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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Updated Standings, Predictions Before MNF

Elizabeth FinnyContributor IDecember 17, 2018

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) attempts a touchdown against Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Eric Berry during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Allen did not score. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Big wins this week kept teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings alive in their playoff run while further complicating the playoff picture for other teams, such as the New England Patriots.

Upsets across Week 15 made for exhilarating games for football fans everywhere. The Los Angeles Rams were bested by the Eagles, while the Kansas City Chiefs battled it out with their division rival—the Chargers—and lost 29-28.

New England only had to win to clinch its division, but instead has been bumped out of the No. 1 seed and into the Wild Card round after a 10-17 loss to the Steelers. Houston's win put it above the Patriots at 10-4, as New England dropped to 9-5. 

Ben Volin @BenVolin

The Patriots can kiss the No. 1 seed goodbye, and now have to worry about the Texans https://t.co/EMKr0ReD71

Much is yet to be decided in the playoff picture, with a total of seven teams still in the hunt with the ability to make the wild-card round. With the postseason just around the corner, Week 16 may prove to be another exciting week of football.

Monday Night Football shouldn't change the power rankings heading into Week 16 very much, as the New Orleans Saints will be taking on the Carolina Panthers. The Saints are six-point favorites, according to OddsShark, and shouldn't have much trouble against Carolina. A New Orleans win would place it firmly as the number one team in the league—with a 12-2 record—while a Carolina loss will drop the Panthers to 6-8 and may ruin their chance at the postseason.

Here's a look at the projected rankings for Week 16, not including the results of the Monday Night game, as well as an analysis of the rankings.

Projected Week 16 Power Rankings Before Monday Night Football

1. New Orleans Saints (11-2)

2. Los Angeles Rams (11-3)

3. Los Angeles Chargers (11-3)

4. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)

5. Chicago Bears (10-4)

6. Houston Texans (10-4)

7. New England Patriots (9-5)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1)

9. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

10. Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

11. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)

12. Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1)

13. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

14. Seattle Seahawks (8-6)

15. Tennessee Titans (8-6)

16. Carolina Panthers (6-7)

17. Miami Dolphins (7-7)

18. Denver Broncos (6-8)

19. Green Bay Packers (5-8-1)

20. Washington Redskins (7-7)

21. Cleveland Browns (6-7-1)

22. Cincinnati Bengals (6-8)

23. New York Giants (5-9)

24. Detroit Lions (5-9)

25. Atlanta Falcons (5-9)

26. Buffalo Bills (5-9)

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-9)

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10)

29. San Francisco 49ers (4-10)

30. New York Jets (4-10)

31. Arizona Cardinals (3-11)

32. Oakland Raiders (3-11)

    

Dallas Cowboys at No. 10 Despite Eagles Upset Over Rams

Two of the biggest upsets in Week 15 were a then 6-7 Philadelphia team taking down the Los Angeles Rams to hand them their third loss, and the Colts shutting out the Cowboys to end their winning streak at five.

However, despite Dallas being kept scoreless, the Cowboys still stays in the top 10 while the Eagles sit right outside of it.

While the Colts scored 23 points, Indianapolis and Dallas had fairly comparable yardage in the game—with the only difference being the Colts' ability to finish the drive. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 206 yards and one interception and Andrew Luck threw 192 passing yards.

Star running back Ezekiel Elliot ran for 87 yards and posted 41 receiving yards, while Indianapolis' Marlon Mack had one of his best games of the season with 139 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys receivers had a total of 206 receiving yards, while the Colts had 192.

Mack was able to finish off two of Indianapolis' drives with touchdowns, while kicker Adam Vinatieri had three field goals that added another nine points to the scoreboard and ensured a Colts victory.

While the Cowboys went scoreless, it was more about an inability to finish drives with touchdowns or field goals than an inability to move the ball down the field. Dallas had a blocked field goal on its opening drive, fumbled the ball, and had back-to-back drives where the Cowboys turned the ball over on downs as they became increasingly desperate to score. Dallas may have not scored any points, but it seems as if this was a single-game occurrence rather than an indication of the team's skill. 

Jon Machota @jonmachota

Rodney Harrison on NBC’s Football Night in America: “The Dallas Cowboys lost, but I wouldn’t panic. They still have a very good team and I think they’re going to bounce back…they didn’t play with that edge I’m used to seeing them play with.”

Philadelphia is a slightly different story. 

The team went back-and-forth with the Rams in an exciting game that saw the Eagles take off after halftime. After each team scored a touchdown and two field goals in the first half to head into the locker room tied, Philadelphia scored a touchdown in the first five minutes of the second half and had three back-to-back scoring drives to put it up 30-13. 

The Eagles were led by quarterback Nick Foles, who also led them to a Super Bowl victory last season after starting quarterback Carson Wentz tore his ACL. Wentz may be out for a second straight season with a fractured back. Foles stepped in for the second straight season and shocked football fans everywhere—once again—by beating the Rams.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From @NFLGameDay: Injuries likely ending his second straight season hasn't changed anything for the #Eagles and QB Carson Wentz. He is still their future. https://t.co/ObzVCTwYX0

Foles threw one pick on 270 passing yards, letting running back Wendell Smallwood take care of the scoring with 48 rushing yards and a career-high two rushing touchdowns. Receiver Alshon Jeffery caught for a season-high 160 yards, but couldn't find the end zone.

Los Angeles boasted impressive numbers despite the loss, with Jared Goff throwing 339 yards and two interceptions; Todd Gurley running for 48 yards and two touchdowns while also posting 76 receiving yards. The Rams receiving corps totaled 339 yards in the game compared to Philadelphia's 270.

What cost the Rams the game were errors such as Goff's two interceptions, a fumble and Goff's inability to find the end zone. Despite this, the young quarterback has proven himself throughout the season by putting up monster numbers—4,273 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns.

While Philadelphia's Foles did help the team beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl last season and was able to upset the Rams last night, it was his first game back as the starter since Week 2. He will have to prove himself to be a strong, consistent quarterback again to keep the Eagles in the hunt for a playoff spot.

The Rams are going to finish off their season easily with games against the Cardinals and the 49ers, which should allow them to regain their confidence and snap a two-game losing streak. Similarly, the Colts and the Cowboys should finish off the regular season with two more wins and matching 10-6 records. Philadelphia will have a more difficult last two games against the Texans and the Redskins.

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