NFL Week 17 Power Rankings
#1. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
Thanks to a two-point Christmas Day win over the Browns, the Packers have found themselves in the win column for the third week in a row. Aaron Rodgers has been phenomenal in the final weeks of the season, passing for three or more touchdowns in each of his last three games. The suddenly controversial Packers QB is the odds-on favorite to take home this season’s MVP trophy, sitting at -190.
If the Packers want to continue their success they may need to tighten some screws on defense, as they have allowed an average of 28.2 points over the last five weeks.
#2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
A three-game win streak? Cute. Now hold my beer. With a win over the Steelers in Week 16, the Chiefs secured their eighth victory in a row–a league-best winning streak. If you’re inclined to ride the hot hand, the Chiefs are definitely the hand models of the NFL right now. Not only have they won eight in a row, but they’ve done so in style, outscoring their opponents by an average of 16.5 points. Vegas loves them too, as they are currently the odds on favorites to win the Super Bowl according to several sportsbooks.
#3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4)
Tom Brady took a break from breaking electronics in Week 16 by leading his COVID-19 ridden Buccaneers squad to victory. The Bucc’s will take the rest of the season to try and prove that their Week 16 loss to the Saints was a fluke, but until then we have to keep them out of the #1 spot just for consistencies sake. I will note, however, that the relationship between Antonio Brown and Tom Brady seems to be peaking at the perfect time, making them one of the most feared QB/WR duos in the NFL.
#4. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
Something feels off about this Cowboys team, and I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the fact that they haven’t disappointed their fans yet? I don’t know, but what I DO know is that they’ve been playing fantastic football recently. They’ve managed to have one of the best scoring offenses in the entire NFL, even with Star RB Ezekiel Elliot underperforming (at least to my standards). They clinched the NFC East title last week with their slaughtering of the Football Team, and close out the season with games against the Cardinals and Eagles.
#5. Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
If you had made this list three weeks ago, the Rams were a borderline playoff team stuck in the shadow of the Arizona Cardinals. Now, they have at least a wild card spot clinched, and they currently sit a game above the Cardinals in the NFC West. Led by QB Matthew Stafford, the Rams offense has been obliterating teams recently, scoring 30 or more points in three of their last four games. The LA defense has stepped up huge as well, allowing just under 16 points through that four-game stretch.
The Rams got hot at the perfect time, and I see them taking the top spot in the West with ease.
#6. Buffalo Bills (9-6)
Similar to the Cowboys, this Bills team feels…weird. A team that in my head was underperforming all year is now, all of a sudden, 9-6 and first in the AFC East. They’ve scored the most total points out of any other AFC team (behind only the Cowboys and the Buccaneers in the entire NFL) and have a top 5 defensive unit while they’re at it. With two very winnable games remaining on their schedule, it’s safe to say the Bills will comfortably slide into a playoff spot.
#7. Indianapolis Colts (9-6)
Where did these Colts come from? All season they’ve been this scrappy team that gives better opposition a hard time but is never able to capitalize. Now all of a sudden they’re beating the Patriots and the Cardinals back to back, and currently sitting in the top Wild Card spot. It’ll be interesting to see how their offense operates without Carson Wentz, who fell on his anti-vax sword and will be missing two of the most important games of the year due to COVID-19. The Colts take on the Raiders and the Jaguars in the final two games of the season, and wins in both of those games will almost guarantee them a spot in the playoffs.
#8. Tennessee Titans (10-5)
Even though the Titans are ahead of the Colts in the standings, there’s no denying the fact that the Colts are the hotter team. The Titans have yet to find their grove since losing Derrick Henry, and they seemingly will never find it again unless he comes back. There are hopes that Henry will be cleared to play by the final game of the season.
#9. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)
Get your cigars ready, because Joe Burrow is BALLING OUT. His 525-yard performance in Week 16 was his third 300+ yard performance in the last four weeks, and the Bengals 2-2 record in that time was enough to rocket them into first place in the AFC North. They close out their season with two tough games, one against Kansas City and the other against the Browns in Cleveland, so it’ll be interesting to see if they manage to hold onto this playoff spot.
