Every Tuesday during the NFL season, Colin puts out his Herd Hierarchy Top 10 NFL power rankings, and this week the Eagles take a big drop after losing Carson Wentz for the year; the Chargers and Steelers make big moves up; and Baltimore drops out.
Here’s the Top 10 after Week 14:
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – The new look Jags just earned more credibility with a physical beating of Seattle, and have 14 Takeaways over their last 5 games (4-1 over span), which is more than 9 teams have on the season.
Blake Bortles has been a punching bag for critics since entering the league, but has 4 TD’s, 0 picks, and a Passer Rating of 121.5 in his last 2 games. Jacksonville is 7-0 on the season when Bortles doesn’t throw an INT (2-3 otherwise). They aren’t ready to contend for a Super Bowl, but they’re leap into relevancy this year is a huge step forward for what’s been a bottom feeding franchise. The D is the real deal.
9. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers have been up and down on the season, but just took it to a tough Vikings team at home. Carolina has been pounding it on the ground, averaging 178.0 rushing yards with 11 rush TD’s in their last 6, while also compiling 10 takeaways on D in that span. Also, Cam Newton only has 2 giveaways in his last 6 games, during which the Panthers are 5-1. A less Cam-centric offense, more running, and solid defense has the Panthers in at 9.
8. Seattle Seahawks – Colin won’t quit the Seahawks, but they’re still leaning too heavily on Russell Wilson, who is accounting for an NFL record 81.9% of their total offense. Wilson has thrown also thrown for an NFL record 17 4th quarter TD passes with a month to go in the season. Colin still believes in the organization and Pete Carroll, but they’ll need more than Russell Wilson if they’re going to win in the playoffs.
7. L.A. Rams – The Rams dropped a tough one at home to Philly on Sunday, but Colin is still a believer. Todd Gurley ranks 2nd in the NFL with 125.9 Scrimmage YPG, leads the league with 13 Total TD’s, and Sammy Watkins has come on with 5 TD catches in his last 6 games, after only catching 2 scores in his first 6. Jared Goff has thrown for 13 Touchdowns, 2 INT’s, and a Passer Rating of 109.3 in his last 6 games. The Rams still have the offense and overall roster talent to win in the playoffs.
6. New Orleans Saints – The Saints’ loss on Thursday night was the first game since Week 4 where they failed to rush for more than 100 yards. On the year, they’re 9-0 when running the ball 22 times or more (1-4 otherwise). Drew Brees has been hot with a 108.3 passer rating in his last 7 games. The Saints are still a threat with their balanced offensive attack and solid defensive personnel.
5. L.A. Chargers – Colin was ahead of the curve on the Chargers, and this week they move all the way up to 4. They’ve won 7 of 9 overall, and in his last 4 games, Philip Rivers has completed 69.1% of his passes at 9.70 Yds/Pass, with 8 touchdowns, 0 INT’s. and a Passer Rating of 119.2.
Since Week 5, the Chargers have allowed the 2nd lowest Passer Rating in the NFL (67.4), and lead the NFL in Interceptions (15). Colin loves their pass rush, weapons, and Philip Rivers may be having the best year of his career. No one wants to run into L.A. in the playoffs.
4. Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings dropped one at Carolina to snap an 8-game win streak, but it was their third straight road game, and Case Keenum’s first 3 giveaway game since Week 7, last year. It was also the first time the Minny D has allowed 200 yards rushing since Week 1 in 2015. Last week was an outlier, the Vikings will regroup and are still one of the Top 4 teams in the league.
3. Philadelphia Eagles – Philly has held the top spot in the Hierarchy for a good portion of the season, but Colin drops them to 8 after losing MVP candidate Carson Wentz for the year with a torn ACL.
Even with Wentz under center, the Eagles have cooled off from their scorching start with 6 giveaways in their last 3 games. They’re also the most penalized team in the league during that stretch. They’ll have to play better to win with backup Nick Foles, but Colin thinks could still win out and secure the #1 seed and a home bye. Philly is still a threat.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are riding an 8-game win streak, and the only reason Colin doesn’t have them at 1 is due to the devastating loss of linebacker Ryan Shazier. During the win streak, Big Ben has a Passer rating of 100.8, and just threw for a ridiculous 506 yards against the Ravens.
Antonio Brown is only the 2nd player in Super Bowl Era with 1,500 Receiving Yards thru 13 games, and they’ve won 1 straight when Le’Veon Bell gains 100 or more scrimmage yards, which he’s surpassed 8 times on the year. Pittsburgh is dangerous, the only question is how the defense will stand up against New England’s offense, in what seems to be an inevitable playoff matchup.
- New England Patriots – The Pats were a disaster against the Dolphins last night, but Colin isn’t panicking. Their 25 yards rushing against Miami was the 4th worst rushing total since Bill Belichick took over as coach, they were 0-11 on 3rd Down, but they were missing 6 offensive starters. The New England D also allowed 20 or more points since Week 4, which was also their last loss. Burn the tape.
Tom Brady has struggled in his last 2 games, posting a dismal 68.9 Passer Rating, after a 111.7 Passer Rating in his first 11, but there’s no reason to think he won’t bounce back in time for the playoffs. Monday night was a nightmare, but it’s just one game. Colin still thinks Belichick and Brady can get it done and win it all.
Colin initially had the Eagles at 8, but moved them all the way up to 3 after digging deeper on Nick Foles. He explains why he made the unprecedented move:
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) December 13, 2017