The Power Rankings find the Cowboys still at the top, as they become the first team this season to secure a playoff spot. Where do all the other teams fall?
Week 13 brought us our first playoff team of the 2016 field. It is no surprise that the first team to make the playoffs is the Dallas Cowboys, who have held the number one spot in the Power Rankings for weeks. There has been very little movement of late in the top, or the bottom of the rankings. The contenders have emerged, and the top of the draft is becoming clearer and clearer.
What will happen in week 14? Can the Giants once again beat the Cowboys? Can the defending champion Broncos move back into the top 5? Stay tuned.
Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Dallas Cowboys safety Byron Jones (31) celebrates with safety Jeff Heath (38) the failed two-point conversion attempt by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cowboys win 17-15. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
1. Dallas Cowboys (1)
It may have took a very favorable no-call at the end of the game, but the Cowboys came out with a win. Make that 11 in a row for the Cowboys which sets a single season franchise record. Dallas is also the first team in the NFL this season to clinch a playoff berth. Looking ahead at the remaining schedule, 15-1 appears to be a legitimate possibility.
Dec 4, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady (12) after catching a touchdown during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
2. New England Patriots (2)
The Patriots are the class of the AFC, however if the season ended today, they would have the two seed. Worry not—unlike going into Denver, going into Oakland and beating the young Raiders doesn’t sound like a very daunting task for Brady and Belichick.
Dec 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills during a NFL football game at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
3. Oakland Raiders (3)
Down 24-9, it was looking pretty bad for the Raiders last Sunday. Fear not, when you have an offense like this, no lead is too large to overcome. Derek Carr and company put on a firework display in the second half. They are a great team on the offensive side of the ball. However, it is still the defense that is ultimately going to determine how far this team can go.
Dec 4, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) celebrates after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 29-28 at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
4. Kansas City Chiefs (4)
Eric Berry is one of the great, feel-good stories in the NFL after battling back from cancer to become one of the elite safeties in the game today. He is playing the best football of his career, and doing it on the franchise tag. The biggest question coming up is whether he is rewarded by the Chiefs, or another team for his accomplishments.
Dec 4, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) is taken off the field after getting injured during the second quarter in a game against the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
5. Seattle Seahawks (8)
Seattle certainly dominated the battle, but they lost the war. In the win over the Panthers, the Seahawks lost Earl Thomas to a broken leg—an injury that has the best free safety in the game contemplating retirement. This defense starts with Thomas, and won’t be the same dominant unit going forward.
Dec 4, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby (29) returns a interception for a touchdown in the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. The Denver Broncos won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
6. Denver Broncos (9)
Paxton Lynch earned his first career win despite that fact that he only threw for 104 yards. The Broncos defense has the tools to be every bit of dominant as it was a year ago en route to a Super Bowl Championship. The Broncos Super Bowl hopes now rest on the left foot of starting quarterback Trevor Siemian. If he is unable to get healthy, it is going to be a stretch for this team to make the playoffs, let alone win a Super Bowl.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (10)
It is hard to imagine the Steelers not winning the division at this point with the way the offense is humming now. There are just too many weapons: Big Ben, LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown. Each one of those has a case to be the best in the NFL at their respected positions.
Dec 4, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) prepares the throw the ball as from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones (95) defends in the first quarter of their game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
8. Atlanta Falcons (5)
Seattle, San Diego, and now Kansas City. The Falcons are simply giving too many of these games away when they are in control. The interception on the two-point conversion was inexcusable. It may have cost Matt Ryan the MVP, and the Falcons a top-two seed in the NFC. If they aren’t careful, Tampa Bay is going to take their playoff spot altogether.
Dec 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) passes the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
9. Detroit Lions (12)
The Lions are playing like they want to win the division. They need to be careful and continue to win, as the Packers have appeared to woken up from their mid-fall slumber.
Dec 4, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) throws a pass under pressure from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) and linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
10. New York Giants (6)
The formula is simple for the Giants—keep the game close. That is far easier said than done when battling Big Ben and Company. The Giants currently hold the five seed, but have some tough games coming up. They will likely have to win at least two of their remaining games, possibly three, to keep hold of that wildcard spot.
Dec 4, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Matthews (84) runs as the catch in front of Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (47) during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
11. Miami Dolphins (7)
The Dolphins stumbles seem very familiar. Anybody else get the feeling that their annual tumble to finish at .500 is on the horizon? A pummeling at the hands of the offensively challenged Ravens is the first stop. You heard it here first—the Dolphins will finish at 8-8.
Dec 4, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to pass against the San Diego Chargers during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13)
The Bucs rise to the top of the division is very real. With the Falcons loss, Tampa is now tied with the Falcons. The return of Doug Martin, coupled with Famous Jameis playing fantastic football have the Buccaneers looking like a legitimate playoff contender.
Dec 4, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
13. Baltimore Ravens (17)
For the first time all season, Joe Flacco was big-time. This may be the first time he has performed at this high of a level since the playoffs in 2012 en route to a Super Bowl title. The Ravens and Steelers are both playing good football right now. It’s likely to come down to their last head-to-head match up for the division title.
