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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers move to the top after tight win over Baltimore

All 32 NFL teams ranked from best to worst

Antonio Brown (84) has been a star turn for the Pittsburgh Steelers
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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 Pittsburgh Steelers (up one)
Record: 11-2
Last week: Won 39-38 at Baltimore
This week: 2.5-point underdogs at home to New England

Their dramatic victory over the Ravens was enough for the Steelers to claim the AFC North and they now look primed for the AFC's number-one seeding providing they can beat the Patriots this week.


2 New England Patriots (down one)
Record: 10-3
Last week: Lost 27-20 at Miami
This week: 2.5-point favourites at Pittsburgh

Tom Brady had a night to forget against the Dolphins and could have thrown away home advantage for the playoffs. Winning the AFC East should still be routine though. 


3 Minnesota Vikings (=)
Record: 10-3
Last week: Lost 31-24 at Carolina
This week: 11-point favourites at home to Cincinnati

The Vikings missed the chance to claim the NFC North as Carolina bounced back from their reverse against New Orleans. Minnesota's eight-match winning run ended but they should still progress.


4 New Orleans Saints (up one)
Record: 9-4
Last week: Lost 20-17 at Atlanta
This week: 16-point favourites at home to New York Jets

The Saints lost last week but they have had to go up the list due to misfortunes suffered by others. Their slip-up at Atlanta should ensure they are on the ball against the Jets despite facing the Falcons next week in a key AFC South contest.


5 Los Angeles Rams (up one)
Record: 9-4
Last week: Lost 43-35 at home to Philadelphia
This week: Two-point underdogs at Seattle

Another riser despite a defeat, the Rams still have to go a long way to avoid the post-season, even though they have tough away games against the Seahawks and Tennessee in the next two weeks.


6 Philadelphia Eagles (down two)
Record: 11-2
Last week: Won 43-35 at Los Angeles Rams
This week: Eight-point favourites at New York Giants

The Eagles got back to winning ways but their victory over the Rams came at a price as quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury. Stand-in Nick Foles has plenty of experience but it is a massive blow that could knock them off their stride.


7 Atlanta Falcons (up one)
Record: 8-5
Last week: Won 20-17 at home to New Orleans
This week: six-point favourites at Tampa Bay

The Falcons continue to be right in the mix in the AFC South and last season's Super Bowl losers still have their fate in their own hands with three divisional games remaining. Four wins in their last five games mean they have hit form at the right time. 


8 Los Angeles Chargers (up two)
Record: 7-6
Last week: Won 30-13 at home to Washington
This week: Two-point favourites at Kansas City

It seems hard to believe the Chargers started the campaign with four defeats and no one will fancy taking on a talented all-round team with an excellent quarterback in Philip Rivers. Victory in this week's game against the Chiefs will leave them favourites to take the AFC West, which seemed highly unlikely in October.


9 Jacksonville Jaguars (up four)
Record: 9-4
Last week: Won 30-24 at home to Seattle
This week: 11.5-point favourites at home to Houston

The Jaguars keep on grinding out victories and their success over the Seahawks should help them believe they have nothing to fear. Gaining an advantage before their last-day AFC South showdown against Tennessee is key, but quarterback Blake Bortles needs to keep performing well.


10 Carolina Panthers (up one)
Record: 9-4
Last week: Won 31-24 at home to Minnesota
This week: Three-point favourites at home to Green Bay

The Panthers bounced back in style against the Vikings and quarterback Cam Newton is definitely not short of confidence. Concentrating on their two remaining divisional clashes and not dealing properly with Green Bay is a potential pitfall to avoid.


11 Seattle Seahawks (down four)
Record: 8-5
Last week: Lost 30-24 at Jacksonville
This week: Two-point favourites at home to Los Angeles Rams

The Seahawks will be thankful that the Rams also lost last week, which means the NFC West is still up for grabs. They will be confident that they can beat Dallas and Arizona in their final two matches, so it should all be about this week.


12 Kansas City Chiefs (=)
Record: 7-6
Last week: Won 26-15 at home to Oakland
This week: Two-point underdogs at home to Los Angeles Chargers

After six defeats in seven matches, it was essential that the Chiefs got back to winning ways against Oakland and they have given themselves a chance. Losing to the Chargers could lead them back to square one, but their campaign may not be a disaster after all.


13 Tennessee Titans (down four)
Record: 8-5
Last week: Lost 12-7 at Arizona
This week: Two-point underdogs at San Francisco

Scoring a solitary touchdown and losing to Arizona cost the Titans the initiative in the AFC South, and a trip to San Francisco looks far less comfortable than it did a few weeks ago as the 49ers have won three of their last four games. With their final two games against the Rams and Jacksonville, it is possible that they may miss the boat. 


14 Oakland Raiders (=)
Record: 6-7
Last week: Lost 26-15 at Kansas City
This week: Three-point underdogs at home to Dallas

The Raiders needed a win last week to stay in touch but their best chance of reaching the playoffs may now have passed. They haven't been a patch on last year's effort so they can't really consider themselves to have been unlucky.


15 Baltimore Ravens (=)
Record: 7-6
Last week: Lost 39-38 at Pittsburgh
This week: Seven-point favourites at Cleveland

The Ravens still have a chance in the wildcard race and have been left with three games against Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. They are capable of winning all three and would be worthy of their place in the post-season if they did so.


16 Detroit Lions (=)
Record: 7-6
Last week: Won 24-21 at Tampa Bay
This week: Six-point faovurites at home to Chicago

The Lions offence remains competitive and they don't know when they are beaten, but time is running out and there is a decent chance that Aaron Rodgers will be back up and running for the Packers for their final week showdown. The team from the Motor City have just run out of gas.


