NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 16

NFL StaffContributor IDecember 22, 2020

NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 16

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    Brett Duke/Associated Press

    With 15 weeks of the 2020 NFL regular season done, only two more weekends remain before the postseason begins.

    In some respects, the playoff picture is coming into focus. The Kansas City Chiefs cemented their position as the NFL's team to beat with a win over the New Orleans Saints. The Green Bay Packers solidified their hold on the top spot in the NFC with a win over the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. The Buffalo Bills secured their first AFC East title in over two decades with a blowout victory in Denver.

    The Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also strengthened their wild-card cases with Week 15 wins.

    However, there's still much to be decided. The Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans are deadlocked atop the AFC South. There was a shakeup atop the NFC West after the winless New York Jets stunned the Los Angeles Rams. And we still have no idea which bad team will win the NFC (L)East.

    As has been the case every week in 2020, Bleacher Report NFL Analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski have come together to examine the week that was and how it affects the league's pecking order by ranking all 32 teams worst to first.

    We have a new inhabitant of that first spot...not that they want it.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-13)

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    High: 31

    Low: 32

    Last Week: 31

    Week 15 Result: Lost at Baltimore 40-14

    Since stunning the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, the Jacksonville Jaguars had peeled off 12 losses in a row ahead of their Week 15 trip to Baltimore. And in digging a 26-0 hole in the first half against the Ravens, they made it clear that the streak wasn't about to end Sunday.

    The Jaguars just don't do anything well outside of James Robinson running the ball, and he had only 35 yards on 16 carries against Baltimore. The offense is inconsistent and error-prone. The defense allowed 409 yards and permitted the Ravens to convert 8-of-12 third-down attempts, and that was with Lamar Jackson sitting out for most of the fourth quarter.

    The Jaguars already fired general manager Dave Caldwell. Head coach Doug Marrone will likely follow after the season. They're barreling toward one of the first two picks in the 2021 draft—they're currently in line for the No. 1 overall pick—and the elite quarterback prospect that comes with it.

    But whether it's Trevor Lawrence of Clemson or Ohio State's Justin Fields, whomever the Jaguars bring in will face quite the uphill climb to win games with this bunch.

31. New York Jets (1-13)

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    High: 30

    Low: 32

    Last Week: 32

    Week 15 Result: Won at Los Angeles Rams 23-20

    Yes, you read that score right. The New York Jets actually won a game.

    In fact, the Jets did more than just win a game. They led wire-to-wire against a Los Angeles Rams team that came into Week 15 in first place in the NFC West.

    "I’m just so happy for our guys," embattled head coach Adam Gase told reporters after the game. "They’ve done such a great job with how they’ve worked. It’s been too long for us to even remember what a win feels like almost. It was great to see those guys get excited."

    Unfortunately, it also got Gase and the team roasted on social media for winning a game this late in the season. If the Jets and Jaguars both lose out from here, the latter would have the first overall pick in the 2021 draft thanks to a weaker strength of schedule.

    That's the Jets for you. Even when they finally get a win, they wind up losing.

30. Cincinnati Bengals (3-10-1)

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    High: 27

    Low: 31

    Last Week: 30

    Week 15 Result: Won vs. Pittsburgh 27-17

    Break up the Bengals!

    Cincinnati's Monday night stunner against Pittsburgh probably means more for the reeling Steelers than for the Bengals. It has still been another miserable season in the Queen City—one made all the darker when Joe Burrow blew out his knee against Washington a month ago.

    But still—wow.

    To say this was Zac Taylor's biggest win as Bengals head coach is an understatement. This is a job-saver. The Bengals came out fired up. Their game plan (with a third-string quarterback under center, mind you) was outstanding.

    The Bengals outplayed the Steelers from start to finish.

    The best part (other than beating their most hated rival and a team that had won their last 11 meetings) is that this win didn't carry the same aftertaste as the Jets' upset of the Rams.

    The Bengals came into the week with the third pick in 2021. They left it the same way.

    It will take them about four seconds to choose Oregon tackle Penei Sewell on April 29 if he is available.

    You can bank on that.

29. Atlanta Falcons (4-10)

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    High: 28

    Low: 29

    Last Week: 29

    Week 15 Result: Lost vs. Tampa Bay 31-27

    Week 15 was as Atlanta of a game as you're going to see.

