NFL Power Rankings Week 13
December means Christmas. And Christmas means hope. So, I know that this time of the year I’m not supposed to be negative. But I can’t help it: things in the NFL are going to get worse before they get better.
This whole 2020 NFL season has been a mess. Fans and bettors have been able to gloss over the inconsistency and the scheduling issues and the weekly coronavirus personnel updates. We’ve been able to grin and bear it because that’s what 2020 is all about. And because we have no other choice. Some football, even if it is being played with a practice squad wide receiver lining up at quarterback or if it is played on Wednesday afternoon, is better than none.
But we’re not done. What is happening to the Ravens is almost guaranteed to happen to another team this year. Thanksgiving and Christmas are built in super-spreader events and are almost certain to lead to another outbreak. And the attitude of the Broncos quarterbacks shows that a lot of players – like a lot of Americans – still either just don’t get it or just don’t care.
“Adapt or die.” That’s my NFL betting mantra, and I preach it at the start of every football season. Yet at this point I feel like the best adaptation is hibernation.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-1) – At this point, it is pretty much impossible to find value on the defending champions. They are on an 0-3 ATS slide and the last number they’ve beaten was a 20-point spread in their game against the Jets. The Chiefs have covered three straight and nine of 10 against the Broncos, but you have to lay two touchdowns with them again this week.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0) – The Steelers are getting screwed. I don’t think it is going to show up in their Wednesday matinee game against the Ravens, who the Steelers are going to have zero sympathy for. I would expect to see any sloppiness or any letdown show up in their game this weekend against a tricky Washington team. Pittsburgh is a 10-point favorite against the Ravens Wednesday and a 10-point early line favorite against Washington. I will be surprised if they can cover both numbers.
3. New Orleans Saints (9-2) – Don’t be fooled by New Orleans’ 24-9 final score in their win over the Falcons on Nov. 22. That was a 10-9 game entering the fourth quarter. The Saints are 4-1 ATS in their last five games in Atlanta and 5-1 ATS in their last six games against the Falcons.
4. Tennessee Titans (8-3) – After two more scores on Sunday, A.J. Brown has nine touchdowns in his past eight games. Brown has only 52 catches, but he’s turned those into 1,051 yards – good for a 20.2 yards per catch. The guy is an absolute beast, and I feel like the Titans need to find a way to get the ball in his hands even more.
5. Los Angeles Rams (7-4) – Over the last four games, Jared Goff has fumbled five times and thrown six interceptions. He’s killing these guys. Someone needs to explain to Goff that he doesn’t have to win shootouts anymore. With a legit Top 5 defense, Goff basically just doesn’t have to turn the ball over and pick up a few third downs for the Rams to win.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) – Quarterbacks in the first year of Bruce Arians’ offensive system have averaged 22 interceptions per season. That includes guys like Big Ben (11), Peyton Manning (28), Andrew Luck (18) and Carson Palmer (22). Tom Brady has averaged 9.4 interceptions over the last 19 years. He has 11 this season. So maybe Brady isn’t the problem; maybe Arians’ system actually just sucks.
7. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) – The Colts have to get better on third down. They are fifth-worst in the NFL, converting just 37.6 percent of their third down attempts this season. They have converted just 36.6 percent over their last three games after converting 38.5 against the Titans in last week’s blowouts. They need to keep pressure of that defense.
8. Green Bay Packers (8-3) – This week’s matchup with the Eagles is actually a revenge game for the Packers. They Pack lost 34-27 at home to the Eagles last September, losing a game in which the Packers rolled over them for 176 rushing yards on 33 carries. Green Bay had been on a 5-1 ATS run in this series prior to falling last year as a 3.5-point favorite.
9. Buffalo Bills (8-3) – The Bills defense finally looked like its old self on Sunday against the Chargers. They held Los Angeles to just 76 yards on 24 carries after allowing over 130 yards per game in their first 10. The Bills absolutely need their front seven to improve if they are going to compete with the top teams in the AFC, and that’s the area to keep an eye on when you watch this team play.
10. Seattle Seahawks (8-3) – Seattle’s defense has been showing signs of life, allowing an average of just 20.3 per game over the last three games. That’s why Seattle has gone ‘under’ in three straight. Seattle is just 0-4 ATS after a win and 2-5 ATS in their last seven. But they are 4-1 ATS at home and have beaten up teams from the East this year.
11. Baltimore Ravens (6-4) – My first thought, honestly, is that I hope everyone on Baltimore that has been struck with COVID is OK. I hope there are no long-term issues for any of these players, and I hope that they all get healthy and back in the fold as quickly as possible.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-4) – Miami leads the league in third down defense, getting off the field an outstanding 61.1 percent of the time. That’s ahead of Baltimore, Chicago and the Rams. I’m sorry, but with a defense playing as solidly as Miami’s, they absolutely have to stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick down the stretch.
13. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5) – I’m not going to demolish the Raiders because they lost an ugly one at Atlanta. That was a terrible spot for the Raiders, coming off a heartbreaking loss to a hated rival in a primetime game, traveling across the country for an early road start. They get one. But this team has to bounce back. And if they are for real at all, they won’t let the Jets hang around.
14. Arizona Cardinals (6-5) – Realistically, the Cardinals should be on a five-game losing streak. Their only wins since late October were an OT win over Seattle and the Hail Murray. I think that Kliff Kingsbury is a bad coach, and I think his weaknesses are starting to rear their ugly head against this team.
15. San Francisco 49ers (5-6) – I have all kinds of beef with Kyle Shanahan. But I have to admit that he is impressing me this year. Despite half his team being dead, deformed or otherwise incapacitated, the 49ers are still in the playoff hunt. Look at their last six games with his skeleton crew: Rams, at Patriots, at Seattle, Packers, at Saints and at Rams. That is brutal! But San Fran has gone 3-3 SU and ATS despite going to battle with a bunch of backups.
