2017 NFL Power Rankings: Where things stand after Week 15
32) Cleveland Browns
Where they were last week: 32
Most recent result: L, 27-10 vs. Ravens
Why they're here: It's almost like DeShone Kizer is having an internal competition with himself to see if he can top the turnovers he committed the last time out. He had two gems vs. the Ravens in Week 15, and now Cleveland is two gems away from completing the imperfect season.
31) New York Giants
Where they were last week: 31
Most recent result: L, 34-29 vs. Eagles
Why they're here: New York jumped out to a 20-7 lead over the visitors, and it looked like they were primed to score an upset and pretend that, for at least a week, they were a legit team. But then they allowed Nick Foles to throw all over them and they blew it, so everything went back to normal pretty quickly.
30) Indianapolis Colts
Where they were last week: 30
Most recent result: L, 25-13 vs. Broncos
Why they're here: The Colts have so many “Wait, who?” players on defense, and those guys were torn up by Brock Osweiler. That’s what Indianapolis fans get, though, after booing Paul George’s return to the state a few nights earlier.
29) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Where they were last week: 27
Most recent result: L, 24-21 vs. Falcons
Why they're here: The Bucs gutted through numerous injuries to give the Falcons all they could handle. But when Patrick Murray's last-second field goal sailed wide right, all that effort was for naught, and another loss was added onto the already hefty pile of Tampa Bay's Ls in 2017.
28) Cincinnati Bengals
Where they were last week: 26
Most recent result: L, 34-7 vs. Vikings
Why they're here: The Bengals are running out of steam and players. At one point vs. the Vikings, Cincy had just two healthy linebackers. Marvin Lewis may just want to pack up and leave town now, instead of coaching their final two games.
27) Houston Texans
Where they were last week: 25
Most recent result: L, 45-7 vs. Jaguars
Why they're here: TJ Yates threw 31 passes vs. the Jaguars. He completed 12. Everyone take a moment and cross your fingers that Deshaun Watson's knee will fully heal and he can start the next 1,000 games in Houston, OK?
26) Denver Broncos
Where they were last week: 28
Most recent result: W, 25-13 vs. Colts
Why they're here: As mentioned before, it might’ve been because of the opponent, but Brock Osweiler wasn’t just decent on Thursday night, he was actually a bit dangerous. And with Trevor Siemian out for the year, he may have a chance to shine for a few more weeks. Don’t get your hopes up, though.
25) Miami Dolphins
Where they were last week: 24
Most recent result: L, 24-16 vs. Bills
Why they're here: Relax, everyone; the Dolphins, who beat the Patriots last week, aren't actually going to come out of nowhere with a late-season tear. Not as long as Jay Cutler is tossing up some of the ugliest interceptions in the history of the sport, that is.
24) Chicago Bears
Where they were last week: 23
Most recent result: L, 20-10 vs. Lions
Why they're here: For a team that has nothing to lose and a young QB to develop, man, the Bears run a BORING offense. Let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball, John Fox. Gooooooooooooood grief.
23) San Francisco 49ers
Where they were last week: 29
Most recent result: W, 25-23 vs. Titans
Why they're here: If the 49ers acquired Jimmy Garoppolo last offseason, they’d (probably) be 14-0! San Fran’s new starter and their reliable kicker, Robbie Gould, were both on-point vs. the Titans and won a contest double-handedly for the second time in three weeks.
22) Arizona Cardinals
Where they were last week: 20
Most recent result: L, 20-15 vs. Redskins
Why they're here: The Cardinals defense did their job vs. the Redskins, harassing Kirk Cousins all day. But on the other side of the ball, Blaine Gabbert was either missing his receivers by four yards or nailing them in the back of the helmet with a laser.
21) New York Jets
Where they were last week: 22
Most recent result: L, 31-19 vs. Saints
Why they're here: The final score doesn't give the Jets enough credit for the fight they showed in New Orleans on Sunday. Unfortunately, the final score is the one that the NFL cares about, and because of it, New York will officially miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year.
20) Oakland Raiders
Where they were last week: 19
Most recent result: L, 20-17 vs. Cowboys
Why they're here: Derek Carr’s game-ending touchback was symbolic of the Raiders’ entire season: Close to being something useful, but in the end, it resulted in major disappointment. The only reason left to watch Oakland now is the hope for some viral Marshawn Lynch clips.
19) Washington Redskins
Where they were last week: 21
Most recent result: W, 20-15 vs. Cardinals
Why they're here: It took contributions from ex-practice squad players and lesser-known defensive line guys, as well as plenty of mistakes from Blaine Gabbert, but the Redskins ended their mini-slump by beating the Cardinals at home. Jay Gruden was smiling a bit after the game in his postgame presser, which was nice to see since he hadn't done it for a WHILE in D.C.
18) Tennessee Titans
Where they were last week: 12
Most recent result: L, 12-7 vs. Cardinals
Why they're here: Tennessee’s loss was about as damning a loss as there was in Week 14. For them to go out to Arizona as a division leader and only put up seven points against an inferior team shows that the Titans probably don’t deserve a playoff spot, even though they may very well end up with one anyway.
17) Green Bay Packers
Where they were last week: 18
Most recent result: L, 31-24 vs. Panthers
Why they're here: Maybe Brett Hundley should've kept the starting job, huh, Green Bay? Aaron Rodgers' return didn't go as planned, at least in the second half, and because of a bunch of killer turnovers, the Packers won't get a Hollywood ending to their season this time around.
