Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

Rick Scuteri, Associated Press

The Week 15 NFL Power Rankings saw the chaos subside a bit. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of chaos and movement this week. It’s just that all the movement happens to be concentrated in the middle of the pack this week, rather than in the top and bottom of the list. So, we’re going to dive in this week and just try to enjoy the fact that things aren’t quite as weird.

32. Detroit Lions (1-11-1)

Last Week: 32

Back to losing, Lions fans. Sorry. They didn’t really stand much of a chance against the Broncos this week. The Lions were mediocre in the first half and kept things relatively close. But, they imploded in the second half. They kicked things off with a fumble three plays into the third quarter and ended things with an interception on the second to last drive.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)

Last week: 31

Jacksonville arguably put up the most pathetic performance this week as Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions. The defense also gave up over 100 yards rushing to a Titans team that does not have Derrick Henry. With more drama surrounding Urban Meyer this week, I really want to knock them down to 32 in the Week 15 NFL Power Rankings. Unfortunately, until the Lions catch up, I just can’t.

30. Houston Texans (2-11)

Last Week: 30

This was another one of those weeks where all the bad teams play badly. Therefore, you’re not going to see much movement in this section of the Week 15 NFL Power Rankings. Brandin Cooks and Davis Mills both had pretty decent games this week. Unfortunately, that wasn’t anywhere close to enough in the second half. The Texans played a pretty clean game, but are clearly a step-below talent wise.

29. New York Jets (3-10)

Last Week: 29

Speaking of hopeless looking situations, Zach Wilson looks incompetent. He didn’t make any major mistakes to kill the Jets this week, other than the 23 incomplete passes he threw. Some quarterbacks don’t even throw it that many times in a game. But, Wilson threw the ball 42 times and only completed it 19 times. At least he was the Jets’ leading rusher this week, right?

28. New York Giants (4-9)

Last Week: 27

I’m just not sure who the Giants even are at this point. Are they Saquon Barkley’s team? Are they a cavalcade of mediocre quarterbacks? They definitely seem like they’re bad defensively. Then again, Justin Herbert has a tendency to make a lot of people look bad. There weren’t a lot of expectations this week, but it feels like the Giants fell short of even that.

27. Chicago Bears (4-9)

Last Week: 26

I’m sorry, Bears fans. Aaron Rodgers STILL owns you. Justin Fields couldn’t even come close to keeping up this week. He did pretty well running the ball. But, you hope for more from your young quarterback than that. Perhaps you can take some solace in knowing you had a lead at halftime. But, no moral victories.

26. Carolina Panthers (5-8)

Last Week: 23

Remember when Cam Newton being back felt like it was precipitating a massive resurgence in Carolina? Yeah. Those good feelings are over. Cam was a disaster this week with a pick six in the first half and a goofy fumble in the second. He ended up being benched for PJ Walker in the middle of the fourth quarter. Just like that, the opportunity for Cam’s legendary return feels completely gone.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1)

Last Week: 22

I will give credit to the Steelers for clawing their way back in that game. Ben Roethlisberger made some vintage throws that reminded everyone of the old days. It just felt like one of those games the Steelers always win, you know? Well, not so much. At the end of the game, the defense couldn’t keep the Vikings from scoring during the miracle comeback.

24. Atlanta Falcons (6-7)

Last Week: 28

Believe it or not, the Atlanta Falcons are actually currently tied for the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, a cascade of tiebreakers have them sitting as the No. 11 team in the NFC. Believe it or not, a solid push in the final four weeks could have this team in the playoffs. Then again, the way they’ve gotten that 6-7 record makes them feel a lot farther off than that.

23. Seattle Seahawks (5-8)

Last Week: 24

For the first time this year, the Seattle Seahawks are on a winning streak! To be fair, beating the Texans wasn’t nearly as impressive as beating the 49ers. But, if they somehow win out, 9-8 looks a lot better than what we were all expecting. That’s not impossible either. Their final four games come against two division opponents, the Bears, and the Lions.

