By Bill Seals - Fred Altieri
Sports Reporters - PFWA Members 

2021 NFL Power Rankings – Week 16

Rams Edge Higher, Chargers Hover at #9

 

December 23, 2021

Brevin Townsell - LA Rams

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) sacks Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson

1. Green Bay Packers (11-3): The Packers have the best record in the NFL and are the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Davante Adams, and defensive tackle Kenny Clark were the only three Packers named to the Pro Bowl this week. All three played their high school football and college football in California. Next: -7.5 vs Cleveland Browns - Sat, Dec. 25 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 11-3 – O/U: 6-8)

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-4): As long as the Rams have a healthy Aaron Donald on the field, they are going to be a tough team to eliminate in a playoff matchup. Donald has 11 sacks, 66 tackles and 2 forced fumbles this season, but what the stats do not show are the constant double teams and the holding calls he gets that makes him so disruptive to an offense. Next: -3 at Minnesota Vikings - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 49.5 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 7-6-1)


3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4): Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, when asked about wide receiver Antonio Brown and if he really seems like a different and better person, "I think he's working at it," said Arians. "He's still got a ways to go. He's working hard at it." That's reassuring to the citizens of Tampa... as long as he's one of Brady's favorite targets. Next: -10 at Carolina Panthers - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 44 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 7-7)

4. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4): The Chiefs won a tough overtime battle with the Chargers, 34-28. They probably should have lost this game, but some questionable coaching decisions by the Chargers kept them around long enough to pull out a victory. The Chiefs may end up seeing the Chargers again in the playoffs and they should not be looking forward to that matchup. Next: -9.5 vs Pittsburgh Steelers - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 7-7)


5. Dallas Cowboys (10-4): The Cowboys need a victory in one of their last three games to clinch the NFC East division title and a home playoff game in Jerry's World. The Cowboys have only lost one game in conference, so there is a possibility that they could gain homefield advantage for all playoff games in the NFC. Next: -10.5 vs Washington Football Team - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 46.5 (ATS: 11-3 – O/U: 6-8)

6. New England Patriots (9-5): The Pats saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end in Indianapolis, 27-17. This weekend, they can clinch the AFC East title at home with a win over the Bills. This should be the game of the weekend. Next: -2.5 vs Buffalo Bills – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 43.5 (ATS: 9-5 – O/U: 6-8)


7. Arizona Cardinals (10-4): The one reassuring thing we can tell Cardinal fans is that we are optimistic about their chances of making the playoffs, despite losing four of their last seven games, including their blowout loss to the Lions this past weekend. We will not guarantee it, but we are optimistic. Next: -1 vs Indianapolis Colts - Sat, Dec. 25 – O/U 49 (ATS: 9-5 – O/U: 7-7)

8. Tennessee Titans (9-5): The Titans have lost three of their last four games after falling to the Steelers, 19-13. The good news is that injured running back Derrick Henry appears to be on a path to return by the playoffs, which could make the Titans a tough team to defeat in the playoffs. Next: -3 vs San Francisco 49ers - Thu, Dec. 23 – O/U 44 (ATS: 8-6 – O/U: 7-7)


9. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6): The Chargers had six players selected to the NFL Pro Bowl, including five starters. Quarterback Justin Herbert, rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater, center Corey Linsley, outside linebacker Joey Bosa, and strong safety Derwin James were all named starters for the AFC. Wide receiver Keenan Allen made the Pro Bowl as a reserve. Next: -10 at Houston Texans, Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 7-7)

10. Baltimore Ravens (8-6): Former Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley started in place of an injured Lamar Jackson on Sunday and played well in a 31-30 loss to the Packers. Huntley, an undrafted free agent, completed 28 of 40 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, while also leading the Ravens rushing yardage with 73 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Next: +3 at Cincinnati Bengals – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 7-7)

