Week 14 of the NFL season opened with Mitchell Trubisky handing the Bears a critical draft-positioning win with a putrid performance against the New England Patriots on Thursday night.
The weekend ended with the Dallas Cowboys announcing themselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders by dismantling the Philadelphia Eagles on “Sunday Night Football.” With four weeks to go, the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys all sit atop the NFC at 10-3.
Over in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens survived a scare against the Los Angeles Rams while Jake Browning continued to cook in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes’ frustration boiled over in Kansas City as a critical offensive offsides call wiped a would-be game-winning touchdown off the board in the Chiefs’ 20-17 loss to the Bengals.
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In Chicago, the Bears came off the bye and manhandled the division-leading Detroit Lions. With Justin Fields playing exceptional football and the defense humming, the Bears believe they can run the table and crash the playoff party.
For now, a rise in the power rankings will have to do.
Here’s where each team stands after Week 14:
- San Francisco 49ers (10-3): Brock Purdy averaged career highs of 10.5 air yards per pass and per completion in Sunday’s win over the Seahawks. Imagine if he could throw the ball downfield. The 49ers have been dismantling teams for over a month, and they still have another level to reach. Your Super Bowl favorite by a mile.
- Dallas Cowboys (10-3): The Cowboys showed they could beat one of the league’s best by dominating the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. The Eagles are banged up, but this is a game past Cowboys teams would have lost. Dallas is for real.
- Philadelphia Eagles (10-3): Philadelphia has been dominated in back-to-back weeks, and the Eagles’ cracks are starting to show at the worst possible time.
- Baltimore Ravens (10-3): Tylan Wallace’s game-winning 76-yard punt return might wind up being what gets the Ravens the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Baltimore faces the Jaguars, 49ers, and Dolphins in the next three weeks, so they couldn’t afford to drop Sunday’s game against the Rams..
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-5): The suddenly sliding Chiefs took two Ls on Sunday. The first came on the field to the Buffalo Bills. The second came during the postgame aftermath when head referee Carl Cheffers scorched the Chiefs for their postgame complaints over the offensive offsides call on Kadarius Toney. “Certainly, no warning is required, especially if they are lined up so far offsides where they’re actually blocking our view of the ball,” Cheffers said of Toney. Case closed.
- Miami Dolphins (9-4): The Titans exposed some cracks in Miami’s armor on Monday night. Tyreek Hill covers up a lot but you’re only as good as your weakest point in the postseason. On Monday, Miami’s offensive line was a problem in pass pro and things got worse once Connor Williams left.
- Buffalo Bills (7-6): Just like that, the Bills are right back in the thick of the playoff hunt. Buffalo still has a tough road ahead, but Sunday’s win was a must.
- Cleveland Browns (8-5): On Sunday, Joe Flacco became the first Browns quarterback since Brian Sipe in 1980 to throw three touchdown passes over 30 yards in a game. The elite 38-year-old quarterback can still sling the pill.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5): The Jags sacked Flacco just once Sunday and allowed him to throw for 311 yards. The offense also looked out of sync with Christian Kirk sidelined. Jacksonville dodged a bullet with Trevor Lawrence’s ankle sprain, but there are problems to be solved in Duval.
- Detroit Lions (9-4): The Lions’ defense continues to leak all over the place. Detroit allowed Justin Fields to rush for 58 yards and throw for 223 as the Bears physically overpowered the Lions on the lakefront. Four weeks ago, the Lions were seen as a legitimate Super Bowl threat. No longer.
- Houston Texans (7-6): The Texans’ feel-good story might be nearing its conclusion. Houston was already without rookie receiver Tank Dell, tight end Dalton Schultz, and offensive tackle Tytus Howard before losing Nico Collins to a hamstring injury in the first quarter Sunday. Quarterback C.J. Stroud also left the game with a head injury. Sometimes the injuries are too much to overcome.
