NFL Power Rankings Poll, Week 17: Top-Seeded Ravens Stay on Top, Seahawks Stumble

As Baltimore locks up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the rest of the league’s top teams jockey for position. Also, Atlanta continues to surge too late, and the Lions and Panthers plummet to the bottom.
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This week’s NFL Power Rankings Poll voters:

Andrew Brandt, Business of Football Columnist
Albert Breer, Senior NFL Reporter/Lead Content Strategist
Mitch Goldich, Producer/Writer
Kalyn Kahler, Writer/Producer
Bette Marston, Associate Editor
Conor Orr, Staff Writer
Jenny Vrentas, Senior Writer

Skinnies for each team written by Jake May.

Lamar Jackson

1. BALTIMORE RAVENS (13-2)

Previous rank: 1
Points in poll: 224
Highest-place vote: 1 (7 voters)
Lowest-place vote: N/A
Last week’s result: Beat Cleveland, 31-15
This week: vs. Pittsburgh

The Ravens got their revenge on the Browns, running Cleveland out of their own stadium after a sluggish start. Lamar Jackson led both teams in passing (238 with three TDs on 20-of-31) and rushing yards (103 on 17 attempts) as the defense stifled the Browns on the ground and on third down (3-of-12). But Mark Ingram suffered a calf injury at the start of the fourth quarter, something to watch for the No. 1-seeded Ravens.

2. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (12-3)

Previous rank: 3
Points in poll: 210
Highest-place vote: 2 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 4 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat L.A. Rams, 34-31 (Sat.)
This week: at Seattle

San Francisco continues to fare well in tight games, a useful skill come January. On a below-average night for Jimmy Garoppolo (71.2 rating), contributions came from the entire roster as six receivers combined for 248 receiving yards while two backs plus Deebo Samuel ground out 119 rush yards. The Niners can ice the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a win against Seattle next weekend.

T-3. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-4)

Previous rank: 4
Points in poll: 204
Highest-place vote: 2 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 5 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Chicago, 26-3
This week: vs. L.A. Chargers

Solid day at the office as the Chiefs brushed aside the Bears to claim the AFC West crown. An outstanding defensive game is always a good omen for this bunch (234 total yards for the Bears), as is Patrick Mahomes going 23-of-33 for 251 yards and two TDs. And Chicago fans didn’t let their team forget that they could have had Mahomes.

T-3. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-3)

Previous rank: 2
Points in poll: 204
Highest-place vote: 2 (4 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 10 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Tennessee, 38-28
This week: at Carolina

Thanks to a stellar outing from Drew Brees (27-of-38, 279 yards, three TDs), Michael Thomas made some well-earned history on Sunday afternoon as he broke the NFL’s single-season receptions record with 12 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. That brings his total to 145, surpassing Marvin Harrison and affirmed Thomas as one of the NFL’s unique young talents.

5. GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-3)

Previous rank: 6
Points in poll: 195
Highest-place vote: 3 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 7 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Minnesota, 23-10
This week: at Detroit

Not the cleanest game for the Pack, but a comfortable win over the pursuant team in the NFC North. Three team turnovers and a no-TD, one-INT outing for Aaron Rodgers won’t cut it in January, but Aaron Jones put an exclamation point on a sneaky decent season with 23 carries for 154 yards and two TDs while Davante Adams hauled in 13 catches for 116 yards.

6. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-3)

Previous rank: 8
Points in poll: 191
Highest-place vote: 5 (4 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 7 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Buffalo, 24-17 (Sat.)
This week: vs. Miami

The best offensive outing of the season for the Patriots came at the perfect time against a playoff-caliber defense as New England locked up their 17th AFC East title this century. Tom Brady cut down the incompletions on a 26-of-33, 271-yard, one-TD outing that saw him find five receivers for at least 24 yards apiece. Sony Michel (96 yards on 21 carries) bounced back, but Rex Burkhead chipped in 97 all-purpose yards of his own and a touchdown.

7. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-5)

Previous rank: 7
Points in poll: 178
Highest-place vote: 4 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 10 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Green Bay, 23-10
This week: vs. Chicago

For a team whose only “quality win” of note this season came against the Cowboys, this felt like a much-needed wake-up call ahead of the postseason. Kirk Cousins stunk (16-of-31, 122 yards, TD, INT), the ground game was lost without Dalvin Cook (57 team rush yards) and the Vikes’ offense couldn’t take anything even resembling an advantage from the three turnovers and solid effort produced by their defense. Oh, and Kirk? That’s nine straight Ls on Monday Night Football.

8. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-4)

Previous rank: 5
Points in poll: 175
Highest-place vote: 4 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 11 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Arizona, 27-13
This week: vs. San Francisco

The injury bug has hit Seattle at the worst time, particularly at running back with Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise all out for the rest of the season (though the team signed former RBs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin to help fill the gaps). It was tough sledding for Russell Wilson through the air too (16-of-31, 169 yards, TD, 78.6 rating), and it will be interesting to see how the Seahawks fare in their primetime Week 17 matchup against the Niners with seeding still up for grabs.

9. BUFFALO BILLS (10-5)

Previous rank: 9
Points in poll: 173
Highest-place vote: 8 (5 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 9 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to New England, 24-17 (Sat.)
This week: vs. N.Y. Jets

The upstarts will have to wait another year to dethrone their AFC East counterparts, but it was a valiant effort from the Bills as they clinched a wild-card spot. The defense surrendered their second-most yards and points this season while the offense struggling to run the ball (46 rush yards for Devin Singletary, 43 for Josh Allen). Cole Beasley led the team with seven receptions for 108 yards, but not many would put money on him reeling in a jump ball like this.

10. HOUSTON TEXANS (10-5)

Previous rank: 10
Points in poll: 166
Highest-place vote: 6 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 12 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Tampa Bay, 23-20 (Sat.)
This week: vs. Tennessee

If Tampa Bay had not turned the ball over five times, Houston would have lost this game. Despite being considerably outgained, out-possessed and coughing up an early 17-3 lead, the Texans’ D stood tall with Bradley Roby’s early pick-six proving pivotal. Jameis Winston’s spray-and-pray approach saved Houston from a stressful matchup next week, locking up the AFC South crown for the preseason favorites.

11. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-7)

Previous rank: 14
Points in poll: 155
Highest-place vote: 10 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 11 (6 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Dallas, 17-9
This week: at N.Y. Giants

Though it’s not done and dusted in the NFC East, Philly did what fans of 31 NFL teams hoped they would do by beating Dallas on Sunday night. Still throwing to practice squaders, tight ends and running backs, Carson Wentz continued his late season surge with 31-of-40 for 319 yards, a TD and a 108.2 rating. But the banged-up defense’s massive effort against a “top-five” offense cannot go unnoticed, holding Ezekiel Elliott to 47 rushing yards, Amari Cooper to 24 receiving yards and the Cowboys to 3-of-14 on third downs.

12. TENNESSEE TITANS (8-7)

Previous rank: 12
Points in poll: 143
Highest-place vote: 12 (4 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 14 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to New Orleans, 38-28
This week: at Houston

In a weird glitch in the simulation, the Titans’ Week 16 result during the chase for a wild-card spot had zero impact on their seeding. And despite a predictable loss to an excellent Saints team with Derrick Henry sidelined, Tennessee slides into the No. 6 seed with the Steelers falling all over themselves against the Jets. The Titans can complete the most impressive in-season turnaround of the year with a win (or Steelers loss) next week in Houston.

13. LOS ANGELES RAMS (8-7)

Previous rank: 13
Points in poll: 139
Highest-place vote: 8 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 17 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to San Francisco, 34-31 (Sat.)
This week: vs. Arizona

That’s that for the 2019 Rams, a disappointing sequel to their Super Bowl run. Leads of 14-3, 21-10 and 28-24 all disappeared, as did Todd Gurley (48 yards on 15 carries). A defense that held Jimmy Garappolo to his third-lowest quarterback rating of the season imploded on not one but two crucial third-and-16s on the Niners’ final drive. As for the state of affairs in L.A., this sums it up well.

14. DALLAS COWBOYS (7-8)

Previous rank: 11
Points in poll: 131
Highest-place vote: 12 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 16 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Philadelphia, 17-9
This week: vs. Washington

LOL. It would be incredibly NFC-Eastian for the ‘Boys to sneak in the backdoor of the playoffs next week via some combination of unlikely results, but assuming they don’t, that’s the fourth brutal loss in the last five games with Dallas putting just nine on the board against a meh Philly D. Is that the final straw for Jason Garrett? It shouldn’t have taken this long, but probably.