16. Chicago Bears (5-6) – Matt Nagy needs to can it with the whole, “Players need to play with pride” garbage. This guy has refused to take responsibility for any of the pathetic offensive performances his team as produced this season, and he’s been great at pointing fingers during their five-game losing streak. Nagy is squandering one of the four best defenses in the NFL, and the buck stops with him.
17. Cleveland Browns (8-3) – This team is not good. In the last month alone, they have absolutely labored to get wins over Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Houston and Cincinnati. Baker Mayfield is absolutely not an NFL caliber starting quarterback, and he misses way, way too many simply throws. Don’t get sucked into this team’s record; they stink.
18. New England Patriots (5-6) – Honestly, who do you trust more: Anthony Lynn or Bill Belichick? The Patriots absolutely shouldn’t have won last week. But, again, Belichick took advantage of facing an opposing coach who doesn’t know what he’s doing. The Pats could do the same this week against the Chargers. New England is just 1-4 ATS in its last five road games and 0-4 ATS against a team with a losing record.
19. Minnesota Vikings (5-6) – As weak as Minnesota’s defense has been this year – and they are No. 23 in total yards and No. 27 in points allowed – things really should be worse. The Vikings are No. 3 in the NFL in red zone defense and No. 6 in third down defense. They have been good enough when it counts, but I still don’t think this team is nearly as good as its record.
20. Carolina Panthers (4-8) – I wonder if you gave Matt Rhule some truth serum he would admit that if he had to do it over again he would’ve started P.J. Walker over Teddy Bridgewater last week. Bridgewater looked rusty and missed some key throws that could’ve blown the game open.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (3-8) – Anthony Lynn absolutely has to go. Immediately. There is way, way, way too much talent on this team to be 3-8 and to go 8-19 over the last two seasons. It is insane. And it is the same every week: stupid penalties, absurd clock management, blown leads and stupefying game management issues. This team is 0-5 ATS in its last five games and are the biggest underachievers in the NFL.
22. Atlanta Falcons (4-7) – I don’t like the word “lucky” to describe NFL wins. Especially 37-point wins. However, the Falcons put up a 7.1 OYPP against a 40.5 DYPP last week. That 33.4 spread between the two numbers is kind of the mathematical representation of luck.
23. Denver Broncos (4-7) – This is John Elway’s Broncos. Their entire approach to their quarterbacks, the COVID protocol, and everything surrounding last week’s debacle, can be traced back to an organization that has rotted out since Elway’s involvement. Denver is just 25-35 ATS in their last 60 games dating back to the start of the 2017 season.
24. Houston Texans (4-7) – That is now three wins in four games and a solid 3-0 ATS run for the Texans. I’m still not buying, though. Losing Will Fuller and Bradley Roby hurts them on both sides of the ball, and I still don’t trust the defense or Romeo Crennel. The underdog is 8-4 ATS in the Colts series, but Houston is 0-8 ATS in its last eight home games against the Colts and the home team is just 3-10 ATS in this series.
25. New York Giants (4-7) – Colt McCoy should be fine as a fill-in for Daniel Jones, who I believe will miss the next couple weeks. The problem is that McCoy always gets hurt. The last three times that he’s been called into action, in 2014, 2018 and 2019, he’s gotten hurt every time. The Giants – who were two plays away from losing to that hapless Bengals team – have won in Seattle exactly one time dating back to 1981.
26. Washington Football Team (4-7) – Ron Rivera’s Cover-2 is starting to take hold in Washington. Very quietly Washington has put together the No. 1 red zone defense in the league. The Football Team is one of only two teams (Chicago) to allow touchdowns on fewer than 50 percent of their red zone opportunities this year. They are bending. They aren’t breaking.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) – Carson Wentz certainly looked better Monday while running a no huddle, hurry up offense. However, that’s not a long-term plan. And he was going up against a sickly Seattle offense. The Eagles are now on a 3-8 ATS slide, and they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.
28. Detroit Lions (4-7) – Finally! Matt Patricia is one of the league’s all-time clowns and just another example of why no one should ever hire a Bill Belichick assistant ever again! I can’t wait to see which team is going to repeat Detroit’s mistake this offseason with Josh McDaniels, who already flamed out once in Denver.
29. Dallas Cowboys (3-8) – The “watermelon incident” and the ridiculous fake punt on Thanksgiving show that Mike McCarthy is rounding the turn into full-blown parody. This guy is a weekly gong show. Dallas is 5-11 ATS in its last 16 games on Monday Night Football. I know they are playing Tuesday next week, but I still thought it was pertinent. They are also 3-10 ATS in their last 13 games against teams with a winning record.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1) – The Bengals have run 16 drives since Joe Burrow went out with an injury. They’ve scored just 10 points and 14 of their 16 drives have ended with either a turnover or a punt.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) – These guys really should be an ‘over’ machine the rest of the way. Jacksonville has actually scored 30 or more points in four of their last five games. And their defense absolutely cannot stop anyone. They’ve only gone ‘over’ in three of their last five and are just 5-5 against the total in their last 10, but this is a team I like for some shootouts down the stretch.
32. New York Jets (0-11) – After going 0-for-3 in the red zone last Sunday, the Jets have now converted just 33 percent of their red zone trips into touchdowns. Their mark would be the lowest conversion rate since the Chiefs converted just 27 percent back in 2012. This would also be the third time in the last seven years that the Jets have had the worst red zone conversion rate in the league. Don’t be surprised to see a small uptick in scoring from this team down the stretch.
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