NFL Power Rankings: The Johnny Manziel Bump


Dec 13, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns got a big bump in the weekly NFL power rankings thanks to Johnny Manziel and a win over the San Francisco 49ers.

What a difference a week makes in the NFL.

The Cleveland Browns rolled over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday behind a dominant defense, a powerful running game and a solid performance from quarterback Johnny Manziel.

“It was a great feeling to come into the building this morning after a solid team win – long time coming,” head coach Mike Pettine said on Monday. “As I said yesterday, offensively and defensively, that was as complete a game that we could have asked for. Still some things to continue to correct, but just overall, very proud of the way we pushed through it, the way we competed.

“Overall, (Johnny) made good decisions, was accurate with the football and when he could stay in the pocket, he did and made plays, and there were times – we all saw – he has that special ability to extend the play and was able to do that numerous times with solid success.”

It may been just one game, but the win gave the Browns a big bump in the weekly NFL power rankings.

Elliott Harrison at (26, up 6):

"Why did Cleveland move so high (well, at least for the Browns)? a) They stomped the 49ers, who beat both the Falcons and Ravens, on Sunday. b) Far more importantly, the Browns found a viable quarterback, unlike the Cowboys’ and Ravens’ backups. c) They’re not the Falcons, who have functioned more like Mylanta than Atlanta lately. d) The defense posted nine sacks Sunday. (Cincinnati No. 9, Pittsburgh No. 5, Baltimore No. 30)"

Frank Schwab at Yahoo Sports (30, up 2):

"The Johnny Manziel situation has the chance to get interesting. Manziel has played well his past two starts. At least well enough that if he does that a few more times, you wouldn’t want to throw out a first-round pick next offseason and start over. But the Browns could also be getting a new general manager and head coach if they decide to clean house. If you tell candidates for those jobs that they’re going to have Manziel as their starting quarterback, will that limit the pool? Or, will a new head coach/general manager combination get free reign and dump Manziel no matter what happens these last three games? (Cincinnati No. 5, Pittsburgh No. 7, Baltimore No. 32)"

Sean Tomlinson at Bleacher Report (29, up 3):

"The Cleveland Browns don’t occupy the basement in these rankings for at least one week. This will shock you, but any hope the franchise has of climbing up the real standings seems to rest with quarterback Johnny Manziel."

"Or maybe it doesn’t, and Manziel won’t ever fully mature as an NFL passer. But Sunday we saw a quarterback capable of moving an offense forward while making critical throws when needed, completing three 20-plus yard heaves to ignite a downfield passing attack."

"Manziel’s impact in that regard can be seen in the spiking production of Browns wide receiver Brian Hartline. Prior to Week 14 Hartline was averaging 37.8 receiving yards per game. Sunday he caught eight balls for 107 yards. (Cincinnati No. 8, Pittsburgh No. 9, Baltimore No. 30)"

FanSided (30, up 2):

"There was a lot of attention on the Cleveland Browns heading into their Sunday showdown against the lowly San Francisco 49ers, mainly because of who was the man under center running the show. Johnny Manziel made his return to the starting lineup, and all things considered, he didn’t do all that bad. Manziel threw for 270 yards with one touchdown and one interception on that San Francisco defense, surprising some."

"The other story from this one was Isaiah Crowell torching the 49ers defense for 145 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. This was one of the better performances of the youngster’s career, and he will be a viable asset to this offense moving forward."

"Speaking of moving forward, despite the nice 24-10 win, this Browns team still has a lot to get fixed. At 3-10 on the year following this win, while it was a nice victory to have, this team is still in shambles. We have seen what happens when Manziel plays a competent defense, so no one should be blinded by what they saw on Sunday."

"Still, for as miserable as this season has been for the 49ers, this was a nice confidence-boosting win for a team that could have really used one as we move through the month of December here. (Cincinnati No. 6, Pittsburgh No. 9, Baltimore No. 31)"

Pete Prisco at CBS Sports (28, up 4):

"Johnny Manziel impressed in his start against the 49ers. Can he keep that up? (Cincinnati No. 5, Pittsburgh No. 8, Baltimore No. 32)"

ESPN (32, no change):

"Johnny Manziel is 2-2 as a starter this season, and in his past two games, he has completed 71.1 percent of his passes with an average of 321 yards. (Cincinnati No. 4, Pittsburgh No. 6, Baltimore No. 29)"