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NFL Energy Rankings, Week 14: Dolphins trending up; Vikings, Raiders sinking

Most effective now has it came about to me that the Patriots and Buccaneers — extra namely, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady — are destined to meet atop the Energy Rankings, and finally in Stout Bowl LVI. Every thing else represents the long-and-winding preamble to that climactic showdown, and we’re all here to play alongside…

NFL Energy Rankings, Week 14: Dolphins trending up; Vikings, Raiders sinking

Most effective now has it came about to me that the Patriots and Buccaneers — extra namely, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady — are destined to meet atop the Energy Rankings, and finally in Stout Bowl LVI.

Every thing else represents the long-and-winding preamble to that climactic showdown, and we’re all here to play alongside and distract from a conclusion to the season that now feels completely inevitable. I will proceed to write these Energy Rankings because, smartly, it be my job, but also for the reason that universe wants building — in particular appropriate now.

But we all know the reality. The season’s final Sunday is already preordained. We reside in a simulation.

Sight the NFL Energy Rankings cloak with Dan and Matt “Money” Smith every Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET on NFL Community.

NOTE: Up/down arrows mirror motion from the Week 13 NFL Energy Rankings.

Outdated pass: No. 1

Aaron Jones returned to the lineup in the Week 12 catch over the Rams after lacking per week with a knee harm and saw critically much less work than upstart 2d-year assist A.J. Dillon. Used to be this a case of Inexperienced Bay wisely easing its superstar rusher assist onto the field — or has Dillon confirmed ample to sever out a sound timeshare in the backfield? Jones is too proficient as a runner and receiver to make a choice out out of the mix, but a 1-2 punch of Jones and Dillon makes the Packers’ running sport deadly in the identical formula that Cut Chubb and Kareem Hunt are weaponized to entire out opponents for the Browns. You know what’s higher than having The Guy in your backfield? Having two of them.

Outdated pass: No. 2

Kyler Murray returned to motion on Sunday and gave the influence of the all-around threat to defenses that he became before an ankle harm place him on the shelf for a month. Murray threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two extra in a blowout catch over the Bears, showing no obstacles in mobility. DeAndre Hopkins — also assist in the lineup after an extended absence — became the recipient of Murray’s first touchdown pass, making Week 13 somewhat mighty a ideal reintroduction for the Cardinals as they came out of their bye week. A catch over the Rams subsequent Monday night time would place Arizona in the motive force’s seat for every the NFC West title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. 

Outdated pass: No. 3

Is it Tom Brady‘s flip to be the MVP favourite? Brady threw four extra touchdown passes on Sunday — giving him a league-easiest 34 on the season — in an easy catch over the Falcons that pushed Tampa Bay one step nearer to an inevitable NFC South title. Brady opened the game with 13 consecutive pass attempts and completed 38 of 51 passes total. He stays the unquestioned driver of his offense in his 22nd NFL season, and he is been the most straightforward quarterback in soccer right via a year wherein the quality of play at the place has been strangely inconsistent. The Bucs don’t prefer steadiness to their assault when they’ve the G.O.A.T. at the controls. 

Outdated pass: No. 5

The man’s rare sideline smile knowledgeable the fable: This became the extra or much less night time that keeps Bill Belichick in the game. With frigid chilly and gusting winds, Belichick took the ball out of his quarterback’s hands (three pass attempts for Mac Jones) and won with a pounding plug assault and a protection that bent but did not ruin. The 14-10 victory over the Funds pushed the Pats’ successful scurry to seven video games and gave them sole possession of the No. 1 seed in the AFC with 5 weeks in the new season. Tom Brady may per chance well very smartly be gone, however the Pats’ persevered capability to catch contests like this goes appropriate assist to the fable in the hoodie on the sideline.

Outdated pass: No. 4

This is the unusual new. The Chiefs are successful per week resulting from their protection, no longer resulting from Patrick Mahomes and an offense that stays misplaced in the fog. Penalties, turnovers and a ideal-looking dearth of large plays comprise come to define Andy Reid’s assault, and we’re now smartly past the level the place it is most likely you’ll per chance well to find at Kansas Metropolis’s body of labor on offense and call it a chase. This is who the 2021 Chiefs are, and one imperfect day at the place of job for Steve Spagnuolo’s protection may per chance well very smartly be all it takes to fabricate the defending conference champions recede in January. You do not catch Stout Bowls with a broken offense — is it even that it is most likely you’ll per chance well think to fabricate a fix before the season ends?

