After a weekend of dramatic comebacks in the NFL (or collapses, depending on which team you root for), I took a little different approach to the power rankings this week. Don’t worry. This one is just as likely to spur irrational comments and the usual levels of vitriol that any ol’ subjective ranked list would. Anyway, for this week, I ranked teams based on who you’d most trust to lead a fourth quarter comeback.
I considered the entire team for this. However, these kind of situation are most heavily dependent on the quarterback and the head coach, so those two factors weighed heavier than the rest here.
It’s also meant to be more reflective of what these teams look like and what they’re doing this season as opposed to the totality of their record. But here again, experience counts for something, e.g. just because the Packers played like garbage under Mike McCarthy this season doesn’t mean most of us still wouldn’t want Aaron Rodgers taking snaps if your team was down by four with 90 seconds left on the clock.
The best of the best
In the past you might have seen Tom Brady and the Patriots in the top spot, or even the afore mentioned Rodgers. Not that Drew Brees and the Saints wouldn’t be the near the top in any case, but this season, they’ve achieved a new level of offensive unkillability.
Brees had five game-winning drives this season, tying a career high from 2010 with three more games to go. Those five drives are best in the NFL right now too. Hell, even just his completion rate alone, 75 percent, goes along way toward guaranteeing some certainty in those situations.
The Patriots haven’t really done anything special this season, and after that whole Miami Miracle, it is going to look a little strange to have them at No. 2 on this list. But here’s where precedent comes into play. Brady’s led eight fourth quarter comebacks in the playoffs during his career, three of those in the Super Bowl. Plus, you have a head coach who almost never shoots himself in the foot (except for using Gronk at safety for impossible Hail Mary situations).
You could probably flip the Rams and Chiefs and not matter too much. Sure, Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff are young, but what they’ve done this season is enough to convince me. Goff did it against the Chiefs in one of the best games of the season so far. There’s some recency bias given what Mahomes did on Sunday against the Ravens, but that was pretty damn impressive. I do worry about Andy Reid and clock management late in a game.
Surprised to see the Texans so high up on the list? Don’t be. Deshaun Watson has four fourth quarter comebacks this season.
The middle tier
These are mostly decent enough options, but they all come with some question marks.
Andrew Luck was the master of the late game-winning drive early in his career. He did it seven times as a rookie. He led a total of seven fourth quarter comebacks during his first two years in the league, and he had another four in 2016 to salvage what could have been a truly disastrous season for the Colts. But that was all before his injury. I think he’ll be fine over the long run.
The Steelers ... man, I just don’t know. It wasn’t that long ago you would have easily put the trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell (or even James Conner) in the top 10. But they’re a damn mess this season. Roethlisberger’s been making more ugly, WTF passes this year too — that Week 12 loss to Denver really stands out.
It’s as weird for you to see the Browns at No. 16 on this list as it was for me to put them there. These are a different kind of Browns, a team that seems less cursed than usual. Of their five wins this season, Baker Mayfield’s led two comebacks, against the Jets and Panthers.
Broncos fans are going to take issue with their team at the 20th spot. Case Keenum has led three comeback drives in wins this season, against the Seahawks, Raiders and Chargers. He was helped tremendously by Von Miller interception in that game, but the fact is that most comebacks depend on a little magic happening elsewhere on the field.
NFL power rankings Week 15
|1||New Orleans Saints|
|2||New England Patriots|
|3||Los Angeles Rams|
|4||Kansas City Chiefs|
|7||Green Bay Packers|
|9||Los Angeles Chargers|
|19||New York Giants|
|22||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|24||San Francisco 49ers|
|29||New York Jets|