NFL Power Rankings: Examining League Outlook Ahead of Week 16

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2013

Dec 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates after kicking a 61 yard field goal during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Baltimore Ravens defeated the Detroit Lions 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

While more than a dozen teams will be playing solely for pride in Week 16, a majority of the league's teams remain in the playoff hunt with two weeks to go.  

Four teams have clinched postseason berths, while 15 others will be looking to earn one of the eight remaining spots. 

With the stage set for another wild weekend in the NFL, let's take a look at where all 32 teams rank coming into Week 16. 

*Power rankings based on overall regular-season performance. 


1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 15: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs with the ball in the 1st half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty I
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

The Seahawks have proven to be the class of the league through the first 15 weeks of the season. With one more win, Seattle can lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout January's playoffs. 

In addition to a dominant rushing attack and defensive secondary, the Seahawks are tremendous on special teams, per NFL on Twitter, making them the favorite to win it all heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. 


2. Denver Broncos (11-3)

Denver has suffered its fair share of bumps and bruises in 2013, but the Broncos are still in the driver's seat to earn the AFC's top seed and coveted home-field advantage next month. Denver will finish the year on the road against Houston and in Oakland. 

Keep in mind that those two teams have combined to lose 16 in a row this season.


3. San Francisco 49ers (10-4)

TAMPA, FL -  DECEMBER 15:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers releases a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Winners of four straight, the Niners can clinch a postseason berth with a win over the lowly Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football in Week 16.

San Francisco is a long shot to win the NFC West, but is more than capable of returning to the Super Bowl as a Wild Card team given its defensive dominance and ability to run the football against anyone.

They may begin their postseason journey on the road next month, but make no mistake, no one wants to see Jim Harbaugh's battle-tested Niners come playoff time. 


4. Carolina Panthers (10-4)

Despite suffering a blowout loss at New Orleans in Week 14, the Panthers control their own destiny in the NFC South and can secure a playoff spot with a win over the Saints at home in Week 16.

Like San Francisco and Seattle, Carolina boasts a lights-out defense and one of the NFL's most productive rushing attacks, led by DeAngelo Williams and Cam Newton.

The Panthers lost to the Seahawks by five points at home in Week 1, but beat the 49ers by a point in San Francisco back in Week 10.


5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)

The Chiefs have rebounded beautifully from their three-game losing streak to lock up a playoff berth in the AFC.

Although Kansas City will likely hit the road for their first postseason game next month, the Chiefs won't mind, having gone 6-1 on the road in 2013.


6. New Orleans Saints (10-4)

New Orleans has dropped two of its last three games and has looked anything but a Super Bowl contender outside of the Superdome in 2013.

Therefore, Week 16's showdown with the Panthers will be critical for the Saints, who desperately need to secure a home playoff game this January.


7. New England Patriots (10-4)

Dec 15, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA:  New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after an incomplete pass against the Miami Dolphins in the fourth quarter at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY S
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Pats have gone 1-4 over their last five road games, and that doesn't bode well for the AFC East leaders as they get set to visit Baltimore in Week 16. 

New England can clinch the division and a postseason berth with a win, but beating the defending champions on their home turf will be much easier said than done. The Ravens are 6-1 at home this season and have won four straight at M&T Bank Stadium.


8. Arizona Cardinals (9-5)

If the Cardinals were in the AFC, they'd be in excellent shape to earn a playoff berth.

Sadly for Arizona fans, the 9-5 Cards will conclude the season against the Seahawks and Niners, two of the league's best teams.


9. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5)

Cincinnati went just 3-5 on the road this season.

As a result, the Bengals are desperate to win out against the Vikings and Ravens at home in order to secure a home playoff game next month.


10. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 16: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 16, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

The defending Super Bowl champions have been in playoff mode since Week 12 when their current four-game winning streak began. And if the surging Ravens win out, they'll win the AFC North for the third straight year. 


11. Indianapolis Colts (9-5)

AFC South champion Indianapolis has already guaranteed itself a home playoff game.

However, Week 16's road game against Kansas City will give the Colts a good idea of what they can expect come January. 


12. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles carries the ball in the third quarter against the Detroit Lions on December 8, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Like so many other teams around the league, the Eagles control their own destiny and can earn themselves a home playoff game if they beat the Cowboys in Week 17.

Still, Week 16's prime-time clash with Chicago will be an important test for Philadelphia as the two teams could meet again down the road.


13. Chicago Bears (8-6)

The Bears have won two straight games for the first time since September and can inch closer to a playoff berth with a win over the Eagles on Sunday Night Football.

Chicago will need a stellar performance from Jay Cutler and its prolific wide receiving tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in order to pull out a third consecutive win. 

After all, the Bears' 32nd-ranked run defense is sure to surrender a ton of points to Philly's top-ranked rushing attack.


14. Miami Dolphins (8-6)

Miami is 4-1 over its last five games and will be favored to win out with upcoming games against the struggling Bills and Jets.

If both the Ravens and Bengals lose in Week 16, the Dolphins can wrap up a playoff spot in the AFC with a win this weekend at Buffalo.


