What a crazy week of football. Who would’ve thought that the Jets and Bengals would pull off incredible upsets over the Rams and Steelers, who both have Super Bowl aspirations this season. 2020 man. Also, the Ravens are slowly rising up the ranks, moving into the top five. Come see where your favourite team ranks on the Week 16 edition of the NFL Power Rankings.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-1)
Previous Rank: 1
Facing a top defence in the league coming into Sunday, Patrick Mahomes and co. were not fazed. Kansas City produced more than 400 yards of offence and 32 points on Sunday in a narrow 32-29 win against the Saints. Mahomes threw three touchdowns on the day, including a beautiful throw to Tyreek Hill past three defenders for a touchdown. While the Chiefs were aided on defence by playing a rusty version of Drew Brees, they still did enough to help edge out the win. A health concern to know: Clyde Edwards-Helaire exited late in the fourth quarter with hip and ankle injuries. If the talented rookie is forced to miss games come playoff time, Le’Veon Bell will suddenly be the man in the backfield.
2. Buffalo Bills (11-3)
Previous Rank: 2
Utter domination. What better way to win your first division title for the first time in 25 years than with a dominating 48-19 win over the Broncos. Josh Allen accounted for four touchdowns in his latest superstar-level performance, while the rising Buffalo defense continues to improve every week. Stefan Diggs and Cole Beasley accounted for 259 yards on the day, and may become the first Bills receivers to both go for over 1,000 yards in the same season since 2002.
3. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
Previous Rank: 3
The Packers managed to win on Saturday despite their superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers being held to only 143 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 24-16 win over the Panthers. The defence got the job done on Saturday, forcing a huge goal-line turnover on a Teddy Bridgewater QB sneak that changed the course of the game. Kevin King scooped up the fumble for a 48-yard return to set up a Packers touchdown. This defence will face a much more difficult task in Derrick Henry and co. on Sunday night.
4. New Orleans Saints (10-4)
Previous Rank: 4
The return of Drew Brees to the lineup wasn’t as impactful as the Saints were probably hoping for in a 32-29 loss to the Chiefs. Brees was very rusty, starting the game 0-for-6 passing with an interception and didn’t look like his usual self in the loss. While Brees did improve as the game went along, the offence just couldn’t keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Where Brees goes from here will likely decide whether the Saints belong in the conversation of true Super Bowl contenders or not.
5. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
Previous Rank: 8
The Ravens rolled over the Jaguars on Sunday in a 40-14 dismantling win. Lamar Jackson produced four touchdowns on the day and now has 10 touchdowns in his last three games since returning from the COVID-19 list. The Ravens have now won three straight games and now look like a serious player in the AFC playoffs (if they get there). While Baltimore still remains in the eighth seed, upcoming games against the Giants and Bengals could be promising.
6. Tennessee Titans (10-4)
Previous Rank: 10
While Derrick Henry did rush for 147 yards on Sunday, moving him ever closer to the prestigious 2,000-yard rushing club, the real star on the day was Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill accounted for five touchdowns on the day in a culminating 46-25 win over the Lions. It’s crazy when you think how he was acquired by the Titans for only fourth and seventh round picks. While Henry does deserve a lot of credit for helping the Titans become a Super Bowl contender, Tannehill deserves more love. He’s a keystone in this Titans offence.
7. Cleveland Browns (10-4)
Previous Rank: 9
The Browns continue to roll with a smooth 20-6 win over the Giants. This win moves the Browns another step closer to their first playoff appearance since 2002. Baker Mayfield accounted for another strong performance, throwing for nearly 300 yards with two touchdowns and zero turnovers. He’s become the leader of this offence, and has truly lifted the ceiling of this Browns team. A locked-in Baker Mayfield, paired with an elite running game, makes the Browns scary.
8. Seattle Seahawks (10-4)
Previous Rank: 7
In a battle of defences on Sunday (somehow), Seattle came out on top, shutting out Washington for most of the first half and producing three sacks on Washington’s final possession of the game to ensure a 20-15 win. Russell Wilson didn’t cross 100 yards through the air until early in the fourth quarter, as the Seahawks relied on quick and short passes to try to negate Washington’s pass rush. It’s crazy how this team went from producing shootouts in the first half of the season to how it’s been for Seattle over the past few weeks (except the Jets game). Let Russ Cook?
