The holiday season of December is upon us and with it comes the final stretch of the NFL season. The playoffs are coming and bubble teams are making final pushes to claim their spot. Who is on the rise and who is in trouble as we move ever closer to Week 18?

1. Arizona Cardinals 10-2

Previous ranking- 1

The Cardinals finally saw the returns of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins from injury. And it was a big return, as Murray threw for two touchdowns, including one to Hopkins, and ran for two more in a 33-22 win over the Bears. Meanwhile, the Arizona defense picked off Andy Dalton four times. 

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-3

Previous ranking- 2

The Bucs easily handled the Falcons 30-17 despite a rare pick-six from Tom Brady. Still, Brady linked up with Rob Gronkowski for two of his four passing touchdowns on the day, bringing his league-leading total to 34. Tampa has the NFC South all but wrapped up and has the number one seed within striking distance. 

3. New England Patriots 9-4

Previous ranking- 3

The Pats turned the clock back on offense in 40 MPH wind gusts with a 46-3 run-pass ratio in a 14-10 win in Buffalo on Monday night. They outrushed the Bills 222-99 in the blustery conditions, opting to just run the ball and not attempt a passing game hardly at all. Capitalizing on an early fumble from the Bills and turning it into 8 points gave New England a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. 

4. Green Bay Packers 9-3

Previous ranking- 4

The Packers had their bye this week and will take on the Bears at home on Sunday night. 

5. Kansas City Chiefs 8-4

Previous ranking- 7

The Chiefs defense continued their recent streak of great play, this time forcing three turnovers and keeping the Broncos out of the endzone until five minutes left in the game in a 22-9 win. Daniel Sorenson logged one of the turnovers by picking off Teddy Bridgewater and returning it for a 75-yard pick-six. 

6. Dallas Cowboys 8-4

Previous ranking- 10

Dallas rebounded from a tough Thanksgiving loss by dominating the Saints defensively in a 27-17 win. The Cowboys picked off Taysom Hill four times and scored on a Carlos Watkins pick-six. Most impressively, they did it all without head coach Mike McCarthy who was away from the team in COVID protocols. 

7. Los Angeles Rams 8-4 

Previous ranking- 9

The Rams ended their three-game losing streak by thumping the Jaguars 37-7 at home. Matthew Stafford played a clean game and threw for 295 yards and 3 TDs. Cooper Kupp helped in that effort, catching 8 passes on 10 targets for 129 yards and a score. As a whole, the Rams outgained the Jags 418 to 197. 

8. Baltimore Ravens 8-4

Previous ranking- 5

John Harbaugh opted to be aggressive and go for the win instead of the tie after a touchdown with 12 seconds left. The play was there, but Mark Andrews couldn’t haul in Lamar Jackson’s pass and the Ravens fell 20-19 to the Steelers. Nevertheless, the failed two-point conversion capped off an eight play, 60-yard drive to bring Baltimore to the brink. 

9. Los Angeles Chargers 7-5

Previous ranking- Unranked

The Chargers roller coaster season continued with a 41-22 win over the Bengals on the road. L.A. led the game 24-0 early in the second quarter, but 22 unanswered points from Cincinnati made it a game midway through the third. However, a fumble return for a touchdown from Tevaughn Campbell and an interception from Chris Harris to end the Bengals rally. 

10. Buffalo Bills 7-5

Previous ranking- 8

The Bills couldn’t muster enough offense against the Pats in their blustery loss on Monday night. Buffalo could only manage 230 total yards and just 99 rushing yards in the poor conditions. A botched handoff that led to a Patriots touchdown early in the game and a missed field goal late proved the difference. 

Fell off- Cincinnati Bengals

Honorable Mentions- Indianapolis Colts, Washington Football Team, Detroit Lions (they won a game!)