NFL Power Rankings – Week 14: A late breakout candidate for each team

The NFL Power Rankings are selected by a panel of RunSportBet’s football editors.

With the home stretch of the season upon us, we’re identifying one player on each team who could enjoy a late breakout.

1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2)

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Previous Rank: 1

Marquise Brown has produced some big plays during his rookie year, but “Hollywood” hasn’t been consistent. Of his six touchdowns, four have come in two games, and he hasn’t exceeded 90 receiving yards since Week 1. But the speedster could be the ultimate X-factor in the playoffs.

2. Seattle Seahawks (10-2)

Previous Rank: 3

His most productive days are likely behind him, but Josh Gordon can still be a difference-maker for a Seahawks offense that looks to stretch the field vertically more often than the Patriots, his previous team.

3. San Francisco 49ers (10-2)

Previous Rank: 2

Deebo Samuel has emerged as Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite outside receiver. With nearly a full season of experience under his belt, the South Carolina product may be close to exploding onto national radars.

4. New Orleans Saints (10-2)

Previous Rank: 4

Michael Thomas leads the league in receptions and yards by a wide margin (1,290 yards on 110 catches), and a second Saints receiver needs to lighten his load. Tre’Quan Smith is finally healthy, and he’s the likely candidate to serve as Thomas’ sidekick.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)

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Previous Rank: 7

The Chiefs need a complementary option alongside LeSean McCoy for the postseason, but Damien Williams and Darrel Williams are both averaging under four yards per carry. Darwin Thompson took a season-high 11 handoffs against the Raiders on Sunday, which is a potential sign of things to come.

6. Houston Texans (8-4)

Previous Rank: 9

Claimed off waivers in mid-November, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves has been thrown into the fire in Houston, primarily drawing slot responsibilities. His coverage grades have improved over two games with the Texans, and he’ll likely receive tougher matchups as Houston pushes toward the playoffs.

7. New England Patriots (10-2)

Previous Rank: 5

New England will attempt to jolt a struggling offense, and Jakobi Meyers appears poised for an increase in receiving opportunities. Meyers ranks second on the Patriots with 16 targets over the last two weeks, and the rookie could feast on weak pass defenses in December.

8. Green Bay Packers (9-3)

Previous Rank: 8

A wideout other than Davante Adams needs to step up for Green Bay’s passing offense to get hot down the stretch. Allen Lazard notched a career-high 103 receiving yards in Week 13, and his big-play skills could provide a spark.

9. Minnesota Vikings (8-4)

Previous Rank: 6

Minnesota will need Dalvin Cook healthy to be a Super Bowl contender. His injury issues resurfaced on Monday Night Football, so the Vikings could give Alexander Mattison more work in an effort to keep Cook fresh.

10. Buffalo Bills (9-3)

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Previous Rank: 10

Ed Oliver announced his presence on the big stage Thursday with two sacks against the Cowboys. The ninth overall pick in 2019 is finally hitting his stride, accumulating four sacks over his last three games while displaying the explosion that helped him thrive in college.

11. Tennessee Titans (7-5)

Previous Rank: 12

His debut season in Nashville was quiet to start, but now 2019 free-agent signee Adam Humphries has scored in two of the Titans’ past three games. He’s still not receiving a large target volume, but he should become a safety net for Ryan Tannehill with his reliable hands.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

Previous Rank: 15

Second-year wideout James Washington recorded the first 100-plus-yard game of his career in the Steelers’ win over the Browns on Sunday. With the far more aggressive Devlin Hodges now under center, Washington’s downfield abilities should be better utilized over the final month.

13. Los Angeles Rams (7-5)

Previous Rank: 16

Todd Gurley has been given 20-plus touches in two of his last three games, the only times this year he’s hit that number. The Rams need to ride Gurley if they’re going to make a playoff push. His arthritic knee is believed to be the reason for Gurley’s conservative usage so far in 2019.

14. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)

Previous Rank: 11

The Cowboys should feature Michael Gallup heavily to reverse their recent offensive struggles. He averaged 17.4 yards per catch in November, and ought to see more playmaking opportunities with recent injuries slowing Amari Cooper.

15. Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

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Previous Rank: 14

Jonathan Williams‘ breakout has begun. His time replacing an injured Marlon Mack started with recording back-to-back 100-plus-yard rushing performances. The Colts went away from Williams on Sunday, resulting in just 82 rushing yards for the team. As long as Mack is sidelined, Williams should be the focal point of Indianapolis’ running game.

