NFL Power Rankings After Week 15

December 23, 2020

Week 15 of the NFL season was just like every other week in the NFL this season. That is to say that it was full of absolute insanity. With two gigantic upsets highlighting another exciting week, the league proved once again that it is just so difficult to predict. In this week’s NFL power rankings, find out where each team stacks up after another week of mayhem.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 31)

For the first time in our power rankings, the New York Jets are not at rock bottom. That honor belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were demolished by the Baltimore Ravens. The 40-14 loss made it 13 straight losses for the Jags, who were outgained by 142 yards in the game. Jacksonville is now the favorite to land Trevor Lawrence in the upcoming NFL Draft, as they lead the race for the top pick.

31. New York Jets (Last Week: 32)

In the biggest surprise of the 2020 season so far, the New York Jets finally got a win. They broke into the win column for the first time in 2020 with a 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams. The Jets got out to a double digit lead and were in danger of relinquishing it late, but Adam Gase’s team managed to do just enough to get a stop and run the clock out. Of course, Jets fans might be upset that the win took them out of the pole position for Trevor Lawrence.

30. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 29)

Atlanta did something that is common for the Falcons in their Week 15 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They blew a double digit lead to Tom Brady. A 17-point lead after the first half turned into a 30-27 loss, with the Falcons allowing 24 of the final 27 points of the game. The loss was Atlanta’s third straight, as the momentum from Raheem Morris taking over as interim head coach seems to have disappeared.

29. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 30)

The other big surprise from Week 15 was the Cincinnati Bengals winning outright on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cincinnati held Ben Roethlisberger to 170 passing yards and dominated the game from a physicality standpoint on both sides. This game doesn’t mean much in the context of this season, but is a nice building block for next year and beyond, when they have Joe Burrow back under center.

28. Detroit Lions (Last Week: 27)

Detroit became just the fourth team this season with a point differential of -100 when they lost to the Chicago Bears in Week 15. They lost by three touchdowns to the Tennessee Titans, giving up 46 points and 147 yards to Derrick Henry on the ground. Detroit’s defense was terrible under Matt Patricia and won’t get any better under interim head coach Darrell Bevell.

27. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 26)

The Carolina Panthers lost by eight points to the Green Bay Packers in Week 15. And, realistically, they could have won the game if not for some turnovers. Teddy Bridgewater’s failure to hold onto the ball in the red zone put the Panthers behind the eight ball early in this game, and Matt Rhule’s team was unable to dig their way out of that situation. Carolina joins the Falcons as an NFC South team with three straight losses.

26. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 25)

Usually the strength of the San Francisco 49ers is their defense. That was not the case in Week 15, to put it gently. The Niners were torched on defense by a Cowboys offense led by Andy Dalton, because the offense put their defense in bad spots with four turnovers. The loss was the third straight for the Niners. More importantly, it knocked them out of contention for the postseason in the NFC. San Francisco has some serious decisions to make about their future at quarterback.

25. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 28)

Dallas got a much needed win in Week 15, outscoring the 49ers in a thrilling 41-33 game. The Cowboys forced four turnovers in this game, which masked their considerable issues on defense. The offense had an easy job in this game for Dallas, as they simply had to punch in touchdowns in sudden change situations. Somehow, the Cowboys could still make the playoffs if they win out and the Washington Football Team lose out.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 24)

The Eagles lost to the Arizona Cardinals, but they have to be encouraged by the performance that Jalen Hurts put forth in the loss. Hurts threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns, and nearly brought the team back from a 16-point first quarter deficit. Unfortunately for the Eagles, their defense allowed over 400 yards to Kyler Murray, and the offense couldn’t do enough to overcome that.

23. Washington Football Team (Last Week: 22)

They put up forth a valiant effort, but the Washington Football Team just lacked the firepower to beat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15. In their 20-15 loss, the Football Team had plenty of chances to keep up with the Seahawks, but Dwayne Haskins and the offense couldn’t reward the defense for its solid play against Russell Wilson. Haskins has since been relieved of his duties as captain for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocol.

22. Houston Texans (Last Week: 21)

In a tight game, the Houston Texans fell to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. In the 27-20 loss, Houston fought back from behind multiple times in the game. But with the game tied at 20 late, they allowed Indianapolis to put together a game-winning touchdown drive. At 4-10, after three straight defeats, the Texans are eliminated from playoff contention and will turn their focus to building a better team around Dwayne Haskins.

21. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 19)

Against the offensively challenged Chicago Bears, the Minnesota Vikings faltered in a major way in Week 15. They allowed 33 points to the Bears and blew their chance to remain a game behind the Arizona Cardinals for the final playoff spot in the NFC. Now the Vikings need to win out and have the Cardinals lose both of their remaining games to have a chance at the postseason.

20. Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 20)

The Las Vegas Raiders lost at home on Thursday Night Football against the Los Angeles Chargers. That loss puts the Raiders two games out of the seventh spot in the AFC, and all but eliminates them from playoff contention. But the Raiders had to be happy with what they saw from Marcus Mariota in the game, after he filled in for an injured Derek Carr. A capable backup is a gift in the NFL, and Mariota certainly fits that description.

19. New York Giants (Last Week: 18)

Joe Judge’s defense played well in the Giants’ 20-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns. But Colt McCoy could not lead the offense to anything fruitful, as the Giants failed to score a touchdown in the game. The Giants are still just one game back of the Washington Football Team in the race for the NFC East. But they are running out of time to make up that deficit, and the Giants face the Ravens in Week 16.

18. Denver Broncos (Last Week: 17)

Denver got demolished by the Buffalo Bills in Week 15. The Broncos’ defense gave up 48 points, as they were unable to stop the connection between Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. The two linked up for 147 yards, in a game that put away in a third quarter where the Bills outscored the Broncos 17-0. At 5-9, the Broncos are guaranteed to finish this season with a losing record once again.

17. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 23)

The Chargers were incredible offensively in their 30-27 overtime victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. Justin Herbert threw for over 300 yards in the win, which would have been much easier for the Chargers to pick up if they were able to make one of two field goal attempts at the end of regulation. Los Angeles faces the Broncos this week in a battle of AFC West also-rans.

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16. New England Patriots (Last Week: 15)

New England’s offensive issues were too much for them to overcome in their Week 15 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Cam Newton struggled to make throws when it mattered, and the Patriots’ run defense was overwhelmed in the 22-12 loss. That loss knocked the Patriots out of playoff contention, something that is rare for this team during the Bill Belichick era.

15. Chicago Bears (Last Week: 16)

Chicago got a win that kept their season alive in Week 15 when they beat the Minnesota Vikings in a surprisingly high-scoring affair. David Montgomery had 146 yards on the ground for the Bears, who moved back to .500 on the season. They are a game back of the Cardinals for the NFC’s final playoff spot. Chicago has a very winnable game in Week 16, as they travel to Jacksonville to face the front runner for the number one pick in the Jaguars.

14. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 14)

It was closer than they’d have liked, but the Arizona Cardinals managed to hold off Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles. Arizona enters the final two weeks of the regular season with a one game lead for the final spot in the NFC playoffs. And with a Week 16 matchup against an already eliminated Niners team, the Cardinals could remain in the driver’s seat for that spot heading into the final week of the year.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 7)

There hasn’t been a more confusing team than the Pittsburgh Steelers over the last few weeks. Pittsburgh dropped its third straight game last week, falling on Monday Night Football to the Cincinnati Bengals. Pittsburgh’s defense has been adequate during these losses, but the offense has completely lost its momentum. Ben Roethlisberger and company will need to turn things around if they want to hold onto the AFC North lead, let alone make a run in the postseason.

12. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 13)

The Dolphins got a win over their hated rivals in the Patriots last week. Their defense was designed to make Cam Newton beat them in that game, and Newton was simply not able to do so. The Dolphins are clinging to the final playoff spot in the AFC for now, but they have a tricky road game against the Raiders in Week 16 while the Ravens face the Giants with a chance to pass them.

11. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 8)

Sean McVay and the Rams laid a complete egg in Week 15 as they gave the Jets their first win of the season. This was an ugly loss for the Rams, but it should be noted that they may have been looking ahead to their Week 16 game against the Seahawks. That game will likely decide the outcome of the NFC West for the season, as a Rams win would put them in first place and a Seahawks win would clinch the division for Seattle.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 12)

After falling behind by 17 points in the first half, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers steamrolled the Atlanta Falcons in the second half. Tom Brady threw for 390 yards in the comeback victory, which all but wrapped up a wild card spot for the Bucs. They face the moribund Detroit Lions in Week 16, in a game that could formally clinch a spot in the playoffs for Tampa.

9. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 11)

Cleveland rebounded very nicely from their Week 14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens by beating up on the Giants in Week 15. The Cleveland defense came to play in New York, keeping the Giants out of the end zone for the entirety of the contest. Cleveland is currently in one of the AFC’s wild card spots, but they are also a game back of the lead in the AFC North. Where they finish the regular season is anyone’s guess.

8. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 10)

The Colts picked up a huge win in Week 15, beating the Houston Texans by a touchdown at home. The Colts have a one game cushion over the teams in seventh and eighth place in the AFC playoff picture. But the Colts might have the toughest game of any team fighting for playoff positioning in Week 16. They go to Pittsburgh to play a Steelers team that is likely to be angry after three straight losses in embarrassing fashion.

7. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 7)

It wasn’t pretty, but the Seahawks did just enough to beat the Washington Football Team. Seattle was outgained by the Football Team for the game, but the Seahawks forced two turnovers that made just enough of a difference. Seattle now faces the Rams in a game that will all but decide the outcome of that division.

6. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 6)

Green Bay got off to a hot start against the Carolina Panthers, and did just enough to hold on in a 24-16 game. Concerning for the Packers was the fact that they could not get anything going on offense in the second half, even if they played a great game on defense. By virtue of New Orleans’ loss to the Chiefs, the Packers are now the top seed in the NFC with two weeks left to play.

5. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 4)

For the most part, the New Orleans Saints played some solid defense against the Kansas City Chiefs. But some mistakes from a returning Drew Brees and the inevitability of the Kansas City offense were enough to put the Chiefs ahead of the Saints for good in the biggest game of Week 15. The Saints host the Vikings on Christmas Day with a chance to clinch the NFC South in Week 16.

4. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 5)

Speaking of clinching divisions, the Buffalo Bills clinched the AFC East title on Saturday with a blowout win over the Denver Broncos. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs might be the best quarterback and wide receiver pairing in the league, and the Bills have moved into second place in the AFC standings because of them. Buffalo may even have fans at their home games in the playoffs, which could provide them with a huge boost.

3. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 3)

Tennessee’s offense went off again in Week 15, as they put up 46 points in a three touchdown win over the Detroit Lions. Outside of Cleveland, the Titans might have the best running game in the league right now. That positions them well for the playoffs, with NFL betting odds putting the Titans at +2500 to win the Super Bowl. They could be an attractive longshot to get the job done should the Chiefs falter.

2. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 2)

Baltimore is peaking at just the right time. They won their third straight game last week with a blowout victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite being only 9-5 on the season, the Ravens have the second best point differential in the league at +116. They face the Giants in Week 16, as they look to climb back into the top seven in the AFC and become a wild card team that nobody would want to face.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 1)

There is no denying that the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL right now. Patrick Mahomes is far and away the favorite to win the MVP award at this point in the year, as not even the stout Saints defense could slow him down for four quarters. At 13-1, the Chiefs have all but clinched the top seed in the AFC, giving them a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with just one more win or Steelers loss.

NFL Betting FAQ

How heavily favored are the Chiefs now?

The number one team in our NFL power rankings is the clear favorite to win the title. The Chiefs are down to +170 to win the title, with the second favorite all the way at +550 to dethrone the defending champions. With a chance to earn some extra rest before they start the playoffs, the Chiefs will be favored against anyone they face the rest of the season, including in the postseason.

Who will have the number three pick in the draft?

The Jets and Jaguars have locked up the top two picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. But the current front runner for the third pick is the Cincinnati Bengals. At 3-11, the Bengals simply need to lose out to pick at third overall. They face the 4-10 Texans in Week 16, in a game that will go a long way toward deciding the rest of the draft order.

Is there a benefit to having the second seed?

There is no longer a first round bye for a team that finishes second in their conference. But that doesn’t mean that there is no reward for finishing there. Teams that earn the second seed will have home field advantage guaranteed until the conference championship round. That is no small advantage, even in a season where COVID-19 has kept fans away for the most part.

Jay Sanin
Jay Sanin is a sports writer and broadcaster from Albany, NY. He has covered sports betting and the gambling industry since 2013.