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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Philadelphia Eagles slip after defeat to Seattle Seahawks

All 32 NFL teams ranked from best to worst

Running back Alvin Kamara has been in great form for New Orleans
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Each week, we will rank the 32 NFL teams from the best to worst based on their prospects for the rest of the season, so we can see who is looking stronger as the campaign progresses and who is falling down the ladder.

Last week's rankings

1 New England Patriots (=)
Record: 10-2
Last week: Won 23-3 at Buffalo
This week: 11-point favourites at Miami

There were rows on the sidelines and tight end Rob Gronkowski picked up a one-match ban in Buffalo for a late tackle, but the Patriots had few problems in claiming their eighth successive win. They are in cruise control.

2 Pittsburgh Steelers (up one)
Record: 10-2
Last week: Won 23-20 at Cincinnati
This week: 5.5-point favourites at home to Baltimore

The Steelers showed their mettle in recovering from a 17-point deficit to see off the Bengals on Monday. This week's clash with Baltimore represents a big hurdle but if that can be safely negotiated it will be all about the AFC's number-one seeding.

3 Minnesota Vikings (up one)
Record: 10-2
Last week: Won 14-9 at Atlanta
This week: 2.5-point favourites at Carolina

Another strong defensive performance enhanced the Vikings' championship credentials and they are in the box seat with the NFC's number-one seeding. The Panthers are the only team they have to face with a winning record.

4 Philadelphia Eagles (down two)
Record: 10-2
Last week: Lost 24-10 at Seattle
This week: Two-point underdogs at Los Angeles Rams

An inspired performance from Russell Wilson inflicted the Eagles' first defeat since their loss to Kansas City in Week Two. A trip to LA is another tough assignment and they need to ensure a wobble does not become an ill-timed slump.

5 New Orleans Saints (=)
Record: 9-3
Last week: Won 31-21 at home to Carolina
This week: One-point favourites at Atlanta

The Saints look excellent on both sides of the ball and they have discovered a real star in running back Alvin Kamara. Their two games against the Falcons will be crucial to their season but there are fewer question marks over them than their NFC South rivals.

6 Los Angeles Rams (up one)
Record: 9-3
Last week: Won 32-16 at Arizona
This week: Two-point favourites at home to Philadelphia

The biggest scorers in the league have notched at least 26 points in nine of their matches this season, but they have tough hurdles still to clear with trips to Seattle and Tennessee. They can't consider their playoff place to be sealed yet.

7 Seattle Seahawks (up one)
Record: 8-4
Last week: Won 24-10 at home to Philadelphia
This week: Three-point underdogs at Jacksonville

The Seahawks were at their best in beating the Eagles on Sunday and they have the benefit of experience over their NFC West rivals the Rams. They can force their way into the picture.

8 Atlanta Falcons (down two)
Record: 7-5
Last week: Lost 14-9 at home to Minnesota
This week: One-point underdogs at home to New Orleans

Time is running out for the Falcons to make their push for the post-season but there is still plenty of action to be had with two games against the Saints and a potentially big showdown with Carolina in the final week. The offence needs to pick up, though.

9 Tennessee Titans (up two)
Record: 8-4
Last week: Won 24-13 at home to Houston
This week: Three-point favourites at Arizona

Jacksonville's relentless pursuit is keeping the Titans on their toes. They have won six of their last seven matches but just one of those victories came against a team with a winning record, so they have plenty to prove in closing home games against the Rams and the Jaguars.

10 Los Angeles Chargers (up two)
Record: 6-6
Last week: Won 19-10 at home to Cleveland
This week: Six-point favourites at home to Washington

The Chargers have taken the AFC West by storm after losing their first four games and they have all the ingredients to make a playoff push. In a division where others are faltering, the opportunity is there.

11 Carolina Panthers (down two)
Record: 8-4
Last week: Lost 31-21 at New Orleans
This week: 2.5-point underdogs at home to Minnesota

Having lost twice to the Saints, the Panthers have it all to do in the NFC South and cannot afford another defeat this week. They have conceded at least 17 points in all but one of their games since Week Two, so must keep things tight.

12 Kansas City Chiefs (down two)
Record: 6-6
Last week: Lost 38-31 at New York Jets 
This week: Four-point favourites at home to Oakland

The Chiefs have lost six of their last seven matches and this is looking like the season that got away. There is talk of a change at quarterback but there is still time for them to turn things round. Next week's home game against the Chargers is the standout fixture.

13 Jacksonville Jaguars (up one)
Record: 8-4
Last week: Won 30-10 at home to Indianapolis
This week: Three-point favourites at home to Seattle

The league's tightest defence have to be feared as just five of their opponents have managed to score more than ten points against the Jaguars this season. Another strong show against the Seahawks would leave them full of confidence but they cannot be distracted by their final-week showdown with Tennessee.

14 Oakland Raiders (up one)
Record: 6-6
Last week: Won 24-17 at home to New York Giants
This week: Four-point underdogs at Kansas City

The Raiders have got their season back on track with wins over Denver and the New York Giants, who are both poor teams. They are in the mix but the offence is not firing like it did last year and upcoming trips to Philadelphia and the Chargers do not bode well.

