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NFL 2018 SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

NBC

After another solid win, where do the LA Chargers rank among the NFL’s best.

The Chargers look like that team. They look like that Wild Card team that can play three straight road games in hostile environments and find themselves in the Super Bowl at the end. Part of it is because their defense is excellent; part of it is because their offense is excellent; part of it is because even their home games are essentially road games. They just seem like a team that could do it. How far up is that team in our power rankings? Find out below.

   Ranking (Change)

1 (+1)

New Orleans Saints (11-2)

New Orleans Saints (11-2)

Across the past two weeks, Drew Brees has looked more human and the Saints have looked much more beatable than they did throughout their midseason hot streak. With that being said, a second-half comeback against the pesky Buccaneers, coupled with a Rams loss in Chicago, has New Orleans in the driver’s seat for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Considering the Saints are 12-2 at the Superdome since the start of the 2017 season, the importance of that can’t be understated, regardless of any kinks they need to work out. (Kyle Trapp)

2 (+1)

Kansas City Chiefs (11-2)

Kansas City Chiefs (11-2)

With their resounding victory over the Ravens, the Chiefs put themselves into a position to have home-field throughout the AFC playoffs. They can all but clinch it this week in their game against the Chargers, which would clinch the division crown. For a defense that has as good as a pass rush as Kansas City does, being at home during the playoffs will be a huge advantage. (Max Vukelich)

3 (-2)

Los Angeles Rams (11-2)

Los Angeles Rams (11-2)

Well, if Sunday night proved anything, it’s that the Rams are human. They can be beaten — by a team other than the Saints, that is. Los Angeles’s performance against the Bears was abysmal, as their third-ranked offense (32.7 points per game) managed just six points and 214 total yards against the league’s third-ranked defense. However, their overall play was a reflection of, easily, Jared Goff’s worst game of the season, and quite possibly, his worst game since his rookie season with Jeff Fisher. Goff completed just 45% (20-for-44) of his passes for 180 yards and a whopping four interceptions. Often misfiring and throwing passes into double, and sometimes triple coverage, Goff simply didn’t look like himself. The third-year man out of California has struggled in particular during the team’s last two games following their historic 54-51 win over Kansas City, throwing only one touchdown, compared to five total touchdowns over that span. Goff and company will try to bounce back Sunday against a confusing, up-and-down Eagles team. (Ryan Grube)

4 (+1)

Los Angeles Chargers (10-3)

Los Angeles Chargers (10-3)

Following their impressive comeback victory over Pittsburgh, the Chargers went toe-to-toe with a Bengals team that’s now lost five straight, ultimately pulling out a narrow 26-21 win Sunday. It wasn’t pretty, nor was it particularly efficient, but once again, Anthony Lynn and company found a way to come out on top. Playing without his security blanket in Melvin Gordon, Philip Rivers struggled a bit against Cincinnati’s 29th-ranked passing defense (allowing 274 passing yards per game), completing 19-of-29 passes for just 220 yards and one touchdown. Nonetheless, Austin Ekeler stepped in nicely to fill Gordon’s void, rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, while adding two catches for an additional 28 yards in the receiving game. As we wind down the stretch and inch closer to the playoffs, the Chargers are picking the right time to play their best football, having won nine of their last ten. A pivotal matchup against Andy Reid and the Chiefs awaits them Thursday night in a game that could very well determine this season’s AFC West champion. (Ryan Grube)

5 (-1)

New England Patriots (9-4)

New England Patriots (9-4)

Man, did that loss have to sting for Patriot fans. Bill Belichick and company became victims to the already-infamous “Miami Miracle” as they watched Kenyan Drake elude their entire defense on his way to the game-winning touchdown. After trading punches for the entire game, New England managed to take and extend the lead to five on a couple of Stephen Gostkowski field goals — the second of which came with just 16 seconds remaining. But that’s when the madness ensued. It’s a heartbreaking loss for a Patriots team that had won two straight following their dreadful loss in Tennessee. Nonetheless, Tom Brady was incredibly efficient Sunday, completing 27-of-43 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns. Moreover, Rob Gronkowski came alive, hauling in eight passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. It’s not time to panic in New England, as the Patriots still hold a two-game lead over the Dolphins in the AFC East. However, a tough matchup against the Steelers in Week 15 could provide Miami with another chance to close the gap in an increasingly-interesting divisional race. (Ryan Grube)

6 (+1)

Chicago Bears (9-4)

Chicago Bears (9-4)

