NFL Power Rankings – Week 17
Status Quo: Rams at #12 - Chargers at #25
January 2, 2020
1. Baltimore Ravens (13-2): The Ravens have clinched homefield advantage for the AFC playoffs and will rest their key starters in week 17, which includes quarterback Lamar Jackson. Any AFC team in the playoffs should be studying as to how they would slow down quarterback Lamar Jackson, the likely NFL MVP, in case of a matchup with the Ravens.
2. New Orleans Saints (12-3): Amazingly, the Saints could end up 13-3 and be forced to play a first-round game at home against the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints need the Packers to lose at Detroit (doubtful) or the 49ers to lose at Seattle in order to land a first-round bye in the playoffs.
3. San Francisco 49ers (12-3): The 49ers control their own destiny, needing only a win over the Seahawks in Seattle to claim homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. A loss to the Seahawks means they are a wild-card entry at 12-4 and going on the road to either Philadelphia or Dallas.
4. Green Bay Packers (12-3): A very impressive road win at Minnesota has put the Packers in a good position for the playoffs. With a road win against the fading Lions, the Packers will gain a first-round bye. With a road win and 49ers loss, the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will go through frigid Green Bay.
5. New England Patriots (12-3): The Pats played perhaps their best game of the season in their win over the Bills at home. Tom Brady looked like the Tom Brady of old, completing 26 of 33 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown against a good Bills defense. The Pats need a win this weekend to clinch a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.
6. Seattle Seahawks (11-4): The Seahawks had a stunning loss at home to the Cardinals and now need to be the 49ers at home to guarantee a No.3 seed and a home game in the first round. With their top three running backs out with injuries, the Seahawks have signed Marshawn Lynch, the former Seahawk running back, who helped lead them to a Super Bowl win in 2014.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4): Any team that meets the Chiefs in the playoffs needs to run the ball on the Chiefs and stop the run. The Chiefs have struggled in both aspects and can be beaten. The Colts in Week 5 did the best job of keeping quarterback Patrick Mahomes off the field with their running attack and holding the Chiefs rushing attack to 36 yards and sacking Mahomes 4 times.
8. Buffalo Bills (10-5): In two seasons at Buffalo, quarterback Josh Allen has rushed for 1,141 yards and has 17 rushing touchdowns. At 6'5", 240 pounds with a rocket arm, Allen is blessed with physical skills that most NFL quarterbacks can only dream about. As his accuracy improves and the talent around him gets better, Allen may prove to be the best quarterback of the next decade.
9. Minnesota Vikings (10-5): For the Vikings to lay an egg at home against the Packers was bad enough, but they are now locked into the No. 6 seed at either New Orleans or Seattle, with a possibility of San Francisco if the 49ers tie and Green Bay if the Packers lose at Detroit. The phrase "pick your poison" comes to mind when considering the Vikings first round playoff opponent.
10. Houston Texans (10-5): The Texans managed to survive in Tamp Bay, thanks to four Jameis Winston interceptions. The Texans ended up with only 229 yards in offense in the game. The Texans clinched the AFC South but will have to play much better to get past their first-round opponent, which is likely going to be the Buffalo Bills.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7): The Steelers have lost two in a row and now need to win in Baltimore and get a loss by the Titans to earn a playoff berth. The good news is that the Ravens plan to rest many of their starters. But the Ravens will play to win. That was confirmed by nose tackle Michael Pierce: "That's the Pittsburgh Steelers, fighting for a shot in the playoffs, so never. We have history with those guys."
12. Los Angeles Rams (8-7): The Rams had a +11-turnover ratio in 2018, with 30 takeaways and 19 turnovers. In 2019, the Rams have a -5-turnover ratio, with 19 takeaways and 24 turnovers. The Rams rushing attack averaged 139.4 yards per game in 2018, at 4.9 yards per carry. In 2019, they have averaged 92.4 yards per game at 3.8 yards per carry. These are two big problem areas for the Rams that need to be corrected in 2020.
13. Tennessee Titans (8-7): The Titans are in the playoffs with a win. The difficult part will be beating the Texans in Houston. They need the Texans to rest their starters, but Texan head coach Bill O'Brien stated that: "Anytime we take the field, based on what we're all about, we're about trying to win." That is certainly not want the Titans want to hear, but it does make the Steelers and the Raiders happy.
