NFL Power Rankings Week 15: Evaluating League Outlook After Wild Week 14

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NFL Power Rankings Week 15: Evaluating League Outlook After Wild Week 14
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Wintry weather and some thrilling finishes made for a memorable weekend of NFL action in Week 14.  

Before it was all said and done, two AFC teams had clinched playoff berths. While the Denver Broncos guaranteed themselves a spot in the 12-team tournament by blowing out the Tennessee Titans, the Indianapolis Colts backed into the postseason, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals but winning the AFC South thanks to the Titans' defeat.

With Week 14 officially in the books and a full slate of matchups on the way in Week 15, let's take a look at where all 32 teams stand heading into the final three weeks of the regular season.

*Teams that have clinched playoff berths are italicized.

 

1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2)

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The Seahawks lost a hard-fought game at San Francisco in Week 14, but that's no reason to panic for Seattle fans. Russell Wilson and Co. are still the team to beat in the NFC, assuming they seal the deal on home-field advantage in the coming weeks. 

Seattle's top-ranked rushing attack and secondary make them the league's most complete team and arguably the most dangerous come playoff time.

Plus, with Wilson and the Seahawks offense taking excellent care of the football, Seattle is that much tougher to beat.

 

2. Denver Broncos (11-2)

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It's safe to say that Denver has responded beautifully to its Week 12 collapse at Foxborough, beating Kansas City and Tennessee over the past two weeks to continue its march to the AFC's No. 1 seed. 

Regardless of how the Broncos fare over the next three weeks, they're playoff-bound.

But with only San Diego, Houston and Oakland remaining on the Broncos' regular-season schedule, John Fox, Peyton Manning and Co. are likely to head into the playoffs the same way they did a year ago, with home-field advantage and a first-round bye.

 

3. New England Patriots (10-3)

The Patriots may have found miraculous ways to win their past two home games. But this is the NFL, and a win is a win, especially when you're trying to secure a first-round bye and a home playoff game come January. 

Still, it'll be interesting to see how the Pats offense fares in Week 15 as New England heads to Miami without Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 14's dramatic come-from-behind win over Cleveland.

 

4. New Orleans Saints (10-3)

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New Orleans reminded the rest of the NFL how dominant it can be inside the electric Superdome, ending the Carolina Panthers' eight-game winning streak in blowout fashion. 

The Saints won't have much time to celebrate, though, as they'll take on the Rams in Week 15 and the Panthers again in Week 16.

 

5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)

The Chiefs finally brought an end to their three-game losing skid in Week 14, blasting the hapless Redskins to right the ship. Unfortunately, Kansas City's slide likely cost it a shot at the AFC West title.

 

6. Carolina Panthers (9-4)

Carolina has fallen back down to earth following a dream run. But considering the Panthers began the season 1-3, it's fair to say they're just fine heading into Week 15's matchup with the New York Jets. 

The Panthers can still win the NFC South and will get another shot at the Saints in Week 16.

 

7. San Francisco 49ers (9-4)

The defending NFC champions erased any doubts that they are Super Bowl contenders by beating the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14. Granted it was at Candlestick Park, but the Niners are one of only two teams to beat Seattle this season and have now won three in a row.

 

8. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)

The Bengals cemented their contender status with a dominant win over the Colts in Week 14. Cincinnati is now on track to finish as the No. 3 seed in the AFC. After playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 15, the Bengals will conclude the regular season with back-to-back home games.

 

9. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5)

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The Eagles have won five in a row, but the competition has been lacking. Recent wins over Arizona and Detroit are impressive, but Philadelphia has yet to take on the NFC's elite.

Nonetheless, Chip Kelly's squad is in first place in the NFC East.

 

10. Arizona Cardinals (8-5)

Arizona is still very much alive in the NFC wild-card race, but with upcoming matchups against Seattle and San Francisco, the Cards are likely to wind up watching the postseason from home. 

 

11. Indianapolis Colts (8-5)

The Colts may have dropped three of their past five games. But Tennessee's loss in Denver in Week 14 means that Indianapolis has locked up the AFC South and a home playoff game next month. 

The matchup to watch for this December will be Indianapolis at Kansas City in Week 16. With the Colts currently in the No. 4 spot in the AFC and the Chiefs sitting at No. 5 as the first wild-card team, that matchup could be a potential preview of what's to come on Wild Card Weekend.

Oddly enough, the Chiefs could win that game at home and still have to go through Indianapolis come playoff time. 

 

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12. Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

The Ravens took full advantage of their three-game home stretch to go from 4-6 to 7-6. But Baltimore has a long way to go before it can secure a playoff spot. 

