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NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Packers and Bills rise; Saints and Steelers fall

Over the course of the NFL 2020 season, it becomes more clear that the Chiefs are the top dog in the AFC. There’s still the Bills and the Steelers, but they just don’t really compare to the Chiefs. When it comes to the NFC, it’s not as transparent. The Saints saw their nine-game winning streak go up in smoke on Sunday, while the Seahawks, Rams and Packers all delivered impressive wins. The Conference is wide open, and it could be anyones for the taking over the next few weeks of this memorable 2020 season. Come see where your favourite team ranks on the Week 15 edition of The Intermission’s NFL Power Rankings.

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1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-1)

Previous Rank: 1

The Chiefs are just in a league of their own. It seems that they are just so much more talented than every other team in the league, and there's a good reason for that. After falling behind the Dolphins 10-0, they proceeded to score the next 30 points of the game to take control of the game. After they temporarily took their foot off of the gas pedal and allowed the Dolphins to get back in the game, they simply just turned it back on again, closing the game on a Mahomes-to-Hill conversion on fourth down. This win, along with another Steelers loss, puts the Chiefs in control of their destiny for the first seed in the AFC.

2. Buffalo Bills (10-3)

Previous Rank: 4

The Bills are peaking at the right time. Coming off of Josh Allen’s best performance to date in the convincing win over the 49ers, the team put together their most complete game so far of the season with an impressive 26-15 win over the Steelers. While the game was a battle of the defences in the first half, the Bills set the tone of the game with a pick-six by Taron Johnson, and it was all Bills after that. Allen was excellent in the second half, Stefon Diggs couldn’t be covered, and the Bills defence put the clamps on the Steelers pass heavy offence for the rest of the game. The Bills are now 10-3 for the first time since 1991 and are on the verge of their first AFC East title since 1995. This team has the potential to win so much more than just the division this year.

3. Green Bay Packers (10-3)

Previous Rank: 5

Green Bay asserted their dominance over the Lions in a 31-24 win, clinching their seventh NFC North crown over the past ten seasons. While Aaron Rodgers does deserve much of the credit, as he’s having one of his finest seasons in his illustrious Hall of Fame career, Matt LaFleur deserves some love too. The coach has a 23-6 record during the regular season with the cheeseheads, and has led the squad to back-to-back NFC North titles. The team looks like one of the best teams in the NFL this season, and may be primed for their first Super Bowl return since 2010.

4. New Orleans Saints (10-3)

Previous Rank: 2

It’s been a tough week for the Saints, as they saw their nine-game winning streak come to an end against the Eagles and now find themselves behind the Packers in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Despite the Saints playing an Eagles team that’s been terrible over the past few weeks, they came out flat on both sides of the ball. Taysom Hill was up and down in his first loss as starting quarterback, and the New Orleans defence that has been so dominant over the past few weeks, allowed rookie Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders to run all over them for 221 yards despite entering Sunday not allowing a 100-yard rusher in 55 games (including playoffs). The Saints will have a better chance of winning against the Chiefs on Sunday if Drew Brees is back on the field.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)

Previous Rank: 3

Pittsburgh have followed 11 consecutive wins to start the season with back-to-back losses, the latest a convincing 26-15 setback against the Bills on SNF. The Steelers couldn’t get anything going offensively, as Buffalo’s defence sat on routes and smothered Pittsburgh’s talented collection of wide receivers. While the defence did play well in the first half, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs eventually started to roll in the second half and exposed the defence. With a non-existent running game and a checkdown passing offense that’s inconsistent when it comes to catching the football, the Steelers have become predictable and dull on offence. Will they be able to adjust before the inevitable playoffs come around? Their championship aspirations may just depend on it.

6. Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

Previous Rank: 6

We already knew the Rams defence was one of the best in football, but are they possibly the best in the league? The defence delivered another dominant performance on Thursday night, totaling six sacks and a defensive score in a 24-3 rout of the Patriots. Linebacker Kenny Young solidified the win with a 79-yard pick-six, and the Rams are now sitting at the top of the NFC West with their win against Seattle in Week 10. With a promising matchup against the winless Jets on Sunday, the Rams set up well for a huge Week 16 matchup against the Seahawks.

7. Seattle Seahawks (9-4)

Previous Rank: 7

Nothing like playing the best get right team in the league; the New York Jets, to help get your season back on track. Coming off of a disappointing loss to the Giants, Russell Wilson led his team to a dominating 40-3 win. It looked like men versus boys on the field, as Wilson and his receivers got open the entire day. Jamal Adams also made history in his homecoming game against his former team, setting the NFL sack record for defensive backs (8.5 sacks). While the Seahawks do remain tied with the Rams atop the NFC West, they will need to deliver a win against a streaking Washington Football Team in Week 15 if they want to keep their division hopes alive.

8. Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

Previous Rank: 8

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In what was possibly one of the best games of the decade, Lamar Jackson emerged from the locker room just in time to save the day (and possibly the Ravens’ season) to take the field on fourth down to deliver a dagger to a wide open Marquise Brown to put the Ravens ahead 42-35. While Cleveland did storm down the field to tie up the game for 75 yards in 47 seconds, Baltimore was able to set up a Justin Tucker game-winning 55-yard field goal in the final seconds to win in a huge 47-42 win. The Ravens are suddenly back into the AFC playoff race and Jackson looks like a man on a mission (as long as he can get those mysterious cramps under control).

9. Cleveland Browns (9-4)

Previous Rank: 10

The Browns have nothing to be ashamed of after coming up just short in what was possibly one of the best NFL game’s of the decade. Baker Mayfield played almost perfect, totalling three touchdowns on the day, including leading his team to comeback drives throughout the fourth quarter. His only fault, a 3rd quarter interception in their own zone to lead to a Ravens touchdown. But the Browns didn’t give up, and Baker led his team to total 22 points in the fourth quarter. While the loss does end any thoughts of the Browns potentially catching up to the Steelers in the AFC North, the Browns proved that they are a legitimate football team that can light you up on any given day, and may prove as an extremely difficult opponent come playoff time.

10. Tennessee Titans (9-4)

Previous Rank: 11

All hail King Henry, the true king of the rushing breed in the NFL. King Henry asserted his dominance against the Jaguars, rushing for 215 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-10 win. This marked King Henry’s career game of 200-plus rushing yards and at least two touchdowns, breaking an NFL record previously shared with Jim Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson and Barry Sanders. King Henry is an all-time talent, and could possibly join the 2,000-yard rushing club if he averages 156 yards per game over the final three weeks. All hail King Henry.

11. Indianapolis Colts (9-4)

Previous Rank: 12

The Colts put together a complete team effort against the Raiders on Sunday. Phillip Rivers and T.Y. Hilton were rolling, Jonathan Taylor made huge plays, and the defence made life a living hell for Derek Carr in a 44-27 win. This victory keeps playoff hopes alive and well for the Colts, while the Raiders playoff aspirations are currently on life support. If the Colts can perform like this consistently, they may be the most well-rounded team in the AFC.

12. Miami Dolphins (8-5)

Previous Rank: 13

If one thing is clear about this Dolphins team, it’s that the defence is one of the best in the NFL. Facing the best offence in the league in the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami intercepted Patrick Mahomes three times (becoming the second team ever to achieve that feat) and forced Mahomes into a fumble and a 30-yard sack. But while the defence is ready to go, the offence isn’t quite there yet. While Tua Tagovailoa did enjoy his first 300-yard passing game and did keep Miami competitive in the second half despite losing DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki to injuries, the offence just isn’t at the level yet to truly help Miami with their championship aspirations. Still, they’re on their way. Miami can move closer to trying to secure a playoff spot with a win over New England on Sunday. The added motivation of pretty much ending New England’s season should do well for Miami too. Go Fins go!

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)

Previous Rank: 9

Things didn’t start off pretty for Tampa Bay. Dalvin Cook was running all over the Bucs defence, and Tom Brady was airing passes over his receivers. But fortunately for the Bucs, they somewhat got it going and got some lucky breaks to get a 26-14 win over the Vikings. This win was huge for Tampa Bay, as it put them in better position to secure a ticket to the promised land versus if they lost. The Bucs can further secure their ticket with a win on Sunday in Atlanta.

14. Arizona Cardinals (7-6)

Previous Rank: 15

The Cardinals just dominated the Giants on Sunday, winning effortlessly in a 26-7 win. Despite the Giants just upsetting the rival Seahawks, Arizona was not fazed. Arizona had built a 20-0 lead over New York before the Giants had even crossed into Cardinals territory once. Hassan Reddick led the way, securing five of Arizona’s eight sacks on the day. The win, combined with a Vikings loss, moves Arizona back into the seventh and final playoff position in the NFC.

15. Washington Football Team (6-7)

Previous Rank: 17

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Washington further established themselves as the king of the NFC Least with a big 23-15 win over the 49ers. Despite the offence not contributing much due to Alex Smith suffering a calf injury, it didn’t matter much, as the defence led the way for Washington in the win. Chase Young led the way, recording a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a defensive touchdown, and two pass deflections, becoming the fifth player since 2000 to achieve that feat. The win, coupled with a Giants loss, puts Washington strongly at the top of the NFC East with three games to play.

