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NFL Power Rankings Week 16
by Hollywood Sports - 12/20/2014
1. New England Patriots (11-3): Their ability to play consistently on the road is the slight difference maker between the Patriots versus the other contenders right now. New England is improving on both sides of the ball as well. The defense shutout the Dolphins in the second half last week. Tom Brady averaged 9.6 yards-per-pass to the trio of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LeFell against Miami which was a vast improvement over their 5.2 YPP mark in their Week One loss to them.
2. Seattle Seahawks (10-4): Another dominant performance on defense in their 17-7 win over San Francisco. The Seahawks continue to win the physical battle. The two games where the tough 49ers' defense has surrendered both the most rushing yards and the most yards after a catch have against Seattle.
3. Green Bay Packers (10-4): Let's not overreact too much to a tough loss on the road to a great defense owned by the Bills. The seven dropped by from seven different receivers were more than half of what Aaron Rodgers' crew had committed all season. If Jordy Nelson catches his deep ball, the Packers may very well win. Yet, this team is not nearly as potent away from Lambeau Field.
4. Denver Broncos (11-3): 39 rushing attempts last week. While Peyton Manning was 5 of 7 for 156 yards and a touchdown with passes farther than 15 yards last week, the run-first version of this Broncos team worries me down the road.
5. Arizona Cardinals (11-3): Bruce Aryans. Guts. Intangibles. Somehow another win. Now its Ryan Lindley's turn at quarterback. Does it even matter at this point?
6. Indianapolis Colts (10-4): Andrew Luck is struggling behind a leaky offensive line. Yet he continues to show resolve by rebounding after a giving up a pick-six. Second good defensive performance in a row.
7. Dallas Cowboys (10-4): Won a game in December. A perfect 7-0 on the road. Who are these guys? That said, if DeMarco Murray's broken arm limits his ability to be on the field, this may become the pass-first Cowboys again. And it is still December …
8. Detroit Lions (10-4): Enjoying a favorable stretch in their schedule against weak teams that have given up. Next up: the Chicago Bears.
9. Baltimore Ravens (9-5): A win is a win although the Ravens did not earn style points by winning by just a 20-12 margin against the Jaguars.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5): Another road win against a Falcons' team that is playing better but was without Julio Jones. The win sets up two final games at home.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (9-5): This team just does not seem to have it against the better teams in the league. The Chip Kelly system may be destined to overwhelm inferior opponents. Mark Sanchez is as inconsistent as their defense.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1): Johnny Manziel made this defense look very good again. Perhaps more importantly is the emergence of rookie Jeremy Hill at running back.
13. Kansas City (8-6): Slow dismantlement of a Raiders' team that beat them a few weeks ago. But why is Jamal Charles averaging only fifteen touches over the last four games?
14. Buffalo Bills (8-6): There we labeled "dangerous" in these pages last week. Ask the Packers about that assessment. Second best defense in the league behind Seattle right now.
15. San Diego Chargers (8-6): Injuries are killing this team with a rookie at center, running back Ryan Matthews hobbled and now leading wide receiver Keenan Allen now out the year with his broken collarbone.
16. Miami Dolphins (7-7): Head coach Joe Philbin has probably gotten the most of this team as could be expected. Ryan Tannehill is improving -- now he needs more weapons around him.
17. St. Louis Rams (6-8): The offensive line let QB Shaun Hill down in their slugfest with the Cardinals on Thursday. No shame losing to Arizona since almost everyone is doing it.
18. Houston Texans (6-7): If losing QB Ryan Fitzpatrick early in a tough divisional road game was rough enough, backup Tom Savage is not likely to play with his knee. So begins the Return of the Case Keenum Era, Mach Two. Last week at this time, Keenum was on the Tennessee Titans' practice squad … because three other quarterbacks were considered better on their depth chart. Good defense still.
19. San Francisco 49ers (7-7): The loss to Seattle pretty much ends their season. With Jim Harbaugh now likely moving on, do they pack it in or play for their fiery coach? The injury bug that has hit them will only get worse now.
20: New Orleans Saints (6-8): The New Orleans Saints: Road Warriors. Now, can they win in the Superdome?
21. Atlanta Falcons (5-9): Julio Jones not suiting up at home against the Steelers really hurt this team. They have been playing better but injuries continue to hold them back. Must-win game in New Orleans where Matt Ryan has lost five of six times in his career.
22. Minnesota Vikings (6-8): Tough loss on the road in Detroit where they were competitive. Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater continues to improve and the team continues to play hard every week for rookie head coach Mike Zimmer.
23. Cleveland Browns (7-7): This team is downgraded moving forward because Johnny Manziel looks completely overmatched. He telegraphs his throws, has yet to learn how to checkdown, and he looks small out on the field. Oh, and every opposing defensive player wants to turn out his lights.
24. Carolina Panthers (5-8-1): Still alive to win the NFC South despite their -70 net point differential.
25. New York Giants (5-9): Head coach Tom Coughlin is probably gone on Black Monday but this team will play hard for him out of respect.
26. Chicago Bears (5-9): But with rumors now flying that head coach Marc Trestman is out at the end of the season (Jim Harbaugh?), will this team bother to show up in the last two weeks?
27. New York Jets (3-11): This team will likely continue to play hard for Rex Ryan in his last two games in New York.
28. Washington Redskins (3-11): Robert Griffin III actually played pretty well in relief given his 106.4 QB Rating along with a 67% completion percentage and 236 passing yards. Maybe the pressure of the spotlight has been getting to him?
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12): Played the Ravens tough in Baltimore by losing by one score. After allowing 345 passing YPG in their first four games, they are allowing only 226 passing YPG over their last ten contests. An improving defense along with a promising second-year QB are things to build on.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12): There was a Doug Martin sighting as the running back rushed for 96 yards which was his most since September of last year.
31. Oakland Raiders (2-12): Just not enough talent.
32. Tennessee Titans (2-12): Another week, another lost quarterback. The Charlie Whitehurst … oh, never mind.
Best of luck for us -- Frank.