Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the NFL season.
- Dallas Cowboys (11-1)- Previous rank: 1- All the Cowboys do is win. They pretty much have the No. 1 seed in the NFC locked up, and the only team that I think could potentially beat them is Seattle. Assuming that game is played at Jerry’s World, I’d probably still bet on that phenomenal rookie combo.
- New England Patriots (10-2)- Previous rank: 2- Gronk or no Gronk, it really doesn’t matter to New England. Granted, they were playing the Los Angeles Rams, but this team is one of the best in the AFC. That being said, New England will have to fight for the No. 1 seed with Oakland and Kansas City. Home field advantage will be very important in the AFC playoffs this year.
- Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)- Previous rank: 3- The Chiefs survived a tough road stretch with back-to-back games at Denver and Atlanta. Now, they return home for a critical three-game stretch with two divisional games against Oakland and Denver. Eric Berry had a monster game against the Falcons, and he single-handedly secured the victory for KC. The Chiefs have a short week before a crucial Thursday Night matchup versus Oakland with the division lead on the line.
- Oakland Raiders (10-2)- Previous rank: 4- This comeback victory over Buffalo has only heightened the importance of the upcoming Thursday night game in KC. This is still anyone’s division, and now it’s only about who will get homefield advantage and a first round bye.
- Detroit Lions (8-4)- Previous rank: 6- The Lions did something very few teams have ever done. They did not allow Drew Brees to throw a touchdown pass, and they picked him off three times. If you haven’t been paying attention, the Lions are in total control of the NFC North, and they could challenge the likes of Dallas and Seattle in the playoffs.
- Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1)- Previous rank: 7- The Seahawks responded to a poor showing against Tampa by absolutely dismantling Carolina on national TV. The only negative of this game? Earl Thomas broke his leg and is done for the season. Tough break for one of the best safeties in the league.
- New York Giants (8-4)- Previous rank: 5- The Giants stumbled against Pittsburgh, but don’t sleep on the G-men in the NFC. They won’t win the division, but they will be a very tough out in the first round of the playoffs.
- Denver Broncos (8-4)- Previous rank: 8- Even at 8-4, the Broncos are not a lock to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh and Miami are hot on their trail. Miami got blown out, but the Steelers are surging. That’s a problem for a Denver team that is really struggling to score right now.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)- Previous rank: 11- Pittsburgh snapped New York’s 6-game winning streak, and the Steelers look poised for another playoff run. There’s only one problem: The Baltimore Ravens are directly in their way. One of these teams will go home.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)- Previous rank: 13- The Bucs are playing some of the best football in the NFL right now. On top of that, they are now tied first place in the NFC South. I’m still mad they fired Lovie Smith, but that move doesn’t look as stupid now.
- Atlanta Falcons (7-5)- Previous rank: 9- If the Falcons don’t get it together quickly, they could let this division slip right through their fingertips. Atlanta fans shouldn’t worry too much though, as Atlanta has a cupcake schedule in their final four games. But if Atlanta were to somehow lose one more game, the Bucs are right there to capitalize.
- Baltimore Ravens (7-5)- Previous rank: 16- With how things are shaping up, either Baltimore or Pittsburgh will win the AFC North and the other will go home. I still like Pittsburgh better, but after watching that Dolphins game, maybe I should reconsider my season-long stance that Baltimore is not that great.
- Washington Redskins (6-5-1)- Previous rank: 10- Tough loss for a team that suddenly can’t afford to lose any more games while staying in the playoff hunt. Good teams win the games they’re supposed to win. This was a game Washington was supposed to win and they didn’t. A red flag for sure.
- Miami Dolphins (7-5)- Previous rank: 12- At 7-5, The Dolphins are not out of the postseason discussion, but they didn’t do themselves any favors by getting blown out at Baltimore. Remember, this is a team that will somehow have to knock out Denver or Pittsburgh. Not looking good. Dolphins fans, please refer to my eloquent dissertation on Philadelphia if you would like to feel slightly better about your above-average season.
- Green Bay Packers (6-6)- Previous rank: 20- There’s something about football in the snow that makes me so happy inside. It should make the Packers happy too, because they got a tough win over Houston on Sunday. Green Bay absolutely must win out at this point.