    In the first half, the Falcons looked like a playoff team. They outperformed the 8-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on both sides of the ball, building a 17-0 lead at intermission. Halfway through the third quarter, the Falcons led 24-7.

    But as most Falcons fans will tell you, no lead is safe with their team. And in a turn of events that conjured flashbacks to Super Bowl LI, the Falcons allowed Tom Brady to peel off 24 unanswered points to win the game.

    Blown leads and squandered opportunities are a theme with the 4-10 Falcons. With both head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff already gone, Atlanta is heading toward major changes this offseason, perhaps including trading veteran quarterback Matt Ryan.

    But unless Ryan has been playing on both sides of the ball without telling anyone, trading him won't fix the awful defense that has cost the Falcons so many squandered leads in 2020.

    "Just how predictable are the Falcons right now? Even their social media team cracks jokes about the possibility of losing yet another contest after building a lead, which the Falcons did once again against the Buccaneers," Sobleski said. "Atlanta built a 24-7 lead Sunday. The Bucs scored 24 points in the game's final 19 minutes to win the contest. A complete overhaul can't come soon enough."

28. Houston Texans (4-10)

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    High: 26

    Low: 29

    Last Week: 28

    Week 15 Result: Lost at Indianapolis 27-20

    The waning moments of the Houston Texans' Week 15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts sums up the disaster that is their 2020 season.

    After a back-and-forth affair with their AFC South rivals, the Texans were on the cusp of tying the game with less than a minute left. But wide receiver Keke Coutee coughed up the ball near the goal line, costing the Texans the game and wasting a 373-yard passing effort from Deshaun Watson.

    The real kick in the junk for the Texans won't come until after the season ends.

    The sole bright spot to a season that started with playoff aspirations but will end with double-digit losses would have been the high draft pick they could have used for their rebuild. But thanks to Bill O'Brien's machinations as general manager, their first-round pick in 2021 belongs to the Miami Dolphins.

    The Texans have little cap space, even less draft capital, and a long-term outlook that isn't especially good.

27. Detroit Lions (5-9)

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    High: 26

    Low: 29

    Last Week: 25

    Week 15 Result: Lost at Tennessee 46-25

    After losing in lopsided fashion to the Tennessee Titans in Week 15, the Detroit Lions have officially been eliminated from postseason consideration.

    Given how the Lions have fared this season, it feels like they were eliminated from playoff consideration right around Week 3.

    The Lions already fired head coach Matt Patricia. Since they're on the cusp of another rebuild, there has been speculation that they might move on from veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford in the offseason.

    That would be a very Detroit thing to do.

    "Unless the Lions get a Godfather offer, trading Stafford would accomplish exactly nothing," Davenport said. "Detroit won't have a high enough draft pick to land one of the top signal-callers in the 2021 class. And while Stafford might not be Aaron Rodgers, he's a solid NFL starter. The Lions have plenty of areas that they need to repair without fixing stuff that isn't broken. But hey, why not set the franchise back a few more years? Who likes winning anyway?"

26. San Francisco 49ers (5-9)

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    High: 25

    Low: 28

    Last Week: 24

    Week 15 Result: Lost at Dallas 41-33

    No team in the NFL will be happier for the end of the regular season than the San Francisco 49ers.

    It wasn't supposed to be this way. The Niners are the defending NFC champions, and they held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV. They had their sights set firmly on a return trip to the Super Bowl this year.

    Then the injuries started. Too many to list individually. And as they started to pile up, so did the losses.

    After Sunday's sloppy affair in Dallas, the Niners are guaranteed a losing season. Any dwindling hope they had of getting back to the playoffs is toast.

    If there's a silver lining to this disaster of a season, it's that the Niners are much better positioned to compete in 2021 than the typical five-win team. It's just a matter of getting healthy and adding a few pieces with a higher-than-expected draft slot.

25. Los Angeles Chargers (5-9)

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    High: 22

    Low: 27

    Last Week: 26

    Week 15 Result: Won at Las Vegas 30-27 (OT)

    Maybe, just maybe, the Los Angeles Chargers are starting to figure it out.

    After losing close games in just about every way imaginable, the Chargers have now pulled out back-to-back wins at the end of the game. In Week 14, it was a game-winning field goal against the Atlanta Falcons. On Thursday in Las Vegas, it was a touchdown drive in overtime after the Raiders took the lead.

    Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had another big game, throwing for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Those two scores tied Herbert for the rookie record for touchdown passes, and with two games left to play, the No. 6 overall pick is all but certain to set a new high-water mark.

    This winning streak probably isn't enough to save head coach Anthony Lynn's job, which might end up being a good thing. With Herbert in the fold and an offense replete with skill-position talent, the Chargers job should be one of the most attractive openings for offensive-minded head coaching candidates.

24. Dallas Cowboys (5-9)

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    High: 23

    Low: 24

    Last Week: 27

    Week 15 Result: Won vs. San Francisco 41-33

    Well, the Dallas Cowboys finally won back-to back games.

    That their first winning streak came just before Christmas tells you just about all you need to know about the 2020 Cowboys. And it isn't like this victory didn't have warts.

    The Dallas defense was terrible against the injury-ravaged San Francisco 49ers, allowing 458 yards of offense and 33 points. San Francisco had 13 more first downs than Dallas, and were it not for four Niners turnovers, the Cowboys easily could have lost their 10th game of the season.

    Even if Dak Prescott hadn't suffered a season-ending ankle injury, these Cowboys would have been hard to take seriously as a contender. Their defense gets gashed on the ground and through the air on a weekly basis.

    That defense won't be easy to fix in the offseason, either. Dallas will almost be forced to dedicate the 2021 draft to that side of the ball since it won't have much cash to throw around with Prescott up for a new contract.

23. Carolina Panthers (4-10)

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    High: 21

    Low: 22

    Last Week: 22

    Week 15 Result: Lost at Green Bay 24-16

    When Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater fumbled on a quarterback sneak at the Green Bay 1-yard line in the second quarter of Saturday's loss to the Packers, it just about summed up their 2020 season.

    The Panthers have come close in a number of games, only to eventually fall short. 

    After the game, Bridgewater admitted to reporters that unforced errors like Saturday's gaffe have cost the Panthers dearly in 2020:

    "I think we're realizing if we just do it the way we're coached, in all three phases, it works. I think what happens is, we get to that moment sometimes, we think we have to do something a little different, for instance me on the quarterback sneak. And if I continue to just trust my coaching, and do it the way I'm told, then we're celebrating going into the locker room, as opposed to learning new lessons each week."

    There is at least one silver lining to the Week 15 loss: It keeps Carolina in the hunt for a top-five draft pick.

22. Denver Broncos (5-9)

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    High: 19

    Low: 24

    Last Week: 19

    Week 15 Result: Lost vs. Buffalo 48-19

    The Denver Broncos are a Mile High mess.

    After getting waxed at home on Saturday by the Buffalo Bills, the Broncos are assured of a fourth straight losing season, which hasn't happened in Denver since the AFL-NFL merger. If they lose either of their last two games, they will amass double-digit losses for the third time in the last four years.

    And as another disappointing season winds down for the Broncos, something is becoming painfully evident: Drew Lock isn't "the guy."

    Lock made his 16th career start against Buffalo, and it wasn't good: 20 completions in 32 attempts for 132 yards and a score. He also committed his 16th turnover of the season, losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown to blow the game wide open.

    "The Broncos are stuck in NFL purgatory," Davenport said. "They're nowhere near good enough to threaten the Chiefs in the AFC West, but they win just enough games to slide too far down in the draft to land an elite quarterback prospect. So instead of salivating over a Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, Denver fans get to look forward to another offseason of being connected to every veteran retread who might be available."

21. Minnesota Vikings (6-8)

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    High: 18

    Low: 25

    Last Week: 20

    Week 15 Result: Lost vs. Chicago 33-27

    The Minnesota Vikings are done. Or to be completely accurate, they're 97 percent done.

    According to FiveThirtyEight, the Vikings have a 2 percent chance of advancing to the postseason after their disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. All they have to do is win out. Plus the Arizona Cardinals have to lose their last two. Plus the Chicago Bears have to lose at least once.

    No problem, right?

    In reality, the Vikings are done, and they have been for some time. The offense is talented but inconsistent. The defense is consistently bad.

    Given how badly the season has come off the rails, there have been rumblings regarding the job security of head coach Mike Zimmer, who is the longest-tenured head coach in the division.

