clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Power Rankings 2015: Week 16

New, comments

The 2015 NFL puzzle just has to put the final pieces in place, but we have a pretty clear idea of what the end picture might be.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 NFL puzzle just has to put the final pieces in place, but we have a pretty clear idea of what the end picture might be.

32. Tennessee Titans (3-11, Previously #32) - The Titans got outclassed by the Patriots, earning themselves loss number 11 on the year.  With their last two games coming against opponents desperate for wins to stay alive (Houston and Indianapolis), Tennessee has set themselves up nicely for another top three draft pick.

31. Cleveland Browns (3-11, Previously #29) - A week after picking up a win and Manziel looking decent, the Browns are back to Browning things up.  Next two games against  KC and Pittsburgh?  Hello 3-13.

30. Dallas Cowboys (4-10, Previously #31) - They played the Jets very close, before falling by 3.  That performance probably says more about the Jets likelihood (or lack there of) of making a run in the playoffs, should they hold on to a spot, than it does about the Cowboys.

29. Baltimore Ravens (4-10, Previously #28) - Boy, are these Ravens bad.  Struggling to get things going without Flacco and Forsett, the Ravens have failed to put up more than 14 points for the third straight game.  Nothing's happening in Baltimore until next year, folks.

28. San Francisco 49ers (4-10, Previously #27) - Another week, another loss.  The 49ers showed a little bit of life throughout the season, but they were the dumpster fire that many expected, for the most part.  The week 16 game against the Lions won't impact the playoffs, but is definitely one to watch (at least the box score) in terms of draft day implications.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9, Previously #25) - They needed a win to stay alive, and they were going against the coldest team in the NFL.  Still, the Jaguars couldn't get it done.  Another sub .500 season for the Jaguars, but at least this one came with a few more bright spots than usual.

26. Miami Dolphins (5-9, Previously #23) - The Dolphins found a way to under perform even worse this season, taking a 16 point beating from the now 4-10 San Diego Chargers.  A popular preseason Wild Card pick, some were even taking the Dolphins as legit threats to dethrone the Patriots in the East this season... let's pretend that we were all smarter than that.

25. San Diego Chargers (4-10, Previously #30) - With talks of the Chargers possibly moving to LA, the Chargers picked up the win in what could be the last game played in San Diego.  While it means little for the season, it could mean a lot to some of the fans in attendance.  With an offense led by Philip Rivers, 4-10 is inexcusable.

24. Atlanta Falcons (7-7, Previously #26) - Atlanta snapped a 6 game losing streak with a 6 point win over the Jaguars, but it's probably just a bit too late for the birds.  After a 5-0 start, the Falcons seemed well on their way to the playoffs, now they find themselves needing a miracle to stay alive.

23. New Orleans Saints (5-9, Previously #24) - It's been a very poor season all around.  A team that always seemed right around the corner, but never really even got it started.  The defense is a mess and the offense, while dangerous, is no longer the feared juggernaut it once was.

22. Detroit Lions (5-9, Previously #22) - Matt Stafford and company took advantage of a soft defense.  Detroit has shown flashes this season, but have ultimately been a let down.  The Lions have a lot of tinkering to do, but there are definitely some solid pieces in place.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8, Previously #21) - Back to back losses have taken the Buccaneers out of playoff contention, but the season went just about as well as you could realistically hope.  Tampa now seemingly has a solid franchise QB and were able to vastly improve upon last years performance.

20. Indianapolis Colts (6-8, Previously #19) - The Colts lost to the Houston Texans... with Brandon Weedon as their QB.  That says it all.  Even if the Colts manage to pull out the AFC South division crown, they'd amount to what is essentially a first round bye to whomever they'd play on Wild Card weekend.

19. Buffalo Bills (6-8, Previously #15) - When Rex Ryan took over the head coaching gig for the Buffalo Bills, I doubt that many expected it to be the defense that was the biggest letdown.  After giving up 35 points to Washington, the Bills playoff hopes are officially gone.  While Rex has had success in the past, it sure is getting harder to remember.

18. St. Louis Rams (6-8, Previously #20) - Despite a couple of quality early wins, the Rams never really got things going this year.  They picked up the win against Tampa, but any hopes of playing past week 17 have been dashed.  Jeff Fisher hasn't had a team finish better than 8-8 since 2008, so this result shouldn't be surprising to anyone.

17. New York Giants (6-8, Previously #18) - The Giants made it a game, coming just short of completing the comeback and handing the Panthers their first loss of the season.  But making it a game doesn't count on the record, and that loss has the Giants sitting one game back with two left to play... and they will be playing one of those without sore loser star wideout Odell Beckham Jr.

