Before you sharpen your pitchforks, a short note on how we’ve come to rank the teams as we have: all NFLTR writers have compiled their own NFL power rankings, which we’ve compiled and averaged in the list below. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor, and feel free to agree, disagree, or roast us in the comments below.
#1) Denver Broncos ( 1)
The Broncos reclaim the top spot in our ranking this week after a Seahawks loss and a home win over the Titans. Denver made things interesting for a little while as they were down 21-10 in the second quarter, but 24 answered points was enough to seal the deal. Peyton Manning are just a game up on the Patriots, which means there is no letting up in the coming weeks. That is of course assuming New England doesn’t lose.
#2) Seattle Seahawks ( 1)
There is still a case to be made that Seattle is the best team in the league based on their season, despite their recent loss to the 49ers. The good news, however, is that they did secure a playoff spot and will have a pretty easy stretch of games to finish out the regular season. The Saints are just a game back, but Seattle can wrap up home field in the coming weeks.
#3) New Orleans Saints ( 1)
New Orleans followed up a disappointing performance in Week 13 with a very solid win over the Panthers. The Saints dominated this game and did a great job of handling a very good Panthers on both sides of the ball. They will need some major help to secure home field advantage in the playoffs, but a first-round bye is almost a lock at this point in time.
#4) San Francisco 49ers ( 1)
Normally, if you beat the No. 1 team you tend to move up more than one spot, but it’s just hard to make room at the top given what the others have done to this point in the season. With that being said, San Francisco is definitely an underrated team who will end up being one of the strongest wild cards in recent memory. Good luck playing them.
#5) New England Patriots ( 2)
There is no question that the Patriots deserved to lose this game, but they managed to get bailed out on a questionable pass interference call at the end of the game. Still, they did fight back in the fourth quarter and somehow recovered a onside kick to even be in that position. Either way, other teams had more impressive wins while the Pats barely squeaked by against the Browns and lost Rob Gronkowski for the season along the way.
#6) Cincinnati Bengals ( 1)
I’m not sure if their Week 14 win says more about them or the Colts, but it’s hard to knock a team that scored 42 points against a team that will win their division, even if that division happens to be the AFC South. This marks their 7th win in the past nine games and there is still a chance they could secure the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Their remaining games consist of: @PIT, MIN, and BAL.
#7) Carolina Panthers ( 1)
Carolina is a good team, but they looked like they have a lot of refining to do if they are to actually make a playoff run. They have to win out to claim the NFC South title, which is possible, but they will need to play a lot better at home against the Saints than they did in New Orleans.
#8) Kansas City Chiefs ( 1)
The Chiefs was over so fast that it took me a while to recall what even happened this past weekend. It’s always good when a team rolls over for you in one of your final games of the season, despite the fact that you are on a three-game losing streak. That’s always appreciated. It looks like the Chiefs will be traveling to the Colts in four weeks, so they can start watching game tape of them while they coast to the No. 5 seed.
#9) Philadelphia Eagles ( 1)
Man was that game awesome! After it appeared as though any scoring at all would likely lead to a win on Sunday, the Eagles ground game ripped off 299 yards, which led to 34 points and a much needed win that has them sitting in first place in NFC East. A Cowboys contributed a loss, but it will all come down to a Week 17 game between the two. That’s assuming that DAL is able to beat GB and WAS, which is probably assumptions that I shouldn’t be making at this point in time.
#10) Arizona Cardinals ( 2)
I just really like this Cardinals team. I know they don’t have the most impressive wins this season (they did beat the Panthers early on), but they are in most of their games. The problem for ARI is that they finish out the season with SEA and SF, both of whom need wins to pad their records as they head into the postseason. Hopefully for them, SF has nothing to play for and sits their starters so that they can try to beat out the Panthers for the No. 6 seed. Of course, that’s wishful thinking.
