NFL Power Rankings Week 14
December football is pressure football.
In the NFL, this is moving time. This is the time of the year that the top teams maneuver their way to bye weeks and home-field playoff games, positioning themselves for a potential championship run. For the next tier, this is the month in which the contenders and the pretenders sort themselves out as they grasp for those final fleeting playoff slots.
For the disappointments, this is the month where teams either quit or fight, with dozens of coaching jobs up for grabs based on how teams finish through these dark winter weekends. For next year's hopefuls, the seeds of momentum usually get planted during this stretch. And for the bottom feeders, these are the weeks that will determine next year's draft order and the hope that follows.
But December isn't only a massive month for the players. For bettors, December football is equally treacherous. Some bettors have been crushing the books for months. And now is the time when they need to decide: press the advantage or take the money and run? For other bettors, this season hasn't been as kind. September and October losses are easier to brush aside. "There's still plenty of time." But come December, time is running out on salvaging anything from this campaign.
The stakes couldn't be higher. Can you handle the pressure?
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2) - Last year the Ravens devastated the Bills 47-3 in the season opener. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that won't happen again this week when Baltimore travels to Buffalo . The road team is actually 0-7 straight up in the Bills series. And prior to last year's blowout, the previous four meetings had been decided by an average of just 4.3 points. The Ravens are 7-2 ATS in their last nine road games and 4-1 ATS in their last five games against a team over .500.
2. New Orleans Saints (10-2) - I think that we are going to find out how realistic New Orleans' Super Bowl hopes are this week. The Saints have been rock solid this entire year, even surviving without Drew Brees. However, they haven't beaten a team that is currently over .500 in nine games. And when was the last time we saw the Saints just ramrod a good team down in The Bayou? It's been awhile. Too long.
3. New England Patriots (10-2) - Do you know how many teams in the NFL would kill to go 13-3 or 12-4? The Patriots are going to do that, and everyone is questioning whether their dynasty is over? The standard they have set for themselves is ridiculous. There is no way that I am off the bandwagon, though. And there is no way that I am betting against them this week.
4. San Francisco 49ers (10-2) - I'm sorry, but Jimmy Garappolo is never going to win a Super Bowl. The guy turns the ball over way, way too much and in way too bizarre of a fashion. Despite the league's No. 2 rushing attack, San Francisco is 25th in red zone touchdown percentage (48.9). And that is only slightly up from last year's league-worst 41.2 percent. If these guys ever figure things out in the red zone, the rest of the NFL will have real problems.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) - Last year the Chiefs scored a touchdown on 73.1 percent of their red zone attempts. This year that number has plummeted to 53.9 percent, the largest drop in the league. Kansas City is looking for revenge for two losses to the Patriots last year, one by just a field goal and the other in overtime in the AFC Championship Game.
6. Seattle Seahawks (10-2) - Seattle just keeps rolling on. That's now five straight wins and a 4-0 ATS run. Their pass defense definitely plays better than the No. 29 ranked unit in the league. They are also just No. 24 in total defense and No. 23 in points allowed. But, again, these guys are always ravenous when they need to be.
7. Minnesota Vikings (8-4) - One of the storylines coming out of the Vikings game was that Kirk Cousins is now 0-8 on Monday Night Football and that this was yet another primetime loss for the embattled quarterback. You tell me: what about that game was Cousins' fault? Dalvin Cook's fumble? Xavier Rhodes' blown coverage? Tre Flowers ridiculous interception? Cousins is the least of Minnesota's problems.
8. Green Bay Packers (9-3) - I know I've said it before, but Green Bay's defense is awful. And they have gotten worse each week. I don't care who they are playing; the only way the Packers are going to cover a two-touchdown spread against anyone is if they fluke their way into a host of turnovers. The Packers are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win.
9. Los Angeles Rams (7-5) - There is a reverse line movement in this week's game with Seattle . The Rams are catching right around 33 percent of the early week action in this game. However, the line has actually dropped from an open of 2.5 down to just 1.0. The Rams are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against the Seahawks and the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
10. Houston Texans (8-4) - I feel like that win over the Patriots can do as much harm as good for Houston down the stretch. Maybe it has proven to them that their talent is among the AFC's elite and they start playing up to their capabilities. But I think the more likely scenario is that it inflates the ego (and spreads) on this already overrated team. Houston is just 2-5 ATS at home and 3-10 ATS in its last 13 December games.
11. Buffalo Bills (9-3) - I will continue to knock Buffalo's schedule. But they are going to end up with 10 or 11 wins and a playoff game. They looked absolutely legit against the Cowboys last week. And defensively the have allowed just one team to score more than 21 points this season. They are catching Baltimore in a bit of a letdown spot this week, and Buffalo shouldn't be rattled by Baltimore's physical style of play.
12. Tennessee Titans (7-5) - Last season the Titans managed a touchdown on just 53.2 percent of their red zone trips, 23rd in the league. This year they are No. 1 in the NFL while converting 71.9 percent of those drives into six points. The problem is that last year their defense only allowed touchdowns on 44.7 percent of red zone opportunities while this year the percentage has plummeted to 64.7 percent.
13. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) - These guys have just been absolutely decimated by injuries. There is just nothing they can do. The receiving corps has been absolutely shredded. And the defense isn't good enough to pick up the slack. The Colts are 7-2 ATS in their last nine road games and 5-2 ATS in their last seven after a loss.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (4-8) - I know it might be odd to see a 4-8 team ranked this high. However, the Chargers' eight losses have all been by seven points or less, and they have actually outscored their opponents on the season. The Chargers have been terrible on trips to Florida in recent seasons. But they are 10-4 ATS on the road and their travel is mitigated by the fact that this game has a 4 p.m. kickoff.
