NFL Power Rankings Heading into Week 15

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Playoff races are heating up in the NFL with just three weeks remaining in the season.  

In week 14, Le’Veon Bell had a historic 298 total yards game as the Steelers beat the Bills to extend their win streak to four games. Vic Beasley dominated with three sacks and a fumble returned for a touchdown as the Falcons beat the Rams in Jeff Fisher’s final game for the Rams. A strong performance by the Giants defense helped the Giants sweep the Cowboys this season and end the Dallas’ 11 game win streak. The Chiefs also had a superb defensive performance as their victory against the Raiders on Thursday Night Football has them as the #2 seed in the AFC and in 1st place in the AFC West.

After fourteen weeks of the NFL season, here are the NFL Power Rankings heading into week 15.

  1. New England Patriots (11-2) – Ranked #2 last week
  • Even without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, Tom Brady had another excellent game against the Ravens. Brady finished with 406 passing yards and three touchdown passes and the Patriots are in sole possession of the #1 seed in the AFC. 596 total yards and 30 points by the Patriots is impressive against this physical top five Ravens defense. As the Patriots look ahead, they will have three games left against the Broncos, Jets and Dolphins.
  1. Dallas Cowboys (11-2) – Ranked #1 last week
  • The streak is over. The Cowboys lost to the Giants 10-7 and their franchise record 11 game win streak was snapped. Fans came away with more questions than answers after this game. First off, why did the Cowboys abandon the run in the 4th quarter? Cowboys do have an MVP candidate and dominant power back in Ezekiel Elliott. Cowboys called for 11 pass plays and four rush plays, relying on Prescott instead of running the ball with Elliott to get a drive going. Now with the loss, the Giants still have a chance to win the NFC East and watch out for the Detroit Lions as they have a realistic opportunity at snatching away the #1 seed. But for the Cowboys, the focus is to get the offense back on track after back-to-back poor games.
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) – Ranked #4 last week
  • All season long, the Raiders have received all of the attention in being a Super Bowl favorite while the Chiefs continued to be the overlooked team of the season. Not anymore after the Chiefs victory and season sweep over the Raiders on Thursday Night Football. The Chiefs gained more believers in that a physical and efficient defense with dynamic weapons on offense can run the table and make it to the Super Bowl. And why not? The Chiefs are on their way to winning the division and clinching a 1st round bye. Now let’s say that the Chiefs and Patriots meet in the AFC Championship game, Chiefs fans should feel relieved that Gronk will not be there.
  1. Oakland Raiders (10-3) – Ranked #3 last week
  • The Raiders magical season took a screeching stop with a loss to the Chiefs and very likely their last opportunity at winning the division for the 1st time in 14 years. Derek Carr produced one of the worst quarterback performances in recent memory as he completed 41% of passes with a horrendous 2.9 yards per attempt. The incomplete pass to Amari Cooper that would have been an easy touchdown was the turning point in the game. The Raiders have been known for being the comeback kids of the season but a 21-3 deficit was too much for Oakland. With optimism at an all-time high in Oakland, there is still three games left and all they gotta hope is that the Chiefs collapse so it can allow the Raiders to cash in to steal the division away from KC. 
  1. Detroit Lions (9-4) – Ranked #7 last week
  • Stressful comebacks are just normal for Lions fans now. After a game in which Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions, he redeemed himself with his 8th comeback win of the season and it is the most in over 40 years. The Lions do not have a spectacular offense nor an elite defense but the only thing that matters in the NFL are wins and the Lions are delivering them. The Lions need at least two more wins to control their own destiny and win the division for the first time since the glory days of the 1993 season with Barry Sanders.
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) – Ranked #9 last week
  • It is time to start talking about Le’Veon Bell chances of winning Offensive Player of the Year and being a contender for the MVP award. All of the talk has been about Tom Brady and his stellar season even though he missed the start of the season but Bell is under the same circumstances too. Bell improved his case for OPOY with a historic game against the Bills in the Steelers 8th win of the season. Bell torched the Bills defense with 298 total yards and three touchdowns. Bell now leads the NFL with an incredible 161.6 yards from scrimmage per game average. #Bell4OPOY.
  1. New York Giants (9-4) – Ranked #10 last week
  • The Giants received a ton of criticism and scrutiny after spending big on defense in the off-season but their signings delivered once again on the national stage. In particular, Janoris Jenkins and Oliver Vernon had superb games on defense as they helped in shutting down the Cowboys high-scoring offense. With this type of defensive performance, they are a team to watch out for in the NFC playoffs because just like they did so when they won Super Bowl 42 and 46, they can run the table with defense playing at an elite caliber and clutch plays like Eli’s touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr that would seal the win for the Giants. So who can stop the Cowboys? The Giants have proved twice this season that they can get the job done.

8. Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1) – Ranked #5 last week

  • The Seahawks offense were bad… actually world class awful against the Packers. A career high five interceptions by Russell Wilson doomed the Seahawks offense and in a game where they could have clinched the NFC West, they were blown out by the Packers. The offense’s performance was not a surprise but the 28 point loss was unusual for Seahawks fans as it was their first loss by more than 10 points in four years. The Seahawks defense were also roasted in coverage by Aaron Rodgers as they allowed a season high 38 points. The Seahawks also dropped to the #3 seed and if the season ended today, they would have a rematch with the Bucs in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

9. Atlanta Falcons (8-5) – Ranked #11 last week

  • The Falcons came to Los Angeles and scored more touchdowns at the Coliseum than the Rams have scored there this season. Without Julio Jones and Sanu, the Falcons offense needed just 286 total yards as the offense scored four touchdowns because of the defense’s outstanding performance. The Falcons defense forced a season high five turnovers and chipped in with two touchdowns. With the Falcons victory and the Bucs victory, they both remained tied for 1st place in the NFC South.
  1. Denver Broncos (8-5) – Ranked #6 last week
  • After Trevor Siemian‘s first game this season against the Panthers, many Broncos fans thought that this season’s team would not have to rely so much on the defense like they did last year when they won Super Bowl 50. Instead, the offense has been poor as of late and they have forced the defense to play conservative with fewer risk blitzes. Against the Titans, Siemian did have his 3rd game this season with at least 300 passing yards but he led the Broncos to 10 points. Siemian had absolutely no help from the rushing attack as Justin Forsett rushed for 17 yards and Devontae Booker rushed for 1 yard behind a struggling Broncos offensive line. The Broncos will not have to worry about their world class defense but like last season, will the offense do just enough to lead Denver to another deep playoff run?
  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) – Ranked #12 last week
  • How about them Bucs? The new surprise team of the year shocked the NFL once again with one of their best defensive performances in years. The Bucs looked like the dominant 2003 defense as they shut down Drew Brees and New Orleans’ offense with zero touchdown passes and three interceptions, including the first interception of Vernon Hargreaves III career. Now the Bucs will have to repeat this type of performance against the Cowboys in their first Sunday Night Football games in years. Can they do it? Well if they were able to shut down Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, they certainly have the ability to do so against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. This is the first time in the Jameis Winston era that they have received positive national attention and so far, they are delivering as they still hold the 2nd wild card spot in the NFC.
  1. Miami Dolphins (8-5) – Ranked #13 last week
  • The Dolphins had one of their best wins of the season while also suffering their worst loss of the season. The Dolphins held off a Cardinals comeback as they won 26-23 and they remained in good contention for a playoff spot but they also lost Ryan Tannehill due to injury in the game. It was reported that Tannehill sprained his ACL and MCL so Tannehill will be out at least for a week or two but there is also the chance that he is done for the season. With Matt Moore at quarterback, Dolphins fans should not panic and throw in the towel on their playoff hopes. They still have their tough defense led by the defensive line dominating duo of Wake and Suh that have been the reason for the Dolphins surge into the playoff race. Dolphins need to win out but it is easier said than done as they will have two road games against the Jets and Bills as well as a matchup against the Patriots.
  1.  Washington Redskins (7-5-1) – Ranked #14 last week
  • A Redskins loss and they would have a tough time attempting to climb their way back into the wild card race but instead, they came away with a 27-22 victory. Kirk Cousins became the 1st quarterback this season to throw for over 4,000 passing yards this season as Brees and Ryan soon followed after Cousins with their afternoon games. Redskins will have the Panthers up next on Monday Night Football.
  1. Green Bay Packers (7-6) – Ranked #15 last week
  • The Packers are back or if Aaron Rodgers would tell you, they never left. Aaron Rodgers continues to play terrific football as he has now thrown seven touchdown passes in the Packers three game win streak. In the Packers three game win streak, Green Bay’s defense has allowed 36 total points and they had their best performance of the season with five forced turnovers against the Seahawks. Watch out for the Packers… They have a good path to a wild card spot and Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs is something that no other NFC playoff team wants to see. 
