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NFL Week 16 Power Rankings

NFL Week 16 Power Rankings

NFL Week 16 Power RankingsIf Week 16 brought football fans nothing else, it brought debate that will carry into the offseason about how the rules are set up in the league. Some will call me a salty Pittsburgh fan, and that’s not totally inaccurate, but the catch rule is just a mess. It shouldn’t be this hard for everyone involved. There are also quite a few folks who believe that fumbling out of the end zone should not result in the loss of possession. The playoff picture is starting to get really interesting, especially from a seeding standpoint.

My NFL Power rankings will likely cause some ruffled feathers again this week. I try to roll track record, expected performance and the past week equally. Head to head victories is not always the most important thing. The Giants beat the Chiefs earlier and are nowhere near them in the ranks, and they shouldn’t be. With that in mind, let’s get to work!

Minnesota Vikings

Power Ranking: 1

  • Record: 11-3
  • Previous Rank: 5
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Cincinnati Bengals, 34-7
  • Week 16: at Green Bay Packers

They may not have played the stiffest competition, but the Vikings got right back on track after their loss last week in Carolina. The defense swarmed the Bengals all day long, and the offense was effective. It got to the point where fans got to see Teddy Bridgewater back on the football field in what had to be the best moment of the day. The Vikings continue to fly somewhat under the radar but their defense is nasty, and the offense is well-balanced. Anyone of their playmakers can kill you on any given week and quarterback Case Keenum is doing a nice job of just distributing the ball and taking what’s available. The Vikings have won the NFC North and still could capture the number one seed in the NFC.

Los Angeles Rams

Power Ranking: 2

  • Record: 10-4
  • Previous Rank: 6
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Seattle Seahawks, 42-7
  • Week 16: at Tennessee Titans

This game certainly didn’t play out the way most thought. It’s not that the Rams can’t beat any team in the NFL, it was that they walked into Seattle and utterly destroyed everything in sight. Jared Goff deserves all the praise he’s gotten for his turnaround, but running back Todd Gurley should be in the MVP conversation. He’s an absolute stud and has buried any questions about how talented he is. For whatever reason, the Rams defense always seems to give Russell Wilson issues. That probably has something to do with defensive tackle Aaron Donald being dominant, but it’s quirky nonetheless. The Rams are in full control of the NFC West and will be a tough team to knock off in the postseason.

Philadelphia Eagles

Power Ranking: 3

  • Record: 12-2
  • Previous Rank: 2
  • Week 15 result: Win versus New York Giants, 34-29
  • Week 16: versus Oakland Raiders

At least for one week, quarterback Nick Foles eased some concerns about losing Carson Wentz to a torn ACL. Foles utilized the plethora of weapons at his disposal and threw for four touchdowns. It seems like running back Jay Ajayi is slowly staking his claim to the lead back role. He had the most carries and chipped in through the passing game as well. Philly got behind early, and it would be interesting to see him get 20-25 carries in this offense. Usually, teams don’t move down off a victory, but the defense has been a little leaky these past couple of weeks. That’s a troubling trend when a team is on their backup quarterback. This should mostly be brushed off as the Giants were looking to spoil their rivals season. Philly takes on the Raiders this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Power Ranking: 4

  • Record: 10-4
  • Previous Rank: 4
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Houston Texans, 45-7
  • Week 16: at San Francisco 49ers

He may not be doing it against excellent defenses, but quarterback Blake Bortles is officially red-hot. Its impressive considering receiver Allen Robinson hasn’t played at all, and they lost Marqise Lee early in this contest. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette was out again but Jacksonville didn’t miss him. The defense continues to play well. They have a desire to be perfect as evidenced by cornerback Jalen Ramsey being distraught on the sideline after giving up a touchdown. This came at a point when the Jags had the game comfortably in hand. Jacksonville has a real shot to finish at 12-4 and maybe even get a bye in the AFC playoffs. I’ll actually get bold here and say the Jaguars could beat New England in the playoffs. Their defense is the exact style that can make life tough on Brady. They can rush four or five and still cover on the back end.

