The latest NFL power rankings are out after a roller-coaster Week 15 that saw a few upsets and plenty of NFL scores that will have major implications on the rest of the 2022 season and playoff race.
It’s a special time in the 2022 NFL season with some teams now in the race for a top pick while others are competing for playoff spots. Recent developments have seen the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions suddenly climb their way into playoff contention, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks are in a freefall.
Looking at the top of the NFL hierarchy, there is a clear tier of Super Bowl contenders that includes the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. However, the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals are making things very complicated down the stretch.
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Let’s dive into the Week 16 NFL power rankings.
32. Houston Texans
- Previously: Last in NFL power rankings
The Houston Texans will have the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and that’s all that matters for this franchise. We can debate about whether or not Lovie Smith should be fired, but head coaches with one win in a 17-game season probably don’t have a real shot at making it another year.
31. Chicago Bears
- Previously: No. 31 in NFL power rankings
Justin Fields is the third quarterback in NFL history to achieve a 1,000-yard rushing season and the Chicago Bears have more cap space in 2023 than the next two closest teams combined. That’s all the fans need to know, the future is bright.
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30. Arizona Cardinals
- Previously: No. 29 in NFL power rankings
The Arizona Cardinals seem prepared to part ways with general manager Steve Keim and that should mean Kliff Kingsbury will follow him out the door. It should’ve happened a year ago, but cleaning house would be the first step toward fixing this team.
29. Denver Broncos
- Previously: No. 30 in NFL power rankings
A close loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and a win over Arizona can’t save Nathaniell Hackett, or at least it shouldn’t. The only shot the Denver Broncos have at being relevant in 2023 is if they hit the reset button at head coach this spring.
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28. Indianapolis Colts
- Previously: No. 25 in NFL power rankings
Maybe hiring an interim coach who went 3-7 in his final season as a high school football coach wasn’t the best idea. A poorly-constructed roster is part of the problem and Jeff Saturday is serving in a position that he never earned. All of that falls squarely on owner Jim Irsay, but that’s the one person the Indianapolis Colts are stuck with.
27. Los Angeles Rams
- Previously: No. 27 in NFL power rankings
Baker Mayfield provided the Los Angeles Rams with perhaps their lone bright spot of the season. Even as the team celebrates, there are discussions regarding the futures of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Sean McVay with retirement seemingly on the table. This is not where anyone expected the reigning Super Bowl champs to be. (Pre-Monday Night Football)
26. Atlanta Falcons
- Previously: No. 26 in NFL power rankings
The Atlanta Falcons won’t rush to any conclusions on Desmond Ridder after one game, especially considering the environment he was thrown into. Unfortunately for the Ridder, a three-game slate against the Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers gives him minimal odds at making a strong impression.
25. New Orleans Saints
- Previously: No. 28 in NFL power rankings
There is no difference between a win in the NFL standings and a moral victory at this point for the New Orleans Saints. Fans can only hope that Chris Olave and Juwan Johnson continue to at least show signs they can be building blocks heading into a much-needed rebuild.
24. Carolina Panthers
- Previously: No. 22 in NFL power rankings
Losing in Week 15 shouldn’t erase what Steve Wilks has done with this team. The Carolina Panthers have looked far more disciplined and organized under Wilks than they ever did with Matt Rhule. Give this team a quarterback and see where they go in 2023, especially in a weak division.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Previously: No. 24 in NFL power rankings
Still without Kenny Pickett, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense carried the weight for Sunday’s victory over Carolina. It certainly also helps to have a 21-play touchdown drive that eats up a massive portion of the game clock.
22. Las Vegas Raiders
- Previously: No. 23 in NFL power rankings
A chaotic win if there ever was one, Sunday will be just another reason why Josh McDaniels will return to the Las Vegas Raiders in 2023. This is also the same team that lost to the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts, so don’t expect more than one win for the rest of the season.
21. Green Bay Packers
- Previously: No. 21 in NFL power rankings
The moment the Green Bay Packers are eliminated from playoff contention, they must focus on the future. It means creating a new game plan that is built around Jordan Love and A.J. Dillon, allowing the front office and coaching staff to determine if former top picks should be a part of Green Bay’s long-term core. (Pre-Monday Night Football)
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20. Seattle Seahawks
- Previously: 18th in NFL power rankings
The Seattle Seahawks might want to avoid international travel whenever possible in future seasons. Since making that trip overseas, the Seahawks are 1-4 and their lone victory came against a discount version of the Rams. Facing the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets in the next two weeks, Seattle is charting a course to go from 6-3 to 7-9.
19. Cleveland Browns
- Previously: 20th in NFL power rankings
The Cleveland Browns aren’t dead yet, even if too much credit is being given for barely defeating a backup quarterback with one of the worst offensive coordinators in the NFL. Considering how the Saints have looked for the majority of this season, Cleveland should be favored in Week 16.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Previously: 16th in NFL power rankings
Tom Brady is never returning to Tampa Bay the moment the 2022 season ends. The second-half collapse painted a perfect picture of so many of the issues that have impacted the Buccaneers’ offense this year. Quite frankly, it feels unfair to put this team into the postseason when there are so many other deserving squads.
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17. New York Giants
- Previously: 19th in NFL power rankings
The New York Giants have fight, good coaching and a few blue-chip talents spread out on the roster. It’s impressive that Brian Daboll has squeezed this many wins out of the carcass that Dave Gettleman left behind, but no one who even pretends to like football should want to watch the Giants lose in decisive fashion in the Wild Card round.