15 Baltimore Ravens (up one)
Record: 7-5
Last week: Won 44-20 at home to Detroit
This week: Five-point underdogs at Pittsburgh

The Ravens have woken up and are in a great position to sneak into the post-season. They have a league-high 20 interceptions and know what it takes to be strong at this time of the year. After facing the Steelers, they have very winnable games against Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

16 Detroit Lions (down three)
Record: 6-6
Last week: Lost 44-20 at Baltimore
This week: n/a at Tampa Bay

The defeat against the Ravens was made worse by quarterback Matthew Stafford suffering a hand injury. His fitness will be key but they look to be up against it even if none of their remaining four games are against teams with a winning record.

17 Dallas Cowboys (up one)
Record: 6-6
Last week: Won 38-14 at home to Washington
This week: 4.5-point favourites at New York Giants

A win over the Redskins will have lifted spirits in Texas but the damage has already been done after poor defeats to Philadelphia, Atlanta and the Chargers when they couldn't get their offence going.

18 Green Bay Packers (up one)
Record: 6-6
Last week: Won 26-20 at home to Tampa Bay
This week: Three-point favourites at Cleveland

There has been plenty of hope in Green Bay with a win over the Buccaneers and news that a return for quarterback Aaron Rodgers could be just a week away. Surely the return of their star player will come too late though.

19 Washington Redskins (down two)
Record: 5-7
Last week: Lost 38-14 at Dallas
This week: Six-point underdogs at Los Angeles Chargers

Having conceded at least 34 points in three of their last four matches, the season appears to be petering out for the Redskins. Don't expect to see them make much of an impression in the closing weeks.

20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (=)
Record: 4-8
Last week: Lost 26-20 at Tampa Bay
This week: n/a at home to Detroit

The Buccaneers are missing out on all the excitement in the NFC South and, although they saw the return of Jameis Winston, he was poor against the Packers and they have little to be enthusiastic about.

21 Denver Broncos (=)
Record: 3-9
Last week: Lost 35-9 at Miami
This week: One-point underdogs at home to New York Jets

The offence is floundering and the Broncos' defence has been unable to bail them out this season. The Chiefs await in the final week and while their remaining schedule of games against the Jets, Indianapolis and Washington does not look too problematic, there is little confidence they will beat any of them.

22 Arizona Cardinals (=)
Record: 5-7
Last week: Lost 32-16 at home to Los Angeles Rams
This week: Three-point underdogs at home to Tennessee

Injuries have taken their toll on the Cardinals this season and an indifferent display against their divisional rival the Rams was another setback. They need to get the season over with and regroup.

23 New York Jets (up four)
Record: 5-7
Last week: Won 38-31 at home to Kansas City
This week: One-point favourites at Denver

The Jets have exceeded expectations this season and a victory over the Chiefs, who won their first five matches, was another feather in their cap. With games against New Orleans and the Chargers to come, they could have a big say in who is still playing in January.

24 Miami Dolphins (up four)
Record: 5-7
Last week: Won 35-9 at home to Denver
This week: 11-point underdogs at home to New England

There were signs of life in Miami with a thumping win over the Broncos after some dismal defensive performances where they have allowed their opponents to run riot. It's all too little, too late though.

25 Houston Texans (down two)
Record: 4-8
Last week: Lost 24-13 at Tennessee
This week: Three-point favourites at home to San Francisco

The Texans have won one of their last six matches and look to be out of contention. Their hopes died when rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson suffered his season-ending knee injury.

26 Buffalo Bills (down two)
Record: 6-6
Last week: Lost 23-3 at home to New England
This week: n/a at home to Indianapolis

The Bills have had their moments this season but the wait since 2000 for a playoff appearance looks set to continue. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor's knee injury does not look serious but even wins in their three remaining divisional games will probably not be enough.

27 Cincinnati Bengals (down two)
Record: 5-7
Last week: Lost 23-20 at home to Pittsburgh
This week: Six-point favourites at home to Chicago

Losing a 17-point lead to the Steelers was another blow to morale for a team who have struggled to get over a poor start. It will take a huge effort for them to be a factor.

28 Indianapolis Colts (down two)
Record: 3-9
Last week: Lost 30-10 at Jacksonville
This week: n/a at Buffalo

The Colts have won just one of their last seven games and the clock is ticking for head coach Chuck Pagano. Their season began to fade a long time ago and it looks set to be a time of big change at Lucas Oil Stadium.

29 New York Giants (=)
Record: 2-10
Last week: Lost 21-14 at Oakland
This week: 4.5-point underdogs at home to Dallas

What a week of woe. Quarterback Eli Manning was benched, the Giants lost to the Raiders and then head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired. This season has been nothing but a catastrophe.

30 San Francisco 49ers (up one)
Record: 2-10
Last week: Won 15-14 at Chicago
This week: Three-point underdogs at Houston

The 49ers gained their second victory in three weeks and will at least be hopeful of making another mark in the win column. The best chance of that is this week, though, as they close with matches against Tennessee, Jacksonville and the Rams.

31 Chicago Bears (down one)
Record: 3-9
Last week: Lost 15-14 at home to San Francisco
This week: Six-point underdogs at Cincinnati

The Bears would have hoped for a morale-boosting victory against the 49ers but that loss, their fifth in a row, was a body blow. Their losing streak could well be extended to the end of the campaign.

32 Cleveland Browns (=)
Record: 0-12
Last week: Lost 19-10 at Los Angeles Chargers
This week: Three-point underdogs at home to Green Bay

The Browns were competitive early on against the Chargers and will have been heartened by a decent contribution from returning wide receiver Josh Gordon. However, the standings do not lie. Just any win would do now.

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This week's clash with Baltimore represents a big hurdle but if that can be safely negotiated it will be all about the AFC's number-one seeding
E.W. Terms
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