NFL Power Rankings Week 16, 2016

ezekiel-elliott-salvation-army-potWith division and playoff races heating up, most of the favored teams came through in last week’s action. The Colts, Dolphins, Giants, Seahawks, Steelers, and Titans all got important wins to remain in thick of the playoff hunt. See where they rank in our Week 16 power rankings, and look back at Week 15 rankings here.

1. Dallas Cowboys (12-2); beat Tampa Bay 26-20, same spot – This was by no means an easy win over a surging Tampa Bay team. But Dallas made it feel easy, including when Ezekiel Elliott jumped into the Salvation Army pot after a touchdown.

2. New England Patriots (12-2); beat Denver 16-3, same spot – New England’s offense struggled against the tough Denver defense. Even still, they did enough to win in a hostile environment.

3. Oakland Raiders (11-3); beat San Diego 19-16, up 1 spot – Oakland has had a magical season after being a bad franchise for so long. This fact is highlighted by 7 Raiders being selected to the Pro Bowl – most in the NFL.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5); beat Cincinnati 24-20, up 1 spot – Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are fierce rivals, so it’s never easy for Pittsburgh to win in Bengal country. But they did so anyways, erasing a 20-6 Cincinnati lead.

odell-beckham-jr5. New York Giants (10-4); beat Detroit 17-6, up 1 spot – New York can clinch a playoff spot this weekend, but it feels like they already have a Wild Card slot wrapped up.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4); lost to Tennessee 19-17, down 3 spots – A big problem for KC in this loss was that their elite pass rush only got one sack.

7. Atlanta Falcons (9-5); beat San Francisco 41-13, same spot – Nothing special about this win over San Francisco, but it does put Atlanta a game ahead of Tampa Bay in the AFC South.

8. Green Bay Packers (8-6); beat Chicago 30-27, up 2 spots – Tim Montgomery was the big star here, piling up 162 rushing yards and two scores. Jordy Nelson also chipped in 124 receiving yards.

9. Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1); beat L.A. 24-3, up 2 spots – Seattle got a confidence-booster, dominating a Rams team that had beaten them in three out of the last five meetings.

10. Denver Broncos (8-6); lost to New England 16-3, down 2 spots – Denver may not get a chance to defend their title in the playoffs with remaining games against KC and Oakland. It especially doesn’t look pretty after a locker room argument following last weekend’s loss.

11. Detroit Lions (9-5); lost to NY Giants 17-6, down 2 spots – The fact that Detroit has no run game finally caught up to them in this contest.

matt-moore-dolphins-vs-jets12. Miami Dolphins (9-5); beat NY Jets 34-13, up 1 spot – This was the perfect game for backup Matt Moore to step into, as he threw for 236 yards, 4 TDs, and just one interception.

13. Baltimore Ravens (8-6); beat Philadelphia 27-26, up 2 spots – Baltimore kept their playoff hopes alive with this win, and they’re still just a game behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North.

14. Tennessee Titans (8-6); beat KC 19-17, up 3 spots – Tennesee’s formula of running the ball and playing defense is paying big dividends right now.

15. Washington Redskins (7-6-1); lost to Carolina 26-15, down 3 spots – Losers of three of their last four games, Washington no longer controls their own playoff destiny.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6); lost to Dallas 26-20, down 2 spots – The difference in this game was that Tampa Bay gave up 189 yards on the ground to Dallas. Of course, they’re far from the first team to get burned by Dallas’ run game.

tom-savage-texans17. Houston Texans (8-6); beat Jacksonville 21-20, up 1 spot – After seeing Brock Osweiler start with two picks, Houston made a QB change. Tom Savage, who threw for 260 yards in relief of Osweiler, will start this week against the Bengals.

18. Buffalo Bills (7-7); beat Cleveland 33-13, up 1 spot – Even with Buffalo being mathematically alive for a playoff spot, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Rex Ryan will be fired.

