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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Reaction and Standings Ahead of Saturday's Games

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2019

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 15:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans warms up prior to a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

With two weeks remaining in the 2019 NFL season, much remains unsettled at the top. Only three divisions have been decided—the AFC North, AFC West and NFC South—and all four first-round byes are there for the taking.

Eight teams have secured postseason berths. Another nine remain in play for the postseason.

These final two weeks are going to be a veritable thrill ride, and it all kicks off with a trio of Saturday games. Each of them carries potential playoff implications.

How does the league stack up heading into that final week? Let's take a look.

         

Playoff Picture

AFC

Baltimore Ravens 12-2

New England Patriots 11-3

Kansas City Chiefs 10-4

Houston Texans 9-5

Buffalo Bills  10-4

Pittsburgh Steelers 8-6

Tennessee Titans 8-6

Cleveland Browns 6-8

Oakland Raiders 6-8

NFC

Seattle Seahawks 11-3

Green Bay Packers 11-3

New Orleans Saints 11-3

Dallas Cowboys 7-7

San Francisco 49ers 11-3

Minnesota Vikings 10-4

Los Angeles Rams 8-6

Philadelphia Eagles 7-7

         

Week 16 Power Rankings

1. Baltimore Ravens

2. Seattle Seahawks

3. San Francisco 49ers

4. New Orleans Saints

5. Kansas City Chiefs

6. Green Bay Packers

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

          

6. Green Bay Packers

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers appear to be one of the more dangerous teams in the NFC. They have a future Hall of Famer at quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, an exciting young play-caller in Matt LaFleur and an aggressive defense that can frustrate opponents more than raw numbers might suggest.

On Monday, though, we may not even consider Green Bay the best team in the NFC North.

The reality is that the perception of the Packers changes weekly and upon the situation. Yes, if they're playing hosts in the postseason—and Green Bay is still alive for the No. 1 seed—the Packers will be tough to beat.

However, they could lose to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday and wind up the fourth seed—or even the sixth, if they lose and Minnesota wins in Week 17.

Would the Packers be as dangerous as a road team in the playoffs? Perhaps not. They've gotten blown out twice this season on the road, once to the San Francisco 49ers, a team we know will be in the postseason.

How the Packers perform in Minnesota Monday could dramatically change how they are viewed going into January.

        

9. New England Patriots

Gary Landers/Associated Press

The New England Patriots find themselves near the bottom of the top 10. Given the team's offensive struggles, that might even feel generous.

The Patriots have scored an average of just 20.3 points per game over their last six. If we take out a 34-point outing against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, they've averaged just 17.6 points since Week 9. With offensive powerhouses like the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs—two teams New England has lost to—in the AFC field, that's a problem.

"I think it's going to cost them," former NFL linebacker James Harrison said on FS1.

It's impossible to count out New England because it has a championship-caliber defense, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Defense and playoff experience can go a long way in the postseason.

However, the Patriots are going to struggle in a shootout situation, and they've shown essentially no ability to mount a comeback in 2019. Can they still scratch, scheme and push their way to a Super Bowl appearance? Of course, but they aren't going to make it look easy.

          

10. Houston Texans

James Kenney/Associated Press

In a sense, the Houston Texans are the opposite of the Patriots. With players like Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Carlos Hyde and Will Fuller V, their explosive offense is a heck of a lot of fun to watch. Only six teams have produced more yards this season than Houston, which has averaged 376.9 of them.

However, the Texans defense is as unreliable as New England's offense, perhaps more so. It's particularly poor against the pass, allowing the fifth-most yards in the league through the air.

While the Patriots could struggle to keep up with some of the AFC's top offenses, the Texans could struggle to stop them.

That defense will be tested by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday and tested hard. While the Buccaneers will be without wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, quarterback Jameis Winston has been slinging it lately. Over his last two games—one without Evans and largely without Godwin—he has passed for 914 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

There's a very real possibility that the Texans don't even leave Tampa Bay with a victory, which would leave the door open for the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South.