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NFL Power Rankings Week 14: Looking ahead to the Drew Lock era

How do the Broncos stack up for 2020 and beyond?

Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos
Locked in and ready to climb?
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

This week’s Power Rankings are going to be split into two parts. For the teams that still have a legitimate chance at the Lombardi, the rankings will remain as they’ve been every week. I will rank them according to how likely it looks that they’ll win the Super Bowl.

For everyone else? Well... Let’s just dive into it.

Playing for next year

With these teams clearly out of the race for the playoffs it’s disingenuous to really rank them according to their pursuit of the trophy in 2019. Instead I’m looking at their performances and rosters with an eye on the future.

32. Snyder’s Swamp

Biggest reason they’re down at the bottom is management. I wouldn’t trust Washington to get it right if they had Peyton Manning under center.

31. Cincinnati Bungles

Zac Taylor’s Bengals avoid a dubious winless first season, and still remains the odds on favorite for the first overall pick in the draft. I’m certainly rooting for Mike Brown to miss on LSU’s Joe Burrow, but for now it remains likely.

30. New York’s Little Giants

I probably missed the playoffs in my fantasy league because I picked Saquon Barkley over Christian McCaffrey. The lesson in all of this is that no running back truly exceeds his circumstances, so dodge any analyst telling you that before your draft next year.

29. Detroit Lions

Probably not a good sign when #FirePatricia is trending on Twitter for the entirety of Thanksgiving.

28. #TrustthePorpoise

I wouldn’t bet on Miami winding up with a higher draft pick than Washington. Sure they have the Patriots, but they also play the Bengals, Jets, and Giants over the next month. Decent chance they win again.

27.Atlanta Falcons

Did you know Dan Quinn and his staff are odd ducks? It makes a ton of sense given their record, but you probably didn’t because Arthur Blank doesn’t cry to the media after every game like Jerry Jones.

26.Jacksonville Jaguars

Remember when we all laughed about the decision to sign Nick Foles and milk started pouring out our noses when the contract numbers leaked? Or was that just me?

25.London Chargers

It’s hard to come away from last week’s game without concluding that Philip Rivers is washed and the Chargers know it. Depending on how they approach that fact this offseason will make a huge impact on where they wind up in future Power Rankings but it’s going to be trendy to see them crop up with Justin Herbert in mock drafts all spring.

24.Chicago Bears

This is one of those cases where you could feasibly move the Bears a good bit up based on 2019 alone. They have a snowballs chance at the postseason while the next clump of teams don’t.

When you take a look at where things are headed after 2019 though, it gets ugly fast. They have one of the nastier cap situations in the league and thanks to Mitch Trubisky and the Khalil Mack trade find themselves without a quarterback or a way to acquire one.

23.New York Jets

It’s hard to believe a head coach who lost to both the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals could find himself this high up in the rankings, but Sam Darnold has shown promise, and there are some intriguing pieces in Manhattan. It’s an open question if Gase will be there to guide it in 2020.

22.Arizona Cardinals

The sequel to Kliff and Kyler is going to be a lot more fun if it’s minus Vance Joseph.

21. Denver Broncos

Call me crazy, but I see a lot to like in this first year coaching staff. Add in the fact that Denver is headed towards a boatload of cap space and may (may) just have their franchise quarterback and the sun could finally be rising in the West.

20.Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Like Denver, the Bucs are another team that could really rise or fall in this ranking based on how they move towards attacking their needs in 2020. They have close to $100 million, but need to make a decision on Jameis Winston, Shaq Barrett and a multitude of other players.

The big reason they’re ranked higher is that the NFC South looks considerably more favorable over the next couple years.

Neither here nor there, really.

19.Carolina Panthers

As far as the 2019 playoff chase, they’re dead in the water, but Riverboat Ron is trying to keep his ship afloat. If I dropped them into the 2020+ pool, they’re quite a bit lower because of the Cam Newton - Kyle Allen controversy brewing.

Real Playoff Contenders

Here’s where 2019 alters the rankings again. These teams are playing for this year’s title. Some more successfully than others.

18.Los Angeles Rams

There are a ton of scenarios where the Rams are looking at their bleak future minus all the draft picks, but this is LA where today’s decisions are the only thing that matters. There’s a realistic possibility they miss the dance even if they win every remaining game.

17. Philadelphia Eagles

Iggles could shoot up two tiers if they can win out. The week 16 showdown looms.

If they fail, Doug Pederson faces criticism that he’s simply the guy who rode Frank Reich magic to a Super Bowl title.

AFC Bubble

16.Cleveland Browns

Thought long and hard about moving them up a bracket where the questions about Freddy Kitchens get a whole lot bigger.

15. Oakland Raiders

Jon Gruden and Derek Carr sure were generating a lot of buzz two weeks ago...

14.Pittsburgh Steelers

May just be me, but I have a hard time trusting a quarterback with “Duck” as his nickname.

13.Indianapolis Colts

Expectations are a nasty game. We all wrote the Colts off for dead when Andrew Luck retired (seemingly 10 years ago). I stuck with them as my AFC South favorite, which may have been too much faith. Regardless they’ve hung around as a quality contender despite questions at (and injuries to) their starting quarterback.

With cap room and draft capital, the Colts aren’t going anywhere so long as they can get a couple of their big weaknesses shored up this offseason.

12.Tennessee Titans

Ryan Tannehill does bleed after all, but even mortal he looks like the best quarterback of the motley crew in this tier. Add in a tough defense and an underrated coaching staff and I’m betting on this bunch to sneak in as the sixth seed.

Playoff Contenders

11. Dallas Cowboys

How funny would it be if big D missed the playoffs?

10. Buffalo Bills

Credit to Sean McDermott, it looks like the Wing City may just be legit.

9. Green Bay Packers

Maybe its the weather, maybe its the slumping defense, or maybe its Aaron Rodgers performance against the Niners lingering my mind... I’m having doubts about the Cheeseheads.

8. Minnesota Vikings

7. Seattle Seahawks

There is no way that game last night really clarified which team is better. Kind of hoping they meet again in the playoffs because of the chaos factor.

6. New England Patriots

This is that part in the typical Bill Belichick Super Bowl season where we all look back at how we lost faith and kick ourselves. Still can’t help noticing how hapless Brady and the passing game looked against a Texans’ secondary that’s not yet the sum of its parts.

5. Houston Texans

Keep this ranking in mind when Broncos’ Country lose their collect minds next Sunday.

The Favorites

4. San Francisco 49ers

Still don’t trust Jimmy Garoppolo.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes looks like his old self and the defense is closer to average than abysmal. Nasty combination come January.

2. New Orleans Saints

For all of the chaos fun Taysom Hill brings to fantasy, it’s going to be interesting to throw his snaps under a microscope if Sean Payton blows home field advantage in the playoffs.

1. Baltimore Ravens

When the biggest argument around Lamar Jackson is that he can’t be an MVP because Russell Wilson is carrying a heavier burden, things are going pretty swell in Maryland.