19. Indianapolis Colts (7-7); beat Minnesota 34-6, up 1 spot – With their division/playoff chances on the line and three offensive lineman injured, Indianapolis delivered a huge performance on the road.

20. Minnesota Vikings (7-7); lost to Indianapolis 34-6, down 4 spots – That time when Minnesota was 5-0 and second in our power rankings seems like forever ago.

21. Carolina Panthers (6-8); beat Washington 26-15, up 3 spots – This season didn’t go how Carolina hoped. But they’ve still shown some pride lately, beating a tough Washington team on the road.

22. New Orleans Saints (6-8); beat Arizona 48-41, up 4 spots – Just another outstanding game in Drew Brees’ career, as he threw for 389 yards and four touchdowns.

vontaze-burfict-vs-steelers23. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1); lost to Pittsburgh 24-20, down 2 spots – In a lost season where head coach Marvin Lewis will likely be fired, the attention has shifted to linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s continued antics.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (5-9); lost to Baltimore 27-26, down 2 spots – Ryan Matthews had his best game of the season with 128 rushing yards and a touchdown. But it wasn’t enough as the Eagles lost again.

25. Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1); lost to New Orleans 48-41, down 2 spots – With almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns, David Johnson would be a serious MVP candidate if Arizona were actually good.

26. San Diego Chargers (5-9); lost to Oakland 19-16, down 1 spot – With Melvin Gordon out, San Diego had very little chance to win against an elite Oakland squad.

27. Chicago Bears (3-11); lost to Green Bay 30-27, down 1 spot – The Bears have played respectable with Matt Barkley under center. Will this be enough to give Barkely serious consideration for the starting Bears job in 2017?

Jets Cowboys Football28. New York Jets (4-10); lost to Miami 34-13, same spot – For the second straight game, Bilal Powell had a huge night. But Bryce Petty under center combined with a bad defense isn’t a winning combination.

29. LA Rams (4-10); lost to Seattle 24-3, same spot – Without Jeff Fisher, this team is just as bad – if not worse – as their anemic offensive effort showed.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12); lost to Houston 21-20, same spot – With Gus Bradley fired, speculation has begun about who’ll be the next head coach. Right now, Tom Coughlin is a favorite.

31. San Francisco (1-13); lost to Atlanta 41-13, same spot – It’s a shame that we won’t get to see the Niners and Browns play to see who’s officially worse.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-14); lost to Buffalo 33-13, same spot – This was another ugly game for the Browns, which is no surprise. But at least Robert Griffin III showed some spring in his legs, rushing for 48 yards and a TD on eight carries.

NFL Power Rankings Week 15, 2016

The Dallas Cowboys faced off in a division-rivalry game against the New York Giants. And New York won a 10-7 defensive struggle, snapping Dallas’ 11-game winning streak.

See if the Cowboys hang on to the top spot in our Week 15 NFL power rankings, and check out last week’s rankings here.

1. Dallas Cowboys (11-2); lost to NY Giants 10-7, same spot – Dak Prescott hasn’t looked good over the last couple of weeks, and calls are already growing for Tony Romo. Even still, Dallas is the closest team to securing a first-round playoff bye. They’ll probably also get the NFC’s top seed.

2. New England Patriots (11-2); beat Baltimore 30-23, same spot – After jumping out to a 23-3 lead, it took Tom Brady’s heroics to keep from blowing this game. Nevertheless, a win over a hungry Baltimore team bodes well for New England, which lost Gronk and is still missing Danny Amendola.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3); beat Oakland 21-13, up 1 spot – The Chiefs used their brand of football (defense, conservative offense) to muscle past Oakland for the AFC West lead. KC is also in line for a first-round bye right now.

4. Oakland Raiders (10-3); lost to KC 21-13, down 1 spot – Derek Carr had a nightmare 17-for-41 game against the Chiefs. But he wasn’t helped by Seth Roberts (drops) and Amari Cooper (bad routes). Oakland should still be good as long as the weather is warmer than 0 degrees.

leveon-bell5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5); beat Buffalo 27-20, up 2 spots – Ben Roethlisberger’s road struggles continue, but that means little when Le’Veon Bell is racking up records.

