NFL Power Rankings

My current NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 15 of the 2016 season.

I’m going to use these rankings as the order for my 2017 NFL Mock Draft. Follow @walterfootball.

I’ve gone from WORST to FIRST, so if you don’t see reverse numbering (via Javascript), don’t worry; the Browns and 49ers aren’t my top teams.

Updated: Dec. 20

  1. Cleveland Browns (0-14) – Previously: 32.
    Now that Gus Bradley and Jeff Fisher are no longer in the NFL, Hue Jackson is in danger of becoming the worst head coach in the league if he continues to start Robert Griffin. I can’t believe he started Griffin in he first place. I’ve lost so much respect for Jackson – unless he’s trying to lose on purpose to land the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

    The Browns have gotten so bad that Google Maps is now recognizing “Sadness in Cleveland” as the location of the Browns’ stadium. It’s true:

    Anyway, let’s do an update for Terrelle Pryor, who, according to Charles Woodson, will accumulate 1,800 receiving yards this year:

    Terrelle Pryor’s Race for 1,800:

    Current Receiving Yards: 877
    Currently on Pace for: 1,002
    Yards Per Game Needed for 1,800: 461.5

    Hmm… maybe Pryor’s sprained finger will help him average 461.5 yards per game over the next two weeks…

  2. San Francisco 49ers (1-13) – Previously: 31.
    Hey, Chip Kelly, on the off chance you’re reading this after you’re fired, could you please refrain from deactivating your best, healthy defensive player an hour for the game for violating team rules? That way, stupid people like me wouldn’t be dumb enough to pick your team. Thanks!

    What the hell was Gerald Hodges in trouble for, anyway? Was he moving like a normal human being in practice? Did he complain about Jed York’s abomination of a stadium being two hours away from San Francisco? Did he not kiss Chip Kelly’s ring upon reaching the team facility that day? I’d really like to know.

  3. Los Angeles Rams (4-10) – Previously: 30.
    I have to tell you, it felt so good not betting on the Rams for once. It was great not yelling at the TV, shouting, “JARED GOFF, YOU SUCK! KENNY BRITT WHY CAN’T YOU F***ING CATCH!?” Wagering on the Rams this year may have taken 80 years off my life, but it’s over, I swear.

    At any rate, Jeff Fisher was fired, so I think you know what it’s time for…

    The Adventures of Derek Anderson’s Magic Flask!

    Derek Anderson: Jeff Fisher, I’m still sober, and now that you don’t have any games to prepare for, I demand you tell me where you got your magical flask.

    Jeff Fisher: Whhyyy shhooulld I telllss yooouu, yooouu Rusussisiann spppy ooorr sommeetitnnng hic?

    Derek Anderson: Russian spy? You got your magic flask from the Russians?

    Jeff Fisher: Thhhe Rurussisanns isss suuchch a sttutppiid TV sshhooww. Heyey wananan knnoow whhwheree I gogott thiiss mmaaggiic fllalasksk?

    Derek Anderson: Yes! That’s what I’ve been asking you all week!

    Jeff Fisher: I usussee to worororkk wiitith Viinnce Yoounngg. Seneniille Viinncnce anndn sttuupiid Buuddd. Viinnnce waass soo stutuppid I haddd ididideaass. I maddde Viinnce crryy oonne ddaayy andnd I plalalccce emmpttyy fllassk unnderr hhiiss eyeyes sooo hisiiss teaarss goo innnisiddee anndn vooilllaa myyy maggigic fllalssk iiss coommppllete hic!

    Derek Anderson: Wait… so, the contents in your magical flask are nothing but Vince Young’s tears. Oh man, that’s messed up. I… I… almost have to begin drinking again…

    *** Ten minutes later ***

    Derek Anderson: I cnanant bebelelieive thrheeyy fiiriree yyooouu, yoouu’ree lliikkeke smmamrrtresst maamann eeverr, I loovoveee yooouu mamannnnn!

