NFL Power Rankings, Week 17: Steelers rise after comeback win, a new NO.32 is crowned

Are the Chiefs really as good as we think they are? The Chiefs barely escaped with victory against the Falcons in Week 16, while the Bills, Saints, Packers and Ravens all delivered impressive victories. The Steelers also move up the rankings after an impressive second half comeback effort against the Colts, and the Jets move out of their coveted No. 32 spot for the first time this season. Come see where your favourite team ranks on the Week 17 edition of The Intermission’s NFL Power Rankings.


Getty Images

By: Thomas Gotzamanis


1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)

Previous Rank: 1

Say what you want about the Chiefs, but they haven’t looked like the usual dominant squad we’re accustomed to seeing over the past few weeks. While that may be because the Chiefs played two stout defences in the Dolphins and Saints in the last two weeks, the Falcons don’t bolster a good defence at all, and yet the offence could never really get it going. Before Mahomes connected on the go-ahead touchdown to Robinson, he threw what should have been an interception to A.J. Terrell. The Chiefs were blessed with even more luck after Young Hoe Koo’s game-tying field goal sailed wide right. While there probably isn’t much concern because the Chiefs are, well, the Chiefs, it would be more reassuring if the best team in the NFL was playing like their usual selves entering the playoffs.


2. Buffalo Bills (12-3)

Previous Rank: 2

We’ve known that the Patriots reign of terror over the AFC East has been over for a bit. Sunday was simply a ceremony for the Bills to flex their dominance over the team that had dominated them over the past couple of decades and truly showcase who owns the division now. It wasn’t close at all, as the Bills walked out of Gillette Stadium like they owned the place in a dominating 38-9 win. Josh Allen delivered another dominant performance, scoring four touchdowns on the night. He rightfully deserves to be in the conversation of MVP with Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. If you don’t believe that, you’re just not paying close enough attention to the magic brewing in Western New York.


3. Green Bay Packers (12-3)

Previous Rank: 3

One main criticism of the Packers this season has been their lack of competition they’ve faced this season. It placed some doubt on these Packers that they might not be the real deal. Aaron Rodgers and co. put all those suspicions to rest with a dominating 40-14 rout of the Titans. This win moves Green Bay one step closer to securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers made his case for his third MVP award, tossing three touchdowns on the night. While much of the credit of the Packers success is from Rodgers’ spectacular season, Davante Adams deserves more credit for being arguably the best receiver Rodgers has ever had. On Sunday, Adams became the third player in NFL history to produce at least 100 receptions with 17 touchdown catches in a season. What’s even more impressive is that Adams missed out on two weeks of action with a hamstring injury earlier in the year. Adams may be the best receiver in the NFL.


4. New Orleans Saints (11-4)

Previous Rank: 4


Getty Images

Alvin Kamara delivered a historical performance on Christmas Day, scoring 6 (yes, six) rushing touchdowns on the day, tying a 91-year-old NFL record in a 55-33 win over the Vikings. Not only did Kamara help the Saints win and secure their fourth consecutive NFC South title, he also helped secure victory for the million fantasy league owners who were lucky enough to start Kamara in their finals. While Kamara’s performance was legendary, it did hide another subpar performance from Drew Brees. The Saints will have to hope that Brees can return to form in time for the playoffs if they truly want to win a Super Bowl this year.


5. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

Previous Rank: 5

The Ravens are looking dangerous once again, staying hot with a 27-13 win over the Giants. With losses by the Browns and Colts, it puts Baltimore in control of their playoff destiny against the Bengals in Week 17. The team seems to be different from the squad we saw earlier in the season, as they’re looking like the same team that went 14-2 last season. If this team is able to make the playoffs, expect them to make some noise.


6. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)

Previous Rank: 8

The Seahawks clinched their NFC West crown with a big 20-9 win over the Rams. The defence, which was allowing 29.6 points per game through Week 10 and was surrendering yardage at a historic rate, has now allowed a league-low 13.7 points per game in the weeks since. The team is looking the most balanced and dangerous it has ever looked this year.


7. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)

Previous Rank: 10

Before the second half against the Colts, the Steelers looked finished. That ‘elite’ defence was getting picked apart, and the offence looked completely out of sync. But once Pittsburgh stepped back onto the field in the second half, they looked like a completely different squad. Ben Roethlisberger hit Diontae Johnson on a nice deep-strike TD, and that play seemed to reboot the Steelers into becoming a competitive football team once again. Big Ben tossed two more scores, and the defence returned to form in a 28-24 win that clinched the AFC North. While there are still many concerns for this team such as their inability to run the football and their terrible first half effort, it was still a nice bounce back win for a team that has been mightily struggling over the past few weeks.