#11) Chicago Bears ( 4)
Chicago added another dominate performance to the resume Monday night. Josh McCown looks like he could be in the discussion for one of the top-12 best QBs in the league this season and I have to admit that I was completely wrong about Alshon Jeffery. I really wasn’t buying him having a big impact in the league. That’s laughable now. Detroit contributed a loss in Week 14 and are suspect enough to lose any of their remaining games, so Chicago is clearly in the NFC North race and I would probably take them over the Lions if I were betting.
#12) Detroit Lions ( 2)
What was that? No team in the NFL is as good at shooting themselves in the foot every two or three weeks as the Lions. They should have this division wrapped up and yet the Bears and Aaron Rodgers-less Packers are in this? How do you have seven fumbles in game? Of course it’s snowing like crazy out there, but seven is just a ridiculous number. I’m not buying Detroit as a playoff contender at all.
#13) Baltimore Ravens ( 1)
The Ravens are putting it together at the right time. They have won four of their past five and are currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC. I guess I should probably say something about that crazy finish to Sunday’s game. The Vikings are a really sad team to blow Gerhart’s and Patterson’s touchdowns and still somehow allow the Ravens to throw a walk-off touchdown to end the game. It really says more about Minnesota. BAL finishes the season against three playoff teams: NE, DET and CIN.
#14) Green Bay Packers ( 2)
Sunday was the first sign of life since that tackle Shea McClellin tackle of Aaron Rodgers happened. And yet, Matt Flynn still looks like a horrible quarterback. Green Bay is still alive and that was a much needed win, but they have to get Rodgers back this weekend to have any shot at the postseason. DAL sucks, but they should still be able to beat a Matt Flynn-led Packers team at home who could also be without RB Eddie Lacy due to an ankle sprain.
#15) Dallas Cowboys ( 4)
It’s about time Jerry Jones apologizes to Cowboys fans for the Monte Kiffin hiring and making a scapegoat of Rob Ryan who is loving life in New Orleans. The Cowboys don’t have a defense to speak of and no matter how good their offense plays, there is a decent chance they could still lose any game. A Week 15 loss to an Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy-less Packers team at home would probably be enough to fire everyone.
#16) Indianapolis Colts ( 3)
What’s going on here? If the season were to end today, the Colts would get my vote for the worst playoff bound team. Since their Week 8 bye, their only wins have come against AFC South opponents who are some of the worst teams in the league. Injuries have taken a toll, but what team isn’t dealing with injuries at this point? Thanks to a sad division, the Colts will likely host the Chiefs in round one of the playoffs.
#17) Miami Dolphins ( 1)
The Dolphins move up a spot after a much needed road win against the Steelers, which very well could have been a loss had Antonio Brown stayed in bounds. Either way, MIA is 7-6 and tied with the Ravens for the final spot in the AFC. The good news for MIA is that their schedule is much more favorable down the stretch than BAL’s. They get NE, BUF and NYJ to close things out. Two wins could be enough to secure a playoff spot.
#18) Pittsburgh Steelers ( 1)
Sunday’s loss to MIA effectively end PIT’s chances of making the postseason. It’s still possible they get in, but it will take winning out and some major luck to pull this off. A rebuild is needed, even if they keep Big Ben in place as their quarterback. They need a better foundation of young to build around, but by then Roethlisberger may not have a lot left in the tank.
#19) San Diego Chargers ( 1)
Good for Phillip Rivers showing up Eli Manning like that. Although Manning has two Super Bowl rings, Sunday’s win had to be worth something. SD’s new coaching staff really deserves a good deal of credit for turning things around with Rivers and getting him back to being a very good QB. However, reports from this week mentioned that OC Ken Whisenhunt will interview for the Texans job and he should have opportunities beyond that this offseason. That could hurt them moving forward, but Mike McCoy is more than capable of ensuring their offense remains competitive.
