NFL Power Rankings: With Browns on bye, 49ers hit rock bottom
From 32 to 1...
There are now 13 weeks in the books...
32) 49ers (1-11)
Yes, the 49ers have one victory. But it was a long time ago and barely even registers in our memories. What’s fresh in our minds is that pathetic showing on Sunday at Soldier Field. After struggling to complete a forward pass – a somewhat essential part of football in the year 2016 – the 49ers are awarded the ceremonial honor of taking the last spot in our rankings for at least a week.
31) Cleveland (0-12)
The Browns had the bye week, so they moved up one spot because our staff of one temporarily forgot exactly how bad they are. Plus, we wanted to give Hue Jackson a reason to shed tears of joy.
30) Jacksonville (2-10)
Wasn’t there a time not too long ago when Blake Bortles was seen as a possible franchise quarterback? In 41 career starts, Bortles has thrown 11 pick-sixes, while the Jaguars have won just 10 of those games.
29) N.Y. Jets (3-9)
What does the NFL schedule-maker have against the Jets? They play a Monday night game, then have the huge challenge of traveling cross country to face a 49ers team that is fully capable of passing for positive yardage (barely). At least the Jets have Bryce Petty at quarterback for the final four games.
28) Chicago (3-9)
Even with 16 players who are out of the season with injuries, the Bears looked like a juggernaut in their blowout victory over the visitors from Santa Clara. However, the Bears could not keep up with the 49ers when it came to making snow angels.
27) Los Angeles (4-8)
Let’s see if we have this correct: Jeff Fisher signed a contract extension several months ago; news of the contract is finally reported shortly after his public feud with Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson; he is just two defeats shy of losing more games than anyone in NFL history; and Fisher might get fired anyway after another underachieving season.
26) Carolina (4-8)
Cam Newton became the first player in NFL history to be benched due to his decision to wear a turtleneck sweater on his way to the stadium. Derek Anderson took full advantage of his opportunity to expose the absolute absurdity of Ron Rivera’s decision by throwing an interception with his first pass attempt before getting yanked.
25) Cincinnati (4-7-1)
Marvin Lewis is going to need a miraculous finish, overcoming 2 ½-game deficits to the Ravens and Steelers, for the opportunity to run his playoff record to 0-8.
24) San Diego (5-7)
Worth the wait? After his protracted contract stalemate and joining the Chargers late, rookie Joey Bosa has 5.5 sacks and is closing in on the team-lead.
23) New Orleans (5-7)
Drew Brees, who entered the game with 30 touchdown passes on the season, was held without a throwing score, against the Lions. The Saints’ slim hopes hinge on winning on the road against the surging Bucs.
22) Philadelphia (5-7)
With five losses in their past six games, the Eagles are no better off than they were a year ago. At least their head coach has not been accused of lacking emotional intelligence.
21) Buffalo (6-6)
The Bills need a closer to avoid giving up 28 unanswered points in 12 minutes to see a possible upset of the Raiders turn into a blowout loss.
20) Minnesota (6-6)
After missing one game after emergency eye surgery, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer returned to work on Monday and will be back on the sideline Sunday at Jacksonville to see if he can do something to snap his team out of its funk.
19) Arizona (5-6-1)
The Cardinals avoided the first three-game losing streak under coach Bruce Arians against Washington and kept their slim Super-Bowl-or-bust hopes alive.
18) Houston (6-6)
The Texans are in a three-way tie for the AFC South, and they travel to face one of those teams, the Colts, on Sunday for a big one.
17) Tennessee (6-6)
The Titans are in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South, but they’re the one of the three that have scored more points than their opposition.
16) Indianapolis (6-6)
Frank Gore surpassed Tony Dorsett on Monday and now ranks No. 8 in rushing in NFL history with 12,789 yards. Next up at No. 7 is Eric Dickerson at 13,259.
15) Green Bay (6-6)
After someone here wrote them off a couple of weeks ago, the Packers are on a two-game winning streak and they’re never out of it as long as they have the Chico Kid slinging it around.
14) Washington (6-5-1)
His brother might be known as the talker, but Jay Gruden had plenty to say to his team after the uninspiring loss to Arizona. Gruden lashed out at his team in the postgame locker room loud enough that reporters standing in the hallway could hear his yelling.
13) Atlanta (7-5)
You can’t fault coach Dan Quinn for his decision to go for two points with the Falcons going up by one point with more than four minutes remaining. But the first ever interception returned for all the way for two points going the other way provided the losing points and second-guessers to have a field day.
12) Miami (7-5)
The Dolphins had a six-game losing streak through November. But these are not the December Dolphins. Since 2009, Miami is 13-18 in the 12th month of the year.
11) Tampa Bay (7-5)
Dirk Koetter’s squad is on a roll with four consecutive wins, including impressive victories over Kansas City and Seattle. Two of the Bucs’ final four games are against the Saints.
10) Baltimore (7-5)
Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns against the league’s No. 3-ranked defense. There’s a word to describe that kind of performance . . . it begins and ends with “e.”
9) N.Y. Giants (8-4)
The Giants saw the end of their six-game winning streak come on a day in which they lost at Pittsburgh for the first time since 1971. (Oddly, that required only two wins – 1991 and 2008.)
8) Pittsburgh (7-5)
The Steelers have followed their four-game losing skid with a three-game win streak to enter the final four games in familiar position of battling the Ravens for the division crown.
7) Detroit (8-4)
Since the Lions opened last season with a 1-7 record, they have rolled up a 14-6 record – same as the Patriots over that period.
6) Denver (8-4)
Paxton Lynch was not exactly impressive behind center, completing 50 percent of his passes for 104 yards. But with this defense, the quarterback just has to stay out of the way.
5) Seattle (8-3-1)
Earl Thomas sustained a broken lower leg and tweeted from the locker room that a lot was running through his mind, including retirement. The Seahawks are still a talented bunch, but the road to get back to the Super Bowl becomes a lot more difficult without one of the game’s best defensive backs.
4) Kansas City (9-3)
The Chiefs have a little magic going on, too. Eric Berry, who was diagnosed almost two years ago to the day with lymphoma, returned to Atlanta, where he underwent treatment. Berry returned an interception for a TD and supplied the deciding two points with an interception return on a two-point conversion.
3) New England (10-2)
Tom Brady surpassed Peyton Manning with win No. 201, including the postseason. Brady is not slowing down, either. This record is going to last for a long, long time.
2) Raiders (10-2)
They have leading candidates for NFL Player of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year. And, now, they’re looking to ride Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. But, first, they have to hold onto the AFC West lead on Thursday against Kansas City.
1) Dallas (11-1)
The Cowboys have already clinched a postseason berth, and it will not be long before Jerry Jones can start printing those home tickets for the NFC playoffs.