The NFL has one last game to wrap up an extended Week 13. Monday Night Football is a wrap, but we still have Cowboys vs. Ravens on another edition of Tuesday Night Football. Covid-19 resulted in a couple delays, and so we get some mid-week football to close things out.
In the meantime, we’re back for another round of tier NFL power rankings. Rather than rank teams 1-32, we’ve broken them down into tiers. They’re ranked in their respective tier by record, but teams with the same record are not purposely situated one over another. It’s just to group teams with similar teams in terms of where they stand.
Top tier — not undefeated edition
The Steelers are no longer in their own undefeated tier, but even with a loss to Washington, Pittsburgh is a top tier team. We’ve got some other changes to this group with Seattle demoted while Cleveland and Green Bay get promoted. The Browns got a signature win over the Titans and the Packers are closing in on a division title.
Going to the playoffs tier
Seattle gets demoted after an ugly loss to the Giants. Seattle is going to the playoffs, but they have been incredibly inconsistent week-over-week. They could make a run or they could be eliminated the first weekend. The Bills are closing in on moving up a tier, but they need to show a little more consistency. A win over the Steelers next week would do the trick.
The parity tier — AFC edition
The parity tier — NFC edition
The added playoff spot leaves a lot more teams in the mix for a playoff berth. It also takes the NFL’s drive for parity close to a logical end point of everybody being alive for a playoff berth in December.
The Lions get a bump up to this group with their win over the Bears thanks primarily to the Cardinals losing to the Rams. The final NFC wild card spot currently has a 6-6 team sitting there, so anybody within a game of that spot belongs in here.
On the AFC side, those wild card berths could come down to the wire, but just with slightly better teams. If the Ravens can get an expected win over the Cowboys on Tuesday, we’ll have five AFC teams sitting at 8-4 or 7-5. It’s going to be a wild finish.
The Patriots tier
New England Patriots (6-6)
This previously was “not mathematically eliminated, but too many questions.” However, the NFC is bad enough that mediocre teams have a legitimate chance at a playoff berth. The Patriots are two games back of the final AFC wild card berth with four week to go, and are maddeningly inconsistent. They’ve won four of their last five, but the next three weeks are going to be quite the gauntlet. They travel to face the Rams and Dolphins, and then host the Bills. They get the Jets in Week 17, and 2-2 over these final four weeks likely won’t cut it for getting in the playoffs.
Playing out the string tier
These teams aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but their seasons are done and they’re playing out the string. All four face significant questions heading into the offseason with two of the four already firing their head coach. Deshaun Watson gives the Texans a franchise QB to build around while the Broncos hope Drew Lock can develop into one. The Falcons have Matt Ryan, but for how much longer, while the Panthers have Teddy Bridgewater who seems more like a transition option than a clear franchise QB.
NFC East tier
This has been the best week to date for the NFC East. The Eagles looked ugly in their loss to the Packers, but New York shocked the Seahawks and Washington took down the undefeated Steelers. Dallas and Philly are both still alive in this race, but it feels like this is turning into a two-team race.
At least they have a QB of the future sub-tier
Four teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, but they are moving in decidedly different directions. The Chargers and Bengals spent a top pick on the QB position in last year’s draft and for the time-being hope they’ve found their long-term answer.
Trevor Lawrence sub-tier
Congrats to the Jets and Jaguars. They both lost in rather heart-breaking fashion — the Jets moreso than the Jaguars — but they gave the Raiders and Vikings each a run for their money. That’s the way the elegant tank works.