As the regular season draws to a close, here is a look at updated NFL Power Rankings for Week 16 that I composed to get a better look at which teams can expect to make the postseason, and which teams should start looking ahead to the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Seahawks are the best team in the NFL, not just the NFC. Their performance on Sunday proved that, though critics are still skeptical.
Here is a look at where the rest of the NFL stands after a weekend of intriguing games and just two weeks left in the regular season.
1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2)
The Seahawks didn’t just win their game against the New York Giants, they dominated. The defense forced five interceptions and shutout the Giants at MetLife Stadium, something that had not happened to New York since 1995. The Seahawks still aren’t getting the credit they deserve but if they win out, they will have 14 wins for the first time in franchise history.
2. Denver Broncos (11-3)
Widely regarded the best team in football, the Broncos fell flat against the San Diego Chargers and lost for the first time at home on Sunday. The loss showed their vulnerability, but with Peyton Manning heading an explosive offense, it’s hard to argue that this is the best team in the AFC.
3. Carolina Panthers (10-4)
The Panthers have won nine of their last 10 games after starting the season 1-3. They have hit their groove and have every opportunity to win the NFC South this season. Kudos if you predicted that when the Seahawks beat them in Week 1. The Panthers may be one of the most underestimated teams in the league, another reason they may pose the biggest threat to other top teams in the NFC.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles exploded for five touchdowns on Sunday, which was a bummer because he played against me in my fantasy league and put up 59 points. Ridiculous. He is the heart and soul of the team and as long as he keeps getting the ball, the Chiefs will be a competitor in the postseason.
5. New Orleans Saints (10-4)
The Saints have started to cool like the weather but at the wrong time, especially after getting outplayed by the Rams on Sunday. They can make up for it by beating the Panthers on the road in Week 16 with the NFC South title on the line.
6. San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
Simply because the 49ers beat the Buccaneers on Sunday doesn’t mean they are better than the Saints or Panthers in the NFC. San Francisco lost to both of those teams in consecutive weeks earlier in the year and should have lost to the Seahawks at Candlestick Park. They are hot right now though, winners of four-straight heading into a matchup with the Falcons.
7. New England Patriots (10-4)
The Patriots are a tough team to figure out. We all know they are good but they have put up some questionable performances this season, losing to the Jets earlier in the year, falling to the Dolphins on Sunday and barely beating the Texans a few weeks ago. On the flip side, they have beaten the Broncos and Saints this season. Football, huh? They are a playoff-team because of their quarterback. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
8. Arizona Cardinals (9-5)
A pleasant surprise. The Cardinals are making a late push to the postseason, winners of six of their last seven, including a win in overtime against the Titans on Sunday. This is the third NFC West team in the Top 10. Remember when the Seahawks needed a losing record to win the division a few years ago?
9. Indianapolis Colts (9-5)
The Colts, like most of the NFL, dominated the Texans on Sunday but we will see their true colors when they visit the Chiefs on Sunday.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5)
A loss to the Steelers docked them in my rankings — they needed 13 unanswered fourth quarter points just to make it close. Don’t count them out but don’t bank on them either.
11. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
Justin Tucker had to hit six field goals, including a 61-yarder, in order for the Ravens to beat the Lions on Monday Night Football. The defending Super Bowl champs might be able to make a late push, but that all depends if they can rely on guys other than their kicker to put points on the scoreboard.
12. Miami Dolphins (8-6)
Beating the Patriots was huge for this team. A loss and they would have nearly guaranteed elimination from the playoffs. Even if they don’t make the postseason, this season has been an accomplishment for the franchise — a win on Sunday against the Bills clinches their first winning record since 2008.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)
Nick Foles has begun to cool off but the Eagles still boast one of the games’ best running backs and thanks to their choke-artist rivals in Dallas, they can still win the division. They will visit the Cowboys in Week 17 which may decide who the crown goes to.
