NFL Power Rankings After Week 16
December 29, 2020
After Week 16 in the NFL, there is only one week of regular season action remaining. And through 16 weeks, we have a pretty clear picture of who the best and worst teams in the NFL are. In this round of NFL power rankings, we identify where each team falls in that spectrum and recap what was a telling week in the NFL for many teams looking to make the playoffs.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 32)
It looks like the Jacksonville Jaguars have sealed the number 32 spot in our NFL power rankings this season. The Jaguars were blown out by the Chicago Bears in Week 16, while the New York Jets won a second consecutive contest. Those results guaranteed the Jaguars the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They are expected to take Trevor Lawrence first overall.
31. New York Jets (Last Week: 31)
Despite being at the bottom of these NFL power rankings all year, the New York Jets have done the unthinkable. The Jets have won two straight games, and eliminated themselves from contention for the first overall pick. Even more surprising is the fact that those two wins came against playoff teams in the Rams and Browns in back to back weeks. Maybe there is hope for the Jets in the future based on those results.
30. Detroit Lions (Last Week: 28)
Unlike the Jets, who have shown a glimmer of hope recently, the Lions appear to be hopeless. Detroit was destroyed at home by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday, moving them into the bottom three in our NFL power rankings. The Lions are 5-10 on the season, but their -140 point differential is the third worst in the NFL behind Jacksonville and the Jets. When they lose, it is ugly.
29. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 30)
Atlanta suffered its fourth straight loss in Week 16 when it dropped a 17-14 contest to the Chiefs. Despite the loss, the Falcons move up a spot this week given that they played a very respectable contest against a team that is in the upper echelon of these NFL power rankings. A late missed field goal cost the Falcons a chance to go to overtime against one of the best teams in the league.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 29)
Just like the Jets, the Cincinnati Bengals have put together a small winning streak. The Bengals earned a second consecutive victory in Week 16 when they got the better of the Houston Texans on the road. This could have disastrous implications on the team’s standing in the upcoming draft, but the Bengals are playing some decent football as of late and could be respectable once Joe Burrow is able to return.
27. Houston Texans (Last Week: 22)
Houston takes a big fall in this week’s NFL power rankings by virtue of their loss to the Bengals. Houston gave up 371 passing yards to Brandon Allen in this game, which is a huge problem. Outside of Deshaun Watson, there just isn’t much to like on this roster, and the team will have to rebuild without fully throwing in the towel and betraying its franchise quarterback. This is an unenviable task to say the least.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 24)
It might be time to pump the brakes on the excitement around Jalen Hurts for the Eagles. Philadelphia got off to a strong start against the Dallas Cowboys in a must-win Week 16 game, but finished that game with just 17 points. Hurts has shown some flashes of brilliance, but needs to develop as a quarterback who can deliver a consistent performance over the course of a full game.
25. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 27)
The Carolina Panthers took advantage of a disastrous quarterback situation for the Washington Football Team to beat them in Week 16. In their 20-13 win, Teddy Bridgewater threw for under 200 yards, but he didn’t need to do anything more. It was the Carolina defense that helped decide this game, as the Football Team failed to get out of its own way time and time again.
24. Washington Football Team (Last Week: 23)
Washington just needs to win one more game to get into the playoffs as a sub-.500 division champion. That did not happen in Week 16, as they were beaten by the Carolina Panthers. The Football Team can still win and get in when they play the Eagles in Week 17. But they cut quarterback Dwayne Haskins and might have to start Heinicke at quarterback if Alex Smith is not good to go on Sunday. NFL betting odds have Washington at -125 to win the NFC East.
23. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 25)
Dallas has been playing some much improved football as of late. Their defense is getting turnovers, which is making things easier for their offense. That symbiotic football helped Dallas stay in the playoff hunt with a win over the Eagles in Week 16. A win combined with a Washington loss in Week 17 would get Dallas into the postseason in the most improbable fashion.
22. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 21)
A Christmas Day game against an opponent seeking revenge for years of playoff anguish is usually a recipe for disaster in the NFL. And it was just that for the Vikings, who were destroyed on Christmas by the New Orleans Saints. Minnesota drops a spot in these NFL power rankings, but nobody can blame them for failing to show up on a holiday while the Saints were clicking on all cylinders.
