. They could just as easily go .500 during that stretch.
9. Baltimore Ravens, 7-3 (-1)
The end of the Ravens schedule is packed with mediocre (or worse) AFC North foes. Those games are always physical and close, which play into the Ravens’ strengths. They’re not overly flashy, but they’re better than they looked in their recent loss to the Dolphins.
8. Dallas Cowboys, 7-3 (-1)
The defense has warts, but if you squint a little bit and hold your head to the side, you can see what they’re working toward. The offense, however, needs to really carry things and that didn’t happen this past week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Playmakers need to play like playmakers—even if the offensive line is banged up—and that’s on coaching to put them in positions to make that happen.
7. Kansas City Chiefs, 7-4 (+4)
The defense is currently playing lights out and the offense is starting to look like we all expected it to look all along. They’re not the juggernaut they could’ve been this season, but they’re tough out in December and January and they’re clearly going to be playing meaningful football well into the playoffs.
6. Buffalo Bills, 6-4 ( - )
Rex Ryan was last seen criticizing the New York Jets but how do you think the tough guy coach feels about his former Bills team being out muscled and outmanned by a flawed Colts team at home?
5. Tennessee Titans, 8-3 (-1)
Again, I avoid wild swings in my rankings and the Titans got “any given Sunday’d” against the Texans in a big way, but time will tell if that’s truly who they are as a team. They spent Monday and Tuesday retooling the roster a bit, so it’s clear that they’re addressing the problem of a one-dimensional offense which the now-cut RB Adrian Peterson was a poor fit to lead.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7-3 (-1)
QB Tom Brady got his groove back in primetime, but the passing offense still looks out of sync. They’ve got a pretty tough stretch including the Colts, Bills and Saints defenses—all in the Top 13, but they’ve got to get right before the playoffs.
3. Los Angeles Rams, 7-3 ( - )
A closer look at the Rams wins over the course of this season reveals that they haven’t really beaten anyone of note since September. This so-called super team is coming off of a bye and needs to prove there’s some substance behind that flash.
2. Green Bay Packers, 8-2 ( - )
A close divisional loss on the road isn’t exactly the end of the world. They’ve got the above Rams this week in what should be a really good game. It will be interesting to see if QB Aaron Rodgers is able to move around with his Turf Toe against a strong and rested Rams front.
1. Arizona Cardinals, 9-2 ( - ) They went 2-1 without QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins. Now, they’re entering the bye and believe they’ll get both back next week. They’ve got three tough opponents in their remaining six games and it’s difficult to find a better overall team in football right now.