15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-7)

Previous rank: 15
Points in poll: 129
Highest-place vote: 13 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 16 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to N.Y. Jets, 16-10
This week: at Baltimore

As we saw last week, this offense simply cannot hang in the playoffs. Nor can they hang with the Jets, apparently, as Duck Hodges hit the pine after two early INTs and the Steelers finally coughed up the second wild-card slot with a week to go. Good news? Pittsburgh heads to Baltimore on Sunday to face a team that has already clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC while the Titans face a Houston team jockeying for playoff seeding with the Chiefs and coming off a close call in Tampa.

16. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (7-8)

Previous rank: 17
Points in poll: 110
Highest-place vote: 14 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 21 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Carolina, 38-6
This week: at Jacksonville

That had to feel good on both sides of the ball for a Colts team that still outperformed expectations this season. Yes, it was against an out-to-lunch Panthers team, but the defense led the way with three INTs (two for Pierre Desir) and five sacks. Nyheim Hines did his part, ripping off two punt return TDs and 195 total yards on three returns.

17. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-8)

Previous rank: 16
Points in poll: 108
Highest-place vote: 16 (3 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 22 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Houston, 23-20 (Sat.)
This week: vs. Atlanta

How else would Jameis Winston start a rare national spotlight game than with a pick-six on his second snap and another INT on the following drive. And though he’d add two more before the day was done, a 17-3 deficit was erased by halftime as Tampa’s defense locked up a potent Houston attack (229 total yards, 68 rush) and kept it tight in the second half. But five team turnovers were simply too many for the Bucs.

18. ATLANTA FALCONS (6-9)

Previous rank: 19
Points in poll: 107
Highest-place vote: 14 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 20 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Jacksonville, 24-12
This week: at Tampa Bay

That’s 5-2 since the bye as the Falcons rolled the lifeless Jags. Julio Jones tallied his second monster game in as many weeks with 10 catches for 166 yards as Devonta Freeman chalked up two TDs along with 53 rush yards and 74 receiving yards. Though not quite a COY candidate, Dan Quinn certainly deserves some applause for reviving the locker room after a 1-7 start.

19. OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-8)

Previous rank: 23
Points in poll: 102
Highest-place vote: 17 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 20 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat L.A. Chargers, 24-17
This week: at Denver

It’s been a tough month for the Raiders, but Derek Carr turned in another stellar start (26-of-30, 291 yards, TD, 118.2 rating) to complete the season sweep of their Cali counterparts. DeAndre Washington (85 yards on 23 carries, TD) filled in admirably for Josh Jacobs while Hunter Renfrow turned in the best game of his rookie year (107 yards on seven receptions, TD).

20. DENVER BRONCOS (6-9)

Previous rank: 22
Points in poll: 87
Highest-place vote: 13 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 24 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Detroit, 27-17
This week: vs. Oakland

That’s 3-1 for Drew Lock, who found nine different receivers for 192 yards and a TD on 25-of-33 passing. It remains to be seen whether John Elway finally found his man, but the sun is starting to peek out from behind the clouds in Denver.

21. ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-9-1)

Previous rank: 24
Points in poll: 85
Highest-place vote: 18 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 25 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Seattle, 27-13
This week: at L.A. Rams

It feels like we’ve been waiting all season for the Cardinals to finally close out an upset, and they did all that and more against the Seahawks. Kyler Murray tallied 118 passing yards, 40 rushing yards and a TD before departing in the third quarter with a mild hamstring injury. Props to Brett Hundley for closing it out, but Kenyan Drake (166 rushing yards on 24 carries, two TDs) gets his second game ball in as many weeks highlighted by this 80-yard scamper.

22. CHICAGO BEARS (7-8)

Previous rank: 18
Points in poll: 82
Highest-place vote: 19 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 24 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Kansas City, 26-3
This week: at Minnesota

Yeah, that’s about right. Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t do much (18-of-34, 157 yards, 65.4 rating), David Montgomery only found 57 yards on 13 rushes and a defense depleted and worn out from dragging that sorry offense around for 16 games couldn’t hold off the speedy Chiefs.

23. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-10)

Previous rank: 20
Points in poll: 70
Highest-place vote: 22 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 24 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Oakland, 24-17
This week: at Kansas City

Phillip Rivers said he wants to play beyond this season, and you can’t really blame him for attempting to look forward after a fifth loss in six games. The beat goes on for the Chargers in 2019; a ninth one-score loss, an 0-5 mark against the AFC West and an unbelievably bad 19 net rushing yards on 16 carries.

