Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 48th season reporting on the NFL in 2020. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 38 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee for 25 years and is a member of both the senior and contributor sub-committees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his final rankings of the 2020 season:
1. Kansas City Chiefs. (Previous week: 1) The 14-2 Chiefs take the NFL’s No. 1 offense and the AFCs top seed into the playoffs. It’s the second time in his three seasons at quarterback that Patrick Mahomes has taken KC to the top in offense. The Chiefs averaged 415.8 yards per game, almost 20 yards more than their closest competitor (Bills). KC also led the NFL in passing as the only team to average more than 300 yards (303.4) per game.
2. Green Bay Packers. (2) Aaron Rodgers won his third career NFL passing title – and first since winning back-to-back in 2011-12 – with a career-best 48-touchdown season. He completed a league-best 70.7 percent of his passes for 4,299 yards with only five interceptions for a 121.5 efficiency rating, almost 10 points better than anyone else.
3. Buffalo Bills. (3) Stefon Diggs became the first member of the Bills to lead the NFL in receiving with his 127 catches. He also led the league in receiving yards with 1,535, including seven 100-yard games. He scored eight touchdowns to help the Bills win their first AFC East title since 1995.
4. New Orleans Saints. (4) Despite sitting out the final weekend, RB Alvin Kamara led the NFL with 21 touchdowns. He scored 16 of them on the ground, including a six-TD game against Minnesota, and five more on pass receptions. Fifteen of his touchdowns came at home in the Superdome, including all five of his aerial scores.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers. (5) For the third time in the last nine years a Watt led the NFL in sacks. This time it was T.J., who collected a career-high 15 sacks for the Steelers. The previous two times it was T.J.’s older brother J.J., who led the league in 2012 and 2015. T.J.’s performance helped the Steelers lead the NFL with 56 sacks.
6. Seattle Seahawks (6) 12-4 D.K. Metcalf makes the splash plays on the flank for the Seahawks but it’s Tyler Lockett who remains Russell Wilson’s security blanket. Lockett posted his first career 100-catch season, his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and shared the team lead in touchdown receptions with Metcalf with 10 apiece. He turned in a 200-yard game against Arizona and a 100-yard game against Dallas.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (7) Tom Brady was one of three quarterbacks to throw for 40 touchdowns this season. But he was the only one to do it in his 40s. At 43, Brady threw 40 touchdown passes in his first season with the Buccaneers. That matched the 40 of Seattle’s Russell Wilson but left them both behind Aaron Rodgers (48).
8. Baltimore Ravens. (8) With his 97 yards in the season finale at Cleveland, Lamar Jackson became the first quarterback in NFL history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Jackson set the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,206 in 2019 and followed that up with 1,005 in 2020.
9. Tennessee Titans. (9) Derrick Henry used a 250-yard effort against Houston in the season finale to become just the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. He also became the first back to win consecutive rushing titles since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006-7. His 2,027 yards rank as the fifth best rushing season of all-time behind Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Jamal Lewis and Barry Sanders. His 200-yard game against Houston was his third of the season.
10. Indianapolis Colts. (10) The Colts were one of four teams to finish in the NFL’s Top 10 in both offense and defense. Indy fielded the NFL’s 10th-best offense and eighth-best defense, joining Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Chargers in the Top 10 on both sides of the ball. Rookie RB Jonathan Taylor sparked the offense with seven touchdowns over the final four weeks of the season.
11. Cleveland Browns. (12) Jonathan Taylor wasn’t the only hot runner over the final month of the season. Nick Chubb scored a touchdown in each of the final six games of the season to help the 11-5 Browns claim their first playoff berth since 2002. Cleveland had suffered 13 last-place finishes in the AFC North in the 17 seasons since then.
12. Los Angeles Rams. (13) The Rams led the NFL in defense for the first since 1978, allowing only 281.9 yards per game. Los Angeles finished first against the pass and third against the run. The Rams also finished first in the NFL in scoring defense as the only team to allow fewer than 300 points (296) this season.
13. Miami Dolphins. (11) Xavien Howard became the first cornerback to intercept 10 passes in a season since Antonio Cromartie for the San Diego Chargers in 2007. He hit double digits in the season finale against Buffalo with an interception of Matt Barkley. His 10 thefts helped the Dolphins lead the NFL with 29 takeaways.
14. Las Vegas Raiders. (16) If the Raiders hope to take that next step from playoff contender to playoff team, they must develop a defensive backbone. Las Vegas allowed 478 points this season, third worst in the league behind Jacksonville and Detroit. That’s company you don’t want to keeping. That’s the most points the Raiders have allowed in a season since their AFL days in 1961 (458). Howie Long, Lester Hayes and Ted Hendricks wouldn’t recognize this version of the silver and black.
15. Chicago Bears. (14) NFC Pro Bowl return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson has returned a kickoff for a touchdown each of the last three seasons and in six of his eight NFL seasons. He has returned 239 career kickoffs an average of 29.8 yards with five scores of 100-plus yards, including his 104-yarder this season against the Vikings.
16. Arizona Cardinals. (15) The Cardinals finished as the most penalized team in the NFL, getting flagged 113 times for 868 yards. The Cardinals were assessed at least 10 penalties in a game three times and at least 100 yards twice. None of their three NFC West rivals was penalized 10 times in a game this season nor was any of the three assessed 100 yards in penalties in a game.
17. Washington. (21) Washington has invested five first-round picks in its defensive front and it paid off in 2020. Those five – Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat and Chase Young – combined for 27 sacks, six fumble recoveries, two interceptions and a touchdown. That defensive disruption up front helped Washington win its first NFC East title since 2015.
