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NFL power rankings: Lions, Giants, Chargers boost playoff outlooks; Cowboys, Patriots, Jets fade for Week 16

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Week 15 in the NFL punched a few more postseason tickets in the AFC and the NFC. Some teams improved their chances to join that party soon, while others hampered their situations.

Another unpredictable regular season is three weeks from ending. Through that, there are still some reliable powerhouses emerging on the short list of Super Bowl 57 favorites.

With it beginning to look a lot like the playoffs ahead of Christmas weekend, here’s separating the nice from naughty and checking the list  – and checking it twice — to see how all 32 teams stack up against each other into Week 16.

MORE: Updated NFL playoff picture after Week 15

NFL power rankings Week 16

1. Philadelphia Eagles 13-1 (previous week: 1)

The Eagles perhaps were looking a little ahead to the Cowboys showdown in Dallas in Week 16 with their slow start in frigid Chicago against the Bears. Maybe they didn’t figure out whether to run or pass more, but they eventually figured out once again it doesn’t matter because they can do both at a high level with MVP front-runner Jalen Hurts.

2. Buffalo Bills 11-3 (2)

The Bills’ offense dug a little deeper and diversified around the passing and running of Josh Allen to come through in tough wintry conditions against the Dolphins. Now they got to go back to cleaning up a few things on defense for Sean McDermott.

3. Kansas City Chiefs 11-3 (3)

The Chiefs took their time to figure out the Texans, but then they kept getting a late-season spark from Jerick McKinnon and their backfield. Kansas City is a different kind of dangerous offense now with Patrick Mahomes as his weapons keep expanding.

MORE: How 49ers can improve NFC playoff position after clinching

4. San Francisco 49ers 10-4 (4)

The 49ers came out with the right run-heavy game plan with Christian McCaffrey against the Seahawks and let the defense go into domination mode again, making things easier for Brock Purdy. The reward was the NFC West title with now bigger aspirations in tow.

5. Cincinnati Bengals 10-4 (6)

The Bengals rumbled in Tampa Bay to quickly erase a 17-point deficit thanks to Joe Burrow and the offense balance by timely defense vs. the GOAT. Burrow is making his late case for MVP.

6. Minnesota Vikings 11-3 (8)

The Vikings’ defensive woes have been lingering all season and they showed up in a big way in a atypical non-close game in Detroit. They still should win the NFC North soon, but there’s less confidence they will make much noise in the playoffs beyond the wild-card round.

7. Dallas Cowboys 10-4 (5)

The Cowboys overlooked the Jaguars and their defense struggled for the second straight week against a weaker AFC South opponent. Dak Prescott’s sloppy play also caught up to him. Let’s hope the Eagles next week in Dallas will help clean up their act.

8. Los Angeles Chargers 8-6 (10)

The Chargers’ defense is finding more pop to work around its run defense woes and the offense is just fine passing often with Justin Herbert. They are becoming a dangerous team and coming through on their talent with better health on the way.

9. Baltimore Ravens 9-5 (7)

The Ravens’ offense was sputtering with Lamar Jackson and those woes have continued with Tyler Huntley. The running game with JK Dobbins is a a new bright spot on top of the dominant defense, but the passing game needs to get better to avoid a quick playoff exit.

MORE: Breaking down the AFC North playoff picture

10. Miami Dolphins 8-6 (9)

The Dolphins did their best offensively with Tua Tagovailoa, his big-play wideouts and the running game on the road in wintry Buffalo, but their defensive issues keep popping up to limit their upside.

11. New York Giants 8-5-1 (12)

The Giants got a much-needed get-right game for their running game and defense. That’s exactly what happened on the road against the Commanders on Sunday night to renew confidence in their wild-card hopes.

12. Detroit Lions 7-7 (17)

The Lions keep bringing heavy momentum with their offense still finding big plays from new players for Jared Goff and their defense continuing to improve in every aspect. It might be difficult to deny them a playoff berth under fiery Dan Campbell now.

Dan Campbell

13. Washington Commanders 7-6-1 (11)

The Commanders couldn’t find reliable offense with Taylor Heinicke and their defense regressed to some early-season ways. That’s not good timing for their playoff hopes with the 49ers next.

14. Tennessee Titans 7-7 (13)

The Titans kept riding Derrick Henry offensively against the Chargers, but they were once again limited with other sources of scoring. Their loose grip on the AFC South may end with them falling out of the playoffs.