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16. New England Patriots
- Previously: 15th in NFL power rankings
Something needs to change. Maybe it’s not as extreme as a Bill Belichick trade, which one NFL insider suggested, but overhauling the coaching staff on offense would be a step in the right direction. Yes, it’s also alarming that Belichick doesn’t think Mac Jones has enough arm strength for a Hail Mary.
15. Tennessee Titans
- Previously: 14th in NFL power rankings
Ryan Tannehill on the cart was the safest place he’s been on the field in weeks. The Tennessee Titans’ offensive line is abysmal and play-caller Todd Downing isn’t doing the offense any favors with his decision-making and preparation. Somehow, Tennessee has wasted a great defense and a winnable division.
14. Washington Commanders
- Previously: 13th in NFL power rankings
The Chase Young mystery feels like its becoming a bigger storyline with each passing week. After tearing his ACL on Nov. 14, 2021, Young has passed the 13-month market in his recovery and he seemingly isn’t on the verge of returning. It’s starting to feel reminiscent of what happened to David Bakhtiari, who tore his ACL in December 2020 and has played just 10 total games since.
13. Baltimore Ravens
- Previously: 12th in NFL power rankings
The Baltimore Ravens’ biggest problem is offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Well-respected around the league, the Ravens’ play-caller has poorly utilized Lamar Jackson for two seasons now and he failed to make the necessary in-game adjustments that would have beat Cleveland.
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12. New York Jets
- Previously: 10th in NFL power rankings
If nothing else, Sunday reminded the New York Jets that Zach Wilson isn’t the answer. The three-game losing streak has drained the fuel out of the engine generating excitement for the Jets, but fans have good reason to be confident about the future as long as New York finds a better QB.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Previously: 18th in NFL power rankings
It really doesn’t matter whether or not the Jacksonville Jaguars make the AFC playoffs or not. Trevor Lawrence is making the leap into stardom and that has transformed the Jaguars into a team few want to face right now.
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10. Miami Dolphins
- Previously: No. 8 in NFL power rankings
Good but not quite good enough. The Miami Dolphins certainly weren’t shaken by the frigid temperatures and iceballs in Buffalo, but Tua Tagovailoa also missed quite a few throws. We still expect the Dolphins to make the NFL playoffs, it will just have to come as a Wild Card team and we wouldn’t have the confidence to pick Tagovailoa to win with the game on the line.
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9. Los Angeles Chargers
- Previously: No. 10 in NFL power rankings
Look out for the Los Angeles Chargers. Winners of three of their last four games, Los Angeles is riding into the easiest stretch of its schedule with All-Pro defenders Derwin James Jr. and Joey Bosa nearing returns. We still might not love the Chargers’ play-calling offensively, but throws like the one Herbert made on the game-winning drive show how dangerous Los Angeles can be.
8. Detroit Lions
- Previously: No. 9 in NFL power rankings
It’s time for the Detroit Lions to be taken seriously as a playoff threat. The young Lions are roaring, with the rookies turning inexperience early in the year into confidence during this stretch of excellence. Closing out the season against the Panthers, Bears and Packers, the Lions are well-positioned to finish 10-7 after entering November with a 1-6 record.
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7. Minnesota Vikings
- Previously: No. 7 in NFL power rankings
The Minnesota Vikings played like one of the worst NFL teams in 2022 during the first half of Saturday’s game and then played like a contender for the Lombardi Trophy in the second half. It seems to capture the essence of the Vikings quite well. We wouldn’t bet on Minnesota experiencing a deep playoff run, but winning the NFC North is an outstanding feat in itself.
6. Dallas Cowboys
- Previously: No. 5 in NFL power rankings
All of this feels eerily familiar. The Dallas Cowboys look like the best team in the NFL for a while and then the walls start coming apart late in the year. Season-ending injuries have certainly hurt the defense, but penalties and poor execution have also played a part on both sides of the ball. The narrative can change quickly, if Dallas stunts the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16, we just wouldn’t bet on that happening.
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5. Kansas City Chiefs
- Previously: No. 6 in NFL power rankings
There’s a level of concern with the Kansas City Chiefs right now. We haven’t seen the offense fire on all cylinders in the last three weeks, but this defense is really starting to become a problem for them. A soft schedule might still result in the Chiefs having the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but this team’s current state has them destined for an AFC Championship Game loss.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
- Previously: No. 3 in NFL power rankings
The Cincinnati Bengals look dangerously close to being the best team in the AFC. Joe Burrow essentially Brady’d the Buccaneers in the second half on Sunday and a defense hampered by injuries still makes huge plays in pivotal moments. This team is definitively better than the one that won the AFC title last season.
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3. San Francisco 49ers
- Previously: No. 4 in NFL power rankings
If you don’t believe in quarterback Brock Purdy, that’s fine. The San Francisco 49ers are quickly becoming an emerging Super Bowl favorite because they have the No. 1 defense in the NFL with elite offensive weapons at running back, wide receiver and tight end. Oh, Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in NFL history and the 49ers’ strengths can exploit the Chiefs, Cowboys, Bills and Eagles’ weaknesses.
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2. Buffalo Bills
- Previously: No. 2 in NFL power rankings
The Buffalo Bills are effectively AFC East champions, the next battle is for the No. 1 seed and the first-round bye. We still have some reservations with Buffalo – the absence of Von Miller and Josh Allen’s slight decline since the elbow injury – but there’s no doubt the Bills are one of the best NFL teams right now and a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
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1. Philadelphia Eagles
- Previously: No. 1 in NFL power rankings
The Philadelphia Eagles are No. 1 in the NFL power rankings and boast the highest point differential (+143) in football. Sunday’s victory over Chicago wasn’t necessarily the prettiest win, but the Eagles are the hottest team in the NFL and a victory in Week 16 clinches the NFC East.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.