Week 15 2018 NFL Power Rankings – Wish lists for all 32 teams

4. Los Angeles Chargers (10-3)

Week 14 ranking: 5

Top wish list item: A healthy Melvin Gordon. The Chargers have won both games Gordon missed with a sprained right knee. However, the Wisconsin product accounted for 36 percent of the Bolts’ scrimmage touchdowns before his injury. If the Chargers want to make a deep postseason run, they need a healthy Gordon to reach their full potential on offense. — Eric D. Williams

5. New England Patriots (9-4)

Week 14 ranking: 4

Top wish list item: A “Back to the Future” flux capacitor. The Patriots would like to travel back in time to Sunday so they can redo the final 69-yard defensive meltdown that led to a stunning 34-33 defeat to the Dolphins. It is rare to see a Bill Belichick-coached team, which prides itself on excelling at situational football, make such a miscue in a crucial situation. — Mike Reiss

Stephen A.: Weather to blame for Rams’ loss

Stephen A. Smith blames the cold weather for the way the Rams lost to the Bears.

6. Chicago Bears (9-4)

Week 14 ranking: 8

Top wish list item: Clinching a postseason berth for the first time since 2010 by beating the hated Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field. The Bears will need some help to wrap up the NFC North in Week 15, but nothing would be sweeter for Chicago than punching its ticket to the playoffs at the expense of the Packers. After all, Green Bay dealt the Bears their most recent postseason loss, in the NFC Championship Game nearly eight years ago. — Jeff Dickerson

7. Houston Texans (9-4)

Week 14 ranking: 6

Top wish list item: Help from the Patriots’ and Chiefs’ opponents so they can secure a first-round bye. The Texans missed an opportunity to jump New England on Sunday, as Houston’s nine-game winning streak was snapped against the Colts. Even if the Texans win out, they cannot clinch a first-round bye unless the Patriots lose one more game than they do, or Kansas City loses three. Both the Patriots and Texans are 9-4, but because Houston lost in New England in Week 1, the Patriots hold the tiebreaker. Houston has never had a first-round bye or played in the AFC Championship Game. — Sarah Barshop

8. Dallas Cowboys (8-5)

Week 14 ranking: 11

Top wish list item: Red zone success. With the Cowboys all but certain to win the NFC East, they have to improve inside the opponents’ 20. Successful situational football is even more important in the playoffs. On the season, the Cowboys have scored touchdowns on just 19 of 41 red zone drives. In goal-to-go scenarios, they have 10 touchdowns on 21 such drives. In the season’s final three weeks, they have to improve in the red zone. This is where they miss Jason Witten’s experience and Dez Bryant‘s explosiveness the most. If they can get closer to just average in both areas, they will take the pressure off their defense to be close to perfect. — Todd Archer

9. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Week 14 ranking: 9

Top wish list item: Noticeable growth from young players. Pete Carroll believes there’s a correlation between his willingness to play young players and the tendency for his teams to be at their best in December. The thinking is that by then, those players have taken their inevitable lumps and will start to perform more evenly. If that can happen with the likes of rookie running back Rashaad Penny, rookie cornerback Tre Flowers and second-year free safety Tedric Thompson (a first-time starter), it would help the Seahawks maintain control of a wild-card spot and brighten the team’s prospects heading into 2019. — Brady Henderson

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)

Week 14 ranking: 7

Top wish list item: A holiday-cheery win over the Patriots. The Steelers are reeling, with a half-game divisional lead over the Ravens and a brutal three-game schedule ahead. Tom Brady is 7-1 with 23 touchdowns and one interception in his past eight games against Pittsburgh. The Steelers want nothing more than a timely Week 15 victory over New England to end a three-game losing streak. — Jeremy Fowler

What is the outlook for AFC, NFC playoff picture?

Scott Van Pelt says to look out for the Bears’ and Cowboys’ defenses in the playoffs and questions the Steelers, who are going in the wrong direction.

11. Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Week 14 ranking: 10

Top wish list item: A division title. The Ravens haven’t won the AFC North since their 2012 Super Bowl season, and it didn’t look like they had a chance of capturing the title four weeks ago, when they were 4-5 at the bye. But Baltimore (7-6) is suddenly a half-game back of the Steelers (7-5-1) and has a more favorable remaining schedule. The Ravens finish at home against Tampa Bay, at the Los Angeles Chargers and home against Cleveland. The Steelers are home against New England, at New Orleans and home against Cincinnati. In John Harbaugh’s previous 10 seasons, the Ravens have played host to only two playoff games. — Jamison Hensley

12. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

Week 14 ranking: 13

Top wish list item: A postseason berth for the first time since 2014. The Colts will need Baltimore or Houston to falter, and they might have to go 3-0 in their final three games for it to happen. The Colts could be a scary team if they make the playoffs, because their offense can score (eighth in points per game) and their defense (12th in the league) might be one of the most underrated units in the NFL. — Mike Wells

13. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)

