After Week 14: All NFL Teams Ranked 1-32

NFL Dec 15, 2020

With just three games to go in what's been the most unusual NFL season ever, teams are heading into the homestretch.  

What follows are my NFL rankings 1-32 based on which teams would be favoured on neutral fields if they were to play under current conditions, along with a few comments about my reasoning.

To see the actual odds of teams winning divisions, conferences, or the Super Bowl, check out the latest numbers at SPREADS.CA.

Here we go:

[1]  Kansas City (Last Week's Ranking:  1st) – The defending Super Bowl champs remain the consensus pick as the NFL's top team.  A 12-1 W-L record alone makes this team the league's best.  The Chiefs have not always played well this season, more often than not stumbling to wins they may not have deserved.  Evidence:  Non-covers in 5 of their last 6 games, including last week at Miami. However, the Chiefs are complete in all phases.  They could be better all-around than last season, and remain the team to beat in what's been a wildly unpredictable season.  It's a scary prospect that Kansas City has not really played to their full potential, but would still be at least a field goal favourite versus any other team in the NFL at the moment.  It's Kansas City #1, and then a gap.  And then, everyone else.  I'd rank the Chiefs 5 points better than any team in the NFL at the moment.

[2]  Buffalo (Last Week's Ranking:  2nd) – Does Buffalo deserve to be ranked this high?  Well, I had them here last week, and then last Sunday they whipped the 11-1 Steelers.  The Bills are peaking at the perfect time of the season.  They've won six of their last seven games -- and covered the spread in six straight.  So, they are still undervalued.  What should scare opponents, however, especially their AFC rivals, is the Buffalo offense, which is clicking and has produced 33 points-per-game on average the last six contests.  The Bills defence is a Top Five unit, and now with the offense producing points, this team becomes very dangerous.

[3]  Green Bay (Last Week's Ranking:  4th) – The Packers seemed to have the NFC North division wrapped up in October, and they've been on cruise control ever since.  In fact, none of their games has been a "must win," so they really haven't been tested in a long while.  Packers took care of business against Detroit last week and have a decent chance to earn home field advantage in the playoffs.  The Packers much prefer to host a championship game in Green Bay in December rather than travel to New Orleans or the LA Rams.

[4]  Seattle (Last Week's Ranking:  5th)  – The Seahawks are always dangerous, and the bounce-back win last week after a loss to the Giants in Week 13 showed they can play stellar football when focused.  However, Seattle's problem remains on defence, which is one of the NFL's worst.  But somehow, the Seahawks do just enough to win most games.  I'd favour Seattle over all but four teams at the moment, despite these very valid concerns.  

[5]  Indianapolis (Last Week's Ranking:  8th) – At 9-4, the Colts may be under the radar and get lost in the mix of the Chiefs-Bills-Steelers conversation.  That's something bettors should be looking at when making futures wagers.  With a veteran QB, legitimate star-power around him, and a Top-Five defence, the Colts are likely to have value in the coming weeks, and in the playoffs.  Their hammering of the Raiders last Sunday shows the team is really coming into form and a legitimate contender.  This was the biggest team move of the week.

[6]  New Orleans (Last Week's Ranking:  3rd) – It's tough to rank the Saints, given their lingering questions at QB.  All backup T. Hill has done is win games as the replacement (6-1), but he's not anywhere close to the passing threat of the great Drew Brees.  He also looked lost much of the game in the loss to the Eagles last week.  So then, where do we rank the Saints?  Let's assume Brees returns in Week 15 or Week 16, as expected, gets a few games under his belt with the division title wrapped up, and is full strength in January.  I make them the second seed in the NFC, though it's close.  I also see New Orleans as a hypothetical 3-point underdog to either Green Bay or Buffalo and probably a 6-point dog versus Kansas City.