14. Chicago Bears (8-6)
Chicago got past the Browns on Sunday but the question is, which quarterback is the better choice for the team? Jay Cutler or Josh McCown? Regardless of who is throwing the ball, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are beasts that will catch most anything coming their way.
15. San Diego Chargers (7-7)
They upset the Broncos in Denver but that may be the last hurrah for a team with one of the worst defenses in the league. They are on the bubble — and that’s being generous– in regards to a playoff spot.
16. Detroit Lions (7-7)
A Monday Night loss to a team who only scored via field goal? At home no less? Ouch. The team is fading and fading fast, losers of four of their last five. Luckily, they only have to play the Giants and Vikings to wrap up the season, but knowing the NFL, that could mean anything.
17. St. Louis Rams (6-8)
Led by Zac Stacy, the Rams are keeping their heads above water after losing Sam Bradford to a season-ending knee injury. Unfortunately, the team is buried in a tough division and though they have played competitively in big games (i.e. Seahawks, Saints) they still have a lot to work on this offseason.
18. Green Bay Packers (7-6-1)
Enter meme: Not sure if Packers won game against Cowboys, or Cowboys lost game against Packers? Regardless, the biggest comeback in franchise history helped the Packers to another win as they anxiously await the return of Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately, it looks like they may miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8)
The Steelers dug themselves into too big of a hole to hope for anything this year. They started the year 0-4 and have played only decently since then. Give them credit for not giving up, but it’s time to start thinking about next year.
20. Dallas Cowboys (7-7)
If the Cowboys don’t win the division, they have absolutely no one to blame but themselves. They have had so many opportunities to run away with the title, I’ve lost count. It’s like they try blowing games just because they know people will talk about it.
21. New York Jets (6-8)
Rumor has it that there is mutual interest between the Jets and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. He would be a perfect fit for so many reasons. Statistically, the passing game for the Jets is among the league’s worst. And Manziel’s drama-filled life would just fit in New York. Perfect!
22. Tennessee Titans (5-9)
It’s hard to remember that the Titans started the year 3-1. That was a long time ago and the team has a lot of holes that need to be filled this offseason. Titan-Sized holes. See what I did there? No? Okay then…moving on…
23. New York Giants (5-9)
The Giants got shutdown like the government on Sunday. They put up as many points as I did on Sunday. Yes, they were facing a daunting Seahawks defense, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. The G-Men started the year 0-6 and never recovered. They will miss the playoffs for the second-consecutive year.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10)
Since losing to the Seahawks in Week 9, the Bucs have won four of six. Main focus for next year? Quarterback. Mike Glennon has played decently, but Tampa Bay needs to fix the NFL’s worst passing offense in order to be competitive next year.
25. Buffalo Bills (5-9)
The Bills won on Sunday but it was against the Jaguars and that’s why they aren’t ranked higher. CJ Spiller has not performed up-to-par this year and that has seriously affected the team, which could have been a contender in the AFC East this year.
26. Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1)
They blew past the Eagles but the only thing to be excited about is Adrian Peterson. He is still tearing up defenses and Minnesota needs to compensate by finding a big-time quarterback in the draft to take some pressure off Peterson.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10)
At the start of the season, I thought this would be the worst team in the NFL. That is not the case but the Jaguars have a lot of work to do to avoid starting next year 0-8 like they did this season.
28. Cleveland Browns (4-10)
The Browns put up a fight against the Bears, but have lost five straight to take themselves out of the playoff picture.
29. Oakland Raiders (4-10)
The Raiders put up 31 points against the Chiefs on Sunday, but will finish under .500 yet again. They have not had a winning record since 2002.
30. Atlanta Falcons (4-10)
I can’t believe this team is this bad, especially after watching them play for the NFC Championship not one year ago. One can only hope they grab a great draft pick and rebuild to get back to being competitive in the South next season.
31. Washington Redskins (3-11)
Robert Griffin III is done for the year and so are the Redskins hopes of making the postseason again. Those hopes were dashed long ago.
32. Houston Texans (2-12)
Twelve straight losses? Do you really need an explanation as to why they are at the bottom of this list?