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Rich White's 2016 Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

Updated on December 21, 2016

NFL Power Rankings

Tickets here! Get your tickets. Tickets to the playoffs that is. Last week’s NFL games saw three teams punch their tickets to the playoffs. That puts us at four total which means there are still eight spots up for grabs. With just two weeks left in the regular season it would be an understatement to say that every game counts. At least for the teams with playoff aspirations. That San Diego / Cleveland tilt? That one can be ignored. Except maybe for fantasy playoffs. But this isn’t a fantasy piece. Although I slacked all NFL season on that front. Next year the fantasy football pieces will be back. This year, you’re stuck with the Power Rankings.

  1. New England Patriots (12-2) ~ Death, taxes and an AFC East title for the Patriots. These are the only guarantees in life. Or so it seems. That is eight straight division titles for New England which is an NFL record. Their win over Denver on Sunday also clinched them at least a first round bye in the playoffs. (Last Week’s Ranking 1)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (12-2) ~ If the Cowboys can win out they will finish the regular season with 14 wins. Something the franchise has never accomplished. While that would be fun in and of itself, I’m sure Dallas and their fans would much rather see this regular-season success translate into postseason success. Dallas has not reached the NFC Championship game since 1995 – the last year they won it all. (LWR 2)
  3. Atlanta Falcons (9-5) ~ We all know Atlanta can score. That hasn’t been the issue. Their defense, however, has turned it on of late. They’ve allowed 19 or fewer points in three of their past four and have shown a pass rush, led by Vic Beasley, that has been sorely lacking over the years. Some may say this is too high for the Falcons but I truly feel there is something different about them this year. (LWR 4)
  4. Oakland Raiders (11-3) ~ The second-longest playoff drought in the NFL is over! Their win Sunday over rival San Diego propelled the Raiders into the playoffs for the first time since 2002 when they lost the Super Bowl to Tampa Bay. Jerry Rice caught five passes for 77 yards and a score in that game. So, yeah. It’s been a while. (LWR 5)
  5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) ~ A week after taking control of the AFC West, the Chiefs gave it all away. A last second field goal did them in at home and the Chiefs ceded control of the division back to the Raiders. A win this weekend against Denver, however, will still clinch a playoff berth. (LWR 3)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) ~ That’s five straight for Pittsburgh who can clinch the AFC North title with a win on Christmas day against their bitter rival Baltimore. All I’m hoping for is a big day for Le’Veon Bell who can potentially clinch a fantasy title for yours truly. (LWR 6)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1) ~ Their blowout win Thursday against St. Louis clinched the NFC West for the third time in the past four years. It also secured at least one home game for Seattle who is undefeated at home this season. They will try and close out the undefeated home schedule this Sunday when they host Arizona. (LWR 7)
  8. New York Giants (10-4) ~ It’s pretty straightforward from here for how the Giants can punch their postseason ticket. A win in Philadelphia and they are in. If they can’t do it themselves, however, there is still hope. If Detroit, Green Bay or Tampa Bay loses or ties, the Giants are in. They are also in with a loss by Atlanta. Basically their spot is all but official. Odds are that changes no later than Saturday. (LWR 9)
  9. Green Bay Packers (8-6) ~ What a weekend for Green Bay. First, they pick up a win in Chicago. Later Sunday night Tampa Bay loses to Dallas. Monday night? Washington loses at home to Carolina. That slides the Packers into a playoff spot. They still have two games left to play, but now they control their own destiny. (LWR 11)
  10. Detroit Lions (9-5) ~ Their lead in the NFC North is down to a game. They close out the season at Dallas and then home to the Packers. Those will not be easy games to win but the Lions will need to win at least one of them to help their playoff hunt. (LWR 8)
  11. Baltimore Ravens (8-6) ~ Their defense did not manhandle Philadelphia as many predicted, but they came up big when it mattered. Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley tipped Carson Wentz’s pass attempt on a two-point conversion with seconds left on the clock to preserve the one-point win. Somehow, I have a feeling this weekend’s marquee matchup with Pittsburgh will be just as close. (LWR 13)
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) ~ Their five-game winning streak was snapped Sunday night in Dallas, but the Bucs still have playoff aspirations. Up next, they get a rematch with Drew Brees and the Saints. Two weeks ago the defense picked off Brees three times and held him without a touchdown. Can they duplicate that performance in the Big Easy? (LWR 12)
  13. Denver Broncos (8-6) ~ Denver’s defense is undoubtedly one of the best in the league, but they can’t do it all. The Broncos have scored just 13 points over their past two games which both resulted in losses. The offense is going to have to pick up the pace and they’re running out of time to do it. If the playoffs started today Denver would be on the outside looking in. (LWR 10)
  14. Tennessee Titans (8-6) ~ Like the Baltimore-Philadelphia game, this one came down to a late two-point conversion attempt as well. Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey made the call to go for two and his team came up empty. Unlike the Ravens-Eagles game, however, his team was afforded another chance and Ryan Succop booted a 53-yard field goal to win it at the end. The Titans’ playoff hopes are very much alive. (LWR 15)
