Rick Gosselin's Week 13 NFL rankings
Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 46th season reporting on the NFL in 2018. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 35 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee and is a member of both the senior and contributor sub-committees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his ballot for Week 13:
1. Los Angeles Rams. Jared Goff has thrown twice as many touchdown passes at home (18) as he has on the road (9). Two of L.A.’s next three games are on the road against two of the league’s top five pass rushes, Arizona (38 sacks) and Chicago (37).
2. Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes, on the other hand, has more touchdown passes on the road (28) this season than Goff (27), Ben Roethlisberger (26), Aaron Rodgers (21) and Tom Brady (20) have both home and road this season. Mahomes leads the NFL with 41 touchdown passes.
3. New Orleans Saints. Goff isn’t the only quarterback partial to his home field. Drew Brees also has thrown twice as many TD passes at home (20) as he has on the road this season. The Saints play their next two games on the road in the division against Tampa Bay and Carolina.
4. New England Patriots. The Patriots haven’t clinched the AFC East yet but it’s only a matter of time. They have a three-game lead on the 6-6 Dolphins with four games to play. New England can clinch with a victory at Miami Sunday. The Patriots have won the East nine consecutive seasons and 14 of the last 15 seasons.
5. Houston Texans. The Texans are the NFL’s hottest team with an eight-game winning streak. Lamar Miller has posted his first four 100-yard rushing games of the season during that streak, including each of the last two weeks against Tennessee and Cleveland.
6. Los Angeles Chargers. Safety Derwin James has been instrumental in the Chargers’ development into a Top 10 defense this season, up from 15 a year ago. He leads the team with 81 tackles and has 3 ½ sacks. He also has intercepted three passes and broken up 15 others. James, pass rusher Bradley Chubb and linebackers Darius Leonard and Leighton Vander Esch are all in the hunt for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
7. Chicago Bears. The Bears and their Top 5 defense have allowed a league-low four rushing touchdowns this season and two of them came last weekend against Saquon Barkley and the Giants. Barkley also is one of only two rushers to have 100-yard games against the Bears this season. Frank Gore is the other.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have a dozen individual 100-yard receiving games this season – six by Juju Smith-Schuster, four by Antonio Brown and one apiece by tight ends Jesse James and Vance McDonald. Eight of them came on the road, including five by Smith-Schuster. The Steelers are on the road this week at Oakland.
9. Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson threw two interceptions in the season opener against Denver … but only three in Seattle’s 11 games since then. He has not thrown an interception in his last four games covering 105 passes. The 7-5 Seahawks are the only NFL team still in single digits in offensive turnovers with just nine through 12 games.
10. Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have won four games in a row to move into first place in the NFC East with a 7-5 record. QB Dak Prescott has not committed a turnover in three of the four games. The Cowboys are now 22-2 in Prescott’s career when he doesn’t turn the ball over, including six of the victories in 2018.
11. Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked defense and the amazing part is they are dominating opponents without many big plays. They have an AFC-low nine takeaways – five interceptions and four fumble recoveries. The last time the Ravens led the NFL in defense was 2006 when they led the AFC with 40 takeaways.
12. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are one of only four teams that has not endured a 10-penalty game this season along with Arizona, Carolina and Tennessee. Minnesota has been penalized an NFC-low 575 yards this season.
13. Denver Broncos. The Broncos are the flip side of the Ravens. They have the big plays but lack the shutdown element. They rank 25th in the league in yards allowed but sit sixth with 21 takeaways and fifth with 27 sacks. There have been two 200-yard rushers in the NFL this season and the Broncos have allowed both of them. Denver also has been victimized by two 400-yard passers.
14. Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fielded a Top 10 defense in 2017 on the way to 11 victories and a wild-card playoff berth. At 6-6, Carolina has been a disappointment this season as has its defense, which has allowed 126 points over the last four weeks, all losses. The Panthers have already found their scapegoats, firing defensive line coach Brady Hoke and cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura this week.
15. Philadelphia Eagles. Zach Ertz leads all NFL tight ends with 93 receptions. His nine catches Monday night against the Redskins gave him the franchise single-season record. Next up is the NFL single-season record for tight ends at 110 held by Jason Witten. He needs to average 4.5 catches over his next four games to claim that one.
16. Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are one of only four NFL defenses that have not allowed an individual 100-yard rushing game this season along with Houston, Minnesota and New Orleans. Indianapolis ranks 12th in the NFL in run defense. The other three teams rank in the Top 7.
17. Tennessee Titans. The Titans rank 29th in the NFL in passing and one thing is abundantly clear – they miss their Pro Bowl tight end Delaine Walker. He was Marcus Mariota’s favorite target a year ago on a 9-7 team, leading the Titans with 74 catches and three touchdowns. But he suffered a dislocated ankle in the preseason opener in August and hasn’t played since.