#10. Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
What a fall from grace it’s been for the Arizona Cardinals. After starting the season 10-2, the Cardinals are now 10-5 thanks to a three-game losing streak that’s seen losses at the hands of the Rams, Lions, and Colts. Kyler Murray has been struggling to find consistency in the last few weeks, throwing four touchdowns and five interceptions in his last five games. Murray isn’t to take all the blame, though–any defense that gives up 30 points to the Lions should be ashamed of itself.
The Cardinals already have at least a wild card spot clinched, but with their recent performance, they should be lucky just to have a seat at the table.
#11. New England Patriots (9-6)
The honeymoon is over. It’s never been more evident that the Patriots are playing with a rookie QB than it is right now. When the Patriots were seeing mid-season success it was fun to gloss over the fact that while Mac Jones was winning games he wasn’t WINNING games. But now, after two losses in their last four games, The Patriots, while still 9-7, have fallen from first in the AFC East.
While Mac Jones and the strong Patriots defense should find a playoff spot with no issues, the last few weeks have raised serious questions as to how they will perform once they are there. Also, a Week 18 game against the red-hot Dolphins has upset written all over it.
#12. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)
If I wasn’t a Jets fan, I’d be the number 1 Chargers fan in the country. Behind QB Justin Herbert, this Chargers offense is electric (see what I did there). A Week 16 loss to the Texans has thrown a bit of a wrench into their plans, but the Chargers sit just outside of the final Wild Card spot right now, and could very easily grab it with wins in both of their last games.
#13. Miami Dolphins (8-7)
The second hottest team in the NFL right now, the Dolphins are doing everything they can to sneak into the playoffs. Winners of their last seven games, the Dolphins currently sit as the final Wild Card team coming out of the AFC–but with their final two games coming against the Titans and the Patriots, it will be interesting to see how that stands once the season comes to a close. The Dolphins defense should take a lot of the credit for their late-season success, as they’ve allowed only an average of 11 points per game over this seven-game stretch. Additionally, the Dolphins are finally seeing the type of consistent play they’ve needed out of Tua Tagovailoa.
#14. San Fransico 49ers (8-7)
I’ve never been a rider for the 49ers. That said, there’s no denying the body of work they’ve been able to piece together throughout the season. They have wins over both the Bengals and the Rams, so they have a proven ability to beat the best of the best. They right now sit as one of the final Wild Card teams in the NFC, but I wouldn’t be too afraid of them come playoff time.
#15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)
I went to the Jets vs Eagles game a few weeks ago at the Meadowlands, and some guy sitting behind me peed on the floor. It’s that kind of grit and determination from their fans that keeps the Eagles chugging along through the season. They’ve won five out of their last six, and have two huge divisional games to end out the season. If they come away with wins in both, it should be easy sailing to the playoffs.
#16. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7)
Unfortunately for Derek Carr, the path to the playoffs for the Raiders looks grim. They finish off the season with games against the Colts and the Chargers, and will most likely need wins in both to keep the dream alive. The Raiders come into these final weeks on a two-game win streak, but in those two games the offense has looked almost stagnant. Derek Carr has thrown a pick in each of his last three games, so he’ll need to snap out of this funk if he wants to stand a chance.
#17. Baltimore Ravens (8-7)
If only someone predicted this implosion by the Ravens…
At one time one of the most feared teams in the NFL, the Ravens have since been reduced to nothing as they find themselves amidst a four-game losing streak. To be fair, the Ravens have been without Lamar Jackson for almost three whole games now, but he is set to return in Week 17’s game against the Rams. It may be too little too late, as the rest of the NFL seems to be cooking while the Ravens are left on the stove to boil.
#18. New Orleans Saints (7-8)
Name a more exciting backup QB/TE combination player than Taysom Hill. I dare you.
The Saints have actually been able to remain relevant throughout the season, despite the fact their year has been riddled with injuries and misfortune. They actually were forced to start 2021 draftee Ian Book due to a COVID outbreak, and he looked a lot like a third-string rookie quarterback. Taysom Hill has since been removed from COVID-19 protocol and can give the Saints a chance to finish the season above .500.
#19. Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
Kirk Cousins is having the season of his lifetime, and it looks like it’ll all be for nothing. The Vikings have had huge question marks revolving around their running back’s health all year, and their inability to close out close games has been a detriment. Their largest loss margin all year was eight points, coming in the form of a 34-26 loss to the Niners.