[7]  Pittsburgh (Last Week's Ranking:  6th) – This is the worst 11-2 team in NFL history.  READ MORE HERE.  Don't be fooled by the Steelers' misleading W-L record, including several cheap wins versus injured, outclassed opponents (5 with backup QBs).  Look for Pittsburgh, which was exposed the previous two weeks, to stumble down the stretch.  The Steelers running game has become non-existent.  That will hurt them come January.  The last two weeks, both losses, have exposed this team as a one-trick pony (the pass).  Slow that down, and the Steelers are very beatable.

[8]  Tennessee (Last Week's Ranking:  9th) – Before getting thrashed by the Browns two weeks ago, the Titans might have been ranked higher.  But this porous Tennessee defence has major holes and could be the downfall of an otherwise strong team that can compete on offense with anyone.  In the NFC, the Titans might be a top team.  But in the brutally-tough AFC, there are perhaps 3-4 teams which are better.  I don't place much stock on their easy win versus Jacksonville last week.  They need to play better against good teams, when it counts in order to move up in the rankings.

[9]  LA Rams (Last Week's Ranking:  10th) – Just when everyone was about to write-off the Rams heading into 2020, they're now tied for first place in mid-December at 9-4.  There's lots of talent on both sides of the ball, and Jared Goff has as good a W-L record as any starting QB in his first four seasons.  The Rams aren't at the level of the Packers or Saints at full strength, but they could also upset anyone and repeat their 2018 run to the Super Bowl if things break right.  The 24-3 breeze of a win over New England last week was impressive.  Perhaps they should be ranked higher.

[10]  Baltimore (Last Week's Ranking:  13th) – The Ravens were clearly among the Top Five early in the season but didn't look good in big games versus quality competition.  And so, they've were severely downgraded to a middle of the pack, wild-card team, which will likely be a dog when looking ahead into January.  The Ravens' defence will have to play much better, but there remain too many question marks about Baltimore and their ability to beat the AFC's best teams.  Lamar Jackson always makes this team dangerous, but the Ravens have holes which have been exposed and will be exploited by better opponents in crunch time.  Great win over Cleveland on MNF will be remembered as the season's best game.  But it also exposed a defence that has problems.

[11]  Tampa Bay (Last Week's Ranking:  12th)  – At 8-5, the Buccaneers are probably headed to the playoffs as a wild card.  This is a team no one wants to play for obvious reasons – first, legend Tom Brady and second, a well-coached Bruce Arians team that is capable of beating anyone on its best day.  There are concerns that Tampa Bay was exposed badly in a home loss to the Rams a few weeks ago, but that could be just the swift kick in the ass this team needed to make a run and be dangerous heading into the playoffs.  Bucs win over Minnesota last week was also a confidence builder.

[12]  Cleveland (Last Week's Ranking:  7th) – The Browns will certainly be a wild card team, finally making the playoffs after many years of misery and futility.  With their epic loss to Baltimore on MNF, that sets them back somewhat, given the defence was badly exposed.  One can make a case this team deserves to be in the Top Ten, but they were +3 dogs at home (and failed to cover), which should tell you they wouldn't be favoured versus any of the teams ranked about them at the moment.

[13]  Miami (Last Week's Ranking:  11th) – Lost in the shuffle of the Dolphins surprising turnaround has been the defence, allowing just 19 points-per-game, among the NFL's best.  Tua is returned to the QB position in Week 13, and the Dolphins have certainly been competitive, even with the 6-point loss to Kansas City.  It's been quite an interesting year in Miami, which deserves major accolades for such a quick rise, especially given where they were a year ago (the NFL's worst team at mid-season in 2019).  Credit Brian Flores, a strong Coach of the Year candidate.

[14]  Arizona (Last Week's Ranking:  15th) – Cardinals are one of the NFL's most frustrating teams, week to week, from both the perspective of the fan and bettor.  This high-powered offense loaded with weapons should be able to match up with any opponent.  But they're also too inconsistent to be taken seriously, come January.  The Cardinals aren't playing well when they need to, and there are no longer any excuses for a better performance.  Arizona has lost 5 of 7 games after being in first place in the NFC West.  After a great start, they're collapsing at the worst possible time.  The win at NY Giants last week doesn't mean much given how awful that dismal offense played.