  1. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) – Ranked #8 last week
  • Even with three Patriots turnovers, the Ravens were unable to steal a win against the Patriots as they lost 30-23. Aside from the Eric Weddle interception, the Ravens had a tough time stopping Brady and the Patriots offense as a 79 yard touchdown reception by Chris Hogan and a 61 yard reception by James White defined this game for the Ravens defense. With the loss, the Ravens are currently out of the playoff picture in the AFC.
  1. Tennessee Titans (7-6) – Ranked #21 last week
  • Finally, the Tennessee Titans have a winning record. After numerous attempts this season, the Titans are over .500 for the first time this season. The Titans easily had their best win of the season against the defending champs and it is all because of their strong red zone defense and rushing attack. The Titans totaled 180 rushing yards as they carried an offense with a subpar 6/20 for 88 yards game by Marcus Mariota. On defense, the Titans held the Broncos to one score in three red zone trips. As it stands, the Titans could be playing a season finale against the Texans with the AFC South title on the line in week 17.
  1. Minnesota Vikings (7-6) – Ranked #18 last week
  • The Vikings got back on track with a 25-16 road win against the Jaguars. The Vikings offense bounced back with two touchdowns in the 4th quarter while the Vikings pass defense were solid in man coverage against Allen Robinson and the rest of the Jags receivers. Vikings needed this win as it puts them at 7-6 and a game behind the Bucs for the 2nd wild card spot. Vikings defense will have back-to-back challenges up next as they have Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers in their next two games.
  1. Houston Texans (7-6) – Ranked #19 last week
  • The Texans are now in excellent position to clinch the AFC South after their win against the Colts. The Texans own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Colts and they have a week 17 road matchup with the Titans. The concern for the Texans is still Brock Osweiler as he had another game with under 200 passing yards and an interception. Texans can not solely rely on their rushing attack to carry them on offense.
  1. Buffalo Bills (6-7) – Ranked #16 last week
  • The Bills defense definitely had a tough game against the Steelers. Le’Veon Bell owned the Bills with 298 total yards including 236 rushing yards, most by any player against the Bills in history. The Bills defense were at least able to intercept Big Ben three times and give their offense a chance to match every Steelers score but they were unable to do so until the 4th quarter but it was too late. The Bills loss fueled speculation about whether it would be Rex Ryan’s final game as head coach for the Bills. This team has great talent on both sides and if they do fire Rex, the next head coach will no have no trouble adjusting with his talented team.
  1. Indianapolis Colts (6-7) – Ranked #17 last week
  • After one their best wins of the season with a 31 point victory against the Jets, the Colts cooled off and lost a close game to the Texans by a final of 22-17. Just as Andrew Luck was beginning to garner MVP support, he went on to complete 53% of passes with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. The Colts now have to win out and hope that the Texans lose at least two of their last three games because the Texans do have the head-to-head tiebreaker in case that they both end up with identical records by the end of the season.
  1. Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1) – Ranked #20 last week
  • Credit the Cardinals for a strong comeback late in the 4th quarter but they did not get the result that they hoped for as they dropped their 7th game of the season. Carson Palmer had his 4th game this season with at least two interceptions. The Cardinals needed to win out to secure at least a wild card spot but now they have to win out AND get a ton of help with collapses by the Bucs, Redskins and Vikings.
  1. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) – Ranked #23 last week
  • Many called for this game to be the game in which the Browns would finally secure their first win of the season but the Bengals took care of business with a 23-10 win. The biggest takeaway from this game was not what happened on the field but instead what drove in the most attention was Adam Jones’ post-game comments about Terrelle Pryor. Jones repeatedly called Pryor “trash” and mocked him… Bengals players do love to start rivalries with other players in the division. 
  1. New Orleans Saints (5-8) – Ranked #22 last week
  • It was rare to see a no touchdown, three interception game last week by Drew Brees against the Lions but to see it happen again against the Bucs was just strange. Brees and the offense had various chances at putting together a touchdown drive but they were just unable to do so as the Bucs had lockdown downfield coverage. The loss puts them at 5-8 and they’ll need a three game winning streak to avoid a losing season.
  1. Carolina Panthers (5-8) – Ranked #26 last week