11. Buffalo Bills (8-6): The Bills needed a win this weekend and the Panthers were more than happy to oblige. The Bills finally made a semi-commitment to running the ball and got 86 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries from running back Devin Singletary. Next: +2.5 at New England Patriots - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 43.5 (ATS: 7-6-1 – O/U: 7-7)

12. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6): The Bengals got a big road win in Denver and are now in first place in the AFC North. The Bengals have avoided the issues that other NFL teams are having with Covid and quarterback Joe Burrow credits this to the fact that, "there's not a lot to do in Cincinnati." Joe, that is what Northern Kentucky and Moonshine are for. Next: -2 vs Baltimore Ravens - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 6-8)

13. Indianapolis Colts (8-6): The Colts are coming off an impressive 27-17 win over the Patriots at home and are now officially the one team that you do not want to face in the AFC playoffs. That, of course, assumes that quarterback Carson Wentz can keep from turning the ball over. Next: +1 at Arizona Cardinals – Sat, Dec. 23 – O/U 49 (ATS: 9-5 – O/U: 8-6)

14. San Francisco 49ers (8-6): The 49ers have won five of their last six games and have put themselves in a good position to gain an NFC wild-card berth. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, left tackle Trent Williams and linebacker Fred Warner were selected to the 2022 Pro Bowl for the NFC. Next: +3 at Tennessee Titans – Thu, Dec. 23 – O/U 44 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 7-7)

15. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7): The Raiders kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a last second victory in Cleveland Monday Night. Three Raider players were selected to the Pro Bowl: former Charger linebacker Denzel Perryman, defensive end Maxx Crosby, and punter A.J. Cole. Kicker Daniel Carlson should have made the team, but unfortunately, he is in the same conference with All-World kicker Justin Tucker. Next: -1 vs Denver Broncos - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 5-9 – O/U: 7-7)

16. Cleveland Browns (7-7): The Browns are hanging by a thread after losing to the Raiders at home. The Browns were hit hard by Covid this past week but should have quarterback Baker Mayfield back for the game. The Browns will face a huge challenge this weekend. Next: +7.5 at Green Bay Packers – Sat, Dec. 25 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 6-8 – O/U: 7-7)

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1): The Steelers refuse to go quietly into the night. The Steelers used four Titan turnovers and four Chris Boswell field goals to defeat the Titans, 19-13. The Steelers offense produced a paltry 168 yards in offense in the game. Next: +9.5 at Kansas City Chiefs – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 6-8 – O/U: 5-8-1)

18. Denver Broncos (7-7): The Broncos have somehow managed to win seven games this season and keep themselves in contention for a wild card playoff berth. They did not do enough individually to impress the rest of the NFL, as no Bronco players were selected to the Pro Bowl this season. Next: +1 at Las Vegas Raiders - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 3-11)

19. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7): The Eagles knocked off the Washington Football Team on Tuesday Night and with that victory have a very real shot at the playoffs. Running back Miles Sanders rushed for 131 yards and tight end Dallas Goedert had seven receptions for 135 yards in the victory. Next: -9.5 vs New York Giants – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 40.5 (ATS: 7-6-1 – O/U: 8-6)

20. Miami Dolphins (7-7): The Dolphins can now match their early season seven game losing streak with a late season seven game winning streak with a win this weekend. They need a victory to get back into contention for a wild-card playoff berth and face a challenging schedule in the final three weeks of the season. Next: +3 at New Orleans Saints - Mon, Dec. 26 – O/U 38.5 (ATS: 7-6-1 – O/U:6-8)

21. Minnesota Vikings (7-7): The Vikings have led in every game this season by at least six points. They usually blow leads in the second half of games, but a hapless Bears offense would not allow that to happen. Viking quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for just 87 yards in the victory. Next: +3 vs Los Angeles Rams – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 49.5 (ATS: 8-6 – O/U: 8-6)