15. Seattle Seahawks 7-7 (14)

The Seahawks ran into the 49ers buzzsaw on Thursday night despite scrapping until the end with Geno Smith. Their run defense isn’t playoff-worthy at the moment.

MORE: Breaking down the Jaguars’ playoff chances

16. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-8 (20)

The Jaguars deserve this bump up for how they took it to the Titans and Cowboys with an offense that keeps getting better because Trevor Lawrence has made the jump as a well-rounded franchise passer to take full advantage of his weapons.

17. New England Patriots 7-7 (15)

What was that? The Patriots’ offense will need to answer to Bill Belichick after their boneheaded forced lateral extravaganza against Josh McDaniels’ Raiders. They’re just not playing the familiar smart and efficient football.

18. New York Jets 7-7 (16)

The Jets knew their offense was headed for regression again with Zach Wilson needing to start for an injured Mike White. But they had to be disappointed that their reliable defense let them down in key moments for Robert Saleh.

D.J. Reader and Tom Brady

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-8 (18)

The Buccaneers aren’t a good team and the GOAT is doing his best to hold them together. Todd Bowles has been under fire and his defense giving up a big lead to the Bengals won’t do him any favors.

20. Las Vegas Raiders 6-8 (23)

The Raiders had another wacky ending, with their home comeback win over the Patriots being just as improbable as their road collapsing loss to the Rams. The wild ride this time is headed to end without a wild card.

21. Cleveland Browns 6-8 (24)

The Browns have played well against division foes to put up some respectable results as they reboot late offensively with Deshaun Watson. They can only wonder what could have been with better run defense.

MORE: How Steelers can still make the NFL playoffs

22. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-8 (25)

The Steelers kept their slim chances of another non-losing season with Mike Tomlin alive by shoring up their defense and getting their offense going in the ideal way in Carolina. 

23. Green Bay Packers 5-8 (22)

The Packers still have an outside shot of earning an NFC wild-card spot and that will keep Aaron Rodgers and the offense motivated enough to try to carry the defense against the Rams on Monday night.

24. Carolina Panthers 5-9 (19)

The Panthers went back to struggling to run the ball and not hiding Sam Darnold well against the Steelers. They can still win the NFC South by winning out, but that’s highly unlikely now.

25. New Orleans Saints 5-9 (29)

The Saints marched away with a huge win over the Falcons to create a three-way tie for second place in the NFC South. On paper, being less than No. 2 behind the Buccaneers has been a disappointment.

26. Atlanta Falcons 5-9 (21)

The Falcons have a running game and some promising offensive rookies, including Desmond Ridder, Drake London and Tyler Allgeier. They will need to give them more help and shore up the defense for better results with Arthur Smith in Year 3.

27. Los Angeles Rams 4-9 (27)

The Rams got some positive vibes with Baker Mayfield in Week 15 and they’ll try to keep that up with a lot of help from the running game in Lambeau Field on Monday night.

MORE: How Vikings completed biggest comeback in NFL history vs. Colts

28. Indianapolis Colts 4-9-1 (28)

The Colts’ nightmare season appropriately involved a Saturday meltdown under Jeff Saturday. The offensive underachieving has really dragged down an often stingy and playmaking defense. That D unraveled with little help in the second half in Minnesota.

29. Denver Broncos 4-10 (30)

The Broncos’ defense got a huge break against a shell of a Cardinals offense as they played more contained and leaned on their defense with Brett Rypien at quarterback. It’s little solace given how badly the first season with Russell Wilson has gone.

30. Arizona Cardinals 4-10 (26)

The Cardinals showed their inept offense without Kyler Murray and are now eliminated from playoff contention in a critical season under Kliff Kingsbury. They might be in store for huge changes ahead of next season.

Kliff Kingsbury

31. Chicago Bears 3-11 (31)

The Bears showed their typical run-heavy burst with Justin Fields and David Montgomery to challenge the Eagles, but their disastrous defense against run and pass caught up to them against the ideal dual threat opponent.

32. Houston Texans 1-12-1 (32)

The Texans aren’t quitting at all for Lovie Smith, pushing the Chiefs to the limit after doing the same against the Cowboys. They just don’t have enough juice to finish games, however, so they will settle for turning the page for real with the No. 1 overall draft pick.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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