Outdated pass: No. 8

It wasn’t a murals, however the Cowboys obtained the job done on Thursday night time in New Orleans. The protection did the heavy lifting, icing the game with three fourth-quarter interceptions — including a Carlos Watkins salvage-six — in a 27-17 catch that snapped a two-sport losing scurry. In a while, Dallas obtained a mighty wanted “half-bye” to leisure up and improve before making a push for the tip seed in the NFC. The ongoing chase of Dak Prescott stays an enviornment price tracking: The quarterback made some elite throws against the Saints, but he has no longer been as consistent a pressure since his return from the calf stress that tag him a sport.

Outdated pass: No. 6

A anxious Funds season reached unusual ranges of frustration on Monday Night Soccer in the swirling winds of Orchard Park. The Patriots proved themselves to be the extra bodily team, many cases successful at the line of scrimmage even when the total stadium knew Mac Jones‘ basic job became to flip around and hand the ball off. Josh Allen made appropriate exercise of his cannon arm, but he also missed key throws and presided over two fourth-quarter drives that stalled in the red zone and finally tag Buffalo a sport it desperately wanted. A rematch at Foxborough looms, but no longer before a date with Tom Brady and the Bucs. Gut-take a look at time has arrived. 

Outdated pass: No. 11

Ah, if only the Rams may per chance well play the Jaguars every Sunday. Los Angeles rolled to a blowout catch at Hollywood Park, snapping a 3-sport losing scurry and inserting themselves in a extra clear headspace, with a Monday night time showdown on faucet against the basic-place Cardinals. The superstar-encumbered protection might want to step up in the formula it may per chance well perchance per chance well well not against the Packers, while the offense wants to search out the consistency it had earlier this season. Advance the tip of the space list: Will Matthew Stafford and Odell Beckham to find chemistry in the dwelling stretch? Beckham has two touchdowns in three video games with Los Angeles, but he has but to fabricate an precise affect. 

Outdated pass: No. 13

The Colts waste imperfect groups. Cream them. Grind them into mud. Strike them from the Earth. Banish them to system unknown. It occurred again on Sunday, in a 31-0 catch over the moribund Texans that moved Frank Reich’s males assist over .500 as they reach their bye. When the Colts return to motion in Week 15, they’ll hit a prime two-sport stretch against the Patriots and Cardinals that can define their season. Indy tranquil has appropriate one catch against a team with a successful legend this season. Is that this an proper AFC powerhouse … or appropriate a center-of-the-avenue community that beats up on the comprise-nots? We are going to discover soon ample.

Outdated pass: No. 15

The Chargers flew to Cincinnati to droop a roller coaster. Brandon Staley’s team virtually blew a 24-level lead, but a large touchdown on a fumble recovery by Tevaughn Campbell changed all the pieces in a 41-22 catch over the Bengals. It may per chance well actually per chance well well need been the play of the year for the Bolts, but it completely wasn’t the one promising building to come out of the victory: Justin Herbert and the huge-play assault had been assist after a frustrating sabbatical. Herbert averaged over 9 yards per try and showcased his prime-shelf arm strength on an absurd 44-yard TD strike to Jalen Guyton in the 2d quarter. As CBS analyst Charles Davis deftly place it right via the telecast: “That call is no longer in all individuals’s playbook.”

Outdated pass: No. 7

The Bengals had a large gamble for his or her first three-sport successful scurry of the season … and fell on their faces. Net thunder hosting the Chargers in entrance of a fired-up crowd at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincy surrendered the game’s first 24 aspects, mounted a comeback to decrease the deficit to 2, then watched a rare Joe Mixon fumble kick-originate a final Bolts surge in a 41-22 loss. Accidents are also an enviornment. Joe Burrow gutted his formula via the game after suffering a dislocated pinkie in the basic quarter, while starting up cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and linebacker Logan Wilson had been each knocked out the game with illnesses. The AFC North stays there for the taking … but you by no formula know which version of the Bengals is going to cloak up.

Outdated pass: No. 9

It is a ways easy to 2d-bet John Harbaugh’s decision to shuffle for that 2-level conversion in what became out to be a abdomen-punch loss to the hated Steelers, however the coach had his causes. The Ravens’ protection had allowed three consecutive scoring drives in the fourth quarter, and a season-ending pec harm suffered by superstar cornerback Marlon Humphrey on the old Pittsburgh possession place his secondary in a determined space. Baltimore has made its season with take hold of plays in the excellent moments of video games, so Harbaugh decided to belief his intestine on the coaching linked of a “warmth take a look at” by a sharpshooter in basketball. Obvious, the ball rimmed out, but you comprise to respect the moxie. 

