Packer Peter’s Power Rankings After Week 16
Our top two teams (Saints, Rams) from last week won whilst our no.’s 3 (Chiefs) and 4 (Chargers) both lost. The top 3 remain the same as last week while the Chargers slip just a little. Houston, Dallas and Seattle all qualified for the play-offs.
Two of the bottom four teams lost (Cardinals, 49ers) whilst two came up with surprising wins (Raiders, Jaguars). The Browns, Redskins, Dolphins and Panthers were all eliminated from play-off contention this week.
The biggest risers this week are: Atlanta (up 6), Seattle (up 3) and Green Bay and Jacksonville (both up 2)
The biggest fallers this week are: Pittsburgh (down 3) and Denver and Detroit (both down 2)
Qualified for the Play-offs
AFC (4) – Kansas City, New England, Los Angeles Chargers, Houston
NFC (5) – New Orleans, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle
In Contention for the Play-offs
AFC (4) – Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Tennessee
NFC (2) – Minnesota, Philadelphia
Eliminated from Play-off Contention
AFC (8) – Oakland, Buffalo, Jacksonville, New York Jets, Cincinnati, Denver, Cleveland, Miami
NFC (9) – San Francisco, Arizona, Green Bay, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Detroit, Carolina, Washington
1. New Orleans Saints (13-2) (last week’s ranking: 1)
The Saints secured the no.1 seed in the NFC with a hard fought 31-28 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. After struggling for three weeks, the Saints passing offense finally got back on track as Drew Brees threw for 326 yards and a touchdown – the go-ahead (winning) score to Michael Thomas. Thomas caught 11 passes for 109 yards and that touchdown. New Orleans’ running game still didn’t get on track, as they ran for just 57 yards. The race for the NFC Championship now runs through the Superdome.
Next up: The Saints host the Carolina Panthers.
2. Los Angeles Rams (12-3) (last week’s ranking: 2)
Standing in for the injured Todd Gurley (inactive with a knee injury), C.J. Anderson rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown as the Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals 31-9…The Rams racked up a total of 269 yards on the ground, including 139 in the first half. The win kept the Rams in pole position for the no.2 seed in the NFC. Jared Goff had an efficient outing passing for 216 yards and a touchdown to Robert Woods. On the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Donald had a huge game with 3 more sacks. Los Angeles will be the no.2 seed in the NFC with a win in week 17 against the 49ers or with a Bears loss to the Vikings.
Next up: The Rams host the San Francisco 49ers.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) (last week’s ranking: 3)
The Chiefs fell to a 38-31 defeat to the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. Kansas City could have wrapped up the AFC West title with a win (following the Chargers loss on Saturday) but it wasn’t to be this week. Patrick Mahomes had another outstanding outing passing for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns (he now has 48 for the season) and Damien Williams rushed for 103 yards, but it wasn’t quite enough. Defensively, Chris Jones had 1.5 more sacks – Jones now has sacks in 11 straight game…an NFL record…and has 15.5 for the season. Kansas City will win the AFC West division title and wrap up the AFC’s no.1 seed spot with a win this coming Sunday.
Next up: The Chiefs host the Oakland Raiders.
4. Chicago Bears (11-4) (last week’s ranking: 5)
Mitch Trubisky completed 25 of 29 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown as the Bears overcame a tough San Francisco 49ers team 14-9, and in the process kept themselves in contention for no.2 seed in the NFC. Bears receivers Anthony Miller and Josh Bellamy were both ejected from the game after a skirmish that included 49ers CB Richard Sherman, who was also ejected. The Bears will be the no.2 seed in the NFC with a win in week 17 against the Vikings coupled with a Rams loss to the 49ers.