T-24. CLEVELAND BROWNS (6-9)

Previous rank: 21
Points in poll: 65
Highest-place vote: 22 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 25 (2 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Baltimore, 31-15
This week: at Cincinnati

The dysfunction capital of the NFL didn’t disappoint on Sunday as the Browns coughed up 21 unanswered to the Ravens and continued to vomit all over themselves down the stretch. Running the ball didn’t work (49 team rush yards), Baker Mayfield couldn’t do much through the air (20-of-33, 192 yards, two TDs, INT) and Freddie Kitchens has nobody to blame but himself for the temperature of his seat.

T-24. NEW YORK JETS (6-9)

Previous rank: 25
Points in poll: 65
Highest-place vote: 21 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 26 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Pittsburgh, 16-10
This week: at Buffalo

You know what, Sam Darnold? Props to you for overcoming mono, Adam Gase’s coaching and a shoddy front office to piece together a respectable sophomore campaign. 16-of-26 for 183 yards and a TD (95.0 rating) is nothing to sniff at against an excellent defense, highlighted by this double-coverage dime to Robby Anderson.

26. NEW YORK GIANTS (4-11)

Previous rank: 30
Points in poll: 40
Highest-place vote: 26 (2 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 29 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Beat Washington, 41-35 (OT)
This week: vs. Philadelphia

Daniel Jones returned with a gem (28-of-42, 352 yards, five TDs, 132.1 rating) while Saquon Barkley exploded for 189 rushing yards, 90 receiving yards and two touchdowns (279 total, a team record) to remind Giants fans there’s plenty to be hopeful about moving forward. Until then, enjoy this game-winning overtime drive, and Eli and Danny painting Hoboken red.

27. MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-11)

Previous rank: 28
Points in poll: 39
Highest-place vote: 24 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 30 (3 voters)
Last week’s result: Beat Cincinnati, 38-35 (OT)
This week: at New England

Let’s take this opportunity to give Ryan Fitzpatrick his flowers. Not only is the 37-year old leading Miami in rushing yards, but he’s still spinning gems to the tune of 31-of-52 for 419 yards, four TDs, one INT and a 103.0 rating. Don’t think many would’ve penciled this team in for four wins after Week 8, but Fitzy didn’t hear no bell.

28. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-10)

Previous rank: 27
Points in poll: 35
Highest-place vote: 27 (3 voters)
Lowest-place vote: 29 (3 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Atlanta, 24-12
This week: vs. Indianapolis

One of the most blah teams of the second half continued to do nothing impressive, particularly on offense. Gardner Minshew (13-of-31, 181 yards, TD), Leonard Fournette (71 yards on 15 rushes) and the receiving corps (nobody over 56 receiving yards) offered little support for a second solid defensive effort in as many weeks.

29. CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-10)

Previous rank: 26
Points in poll: 33
Highest-place vote: 26 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 31 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost to Indianapolis, 38-6
This week: vs. New Orleans

Tough debut for Will Grier (27-of-44, 224 yards, three INTs, 46.0 rating) against a defense that hadn’t held an opponent under 30 points since Week 12. It was worth giving him a look, but the Panthers still have tough decisions to make at quarterback and head coach this offseason. Oh, and the defense held opponents under 20 points just once this season while surrendering 30+ six times.

30. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-12)

Previous rank: 29
Points in poll: 27
Highest-place vote: 27 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 31 (1 voter)
Last week’s result: Lost N.Y. Giants, 41-35 (OT)
This week: at Dallas

It’s a shame Dwayne Haskins went down with an ankle injury halfway through what looked to be one of his best starts of the season, but most would agree Dan Snyder was, for once, right about something. Washington can play spoiler next week with a mildly redemptive upset of the Cowboys.

T-32. DETROIT LIONS (3-11-1)

Previous rank: 31
Points in poll: 12
Highest-place vote: 29 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 32 (4 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Denver, 27-17
This week: vs. Green Bay

Matthew Stafford finally landed on the IR, another disappointing footnote to a tough, injury-filled season for Detroit. But head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn keep their jobs for at least another year with a mandate from owner Martha Ford to be playing “meaningful games” next December.

T-32. CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-14)

Previous rank: 32
Points in poll: 12
Highest-place vote: 30 (1 voter)
Lowest-place vote: 32 (3 voters)
Last week’s result: Lost to Miami, 38-35 (OT)
This week: vs. Cleveland

A pair of overtime three-and-outs helped the Bengals clinch the first pick in the 2020 draft. Andy Dalton did what he could to revive his free agency stock (33-of-56, 396 yards, four TDs), but Cincy had no intention of allowing the early-season tank leaders to retake the crown. 

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