Outdated pass: No. 12

Turnovers comprise change into a prime advise for the Titans in contemporary weeks: They give up too many of them, and they set no longer generate ample for themselves. Tennessee went into its Week 13 bye with 9 mixed giveaways and zero takeaways in assist-to-assist losses to the Texans and Patriots. This, as you presumably don’t need to be made aware, is presumably the closing recipe for doom in official soccer. Precise via a six-sport catch scurry that preceded the Titans’ surprising loss to Houston, Tennessee’s protection compelled 11 turnovers. If the Titans are to snap out of their contemporary funk, they’ll need an great natty-up effort on this space of their sport.

Outdated pass: No. 10

The 49ers suffered their most frustrating loss of the season on Sunday in Seattle, a sport that will doubtless be remembered for an unending litany of self-inflicted errors. They allowed a 73-yard touchdown on a fake punt plug. They fumbled a kick return. They threw two interceptions, and took a sack in the discontinue zone for a security. They had been charged with 10 penalties, including two serious roughing the passer fouls. And even with all that mess, the Niners had been 3 yards a ways flung from the aptitude sport-tying secure when Jimmy G’s fourth-down pass try became batted away in the final seconds. “We indubitably blew it,” Cut Bosa talked about after the game. “… We obtained to perform a greater job of no longer giving the game away.”

Outdated pass: No. 18

Tua Tagovailoa throws an correct ball. I’m no longer exactly providing up Baldy’s Breakdown-stage soccer discourse here, but you know a proficient passer while you gaze one, and Tua looks the part. The 2020 No. 5 total salvage possesses large touch and accuracy, and his left-handed motion makes him extraordinary in a soccer world that has moved a ways flung from the southpaw QB in contemporary years. The Dolphins’ successful scurry is as much as 5 after a 20-9 conquest over the Giants, and Tua’s actual hand, mixed with Brian Flores’ an increasing selection of ferocious protection, is a pairing that can also make a choice Miami from 1-7 to the playoffs.

Outdated pass: No. 16

Andrew Berry gave the media 30 minutes because the Browns began their mighty-wanted bye week, however the total manager became too natty to give the click the red meat they craved relating to Baker Mayfield. The extinct No. 1 salvage has struggled via an harm-riddled year, but Berry became careful no longer to play his hand on how this season has — or has no longer — changed the team’s inner evaluation of the quarterback. Time stays on Cleveland’s facet: Mayfield has one year and virtually $19 million left on his rookie deal, which makes him the doubtless starter in 2022 in spite of what occurs the leisure of the formula. Mayfield may per chance well presumably no longer be finish to the profitable long-time length extension that regarded drawing near final summer season, but he’s no longer facing a doomsday scenario, either.

Washington Soccer Team

6-6

Outdated pass: No. 20

Taylor Heinicke obtained away with some errors on Sunday, but he also made some key plays in every other fourth-quarter comeback for the surging Soccer Team. A take hold of field draw by Brian Johnson — Washington’s fourth kicker this season — allowed the Soccer Team to flee with a 17-15 catch in Vegas and salvage in playoff place in the wide-originate NFC. The correct superstar of the game became the revitalized protection, which continues to thrive with out several of its easiest avid gamers. Washington stifled a Raiders assault that missed injured tight discontinue Darren Waller, and Derek Carr failed to punish Washington when presented with protection breakdowns. The Soccer Team has some juice. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

6-5-1

Outdated pass: No. 21

The Steelers’ offense found its footing appropriate in time on Sunday, producing 17 aspects in the fourth quarter of a stirring 20-19 catch over the Ravens to make a choice out care of Pittsburgh’s AFC North hopes alive. The Steelers clinched the huge victory when Lamar Jackson’s 2-level conversion pass try hit the fingertips of Trace Andrews and fell incomplete with seconds to play. The pass became errant resulting from stress from — you guessed it — T.J. Watt, who also mute 3.5 sacks and took a commanding lead in the Defensive Player of the Year plug. There isn’t every other non-quarterback in the game who is as fundamental to his team as Watt is to the Steelers. Put out of your mind DPOY, Watt deserves MVP buzz.

Outdated pass: No. 14

Some things we’ll appropriate by no formula know: Who built Stonehenge? What became of Amelia Earhart? Why did Cameron Dantzler play 11 yards off the receiver? The Vikings’ most recent ridiculous loss may per chance well comprise fundamental long-time length ramifications for the franchise, in particular if Minnesota’s in spite of all the pieces manic season ends with the team one catch worried of a playoff berth. The Vikings dug themselves out of a 20-6 gap, only to tranquil discover a technique to lose to a Lions team that hadn’t claimed victory in 364 days. Mike Zimmer’s future with the team has by no formula been hazier, and likewise you marvel if extra seismic adjustments are in store as soon as this wildly frustrating season reaches its sure-to-be-absurd conclusion. 