15. San Diego Chargers (7-7)

The Bolts will need help if they hope to get into the playoffs this winter, but with upcoming home games against Oakland and Kansas City, don't be surprised if the Chargers finish the year above .500 for the first time since 2010.


16. Green Bay Packers (7-6-1)

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on from the bench while playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field on November 10, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Philadelphia won the game 27-13. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Regardless of whether the Packers make the postseason, their title chances hinge on Aaron Rodgers' health. If the former league MVP can't return from a broken collarbone in the near future, Green Bay is sure to be headed home early. 

Rodgers has been ruled out of Week 16's matchup against Pittsburgh, according to head coach Mike McCarthy via CBS Sports NFL writer Will Brinson:

As we do every week, a lot of conversation about Aaron. As an organization we are not ready for him to play. That's where we are.

He's not medically cleared, that's still the case today. As an organization we don't believe it's the right time for him to play.

It's been nearly seven weeks since Rogers injured his non-throwing shoulder on Nov. 4 in a loss to the Chicago Bears. 


17. Detroit Lions (7-7)

After squandering a golden opportunity in Week 15, the Detroit Lions need help in order to make the playoffs.

The Lions will finish with winnable games against the Giants and Vikings, but need both Chicago and Green Bay to falter down the stretch in order to redeem themselves in January. 


18. Dallas Cowboys (7-7)

Dallas can ill afford a loss to the reeling Washington Redskins in Week 16.

If the Cowboys lose and the Eagles beat the Bears at home, Dallas will be headed for an early offseason regardless of what happens in Week 17.


19. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8)

The Steelers will need to win out and get help in order to earn an AFC Wild Card berth. But the odds are stacked against them, and it's safe to say that Pittsburgh's 0-4 start to the season will be haunting it all offseason. 


20. St. Louis Rams (6-8)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 10:  Zac Stacy #30 of the St. Louis Rams runs with the ball during the game against the  Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

At times, the Rams have looked like world beaters in 2013, knocking off the Saints, Bears and Colts. But inconsistency and road struggles have doomed St. Louis' playoff hopes.  


21. Tennessee Titans (5-9)

The Titans have gone 2-8 since their impressive 3-1 start.

However, it's worth wondering how this team would have fared with a healthy Jake Locker under center. Tennessee will wrap up the season against fellow AFC South disappointments Jacksonville and Houston. 


22. New York Jets (6-8)

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 15:  Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets reacts after being called for a delay of game penalty during a loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 30
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Only Jacksonville, Washington and Houston have been outscored by more points than the New York Jets this season.

Stumbling and turnover-prone Gang Green will close out the year against Cleveland and Miami. The Jets will need to win both games in order to avoid their second straight losing season under Rex Ryan.


23. Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1)

Minnesota is the only team in the NFL that's yet to win a single road game in 2013.

The Vikings beat the Steelers in London, but that was a designated home game. A loss in Cincinnati in Week 16 will mean the Vikings finish 0-7-1 on the road this year.


24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10)

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 15:  Mike Glennon #8 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during a game at Raymond James Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It didn't appear that the Bucs were ever going to respond to head coach Greg Schiano following a disastrous 0-8 start to the season. But a 4-2 run since Week 10 has given Tampa Bay hope for the future. 

The re-energized Bucs will visit the Rams in Week 16 before rounding out the year against the Saints in the Big Easy.


25. Buffalo Bills (5-9)

Even if the Bills win out against the Dolphins and Patriots, they're guaranteed to miss the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season.

The good news: Buffalo can be excited about another early draft pick.


26. New York Giants (5-9)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 15: Quarterback Eli Manning #10 lays on the ground in the 1st half  against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

Turnovers have been the story of the Giants' 2013 season.

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning has been careless with the football all season long, leading the league with 25 picks and giving New York little chance for success. 


27. Atlanta Falcons (4-10)

The Falcons have won two of their last three games.

Unfortunately, a showdown with the Niners on the road in Week 16 and a visit from the Panthers in Week 17 will have Atlanta riding a losing streak into the offseason. 


28. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10)

Jacksonville is 4-2 over its last six games, but regardless of how strong the Jags finish, they are guaranteed to miss the playoffs for the sixth straight year.

On the bright side, the Jags have already doubled their win total from a year ago.


29. Cleveland Browns (4-10)

The Browns have lost five in a row and have been inventing new ways to lose games of late.

Cleveland took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter of Week 15's home game against the Chicago Bears only to surrender 21 unanswered points down the stretch to lose for the 10th time this season. 


30. Oakland Raiders (4-10)

Four straight losses have knocked the Raiders completely out of the playoff picture. Not to mention Oakland surrendered a franchise-worst 56 points in Week 15's blowout loss to division rival Kansas City. 


31. Washington Redskins (3-11)

Washington has lost six in a row and is dealing with unprecedented turmoil.

Robert Griffin III has been benched for the year, and head coach Mike Shanahan is rumored to be on the way out at year's end. 


32. Houston Texans (2-12)

The Texans losing streak has reached 12 straight games, and it doesn't project to end in Week 16 with the Denver Broncos coming to town.

In all likelihood, Houston will have to win at Tennessee in Week 17 in order to avoid finishing the season on a 14-game skid. 


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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