Sunday, January 3, 2016

NFL Power Rankings: Week 17

1. Arizona Cardinals: Even after losing Tyrann Mathieu for the season, the Arizona Cardinals managed to demolish Rodgers and Packers, recording 9 total sacks. Meanwhile, quarterback Carson Palmer is still making a strong case for the MVP Award.

2. Carolina Panthers: After showing signs of weakness for the past several weeks, Carolina finally lost their first game of the season this past week. Against cornerback Josh Norman,  receiver Julio Jones caught 7 of his 8 targets for 91 yards, meaning the Panthers star cornerback may be starting to show signs of weakness.

3. New England Patriots: The Patriots may have lost to the Jets in overtime this past week, but it is important to mention the large numbers of injuries that this team has sustained, losing players like Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer, Devin McCourty, Jordan Richards, and Rob Ninkovich. Almost all of these players will be back for the first round of the playoffs, so the Patriots should still be the most feared team in the AFC.

4. Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City's 19-13 win over the Browns may not have been pretty, but the Chiefs have still won 9 straight games, and are likely the hottest team in football. With star defensive players Tamba Hali and Justin Houston both listed as day-to-day, this team will just need to rest their guys in Week 17 now that they've clinched a playoff spot.

5. Denver Broncos: It seems like the Denver Broncos are going to stick with the young Brock Osweiler rather than start veteran Peyton Manning come playoff time. The 2015 Denver Broncos are a more talented version of the 2006 Bears team: an inconsistent offense combined with a dominant defense.

6. New York Jets: Cornerback Darrelle Revis is officially back from the concussion he sustained in November, where he now has an interception in back to back games. Last week, the Jets managed to beat the Patriots to leapfrog the Steelers for a spot in the playoffs, and if quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play well, New York could make a run in the postseason.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: Entering Week 16, many viewed Pittsburgh as one of the hottest teams in all of football thanks to their well-balanced offense; however, a devastating loss to the Ravens now has Pittsburgh on the outside looking in. The Steelers could make a serious run in the playoffs, but they obviously need to make the postseason first.

8. Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks are already a lock for the postseason, but a loss to the Rams at home is not a good look for one of the "hottest" teams just two weeks before the playoffs. For the first time in five weeks, Wilson's passer rating dipped below 100 in a game, so maybe the Seahawks offense peaked too soon.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: AJ McCarron's statline against the first-ranked Broncos pass defense was fairly impressive considering it was just his second time starting in the NFL. The Bengals simply need Andy Dalton to be ready to play for the first week of the postseason if they have any shot at winning the AFC Championship.

10. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have scored 38 points or more in back to back weeks, and they lost by just three points to the Cardinals in Week 14. Adrian Peterson is leading the league in rushing as of Week 17, and Bridgewater's passer rating has crept above 90 for the year. Minnesota now has the opportunity to beat the struggling Packers to win the NFC North for the first time since 2009.