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Mason's Power Rankings: Broncos back up; Bucs surging; Eagles descending

Posted Dec 6, 2016

Half of the league's teams are between 5-7 and 7-5 as the final quarter of the season begins.

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-12)

Last week: 32
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 30 - Defense: 30

They lost each of their last four games before the bye by 15 or more points, but they played teams that were a combined 33-15 in that span. Their next four opponents are a far more manageable 22-25-1.

31. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-11)

Last week: 31
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 31 - Defense: 23

A meager 6 net passing yards in Chicago represents the lowest total for any team since Week 17 of the 2009 regular season.

30. LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-8)

Last week: 29
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 32 - Defense: 13

Los Angeles' offense is dead last in net points, net yards and first downs per possession. That won't even get you to 7-9.

29. NEW YORK JETS (3-9)

Last week: 28
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 23 - Defense: 24

Down one spot in spite of having a bye ... wait, what? They actually played a game in Week 13? Could have fooled me.

28. CHICAGO BEARS (3-9)

Last week: 30
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 21 - Defense: 15

If they don't play the barking-dog version of "Jingle Bells" at their next home game for QB Matt Barkley, they're just letting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass them by.

27. CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-8)

Last week: 24
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 20 - Defense: 16

The failure to record consecutive winning seasons at any point in franchise history gnaws at Panthers brass. They will hit the reset button, get players healthy and should return to contention next year -- but first will have to figure out how to make Cam Newton successful when he's forced to throw, as opponents continue to mimic the Broncos' Super Bowl 50 game plan.

26. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-10)

Last week: 27
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 22 - Defense: 8

The Jaguars' run of losses by just one score and Blake Bortles' improved form both went up in a smoke against a Broncos defense that capitalized off the absences of Julius Thomas and Allen Hurns to strangle the Jaguars.

25. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (5-7)

Last week: 20
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 18 - Defense: 10

Carson Wentz attempted 60 passes last Sunday, and that's all you need to know; that is the 15th consecutive loss for a team whose quarterback threw at least 60 times, and dropped teams in that scenario to 6-43 all-time, according to pro-football-reference.com.

24. CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-7-1)

Last week: 25
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 10 - Defense: 19

A 412-yard offensive performance without A.J. Green offered a sign that the Bengals can at least play spoiler in the final month. First, they must avoid being the first team to lose to the Browns this season.

23. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-6)

Last week: 26
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 8 - Defense: 29

Fundamentally speaking, this still isn't a quality team. But it plays two reeling clubs in the next two weeks -- Houston and Indianapolis -- before a trip to Oakland and a Week 17 game against Jacksonville. With two wins over Tennessee already in the bag, the Colts can see 9-7 and a division title from here.

22. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-7)

Last week: 19
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 4 - Defense: 25

The Saints' 13 points last Sunday were their fewest at home in nearly two years.

21. ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-6-1)

Last week: 23
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 17 - Defense: 2

Too little, too late? The Cardinals' final four games include trips to Miami and Seattle, so it might be.

20. TENNESSEE TITANS (6-6)

Last week: 21
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 14 - Defense: 22

It's not a stretch to call Sunday's game against the Broncos the Titans' biggest in nearly five years.

19. BUFFALO BILLS (6-6)

Last week: 18
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 13 - Defense: 21

And now, the Bills are only 7-1 in games in which LeSean McCoy rushes for 100 or more yards.

18. HOUSTON TEXANS (6-6)

Last week: 17
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 29 - Defense: 5

Even after his best game of the season, Brock Osweiler's quarterback rating still rests at 74.2.

17. GREEN BAY PACKERS (6-6)

Last week: 22
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 5 - Defense: 27

Given the recent struggles of the Eagles and Texans, it's probably wise to not make too much of the Packers' recent defensive improvement, but they've at least given themselves a chance.

16. MIAMI DOLPHINS (7-5)

Last week: 15
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 27 - Defense: 17

A suddenly vulnerable defense has allowed nearly 1,000 yards in the last two games (971, to be exact).

15. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (5-7)

Last week: 12
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 11 - Defense: 11

As usual, turnovers dashed San Diego's hopes against Tampa Bay. Even with injuries, they only have their own miscues to blame for a record that doesn't reflect their capability.

14. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-6)

Last week: 14
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 24 - Defense: 3

Each of their last four defeats has come by six points or fewer.

13. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (6-5-1)

Last week: 7
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 3 - Defense: 32

This was a bad time for their defense to collapse, with one more week left in their three-game road swing.

12. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-5)

Last week: 16
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 15 - Defense: 14

If they fall one game short of the playoffs, they will look back at the Week 3 defeat to the Rams, aided by missed kicks, as the reason why.

11. NEW YORK GIANTS (8-4)

Last week: 5
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 28 - Defense: 6

They get the Cowboys this week -- and a chance for a statement-making season sweep.

10. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-5)

Last week: 13
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 12 - Defense: 15

A split from their two-game Buffalo-Cincinnati road trip is the minimum of what they need before a Christmas showdown with Baltimore.

9. ATLANTA FALCONS (7-5)

Last week: 8
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 1 - Defense: 31

They're still in good shape. The Falcons have a tiebreaker advantage on the Buccaneers; the Bucs can catch them on the division-record tiebreaker by winning out, but Atlanta can still win the common-opponent tiebreaker by winning out. Atlanta also doesn't face another team with a winning record, while the Bucs have a Week 15 trip to Dallas.

8. BALTIMORE RAVENS (7-5)

Last week: 11
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 25 - Defense: 1

I don't know that even the Ravens saw their 38-point, 496-yard breakout coming.

7. DETROIT LIONS (8-4)

Last week: 10
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 7 - Defense: 28

Here's the big news: The Lions played a game decided by more than one score! That's the first such game for the Honolulu blue this year.

6. DENVER BRONCOS (8-4)

Last week: 9
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 26 - Defense: 4

One of the best defensive efforts of the season was enough to overcome an offense that failed to gain a first down on nine of its 14 possessions.

5. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-3-1)

Last week: 6
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 16 - Defense: 7

The Seahawks' 534 yards against Carolina was their most in two years.

4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (9-3)

Last week: 4
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 19 - Defense: 20

The Chiefs have been outgained in five consecutive games by an average of 124.4 yards per game. They've won four of them.

3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (10-2)

Last week: 3
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 9 - Defense: 18

They face all three division rivals on the road in the next four weeks, making their perch precarious.

2. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-2)

Last week: 2
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 6 - Defense: 9

New England quarterbacks have combined to throw just one interception this year. ONE! No team has ever had fewer than five in a season.

1. DALLAS COWBOYS (11-1)

Last week: 1
Per-possession efficiency rankings -- Offense: 2 - Defense: 26

Their next three opponents are all in playoff position -- and each game against the Giants, Bucs and Lions could be a preview of a January showdown at AT&T Stadium. With a 2.5-game lead for home-field advantage, will the Cowboys show all their cards, or will they hold back just a bit?

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