#20. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)
Although this Steelers team seems to get worse and worse every week, it’s not an awful time to be a Steelers fan. Sure, you’re going to need to find a new QB, but the weapons surrounding him should make for an exciting offensive attack. Rookie RB Najee Harris has been great this year, and WR Dionte Johnson has shown significant improvement in each season he’s been in the NFL. Throw in a defense that’s spearheaded by T.J. Watt, and that’s a scary team if they can get everything sorted out.
#21. Atlanta Falcons (7-8)
Another team that should be moving on from their ancient QB, the Falcons have had a season to forget in 2021. Although they’re only a surprising 7-8, the Falcons defense has been one of the worst defenses in the league, and their offense has had trouble keeping players on the field. Sure, Kyle Pitts is an exciting prospect, but he won’t have much success if Matt Ryan continues to call the plays. Ryan’s had undoubtedly the worst season of his career, and it may be past the time to move on.
#22. Denver Broncos (7-8)
An early-season dark horse, the Broncos have proven a bit worse for wear in the latter half of the season. While their defense can still give some of the best offenses in the league a run for their money, their offense has continued to be lackluster. They have the 11th worst scoring offense in the NFL, and have only scored 19 touchdowns through the air on the season.
#23. Cleveland Browns (7-8)
While it’s better than where they’re used to being ranked, this is not where the Browns wanted to be as the season came to an end. Sure, there’s a silver lining–you played the entire year with a hurt QB and a lockerroom atom bomb WR and still managed to win 7 games. However, there are some serious talks about benching Baker Mayfield next year, so the future of the Browns is up in the air.
#24. Washington Football Team (6-9)
At one point my dark horse team, the Washington Football Team have taken a dip in the last few weeks, losing their last three games. They had to start a guy named Garrett Gilbert at QB one week, so that alone should count as two losses.
#25. Seattle Seahawks (5-10)
In what is presumably Russel Wilson’s last year on the Seahawks, 2021 is not a year to remember for Seattle. With only five wins coming into Week 17, it’s fair to say the reign of Seahawks dominance is over.
#26. Chicago Bears (5-10)
I’m not even a Bears fan and I know Matt Nagy has to be fired. The Bears have won only two of their last ten games, and Justin Fields has shown no real signs of being the Bear's future in those games.
#27. Houston Texans (4-11)
Speaking of the future, is it crazy to think the Texans have found their future QB in Davis Mills? Sure, the stats aren’t pretty, but in the last two weeks Mills has led the Texans to two wins will throwing for almost 500 yards and four touchdowns. If they can sneak in a win against the Niners or the Titans in the final two weeks, and if Mills looks halfway decent in both games, then we may have something brewing on our hands in Houston.
#28. Carolina Panthers (5-10)
Well, after resigning the QB they cut just a couple years ago, the Panthers have decided to go back to their replacement in Week 17. Confusing, yes. Embarrassing? Well maybe not, it all depends on–oh, it’s Sam Darnold? Okay, yea that’s embarrassing.
#29. New York Jets (4-11)
Speaking of embarrassing, the New York Jets have been the epitome of bad in the NFL for the last decade. They keep throwing rookie QB’s against the wall hoping they’ll stick, when in fact all it does is prove how bad they are at drafting. A win over the Jaguars in Week 16 was a nice Christmas present, but come on. It was the toilet bowl between those two teams.
#30. New York Giants (4-11)
So after the Giant's fifth losing season in just as many years, it looks like the losing will continue after they announced they will not be firing Head Coach Joe Judge. Giants fans may be happy to hear that there are talks of a possible QB trade coming in the offseason, with names like Jamies Winston and Derek Carr floating around as possible targets.
#31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13)
Sure Trevor Lawrence’s first season didn’t go according to plan, but how could you blame him? You gave him one of the worst defenses in the league, a below-average offensive line, and little to no pass-catching talent. Add on a head coach that’s canoodling coeds at bars, and T-Law has earned a redo.
#32. Detroit Lions (2-12-1)
The Lions have been rebuilding for years, and this year is just another step in the plan. At least they now have a semi-competent offensive line and a QB with Super Bowl experience.