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 ballot for Week 13:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers. (Previous week: 1) COVID has done to the Steelers what 10 teams couldn’t this season – prevent them from winning. Pittsburgh took a 10-0 record into last weekend but its home game with Baltimore has been pushed back twice – from Thursday to Tuesday to now Wednesday – because the Ravens’ roster has been ravaged by COVID.
2. Kansas City Chiefs. (2) Patrick Mahomes has thrown only two interceptions in 423 passes this season, which currently stands as the second-best interception avoidance by a full-time starter in NFL history at .047. But he’ll have to stay perfect the rest of the way for a chance at the record. That belongs to Aaron Rodgers, who threw only two interceptions in 597 passes in 2018 for an interception avoidance of .034.
3. New Orleans Saints. (3) Taysom Hill is unbeaten in his two starts at quarterback for the Saints in place of the injured Drew Brees but is still looking for his first career NFL touchdown pass. To this point he’s been beating teams with his legs, rushing for two touchdowns apiece in victories over the Falcons and Broncos. He has thrown 39 passes in this two starts and now 57 in his career without a touchdown.
4. Tennessee Titans. (7) The Titans have committed only five turnovers this season. Think about that for a second – five turnovers in 11 games. They have a quarterback who protects the football and a running back who doesn’t fumble. Derrick Henry is an MVP candidate who has not lost a fumble in 256 carries. That’s 37 more carries than anyone else in the league. The Titans give him the football and he never gives it back to anyone except the referee. Tannehill has thrown only four interceptions and lost the team’s only fumble on a sack by J.J. Watt. The 8-3 Titans are a team that doesn’t beat itself.
5. Green Bay Packers. (8) There have been 19 games this season that a quarterback has thrown at least four touchdown passes without committing any turnovers. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has five of them. Patrick Mahomes is next with three, followed by Matt Ryan, DeShaun Watson and Russell Wilson with two apiece. Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill have all done it once.
6. Seattle Seahawks (6) The hits are starting to pile up on QB Russell Wilson. He was sacked 51 times in 2018, a league-high 48 times in 2019 and he’s at 35 this season and counting. He’s been sacked 16 times in the last four games, including six by the Bills and five by the Rams. His offensive line has yet to keep him clean in a game this season and he’s on pace for a career-high 56 sacks.
7. Buffalo Bills. (9) The Bills may not have the best offense in the NFL but it ranks among the most creative…and entertaining. Quarterback Josh Allen leads the team with six rushing touchdowns and has also caught a TD pass. Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie have both thrown touchdown passes. Buffalo has as many style points on offense as actual points.
8. Cleveland Browns. (11) Jarvis Landry of the Browns and T.Y. Hilton of the Colts have gone to a combined nine Pro Bowls. But it took 11 weeks for each to find the end zone for the first time this season. Landry caught a five-yard TD pass on his 40th reception of the season in Cleveland’s victory over Jacksonville last weekend and Hilton caught a five-yarder on his 33rd reception of the season in Indianapolis’ loss to Tennessee.
9. Indianapolis Colts. (4) The Colts have returned a league-high three interceptions for touchdowns. When their ballhawks score, the Colts win. But Indianapolis isn’t unique to the NFL. There have been 21 interceptions returned for touchdowns league-wide this season and the teams scoring them have posted a combined 17-4 record in those games.
10. Los Angeles Rams. (5) The Rams have allowed the second fewest yards and the fourth fewest points in the NFL this season. But that defense would be even better statistically if the L.A. offense was a bit less generous. Opponents have returned three Ram turnovers – an interception and two fumbles – for touchdowns. Subtract those 21 points and the Rams rank second in scoring defense at 194 points. Los Angeles is one of only four teams that has allowed three defensive scores and it’s company the Rams don’t want to keep -- the 0-10 Jets, 3-8 Cowboys and 4-7 Lions.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (10) Tom Brady has never thrown more than 14 interceptions in a season – and the last time he did that was 15 years ago. But he has 11 interceptions through 12 games this season, including four in the last two games. Worse, Brady has thrown nine of his 11 interceptions at home. The only game in six in Tampa that Brady didn’t thrown an interception was Green Bay in October when Brady threw a season-low 27 passes in a 38-10 blowout of the Packers.