Outdated pass: No. 22

There’s a the reason why Gardner Minshew’s postgame celebration alongside with his father gave the influence of a scene straight out of Friday Night Lights. With Jalen Hurts out with an ankle harm, Minshew became given one originate to fabricate an influence — to plant the seed that he may per chance well well be The Guy — and he completely nailed his audition. Minshew completed his first 12 passes against the Jets and led Philly on seven consecutive scoring drives in a convincing catch that led to the inevitable questions about Hurts’ job security. Cut Sirianni did a good job of deflection, but Eagles followers comprise now caught MinshewMania in the identical formula Duval County did before them. Minshew is a stress-free and passionate player, with the underdog charisma of Rocky Balboa. No marvel Iggles followers are head over heels. 

Outdated pass: No. 17

slim loss to a surging Washington team is no motive to ring the shame bell, but if the Raiders are seeking to cloak they’re different than the groups which comprise failed in contemporary years they’ve to step up when it matters most. Derek Carr has to hit Foster Moreau and Zay Jones in the red zone. Trevon Moehrig wants to make a choice out care of on to an errant Taylor Heinicke pass on Washington’s final drive. We’ve reached the crucible of the new season, and the groups who will come to the playoffs are the groups who catch opportunities and make a choice succor of their opponent’s errors. The Raiders lacked that killer intuition on Sunday in a loss that summoned the ghosts of Decembers past.

Outdated pass: No. 26

The Seahawks are no longer a in actuality appropriate team, but they confirmed proper warfare in but every other catch over the 49ers. That began early, on a fake punt — from their very fill 27-yard line! — that resulted in a 73-yard touchdown plug by Travis Homer. It became the spark Seattle wanted and it burned via four quarters of a wild 30-23 catch at Lumen Discipline. At 4-8, the Seahawks are highly no longer going to search out their formula assist into the NFC playoff image, but this version of Pete Carroll’s team may per chance well motive some havoc for contenders down the stretch. Seattle in a spoiler feature feels extraordinary for a team that licensed for the playoffs in 9 of the past 10 seasons, but weirdness is the modus operandi of this NFL season. 

Outdated pass: No. 19

Sunday night time’s needed showdown with the Chiefs represented an audition of varieties for Teddy Bridgewater. The earlier quarterback has led a nomadic NFL profession, and the SNF stage became a golden opportunity for Bridgewater to affirm to this franchise that he can even be extra than a stopgap option below center in Denver. Unfortunately for Bridgewater, the consequence doubtless produced the reverse attain. Bridgewater struggled against a extraordinary Kansas Metropolis protection, throwing two needed 2d-half interceptions — including a sport-sealing salvage-six — in a 22-9 loss. Denver’s offense may per chance well well not ship in the serious moments on a day the protection all but shut down Patrick Mahomes, and even a 20-play drive in the third quarter failed to form aspects. The Broncos are tranquil attempting to search out his or her distinction-maker at QB.

Outdated pass: No. 23

This presumably may per chance well presumably no longer come as a surprise, but profession journeyman Mike Glennon became no longer the resolution to the Giants’ season-long offensive funk. Huge Blue managed appropriate 9 aspects and 250 total yards in a efficiency that provided a splash that per chance Jason Garrett wasn’t the one advise with one among the worst offenses in soccer. You know what has been a advise? Saquon Barkley, the extinct No. 2 total salvage who has been unable to upward thrust above the middling capability around him. Is Barkley trapped in a imperfect space — or is he no longer the identical man after the reconstructive knee surgical treatment and nagging injuries which comprise jumpy him this season? This is a team that appears to be like prefer it will doubtless be headed in direction of a no longer easy reboot.

Outdated pass: No. 24

The Panthers comprise a Christian McCaffrey conundrum. When this season comes to a conclusion, McCaffrey will comprise missed 23 of 33 video games since signing the contract extension that made him the best-paid running assist in NFL historic past. Unfortunately for his brethren, McCaffrey has change into the newest example of why groups paying running backs large money is imperfect enterprise. McCaffrey will doubtless be assist subsequent season, but Matt Rhule and the braintrust (minus Joe Brady) will doubtless exercise the leisure of the season as a barometer in deciding whether or no longer Chuba Hubbard is a mighty backup. In the occasion it is most likely you’ll per chance well even be going to stroll the CMC tightrope, you had higher comprise a actual security catch.