#20) Tennessee Titans ( 2)
TEN moves up two spots, despite losing 4 of their last 5 games. The Titans played very well for just over a quarter and then things unraveled. This, of course, is a very small consolation, but I’d probably take TEN over all of the other teams below. It looks like there will be a house cleaning this offseason, which will likely include the coaching staff and possibly even RB Chris Johnson. There is young talent to work with, but they have to get Verner locked up.
#21) St. Louis Rams ( 2)
It looks like the Rams could be done winning games this season. They proved they can win some surprising games with Kellen Clemans as their quarterback, but it’s better to play to people’s expectations of this team from here on. They have currently would have the No. 2 pick thanks to the Shanahan’s and they could easily get their selection in the top-10. At some point all of these first-round picks are going to develop into a Super Bowl contender right?
#22) New York Jets ( 2)
The Jets are making the climb back up the rankings after they ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday. The bad news; they get the Panthers in Week 15. A win against CAR would be enough for them to have a shot at the postseason. I do think the Jets are lower than they should be, but their losses are as ugly as they come, which has impact our level of confidence with this team.
#23) New York Giants ( 2)
The Giants looked like the team that got off to a spectacular 0-6 start this season on Sunday. It only gets worse in Week 15 when they take on a Seahawks team who is coming off of a loss. My guess is New York finishes the year 6-10, which isn’t exactly going out on a limb or anything.
#24) Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( 6)
Watch out! The surging Buccaneers are in a position to crack the top-20 next week if they can get a miraculous win over the 49ers. That’s probably not going to happen, but TB has played well enough to deserve a shred of optimism. After all they have won 4 of their past 5 games.
#25) Buffalo Bills ( 2)
BUF has quietly lost 7 of their past 9 nine games and really looks like a horrible team. Rookie QB E.J. Manuel contributed 4 interceptions to their loss against the Buccaneers. A loss to the Jaguars on Sunday would go a long way towards securing a top-5 pick.
#26) Jacksonville Jaguars ( 5)
I’m honestly stunned that the Jaguars now have 4 wins on the season. It’s just incredible! They could actually win out, as crazy as that sounds, and finish with a record of 7-9, which seems almost inconceivable when you consider that they lost their first 8 games. Good job by you Chad Henne.
#27) Oakland Raiders (2)
OAK has put themselves in a great position to not win another game this season. Although Matt McGloin continues to play pretty well, the coaching staff is now getting Terrelle Pryor more involved in what appears to be strategically move designed to prevent them from winning games. They finish out the year with KC, SD and DEN.
#28) Cleveland Browns (1)
We should have moved the Browns up a few just for the fact that they probably should have beaten the Patriots on Sunday. Although allowing the Pats to recover that onside kick is pretty bad. Josh Gordan is amazing and could go down as one of the greatest supplemental draft picks of all time. Just remember Mike Holmgren made that move, as surprising that is.
#29) Minnesota Vikings (2)
I was actually hoping that MIN would have won that game just so I could write more about Matt Cassel being their future quarterback. Still, it wasn’t his fault they lost. Adrian Peterson looked to have suffered a serious injury, but it now appears as though he could be back either this weekend or next. I’m out of things to say about MIN.
#30) Atlanta Falcons (2)
It’s just sad to see the current state of the Atlanta Falcons. By all accounts, they should have won this game. Green Bay looks like the most short-handed team in the league right now and yet you can’t beat them. Matt Ryan looks like he has no idea what to do out there and reports from Monday indicated that their OC is looking to jump ship for the college ranks.
#31) Washington Redskins (2)
WAS may actually deserve the No. 32 spot just based on principle. I just can’t believe that they are on pace to end up with the No. 2 overall pick, despite trading for their franchise quarterback last year. The good news is that WAS should be in for a busy offseason.
#32) Houston Texans
HOU fired their head coach following a loss to the Jaguars, which is certainly justified. The Texans are currently working on an impressive eleven-game losing streak. I have nothing more to say about this.