21. Denver Broncos (Last Week: 18)
Denver lost an AFC West tilt to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16, adding another disappointing loss to their tally for the season. After this week, Denver is tied with Jacksonville for the third fewest points scored in the NFL this season. Through 16 games, the Broncos have failed to put 300 points on the board, as they have averaged under 20 points per game for the entire season.
20. New England Patriots (Last Week: 16)
It was strange to see the Patriots play the Bills in Week 16 with the Patriots already having been eliminated from the playoffs. But that is exactly what happened, and it did not go well for New England. The Patriots could not stop Josh Allen and could not score on offense, as they were blown out 38-9. The Cam Newton experiment has been a huge failure for the Patriots, and all of the opt-outs at the start of the season really hurt their defense this year.
19. New York Giants (Last Week: 19)
The Giants got crushed by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16, something that there isn’t much shame in. Fortunately for the Giants, the Eagles’ win over Dallas and Washington’s loss to Carolina kept them in the playoff hunt heading into Week 17. A Giants win over the Cowboys and a Washington loss to the Eagles would make the Giants a 6-10 division champion and a playoff team.
18. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 26)
There has not been a harder team to predict than the San Francisco 49ers this season. They look terrible one week, then come back to beat a playoff contender like the Arizona Cardinals like they did in Week 16. The Niners shut down Kyler Murray in that game, holding him under 250 yards for the game. The 49ers, if they can get everyone back healthy next season, will be a contender to win the NFC again.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 20)
You might be asking why the Las Vegas Raiders moved up three spots in our NFL power rankings despite losing to the Miami Dolphins. Well, if you watched that game, you would know that it took a complete miracle final drive from Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins to beat the Raiders in that game. They may not be a playoff team this year, but the Raiders played some very good football this season. A few bounces go their way next year, and they could be elite.
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16. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 14)
Thanks to their shocking loss to the 49ers in Week 16, the Arizona Cardinals enter the final week of the season outside of the playoff bracket. They will need to win their final game against the Rams and hope that the Bears lose to the Green Bay Packers in order to get into the postseason. Those outcomes are certainly possible, but it should have never come to that for Arizona based on their start to this season.
15. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 17)
The Chargers beat the downtrodden Denver Broncos in Week 16 to move to 6-9 on the year. The win was their third straight, and is a great sign for a team that is clearly not tanking despite having a rookie quarterback to build around. If the Chargers can hire even a decent coach heading into next season, one would have to think that the roster they’ve built can compete in the AFC playoffs in the very near future.
14. Chicago Bears (Last Week: 15)
Despite going on a five-game losing streak earlier this season, the Chicago Bears are in position to make the playoffs entering the final week of the season. After beating up on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16, the Bears just need to win at home against the Packers to make it to the postseason. That is no easy task, of course, but is more of a chance than most thought they would have a month or two ago.
13. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 11)
Things may be unraveling quickly for the Los Angeles Rams. They lost on the road to the Seattle Seahawks and handed the Seahawks the NFC West title with some foolish red zone turnovers. But things could be getting worse, as quarterback Jared Goff suffered a broken thumb in that loss. The Rams, if they were to lose to the Cardinals in Week 17 with their backup quarterback, could still get knocked out of the playoffs.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 13)
It wasn’t pretty, but the Steelers got a much needed win over the Colts in Week 16. They got off to a slow start, going behind 21-7 in the first half. But the Steelers rallied in the second half behind their passing attack and defense. The win clinched the division title for the Steelers, who finally stopped their slide down our NFL power rankings with their second half performance against a good Indy team.
11. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 12)
To beat the Las Vegas Raiders, the Miami Dolphins needed a miracle. Or, at least a little Fitzmagic. Miami went back to Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback late in their game against the Raiders, who provided the spark they needed to come back and win that game. The victory put the Dolphins at the top of the wild card standings in the AFC, and it would take a loss and several teams winning behind them for the Dolphins to miss the playoffs at this point.
10. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 9)
Cleveland suffered the most baffling defeat of the week in the NFL in Week 16. They fell to the New York Jets, giving the Jets their second straight win. A win for Cleveland would have been so important in the context of the playoff race. Instead, the Browns will need to beat the Steelers in Week 17 in order to clinch a spot in the postseason. Fortunately, they will face backup quarterback Mason Rudolph in that matchup.
9. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 8)
If the Colts had just finished strong against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they would be in the postseason already. But the Colts fell apart in the second half against Pittsburgh. Now they are tasked with winning in Week 17 and hoping that the Dolphins, Ravens, Browns or Titans can lose in front of them to let them into the postseason. The Colts also need to take care of business against the lowly Jaguars, who they lost to in the season opener.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 10)
Tampa Bay seems to be getting its act together in time for the playoffs. The Bucs move up two spots in our NFL power rankings with their win over the Detroit Lions. Tom Brady threw for 348 yards in their 47-7 win, with 148 of those yards going to Mike Evans. The Bucs are the only team to clinch a wild card spot in the NFC so far, and a Week 17 win over the Falcons would guarantee them a date with the lowly NFC East winner in the first round.
7. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 7)
Despite the ups and downs of this season, the Seattle Seahawks clinched the NFC West title in Week 16. Their win over the Los Angeles Rams was a bit of a defensive struggle. But the Seahawks forced some key Jared Goff turnovers, while Russell Wilson was dependable enough to get the job done. Seattle will be a top-three seed in the NFC playoffs, and will get at least one home game as a result.
6. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 3)
The Titans aren’t used to playing in the snow, and played a Green Bay team in Week 16 that has more experience with it. But the Titans were just demolished by Tennessee on Sunday Night Football in a game where the snow clearly impacted the Titans’ offense. The Packers did not experience similar issues, which allowed them to cruise to victory over a Titans team that still holds the AFC South lead heading into Week 17.
5. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 6)
Speaking of the Packers, they looked incredible in the snow against the Titans. In their 44-10 win, Davante Adams had 142 receiving yards, while running back AJ Dillon had over 100 yards on the ground. The Packers weren’t struggling with their footing in the snow, something the Packers might need to get used to given that they lead the race for home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
4. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 5)
The Saints managed to get Alvin Kamara into the end zone more than most teams got into the end zone on Christmas Day, as the Saints destroyed the Minnesota Vikings. Kamara had six rushing touchdowns in the Saints’ 52-33 victory. A win over Carolina in Week 17 would guarantee the Saints a top-two seed in the NFC playoffs. And with Drew Brees back, the Saints could be a team with a real shot at a championship.
3. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 4)
Somehow, the Buffalo Bills might be the most fun team to watch in the NFL right now. They blew the New England Patriots out in Week 16, and look all but assured the second seed in the AFC playoffs. The Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs connection might be the best in the league today, or at least second behind Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Allen will soon have a chance to prove this season was no fluke in the playoffs.
2. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 2)
Baltimore is getting hot at the right time this season. They beat up on the New York Giants this past week to move to 10-5 heading into the final week of the regular season. They will play the Bengals in Week 17, with a chance to clinch a playoff berth and give themselves a chance to atone for the playoff misfortunes that they have suffered in years past.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 1)
Kansas City played a much closer game than they would have liked in Week 16 against the Atlanta Falcons. In fact, they needed a fourth quarter touchdown drive from Patrick Mahomes just to win the game. But the Chiefs have clinched the number one seed in the AFC with a 14-1 record through 16 weeks. They can now afford to rest players if they choose to do so, before they get the AFC’s lone postseason bye in the wild card round.
NFL Betting FAQ
Who is the new MVP favorite?
Aaron Rodgers is now the convincing favorite to earn the NFL MVP award. He comes into Week 17 at -385 to win the MVP. That is incredible, given that he was behind Patrick Mahomes for the bulk of the year. But his consistency in the second half of the season and his connection with Davante Adams have made him the most likely option with a week left to play.
When are NFL futures paid?
Most NFL futures bets are paid either at the end of the regular season or at the end of the playoffs. Which of those two scenarios take place depends on what betting market you got involved with. Of course, it is always a good idea to check the rules of your specific sportsbook for more information.
Are any divisions still up for grabs?
Right now, the NFC East and AFC South are the only two divisions that can still be won. Washington, the Giants and the Cowboys will fight for the NFC East title in Week 17. Meanwhile, a win by the Titans would clinch the AFC South. A Colts win and a Titans loss would clinch the division for the Colts on the final day of the regular season.