Who is the best NFL team in 2022? Week 16 made everything more complicated with the Philadelphia Eagles losing to the Dallas Cowboys, sparking debate about the top Super Bowl contenders right now and shaking up the Week 17 NFL power rankings.
Saturday provided a handful of surprises. The Carolina Panthers stunned the Detroit Lions and the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans fell at home to a Houston Texans roster that everyone assumed had given up.
There were also plenty of matchups in Week 16 with playoff implications. By defeating the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football, Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars are one win away from hosting a playoff game. Meanwhile, the Cowboys vs Eagles thriller kept the battle for home-field advantage in the NFC alive heading into Week 17.
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Let’s dive into the latest NFL power rankings.
32. Houston Texans
- Previously: Last in NFL power rankings
The Houston Texans have suddenly turned competitive losses into a win. It now puts them in jeopardy of losing the No. 1 overall pick, the right to draft franchise-caliber quarterback Bryce Young. We always like the fire from players and they have no reason to tank, but Houston needs the No. 1 pick.
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31. Chicago Bears
- Previously: 31st in NFL power rankings
It’s an eight-game losing streak for the Chicago Bears and the tank is fully on. There should already be excitement for the offseason with more than $100 million in cap space, but landing the No. 1 pick and being able to trade down would be another ingredient for a perfect Step 2 of the rebuild by Ryan Poles.
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30. Arizona Cardinals
- Previously: 30th in NFL power rankings
It’s all coming apart for the Arizona Cardinals. The feeling that Kyler Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury have issues is confirmed and it’s evident the Cardinals’ problems go all the way to the top. As a dismal season draws to a close, fans can look forward to everyone but the quarterback and owner getting swept out.
29. Denver Broncos
- Previously: 29th in NFL power rankings
The Denver Broncos finally cut ties with Nathaniel Hackett, ending the experiment less than a year after hiring him. It became evident by October that he wasn’t cut out for this job, but it was ultimately fighting on the sideline and at midfield that gets him pushed out now. It’s a necessary change, but Denver is still stuck with Russell Wilson and there’s no way to get out of that disastrous move.
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28. Indianapolis Colts
- Previously: 28th in NFL power rankings
The Indianapolis Colts seem to be preparing to end the Jeff Saturday experiment, with reports that he doesn’t expect to keep the gig and that owner Jim Irsay already has a coaching target in mind. It’s the right decision, considering how much inexperience Saturday shows every game and how badly he is being outcoached. However, Chris Ballard is poised to return in 2023 which suggests Irsay doesn’t see a problem with the roster that led the Colts to this low point.
27. Atlanta Falcons
- Previously: 26th in NFL power rankings
Things looked relatively positive for the Atlanta Falcons after an overtime victory on Oct. 30 moved them to 4-4. Since that win, Atlanta is 1-6 and it hasn’t scored 20 points in a game since before Thanksgiving. At some point, it might be time to evaluate Arthur Smith’s future.
26. Los Angeles Rams
- Previously 27th in NFL power rankings
Where there is smoke there’s fire. The buzz around the league about Sean McVay potentially stepping away is building. It’s hard to blame him considering the state of the Los Angeles Rams roster and its inability to fix it anytime soon. If McVay walks away, it’s not unreasonable to think Aaron Donald follows him out the door. Maybe, just maybe, some late-season wins and enjoyment with Baker Mayfield at quarterback convince McVay to stay.
25. Las Vegas Raiders
- Previously: 22nd in NFL power rankings
It’s over for Derek Carr. He delivered one of his worst performances in years in a must-win situation on the national stage. None of this excuses Josh McDaniels, whose second-half gameplans repeatedly fail, Carr is just the easiest to move.
24. Cleveland Browns
- Previously: 20th in NFL power rankings
Deshaun Watson is averaging 175.75 passing yards with a 69.2 QB rating in his first four starts. That’s the $230 million Cleveland Browns quarterback, performing far worse than Jacoby Brissett did as the starter. After facing outside criticism after the Watson trade, the rage from the fan base will show up if Watson doesn’t turn things around quickly.