- Denver Broncos (7-6): Earlier this season, the Broncos’ defense was in complete disarray, and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph was on borrowed time. But Denver’s defense has turned it around, allowing just 12 touchdowns in their last eight games while recording 18 takeaways. At 7-6, the once much-maligned defense might carry Russell Wilson and Sean Payton to the playoffs.
- Cincinnati Bengals (7-6): The Bengals have scored 30 points with Jake Browning at quarterback in back-to-back games. Maybe Cincy isn’t dead after all.
- Los Angeles Rams (6-7): The Rams’ playoff chances took a hit with Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. But with only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, their destiny is still in front of them.
- Green Bay Packers (6-7): Jordan Love is ascending but he and the Packers still have some kinks to work out after their Monday night loss to Tommy DeVito and the Giants.
- Indianapolis Colts (7-6): Indianapolis still has a manageable schedule ahead of it, with games against the Steelers, Falcons, Raiders, and Texans ahead. But the Colts’ alarming lack of pass-rush production against the Bengals on Sunday is reason for concern. It feels like it’s about time for Gardner Minshew and Shane Steichen to do us a favor and exit the playoff picture as soon as possible.
- Minnesota Vikings (7-6): So much for the offensive adjustments Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell promised would fit Joshua Dobbs’ strengths. Nick Mullens saved the Vikings on Sunday. That’s not a good sign for their playoff hopes.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6): Mitchell Trubisky finally got the Bears a win by rolling over against the New England Patriots on Thursday night. Chicago might have the No. 1 pick locked up by Christmas at this rate.
- Seattle Seahawks (6-7): The Seahawks entered this gauntlet four-game stretch hoping to tread water by going 2-2. They have lost the first three, and it’s unclear if Geno Smith will be able to play next week. The clock is about to strike midnight on the Seahawks’ playoff chances.
- Chicago Bears (5-8): It would have been impossible to imagine the Bears being in this position in early October. Give Matt Eberflus all the credit for keeping the group together and crafting a defense that the Bears feel is near elite. It has certainly been playing like it over the last few games. If the Bears can knock off the Browns next week, the playoff talk will start to carry weight.
- Tampa Bay Bucs (6-7): We’re going to group the NFC South teams together. I’ve liked the Bucs the best all season. They have the best quarterback of the three and the best playmaker. Give me Baker down the stretch.
- Atlanta Falcons (6-7): Good news for the Falcons: The Panthers are up next on the schedule. The bad news? Atlanta is capable of losing to anyone.
- New Orleans Saints (6-7): OK, so maybe Derek Carr isn’t the savior the Saints thought he was. (We tried to tell you.)
- New York Jets (5-8): Zach Wilson played with an edge Sunday and authored what might be the best game of his career. Wilson played free, especially when the Jets let him throw on early downs. Where the hell was this earlier in the season?
- Los Angeles Chargers (5-8): There’s nowhere left for the Chargers to go but to write a blank check for Jim Harbaugh.
- New York Giants (5-8): Tommy DeVito is the quarterback the Giants need in this moment. We have officially lost contain on DeVito-mania.
- Tennessee Titans (5-8): I think this Will Levis thing might work out for the Titans.
- Las Vegas Raiders (5-8): Aidan O’Connell isn’t the long-term answer in Las Vegas. I don’t think Antonio Pierce is, either. Another blank slate coming for the Silver and Black.
- Washington Commanders (4-9): Perhaps the Commanders can use their bye week to find a way to get Terry McLaurin involved in the offense. Or the coaching staff can just have their agents leak that other teams are interested in hiring them after the season. It’s a race to get off the sinking rowboat in D.C.
- Arizona Cardinals (3-10): The Cardinals got a massive win on their bye week as the Patriots’ victory over the Steelers brought them back into a tie for the No. 2 overall pick.
- New England Patriots (3-10): Ezekiel Elliott looked like the Zeke of old on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. A refreshed Zeke should have some value on the free-agent market this offseason.
- Carolina Panthers (1-12): Bryce Young has little chance to grow under this interim coaching staff. All he can hope to do is survive and not develop bad habits that tank his promising career.