6. New York Giants (9-4); beat Dallas 10-7, up 3 spots – The Giants complete a season sweep of the Cowboys, and they’re also the only team to beat Dallas this year.

7. Atlanta Falcons (8-5); beat L.A. 42-14, up 1 spot – No Julio Jones, no problem for the Falcons as they continued their strong season. The chances of them winning again are high as they face San Francisco this week.

8. Denver Broncos (8-5); lost to Tennessee 13-10, down 2 spots – Denver is missing ILB Brandon Marshall more than anybody knows after giving up 194 rushing yards to the Titans.

9. Detroit Lions (9-4); beat Chicago 20-17, up 1 spot – The Lions are masters of close games, winning yet another contest decided by a touchdown or less.

10. Green Bay Packers (7-6); beat Seattle 38-10, up 1 spot – Ever since Aaron Rodgers predicted that Green Bay would run the table, they’re 3-0. This blowout win over Seattle shows that his words have some merit.

11. Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1); lost to Green Bay 38-10, down 6 spots – The Seahawks played terrible against Green Bay, but they’re still only 1 win from clinching the NFC West.

kirk-cousins-steelers12. Washington Redskins (7-5-1); beat Philadelphia 27-22, up 1 spot – Kirk Cousins may have thrown an interception to help Philly get back into this one. But then he came down and threw the game-winning score with the pressure on.

13. Miami Dolphins (8-5); beat Arizona 26-23, up 1 spot – Ryan Tannehill only sprained his ACL and MCL joints, rather than tearing his ACL as first suspected. But he’s still set to miss multiple games at a crucial juncture where Miami is fighting for a playoff spot.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5); beat New Orleans 16-11, up 1 spot – The improvement shown by Tampa Bay’s defense over the past few weeks has been remarkable.

15. Baltimore Ravens (7-6); lost to New England 30-23, down 3 spots – Baltimore made a valiant comeback effort. But they still lost, which puts them in a difficult situation as far as making the postseason.

16. Minnesota Vikings (7-6); beat Jacksonville 25-16, same spot – Minnesota’s offense finally got something going in this game.

demarco-murray-titans17. Tennessee Titans (7-6); beat Denver 13-10, up 2 spots – The Titans didn’t do much after the first half, but 13 points is all they needed in this one.

18. Houston Texans (7-6); beat Indianapolis 22-17, up 2 spots – Jadeveon Clowney had the biggest game of his career and helped Houston win a crucial game.

19. Buffalo Bills (6-7); lost to Pittsburgh 27-20, down 2 spots – Facing a second-straight season without a playoff berth, Rex Ryan now has to worry about his job status.

20. Indianapolis Colts (6-7); lost to Houston 22-17, down 2 spots – With this loss, Indianapolis now has two teams to chase in the AFC South race.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1); beat Cleveland 23-10, up 2 spots – Cincinnati has strung together a couple of wins, but it’s too little too late now.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (5-8); lost to Washington 27-22, down 1 spot – The Eagles looked like they might have a win here, but it slipped through their fingers in the final minutes.

bruce-arians-arizona23. Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1); lost to Miami 26-23, down 1 spot – Coach Bruce Arians has accused Miami of cheating, alleging that they mimicked Arizona’s snap count and caused Chandler Catanzaro to miss a field goal.

24. Carolina Panthers (5-8); beat San Diego 28-16, up 2 spots – Cam Newton was only 10-of-27 passing, but the Carolina defense picked Philip Rivers off three times.

25. San Diego Chargers (5-8); lost to Carolina 28-16, down 1 spot – Any slim postseason chances have disappeared for San Diego. The goal for next season will be staying healthy after losing Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead early on.

26. New Orleans Saints (5-8); lost to Tampa Bay 16-11, same spot – Any magic that Drew Brees and New Orleans had in the middle of the season is gone.