16. Chicago Bears (6-6)

Previous Rank: 20

The regression of Chicago’s passing attack has impacted Anthony Miller more than most. But the sophomore receiver has bounced back lately, racking up 20 catches for 371 yards over his last three games. His role could continue to grow with Taylor Gabriel still in the concussion protocol.

17. Oakland Raiders (6-6)

Previous Rank: 13

The Raiders are high on cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who moved into the starting lineup when Gareon Conley was traded. The rookie momentarily recorded his second career interception against the Chiefs on Sunday before replay led to a pass interference call against a teammate.

18. Cleveland Browns (5-7)

Previous Rank: 17

Kareem Hunt has already secured a notable role over four games since returning from a suspension. While the Browns will still give the dynamic Nick Chubb more touches, Hunt could reward them if he gets extra carries.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

Previous Rank: 18

Few weapons are stepping up for Carson Wentz, who may need to rely more on the steady Dallas Goedert during the final quarter of the season. Goedert ranks second on the team in targets and receptions over the last five weeks, and he’s averaging 7.1 yards after the catch per reception – the third-best mark among tight ends.

20. Carolina Panthers (5-7)

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Previous Rank: 19

Greg Olsen suffered a concussion Sunday on a hard hit, opening the door for Ian Thomas to carry the mail as the Panthers’ primary tight end for the remainder of this lost season.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)

Previous Rank: 22

First-round pick Devin White started slowly, but now he’s ascending. He recorded a 13-tackle game in Week 11, and on Sunday grabbed his first interception and broke the game open with a scoop-and-score touchdown.

22. Los Angeles Chargers (4-8)

Previous Rank: 21

Adrian Phillips, who was activated from the injured reserve before Week 13, will improve the Chargers’ secondary. However, his greatest impact will be on special teams, where he earned All-Pro honors in 2018.

23. Denver Broncos (4-8)

Previous Rank: 28

Drew Lock gets four more games to show the Broncos he can be their quarterback of the future. The youngster tossed a pair of touchdown passes in his regular-season debut against the Chargers.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)

Previous Rank: 24

Rookie defensive back Andrew Wingard drew his first career start in Week 13 and responded with a sack and a forced fumble. With the Jaguars’ season done, he’ll be one of many looking to make an impression and earn a spot on next year’s roster.

25. Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1)

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Previous Rank: 25

Kenyan Drake has fizzled in recent weeks, so it’s time for Arizona to give David Johnson another chance as the team’s featured back. Johnson will need to empty his tank over the next four weeks to avoid being released from his three-year, $39-million contract.

26. Miami Dolphins (3-9)

Previous Rank: 29

After a year-and-a-half of disappointment, Mike Gesicki is finally displaying the tools that made him a coveted draft prospect. The tight end has scored the first two touchdowns of his career over the Dolphins’ past two games, utilizing his elite athleticism and jump-ball abilities to beat defenders.

27. New York Jets (4-8)

Previous Rank: 23

Quinnen Williams played arguably his most complete game to date during New York’s Week 13 loss to the Bengals. With ideal matchups on the horizon, the former Alabama star will likely continue his stretch of stout run defense while improving as a pass-rusher.

28. Atlanta Falcons (3-9)

Previous Rank: 27

The Falcons will likely reinstate rookie guard Chris Lindstrom from the injured reserve soon. If activated, the No. 14 overall pick will be a welcome addition to an offensive line that allowed Matt Ryan to be sacked nine times on Thanksgiving.

29. Washington Redskins (3-9)

Previous Rank: 31

Dwayne Haskins played his best game as a pro against the Panthers on Sunday, but Derrius Guice paced Washington’s offense. Guice has created a chunk play in two of his last three games since returning from injury in Week 11 (a 45-yard reception and a 60-yard carry). He’s destined for more touches after averaging 12.9 yards per carry in Week 13.

30. Detroit Lions (3-8-1)

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Previous Rank: 26

The Lions have been searching for a power running back, and Bo Scarborough fits the mold. His carries have increased each game over the past three weeks (from 14 to 18 to 21), a sign he’ll likely be locked into a major role to end the year.

31. New York Giants (2-10)

Previous Rank: 30

Daniel Jones could be set for a hot streak despite a recent bout with turnovers. The rookie quarterback will close out the season against four burnable pass defenses: Eagles (twice), Redskins, and Dolphins.

32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11)

Previous Rank: 32

Andy Dalton is back under center with renewed motivation after his brief benching. The Bengals’ aerial attack will be more explosive with Dalton, and if A.J. Green doesn’t return, wideout Alex Erickson should be in line for a ton more work.