NFL Power Rankings Week 15

Wednesday December 18th, 2013

The Eagles saw their five-game win streak end with a 48-30 loss to the Vikings.
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images

Thank goodness the NFL settles things with a playoff. Trying to muddle through the current situation -- a two-loss team, two three-loss teams from the same division, four four-loss teams and a boatload of other contenders -- with a BCS-style finish would be a headache.

MORE COVERAGE: Peter King's MMQB | Draft prospects to watch in early bowls

Fortunately, these Power Rankings carry no weight in what's to come. But let's dive in anyway ...

NFL Power Rankings
1Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 1
The Seahawks still need to wrap up the NFC West and the No. 1 seed, but both are near inevitabilities. So, the biggest challenge now will be staying sharp when their next real meaningful game does not happen for four weeks.
2San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 5
Lest you need further proof that this has been a screwy NFL season, the No. 2 team in this week's Power Rankings still could miss the playoffs. That's unlikely, however, and the 49ers will be a very, very dangerous wild-card team.
3Denver Broncos
Last Week: 2
An 18-yard rushing performance against San Diego? Worrisome. The defense giving up 27 points for the fourth straight game? Problematic. But having a healthy Wes Welker again would help ease a lot of Denver's woes.
4New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 4
Well, the good news for the Saints is that they won't see Jeff Fisher in the playoffs. Fisher's now 5-0 in his career against New Orleans, including Sunday's beatdown.
5Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 6
Cam Newton threw for 274 yards Sunday, with Steve Smith accounting for just 20. That's actually a positive for Carolina, which has become far more than a one- or two-man show. Smith is in the midst of one of his worst seasons statistically and Carolina's at 10 wins.
6New England Patriots
Last Week: 5
Who better to sum up the inconsistent 2013 version of the Patriots than one Tom Brady: ""We make some good plays and we make plenty of s----y plays. Thank you."
7Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 9
This is a glass half-full versus glass half-empty discussion. Either you're impressed by the Chiefs' offensive potency, led by surging MVP candidate Jamaal Charles; or you're scoffing at the 31 points allowed to Oakland.
8Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 10
The Dolphins had 11 combined receivers, running backs and tight ends active Sunday against New England. Ryan Tannehill completed a pass to 10 of them, missing only Mike Gillislee, who did not play a single snap.
9San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 15
Could this be the team Denver least wants to see in the playoffs? The Chargers pushed the Broncos in an eight-point Week 10 loss and then took it to the AFC leaders last Thursday.
10Chicago Bears
Last Week: 11
Maybe we're making too much of the Bears' present and future at quarterback. After all, Alshon Jeffery catches anything within a city block of him.
11Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 13
Obviously, Justin Tucker is not going to win the MVP. But he at least deserves a fruit basket or a holiday in his honor in Baltimore for his efforts this year. Monday's six-FG showing (with a 61-yarder) in Detroit marked at least the fourth game the Ravens would have lost without their automatic kicker.
12Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 14
Sometimes it's as simple as taking care of the football. Six times, including this past Sunday, the Cardinals have turned the ball over one or zero times in a game. They've won all six.
13Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 18
Despite everything that's gone wrong this year, the Packers are two wins from winning the division in what would be the greatest escape since Andy Dufresne tunneled out of Shawshank. Coming next: Aaron Rodgers finds a box buried in the end zone at Lambeau, with a note telling him to meet Brett Favre in Zihuatanejo.
14Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 12
Truth be told, I had no idea what to do with this group from spots 14-16. By virtue of beating San Francisco, Seattle and Denver and clinching its division, Indianapolis should be in the top 10. But how many of the teams above would the Colts beat on a neutral site tomorrow?
15Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 8
The Bengals' Sunday night hiccup in Pittsburgh was their first regulation loss since Sept. 29, so perhaps they deserve a little slack. On the other hand, that game put on display everything that could go wrong for Cincinnati from here on out.
16Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 7