That was a statement win for the Bears on Sunday night against an extremely good Rams team. Yes, the scenario was perfect for the Bears, getting the Rams on the road, at night, in a freezing cold Soldier Field; but that doesn’t take away from the result. Chicago was able to survive a truly awful performance from Mitch Trubisky by holding one of the best offenses in the league to only six points. The bad news for the Bears is that they will likely only get one playoff game at home. They will probably have to go on the road to either sunny LA or the Superdome in New Orleans where their defense will not be at such a great advantage. (Adrian Nelson)

7 (-1)

Houston Texans (9-4)

Houston Texans (9-4)

The Texans are firmly in the driver’s seat of the AFC South. They should go 2-1 in their remaining three games (at New York Jets, at Philadelphia, and versus Jacksonville). In order to secure a first-round bye, they would need to leapfrog New England and Pittsburgh. It will be very interesting to see this AFC playoff picture work itself out down the stretch. (Hunter Bonge)

8 (+1)

Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

The Seahawks are silencing every critic who has something to say about Pete Carroll and their team. After a dominating performance against Minnesota, the Seahawks are almost a lock for the top wildcard spot in the NFC. Credit Carroll for sticking to his guns when the entire league was moving towards the McVay-style offense; Carroll stayed true to his style and it’s working wonders. The Seahawks defense, granted without the names, looks just as dominant as the old Legion of Boom. (Matt Fowler)

9 (+1)

Dallas Cowboys (8-5)

Dallas Cowboys (8-5)

Dak Prescott set a career-high in passing yards in what was a snoozer-turned-thriller on Sunday. With just a 9-6 lead entering the fourth quarter, Amari Cooper took over for Dallas and scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. The team is on fire at the right time and has essentially locked up a home playoff game, but nagging injuries up front to Tyron Smith and Zack Martin remain a concern. If the Cowboys can top the Colts this weekend, they could realistically end the regular season on an eight-game win streak. (Nick Cardozo)

10 (-2)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)

The Steelers are ice-cold at exactly the wrong time. Plenty of excuses can be made for their most recent defeat (their third in a row) at the hands of the lowly Raiders; James Conner was out, and Big Ben missed a good chunk of the second half. But regardless, Pittsburgh has no business losing to Oakland, especially on a day in which the Patriots and Texans lost as well. The Steelers will now face New England and New Orleans back-to-back, with the Ravens threatening to seize the division lead in any given week. (Kyle Trapp)

11 (+1)

Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Last week was a devastating loss for the Ravens. With the Steelers losing, the Ravens could’ve taken the lead in the division and beaten arguably the best team in the conference. However, they must have a short memory as they move onto this week’s game against Tampa Bay and as they continue their quest for the AFC North title. (Max Vukelich)

12 (+2)

Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

Don’t look now, but guess who’s back? The Colts are in the mix for an AFC wildcard spot. Andrew Luck‘s year of rehab has served him well. This high-flying passing attack is one of the most dangerous in the league. If the team builds up its defense enough in the offseason, we could see the Colts as the 2019 AFC South champions. (Hunter Bonge)

13 (-2)

Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)

Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)

Monday night’s loss to Seattle was embarrassing in all respects for the Vikings — not because they lost to a red-hot Seahawks team, but because of how pitiful they looked on the offensive side. When Minnesota (a 13-3 team a year ago) brought in Kirk Cousins, they believed he could take them to the next level, meaning he could take them to the Super Bowl. However, “Captain Kirk” and company have doubled their losses from a Case Keenum-led offense a season ago, and Cousins is beginning to resemble some of the negative characteristics that enabled Washington to move on from the veteran quarterback in the offseason. Last week’s loss brought Cousins’s career record on Monday Night Football to 0-7. Moreover, the seventh-year man out of Michigan State is now just 4-24 against teams with a record above .500. The Vikings, who entered the season with serious playoff aspirations, now find themselves slowly falling out of the race. With Minnesota crawling towards the finish, the second Wild Card spot in the NFC is completely up for grabs at this point. (Ryan Grube)

14 (+3)

Tennessee Titans (7-6)

Tennessee Titans (7-6)

The Titans look the part of a typical average football team, although Derrick Henry thinks otherwise. Even though they’re still in the playoff hunt, its hard to see this team doing any damage to the likes of Houston or Pittsburgh in the first round. The offense is inconsistent and needs to perform more like they did Thursday night to give them a fighting chance come January. (Matt Fowler)

15 (-2)

Carolina Panthers (6-7)

Carolina Panthers (6-7)

The sky has officially fallen on the Carolina Panthers. After starting off the year 6-2, the Panthers have lost five straight and now find themselves at 6-7. The issue has largely been on offense. They scored close to 28 points per game during the first half of the season and 21 points per game since. The only fortunate thing for the Panthers is that no one currently seems to want the sixth seed in the NFC. The Vikings currently own the spot at 6-6-1. And right behind them are the Panthers, Eagles, and Redskins at 6-7. (Adrian Nelson)