[15]  New England (Last Week's Ranking:  14th) – The Patriots painfully bad 24-3 loss to the Rams last Thursday night essentially ended their season.  New England can upset any team given their pedigree of coaching and sporadically good play from the defence.  But stick a fork in New England.  Major off-season decisions are on the horizon for the Patriots.  Now, they are playing out the string.

[16]  Las Vegas (Last Week's Ranking:  17th) – Credit the Raiders for occasional flashes of brilliance (beating New Orleans and Kansas City earlier in the season).  But then don't get fooled by this painfully inconsistent, poorly-coached team that often plays down to its level of competition.  They needed a miracle to beat the winless Jets two weeks ago, and then were crushed at home by the Colts last Sunday.  At 7-6, they're done.

[17]  Minnesota (Last Week's Ranking:  16th) – Normally, a 6-7 W-L record wouldn't be any reason to celebrate, but given the Vikings were burned toast a month ago, they are still alive for a playoff, though they will need lots of help after falling to Tampa Bay in Week 14.  Can we really trust a team that lost to the miserable Cowboys and needed comeback wins versus Jacksonville and Carolina?  Seems that Minnesota is missing way too many pieces.  An 8-8 finale record seems like a consolation prize.

[18]  Washington (Last Week's Ranking:  20th) – What a turnaround! First-place Washington beat the 11-0 Steelers on the road and are on a roll.  Ron Rivera deserves serious consideration for Coach of the Year.  And is there a better story in the NFL in 2020 than Alex Smith?  It doesn't matter what you think of the Washington Football Team and fan loyalties.  This is a great turnaround and an inspiration that such a gutsy team with so many deficiencies is tied for first place in December.  The defence is pretty good, also – which will keep this team in games down the stretch.  They are ranked low, despite their record simply because their QB situation is so uncertain (Smith left last week's game with a leg injury).

[19]  San Francisco (Last Week's Ranking:  18th) – The 49ers were plagued by numerous injuries on both sides of the ball and can be forgiven for regressing back to the .500 mark after their Super Bowl appearance last January.  There's still lots of talent on this team, and a hungry head coach with most of the pieces in place.  But this won't be the season for San Francisco to make another deep run.  Losing to Washington last week puts this team in the bottom half of the league.

[20]  Chicago (Last Week's Ranking:  22nd) – Has any NFL team looked worse over the last two months than the Bears?  Incredibly, this team roared off to a 5-1 start by mid-October.  Now, they're 6-7 – losers of six of their last seven.  It's not just the offense's fault with bad quarterback play and receivers that can't get open.  The Bears defence stinks, too.  Chicago beat Houston last week, but that's not very impressive given the Texans' collapse.

[21]  Detroit (Last Week's Ranking:  21st) – The Lions will likely stumble their way to another 6-10 season, hire a new head coach in the off-season, and be right back in this spot again a year from now, and the year after, and so on.  Is there any QB with more worthless padded stats who can't ever win in the clutch than Matt Stafford?  Dump him for a draft pick and rebuild.  Lions took the Packers to the wire last week, but again – faded when a big play was needed.

[22]  Denver (Last Week's Ranking:  24th) – This is an above-average defence has kept Denver from the bottom of the NFL barrel, but as another losing season winds to a close it's time to see someone take control and lead this team – from general manager, to coaching, to quarterbacking.  This offense continues to sputter along as one of the league's worst units, though QB Lock finally had a good game (in Carolina last week).  Someone must pay for these monumental mistakes, and his name is John Elway who should be run out of football operations.

[23]  Philadelphia (Last Week's Ranking:  27th) – Nice upset (must) win over the sleepwalking Saints last week, with a rookie QB.  Now, incredibly, the Eagles are still alive to win the NFC East.  But that doesn't mask how badly this team has performed.  It's probably time for QB Carson Wentz to be shopped as trade bait, who might not get even a second-round draft pick at this point.  We also have to start asking questions about Petersen as head coach, though he's likely safe for at least another season due to a Super Bowl ring on his finger.

