1. Los Angeles Rams (12-1) Def. Detroit 30-16. Last Week: 2
The Rams won the NFC West for the second season in a row on Sunday, clinching it with a victory over Detroit. Aaron Donald also had his third strip sack in two games, giving him 16.5 sacks on the year.
But the bigger news than their almost inevitable division title was LA regaining home field advantage and the one seed in the NFC playoff picture. New Orleans’ loss to Dallas gave the Rams the one game advantage they needed as their only loss this season came at the hands of the Saints.
2. New Orleans Saints (10-2) Lost to Dallas 13-10. Last Week: 1
It was hard for the rest of the week to top the shock the nation saw Thursday night, as the Saints’ 10-game winning streak came to an end in the least likely fashion. They were shut out in the first half and finished with just 10 points and 176 yards of total offense. New Orleans’ only touchdown came on a 30-yard strike to rookie wide receiver Keith Kirkwood, his second touchdown on the season and in as many weeks.
With Tampa Bay next on the schedule it’s likely this game will be an aberration for the Saints’ offense, but it might be a costly one.
3. New England Patriots (9-3) Def. Minnesota 24-10. Last Week: 4
He played again this week, but it almost looked like Rob Gronkowski was back to being absent from the New England offense. Not that they were in desperate need of him against Minnesota. James White had 92 yards receiving, Sony Michel added 63 on the ground, and the Patriots running backs look as dangerous as ever.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (10-2) Def. Oakland 40-33. Last Week: 3
Kansas City’s defense continues to look like a bigger weakness going forward than the departure of star running back Kareem Hunt. Spencer Ware got most of the volume at running back but Damien Williams was almost as productive. That’s something to watch as the season closes. The offense didn’t miss a beat. But there are offenses out there (looking at you Los Angeles Chargers) that will be a lot harder to outscore than the Raiders.
5. Houston Texans (9-3) Def. Cleveland 29-13. Last Week: 5
It took Lamar Miller six games to have a 100-yard effort in 2018. He now has four in the last six. Deshaun Watson threw at least one interception in the first six games of the season. Now he’s been intercepted during just one of the past six games.
The Texans have won nine straight and are looking stronger than ever. The Jaguars may have just giftwrapped the division for Houston with their upset of the Colts.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (9-3) Def. Pittsburgh 33-30. Last Week: 7
The Chargers are turning up the heat on the Chiefs. Even without Melvin Gordon they had enough firepower to jump out of a 23-7 hole. Their long-term kicking issues look like they might be back, but if Los Angeles gets three tries to win every game, who could stop them?
7. Seattle Seahawks (7-5) Def. San Francisco 43-16. Last Week: 10
They aren’t going to be division champions, but will settle for one of the hottest teams in football do? Russell Wilson threw four touchdowns and has 29 touchdown passes in 2018. This offense is humming. That’s something that can’t be said about their opponents this week on Monday Night Football. They take on the Vikings in a game with huge wildcard implications.
8. Chicago Bears (8-4) Lost to NY Giants 30-27 (OT.) Last Week: 6
Chase Daniel’s second start for Mitchell Trubisky didn’t go quite as well. The Bears’ five game winning streak came to a halt as Daniel was sacked five times, threw two interceptions, and fumbled four times (though the Bears recovered every one). Chicago still has plenty of space at the top of the NFC North, but if Trubisky isn’t back in time for this week’s matchup with the Rams, things could get ugly.
9. Dallas Cowboys (7-5) Def. New Orleans 13-10. Last Week: 12
After ending the NFL’s longest winning streak, the Cowboys are left in the midst of their own four-game win streak. The defense will get plenty of praise for how they beat the Saints Thursday night. They did it by getting themselves off the field. Dallas’defense stopped New Orleans on eight of 11 third down conversion attempts. The Saints can’t score if they aren’t on offense (mostly).
Furthermore, a win in their rematch with Philadelphia could essentially clinch the division.
10. Baltimore Ravens (7-5) Def. Atlanta 26-16. Last Week: 13
Lamar Jackson improved to 3-0 as the Ravens’ starting quarterback. The Jackson and Gus Edwards’ train rolled onward on the ground as the Ravens finished with 207 rushing yards. While they are suddenly winning again, Baltimore couldn’t look more different from the team that opened the season 4-1 thanks to Joe Flacco putting up some of the most prolific numbers of his career. They’ll have a big test to keep the winning streak going in Kansas City this week.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1) Lost to LA Chargers 33-30. Last Week: 8
Back to back weeks, back to back last second losses for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers’ fortunes and the Ravens have flipped consistently this season. Now it’s the Steelers on the wrong foot. The good news? They’re headed to Oakland.
12. Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1) Lost to New England 24-10. Last Week: 11
Just when the Minnesota run game starts producing they go away from it. Dalvin Cook had 84 yards on just nine carries, but the Vikings insisted on playing catchup. They couldn’t get a win to play catchup with the Bears and if they can’t beat Seattle this Monday their wildcard position will start to look a little shaky.
13. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) Lost to Jacksonville 6-0. Last Week: 9
This game was about the ugliest way for the Colts’ five game win streak to come to an end, unless you’re a fan of punters. Both the Colts’ Rigoberto Sanchez (six punts for 298 yards) and Jaguars’ Logan Cooke (seven for 329) outgained their respective teams in total yardage. The Colts had one 20-yard gain on the day, a pass to Eric Ebron. They fall three games back of Houston with four left to play.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (6-6) Def. Washington 28-13. Last Week: 21
The Golden Tate trade is finally starting to pay dividends to Philadelphia. Kudos to the Eagles’ defense for shutting Washington down after Adrian Peterson opened the game with the longest run the franchise has ever allowed, but they need to beat Dallas this week to keep their division hopes alive.
