NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Latest 2016 Standings and Pre-Finale ReactionDecember 27, 2016
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|
|2||New England Patriots||13-2|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||11-4|
|6||Green Bay Packers||9-6|
|7||New York Giants||10-5|
|15||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8-7|
|16||New Orleans Saints||7-8|
|26||San Diego Chargers||5-10|
|28||New York Jets||4-11|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||2-13|
|31||Los Angeles Rams||4-11|
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
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
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.