The holiday season is coming to a close as we look towards a new year in 2022. The end of December used to signify the end of the NFL season, but now with the 18-week schedule, the regular season extends longer into January. Nevertheless, there is only two games left on the schedule so let’s see how the top 10 shakes out.
1. Green Bay Packers 12-3
Previous ranking- 1
Rasul Douglas once again came to the rescue for the Packers, as the cornerback intercepted Baker Mayfield with 50 seconds left to seal a 24-22 Green Bay win. It was Douglas’ second pick of the day and the fourth overall for the Packers defense. They stole the show on the day that Aaron Rodgers passed Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes in Green Bay history.
2. Kansas City Chiefs 11-4
Previous ranking- 2
The Chiefs easily dispatched the Steelers 36-10 in a lopsided game. Kansas City held a 23-0 halftime lead that grew to 30-0 until Pittsburgh managed a field goal late in the third quarter. Patrick Mahomes threw for 258 yards and 3 TDs without his favorite target Travis Kelce. Byron Pringle picked up the slack on the receiving end, hauling in 6 passes for 75 yards and two scores.
3. Dallas Cowboys 11-4
Previous ranking- 3
Dallas completely overwhelmed Washington 56-14 in a game where the Cowboys learned they clinched the division before kickoff. Dak Prescott threw for 330 yards and 4 TDs as the Dallas offense totaled 497 yards. Their defense got in in the scoring too, with DeMarcus Lawrence tallying his first career pick-six.
4. Los Angeles Rams 11-4
Previous ranking- 4
The Rams beat the Vikings 30-23 and clinched a playoff spot thanks to a spark provided by Brandon Powell’s 61-yard punt return touchdown mid-way through the third quarter. Elsewhere, Sony Michel ran for a season-best 131 yards and a score to carry a Rams offense that saw Matthew Stafford throw three interceptions.
5. Buffalo Bills 9-6
Previous ranking- 6
The Bills had a season-changing victory with a 33-21 win over the Patriots at Foxboro. Josh Allen threw for 314 yards and 3 TDs and Isaiah McKenzie had a huge day receiving, totaling 11 catches for 125 yards and a score. Micah Hyde led the defensive effort with two interceptions. The win gave Buffalo back possession of first place in the AFC East.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-4
Previous ranking- 7
The Bucs rolled over the free-falling Panthers to the run of a 32-6 win. The Tampa defense totaled seven sacks and held Sam Darnold and Cam Newton to a combined 206 net passing yards. Carolina running backs only managed 14 yards on 9 carries while the Bucs racked up 159 rushing yards and two scores. The easy victory gave Tampa Bay its first division title since 2007.
7. Tennessee Titans 10-5
Previous ranking- 8
The Titans recovered from a 10-0 halftime deficit on Thursday night to beat the Niners 20-17. Randy Bullock kicked the go-ahead 44-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in the game to complete the comeback after San Francisco tied the game at 17. A.J Brown led the Titans offense with 11 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. It was Brown’s third game this season with over 120 yards and a score and his first 100-yard game since October.
8. Cincinnati Bengals 9-6
Previous ranking- Honorable Mention
Joe Burrow came incredibly close to breaking the single game passing yardage record but ultimately had to settle for the fourth most all-time with his 525-yard, 4 TD performance in a 41-21 win over Baltimore. Burrow passed Boomer Esiason’s franchise best 522 yards and fell just 29 yards short of Norm Van Brocklin’s all-time record of 554. Tee Higgins was Burrow’s favorite target, as the receiver caught 12 passes for 194 yards and two scores.
9. Indianapolis Colts 9-6
Previous ranking- Honorable Mention
The Colts knocked off the spiraling Cardinals 22-16 on the road despite numerous injuries and COVID related absences, including star linebacker Darius Leonard. Jonathan Taylor ran for 108 yards to push his league-best total to 1,676 rushing yards. Carson Wentz tossed two touchdowns including one in the fourth that pushed the Indianapolis lead to two scores.
10. New England Patriots 9-6
Previous ranking- 5
The Patriots have all of a sudden cooled off and fallen out of first place in the AFC East. They suffered a 33-21 loss to the Bills at home that disrupted their chances of another division title. Mac Jones struggled for the New England offense, completing 14/32 passes for 145 yards and two interceptions. The Bills outgained the Pats 428-288 and possessed the ball for 11 minutes more.