Next up: The Bears travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) (last week’s ranking: 4)
In a mild upset, the Chargers went down on Saturday Night to the Baltimore Ravens 22-10 and with the loss they fell a further step behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the race for the AFC West title and no.1 seed in the AFC. Philip Rivers had a strangely subdued outing, completing just 23 of 37 passes for 181 yards with 2 interceptions (including his first pass of the game). The Chargers had no more success on the ground, as the returning Melvin Gordon was held to just 41 yards rushing and Los Angeles, as a whole, had just 51.
Next up: The Chargers travel to Denver to play the Broncos.
6. New England Patriots (10-5) (last week’s ranking: 6)
The Patriots moved past the Bills 24-12 to win their 10thstraight division title and 16thin the last 18 seasons. Tom Brady struggled somewhat against Buffalo but was helped out by New England’s running game which had a massive 273 yards on the ground (led by Sony Michel with 116). 179 of the Patriots rushing yards came in the first half. Despite his tough day, Brady went over 4,000 passing yards for the season – the tenth time he had achieved this feat in his career.
On the defensive side of the ball, New England came up with 2 interceptions of Josh Allen which helped to secure the victory. On the downside, RB/WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson left the game with a knee injury and never returned – his status going forwards was unknown at the time of writing. With the Texans loss to the Eagles, the Patriots have moved into prime position for the no.2 seed in the AFC – they will secure that spot (along with a first round bye) if they beat the Jets in week 17.
Next up: The Patriots host the New York Jets.
7. Baltimore Ravens (9-6) (last week’s ranking: 8)
The Ravens took a huge step towards securing a playoff spot in the NFC with a massive 22-10 in Los Angeles against the Chargers on Saturday. Lamar Jackson threw for 202 yards and ran for 39 more as he won for the fifth time in six starts. Baltimore picked up 159 yards total on the ground with Gus Edwards running for 92. The Ravens defense had a strong night, holding the Chargers to just 198 yards of total offense, forced 3 turnovers (including 2 interceptions) and had 4 sacks.
Baltimore’s win coupled with Pittsburgh’s defeat, puts the Ravens in prime position to win the AFC North crown. The Ravens will take the division title this coming weekend with a win in week 17 over the Cleveland Browns or with a Steelers loss to the Bengals.
Next up: The Ravens host the Cleveland Browns.
8. Houston Texans (10-5) (last week’s ranking: 7)
Attempting to clinch their division, the Texans were unable to do so as they lost an exciting game to the Eagles 32-30 on a last second field goal. Deshaun Watson had a fine game throwing for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns (with no interceptions) and rushing for 49 yards and 2 touchdowns. Despite being banged up. DeAndre Hopkins caught 9 passes for 104 yards. But their efforts weren’t quite enough, as the defense give up a huge 528 yards to a Nick Foles inspired Eagles offense. Houston lost key players injured throughout the game, including DBs Kareem Jackson (knee) and Kayvon Webster (thigh) and WR Demaryius Thomas (achilles). The status of all three going forwards wasn’t known at the time of writing, although Thomas’ injury did appear to be serious. Houston’s loss meant that not only did they not wrap up the AFC South division title, they also slipped behind the Patriots to the current no.3 seed spot in the AFC. The Texans will win the AFC South division title with a win in week 17 against the Jaguars (and would move back to the no.2 seed if their win was coupled with a Patriots loss). However, if Houston loses that week 17 game, then the winner of the Indianapolis at Tennessee game will win the AFC South.
Next up: The Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
9. Seattle Seahawks (9-6) (last week’s ranking: 12)
The Seahawks secured a wild card play-off spot in the NFC with a 38-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. Chris Carson rushed for 116 yards, Russell Wilson threw 3 touchdown passes and Doug Baldwin had 126 yards receiving (and a touchdown) to key Seattle’s victory. The Seahawks have now won 6 of their last 7. They will be the no.5 seed in the NFC if they win this week (they would drop to no.6 if they lose and Minnesota win this week). After the game it was announced that Head Coach Pete Carroll had signed a contract extension through the 2021 season. It was reported that the extension is worth in the region of $11m per season.
Next up: The Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals.
10. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) (last week’s ranking: 10)
The Colts kept their play-off chances in tact as they came from behind to beat the New York Giants 28-27. The Colts’ winning touchdown came with 55 second in the game, in a game that they never lead until that point – Andrew Luck throwing the winning score to Chester Rogers. Malik Hooker picked off Eli Manning with 23 seconds remaining to secure the win. Luck threw for 357 yards and 2 touchdowns and T.Y. Hilton caught 7 passes for 138 yards to lead Indianapolis to the win. On the concerning side, Pro Bowl TE Eric Ebron was knocked out of the game in the first half with a concussion – he’ll enter the concussion protocol and his status for this coming week wasn’t known at the time of writing. Likewise, OC Ryan Kelly who left the game with a neck injury. Indianapolis has now 8 of their last 9 games. Indianapolis is now up to the no.6 seed (2ndwildcard) in the AFC – however, they play the no.7 team in a winner takes all contest on Sunday Night Football.
Next up: Indianapolis travels to Nashville to play the Tennessee Titans – with the winner qualifying for the play-offs and the loser going home.
11. Dallas Cowboys (9-6) (last week’s ranking: 11)
The Cowboys clinched the NFC East title for the 2ndtime in 3 years with a 27-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. DE Randy Gregory had a huge game recovering a fumble and forcing another with a strip sack that Jaylon Smith returned 69 yards for a touchdown. Dak Prescott passed for a touchdown, ran for another and Brett Maher kicked a 59-yard field goal to key the victory. The Cowboys defense had a huge goal line stand in the 4thquarter which prevented the Bucs from closing to within 1 score. The Cowboys have now won 6 of their last 7 games and will be the no.4 seed in the NFC play-offs.
Next up: The Cowboys travel to New York to play the Giants.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) (last week’s ranking: 9)
A failed fake punt late in the game and a fumble on their last drive cost the Pittsburgh Steelers the opportunity to control their own play-off destiny heading into the final week of the regular season. The Steelers went down 31-28 to the Saints and with it lost the lead atop the AFC North. It was Pittsburgh’s fourth defeat in five games. Ben Roethlisberger played one of his best games of the season, passing for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns (with no interceptions) and wideout Antonio Brown had a huge outing with 14 catches for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns – but it was fellow receiver Juju Smith-Schuster’s fumble in the final minute, when the Steelers were driving for at least a tying field goal, that sealed the loss. Smith-Schuster himself had a big game up until that point with 11 catches for 115 yards. Pittsburgh heads into week 17 knowing that they have to beat the Bengals and hope for a Ravens loss to the Cleveland Browns to secure a play-off spot (the AFC North division title).
Next up: The Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals.
13. Tennessee Titans (9-6) (last week’s ranking: 13)
The Titans came up with a “must have” victory against the Redskins on Saturday to keep themselves in with a playoff shot in the AFC. The 25-16 win was secured when Blaine Gabbert threw a touchdown pass with less than 5 minutes remaining. Gabbert had entered the game late in the first half when starter Marcus Mariota went out with an injury (reported as a stinger). Malcolm Butler stretched the margin of victory when he intercepted a pass on the game’s very last play and returned it for a score. The Titans defense did just enough with 2 interceptions to help see Tennessee over the line.
Next up: The Titans host the Indianapolis Colts in a Sunday Night Football game where the winner will end up as the no.6 seed in the AFC play-offs – the loser will be home for the postseason.
14. Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1) (last week’s ranking: 14)
The Vikings spotted the Lions an early 9-0 lead, but Minnesota came back to win 27-9 on the back of 27 unanswered points. Kirk Cousins completed 21 of 28 passes for 253 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 44-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph on a hail mary on the last play of the first half. Rudolph ended the day with 9 catches for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Vikings defense held the Lions to just 223 yards of total offense. Minnesota was unable to secure a wildcard play-off spot due to the Eagles winning their game against the Texans.
