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NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Christmas joy, disappointment

Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the NFL season.

  1. New England Patriots (13-2)- Previous rank: 1- Breaking news: The Patriots are really good.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (13-2)- Previous rank: 2- The Cowboys pulled away from Detroit in the second half. Dallas looks really scary, and they’ve already locked up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)- Previous rank: 7- The Chiefs responded to a disappointing performance against Tennessee with a dominant victory over Denver. All I can say is, get Travis Kelce the ball. Ironically, the Chiefs now need Denver to beat Oakland so they can win the division.
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)- Previous rank: 5- Antonio Brown will have a great story to tell his grandkids someday about how he singlehandedly secured his team’s spot in the playoffs while crushing the dreams of Baltimore.
  5. Oakland Raiders (12-3)- Previous rank: 3- Derek Carr’s broken fibula overshadowed another victory for Oakland. Kansas City’s victory over Denver puts all the pressure on Oakland to beat the Broncos at Mile High Stadium to secure the divisional championship. Beating Denver would be the difference between a first round bye and a road trip to Houston.
  6. Atlanta Falcons (10-5)- Previous rank: 8- The Falcons took care of business against Carolina, and Tampa Bay fell to New Orleans, meaning Atlanta has secured the NFC South.
  7. Green Bay Packers (9-6)- Previous rank: 10- I don’t know how Aaron Rodgers does it, but every season he manages to put his team in position to make a playoff run. The Packers were in a funk at 4-6, and then Rodgers decided it was time for them to start playing football. Now they’re in position to win the division with a victory over Detroit on Sunday night.
  8. Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1)- Previous rank: 6- The Seahawks already had the division locked up when they trotted onto the field against Arizona.
  9. New York Giants (10-5)- Previous rank: 4- Right when I say the Giants are getting hot, they come out flat on Thursday night against Philadelphia. Oh well, they’re still in the playoffs.
  10. Miami Dolphins (10-5)- Previous rank: 14- For the second straight week, Matt Moore performed admirably. Having Jay Ajayi helps significantly. The Dolphins will most likely match up with Houston or Pittsburgh in the first round.
  11. Detroit Lions (9-6)- Previous rank: 9- The Lions couldn’t complete the miracle comeback against Dallas, setting up a winner-take-all showdown with Green Bay on Sunday night. With the Lions’ recent struggles, they had better bring everything they have to beat the Packers.
  12. Baltimore Ravens (8-7)- Previous rank: 12- The Ravens were so close, and then they weren’t.
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)- Previous rank: 11- Losing to New Orleans pretty much ended Tampa’s postseason dreams. Tampa fans should have a lot to be excited about next season though.
  14. Washington Redskins (8-6-1)- Previous rank: 15- The Redskins handily beat Chicago, and now need another win and some help to make the playoffs.
  15. Houston Texans (9-6)- Previous rank: 16- Tom Savage played a decent game. He didn’t turn the ball over, and Houston escaped with a victory while securing the AFC South division championship. Did I mention they’re going to lose in the first round?
  16. Tennessee Titans (8-7)- Previous rank: 13- Marcus Mariota’s broken fibula slams the door shut on any chance of the Titans making the playoffs. There should still be a lot of optimism surrounding Tennessee for next season, though. Especially with all the mediocrity in the AFC South.
  17. Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)- Previous rank: 23- The return of tackle Lane Johnson from a 10-game suspension for violation of the leauge’s PED policy re-ignited the offense against New York. All signs point to this team being a lot more competitive next season.
  18. Buffalo Bills (7-8)- Previous rank: 17- Rex Ryan was fired after Buffalo’s loss to Miami. He went 15-16 in his two seasons with the Bills.
  19. New Orleans Saints (7-8)- Previous rank: 21- If the Saints had a better defense, they probably would have a much better record.
  20. Denver Broncos (8-7)- Previous rank: 19- The defending Super Bowl champs are officially out of the playoff picture. However, they can still have a major impact on the seeding with a victory over Oakland on Sunday.
  21. Indianapolis Colts (7-8)- Previous rank: 18- Andrew Luck needs help. This is old news.
  22. Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1)- Previous rank: 25- 41 points were scored in the fourth quarter between Arizona and Seattle. The Cardinals got the last laugh, as they managed to knock off Seattle on the road.
  23. Minnesota Vikings (7-8)- Previous rank: 22- Minnesota has officially been eliminated from playoff contention, which raises the question: Was the Sam Bradford trade bad or good? From the standpoint of going to the playoffs, it was bad.
  24. Carolina Panthers (6-9)- Previous rank: 20- It’s been a rough season for the Carolina Panthers, but it remains to be seen if there will be any major shakeups in the offseason.
  25. Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1)- Previous rank: 24- Without A.J. Green, Cincy’s offense is effectively de-clawed. See what I did there? Because they’re the Bengals? So funny… right?
  26. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12)- Previous rank: 30- Beating the Titans should boost some morale heading into the offseason, but the bottom line is that this team is nowhere closer to the playoffs this year than they were last year.
  27. San Diego Chargers (5-10)- Previous rank: 26- San Diego lost to Cleveland. That’s about all you need to know about Sunday’s performance.
  28. Chicago Bears (3-12)- Previous rank: 27- Poor Matt Barkley had a rough day against Washington. 5 INTs generally means you’re going to lose.
  29. San Francisco 49ers (2-13)- Previous rank: 31- San Francisco needs to play Los Angeles every week.
  30. Cleveland Browns (1-14)- Previous rank: 32- It’s a Christmas miracle! The Browns defeated San Diego to avoid going winless, and as an added bonus: San Francisco won as well so Cleveland maintains control over the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
  31. Los Angeles Rams (4-11)- Previous rank: 28- Another dreadful offensive performance from the Rams. Nothing like moving to new city and (most likely) going 4-12.
  32. New York Jets (4-11)- Previous rank: 29- Breaking news: The Jets are really bad.

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