December 4, 2020

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NFL Power Rankings for Week 16: Plenty of…

5 min read
NFL Power Rankings for Week 16: Plenty of...


Week 17 finally has arrived in what has been a top-heavy football season from start to finish.

Only three teams — the Patriots, the 49ers and the Ravens — have held the top spot in The Post’s weekly NFL Power Rankings, with Baltimore never looking back after ascending to the No. 1 position following Week 11.

Only two playoff spot remains undecided — the NFC East champion and the second wild-card berth in the AFC — but plenty of jockeying for postseason seeding remains entering the final weekend of the regular season.

1. Baltimore Ravens, 13-2 (Last week: 1): Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will enter the post season as the No. 1 seed with home-field advantage assured throughout the AFC playoffs following Sunday’s knockout of the Browns, Baltimore’s 11th straight win. John Harbaugh has said he won’t play Jackson, who likely already has cemented the MVP award with an NFL-best 36 touchdown passes (against six interceptions) and a league record 1,206 rushing yards as a quarterback, this week against still-alive rival Pittsburgh. Running back Mark Ingram, who is nursing a strained calf, will also sit.

2. New Orleans Saints, 12-3 (2): Assuming the Saints don’t slip this week against crashing Carolina, they still have an outside shot at the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, needing a loss by the Packers and a Seahawks victory over the 49ers on Sunday night. Even if they finish with 13 wins, they still would lose the tiebreaker for the No. 2 seed if Green Bay wins in Detroit, meaning the Saints would draw Minnesota or the Seattle-San Francisco loser in the wild-card round.

3. San Francisco 49ers, 12-3 (4): The 49ers haven’t done anything easily in recent weeks, but the Week 17 scenario is simple for Kyle Shanahan’s team. Defeating Seattle will seal the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but a loss would make San Francisco a wild-card team forced to open the playoffs on the road without the coveted first-round bye. The Niners’ vaunted defense has shown cracks in allowing 106 points over the past three weeks, but Jimmy Garoppolo has pulled out key late wins over the Saints and the Rams.

4. Green Bay Packers, 12-3 (5): The Packers clinched their first NFC North title since 2016 with Monday’s win at Minnesota. Green Bay appears to be a near-certainty for a first-round bye, with the Lions (losers of 11 of 12) their Week 17 opponent. Aaron Jones’ two touchdowns against the Vikings gave him an NFL-best 19 for the season.

5. New England Patriots, 12-3 (7): For all of the banter about Tom Brady and the Patriots finally slipping, the defending champs will secure a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs with a win Sunday over Dolphins. (A loss by Kansas City also will do the trick). The Belichicks clinched their 11th consecutive division title — and 16th in 17 years — with Saturday’s win over Buffalo. Their defense still ranks first in the NFL in yards allowed per game (268), points allowed per game (13.2) and takeaways (36).

Aaron Jones
Aaron JonesGetty Images

6. Kansas City Chiefs, 11-4 (6): The Chiefs have righted themselves with five straight wins since a 2-4 midseason stretch while Patrick Mahomes was dealing with knee issues, but Kansas City likely will be the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. The AFC West champs would move up to No. 2 with a Patriots loss to Miami, or fall to No. 4 if they lose Sunday to the Chargers, coupled with a Houston win over Tennessee.

7. Seattle Seahawks, 11-4 (3): Divisional losses in the past three weeks to the Rams and the Cardinals somehow haven’t cost Pete Carroll’s team the chance to win the NFC West, but the Seahawks have greatly diminished the possibility of a first-round bye, even if they pull out Sunday night’s home clash against the Niners. Marshawn Lynch returning to Seattle for the first time since 2015 — after Chris Carson (1,230 rushing yards) was lost for the season with a hip injury — adds even more juice to the final game of the 2019 slate.

8. Minnesota Vikings, 10-5 (8): Even a win over Green Bay probably wouldn’t have netted Minnesota its second division title in three years, but the home loss to Green Bay means the Vikings — who face Chicago this week — will be either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the NFC.

9. Houston Texans, 10-5 (10): Consecutive wins over Tennessee and Tampa Bay have propelled Deshaun Watson and the Texans to the franchise’s fourth AFC South title in five seasons. Houston would be the No. 3 seed in the AFC with another win over the Titans and a Kansas City loss to the Chargers by virtue of a head-to-head win over the Chiefs in Week 6. There also suddenly is a chance star defensive end JJ Watt (torn pectoral muscle) might return for the playoffs.

10. Buffalo Bills, 10-5 (9): Saturday’s loss to the Patriots ended the Bills’ dream of stealing their first AFC East title since 1995, but Buffalo figures to be a dangerous first-round opponent as the fifth seed following this week’s finale against the Jets. Sean McDermott’s team has allowed the second-fewest points in the league, with only one of its five losses coming by more than seven.

11. Philadelphia Eagles, 8-7 (15)

12. Tennessee Titans, 8-7 (11)

13. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8-7 (12)

14. Los Angeles Rams, 8-7 (13)

15. Dallas Cowboys, 7-8 (14)

16. Chicago Bears, 7-8 (16)

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7-8 (17)

18. Indianapolis Colts, 7-8 (19)

19. Oakland Raiders, 7-8 (20)

20. Denver Broncos, 6-9 (22)

21. Cleveland Browns, 6-9 (18)

22. Jets, 6-9 (26): Make it five out of seven now for Adam Gase and the Jets, even if one of the losses represented Cincinnati’s lone victory of the season. Here’s a positive stat: Sam Darnold has thrown only three picks (with 12 TD passes) over that span.

23. Atlanta Falcons, 6-9 (25)

24. Arizona Cardinals, 5-9-1 (27)

25. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-10 (23)

26. Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-10 (24)

27. Carolina Panthers, 5-10 (21)

28. Giants, 4-11 (29): Sunday’s win over Washington probably costs the Giants a crack at edge rusher Chase Young, but the tradeoff was Daniel Jones continuing to play like a franchise quarterback and Saquon Barkley dynamically showing that he’s over his early-season ankle problems.

29. Miami Dolphins, 4-11 (30)

30. Detroit Lions, 3-11-1 (28)

31. Washington Redskins, 3-12 (31)

32. Cincinnati Bengals, 1-14 (32)

https://nypost.com/2019/12/24/nfl-power-rankings-for-week-16-top-5-grows-clearer/

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