    Given that Zimmer is now 2-8 all-time against Bears head coach Matt Nagy and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, that speculation might not be going away any time soon.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1)

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    High: 17

    Low: 23

    Last Week: 23

    Week 15 Result: Lost at Arizona 33-26

    If there was any doubt that the Philadelphia Eagles have a full-blown QB controversy on their hands, that was laid to rest Sunday in Arizona.

    Granted, the Eagles didn't get a win against the Cardinals. But for the second time in as many weeks, Jalen Hurts played well, finishing with 338 passing yards, 63 rushing yards, four total touchdowns and a passer rating of 102.3.

    "Something very important happened in the desert," Sobleski said. "No, not an Eagles win. Don't be ridiculous. However, the organization appears to have found its franchise quarterback. Too bad it paid the wrong guy first. But Carson Wentz's future with the team is a matter for another day.

    "Right now, Hurts is exceeding all expectations. He became the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 500 passing yards and 150 rushing yards in his first two career starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN's Tim McManus). This season may not have gone how the Eagles planned, but Hurts' emergence is significant for their future endeavors."

    The problem for the Eagles now? Wentz's contract, which carries dead cap hits of $59.2 million in 2021 if they cut him and almost $34 million if they trade him before June 1.

    That's not happening.

19. New York Giants (5-9)

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    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

    High: 18

    Low: 20

    Last Week: 18

    Week 15 Result: lost vs. Cleveland 20-6

    At this point, it's legitimately difficult to decide whether the New York Giants should be happy or dismayed about how the past several weeks have played out.

    On one hand, the NFL is a results-driven business. And the first season of the Joe Judge era is going to end exactly the way as the three that came before it: with a losing record.

    However, there are some positive signs in Judge's first season. The New York defense has improved as the year wore on, in no small part because defensive end Leonard Williams has finally started to play like a first-round pick.

    If the Giants can get healthy offensively, they appear to be capable of contending in the league's weakest division in 2021.

    But in 2020, it's likely game over.

    "Maybe we got a little too excited about the Giants, who have one impressive win all season and only two outside of the NFC East," Gagnon said. "They've been held to fewer than 20 points in four consecutive games, and they've been outscored 46-13 in back-to-back one-sided losses. They're going to get hammered in Baltimore as their season essentially comes to an end in Week 16."

18. New England Patriots (6-8)

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    High: 18

    Low: 20

    Last Week: 17

    Week 15 Result: Lost at Miami 22-12

    It's official. The dynasty is dead.

    Since Tom Brady took over as their quarterback in 2001, the New England Patriots missed the playoffs only twice. The last time was all the way back in 2008.

    Well, Brady is in Tampa now. And after losing to the Dolphins in Miami on Sunday, the Patriots are officially out of the postseason.

    After the game, head coach Bill Belichick didn't mince words when asked about his team's performance.

    "We didn't do anything well enough to win the game," he told reporters. "[I'm] disappointed, but we didn't deserve to win today. I have to coach better, we have to play better, we have to tackle better, a combination of all of those things."

    This isn't just a "now" problem, either. It's obvious that Cam Newton is not the long-term answer under center for the Patriots. New England may have the weakest wide receiver corps in the league. And all of the personnel losses on defense are taking a toll.

    Those issues aren't going to be fixed overnight.

17. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    High: 13

    Low: 20

    Last Week: 16

    Week 15 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Chargers 30-27 (OT)

    The Raiders are officially in free fall.

    A month ago, they appeared to be headed for the postseason. But after their sloppy loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in overtime, the Raiders are one Hail Mary pass against the New York Jets away from having dropped five games in a row.

    The defense is such a hot mess that the Raiders fired Paul Guenther last week. But Rod Marinelli's first game as defensive coordinator didn't go any better than Guenther's last one. The Raiders allowed 402 yards of offense, and Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert shredded them through the air.

    As if the Raiders didn't already have enough problems, starting quarterback Derek Carr strained his groin in the first half of Thursday's game and did not return. Backup quarterback Marcus Mariota played well in relief of Carr, but losing him can't help the Raiders' rapidly fading postseason chances.

    And based on what head coach Jon Gruden told reporters regarding Carr's injury, it sounds like it will be Mariota under center when the Raiders face the Miami Dolphins in Week 16.

16. Chicago Bears (7-7)

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    High: 16

    Low: 16

    Last Week: 21

    Week 15 Result: Won at Minnesota 33-27

    The Chicago Bears just won't die.

