August 8, 2022

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If the NFL’s two best teams meet in Super Bowl LVI, it could be billed...

If the NFL’s two best teams meet in Super Bowl LVI, it could be billed as The Ghost of Kingsbury Past versus The Ghost of Kingsbury Present.
After all, what’s the tie between Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes?
It’s Kliff Kingsbury, who dreamed of coaching Murray when they both were in the Big 12 Conference and got the shot when he became head coach of the Cardinals just before making Murray the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Of course, Kingsbury’s tenure as Texas Tech head coach included overseeing the development of Mahomes, who already is a NFL MVP and a Super Bowl MVP.
Murray and Mahomes have never met in a NFL regular-season game, so what a great stage a Super Bowl would make for their head-to-head debut. Here are ’s power rankings for Week 15:

1. Kansas City Chiefs, 9-4 (2)
How many more examples do we need across sports to know that it is a bad idea to stomp on the opponent’s logo? Fueled by disrespect from the Raiders, the Chiefs jumped out to a 35-0 lead and posted the largest margin of victory (39 points) in a series that has been played 126 times.
2. Arizona Cardinals, 10-3 (1)
Turnovers are a killer. So, it didn’t matter that the Cardinals racked up 447 yards on the Rams because they committed the game’s only two turnovers in a 30-23 loss. Also, when the Cardinals needed a yard – on a fourth-and-1 late in the fourth quarter – they couldn’t get it. Squandered chance to clinch a playoff berth. 
3. New England Patriots, 9-4 (3) 
If the Patriots win out, they get the AFC’s No. 1 seed and only bye. And they will have earned it because it means coming off last week’s bye to beat the Colts, Bills for a second time, Jaguars and the surging Dolphins. Mac Jones (probably) will have to throw more than three passes in those games.
4. Green Bay Packers, 10-3 (4)        
The Packers trailed 24-14 after the Bears’ Jakeem Grant had the NFL’s first punt return touchdown of the season. From there, the score was 31-0 in favor of the Packers, though it might have been closer if not for two bad breaks on special teams recoveries by the Bears. Aaron Rodgers improved to 22-5 all-time in the rivalry.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 10-3 (5)
What a way for Tom Brady to throw his 700th career touchdown pass (including the playoffs). After his old rival Bills clawed back from a 21-point halftime deficit against the Buccaneers’ top-ranked defense, Brady hit Breshard Perriman – about No. 10 on the Buccaneers’ most-dangerous weapons list – for a 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown in overtime.

6. Los Angeles Rams, 9-4 (6)
The Rams evened the season series with the Cardinals and beat a team with a current winning record for the first time since the Buccaneers in Week 3. Good things come in threes: Like Matthew Stafford’s touchdown passes and Aaron Donald’s sacks in a perception-changing road win. Cooper Kupp had another 13 catches. 
7. Tennessee Titans, 9-4 (8)
The defense accounted for three sacks and four interceptions plus forced four holding calls against the Jaguars. The result was the Titans’ first home shutout since 2000. Julio Jones was the first star to return to the injury-plagued Titans. D’Onta Foreman scored his first rushing touchdown in four years while Derrick Henry is out.
8. Dallas Cowboys, 9-4 (10)
One year after playing historically bad defense, the Cowboys have a shot at winning Defensive Player of the Year (Trevon Diggs) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Micah Parsons) – if Parsons doesn’t win both awards. Head coach Mike McCarthy guaranteed a win over Washington and the Cowboys held on after a 24-0 lead shrunk to 27-20.
9. Los Angeles Chargers, 8-5 (11)
A total domination of the Giants included the Throw of the Week, when a scrambling Justin Herbert launched a 59-yard touchdown strike just as his legs were wrapped up. Herbert is the first player to throw 30 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons. The Chargers have a one-game lead over all the other AFC wild card hopefuls.
Justin Herbert celebrates his 59-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Guyton.AP
10. Indianapolis Colts, 7-6 (12)
Entering Sunday, the offensive touchdown total was tied at 18-18 between the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor and the entire Giants’ low-scoring offense. Alas, the Giants now have a three-score lead after Taylor was stuck on a bye week. Carson Wentz (22 touchdowns, five interceptions) isn’t getting enough credit for his bounce-back season.
11. Baltimore Ravens, 8-5 (7)
12. Buffalo Bills, 7-6 (9)
13. San Francisco 49ers, 7-6 (16)
14. Cincinnati Bengals, 7-6 (13)
15. Cleveland Browns, 7-6 (19)
16. Denver Broncos, 7-6 (18)
17. Washington Football Team, 6-7 (15)
18. Miami Dolphins, 6-7 (20)
19. Minnesota Vikings, 6-7 (22)
20. Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-6-1 (14)
21. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-7 (17)
22. Philadelphia Eagles, 6-7 (21)

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23. Atlanta Falcons, 6-7 (23)
24. Seattle Seahawks, 5-8 (24)
25. New Orleans Saints, 6-7 (26)
26. New York Giants, 4-9 (25)
The Giants are 22-55 over the last five seasons, 19-42 in general manager Dave Gettleman’s four seasons and 10-19 in coach Joe Judge’s two seasons. The formula for staying competitive – relying on defense and special teams to overcome a woeful offense – broke down against the Chargers, who haven’t lost to the Giants since 1998. 
27. Carolina Panthers, 5-8 (27)
28. Chicago Bears, 4-9 (28)
29. New York Jets, 3-10 (29)
It was a formality, but the Jets officially will not be in the playoffs for the 11th straight season. Without Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Michael Carter and others, the Jets fielded a JV offense and played like it as Ty Johnson dropped three passes and Denzel Mims committed consecutive drive-killing penalties in a loss to the Saints.
Ty Johnson had three drops in the Jets’ 30-9 loss to the Saints.Robert Sabo
30. Houston Texans, 2-11 (30)
31. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-11 (31)
32. Detroit Lions, 1-11-1 (32)

 

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