14. Tennessee Titans (14)
Last we saw the Titans, they were winning—something they’ve done often the past two months. This offense is really clicking, and has now had two weeks to prepare for the World Champion Denver Broncos to come to town. This is a strength on weakness match up in favor of the Titans. The Titans are one of the best teams running the ball, and the Broncos are one of the worst at defending the run. The Titans are also a poor defense, facing a weak offense. It will be an interesting match up to say the least.
Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws the ball to running back Robert Kelley (32) during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
15. Washington Redskins (11)
The Redskins had best get back on the win train—quick. They’ve now been passed by the white-hot Buccaneers, and have other teams breathing down their neck as well. A date with the Eagles, who have cooled significantly, should help right the ship.
Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) in the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
16. Arizona Cardinals (19)
The Cardinals are smack dab in the middle of what appears to be a lost season. While it is highly unlikely they make the playoffs, the bright spot of the year is second year running back David Johnson. What this guy has done this season has been nothing short of spectacular.
Dec 4, 2016; Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
17. Green Bay Packers (23)
They have awoken. The Packers have climbed their way back to .500, and still have a fighting chance to win the NFC North. Jordy Nelson has been fantastic the past two weeks, and will have to be brilliant again. The up and down Seahawks come to town this week. A win would go a long way for the confidence of this team.
Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes under the pressure of Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving (95) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cowboys win 17-15. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
18. Minnesota Vikings (15)
This was a tough blow for the Vikings who drew the short end of the stick on a blatant missed call on their game-tying, two point conversion attempt. An even bigger blow is losing Harrison Smith to a grade 3 ankle sprain—an injury that may keep him out the remainder of the year.
Dec 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) deflects a pass from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
19. Philadelphia Eagles (16)
The wheels have come off in Philly—which is just fine. This team extremely overachieved early in the year and it was a great learning experience for them. Now they are taking their lumps. Next year will be their time to compete—this year was all about learning. They’ve learned how to win and are now learning from the losses.
Dec 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
20. New Orleans Saints (18)
A week after scoring a season high, the Saints came back and laid an egg against the division leading Lions. It was just another example of the up and down nature that this Saints team has displayed all season long.
December 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts (10) scores a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 38-24. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
21. Buffalo Bills (20)
In this league, no lead is safe. The Bills had a 24-9 lead, and then they blinked and they were down two touchdowns. This could well be knockout blow for the Bills playoff chances. Ouch.
Dec 4, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) reacts after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Lavonte David (kneeling) during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. Tampa Bay won 28-21. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
22. San Diego Chargers (21)
The Chargers season ended early when they squandered multiple opportunities. It would take a monumental run and a lot of help to see this team make the postseason. 9-7 is likely not going to get it done and this happens to be the very best they can finish.
Dec 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) carries the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
23. Cincinnati Bengals (26)
That looked a lot more like the team we thought the Bengals would be. With the talent they have on their roster, it’s really incredible that it is December, and they just won their fourth game of the year.
Dec 5, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) calls a play during the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
24. Indianapolis Colts (25)
After the dismantling of the Jets, the Colts are now in a 3-way tie for the division at .500. The way they have played in the past three games with Andrew Luck at the helm, the Colts have to be considered the favorites to win the AFC South.
Dec 4, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is pressured by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
25. Carolina Panthers (24)
Does anyone actually believe that if the Panthers were legitimate playoff contenders, that Derek Anderson would have been out there to start the game. These Panthers have a very similar team to the one that went 15-1 a year ago—The Super Bowl Hangover is real.
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
26. Houston Texans (22)
The Texans are a bad trainwreck. It’s astonishing that they are 6-6, as they have been outscored by 50 points for the year. Their point differential would indicate that they are closer to a 3-9, or 4-8 team. There is no way they win the South.
Dec 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley (12) warms-up before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
27. Chicago Bears (27)
It’s very easy to get a win when the opposing quarterback throws for only four yards in the first half. Is that good defense or just poor offense? Who knows.
Dec 4, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brian Quick (83) catches a pass as New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) defends during the second half at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
28. Los Angeles Rams (29)
The Rams got blown out, and yet managed to climb a spot in our rankings. This has very little to do with their play, but more speaks to the Jets needing to drop a spot after their terrible performance. The Rams have yet to win a game since making the switch to Jared Goff. They are now 4-8, after a 3-1 start. Yep, Jeff Fisher really deserved that extension.
Dec 5, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) walks off the field after the Jets loss to the Colts 41-10 at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
29. New York Jets (28)
What more is there to say about the Jets. Only the 49ers and the Browns have a worse point differential than the -101 the Jets are sitting at. Bryce Petty is the new starter. What. A. Mess.
Dec 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) knocks the ball away from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
30. San Francisco 49ers (30)
Four yards—that is all Colin Kaepernick could manage in the first half after reports circled that he would void his contract and become a free agent after the season. Despite all of this, he will start again Sunday.
Dec 4, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson (15) react after a play in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (31)
The Jaguars held the Broncos to 104 yards in the air, and yet lost the game by 10. For all the talent on this team, it is an absolute abomination that they have only manged to win two games this season. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again; fire all the coaches.
Nov 27, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) sits on the ground after throwing an interception to New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Giants won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
32. Cleveland Browns (32)
Week 13 was the first week of the season that the Browns didn’t lose a game. Then again, they didn’t play one. They now have four more chances after their bye to not become the second team in NFL history to go 0-16. Can they do it? I have my doubts.