27. Chicago Bears (3-10); lost to Detroit 20-17, same spot – With little to cheer for regarding the Bears, the focus has switched to whether or not Matt Barkley has earned the starting QB role next season.

28. New York Jets (4-9); beat San Francisco 23-17, up 1 spot – Bilal Powell had a career game, rushing for 145 yards, adding 34 receiving yards, and scoring twice.

jeff-fisher-rams-fired-129. LA Rams (4-9); lost to Atlanta 42-14, down 1 spot – It seems an odd time to fire Jeff Fisher, given that L.A. has to quickly turn around and play Seattle on Thursday.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11); lost to Minnesota 25-16, same spot – The regression that this Jacksonville squad has shown in 2016 is terrible.

31. San Francisco (1-12); lost to NY Jets 23-17, same spot – The Niners are playing so bad that many accuse them of tanking to ensure that they get a top pick.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-13); lost to Cincinnati 23-10, same spot – Robert Griffin III’s first game back from a season-opening injury didn’t offer Cleveland any more hope than Josh McCown and Cody Kessler have.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 15 (Dec. 11, 2013)

marlon-brown-baltimoreWeek 14 was possibly the most exciting weekend in NFL history. There were wild finishes, blizzard-covered fields, and career-defining moments – all within the span of one day. Here’s a recap of some of the extremely exciting games from last Sunday:

1. The Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings set an NFL record when the lead changed hands six times in the fourth quarter. The last 2:05 of this contest was particularly noteworthy, as five touchdowns were scored. Among them included a 79-yard pass, a 73-yard kick return, and a 41-yard rushing TD. Baltimore got the final critical score to take this hard-fought game.

2. The Cleveland Browns appeared well on their way to a major upset, winning 26-14 with just 2:39 left. But then Tom Brady happened…leading the Patriots to 2 touchdowns, one thanks to an onside-kick recovery.

3. Pittsburgh and Miami already played a crazy game in the snow that saw five different lead changes. But it got really bizarre on the last play, with the Steelers needing to score a TD from 80 yards out to win. Ben Roethlisberger tossed a short pass that was lateraled around several times, before Antonio Brown took it for what appeared to be a 70-yard touchdown. The only problem: his left foot hit the sideline on this long run.

4. With an early 14-0 lead and a snowstorm on their side, it looked like Detroit would cruise to an easy win over Philadelphia. However, the Eagles came “storming” back, outscoring Detroit 34-6 to grab victory.

It’s highly unlikely that the remaining weeks will live up to what fans witnessed in Week 14. But we can all hope for a couple wild finishes as we enter Week 15 of the NFL season.

1. Denver Broncos (11-2); beat Tennessee 51-28, retains same ranking – It was yet another banner offensive day for the Broncos, with Peyton Manning throwing for 397 yards and four TD’s and Matt Prater setting an NFL record with a 64-yard field goal. Knowshon Moreno and Monte Ball also combined for 155 yards and 2 TD’s on the ground.

2. Seattle Seahawks (11-2); lost to San Francisco 19-17, retains same ranking – A week after dominating the Saints at home, Seattle goes out on the road and drops a narrow game to San Francisco. So why are they keeping the second spot? How about their 29-3 drubbing of the Niners earlier in the year. And don’t forget that they also hold a 2-game lead over San Francisco.

frank-gore-san-francisco3. San Francisco 49ers (9-4), beat Seattle 19-17, moves up one spot – San Francisco relied on a 110-yard rushing effort from Frank Gore to pull this close game out. Gore broke a 51-yarder late in the fourth quarter to set up Phil Dawson for a game-winning field goal. But with three games left, it’s doubtful that this contest will help the Niners win the NFC West.

4. New England Patriots (10-3), beat Cleveland 27-26, drops one spot – After allowing Jason Campbell to light them up, the Patriots got some late-game heroics with less than 3 minutes left. We admire New England’s resolve to come back and win. But this is now three weeks in a row that they’ve had to crawl out of an early deficit.

