32. Detroit Lions, 0-10-1 ( - )
At best...at the absolute best...there are two potential wins left on the Lions schedule. Even getting to that mark would look like a minor miracle at this point.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-9 ( - )
If I’m in the building, I’m hoping and praying that Urban Meyer ends up heading to Notre Dame.
30. Houston Texans, 2-9 ( - )
All of the good will earned by beating the Titans was absolutely thrown into the dumpster and lit on fire by losing to the Jets. That should’ve been a cakewalk.
29. New York Jets, 3-8 ( - )
The Jets weirdly have three wins and two of them against teams in the Top 12 of this list. They clearly have the ability to surprise, but consistency isn’t in their bag of tricks.
28. New York Giants, 4-7 ( - )
I’m intrigued to see what this Giants team could look like with the pedal slammed to the floor and quarterback Daniel Jones just white knuckled and handcuffed to the steering wheel. Everyone is playing and coaching for their jobs at this point.
27. Atlanta Falcons, 5-6 ( - )
There is a version of this team with Cordarrelle Patterson, Calvin Ridley and Matt Ryan firing on all cylinders that can be fun to watch. However, that team still needs to score 30 points to overcome their really bad defense and we rarely see that iteration of this team.
26. Chicago Bears, 4-7 ( - )
Two of the Bears victories are against the Lions. They are almost assuredly going to get trounced in back-to-back-to-back weeks against the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings who are all vastly better teams.
25. Carolina Panthers, 5-7 ( - )
The luster has really come off of that Cam Newton signing, eh?
24. Seattle Seahawks, 3-8 (-1)
Does the team go back to Geno Smith just to get Russell Wilson back to 100 percent? The season is all but over, and the 33 year old QB is the only real viable chip this franchise has—either as the franchise QB for the foreseeable future or as a trade asset.
23. Washington Football Team, 5-6 (-1)
The more I watch this team, the more I absolutely buy-in to the idea that Taylor Heinicke can be a bridge QB to the next franchise QB...and he can probably win you a playoff game in the process. The team around him (especially the disappointing defense) needs to be better, though.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-5-1 (-5)
At this point, we’re not even worried about a playoff spot. It’s whether or not this team (with a pretty solid schedule ahead of them) can maintain a .500 record or not...my money is on not, with QB Ben Roethlisberger sure to struggle more and more as the season winds down.
21. Philadelphia Eagles, 5-7 (-1)
I was getting really hyped about the Eagles right up until that Giants game happened. Still most of their losses have come against really good teams, and this is still a team that could find themselves upsetting the apple cart and even sneaking into the playoffs.
20. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-5 (-1)
Beating the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving (and putting up a ton of points in the process) is getting off of the losing streak in a big way. The season has been rocky, but there’s two or three more winnable games on the schedule. A 9 or 10-win season would have to be seen as a huge victory for this crew.
19. New Orleans Saints, 5-6 (-4)
Taysom Hill is almost certainly not the answer, but he’s going to get a chance...the offense could be fun to watch, or fun to watch fail—depending on your rooting interest.
18. Denver Broncos, 6-5 ( - )
The offense looks better (in spots) than anyone gives it credit for, and that includes QB Teddy Bridgewater. Are they built for long-term success? Certainly not. Are they good enough to get a few more surprise wins this season? Yep!
17. Miami Dolphins, 5-7 (+7)
Over the last handful of weeks, the Dolphins are an efficient offense and a dominant defense. That’s what we expected all season long, and while it took them a while to get there, they’re at least finally keeping that promise .
16. Minnesota Vikings, 5-6 (+3)
The Vikings are the team they’ve always been in terms of wins, losses and not quite being good enough to overtake the Packers, but their offense (especially in terms of passing) is a wholly different animal than we’re used to.
15. Cleveland Browns, 6-6 (-2)
The Browns are, right now, a better team with a healthy Case Keenum than they are with a banged-up Baker Mayfield. The fact they don’t know that is going to cost them this season.
14. Los Angeles Chargers, 6-5 (-3)
The Chargers are a very talented, very flawed and very young (including coaches) team. On paper, they should only have one or two losses, but they also seem to be working out a lot of their issues.
13. San Francisco 49ers, 6-5 (+3)
The 49ers have been better than their record most of this season and their promise has really started to pay off—winning four of their last five. They’ve got six games left on their schedule and winning four or five of those is very much in play as well.
12. Cincinnati Bengals, 7-4 (+2)
This has been an up-and-down season for this young team, and they don’t seem particularly well-coached or ready for every matchup. The talent is there, however, for this to be a very dangerous team come playoff time.
11. Indianapolis Colts, 6-6 (+1)
In any given game, the Colts have the ability to be the best team in football. They’ll also be held back (a lot) by their quarterback. 9-10 wins seems like a given at this point, though.
10. Baltimore Ravens, 8-3 (-1)
The Ravens need Lamar Jackson to play perfect games to win, and while he has been very good, he hasn’t been perfect as much this season as they need him to be.
9. Dallas Cowboys, 7-4 (-1)
This is a very talented team that is very poorly coached...it’s one thing not to gameplan for Raiders RB Josh Jacobs on Thanksgiving. It’s another to have no answer for him when the Raiders were very clearly committed to running the ball.
8. Tennessee Titans, 8-4 (-3)
If the Titans can right the ship in their post-Derrick Henry 2021 season, Mike Vrabel should be coach of the year. That’s a big “if” at this point, though.
7. Kansas City Chiefs, 7-4 ( - )
Can the Chiefs continue to win while turning the ball over too much and not getting enough stops on defense? It’s possible, but they’re winning in the hardest way possible.
6. Los Angeles Rams, 7-4 (-3)
The Rams have too much talent not to right the ship...right?
5. Buffalo Bills, 7-4 (+1)
The Bills are known as a high octane offense, but they’re not...at least not this season and at least not up to expectations. Instead, they’re a bludgeoning defensive team toward the top of the league in most defensive metrics.
4. New England Patriots, 8-4 (+6)
Like the Bills, the Patriots are a defensive team, harkening back to the early days of Bill Belichick. They’re also efficient offensively with a rushing attack that doesn’t get enough credit because we’re all making Mac Jones-to-Tom Brady comparisons.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8-3 ( - )
As I mentioned in this week’s picks, we’re not giving the rushing attack in Tampa Bay nearly enough credit. This is a good overall team that is far more than just a vehicle for Tom Brady to win yet another ring.
2. Green Bay Packers, 9-2 ( - )
Pound for pound, maybe the most complete team in football. They don’t always play up to their own standards, but they’re very well coached and it’s tough to see them losing a whole lot more this season.
1. Arizona Cardinals, 9-2 ( - )
If the Packers aren’t the best team across all facets, it’s these guys. Getting both Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins back at 100 percent is a heckuva holiday gift.