New England Patriots

Power Ranking: 5

  • Record: 11-3
  • Previous Rank: 8
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-24
  • Week 16: versus Buffalo Bills

New England pulls ahead of the Steelers just barely because they are both flawed teams. The Patriots have some issues, but quarterback Tom Brady negates quite a few of them. He and tight end Rob Gronkowski were unstoppable on Sunday. Maybe one day the Steelers will figure out they can’t single cover him, but until they do, Gronk will always smash against Pittsburgh. Brady was a surgeon on what turned out to be the game-winning drive. The defense still has plenty to work on and it will be interesting to see this team in the postseason. They do not have the aura of invincibility they normally do at this stage of the season. It’s not unfair to suggest they easily could have lost this game.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Power Ranking: 6

  • Record: 11-3
  • Previous Rank: 1
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus New England Patriots, 27-24
  • Week 16: at Houston Texans

The most controversial call of the night came at the end of the Steelers game when it appeared that tight end Jesse James scored a touchdown in the waning seconds to win the game. It was overruled, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a game-ending interception two plays later. The Steelers also lost receiver Antonio Brown to a partially torn calf to wrap up a pretty rough day. One of the key differences turned out to be the Patriots being ready for a fire drill style play that the Steelers seemed to be confused. That’s on coaching every single time and is why Bill Belichick is the best in football. Regardless, the NFL has to clarify what a catch is. It’s not fair to fans and it’s not fair to the players and coaches to have fates decided the way it was on Sunday. It ruined what a fantastic game that featured some of the best players in the world playing at a high level.

Carolina Panthers

Power Ranking: 7

  • Record: 10-4
  • Previous Rank: 7
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Green Bay Packers, 31-24
  • Week 16: versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Panthers didn’t move up in the ranks because it sure would have been interesting to see what happened had the Packers not fumbled on their final drive. The biggest takeaway for Carolina is that tight end Greg Olsen looked all the way back from his foot injury. The trio of Olsen, receiver Devin Funchess and running back Christian McCaffrey are dangerous, especially when Cam Newton is playing well. They might be the quietest 10-4 team in the league but would be a tough out in the postseason. They also got a little lucky this week that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t at his best.

New Orleans

Power Ranking: 8

  • Record: 10-4
  • Previous Rank: 10
  • Week 15 result: Win versus New York Jets, 31-19
  • Week 16: versus Atlanta Falcons

Mark Ingram SaintsMany thought this game was going to be a blowout, but the Saints just couldn’t put the Jets away until very late in the game. The Saints offense was hampered by two Brandon Coleman fumbles and still put up 31 points. Granted, that’s a bit skewed by a long Mark Ingram at the end. It just shows how hard it is to keep this offense under wraps for 60 minutes. Up next is a rematch against the Atlanta Falcons and the Saints need to keep winning. They hold the tiebreaker over the Panthers and that could be the difference between a division title and the fifth seed in the conference.

Atlanta Falcons

Power Ranking: 9

  • Record:9-5
  • Previous Rank: 11
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-21
  • Week 16: versus New Orleans Saints

The Falcons control their own destiny at this point. If they win their next two games, they’ll take the NFC South Crown. Even with that in front of them, they just don’t feel like they’re playing all that well. Sure, running back Devonta Freeman destroyed the Buccaneers for almost 200 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Ryan looks just a hair off right now. His stats look fine if unspectacular but he missed quite a few throws he wasn’t missing last year. Receiver Julio Jones is so boom or bust anymore, it’s impossible to predict when he will be a big part of the gameplan. The Falcons ran quite a few plays with both Jones and Mohamed Sanu on the sideline which is odd. A huge rematch with the Saints is up this week.

Dallas Cowboys

Power Ranking: 10

  • Record: 8-6
  • Previous Rank: 12
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Oakland Raiders, 20-17
  • Week 16: versus Seattle Seahawks

Dallas ground out a pretty ugly victory in Oakland but a win is a win. They benefitted from another stupid NFL rule when Derek Carr fumbled through the end zone, giving Dallas the ball to run out the clock. It was a tough road, but they survived the Ezekiel Eliott suspension with playoff hopes intact. That was probably the best case scenario for the Dallas team and this weeks game against the Seahawks has massive playoff implications. Zeke has to be licking his chops after seeing Rams running back Todd Gurley eviscerate the Seattle defense. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why the Dallas staff doesn’t gameplan easy targets to Dez Bryant. It just makes no sense given how few options they have in the passing game.

Buffalo Bills

Power Ranking: 11

  • Record: 8-6
  • Previous Rank: 14
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Miami Dolphins, 24-16
  • Week 16: at New England Patriots

The Bills are still alive for a Wild Card berth after making Jay Cutler look like….well, Jay Cutler. The offense is certainly imperfect but quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy are making it work. They really could use a third option, be it tight end Charles Clay or receiver Kelvin Benjamin. This team seems like it’s playing pretty far above its head and it’s hard to see how they can go into New England to pull off an upset. Taylor would likely need to have one of the best games he’s ever had.

