By Conor Perrett 

With just two weeks left of the regular season, the Christmas weekend of NFL football did not disappoint. We had upsets and dramatic endings to go with our Christmas dinners, leaving shuffle amongst our rankings. 

With the Eagles falling atop of their perch and newcomers entering the top-10, let’s rank them all ahead of the end of 2022.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-3)

Last Week – 2nd

Now, the Chiefs regain the top spot on our rankings thanks to the misfortune of the Eagles, but this doesn’t mean I see them as Super Bowl favourites if the season ended today. Over the course of the season their offence has been so consistently good that they deserve to hold this spot. The offence can thank Patrick Mahomes for that, as he looks in pole position to win his second MVP award. 

The defence worries me for when the postseason rolls around, but right now this offence is the best in the league by almost any measure.

Up next: vs. Denver, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Buffalo Bills (12-3)

Last Week – 3rd

The Bills turned things on in the second half against the Chicago Bear on Christmas Eve, when they went 29-3 in the second period. The rushing attack led the way with 205 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 23 carries.

Now, in this week’s game of the week, they face the Bengals in what could have big repercussions on both teams’ playoff seeds. If Buffalo is able to top Cincinnati, it will put them in destiny’s hands to grab the No. 1 seed in the AFC. If not, then they could be looking at the 3rd seed and a rematch in Cincinnati for the divisional round.

Up next: at Cincinnati, Tuesday 1:30 a.m. GMT

  1. San Francisco 49ers (11-4)

Last Week – T4th

It sounds weird to say but Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy’s 49ers are Super Bowl contenders. The Niners are undefeated in their four games with Purdy at the helm and they’ve the third-ranked scoring offence in that time. Purdy still isn’t throwing the ball downfield a lot, but he doesn’t have to. The floor of the offence is already so high with Kyle Shanahan pulling the strings and San Fran’s cast of weapons, that Purdy just needs to keep the offence on schedule and success will be had.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)

Last Week – T4th

The Bengals nearly found themselves blowing a 22-0 halftime lead, but like a good team does, they stayed strong and found a way to win. What might be more worrying for this side is the injury to right-tackle La’el Collins just before the playoffs. Collins is set to be out for the year and force Cincinnati to backtrack to a new offensive line for the first time this season.

They will  have a warm-up playoff game with Buffalo on Monday night, to try and plan ahead for that injury. 

Up next: vs. Buffalo, Tuesday 1:30 a.m. GMT

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)

Last Week – 1st

Philly’s big drop from the top stop may seem like I’m overreacting, but it’s a collection of things that have caused it. The loss to the Cowboys should be the least of their worries, with injuries starting to stack up and the defence regressing.

The Jalen Hurts injury would worry me significantly if I was a part of the organisation and now star tackle Lane Johnson is out for at least the remainder of the regular season. The defence also didn’t have a great time against Dallas allowing a key third-and-30 conversion. Over the first two months of the season this defence was 1st in EPA per drive. But over the last two months, a drop to 12th. Not ideal for the lead up to the postseason.

Up next: vs. New Orleans, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)

Last Week – 6th

Dallas got a much needed win against their NFC East rival this week to keep the battle for the division somewhat alive. Things would need to go heavy in their favour with Philly losing out, but wilder things have happened. The offence is starting to find their groove, and are starting to look more like a complete team. 

All of these six teams here look to be in a league of their own, as I expect one of them to be lifting the Lombardi trophy once it’s all said and done. 

Up next: at Tennessee, Friday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Minnesota Vikings (12-3)

Last Week – 8th

Another week and another one-score victory for this Minnesota side. Their 11 one-score wins is now an NFL record for most in a season and they managed that without losing a single one of them. That stat has its pros and cons, but for now we’re let them have their celebration. 

The Vikings may have the tied-second best record in the league and are still in the mix for the No. 1 seed if the Eagles fail to win another game, but their play on the field does not warrant them to be championship contenders. I feel if they were to meet any of the teams ranked above them they wouldn’t stand a chance, but at the end of the day, they know how to win late on. 

Up next: at Green Bay, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Baltimore Ravens (10-4)

Last Week – 10th

By defensive EPA per drive, no defence in the league has improved more since the first half of the season. They’ve jumped up a whooping 24 spots from 27th to 3rd, after the trade for Roquan Smith looks to have helped them a lot. Baltimore have only allowed more than 14 points once in the last seven games, with this defence now becoming its centrepiece. 

As Lamar Jackson returns looms, the offence will get its QB back and have the potential to be a dangerous team come the play-offs. 

Up next: vs. Pittsburgh, Monday 1:20 a.m. GMT

  1. Los Angeles Chargers (9-6)

Last Week – 11th

The Chargers confirmed their playoff spot with their win on MNF against the Colts, and are playing their best football of the season when it matters most. Their team has started to get healthier as the season goes on  and they may be able to compete in a stacked AFC conference now. If LA can continue to produce on both sides of the ball to finish the season, they may have a real chance to be considered contenders.