22. New Orleans Saints (7-7): The Saints were unable to score a touchdown on Sunday Night in Tampa, but fortunately, they have one of the best defenses in the NFL and shutout the Bucs, 9-0. The Saints are still in the playoff race, but with their quarterback play look like roadkill in the playoffs. Next: -3 vs Miami Dolphins – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 38.5 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 6-8)

23. Washington Football Team (6-8): The Washington Football gave it their best shot, but the combination of injuries and Covid have basically put their playoff hopes on life support. The Cowboys will likely pull the plug on Sunday Night. Next: +10.5 at Dallas Cowboys – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 46.5 (ATS: 5-8-1 – O/U: 6-8)

24. Atlanta Falcons (6-8): Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts was named to the Pro Bowl this week. The fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft leads the Falcons with 58 receptions and 847 receiving yards this season, making him the fifth rookie tight end to record at least 50 receptions and 750 receiving yards in NFL history. Next: -5.5 vs Detroit Lions – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 42.5 (ATS: 6-8 – O/U: 6-8)

25. Carolina Panthers (5-9): The Panthers started off the season 3-0. We need to keep reminding people that this looked like a possible playoff contender in September and now are just that easy win for an actual playoff contender. The Buccaneers play the Panthers twice in the final three games. Next: +10 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sun, Dec.26 – O/U 44 (ATS: 5-9 – O/U: 7-7)

26. Seattle Seahawks (5-9): Quarterback Russell Wilson does not look the same this season. Wilson was short on a number of deep passes against the Rams, and he has only rushed for 131 yards in 11 games, a career low. Wilson is 33 but looks much older than that. Next: -6.5 vs Chicago Bears – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 43 (ATS: 7-7 – O/U: 3-10-1)

27. Chicago Bears (4-10): Is there a hotter coaching seat in the NFL than the seat that Bear head coach Matt Nagy currently sits in? After an uninspiring 17-9 loss to the Vikings at home, Bears fans are wondering if there is a problem with the hourglass or if someone misplaced the paperwork in Human Resources. Next: +6.5 at Seattle Seahawks - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 43 (ATS: 4-10 – O/U: 5-9)

28. New York Giants (4-10): The Giants have placed quarterback Daniel Jones on the injured reserve with a neck injury suffered in Week 12 against the Eagles. He is done for the season, as are the Giants. Next: +9.5 at Philadelphia Eagles – Sun, Dec. 26 - O/U 40.5 (ATS: 6-8 – O/U: 4-9-1)

29. New York Jets (3-11): The Jets, to the surprise of no one, did not have a single member of their team make the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl game. The Jets will be scouring the 2022 NFL draft for talent, and with a top ten pick from Seattle in the Jamaal Adams trade and a high second round pick from the Panthers in the Sam Darnold trade, need to nail this draft. Next: -1 vs Jacksonville Jaguars - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 4-10 – O/U: 8-6)

30. Detroit Lions (2-11-1): The Lions stunned the Cardinals in Detroit, crushing the Cardinals 30-12 at home. The Lions coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for keeping the team competitive while continuing to improve each week. There may be hope in the future for Lions fans. Next: +5.5 at Atlanta Falcons – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 42.5 (ATS: 9-5 – O/U: 5-9)

31. Houston Texans (3-11): The Texans swept the season series from the Jaguars in their easy 30-16 win on Sunday. In two games against the Jags, the Texans outscored the Jags by a combined 67-37. The Texans scored 67 points in two games against the Jags and 140 points in 12 games against the rest of the NFL. Next: +10 vs Los Angeles Chargers – Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 6-8 – O/U: 6-8)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12): The Jaguars are in a great position to grab the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for the second consecutive season, thanks to ex-coach Urban Meyer. The only stumbling block to the first pick could be this week's matchup on the road with the Jets, a team that also has their sights set on the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. It should be an epic matchup! Next: +1 at New York Jets - Sun, Dec. 26 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 4-10 – O/U: 3-11)

Mike Nowak - LA Chargers

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) assists tackling Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire

 

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