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Week 14 of the NFL season saw two heavyweight battles on Sunday afternoon live up to the hype. The Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo engaged in a defensive battle that saw the Ravens edge out the Bills on the road 24-17. At the same time, the San Francisco 49ers went into New Orleans and won a 48-46 epic shootout over the New Orleans Saints. After another intense week of NFL football, let’s take a look at the top 10 team after Week 14.
1. Baltimore Ravens (11-2)
Previous Ranking: 1
Just like last week’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens had to win with a strong defensive effort. Lamar Jackson was held under 200 yards of total offense for the first time this season, but a 61-yard touchdown pass proved to be the difference for the Ravens as they edged the Bills 24-17 with a late red-zone defensive stand. The Ravens will get a breather from their brutal schedule as they face the Jets on Thursday Night Football.
2. San Francisco 49ers (11-2)
Previous Ranking: 2
In each edition of these rankings that started after Week 11, the Ravens and 49ers have been the top two teams. After this week, that remains the case as San Francisco went from losing on the road to an elite team on the road by a game-winning field goal, to winning on the road against an elite team on a game-winning field goal. Jimmy Garoppolo had his best game of the season with 349 yards and four touchdowns, including a huge 39-yard pass to George Kittle on 4th and 2 that set up a 30-yard game-winning field goal. The 49ers have won games this year with great defense and great offense, which makes them a nearly-impossible team to beat this season. The 49ers get to take a break from playing great teams as they welcome the 4-9 Atlanta Falcons to Santa Clara next week.
3. New Orleans Saints (10-3)
Previous Ranking: 3
The Saints may have lost to San Francisco in heartbreaking fashion, but they showed yesterday that they are up there among the best teams in the NFL. Drew Brees threw 349 yards and five touchdowns against the NFL’s top defense. The one concern I have for this team is their secondary as they were torched by Garoppolo and gave up 48 points. Sean Payton’s play-calling continues to be questionable as he faked a punt and just threw it up for grabs instead of something more creative to fool the defense. The Saints still have a great offense and run defense, and will look to rebound next Monday when the Colts come to the Superdome.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)
Previous Ranking: 5
While the Chiefs benefited from questionable officiating and only scored three points in the second half at New England, the Chiefs won a huge game to stay alive in the hunt for a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. Their defense held the Patriots to only 16-points and has continued their steak of holding opponents under 20 points to three games. With their defense improving, the Chiefs’ are a dangerous foe for anyone to face. They will host the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium next week.
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-3)
Previous Ranking: 4
The Seahawks took at beating at Los Angeles on Sunday Night Football, and fell out of first place in the NFC West. Russell Wilson struggled to get anything going and the Seahawks’ offense, who lost emerging running back Rashaad Penny in the first-half to a torn ACL, could not keep up with a Rams’ offense that is starting to finally resemble the offense we saw the last two seasons. The concern is will Seattle win big games if Wilson doesn’t play like a MVP, as last night, he didn’t and they lost big. For now, the Seahawks must bounce back as they travel to Charlotte next week to take on the reeling Carolina Panthers.
6. New England Patriots (10-3)
Previous Ranking: 6
The Patriots’ offense showed some improvement as they scored touchdowns and long gains against the Chiefs, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough as their two-minute drive fell short and lost their first home game since 2017 and lost back-to-back games. The Patriots’ receiving corp continues to be a problem as Brady has limited options, and he is starting to show his age. The defense did play very well and they will need to continue to do so if the Patriots’ are going to have any success in the playoffs. The new phrase for the Patriots: “We’re on to Cincinnati.”
7. Buffalo Bills (9-4)
Previous Ranking: 7
While the Buffalo Bills lost this week, their defense showed how elite they are as they held Lamar Jackson to his lowest offensive total of the season, and almost tied the game against the best team in the NFL. The Bills’ defense proved their legitimacy against the current MVP and continue to be in very good shape for the playoffs. Now, they will take the spotlight as they will head to Pittsburgh next week for their first Sunday Night Football game since November 18,2007 when they lost at home 56-10 to the undefeated New England Patriots.
8. Minnesota Vikings (9-4)
Previous Ranking: 8
The Minnesota Vikings took care of business at home 20-7 over the Detroit Lions. The Vikings’ did this without Adam Thielen once again, who continues to miss time with a hamstring injury. While not overly impressive, the Vikings won to improve to 6-0 at home, and now need to win to continue to stay ahead of the surging Los Angeles Rams. They will head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers next week.
9. Green Bay Packers (10-3)
Previous Ranking: 9
Like their divisional counterparts, the Packers took care of business at home against an inferior opponent in the Washington Redskins by a score of 20-15. Once again, not terribly impressive as the offense continues to struggle in finding their rhythm. The Packers’ are still looking for that signature win as now, they head into the final stretch where their last three games are all against teams within their division. First up, the improving Chicago Bears.
10. Tennessee Titans (8-5)
Previous Ranking: NR
The Titans are the first new edition to these rankings since they started. Ryan Tannehill has emerged as an MVP candidate as he has led the Titans to a 6-1 record during his time as starter and has the highest quarterback rating in the NFL. The Titans’ also have had the second best offense in the NFL during his tenure as they are now coming off road wins at Indianapolis and Oakland. They are tied for the sixth seed as they will play their biggest game of the season against the Houston Texans, who they are currently tied with in first place.