12. Miami Dolphins. (15) Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback his NFL employers have always tried to replace. A seventh-round draft pick from Harvard, Fitzpatrick has bounced around to eight teams over his 16 seasons providing quality service. His two touchdown passes last weekend filling in for the injured Tua Tagovailoa pushed his career count to 222. That’s more than Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Kurt Warner, Ken Stabler and Bob Griese. He needs 10 more to catch Steve Young for 15 more to catch Jim Kelly.
13. Arizona Cardinals. (12) Want to know how to beat the Cardinals? Keep QB Kyler Murray out of the end zone. Murray has rushed for 10 touchdowns this season. That leads all quarterbacks and ranks ninth among all players. He has rushed for at least one touchdown in eight of Arizona’s 11 games. The 6-5 Cardinals have lost all three games that Murray failed to rush for a score, including the last two weekends at Seattle and New England.
14. Las Vegas Raiders. (13) Interceptions haven’t been a problem for Derek Carr this season. He has only thrown four in 348 passes over 11 games. But oh those fumbles… Carr has lost a league-high eight fumbles, including three in last weekend’s blowout loss to the Falcons. He has fumbled a league-high 11 times but the Raiders were able to recover three of them.
15. Baltimore Ravens. (14) The NFL had never seen a weapon the likes of Lamar Jackson last season when he threw a league-leading 36 touchdown passes and set a quarterback rushing record with 1,206 yards and seven more scores. But some of the best coaching comes on the defensive side of the ball. Once they get a player on tape and figure him out, the game changes. That tape study last offseason has allowed NFL defenses to figure out how to defend Jackson and there will be no encore of his MVP season. He ranks 19th in TD passes with 15 and his rushing yards are also dramatically down. Jackson has 426 yards, which puts on pace for almost half of what he rushed for last season (681 yards).
16. Minnesota Vikings. (16) Rookie WR Justin Jefferson has caught five touchdown passes and they’ve all come at home at U.S. Bank Stadium. He’ll have the chance to add to his total this week when the Vikings host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
17. New England Patriots. (17) Watching the 2020 Patriots must be a cultural shock for their fans. This was once a franchise that lived by the forward pass with Tom Brady firing away from the pocket. But the current Patriots have won five games this season and Brady’s successor Cam Newton has thrown only two touchdowns total in those victories. He passed for just 84 yards last weekend in New England’s victory over Arizona. Brady usually had that in the first quarter.
18. San Francisco 49ers. (21) Santa Clara County has evicted the 49ers for at least the next three weeks because of stricter COVID restrictions. That means no practice or games in the Bay Area. The 49ers are scheduled to play the next two games at home against Buffalo and Washington – but those games now will be played in suburban Phoenix. That’s not altogether a bad thing. The 49ers are 1-4 at home this season but 4-2 on the road. Only two teams in the NFL have won more road games than the 49ers – the 10-0 Steelers and 10-1 Chiefs. Now San Francisco has added two more road games.
19. Carolina Panthers. (19) D.J. Moore is having a spectacular season but no one has noticed because the Panthers are muddling along at 4-8. Moore leads the NFL with an average of 18.5 yards per catch. His 50 receptions have covered 924 yards. His four touchdowns have covered 74, 57, 24 and 7 yards. As explosive as Tyreek Hill has been for the Chiefs, he’s only averaging 15 yards playing catch with the best quarterback in football.
20. Washington. (26) Washington is receiving quite the return on its investment from third-round draft pick Antonio Gibson. He won the starting running back job coming out of training camp in what loomed as a rebuilding year with an infusion of youth. But his legs have powered Washington to first place in the NFC East heading into December. Gibson has scored touchdowns in five consecutive games, eight in all during that stretch. He now has 11 touchdowns on the season.
21. Houston Texans. (22) 4-7 DeShaun Watson has passed for 300 yards in four of his last six games. More importantly, he hasn’t committed a turnover in the last six games. That’s a streak of 210 consecutive passes without an interception. Watson has passed for 300-plus yards each of his last two outings against New England and Detroit for a combined six touchdowns to give the 4-7 Texans their first two-game winning streak of the season.
21. New York Giants. (24) The preseason prognosticators pegged the NFC East as a two-horse race between Dallas and Philadelphia. With new head coaches, both Washington and the New York Giants figured to spend the 2020 season rebuilding. But as the season steams in December, it’s Washington and New York surprisingly at the top of the division with 4-7 records with the 3-8 Cowboys and 3-7-1 Eagles surprisingly at the bottom.
