Denver Regains Top Spot After Week 14 Win
1. Denver Broncos (10-3): Last Week’s Rank <2>
Denver took care of Buffalo, 24-17 in Week 14. Denver led wire to wire despite a lackluster performance from QB Peyton Manning. The future Hall of Famer threw for a season-low 173 yards and had his streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass end at 51. HB C.J. Anderson rushed for a career-high 3 TD’s. The Broncos move to number one this week because they can still find ways to win even when Manning does not have his best game. Denver has won four of its last five games.
2. Green Bay Packers (10-3): Last Week’s Rank <1>
Green Bay survived a second-half collapse and defeated Atlanta on Monday night, 43-37. The Packers enjoyed a 31-7 halftime lead, but were outscored 30-12 in the second half. QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 327 yards and three TD’s. WR Jordy Nelson was Green Bay’s leading receiver in the game with 146 yards and two scores. While the Packers are winners of five straight games, they do not hold onto their number one ranking after a major second-half meltdown on national TV.
3. New England Patriots (10-3): Last Week’s Rank <4>
New England bounced back from their loss in Green Bay and defeated San Diego 23-14 on Sunday night. Patriots’ star QB Tom Brady threw for 317 yards and 2 TD’s while the Patriots’ D pitched a shutout in the second half. WR Julian Edleman erupted for a career-high 141 receiving yards, including a 69-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to salt away the win. New England has not lost back to back games since 2012.
4. Arizona Cardinals (10-3): Last Week’s Rank <6>
The Cardinals overcame a 14-6 halftime deficit to beat Kansas City in Week 14, 17-14. A 26-yard touchdown pass from QB Drew Stanton to WR Jaron Brown in the third quarter proved to be the game winning play. This home win stopped Arizona’s two game slide.
5. Seattle Seahawks (9-4): Last Week’s Rank <7>
Seattle enjoyed a strong Week 14 showing against Philadelphia on the road. The stingy Seahawks’ D limited Philadelphia to 139 yards of offense, the lowest total in Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly’s NFL coaching career. Seattle has won six of its last seven games.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4): Last Week’s Rank <3>
Philly was pounded by a very physical Seattle team in Week 14. The high-octane Eagles’ offense was outscored 24-7 in the second and third quarters and managed only 139 yards of total offense for the game. By comparison, the Eagles surrendered 440 yards of total offense to Seattle. This loss snaps Philadelphia’s brief two game winning streak.
7. Dallas Cowboys (9-4): Last Week’s Rank <8>
Dallas bounced back from their Thanksgiving Day meltdown and handled the struggling Bears on Thursday night, 41-28. NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray ran wild to the tune of 179 yards and one touchdown while QB Tony Romo tossed 3 TD’s as he played through substantial rib and back injuries. Dallas is now tied for first place with Philadelphia and will tangle with the Eagles this Sunday night to decide who will take control of the NFC East.
8. Detroit Lions (9-4): Last Week’s Rank <9>
The Lions have won back to back games after taking care of lowly Tampa Bay in Week 14, 34-17. Lions’ gunslinger QB Matt Stafford threw for 311 yards and three scores. Stafford’s favorite target, WR Calvin Johnson caught 8 passes for 158 yards and one TD. Detroit’s rushing attack also pitched in with an impressive 113 yards on the ground.
9. Indianapolis Colts (9-4): Last Week’s Rank <11>
The Colts squeaked by the Cleveland Browns in Week 14, 25-24. Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck threw the game-winning touchdown to WR T.Y. Hilton with 32 seconds remaining in the game. Hilton racked up 150 receiving yards on the day, and also scored on another Andrew Luck touchdown pass earlier in the game. The Colts have won four of their last five games.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1): Last Week’s Rank <5>
Cincinnati was stomped on by division rival Pittsburgh in Week 14, 42-21. Cincinnati’s star receiver A.J. Green exploded for a career-high 224 yards which included an 81-yard touchdown catch, but his heroics were not enough as Pittsburgh rolled up a whopping 543 yards of total offense. By virtue of their tie to Carolina earlier in the year, the Bengals still hold the best record in the very competitive AFC North division.