  15. Miami Dolphins (9-5) ~ With Ryan Tannehill out due to a knee injury, everything fell on backup Matt Moore. After he led a game-winning fourth quarter drive the week before to eke out a win against Arizona, he threw for four scores in a rout of the New York Jets. Maybe Moore can help the Dolphins get back to the postseason. (LWR 17)
  16. Houston Texans (8-6) ~ When the Texans plucked Brock Osweiler away from the Broncos in the offseason they thought they had their franchise quarterback. He didn’t even make it one year. Osweiler was benched during Sunday’s game and has now lost his starting job to Tom Savage who will make his first career start Saturday. (LWR 16)
  17. Washington Redskins (7-6-1) ~ The home loss to Carolina was a serious blow to their playoff hopes. Washington will likely need to win out and get some help to get back to the postseason. (LWR 14)
  18. Indianapolis Colts (7-7) ~ When their offense gets going they can put points on the board in a hurry. Their romp over Minnesota was the fifth time this season the Colts have topped 30 points in a game. Can they do it again this week in Oakland against a subpar secondary to keep their playoff hopes alive? (LWR 19)
  19. Buffalo Bills (7-7) ~ Buffalo boasts the top rushing offense in football, but at some point doesn’t there have to be some sort of boost from the passing game? The Bills are 31st in the league with just over 182 yards per game through the air. Is Tyrod Taylor the answer? Or will the Bills be looking for a new quarterback? (LWR 20)
  20. Minnesota Vikings (7-7) ~ Adrian Peterson said he would return early if the Vikings were still in the playoff chase. He did because they were. Now, after a 5-0 start to the season, it looks like they aren’t anymore. (LWR 18)
  21. Carolina Panthers (6-8) ~ Another week and another no-call on an illegal hit on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. The refs didn’t miss the taunting penalty Newton received when he threw the ball at the opposing player who had hit him illegally. One has to think this rule will be re-evaluated at the end of the year. (LWR 23)
  22. New Orleans Saints (6-8) ~ After back-to-back weeks without a touchdown pass Drew Brees went off in Arizona. He went for 389 yards, four scores and no picks as New Orleans won the battle of the disappointing NFC teams. (LWR 25)
  23. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) ~ They couldn’t hang on against the Steelers in a game they had to have. Now the Bengals will miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2010. It’s easy to forget just how successful they’ve been during the regular season over the past few years. (LWR 22)
  24. Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) ~ David Johnson is now the franchise leader in all-purpose yards. He has also tied the franchise record with his 17th touchdown on the season. He is just one rushing score away from tying the franchise record. It’s unfortunate that Arizona hasn’t had a more successful season because Johnson would be getting a lot more attention in the MVP voting than he is now. (LWR 21)
  25. San Diego Chargers (5-9) ~ For all of the injuries, for all of the close losses and all of the interceptions thrown by Philip Rivers, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. First round pick Joey Bosa is pressuring the opposing quarterback more than anybody else in the league since he started playing regularly. Couple that with an opportunistic defense that leads the league in interceptions and the Chargers defense is slated for a good game this weekend in Cleveland. (LWR 24)
  26. Philadelphia Eagles (5-9) ~ Philadelphia went 3-1 before offensive tackle Lane Johnson was suspended for 10 games. They went 2-8 without him. He will suit up Thursday night when the Eagles play host to the Giants. Can he help lead the Eagles back into the win column? (LWR 26)
  27. Chicago Bears (3-11) ~ Speaking of suspensions, Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery returned from his four-game hiatus and looked like he hasn’t missed a beat. He totaled six catches for 89 yards and found the end zone for just the second time this season. (LWR 27)
  28. New York Jets (4-10) ~ Ryan Fitzpatrick is back in the starting lineup due to Bryce Petty’s injury. Do the Jets stick it out with him? Or should they give Penn State alum Christian Hackenberg a shot? I mean, what do they have to lose at this point? (LWR 28)
  29. Los Angeles Rams (4-10) ~ Jared Goff is in the NFL’s concussion protocol and his status for this weekend’s game is still unclear. If he can’t go, odds are Case Keenum would get another start. Rams fans are praying Goff is OK. (LWR 29)
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) ~ Gus Bradley became the second head coach to lose his job this season. We all knew it was coming but figured he would at least play out the string. The Jags went just 14-48 under Bradley. (LWR 30)
  31. San Francisco 49ers (1-13) ~ It’s been a long time since the Niners tasted victory. You have to go all the way back to the first game of the season when San Fran blanked the Rams 28-0. Guess who the Niners take on this weekend? (LWR 31)
  32. Cleveland Browns (0-14) ~ They are running out of time to avoid the winless season. At this point, is it better to get a win? Or does it not even matter? (LWR 32)

That's all she wrote folks. Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave them right here. Or if that's not good enough you can follow/harass me on Twitter @therichwhiteguy. It wouldn't be the biggest waste of your time.

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