    After they followed their 5-1 start with an ugly six-game skid, the 5-7 Bears appeared to be finished. But after winning at Minnesota on Sunday, they're back to .500 and on the fringes of playoff contention.

    Although it sounds strange to say, Chicago has its offense to thank for that.

    No one is going to confuse the Bears with the Kansas City Chiefs. But David Montgomery gashed Minnesota for a season-high 146 rushing yards and two scores, which is his third 100-yard game on the ground over the last four weeks. Mitchell Trubisky didn't light it up through the air, but he threw for 202 yards and posted a passer rating of 97.7.

    The Bears still face an uphill climb to make the postseason, including a Week 17 meeting with the Green Bay Packers. But given how dismal they looked offensively a few weeks ago, they've made measurable progress in a relatively short period of time.

15. Washington Football Team (6-8)

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    High: 14

    Low: 15

    Last Week: 14

    Week 15 Result: Lost vs. Seattle 20-15

    Week 15 presented the Washington Football Team with both a challenge and an opportunity.

    Washington's recent win streak had vaulted it into first place in the NFC East, but beating the Seahawks would do more than just get it to .500 on the season. It would help to establish the WFT's legitimacy as a tough out in the postseason.

    That didn't happen. Washington fell behind the Seahawks 20-3, and its comeback attempt came up short.

    The game exposed some realities about this team. Washington's defense held Seattle's high-octane offense to only 302 yards on the day and 5-of-12 on third down. But Washington's offense isn't built to play catch-up, particularly with starting quarterback Alex Smith and running back Antonio Gibson sidelined.

    Now, Washington has precious little margin for error atop the NFL's worst division. Fortunately, the WFT closes the season with a home date against the Carolina Panthers and a road game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

    "Welp, someone's gonna win that pathetic NFC East," Sobleski wrote. "I guess Washington will probably do so by default. The WFT could have finished with an above-.500 record had it won out, but Ron Rivera's squad blew it with Sunday's loss to Seattle. Washington can still reach 8-8, but does anyone actually expect that to happen? Of course not. Enjoy the division title if you actually win it. Whatever."

14. Arizona Cardinals (8-6)

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    High: 13

    Low: 15

    Last Week: 15

    Week 15 Result: Won vs. Philadelphia 33-26

    After dropping four of five games to fall to 6-6 on the season, the Arizona Cardinals had their backs against the wall. They briefly fell behind the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC's wild-card race.

    But thanks to a massive game from young quarterback Kyler Murray on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cardinals have peeled off two in a row and now sit one game ahead of the Chicago Bears for the seventh seed in the NFC.

    Murray was masterful against Philly, finishing with 406 passing yards, 29 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. Still, the Cardinals will have to keep their guard up. Their Week 16 home date with the San Francisco 49ers isn't a gimme, and the regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams could have major postseason implications.

    "The Cardinals appeared to be folding up as the season hit the three-quarter pole, but they deserve a lot of credit for digging in and beating two desperate NFC East teams in as many weeks," Gagnon said. "I still need proof they can go toe-to-toe with an actual contender, but their recent rebound speaks volumes."

13. Los Angeles Rams (9-5)

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    High: 13

    Low: 14

    Last Week: 9

    Week 15 Result: Lost vs. New York Jets 23-20

    The Rams suffered the most embarrassing loss of the season Sunday against the previously winless New York Jets. They entered the game as 17.5-point favorites, yet they fell into a 20-3 hole before staging a comeback attempt that eventually floundered.

    After the game, Rams head coach Sean McVay acknowledged that the loss was a punch in the gut, but he said the team wouldn't let this disappointment define it.

    "This loss will demoralize us only as much as we allow it to. It's going to be embarrassing, sick to your stomach about it," McVay told reporters. "… That was very humbling, it's going to be humbling, but we're going to move forward. That's exactly what we'll do. That's all I know how to do."

    Still one of our analysts sees the game less as a fluke and more as an indictment of a flawed Rams team that isn't as good as its record.

    "I have refused to believe in the Rams and their shaky quarterback all season long, and recent stumbles against the 49ers and Jets have provided proof that my lack of trust was rational," Gagnon said. "I won't be surprised if they're smacked down in Seattle and forced to settle for the No. 6 or 7 seed in the NFC."