    Jeff Fisher: Whooo thhehe heelllsls arreee yoooiuu hic!? Hheheyey wananan hhheearr ufunnny sttoorryy abbooouut hwowow I gototoss tiisis flallsskk?

    Derek Anderson: Oohh mamanan I’vveee bebeennen waiaiititng allll weekke fororo thisisiss!

  4. New York Jets (4-10) – Previously: 28.
    Can the Jets, for the love of God, please finally use Christian Hackenberg? What’s the point of starting Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty? If Petty is hurt and Fitzpatrick gets the nod, Todd Bowles should be fired on the spot. There’s absolutely no reason not to go with Hackenberg. The Jets need to find out what they have in him before the offseason. Spending a second-round pick on a quarterback and not using him just seems so stupid. It would be like buying a new car and not driving it for a year, and when you’re asked why you don’t drive it, you say, “It’s not ready to be driven yet. It needs one more year to be driven.” You’d be labeled an idiot, and that’s exactly what Bowles must be labeled as if they don’t finally start Hackenberg.

  5. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) – Previously: 29.
    For once, the Jaguars didn’t have the most pathetic quarterback on the field. Look at what Brock Osweiler was responsible for in the first half:

    Wow, good job, Osweiler. Still, the fact remains that if the Jaguars had a Tom Savage-type young quarterback, they would’ve made a change already. Blake Bortles sucks, and he got Gus Bradley fired, which you can see my grade for by clicking the link.

  6. Chicago Bears (3-11) – Previously: 27.
    Underrated NFL Team: Matt Barkley has somehow been pretty competent in his four starts thus far. In fact, he’s been better than his stat lines indicate because of all the dropped passes he’s incurred. Jordan Howard has been a forceful running back, while the defense has played very well. The Bears also now have a dynamic downfield play-maker now that Alshon Jeffery is back from injury. The Bears are miles better than the other two-, three- and four-win teams in the NFL.

  7. Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) – Previously: 26.
    The Cardinals have been so inconsistent offensively. Actually, they’ve been consistently decent at home and consistently abysmal on the road. I wonder why that is. Perhaps Carson Palmer’s old, creaky body is no longer capable of flying very well. That said, Arizona could play a great game at Seattle, as that contest will be its Super Bowl. The Cardinals have nothing to prove in Week 17 versus the Rams, so Week 16 is the last thing they have to play for this year.

  8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-9) – Previously: 25.
    I had the urge to drop the Eagles below the Bears, but they’ll finally be getting Lane Johnson back from suspension. The last time Johnson was on the field, the Eagles had a winning record. If you ever doubted how important a great tackle can be for a team, well, here’s your evidence.

  9. New Orleans Saints (6-8) – Previously: 23.
    The Saints had a nice win in Arizona to ruin their draft positioning, but the big story regarding this team is the report that they could possibly trade Sean Payton to the Rams. I would do it in a heartbeat. Payton is still a very good coach, but how much longer would he plan on staying in New Orleans anyway? Once Drew Brees retires, I can’t see Payton sticking around, so the Saints might as well get something for him while they can.

  10. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) – Previously: 22.
    Underrated NFL Team: I downgraded the Bengals too much for their loss to the Ravens. They matched Baltimore in yards per play in that contest, and they’ve played very well since, though one of those games has been against the Browns. Still, Cincinnati’s defense has been better following the bye, as it has surrendered just 16 points per game (prior to Pittsburgh) since compared to 23.6 beforehand. I’m not counting the Steeler contest because the Bengals lost Vontaze Burfict in the first half to a concussion. A major reason for the Bengals’ improvement on defense has been Burfict’s dynamic play. If he’s not able to return for Week 16, I wouldn’t consider them underrated anymore. Otherwise, they still are.

  11. Buffalo Bills (7-7) – Previously: 19.
    Buffalo has improved to 7-7. Perhaps the most unimpressive 7-7 ever. Check out whom the Bills’ previous five victories have been against: Browns, Jaguars, Bengals (the game they lost A.J. Green), 49ers and Rams. Wow, tough schedule there, Buffalo! Maybe the NFL playoff committee would consider you if you didn’t battle so many 1-AA opponents.

