NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Raiders remain four spots below 49ers
The NFL’s elite class showed some exploitable weaknesses this weekend, leaving parity among the league’s best. That’s more true in the AFC, which should be a wide-open tournament after the New Year.
The Saints are in firm control of the NFC, and now somebody has to walk into the Superdome and leave with a win. That’s, well, tough.
The AFC West and AFC North are still up for grabs entering the regular season’s final weekend, and the AFC’s final wild card spot will be decided in a primetime game between Indianapolis and Tennessee.
There will be plenty of drama ahead as the playoffs get figured out.
The NFL draft order is getting worked out as well, though the Cardinals are likely holding on to the top spot. The next few picks are up in the air, with the Raiders currently hanging on to the second spot.
Let’s take a look at this week’s NFL power rankings as we head toward the regular season’s end.
32. Arizona (3-12)
Previous rank: 32
One more pride swallowing loss and the Cardinals secure the No. 1 overall draft pick. It’s deserved. Red Birds stink.
31. Raiders (3-11)
Previous rank: 31
Raiders fans in Oakland get screwed at every turn. They’ve lost their favorite team twice now. They were given two seasons to revel in Raiders football before the team left for Las Vegas. Now it seems likely that stretch will get sliced in half and Monday night’s game against Denver is The Town’s last. Here’s hoping the Raiders put on a show
30. Detroit (5-10)
Previous rank: 28
Matt Stafford gets paid tons of money to not win very often.
29. N.Y. Jets (4-11)
Previous rank: 29
So Gang Green’s apparently going to make a run at Jim Harbaugh. Haven’t even fired Todd Bowles yet. Coaching’s a dirty, dirty business.
28. Cincinnati (5-10)
Previous rank: 24
The Bengals getting punked by the Browns a week after beating the Silver and Black shows just how bad the Raiders defense is right now.
27. 49ers (4-11)
Previous rank: 27
Saw the 49ers live for the second time this season. There’s talent on that team. They’re well coached, but have some fatal flaws. Take the receiver corps, for starters.
26. Jacksonville (5-10)
Previous rank: 30
Tom Coughlin should think about firing some coaches. Lot's of 'em.
25. Tampa Bay (5-10)
Previous rank: 23
The Bucs finished yet another season with double-digit losses. Hope fans enjoyed the Super Bowl Jon Gruden gave them. The next one’s a long, long ways away.
24. Buffalo (5-10)
Previous rank: 26
The Bills have something going on defense. If only they had an offensive line and some decent running backs and receivers who didn’t stink. Then they might be competitive.
23. N.Y. Giants (5-10)
Previous rank: 21
There’s some talk around the Big Apple about keeping Eli Manning around. The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting different results.
22. Washington (7-8)
Previous rank: 22
Josh Johnson kept everything together until throwing two picks in the final two minutes. Can’t help but feel for the Oakland native. And for Jay Gruden, who should overpay for a backup this offseason.
21. Carolina (6-9)
Previous rank: 19
Panthers have completely fallen apart. Hopefully Ron Rivera doesn’t get blamed for this disaster. Coaches like him are hard to come by.
20. Atlanta (6-9)
Previous rank: 25
Falcons fans must be incensed, wondering where the heck recently solid play has been all damn season.
19. Miami (7-8)
Previous rank: 17
I just think this team stinks, and could get caught in no man’s land unless the whole thing gets torn down.
18. Denver (6-9)
Previous rank: 18
Just think where this team would be without Phillip Lindsay. Raiders can beat these guys. Assuming, of course, they can block ‘em.
17. Green Bay (6-8-1)
Previous rank: 20
Aaron Rodgers threw it 55 times, orchestrated a huge comeback. Hopefully Packers fans appreciate what they’re witnessing. True greatness.
16. Cleveland (7-7-1)
Previous rank: 15
Loved that Hue Jackson stare down. Screw decorum. Do what you feel, Baker.
15. Philadelphia (8-7)
Previous rank: 16
Ol’ Saint Nick (Foles) loves the holiday season. Backup QBs spreading Christmas cheer throughout Philadelphia.
14. Minnesota (8-5-1)
Previous rank: 13
Vikes have played well below lofty expectations during a tumultuous season, yet here the are, facing and “win and they’re in” showdown with Chicago. Can they pull it off? There’s no telling with this uneven side.
13. Pittsburgh (8-6-1)
Previous rank: 10
Steelers’ loss to the Saints means they need help to win the AFC North. Mike Tomlin says Pittsburgh made its bed and has to lay in it. He’s right. Steelers should’ve handled weaker opponents over being forced to beat New England and New Orleans in consecutive weeks.
12. Tennessee (9-6)
Previous rank: 14
Titans start the playoffs right now. They face Indy in Week 17 in an elimination game. And they might have to play it with Blaine Gabbert. Tough luck.
11. Baltimore (9-6)
Previous rank: 11
All the focus is on Lamar Jackson and Baltimore’s run-centric offense. Let’s keep it real. Defense has the Ravens charging toward the postseason. Also, let’s cool with the “who have they beat?” hot takes. Chargers are legit, and the Ravens beat ‘em fair and square.
10. Dallas (9-6)
Previous rank: 9
Cowboys clinched the NFC East and a playoff berth. That means the first-round pick the Raiders gained for Amari Cooper won’t go above 20. Silver and Black are bummed.
9. Indianapolis (9-6)
Previous rank 8
Colts wanted Josh McDaniels, not Frank Reich. Their second choice should be Coach of the Year. Assuming, of course, he can beat Tennessee.
8. Seattle (9-6)
Previous rank: 12
Weaknesses are hard to find in Seattle. 'Hawks run hard, tackle well and have an experienced, clutch quarterback. That’s a dangerous playoff team, right there.
7. Houston (10-5)
Previous rank: 6
Picked a bad time to let a lead slip. Could’ve cost them a first-round bye.
6. New England (10-5)
Previous rank: 7
Tom Brady’s alive, kicking and winning football games. Reports on the death of his career have been greatly exaggerated.
5. Chicago (11-4)
Previous rank: 5
The Bears have a great defense, excellent play callers and a solid rushing attack. One has to wonder if Mitchell Trubisky will be a liability come playoff time.
4. Kansas City (11-4)
Previous rank: 2
We’re just wondering aloud here, but how well do Andy Reid’s teams finish? They start regular seasons well, but seem to show vulnerability down the stretch. They’d better tighten up that defense come playoff time.
3. L.A. Chargers (11-4)
Previous rank: 4
Bolts could’ve taken pole position in the AFC if not for an Antonio Gates fumble against Baltimore. The Chargers are stacked. Can they finish?
2. L.A. Rams (12-3)
Previous rank: 3
Who need’s Todd Gurley against the Cardinals? Rams were smart to get him healthy for games that really matter.
1. New Orleans (12-2)
Previous rank: 1
Saints clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs by beating Pittsburgh. Can’t think of a bigger deal for any team. Good freaking luck beating New Orleans in the Big Easy.