17 Dallas Cowboys (=)
Record: 7-6
Last week: Won 30-10 at New York Giants
This week: Three-point favourites at Oakland

The Cowboys were dominant against the Giants but it was only the Giants and the damage has already been done. This will go down as the season of what might have been.


18 Green Bay Packers (=)
Record: 7-6
Last week: Won 27-21 at Cleveland
This week: Three-point underdogs at Carolina

The Packers are still in the hunt having won their last two matches and Aaron Rodgers looks set for a dramatic return. Carolina, Minnesota and Detroit are unlikely to make a miracle recovery that comfortable though.


19 Denver Broncos (up two)
Record: 4-9
Last week: Won 23-0 at home to New York Jets
This week: 2.5-point favourites at Indianapolis

The Broncos shut out the Jets but it will take more than a comfortable win over a team dismissed as cannon fodder at the start of the season to convince that they have turned the corner. It's still been a poor season.


20 Arizona Cardinals (up two)
Record: 6-7
Last week: Won 12-7 at home to Tennessee
This week: 4.5-point underdogs at Washington

A victory over a team as decent as Tennessee cannot be sneezed at but it has been a tough injury-hit season for the Cardinals and the problem is that Seattle and the Rams have stolen a march on them.


21 Washington Redskins (down two)
Record: 5-8
Last week: Lost 30-13 at Los Angeles Chargers
This week: 4.5-point favourites at home to Arizona

The Redskins have conceded at least 30 points in four of their last five matches, which goes a long way towards explaining why they are not heading to the playoffs. It's all about next season now.


22 Miami Dolphins (up two)
Record: 6-7
Last week: Won 27-20 at home to New England
This week: n/a at Buffalo

The Dolphins seem intent on finishing on a high after grabbing a victory over the Patriots which followed a commanding display against Denver the previous week. They could easily claim two wins against the Bills and a success over the Chiefs but it probably won't be enough


23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (down three)
Record: 4-9
Last week: Lost 24-21 at home to Detroit
This week: Six-point underdogs at home to Atlanta

Quarterback Jameis Winston looks to have gone backwards but they were beaten late on by the Lions and they weren't the first team to suffer that fate this season. They have now lost three in a row but were probably out of it before then anyway.


24 Buffalo Bills (up two)
Record: 7-6
Last week: Won 13-7 at home to Indianapolis
This week: n/a at home to Miami

A morale-boosting win in the snow was essential to give the Bills a chance and they close the campaign with three divisional matches. They will have a chance if they win them all but one of the clashes is against New England, who brushed them aside a week ago. They need Tyron Taylor back in at quarterback.


25 New York Jets (down two)
Record: 5-8
Last week: Lost 23-0 at Denver
This week: 16-point underdogs at New Orleans

There had been signs of encouragement at the Jets in the last few weeks, but being shut out against the Broncos was a trip back to the bad old days. Quarterback Josh McCown picked up an injury as well, but the season has not been the disaster many anticipated.


26 San Francisco 49ers (up four)
Record: 3-10
Last week: Won 26-16 at Houston
This week: Two-point favourites at home to Tennessee

It is not quite a case of gaining respectability but the 49ers have something to cheer having won three of their last four matches. Jimmy Garoppolo has settled in well at quarterback and the signs are good for improvement next season.


27 Houston Texans (down two)
Record: 4-9
Last week: Lost 26-16 at home to San Francisco
This week: 11.5-point underdogs at Jacksonville

The Texans' 3-1 start seems a distant memory and even back-up quarterback Tom Savage is now injured. The medical staff have been busy in Houston all season and it's now a case of picking up the pieces. 


28 Cincinnati Bengals (down one)
Record: 5-8
Last week: Lost 33-7 at home to Chicago
This week: 11-point underdogs at Minnesota

The Bengals have failed to convince almost from week one and although they do have offensive weapons, there is no escaping that their defeat to the Bears was a poor result. It is difficult to see them beating any of Minnesota, Detroit or Baltimore in their final three games.


29 Chicago Bears (up two)
Record: 4-9
Last week: Won 33-7 at Cincinnati
This week: Six-point underdogs at Detroit

A commanding victory at Cincinnati was a timely boost for the Bears, who have at least eclipsed their win total from last season. A trip to Detroit could bring them back down to earth, but they have a decent chance of claiming a success over winless Cleveland in their penultimate game.


30 Indianapolis Colts (down two)
Record: 3-10
Last week: Lost 13-7 at Buffalo
This week: 2.5-point underdogs at home to Denver

Times are hard in Indianapolis as the Colts have failed to score more than 20 points in six of their last seven matches. The weather had plenty to do with that in Buffalo, but the end of a miserable campaign cannot come soon enough.


31 New York Giants (down two)
Record: 2-11
Last week: Lost 30-10 at home to Dallas
This week: Eight-point underdogs at home to Philadelphia

The return of quarterback Eli Manning and the sacking of Ben McAdoo did little to galvanise the Giants who capitulated after an encouraging start against the Cowboys. The fact they are considered eight-point underdogs against a team fielding a back-up quarterback speaks volumes.


32 Cleveland Browns (=)
Record: 0-13
Last week: Lost 27-21 at home to Green Bay
This week: Seven-point underdogs at home to Baltimore

The Browns took a 21-7 lead against Green Bay but still couldn't get over the line. Catching Chicago on the hope next week or AFC North champions Pittsburgh fielding a weak team in their final clash look the best hopes for them to finally get over the line.


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The Eagles got back to winning ways but their victory over the Rams came at a price as quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury
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