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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: 2018-19 Conference Standings and Super Bowl Odds

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2018

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in action following an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Indianapolis. Indianapolis won 23-0. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ Mast/Associated Press

It didn't take long for the NFL's Week 15 slate to offer up some of the predictable late-season upsets. 

This happens every year, where bad teams looking to play the spoiler do so against seemingly insurmountable odds, the best example being the San Francisco 49ers taking down the Seattle Seahawks. 

General upsets with so much at stake throw what viewers think they know about the league for a loop, too. This started Thursday night with the Los Angeles Chargers moving past the Kansas City Chiefs and continued all weekend in prominent spots like the Pittsburgh Steelers beating the New England Patriots, not to mention one prominent outcome in Indianapolis. 

In the wake of a league-changing week, let's regroup with a look at the power rankings and long-term odds outlook.

       

2018 NFL Power Rankings and Super Bowl Odds

RankTeam (Super Bowl odds)
1New Orleans Saints (3-1)
2Chicago Bears (9-1)
3Los Angeles Chargers (15-2)
4Kansas City Chiefs (13-2)
5Los Angeles Rams (33-10)
6New England Patriots (13-2)
7Houston Texans (18-1)
8Indianapolis Colts (40-1)
9Seattle Seahawks (27-1)
10Pittsburgh Steelers (18-1)
11Dallas Cowboys (20-1)
12Baltimore Ravens (40-1)
13Tennessee Titans (70-1)
14Cleveland Browns (150-1)
15Philadelphia Eagles (50-1)
16Minnesota Vikings (50-1)
17Denver Broncos (250-1)
18Washington Redskins (300-1)
19Miami Dolphins (250-1)
20Carolina Panthers (125-1)
21Buffalo Bills (1000-1)
22New York Giants (250-1)
23Detroit Lions (300-1)
24Green Bay Packers (250-1)
25Atlanta Falcons (400-1)
26New York Jets (1000-1)
27Tampa Bay Buccaneers (500-1)
28Cincinnati Bengals (250-1)
29San Francisco 49ers (3000-1)
30Oakland Raiders (5000-1)
31Jacksonville Jaguars (500-1)
32Arizona Cardinals (3000-1)
author's opinion

Odds courtesy of OddsShark

Conference Standings

AFC
Kansas City Chiefs 11-3
Los Angeles Chargers 11-3
Houston Texans 10-4
New England Patriots 9-5
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-5-1
Baltimore Ravens 8-6
Indianapolis Colts 8-6
Tennessee Titans 8-6
Miami Dolphins 7-7
Cleveland Browns 6-7-1
Denver Broncos 6-8
Cincinnati Bengals 6-8
Buffalo Bills 5-9
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-10
New York Jets 4-10
Oakland Raiders 3-11

        

NFC
New Orleans Saints 11-2 
Los Angeles Rams 11-3 
Chicago Bears 10-4 
Dallas Cowboys 8-6 
Seattle Seahawks 8-6 
Minnesota Vikings 7-6-1
Philadelphia Eagles 7-7 
Washington Redskins 7-7 
Carolina Panthers 6-7 
Green Bay Packers 5-8-1
Atlanta Falcons 5-9 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-9 
New York Giants 5-9 
Detroit Lions 5-9 
San Francisco 49ers 4-10 
Arizona Cardinals 3-11 

         

Wake-up Call: Indianapolis Colts

AJ Mast/Associated Press

Look, some of this was just the Dallas Cowboys choking—but sleeping on the Indianapolis Colts isn't advised.

The mentioned mishap in Indianapolis came courtesy of the Colts in an unexpected 23-0 stinker. Dallas had entered as winners of five in a row, and while the Colts have looked good as of late too, a well-rounded attack with various offensive stars figured to outlast Andrew Luck and an exploitable defense. 

But the Colts had other plans.

Luck didn't even throw a touchdown during the upset, tallying just 192 yards on 16 completions as his running game bruised its way to 178 yards and two scores on a 4.6 yards-per-carry average. Perhaps more importantly, his defense held Dak Prescott without a touchdown pass and Ezekiel Elliott's 87 yards on 18 carries didn't play a major role. 

