Week 14 of the NFL season continued to clarify the championship picture.
The Philadelphia Eagles found a new top gear in New York, hanging 48 on a Giants team that’s leaking oil like a ’72 Chevelle. In the Bay Area, Brock “Don’t Call Me Irrelevant” Purdy and the 49ers made a statement with a 35-7 dismantling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Meanwhile, Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers resuscitated their playoff hopes with a gritty win in the “Taekz Bowl” against Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins.
As for the Bears, their draft position took a hit Sunday as the Denver Broncos continue only to be able to obtain moral victories.
Here’s where each team stands after Week 14:
32. Houston Texans (1-11-1): The Texans caught the Cowboys off guard with the Davis Mills-Jeff Driskel QB combo, but it wasn’t good enough for them to finish the upset. As the old adage goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you have zero. Texans need to find their franchise signal-caller ASAP.
31. Denver Broncos (3-10): Denver can’t eat the dead cap hit required to cut a seemingly washed Russ. The Broncos’ best chance might be to bring in Frank Reich to see if he can salvage the ruins of a franchise-wrecking trade.
30. Chicago Bears (3-10): The Bears exit the bye week to face an Eagles team that just hung 48 on the Giants and appears to be reaching top gear. Best of luck.
29. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1): It was a good Sunday for the Colts as wins by the Panthers and Jaguars moved them up to No. 7 in the draft. They can move up to No. 6 if the Cardinals beat the Patriots on Monday night. That’s the only kind of winning going on in Indy this season.
28. Los Angeles Rams (4-9): Baker Mayfield and Sean McVay might be a really fun pairing for the next four weeks. Or maybe the Raiders just stink.
27. New Orleans Saints (4-9): If the Saints hadn’t choked last Monday night’s game away, there would be a four-way tie in the NFC South at 5-8. As it stands, the Saints are in sole possession of last place. Tough times on the Bayou.
26. Arizona Cardinals (4-9): Changes are needed in the desert this offseason.
25. Atlanta Falcons (5-8): It’s Desmond Ridder time in Atlanta. Better late than never, I guess.
24. Cleveland Browns (5-8): The Browns’ run defense lacks honor.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8): Mitch Trubisky just isn’t an NFL quarterback. Never has been. Never will be.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (5-8): The Raiders have now lost to Baker Mayfield after he was in LA for two days and Jeff Saturday after he was on “Get Up!” for two years. Impressive.
21. Carolina Panthers (5-8): Are the Sam Darnold-led Panthers the best team in the NFC South?
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8): On Sunday, Trevor Lawrence became the youngest player in NFL history to throw for 350 yards, three touchdowns, and run for a touchdown in one game. Stock is going through the roof.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7): The Bucs can’t run the ball, can’t protect Tom Brady, and can’t find a way to get Mike Evans consistently involved. That’s just the start of the issues in Tampa.
18. Green Bay Packers (5-8): The Packers’ playoff hopes aren’t dead yet, but it will take some magic from Aaron Rodgers to get Green Bay to the postseason. So you’re saying there’s a chance?
17. New England Patriots (7-6): The Patriots are still loitering in the AFC playoff race, but there’s no reason to believe Matt Patricia’s offense can do enough for New England to secure a wild-card spot.
16. New York Giants (7-5-1): The Giants were a fun first-half story, but Brian Daboll’s team is limping to the finish line. New York has won just one game since Week 8 and was embarrassed by the Eagles on Sunday. Do they have anything left for next week’s critical showdown with the Commanders?
15. Tennessee Titans (7-6): The Titans fired their GM midweek, and then the team went out and laid an egg against the Jags. The ship is sinking in Nashville.
14. Seattle Seahawks (7-6): Seattle has given up 90 points on 33 drives since its bye week. That’s 2.73 points per drive which would be far and away the worst in the NFL over the course of the season. The Seahawks have been exposed.
13. New York Jets (7-6): Robert Saleh said the Jets would see the Bills again come playoff time. The Jets have to get there first.
12. Washington Commanders (7-5-1): Washington sat at home Sunday and watched its playoff chances tick up with losses by the Giants and Seahawks. A win next Sunday against New York and the Commanders should be in the driver’s seat for the No. 6 seed.
11. Detroit Lions (6-7): Just like that, the Lions have gone from 1-6 to 6-7 and are eyeing the playoffs. Detroit tripled its playoff chances with Sunday’s win over the Vikings (7 to 21 percent). Are the Lions the fourth-best team in the NFC? I could make the case.
10. Minnesota Vikings (10-3): How am I supposed to take the Vikings seriously? A 10-win team with a negative point differential? If it walks like a fraud and talks like a fraud …
9. Miami Dolphins (8-5): The 49ers showed the blueprint for how to stop the Dolphins’ offense. That the Chargers were able to disrupt Miami's offense in a similar fashion should have alarm bells going off in South Beach.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6): Is eight high for a 7-6 Chargers team that has struggled to stop the run and can’t protect its quarterback? Yup. But with Mike Williams and Keenan Allen back, and a soft schedule in front of them, I like the Chargers to snag the No. 7 seed in the AFC.
7. Baltimore Ravens (9-4): The Roquan Smith trade was the best move of the trade deadline, but not in the way the Bears hoped.
6. Dallas Cowboys (10-3): The Cowboys were asleep for 57.5 minutes Sunday against the Texans. But a goal-line stand and a game-winning drive were enough to deliver Dallas its 10th win. Good teams find a way to win.
5. San Francisco 49ers (9-4): If Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl behind a vaunted defense, I don’t see any reason why Brock Purdy can’t do the same with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers’ embarrassment of riches behind him.
4. Buffalo Bills (10-3): The Bill relied on their defense to beat the Jets on Sunday, but Josh Allen knows Buffalo’s offense has to get much better for there to be a parade in Orchard Park this February.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3): Travis Kelce summed up the Chiefs’ flaws and their hopes perfectly after they avoided catastrophe against the Broncos on Sunday. “Even when you think you’ve got us, we still got 1-5 back there.”
2. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4): The Bengals have held Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry in check while also limiting Patrick Mahomes to a season-low 223 yards passing. Cincy can beat you in a number of ways.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1): The NFL’s Death Star appears fully operational in Philadelphia, and the Eagles still think they have another gear to reach. Scary hours for the rest of the NFC.