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SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

Baltimore Sun

With Pittsburgh peaking, how do the top NFL teams stand?

There is a new clubhouse leader in our power rankings. With an impressive showing last week against the Ravens and the former number one team losing their MVP candidate quarterback, it is clear who should be ranked at the top of this list. The Killer Bs of Ben Bell and Brown have balled out and have Pittsburgh bullying everyone in their way. How does the rest of the league shake out though? Check out below.

   Ranking (Change)

1 (+2)

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)

Pittsburgh is first in the AFC after an impressive win over the Baltimore Ravens. Ben Roethlisberger went absolutely off, throwing for 506 yards and two touchdowns, while completing two-thirds of his 66 pass attempts! While you shouldn’t expect the Steelers to air it out nearly 70 times in any other game this season, you should expect them to have success in the passing game. The are ranked second in the league in passing yards per game, due in large part to having the league’s top wide receiver, Antonio Brown, and league’s third ranked running back, Le’Veon Bell, in the passing game. Brown is averaging 116 receiving yards per game and Bell is averaging 45 receiving yards per game. This team is nearly impossible to stop. (Adrian Nelson)

2 (-1)

New England Patriots (10-3)

New England Patriots (10-3)

Going into Monday night’s contest against the Dolphins, most expected Tom Brady to come out and dominate, further establishing his case for a third MVP award. However, it was his opposition in Jay Cutler who took center stage and ultimately defeated the so-called “GOAT,” lighting up the Patriots for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Brady simply didn’t look like Brady, forcing passes that resulted in two interceptions, while only completing 56% of his passes en route to just 233 yards. It was an all-around bad night for New England, as their defense surrendered 363 total yards, while their offense only amassed 248. Patriots’ fans shouldn’t worry too much though, as they still possess the two seed in the AFC and currently hold a commanding three-game lead over the Bills in the AFC East with three weeks remaining. Sunday’s matchup with Pittsburgh will be very revealing. (Ryan Grube)

3 (-1)

Philadelphia Eagles (11-2)

Philadelphia Eagles (11-2)

Of all the devastating injuries we’ve seen to star players this season, Carson Wentz’s ACL tear might sting the most. Wentz had been the favorite for league MVP and gave the Eagles the inside track to the NFC’s one seed. Now, Nick Foles will get his shot to lead Philadelphia on a playoff run. Keep in mind Foles went a combined 14-4 as Philly’s starter in ‘13 and ‘14, including a mind-boggling 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in ‘13. Those numbers are cause for optimism, but there’s no replacing Wentz, plain and simple. Wentz makes his money by extending plays and using his mobility to create. Foles, on the other hand, is as statue-esque as one gets at the quarterback position. He might be able to grab a playoff win or two, but it’s hard to take the Eagles’ Super Bowl chances seriously moving forward. (Nick Cardozo)

4 (+3)

Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)

Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)

A dominant passing display against the Colts’ defense is one thing, but to repeat against Seattle’s is quite impressive. Blake Bortles turned in an unbelievable performance against the Seahawks’ stingy defense, throwing for 268 yards, two touchdowns, and - surprisingly enough - no turnovers. Jacksonville’s defense remained dominant, aside from two long fourth-quarter touchdown passes, picking off Russell Wilson three times while holding him to a 55% completion rate. With the win, the Jaguars are now in sole possession of the AFC South, one game up on the Titans with three to go. They will need Blake Bortles to continue his recent level of play if they want to capture their first division title since 1999. (Ryan Grube)

5 (-1)

Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

Minnesota had their eight-game win streak halted last week on the road against the Panthers. This week, they get a chance to rebound against the poor performing Cincinnati Bengals. A key for the Vikings this season has been limiting mistakes. They have the 4th fewest giveaways in the league, due in large part to Case Keenum’s ball security. Part of it is the design of the offense, running the ball and making it clear the throws that Keenum should make. Part of it is the duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. But there’s also luck. The guys over at Presnapreads track interceptable passes and Keenum has thrown a fair amount that just haven’t been caught. The Vikings are an extremely balanced team, but going forward they could easily lose a playoff game if Keenum gets the few bad bounces that he has for the most part avoided this season. (Adrian Nelson)

