After Week 11, it looked like there was a clear top tier of four teams in the NFL before a dropoff to the rest of the field. There was the Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, and Oakland Raiders, and then there was everyone else.
On Thanksgiving, Dallas looked the part, but the next three teams all had their hands full Sunday. All three trailed in the fourth quarter, and while the Patriots and Raiders were able to rally and improve to 9-2, the Seahawks were unable to find their offense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Early in the year, the Seattle offensive line looked like an Achilles heel that would keep the team from finding a rhythm, but the Seahawks seemed to patch things up during a three-game winning streak to begin November.
Now those concerns have come roaring back. The Buccaneers ate the Seattle offensive line up, sacking Russell Wilson six times.
The Seahawks still have a direct path to the postseason and they’ve proven to be good troubleshooters, but on Sunday they certainly didn’t look like a team that deserves to be considered one of the NFL’s top five.
If there was any doubt that the Arizona Cardinals are cooked, a 38-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons should put those doubts to rest. And there was reason for doubt. After all, the Cardinals finished 13-3 last year and opened the 2016 season with a close loss to the Patriots followed by a beatdown of the Buccaneers.
But since then, the Cardinals’ only wins have come against the hapless San Francisco 49ers (twice) and New York Jets.
It’s also time to give up on the Cincinnati Bengals — another elite team in 2015 — and the Minnesota Vikings, who had been an unstoppable team for five weeks.
The Buccaneers would launch a lot higher than No. 16 if: A) There were more teams ahead of them that lost, or B) If they showed any semblance of consistency.
Tampa Bay somehow has wins over the Falcons, Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs, but also has blowout losses to the Cardinals, Broncos, and Falcons.
Another team that has bounced up and down all year has been the San Diego Chargers, who have some big wins but just can’t seem to string them together.
Bottom of the trash heap
The Cleveland Browns still don’t have a win, but they were one of six teams that didn’t get any victories in November. That’s made things really consistent at the bottom with the same teams looking bad every week.
Both the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers had a chance in the final minute to win, and the Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t look like the 30th best team for most of Sunday. But the losing teams just keep losing and so the trash heap still looks the same.
|Week 12||Team||Last week|
|3||New England Patriots||3|
|5||New York Giants||5|
|9||Kansas City Chiefs||10|
|15||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||18|
|17||New Orleans Saints||20|
|18||San Diego Chargers||24|
|22||Green Bay Packers||26|
|27||Los Angeles Rams||27|
|28||New York Jets||28|
|31||San Francisco 49ers||31|