  12. Minnesota Vikings (7-7) – Previously: 14.
    I’ve found myself wondering how in hell this guy could get blown out:

    And then I realized two things: 1) Perhaps his own team was scared of him. 2) Maybe Harrison Smith’s absence had the slightest bit of an impact against Andrew Luck. Maybe.

  13. Indianapolis Colts (7-7) – Previously: 21.
    How upset were the Colts that their victory was for naught, as the Texans and Titans both came back from fourth-quarter deficits? For the Colts to reach the playoffs, they need to finish in a tie with the Titans, meaning they need Tennessee to beat Houston in Week 17, but also lose Week 16 to the Jaguars. Oh, no. See why the Colts are so upset?

    As upset as Indianapolis was, that’s nothing compared to what Frank Gore owners were feeling when they watched Robert Turbin vulture two touchdowns. Speaking of Turbin, there was a story going around that some old woman started Turbin over DeMarco Murray this week in some sort of fantasy league. I have no idea what she was thinking, but it somehow worked out for her. Still, you can’t say she made the right decision. Think about it this way: If you jumped off a bridge in an attempt to end your life, but you somehow landed on a trampoline, and you found a million dollars under this trampoline, you can’t exactly say that you made the right decision to commit suicide. The end result may have worked out for you, but you didn’t make the right choice.

  14. Houston Texans (8-6) – Previously: 20.
    So, this whole Brock Osweiler thing didn’t seem to work out. In fact, Bill O’Brien should’ve yanked him sooner. Tom Savage will actually give the Texans a chance to be productive offensively.

    Speaking of Osweiler, we should’ve known he’d fail this entire time. I was looking back at old photos, and noticed this as Osweiler’s introductory press conference:

    How in hell did no one else pick up on this?

  15. San Diego Chargers (5-9) – Previously: 18.
    As I said last week, I’ve been ranking the Chargers in the top 10 all year, but I’ve had to drop them because of all the injuries they sustained. San Diego is a very good team, despite its 5-9 record, but it won’t nearly be the same without Melvin Gordon and some of the injured linemen. However, Gordon could return in Week 16, which is why I haven’t dropped the Chargers any further.

    By the way, I was utterly confused by this statement by one of the announcers: “The Chargers don’t have Cumberland or Keenan Allen.” Who the hell is Cumberland? And did he have anything to do with me losing two units in the Carolina game?

  16. Miami Dolphins (9-5) – Previously: 17.
    I actually wrote that the Dolphins would be an overrated team this week following the Saturday night game. Here’s why:

    The Dolphins were nearly as impressive as their 34-13 result indicated. They were up just 13-10 at halftime despite the Jets getting nothing on three possessions over midfield. The Dolphins only pulled away because of a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and a horrible interception from Bryce Petty. New York ultimately quit. Before this game, the Jets barely snuck by the pedestrian Cardinals at home and were blown out at Baltimore. I’d have to think that the No. 3 seed would love for the Dolphins to sneak into the playoffs over the Broncos.

    I’ve changed my mind after seeing the Week 16 spreads. The Dolphins are +4 at Buffalo for some reason, and there’s equal action coming in on both sides!

  17. Washington Redskins (7-6-1) – Previously: 8.
    Wow, what a disappointing game. The Redskins just didn’t show up. They’ve now dropped two games to losing teams in the past three weeks. Thanks to their latest case of lethargy, there’s a decent chance they’ll now miss the playoffs.

    After the game, Kirk Cousins had the following quote for the media:

    I know, I know, that’s the second Jordan meme of the week, but they’ve both been very appropriate.

  18. Carolina Panthers (6-8) – Previously: 24.
    The Panthers ruined their draft positioning by winning, but they’re apparently on a quest to finish 8-8, which could propel them into a hot start in 2017. They’ve won two in a row versus solid teams, so they definitely could get to .500.

    The Panthers are also still alive in the playoffs somehow. In addition to winning out, they need the following to happen: The Buccaneers and Packers need to lose out; the Vikings need to lose one game; the Redskins need to tie one of their games; two team planes need to crash; and Cthulhu needs to swallow up the entire Pacific coast.