[24]  LA Chargers (Last Week's Ranking:  29th) – The Chargers are the stepchild sports franchise of sunny Southern California.  They should be a much better team given they have some talent.  The Chargers have shown flashes of improvement, but has under-performed badly with just 4 wins in 13 games.  The defence is above average on paper, but has played poorly all season.   Nice win versus Atlanta, last week.  But hey, that was against the Falcons.  

[25]  Atlanta (Last Week's Ranking:  23rd) – The Falcons have been a train wreck since September, losing multiple games they should have won, and then finally just throwing in the towel with a series of lifeless efforts in mid-season.  It's time to shop QB Matt Ryan on the trade block, who still might bring in a high draft choice, and replace some dead roster spots.  What's that bad smell?  Another loss last week – this time, to the Chargers.

[26]  NY Giants (Last Week's Ranking:  19th) – The Giants' at 5-7 had a nice run mid-season and pulled off a few upsets, including the shocking win at Seattle in Week 13.  But the vomit-inducing performance we saw from the Little Men against the Cardinals last week was painful.  Daniel Jones has no business as an NFL starter, and the offence is, well – offensive.  The Giants fooled a few people thinking they might turn things around, but this offense is every bit as bad as the bottom three teams in the league.  Even though they are just a game out of first place, on a neutral field, I have the Giants as +1 and +2 dogs to both the Falcons and Chargers (which explains their ranking here, and big drop).  

[27]  Carolina (Last Week's Ranking:  25th) – The Panthers have nothing to be ashamed of for this Bottom-Eight ranking.  Preseason, they were forecast to be a last-place team with major holes to fill, yet have managed to be competitive in several games.  Case in point – a 7-6 record against-the-spread.    

[28]  Dallas (Last Week's Ranking:  28th) – Everything's gone wrong for the always-overrated Cowboys this season, which can't come to an end soon enough.  Sure, Dallas has valid excuses for their poor W-L record (4-9), most notably QB Dak Prescott's injury.  But overpaid RB E. Elliot's effort has been gutless all season, even with an offensive line which has fallen apart.  What nobody expected, however, was how horrific the defence would perform, allowing and NFL-worst 30 points-per-game.  Nice job, Jerry Jones – three playoff wins in 25 years.  So, the Cowboys beat Cincinnati last week.  No one cares, except the gamblers.

[29]  Houston (Last Week's Ranking:  26th) – The Texans (4-9) should have been much better than this given their talent and experience.  It's hard to understand they the team has played so poorly, especially on defence.  Houston got off to a horrible start, fired their head coach, and now are wallowing in a rebuilding phase.  The Texans loss to Chicago last week was disgraceful.

[30]  Cincinnati (Last Week's Ranking:  30th) – It's really too bad for the rebuilding Bengals that QB Joe Burrow went down with a season-ending injury last month.  This team looked to be headed in the right direction.  Still, there's lots of holes to fill on this putrid team.  The loss to Dallas at home was bad enough, but to be blown out like that versus really bad defense, is inexcusable.  It's pretty easy to put these kittens in the bottom three.  

[31]  Jacksonville (Last Week's Ranking:  31st) – After starting out in Week 1 with a shocking win over the Colts, which seems like a distant memory, the gutless Jaguars have dropped 12 straight.  Statistically speaking, yards-per-game, this is the NFL's worst defence.  The lack of performance at home versus Tennessee last week was embarrassing.  Only the miserable Jets keeps this team from the bottom of the sludge barrel.

[32]  NY Jets (Last Week's Ranking:  32nd) – I'm trying to find something/anything positive (tell a lie!) to write about the NFL's punchline, the wingless Jets.  Give me a few more weeks, and I might be able to come up with something.  Oh yeah – here's one positive:  Jets punter Braden Mann is having a Pro Bowl season.  The Jets were gutsy in a few games (recall the heartbreaking loss to the Raiders two weeks ago).  But last week's blowout loss shows they've mailed it in and likely couldn't beat anyone, even awful Jacksonville (which I would make a -2 favourite).