8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)

Previous Rank: 13

Tom Brady looked ten years younger in a blowout 47-7 win over the Lions, throwing for four scores and piling up 348 yards in just the second half. He was then sat for Blaine Gabbert, as the game wasn’t even close. This was a promising win for the team, as they were shut out by Atlanta in the first half last week. This victory helped secure a ticket to the promised land for Tom Brady and his Bucs, and helped snap the Bucs second-longest postseason drought in the NFL entering this season. The real question is how will the NFL’s most unpredictable and inconsistent team do in the playoffs?


9. Cleveland Browns (10-5)

Previous Rank: 7

The mission was simple; defeat the 1-13 Jets and secure your ticket to the playoffs (and end the longest postseason drought in the NFL). They failed, and it was hilarious. Baker Mayfield fumbled three times, the most prominent fumble being on a fourth-and-short QB sneak deep in Jets territory. While Mayfield was without his four top wide receivers due to COVID-19 protocols, it makes you wonder why Mayfield threw the ball more than 50 times. The Browns possess one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL and were playing without four of their top receivers, yet they barely ran the ball. Well, good for you Browns! Now your postseason hopes are in jeopardy and you have to play the Steelers in Week 17 to possibly make the playoffs. Good luck.


10. Tennessee Titans (10-5)

Previous Rank: 6

The Titans were just straight up dominated by the Packers in a 40-14 loss on Sunday night at a snowy Lambeau Field. The defence was comatose, giving up touchdowns on its first three drives of the game. The Packers shut down Derrick Henry, limiting him to less than 100 yards, and dared Tannehill to try to beat them. Tannehill couldn’t do anything, throwing two interceptions and faced constant pressure the whole night. The season is not lost for the Titans yet; a win in Houston, and you clinch the AFC South. Don’t screw it up.


11. Miami Dolphins (10-5)

Previous Rank: 12


Getty Images

Fitzmagic delivered the greatest gift of all to the Dolphins a day after Christmas; an insane, no-look, game-winning dot to set the Dolphins up in field goal range to win the game with just seconds left. While Maimi has told reporters that he’ll stick with his rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa in a Week 17 must-win matchup against the Bills, we all know the system for Miami now. In baseball terms, Tua is the starter, while Fitzpatrick is the closing pitcher. While it can be argued that Fitzpatrick does deserve the starting job, Miami is still winning games. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.


12. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)

Previous Rank: 9

A statement win against the struggling Steelers would be just what was needed for these Colts to showcase to the league that they are the real deal. Things looked good in the first half, as the Colts were dominating on both sides of the ball and held a 17-point lead. But once the second-half came around, the team just fell apart. The defence couldn’t stop an offence that looked like it was on life-support in the past few weeks (and in the first half too) and Phillip Rivers and the offence couldn’t get anything going. The Colts are now in danger of missing the playoffs and missing out on claiming the AFC South. Get it together.


13. Los Angeles Rams (9-6)

Previous Rank: 11

The Rams offence continues to look lost after a 20-9 loss to the Seahawks. Even worse news, Jared Goff will have to be sidelined with a fractured thumb for Sunday’s win-and-in Week 17 matchup against the Cardinals. While Rams fans may see this as a blessing, since Goff has been one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in football this season, it probably won’t be. John Wolford is filling in for Goff in the must-win matchup. He hasn’t had any competitive action since playing for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football. Good luck Rams, you’ll probably need it.


14. Chicago Bears (8-7)

Previous Rank: 16

The Bears are somehow back in the playoff race after their terrible collapse from their 5-1 start. The team has now won three consecutive games straight, the latest a 41-17 win over the Jaguars. The Bears have now scored 30-plus points in four consecutive games, and while this may have been against some of the worst defences in the NFL, it still feels like the offence is finally on its way to not being the pathetic offence it was for a majority of the season. The Bears have a big test against the Packers this Sunday (if Green Bay decides to play their starters).


15. Arizona Cardinals (8-7)

Previous Rank: 14

The Cardinals continue to be one of the more inconsistent teams in the league, the latest a 20-12 loss (coupled with a Bears win) that moves Arizona outside the NFC playoff picture entering Week 17. The defence was pathetic, allowing C.J. Beathard (the 49ers third-string QB) to light them up for three touchdowns and giving up 183 yards on the ground to Jeff Wilson Jr. in the loss. Even worse news is that Kyler Murray suffered a leg injury in the final seconds of the game. If the Cardinals don’t have their best player heading into a Week 17 matchup against the Rams, then their season may already be over.


