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NFL Week 14 Power Rankings: The Chargers have found their spark

LA’s “other team” is quietly threatening for the AFC crown.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

We have reached the final month of the NFL season and the contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the pack. The playoff picture is starting to shape up as well, but their are still a few teams on the outside looking in that have time to make a run late in the year. Here is where everyone stands with four weeks to go in the season:

1. Los Angeles Rams (11-1; won 30-16 vs DET) (+1 Up one place from last week)

The Los Angeles Rams are back on top. Their offense had a rough outing against the Lions, but the defense pulled through to earn them the victory. Aaron Donald showed the world why he is the best player in the NFL and almost single handedly shut down the Lions.

2. New Orleans Saints (10-2; lost 13-10 vs DAL) (-1)

New Orleans offense could not crack the Cowboys. Drew Brees was held to only 127 yards in an out-of-character bad game. Mike Thomas was quiet and Alvin Kamara could not get going either. Everyone has an off day so it is nothing to get to concerned about, but they did lose the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-2; won 40-33 vs OAK) (-)

The Chiefs put away their rivals early on in this one. Patrick Mahomes threw another four touchdowns, something he has done so often this season you forget how great a feat it really is. The defense let the Raiders put together a late rally, and they still are one of the worst units in the league, which is a concern down the line.

4. New England Patriots (9-3; won 24-10 vs MIN) (+1)

The Patriots defensive front dominated the Minnesota Vikings. They were in the face of Kirk Cousins all day and made life hard for the quarterback. Corner J.C. Jackson played an incredible game and led an effort by the secondary that shut down Adam Thielen.

5. Los Angeles Chargers (9-3; won 33-30 vs PIT) (+2)

The Los Angeles Chargers needed their kicker to win them a game and things actually went their way for once. Philip Rivers had another big day with 299 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers defense had an awful first half but stayed strong in the second half and allowed the offense to get them back in the game. The Chargers are still within striking distance of the top seed in the AFC and a Week 15 matchup against the Chiefs may decide the fate of the conference.

6. Houston Texans (9-3; won 29-13 vs CLE) (+2)

Houston cannot be stopped. They have won nine straight and the Browns were the most recent victim of their unstoppable train (or spaceship?). The defense forced three interceptions out of Baker Mayfield and the offense was able to capitalize. Lamar Miller hit the 100-yard mark yet again, and while he was not perfect, Deshaun Watson did enough as well. The Texans have all but secured the AFC South and should have their sights set on the top seed in the AFC Playoffs.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1; lost 33-30 vs LAC) (-1)

The Steelers offense looked unstoppable again for about 40 minutes Sunday night. Antonio Brown could not be contained by the Chargers defense and it looked like the game was not going to be competitive. The offense ran out of steam and the defense fell apart down the stretch, though, and Pittsburgh lost a key game. They have probably played themselves out of the race for the top spot in the AFC and now have to worry about a hot Ravens team that is slowly closing in on them in the division.

8. Chicago Bears (8-4; lost 30-27 vs NYG) (-4)

Chicago lost what felt like a game they had to win—a team that was as hot as ever playing against one of the bottom feeders in the NFL. With the Vikings set to play the New England Patriots later in the day, it was their opportunity to put the NFC North out of reach. The team just could not get going, though. Tarik Cohen single handedly kept the team alive and even got them to overtime. They fell just short, though. Any hopes Chicago had of earning a first-round bye are all but dead and a tough matchup with the Rams looms next week.

9. Dallas Cowboys (7-5; won 13-10 vs NO) (+2)

The Cowboys defense is for real. Shutting down the Saints dynamic seemed like a task too tall for anyone to accomplish but they did just that. They held all of New Orleans stars in check. Rookie Leighton Vander Esch is starting to look like a star and made a claim for defensive player of the year.

10. Seattle Seahawks (7-5; won 43-16 vs SF) (-1)

Russell Wilson had over a hundred yards and a few scores on his first six pass attempts. Yeah, that’s the kind of game it was for the Seahawks against the 49ers. Wilson threw four touchdown passes as Seattle dominated their division rivals and maintained their hold on an NFC wild card spot.

11. Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1; lost 24-10 vs NE) (-1)

The Minnesota Vikings offense had trouble against a usually poor Patriots defense. Minnesota’s offensive line could not protect Kirk Cousins. Adam Thielen was silent. The defense played well, but in the end it was not enough. The Vikings still have a shot at the NFC North but they must stay near perfect down the stretch.

12. Baltimore Ravens (7-5; won 26-16 vs ATL) (+2)

Lamar Jackson is a perfect 3-0 so far in his career as an NFL starter. While he has not been perfect—far from it—the whole team looks like they are playing with a new swagger now that Jackson is the one leading the charge. Their losing skid is long behind them and Baltimore is only a half game out of the AFC North lead.

13. Denver Broncos (6-6; won 24-10 vs CIN) (+2)

Denver may be the NFL’s biggest surprise this season. UDFA Phillip Lindsay has been great for them this season and added another 157 yards and two touchdowns to his resume. The pass rush that features both Von Miller and Bradley Chubb has been as good as advertised. Their schedule is very favorable from here on out and they have a chance to steal a spot in the AFC playoffs.