Week 14 ranking: 12

Top wish list item: The fifth seed in the NFC playoffs. After falling two games behind Chicago in the NFC North race ahead of their Monday night game in Seattle, the Vikings’ most realistic chance at reaching the postseason is by securing a wild-card spot. The last thing the Vikings want to do is have to host the Bears in Week 17 and turn around for a first-round game at Soldier Field the following week. The Vikings can clinch a playoff berth in Week 15. They are much better off going on the road to face Dallas the first weekend of January than playing one of the top three Super Bowl favorites from the NFC. — Courtney Cronin

14. Tennessee Titans (7-6)

Week 14 ranking: 16

Top wish list item: Keeping the Derrick Henry train rolling. The Titans would like nothing more than to have Henry running with the same tenacity that forced the Jaguars into submission. Mike Vrabel said one of the trademarks he wants the Titans to have is physicality. Pounding Henry helps them impose their will and wear down opposing defenses, especially in cold December games. A strong rushing attack makes Marcus Mariota‘s job easier because defenses are forced to respect the run. — Turron Davenport

15. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Week 14 ranking: 17

Top wish list item: To defy the odds. A loss to the Cowboys on Sunday dropped the Eagles’ chances of making the playoffs to 8 percent. With back-to-back games at the Rams and home against the Texans coming up, it’s not looking very promising. One more loss and the Eagles will become just the 11th defending Super Bowl champ to finish with a non-winning record the following season. — Tim McManus

16. Carolina Panthers (6-7)

Week 14 ranking: 14

Top wish list items: Three consecutive wins — including two against New Orleans — and losses by Minnesota and Washington to earn a playoff spot and save jobs. The Panthers have lost five straight, but as crazy as it sounds, at 6-7 they still have a path to the playoffs with the sixth seed in the NFC up for grabs. You might throw consistency on defense into the mix here since the unit has underperformed most of the season. — David Newton

Kezirian: Dolphins’ win ‘saved the sportsbooks’

Doug Kezirian explains how the Dolphins beating the Patriots affected the sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

17. Miami Dolphins (7-6)

Week 14 ranking: 20

Top wish list item: For the miracles to continue. The Dolphins, on paper, shouldn’t be in the playoff hunt. They rank 29th in total offense and defense, they have double-digit players on season-ending injured reserve and quarterback Ryan Tannehill has missed five games. Yet they continue to find improbable ways to win, like Sunday’s 69-yard touchdown on a hook-and-lateral play as time expired. Playoff odds still aren’t high, but if they can find a way to win at Minnesota on Sunday, then maybe the Miami Miracle could set up January football. — Cameron Wolfe

18. Denver Broncos (6-7)

Week 14 ranking: 15

Top wish list item: A first-quarter touchdown. For a team that spends as much time talking about a fast start as the Broncos do, they haven’t scored a first-quarter touchdown in the past five games. Denver last scored a first-quarter touchdown before Halloween (Oct. 28) against the Chiefs. “We’ve obviously got to coach better early [in games] and play better,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “Over the last month we’ve had chances to keep drives going and we haven’t, missing throws, drops on third down, playcalls, it’s everything.” — Jeff Legwold

19. Green Bay Packers (5-7-1)

Week 14 ranking: 19

Top wish list item: A road win. OK, maybe two road wins, although that might be too much to ask for considering the Packers have gone 0-for-the-road this season. They have two more chances — at the Bears on Sunday and at the Jets in Week 16. If they can’t win either of those, they’ll go winless on the road for the first time since 1958. — Rob Demovsky

20. Cleveland Browns (5-7-1)

Week 14 ranking: 22

Top wish list item: A massive, mind-boggling, Midwest miracle. The chances would mean a massive reordering of the universe, but the Browns’ most fervent dream is to win their final three, get massive help from many other teams and somehow sneak into the playoffs as a 6-seed with an 8-7-1 record. Crazy things happen with the NFL playoffs, but this one would be a miracle worthy of the loaves and fishes. — Pat McManamon

21. Washington Redskins (6-7)

Week 14 ranking: 18

Top wish list item: Better health for Alex Smith. Even if he can’t play again because of infection to his broken leg, the Redskins would like to see the quarterback recover for post-football life. Smith remains in the hospital after undergoing multiple surgeries due to the infection. The 34-year-old faces a long recovery, and even if he is able to play again, there’s still doubt as to when that would be and at what level he’d play. So Washington must plan a future without him just in case. At this point, it’s much more about Smith and his family than football. — John Keim

Best NFL Stories Of The Week

Week 14 ranking: 26

Top wish list item: An 8-8 record. It might not sound great, but it would be a successful finish for a team that couldn’t get out of its own way the first eight weeks. The Giants began 1-7. That would mean winning seven of their final eight, and winning three games against quality opponents to finish the season. — Jordan Raanan

23. Atlanta Falcons (4-9)

Week 14 ranking: 21

Top wish list item: A win, any win. The Falcons have lost five in a row and are guaranteed to finish with a losing record for the first time under Dan Quinn. They need something to feel good about going into the offseason, so having the lowly Arizona Cardinals come to town could be the answer to breaking the streak. Then again, the Cardinals won at Green Bay and got Mike McCarthy fired. — Vaughn McClure

