NFL Power Rankings Week 13
Mackenzie Salmon chats risers and fallers in this weeks NFL power rankings.
This Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium features two teams in the AFC basement: the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots. It’s the anti-game of the week as both teams are at the bottom of the conference. Normally, this is where the story would end, but if both franchises were smart, it could be just the start of something special.
What if the Chargers and Patriots used each other this offseason to move their respective franchises forward and usher in a new direction?
If the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick don’t mutually decide to part ways, the Chargers could attempt to trade for him. Teams have traded for head coaches in the past, most recently the Denver Broncos acquired Sean Payton from the New Orleans Saints for draft picks.
We don’t know the exact terms of Belichick’s contract. Is it possible a trade isn’t allowed under the terms of it? Maybe. But if not, the Chargers should strongly consider it.
This isn’t a crazy scenario, with one longtime NFL journalist recently predicting this exact situation.
“They’re not going to fire Bill Belichick, they’re going to trade Bill Belichick,” ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said. “They have the rights to Bill Belichick, so this is the big decision.”
Belichick’s exit would officially begin a much-needed new chapter in New England. If Belichick lands in Los Angeles, it will give a talented Chargers roster that’s struggled to win big games a distinguished head coach with a Super Bowl pedigree. Furthermore, Belichick would get a real chance to become the NFL’s winningest head coach.
Belichick’s 331 total career wins (including playoffs) ranks second all-time. Belichick, 71, is just 17 victories away from surpassing Don Shula (347) to becoming the winningest head coach in NFL history. He seemingly won’t get to that mark based off the currently trajectory of the Patriots.
The team that won six Super Bowl titles within a 20-year span is still dealing with the residual effects of the post-Tom-Brady era. Future Hall of Fame coach Belichick is the biggest foundational holdover from New England’s golden era. But the Patriots’ rebuild is in the midst of a delay due to quarterback Mac Jones’ regression.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL over the last decade in Keenan Allen, and a defense that entered the season with the third highest payroll in the NFL, according to OverTheCap.com, which tracks teams’ salary cap usage.
Despite talent on both sides of the football, the Chargers are 1-5 against teams .500 or better this season. Los Angeles has lost five games by three points or less when no other team has lost more than two of such games, and the defensive unit ranks last in total defense and against the pass.
Both the Patriots and Chargers need a fresh start and a change of direction in leadership.
The Patriots signed Belichick to a contract extension this past offseason. However, rumors are swirling that the two sides could mutually decide to part ways after another disappointing campaign. Or the Patriots could trade Belichick to a team with a head coaching vacancy.
That’s where the Chargers come in. It’s hard to imagine Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco keep their jobs after a lackluster Chargers season that will likely end at the conclusion of Week 18.
“The Chargers make sense for a million different reasons,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer said on the This Is Football podcast. “If they are looking for relevance in Los Angeles in a market where it’s really tough to get relevance. Is this like the Lakers hiring Phil Jackson? That to me would make some sense.”
Staley seems to know his situation is tenuous. He lashed out at a reporter who asked about it after the Chargers were shredded by the Lions for 41 points in Week 10 and then in Week 11 allowed Packers quarterback Jordan Love, who had struggled for much of the season, to throw a career-high 322 passing yards and two touchdowns.
“I have full confidence in our way of playing,” Staley said. “Full confidence in myself as the play-caller, in the way that we teach, in the way that we scheme. Full confidence in that. We’ve got to bring this group together and do it consistently.”
He added: “You can stop asking that question. I’m going to be calling the defenses, so we’re clear. So you don’t have to ask that again.”
Maybe the next question should be for Chargers owner Dean Spanos. The Chargers franchise has never won a Super Bowl. Would it behoove the organization to strongly consider a man with six Super Bowl rings as a head coach?
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on X @TheTylerDragon.