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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Review and Reaction to 2017 League Standings

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2017

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 17:  Running back Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the third quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on December 17, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Week 16 power rankings will highlight a surprise selection within the top 10. How did a player off the field affect the standings and projection for one club's compelling push for a playoff spot?

Did the Kansas City Chiefs right the ship or have they outplayed mediocre teams to put themselves in pole position to win the AFC West?

Is it fair to describe the Los Angeles Rams' lopsided victory over the Seattle Seahawks as a hostile takeover in the NFC West? Should we consider the winning team a top-five club in the NFL?

It's easy to guess who sits atop of the standings, how do the power rankings shake out for teams barely hanging on to a playoff spot or clubs slightly outside the picture?

You can view the updated NFL standings, Week 16 power rankings and notable listings below.

                

NFL Week 16 Division Standings

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AFC East

1. New England Patriots (11-3)

2. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

3. Miami Dolphins (6-8)

4. New York Jets (5-9)

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)

2. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (5-9)

4. Cleveland Browns (0-14)

AFC South

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4)

2. Tennessee Titans (8-6)

3. Houston Texans (4-10)

4. Indianapolis Colts (3-11)

AFC West

1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)

2. Los Angeles Chargers (7-7)

3. Oakland Raiders (6-8)

4. Denver Broncos (5-9)

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)

2. Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

3. Washington Redskins (6-8)

4. New York Giants (2-12)

NFC North

1. Minnesota Vikings (11-3)

2. Detroit Lions (8-6)

3. Green Bay Packers (7-7)

4. Chicago Bears (4-10)

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints (10-4)

2. Carolina Panthers (10-4)

3. Atlanta Falcons (9-5)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10)

NFC West

1. Los Angeles Rams (10-4)

2. Seattle Seahawks (8-6)

3. Arizona Cardinals (6-8)

4. San Francisco 49ers (4-10)

                

Week 16 Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots (11-3)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)

3. Minnesota Vikings (11-3)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)

5. Los Angeles Rams (10-4)

6. New Orleans Saints (10-4)

7. Carolina Panthers (10-4)

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4)

9. Atlanta Falcons (9-5)

10. Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

11. Seattle Seahawks (8-6)

12. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

13. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)

14. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

15. Detroit Lions (8-6)

16. Green Bay Packers (7-7)

17. Los Angeles Chargers (7-7)

18. Tennessee Titans (8-6)

19. Washington Redskins (6-8)

20. Oakland Raiders (6-8)

21. San Francisco 49ers (4-10)

22. Arizona Cardinals (6-8)

23. Miami Dolphins (6-8)

24. Cincinnati Bengals (5-9)

25. Denver Broncos (5-9)

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10)

27. Chicago Bears (4-10)

28. New York Giants (2-12)

29. Indianapolis Colts (3-11)

30. New York Jets (5-9)

31. Houston Texans (4-10)

32. Cleveland Browns (0-14)

             

Notable Rankings

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 17:  Punt returner Pharoh Cooper #10 of the Los Angeles Rams is congratulated by Gerald Everett #81 after making a 53 yard return against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 17, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

No. 5 Los Angeles Rams Beat the NFC West Bully

Choosing the Rams over the Seahawks didn't seem like an improbable bet to win. However, we saw a complete drubbing at CenturyLink Stadium, and it was the home team that suffered an embarrassing loss Sunday.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's improvisation skills when extending plays lost its luster against the Rams pass rush. He went down behind the line of scrimmage seven times—the most in a single game all season. 

Los Angeles knocked off the division bully 42-7 and another victory or Seattle loss would clinch an NFC West title. The Rams still have a shot at the No. 2 seed if they're able to win out and the Minnesota Vikings lose their remaining two games.

Either way, the Rams didn't ask for respect as a playoff contender. The club went into a hostile environment and took their space among NFC heavyweights. 

With all the talk about rookie running backs Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara, don't overlook Todd Gurley, who's exploded as a dual-threat in the backfield under head coach Sean McVay. The third-year ball-carrier out of Georgia has 1,817 yards from scrimmage and 17 total touchdowns.

               

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott's Return Pushes Dallas Cowboys to No. 10 

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with fans following the  Cowboys 28-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at AT&T Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys survived running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension with a decent shot at the postseason.

Dallas still sits on the outside looking in at the NFC playoff picture, but they can help themselves with a win over the Seahawks in Week 16. After watching Gurley run through Seattle's defense, Elliott could deliver a similar performance as a dual-threat running back. 

With the star ball-carrier back on the field in a home game, prepare for an electric atmosphere at AT&T Stadium. The three-game win streak plus the added boost on offense elevates the Cowboys spot in the Week 16 power rankings as the fringe playoff-caliber squad to watch in the final two weeks.

Elliott will return in good body shape and ready to carry a heavy workload once again, per NBC's Michele Tafoya:

SNF on NBC @SNFonNBC

.@Michele_Tafoya provides an update on Ezekiel Elliott​, who is set to return from his suspension next week. https://t.co/AkqOHngXyO

The Seahawks could lose their third consecutive game, which would put them in danger of missing the postseason for the first time in six years.

             

No. 13 Kansas City Chiefs Slowly Rebuild Winning Image 

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 16:  Cornerback Marcus Peters #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts to the crowd against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium on December 16, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter G. Aike
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

The Chiefs proved their dominance in the AFC West with convincing wins over the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers in back-to-back outings.

However, the Week 16 power rankings won't oversell the Chiefs after beating two mediocre division rivals. At 6-8, the Raiders have fallen on hard times. The Chargers earned victories against two clubs with records above .500, the Buffalo Bills when rookie Nathan Peterman made his first start and the Cowboys without Elliott. 

We can't forget the Chiefs' strong 5-0 start to the season, but it's still a process before fully trusting this group again. Kansas City still needs one more win or a loss for Los Angeles to clinch the AFC West title. Can they keep the momentum going home against the Miami Dolphins?

The Chiefs have experienced a rollercoaster season, but head coach Andy Reid's decision to delegate play-calling duties and tweak the defensive backfield looks like a net positive for the team's playoff chances.

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