NFL Power Rankings: Predicting Post Week 17 Standings

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 22:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos works out on the field prior to the start of the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Sixteen games. Countless playoff scenarios. Jobs potentially on the line. 

Week 17 is going to be epic. 

So why do a regular power rankings article? Why not combine that concept directly with Week 17 predictions and offer a speculative power rankings based on what the standings will look like after next week's games?

Below, you'll find just that.


32. Houston Texans

Current Record: 2-13

Opponent: at Tennessee Titans

Record Next Week: 2-14

Analysis: Like the Atlanta Falcons, there is enough talent in Houston to turn things around quickly. Unlike Atlanta, the Texans don't have a franchise quarterback on the roster. It's a pretty safe bet they'll use the top overall pick in the NFL draft to find one, however. 


31. Washington

Current Record: 3-12

Opponent: at New York Giants

Record Next Week: 3-13

Analysis: Washington's season has been so bad that they allowed Tony Romo—the oft-labeled choker—to lead a late-game comeback in Week 16, giving Dallas the win.

And on a team that proved to have many holes this season, getting better through the draft will take some savvy, as the St. Louis Rams own Washington's first-round pick.


30. Cleveland Browns

Dec 8, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) warms up before the start of the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Current Record: 4-11

Opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers

Record Next Week: 4-12

Analysis: The Browns have Josh Gordon, two first-round picks and a solid defense. There are pieces in place for this team. Of course, Cleveland fans have been hearing that for years.


29. Oakland Raiders

Current Record: 4-11

Opponent: Denver Broncos

Record Next Week: 4-12

Analysis: Let's be honest: Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor aren't the future of this team.

The Raiders once again need to rebuild, which seems to be the perpetual state of the franchise. They'll close the year with a game against the Broncos, which is almost assuredly an easy win for Denver.


28. Minnesota Vikings

Current Record: 4-10-1

Opponent: Detroit Lions

Record Next Week: 4-11-1

Analysis: They need a quarterback. They need to improve the defense. They need to lean less heavily on Adrian Peterson. They might decide they need a new coach, though that would be harsh.

The 2012 postseason berth seems like an aberration after this season. However, with a few smart moves, the Vikings could be very competitive in the NFC North next year.


27. Jacksonville Jaguars

Current Record: 4-11

Opponent: at Indianapolis

Record Next Week: 4-12

Analysis: The Jags need help pretty much everywhere on the roster, but the fact that Gus Bradley squeezed four wins out of this group should inspire confidence that the team has the right coach in place.

This won't be a playoff team anytime soon, but they're moving in the right direction. 


26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 22: Mike Glennon #8 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on December 22, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Michael Thomas/Getty Images

Current Record: 4-11

Opponent: at New Orleans

Record Next Week: 4-12

Analysis: In Mike Glennon and Doug Martin, this team has young offensive players to build around. Also, there is certainly talent on defense, even if it never quite came together.

It remains to be seen if Greg Schiano saved his job, but the expectations will be much higher than the 4-12 record the Bucs will finish this season with.


25. Atlanta Falcons

Current Record: 4-11

Opponent: Carolina Panthers

Record Next Week: 4-12

Analysis: Atlanta needs to do some serious retooling, but with a high draft pick and the trio of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White to lean on, this team should be much better next season.

You need only look at how competitively they played the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16 to see how this team might be able to quickly turn things around.


24. Buffalo Bills

Current Record: 6-9

Opponent: at New England

Record Next Week: 6-10

Analysis: C.J. Spiller never got on track. EJ Manuel couldn't stay healthy. The Bills season, ultimately, was a disappointment.

Still, two straight wins is something to build on. And if they somehow manage to beat the New England Patriots in Week 17—really throwing a wrench in the AFC postseason picture in the process—the Bills would head into the offseason feeling better about themselves than they did three weeks ago.


23. Tennessee Titans

Current Record: 6-9

Opponent: Houston Texans

Record Next Week: 7-9

Analysis: After starting 3-1, the Titans have lost eight of their last 11 games and have plenty of questions to answer in the offseason, including the elephant in the room: is Jake Locker the future of this organization?

But the team has all spring to decide that; for now, the Titans will just be content to end the season on a high note with a victory over the hapless Texans.


22. New York Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 22:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets and quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets walk off together at the end of  the game against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2013 in East Rutherfo
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

Current Record: 7-8

Opponent: at Miami Dolphins

Record Next Week: 7-9

Quick, name the most compelling offensive player on the Jets. Take your time, we'll wait. Still thinking? Kind of makes you appreciate this team somehow managing to win seven games, right?

The Jets could really throw a wrench into things if they beat the Miami Dolphins in Week 17. While that probably won't happen in Miami, a 7-9 finish for this roster is quite the accomplishment.