6 (-)

Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

The Rams came up short in Week 14, but still gave the Eagles a great game and put up more points against them than any team has all season. A road showdown with Seattle is up next, and a loss would tie the teams atop the NFC West. While a trip to Seattle is never easy, the Rams can hold onto the fact they’re 5-1 on the road this season. The Rams have been beatable on the ground as of late, allowing 138 rushing yards per game over their last four contests. Luckily, Seattle doesn’t really have a run game and will have to overcome the Rams’ improved pass defense to take them down. (Nick Cardozo)

7 (-2)

New Orleans Saints (9-4)

New Orleans Saints (9-4)

The matchup between the division-rival Saints and Falcons came down the wire on Thursday night, as Drew Brees and company had the ball in the red zone with a minute and a half left and a chance to take the lead. However, a Deion Jones interception in the end zone, and a Sean Payton unsportsmanlike conduct penalty sealed the Saints’ fate in a 20-17 loss. It’s worth wondering, though, if the result would have been the same if Alvin Kamara wasn’t injured early in the first quarter. Regardless, the NFC South title race is shaping up to be a spectacular one. (Kyle Trapp)

8 (-)

Carolina Panthers (9-4)

Carolina Panthers (9-4)

In a battle between two of the NFC’s best teams, it was the Panthers who came out on top over the Vikings, thanks in large part to some key turnovers by the defense. 103 yards and three touchdowns from Jonathan Stewart certainly helped as well. If he and Christian McCaffrey can consistently take pressure off of Cam Newton and the Carolina passing attack, this is one of the more dangerous teams in the NFL. (Kyle Trapp)

9 (+1)

Atlanta Falcons (8-5)

Atlanta Falcons (8-5)

Wow, did Deion Jones come up clutch or what? As Drew Brees was leading the Saints on what looked to be another game-winning drive to add to his Hall of Fame résumé, Jones prevented it with a sensational interception to give Atlanta a much-needed victory, allowing them to remain in the final playoff spot in the NFC. In a game where Matt Ryan was less than stellar, throwing three interceptions while completing just 56% of his passes, the Falcons’ seventh-ranked defense in terms of total yards gave fans some optimism heading into a crucial final three weeks. With several NFC teams looking to make a playoff push, Atlanta will need Ryan to return to his MVP form from last season if they want to hold on to the six seed. (Ryan Grube)

10 (-1)

Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

It was a hard-fought game between the Seahawks and Jaguars on Sunday, but it was ultimately the Jags who came out on top. Jacksonville simply played a better game; they picked Russell Wilson off three times, and Blake Bortles made a number of big plays against the vaunted (but banged up) Seattle secondary. The NFC playoff picture is awfully crowded, but the Seahawks remain right in the thick of things. However, Wilson can’t continue to do all the heavy lifting on his own. (Kyle Trapp)

11 (-)

Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)

Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)

It’s been a season of streaks for the Chargers: they began the season on a four-game losing streak, followed by a three-game winning streak, then a two-game skid, and now a four-game winning streak. Their most recent has easily been their most dominant and has firmly established Los Angeles as a playoff contender. During this hot stretch, they are outscoring their opponents 131-53 and Philip Rivers has been playing at an MVP level, averaging 337 passing yards per game while throwing 8 touchdowns to zero interceptions. If the Chargers and Rivers can maintain this success, they will take home their first AFC West title since 2009; however, this week’s match-up against the Chiefs will have major implications on their playoff hopes. (Ryan Grube)

12 (-)

Tennessee Titans (8-5)

Tennessee Titans (8-5)

In a week where they controlled their own destiny, leading the Jaguars in the AFC South with division wins, the Titans severely underperformed against an injury-battered Cardinals team. Tennessee’s offense and Marcus Mariota continued to struggle, managing just 204 total yards en route to a disappointing seven points. In a year where many expected Mariota to make the jump from good to elite, he is easily having his worst season as a pro, averaging just 215 passing yards per game, while throwing just 10 touchdowns to a whopping 14 interceptions. The Titans need to figure out a solution offensively if they want to contend with Jacksonville atop the division, and better yet, earn a playoff berth. (Ryan Grube)

13 (+1)

Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Last week’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers may prove fatal for the Baltimore Ravens playoff chances. Entering Week 15, the Ravens find themselves sitting just outside the two wildcard spots, currently owned by the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. Besides their defense, the Ravens biggest strength has been their run game. They are ranked 9th in rushing yards per game, which should be a big boon to their chances given their next three opponents. Baltimore will take on Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. The Browns have a surprisingly effective run defense, ranking 6th in the league, but are overall not a threat to the Ravens. The Colts and Bengals rank 23rd ans 32nd against the run respectively. The Ravens should find themselves at 10-6, the only question is whether that will be good enough. (Adrian Nelson)

14 (-1)

Detroit Lions (7-6)

Detroit Lions (7-6)

The Lions got a huge win last week that makes their path the the postseason much easier. This week they take on the Chicago Bears, who have won a whopping four games this year. They follow that up with a game against the five-win Bengals. Their toughest remaining game is at home against the Packers in Week 17. However, the Packers need to win out, and with their next two games being against the Panthers and Vikings, they could be out of it by the time they face the Lions. If they were mathematically eliminated, I doubt they would play Rodgers and risk reinjuring his shoulder. It’s all right there in front of Detroit, but now they need to go and take it. (Adrian Nelson)

15 (-)

Dallas Cowboys (7-6)

Dallas Cowboys (7-6)

After allowing the Giants to hang around well into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys scored three quick touchdowns and won easily in Week 14, 30-10. Dallas has just one game left before Ezekiel Elliott’s return from suspension, and it’ll be a big one. At 7-6, the Cowboys are still alive in the playoff hunt, but they need to win out to have a chance. If the last two weeks were any indication, Dallas should be able to handle Oakland in Week 15, setting the team up for a huge date against the Seahawks in Week 16. A month ago, the Cowboys were painful to watch. Now, their games should be some of the most compelling throughout the home stretch of the regular season. (Nick Cardozo)

16 (+1)

Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

The Chiefs finally stopped their losing skid in Week 14, taking down the Raiders and hanging onto their AFC West lead over the Chargers by a tiebreaker. This week, Kansas City will get its shot at the Chargers, with the winner likely to take the division altogether. Last time the teams faced off, the Chiefs were the talk of the NFL, while the Chargers were still winless. Fast forward to now and the teams have completely reversed roles. Fortunately, Kansas City has managed to get its offense back on track the past two weeks. If the team can consistently get explosive plays from Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs will go back to being one of the most dangerous teams around. This week’s game will show us which direction the team is headed. (Nick Cardozo)

17 (+1)

Buffalo Bills (7-6)

Buffalo Bills (7-6)

The Bills won what might’ve been the most entertaining 13-7 game ever in Week 14 against the Colts, securing the victory in overtime after playing in a severe blizzard that erased each team’s passing game. Despite the entire Nathan Peterman fiasco, the Bills still hold the six seed in the AFC and will play an incredibly inconsistent Miami team twice over the next three weeks. Tyrod Taylor’s return gives Buffalo legitimate hope, and you’ve got to wonder if the team is hoping for more snow with the Dolphins coming to town next. (Nick Cardozo)

18 (+3)

Green Bay Packers (7-6)

Green Bay Packers (7-6)

Rodgers is back! The best quarterback in the league has returned just in time to attempt and revive the Packers season. However, it will not be easy at all. The Packers next three are against the Panthers, Vikings, and Lions, three potential playoff teams. Aaron Rodgers is great, but trying to quarterback a team void of talent and not yet 100% may prove to be a task too difficult. In the five games Rodgers has been healthy, the Packers have scored 27.4 points per game. In his absence, Green Bay has managed only 18.5. When Rodgers announced he was back, the spread moved from CAR -9.5 to CAR -2.5, but maybe it should have moved more. (Adrian Nelson)

19 (-)

Oakland Raiders (6-7)

Oakland Raiders (6-7)

Despite their disappointing season, the Raiders had a chance to leapfrog the Chiefs for AFC West supremacy on Sunday. Instead, they were thoroughly beaten by Kansas City, one of the coldest teams in the NFL. Don’t let the final box score fool you, the game wasn’t as close as the 11-point deficit implies. Oakland was down 26-0 entering the fourth quarter and managed a couple garbage time scores. The defense has struggled all year long, but the offensive performance was abysmal as well. With three tough matchups left on their schedule, this season is all but over for the Raiders. (Kyle Trapp)

