NFL Power Rankings Week 17, 2016

tom-brady-deflate-gateBoth the AFC and NFC playoff pictures are much clearer now. But there are still things that need to be sorted out, including the final Wild Card team in the NFC, and seeding in the AFC.

Let’s discuss this along with where teams rank heading into the final week of the regular season. Also, take a look at last week’s power rankings here.

1. Dallas Cowboys (13-2); beat Detroit 42-21, same spot – Even with the NFC’s No. 1 seed wrapped up, Dallas has no plans to rest starters Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott.

2. New England Patriots (13-2); beat NY Jets 41-3, same spot – Despite being a game better than everybody else in the AFC, New England still needs a win or a Raiders loss to clinch the No. 1 seed.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5); beat Baltimore 31-27, up 1 spot – One of our Super Bowl favorites to start the year, Pittsburgh is playing like it now. A big reason why is Le’Veon Bell, who’s racked up almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage in just 13 games.

tyreek-hill-chiefs4. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4); beat Denver 33-10, up 2 spots – Receiver Tyreek Hill has emerged as a dangerous threat to catch or run the ball. He’s helped make the Chiefs more than just a defensive team.

5. Oakland Raiders (12-3); beat Indianapolis 33-25, down 2 spots – While the Raiders can still gain the AFC’s top seed with a win and a New England loss, their Super Bowl odds took a huge hit after losing Derek Carr.

6. New York Giants (10-5); lost to Philadelphia 24-19, down 1 spot – New York is in the playoffs, but they would’ve liked to make it with a victory over their rivals.

7. Atlanta Falcons (10-5); beat Carolina 33-16, same spot – Atlanta wraps up the NFC South with a win over Carolina and Tampa Bay’s loss. This will be a tough team in the playoffs.

8. Green Bay Packers (9-6); beat Minnesota 38-25, same spot – Aaron Rodgers has played amazing over the last several weeks, throwing for another 347 yards and four touchdowns in this game.

jay-ajayi-dolphins9. Miami Dolphins (10-5); beat Buffalo 34-31, up 3 spots – Some wondered if Miami would even make the playoffs when Ryan Tannehill got injured. They’ve since won two straight games and have wrapped up a Wild Card slot. An additional note is that Jay Ajayi had his third 200-yard rushing performance of the season.

10. Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1); lost to Arizona 34-31, down 1 spot – Seattle secured the NFC West a while ago. But they struggled against rival Arizona this year, losing one game and tying another.

11. Washington Redskins (8-6-1); beat Chicago 41-21, up 4 spots – For Washington, the playoff picture is clear: beat the Giants and you’re in.

12. Detroit Lions (9-6); lost to Dallas 42-21, down 1 spot – Losing to the Cowboys puts Detroit in the difficult position of having to beat their division-rival Green Bay to win the NFC North and make the playoffs. Is anybody betting on the Lions here?

13. Houston Texans (9-6); beat Cincinnati 12-10, up 4 spots – Nobody sees Houston as the AFC favorites. But the Texans deserve some credit for winning the AFC South with subpar quarterback play.

14. Denver Broncos (8-7); lost to Kansas City 33-10, down 4 spots – Now out of the postseason hunt, the defending champions may give Paxton Lynch one more look.

15. Baltimore Ravens (8-7); lost to Pittsburgh 31-27, down 2 spots – No longer in the playoff race, Baltimore’s biggest story right now is whether Steve Smith will retire.

16. Tennessee Titans (8-7); lost to Jacksonville 38-17, down 2 spots – Despite the blowout loss to Jacksonville and Marcus Mariota getting injured, Tennessee can be proud of this season after winning just 3 games last year.

17. New Orleans Saints (7-8); beat Tampa Bay 31-24, up 5 spots – This season has to be considered an overall win for New Orleans, who weren’t expected to win this many games.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7); lost to New Orleans 31-24, down 2 spots – The loss to New Orleans all but eliminates Tampa Bay from making the playoffs. Their postseason odds are so long that they even need AFC teams to lose for strength-of-schedule purposes.

tyrod-taylor-bills19. Buffalo Bills (7-8); lost to Miami 34-31, down 1 spot – Many expected Rex Ryan to be fired, and he was. But we also find out that Tyrod Taylor will be benched for the finale. The reason why is because of a contract clause where he’s due $30.75 million if he gets injured.

20. Indianapolis Colts (7-8); lost to Oakland 33-25, down 1 spot – Will Chuck Pagano keep his job after this year? Everything is up for question heading into Indianapolis’ offseason.

21. Minnesota Vikings (7-8); lost to Green Bay 38-25, down 1 spot – A season that began with so much promise and an 5-0 record will end with a whimper, win or lose, against the Bears.

22. Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1); beat Seattle 34-31, up 3 spots – Arizona is the most-disappointing team from this season. We had them ranked No. 1 in our original power rankings, but they won’t even reach .500 this season. At least they got a victory over their division rivals last weekend.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (6-9); beat NY Giants 24-19, up 1 spot – The Eagles were able to snap a five-game losing streak with this victory.

24. Carolina Panthers (6-9); lost to Atlanta 33-16, down 3 spots – Carolina is right there with the Cardinals in terms of teams that expected much more from 2016.

25. Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1); lost to Houston 12-10, down 2 spots – Expected to fight with Pittsburgh and Baltimore for the AFC North crown, Cincinnati was nowhere close to the team everybody expected.

26. San Diego Chargers (5-10); lost to Cleveland 20-17, same spot – We know he’s good, but does Melvin Gordon’s injury have this much impact?

matt-barkley-bears27. Chicago Bears (3-12); lost to Washington 41-21, same spot – Any thought of giving Matt Barkley a longer look next season ended with his five interceptions in this contest.

28. New York Jets (4-11); lost to New England 41-3, same spot – This score was the total opposite of the competitive game between the Jets and Patriots a few weeks ago. Seems that New York has mailed it in already.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12); beat Tennessee 38-17, up 1 spot – Doug Marrone may actually be considered for the Jacksonville job if he can win again.

30. San Francisco (2-13); beat L.A. Rams 22-21, up 1 spot – San Francisco may only have two wins, but they both came against L.A., making them the superior team.

31. LA Rams (4-11); lost to Seattle 24-3, same spot – What an embarrassing first season in Los Angeles for the Rams.

32. Cleveland Browns (1-14); beat San Diego 20-17, same spot – Given that Cleveland has no chance of winning in Pittsburgh next week, it’s good that they got their lone victory at home against San Diego.