16. Las Vegas Raiders (7-6)

Previous Rank: 14

The Raiders are down bad right now. Dropping three of their last four games, including the gifted Week 13 win versus the Jets, the team has suffered grim 40-plus point blowouts in each of their losses. With this skid, it led to the Raiders firing defensive coordinator Paul Guenther after Vegas surrendered 456 yards to the Colts and only managed a single QB hit on Phillip Rivers

17. Minnesota Vikings (6-7)

Previous Rank: 16

The curse of the Viking’s kicker. It is irreversible and more inevitable than a Thanos snap. The latest victim; Dan Bailey. Bailey missed all four of his kick attempts (three field goals and one PAT) in the Vikings crushing loss to the Buccaneers. Despite the Vikings out gaining the Bucs in total yardage and dominating time of possession with nearly 40 minutes of game time, they now find themselves on the outside looking in with three weeks to go in the NFC wild-card race.

18. New York Giants (5-8)

Previous Rank: 18

An injured Daniel Jones didn’t do any justice for the Giants offence on Sunday, as the Giants could barely move the ball at all. Danny Dimes could only muster 127 yards of offence and didn’t have a single rushing attempt in a 26-7 loss that saw the Giants fall out of first place in the NFC East. But regardless of whoever is playing quarterback for the Giants, the offensive line needs to play much better. Jones and Colt McCoy were sacked eight times in the loss, five of them coming from Haason Reddick. If the Giants can’t take any productive steps on offence, then they’re season may have already peaked.

19. New England Patriots (6-7)

Previous Rank: 19

The Cam Newton era in New England may be coming to a non-climatic finish at the end of this season. The former MVP couldn’t get anything going against the Rams, only producing 135 yards of offence with an interception in the 24-3 loss. While Bill Belicheck has said that Newton will remain the starter, it just doesn’t really matter that much more. The Patriots just aren’t talented enough to try to hang in the AFC playoff race. But hey, the millions of Bills and Dolphins fans must be excited that the Patriots reign of the AFC East is coming to an end officially. As a Bills fan, I know I am.

20. Denver Broncos (5-8)

Previous Rank: 23

While it was for one day, Drew Lock looked like Brett Favre on Sunday, tossing four touchdowns and zero interceptions to lead his Broncos to a 32-27 win over the Panthers. The gunslinger was able to connect on deep shots throughout the game, the highlight being a deep shot to KJ Halmer to ice the win. While Lock’s second season has been a massive disappointment, a hot finish could help provide some security for a starting position next season in Denver.

21. Los Angeles Chargers (4-9)

Previous Rank: 25

The ultimate Choke Bowl. The reigning choke-champions, the Atlanta Falcons, were taking on an up-and-coming choke bowl candidate, the Los Angeles Chargers. The teams did not disappoint, exchanging turnover after turnover in the final minutes of the game. It was truly a magnificent masterpiece of mediocrity and turnovers indeed. But the Chargers ultimately pulled through, and were able to prove themselves as not the king of choking in a hilariously terrible 20-17 win. In all seriousness, how was Anthony Lynn ever considered a good coach. My 80 year-old grandfather with alzheimers could manage the clock better than him. Get him outta there. Herbert doesn’t deserve this.

22. San Francisco 49ers (5-7)

Previous Rank: 20

The 49ers adopted home hasn’t been working out well for so far. San Francisco is now 0-2 in their new home, and a 23-15 loss to Washington further cripples their playoff hopes as San Francisco slowly sinks back into the pit of mediocrity they almost emerged from earlier in the season. Nick Mullens was harassed by Washington’s front seven, the main culprit being Chase Young who returned a fumble for a 47-yard touchdown. The Niners now have 25 turnovers on the year (second-most in the NFL) and are now just the third team in NFL history to lose a game when not allowing a scrimmage touchdown. It’s just not your year Niners.