5. New Orleans Saints (10-3); beat Carolina 31-13, retains same ranking – The Saints continue to be excellent at home after walloping their division rivals. We still have questions about New Orleans’ ability to win away from home. But you certainly can’t question Drew Brees, who threw for 313 yards and four TD’s on one of the league’s best defenses.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3); beat Washington 45-10, moves up one spot – There’s no better way to stop a three-game losing streak than to play Washington at home. Kansas City ripped the Redskins on the strength of 321 return yards in the first half alone. Quintin Demps’ 95-yard kickoff return highlighted this incredible output.

andy-dalton7. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4); beat Indianapolis 42-28, moves up one spot – Cincinnati continued their ascension in the AFC by beating the Bengals. Andy Dalton led this effort with 326 passing yards and four touchdowns. Cincy will no doubt be hoping to host a playoff game or two at Paul Brown Stadium, where they’re 6-0 this season.

8. Carolina Panthers (9-4); lost to New Orleans 31-13, drops one spot – On the center stage for the first time in years, Carolina couldn’t deliver. Their defense, which hadn’t allowed more than two touchdowns in a game all year, looked helpless in giving up three TD’s in the second quarter alone.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5); beat Detroit 34-20, moves up two spots – As we explained earlier, the Eagles fought back from a 14-0 deficit amid snowy conditions. A huge thanks can be given to LeSean McCoy, who rushed for a franchise-record 217 yards and two TD’s.

10. Arizona Cardinals (8-5); beat St. Louis 30-10, moves up three spots – Karlos Dansby had his second interception-return TD in the last three games as Arizona walked away with this one. Larry Fitzgerald had a good day, catching 12 passes for 96 yards and a TD.

11. Indianapolis Colts (8-5); lost to Cincinnati 42-28, drops two spots – The Colts may have clinched the AFC South, but it had little to do with how they’ve been playing lately. The secondary was ripped by Dalton, and a slow start also doomed the Colts. About the only positive thing Indy can take away here is that Andrew Luck had his first great game in a while, throwing for 326 yards and four TD’s.

12. Dallas Cowboys (7-6); lost to Chicago 45-28, drops two spots – This was yet another game where the Cowboys defense turned in a very disappointing performance. They gave up 348 passing yards to Josh McCown and allowed the Bears to score on their first eight possessions.

lesean-mccoy13. Detroit Lions (7-6); lost to Philadelphia 34-20, drops one spot – A week after completely shutting down Green Bay’s rushing attack, the Lions looked like they’d never seen snow as McCoy torched them for 217 yards. Of course, it also didn’t help matters that Detroit fumbled seven times, losing three of them. The turnovers and poor run defense negated an amazing day by Jeremy Ross, who had two return touchdowns.

14. Baltimore Ravens (7-6); beat Minnesota 29-26, retains same ranking – Baltimore was mired in a pretty boring game with Minnesota, that is until the last 125 seconds anyways. Following four touchdowns in this short span, Joe Flacco hooked up with Marlon Brown for a fifth and game-winning TD.

15. Miami Dolphins (7-6); beat Pittsburgh Steelers 34-28, retains same ranking – Miami isn’t backing down in the race for the AFC’s last playoff spot. They got nice games out of Daniel Thomas (105YDS, 1TD) and Charles Clay (7REC, 97YDS, 2TD) to pul this game out.

16. Chicago Bears (7-6); beat Dallas 45-28, retains same ranking – The weather may have been freezing, but it wasn’t enough to cool off Chicago. Josh McCown threw a career-high four touchdowns and Matt Forte added 102 yards on the ground. It’s going to be hard for the Bears to sit McCown when Jay Cutler returns from injury.

17. San Diego Chargers (6-7); beat New York Giants 37-14, retains same ranking – Philip Rivers tossed three touchdowns to help San Diego keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Ryan Mathews has a chance to gain the most rushing yards of his career; he’s run for 885 yards and has three games left to rack up another 207 for his career high.