Baltimore Ravens

Power Ranking: 12

  • Record: 8-6
  • Previous Rank: 13
  • Week 15: Win versus Cleveland Browns, 27-10
  • Week 16: versus Indianapolis Colts

Baltimore took care of business on the road in Cleveland to the surprise of nobody. Their defense suffocated the Browns offense and caused some big turnovers. They didn’t miss cornerback Jimmy Smith but that likely won’t be the case when they face a competent offense. Baltimore has to be happy they still went over 25 points even though running back Alex Collins was totally shut down.Their receiving corps is going to be awfully thin if Jeremy Maclin misses time. They’ll continue their road to the playoffs against the Colts on Saturday.

Los Angeles Chargers

Power Ranking: 13

  • Record: 7-7
  • Previous Rank: 3
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Kansas City Chiefs, 30-13
  • Week 16: at New York Jets

In one of the biggest letdowns of the week, the Chargers went into Arrowhead and got smacked right in the mouth. They had a chance to take the lead in the AFC West and fell incredibly flat. They had come a long way from their 0-4 start but it appears that it will be too much to overcome. This team has a lot of potential and plenty of star power to make a run in the AFC in 2018. One thing that has to be on the docket has to be to draft a quarterback to groom behind Philip Rivers. Los Angeles travels to the Jets this week and they will have their hands full with the feisty New York team.

Detroit Lions

Power Ranking: 14

  • Record: 8-6
  • Previous Rank: 16
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Chicago Bears, 20-10
  • Week 16: at Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit kept their postseason hopes afloat by taking care of the Bears this past week. The Lions offense has gotten tight end Eric Ebron heavily involved the past two weeks and that could bring a new dimension for Matthew Stafford to take advantage of. The defense played well against the limited Bears offense but they’ll have a harder time against a good offense. Detroit could make the playoffs but would be a heavy underdog if they make it in. They should be able to get their ninth win of the season against the Bengals this week as they haven’t shown up these past couple weeks.

Seattle Seahawks

Power Ranking: 15

  • Record: 8-6
  • Previous Rank: 11
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Los Angeles Rams, 42-7
  • Week 16: at Dallas Cowboys

Seattle may have seen their season come crashing down this past week when the Rams came into their stadium and laid waste to the Seahawks. Not only did they get embarrassed on the field, their defense had a war of words after the game as well. Linebacker Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas went after each other in the media and on Twitter. That’s less than ideal when this team is facing a must-win spot this week in Dallas. Quarterback Russell Wilson saw his MVP candidacy take a huge hit this week and he always seems to struggle against the Rams. Their postseason hopes are on very thin ice.

Kansas City Chiefs

Power Ranking: 16

  • Record: 8-6
  • Previous Rank: 21
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Los Angeles Chargers, 30-13
  • Week 16: versus Miami Dolphins

Kansas City staked their claim to the division with a beatdown of the Chargers this week. It’s baffling why the Chiefs didn’t use running back Kareem Hunt more consistently this season. He’s been great when he’s been a focal point in the offense. The defense shut down quarterback Philip Rivers and receiver Keenan Allen, who had been one of the best combos in the NFL coming into the week. Kansas City has turned into a very difficult team to get a hold of on any given week. They’re Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde because you never know which team will show up. They do get a sweetheart matchup with the Dolphins this week.

San Francisco 49ers

Power Ranking: 17

  • Record: 4-10
  • Previous Rank: 24
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Tennessee Titans, 25-23
  • Week 16: versus Jacksonville Jaguars

Maybe this is a little high for a team with only four wins but the way they have played since quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has taken the reins has been impressive. He and coach Kyle Shanahan have formed an excellent combo and they don’t even have a lot of weapons yet. Garoppolo has been accurate and has dramatically improved their third down conversion rate. That’s helping keep the defense off the field and keeping the score close. The rebuild is on track right now and 49er fans have to be excited that it seems they have a quarterback to rely on moving forward. Kyle Shanahan versus Sean McVay is going to be a lot of fun in the NFC West.

