We’re in the NFL’s home stretch and kicking off Christmas week the way we do every single week on the schedule, by arbitrarily ranking teams through a criteria I’ve invented in my own head.
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-1)
Jalen Hurts is probably out this week. While everyone in Philly would love to get a season sweep of the Dallas Cowboys, there’s no reason to risk your team MVP when you’ve got this kind of lead in the division with three to play. Also, we all want to see Gardner Minshew rip his jersey off like Hulk Hogan entering the ring after beating the Cowboys.
Last week: No. 1
- SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (10-4)
One thing that Brock Purdy’s emergence has done is allow the Niners to finally move on from Jimmy Garoppolo. Since Jimmy G went down, Purdy is undefeated with a 69 completion percentage, 612 passing yards, seven total touchdowns, just one interception and a 108.8 passer rating.
Last week: No. 2
- CINCINNATI BENGALS (10-4)
A week after nearly having his finger torn free of his body, Tyler Boyd made the catch for the go-ahead touchdown that beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When asked about it after the game, Boyd said, “I got nine other fingers to help me catch the ball.” He’ll need to save another finger for a Super Bowl ring if Cincy continues to play like this.
Last week: No. 3
- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-3)
Patrick Mahomes is on pace to throw for 5,459 yards this season, which would be the third highest total in NFL history behind only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. He’s also on the way to another NFL MVP award.
Last week: No. 4
- BUFFALO BILLS (11-3)
The Bills currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC and need to do everything they can to keep it. Cincinnati is in postseason form and the best way to keep them from going to their second Super Bowl is to make them play in four feet of snow.
Last week: No. 7
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS (11-3)
The most important thing to come of the Vikings unleashing the “greatest comeback in NFL history” is that it didn’t immediately kill my Saturday parlay. Justin Jefferson continues to show he might be the best wide receiver in the league. He’s surpassed 1,600 receiving yards for the second consecutive season and he’s only been in the league three years.
Last week: No. 9
- LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (8-6)
Emmanuel Acho is probably going to die on this hill, but, for the rest of us, there’s no question that Justin Herbert is one of the best QBs in the league. And “social media” concurs.
Last week: No. 10
- DALLAS COWBOYS (10-4)
There are a few things you can count on every year in the NFL and Mike McCarthy getting outcoached by Doug Pederson is high on that list..
Last week: No. 5
- BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5)
I wasn’t feeling good about Baltimore’s chances against Cleveland without Lamar Jackson, but when Justin Tucker missed a field goal inside the 50, I checked to make sure it wasn’t raining frogs outside my house.
Last week: No. 8
- NEW YORK GIANTS (8-5-1)
The Giants finally got over the hump against the Commanders, put themselves one game away from securing a playoff spot and halted a losing/not winning streak that was a real bummer for those of us thinking Brian Daboll was in the Coach of the Year conversation back in October.
Last week: No. 13
- WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (7-6-1)
We’ve seen some egregious ref calls this season, but absolutely nothing will match the flag thrown on the Commanders with under a minute left that literally cost them the game.
Last week: No. 11
- MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-6)
Here’s what’s concerning about the Dolphins’ three game losing streak. It’s the second three game losing streak they’ve suffered through THIS SEASON. And every loss has been to a real contender, which is good in that they aren’t “bad losses,” but also shows how far behind the playoff field Miami actually is.
Preseason: No. 12
- DETROIT LIONS (7-7)
For the fourth consecutive game Jared Goff kept his scoresheet clear of interceptions in a game where he attempted at least 35 passes. The last Lion to do that? The guy Goff was traded for, Matthew Stafford. Goff has not had a single turnover of any kind in six straight games.
Last week: No. 15
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (6-8)
The craziest thing about Doug Pederson beating Mike McCarthy is that anyone ever doubted it would happen in the first place.
Last week: No. 20
- GREEN BAY PACKERS (6-8)
Aaron Rodgers kept the Packers’ playoff hopes alive for a week by knocking the Rams completely out of the bracket. They realistically have to win out to make the postseason and they have to get through the Dolphins, Vikings and Lions to do it. It’s not looking good.
Last week: No. 21
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-7)
NFL Films used to put together a “Football Follies” film, where they would show all the craziest plays while Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, narrated. Mel’s been gone a while now, but I can still hear his voice as Chandler Jones took that fumble to the house to knock the Pats out of the playoff bracket. It’s one of my favorite things that’s ever happened.
Last week: No. 14
- TENNESSEE TITANS (7-7)
In a single season the Titans went from being the worst No. 1 seed in recent history to being the worst AFC South champion in recent history.
Last week: No. 16
- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-7)
Reality has been a harsh mistress for the Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs come with a whole lot of it Saturday in Arrowhead.
Last week: No. 17
- NEW YORK JETS (7-7)
Zach Wilson is getting his second start for an injured Mike White, so go ahead and let your mom back on social media.
Last week: No. 18
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-8)
Kenny Pickett should be back in the line up as the team celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception and the life of the guy that made the play, Franco Harris who passed away Wednesday.
Last week: 24
- CLEVELAND BROWNS (6-8)
The fact that I’ve not figured out a solid PG-13 joke with Deshaun Watson and Nick Chubb in the same backfield is one of the true disappointments of my 2022.
Last week: No. 26
- LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (6-8)
It doesn’t matter how bad Josh McDaniels is as a head coach, he’ll always find a way to beat a Bill Belichick team if given the chance. It’s like some kind of horrible reverse karma.
Last week: No. 30
- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-8)
Christmas night we get the quarterback match up of our dreams — Tom Brady vs Trace McSorely. Santa got my letter!
Last week: No. 19
- NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-9)
Thanks to playing in the NFC South, the Saints’ playoff hopes are still alive. That’ll change Saturday in Cleveland.
Last week: No. 28
- LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-10)
It’s official. The Rams will not get the chance to defend their Super Bowl title. They also lost Brian Allen and Ben Skowronek for the rest of the year. It’s worth a bad season to hoist a Vince Lombardi trophy, but this feels like the Rams wished on a cursed monkey’s paw.
Last week: No. 22
- CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-9)
Is it a coincidence that every NFC South team is ranked in the 20s? This would be the worst division in football if not for the AFC South.
Last week: No. 23
- ATLANTA FALCONS (5-9)
Desmond Ridder’s first NFL start — 13 of 26 for 97 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and he was sacked four times for a passer rating of 59.3. And he still almost won.
Last week: No. 25
- DENVER BRONCOS (4-10)
The good news for the Broncos is that Russell Wilson will suit up against the Rams. The even better news for Russ is that Aaron Donald is still out and no human on the planet has sacked DangeRuss more than AD99.
Last week: No. 31
- ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-10)
Not only is Kyler Murray out for the season, but Colt McCoy is in the concussion protocol. That means we’ll get a solid dose of Trace McSorely against…. Checks notes. Tom Brady. Merry Christmas.
Last week: No. 27
- INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-9-1)
Jeff Saturday has now been a factor in two of the three most embarrassing losses in the NFL this season. How it’s possible to surrender a 33-0 lead and be the losing team in the “greatest comeback in NFL history,” should confound experts for years. Also, they’ve benched Matt Ryan again, this time for Nick Foles.
Last week: No. 29
- CHICAGO BEARS (3-11)
Hey, at least Justin Fields will be fun to watch as his team is absolutely crushed by the Bills Saturday.
Last week: No. 31
- HOUSTON TEXANS (1-12-1)
The Houston Texans went 10-6 in 2019 and nearly upset the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Since then, they’ve gone through four coaches (counting Bill O’Brien and an interim) and are 9-35.
Last week: No. 32
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.
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