12. Miami Dolphins (9-5)

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    High: 11

    Low: 12

    Last Week: 13

    Week 15 Result: Won vs. New England 22-12

    The Miami Dolphins are two weeks away from one of the more improbable postseason runs in recent memory.

    Just last season, the Dolphins effectively blew their roster up, shedding a ton of veteran talent to hoard draft capital. With their quarterback of the future now in hand in Tua Tagovailoa, the 9-5 Dolphins would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

    "It's always good to win, that's why these guys put all the blood, sweat and tears in," head coach Brian Flores told reporters after Sunday's win over the New England Patriots. "I'm happy we can bring some joy to our fans, because they deserve it."

    The only thing that felt better was getting the win that knocked longtime AFC East bully New England (and former boss Bill Belichick) out of the playoffs.

    Still, the Dolphins can't take a deep breath just yet, as neither game left on the schedule is a gimme. The Las Vegas Raiders are clinging to faint playoff hopes, while the Buffalo Bills could be battling for playoff seeding.

    "These Dolphins are too limited offensively to make a deep playoff run in 2020," Davenport said. "But the progress they have made since hiring Flores is remarkable. Add in that they have Houston's first-rounder in 2021, and the future is bright on South Beach."

11. Indianapolis Colts (10-4)

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    High: 9

    Low: 10

    Last Week: 12

    Week 15 Result: Won vs. Houston 27-20

    If the Indianapolis Colts are able to overtake the Tennessee Titans and win the AFC South, they will have star linebacker Darius Leonard to thank for it.

    Philip Rivers was steady but unspectacular in Sunday's win over the Houston Texans, throwing for 228 yards and two scores. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor had another good game, amassing 95 total yards and a touchdown.

    But the Houston Texans wouldn't go away, and it appeared that wide receiver Keke Coutee was about to score the game-tying touchdown with less than a minute to go. That is, until Leonard came slashing in and punched the ball loose. The Colts recovered in the end zone, and that was that.

    At 10-4, the Colts are leading the way in the AFC wild-card race, but they're also tied with the Tennessee Titans atop the division. Week 16 will go a long way toward determining who wins the AFC South, as the Titans visit the 11-3 Green Bay Packers, while the Colts travel to Pittsburgh to battle the 11-3 Steelers.

    "The biggest question about the Colts' viability as a top contender revolved around Rivers," Sobleski said. "Would he make the key mistakes in crucial moments we've seen throughout his career? Instead, the 39-year-old has played mistake-free football in recent weeks, with a 74.7 completion percentage and six-to-zero touchdown-to-interception ratio against the Houston Texans (twice) and Las Vegas Raiders with the playoffs on the line. Add a strong ground attack and defense to the mix, and the Colts look like one of the NFL's toughest opponents right now."

10. Seattle Seahawks (10-4)

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    Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

    High: 8

    Low: 10

    Last Week: 8

    Week 15 Result: Won at Washington 20-15

    The good news is that the Seattle Seahawks were able to gut out a Week 15 win over a Washington Football Team that had been on a roll of late.

    The bad news is that the Seahawks needed to gut out a win over Washington at all.

    Seattle looked to be cruising after building a 20-3 lead early in the second half. But after dominating the first 35 minutes of the game, its offense went completely dormant the rest of the way.

    An excellent Washington defense deserves its share of the credit for that. But Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll can't be pleased with his team gaining only 302 yards of total offense and allowing Washington to convert 10 of its 17 third-down attempts.

    "The Seahawks aren't easy to figure out," Davenport said. "When they're on, they look like a team that could win Super Bowl LV. But when they're off (as they were in the second half Sunday), they look like a team that could have trouble winning a road game in the playoffs."

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5)

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    High: 8

    Low: 10

    Last Week: 11

    Week 15 Result: Won at Atlanta 31-27

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a roller-coaster in 2020.

    One week, they look like a juggernaut. The next, they look like a flawed team that isn't a real threat in the NFC.

    For much of Sunday's game in Atlanta, the Buccaneers looked like the latter. The Falcons dominated the first half and led by 17 points in the third quarter.

    But the Falcons never saw a lead they couldn't squander, and Sunday was no different. The Buccaneers came roaring back late, and when Tom Brady found Antonio Brown for his first score with the team, Tampa pulled ahead for good.

    While the Buccaneers got the win they needed to stay in the thick of the wild-card chase, at least one of our analysts doesn't give them much of a chance once the postseason gets going.