22. Atlanta Falcons. (29) The Falcons are trudging along with a 4-7 record but, surprisingly, remain the only team in the NFC still unbeaten in interconference play. The Falcons are 2-0 with victories over Denver and Las Vegas but with games remaining at the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. The NFC has some catching up to do. The NFC trails the interconference series, 25-21, with 18 games remaining. Six AFC teams are still unbeaten in interconference play – Indianapolis at 4-0, Cleveland and Pittsburgh at 3-0 and Baltimore, Kansas City and Tennessee at 2-0.
24. Los Angeles Chargers. (23) Keenan Allen was among the NFL’s most productive receivers in 2019 catching passes from veteran Pro Bowl QB Philip Rivers, leading the AFC with 104 receptions for 1,199 yards and six touchdowns. But he’s one track to become an even better receiver catching passes this season from rookie Justin Herbert. Allen has caught a touchdown pass in each of his last five games and now has seven on the season. He’s also on pace for a career-high 129 receptions for 1,336 yards.
25. Chicago Bears. (18) At 5-6, the Bears are still in the playoff hunt because of their schedule. Chicago’s next four games are all against teams with losing records – home against 4-7 Detroit and 4-7 Houston, then on the road at 5-6 Minnesota and 1-10 Jacksonville. Win those four and getting to 9-6 would make the season finale at home against Green Bay meaningful.
26. Denver Broncos. (20) The Broncos have started a league-high four different quarterbacks in 11 games and that lack of continuity shows on offense. They have committed a league-high 26 turnovers. Twenty of them have come from the quarterback position – Drew Lock 12, Brett Rypien four, Jeff Driskel 2 and Kendall Hinton 2. But Hinton’s two are excusable. A wide receiver by trade, he was forced to serve as the emergency quarterback last weekend against New Orleans while the other three quarterbacks were in a COVID quarantine.
27. Philadelphia Eagles. (27) The Eagles traded for Pro Bowl cornerback Darius “Big Play” Slay last offseason looking for just that – big plays. But they haven’t happened. The Eagles have intercepted a league-low three passes this season and Slay is still looking for his first. This from a corner who as recently as 2017 led the NFL in interceptions with eight when he played for the Detroit Lions.
28. Detroit Lions. (28) Bill Belichick’s coaching tree is taking a beating. Bill O’Brien was fired by the Houston Texans in October and Matt Patricia by the Detroit Lions in November. They follow in the footsteps of Belichick proteges Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels who were all hired and fired as NFL head coaches and Charlie Weis who was fired as the head coach at both Notre Dame and Kansas. Belichick still has two former assistants with NFL employment as head coaches, Brian Flores at the Dolphins and Joe Judge at the Giants.
29. Dallas Cowboys. (25) The opposition has cashed 11 short-field gifts from the Cowboys -- turnovers plus fake punts & 4th-down fails on the Dallas side of the 50 -- into 65 points. Tack on 14 points on interceptions and fumble returns for TDs in two more short fields ... plus six points on three safeties. That's 85 points in gifts from the Dallas offense and special teams to their opponents. It’s little wonder the Cowboys have allowed the most points in the NFL this season at 359.
30. Cincinnati Bengals. (30) The Bengals rank 24th in the NFL in offense and aren’t in a position to give away yardage. But Cincinnati has done just that in this 2-8-1 season. The Bengals were competitive with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow in the pocket – but they just couldn’t protect him. Cincinnati has allowed an AFC-leading 38 sacks this season for an NFL-leading 283 yards. That’s almost three full football fields of free yardage for your opponents. Even Cincinnati’s Super Bowl QBs Ken Anderson or Boomer Esiason would struggle to overcome that.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars. (31) The Jaguars have started turning the page on the 2020 season by firing general manager David Caldwell following the team’s 10th consecutive defeat. He had been the team’s general manager since 2013 and presided over the rise of the Jaguars to AFC runnerup in 2017 … to this rapid decline (1-10) as the team shed high-priced talents Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue and Leonard Fournette.
32. New York Jets. (32) There are two questions left to be resolved from the 2020 season of the Jets. First, can the Jets become the third team in history to go 0-16? Second, where will QB Sam Darnold play next season? The Jets have positioned themselves for the first overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft and their choice of quarterbacks in what looms as a strong quarterback draft. That would make Darnold expendable … and he’s still young enough to salvage his career if his next team provides him a better supporting cast. The Jets rank last in offense and 28th in defense. Joe Namath would have struggled with this bunch.