11. Baltimore Ravens (8-5): Last Week’s Rank <12>
Baltimore trailed 10-0 after the first quarter of their Week 14 match-up against Miami. However, the Ravens outscored the Dolphins 28-3 from that point on for their fourth road win of the season. QB Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards and two scores while the Ravens’ ground attack overwhelmed the Miami D to the tune of 183 total yards.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5): Last Week’s Rank <13>
Trailing 21-17 heading into the fourth quarter, the Steelers’ offense exploded for 25 unanswered points in the final stanza to beat division rival Cincinnati. QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 350 yards and 3 TD’s, including a 94-yard TD bomb to WR Martavis Bryant. HB Le’Veon Bell added three TD’s and also eclipsed 200 all-purpose yards for the third consecutive game.
13. San Diego Chargers (8-5): Last Week’s Rank <10>
San Diego’s three game winning streak came to a halt in Week 14 after the Chargers’ offense managed only seven points against a tough New England defense. A game-ending injury to punter Mike Scifres greatly affected the field position battle which was too much for San Diego to overcome. San Diego’s season record is now 1-2 in games that QB Philip Rivers fails to reach at least 200 yards passing.
14. Buffalo Bills (7-6): Last Week’s Rank <15>
The Bills could not cash in on a rare off day from opposing QB Peyton Manning as they fell to Denver in Week 14. While quarterback Kyle Orton threw for 355 yards and a score, he also accounted for two of Buffalo’s three turnovers in the game. The Bills’ offense was completely one-dimensional as their ground attack totaled just 74 yards. The loss ends Buffalo’s two-game winning streak.
15. Miami Dolphins (7-6): Last Week’s Rank <16>
The Dolphins failed to protect their home turf as they lost to Baltimore, 28-13. QB Ryan Tannehill did his part with 227 passing yards and one TD pass, but he received little help from his supporting cast. Opposing DE Elvis Dummervil terrorized Tannehill en route to a 3.5 sack performance. The Dolphins’ offensive line allowed six total sacks on the day and managed just 63 yards rushing.
16. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6): Last Week’s Rank <17>
Kansas City lost for the third week in a row as they let one slip away against Arizona in Week 14. HB Jamaal Charles scored two all-purpose TD’s for Kansas City and has a league-leading 14 scores on the season. However, the Chiefs were -2 in turnover margin for the second consecutive week and committed nine penalties for 75 yards. These miscues allowed Arizona to come back from a 14-6 halftime deficit.
17. Cleveland Browns (7-6): Last Week’s Rank <18>
The chants for Johnny Football in Cleveland grow louder and louder as the Browns lost another game in Week 14. The Browns’ D scored two touchdowns against the Colts, but QB Brian Hoyer’s 14-of-31 passing performance which included two interceptions, sealed Cleveland’s fate. How much longer can Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine stay with Hoyer in the starting lineup despite such minimal offensive production? Stay tuned…
18. Houston Texans (7-6): Last Week’s Rank <19>
The Texans took care of the struggling Jaguars on the road in Week 14, 27-13. After having trouble with the feisty Jags in the first half, Houston outscored Jacksonville 17-0 in the second half to secure the win. HB Arian Foster eclipsed the 100-yard rushing plateau for the first time since Week 8 and now has 1,028 yards rushing on the season. Defensive superstar J.J. Watt also helped Houston’s cause with three big sacks in the game.
19. St. Louis Rams (6-7): Last Week’s Rank <20>
St. Louis enjoyed another shutout victory for the second week in a row, taking out Washington 24-0. As a jab against the Redskins during the opening coin toss, Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher sent out the six players that St. Louis acquired in the 2012 trade for Robert Griffin III. St. Louis has outscore their opponents 76-0 in the past two weeks and have earned their first winning streak of the season.
20. San Francisco 49’ers (7-6): Last Week’s Rank <14>
San Fran suffered an embarrassing loss in Week 14 to one of the worst teams in football. 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick was sacked five times and didn’t help matters with his two interception performance. San Francisco’s prolific ground game was held to under 100 yards as a team. The 49’ers have now lost back to back games and are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs.
21. Minnesota Vikings (6-7): Last Week’s Rank <23>
It took an overtime session to get the job done, but Minnesota beat the New York Jets at home in Week 14, 30-24. The game-winning score came on an 87-yard screen pass from QB Teddy Bridgewater to WR Jarius Wright on a 3rd and 5 play. Bridgewater eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark for the second time this season and Minnesota has won two in a row.
22. Atlanta Falcons (5-8): Last Week’s Rank <21>
The Falcons’ porous defense was on full display on Monday night as the Packers scored 31 first half points against them. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan was able to keep his team in the game with 375 passing yards and four touchdowns. WR Julio Jones broke free in the Green Bay secondary as he notched a career high with an incredible 259 yards receiving in the game. Although the Falcons lost, they remain in a first place tie with New Orleans in the underwhelming NFC South division.