- Tennessee Titans (6-6)- Previous rank: 17- I know I picked Jacksonville to win the division, but now I’m fully on the Tennessee bandwagon mainly because I don’t particularly like Houston or Indy, but also because I love to see the underdogs win. Tennessee got an additional week to prepare for Denver, and a home win over the Broncos would be huge for this team.
- Buffalo Bills (6-6)- Previous rank: 14- This was a really bad loss for Buffalo. These guys had the game in complete control at Oakland, then the second half happened. Oh well. Poor Buffalo.
- Indianapolis Colts (6-6)- Previous rank: 23- Before we jump out of our seats, the Colts routed the New York Jets, not the New England Patriots. That being said, this was still a very impressive win for Indy, and it sets up what should be a very interesting AFC South race between the Colts, Texans, and Titans.
- Houston Texans (6-6)- Previous rank: 15- Brock Osweiler’s play did improve against Green Bay, but the Texans still lost the game. Houston still owns the tiebreaker over Tennessee, but they will travel to Nashville for their last game of the season, which could decide the division winner.
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)- Previous rank: 18- Don’t worry Philadelphia, no one really expected you to make the playoffs this year anyways.
- Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1)- Previous rank: 26- Solid win for a team that had so much higher expectations coming into the season. They need to improve on defense, and nobody can deny that Fitzgerald and Palmer don’t have very many productive seasons left in them. This team must win next year.
- New Orleans Saints (5-7)- Previous rank: 20- Never mind the Drew Brees MVP talk. Detroit completely stifled him at home. Sure he threw for over 300 yards, but no touchdowns and three interceptions? Not good. Speaking of not good, the Saints defense. Need I say more?
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1)- Previous rank: 27- Along with Cincy being done, they made sure Philly was done too. More stuff getting done in Ohio, I like it.
- San Diego Chargers (5-7)- Previous rank: 22- Honestly, 5-7 is kind of where I expected this team to be this season. The scary part is that they are 5-7 without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead. Over the course of this year, I have discovered a newfound respect for Phillip Rivers. I still don’t like him, but I respect him now.
- Minnesota Vikings (6-6)- Previous rank: 21- Not looking good for the Vikes right now. A tough loss to Dallas puts them another game back in the wild-card race. Minnesota is in serious trouble, and if they don’t make the playoffs that No. 1 pick they gave up for Bradford looks like a huge waste.
- Los Angeles Rams (4-8)- Previous rank: 25- The Rams are bad. And they just extended Jeff Fisher through 2018. That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, unless the owners want Los Angeles to remain in obscurity longer.
- Chicago Bears (3-9)- Previous rank: 30- Before we go dancing in the streets we should keep in mind that Chicago won a game they were supposed to win. There would be even more red flags if they somehow lost to San Francisco. Also, this Jordan Howard guy is legit.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)- Previous rank: 29- I know, I picked this team to win the division at the beginning of the year. I was wrong. Dead wrong. But, you live and you learn, except for Gus Bradley because he’s probably going to get fired. So I guess he won’t live and learn. Sorry pal.
- Carolina Panthers (4-8)- Previous rank: 24- Regardless of the reason why Cam was benched to start the game, that still shouldn’t take away from the fact that Carolina got embarrassed on Sunday Night Football. The defense is bad, and the offense isn’t far behind. Would the Panthers really consider any significant changes in the offseason?
- New York Jets (3-9)- Previous rank: 28- After watching last night’s performance, I’m wondering how this team even managed to win 3 games.
- San Francisco 49ers (1-11)- Previous rank: 31- Member when the 49ers blew out LA to open the season on Monday Night Football? I remember.
- Cleveland Browns (0-12)- Previous rank: 32- The Browns didn’t lose this week because they were on a bye. So funny right? It’s not like you didn’t hear that joke a million times on Sunday right? Anyways, back to the losing grind for Cleveland. With how badly San Francisco is playing, the Browns are really going to have to earn that No. 1 pick.
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Feature photo courtesy of Keith Allison.