Up next: vs. Los Angeles Rams, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8)

Last Week – 12th

Winners of four of their last five, the Jaguars are now in the pole position in the AFC South. No matter what happens this week, the Week 18 clash between the Jaguars and Titans will determine who wins the division. Jacksonville are peaking at the right time thanks to Trevor Lawrence hitting his stride, ranking seventh in weighted DVOA.

Up next: at Houston, Sunday 6 a.m. GMT

  1. Miami Dolphins (8-7)

Last Week – 7th

The Dolphins opened the season winning their first three games and followed that up with a three-game losing streak. Winning five straight games after that, Miami now found themselves on a four-game losing streak. Along with this bad run, the Dolphins as an organisation find themselves in another ‘Tua concussion’ controversy. Tua self-reported concussion symptoms for a third time this season, after the Packers’ defeat and yet again Miami failed to care for their players by not removing him in-game.

Up next: at New England, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT 

  1. Detroit Lions (7-8)

Last Week – 9th

The Lions no longer control their destiny for the playoffs after their ‘ass kicking’ – according to Dan Campbell – from Carolina. This team is young, but it’s important to not let one horrible game waste away two months of good work. With two divisional games left, Detroit can still find themselves in the playoffs, with a potential Week 18 matchup in Green Bay, with the winner getting in.

Up next: vs. Chicago, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Green Bay Packers (7-8)

Last Week – 16th

From their end, Green Bay’s path to the playoff was simple. Win out. They got past their easier opponents in the Bears and Rams, but then found themselves looking down the barrel of three playoff contenders to finish the season. They completed part one when they got past the Dolphins on Christmas Day, as the dream stays alive. Next up the Packers have Minnesota and if they stand any chance of winning such a game, the secondary will need another strong performance similar to Miami if they want to stop Justin Jefferson.

Up next: vs. Minnesota, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. New York Giants (8-6-1)

Last Week – 14th

New York’s special start to the season has worn off, but they still find themselves one win away from clinching a playoff berth. Daniel Jones topped 300 passing yards for just the second time this year against Minnesota, but his play has been vastly important to expectations entering the year. Head coach Brain Daboll has put an offence around him that has been successful, but if the Giants want to take the next step, an improvement at the position may be for the best.

Up next: vs. Indianapolis, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. New York Jets (7-8)

Last Week – 13th

If Mike White was not cleared to return, the Jets would drop much further down this list. In his small sample size, White has been the Jets best option and their only saving hope to get to the playoffs. On the other hand, second overall pick from last year’s draft Zach Wilson, looks to have played his last snap in New York, with reports of him being on the move after only two years when the off-season rolls around.

Up next: at Seattle, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT 

  1. Washington Commanders (7-7-1)

Last Week – 15th

Washington still holds the last wild-card spot in the NFC, with them potentially needing to win out to see it out. In a risky decision, Carson Wentz has been given the opportunity to see it out for the Commanders, with them facing Cleveland this week. Beat Cleveland and they might get a Cowboys team with nothing to play for in Week 18, so things are shaping up like a redemption story of sorts for Wentz. 

But if anyone watched him for the Colts last season, they will know it’s never quite that simple and it’s just as easy for Wentz to screw this up for Washington.

Up next: vs. Cleveland, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. New England Patriots (7-8)

Last Week – 18th

Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled the potentially game-winning drive away against the Bengals, on a play that could have been blown dead for forward progress. It’s a tough break for this New England side but their 28th ranked DVOA offence has led to that. With Mac Jones showing his frustrations on the field toward the play calling, there are already reports starting to come out of Bill O’Brien making a return to Foxboro to fill the position for next season.

Up next: vs. Miami, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)

Last Week – 19th

The Bucs can put an end to this four-way battle for the NFC South if they beat the Panthers this weekend. With an offence that averages 17.7 points per game which is good for 28th in the league, Tom Brady is still dragging this team through the dirt late in games. 

Up next: vs. Carolina, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)

Last Week – 21st

In the first half of the season, this Steelers offence was horrible with Mitch Trubisky at the helm and rookie Kenny Pickett getting off to a chaotic start. They ranked dead last in EPA per drive, but over the last eight weeks have ranked 6th in that same statistic. With nine teams on a record of 7-8, Pittsburgh stands the worst of those teams to make the playoffs with a 1.5% chance, via Football Outsiders. The Steelers can thank their 3-7 conference record for that.

Up next: at Baltimore, Monday 1:20 a.m. GMT

  1. Carolina Panthers (6-9)

Last Week – 26th

The Panthers dismantled the Lions in their 37-23 win when they rushed for 320 yards. It’s now put them in a position to win out and complete one of the more surprising playoff runs in recent memory. With this run it feels Steve Wilks has earned the opportunity to coach this team next season from a permanent basis, as he has turned this ship around. 

Up next: at Tampa Bay, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Tennessee Titans (7-8)

Last Week – 17th

Tennessee finds themselves on a five-game losing streak and the AFC South division title fading away fast. They are without starting QB Ryan Tannehill for the rest of the season and have seen their once dominant defence fall to 19th in EPA per drive over the last eight weeks. 

