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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Review and Reaction to 2019 League Standings

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2019

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates his touchdown pass to tight end Josh Hill, which broke the NFL record for career touchdown passes, surpassing Peyton Manning, in the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

We're now down to just two weeks in the 2019 NFL season. While a chunk of the playoff race remains unsettled—only eight of the 12 spots have been claimed—only a handful of teams still have a realistic chance of getting in.

The Indianapolis Colts' loss on Monday night leaves them on the outside and looking toward next season.

The New Orleans Saints' win keeps them in the hunt for a first-round bye and the NFC's No. 1 seed. They'll need a little help to rise in the standings, but the Saints know they'll be no worse than the third seed heading into the postseason.

This is because the eventual winner of the NFC East—either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Dallas Cowboys—will get into the playoffs with a 9-7 record at best. Either Philadelphia or Dallas will likely be seen as the weakest of the NFL's eight division winners entering the postseason, but where do they stand in the hierarchy right now?

Here are the latest power rankings with Week 15 complete.

        

NFL Power Rankings, Post-MNF

1. Baltimore Ravens

2. Seattle Seahawks

3. Green Bay Packers

4. San Francisco 49ers

5. New Orleans Saints

6. Kansas City Chiefs

7. Buffalo Bills

8. Minnesota Vikings

9. New England Patriots

10. Houston Texans

11. Los Angeles Rams

12. Tennessee Titans

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

14. Dallas Cowboys

15. Philadelphia Eagles

16. Chicago Bears

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

18. Indianapolis Colts

19. Atlanta Falcons

20. Cleveland Browns

21. Oakland Raiders

22. Carolina Panthers

23. Denver Broncos

24. Los Angeles Chargers

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

26. New York Jets

27. Arizona Cardinals

28. New York Giants

29. Miami Dolphins

30. Detroit Lions

31. Washington Redskins

32. Cincinnati Bengals

         

1. Baltimore Ravens

Gail Burton/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens dominated once again, beating the New York Jets 42-21 on Thursday night with relative ease. The result was a three-touchdown victory, but the game wasn't even that close. Baltimore led 35-7 heading into a meaningless fourth quarter—a quarter in which Lamar Jackson was pulled.

Jackson passed Michael Vick for the NFL's single-season rushing record for quarterbacks. He also passed for five more touchdowns to bring his MVP-worthy season total to 33. The second-year quarterback has been virtually unstoppable at the point.

"Here is the MVP of the league. I mean there is no question about that in my mind," Colts head coach Frank Reich said of Jackson, per Kevin Hickey of Colts Wire.

Jackson is rolling, and the Ravens are almost certainly rolling to the top seed in the AFC. They own a one-game lead and a win over the New England Patriots, meaning they only need to beat the stumbling Cleveland Browns in Week 16 to secure it.

      

2. Seattle Seahawks

John Froschauer/Associated Press

The Seattle Seahawks managed to claim the No. 1 seed and the lead in the NFC West with a Week 15 win over the Carolina Panthers. They did so because the San Francisco 49ers suffered a shocking last-second loss against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Seahawks and 49ers now share an 11-3 record, with Seattle owning the head-to-head advantage.

If Seattle is going to hang onto the top spot in the NFC, they'll have to finish the season with two wins or two 49ers losses. This means beating the Arizona Cardinals at home next week, and perhaps more importantly, beating San Francisco in Week 17.

They'll also need a little help from New Orleans. If the Saints and Seahawks both win out, New Orleans could claim the No. 1 seed due to its Week 5 win over Seattle—this would require at least one loss from the Green Bay Packers.

For now, Seattle is in a tremendous position atop the NFC.

       

14. Dallas Cowboys

Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

The Cowboys essentially saved their season with a blowout win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. They now only need to beat the Eagles in Week 16 to take the NFC East and earn a spot in the postseason.

While the Cowboys are low on the power rankings for a potential playoff team, this is a result of their collective effort this season. In short, this isn't a team that can be trusted to play up to its potential weekly.

However, it's worth noting that there probably isn't a team in the NFC that wants to see Dallas if it is playing like it did against the Rams. At no time in that contest did Los Angeles feel like the better team, and the Cowboys should take a ton of confidence out of the win.

"We talked about it this week, about helping each other out, having each other's backs, and that's what you saw," quarterback Dak Prescott said, per Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Defense made plays and we came and capitalized on it and vice versa."

Some folks may not agree with a 9-7 or 8-8 Cowboys team hosting, say, the 12-4 San Francisco 49ers. However, this is a team that can do damage in the postseason if it can maintain cohesion.