Again, not quite sure how to handle the Eagles. Five straight wins entering Week 15 ... and then 48 points allowed to the Vikings sans Adrian Peterson. This defense has improved greatly during the season, yet there remain questions about its ability to do the job when it matters.
17Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 22
Baltimore handed Green Bay a chance at the NFC North by stunning the Lions in Week 15. The Steelers are still showing enough effort to be capable of flipping the opportunity back into Detroit's lap by beating the Packers in Week 16.
18St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 27
The Rams could finish 8-8 and come in last place in the NFC West, which is borderline unfathomable. Remember, they tied Seattle for first in 2010 with a 7-9 record.
19Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 24
How can you not root for Matt Asiata? After toiling on practice squads and special teams units for nearly three seasons, he finally got his shot -- less than two months after his dad died in a bus accident -- and scored three touchdowns. "My dream was to make it to the NFL, and I wish my dad was here to witness it," he said afterward, according to the Star Tribune.
20Detroit Lions
Last Week: 16
The Lions' drop to No. 20 is fitting, since it's been exactly 20 years since this franchise's last division title -- in the NFC Central.
21Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 17
The NFL might want to consider scheduling a Dallas-Detroit game in Week 17 next year. With how hard those franchises seem to work to throw away playoff opportunities, such a matchup might be a fully entertaining football debacle.
22New York Jets
Last Week: 19
The Jets haven't been the same since their Week 10 bye, which followed an upset of New Orleans and preceded a 1-4 stretch. Rex Ryan is going to make a terrific defensive coordinator elsewhere next season.
23Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 26
Tony Gonzalez needs 284 receiving yards to move past Randy Moss and Isaac Bruce for third-place in NFL history. Given how little Atlanta has to play for in Weeks 16 and 17, feeding Gonzalez should be a focus.
24Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 20
Only two guys who caught a pass, threw a pass, had a rushing attempt, intercepted a pass or recorded a sack for the Jaguars on Sunday were on the team in 2011. Slow and steady on the rebuilding process.
25Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 21
No shame in struggling against San Francisco's defense, as Mike Glennon did Sunday; or in scuffling versus Carolina, as Glennon did in Week 13. Still, the Buccaneers would love to see him close strong just so there's no temptation to draft another QB high in 2014.
26Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 28
The Titans can save $4 million next season by releasing Chris Johnson, and it might be time for such a move. The man once dubbed "CJ2K" after a 2,000-yard rushing season needs 277 yards from scrimmage in Tennessee's last two games to avoid posting the worst numbers of his career.
27Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 30
The Bills have played equal parts spoiler for the Dolphins and Ravens this season, besting each team once. Can they really leave their imprint by downing Miami for a second time this coming Sunday?
28Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 23
There's no longer a clear-cut No. 1 back in town, but the Browns might have to do better than their current approach at that position. The Browns' two leading rushers Sunday? Edwin Baker and ex-college QB MarQueis Gray. Combined career carries before Week 15: two.
29New York Giants
Last Week: 25
If Eli Manning wasn't, ya know, Eli Manning -- what with two Super Bowl wins and three Pro Bowls -- would the Giants have benched him? His five-INT faceplant Sunday gave him 25 interception for the year, most in the NFL by a healthy margin.
30Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 29
There might be a dwindling number of us, but count me among the group that believes Dennis Allen should be back for 2014. Yes, the last seven weeks have been brutal (Oakland has gone 1-6), but how much of that is Allen simply playing the cards he was dealt?
31Houston Texans
Last Week: 31
Barring an upset of Denver or a win at Tennessee, the Texans would carry a 14-game losing streak into next season. That's bad, sure, but they'd still be an 0-12 start to 2014 away from tying the record of 26 straight defeats set by the 1976-77 Buccaneers.
32Washington Redskins
Last Week: 32
Matt Flynn threw for 299 yards and four touchdowns against Dallas' last-ranked pass defense last week, so Kirk Cousins definitely has a chance to bump up his trade value Sunday versus the 'Boys.

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