NFL Power Rankings: There's a new top team in the AFC
It’s Tuesday of Week 12, so let’s check in on the Patriots where Antonio Brown is standing on the front porch banging on the door screaming, “I’m sorry!!!!” while on the other side, everyone’s trying to hold Tom Brady and Bill Belichick back from opening the door and holding AB in a tearful embrace.
Elsewhere, Rob Gronkowski — who wouldn’t return to the Patriots at the point of a bayonet — has once again played “Get the stick! Get the stick!” with the region and we all fell for the fake throw again. Well, not all. But enough so that you were bombarded for days with, “Ohhhhh, is he coming back?!?!” coverage.
Also, Myles Garrett and Colin Kaepernick. That’s all. To the rankings.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (0-10)
(Last three rankings: 16, 16, 16)
15. New York Jets (3-7)
Beat the Giants and Redskins. Clear the Canyon of Heroes. Time for a tickertape parade.
(Last three rankings: 14, 15, 15)
14. Miami Dolphins (2-8)
They are at Cleveland this week. Just a great juxtaposition of two first-year coaches. Four of the Dolphins’ final six games are on the road but they have the Jets, Giants and Bengals so they could be a five-win team — which, to be honest, would make me want to send my Coach of the Year vote at Brian Flores.
(Last three rankings: 15, 14, 14)
13. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6)
They got blasted back-to-back by the Texans and Colts and their only wins since the end of September came against the Bengals and Jets. No good for the 4-6 Jags.
(Last three rankings: 9, 11, 13)
12. Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Stupidest team in the NFL in quite some time. Freddie Kitchens. I can just imagine Rex Ryan looking at him and saying, “Wow … I never thought I’d find a team less disciplined and more erratic than the ones I coached but Freddie’s done it. All in one year.”
(Last three rankings: 10, 13, 12)
11. Denver Broncos (3-7)
From last week’s rankings: You like money? Want some free money? Take the Broncos at Minnesota this Sunday. You know Kirk Cousins can’t stand all this prosperity and Vic Fangio has that NFC North résumé he can use to undress Kirky.
Sometimes I just give out winners. If you had the Broncos and the 10 points, you are welcome. Denver is the best bad team in the NFL.
(Last three rankings: 12, 10, 11)
10. Tennessee Titans (5-5)
(Last three rankings: 10, 12, 10)
9. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7)
Sometimes I forget how many Ls to put in the quarterback’s first name. This week, he gets one L for every loss … Philllllllip Rivers.
(Last three rankings: 11, 8, 8)
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5)
How can I move them up after they lost by 14 to the Browns and have attrition at receiver to deal with? They are 5-5 and everyone behind them is either not that great or tremendously inconsistent/untrustworthy.
(Last three rankings: 9, 9, 9)
7. Buffalo Bills (7-3)
I was on board with these guys for a while but their wins over the last five games have been against Miami (twice) and the Redskins with losses to the Browns and Eagles mixed in. We’ll get it straightened out on what they are over the next five weeks — Broncos, at Cowboys, Ravens, at Steelers, at Patriots.
(Last three rankings: 7, 7, 8)
6. Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
So they beat the Jags at home. Convincingly. A week after losing to Miami. I remain unmoved by the 6-4 Colts and will probably be no more swayed by them after they visit Houston.
(Last three rankings: 2, 5, 7)
5. Houston Texans
Ya gotta show up. I mean, it’s fighting for the second seed and a first-round bye on the road against the Ravens and you lose by 34? Holy crap. Hate to say “Same old Texans” but …. same old Texans. They have three in a row at home — Colts, Pats, Broncos.
(Last three rankings: 3, 3, 3)
4. Oakland Raiders (6-4)
I point this out every week but the Raiders' 6-4 record is not a customary 6-4. From Week 3 through Week 8 they played at Minny, at Indy, in London, at Green Bay and at Houston. They have balls.
(Last three rankings: 6, 6, 4)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
These guys are slip-sliding back toward mediocre. The Chargers woulda/coulda/shoulda if it weren’t for the uber-generous Philip Rivers and a moronic game plan that saw them run 19 times against a porous run defense and throw 52. The Chiefs have their bye week then close with Raiders, Pats, Broncos, Bears and Chargers. Could be 12-4. Could be 9-7.
(Last three rankings: 4, 4, 5)
2. New England Patriots (9-1)
Best record in the AFC. Best defense in the NFL. Offensively impaired. Coming off a bye against a team with a merely OK defense, the Patriots appeared no closer to finding themselves on offense than they were in August. They’ll probably need to hold Dallas to fewer than 20, because it’s hard to envision an onslaught of production.
(Last three rankings: 1, 1, 1)
1. Baltimore Ravens (8-2)
Baby, I can’t fight this feeling anymore. In the past three weeks, the Ravens ripped the Patriots, avoided an unnecessary, drama-filled struggle with Cincy and then caved in the Texans’ craniums. So they beat my 1 and my 3 and hammered my 16. Gotta do what I gotta do.
(Last three rankings: 5, 2, 2)