The NFL power rankings Week 16 edition saw yet another shakeup in the top five teams on the list. While the top overall team grabbed a win over a longtime nemesis, last week’s No. 2 squad struggled against a potential playoff opponent. Both the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys were in action Sunday in pivotal games against playoff hopeful opponents. Meanwhile, last week’s No. 3 and No. 4 teams both lost, while the Seahawks, Packers, and Raiders were movers due to winning their respective games.
In Sunday Night Football, the Dallas Cowboys continued their winning ways to keep hold of the No. 2 spot in the rankings. According to NBC Sports, Dak Prescott threw for 279 yards on 32-of-36 passing and also ran for a touchdown in a 26-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game also featured a somewhat controversial play as rookie Ezekiel Elliott hopped into a Salvation Army kettle to celebrate a touchdown and ended up getting flagged for it. With the victory, Dallas moved to 12-2 on the season and they continue to hold the top overall seed in the NFC playoff picture.
The New York Giants also won on Sunday and are now 10-4. That means if they win their last two games and Dallas loses theirs, New York gets the division title. This is due to the fact the Giants have won both matchups against the Cowboys this season and would win a tiebreaker. New York’s win helped them move up a bit from where they were in last week’s power rankings here at Inquisitr. The Oakland Raiders also grabbed a 19-16 win over the Chargers and ended a 13-year NFL playoff drought.
The Kansas City Chiefs were the No. 3 team in last week’s NFL rankings, but a last-second field goal by the Tennessee Titans edged them. That dropped the Chiefs to a record of 10-4, which now puts them two games away from the Patriots for that top seed in the AFC. Last week’s No. 4 team, the Detroit Lions, also struggled as they faced a Giants defense that held them to just six points in a 17-6 loss. The Detroit loss gave Green Bay hopes of taking the NFC North division lead if they can keep winning games, including their final game of the season against Detroit.
The Packers’ win on Sunday was thanks to a late heave by Aaron Rodgers down the field to set up a tie-breaking field goal as time expired. That gave them the 30-27 edge over their rivals the Chicago Bears, and also has them in a serious hunt for a playoff spot. As seen in the latest rankings, Green Bay has also moved into the top 10, while Seattle’s win this past Thursday over the lowly Rams has pushed the Seahawks back into the top five.
NFL Week 16 Power Rankings:
- New England Patriots 10-2 (No. 1)
- Dallas Cowboys 10-2 (No. 2)
- Kansas City Chiefs 10-4 (No. 3)
- Oakland Raiders 11-3 (No. 7)
- Seattle Seahawks 9-4-1 (No. 10)
- New York Giants 10-4 (No. 6)
- Detroit Lions 9-5 (No. 4)
- Pittsburgh Steelers 9-5 (No. 5)
- Atlanta Falcons 9-5 (No. 8)
- Green Bay Packers 8-6 (N/A)
As seen above, New England continues to hold the No. 1 spot after a key win on Sunday 16-3 over the Denver Broncos. As ESPN mentioned in their report, the win gave the Patriots their eighth-straight AFC East title which is an NFL All-Division record. It also gives the Pats a first round bye in the NFL playoffs. Combine that with the Chiefs losing to the Titans earlier, and it’s looking like New England could also earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The week ahead holds a relatively easy matchup for Tom Brady and company.
First, the Week 15 schedule technically wraps up with Monday Night Football on ESPN as the 5-8 Carolina Panthers visit the 7-5-1 Washington Redskins. Of the two teams, the Redskins have a bit more on the line in terms of a potential NFL playoff appearance, but this game is unlikely to have too much impact on the Top 10 NFL power rankings as seen above. Last year’s Super Bowl runner-ups have looked nothing like the team that nearly ran the tables last season. Last weekend’s 28-16 win over San Diego was just the fifth of the season for the Panthers. They could still finish 8-8 but will need to continue their winning streak with Washington.
The NFL Week 16 schedule will bring a Thursday night matchup between the Giants and Eagles. Then there’s a batch of Saturday football games spread amongst Christmas Eve day. That includes the New England Patriots in what looks like an easily-winnable game against the 4-10 New York Jets. While most games are on Saturday, Christmas Day also features two stellar games with the Steelers hosting the Ravens and Chiefs hosting the Broncos. For Monday Night Football, the No. 2 team Dallas is once again under the spotlight, this time hosting the playoff-hopeful Detroit Lions.
The Patriots seem like they may continue to rule the NFL power rankings as this latest season winds down. They have that upcoming game against a struggling New York Jets team and then will get a Miami Dolphins team with a quarterback injury situation going on. It may be hard for the Dallas Cowboys to get back to the top spot, although it’s still looking like they are destined for a potential Super Bowl appearance against Brady’s bunch from New England. They’ll likely take that prize over being ranked No. 1 in the last few weeks of the power rankings.
[Featured Image by Al Bello/Getty Images]