Mason's Power Rankings: Eagles drop; Vikings rise

*1. NEW ENGLAND (12-3) Last week: 2 *

Who didn't see their signing of James Harrison coming?

*2. MINNESOTA (12-3) Last week: 3 *

If Minnesota can hold the Bears to single digits this Sunday, the Vikings will become just the fourth team since 2000 to hold five of their final seven regular-season opponents to fewer than 10 points. Two of those previous three teams (2000 Ravens, 2014 Seahawks) made the Super Bowl.

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  1. PITTSBURGH (12-3) Last week: 4 **

Houston was a get-well pill for the Steelers' defense.

*4. PHILADELPHIA (13-2) Last week: 1 *

With Carson Wentz out and Nick Foles struggling to recreate the adaptability and vertical threat once posed by Philadelphia's offense, the strength of this unit now rests in Jay Ajayi and Zach Ertz. But can Doug Pederson recalibrate his attack fast enough?

5. NEW ORLEANS (11-4) Last week: 7

Twenty-one remains the Saints' magic number; they're 9-0 when they score at least 21 points.

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  1. L.A. RAMS (11-4) Last week: 6 **

As impressive as Todd Gurley II's season is, note this: No team with a player that racked up 2,000 or more yards from scrimmage has made the Super Bowl since the 2001 St. Louis Rams (Marshall Faulk).

*7. JACKSONVILLE (10-5) Last week: 5 *

How much of their defensive struggles last week were because of Jimmy Garoppolo's emergence and how much was attributable to issues that other teams will try to expose schematically? The answer will likely determine whether the Jaguars can make a run or are merely one and done.

*8. CAROLINA (11-4) Last week: 8 *

Special teams was the difference against Tampa Bay, but if the Panthers are to have a deep playoff run, they still need to find a bit more consistency on offense.

*9. KANSAS CITY (9-6) Last week: 12 *

The Chiefs' diverse offense has a 1,000-yard wide receiver (Tyreek Hill), tight end (Travis Kelce) and running back (Kareem Hunt). Most importantly, Kansas City's offense has averaged 29.0 points per game in December -- exactly twice as much as it accounted for in its previous four games (14.5).

*10. L.A. CHARGERS (8-7) Last week: 13 *

Poor field position kept the Chargers from putting a thorough beatdown on the Jets last week.

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  1. ATLANTA (9-6) Last week: 9 **

Another curiously pedestrian offensive performance doomed the Falcons in New Orleans. After averaging 31.7 points per game during a three-week stretch of November, Atlanta has averaged just 16.5 points per game in December.

12. BALTIMORE (9-6) Last week: 10

The teams the Ravens have beaten are a combined 40-95 (average record: 4-11). The teams that have defeated them are a combined 59-31 (average record: 10-5).

*13. SEATTLE (9-6) Last week: 15 *

Heart of a champion, resiliency, blah blah blah ... last week, these all applied to Seattle's battered defense, which used three takeaways to overcome an abysmal offensive performance.

*14. DETROIT (8-7) Last week: 11 *

Win, lose or draw this week, the Lions will finish between 7-9 and 9-7 for the fourth time in the last five seasons, and given the injury to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, it's hard to view the Lions' 2017 season as anything but a squandered opportunity.

15. DALLAS (8-7) Last week: 14

With first-and-goal from the Seattle 3-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Ezekiel Elliott didn't touch the football on the first two plays. A penalty knocked the Cowboys back and they eventually missed a field goal. The Cowboys needed to do what they did best, and they strayed from that. They will pay the price by staying home after New Year's Eve.

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  1. WASHINGTON (7-8) Last week: 18 **

Given that the Broncos' defense remains in the league's top three in a slew of metrics and that Washington played last week without six starters -- including three offensive linemen -- Kirk Cousins' 299-yard performance was one of the most impressive of any quarterback around the league this season. That yardage total was the most racked up against the Broncos in 21 games, since Nov. 13, 2016 (Drew Brees).

*17. BUFFALO (8-7) Last week: 16 *

The Bills failed to generate an offensive touchdown in two games against the Patriots this season ... and that's why they failed against their long-time tormentors this year.

18. GREEN BAY (7-8) Last week: 17

Road Brett Hundley is a pretty good quarterback. Home Brett Hundley has a 50.6 passer rating.

*19. TENNESSEE (8-7) Last week: 19 *

A playoff spot remains in the Titans' hands, but there are a slew of teams I'd rather see in the postseason, including the one that comes next in the rankings.

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  1. SAN FRANCISCO (5-10) Last week: 23 **

The amazing efficiency of the 49ers' offense under Jimmy Garoppolo continued Sunday; six of their 10 drives ended in scores, including five touchdowns against the Jaguars' dominant defense.

*21. ARIZONA (7-8) Last week: 21 *

If the Cardinals lose Sunday in Seattle, they will have managed a rare feat: a seven-win season without a two-game winning streak.

22. MIAMI (6-9) Last week: 20

The Dolphins have lost seven of their last nine games, and four of the seven defeats were by 16 or more points.

23. OAKLAND (6-9) Last week: 22

The missed opportunities Monday night encapsulated their season.

*24. CINCINNATI (6-9) Last week: 27 *

What failed the Bengals in 2017? An offense that was held to single digits a league-worst five times.

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  1. CHICAGO (5-10) Last week: 26 **

If Baltimore wins Sunday, the Bears will have wins over three playoff teams this season (Steelers, Ravens, Panthers). The Bears are closer than it seems; they dealt with a brutal schedule that will likely have included games against eight playoff teams. Chicago is also 2-6 in games decided by eight or fewer points.

26. TAMPA BAY (4-11) Last week: 25

What is it about the Bucs and the kicking game? After Patrick Murray missed a potential game-tying field goal last week, he was wide right on a 51-yarder against Carolina with three minutes remaining that could have put the Bucs up seven points. Murray also had the kickoff that Carolina's Damiere Byrd returned 103 yards for a touchdown.

*27. DENVER (5-10) Last week: 24 *

Short fields set up by giveaways were a problem again Sunday. Denver has allowed 120 points on 33 non-kneeldown drives that began at the 50 or in its territory, compared with just 33 points scored on 14 such drives for the Broncos offense.

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  1. N.Y. JETS (5-10) Last week: 26**

The Jets have just 26 points in their last three games after coring 38 against the Chiefs in Week 13.

*29. INDIANAPOLIS (3-12) Last week: 29 *

A solid offensive performance against the Ravens, which included an average of 34.6 yards per possession, wasn't enough.

*30. HOUSTON (4-10) Last week: 30 *

If the Texans lose by four or more points at Indianapolis this Sunday, they will have the worst point differential for a team over the last three games since the 2001 Saints (minus-95), according to pro-football-reference.com. Houston has lost its last two games by a combined 66 points.

31. N.Y. GIANTS (2-13) Last week: 31

They already have a franchise record for losses.

32. CLEVELAND (0-15) Last week: 32

According to pro-football-reference.com, the Browns' minus-28 turnover margin would be the league's worst for a full season since 1965 if the season ended now. With a minus-3 margin Sunday against Pittsburgh, they would have the worst margin since 1940. And that is how you go winless.

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