Photo via Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
Crazy endings was the theme for Week 15 of the NFL season. Carson Wentz led the Philadelphia Eagles down the field for a game-winning touchdown at Washington despite having only two healthy wide receivers active for the game. Gardner Minshew led the Jacksonville Jaguars to a game-winning touchdown drive to beat the Oakland Raiders in their final home game at the Oakland Coliseum. And perhaps the event of the weekend, the 4-9 Atlanta Falcons drove down the field and after getting a touchdown overturned, scored one with two seconds left to defeat the San Francisco 49ers on the road. After a crazy week, let us take a look at this week’s top 10 rankings.
10. Houston Texans (9-5)
Previous Ranking: NR
The Texans return to the top 10 after a huge win at Nashville. They forced a huge redzone turnover in the second quarter that swung the momentum, and the Texans’ offense overcame two redzone turnovers of their own to outperform the red-hot Titans’ offense and take control of the AFC South. It was an impressive bounce back performance in a huge game, but the Texans have shown major inconsistencies this season. Their huge wins over the Patriots and Texans sandwiched a brutal home loss to the 4-8 Denver Broncos. Houston now heads to Tampa for a Saturday afternoon showdown with Jameis Winston and the NFL’s second ranked offense.
9. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
Previous Ranking: 9
Despite bolstering an 11-3 record and holding the number two seed in the NFC currently, the Packers still do not look like a Super Bowl contender. While they beat the Chicago Bears 21-13, they were outgained at home by 137 yards to an offense that has been struggling most of the season, and was one missed lateral away from having to win in overtime. Aaron Rodgers has been very efficient, but the blowout losses at Los Angeles and San Francisco still linger and the Packers still have not gotten their statement win yet. They will have an opportunity to get it as they head to Minnesota on Monday for a chance to wrap up the division.
8. Minnesota Vikings (10-4)
Previous Ranking: 8
Unlike their NFC North counterparts, the Packers, the Vikings went into LA and took care of business. They forced an astonishing seven turnovers in a dominating 39-10 win over the Chargers. The Vikings will have a chance to prove their legitimacy as well as they will host the Packers on Monday Night Football, a time where Kirk Cousins is 0-8. The bad news is even with the win, the Packers will still be in first place as they have the better division record.
7. Buffalo Bills (10-4)
Previous Ranking: 7
For only the second time in the last two decades, the Buffalo Bills are going to the playoffs. They played in their first Sunday Night Football game since 2007 and came away with a 17-10 victory at Pittsburgh in an entertaining defensive battle. Tre’Davious White showed he is one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks with two interceptions, including one in the third quarter that set up the game-tying field goal after the Steelers were driving up 10-7. The Bills will look to keep their slim AFC East hopes alive as they head to New England for a Saturday evening showdown with the Patriots.
6. New England Patriots (11-3)
Previous Ranking: 6
The Patriots have spent this week mired in a Spygate 2.0 controversy as they videotaped the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline illegally. Despite this, the Patriots went out and took care of the 1-12 Bengals 34-13 as Stephon Gilmore intercepted two Andy Dalton passes and took one back for a score. The Patriots now will face the Bills for a chance to wrap up the division for the 11th consecutive year and stay alive for a first-round bye.
5. Seattle Seahawks (11-3)
Previous Ranking: 5
The Seahawks, by virtue of the 49ers’ loss to the Atlanta Falcons, are now the number one seed in the NFC. However, they did not present themselves as such as they had to hold off the Carolina Panthers, who were on a five-game losing streak and were looking awful coming into the game. On top of that, midseason acquisition Josh Gordon got suspended yet again for using PEDs. The Seahawks will look to maintain their standing as they host the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday before their huge Week 17 rematch against the 49ers.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
Previous Ranking: 4
Is there a team in the NFL outside of the Baltimore Ravens that look scarier than the Kansas City Chiefs? They are hot and healthy at the right time. The Chiefs had to battle Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos on top of a fierce snowstorm, and dominated. They looked impressive in a 23-3 win. Mahomes and the passing attack look as dangerous as they did last year. The Chiefs are chasing New England for the second seed and will look to keep pace as they head to Chicago for a matchup with the Bears on Sunday Night Football.
3. San Francisco 49ers (11-3)
Previous Ranking: 2
For the first time in these rankings, the 49ers are not the number two team as they fell in dramatic fashion to the 4-9 Atlanta Falcons. To be fair, the Falcons also won at New Orleans, but the 49ers had chances to win and blew them. They lost the classic letdown game after surviving their previous brutal three-game stretch. They still control their own destiny for the top seed in the NFC and this Saturday Night, they will host the Rams, who were just blown out at Dallas.
2. New Orleans Saints (11-3)
Previous Ranking: 3
Wow. That one word sums up the performance that Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints displayed during their 34-7 Monday Night Football win at home against the Indianapolis Colts. Drew Brees not only broke Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdown passes in a career, but he also set the single-game record for highest completion percentage. The Saints’ defense also had an impressive game a week after relinquishing 48 points to the 49ers. The Saints hit the road the final two games of the season as this Sunday, they will head to Nashville to take on the desperate Titans.
1. Baltimore Ravens (12-2)
Previous Ranking: 1
The best team in the NFL finally has the best record. The Ravens dismantled the Jets on Thursday Night Football as Lamar Jackson continues to show why he is the league’s MVP with five touchdown passes and more highlight-reel runs. The Ravens will head to Cleveland this Sunday to face the Browns. If they defeat the Browns, then they will wrap up the AFC’s number one seed a week before the regular season ends.