The champs will look to continue their streak in Detroit in Week 15 before returning home to host the Patriots in an AFC Championship Game rematch.

 

13. Detroit Lions (7-6)

Detroit's loss at Philadelphia in Week 14 was compounded by Green Bay and Chicago both winning. The Lions now have zero room for error as they get ready to host the defending Super Bowl champions in prime time on Monday night.

 

14. Chicago Bears (7-6)

The Bears earned a huge victory on Monday Night Football to pick up a game on the Lions in the NFC North. With three games to go, this division is seemingly up for grabs.  

 

15. Dallas Cowboys (7-6)

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Dallas fell one game back of Philadelphia in the NFC East after Monday's blowout loss in Chicago. The good news for the Cowboys is that they could face the Packers without Aaron Rodgers in Week 15.

After that, Dallas will close out the season against a terrible Redskins team on the road and the division-leading Eagles at home.

 

16. Miami Dolphins (7-6)

The Dolphins have won two in a row and four of their last six overall, but beating the New England Patriots will be no easy task. Plus, the Pats can clinch the AFC East with a win in Miami in Week 15. 

With games against the Bills and Jets to round out the year, Miami could wind up finishing 10-6 if it can knock off New England this weekend.  

 

17. San Diego Chargers (6-7)

San Diego is still alive in the AFC Wild Card race but will need to pull off an upset win over the Broncos on Thursday night in Denver in order to remain in the hunt. It's worth pointing out that the Chargers stunned the division-rival Chiefs 41-38 their last time out on the road.

 

18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1)

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The Packers picked up their first win since October in Week 14, coming from behind to beat the Atlanta Falcons. Now, at 6-6-1, the Packers are only a half of a game back of the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears in the NFC North. 

 

19. St. Louis Rams (5-8)

Back-to-back division losses have erased all the good things the Rams did in November. St. Louis will host New Orleans this weekend and Tampa in Week 16 before closing the year out on the road at Seattle.

 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)

Week 14's loss to Miami at home all but ensures that the Steelers will miss the playoffs for the second straight season. Pittsburgh will have to win out and get some serious help from the other AFC wild-card contenders in order to resurrect its season.

 

21. Tennessee Titans (5-8)

The Titans have lost four of five to fall out of the AFC playoff race. Despite its struggles, Tennessee has been one of the league's most competitive teams this season.

 

22. New York Jets (6-7)

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Gang Green kept their playoff hopes alive with a big win over Oakland this past weekend. But the Jets will need a monumental performance in Week 15 if they are to surprise the Panthers on the road. 

 

23. New York Giants (5-8)

An 0-6 start to the year gave the Giants little room for error. New York has officially been eliminated from postseason contention and will host Seattle in Week 15 before concluding the year against Detroit and Washington.

 

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)

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Tampa has been on an impressive run since mid-November, but upcoming matchups with San Francisco and New Orleans should cool the Bucs just in time for the offseason.

 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)

Like the Bucs, the Jags have won four of their last five to distance themselves from the No. 1 overall pick. However, Jacksonville still ranks dead last in scoring offense through 13 games.

 

26. Oakland Raiders (4-9)

Oakland is clearly trending down having lost three straight games. Three straight division games to close out the year could spell more doom and gloom for the struggling Raiders. 

 

27. Cleveland Browns (4-9)

A tough pass interference penalty helped derail Cleveland's hopes of ending its losing streak in Week 14. Now, the Browns, who have lost seven of their last eight, will prepare to host Chicago in Week 15. 

 

28. Buffalo Bills (4-9)

The Bills got crushed by the Bucs in Tampa in Week 14 and have now lost seven of their last nine following a promising 2-2 start.

 

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29. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1)

Minnesota has been playing teams tough all season long. Unfortunately, the effort hasn't translated into success for the Vikings. Keep in mind that only the Redskins are allowing more points this season than the Vikings. 

 

30. Atlanta Falcons (3-10)

The Falcons became the first team to lose to the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in Week 14. Therefore, Atlanta finds itself among the league's worst heading into Week 15's showdown with another reeling squad, Washington.

 

31. Washington Redskins (3-10)

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Washington has lost five in a row and is giving up more points than any other team in the league. This team looks to have quit on head coach Mike Shanahan.

Only Jacksonville has been outscored by more points than Washington this season.

 

32. Houston Texans (2-11)

The Houston Texans suffered their 11th straight loss in Week 14 and are now set to finish the year under interim head coach Wade Phillips. With Indianapolis, Denver and Tennessee on tap over the next three weeks, it's likely Houston will wind up with the No. 1 overall pick in next spring's NFL draft.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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