21. New York Giants

Current Record: 6-9

Opponent: Washington

Record Next Week: 7-9

Analysis: The Giants will end the season in a more dignified manner than the way they started itwhen they went 0-6but this season will still be deemed a failure.

The Giants certainly don't need to be rebuilt, but they definitely need to be retooledand in a hurry. Still, beating Washington to close the season will feel good.


20. St. Louis Rams

Current Record: 7-8

Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

Record Next Week: 7-9

Analysis: The Rams didn't take the step forward many people expected them to take this season, but a large part of that can be attributed to losing Sam Bradford for the season. With Washington's first-round pick, breakthrough performances from Zac Stacy and Robert Quinn and a good, young defense, this team will make some noise in 2014.

They won't beat Seattle this week, however.


19. Green Bay Packers

Current Record: 7-7-1

Opponent: at Chicago Bears

Record Next Week: 7-8-1

Analysis: Will Aaron Rodgers be able to play? And even if he can, will it matter? After all, he'll most certainly be rusty, and the Green Bay defense is going to have a tough time containing the Chicago Bears offense in the first place.

The Packers will once again be a force next season, but it's hard to see this team making the playoffs this year.


18. Dallas Cowboys

Current Record: 8-7

Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles

Record Next Week: 8-8

Analysis: Kyle Orton hasn't started in two years. The Cowboys barely beat a poor Washington team with Tony Romo in the lineup. Even though they should lean heavily on DeMarco Murray, doing so just isn't in this team's DNA. And the league's worst defense isn't going to slow down a Philadelphia Eagles offense that just put up 54 points on the Chicago Bears.

Yup, Dallas is going to lose on the last day of the season with the NFC East title up for grabs for the third straight season. Ouch.


17. Detroit Lions

Current Record: 7-8

Opponent: at Minnesota Vikings

Record Next Week: 8-8

Analysis: There is simply too much talent on this roster to be 7-8. Detroit fans should be pretty livid with this team.

They'll close the season with a victory over the Vikings, but with the NFC North primed for the taking, the Lions failed to live up to expectations and will look back on this year as a pretty epic failure.


16. Pittsburgh Steelers

Dec 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Heinz Field. The Dolphins won the game, 34-27. Manda
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Current Record: 7-8

Opponent: Cleveland Browns

Record Next Week: 8-8

Analysis: The Steelers aren't going to get all the help they need to reach the postseason—they would need a win as well as losses from the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers—but at least they'll close the season on a high note by winning their last three games, including a Week 17 defeat of the Browns.

Ben Roethlisberger and Co. will be disappointed with the year overall, but at least a strong finish will give them something to build upon heading into next season.


15. Baltimore Ravens

Current Record: 8-7

Opponent: at Cincinnati Bengals

Record Next Week: 8-8

Analysis: Baltimore proved how dangerous they can be if they get into the dance last year, but it seems they'll more likely be playing the role of wallflower once the postseason rolls around this season. Quite simply, can a Baltimore team that is 2-5 on the road beat a Cincinnati Bengals team that is 7-0 at home?

Nope, probably not.


14. San Diego Chargers

Current Record: 8-7

Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs

Record Next Week: 9-7

Analysis: This is the team nobody will want to face in the postseason. A win over the Kanas City Chiefs would give them four straight wins and five in the past six weeks. Plus, the team's fourth-ranked passing offense ensures they could give any defense nightmares.

The Chiefs have nothing to play for in Week 17, so don't be surprised if Andy Reid rests some starters and the Chargers roll at home.


13. Miami Dolphins

Current Record: 8-7

Opponent: New York Jets

Record Next Week: 9-7

Analysis: On paper, the Dolphins have the most favorable scenario to reach the postseason: beat the Jets at home—and hope the Bengals beat the Ravens—and the Dolphins are in.

Of course, after a dreadful performance against the Bills in Week 16, nothing is guaranteed. Still, after beating the Jets 23-3 in New York a little less than a month ago, the Dolphins should be able to replicate that feat at home.


12. Chicago Bears

Current Record: 8-7

Opponent: Green Bay Packers

Record Next Week: 9-7

Analysis: The Bears will be at home, already beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field this year and will either be facing Matt Flynn or a rusty Aaron Rodgers, likely the former.

The Bears blew a golden opportunity to clinch the NFC North a week ago; don't expect Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Marshall to let that happen again.  


11. Arizona Cardinals

Current Record: 10-5

Opponent: San Francisco 49ers

Record Next Week: 10-6

Analysis: Beating the San Francisco 49ers would be a difficult enough task. But also hoping that the New Orleans Saints lose, at home, to the Bucs is even less likely.