    "The Buccaneers have the offensive firepower and the defensive personnel to hang with just about any team in the league," Davenport said. "But they haven't shown much indication this year that they can put together three solid efforts in a row to make the Super Bowl. They may get an upset win in the Wild Card Round, but their inconsistency is going to be their undoing sooner or later."

8. Tennessee Titans (10-4)

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    High: 7

    Low: 8

    Last Week: 7

    Week 15 Result: Won vs. Detroit 46-25

    Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a historic game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, doing something (per NFL Research) that no signal-caller in franchise history ever has: throw for three touchdowns in a game while running for two more.

    However, the 32-year-old said after the game that a big stat line in a win over a bad Lions team isn't close to Tennessee's primary goal in 2020.

    "Ten wins means nothing," Tannehill told reporters. "We have bigger goals than that. We're just going to find a way to end each week 1-0. We did that. We're successful. Now we have to try to find a way to do that next week."

    The win keeps the Titans in first place in the AFC South with two games remaining. But the Indianapolis Colts are also 10-4, and with the Titans headed on the road Sunday to battle the NFC-leading Green Bay Packers, Tannehill and Tennessee will need to bring their A game in Week 16 as well.

    "The Titans have averaged 37.4 points per game the last five weeks, a stretch that includes road wins over likely AFC playoff teams Baltimore and Indianapolis," Gagnon said. "If they can slay Green Bay at Lambeau in Week 16, they might leapfrog the Bills, Ravens, Steelers and Browns in my rankings."

7. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    High: 5

    Low: 12

    Last Week: 10

    Week 15 Result: Won vs. Jacksonville 40-14

    Last week, the Ravens got a desperately needed win against the Cleveland Browns in the best regular-season game of the year.

    They needed a win Sunday against the Jaguars just as badly, but the victory was a lot easier to get.

    Playing a hapless Jaguars team that has now dropped 13 in a row, the Ravens were in cruise control throughout. Lamar Jackson threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, finishing with 278 total yards. Baltimore racked up 159 yards and two scores on the ground. The Ravens defense allowed only 267 yards of offense, sacked Gardner Minshew II five times and shut the Jags out in the first half.

    With the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals left on the regular-season schedule, the Ravens are in good shape to make the playoffs again. And the beating that they laid on the Jaguars sent a notice to the rest of the AFC that no one should want to face them in the first round.

    "Nearly left for dead a few weeks ago, the Ravens have recovered and might actually be peaking at the right time," Gagnon said. "They've now averaged 40.3 points per game over the course of a three-game winning streak. We'll see if that can translate to success in January for once."

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    High: 4

    Low: 11

    Last Week: 5

    Week 15 Result: Lost at Cincinnati 27-17

    What the hell is going on with Pittsburgh?

    After peeling off a franchise-record 11 straight wins to open the season, the Steelers have lost three straight. Losing to a Washington team with a formidable defense was one thing. And there was no shame in falling to the AFC East champion Bills.

    But losing to a two-win team starting its third quarterback of the season?

    That's not good.

    Per ESPN Stats and Info (via ESPN's Brooke Pryor), in the first half Pittsburgh had the fewest passing yards and yards per pass of Ben Roethlisberger's career. It tied the mark for fewest first downs and most turnovers in a first half with Roethlisberger as starter.

    Against the Bengals.

    Head coach Mike Tomlin didn't mince words in his postgame presser.

    "We've got a lot of work to do," Tomlin said. "We're not a good football team right now."

    He's not wrong. A few weeks ago, the Steelers appeared headed for the AFC's top seed. Now, with two games left against 10-win teams, their AFC North title is in jeopardy.

5. Cleveland Browns (10-4)

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    High: 5

    Low: 7

    Last Week: 6

    Week 15 Result: Won at New York Giants 20-6

    After losing a wild, back-and-forth affair with the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14, Sunday night's trip to New York was going to be one of two things for the Cleveland Browns: an opportunity for a rebound or an indictment that they were improved but not yet ready to take on the big dogs in the AFC.

    Beating a flawed Giants team doesn't completely erase the doubts regarding the Browns. But the ease with which they handled the G-Men speaks well to the progress they have made.

    "Two straight prime-time games showed exactly who the Browns now are: one of the league's better teams," Sobleski said. "Cleveland's defense remains a major work in progress, but Baker Mayfield has played as well as any quarterback in recent weeks, and the Browns' accompanying run game can shorten any contest. The Browns...*gasp*...are actually good, and a 10-4 record has them all but secure in their first playoff appearance in 18 years."

