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Wednesday, 14 December 2016 11:45

NFL Power Rankings - Week 15

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NFL Power Rankings - Week 15 Image via inscribermag.com

A look at how the NFL teams stack up as the playoff races intensify.

 1. New England Patriots (11-2) – It looks like the defense of the Patriots is finally starting to come together. With what seems to be a consistent rotation the defense has done a better job of creating pressure and forcing turnovers.


2. Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1) – The loss of Earl Thomas looks like a huge one for Seattle. In their first game without the leader of their defense, the Seahawks got torched through the air. This injury could prove to be more crippling than the New England loss of Rob Gronkowski.


3. Dallas Cowboys (11-2) – The Cowboys just saw their 11 game winning streak come to a crashing end. What makes it worse is that it came to a division rival who still has a chance at winning the division. Dallas is still the only NFL team to clinch a playoff spot thus far. That doesn't change the fact that Dak Prescott finally looked like a rookie in the biggest spot he has faced so far.


4. New York Giants (9-4) – The Giants continue to play good football after November. The biggest difference between this season and last season is their new expensive defense. The defense and the veteran knowhow of Eli Manning could be enough to lead the Giants on a deep playoff run, not to mention that Landon Collins is showing flashes of Ed Reed's 2004 season.


5. Oakland Raiders (10-3) – The Raiders may be coming off of a loss that saw them drop from the AFC's top seed to the fifth seed, but they still have a better option at quarterback than the division leading Chiefs though. The health of Derek Carr's finger could play a factor in the playoff race.


6. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) – The Chiefs are currently leading their division, but the question still remains whether Alex Smith can be trusted when asked to go out and win a game. The defense is a very tough one to go against but the question marks on the offense remain.


7. Detroit Lions (9-4) – The Lions have been one of the bigger surprises in the NFL this season. Detroit had yet another come from behind victory on Sunday. This gives them eight fourth quarter victories this season. Is that sustainable?


8. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) – In what looks like it will be a rock fight for the AFC North crown, the Steelers currently have the inside track. This is helped largely by the fact that they have won four straight. Ben Roethlisberger looks healthy again and that could be a difference maker.


9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) – They may be second in their division but the surprising Buccaneers are surging. Winners of five straight, Tampa Bay has come back from the dead in the playoff race. While currently tied with division leading Atlanta, the Buccaneers best chance for the playoffs may be a wild card berth.


10. Atlanta Falcons (8-5) – The Falcons are the current leaders in the AFC South. They have been up and down of late though. Holding the tiebreaker over the Buccaneers could prove crucial over the final few weeks.


11. Green Bay Packers (7-6) – Like the Buccaneers, it appears that the Packers have also come back from the dead of late. Green Bay has won three straight and the offense looks back to normal. Ty Montgomery may be the answer at running back in Green Bay. They are coming off of a dismantling of the Seahawks on Sunday. If Green Bay wins out they earn the division title.


12. Denver Broncos (8-5) – Sunday's loss to Tennessee was a backbreaker for the Broncos. The questions around Trevor Siemian are still hovering over the team. If they want to make the playoffs then Denver faces a must win this weekend at home against the Patriots.


13. Miami Dolphins (8-5) – If Ryan Tannehill had remained healthy the Dolphins would look like a good pick to get the AFC's sixth and final playoff seed. His injury now leaves Miami with as much question at the quarterback position as Denver has.


14. Washington Redskins (7-5-1) – The Redskins are still alive in the NFC's playoff race. A lot of that is due to Kirk Cousins continued development at quarterback. His strong play could carry Washington right into the playoffs.


15. Tennessee Titans (7-6) – The Titans are currently in second in the AFC South. In a close race down the stretch, the team with the best quarterback play could come out on top. Tennessee has been the team in the division with the most consistent quarterback play so far. A win over the Broncos last week certainly doesn't hurt either.


16. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) – The Ravens are coming off of a loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The game was never really that close despite what the scoreboard says. That loss coupled with the loss of both of their starting cornerbacks could cripple the Ravens going forward.


17. Minnesota Vikings (7-6) – At the start of the season the Vikings were one of the better stories in the NFL. After starting 5-0, Minnesota has gone just 2-6 in their last eight games. They are still alive in the NFC's playoff race but will have to continue to ride their defense.


18. Houston Texans (7-6) – The Texans are in the driver's seat for the AFC South crown. With a game this week against a very good defensive team, Houston really needs their offense to step up. The lack of production from the offense could be what ultimately does the Texans in.


19. Indianapolis Colts (6-7) – Somehow, the Colts are still alive in the AFC South race. They will need help to get there though. The organization may be better off doing a complete overhaul this offseason. But after extensions for both GM Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano, that overhaul may be unlikely.


20. Buffalo Bills (6-7) – Whispers have already come out of Orchard Park that Rex Ryan could be on his way out. This may cause the players to not focus during the league's final three weeks. The talent is still there to play spoiler the rest of the season.


21. Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1) – Road games have really done the Cardinals in this season. Arizona is just 1-5 away from the desert this season. At this point it is all about getting ready for next season. David Johnson has been a highlight for the Cardinals this season.


22. Carolina Panthers (5-8) – Three of last year's final four in the NFL may miss the playoffs this season, including both of last year's Super Bowl teams. Carolina showed up for the start of the season late this year and they were doomed from the very beginning.


23. Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) – Perhaps the issue of having a rookie quarterback, the Eagles 1-6 road record is what caused the demise of the Eagles this season. The play of rookie Carson Wentz has certainly been encouraging for Philadelphia going forward.


24. San Diego Chargers (5-8) – Head coach Mike McCoy may just be coaching out the string for the final few weeks. The Chargers haven't consistently been a good team since last decade. It may be time to look for the next quarterback in the draft.


25. New Orleans Saints (5-8) – The Saints have completely fallen off the face of the Earth over the past few seasons. That is due in large part to poor financial decisions by the front office. Somehow, someway, New Orleans needs to address that if they want to compete soon.


26. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1) – The Bengals have been a disappointment this season. After failing to help the offense out during the offseason it has sputtered for most of the season. Has Marvin Lewis finally run out of chances?


27. Los Angeles Rams (4-9) – The Rams fired head coach Jeff Fisher on Monday. For the long term view of the franchise it was probably the right move. The real travesty here is that Fisher was fired while being tied with Dan Reeves for most losses by a head coach in NFL history.


28. Chicago Bears (3-10) – The Bears have been playing better of late. Matt Barkley has been a surprising reason for that. Chicago may have found answer at the quarterback position. If that is the case the only question is what to do about Jay Cutler.


29. New York Jets (4-9) – The Jets are finally giving Bryce Petty a chance at quarterback. That is just about the only positive development for this team, at least they can see if they have anything at the quarterback position going forward.


30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) – In what has been a season of disappointments in Jacksonville, Blake Bortles may be the biggest one. This offseason may be the time for the Jaguars to move on from both Bortles and Gus Bradley.


31. San Francisco 49ers (1-12) – This has not been the inaugural season by the bay the Chip Kelly expected. He entered the year with no quarterback and still has no quarterback. That has to be his top priority this offseason.


32. Cleveland Browns (0-13) – This one thing shows exactly how bad things are going for Cleveland. It has been one calendar year since the Browns last won a game. The quarterback that won that game was none other than Johnny Manziel.  

Billy Wyatt

Billy Wyatt is a New England Patriots beat reporter for CLNS Radio. Now covering the Patriots for multiple seasons, Billy is a veteran journalist at CLNSRadio.com A graduate of the University of Hartford with a communications degree, Billy’s prior experience was as a sports writer for the Hartford Informer.You can reach Billy via e-mail at bwyatt_91@yahoo.com. And you can follow him on Twitter @Billy_NFL.