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NFL Power Rankings Week 15: 2016 Standings, Reaction for All Teams Post-MNF

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2016

Another strong performace from Tom Brady has the Patriots looking like the top team in the AFC.
Another strong performace from Tom Brady has the Patriots looking like the top team in the AFC.Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Week 14 came to a close Monday night with the New England Patriots knocking off the Baltimore Ravens 30-23. The result keeps New England atop the AFC standings while moving the Ravens out of first place in the AFC North.  

Monday's game also capped an exciting week of football that carried plenty of other playoff implications. The Kansas City Chiefs took over the AFC West by beating the rival Oakland Raiders on Thursday. The Green Bay Packers kept their postseason hopes alive by eviscerating the lifeless Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

The New York Giants, meanwhile, managed to keep the NFC East race alive for another week by handing the Dallas Cowboys their second loss of the 2016 season.

What does all of this mean for the playoff race at large? That's exactly what we're going to examine today. We'll be running down the conference standings based on playoff seeding—meaning division leaders will be ranked at the top, regardless of records. We'll also be running down our own power rankings based on factors like records, divisional competition and team health.

In addition, we'll take a look at some of the more interesting entries on our list.

      

Week 15 Standings

Week 15 NFL Standings
PlaceTeamRecord
AFC
1New England Patriots11-2
2Kansas City Chiefs10-3
3Pittsburgh Steelers8-5
4Houston Texans7-6
5Oakland Raiders10-3
6Denver Broncos8-5
7Miami Dolphins8-5
8Baltimore Ravens7-6
9Tennessee Titans7-6
10Indianapolis Colts6-7
11Buffalo Bills6-7
12Cincinnati Bengals5-7-1
13San Diego Chargers5-8
14New York Jets4-9
15Jacksonville Jaguars2-11
16Cleveland Browns0-13
NFC
1Dallas Cowboys11-2
2Detroit Lions9-4`
3Seattle Seahawks8-4-1
4Atlanta Falcons8-5
5New York Giants9-4
6Tampa Bay Buccaneers8-5
7Washington Redskins7-5-1
8Minnesota Vikings7-6
9Green Bay Packers7-6
10Arizona Cardinals5-7-1
11New Orleans Saints5-8
12Carolina Panthers5-8
13Philadelphia Eagles5-9
14Los Angeles Rams4-9
15Chicago Bears3-10
16San Francisco 49ers1-12

Week 15 Power Rankings

Post-MNF Power Rankings
RankTeam
1Dallas Cowboys
2New England Patriots
3Kansas City Chiefs
4Oakland Raiders
5Atlanta Falcons
6New York Giants
7Detroit Lions
8Pittsburgh Steelers
9Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10Seattle Seahawks
11Green Bay Packers
12Denver Broncos
13Miami Dolphins
14Washington Redskins
15Baltimore Ravens
16Minnesota Vikings
17Houston Texans
18Tennessee Titans
19Buffalo Bills
20Indianapolis Colts
21Arizona Cardinals
22Cincinnati Bengals
23Philadelphia Eagles
24New Orleans Saints
25Carolina Panthers
26San Diego Chargers
27Los Angeles Rams
28New York Jets
29Chicago Bears
30Jacksonville Jaguars
31San Francisco 49ers
32Cleveland Browns

Notable Rankings

2. New England Patriots

New England's win over Baltimore on Monday night was impressive. It showed just how dangerous the Patriots offense can be, even without star tight end Rob Gronkowski. The loss of Gronkowski is one of the reasons we still have the Cowboys ranked higher than the Patriots.

Even without Gronk, though, Tom Brady had little trouble slicing through a very good Baltimore Ravens defense—rated fifth overall by Pro Football Focus. Brady passed for more than 400 yards on the night and found the end zone three times.

It's also worth noting that the Patriots defense had a strong performance against the Ravens and has been solid most of the year. If not for a pair of special teams turnovers that were turned into touchdowns, the Ravens would likely have lost by a lot more.

As a unit, the Patriots defense is rated second overall by Pro Football Focus. The Patriots allow just 17.7 points per game, second-fewest in the NFL.

This combination of surgical offense and efficient defense is what makes New England one of the top Super Bowl contenders in the league right now. The Patriots are going to be a tough out come playoff time, as the Ravens learned on Monday.

"I don't know what a shot in the mouth feels like, but I can almost guarantee you this can be kind of similar," linebacker Terrell Suggs said, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. "We didn't come here for no moral victory."

       

12. Denver Broncos

Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

The Denver Broncos would be in the AFC playoffs if the season ended today, but we're not so sure they end the season there. The defending Super Bowl champions are flawed, and they are starting to show those flaws at a rapid pace.

Sunday brought a disappointing defeat at the hands of a team that was the worst in the league in 2015. The Tennessee Titans battered the Broncos with a strong rushing attack and bullied them on the team's way to a 13-10 victory.

That game raises some legitimate concerns for Denver. While the Titans do have a strong offense—rated sixth overall by Pro Football Focus—their defense is more on the average side. Tennessee is rated just 23rd in overall defense by Pro Football Focus and allows an average of 23.5 points per game.

Denver's production of 10 points should give you an idea of how much the Broncos offense is struggling.

Peter Burns @PeterBurnsESPN

#Broncos remind me of early season LSU this year. Fantastic defense paired with an offense that struggles to move the ball consistently.

As Denver head coach Gary Kubiak said, the Broncos were close to being good enough on offense to win.

“We had four or five plays to make, a couple on [quarterback Trevor Siemian’s] behalf and a couple on the receiver’s behalf, that would have closed the football game,” Kubiak explained, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “Those are the plays we have to go make.”

Earning 10 points wasn't enough to put away the Titans. It probably won't be enough to take care of the Patriots, Chiefs or Raiders—the three teams remaining on Denver's schedule.

     

15. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore's loss makes it more difficult for the Ravens to climb their way into the playoffs. However, it definitely isn't impossible, especially with Denver struggling and the Miami Dolphins dealing with an injury to starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

If the Broncos continue losing and Tannehill misses extensive time with what the Dolphins are calling a ligament sprain, then the Ravens can get back into the wild-card picture.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

Why MRI is important: #Dolphins coach Adam Gase says QB Ryan Tannehill has an ACL and MCL sprain (not tear). No timetable yet.

An easier path for the Ravens, though, would be to win out and take back control of the AFC North. The Ravens currently find themselves a game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the division, but they will play Pittsburgh in Week 16.

If the Ravens can beat the Steelers there, they will hold the advantage thanks to two head-to-head victories. Assuming the Ravens also take care of the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore would finish at 10-6 and with the AFC North crown.

That Week 16 matchup is in Pittsburgh, though, so this is all part of a challenge that is certainly easier to put on paper than actually accomplish.

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