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Week 16 power rankings


1. Broncos (four first-place votes): The only difference between Peyton’s new team and his old team is that the Colts would have been more likely to start 10-0 before going 2-3.

2. Falcons (one first-place vote): In less than three weeks, we’ll find out whether this Falcons team really is different.

3. Packers: Twenty years after the Vikings kept the Packers out of the playoffs via a Week 17 drubbing in the Metrodome, the Packers can return the favor.

4. Patriots: Tom Brady is getting upset, and Rob Gronkowski is getting closer to a return.

5. Seahawks: They may have peaked a bit too early, but no one has been better than the Seahawks have been the past three weeks.

6. Texans: They may want to change their name to the Beaumont Boo Birds, based on the impatience that a 12-win season has created among the fan base.

7. 49ers: If this keeps up, Alex Smith eventually will refuse to run the Wildcat.

8. Redskins: One of the greatest rivalries in sports has the highest stakes since the 1982 and 1972 NFC title games.

9. Vikings: They’ve finally found a way to take advantage of an opponents’ obsession with stopping Adrian Peterson.

10. Bengals: Seven years after the Bengals thought they were finally leapfrogging the Steelers, maybe the Bengals finally are.

11. Ravens: Even with a win over the Giants, the Ravens have the look and feel of an underachiever.

12. Cowboys: Based on Sunday’s outcome, maybe Jerry Jones should try to hire Joe Vitt, not Sean Payton.

13. Colts: Like the Super Bowl-winning Colts from 2006, this team can’t stop the run. Unlike the championship edition of the franchise, a healthy Bob Sanders isn’t showing up for the playoffs.

14. Bears: The team that hates the Packers more than any other suddenly loves them on Sunday, since a Green Bay win over the Vikings is a key ingredient in a postseason appearance by the Bears.

15. Giants: Sometimes, if you wait too long to find the light switch, you may realize that the light switch isn’t there.

16. Saints: The only thing left to root for is the Falcons to lose before qualifying for the Super Bowl to be played in the Superdome.

17. Steelers: Forty years to the day after they arrived as an elite franchise, the sun finally could be setting on the Steelers.

18. Rams: Once this team becomes consistent, it’ll be consistently impossible to beat.

19. Panthers: Cam Newton’s bump of Jerome Boger was neither entertaining nor iconic.

20. Dolphins: Three touchdowns will get Reggie Bush paid. But probably not by the Dolphins.

21. Chargers: Norv Turner’s audition for the Jets’ offensive coordinator job went about as well as it could have.

22. Browns: It’s officially become don’t-buy-green-bananas time for the coach and G.M. in Cleveland.

23. Bills: An owner who hasn’t bought green bananas in 14 years could soon be cleaning house.

24. Buccaneers: This franchise eventually may have to ask itself whether it truly has a franchise quarterback.

25. Titans: Why do we have a feeling that Bud Adams and Ralph Wilson will soon be engaged in a tug-o-war for Jon Gruden?

26. Jets: Just when the team seems like it can get no more dysfunctional, it finds a way.

27. Cardinals: They continue to be who we thought they were.

28. Lions: When Jerry Rice set the record that Calvin Johnson just broke, Rice already had four Super Bowl rings. In contrast, Johnson has four wins.

29. Eagles: The good news? Mike Vick has another chance to improve his free-agency stock. The bad news? Mike Vick has another chance to hurt his free-agency stock.

30. Raiders: Another week, another chance to be reminded of another USC quarterback who can’t get it done at the next level.

31. Jaguars: It may not be a “virtual certainty” that Tim Tebow will be a Jaguar in 2013, but it is a “virtual certainty” the team will still stink.

32. Chiefs: The folks in Kansas City may finally be ready to send the franchise back to Dallas.