15. Dallas Cowboys (6-6) - I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but maybe the answer is that this team isn't nearly as talented as everyone thinks it is? Let's look at their last three wins: Detroit, the Giants and the Eagles. They also have a loss to the Jets, and Dallas hasn't beaten a team with a winning record yet this year.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) - General manager Jason Licht did a great job identifying Shaq Barrett as a potential impact player when he signed him this offseason. Barrett should be All-Pro this year and is on pace to set franchise records for sacks and forced fumbles. However, Licht didn't lock Barrett up long term, and I will be surprised if they can afford to resign him this offseason.
17. Chicago Bears (6-6) - Don't be fooled by Chicago's back-to-back wins. They came against Daniel Jones and David Blough and came by a combined nine points. The Bears are just 1-7 ATS in their last eight games, and they are one of the few teams playing poorly enough that they could be home underdogs against a Cowboys team that has been a disaster.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) - The Steelers aren't going to the playoffs. However, I don't think that there is any doubt that Mike Tomlin is the NFL Coach of the Year. In my mind it isn't even a question. Pittsburgh is somehow 6-1 SU in its last seven games and a jaw-dropping 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS in it last 10. And they are doing it with a bunch of scrubs on offense. With three of their final four on the road, I think Pittsburgh's bubble should burst.
19. Oakland Raiders (6-6) - The Raiders have actually beaten the Titans three straight times (2015-2017), with all three wins coming on the road. In fact, the Raiders are 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings, and this is one of the few teams in the league the Raiders have owned at the window.
20. Carolina Panthers (5-7) - Riverboat Ron Rivera deserved better than a midseason firing. But I wonder if he asked for it so he could get a jump on finding his next job. Also, Kyle Allen had Jarius Wright wide open - I mean WIDE open - on his game-ending fumble. Go back and re-watch that play. How was anyone but Wright the first option on that pass? Allen has shown with his second-half collapse
21. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) - The Eagles have beaten the Giants five straight times and won nine of the last 10 meetings. However, they are just 2-4 ATS in the last six meetings, and only one of the last seven matchups has been decided by more than five points. If the Eagles can't beat the lowly Dolphins, I don't see how anyone could trust them to beat the Giants by double-digits?
22. Cleveland Browns (5-7) - Freddie Kitchens absolutely deserves the axe at the end of this season. And the fact that anyone thought this clown could handle the head coaching job has to be considered one of the all-time reaches in NFL history. But why is Baker Mayfield getting a pass on this season? His accuracy on anything more than five yards down the field is erratic at best.
23. Denver Broncos (4-8) - I'm not nearly as excited about Drew Lock as I am about Courtland Sutton. You could see flashes of it last season, and Sutton is coming into his own this year. He will make Lock's life a lot easier. But Lock still spent most of his first start walking that fine line between making daring plays and making backbreaking turnovers. The jury is still very much out, but I'm not optimistic.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) - It's great that Doug Marrone has changed his mind and gone back to Gardner Minshew. But he never should've made that change in the first place! It was blatantly obvious to anyone that has ever watched football that Foles was out of rhythm. The issue now is that now Minshew is now three weeks behind on his reps as well, and the offense's chemistry is shot.
25. Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1) - So much for Kliff Kingsbury, Offensive Genius. Arizona is converting just 38.5 percent of their red zone trips into touchdowns this year - down from 64.3 percent last year - and the Cardinals are No. 20 in the league with just 21.2 points per game.
26. Atlanta Falcons (3-9) - Kaleb McGary's comical struggles against Cam Jordan are another black eye for Thomas Dmitroff, who I think should be flushed down the toilet this offseason with Dan Quinn. About 22 percent of Atlanta's salary cap is locked into the offensive line, and they are on pace to give up 53 sacks this season.
27. New York Jets (4-8) - The Jets are six-point favorites this week. They have only been this large of a favorite one time since December of 2015, when they were touchdown favorites last year at home against Buffalo. The result? The Jets lost 41-10. New York is 2-9 ATS in division games, 2-5 ATS against teams below .500 and 3-8 ATS at home.
28. Detroit Lions (3-8-1) - I honestly think that the Lions players don't like Matt Patricia. Detroit's season absolutely has not been the same since the bizarre Quandre Diggs trade. He was a defensive captain, and the defense has fallen apart since then. Throw in Patricia's surly demeanor, and things like forcing his players to practice in the snow and cold, and it looks like we have another Bill Belichick disciple that that has succeeded in emulating their teacher in just one respect: being a prick. I think these guys are going to quit on this season.
29. Miami Dolphins (3-9) - The Dolphins have actually beaten the Jets four straight times and six of the last seven meetings. That includes a 26-18 home win last month, and the Dolphins are 6-1 ATS in the last seven against the Jets. Miami is actually 6-2 ATS in their last eight games overall this season, and they have been one of the better bets in the business over the last two months.
30. Washington Redskins (3-9) - Make no mistake about it, Washington is going to move the ball on the ground against the Packers. Green Bay's run defense has been atrocious. And Washington has been dedicated to the ground game under Bill Callahan. Washington is 0-4 ATS in its last four trips to Lambeau, but they are 4-0 ATS following a win.
31. New York Giants (2-10) - Remember all of the angry Giants fans and incredulous op-eds after New York drafted Daniel Jones? And then remember the irrational confidence surrounding Jones after wins over Tampa and Washington in Weeks 3 and 4? This is why it is so important to tune out hype when betting in the NFL. Or to embrace the hype - and then bet the opposite way.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11) - You really have to hold your nose if you are going to bet on this Bengals team. But I think that they could be a spry underdog this week against the hapless Browns. Cincinnati's last two losses were both by a touchdown or less, and both to playoff contenders. And now that they have competent quarterback play once again, this team could hold some value in Cleveland this week.
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