Every week during the NFL season, Tiebreaker.com will present our conference power rankings. The AFC will be on Tuesday, the NFC on Wednesday.
This week in the AFC, the Ravens weren’t at their best in Buffalo, but it was good enough to maintain the top spot in our power rankings.
1). Baltimore Ravens
Well, it wasn’t the best game of their season. The Ravens accumulated only 257 yards of offense and 118 yards rushing – both season lows – in their win at Buffalo. But it was enough to secure a ninth straight win and open a two-game lead in the race for home field in the AFC playoffs. Baltimore can wrap up a division championship on Thursday against the Jets.
2). New England Patriots
Admittedly, some calls went against them on Sunday. But what makes the Patriots so special? It happens to everyone eventually. What’s more troubling is New England has scored less than 20 points in three of their last four games. Even saddled with two straight losses, there is no way the Patriots are going to blow the AFC East. And that’s what’s important right now.
3). Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs turned in another strong performance defensively at New England and its about time we all acknowledge that side of the ball likely won’t hurt them in the playoffs. Here’s an example of what we mean: In their two games against the Patriots in 2018, Kansas City gave up and average of 40 points and 512 yards. On Sunday, they allowed 16 points and 278 yards.
4). Buffalo Bills
Not only did the loss to Baltimore end a three-game winning, streak, it began a tough three-game stretch that will continue with the Steelers and the Patriots. The offense gained only 209 yards (87 in the fourth quarter) after averaging 401 in the last three games. And that wasn’t enough to complement a defense that prevented Lamar Jackson from breaking Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record for quarterbacks.
5). Tennessee Titans
Considering where they were just a few weeks ago, you’d have to say there is no hotter team in the AFC right now than the Titans. They have won four straight and are 6-1 since Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback. Tannehill passed for 391 yards on Sunday, completing five for 153 yards to A.J. Brown. And what about Derrick Henry? He has 599 yards and seven touchdowns in the last four games. Their biggest game of the season is coming Sunday against the Texans.
6). Houston Texans
You’d have to admit the 38-24 loss to the Broncos was a major screw up. The thing is, the Texans have been a traditionally slow starter this season (31st in the league in first-quarter points). After before they knew it, they trailed the Broncos 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. Deshaun Watson completed 28 of 50 for 292 yards. He threw for a TD and rushed for two others. But all of his scores came after they already trailed 38-3.
7). Pittsburgh Steelers
Duck Hodges in the new cultural phenomenon in the Steel City. The fans love their scrappy young quarterback. On Sunday, he bccame the first undrafted QB to win their first three starts since 1987. Without both James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster, he still completed 16 of 19 passes or 152 yards and a TD in their win at Arizona. The Steelers are in the midst of the wild card race because of him.
8). Cleveland Browns
Another week, another dumb storyline from the dysfunctional Browns. This time there are complaints and suspicions about the way the Browns have treated Odell Beckham, Jr’s sports hernia injury this season. Baker Mayfield says the Browns should have been on top of it from the start instead of letting it linger. We are so tired of the Browns.
9). Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have lost five of six to drop to 6-7 and to the point of irrelevance. They allowed Tampa Bay to put up 542 yards and score the final 17 points in a 38-35 loss that really stung. The best thing about the day was a 80-yard pick six from Darius Leonard. By the way, kicker Adam Vinatieri is out for the year and awaiting surgery on his left knee. That might explain his terrible season.
10). Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers scored on four of their first five drives in their 45-10 demolition of the Jaguars. Things were so comfortable and cozy Philip Rivers was given the fourth quarter off after throwing for 314 yards and three TDs on his 38th birthday. His 84-yard scoring pass to Austin Ekeler was the longest of Rivers’ career and contributed to the 525 yards the Chargers accumulated.
11). Oakland Raiders
The Raiders allowed 552 yards, the most ever in one game for the Titans. It was that kind of day. The Raiders have now lost three straight by at least 21 points, just the second time that’s ever happened in franchise history. They played without Josh Jacobs (shoulder) and without much focus on a day that they could have made great strides in the wild card race. Maybe next year, right?
12). Denver Broncos
The Broncos may have finally found the quarterback to lead them into the future. Drew Lock, a second-round pick in 2019, has injected life into an offense that couldn’t get out of its own way. He threw for 309 yards against the Texans and his offense had seven plays for at least 20 yards. Denver scored on their first five possessions to help open their 38-3 lead. Here’s something to think about: Lock is the first QB in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards and three TDs in his first road start.
13). New York Jets
After falling behind to the Dolphins 21-19 late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Sam Darnold took a shot downfield on a third-and-18 from the Miami 46. The result was an incomplete pass that was overturned into a pass interference call on the Dolphins that gave the Jets a first-and-10 on the 38. Two plays later, Sam Ficken kicked a 44-yard field goal to win the game. Hey, a win is a win and the Jets are now 5-8.
14). Jacksonville Jaguars
What a mess. The Jaguars have lost five straight by at least 17 points and are 6-19 since starting the 2018 season at 3-1. The 1986 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the last team to lose five straight by at least 17. No wonder Jalen Ramsey wanted out of town. You wonder long it will be before owner Shad Khan will fire Doug Morrone. This is much worse than anything Ron Rivera encountered in Carolina.
15). Miami Dolphins
We just described the unusual circumstances that led to the Dolphins loss to the Jets. But this is the type of thing that happens to teams that squander multiple scoring opportunities. Miami was 0-of-6 in the red zone. But its been a long time since we’ve seen a placekicker (Jason Sanders) convert seven field goals in one game. Imagine where Miami would have been without him?
16). Cincinnati Bengals
Say what you will about the Browns. They are not the Jets. So asking the Bungles to win two straight likely was too much to ask. They outgained Cleveland 451-333, but most of it led to four field goals from Randy Bullock in a 27-19 loss. The best thing about Cincinnati this season has been halfback Joe Mixon. And he gained 146 yards on Sunday.