    With a victory next week against the one-win Jets, Cleveland can capture its first 11-win season since 1994. That just so happens to be the last year that the Browns won a playoff game.

4. New Orleans Saints (10-4)

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    Brett Duke/Associated Press

    High: 4

    Low: 6

    Last Week: 4

    Week 15 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City 32-29

    It might seem odd to be worried about a 10-win New Orleans Saints team.

    But after back-to-back losses all but ensured that New Orleans can't obtain the NFC's No. 1 seed, there's room for concern with the Saints.

    Admittedly, there are mitigating factors. Drew Brees played Sunday for the first time since he fractured 11 ribs a month ago. The Saints played the Chiefs without top wide receiver Michael Thomas, who landed on injured reserve with a nagging ankle injury.

    Saints head coach Sean Payton said the team is playing the long game with their star wideout.

    "The challenge is he's got one of those nagging injuries where you want to see an upward curve with the recovery, but as long as he's playing, it's hard for that to happen," Payton told reporters. "So, I think we're doing the smart thing with Mike."

    It may well be the wise course of action. But the Saints have already dropped to the No. 2 seed and sit in a virtual tie with the Seahawks for No. 3. Fortunately, New Orleans' closing slate is softer than Seattle's.

3. Buffalo Bills (11-3)

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    Justin Edmonds/Associated Press

    High: 3

    Low: 3

    Last Week: 3

    Week 15 Result: Won at Denver 48-19

    The last time the Buffalo Bills were champions of the AFC East, Bill Clinton was in his first term as president. The top grossing movie that year was Batman Forever (the Val Kilmer one). The highest-selling album was Cracked Rear View by Hootie and the Blowfish. Bills quarterback Josh Allen wasn't even born yet.

    In other words: 1995 was a long time ago.

    Twenty-five years later, the Bills are kings of the division once again after blasting the Broncos in Denver. But as Allen told his teammates after the game, the Bills have their sights set higher than just an AFC East title.

    "We did something that nobody's done in a long time," Allen told reporters. "Understand what's at stake, though. Understand what there is out there more for us. This hat's fine and dandy. This hat and shirt's fine and dandy. I want the one that says Super Bowl champs."

    Given that the Bills are playing arguably their best football of the season as the postseason nears. Allen's aspiration isn't unreasonable.

2. Green Bay Packers (11-3)

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    High: 2

    Low: 2

    Last Week: 2

    Week 15 Result: Won vs. Carolina 24-16

    After defeating the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night, the Green Bay Packers are once again the champions of the NFC North. They also maintained their hold on the top spot in the NFC playoffs.

    But after Green Bay managed only 49 total yards in the second half, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn't especially pleased with the team's effort in the victory:

    "This is one of those disappointing wins the way that we played in the second half. So I have a sour taste in my mouth how we played in the second half. We've got to get back to the drawing board. That kind of football is not going to beat a lot of teams. We won the game, we're 11-3. It's been a successful season so far, but we've got plans about making a run and the way we played on offense we're not going to beat anybody in the playoffs."

    It's a brutally honest take from the first quarterback in NFL history to accrue three seasons with 40 or more touchdown passes. Rodgers isn't wrong, either.

    To hang on to the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Packers need to play far better in Week 16 against the Tennessee Titans.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-1)

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    Brett Duke/Associated Press

    High: 1

    Low: 1

    Last Week: 1

    Week 15 Result: Won at New Orleans 32-29

    The Kansas City Chiefs have established that they are the team to beat in the NFL. That was evident before they traveled to New Orleans and beat the Saints in Week 15.

    But even players who get to see Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes practice his craft on a daily basis are taken aback by just how gifted he is as a player.

    "Patrick is more impressive than I could imagine," running back Le'Veon Bell said after the game. "He's even more impressive in person. ... I'm fortunate to be his teammate."

    The Chiefs haven't quite sewn up the No. 1 seed in the AFC yet, but they will be a massive favorite in both of their remaining games.

    However, passing that final test in the Big Easy came at a price. Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a high ankle sprain late in the game that will reportedly sideline him through at least the end of the regular season.

    Ask not for whom the Bell tolls. Now it tolls for Le'Veon.