Without Tannehill this team doesn’t stand a chance on turning things around in the next two weeks, with third-round rookie Malik Willis struggling. In Willis three starts to the season, he has yet to throw for more than 100 yards, with zero touchdowns, three interceptions and taken 10 sacks.

Up next: vs. Dallas, Friday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Seattle Seahawks (7-8)

Last Week – 20th

Seattle has been a sinking ship for over a month now with one win in their last six. The Seahawks started as one of the NFL’s feel good stories but are quickly losing that title. If they go another week without a win and Washington beat the Browns, they will be eliminated from the playoff conversation. 

Up next: vs. New York Jets, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. New Orleans Saints (6-9)

Last Week – 25th

New Orleans has strang together some impressive wins to keep their playoff chances to a merely 4.3%. But what happens after this season is the bigger question. In salary cap and draft capital hell, this team has no future to improve. They have no answer at the QB position, with Andy Dalton a free agent and backup Jameis Winston due $15.6 million. Taysom Hill is a great versatile piece to have but playing the majority of his snaps at tight-end, his $13.9 million cap hit next season will make him the fifth-highest paid player at that position. 

Up next: at Philadelphia, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Cleveland Browns (6-9)

Last Week – 22nd

When Jacoby Brissett was at the helm of this offence, they ranked 4th in EPA per drive. Now with their $230 million dollar man Deshaun Watson, they rank 27th. For the moment, Cleveland can use the excuse of Watson not playing for a year and a half. But to be honest, we have seen no improvement in a month now. If this is to continue the Browns will soon find themselves in a deep dark hole similar to what’s happening in Denver. They say karma is a bitch.  

Up next: at Washington, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Las Vegas Raiders (6-9)

Last Week – 23rd

It feels the Las Vegas Raiders are so similar yet so unlike the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams have new offensive head coaches, QB’s just outside the top-10, a star wide-receiver, running back and tight end, with a defence that’s under performing. The biggest difference that sees them on the opposite side of the rankings though, is their ability in late game situations. 

While Minnesota are 11-0 in one-score games, Vegas are 5-8. In a parallel universe out there I’m sure the Raiders find themselves in a situation the Vikings are in. 

Up next: vs. San Francisco, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. Los Angeles Rams (5-10)

Last Week – 29th

Baker Mayfield got the audition to receive his career in LA and is making the most of it. In his three starts he’s managed two wins and threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams 51-14 domination on Christmas Day. If anything Mayfield has shown he can be a capable starter in this league if he has a few things in his favour, and it will likely earn him a gig at a starting position for the 2023 season.

Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Atlanta Falcons (5-10)

Last Week – 27th

Rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder took some steps forward in his second career start this past weekend. He had no turnovers and completed 22 of 33 passes for 218 yards, yet Atlanta still found themselves on the losing side of things. After now being eliminated from the dismal NFC South race, the Falcons are likely to go three straight seasons with a top-10 draft pick, with Arthur Smith’s seat starting to heat up.

Up next: vs. Arizona, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT  

  1. Arizona Cardinals (4-11)

Last Week – 28th

The Cardinals have some major questions coming up in the next few months, with three of their biggest positions at the organisation all under the spotlight. General manager Steve Keim has taken indefinite leave from the team just when the off-season is to begin. Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s looks set to leave his position in two weeks time, while QB Kyler Murray will be out with a long term ACL injury . 

One of the best defensive players of this generation, JJ Watt is also to retire at the end of the season.

Up next: at Atlanta, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Chicago Bears (3-12)

Last Week – 31st

The Bears have a human highlight reel in Justin Fields but that’s about it. Apart from a few rookie defenders that have shown flashes, they still rank dead last 32nd in defensive DVOA. The off-season may look promising with over $100 million in cap space and the second overall pick, but there’s a lot of holes that need fixing on this team. 

Up next: at Detroit, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Denver Broncos (4-10)

Last Week – 24th

Last week I made the bold approach to say Denver may be turning things around and how wrong I was. In the Draft Super Bowl for teams that didn’t own their own pick, LA wiped the floor with them that got Nathaniel Hackett fired. The problem may be deeper than Hackett, with a certain QB looking to be the main issue, but the Broncos feel Russell Wilson can be fixed with the right person in charge. 

Up next: at Kansas City, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Houston Texans (2-12-1)

Last Week – 32nd

Despite having the worst record in the league and being the league’s laughing stock for the last few years, Houston has quietly put together a good last month of football. They took Dallas to the very end and forced the Chiefs to overtime, in two improved performances and got a deserved win to the Titans this week. The Texans also have a rookie on either side of the ball that could be in contention for ROTY, with Dameon Pierce and Jalen Pitre.

Up next: vs. Jacksonville, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Indianapolis Colts (4-10-1)

Last Week – 30th

Since Jeff Saturday took over things in Week 10 the Colts find themselves with a -58 point differential, three different starting quarterbacks and a partridge in a pear tree. Nick Foles did not improve things at the QB position, with two interceptions in the first quarter, seven sacks and a 0-10 third-down conversion rate. It was only a couple years ago this Indy team looked like a rising star and now find themselves amongst the years worst.

Up next: at New York Giants, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

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