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23. Seattle Seahawks
- Previously: 21st in NFL power rankings
It all unraveled so quickly for the Seattle Seahawks, seemingly falling apart thanks to the trip to Germany. None of that is to take away from how bright the Seahawks’ future is, but this second-half collapse is just a disappointing finish after a thrilling start.
22. New Orleans Saints
- Previously: 25th in NFL power rankings
The New Orleans Saints are keeping their season alive, taking advantage of a softer stretch in their schedule to give fans hope for the playoffs. Unfortunately, upcoming matchups against the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers could squash those faint hopes quickly.
21. Tennessee Titans
- Previously: No. 15 in NFL power rankings
Saturday’s performance from the Tennessee Titans offense will certainly put a nail in the coffin for Todd Downing generating any head-coaching interest. A quality defense has been wasted and Tennessee is ready to choke away the AFC South.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Previously: 23rd in NFL power rankings
Mike Tomlin really might win eight games with this team. There’s a long list of accomplishments on his resume as Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, but this recent stretch and how he has helped keep a relatively weak roster in the playoff race is simply remarkable.
19. Carolina Panthers
- Previously: No. 24 in NFL power rankings
We’ve seen enough, Steve Wilks needs to be the Carolina Panthers head coach in 2023. It feels like a guarantee if the Panthers win the NFC South, but he’s shown more than enough leadership and influence on this team to have the interim tag removed.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Previously: No. 18 in NFL power rankings
Tom Brady and Co. needed overtime to beat Trace McSorley and the Cardinals. Let that tell you about exactly where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at. Even if they beat Carolina in Week 17, winning the NFC South, this team should be a double-digit underdog at home to Dallas in a Wild Card matchup.
17. New York Jets
- Previously: No. 12 in NFL power rankings
The quarterback selected with the No. 2 pick prevented them from fulfilling their potential. Zach Wilson is a draft bust and the insistence from the front office and coaches to not acknowledge their mistake until it was too late proved costly. It’s realistic to think the Jets go from 6-3 to 7-10 and that should turn on the pressure for Joe Douglas to find a legitimate QB this spring.
16. New England Patriots
- Previously: No. 17 in NFL power rankings
An admirable comeback against a Super Bowl contender doesn’t change the view of the New England Patriots offense. There’s a reason Bill Belichick is drawing criticism from around the league, but at least there is already an offensive coordinator candidate emerging for 2023.
15. Washington Commanders
- Previously: No. 16 in NFL power rankings
The Washington Commanders didn’t emerge with a victory, but fans should be even happier about the increasing likelihood that Daniel Snyder sells the team. If that isn’t enough to generate good feelings on Christmas, the receiver trio of Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel is going to be an alluring draw for a quarterback this offseason.
14. Miami Dolphins
- Previously: No. 10 in NFL power rankings
It’s a Tua Tagovailoa problem. WHile defenses might have discovered some ways to limit the Mike McDaniel offense, the play-calling can’t work if the quarterback repeatedly makes dumbfounding mistakes. Miami looked like a Super Bowl contender heading into December, it’s now lost four straight games and could choke a playoff spot away again.
13. Green Bay Packers
- Previously: No. 19 in NFL power rankings
Everything the Green Bay Packers needed to happen on Saturday to improve their playoff hopes fell into place. It still feels off that a team that hasn’t played like a postseason contender in months could suddenly be 0.5 games back of the No. 7 seed.
On Sunday, Green Bay capped off its perfect Week 16 by taking out Miami. The defense really led the effort, generating crucial takeaways that flipped the entire game. Health (Aaron Jones) and inconsistency from Aaron Rodgers are still issues, but the Packers are back in the playoff hunt.
12. New York Giants
- Previously: No. 14 in NFL power rankings
Brian Daboll keeps squeezing every ounce of competitiveness, fight and talent as he can get out of the New York Giants roster. The losses are beginning to pile up, but New York’s future is bright because the talent will only get better as the front office starts building out the roster.