  • The Panthers season is over but they picked up a good win over the Chargers in a 28-16 victory. Although the defense essentially won them the game with five forced turnovers, Cam Newton had another subpar performance and really proving many fans right in that Cam’s MVP season was a fluke. Cam struggled again to just connect with his receivers and chemistry with Kelvin Benjamin just was not there again. Heading into next season, Can really needs to finish strong to carry that momentum into the long off-season up next.
  1. Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) – Ranked #24 last week
  • Carson Wentz put the team on his back but the defense allowed a late touchdown and Eagles fans left the game in disappointment of yet another non-winning season. Carson Wentz is really out there trying to win by himself. Wentz is not getting any help from the rushing attack to keep the offense unpredictable, offensive line can break down quickly and force Wentz to scramble out of the pocket, and receivers group are one of the worse in the NFC. Wentz attempted over 40 passes for the 5th time this season and at the least he is getting crucial NFL experience against various defensive schemes.
  1. San Diego Chargers (5-8) – Ranked #25 last week
  • Philip Rivers started out the season strong even though his defense let him down but lately, it has been an unusual downfall for Rivers. Rivers has thrown 10 interceptions in his last four games and now he leads the NFL in interceptions. To make matters worse, Melvin Gordon and Joey Bosa left the game against the Panthers with injuries… it does not stop for the Chargers with injuries. And for Chargers fans, talks have begun to heat up again with the Chargers possibly moving to Los Angeles. Chargers should not move because they do have a good fanbase in San Diego but it is all about money for the owners and the NFL.
  1. New York Jets (4-9) – Ranked #29 last week
  • The Jets beat the 49ers 23-17 in overtime but they might regret the victory come NFL Draft time. Bilal Powell has had a quiet season but he made his name known once again with a 145 rushing yards game and a clutch game-tying touchdown and a game-winning touchdown in overtime. Also, credit to rookie wide receiver Robbie Anderson on another strong game. With the season over for the Jets, more rookies and other players are getting more playing time and Anderson has taken advantage of it with a 99 receiving yards game against the 49ers.
  1. Chicago Bears (3-10) – Ranked #27 last week
  • The Bears were the latest victim of a Matthew Stafford comeback victory as the Bears lost their 10th game of the season. The Bears have now lost at least 10 games for three straight seasons for the 3rd time in franchise history. The Bears pass defense performed very well up until the 4th quarter as their man and zone defenses worked to limit the Lions passing attack. Standout rookie Jordan Howard had another solid game with 110 total yards.
  1. Los Angeles Rams (4-9) – Ranked #28 last week
  • So… where can you start with the Rams? Rams fans booed throughout the game as an ineffective defense could not stop Matt Ryan and a Rams offense that turned over the football five times led to a 42-14 loss. Jared Goff had another shaky start with two interceptions as he had to deal with Vic Beasley and the dominating Falcons defensive front. Todd Gurley is not intimidating opponents anymore with an offensive line that has struggled to create gaps and running lanes for Gurley. 
  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) – Ranked #30 last week
  • Good news for Jaguars fans, Blake Bortles did not throw an interception. Bad news, the Jaguars lost anyway to the Vikings. Jaguars defense allowed 13 unanswered points and the Jags just find new ways to lose games. The same narrative will continue to be pushed will this Jaguars team in that they have a ton of young and developing talent but the results continue to be losses. Pass defense led by rookie Jalen Ramsey has been a nice improvement compared to last year but other than that, all other units have not been consistently putting out strong performances.
  1. San Francisco 49ers (1-12) – Ranked #31 last week
  • In front of a nearly empty Levi’s stadium, the 49ers blew an 11-point lead in the 4th quarter and the disappointment continued. At least Carlos Hyde had this best game of the season with 193 rushing yards while 1st round rookie DeForest Buckner recorded two sacks. The miserable season is almost over for the 49ers but 49ers fans, enjoy these last three games because you won’t see 49ers football until next August.
  1. Cleveland Browns (0-13) – Ranked #32 last week
  • What more can you say about the Browns? Now three games away from a defeated season. Their offseason investment Robert Griffin III was not good at all against the Bengals as he went 12/28 for 104 yards and an interception. There was constant scrambling out of the pocket and inaccurate passes by RG3. At least for the Browns, RG3 is signed to just one more season or in the case that they want to draft someone else or commit to Cody Kessler, they can cut RG3. For the weekly positive Browns news, Emmanuel Ogbah recorded 1.5 sacks and was solid overall in quarterback pressure.