NFL Power Rankings: Entering Week 16
Check back every Tuesday for an updated "NFL Power Rankings" article by Connor Fulton. Follow on Twitter @Fulton_Connor
1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2) +1
12 lucky Christmas shoppers scored $35,000 each after the Seahawks shut out the Giants, thanks to a promotion by a Washington state car dealership. Don't expected there to be any more winners this season, however: Seattle's next two opponents are divisional rivals Arizona and St. Louis.
2. Denver Broncos (11-3) -1
Denver moves down a spot in these rankings because of their loss to the Chargers on Thursday night. No one is a bigger Dolphins fan right now than Peyton Manning, whose Broncos are again in the driver's seat for the AFC's #1 seed after Miami upset the Pats.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) +3
MVP candidate Jamaal Charles trails Adrian Peterson's 2012 rushing production by only 187 yards, and he has two games left to play. He already has seven more touchdowns (18) than Peterson did last year (11).
4. New Orleans Saints (10-4) -1
The Saints' hold on the NFC South loosened considerably after falling to the Rams in Week 15. The Saints-Panthers matchup in Week 16 will likely decide the winner of the division.
5. Carolina Panthers (10-4) +2
Carolina's all-black duds made an appearance on Sunday. They are sharp look.
6. New England Patriots (10-4) -2
The Patriots actually played a more balanced and complete game against the Dolphins than they have in weeks. The main thing that lost them the game, besides a rough performance from Stephen Gostkowski and the defense not creating turnovers, was failing to punch in a touchdown in the red zone.
7. San Francisco 49ers (10-4) +1
Boy, if Colin Kaepernick plays like he did against the Bucs for the rest of the season, the 'Niners could very well take some NFC heavyweights by storm in the playoffs. He was slinging it on Sunday.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) -3
Along with breaking his jaw, Bengals' punter Kevin Huber cracked several vertebrae on a jarring hit by Terence Garvin on Antonio Brown's 67-yard punt return for a touchdown. Hopes for a speedy recovery go out to Huber.
9. Arizona Cardinals (9-5) +1
If the Cardinals are going to make the playoffs, they will have to work for it: their next two opponents are NFC powerhouses Seattle and San Francisco.
10. Indianapolis Colts (9-5) +1
Cornerback Darius Butler has rejuvenated his career in Indianapolis: since joining the Colts in 2012, the former Patriot and Panther has eight picks and three touchdowns. He had only racked up three interceptions in his first three seasons before becoming a Colt.
11. Miami Dolphins (8-6) +2
After beating the Pats on Sunday, the Dolphins have a very realistic chance at the playoffs. They are currently in tight contention for the AFC's sixth seed, and their last two opponents are Buffalo and New York.
12. Baltimore Ravens (8-6) No change
The Ravens rode a career game from kicker Justin Tucker to beat the Lions on Monday night, as Tucker nailed six field goals, including a 61-yarder to win it. To make noise in the playoffs, Baltimore will need more scoring from their offense, however.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) -4
DeSean Jackson has provided a vague explanation of his sideline tantrum in Philly's loss to the Vikings. One thing is clear: the interception that preceded Jackson's outburst can't be blamed on anyone else.
14. Chicago Bears (8-6) +1
Chicago's final two games are against NFC playoff contenders Philadelphia and Green Bay. The Bears will need to win at least one, preferably both of those games to have a good shot at playing in January.
15. San Diego Chargers (7-7) +2
No matter how you slice it, the Chargers are going to have to pull off another big upset to reach the playoffs: in Week 17 against AFC West rival Kansas City.
16. Detroit Lions (7-7) -2
How often do we see Calvin Johnson dropping an easy pass? Johnson's blunder could very well come to symbolize the Lions' season if this team doesn't win out and make the playoffs.
17. St. Louis Rams (6-8) +1
The Rams have had an interesting season. While they have lost to Atlanta, Dallas, and Tennessee, they have beaten several heavily favored opponents including the Cardinals, Colts, Bears, and Saints. Expect the Rams to finish 7-9 with games against Seattle and Tampa Bay to close out the season.
18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) +1
With his 141-yard performance against the Cowboys on Sunday, rookie running back Eddie Lacy surpassed 1,000 yards on the season. He is a top candidate for offensive rookie of the year.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) +1
Antonio Brown continued his outstanding season in Week 15, pulling in five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. That puts his season totals at 95 catches, 1,307 yards, and eight scores.
20. Dallas Cowboys (7-7) -4
The soap opera in Dallas continued in Week 15, with Tony Romo experiencing his usual December slump and receiver Dez Bryant storming off the field with over a minute left in the game. Sometimes this Cowboys team seems so formidable, but then they implode.
21. Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1) +5
Who would've thought that the Vikings could beat the Eagles without their two top running backs, Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart? While 2013 will be looked back at as a disappointing season for Minnesota, this team has fire.
22. New York Giants (5-9) -1
Everybody measures quarterbacks by rings, but Eli Manning may have single-handedly discredited that approach. How can a guy that throws 25 interceptions in 14 games be regarded as an all-time great, even if he has two Super Bowls?
23. New York Jets (6-8) -1
It'll be tough for the Jets to squeak into the playoffs, as their final two opponents are Cleveland and Miami. The Browns are much better than their record, and the Dolphins are one of the league's hottest teams right now.
24. Cleveland Browns (4-10) -1
No fan endures more pain than a Browns fan. Cleveland should probably be 6-8 or 7-7 right now, but poor luck and the loss of Brian Hoyer has dragged this team to double digits in the loss column.
25. Tennessee Titans (5-9) -1
The Titans should be able to salvage their season at 7-9 with two very winnable games to close out the year, against AFC South laughingstocks Jacksonville and Houston.
26. Buffalo Bills (5-9) +2
By edging the Jaguars on Sunday, Buffalo bumps up a few spots in these rankings. The win was little consolation for the Bills, who had high expectations for themselves in 2013.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) -2
The Jags have found a gem in speedy receiver Ace Sanders, who scored his first career NFL touchdown against the Bills on Sunday. Look for Jacksonville to use the elusive player in many different ways next season.
28. Atlanta Falcons (4-10) +2
Veteran cornerback Asante Samuel isn't sure if he'll be suiting up in a Falcons uniform next year. The ball-hawking corner has been benched in favor of rookie Robert Alford.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) -1
Tampa Bay will be a team to watch in 2014 if Mike Glennon progresses well over the offseason. Rookie tight end Timothy Wright is promising also: he has produced 486 yards and eight touchdowns on 45 receptions through 14 games.
30. Oakland Raiders (4-10) -1
Head coach Dennis Allen has two games left to save his job, against the Chargers and the Broncos. If Oakland is able to pull off one of those upsets, Allen will likely be back next year. If not, well...
31. Washington Redskins (3-11) No change
In the midst of the circus that is the Washington Redskins these days, it's nice to see the genuine friendship between Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins. The Redskins would be wise to keep Cousins over the offseason, not only because he is a top-end backup to an injury-prone starter, but because of the emotional support he gives Griffin.
32. Houston Texans (2-12) No change
In the first game without Gary Kubiak, the Texans failed to score a touchdown. That speaks for itself.
Read more from Connor Fulton: NFL Power Rankings: Entering Week 15
Follow on Twitter @Fulton_Connor
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