16) Los Angeles Chargers
Where they were last week: 11
Most recent result: L, 30-13 vs. Chiefs
Why they're here: The Chargers' hot streak came to a sudden end in Kansas City, and the result has seriously damaged their playoff hopes. Phil Rivers and LA really melted in the second half, turning the ball over on three straight drives at one point.
15) Buffalo Bills
Where they were last week: 15
Most recent result: W, 24-16 vs. Dolphins
Why they're here: LeSean McCoy visited the end zone again, as he tends to do, and Tyrod Taylor returned to fight through what first looked like a devastating injury to keep the Bills afloat in the AFC. Can Sean McDermott come up with one more ridiculous coaching move in the final two weeks to derail this feel-good story? Stay tuned.
14) Dallas Cowboys
Where they were last week: 14
Most recent result: W, 20-17 vs. Raiders
Why they're here: Well, the Cowboys ended up splitting their six games without Ezekiel Elliott by winning the latter three matchups. A clutch goal-line stand will keep them in NFC contention for at least another Sunday, a Sunday that’ll include their most dangerous offensive player.
13) Kansas City Chiefs
Where they were last week: 17
Most recent result: W, 30-13 vs. Chargers
Why they're here: The Chiefs from Saturday looked a lot like the Chiefs from early in the year, with Kareem Hunt doing work on the ground and with his hands and Tyreek Hill ripping off long TDs. It was nice to see Marcus Peters back, too, reminding us all that he's much better on days where he's not chucking flags into the stands.
12) Detroit Lions
Where they were last week: 13
Most recent result: W, 20-10 vs. Bears
Why they're here: The Lions lead the league in games with three-plus takeaways, and they used those turnovers to their advantage vs. the Bears on Saturday. Even without a real running game, Matt Stafford continues to play tidy football.
11) Baltimore Ravens
Where they were last week: 12
Most recent result: W, 27-10 vs. Browns
Why they're here: Baltimore is one-third of the way through a very cushy final stretch after handling the Browns on the road. If they capture the next two, they'll return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
10) Seattle Seahawks
Where they were last week: 9
Most recent result: L, 42-7 vs. Rams
Why they're here: Is that what the Seahawks are going to look like when Russell Wilson doesn't bring his A+++ game? If so, Seattle better make sure their QB is absolutely ready to go the rest of the way. Pete Carroll teams aren't supposed to lose like that, especially at home.
9) Atlanta Falcons
Where they were last week: 10
Most recent result: W, 24-21 vs. Bucs
Why they're here: Devonta Freeman deserves more of your appreciation, OK? The Falcons lead back was the star of their Monday night win in Tampa, and put his team in prime position to return to the playoffs in a couple of weeks.
8) Philadelphia Eagles
Where they were last week: 3
Most recent result: W, 34-29 vs. Giants
Why they're here: For one week, at the minimum, the Eagles really didn't miss Carson Wentz all that much. They probably will soon, but at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nick Foles replaced the MVP candidate by tossing four TDs himself and helping Philly clinch a first-round bye.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars
Where they were last week: 8
Most recent result: W, 45-7 vs. Texans
Why they're here: Sunday's triumph is one Jaguars fans should cherish for a long time. Games where you win by 38 and clinch your first playoff berth in a decade don't come around often in pro football, so they need to enjoy it. By the way, since when did Blake Bortles turn into Mr. December?
6) Carolina Panthers
Where they were last week: 7
Most recent result: W, 31-24 vs. Packers
Why they're here: Many assumed that Aaron Rodgers' return to the field would mean magic for the Packers, but those people forgot to tell Carolina's defense to play along. That unit picked off the legendary QB thrice, and the offense saw Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey all star. This is a franchise that's picking up serious steam with January approaching.
5) New Orleans Saints
Where they were last week: 6
Most recent result: W, 31-19 vs. Jets
Why they're here: It wasn't the overwhelming win that you may have been expecting, but the Saints played some sloppy football and still dispatched the Jets by double digits in Week 15. Those of you who picked Mark Ingram in the weekly game of "Which Saints running back is going to put up monstrous numbers this week?" can come collect your winnings.
4) Pittsburgh Steelers
Where they were last week: 1
Most recent result: L, 27-24 vs. Patriots
Why they're here: The Steelers’ reign as the top team in these rankings lasted one week, and for that, they have the NFL’s annoying and senseless catch rule to thank, as well as a poor choice by their QB. Watching Antonio Brown limp off and take a ride to the hospital for a calf injury was supposed to be the worst thing to happen to Pittsburgh vs. the Pats, but that disastrous finish at the goal line was just as bad.
3) Los Angeles Rams
Where they were last week: 5
Most recent result: W, 42-7 vs. Seahawks
Why they're here: Dear Lord, where did that come from? The Seahawks were supposed to serve as another late-season test for the Rams, but instead, they acted simply as a punching bag. With two weeks to go, L.A. needs to win just once more to clinch the NFC West.
2) Minnesota Vikings
Where they were last week: 4
Most recent result: W, 34-7 vs. Bengals
Why they're here: Want to see one NFL team dominate another? Go back and watch the film of the Vikings annihilating the Bengals. On a related note, has there ever been a better interception than the one Teddy Bridgewater threw in his return from that awful knee injury last summer?
1) New England Patriots
Where they were last week: 2
Most recent result: W, 27-24 vs. Steelers
Why they're here: The Patriots are back at No. 1, as if they needed something else to go their way. Tom Brady and that offense did pull off a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback, but most of the attention will be on the refs’ decision to overturn what looked like a game-winning Steelers score. Think Bill Belichick cares about that, though?