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NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Changing of the Guard

There's a new team atop SB Nation Minnesota's power rankings this week.

Donte Stallworth, Tom Brady, and the Pats are the new team to beat.
Donte Stallworth, Tom Brady, and the Pats are the new team to beat.
Jim Rogash

Are we seeing a seismic shift in NFL power with three weeks remaining in the regular season? For weeks, we have alternated Atlanta and Houston at the top of the power rankings. With both teams suffering ugly road losses in Week 14, there's a new team at the top.

Did the two 11-2 teams peak too early? The past few NFL seasons have shown us that it's all about who's playing the best at the end of the year. A great example: Green Bay. They snuck into the playoffs in 2010 and ended up winning the Super Bowl. Last year, they were a 15-1 juggernaut that got bounced in their first playoff game.

Is this swap of top teams a sign of things to come or is this just a one-week hiccup? There are only three more weeks to decide.

As always, we list our power rankings with each team's record followed by how their ranking changed compared to last week.

  1. Patriots (10-3, +2): Bill Belichick had a great game plan and his team executed it to perfection. He took J.J. Watt completely out of the game on Monday as the Pats cruised to their seventh straight win.
  2. Broncos (10-3, +2): If they can win at Baltimore this week, Denver should have a very good chance at finishing the regular season on an 11-game win streak. They host Cleveland and Kansas City the following two weeks.
  3. 49ers (9-3-1, +2): When they're on, San Francisco can be the most dominant team in football. But they still don't look like they're built to come from behind, even with Colin Kaepernick at the helm.
  4. Texans (11-2, -2): Houston has become the very definition of "not ready for prime time". They've been embarrassed twice in front of a national audience.
  5. Falcons (11-2, -4): This is the awful game that Atlanta was hinting they were capable of for weeks. If a 3-9 team can dominate you like that, what will a playoff opponent be able to do?
  6. Packers (9-4, +1): Green Bay hasn't made it look pretty, but they can clinch the NFC North as soon as next week. But might they actually have a run game to help Aaron Rodgers now?
  7. Giants (8-5, +3): Someone needs to convince the Giants how much trouble they're in before every game. It obviously makes them play their best.
  8. Ravens (9-4, -2): It's hard to get fired from a 9-4 team, but Cam Cameron earned it with how his offense was performing. Can we expect Jim Caldwell to showcase Ray Rice more often?
  9. Colts (9-4, NC): Indianapolis is the Green Bay of the AFC--they keep racking up ugly wins.
  10. Seahawks (8-5, +1): Whenever you're making people feel bad for the other team, you're doing something right. It looks like we'll see Seattle in the postseason.
  11. Redskins (7-6, +2): The hopes of a nation's capital now rest on how quickly Robert Griffin III can return from that scary-looking knee injury. If he can go, there's no reason that Washington can't snag a Wild Card spot at the very least.
  12. Bears (8-5, -4): This team was once a 7-1 defensive juggernaut. Now they're a team that might be on the outside looking in if Jay Cutler can't go this week.
  13. Cowboys (7-6, +3): Will this year be different, or will the 'Boys falter down the stretch and miss the playoffs again?
  14. Steelers (7-6, -2): Not a good time to lay an egg against a San Diego team that hadn't won in ages. Their game in Dallas this week is now a de facto playoff game for both squads.
  15. Vikings (7-6, +2): Who needs a good quarterback when you have Adrian Peterson running over everything in his path? The playoffs are still a long shot, but it appears that Leslie Frazier knows his team's identity.
  16. Bengals (7-6, -2): Cincy is a solid team, but their tough schedule might keep them at home in January.
  17. Rams (6-6-1, +1): They host Minnesota in a game with some actual NFC playoff implications. Who would have thought that two weeks ago?
  18. Buccaneers (6-7, -3): You don't deserve to make the playoffs when you lose at home to a team coming in on an eight-game losing streak. Tampa needs a couple more pieces to make a run in 2013.
  19. Jets (6-7, +4): They play one of the easiest schedules in the league down the stretch. Could this awful offense actually sneak into the postseason?! (Let's hope not.)
  20. Saints (5-8, -1): Drew Brees is trying to do too much and it isn't working. His 18 picks are tied for the league worst.
  21. Browns (5-8, +3): Three wins in a row is great for this young team, but it's an incredibly tough finish for Cleveland: home for Washington, at Denver, at Pittsburgh. Yikes.
  22. Chargers (5-8, +4): From the "we did not see that coming" department: San Diego won their first game in Pittsburgh...ever.
  23. Bills (5-8, -3): Doesn't it seem like Buffalo is in this same spot every December?
  24. Dolphins (5-8, -3): Nobody expected much from this team before the season. Now it's finally coming to fruition.
  25. Panthers (4-9, +2): We finally saw the Carolina and Cam Newton that we all expected this season! Too bad it's way too late to accomplish anything.
  26. Lions (4-9, -4): They keep dominating teams statistically, yet they keep losing.
  27. Eagles (4-9, +3): Just when you think Philly has mailed it in, they pull out a last-second victory for Andy Reid. (He's still gone at the end of the year.)
  28. Titans (4-9, -3): Sure, this season has been a flop. But at least they'm sure there are a few Titans players that might be good down the road but I just don't care enough to look into it.
  29. Jaguars (2-11, NC): More proof that the AFC South is very top-heavy.
  30. Cardinals (4-9, -2): It's hard to imagine a loss worse than the one Arizona suffered in Seattle. How the hell was this team 4-0?!
  31. Raiders (3-10, +1): At least the AFC South has two good teams--the AFC West has the two worst in the league and the Chargers to "compete" with Denver.
  32. Chiefs (2-11, -1): The season can't end soon enough for Kansas City fans.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.