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8)

Week 14 ranking: 23

Top wish list item: Clarity on quarterback Jameis Winston‘s future. Will he become the first Bucs-drafted quarterback awarded a second contract? This hasn’t just been at the top of Tampa Bay’s wish list for the next three games — it’s been like this the past four years, especially in an NFC South division that boasts two league MVPs in Cam Newton and Matt Ryan and a Super Bowl MVP in Drew Brees. The Bucs have options. They can maintain their commitment to exercise Winston’s fifth-year option, which buys them time to determine if he is, indeed, the answer. They can decide that they’ve seen enough and give him a new deal now. They could also cut him prior to the start of the new league year in March 2019 with zero penalty. — Jenna Laine

25. Detroit Lions (5-8)

Week 14 ranking: 27

Top wish list item: A chance. This might sound crazy considering how the Lions played Sunday against Arizona (and this season in general), but at 5-8 the franchise is still on the fringes of the playoff race with games against fellow wild-card hopefuls Minnesota and Green Bay ahead (along with Sunday’s visit to the Bills). It’s as unlikely as unlikely can be that Detroit actually reaches the postseason, but crazier things have happened in the NFL. Just don’t bank on it. — Michael Rothstein

Peyton Manning: Detail | Episodes

Week 14 ranking: 24

Top wish list item: Score multiple offensive touchdowns in a game. Since benching Blake Bortles for Cody Kessler and firing offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett after Week 12, the Jaguars have scored one offensive touchdown in two games: last Thursday night against Tennessee. All they could manage against Indianapolis the game before was a pair of field goals. Use a flea-flicker, a wide receiver pass, a throwback to the quarterback — something, anything — to get into the end zone. And then do it again in the same game. — Mike DiRocco

27. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)

Week 14 ranking: 25

Top wish list item: A new coaching staff. Improved performance against the Chargers aside, it’s clear things have grown stale in Cincinnati — from empty seats all around the stadium to a season that has rapidly deteriorated before the Bengals’ eyes. They could ask for a magic wand to fix all of their injuries this season, but considering the playoffs are out of reach, that won’t solve the bigger problem ahead. Cincinnati needs new life injected into the franchise, and a new coaching staff could do the trick. — Katherine Terrell

28. Buffalo Bills (4-9)

Week 14 ranking: 28

Top wish list item: Find which playmakers to keep around Josh Allen. The Bills have the draft selections (10) and cap space ($83 million) to rebuild their offense this offseason around Allen, their potential franchise quarterback. Their final three games will help determine which veteran players along the offensive line, in their backfield and at receiver are worth keeping or re-signing for 2019 alongside the group of younger players Buffalo is attempting to develop. — Mike Rodak

29. New York Jets (4-9)

Week 14 ranking: 29

Top wish list item: A strong finish for Sam Darnold, whose development is Item No. 1 on the wish list. It’s probably too late to save coach Todd Bowles, but the rookie quarterback can provide hope for a franchise that has missed the playoffs for the eighth straight season. It has been a roller-coaster year for Darnold, but he has displayed some “wow” moments — and that should sustain a success-starved fan base through another offseason of rebuilding. — Rich Cimini

Best of NFL Nation

Week 14 ranking: 31

Top wish list item: Five stinkin’ receiving yards for George Kittle. The Niners’ emerging star came up 4 yards short of setting the single-game record for receiving yards by a tight end against the Broncos on Sunday, leaving coach Kyle Shanahan to apologize for not getting him to the magic number of 215. This has been a breakout season for Kittle and he is certain to add to his 49ers franchise mark for receiving yards by a tight end, but Shanahan and the team would love to find a way to get him the record he narrowly missed against Denver in one of the final three games. — Nick Wagoner

31. Oakland Raiders (3-10)

Week 14 ranking: 32

Top wish list item: Continued growth between Jon Gruden and Derek Carr. After so many fits and starts through the first half of the season, the Raiders coach and quarterback are, as tight end Lee Smith said, starting to speak the same language. It’s showing. Carr has not thrown an interception since the third quarter of the Raiders’ fifth game, a stretch of 261 attempts and 33 quarters in eight-plus games, and is on pace for career highs in passing yards (4,227) and completion percentage (69.2). A strong finish would go a long way toward establishing a long-term relationship. — Paul Gutierrez

32. Arizona Cardinals (3-10)

Week 14 ranking: 30

Top wish list item: Josh Rosen playing like a first-round pick. Rosen has yet to perform like the Cardinals expected him to after they traded up to draft him 10th overall. He’s last among qualifying quarterbacks in yards per dropback, yards per attempt, Total QBR and Raw QBR. Rosen can improve his decision-making and be more consistent with his accuracy. If he can play like a first-round pick in December, he’ll give the Cardinals the best gift they can think of: hope that their quarterback will make significant strides between his rookie and sophomore seasons. — Josh Weinfuss

Source

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/25500790/week-15-2018-nfl-power-rankings-wish-lists-all-32-teams

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