It is Week 16 and only five teams are mathematically eliminated from the NFL Playoffs. The fact that the New York Giants are still technically in the hunt tells you all you need to know about how crazy the playoff race is. With losses suffered by numerous top teams in both conferences, the NFL Power Rankings get a little jumbled, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers leading the race for the top seeds.
With the second and 13th team in the AFC separated by just two games, Week 16 will go a long way in the shaping of the playoff picture. So much has yet to be determined, and with plenty more learned this week, here are your updated NFL Power Rankings.
NFL Power Rankings: Week 16
1) Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) (Last Week: 1)
It wasn’t impressive, but they got the job finished. Kansas City survived the Los Angeles Chargers on the road in overtime. A lot of the credit for the Chiefs’ win needs to go to the lack of tackling by the Chargers secondary. Even more should go to Chargers head coach Brandon Staley for passing up on three field goal attempts within the Chiefs’ 30. With that being said, Kansas City got the job done. Although their offense and defense leave some to be desired, their special teams is solid enough that they hold onto the top spot.
2) Green Bay Packers (11-3) (2)
The Packers went on the road against a Baltimore Ravens team ravaged by injuries and eked out a 31-30 victory. The Packers have plenty of injuries of their own, but again special teams was a massive issue. At the end of the day, the players just aren’t making plays. No special teams coordinator in the world can make players execute the plays they should. The defense was also incredibly slow to adjust to the Ravens’ offense and it almost cost them. This offense is legit though and has bailed them out plenty this season.
3) Los Angeles Rams (10-4) (6)
It wasn’t pretty for the Rams, but division wins rarely are. Matthew Stafford statistically played okay, but something still seems off with him. He doesn’t look like the quarterback that was supposed to elevate this team to the level of Super Bowl favorite. With that being said, his relationship with Cooper Kupp is incredible and that duo is nearly impossible to stop. The only thing standing in the way of this team is poor playcalling by head coach Sean McVay. It was nice to see him not turn his back on the playcalling on Kupp. His reluctance to stick with what works may cost them in the NFL Playoffs.
4) Indianapolis Colts (8-6) (7)
With a win over the Patriots, the Indianapolis Colts have now won five of their last six games. Indianapolis is certainly sitting pretty in the AFC playoff race. The Colts simply outplayed the Patriots and New England had no answers until the fourth quarter. With two games left against teams at or below .500, the other game comes against the Arizona Cardinals, who just lost in Detroit to the Lions. Their future is in their hands and are now only a game back of the Titans in the AFC South. With the way Jonathan Taylor is playing, few can beat this Indianapolis team.
5) Dallas Cowboys (10-4) (8)
Dallas got another ugly win. This time, the Cowboys went on the road to beat the New York Giants. Giants’ quarterback Mike Glennon turned the ball over three times and the Cowboys still only won by 15 thanks to a late stop in the red zone. Dak Prescott is not right and is making mistakes he will not get away with against better competition. The defense is buzzing, but they’ve only played three solid offenses all year in the Buccaneers, Chargers and Chiefs. Two of those games were the first two of the season. Whether Dallas can continue to win ugly will only be seen come playoff time, as the rest of their schedule is a cakewalk.
6) New England Patriots (9-5) (5)
It was a disappointing loss for the New England Patriots, as their seven-game winning streak was snapped. The Colts made Patriots quarterback Mac Jones look like a true rookie and the offensive performance was pitiful outside of the fourth quarter. Overall, however, the Pats did a decent job against the Colts, as they really only gave up 20 points, as seven came off of a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown. Luckily, the Patriots still have a lead over the Bills for the division, but they do have a matchup against them for the division this week.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4) (4)
For the first time since 2006, a Tom Brady-led team did not score a single point all game. The Saints continue to dominate Brady and the Buccaneers, thanks to their stellar defensive line. Brady looked like your average game manager quarterback when any pressure got his way. With receiver Chris Godwin out for the season with a torn ACL, it’ll be interesting to see if teams start to gamble more on sending heat knowing they have less talent to cover now. One thing is for sure, without elite receivers playing at a high level, Tampa Bay is doomed and may even have trouble making it out of the first round. It’s the reason for their drop in the NFL Power Rankings
8) Arizona Cardinals (10-4) (3)
The Arizona Cardinals didn’t just lose to the Detroit Lions. The Cardinals got absolutely buried. Arizona could only muster 12 points and suffered their biggest loss of the season to, record-wise coming into the game, the worst team in the NFL. Arizona’s defense being exposed by Jared Goff is extremely concerning, as they will play much better quarterbacks in the NFL Playoffs. With their next two games coming against teams with a combined record of 18-10, we’ll really get to see what this team is made of. The first-round bye now looks more like a distant memory than a reality, and they took a big drop in the NFL Power Rankings this week.
9) Buffalo Bills (8-6) (9)
The Buffalo Bills defense got to relax this week, as they had a great matchup against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Their 31-14 win ended their two-game losing streak and kept them firmly in the AFC playoff picture. The Bills finally got some of the running game going as well, which they’ll need to make a run in the NFL Playoffs. The Bills need to be ready to go this week, however, with a crucial matchup against New England deciding the division. Although winning the division won’t get them a bye, they’ll need home-field advantage to make noise in the loaded AFC.
10) Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) (10)
Los Angeles has to feel like they let the game and also the division get away on Thursday night. The Chargers had a chance to tie the Chiefs but now find themselves two games out with only three to go. The offense is incredible and will be a challenge for most teams to stop. Unfortunately, their defense has trouble simply tackling players, which will be a problem if they make the NFL Playoffs. The Chargers should be able to rebound this week against the Houston Texans and play don’t play another team above .500 the rest of the way.