16. Chicago Bears (5-9, Previously #16) - The Bears have been woefully inconsistent, with the bad showing up again against the Vikings this past Sunday.  The loss has Chicago eliminated from playoff hopes, but overall, the team is feeling ok.  The Bears managed to be competitive in the NFC without the help of their 2015 first round draft pick, Kevin White.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (6-8, Previously #14) -  The Eagles didn't help themselves with the loss to the Cardinals, but they still hold their own fate in their hands.  Currently tied with New York at one game behind Washington for the NFC East lead, the Eagles play their last two games against Washington and New York.  If they can't make the playoffs, it's not because of some other team, it's because they failed to get it done when it mattered.

14. Oakland Raiders (6-8, Previously #12) - An up and down season came to a mathematical end when the Raiders lost to the Packers on Sunday.  Derek Carr still looks like a franchise QB, and 1st round draft pick Amari Cooper became the first Oakland WR to break 1,000 yards since Randy Moss in 2005.

13. Houston Texans (7-7, Previously #17) - Not only did the Texans beat the team they were tied for the division lead with, but they did so largely using their #3 QB, Brandon Weedon.  That win has the Texans feeling good and the Colts reeling, which is exactly where Houston wants to be with two games to go.

12. Washington Potatoes (7-7, Previously #13) - The only NFC East team to win this week, that means Washington is now the division leader at 7-7.  With Kirk Cousins actually playing pretty well, Washington has two winnable games against fellow NFC East teams to try to finish off the playoff push.

11. New York Jets (9-5, Previously #11) - The Jets haven't really played like a playoff team this season, but that's where they currently are.  With Kansas City and Pittsburgh both at 9-5, New York will have to win at least one more game.  Unfortunately, their last two opponents are teams to which they've already lost this season (Pats and Bills).

10. Minnesota Vikings (9-5, Previously #10) - The Vikings managed to snap a two game skid by picking up a three touchdown win over their division rivals, the Bears.  The win puts the Vikings as a virtual lock for the playoffs, needing just one win in their next two games, or one loss by the Falcons (who have had no trouble losing of late).

9. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5, Previously #9) - A horrible 1-5 start put the Chiefs in an insurmountable hole... at least that's what it seemed.  Now having won 8 consecutive games, Kansas City is one of three teams tied for the AFC Wild Card spots at 9-5.

8. Seattle Seahawks (9-5, Previously #7) - The Seahawks can no longer catch the Cardinals for the NFC West, but they with the past win over Cleveland, Seattle has locked up one of the NFC Wild Card spots.  Winners of 7 of their last 8, the Seahawks picked the right time to start living up to the preseason hype.

7. Denver Broncos (10-4, Previously #4) - They ran into one of the hottest teams in the NFL and became another victim.  With the allure of Brock Osweiler quickly fading, the decision to switch back to Manning becomes a little easier, once he's healthy enough.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (11-3, Previously #6) - It wasn't the toughest of opponents, but the Bengals got back on the right side of things, picking up the win against the 49ers and moving one step closer to a first round bye.  Anytime you can pick up a win with a backup QB, you have to feel good.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5, Previously #8) - The Steelers are looking to play their way into the playoffs, and they have looked as good as anyone the past couple weeks picking up impressive back to back victories against Cincinnati and Denver.  It would be a shame if the Steelers somehow missed the playoffs, but the other AFC teams would be breathing a big sigh of relief.

4. Green Bay Packers (10-4, Previously #5) - After losing three in a row, the Packers have bounced back nicely by winning 4 of their last 5 games.  A 10 point victory over the Raiders has the Packers one game ahead of the Vikings with just two games to go... including a week 17 home game against said Vikings.

3. New England Patriots (12-2, Previously #4) - A couple games against the AFC South is a good way to bounce back from your first two losses of the season.  With the last win, Patriots locked up a first round bye, giving them an extra week to try to get closer to healthy.

2. Arizona Cardinals (12-2, Previously #2) - Philadelphia was a team that was (and is) fighting for a playoff spot in the NFC.  The Cardinals showed why they are a lot of people's favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl by easily handling the Eagles.  They have two entertaining games left on paper, against Green Bay and Seattle, but with a win against the Packers, I wouldn't expect to see Carson Palmer or Larry Fitzgerald to even sniff the field come week 17.

1. Carolina Panthers (14-0, Previously #1) - The Panthers sure tried to let the Giants make it a game, but Cam and company did enough to pull out yet another win in their improbable season.  With a first round bye locked up, and one win (or Cardinals loss) away from securing the top seed,  the only question remaining is if the Panthers risk it and go for perfection.