It has been a chaotic two weeks in the NFL as COVID-19 outbreaks swept through the league like wildfire. Denver, San Francisco, and Baltimore were all affected. After surviving 75% of the regular season, COVID-19 wreaked havoc throughout the League.
The Denver Broncos lost their entire quarterback corps - the virus affected a whole position group. Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints enjoyed two months of winning. Packers cruise through Week 12, giving the Bears a thrashing. Patrick Mahomes and company burned the Bucs. The Washington Football Team pounced on the Dallas Cowboys 41-16.
New Orleans Saints defeated the Denver Broncos this weekend to culminate a perfect two months of football. The Saints are now a perfect 8-0 since October and are on target to win a fourth consecutive division title. At the top of the NFC South, the team win will be the first in its franchise history.
Since 2017, the Saints are an astonishing 28-3 in October and November games. The only losses in that period were a 26-20 loss at the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, a 13-10 setback in Dallas in 2018, and a 26-9 clunker against the Atlanta Falcons in 2019. Otherwise, the Saints have run the table.
The Steelers still sit atop the NFL at 11-0, but the Saints continue to string together multiple strong outings from the defense. Also, the Buffalo Bills climb their way back into the top 5. Let's look at the NFL Top 5 Power Rankings for Week 13.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
THE GOOD NEWS: The Steelers are undefeated, and their division can be sealed soon.
THE BAD NEWS: The pressure is on to stay ahead of a one loss Kansas City Chiefs team. This will mean the Steelers may have to have a perfect undefeated season.
What a crazy past week it has been for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFL delayed the game against the Baltimore Ravens three times because of a spread of COVID among the Ravens, all while the Steelers haven’t had a bye week. It doesn’t appear that all outside noise affected the Steelers that much as they defeated the Ravens 19-14 and improved to 11-0, an NFL best. It sure was an odd week, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are still in full control of their destiny heading into the playoffs as they continue their quest to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
THE GOOD NEWS: Patrick Mahomes’s is on fire. With only one loss, the team’s four of five remaining opponents should be a win.
THE BAD NEWS: The Saints could be the team standing between the Chiefs and a first-round playoff bye.
The Kansas City Chiefs were electric on offense in a 27-24 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs. Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a career game, hauling in 13 catches for a staggering 267 yards with 3 touchdowns. A lot of times, it just feels like the Chiefs are toying with their opponents because they put up points so quick and so stylishly. The Chiefs feel like a safe bet to make a return to the Super Bowl, but they still need to catch up to the Pittsburgh Steelers if they want that bye week in the playoffs.
3. New Orleans Saints
THE GOOD NEWS: The Saints can thrive without Drew Brees…Taysom Hill was not a surprise to Coach Sean Payton, and he is 2 for 2 in wins as an NFL quarterback. The defense is one of the best in the NFL.
THE BAD NEWS: The Saints need to continue winning to clinch a bye week in the playoffs.
The New Orleans Saints extend their win streak to 8 games after a 31-3 domination over the Denver Broncos. Taysom Hill has kept the ship steady in the absence of the injured Drew Brees, but the defense has been the star of the show. Throughout the past three weeks, the New Orleans’ defense hasn’t allowed a single touchdown while racking up 11 sacks and 6 interceptions. Sean Payton and the Saints are now 7-0 in the absence of Drew Brees since last season, and next week’s rematch against the Falcons should further improve their odds of holding onto the top seed in the NFC.
4. Green Bay Packers
THE GOOD NEWS: The Packers are on target to have the NFC North sewn up.
THE BAD NEWS: Their blowout loss at Tampa Bay and their OT loss at the Colts
The Green Bay Packers are right there in the thick of things with the New Orleans Saints in pursuit of the top seed, and bye, in the NFC after beating the Chicago Bears 41-25. After a disappointing loss to the Indianapolis Colts the week before, the Packers needed to come out with a convincing win - they did exactly that against the Bears. Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones were the offense's highlights, throwing 4 touchdowns and rushing for 90 yards, respectively. The Packers continue the rest of their season with a relatively easy schedule but have little room for error in chasing the Saints.
5. Buffalo Bills
THE GOOD NEWS: The Bills are poised to win their first AFC East title since 1995.
THE BAD NEWS: The team has faltered against the best teams in their conference this season. The Bills will have to go through the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and win to reach their goal.
The Buffalo Bills make a return in the top 5 after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers 27-17. Buffalo currently sits at 8-3 and is projected to win the AFC East for the first time in 1995. The team’s success can be attributed to the play of emerging quarterback Josh Allen, but so can the team’s shortcomings. Allen left the game against the Chargers with an ankle injury, but the injury may not be too serious. The Bills look to continue their playoff push with the Miami Dolphins right on their heels.
Article Contributor Sam Lucio, Saints News Network Intern.