Week 14 produced some absolutely stupendous finishes in addition to copious amounts of snowballs. The playoff picture became slightly clearer after Sunday's madness, but only a few teams were actually eliminated. Sorry, proud fans of the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.
With just three weeks left in the NFL season, many teams are looking back over their schedule and wondering what might have been. As some prepare for the draft and others get set for the postseason, here are the full power rankings heading into NFL Week 15.
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2)
The Seahawks picked up their second road loss of the season after the San Francisco 49ers launched a late field goal for the win in Candlestick. It was only a small blip on their schedule as the Seahawks remain ahead in the division by two games. They will take on the New York Giants in Week 15 and they get their final two games at home. They remain the league's best balance of offense and defense.
2. Denver Broncos (11-2)
The Broncos have scored a whopping 515 points through 13 games after hanging 51 on the Tennessee Titans. The 2007 New England Patriots hold the scoring record with 589 points, and that is likely to fall this season. As if that wasn't enough, kicker Matt Prater broke a 43-year-old record with his 64-yard field goal. Now all Broncos fans have to worry about is that defense in the playoffs.
3. New Orleans Saints (10-3)
The Saints took care of the Carolina Panthers at home 31-13 and look to be headed for a first-round bye. Increasingly, it seems the NFC crown will belong to whoever hosts the championship game between the Seahawks and Saints.
4. New England Patriots (10-3)
The Pats were gifted some great field position for their game-winning touchdown against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14 thanks to a somewhat suspect pass interference call on a first-down pass. However, don't pretend that Tom Brady wouldn't have won that game anyway. As soon as New England recovered the onside kick, the game was as good as lost for Cleveland.
But it was a Pyrrhic victory for the Pats, as oft-injured tight ends extraordinaire Rob Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL and will miss the rest of this season and likely part of next season as well (per ESPN's Adam Schefter). Shout-out to Browns kicker Billy Cundiff, who barely missed the potential game-winning 58-yarder as time expired.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)
The Bengals demolished the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14 behind four TDs from Andy Dalton. Cincy controlled the ball for nearly 38 minutes. Between their stout defense and sometimes potent offense, the Bengals are cruising to a division title.
6. San Francisco 49ers (9-4)
The 49ers nipped Seattle in a classic win dominated by the defenses. Despite only 155 net passing yards, the Niners got by with four Phil Dawson field goals and a Vernon Davis touchdown. This was a crucial victory for San Fran to stay clear of the Arizona Cardinals.
7. Carolina Panthers (9-4)
The Panthers had won eight straight games, but no one wins in the Superdome except dem Saints. They'll get another shot at the Saints in Charlotte for Week 16, but first they will enjoy a hot stone massage from the New York Jets. The over-under for Geno Smith turnovers should be at least 3.5.
8. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
KC snapped a three-game losing streak with a domineering victory over the Washington Redskins. Special teams were on display as the Chiefs returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the 45-10 shellacking. It was an encouraging showing for their defense after giving up 76 points over the previous two games.
9. Arizona Cardinals (8-5)
Arizona's defense terrified the St. Louis Rams in a 30-10 win. 'Zona harassed Kellen Clemens into two interceptions, sacked him four times and tallied a safety when John Abraham enveloped the quarterback in the end zone. It's going to be a real shame when the Cards miss the playoffs, because they're better than any team in the NFC North and NFC East thanks to their excellent defense.
10. Indianapolis Colts (8-5)
Andrew Luck tossed four touchdowns and the Colts still lost by 14 points. Indy's defense is a growing concern and the offense continues to struggle in the first half after the Bengals pitched a first-half shutout. Luckily they play the Houston Texans in Week 15.
11. Detroit Lions (7-6)
The Lions were leading the Philadelphia Eagles 14-6 after three quarters, but then the fourth quarter happened. Philly ran in four touchdowns in the fourth quarter through snow that piled up past the ankles, and Detroit yet again failed to seize control of the division. The Lions face a critical home game against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, and a loss there will have them plummeting down these rankings.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-6)
The Dolphins narrowly avoided being the victims of one of the craziest endings in NFL history thanks to Antonio Brown stepping out of bounds on the snowy field at the 12-yard line. That stroke of luck preserved the 34-28 win and puts them in the driver's seat for a playoff spot. Week 16 and 17 are cushy matchups against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, but first the Dolphins must tangle with the Patriots.
13. Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
So the Ravens and Minnesota Vikings decided to save all the fun for the last 2:05 as the teams combined for five touchdowns in the final minutes. Joe Flacco and Marlon Brown saved the day and possibly the season for Baltimore with a last-gasp TD. They are in position for the final playoff spot, but the rest of their schedule will likely be too much to handle: at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5)
LeSean McCoy galloped for a pair of touchdowns totaling 97 yards in length, and he did so through snowboard-worthy powder in Philly. Oh, and those scores came 81 seconds apart. Not even Mother Nature can halt the "blur" offense.
15. Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
The Cowboys enter December surely encouraged by Tony Romo's historical success in the month. Since 2009, only Aaron Rodgers has a higher QB rating in December than Romo, via ESPN's Tim MacMahon. Not Drew Brees, not Tom Brady and not Peyton Manning. As for actually winning games, that's another story. Romo has a career 11-15 record in the year's final month and Dallas gets a plucky Packers team in Week 15.
16. San Diego Chargers (6-7)
The Chargers dominated the Giants in sunny San Diego as other teams across the country drudged through the snow and sleet. San Diego is a classy place to lead a charmed life, but it's not so good if you want to make the playoffs. The Bolts face the Broncos on Thursday and then get the Chiefs in Week 17. Oh well.
17. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1)
Matt Flynn led a sweet comeback over the Atlanta Falcons and gained a measure of redemption after his lucrative journey around the league's various backup quarterback vacancies. It was an encouraging showing after the debacle in Detroit on Thanksgiving. Next up is a big game in Dallas with both teams thirsting for wins to stay in the playoff hunt.
18. Tennessee Titans (5-8)
The Titans played some pretty good defense against the Broncos and still yielded 51 points. That's just how things go when you're playing Peyton Manning. Sadly, the Titans' dim playoff aspirations will be snuffed out by the Cardinals in Week 15.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)
No playoffs in Pittsburgh is a strange feeling. And now the Steelers might lose a draft pick because of Mike Tomlin's liberal use of the sidelines, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. That's a little harsh, but they have no one to blame but themselves.
20. Chicago Bears (6-6)
The Bears defense is really, really bad. It makes running backs look like Forrest Gump running across the country. How could this have happened? Dick Butkus is no doubt furious about it. They could still make the playoffs, but realistically, it's not going to happen with that defense.
21. St. Louis Rams (5-8)
The Rams played one of those games against the Cardinals where shrewd season ticket holders had already sold their tickets weeks in advance or sprung them on unsuspecting friends as "gifts." It was ugly. They'll try again next season with a healthy Sam Bradford.
22. Cleveland Browns (4-9)
The Browns very nearly beat the Patriots. And then they didn't. Because they're the Browns. Let's see what Brian Hoyer can do next season, and recall that this team got a first-round draft pick from the Trent Richardson trade. Also, Josh Gordon suddenly looks like the greatest receiver of all time.
23. New York Jets (6-7)
The Jets won another game as they continue to torture their fanbase by briefly acting like Dr. Jekyll despite being Mr. Hyde. They will get annihilated in Carolina in Week 15.
24. Buffalo Bills (4-9)
Good news: The Bills held Mike Glennon to 90 passing yards. Bad news: Mike Glennon threw two touchdowns. Make sure to set your DVR for this week's epic clash between the Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.
25. New York Giants (5-8)
Bad luck continues to follow Eli Manning as he threw two more interceptions in Week 14 and the G-Men were eliminated from playoff contention. General manager Jerry Reese is astute when it comes time for the draft, and the Giants have done an excellent job of ensuring a pretty good draft pick. They will earn loss No. 9 against the Seahawks in their next game.
26. Oakland Raiders (4-9)
The Raiders are officially run like a college team. Following a punt and a long missed field goal, Terrelle Pryor came in at QB to replace Matt McGloin. Pryor got the Raiders in the board with a field goal. Then McGloin came back in. Umm, OK. Oakland lost 37-27, but I did like the throwback to the old Hawaii Rainbow Warriors with Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
The Bucs are racking up pride wins, which I guess is a good thing. Running back Bobby Rainey looked potent in Week 14, but things will be ugly in their next game against the 49ers.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have four wins. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!
29. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1)
Adrian Peterson left the game with a foot injury. The Vikes should just forfeit the last two games. To their credit, however, they put a serious scare into the Ravens and Cordarrelle Patterson is a terror in the open field. Here's looking at next season.
30. Washington Redskins (3-10)
The Chiefs came into Washington D.C. and turned the Redskins into mashed potatoes. Robert Griffin III got benched in the 45-10 blowout. It's surprising that they forgot to field a defense this season.
31. Atlanta Falcons (3-10)
The Falcons led Green Bay 21-10 at halftime. I don't think I need to tell you that the Falcons lost 22-21. It's been that kind of season in the ATL, and the most interesting thing about them this season will be whether they can equal last season's win total of 13 with their number of losses this year.
32. Houston Texans (2-11)
The Texans have played so poorly this year, they fired head coach Gary Kubiak after 12 games despite the fact that he suffered a mild stroke during the season. I'm at a loss to explain what happened to this team, as injuries don't even come close to explaining this disaster.
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