18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1); beat Atlanta 22-21, retains same ranking – Matt Flynn played much better this game as he tallied 258 passing yards and a touchdown. Mason Crosby also played a part by nailing five field goals. With the Lions and Bears only a half game ahead of Green Bay, they still have a chance to make the postseason when Rodgers comes back.

geno-smith-jets19. New York Jets (6-7); beat Oakland 37-27, moves up two spots – Many people wondered if Geno Smith would even start after the miserable stretch that he’s been having. But start he did, and Smith played pretty well by throwing for a TD and running for another score.

20. New York Giants (5-8); lost to San Diego 37-14, drops one spot – It’s pretty hard to make the playoffs when you start out 0-6. Okay, so it’s nearly impossible and the Giants certainly aren’t going to the postseason now. But despite this loss, they did have a good middle stretch of the season.

21. Tennessee Titans (5-8); lost to Denver 51-28, drops one spot – Tennessee’s postseason hopes have basically disappeared with this loss. Now they face an uncertain future, with running back Chris Johnson likely gone after the year.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8); lost to Miami 34-28, retains same ranking – The Steelers lost their second close game in a row and have all but been eliminated from postseason contention. This aging defense could use some younger upgrades in the offseason.

23. St. Louis Rams (5-8); lost to Arizona 30-10, retains same ranking – After a mid-season surge, the St. Louis Rams have now lost two games in a row pretty badly. The magic that rookie running back Zac Stacy brought is temporarily gone as he rushed for just 25 yards on 14 carries.

maurice-jones-drew24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9); beat Houston 27-20, moves up one spot – Jacksonville has actually been a pretty good football team over the last few weeks. A big reason for the improved play is Maurice Jones-Drew, who’s rushed for 264 yards and a TD over the past three games.

25. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1); lost to Baltimore 29-26, drops one spot – One week after an overtime victory over the Bears, Minnesota loses in the last four seconds to Baltimore. The Vikings also lost Adrian Peterson after he was carted off the field with an injury.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9); beat Buffalo 27-6, moves up two spots – Tampa Bay relied on four interceptions and 127 rushing yards from Bobby Rainey to win their fourth game in five tries.

27. Cleveland Browns (4-9); lost to New England 27-26, drops one spot – Moments away from their season-defining victory, Cleveland watched as New England stormed down the field for a touchdown, then recovered an onside kick and scored again. At least they can take solace in Jason Campbell’s strong play because he threw for 391 yards and 3 TD’s.

28. Oakland Raiders (4-9); lost to New York Jets 37-27, drops one spot – The Raiders keep finding players to step in and fill holes on offense, but it hasn’t translated into wins over the last few weeks. Their fans have to wonder when this franchise will experience another winning season again.

29. Atlanta Falcons (3-10); lost to Green Bay 22-21, retains same ranking – Atlanta bolted out to an 11-point halftime lead, but failed to hold off the Packers in the fourth quarter. Matt Bryant also missed a 52-yard field goal with 6:42 left in the game.

30. Buffalo Bills (4-9); lost to Tampa Bay 27-6, retains same ranking – Buffalo’s season has went through the tubes, and they’ve now lost five of their last six contests. This one was particularly bad since rookie QB EJ Manuel tossed four picks.

31. Washington Redskins (3-10); lost to Kansas City 45-10, retains same ranking – The Redskins continued their dismal season by losing a fifth straight game. Now there’s speculation that Robert Griffin III will sit the remainder of the season while coach Mike Shanahan insists that it’s to prevent injury. Some believe that this may be Shanahan’s revenge for owner Daniel Snyder’s coddling of Griffin.

32. Houston Texans (2-11); lost to Jacksonville 27-20, retains same ranking – It’s hard to believe that Houston started the season 2-0. They’ve now lost a franchise-record 11 straight games and some major changes are in store for this team.