A comment summarizing the current state of the Colts says it all: 

Zak Keefer @zkeefer

7 wins in 8 weeks, a healthy QB, a roster drenched in developing talent, a confident head coach whose players have bought all the way in. Believe it: the Colts are coming — and coming for years to come. https://t.co/RiPd29qgtV

With a quarterback like Luck, anything is possible—but it sure doesn't hurt to see him have a ho-hum performance against a supposed contender and watch as the rest of the team drags him along. 

These Colts have now lost just one game since Week 7, improving alongside Luck's arm and comfort level. They likely won't catch Houston in the AFC South, but eight wins with games against the lowly New York Giants and a Tennessee team they already beat 38-10 likely means the Colts are heading to the playoffs, where the noise doesn't figure to stop. 

       

Sleeper: Baltimore Ravens

Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens might be just unorthodox enough to pull off something special. 

Unorthodox, meaning a rushing threat at quarterback the rest of the league doesn't have enough film or time to contain. 

It is starting to feel that way with rookie Lamar Jackson, who got the nod as the starter under center in Week 15 despite Joe Flacco getting back to full health. All Jackson did with the opportunity was move to 4-1 as a starter, throwing for 131 yards and a score with another 95 yards as a rusher in a 20-12 takedown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jackson's ability with his legs is where defenses continue to have fits against the Ravens: 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Lamar Jackson is the first QB since Michael Vick (2004) to have 60+ rushing yds in 5 straight games in the Super Bowl era. #SCFacts https://t.co/ucL0gjlkcq

It isn't like this is all happening against bad competition, either. Jackson torched Cincinnati in a tough divisional game his first time out, went to Atlanta and won and the only loss during his dominant stretch was a three-point overtime affair against an elite Kansas City Chiefs club. 

Call it a long way of saying the Ravens are rallying around Jackson at the proper time. One might suggest to the contrary he's doing some carrying of the talent around him. 

Either way, the Ravens are 8-6, have lost once by three points in an extra frame since a Week 10 bye, have a defense allowing just 18.5 points per game and are still right in the thick of the AFC North race. When Jackson and his complementary defense gets to the postseason, it feels like anything could happen. 

       

Don't Panic: Seattle Seahawks 

Ben Margot/Associated Press

If they are lucky, the Seahawks overlooked an upset-minded 49ers team. 

Everything seems to point to this being the case. The 49ers have now won two in a row to move to 4-10, rallying late in the season and picking off possible playoff teams. 

This is odd coming out of Week 15, as those Seahawks whipped San Francisco 43-16 as recently as Week 13, part of a four-game tear to reach the eight-win mark and sit second in the NFC West. 

Away from home, the Seahawks looked like a team with an eye on a Week 16 showdown with the Chiefs, which permitted the 49ers to swoop in and steal the 26-23 overtime outcome. Russell Wilson still threw for two touchdowns, and his running game still piled up 168 yards and a score, but one overtime field goal sealed it on a day mishaps like a 97-yard kickoff return. 

Of course, those comments don't address how sloppy things got: 

Danny O'Neil @dannyoneil

The 148 yards of penalties against Seattle was the most ever levied against the #Seahawks. Previous high was 145 vs. Denver on Dec. 8, 1979

But overall, the Seahawks have laughed away thoughts of a rebuild and still pulled it together, playing contenders like Chicago and the Los Angeles Chargers within eight points, not to mention losing to the Los Angeles Rams twice by five points or less. 

Those are just the notable losses, too. Seattle has wins over Green Bay, Carolina, Minnesota and Dallas, so making some postseason headway in the NFC playoffs isn't impossible—especially with Wilson under center. 

Wilson once again finds himself flanked by a top-10 defense and this time has a superb running game to boot. So while the gut reaction is to cringe over a loss to the 49ers, it would be more appropriate to rethink the Seahawks if they don't put up a fight against the Chiefs in Week 16. 

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