18. Miami Dolphins. A shoulder injury in early October knocked QB Ryan Tannehill out of the lineup for five games. But he returned after Miami’s bye and has thrown five touchdowns in two games to keep the Dolphins afloat in the wild-card picture with a 6-6 record.
19. Washington Redskins. The Redskins have lost two quarterbacks with broken legs in the last three weeks. First it was Alex Smith against Houston, then Colt McCoy against Philadelphia. Mark Sanchez is the next man up. He’ll start against the Giants Sunday. The Redskins will be the fourth team for whom Sanchez has played and the third for whom he has started. He has an overall winning record at 37-30.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers lead the NFL in giveaways with 30, including a league-high 23 interceptions. No other team is even in the 20s. Last season, only team two teams committed 30 turnovers – Cleveland with 41 and Denver 34. At its current pace, Tampa Bay will finish with 40 giveaways.
21. New York Giants. Since their bye on the opening weekend of November, the Giants have won three of four games – and the one loss was on a field goal by the Eagles as time ran out. Rookie RB Saquon Barkley has rushed for 100 yards in each of his last three games and scored five touchdowns since the bye.
22. Green Bay Packers. Twenty-eight games after winning an NFC North title and an appearance in the NFC championship game, the Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy. He leaves with a Super Bowl ring and a 61.8 career winning percentage. He won’t be out of work long.
23. Cleveland Browns. Denver’s Bradley Chubb ranks ninth in the NFL with 10 sacks. But he isn’t the only Chubb having an impact on the NFL in is rookie season. Nick Chubb (no relation), has started four recent games for Cleveland and rushed for at least 80 yards with a touchdown in all of them. He has two 100-yard games and gives the Browns a future on the ground.
24. Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have allowed a league-high 371 points, an average of 31 per game. They are on a pace to allow 494 points, which would be the first season Cincinnati has allowed 400 points since 2002.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars. It took QB Cody Kessler three years and nine career starts to win his first NFL game. He passed for 150 yards and didn’t turn the ball over a single time in a 6-0 victory over the Jaguars. It was only the third turnover-free game by a Jacksonville quarterback this season. Kessler spent his first two NFL seasons with Cleveland before being traded to Jacksonville last offseason.
26. Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons were the highest-scoring team in the NFL in winning an NFC championship in 2016, averaging 34 points per game. QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones are still around but inside of two seasons that offense has vanished. The Falcons are in the throes of a four-game losing streak and haven’t scored 20 points in any of them. Atlanta is 4-8 and will miss the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
27. Detroit Lions. The 4-8 Lions dealt their best WR Golden Tate to Philadelphia at the trade deadline and it has had a direct impact on QB Matthew Stafford. He posted three 300-yard passing games and threw 14 TD passes in the first seven games with Tate. In the five games since Stafford has thrown only four TD passes and has yet to throw for 275 yards in a game.
28. Buffalo Bills. Rookie Josh Allen rushed for 135 yards on nine carries in last week’s loss to the Miami Dolphins. Only four quarterbacks in NFL history ever rushed for more yards in a single game – Colin Kaepernick, Michael Vick, Tobin Rote and Robert Griffin III.
29. New York Jets. The Jets opened their season a surprising 3-3 with upset victories over playoff contenders the Broncos and Colts. But New York hasn’t won since, losing six in a row. Rookie QB Sam Darnold has missed the last two games with a strained foot but the Jets haven’t been able to generate any offense during this skid with either Darnold or his backup Josh McCown. You aren’t going to win much in the NFL averaging 13 points per game.
30. Arizona Cardinals. Steve Wilks’ debut season as head coach of the Cardinals has been a disaster. Arizona sits 3-9 and, until last Sunday, the only team the Cardinals could beat was the 49ers. But the one positive constant has been the pass rush. The Cardinals rank third in the NFL with 38 sacks and now have sacks in 47 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the league.
31. San Francisco 49ers. Nick Mullens, who opened the season as a third stringer on the 49ers, became the 13th different NFL quarterback to pass for 400 yards in a game this season when he threw for 414 against Seattle last weekend. A year ago only seven NFL quarterbacks managed to throw for 400 yards in a game.
32. Oakland Raiders. This isn’t the offense Raiders owner Mark Davis is paying Jon Gruden $100 million to generate as Oakland’s new head coach in 2018. The Raiders rank 22nd in the NFL in yards and 29th in points in this dismal 2-10 re-start to the Gruden era. They have failed to score a touchdown in three games and have been held to 20 points or less eight times.