18. New England Patriots. (17) Jake Bailey led the NFL with a net punting average of 45.6 yards on 55 punts, the second-best net in NFL history. He placed an NFL-runnerup 31 of his punts inside the 20 and only 12 of his kicks were returned for just 71 yards. He also had no blocked kicks and only five touchbacks.
19. Los Angeles Chargers. (18) Rookie Justin Herbert started 15 games at quarterback for the Chargers and threw for 300 yards in eight of them. He threw two or more touchdown passes in 10 of them. He also rushed for five touchdowns on the ground and did not throw an interception in his last three games covering 96 passes. That’s Offensive Rookie of the Year material.
20. Minnesota Vikings. (22) Despite missing two games with injuries, running back Dalvin Cook still led the NFL with 108 first downs. Cook also led the NFC with his 1,557 rushing yards. He collected a 200-yard rushing game and six other 100-yard games.
21. New York Giants. (25) The Giants played down to the wire for an NFC East title before falling short. A healthy RB Saquon Barkley should solidify the Giants as a contender in 2021 but what New York really needs is some help on the flank. Sterling Shepard led New York in catches and Darius Slayton led in yards. But Shepard finished 36th in the NFL with his 66 receptions and Slayton 46th with his 750 receiving yards. The Cowboys had three wide receivers with more than 800 yards. For Daniel Jones to take the next step as a quarterback, the Giants need to upgrade his weapons.
22. Dallas Cowboys. (19) If the Cowboys are to catch up in the NFC East to Washington and New York, they will need more than a healthy Dak Prescott. They will need to upgrade their pass rush. The Cowboys had the worst pass rush in the division with only 31 sacks. Philadelphia, Washington and New York all finished in the 40s. The Eagles ranked third in the NFL with 49 and the Giants collected 40. NFC East champion Washington, with four first-round draft picks up front, turned in 47. And 8 ½ of the Dallas sacks came from defensive backs. It’s what’s up front that counts.
23. San Francisco 49ers. (20) The 6-10 49ers were one of four teams to finish 1-7 at home this season – but were the only team of the four to have two homes. Technically speaking, anyway. The Lions lost all their home games at Ford Field, the Jaguars lost all of theirs at TIAA Bank Field and the Jets lost all of theirs at MetLife Stadium. San Francisco lost its first four home games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, but when COVID shut down the state of California the 49ers had to move to Arizona. That’s where they lost their final three home games at State Farm Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals.
24. Carolina Panthers. (23) Seventeen NFL teams did not have a 1,000-yard wide receiver this season. Carolina was one of only two teams with two of them. Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore both hit the century mark for the Panthers as did Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf for the Seahawks. Kansas City also had two 1,000-yard receivers but one was a tight end (Travis Kelce). The other was Tyreek Hill.
25. Cincinnati Bengals. (24) Defenses league-wide scored 48 touchdowns and added 19 safeties this NFL season. The Bengals were one of only three NFL teams that did not score a point on defense, joining the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders. The Rams led the way with five defensive scores on three interceptions and two fumbles.
26. Denver Broncos. (26) The 11 losses this season are easily explainable – the Broncos couldn’t hold onto the football. Denver committed a league-high 32 turnovers, throwing 23 interceptions and losing nine fumbles. It’s hard to win in the NFL when your offense isn’t on the field. The team the Broncos chase in the AFC West – the Chiefs – committed half (16) as many turnovers.
27. Atlanta Falcons. (27) The NFL had its first tie for a scoring championship since 1981. But back then it was a two-way tie between Eddie Murray of the Lions and Rafael Septien of the Cowboys. This time there's a three-way tie at 144 points with placekickers Daniel Carlson of the Raiders, Jason Sanders of the Dolphins and Younghoe Koo of the Falcons all scoring 144 points.
28. Philadelphia Eagles. (28) There’s one certainty with the Eagles in 2021 – Nate Sudfeld won’t be the starting quarterback. We learned that in his mop-up work during Philly’s season-ending defeat to Washington. That remains a head-scratcher. Now the dilemma -- do the Eagles stick with struggling Carson Wentz or go all in on Jalen Hurts, who is a greater threat with his legs than his arm? Where is Nick Foles when Doug Pederson really needs him?
29. Houston Texans. (29) Both the front and the back end of the Houston defense need to be fixed if the Texans are to dig out of this 4-12 hole in 2021. At the front end, the Texans finished last in the NFL in run defense. They were scorched for a league worst nine individual 100-yard rushing games, including a pair of 200-yard games by Derrick Henry. At the back end, the Texans intercepted a league-low three passes. A defense with bad tacklers and no playmakers is a losing combination.
30. Detroit Lions. (30) Matt Patricia was hired as head coach of the Detroit Lions in 2018 because of his defensive wizardry with the New England Patriots. He didn’t bring that same magic with him to Detroit. The Lions allowed 360 in his first season, 423 in his second season and an NFL-worst 516 in his third, although Patricia was not around for the finish. He was fired in November.
31. New York Jets. (31) The Jets were the lowest-scoring team in the league with 243 points. They never hit 30 in a game this season and in five contests were held to 10 points or fewer. New York finished last in the NFL in offense and 31st in passing. The 2-14 Jets were one of only three teams that did not have an individual 300-yard passer this season and they share the stadium with another of the teams (Giants). Baltimore was the third member of that triumvirate.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars. (32) The Jaguars will have a new general manager, a new coach and, with the first overall pick of the 2021 draft, very likely a new quarterback next season. Owner Shad Khan can’t put this season behind him fast enough – a season that started with a surprising victory over the Indianapolis Colts but ended with 15 consecutive losses. Even in the franchise’s debut season in 1995, when the Jaguars were playing with rookies and veteran retreads, the Jaguars still managed to win four games.