NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Latest 2016 Standings and Pre-Finale Reaction

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2016

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 26: Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys closes in on Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions during the second half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Unfortunately, Week 16 of the NFL season was marred by injuries, most notably to Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. 

Based on these injuries, this week's NFL power rankings have been shaken up significantly. Teams are obviously rewarded for what they have accomplished already, but how they project moving forward is also a factor in the power rankings.

As a result, the downgrade at the quarterback position has caused both the Titans and Raiders to drop well below where they would have been ranked with Carr and Mariota at the helm. 

Here's a look at the full power rankings, followed by a breakdown of a few teams still fighting for playoff positioning entering Week 17:

NFL Power Rankings
1Dallas Cowboys13-2
2New England Patriots13-2
3Kansas City Chiefs11-4
4Pittsburgh Steelers10-5
5Atlanta Falcons10-5
6Green Bay Packers9-6
7New York Giants10-5
8Seattle Seahawks9-5-1
9Oakland Raiders12-3
10Miami Dolphins10-5
11Detroit Lions9-6
12Baltimore Ravens8-7
13Denver Broncos8-7
14Houston Texans9-6
15Tampa Bay Buccaneers8-7
16New Orleans Saints7-8
17Washington Redskins8-6-1
18Tennessee Titans8-7
19Arizona Cardinals6-8-1
20Minnesota Vikings7-8
21Indianapolis Colts7-8
22Philadelphia Eagles6-9
23Buffalo Bills7-8
24Carolina Panthers6-9
25Cincinnati Bengals5-9-1
26San Diego Chargers5-10
27Jacksonville Jaguars3-12
28New York Jets4-11
29Chicago Bears3-12
30San Francisco 49ers2-13
31Los Angeles Rams4-11
32Cleveland Browns1-14


9. Oakland Raiders

Due to Derek Carr's injury, the Raiders are now preparing for life with Matt McGloin at quarterback. McGloin hasn't started since 2013, when he went 1-5 during his rookie year in Oakland. 

It's going to be a difficult transition for Oakland, but they still have reason to feel confident going into the playoffs. 

The Raiders will face the Denver Broncos in Week 17, who are likely to start rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch, according to Mike Kliss of 9News. With a win over Lynch and the Broncos, the Raiders will lock up the No. 2 seed, giving them a bye and an extra week to prepare McGloin for a playoff run. 

Should the Raiders lose, the door would open for the Kansas City Chiefs to earn the No. 2 seed with a win over the San Diego Chargers.


10. Miami Dolphins

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 4: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins looks on against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ryan Tannehill, who is recovering from a partially torn ACL and MCL, is getting close to making a return. But his availability is still in doubt, according to Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post:

Adam Gase says he does not know if Ryan Tannehill will play this week.

— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 26, 2016

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald has speculated that the Dolphins will not use Tannehill in Week 17 against the New England Patriots, regardless of his health, due to the fact that the team has already clinched a playoff berth. 

While the Dolphins have clinched a spot in the postseason, they still have plenty of play for in their regular-season finale. 

With a win and a Chiefs loss to the San Diego Chargers, the Dolphins will clinch the No. 5 seed and play at the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card Round. With a loss, the Dolphins remain the No. 6 seed and have to play at the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Teams rarely admit to a preference in playoff matchups but—whether they admit it publicly or not—there is no doubt everyone in Miami wants to face the Texans. 

Given the Texans' struggles, the Dolphins may even be favored to win that matchup, especially if Tannehill returns for the game. Against Pittsburgh, however, the Dolphins would likely be substantial underdogs against a Steelers team that has improved throughout the season. 


11. Detroit Lions

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 26: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions calla play against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions had a chance to wrap up a playoff berth on Monday night, but instead they let the Dallas Cowboys reestablish their dominance over the NFC.

Things got so ugly late in the game on Monday night that ESPN's Michael Rothstein suggested ending Matthew Stafford's night early:

The #Lions should really pull Matthew Stafford. Not because he's playing poorly but because this game is out of reach & he's being pummeled.

— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) December 27, 2016

Stafford and the Lions will need to recover quickly, because they're now fighting for their playoff lives in Week 17 against the Green Bay Packers. The winner will clinch the NFC North and a home game in the first round of the playoffs. The loser might be stuck watching the postseason from home. 

If the Lions lose to Green Bay, they can still get into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed if a few other matchups go their way. But the Lions, who appeared to have a stranglehold on the NFC North just a few weeks ago, don't want to back into the playoffs and have to play on the road.