Tennessee Titans

Power Ranking: 18

  • Record: 8-6
  • Previous Rank: 15
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus San Francisco 49ers, 25-23
  • Week 16: versus Los Angeles Rams

The flip side of this game featured a team that just hasn’t found their identity this season. The fact they opened this game as the underdog says a lot about how they are viewed around the league. Marcus Mariota played a little better in the second half of this game but it wasn’t enough to get the win. Without an effective running game, this offense won’t run very smoothly. They still have a shot at the postseason but might be the weakest team in the field if they make it. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them finish at 8-8 with games still left against the Rams and Jaguars.

Green Bay Packers

Power Ranking: 19

  • Record: 7-7
  • Previous Rank: 18
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Carolina Panthers, 31-24
  • Week 16: versus Minnesota Vikings

Aaron Rodgers played well for the most part but had 3 critical interceptions that ended up kneecapping Green Bay. Granted, the final fumble by receiver Geronimo Allison was the dagger but many teams can’t hang in games when they turn the ball over four times. Sitting at 7-7, Green Bay might now opt to sit Rodgers for the remaining two games. They have virtually no shot at the playoffs now and may not want to risk further injury to the franchise quarterback. Hopefully, Davante Adams makes a quick recovery after taking a horrible hit from linebacker Thomas Davis. It’s the second time this season that Adams has been on the wrong end of a brutal headshot.

Washington Redskins

Power Ranking: 20

  • Record: 6-8
  • Previous Rank: 22
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Arizona Cardinals, 20-15
  • Week 16: versus Denver Broncos

This win is a case of too little, too late for the Redskins. Washington is in an interesting spot headed into these last two games. They need to use this time to assess what they have headed for next year as they are likely closer than the record indicates. One area they need to address is receiver. Terrelle Pryor almost surely won’t be back and Josh Doctson has potential but has yet to live up to his promise. Jamison Crowder can’t be a number one option in an offense. The defense could use a hot in the arm but they have a solid core. If Washington decides to not bring back quarterback Kirk Cousins, they’ll need to find a solution quickly.

Arizona Cardinals

Power Ranking: 21

  • Record: 6-8
  • Previous Rank: 19
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Washington Redskins, 20-15
  • Week 16: versus New York Giants

So much for the Blaine Gabbert resurrection. Many folks(myself included) took notice when he was playing well out in the desert and thought he could spin this into another chance as a starter. He then imploded in Washington, making one mistake after another and has now been benched for Drew Stanton. That’s going to be tough to come back from. The end of the 2017 season can’t come soon enough for the Cardinals. They could be in for a quick turnaround with some healthy bodies next year.

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New York Jets

Power Ranking: 22

  • Record: 5-9
  • Previous Rank: 20
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus New Orleans Saints, 31-19
  • Week 16: versus Los Angeles Chargers

New York continues to be pesky and they fight every time out. Even without quarterback Josh McCown, they kept the came close against the powerhouse Saints until the very end. There’s still a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball to make a playoff team. One thing on their list has to be to rid themselves of defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. How many times does this guy have to disrespect the entire team before they just say enough? It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them hang with Chargers if not beat them outright.

Chicago Bears

Power Ranking: 23

  • Record: 4-10
  • Previous Rank: 21
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Detroit Lions, 20-10
  • Week 16: versus Cleveland Browns

Mitchell Trubisky probably wishes he could hit the fast-forward button to 2018 so he could have a real coach and at least one receiver to throw the ball to. John Fox is the new Jeff Fisher and while the turnaround in Chicago almost surely won’t be as quick as it was in Los Angeles, a difference in personnel and coaching could go a long way. Trubisky has shown flashes, but Kendall Wright and Benny Cunningham being on the field aren’t helping. The defense isn’t that bad but the team is dead in the water until they can actually have a threatening offense.

Cincinnati Bengals

Power Ranking: 24

  • Record: 5-9
  • Previous Rank: 23
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Minnesota Vikings, 34-7
  • Week 16: versus Detroit Lions

It was announced that Marvin Lewis would not return in 2018 and the Bengals took that news to mean they didn’t have to show up to work either. Granted, they didn’t show up last week and have now been outscored 67-14 their last two games. The defense is beyond injured but the effort from the whole team just isn’t there. One could argue that the Bengals should play A.J. McCarron at quarterback the rest of the way. This will be one of the more attractive jobs open this offseason as there is plenty of talent on the roster.