Outdated pass: No. 25

Taysom Hill added some mighty-wanted pleasure to the offense, however the desired consequence remained elusive for the Saints, who persevered their stumble out of the playoff image in a prime-time loss to the Cowboys. The sport became right via a disastrous fourth-quarter sequence that featured three interceptions in six pass attempts by Hill, who became clearly laid low with a finger harm suffered in the basic half. New Orleans may per chance well tranquil manufacture noise with a catch scurry, but that’s no longer happening unless they catch wholesome at key spots alongside the offensive line (Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk) and at running assist (Alvin Kamara). Hill’s finger space is an enviornment, as smartly, although it be unclear if it is a ways going to require surgical treatment in the finish to time length or if he’ll supply you the selection to play via it.

Outdated pass: No. 27

It is no longer easy to catch very pondering about gazing the Bears appropriate now, because the largely mute crowd at Soldier Discipline on Sunday afternoon will completely attest. Chicago is somewhat mighty out of the NFC playoff image, the embattled head coach appears to be like like he is on a countdown clock to Jan. 10, and Justin Fields‘ injured ribs comprise saved him out of the lineup for two weeks and counting. Backup quarterback Andy Dalton made some unwelcome private historic past against the Cardinals, tying a profession high with four interceptions that led to 23 Arizona aspects. That’s six losses in seven video games for the Mouses of the Midway.

Outdated pass: No. 28

The financials linked to Matt Ryan manufacture him the Falcons’ doubtless starter for the steadiness of this season and the next one, as smartly … but you marvel if Arthur Smith is exclusively elated with that conception. It’s no longer fine to place Atlanta’s sleepy assault at the toes of the excellent quarterback the franchise has ever had, but a leaky offensive line mixed with the 36-year-primitive’s unhappy pocket mobility has made for grotesque soccer when the Falcons face a team with any pass flee. Perchance Atlanta fixes this fatal flaw with a natty offseason of fortifications alongside the line, but this an increasing selection of appears to be like like a wedding wherein a natty ruin would again all facets smartly. Less complicated talked about than done, clearly.

Outdated pass: No. 29

Let’s focal level on a clear that came out of the newest lopsided Jets loss: Zach Wilson confirmed some legit promise with an very ideal first half against the Eagles. The rookie quarterback, who has gave the influence overwhelmed for long stretches of his rookie season, led the Jets to touchdowns on every of their first three possessions — breaking a season-long pattern of slack starts to originate his NFL profession. Wilson moved smartly on his injured knee and unfurled some proper lasers that sparked the creativeness of pride-starved Jets followers at the Meadowlands. New York’s protection is an abomination that doesn’t allow them to be aggressive on most weeks, but a actual discontinue by Wilson will ship the organization into the offseason on a high. 

Outdated pass: No. 32

Jared Goff learn the protection, found the receiver and delivered the completion. His celebration began, no longer with a plug to comprise a glorious time with wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, but with a beeline in direction of Dan Campbell, the head coach who wanted this catch extra than someone. The Lions beat the Vikings in dramatic vogue on Sunday, inserting off the likelihood of every other winless season in Detroit and pumping some appropriate spirit into an enviornment reeling from senseless tragedy. After the game, Campbell devoted the catch to the total folks impacted by the unusual college taking pictures in Oxford, Michigan. This has no longer been a straightforward year for the Lions — it’s been a somewhat rough millennium, if reality be told — but on Sunday, the team authored one among the most indelible moments of the NFL season. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

2-10

Outdated pass: No. 31

Metropolis Meyer completely believed he’d be immune from the struggles of so many other hotshot college coaches who sauntered into the NFL then promptly fell on their faces. Meyer went 83-9 right via his fantastically successful seven-year plug at Ohio Insist, but it completely took much less than three months for Meyer to surpass that loss total in his debut season with the Jaguars. “I wish I had the total solutions, and I’d give them to you,” Meyer talked about after a blowout loss to the Rams dropped Jacksonville to 2-10. “I don’t know the solutions other than I do know this: that you’re going to make a choice out care of swinging and salvage working collectively.” Is Meyer up for the space that’s in entrance of him? Quit tuned.

Outdated pass: No. 30

The Texans had been shut out for the 2d time this season, the newest indignity in a season corpulent of them. Tyrod Taylor became sent to the bench right via the blowout to Colts, and Ian Rapoport reported Monday the earlier is assumed of week-to-week with a wrist harm on his non-throwing arm. That opens the door for rookie Davis Mills to return to the lineup in Week 14, and presumably, for the steadiness of the new season. One thing tells us that the Texans’ Week 1 starter at QB in 2022 isn’t at cloak on the roster. Of direction, we’d be entertaining to bet that relatively tons of avid gamers who will doubtless be starting up for the Texans in Week 1 of 2022 aren’t at cloak below contract with the team. 

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