15. Denver Broncos (6-6) Def. Cincinnati 24-10. Last Week: 17
A week ago this space said it may have been too late for the Broncos. Not yet. Three wins in a row has them in the thick of the wild-card race, if not the AFC West race. The Broncos continued to rely on their running game (218 yards) and defense (four sacks) against Cincinnati. They also have a very favorable schedule with games against San Francisco, Cleveland, and Oakland remaining.
16. Tennessee Titans (6-6) Def. NY Jets 26-22. Last Week: 18
It looked like more of the (recent) same from the Titans before their come from behind victory over the Jets. It keeps them in the thick of the AFC wild-card race, but to stay there they’ll have to take care of business against the Jaguars this week, something the Colts just failed to do.
17. Miami Dolphins (6-6) Def. Buffalo 21-17. Last Week: 19
The Dolphins are playing for the playoffs and Ryan Tannehill may well be playing for the future of his career in Miami. Three touchdown passes were enough to outduel the Bills and Josh Allen on a day where the Dolphins were dwarfed statistically. A rematch with New England waits in Miami next week.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) Def. Carolina 24-17. Last Week: 25
The Buccaneers have won consecutive games for the first time since opening the season 2-0. Jameis Winston has already lost the starting job twice this season but looks determined to hold on to it entering 2019. He has yet to throw an interception since returning to his starting role, despite throwing 11 in his first five games of the season.
19. Carolina Panthers (6-6) Lost to Tampa Bay 24-17. Last Week: 14
The Panthers are officially reeling. Four losses in a row have them outside the playoff picture in the NFC – though not by a ton. If they can right the ship against Cleveland, they’re going to have to stop turning the ball over. Cam Newton threw four interceptions against Tampa Bay and has thrown at least one in each game of the losing streak.
20. Washington (6-6) Lost to Philadelphia 28-13. Last Week: 15
Washington will be back at the shopping market for quarterbacks after Colt Mccoy’s season was ended on Monday night. They’re still mathematically alive, but it looked like Washington’s season was ended as well.
21. Cleveland Browns (4-7-1) Lost to Houston 29-13. Last Week: 20
Baker Mayfield had a career high 397 passing yards as the Browns chased a game they trailed in 23-0 at halftime. But it wasn’t a pretty day beyond that for the Cleveland offense: four turnovers and just nine carries for 31 yards for Nick Chubb are both a step backwards.
22. Green Bay Packers (4-7-1) Lost to Arizona 20-17. Last Week: 16
Just when we’d said gone out on a limb and Green Bay was good enough to beat the bad teams in the league. This loss broke the camel’s back and Mike McCarthy is no longer the head coach of the team he took to a Super Bowl title in 2010. It was an ugly one. The Packers lost at home in the snow to a 3-9 team from Arizona.
23. New York Giants (4-8) Def. Chicago 30-27 (OT.) Last Week: 27
The Giants won for the third time in four games, upsetting one of the other hottest teams in the NFL in the process. After throwing a 49-yard score in this game, Odell Beckham Jr. is now two-for-two for 106 yards and two touchdowns passing the football this season. Is a quarterback controversy brewing in New York?
24. Atlanta Falcons (4-8) Lost to Baltimore 26-16. Last Week: 23
The Falcons fourth-straight loss has them knocking on the door of a losing season. Their offense was unable to accomplish anything against the Ravens, finishing with 131 total yards. Their longest play on the day was a 17-yard pass to Austin Hooper, who led the team with 44 receiving yards.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) Def. Indianapolis 6-0. Last Week: 28
For a fawning look at the day, the Jaguars’ punter had please see the Colts writeup. This section is all about Cody Kessler, who got his first NFL win as a starting quarterback after toiling in Cleveland. The Jaguars got their first win since September. And yeah, maybe the defense had something to do with that too.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) Lost to Denver 24-10. Last Week: 22
The Jeff Driskel era in Cincinnati didn’t get off to a very fast start, and it might turn even worse for the new quarterback with the news that AJ Green will miss the remainder of the season. With Green and Andy Dalton done and six losses in their last seven games, the Bengals look done for the season as well.
27. Detroit Lions (4-8) Lost to LA Rams 30-16. Last Week: 24
The Lions held Los Angeles in check for much of the game before letting them pull away in the fourth quarter. Not being able to punch the ball in cost Detroit; the Lions scored one touchdown in five trips to the red zone. That score was an 11-yard pass to tackle Taylor Decker.
28. Buffalo Bills (4-8) Lost to Miami 21-17. Last Week: 26
Josh Allen almost had 100 yards rushing a week ago; he left no doubt this time, finishing with 135 yards to once again pace the Bills on the ground. Three turnovers and 120 penalty yards still led to a loss in the rare game where the Bills outgained their opponents 415 yards to 175.
29. Arizona Cardinals (3-9) Def. Green Bay 20-17. Last Week: 31
The Cardinals went into Green Bay and played like they were the ones still fighting for a playoff spot this season. Converting a 3rd-and-23 in the snow is a pretty clutch way to win on the road. They have a chance to keep winning against Detroit this week.
30. New York Jets (3-9) Lost to Tennessee 26-22. Last Week: 29
The still Sam Darnold-less Jets started well: they sacked Marcus Mariota three times, intercepted him and forced two fumbles. Then they let him throw a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute.
31. Oakland Raiders (2-10) Lost to Kansas City 40-33. Last Week: 30
Oakland’s highest scoring game in awhile might have been enough to outscore most opponents. It might have even been enough to outscore the Chiefs, had the Raiders not handed them three fumbles.
32. San Francisco 49ers (2-10) Lost to Seattle 43-16. Last Week: 32
Richard Sherman surely didn’t envision his return to Seattle coming in these circumstances when he joined the 49ers a season ago.