16. Washington Football Team (6-9)

Previous Rank: 15

The Washington Football Team failed to clinch the NFC East (again) with a 20-13 loss to the Panthers. Dwyane Haskins was starting for Washington despite the drama he faced before the game. Haskins threw for 148 yards and two interceptions, and was benched for Taylor Heinicke (WHO?) and got OUTPERFORMED by Heinicke in the loss. Haskins was then released by Washington earlier this week. Washington will hope to have Alex Smith ready for their matchup against the Eagles, as the Football Team averages 25.8 points per game in Smith’s five starts this season. If not, then Heinicke will be the man for Washington once again.


17. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9)

Previous Rank: 17

Miracles do happen, ladies and gentlemen. Michael Badgley, aka the “Money Badger” was perfect on all four of his field-goal attempts on Sunday, including the go-ahead field goal in the final minute of a 19-16 win over the Broncos. I thought hell would freeze over before the “Money Badger” ever went perfect kicking the ball, but crazier things have happened. Justin Herbert also became the all-time leader for rookie quarterback touchdowns, tossing his 28th touchdown pass of the season breaking Baker Mayfield’s record. The Chargers will hope that the team can rebound from this disappointing season to possibly become a playoff contender next season.


18. Dallas Cowboys (6-9)

Previous Rank: 21


Getty Images

The Cowboys have somehow rebounded themselves back into a position to win the NFC East with a huge 37-17 win over the Eagles. Ginger Jesus (aka Andy Dalton) led the way, tossing three touchdowns and throwing for 377 yards in the win. This show showed that the offence is still a lethal offence when there is someone who is actually a decent quarterback throwing the ball. While the Cowboys aren’t ‘good’ enough to win a playoff spot in any other division in the NFL, they may be good enough to win one in the NFC East. This division sucks.


19. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)

Previous Rank: 18

How have the Raiders defence turned into possibly one of the worst in the league over the past month. The secondary just seems to leave opposing players open in critical parts of the game, the latest a hideous defensive breakdown in the final seconds of a 26-25 loss to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins. The Raiders are one cover-zero Hail Mary win against the Jets away from entering Week 17 on a six-game losing streak. The horrible defensive breakdowns have hid the fact that Derek Carr is possibly having his best season since 2016. Please don’t waste Carr’s talent Las Vegas, he’s one of the only positive outcomes from this mediocre season of disappointment.


20. San Francisco 49ers (6-9)

Previous Rank: 26

Despite the many injuries San Francisco has had to endure over this season, the defence has still been playing at a pretty decent level. It showed in Sunday’s 20-12 win over Arizona. The man who deserves praise for this is defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. He’s led a unit that’s been ravaged by injuries to still become a top ten defense in the league. He was also one of the reasons why the 2020 Super Bowl 49ers defence was so dominant. Give the man some praise, he deserves it.


21. Atlanta Falcons (4-10)

Previous Rank: 23

This might sound crazy, but Younghoe Koo may have had the best interests in mind for Atlanta when he missed the game-tying 39-yard field goal attempt on Sunday against the Chiefs. According to tankathon.com, the loss helped Atlanta jump up to the fourth overall pick in the NFL 2021 draft. Make him the GM, he’s the smartest guy in the organization.


22. Carolina Panthers (5-10)

Previous Rank: 27

With Christian McCaffrey unlikely to play in the Panthers season finale against the Saints on Sunday, it means the Panthers will have played 13 of 16 games without their best player. When you also consider how competitive Carolina has been this season, their 5-10 record doesn’t seem that bad. Matt Rhule has brought a new competitive culture to the team, and Teddy Bridgewater has shown flashes of brilliance this year. The real question is if Carolina plans to build a future around Bridgewater. Teddy has played without several starting offensive linemen, the Panthers best player (aka CMC), and still has been a bright spot so far this season. You control your destiny Panthers.


23. Minnesota Vikings (6-9)

Previous Rank: 20

The wrath of Alvin Kamara was too much for the Vikings. They were as aggressive as a poodle on defense, looking like a team that had just given up defensively in the 52-33 loss. Alvin Kamara scored six rushing touchdowns on the day, and the Vikes gave up 583 total yards on the night. So much for the midseason resurgence this Vikings squad had. Now it’s back to the drawing board for Mike Zimmer.


24. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)

Previous Rank: 22

You know you’re a bad team if you're getting eliminated from NFC East contention before the final week of the season. You also know you’re a bad team if you’re letting the dysfunctional Cowboys squad that has been one of the laughing stocks of the NFL this season absolutely blow you out. The Eagles are both of these things. Their terrible season got worse with a 37-17 loss to the Cowboys. The loss eliminated any hopes of a fourth straight postseason for the Eagles. The defence was terrible, surrendering over 500 total yards and four touchdowns. The offence also wasn’t great, scoring just three points in the last 50 minutes of the game after scoring 14 points in the first 10. Fly Eagles fly.


25. New York Giants (5-10)

Previous Rank: 19

Believe it or not, the Giants still have a chance to win the NFC East. A win on Saturday, paired with a Washington loss to the Eagles, would punch New York a ticket to the promised land. However, the Big Blue probably won’t have it in them to even beat the Cowboys. The offence has been lacklustre (to say the least), scoring less than 20 points in five straight games. While Daniel Jones has been dealing with ankle and hamstring injuries, the offence really wouldn’t be that more productive if he were healthier. Just lose and take your better draft pick Giants, it’s better than suffering a first-round KO in the playoffs.


26. Denver Broncos (5-10)

Previous Rank: 25

The Broncos offense continues to be one of the most turnover-prone offenses in the league. Drew Lock threw two interceptions, extending his turnover streak to a league-worst 11 straight games, and rookie wideout Jerry Jeudy dropped five passes in the loss (with one drop coming in the end zone and possibly being the game-winning score). John Elway may have some difficult decisions to make this offseason regarding the state of his Broncos.


27. New England Patriots (6-9)

Previous Rank: 24

Patriots fans finally felt something they probably haven’t experienced in a long time; the Bills walking into Foxborough and absolutely walking over the Patriots in an embarrassing 38-9 loss. The loss clinched New England’s first losing season since 2000, and it marked the first time in 20 years that an AFC East team swept the Pats. I’m happy that the evil empire is now officially over, and 95% of NFL fans around the world probably are too.


28. Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)

Previous Rank: 30

The Christmas season is a time for miracles. The Football Gods delivered, allowing the Bengals to win their first road game in the regular season since Week 4 of the 2018 season. Unfortunately, it didn’t come at a great time. While it is nice that the Bengals are winning games, they’re just hurting their draft stock. Now, they’ve moved down to the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and may miss out on the true mission of this season; drafting Penei Sewell. Please just draft or sign some protection for Joe Burrow Bengals, no one wants to see him go down with a gruesome injury like he had earlier in the season ever again.


29. Houston Texans (4-11)

Previous Rank: 28

J.J. Watt is pissed. "If you can't come in and put work in in the building, go out to the practice field and work hard, do your lifts and do what you're supposed to do, you should not be here.” That was part of his rant after another ugly Texans loss. His speech reflects on the culture and work ethic of his teammates around him. It’s on the next head coach and GM to try to correct it.


30. Detroit Lions (5-10)

Previous Rank: 29


Getty Images

The Lions are ending their season looking like one of the worst teams in football. Without Matthew Stafford, this team has nothing. The defense is a laughing stock, and the offence has no weapons that can stay healthy to help Stafford. It showed it Saturday’s 47-7 loss to the Bucs. The Bucs were blowing out the Lions so badly that Blaine Gabbart came into the game. BLAINE GABBART! Trade Stafford to a real team if you want to keep any shred of integrity in your organization. #FreeStafford.


31. New York Jets (2-13)

Previous Rank: 32

The Jets buttfumbled their chance of getting Trevor Lawrence away, so why not worsen your draft stock and secure your chances of not getting the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft by winning another game. That’s right. The Jets have won back-to-back games, the latest a 23-16 win over the Browns. Sam Darnold outperformed his predecessor Baker Mayfield (who was taken two spots ahead of him in the 2018 draft), throwing for two touchdowns in what could possibly be his final home start in his Jets career. The defense also smothered Mayfield, making him fumble three times (including back-to-back fumbles that ended Cleveland’s final two possessions). No matter who is playing quarterback for the Jets next season, you can’t help but feel sorry for him.


32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)

Previous Rank: 31

Congratulations Jacksonville, you did it! You won the 2020-21 NFL Tank Bowl! All it took was losing 14 straight games and possibly your pride, but it doesn’t matter. You have secured possibly the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning; Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence will be coming to a franchise that has lost 10 or more games nine times in the past 10 years. Good luck Trevor, we will be praying for you. #PrayForTrevor.