Bruce Arians is an excellent coach, and this defense is legit, but the Cardinals seem destined to be the best team watching the playoffs from home this season.


10. Kansas City Chiefs

Current Record: 11-4

Opponent: at San Diego Chargers

Record Next Week: 11-5

Analysis: The Chiefs have won just two games since their Week 10 bye and have absolutely nothing at stake when they face the Chargers—a team that actually has everything at stake.

In other words, this Chiefs team will likely hit the postseason having lost five of their last seven games and likely will have Andrew Luck to deal with.

The Chiefs are trending downward, and fast.


9. Philadelphia Eagles

Current Record: 9-6

Opponent: at Dallas Cowboys

Record Next Week: 10-6

Analysis: Unless Orton becomes the second coming of Troy Aikman, the Eagles are likely going to beat the Cowboys and will head into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed. That would be their seventh win in their last eight games. 

With the league's top running game, it's most efficient and shocking breakout performer (Nick Foles has 25 touchdowns against two interceptions), Chip Kelly's smart game-planning and a defense that more often bends then it  breaks, the Eagles have become a real player in the NFC.


8. New Orleans Saints

Current Record: 10-5

Opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record Next Week: 11-5

Analysis: The Saints are 7-0 at home and 3-5 on the road. They'll beat the Bucs in Week 17, but don't be shocked if this team is one-and-done in the playoffs.

You can bet the Saints will be rooting very heavily for a Panthers loss in Week 17. 


7. Indianapolis Colts

Current Record: 10-5

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Record Next Week: 11-5

Analysis: The Colts went from being the team that easily won the weak AFC South but one most folks had basically forgotten about to a serious contender by dominating the Chiefs in Kansas City.

The Colts will likely be the No. 4 seed and have a rematch with the Chiefs in the wild-card round, a game they will now be favored to win. 


6. New England Patriots

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 22: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes against the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Current Record: 11-4

Opponent: Buffalo Bills

Record Next Week: 12-4

Analysis: The Patriots will beat the Bills and earn at least the AFC's No. 2 seed, but without Rob Gronkowski, a trip to the Super Bowl just doesn't seem to be in the cards.

Tom Brady has been a miracle worker at times this season, but the Patriots just aren't nearly as dynamic without Gronk, and the defense isn't strong enough to carry this team through the postseason.


5. Cincinnati Bengals

Current Record: 10-5

Opponent: Baltimore Ravens

Record Next Week: 11-5

Analysis: Cincy will be really hoping that the Patriots lose in Week 17. The Bengals are 7-0 at home this season—a huge reason why they'll knock off the Ravens—and are a different team in Cincinnati.

A bye week and a home game in the divisional round would almost guarantee this team's trip to the AFC Championship, and from there, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton and the nasty Bengals defense would give any opponent trouble, home or away.


4. San Francisco 49ers

Current Record: 11-4

Opponent: at Arizona Cardinals

Record Next Week: 12-4

Analysis: Is anyone really betting against the San Francisco 49ers right now?

They've won five straight games (and 10 of 12), have hit their stride at the right time this season and arguably have the best defense in all of football.

Yes, a trip to Arizona is no easy feat, but with the possibility of still earning the No. 1 seed in the NFC, you can bet the Niners will come out ready to go in Week 17. 


3. Carolina Panthers

Current Record: 11-4

Opponent: at Atlanta Falcons

Record Next Week: 12-4

Analysis: The Panthers are just a win in Atlanta away from earning the No. 2 seed in the NFC. And after they beat Atlanta, they'll head into the playoffs having won 11 of their last 12 games.

Trust this: no one wants to face Cam Newton and that defense come January. They will be formidable.


2. Denver Broncos

Current Record: 12-3

Opponent: at Oakland Raiders

Record Next Week: 13-3

AnalysisPeyton Manning set the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season (51) in Week 16, is just 266 yards away from surpassing Drew Brees' record of 5,476 passing yards set in 2011, has thrown just 10 picks and has his Broncos primed for a deep playoff run.

Still, the only numbers that matter are these: 9-11 in the postseason, one Super Bowl title. If Manning doesn't improve upon both of those marks this season, you can bet all of the other records will be rendered meaningless.


1. Seattle Seahawks

Current Record: 12-3

Opponent: St. Louis Rams

Record Next Week: 13-3

Analysis: Their 14-game winning streak at home was halted by a tough Cardinals team, but the Seahawks are still in the driver's seat for the NFC's top overall seed. Remember, this team already beat the Rams in St. Louis, and it's hard to imagine the Seahawks failing to win in Week 17.

And it will be very, very hard to beat them in Seattle once the playoffs begin.


Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are almost as exciting as Week 17 of the NFL season, in which 13 of the 16 games could have playoff implications. Whoa nelly.

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