20 (-4)

Washington Redskins (5-8)

Washington Redskins (5-8)

The Redskins have dropped four of their last five, and the team’s laundry list of injuries is really starting to show. Washington’s matchup with the Chargers last week felt like it was decided in the first ten minutes, and with a decimated offensive line and front seven, nobody was surprised. With the 2017 season coming to a close, the attention will turn to Kirk Cousins and whether he’ll be back next season. Cousins has done his best with what’s been given to him, but he may want out this offseason given the state of the Redskins’ roster and how the front office has handled him the past few years. (Nick Cardozo)

21 (-1)

New York Jets (5-8)

New York Jets (5-8)

Head coach Todd Bowles insisted Josh McCown would remain the Jets’ starting quarterback for the remainder of the season, despite a need to develop younger options such as Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg. Unfortunately for Bowles, he now has no choice but to see what Petty or Hackenberg can offer, as a fractured hand will end McCown’s season. The early results from Petty aren’t encouraging, as he completed just two of nine passes for 14 yards in the 23-0 loss to the Broncos. (Kyle Trapp)

22 (+1)

Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

Kicker Phil Dawson accounted for all 12 of the Cardinals’ points in an ugly 12-7 win over the Titans on Sunday. Blaine Gabbert protected the ball well, but the real highlight for Arizona was the play of the defense, which limited Marcus Mariota to 159 yards while picking him off twice. This is a team out of playoff contention, but they will continue to play spoiler down the stretch. Whether Adrian Peterson will be available to help remains to be seen. (Kyle Trapp)

23 (+5)

Miami Dolphins (6-7)

Miami Dolphins (6-7)

Don’t look now, but the Dolphins could actually fight their way into a playoff spot. The team is coming off a huge win against New England that saw Jay Cutler outduel Tom Brady, as Cutler finished with 263 yards and three touchdowns. Another positive development has been the play of Kenyan Drake, who now has over 100 rushing yards in two straight, while showing he can be dangerous catching passes out of the backfield as well. Up next are the Bills, who have been downright terrible against the run as of late. If Miami can overcome the cold weather and get Kenyan Drake going early, their playoff chances will only get better. (Nick Cardozo)

24 (-2)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)

This might be the end of the road for Marvin Lewis. This man has been bulletproof. In a league with no patience for maintaining the status quo, Lewis has been retained season after season of disappointing first round playoff exits. This season might be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Bengals have been abysmal on offense, ranking 26th in passing yards per game and 31st in rushing. The defense has been quite decent, but nothing to write home about. The Bengals had a chance a few weeks ago sitting at a 5-6 record. However two straight losses at home against the Steelers and Bears have the Bengals sitting at 5-8 and out of the playoffs. This team needs to rebuild the offense and may need to let Andy Dalton follow Marvin Lewis on the way out. (Adrian Nelson)

25 (-1)

Houston Texans (4-9)

Houston Texans (4-9)

The Texans fell to the new-look 49ers at home on Sunday, marking their sixth loss in their past seven games. They also lost quarterback Tom Savage to a concussion, but for what it’s worth, T.J. Yates looked like a superior option as his replacement. This remains a team without much to play for this season, aside from personal accolades. DeAndre Hopkins currently leads the league in receiving touchdowns, while placing second in receiving yards. He’s assured his second Pro Bowl selection in his young career. (Kyle Trapp)

26 (-)

Chicago Bears (4-9)

Chicago Bears (4-9)

Chicago blew out the Bengals last week behind an incredible performance from Jordan Howard who rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns. That game put Howard over 1000 yards for the season with three contests remaining. Last year Howard was able to total over 1300 yards despite only receiving the lion’s share of the carries is 13 games. The run game has been by far Chicago’s most effective offensive tactic. They rank 7th in rushing yards and are dead last in the passing game. With the running game set for the foreseeable future with Howard and Cohen, if the Bears can get average play out of Trubisky and add one or two pass catchers, their offense will be much improved next season. (Adrian Nelson)

