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NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Predicting Standings After Season Finales

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2019

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
John Hefti/Associated Press

With just one game remaining in Week 16, the 2019 NFL season is nearly at a close. Of the 12 available playoff spots, 10 have been decided. While there is still some shuffling to be done at the top of each conference, most of the league is already playing for next season.

Here, we'll take a look at where teams stand in terms of power rankings—based on factors like record, recent performances and team health. We'll also dig into some of the top remaining storylines for the regular season and make predictions for the final AFC and NFC standings.

                

NFL Week 17 Power Rankings

1. Baltimore Ravens

2. San Francisco 49ers

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3. New Orleans Saints

4. Kansas City Chiefs

5. New England Patriots

6. Seattle Seahawks

7. Buffalo Bills

8. Minnesota Vikings

9. Green Bay Packers

10. Houston Texans

11. Philadelphia Eagles

12. Tennessee Titans

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

14. Dallas Cowboys

15. Indianapolis Colts

16. Los Angeles Rams

17. Oakland Raiders

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

19. Atlanta Falcons

20. Chicago Bears

21. Denver Broncos

22. New York Jets

23. Arizona Cardinals

24. Cleveland Browns

25. Miami Dolphins

26. Carolina Panthers

27. Los Angeles Chargers

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

29. New York Giants

30. Washington Redskins

31. Detroit Lions

32. Cincinnati Bengals

     

The Battle for the NFC North

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

The final game in Week 16 is a big one. On Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers will do battle for the top spot in the NFC North—sort of. With a win, Minnesota can even the records, but the Packers will own the tiebreaker via the division record.

If the Vikings are going to win the NFC North, they'll need to win out while the Packers lose their final two. With the Packers playing the staggering Detroit Lions in Week 17, that isn't likely to happen.

However, the Vikings aren't likely to rest their starters in the final week, even if they have a slim shot at the division title.

"We like to win around here, so let's go win," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said, via the team's official website.

The Vikings still have a chance to grab the conference's No. 5 seed and a date with either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Dallas Cowboys.

     

A Showdown for the NFC West

The Vikings still have a chance to take the top wild-card spot because the Seattle Seahawks have stepped into the slide zone. They've lost two of their past three games and haven't seen particularly great play out of quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson averaged just 207 yards in the two losses with one touchdown and one interception.

Seattle still has a chance to win the NFC West, of course, because of its earlier head-to-head win over the San Francisco 49ers. If the Seahawks can repeat the process in the season finale, they'll take the division and, likely, a first-round bye.

If San Francisco wins, though, it will take the top spot in the conference while also knocking Seattle down to the No. 6 seed. Given Seattle's struggles at home this season—the Seahawks have gone 4-3 so far—the 49ers should be considered the favorites for the finale.

This means we'll likely see the Seahawks visiting Green Bay to open the postseason.

        

The Race for the AFC's Final Spot

Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

The No. 6 seed remains open in the AFC, and the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders are alive to claim it. Oakland needs serious help—it needs a win, an Indianapolis Colts win and losses by Tennessee and Pittsburgh—but the scenario isn't entirely unrealistic.

A lot could come down to whether the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens rest their starters against the Texans and Steelers, respectively. Houston has already secured the AFC South, while Baltimore has secured the No. 1 seed in the conference.

If the Titans win or the Steelers lose, Tennessee is in. If the Titans lose and the Steelers win, Pittsburgh gets a playoff berth. Fortunately for Tennessee—and unfortunately for Pittsburgh—the Texans are likely to rest stars like Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and Co. in the finals. There's nothing to gain by playing them, aside from a slim shot at the No. 3 seed.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh hasn't ruled out playing his starters against the Steelers.

"We have to improve and get better," he said, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk. "That's what matters most."

Playing starters for at least part of the game makes more sense for the Ravens, who will be on bye in the opening week of the postseason. Going three weeks without game action could induce the sort of rust best avoided in the playoffs. This makes Pittsburgh a long shot to get in the dance.

     

Predictions for Final Standings

AFC

1. Baltimore Ravens 14-2

2. New England Patriots 13-3

3. Kansas City Chiefs 12-4

4. Houston Texans 10-6

5. Buffalo Bills 11-5

6. Tennessee Titans 9-7

7. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8

8. Indianapolis Colts 8-8

9. Oakland Raiders 7-9

10. Denver Broncos 7-9

11. Cleveland Browns 6-10

12. New York Jets 6-10

13. Los Angeles Chargers 5-11

14. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

15. Miami Dolphins 4-12

16. Cincinnati Bengals 2-14

NFC

1. San Francisco 49ers 13-3

2. New Orleans Saints 13-3

3. Green Bay Packers 12-4

4. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7

5. Minnesota Vikings 12-4

6. Seattle Seahawks 11-5

7. Los Angeles Rams 8-8

8. Dallas Cowboys 8-8

9. Chicago Bears 7-9

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8

11. Arizona Cardinals 6-9-1

12. Atlanta Falcons 6-10

13. Carolina Panthers 5-11

14. New York Giants 4-12

15. Detroit Lions 3-12-1

16. Washington Redskins 3-13

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