Next up: Minnesota hosts the Chicago Bears.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) (last week’s ranking: 15)
Nick Foles led the Eagles to the game winning field goal as time expired as Philadelphia kept their play-off hopes alive with a 32-30 victory over the Houston Texans. The Eagles started that final drive from their own 11-yard line with less than 2 minutes to play and drove to the Texans’ 17 before Jake Elliott kicked the 35 yarder for the win. Starting for second straight week in place of the injured Carson Wentz, Foles had an outstanding game passing for 471 yards and 4 touchdowns (including an 83-yard score to Nelson Agholor). During the game, Zach Ertz had 9 receptions and surpassed the single season receiving mark for a TE (previously held by Jason Whitten at 110).
Next up: The Eagles travel to Washington to play the Redskins.
16. Cleveland Browns (7-7-1) (last week’s ranking: 17)
Cleveland finally got back to .500 after a convincing 26-18 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Browns led 26-3 midway through the 4thquarter and only a couple of late Cincinnati touchdowns made the scoreboard look closer than the game really was. The Browns racked up 493 yards of total offense with threats coming from all over the field – Bake Mayfield threw for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns, Nick Chubb rushed for 112 yards and Jarvis Landry had a 63-yard pass to Breshad Perriman. The Browns defense also played strong, holding the Bengals to just 209 total yards. Worryingly, Denzel Ward left the game with a concussion in his first game back from a 2-game concussion forced absence. The Browns were officially eliminated from play-off contention when the Titans won on Saturday.
Next up: The Browns travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens.
17. Miami Dolphins (7-8) (last week’s ranking: 16)
The Dolphins were officially eliminated from play-off contention as they lost 17-7 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. After the first possession for each team, the game turned into a turgid affair with neither team able to get their offenses moving. The Dolphins managed just 183 yards of total offense (121 passing, 62 rushing) and turned the ball over twice in a game that had end of season written all over it.
Next up: The Dolphins travel to Buffalo to play the Bills.
18. Washington Redskins (7-8) (last week’s ranking: 18)
The Redskins lost for the fifth time in six games – going down 25-16 to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday – the loss officially knocking them out of playoff contention. Josh Johnson was intercepted twice (including on the last play of the game, which was returned for a touchdown) and although Adrian Peterson had 119 yards rushing it wasn’t enough to secure the needed win for the Redskins.
Next up: The Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles.
19. Green Bay Packers (6-8-1) (last week’s ranking: 21)
The Packers trailed by 15 points in the 4thquarter, but Aaron Rodgers played one of his best halves of football this season to lead Green Bay to 18 unanswered points and eventually a 44-38 victory over the Jets in overtime. Rodgers completed 37 of 55 passes for 442 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game winner to Davante Adams in the extra period. Jake Kumerow caught the other touchdown pass (a 49 yarder) – it was Kumerow’s first NFL touchdown. Rodgers also rushed for 32 yards, 2 more touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Adams caught 11 passes for 71 yards. With the victory the Packers won for the first time on the road this season.
Adams is now just 2 receptions away from breaking the Packers single season mark of 112 (held by Sterling Sharpe) and 135 yards away from breaking the Packers single season receiving yardage mark (held by Jordy Nelson). Rodgers is 228 passing yards away from breaking his own single season Packers mark. Rodgers also now has 27 rushing touchdowns in his career – 2 short of the Packers career mark held by Tobin Rote.
The Packers again suffered injuries during the game - LG Lane Taylor went down with a knee injury late in the first quarter – he was replaced by Justin McCray… DL Fadol Brown left game with a toe injury and did not return… CB Jaire Alexander went out with a groin injury in the second quarter and did not return…WR Equanimeous St. Brown was evaluated for a concussion after a big hit late in the game.
In the week leading up to the game, the Packers activated RB Lavon Coleman from the Practice Squad and signed RB Kapri Biggs off waivers from the Redskins.