27 (-)

Denver Broncos (4-9)

Denver Broncos (4-9)

Finally! it only took 10 weeks for the Broncos’ notoriously stingy defense to return. Although it’s too little, too late, Denver looked dominant in shutting out the Jets, holding them to just 100 total yards, while turning Josh McCown over twice (and breaking his hand). The “No Fly Zone,” limited McCown, who entered the contest averaging 225 passing yards per game (18th in the NFL), to just 47 yards on 6/12 completions. While their season is a loss, perhaps Denver can build on this performance and finish strong heading into the off-season, where they will need to address their offensive line and possibly, quarterback position. The Broncos are 21st in the NFL in passing yards per game (206.5), while their offensive line has surrendered the second-most sacks in the NFL (41). (Ryan Grube)

28 (-3)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)

The disappointing season continued for the Buccaneers on Sunday, as their usual problems reared their ugly heads. As brilliant as Jameis Winston can be, he continues to be plagued by turnovers. In a 24-21 loss to Detroit, he tossed a pair of picks and lost a fumble. With 14 touchdowns compared to 18 turnovers on the season, he certainly hasn’t taken the step forward many people expected. Tampa Bay still has a talented roster, so there’s hope for 2018. It remains to be seen, however, hif heach coach Dirk Koetter will be back on the sidelines. (Kyle Trapp)

29 (+1)

San Francisco 49ers (3-10)

San Francisco 49ers (3-10)

Normally teams with three wins this far into December don’t have much going for them. The 49ers, however, have to be ecstatic after seeing Jimmy Garoppolo perform the past two weeks. Not only has he won both of his starts for San Francisco, but he’s averaged nine yards per pass attempt in those games. For some perspective, DeShaun Watson has the NFL’s best yards per attempt this season at 8.3. 49ers games don’t have many implications at this point, but with a promising young quarterback, an innovative head coach, and another high draft selection coming, San Francisco has to feel much better about next season than it did a month ago. (Nick Cardozo)

30 (-1)

Indianapolis Colts (3-10)

Indianapolis Colts (3-10)

Following a late fourth-quarter touchdown and two point conversion, the Colts looked like they had won the battle in the blizzard; however, a questionable offensive pass interference penalty negated their victory. And although Adam Vinatieri connected on the 41-yard extra point, which might go down as one of the clutchest and most legendary kicks of his career, Indianapolis was unable to pair it with an overtime victory. Not being able to finish close games has been a common theme all year for the Colts, as they have lost five games by six points or less. With their playoff hopes long gone, the Colts will look to bolster their 30th-ranked defense (375.3 total yards allowed per game), and get Andrew Luck healthy this offseason. (Ryan Grube)

31 (-)

New York Giants (2-11)

New York Giants (2-11)

Through three quarters on Sunday, the Giants were in position to upset another playoff contender in the Cowboys, as the two were tied at ten a piece. Three fourth quarter touchdowns later, and the G-Men found themselves in a familiar place: losing with zero ticks remaining on the clock. Although another loss that brings their record to 2-11, they were thrilled to see their franchise quarterback back on the field, following Eli Manning’s one-game benching by now former coach, Ben McAdoo. With their season in full decline mode, New York is well on the way to landing a top pick in the upcoming draft. (Ryan Grube )

32 (-)

Cleveland Browns (0-13)

Cleveland Browns (0-13)

Hue Jackson appears like he will be back next year and I think it’s fair to ask if he has pictures of the owner. After another heartbreaking quintessential Cleveland Browns loss last week, losing at home to the Brent Hundley-led Packers after leading by two touchdowns late, the Browns find themselves once again at 0-13. Hue Jackson is now 1-28 in his tenure as Browns head coach. In a league with so much parity, it seems nearly impossible to not have lucked into five or six wins in that time period. Last season the Browns didn’t win a game until Week 16, and playing against a motivated Ravens team coming off a loss, they likely will enter Week 16 once again winless. (Adrian Nelson)

Edited by Robert Hess.

SQuiz
How many Pro Bowl selections does Big Ben have?
Created 12/14/17
  1. 3
  2. 5
  3. 7
  4. 9

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