NFL Power Rankings: Highlighting Biggest Movers Heading into Week 16's Action

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 18, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 16:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos throws a first half pass against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

While the walls are crumbling down around the New York Jets following their Week 15 debacle in Nashville, Peyton Manning and the Broncos are flying high above the rest after a dismantling of the Ravens in Baltimore this past weekend.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, teams are running out of time to move up in the season's power rankings. 

Here we'll take a look at where all 32 teams stand coming into Week 16, making sure to highlight the week's biggest movers. 

Note: Biggest movers are italicized

No. 1. Denver Broncos (11-3)

New England's loss is Denver's gain. The Patriots proved they are vulnerable against elite competition in Week 15 and so the Broncos move into the No. 1 spot in this week's power rankings. 

It's hard enough to beat Denver when Peyton Manning is playing MVP-caliber football, but when the Broncos' defense is playing lights out and allowing under 18 points per game, which it has during the team's current nine-game winning streak, it's nearly impossible.

The Broncos possess the longest active winning streak in the NFL coming into their Week 16 matchup with the Cleveland Browns.

No. 2. San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1)

Colin Kaepernick and the Niners outscored Tom Brady in his own house in Week 15, that's certainly deserving of a boost up to No. 2 in these power rankings.

No. 3. Atlanta Falcons (12-2)

Atlanta blasted the defending Super Bowl champions, winning 34-0 in Week 15. Now all that's left to do is secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. With a win over Detroit in Week 16, they'll clinch the conference's No. 1 seed.

No. 4. New England Patriots (10-4)

The Pats may possess the NFL's best offense, but they have tons of holes on defense, as the Niners proved on Sunday night. 

Still, if they get a first-round bye and a playoff home game, they will be tough to beat.

No. 5. Houston Texans (12-2)

Congratulations are in order for the Houston Texans, who have won the AFC South division for the second straight season. Next up for the Texans, secure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. 

No. 6. Green Bay Packers (10-4)

The Pack has won three straight and eight of its past nine games. Just like in 2010, Green Bay is picking up steam at the right time of year. 

No. 7. Washington Redskins (8-6)

Washington has proven it can win without RG3, but it might not have to over the season's final two weeks. The 'Skins have won five in a row and are in the driver's seat to win the NFC East. 

No. 8. Seattle Seahawks (9-5)

Pete Carroll has the Seahawks firing on all cylinders at the ideal time. Seattle has won three in a row heading into a pivotal Week 16 matchup with the division-rival San Francisco 49ers. 

The Hawks have scored at least 50 points in each of their past two games and will play their final two regular season games at home, where they are a remarkable 6-0 in 2012. They aren't as hot as the Redskins right now, but they could easily spring an NFC Wild Card upset behind their superb play of Marshawn Lynch and their Top 10 defense. 

No. 9. Indianapolis Colts (9-5)

The Colts haven't won many big games this season, but that's just fine. If Indy can beat up on another losing team in Week 16, it'll be postseason bound for the first time in the Andrew Luck era.

No. 10. Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

It should be noted that the Cowboys were 3-5 at the halfway point this season. Now, after five wins in its last six games, Dallas is in the hunt for the NFC East division crown—along with Washington and New York.

No. 11. New York Giants (8-6)

We've seen this sort of late season collapse from the Giants before, but having dropped four of its last six overall, New York no longer controls its own destiny in the NFC East division.

No. 12. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)

Losers of three straight, the Baltimore Ravens are fading fast this December. Although their strong 9-2 start will probably be enough to earn them the AFC North division title, if they don't find a way to win sometime in the next two weeks, they'll be heading home from the postseason early.

Offensively, the Ravens have lost their identity. And defensively, Baltimore is a shell of its former self, giving up yards in bunches and giving up back-breaking big plays. 

Up next for Baltimore, a showdown with the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. 

No. 13. Minnesota Vikings (8-6)

The Vikings rank last in the league in passing yards this season, but are closing in on a potential NFC Wild Card berth because of the brilliance of Adrian Peterson. Peterson only needs 188 yards to surpass 2,000 yards rushing for the year.

No. 14. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)

The Bengals have five wins in their last six games and can cement themselves as an AFC Wild Card team with a win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 16.

No. 15. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)

Pittsburgh has lost four of their last five and must win out against Cincinnati and Cleveland to secure a playoff berth. The Steelers must improve on both sides of the ball, but in order to win they must stop turning the ball over. 

Pittsburgh has 27 giveaways through 14 games this season. 