The Packers are now 9th in offense (7th in passing, 20th in rushing) and 16th in scoring offense
The Packers are now 14th in defense (11th in passing, 20th in rushing) and 22nd in scoring defense
Next up: The Packers host the Detroit Lions.
20. Carolina Panthers (6-9) (last week’s ranking: 19)
Playing without the injured Cam Newton, the Panthers fell to a 24-10 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons. It was Carolina’s seventh straight loss – one which officially eliminates them from play-off contention. Taylor Heinicke made his NFL first start in place of Newton and had a decent outing which was spoiled by 3 interceptions. He was knocked out of the game for a few plays with an elbow injury in the second quarter (Kyle Allen stepped in for a few plays - his first NFL action). Christian McCaffrey went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season and broke the NFL record for single season receptions by a running back (surpassing the previous mark of 102 held by Matt Forte) – McCaffrey finished the day with 106 receptions for the season. 5-time Pro Bowler OC Ryan Kalil has announced that he’ll retire at the end of the season.
Next up: The Panthers travel to New Orleans to play the Saints.
21. Atlanta Falcons (6-9) (last week’s ranking: 27)
The Falcons defense forced 4 turnovers (3 interceptions and a fumble recovery) and Matt Ryan passed for 239 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Falcons defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 to move their record to 6-9 for the season. Despite giving up 436 yards, the Falcons defense made plays when it had to, with Brian Poole coming up with 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery and 7 tackles, while Deion Jones had 14 tackles. The win was Atlanta’s second straight.
Next up: Atlanta travels to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers.
22. Denver Broncos (6-9) (last week’s ranking: 20)
Denver fell to a disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders 27-14 on the final Monday Night Football match-up of the 2018 season. Case Keenum threw for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns but also threw 2 interceptions. The Broncos also gave up a bizarre 99-yard punt return for a touchdown when they failed to completely down a punt at the Raiders 1. Rookie RB Phillip Lindsay went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season but also left the game with a sprained wrist – his status for the season finale next week wasn’t known at the time of writing. Denver’s Coach Vance Joseph appears to be on the (very) hot seat and this week’s coming game against the Chargers may be his last as a Bronco.
Next up: The Broncos host the Los Angeles Chargers.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) (last week’s ranking: 22)
In another poor performance, the Bengals went down 26-18 to the rising Cleveland Browns this past Sunday. The final score was much closer than the game really was, as Cincinnati was down 23-0 after 3 quarters and 26-3 with just under 8 minutes left in the game. Two late touchdown passes by Jeff Driskel added respectability to the scoreline. Cincinnati managed just 209 yards of total offense with Driskel throwing for just 133 (107 net). Defensively, the Bengals gave up 493 yards to the Browns. LB Vontaze Burflict was knocked out of the game with a concussion – worryingly, this is the seventh reported concussion of his NFL career.
Next up: Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-10) (last week’s ranking: 23)
Jameis Winston passed for 336 yards and a touchdown but it wasn’t enough as the Bucs fell to 27-20 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys. Tampa Bay held Dallas to just 232 total yards but was unable to turn all its opportunities into points as they were stopped by a goal line stand in the 4thquarter and Winston loss 2 key fumbles. A season that started with such great promise for the Buccaneers has fizzled out.
Next up: The Bucs host the Atlanta Falcons.
25. New York Giants (5-10) (last week’s ranking: 24)
Eli Manning threw for 309 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn’t quite enough for the Giants as they went down 28-27 to the Indianapolis Colts. The Giants led for nearly the whole game but went behind for the first time with just 55 seconds left on the clock. Manning then threw his only interception of the game trying to lead New York back. The Giants came out of the block fast and had 153 yards (Eli Manning 118 yards passing) in the first quarter alone, which led them to a 14-0 lead. But Luck gradually brought the Colts back to disappoint the Giants’ players and fans.
Next up: The Giants host the Dallas Cowboys.