23. Atlanta Falcons (4-9)

Previous Rank: 21

The former champions of the Choke Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons, did their best to defend their throne, and they didn’t disappoint. In a game filled with turnovers and choking to the highest degree, both squads combined for three turnovers in the final four possessions, playing a hilariously pathetic game of hot potato. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they dealt the final turnover of the exchange which led them to securing their positions as Choke Bowl champions. No one can out-choke the almighty chokers.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (4-8-1)

Previous Rank: 28

With nowhere left to turn, Doug Pederson did the unthinkable; sitting Carson Wentz in favour of the rookie Jalen Hurts. It ended up paying off in the 24-21 upset win over the Saints. Hurts threw a nice touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffrey and ran for 106 yards against a seemingly unstoppable run defence heading into Sunday (New Orleans hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 55 consecutive games). Not only did Jalen Hurts reach the century mark, but Miles Sanders also rushed for over 100 yards and the Hurts-Sanders duo combined for a 246-yard rushing effort. Pederson has announced that Hurts would remain in the starting lineup for a Week 15 matchup against the Cardinals. Even with the Eagles sitting at 4-8-1, they aren’t out of the NFC East race yet. Fly Eagles fly.

25. Dallas Cowboys (4-9)

Previous Rank: 27

A huge sigh of relief came from Mike McCarthy after Sunday’s 30-7 win over the Bengals. With the Red Rifle returning home sporting the blue and silver, he absolutely destroyed his former squad, tossing two touchdown passes on the day. While Dallas has been the laughing stock of the league ever since Dak Prescott was lost to injury in Week 6, this was a nice moment for Andy Dalton and the team in a dreadful season. More good news for Dallas, as Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said that there “will be absolutely no change” at head coach.

26. Chicago Bears (6-7)

Previous Rank: 29 Trubisky looked like Joe Montana on Sunday, outplaying draft-mate Deshaun Watson to lead his Bears to a 36-7 win over the Texans on Sunday. While it was against one of the worst defences in the NFL, Trubisky never looked better, throwing for three touchdowns on the night and kept the chains moving the entire day. The defence also returned to form, limiting a handicaped Deshaun Watson to 219 yards and a touchdown on the day. Trubisky is essentially in a month-long audition for the rest of the season. So far, he’s looking good. Will he keep up this pace though. For his position as a starting quarterback in the future, hopefully.

27. Carolina Panthers (4-9)

Previous Rank: 24

Teddy Bridgewater delivered an up and down performance in a 32-27 loss to the Broncos, and it’s still not clear if he is the true long-term option under centre for the Panthers. While he has had lots of highs and lows this season, he’s also played a majority of the season without superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, who missed yet another week due to a quad issue. Sitting at 4-9, the Panthers look to be in good position to secure a top-10 pick in the draft and the question rises: Do the Panthers stick with Bridgewater and build around him, or draft a quarterback and start over.

28. Detroit Lions (5-8)

Previous Rank: 26

Give the Lions some credit, they fought hard against the rival Packers on Sunday. Before exiting the game with a rib injury in the fourth quarter, Matthew Stafford was playing another great game. But the defence struggled to contain Aaron Rodgers or Davante Adams, as the duo tore through the Lions secondary. Sitting at 5-8, the Lions will finish at .500 or below for the third straight season. They are the epitome of mediocrity.

29. Houston Texans (4-9)

Previous Rank: 22

The Texans are just a mess right now. Despite wielding one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, the offence is just too limited due to the wave of injuries (and a Will Fuller suspension), and the defence is somehow even worse. On Sunday, the defence was lit up by Mitch Trubisky. Mitch Trubisky! You know you sport one of the worst defences in the league if Trubisky is lighting up your team. Even worse for the Texans, they don’t have the draft resources to obtain top-tier talent this spring. Where will this organization (that’s operating with an interim head coach and no GM) go from here?

30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1)

Previous Rank: 30

The Bengals suck. They suffered another setback in what was the revenge of the Red Rifle (Andy Dalton). Dalton led his Cowboys to a 30-7 win, as the Bengals looked terrible on the field. The offensive line still cannot protect anyone, shown by Brandon Allen taking beatings every single week. The Bengals have one mission this offseason: fix the offensive line or repent for your sins for not being able to protect your quarterbacks; specifically Joey B. Get well soon Joey.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-12)

Previous Rank: 31

The Jacksonville quarterback cycle of mediocrity is finally coming full circle. It started off with Gardner Minshew, then Jake Luton, after Mike Glennon, and now Doug Marrone finally announced that Minshew will take the reigns of quarterback once again. It would probably be better for the Jaguars if Minshew doesn’t come back though; he might give them a chance to actually win games. Don’t be stupid Jags, start Glennon. It’ll work out in the long run, believe me.

32. New York Jets (0-13)

Previous Rank: 32

Who else did you expect at No. 32? This is the Jets permanent spot for the rest of the season. They own spot No. 32. This team is destined to be known as the worst team to ever touch a football. 0-16 is inevitable for these Jets. Have fun being the laughing stock of the NFL Jets; it probably won’t change for a while.


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