22. New Orleans Saints (6-7)

Last Week: 25

The Jets aren’t exactly the most inspiring opponent to get a dominating victory against. But, a dominating victory against anyone in the NFL is impressive. The biggest part of this game, though, was probably Taysom Hill. He showed why the Saints believed in him enough to hand him that contract extension. Not so much as a passer, but he got the job done and that’s why they move up in the Week 15 NFL Power Rankings.

21. Las Vegas Raiders (6-7)

Last Week: 16

Ouch. Derek Carr threw the ball 45 times and only put up 263 yards and a touchdown. The running game put up a respectable 3.7 yards per carry, but the Raiders only ran the ball 12 times so I don’t think anyone is singing their praises. This game looked like an absolute confirmation that the Raiders do not have what it takes to be a playoff team in 2021. Pack it up, get ready for next year boys.

20. Washington Football Team (6-7)

Last Week: 14

Washington’s slim chance to challenge the Cowboys for control of the NFC East slipped out of their grasp on Sunday. They’re still holding onto the No. 7 seed in the NFC playoffs. But, I’m having trouble believing they’re going to hold onto that spot with the way their season has gone. The momentum appears to have been sucked out of the air in Washington after fumbling the comeback away.

19. Miami Dolphins (6-7)

Last Week: 19

The playoffs are probably still a pipe dream in Miami. But, they got some help this week with some major shakeups at the bottom of the AFC playoff race. Tua has been playing really well lately and Miami’s fortunes have improved with his play. At the very least, the Dolphins can enjoy some hope for next year if they continue turning things around the way they have been lately.

18. Minnesota Vikings (6-7)

Last Week: 20

I still don’t trust the Vikings. I don’t know if I can at this point. They won, but they BARELY won against Ben Roethlisberger’s shambling corpse despite a 29-0 lead well into the third quarter. I’ll give the Vikings a boost in the Week 15 NFL Power Rankings for inching their way back to .500 with the win. But, I still don’t trust them. I don’t see them as a playoff team. I’d be shocked if they made it at this point.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Last Week: 17

The dream of miraculously winning the NFC East died a few weeks ago in Philly. So, I think it was better for them that Washington lost and got them closer to a wild card spot. With two games left to play against the No. 7 seeded Washington Football Team, the Eagles still have everything in front of them. But, they’ll need to execute starting this week.

16. Denver Broncos (7-6)

Last Week: 21

The Broncos have been slowly turning their season back around in the second half. Now, they’re one of many 7-6 AFC teams tied in a log-jam for a Wild Card spot. They’ll have an opportunity to get one over one of those teams they’re tied with in the floundering Bengals this week. Their boost in the Week 15 NFL Power Rankings is because of that. It’s not because they pounded an inferior Lions team in a game that reminded me a lot of their fake ass 3-0 start.

15. Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

Last Week: 12

The Ravens have gotten so lucky that the Bengals lost the last two weeks, because the Ravens have been imploding. Now, Lamar Jackson is hurt. It sounds like the Ravens are optimistic he won’t be out very long, if any time at all. But, even if he is back the Ravens are still an extremely injured football team and it seems to be starting to affect their ability to put together a basic gameplan.

14. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

Last Week: 10

The Cincinnati Bengals are starting to enter Minnesota Vikings territory. Can we trust them? Are they good? They sure haven’t looked particularly good the last two weeks, save for impressive comebacks. But, the Bengals keep digging themselves into these really tough holes. If they are to be a playoff team this year, they’ll need to reel that in if they want to have any hope of breaking their infamous playoff drought.

13. Cleveland Browns (7-6)

Last Week: 18

The Browns came out of their bye week looking pretty similar to what they looked like before their bye week. The difference is the AFC North has basically collapsed around them. The Browns’ week off was seriously rejuvenating. They now sit at 7-6, still on the outside of the playoff picture. But, in a much better spot than they were two weeks ago.

12. Buffalo Bills (7-6)

Last Week: 11

Things are starting to get dire in Buffalo. The evil empire is back, and Tom Brady still owns the Bills. Suddenly, they’re 7-6 along with five other AFC teams and are barely holding onto that No. 7 seed. Remember when we all thought they were the class of the AFC? My how times have changed.

11. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

Last Week: 13

The Colts have really turned things around this season. They are winners of six of their last eight games, and those two losses were close ones against some of the best teams in the NFL. They’re currently in control of the No. 6 seed in the AFC and don’t look like they’ll be giving it up anytime soon. The one roadblock? Back to back games against New England and Arizona after the bye.

10. San Francisco 49ers (7-6)

Last Week: 15

Speaking of teams that have turned things around, the 49ers might be inconsistent but they’re really talented. Jimmy Garoppolo might be trying to give the ball away in key situations. But, the 49ers appear to be well positioned to overcome those hiccups and allow him to contribute throughout most of the game as a master of efficiency. From near the basement to the top 10 of the Week 15 NFL Power Rankings, the 49ers are getting hot at the right time.

9. Arizona Cardinals (10-3)

Last Week: 3

The Arizona Cardinals have gotten to 10-3 this season mostly by beating a bunch of bad teams. You could make the argument that their most respectable win of the season came over the Los Angeles Rams back in Week 4. But, they’re taking a dive in the Week 15 Power Rankings because they can’t even hang their hat on that anymore. The Cardinals are 3-3 in their last six games and they still have tough games against the Colts and Cowboys coming up.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5)

Last Week: 8

The Chargers are starting to get back on track after it was starting to look questionable there for a bit. I still don’t know if this team has what it takes to run through the playoffs and make it to the Super Bowl. But, they’ve won three of their last four. Beating the Giants by 17 is just icing on the cake.

7. Tennessee Titans (8-4)

Last Week: 7

The Titans got back on track against the Jaguars this week, as everyone seems to do. I still don’t know if they’re going to make much noise in January considering the state of their roster. But, they’re only two wins away from clinching the AFC South. Luckily they did most of the necessary work early this season.

6. Dallas Cowboys (9-4)

Last Week: 6

The Cowboys staved off a potential nightmare situation by holding off the Washington Football Team this week and are now one win away from clinching the NFC East. A win over the lowly Giants this coming week could do just that. I would be shocked to see them lose out at this point. So, holding on for that victory against Washington ends up feeling like a clinching moment.

5. Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

Last Week: 9

Like the Cardinals, the Rams haven’t been doing much winning against good teams lately. In fact, when they played the Titans, 49ers, and Packers they went on a three-game losing streak that they only came out of last week. Now, they have a quality win over a division rival. That division rival is now only a game ahead of them in the running for the NFC West. Winning that division seems very possible now.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)

Last Week: 5

It is just absurd to think about the fact that Tom Brady is 44 years old and still playing at this level. It’s a level the Buffalo Bills have been familiar with for his whole career. But, he now holds the record for most completions in NFL history. But, here’s the thing. Even if Brady doesn’t do well, Leonard Fournette appears to be approaching everything Jacksonville thought they were getting when they took him No. 4 overall.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)

Last Week: 4

The Chiefs are officially back, everyone. Most of the AFC should take notice because they’re riding a six-game win streak and it hasn’t really been close for a while now. The biggest question now is… can the Chiefs’ offense play well against a team other than Las Vegas?

2. Green Bay Packers (10-3)

Last Week: 2

The Green Bay Packers are a force. Aaron Rodgers is a force. Davante Adams is a force. The Packers’ defense didn’t look quite as good this week as they have in weeks past. But, it doesn’t matter because the Packers came away with a dominating victory over their “rival.” A wacky first half aside, this result really should never have been in doubt.

1. New England Patriots (9-4)

Last Week: 1

Show of hands: who saw the Patriots sitting at 9-4 after the bye? I sure didn’t. Especially after they started 1-3. But, they’ve only lost one game since that start. That game was back in mid-October. Can anyone challenge this team? If the Colts don’t beat them this coming week, I don’t know if they will lose another game this season. For now, they stay at the top of the Week 15 NFL Power Rankings.

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