26. Buffalo Bills (5-10) (last week’s ranking: 25)
Buffalo played hard on Sunday against the Patriots but couldn’t control the New England running game (which had 273 yards, including 179 in the first half) and went down 24-12. The Bills recovered from having just 85 total yards in the first half to pick up 204 yards in the second but could never overcome the slow start. Josh Allen threw for 217 yards and a touchdown but did have 2 interceptions. Buffalo’s defense came up 3 turnovers (2 interceptions and a fumble recovery) and gave Tom Brady trouble all day.
Next up: Buffalo hosts the Miami Dolphins.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) (last week’s ranking: 29)
Blake Bortles came off the bench twice for the injured Cody Kessler and in a scrappy game, Bortles led the Jags to a 17-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins. But this game was about defense as Telvin Smith returned an interception for a touchdown and Calais Campbell had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery to stop the Dolphins offense. Kessler has a bruised shoulder and who will start at QB in the season finale for Jacksonville has not yet been determined.
Next up: Jacksonville travels to Houston to play the Texans.
28. Detroit Lions (5-10) (last week’s ranking: 26)
The Lions moved out to 9-0 lead in the first half against the Vikings, but Minnesota scored 27 unanswered points to send Detroit to a 27-9 defeat – their tenth loss of the season. Detroit’s defense played tough for much of that first half, but Minnesota scored 2 late touchdowns (one of them on a hail mary as time expired). Matthew Stafford had another poor outing, throwing for just 116 yards before being replaced by Matt Cassel late in the game.
Next up: The Lions travel to Green Bay to play the Packers.
29. New York Jets(4-11) (last week’s ranking: 28)
Sam Darnold threw for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns, including 111 yards in the first quarter alone, but the Jets went down 44-38 in overtime to the Packers in a game they could have won. The Jets led by 15 points, 35-20, early in the 4thquarter but couldn’t hold off an Aaron Rodgers inspired comeback and eventually succumbed in the extra period. Robby Anderson caught 9 passes for New York for 140 yards and Andre Roberts had a 99-yard kick-off return for a touchdown in what was one of the best performances by the Jets this season…but ultimately, they couldn’t overcome Rodgers or the 16 penalties for 172 yards they gave up. DE Leonard Williams was ejected in the 2ndquarter for throwing a punch at Brian Bulaga.
Next up: The Jets travel to Foxboro to play the New England Patriots.
30. San Francisco 49ers (4-11) (last week’s ranking: 30)
The 49ers played the Bears hard but lost 14-9 and fell to 4-11 for the season. The 49ers couldn’t turn good field position into touchdowns and had to settle for field goals which ultimately proved the difference in the game. Nick Mullens again played an efficient game at QB for San Francisco (241 yards, 1 interception). 49ers CB Richard Sherman was ejected from the game due to a multi-player skirmish which also saw Bears receivers Anthony Miller and Josh Bellamy both ejected as well.
Next up: The 49ers travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams.
31. Oakland Raiders (4-11) (last week’s ranking: 31)
In what was probably their last home game in Oakland, the Raiders overcame the Denver Broncos 27-14 to move to 4-11 for the season. In a game with little to play for, Dwayne Harris came up with the crucial big play – returning a punt 99 yards for a touchdown when the Broncos failed to successfully down the kick. Doug Martin had 107 yards rushing and Jordy Nelson caught 7 passes for 75 in the Raiders fourth win of the season.
Next up: The Raiders travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.
32. Arizona Cardinals (3-12) (last week’s ranking: 32)
The Cardinals fell to 3-12 with a 31-9 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams...giving up 269 yards on the ground in the process. The only bright spot in an otherwise fire day for the Cardinals was a touchdown pass from Larry Fitzgerald to David Johnson – it was the first of Fitzgerald’s storied NFL career.
Next up: The Cardinals travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks.
Find Peter on twitter here: @The_IT_Hedgehog