14. Indianapolis Colts (6-6; lost 6-0 vs JAX) (-2)

A high flying Colts offense that has been scoring at will was shut out by a Jaguars team that had not won in months. This NFL season makes zero sense.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (6-6; won 28-13 vs WAS) (+4)

Carson Wentz had a 2017-esque performance as the Eagles beat their division rivals and got right back into the playoff race this week. The quarterback had 300 yards and two scores. Golden Tate finally got involved in the offense as well with 85 yards and a score on seven catches.

16. Carolina Panthers (6-6; lost 24-17 vs TB) (-3)

Carolina is a mess. The Panthers have now dropped four straight and a 6-2 team that looked destined for the post season is on life support. Cam Newton’s MVP caliber year has derailed and he threw four interceptions in a crucial loss to the Bucs. They are still only a half game out of the playoffs but they need to right the ship fast.

17. Tennessee Titans (6-6; won 26-22 vs NYJ) (+1)

The Titans sneaked away from the New York Jets with a last-minute touchdown to keep their wild card hopes alive in Week 13. They dug themselves into an early 16-0 hole in the first half but a great second half from Marcus Mariota dragged the team back into it.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7; won 24-17 vs CAR) (+7)

Jameis Winston, who’s apparently the starting quarterback again, had nearly 300 all-purpose yards and a score as the Bucs knocked off the Panthers. The secondary played well for the first time and kept Cam Newton in check for much of the game. Don’t look now but Tampa Bay is only a game and a half out of the playoffs.

19. Miami Dolphins (6-6; won 21-17 vs BUF) (+1)

The Dolphins beat the Bills this week. They looked terrible and probably should have lost on a last-minute dropped pass, but they did win a football game. Miami is still very much in the playoff race but their offense has never been the same since the loss of Albert Wilson earlier this year.

20. Washington (6-6; lost 28-13 vs PHI) (-4)

Colt McCoy got off to a great start Monday night against the Eagles but a season-ending leg injury took him out of the game and thrust Mark Sanchez into the role. Sanchez struggled, as you would expect a third-string quarterback to, and Washington fell behind in the second half. Injuries have struck this team once again and while they are still mathematically alive their playoff hopes seem bleak.

21. Green Bay Packers (4-7-1; lost 20-17 vs ARI) (-4)

The Green Bay Packers lost to a terrible Arizona Cardinals team and head coach Mike McCarthy lost his job soon after. Aaron Rodgers was not himself. Aaron Jones was shut down. Mason Crosby missed a potential game-tying last second field goal. Everything is bad in Green Bay.

22. Cleveland Browns (4-7-1; lost 29-13 vs HOU) (-1)

Rookie Baker Mayfield had a disaster of a game as the Browns fell to the Texans in Week 13. He threw three interceptions as Cleveland dug themselves into an early hole. Cleveland is a very young team playing the hottest team in the league, though, so games like this are expected sometimes.

23. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7; lost 24-10 vs DEN) (-1)

The Jeff Driskel-led Bengals offense is not a threat to anyone. No one outside of Tyler Boyd looked impressive at all as Cincinnati limped to another loss. Their defense still cannot stop anyone on the ground, and they allowed over 200 yards of rushing offense to the Broncos.

24. Detroit Lions (4-8; lost 30-16 vs LAR) (-1)

25. Atlanta Falcons (4-8; lost 26-16 vs BAL) (-1)

Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense had trouble cracking Baltimore’s great defense. Injuries have doomed this team from the start of their season, and, if anything, they are already looking forward to next year.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8; won 6-0 vs IND) (+1)

Andrew Luck threw more than 50 passes and the Colts scored 0 points to the Jags defense, which is suddenly good again, I guess.

27. New York Giants (4-8; won 30-17 vs CHI) (+1)

A big day from Saquon Barkley and some trickery from Odell Beckham Jr. powered the Giants to a huge upset win against the Bears this week. When the offense’s stars shine, this is a dangerous team but the defense is still a mess.

28. Buffalo Bills (4-8; lost 21-17 vs MIA) (-2)

Josh Allen ran for 135 yards and the Bills should have won this game had Charles Clay not dropped a wide-open touchdown pass on fourth down. Allen is still having troubles as a passer but he is slowly coming along as he tries to prove himself as an actual NFL quarterback.

29. Arizona Cardinals (3-9; won 20-17 vs GB) (+3)

The Cardinals were terrible against the Packers. Green Bay, somehow, was worse.

30. New York Jets (3-9; lost 26-22 vs TEN) (-1)

An early Jets lead quickly evaporated in the second half as Josh McCown could not get the offense going. Outside of a few select pieces on defense, no one looks really good on this team and it looks like they are still in for a long rebuild.

31. Oakland Raiders (2-10; lost 40-33 vs KC) (-)

Oakland’s defense had no answer for the Chiefs dynamic offense early. Derek Carr and the offense put together a valiant effort to try and climb their way out of the hole they were put in but just ran out of time.

32. San Francisco 49ers (2-10; lost 43-16 vs SEA) (-2)

Nick Mullens played pretty badly but still finished with 414 yards, an absolute king of stat padding.

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