16 (-1)

Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Forget about the questionable call against Dallas Goedert, or the unlucky bounce off Rasul Douglas‘ arm; sure, both plays severely hurt the Eagles, but neither is a viable excuse for why they lost. In what was arguably their biggest game of the season, Philadelphia just didn’t do enough to beat their division rivals in Dallas, epitomizing the frustrating season it’s been for the reigning champs. Injuries have certainly played their part, especially in the secondary, but it may be too late to turn things around this year. (Kyle Trapp)

17 (+4)

Miami Dolphins (7-6)

Miami Dolphins (7-6)

Wow, talk about a miracle in Miami. Following a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that extended New England’s lead to five with just 16 seconds remaining, Ryan Tannehill and company executed the improbable hook-and-ladder to perfection. After a 15-yard pass to Kenny Stills and a quick lateral to Devante Parker, Kenyan Drake took the ensuing lateral the remaining 50+ yards for the game-winning touchdown. Just as crazy as it sounds. Whether or not the injury-prone Rob Gronkowski should have been on the field as the last line of defense for a play that was unlikely to be a 70-yard Hail Mary with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback is a question for Bill Belichick. Nonetheless, the play resulted in a huge victory for the Dolphins, who improved to 6-1 at home and kept their playoff hopes alive. If Adam Gase’s crew can figure out how to win on the road, they have the slight potential to make some noise come January. (Ryan Grube)

18 (-2)

Denver Broncos (6-7)

Denver Broncos (6-7)

Philip Lindsay and the Broncos came back down to earth Sunday, losing to the lowly 49ers in a game in which Nick Mullens threw for 332 yards. Denver can pretty much kiss its Wild Card hopes goodbye, though the chances were slim anyway. The front office must decide what it wants to do at the quarterback position because the team is bound to be stagnant with Case Keenum at the helm. There is some encouraging talent around the rest of the roster, but too many key injuries made 2018 a lost season. (Nick Cardozo)

19 (-)

Green Bay Packers (5-7-1)

Green Bay Packers (5-7-1)

We’ve seen this before. The week after a maligned head coach is fired, his former team is always prone to a ‘where did this come from’ type of performance. And of course, after failing to crack 17 points the last two weeks, the Packers stomped the Falcons by a score of 34-20. Mike McCarthy was probably watching somewhere, angry that the team was suddenly playing so well and wondering why it couldn’t have come a week sooner. Meanwhile, the Packers players are probably wishing the firing could have come a week sooner so they’d still be in the playoff mix. (Nick Cardozo)

20 (-)

Atlanta Falcons (4-9)

Atlanta Falcons (4-9)

Just two years removed from an overtime loss in Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons find themselves in last place in the NFC South. The Falcons have one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the league with receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley running downfield, and have posted the 10th most potent offense in the NFL. The problem lies with Atlanta’s defense, ranked 26th. Some offseason moves and a defense-rich draft class should get Atlanta back to .500 or above in 2019. (Hunter Bonge)

21 (+4)

Cleveland Browns (5-7-1)

Cleveland Browns (5-7-1)

The Browns have won as many games (three) since the firing of Hue Jackson five weeks ago than they did in the 40 games that Jackson coached. That is an incredible stat. It accomplishes the purpose of validating the claim that Jackson was as terrible as we all said he was, and goes to show that there is finally hope for the Browns in the future. At 5-7-1 while technically still in the mix, the Browns are not going to win anything this year. But the real prize has been Mayfield. The dude has looked amazing and has posted games with some of the highest PFF grades that have been posted by a rookie quarterback. We’ll need to see how he responds when folks get an offseason of tape on him, but things are looking up in Cleveland. (Adrian Nelson)

22 (-4)

Washington Redskins (6-7)

Washington Redskins (6-7)

Washington’s season ended when Alex Smith went down for the year, but if you needed proof, Mark Sanchez is here to give it to you. Sanchez has lived up to the narrative he’s built himself since joining the league, and Washington stands no chance at the playoffs with him on the roster. I’d tell you that Josh Johnson gives them a fighting chance now that he’s starting, but he wouldn’t have been available this late in the season if he could win football games. Washington’s attention should be on the offseason. (Matt Fowler)

23 (-)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8)

I can’t imagine how the Buccaneers front office feels about Jameis Winston. One week, he’ll look like a promising young talent ready to lead a team. The next week, he’ll turn the ball over six times in route to being benched. I’m frustrated watching this play out and I have no rooting interest in the Bucs. Tampa Bay has a lot to fix this offseason and I don’t even know if that includes the quarterback position. I guess if it’s not a guaranteed yes, then the Bucs will be in the market for a quarterback via the Draft, free agency, and through the trade market. (Matt Fowler)