11. Detroit Lions
- Previously: No. 8 in NFL power rankings
Carolina literally ran all over the Detroit Lions, turning 43 carries into 320 yards. Styles make fights and the Lions left the field on Saturday with their tails tucked between their legs. After so many impressive wins, this ugly loss now brings everything that happened before it into question.
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10. Baltimore Ravens
- Previously: No. 13 in NFL power rankings
The Baltimore Ravens have clinched a playoff spot, but we’re still waiting to find something that makes us believe in this team as a legitimate threat in January. Getting Lamar Jackson back would seemingly help, but he might not be 100% after a PCL sprain and Greg Roman’s offense didn’t look good even when Jackson was healthy.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Previously: No. 11 in NFL power rankings
The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling, tearing through the second half of their schedule with four wins in five weeks. It’s not just the improvement in the NFL standings that stands out, Jacksonville beat Baltimore, Tennessee, Dallas and New York. If the Jaguars win the AFC South, which is becoming increasingly likely, Trevor Lawrence makes this a dangerous playoff team.
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8. Los Angeles Chargers
- Previously: No. 9 in NFL power rankings
It wasn’t the prettiest victory on Monday Night Football, but the Los Angeles Chargers clinched a playoff spot. If that news isn’t enough to get fans excited, Pro Bowl edge rusher Joey Bosa will be back for the postseason and there’s an outside shot of standout left tackle Rashawn Slater making it back to action. If everyone is healthy and Justin Herbert plays to his peak form, Los Angeles can win a playoff game.
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7. Minnesota Vikings
- Previously: No. 7 in NFL power rankings
The Minnesota Vikings have set an NFL record for the most one-score wins (11) in league history. Many still aren’t ready to buy into this team completely, but Justin Jefferson is legitimately the Hall of Fame-caliber player who gives this team a shot to win on any given week.
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6. Dallas Cowboys
- Previously: No. 6 in NFL power rankings
Dallas Cowboys fans won’t love seeing a lack of movement in the NFL rankings prior to Week 17, but it did require four takeaways and a backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles to lose this one. In fairness, Dallas also lost the previous matchup because it didn’t have Dak Prescott. So, it comes down to ranking the best NFL teams by the level of trust in the playoffs and Dallas is last.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
- Previously: No. 5 in NFL power rankings
Saturday can be viewed as a step in the right direction for the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense, shutting down Seattle’s offense and taking away just about everything Geno Smith. However, one game isn’t going to completely erase the reservations about Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes can carry a team to a Super Bowl, but there is ample evidence to suggest the Chiefs’ defense won’t let him get there.
4. San Francisco 49ers
- Previously: No. 3 in NFL power rankings
The San Francisco 49ers have all the ingredients to make another Super Bowl run, but their secondary showed a few vulnerabilities against Washington. Many around the NFL also believe the crash is coming for Brock Purdy and if there is a Lombardi Trophy on the line we bet on the QB.
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3. Cincinnati Bengals
- Previously: No. 4 in NFL power rankings
An explosive first-quarter performance proved to be all the Cincinnati Bengals needed on Christmas Eve. Look at what happened to New England, one of the best defenses in the NFL, when it couldn’t put pressure on Joe Burrow. Cincinnati’s defense is far superior to Kansas City’s unit and Burrown gives the Bengals a legitimate shot to beat anyone on a Super Bowl run.
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2. Philadelphia Eagles
- Previously: No. 1 in NFL power rankings
All things considered, Philadelphia should be just fine with a one-score loss in Dallas considering all the circumstances. Even with Jalen Hurts expected to miss Week 17, the Eagles remain in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. However, the injuries suffered on Saturday could influence projections for this team.
1. Buffalo Bills
- Previously: No. 2 in NFL power rankings
No one can question if the Buffalo Bills can win in playoff weather. For two consecutive weeks, we’ve seen one of the best NFL teams prove it can defeat opponents in a variety of ways in frigid temperatures. That’s a quality some of their playoff foes don’t bring to the table. Now, we get a Week 17 battle against Cincinnati that everyone should hope is a playoff preview.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.