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NFL Power Rankings, Week 16: Statement Games

Just when you thought you knew who the best teams in the NFL were, Week 15 happened.

The Falcons silenced a lot of critics on Sunday.
The Falcons silenced a lot of critics on Sunday.
Scott Cunningham

Last week's narrative: New England is unstoppable. Atlanta is a farce. Eli Manning & company are hitting their late-season stride. Arizona can't score to save their lives.

Yeah, about that...

There were a lot of teams that had very big statement games in Week 15. Our latest batch of power rankings reflects how some teams seem poised for a deep postseason run while others look like they might not even qualify.

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

  1. Broncos (11-3, +1): They haven't lost in 72 days. With home games against Cleveland and Kansas City to end the season, they probably won't be threatened to lose for at least another 25.
  2. 49ers (10-3-1, +1): San Francisco had the biggest statement of Week 15: they're capable of beating any team, anywhere.
  3. Falcons (12-2, +2): After the walloping they put on New York Sunday, maybe it's time to rethink the popular opinion that they'll be one-and-done again in the playoffs.
  4. Texans (12-2, NC): They finally locked up the AFC South, but Houston obviously has their sights set on bigger things.
  5. Patriots (10-4, -4): They had a valiant comeback against a very good team fall short on Sunday. However, they simply must stop giving up so many big plays if they want to get back to the Super Bowl.
  6. Packers (10-4, NC): Another NFC North title for Green Bay. But their shaky special teams could cost them a close game in January.
  7. Seahawks (9-5, +3): Fifty points in back-to-back December games? Yeah, I'd say that Seattle is playing their best football right about now.
  8. Redskins (8-6, +3): No RGIII? No problem! From 3-6 to current NFC East leaders--what a turnaround in Washington.
  9. Ravens (9-5, -1): Well, Joe Flacco, you're officially out of excuses. Play better or your team is making an early exit.
  10. Colts (9-5, -1): It's obvious that they're not the class of the AFC South yet, but Indianapolis still has a very good chance of going from the worst team in the league to the playoffs in one season.
  11. Giants (8-6, -4): New York's playoff chances took a huge hit with their loss in Atlanta. But not as big as the hit fantasy football owners of any G-Men took in their playoffs.
  12. Cowboys (8-6, +1): After an impressive win over Pittsburgh, it's simple for Dallas--win and they're in. But the Cowboys tend to prove that nothing is simple.
  13. Vikings (8-6, +2): Adrian Peterson is the undisputed best running back in football. If he keeps this up for a few more years, he might be considered the best of all time.
  14. Bengals (8-6, +2): Cincinnati has a good chance at winning the AFC North. They also have a good chance of missing the playoffs altogether. But at least they get to control their fate.
  15. Bears (8-6, -3): The bad news: they've gone from 7-1 to the 8th seed in the NFC. The good news: they play two patsies (Detroit, Arizona) to finish their season. If they don't make it in, they didn't deserve to.
  16. Steelers (7-7, -2): They're still guaranteed a playoff spot if they win out. But winning has been far from a guarantee for the struggling Steelers.
  17. Saints (6-8, +3): Too little too late, but I know Drew Brees fantasy owners appreciated the effort against Tampa Bay.
  18. Rams (6-7-1, -1): They're not mathematically eliminated yet, but AP's latest victims will most likely be enjoying their annual tradition of watching the playoffs from home.
  19. Panthers (5-9, +6): Before the season, many people thought Carolina could play like this in December. It's just too bad that they preceded it with three awful months.
  20. Dolphins (6-8, +4): Mediocre Miami. Not much else to say about this team.
  21. Buccaneers (6-8, -3): Last year, they finished the season with ten straight losses. This year, it looks like they might finish the season with six straight losses.
  22. Jets (6-8, -3): They have mercifully been eliminated from the playoffs. It would have been awful to watch this team in January. But on the other hand, think of how much money you could have made betting against Mark Sanchez on the road in the playoffs!
  23. Browns (5-9, -2): Cleveland looks destined for their fifth consecutive season with double-digit losses.
  24. Chargers (5-9, -2): After the final gun in two weeks, how many minutes will pass before the announcement of Norv Turner's firing? I'll put the over/under at 30.5.
  25. Titans (5-9, +3): This team has no identity to speak of outside of "not being a very good team".
  26. Bills (5-9, -3): Smart move, Buffalo--playing like that in Toronto ensures that nobody will want to move your team to Canada.
  27. Cardinals (5-9, +3): Reason #5,382 why anything is possible in the NFL: Arizona didn't score 20 in any of their nine consecutive losses. They scored 38 against Detroit. Go figure.
  28. Lions (4-10, -2): From a young playoff team to...well, the same old Lions. What a disappointing season in Detroit.
  29. Eagles (4-10, -2): Philly could play spoiler the last two weeks with games against Washington and New York. But they probably won't.
  30. Raiders (4-10, +1): Of course their win against Kansas City featured zero touchdowns.
  31. Jaguars (2-12, -2): One loss away from the outright worst record in franchise history!
  32. Chiefs (2-12, NC): Sadly, they can only tie their worst record in franchise history, set all of four years ago.

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