9. Indianapolis Colts (10-4)
Previous Rank: 11
For the second time in three weeks, the Colts got another miracle fumble recovery in the final minutes to close out the Texans. While this doesn’t really help build your case as a Super Bowl contender, they’re still winning games. The big stars on defense showed up: Darius Leonard forcing the game-deciding fumble, punching the ball away inside the 5-yard line. There’s also DeForest Buckner, who played through an ankle injury and still recorded three sacks on Deshaun Watson. A big test awaits against the struggling Steelers this Sunday.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)
Previous Rank: 5
The Steelers continue to lose, the latest a disappointing 27-17 setback loss against the Bengals (yes, you read that right). This marks Pittsburgh’s third consecutive loss after 11 straight wins to open the season. The offence was terrible to say the least in the first half, finishing with more turnovers (three) than first downs (two) in a first half that ended with the Bengals leading 17-0. Ben Roethisberger was at the centre of their struggles, struggling to make throws and good reads the entire game. The chance of a playoff bye is now history; they have to worry about holding off the surging Ravens and Browns now in the AFC North.
11. Los Angeles Rams (9-5)
Previous Rank: 6
What just happened? You were supposed to beat the Jets to further secure your place at the top of the NFC West, but you lost… to the Jets. This showcases the Rams are probably the most inconsistent team in the league. One minute, they’re dominating a top team in the league, then they’re losing to one of the worst NFL teams of all time. The season is not lost for the Rams though; wins against the Seahawks and Cardinals in the final two weeks and the Rams are NFC West champions.
12. Miami Dolphins (9-5)
Previous Rank: 12
Playing without DeVante Parker or Mike Gesicki, the Dolphins knew that their passing game was going to be handicapped. Enter the run game, which delivered big performances from Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida in a 22-12 win that eliminated the Patriots from playoff contention (hallelujah) while keeping the Dolphins playoff hopes alive and well in the AFC wild-card race. Flores may be one of the front runners in the Coach of the Year conversation; his leadership has helped develop the Dolphins rebuild significantly, he finds contributors up and down the roster, and he’s done good work in developing his rookie QB.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5)
Previous Rank: 13
The Buccaneers played like two different teams on Sunday. In the first half, both sides of the ball didn’t show up. There were missed tackles, blown coverages, bad throws, and dropped passes as the Bucs fell behind 17-0 at halftime. Fortunately, they were playing Tom Brady’s favourite team; the Atlanta Falcons, where choking a game away is as routine as putting out the trash. Tom Brady and his Bucs went on to score in their first five possessions of the second half, including four touchdowns, to secure a 31-27 comeback win. The real question is what team will the Bucs be come playoff time?
14. Arizona Cardinals (8-6)
Previous Rank: 14
The Cardinals seem to be returning back to their previous form after a big 33-26 win over the surging Eagles. Kyler Murray had a day, setting a career high with 406 yards passing and totalling four total touchdowns on the day. A big win for the Cardinals as it keeps their playoff dreams alive with two weeks to play. Murray’s favourite target DeAndre Hopkins finished the day with 169 yards and a touchdown. He may just be the best receiver in the NFL right now.
15. Washington Football Team (6-8)
Previous Rank: 15
Dwyane Haskins got the start in place of an injured Alex Smith, and it wasn’t pretty. In the first half, Haskins didn’t look good, making bad throws and failing to move the chains. But as the game progressed, he started to improve. He led his team on two second-half touchdown drives before taking Washington deep into Seahawks territory with a chance to win in the final minutes. But Seattle managed to get three sacks on the last possession, and it squashed any hope of a Washington comeback. Still, Washington has shown that they can hang around with quality opponents and if they can secure a spot in the playoffs, they might be a team to watch out for.
16. Chicago Bears (7-7)
Previous Rank: 26
While Chicago is definitely not a Super Bowl contender this season, they have made some good strides on both sides of the ball. Mitch Trubisky is playing with confidence right now; something we haven’t really seen so far this season. While it doesn’t excuse the Bears for passing over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft, he’s at least not being a liability to the team over the past couple of weeks. Then there’s running back David Montgomery, who has a touchdown in four straight games and destroyed the Vikings for a career-high 146 yards and two scores. With the lowly Jaguars on deck, Chicago should be able to light up the scoreboard and keep itself in the playoff race.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (5-9)
Previous Rank: 21
Who would’ve thought that the Chargers would come out on top in a close scoring game? The Chargers have now won back-to-back games after their embarrassing 45-0 blowout loss to the Patriots by burying the Raiders’ playoff hopes on Thursday night. Justin Herbert torched the struggling Raiders secondary for 314 yards and two touchdowns that helped him tie the NFL’s rookie passing TD record (previously set by Baker Mayfield). The Chargers could have finished off the Raiders in regulation time, but of course, concervative play calling and special teams meltdowns (specifically moneybadger who missed two potential game-winning field goals in the fourth quarter) made the game more interesting than it had to be. There is a good team here, but can the Colts find the right man to lead this team to success?
18. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)
Previous Rank: 16
The Raiders have managed to now pretty much push themselves out of the AFC playoff picture with another terrible loss, this time an overtime loss at home against the Chargers on Thursday Night Football. The Raiders did have first-and-goal on the opening possession of overtime, but couldn’t bury it and had to settle for a field goal. This led to Justin Herbert exposing the secondary and eventually QB sneaking in the game-winning touchdown. While Mariota did play extremely well for coming in cold, it was all for naught. Better luck next year Raiders.
19. New York Giants (5-9)
Previous Rank: 18
The Giants tried their hardest, but with injuries taking away Daniel Jones and COVID-19 protocols sidelining the Giants’ top cover man James Bradberry, it was an uphill battle against a streaking Browns squad. Head coach did try to gamble on fourth-down two times in the red-zone in the first half, but both attempts ended as failures and the Giants never really threatened after that in a 20-6 loss. While New York isn’t out of the NFC East playoff race yet, it’s definitely not going to be easy for these G-Men.
20. Minnesota Vikings (6-8)
Previous Rank: 17
Whatever hope the Vikings developed during their midseason resurgence is gone now. The team has now faced back-to-back losses, their last loss courtesy of the Bears, and now have no realistic shot at making the playoffs. ESPN gives the Vikings less than 1 percent of a chance to make it to the promised land. Against the Bears, the run defence was ripped apart by David Montgomery, the pass rush failed to pressure Mitch Trubisky, and Kirk Cousins was facing too much pressure the entire night. Better luck next year.
21. Dallas Cowboys (5-9)
Previous Rank: 25
The Cowboys are somehow not dead. A 41-33 win over the 49ers, and Washington’s Week 15 loss to the Seahawks, keeps them in contention for the NFC East title. Who would’ve guessed that this team, which has been a whirlwind of mediocrity and below would be in this position now. Tony Pollard took over in his starting debut, and looked better than Ezekiel Elliott has all season. Should the Cowboys stick with the hot hand of Pollard or shift back to Elliott (who’s dealing with a lingering calf injury) in a must-win matchup against the Eagles?
22. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1)
Previous Rank: 24
Jalen Hurts has ignited this Eagles squad into becoming a competent football team. The rookie ended his second career start going 24-for-44 passing for 338 yards with 63 rushing yards and four total touchdowns in the 33-26 loss, just falling short of the comeback. The Eagles must love the production from Hurts right now. As a quarterback who’s supposed to be taking his first tentative steps into the world of professional football, he’s been putting up monster numbers from any QB. Doug Pederson has announced that Hurts will remain the team’s starter when the Eagles meet the Cowboys in a Week 16 elimination game for both teams. If Hurts can keep this production up, it may very well seal the legacy of Carson Wentz in Philadelphia.
23. Atlanta Falcons (4-10)
Previous Rank: 23
The Falcons blowing a lead to Tom Brady is more inevitable than a Thanos snap. Just like Super Bowl LI, the Falcons had a big lead over Tom Brady going into halftime. The team was playing well, but everyone knew what was going to happen. The defence allowed four straight touchdown drives and a field goal in the final two quarters, and the defence went into hibernation for the second half. The Football Gods are truly devious.
24. New England Patriots (6-8)
Previous Rank: 19
WOOHOO! For the first time since 2008 and the third time in the past two decades, the playoffs will not include the New England Patriots. As a Bills fan, I couldn’t be more excited that the evil empire has finally been vanquished. Satisfyingly enough, their season was ended by one of their carpets to walk on for the longest time; the Miami Dolphins. New England couldn’t get anything going and the defence couldn’t stop a Miami offence that was missing several key weapons due to injury in the second half. The Pats also lost Stephon Gilmore, who exited the game with what was later diagnosed as a partially torn quad. Where do the Pats go from here? Reload or rebuild?