23. Chicago Bears (5-8): Last Week’s Rank <24>
Chicago dropped their second game in a row as they fell to Dallas in Week 14. As usual, the Bears’ ground game was dead on arrival as they accounted for just 35 measly yards the entire game. Jay Cutler did his best to give Chicago a chance to win with 341 yards passing and 3 total TD’s. However, Cutty’s efforts were not enough to prevent the Bears from falling to last place in the NFC North.
24. Carolina Panther (4-8-1): Last Week’s Rank <25>
The Panthers finally stopped their six-game losing streak by burying the Saints in Week 14. Panthers’ RB Johnathan Stewart rushed for a season-high 155 yards, his highest single-game total since December 27th, 2009. QB Cam Newton accounted for 309 all-purpose yards and four total TD’s in the game. In one fell swoop, the Panthers find themselves right back in the mix for a division crown.
25. New Orleans Saints (5-8): Last Week’s Rank <22>
New Orleans was destroyed at home by division rival Carolina in Week 14, 41-10. Offensively, the Saints did manage to collect 310 yards total yards in the game, but the horrific Saints D’ allowed a whopping 271 rushing yards to the struggling Panthers. Once a formidable opponent in their home stadium, New Orleans is an underachieving 3-4 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this year.
26. New York Giants (4-9): Last Week’s Rank <26>
The New York Giants finally snapped their league-worst seven game losing streak by obliterating the Tennessee Titans in Week 14, 36-7. Big Blue jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead and never let the lowly Titans back in the game. Rookie HB Andre Williams scored on a 50-yard touchdown run and totaled 131 yards on the ground. It was Williams’ first career 100+ yard rushing performance in the pros. Fellow rookie Odell Beckham Jr. continued his recent hot streak as he hauled in 11 passes for 130 receiving yards and one score of his own.
27. Washington Redskins (3-10): Last Week’s Rank <27>
Washington mailed in yet another lackluster effort against St. Louis in Week 14. The Redskins’ offense was missing in action as QB Colt McCoy led the team in rushing with a paltry 11 yards on the ground. Washington’s offensive line was downright offensive as they allowed seven sacks on the day. QB Robert Griffin III, who was benched two weeks ago, made a cameo appearance late in the game following an injury to Colt McCoy. The Redskins are now losers of five straight games.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11): Last Week’s Rank <28>
The Bucs were terrorized by Detroit’s defense in Week 14. Bucs’ QB Josh McCown was sacked six times and accounted for all three Tampa Bay turnovers. As a team, the Bucs rushed for only 26 total yards on the day. WR’s Vincent Jackson (10 receptions, 159 yards) and Mike Evans (45 yards, 2 TD’s) had good individual games, but their efforts were not enough as Tampa Bay was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11): Last Week’s Rank <30>
The Jaguars actually enjoyed a 13-10 halftime lead against Houston in Week 14. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, they just couldn’t muster up enough offense to finish the job. RB Denard Robinson was the team’s leading rusher with just 30 yards on the day. QB Blake Bortles missed on 19 of his 39 pass attempts and got all too familiar with Texans’ star DE J.J. Watt in the process.
30. Oakland Raiders (2-11): Last Week’s Rank <32>
The Raiders shook off an embarrassing Week 13 loss and beat San Francisco in a battle for Bay Area bragging rights. Rookie QB Derek Carr out-dueled veteran passer Colin Kaepernick by completing 22 of 28 passes for 254 yards and three scores. Oakland produced 330 yards of total offense on the day and has now won two out of their last three games.
31. New York Jets (2-11): Last Week’s Rank <31>
The floundering New York Jets took their circus act to Minnesota for Week 14 where they lost in overtime. Starting QB Geno Smith led the Jets to a game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter to force the extra session, but the Jets’ defense blew the game in OT by allowing a simple screen pass to go for an 87-yard touchdown.
32. Tennessee Titans (2-11): Last Week’s Rank <29>
Tennessee didn’t put up much of a fight against the struggling Giants in Week 14. Rookie QB Zach Mettenberger was injured for the second week in a row and will miss the remainder of the season (shoulder). Tennessee can thank their three turnovers and dismal 2-for-13 third down conversion rate as the main reasons for their latest defeat. The Titans have now dropped seven games in a row, the longest active losing streak in the NFL.