  19. Denver Broncos (8-6) – Previously: 7.
    Underrated NFL Team: The Broncos have trended into underrated territory for the first time all year. They lost 16-3 to the Patriots, but that game wasn’t as one-sided as the media is making it out to be. Denver played evenly with the Patriots for the most part; the yardage was close, while the Broncos outgained New England by 0.8 yards per play. The difference proved to be the Jordan Norwood fumbles and Trevor Siemian’s back-breaking interception inside the 5-yard line. The Broncos also dropped countless passes.

  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) – Previously: 13.
    I was going to move the Buccaneers into the top 10 had they beaten the Cowboys, but Jameis Winston was way too inconsistent. He seriously looked like three different quarterbacks throughout the game. Thus, I realized that while Tampa is a solid team, it’s not ready for prime time just yet, despite some of its impressive victories of late. That said, I’m not too down on them, as the game could’ve gone differently had right tackle Demar Dotson been on the field.

  21. Atlanta Falcons (9-5) – Previously: 11.
    Overrated NFL Team: The Falcons are just 1-2 in the previous three games they’ve played against real NFL teams. Atlanta nearly beat Kansas City, but was trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter against a team coming off a full overtime Sunday night game in altitude. I still can’t get over how the Falcons were bullied in the trenches by a Philadelphia team that was stomped on by the Seahawks. I also can’t get over how Bruce Arians refused to expose this liability by giving David Johnson only 13 carries. The Cardinals were outgaining the Falcons in yards per play throughout the afternoon. Even Atlanta’s victory over Tampa wasn’t overly impressive, as the Buccaneers were up, 14-13, prior to losing their starting center. Desmond Trufant is lost for the year, which will be huge against real NFL teams.

  22. Detroit Lions (9-5) – Previously: 12.
    Curse you, Zach Zenner. Curse you, Zach Zenner, for fumbling inside the 5-yard line and costing me my first NFL Pick of the Month. I curse you, Zach Zenner, so that your firstborn child will have all the happiness in the world, until he or she turns 16, and he or she pricks his or her finger and falls into a deep slumber, and your whole kingdom household is covered in various shrubberies.

    If you couldn’t tell, I’m a bit pissed at Zenner right now. I still can’t believe the Lions didn’t cover. Ugh.

  23. New York Giants (10-4) – Previously: 16.
    Overrated NFL Team: People were asking me if I changed my mind about the Giants being overrated in the wake of their victory over Detroit. No, I haven’t. The Lions lost the player they planned on covering Odell Beckham Jr. with in the first quarter, and Zach Zenner fumbled inside the 5-yard line. The Lions outgained the Giants in total yards and yards per play. I’m not impressed, and now Janoris Jenkins may not be available for a while. This Giant team reminds me a lot of the 2013 Chiefs, who started 10-0. I called that Kansas City team vastly overrated, even when they were 10-0, and it lost its initial playoff game, which was hardly a surprise. Those Chiefs eked out close wins versus mediocre and bad teams and lucked out versus decent competition, and that’s what this New York team has done.

  24. Baltimore Ravens (8-6) – Previously: 10.
    Underrated NFL Team: The Ravens struggled earlier in the year, but they had so many injuries, it was ridiculous. They’re mostly healthy now, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’ve won and covered four of the five games prior to New England. The one exception was the loss at Dallas, but the Ravens hung around and even outgained the Cowboys by 0.9 yards per play. As for the New England game, losing Jimmy Smith was a huge deal, as the Ravens were putting the clamps on Tom Brady until Smith got knocked out. The Ravens barely beat the Eagles, but they were up 10 midway through the fourth quarter.

  25. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) – Previously: 5.
    Overrated NFL Team: The Chiefs may have beaten the Raiders, but they lost the heart and soul of their defense in the process. That’s obviously a huge blow to their Super Bowl aspirations, and you can check out my Disaster Grades to see how I rated it. I have to say that I wasn’t exactly impressed with the Chiefs. They won by just eight with the help of a punt return touchdown despite battling a quarterback who couldn’t complete routine, 5-yard passes because of his dislocated finger. The loss to Tennessee could be a sign of things to come.