25. Denver Broncos (5-9)
Previous Rank: 20
Any hope for the Broncos that Drew Lock would build off his strong Week 14 performance and roll into the offseason with a strong finish to his second NFL season was quickly vanquished by the Bills. Lock couldn’t get much going, throwing multiple potential picks and losing a fumble, while only totalling 169 total yards of offence and a touchdown. The defence was also exposed, allowing more than 500 yards to the Bills. QB isn’t the only issue facing Broncos GM John Elway this offseason.
26. San Francisco 49ers (5-9)
Previous Rank: 22
An ugly year for the 49ers so far. It got worse after a 41-33 loss to the Cowboys that officially eliminated the 49ers from playoff contention. The team just wasn’t competitive enough to keep up with a Cowboys team who’s currently fighting for their playoff dreams, and a large part of this is due to the unfortunate injuries and COVID-19 protocols the team has had to endure throughout the season. One positive, the 49ers should be able to secure a top-15 pick in the 2021 draft to add to an excellent roster when at full health. While this season has been an ugly one, don’t be surprised if this team can return to championship contention in 2021.
27. Carolina Panthers (4-10)
Previous Rank: 27
The Panthers are down bad right now. They have now lost eight games this season by one possession. It shows they are a better team than their record shows, but they just have the inability to close out games and make big plays. An example, a Teddy Bridgewater goal-line fumble that led to the team ultimately losing to the Packers 24-16. With a top-10 pick in the NFL draft probably in sight for the Panthers, do they stick with Teddy Bridgewater, or draft a new face of the franchise and start over?
28. Houston Texans (4-10)
Previous Rank: 29
Who would’ve thought that the Texans would lose in near identical fashion to the Colts for the second time in three weeks. Two last-minute crushing turnovers has cost this team potentially both wins against the Colts. You gotta feel bad for Deshaun Watson. The Pro Bowl quarterback has been playing at a high level this season and usually gives his squad a chance to win, but the team around him just falls apart.
29. Detroit Lions (5-9)
Previous Rank: 28
If there is one man who truly deserves better in the NFL, it’s Matthew Stafford. The veteran quarterback knew the Lions needed a win on Sunday to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, so he decided to play through a painful rib injury. Stafford delivered a strong performance despite his physical issues, but it just wasn’t enough in a 46-25 loss to the Titans. Stafford is the only reason this team remains a mediocre team in this league. Without Stafford, there is no doubt this team would be one of the worst in the entire league (dare I say, worse than the NY Jets?). Free Stafford. It’s the right thing to do. #FreeStafford.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (3-10-1)
Previous Rank: 30
What just happened. The Bengals beat the Steelers on Monday night. Yes, the Burrow-less Bengals that have no offensive line, a putrid offence, and a laughable defence had their way with the 11 win Steelers on Monday. This win may have given every Steelers fan an aneurysm. Good job Bengals, I’m proud of you.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-13)
Previous Rank: 31
While the Jaguars did lose the battle against the Ravens on Sunday, they had won the war. The Jets managed to screw up their 0-16 tank by winning a game, and the Jaguars are now the top dog in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes due to Jacksonville holding the strength of schedule tiebreaker. With two weeks of football left, Jags fans may be rooting against their mustachioed hillbilly (Gardner Minshew) this week against the Bears.
32. New York Jets (1-13)
Previous Rank: 32
For the first time ever, I will not meme at all when talking about the Jets and be 100 percent serious in this section. That’s right. To start off, the Jets winning against the Rams and potentially not being able to acquire Trevor Lawrence might not be the worst thing in the world. It gives the Jets a chance to actually develop a team around Sam Darnold; something he has never really had in his tenure as the Jets starting QB. Especially since the Jets gave up so much draft capital to acquire Darnold in 2018, it would be a stupid idea to immediatly scrap someone who you invested so much into. There’s many lanes the Jets can take in this draft if they have the second pick. They can acquire offensive lineman prospect Penei Sewell, who’s said to be the best lineman prospect since Orlando Pace. The Jets can also trade down from their No. 2 pick, potentially acquiring more picks to gather more talent for their pathetic roster. They can also go the quarterback route and pick up Justin Fields if he is available, but chances are that probably isn’t the best idea. The Jets need to develop talent and foundation around a quarterback, or you can’t just expect the QB to play well. You control your destiny Jets, don’t crash and burn out.