24 (-)

Detroit Lions (5-8)

Detroit Lions (5-8)

Despite the 17-3 win, the Lions could only muster 96 passing yards against the Cardinals in Week 14. That’s kind of how this season has felt for Detroit. Even when things go right, there’s always something negative to point to. Matthew Stafford‘s lackluster year isn’t being talked about enough, but why would anyone want to talk about the Lions anyway? Matt Patricia deserves more than a full season to be assessed, but it’s hard to get excited about the future in Detroit. (Nick Cardozo)

25 (+1)

New York Giants (5-8)

New York Giants (5-8)

It’s never fair to look at what if’s in the NFL, but if the Giants were able to hang on against the Eagles back in Week 12, they’d be in the midst of a five-game win streak and right in the heart of the playoff race. Theoretically, the G-Men still have a shot, but barring a miracle, their second-half surge won’t be enough to get them into the postseason. One more loss will surely be a nail in the coffin, and then attention will shift towards New York’s impending decision at quarterback. (Kyle Trapp)

26 (-4)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)

Cincinnati has quietly lost five straight games. Quietly, because no one ever really believed the Bengals were for real. While losing Andy Dalton was obviously a big blow, the major hit for the offense was losing AJ Green. Green’s last real game was against the Bucs in Week 8. At that point, the Bengals were 5-3 and scoring 28 points per game. Since then, Green only briefly appeared against the Broncos before he reinjured his foot after one target and was placed on IR. Cincy is winless in those five games and scoring 11 fewer points per game (and there has been virtually no difference in points scored with Dalton or Driskel during that stretch). Green makes average QBs look good and average offenses run effectively. Without him, the Bengals are nothing more than a bad football team. (Adrian Nelson)

27 (+2)

San Francisco 49ers (3-10)

San Francisco 49ers (3-10)

Nick Mullens has proven to be a serviceable backup in the league this year. He has stepped in and made big plays against solid defenses. George Kittle is playing like the best tight end in the NFL right now and he was a big reason they were able to beat the Broncos. The best news for the 49ers was that the Raiders also won, giving the 49ers the first overall pick in next year’s draft as of now. (Max Vukelich)

28 (-1)

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)

The Jags head into the offseason in an interesting spot. They are terrible, but as it stands today, they wouldn’t have the first pick in the draft (though it’s still possible). They would be picking seventh. However, the teams picking ahead of them (Oakland, San Francisco, Arizona, New York Jets, Buffalo, and Atlanta) do not need to draft a quarterback. The Jags do (as badly as any team in the league). They can snag one between picks five and eight and not have to pay him as highly as a first or second overall pick. They’re in a good spot. As for this season… nothing to see here, folks. (Hunter Bonge)

29 (-1)

Buffalo Bills (4-9)

Buffalo Bills (4-9)

Josh “Michael Vick” Allen was at it again on Sunday. He ran for 101 yards, bringing his total to 335 rushing yards over his last three games. While his legs have been surprising, one thing that hasn’t been is his lack of throwing prowess. He has nearly thrown double the number of interceptions (9) as he has touchdowns (5) and has only completed 52% of his passes. Allen has a lot of growing to do and with the draft capital that the Bills invested in him, the franchise will only go where he can take them. This season that will not be very far but beyond that is yet to be determined. (Adrian Nelson)

30 (-)

New York Jets (4-9)

New York Jets (4-9)

In what was a battle between a pair of freshman quarterbacks in Sam Darnold and Josh Allen, it was the USC product and Gang Green who came out on top in Buffalo. It wasn’t an exceptionally pretty win by any means, as the Jets managed just 248 yards of offense, but Darnold managed to win the turnover battle while also leading New York on a game-winning touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. The rookie hasn’t been the instant savior the media deemed him in the preseason, but he’s shown flashes of his potential. (Kyle Trapp)

31 (+1)

Oakland Raiders (3-10)

Oakland Raiders (3-10)

Very quietly, the Raiders have put together a nice couple of games against the Chiefs and Steelers in back-to-back weeks. A game against the Bengals presents another very winnable game for Jon Gruden’s Raiders as they look to get some momentum heading into the offseason. (Max Vukelich)

32 (-1)

Arizona Cardinals (3-10)

Arizona Cardinals (3-10)

Just when everyone thought the Cardinals got a little momentum after beating Green Bay, they come home and get beat by a bad Detroit team. This Cardinals offense has been awful, there’s no other way to put it, but they must continue to allow Josh Rosen to develop in his rookie season even if the team struggles. (Max Vukelich)

Edited by Jeremy Losak.

SQuiz
What is Philip River's playoff record as of 2017?
Created 12/12/18
  1. 1-3
  2. 2-5
  3. 4-5
  4. 6-6

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