14. Oakland Raiders (7-8): With a win on Sunday, the Raiders could make the playoffs at 8-8 as a wild-card entry. That would be a fitting end to their last regular season as the Oakland Raiders. With a young, talented roster and five draft picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL draft, this team could hit the ground running in Las Vegas.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7): For the second consecutive week, the Eagles gave the ball to Miles Sanders and he again delivered for them. Sanders has more all-purpose yards than any rookie in Eagles history, 1,590 of them, after gaining 79 yards on 20 carries and catching five passes for 77 yards in Sunday's upset of Dallas. The Eagles just need a win on Sunday, and they are in the playoffs.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8): Wide receiver Breshad Perriman, a first-round pick of the Ravens in 2015, has earned himself some additional money with his performance the past few weeks. Since Mike Evans went out in Week 14, Perriman has caught 15 passes for 285 yards and four touchdowns. Perriman will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
17. Chicago Bears (7-8): There is not getting around it, when the Bears traded for Khalil Mack and gave up two 1st round draft picks in the process, they were expecting to be a playoff team. That worked out in 2018, but not in 2019. The idea of giving the Raiders a high first round pick in 2020 is a major setback.
18. Indianapolis Colts (7-8): The Colts are playing on Sunday to at least end up with an 8-8 record, which all things considered, would probably be satisfying. For the Oakland Raiders, they need a win by the Colts to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
19. Dallas Cowboys (7-8): The Cowboys are sinking fast after their loss to the Eagles on Sunday. Dak Prescott is playing with a shoulder injury and the Cowboys need to beat the Redskins at home and get some help from the Giants to make the playoffs. This season does not look like it is going to end well for the Cowboys.
20. Denver Broncos (6-9): Amazingly, the Broncos are 6-9 after an 0-4 start and are not the worst team in the AFC West. That honor belongs to the Chargers, who the Broncos swept. This team has not quit and that should serve them well going into 2020.
21. Atlanta Falcons (6-9): The Falcons are 5-2 in their last seven games and look like a different team. There is no questioning the talent and the pride on the team, but those that earn head coach Dan Quinn an additional year at the helm?
22. Cleveland Browns (6-9): The Browns need to admit they hired the wrong guy to be their head coach. Freddie Kitchens, with a litany of reasons too long to list, should be replaced. He may have been a good offensive coordinator, but this team needs a strong, experienced head coach to instill some much-needed discipline.
23. New York Jets (6-9): The Jets are a different team with 2nd year quarterback Sam Darnold on the field. He gives the team a chance to win, as they showed this past weekend against the Steelers.
24. Arizona Cardinals (5-9-1): Running back Kenyan Drake just continues to excel in his starting role with the Cardinals. In their upset win over the Seahawks on the road, Drake rushed for 166 yards on 24 carries, scoring two touchdowns. David Johnson, who lost his starting job to Drake, will earn a guaranteed $10.2 million in 2020. Drake, an unrestricted free agent in 2020, is worth at least that much.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (5-10): The Chargers are tied with the Bengals for last in takeaways with 13 for the season. They are tied with the Bengals for last in turnover ratio with a -16. They should not be tied in any category with the Bengals, but that is the reality of the 2019 season for the Chargers. The loss to the Raiders on Sunday gave the Chargers an 0-5 record in the AFC West. The odds are against finding a division win this week.
26. Carolina Panthers (5-10): Running back Christian McCaffery, the only interesting story with the Panthers these days, needs 67 receiving yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark. He just broke his own NFL record with 109 receptions this season, most ever by a running back.
27. Washington Redskins (3-12): Running back Adrian Petersen thinks he can or will play until he is 40 years old. Petersen will be 35 in March and while it seems ridiculous to think he could play until he was 40, he certainly is playing well at this point. Petersen leads the Redskins in rushing with 820 yards and on Sunday scored his 111th career rushing touchdown, moving into 4th place all-time.
28. Detroit Lions (3-11-1): In a season of disappointments, wide receiver Kenny Golladay has had a very good season. He has a career-high 1,118 receiving yards; he's tied for the team lead with 62 catches and he leads the NFL with 11 touchdown catches. The 2017 3rd round pick out of Northern Illinois has developed into a pro bowl caliber wide receiver for the Lions.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10): The Jaguars fired executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, days after the NFLPA warned players against signing with the Jaguars. While this could have been done at the end of the regular season, it needed to be done and is likely just the beginning of several changes in the organization.
30. New York Giants (4-11): Running back Saquon Barkley is finally healthy and running well, again. On Sunday, Barkley rushed for 189 yards on 22 carries, rushing for one touchdown and caught four passes for 90 yards, with one touchdown reception. Unfortunately, his late season comeback is a little for Giant fans and for fantasy football owners.
31. Miami Dolphins (4-11): The Crummy Game of the Year turned out to be very entertaining. It became entertaining when the Dolphins blew a 23 point 4th quarter lead to the Bengals. The Dolphins gave up 23 points in the final 6:11 of the game, with 16 points coming in the final 29 seconds of regulation, but managed to pull out the win in OT, 38-35.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-14): With their overtime loss to the Dolphins, the Bengals clinched the No.1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The likely first pick will be LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. There is offensive talent on the roster. At wide receiver, A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd should both return, along with running back Joe Mixon and tight end Tyler Eifert. This team will be better next season, if they stay healthy.