Oakland Raiders

Power Ranking: 25

  • Record: 6-8
  • Previous Rank: 22
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Dallas Cowboys, 20-17
  • Week 16: at Philadelphia Eagles

Oakland hasn’t been able to buy a break all season and that continued when Derek Carr fumbled out of the end zone to end the game Sunday night. They are one of the biggest disappointments of the season and one of the main factors has been the poor play from Carr himself. The passing game has been very bland and predictable all season. The defense was never expected to be very good and they might be the only unit to “live up” to what everyone thought. A big part of the 2018 season is how receiver Amari Cooper bounces back from his disaster of a season. He’s been ineffective and injured all year and the Raiders need him in a major way next year.

Denver Broncos

Power Ranking: 26

  • Record: 5-9
  • Previous Rank: 28
  • Week 15 result: Win versus Indianapolis Colts, 25-13
  • Week 16: at Washington Redskins

I don’t know how it happened, but quarterback Brock Osweiler looked like a real-life NFL quarterback in a relief appearance. He led the offense competently and one thing that helped was C.J. Anderson rushing for over 150 yards. Denver likely should have been giving him a few more carries considering their options at quarterback but it’s far too late for that now. It’s been a long season for the Broncos and they are no closer to solving their dilemma at the QB spot. They have a lot of pieces in place and a few smart additions could have this team right back in the playoff picture.

Indianapolis Colts

Power Ranking: 27

  • Record: 3-11
  • Previous Rank: 26
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Denver Broncos, 25-13
  • Week 16: at Baltimore Ravens

Ths loss to Denver took a backseat to all sorts of off the field news this week. First, it’s expected that Coach Chuck Pagano will not be brought back in 2018. That easily could have been done at least two seasons ago and it’s one of the least surprising outcomes of the year. Secondly, there are even more rumors about the health of quarterback Andrew Luck. He could be facing more surgery and possibly went against medical advice at some points this past season. It has to be exhausting as a Colts fan to not know what’s going on with the most important player in the franchise.

Miami Dolphins

Power Ranking: 28

  • Record: 6-8
  • Previous Rank: 27
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Buffalo Bills, 24-16
  • Week 16: at Kansas City Chiefs

One week after the Dolphins took down the Patriots, quarterback Jay Cutler regressed and threw three picks in Buffalo. The Miami offense was stuck in neutral for most of the day and even running back Kenyan Drake couldn’t get much going. Miami is going to face some tough choices this offseason. They really aren’t close enough to compete but also have more talent than a traditional rebuild. The likeliest outcome is they make a couple tweaks and give it another shot in 2018.

Houston Texans

Power Ranking: 29

  • Record: 4-10
  • Previous Rank: 27
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Jacksonville Jaguars, 45-7
  • Week 16: versus Pittsburgh Steelers

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins may have taken the mantle as the second best receiver behind Antonio Brown. He has managed to produce even in the most difficult matchups with very below average quarterback play. Just as a football fan, I can’t wait to see Hopkins team up with quarterback Deshaun Watson again next season. Side note to Jadeveon Clowney- it’s not a great look to call an opposing quarterback “Trash” after he helps hang 45 points and over 300 yards on you and your defense. Yes, they are banged up. Clowney should just keep his thoughts to himself.

New York Giants

Power Ranking: 30

  • Record: 2-12
  • Previous Rank: 31
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Philadelphia Eagles, 34-29
  • Week 16: at Arizona Cardinals

New York tried their best to spoil the end of the season for the Eagles, but it wasn’t meant to be this time around. The offense came to play and almost scored a touchdown at the very end of the game to snatch away a win. The nightmare of the season is almost over for the Giants and next week’s matchup in Arizona is only noteworthy for fantasy football.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Power Ranking: 31

  • Record: 4-10
  • Previous Rank: 29
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Atlanta Falcons, 24-21
  • Week 16: at Carolina Panthers

Full credit to quarterback Jameis Winston in this game. He played lights out and when he’s going good, he’s a top-flight player. He just doesn’t do it consistently enough and that’s why he takes his share of criticism. He threw for three touchdowns against the Falcons and that was in the face of losing DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard during the game. The Tampa defense actually limited the Falcons offense and Winston drove the Bucs to tey a long field goal to tie, but it didn’t happen on Monday. The Bucs will be on yet another new head coach once the season is over and whoever it is does have some exciting toys to play with on the offense.

Cleveland Browns

Power Ranking: 32

  • Record: 0-14
  • Previous Rank: 32
  • Week 15 result: Loss versus Baltimore Ravens, 27-10
  • Week 16: at Chicago Bears

Hue Jackson is 1-29 now as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. There are rumors that the Cincinnati Bengals could entertain thoughts about trying to trade for him this offseason. That’s a pretty fair summation of both of these franchises.

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