No. 16. Chicago Bears (8-6)

The Bears were 7-1 and in control of the NFC North at the season's halfway point, but after five losses in their last six game, they are in danger of missing the playoffs all together. Chicago will finish the year on the road at Arizona and at Detroit. 

No. 17. New Orleans Saints (6-8)

A few weeks ago, it looked like the Saints may have been able to rebound from their 0-4 start to make the playoffs, but not anymore. New Orleans had dropped three straight before last week's 41-0 drubbing of the Buccaneers and will try to spoil the Cowboys' season in Week 16 in Jerry's World.

No. 18. St. Louis Rams (6-7-1)

The Rams could have been NFC playoff contenders this winter. Had they not lost to the Jets and Vikings at home, they would be 8-5-1 coming into their Week 16 clash with Tampa Bay.

No. 19. Carolina Panthers (5-9)

Cam Newton and the Panthers have won three of their last four games and can still finish with a better record this season than last year's 6-10 campaign.

Although it's too little, too late for Carolina, a strong finish to the season with wins over Oakland and New Orleans would have the Panthers headed into the offseason with a good amount of momentum. Cam Newton would certainly have something to build on in year 3 as well. 

Newton has scored 12 of his 25 total touchdowns this season over Carolina's solid four-game stretch.

No. 20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)

A month ago, the Bucs looked poised to stun the league by earning an NFC Wild Card berth. But after four weeks and four losses, Tampa Bay must win out just to finish at .500.

No. 21. Miami Dolphins (6-8)

Miami has quality wins over potential playoff teams in Cincinnati and Seattle, but the Dolphins have been wildly inconsistent this season and their 6-8 record proves it.

No. 22. Cleveland Browns (5-9)

Cleveland's record is marred by an 0-5 start to the year, but the Browns have been a winning team over the season's last two months or so, winning five of eight before losing to the Redskins in Week 15. Things are about to get really tough for Cleveland though, as it will finish at Denver and at Pittsburgh. 

No. 23. Tennessee Titans (5-9)

After a decent win over the Jets on Monday Night Football, at least we know the Titans aren't content to lose out this season. Before its Week 15 win, Tennessee had lost three in a row. 

The Titans will finish up with Green Bay and Jacksonville.

No. 24. New York Jets (6-8)

All the Jets had to do was beat the reeling Titans in Week 15 to keep their slim postseason chances alive. But instead, New York turned the ball over five times and lost despite numerous late-game opportunities to take the lead. 

The Mark Sanchez era in the Big Apple looks to be all but over and Rex Ryan's future seems cloudy as well. New York can still finish at 8-8 but it won't help them get a higher draft pick in 2013.

The good news for the Jets is that they'll face off against another curious team in Week 16, the San Diego Chargers, who come in one spot lower in these power rankings.

The Jets may have won three of their last four coming into Week 15, but they were exposed for what they really are in their loss to the Titans—a losing team that has been outscored by 65 points this season.

No. 25. San Diego Chargers (5-9)

One week the Chargers are beating the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field and the next the are losing 31-7 at home to the Carolina Panthers. If not for the Jets' struggles this season, the Bolts would be the hands-down biggest disappointment in football.

No. 26. Arizona Cardinals (5-9)

Kudos to the Cardinals for not being content to finish the year with only four wins. Arizona showed up last week and has a shot to ruin the Chicago Bears' playoff hopes on Sunday in the desert.

No. 27. Buffalo Bills (5-9)

Buffalo gave up 50 points to Seattle in Toronto in Week 15, losing by 33 and ensuring a losing season for the eighth straight year. 

No. 28. Detroit Lions (4-10)

Detroit was 4-4 at the halfway point this season, but collapsed and has since given up, it looks like. The Lions lost by 28 points at Arizona in Week 15, a team that had lost nine in a row coming in.

No. 29. Oakland Raiders (4-10)

Only Buffalo has given up as many points as Oakland so far this season, each having surrendered 402 through their first 14 games. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they've only scored 263 points of their own to this point.

No. 30. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10)

The Eagles are tied for dead last in the NFL with a -22 turnover differential coming into Week 16's showdown with the Redskins. 

In this case, the bags are appropriate.

No. 31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)

Jacksonville has dropped three in a row and 10-of-11 overall. Surprisingly though, the Jaguars boast the sixth-best turnover differential in the AFC.

No. 32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-12)

The Chiefs are 2-12 and have been outscored by a total of 172 points over the first 15 weeks of the season. They'll take on the Colts in Week 16.

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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