  26. Green Bay Packers (8-6) – Previously: 9.
    So, Aaron Rodgers is pretty good at this Hail Mary thing. It’s crazy that we can watch a highlight reel of the five greatest plays he’s ever made, and they’re all pretty much Hail Marys to either win or send games to overtime. All I can say is, I nearly had a heart attack when Jordy Nelson got up after catching that 60-yarder. I swear, I don’t think he was touched, but he gave himself up because time was running out.

    At any rate, Green Bay’s three-point victory over Chicago may not seem impressive, but the Bears have been very competitive lately. Plus, it was Rodgers’ first win in single-digit temperatures.

  27. Tennessee Titans (8-6) – Previously: 15.
    I’m moving the Titans way up because I think I’ve ranked them too low this whole time. They’ve been very impressive this year, winning at Kansas City, beating Denver and crushing Green Bay. They’ve had trouble with the Colts, but based on how Indianapolis played at Minnesota, perhaps that shouldn’t be held against them.

    This Tennessee team is very good. Few squads run the ball as well as it does, and the Titans also have a terrific front seven. Marcus Mariota is still young, and the secondary is a major liability, but Tennessee is a dangerous team that has proven that it can beat anyone.

  28. Oakland Raiders (11-3) – Previously: 6.
    The Raiders beat the Chargers in front of a home crowd in San Diego to clinch playoff berth for the first time since 2002. What’s crazy is that the last time Oakland was in the playoffs, Facebook didn’t even exist. So, this is the first time that the few Raider fans able to afford computers can brag about their team being in the playoffs on Facebook! Congrats!

    So, how far can the Raiders go? I think they can go the distance, as long as Derek Carr is completely healthy. Carr was better than he was in Kansas City, but he still didn’t look quite right. A bothersome finger won’t feel very good in New England come January. I’m just taking a guess here, but I don’t think it’s going to be 65 and sunny in Foxboro.

  29. Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1) – Previously: 3.
    The obvious differences between the two and three seeds is that the No. 2 seed gets time off and has a home game in the second round, presumably over the third seed. This is definitely crucial for the Seahawks, who are now 7-0 as hosts this year. With the Lions finishing with a tough schedule, it appears as though Seattle will be getting the bye along with Dallas, though the absence of Earl Thomas is a bigger factor than home-field advantage.

  30. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) – Previously: 2.
    I’m not as high on the Steelers as I was last week. They really should’ve lost to the Bengals, as they probably would have if Vontaze Burfict didn’t leave the game in the first half. Cincinnati’s defense was not the same after that. Having said that, I still think the Steelers are very dangerous, and they’re more than capable of beating anyone in the playoffs.

  31. Dallas Cowboys (12-2) – Previously: 4.
    The Cowboys finally played a good game since beating Pittsburgh. That said, they were still sloppy. They easily could’ve blown out the Buccaneers, but three promising drives ended prematurely because of penalties. And I’m saying this as someone who bet Tampa heavily! The Cowboys need to clean up their act, but perhaps this is something we should expect because they happen to be so young. That could ultimately be their downfall this year.

    At the very least, we know that Ezekiel Elliott is very charitable. I can’t believe he gave himself to the Salvation Army. Then again, perhaps Elliott just likes to jump into tubes:

    Congrats to Elliott, for finding the warp zone to 4-1, but he should be prepared for spiny shells to begin falling from the sky.

  32. New England Patriots (12-2) – Previously: 1.
    The Patriots probably have to be considered the best team in the NFL right now, but I don’t think they’re as unbeatable as the media is making them out to be. They were fortunate that the Broncos constantly shot themselves in the foot Sunday, and they weren’t doing much offensively the prior week until Jimmy Smith went down. The Patriots aren’t as potent offensively, and their defense has problems rushing the passer.

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