Week 16 of the NFL season was highlighted by two marquee AFC matchups. The Bengals took on the Ravens for control of the AFC North. Over in Foxboro, the Bills visited the Patriots for the fate of the AFC East. Who won these matchups to take control of their playoff destiny? Here are the power rankings for Week 16 of the NFL season.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) (Eliminated) Prev: 32
Jacksonville continued their tank to the first overall pick in the draft with another loss this week. As of right now, the top names in the draft are defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson, from Michigan and Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon. The Jags will get to pick from those two, among others.
Team MVP: Marvin Jones Jr (8 rec, 74 yds)
Next: at Patriots
31. New York Giants (4-11) (Eliminated) Prev: 28
After getting smacked by the Eagles, the Giants are now officially eliminated. The G-men will have a lot to think about in the offseason, including the job status of head coach Joe Judge and quarterback Daniel Jones.
Team MVP: Lorenzo Carter (3 tackles, sack)
Next: at Bears
30. Detroit Lions (2-12-1) (Eliminated) Prev: 27
A week after taking down the NFC West-leading Cardinals, the Lions fell to Atlanta. With no Jared Goff, this game had no business being as close as it was, which shows that Dan Campbell does a good job of getting his team ready to play. Maybe next year, with a half-decent roster, this team won’t be at the bottom of the barrel.
Team MVP: Amon-Ra St. Brown (9 rec, 91 yds, TD)
Next: at Seahawks
29. New York Jets (4-11) (Eliminated) Prev: 30
In a battle between the top two picks in the draft, Zach Wilson’s Jets out-dueled Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars. The Jets currently hold the 4th and 6th picks in the NFL draft due to them holding Seattle’s pick from the Jamal Adams trade. Two top ten picks would most certainly help this team.
Team MVP: Michael Carter (118 yds)
Next: vs Buccaneers
28. Carolina Panthers (5-10) (Eliminated) Prev: 26
After a nice start to the season, the Panthers have been eliminated. With Sam Darnold’s contract fully guaranteed next year, it will likely be another mediocre season for Carolina as well. The talent is there, but they remain a quarterback away.
Team MVP: Shi Smith (3 rec, 86 yds)
Next: at Saints
27. Seattle Seahawks (5-10) (Eliminated) Prev: 25
If you had “Seattle eliminated two weeks before the season ends” on your NFL bingo card this year, congratulations. It was a sudden, unexpected collapse for the Seahawks, which will likely end with the team blowing it all up. The futures of Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll are in question.
Team MVP: Rashaad Penny (135 yds, TD)
Next: vs Lions
26. Houston Texans (4-11) (Eliminated) Prev: 31
The Houston Texans are here to ruin all your NFL playoff brackets. They dominated the Chargers, and they now sit outside of the NFL playoff picture. We’ll see if the Texans are still in the dream-crushing mood next week when they take on San Francisco.
Team MVP: Rex Burkhead (149 yds, 2 TDs)
Next: at 49ers
25. Chicago Bears (5-10) (Eliminated) Prev: 29
The Bears were eliminated two weeks ago, and this week they took Seattle down with them. Nick Foles was the starter this week, managing the game well enough to win. The Bears won’t have their first-round pick this year after trading up for Justin Fields, so they will have to build their roster next year through free agency and middle-round draft picks.
Team MVP: David Montgomery (45 yds, TD, 7 rec, 61 yds)
Next: vs Giants
24. Washington Football Team (6-9) Prev: 23
After being in the playoff race for so long, Washington has all but fumbled their chances away. They were humiliated by the Cowboys, as Dallas put up 42 in the first half. Washington is likely one game away from being eliminated from playoff contention.
Team MVP: John Bates (2 rec, 45 yds, TD)
Next: vs Eagles
23. Denver Broncos (7-8) Prev: 22
Denver fell to the Raiders, putting them under .500 on the season. The absence of Teddy Bridgewater was felt, as the Broncos couldn’t get much going on offense. Denver now will need a lot of help to make it to the playoffs.
Team MVP: Shelby Harris (5 tackles, 1.5 sacks)
Next: at Chargers
22. Cleveland Browns (7-8) Prev: 21
Baker Mayfield continues to hurt his team by playing through his many injuries. The Browns had every chance to win this game, but when your quarterback throws four interceptions, winning is pretty hard. Cleveland now sits under .500 and will need to win out and get help.
Team MVP: Nick Chubb (126 yds, TD, 3 rec, 58 yds)
Next: at Steelers
21. Atlanta Falcons (7-8) Prev: 24
A win over the Lions keeps the Falcons alive, but they have very little hope for a playoff spot. However, being in the race is much better than having no hope, so Atlanta still has plenty to play for. The Falcons get a big test next week to try to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Team MVP: Foyesade Oluokun (14 tackles, INT)
Next: at Bills
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) Prev: 17
The Steelers got steamrolled by the Chiefs this week. Pittsburgh could very well keep Mike Tomlin’s record of never having a losing season alive, but a return to the playoffs does not seem to be in the cards for the Steelers. They should focus on finding Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement, be it in-house or through the draft.
Team MVP: Najee Harris (93 yds)
Next: vs Browns
19. New Orleans Saints (7-8) Prev: 16
Down to what seems like their fourth or fifth quarterback, the Saints fell to the Dolphins. The Saints were generating hope for their playoff chances, but Taysom Hill catching COVID may have shot that dead in the water.
Team MVP: Cameron Jordan (6 tackles, 2 sacks)
Next: vs Panthers
18. Minnesota Vikings (7-8) Prev: 15
The Vikings fell to the Rams and now sit outside the NFC playoffs after being leapfrogged by the Eagles. With a matchup against Green Bay lurking, the Vikings will need a repeat of their last performance against the Packers when they scored the upset.
Team MVP: Anthony Barr (7 tackles, 2 INT)
Next: at Packers
17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) Prev: 19
A win over the Broncos keeps the Raiders in the hunt for a playoff spot. It’s a very crowded space in the AFC, and the Raiders are near the bottom of the pack. Don’t get your hopes up for this team, but it could happen.
Team MVP: Josh Jacobs (129 yds)
Next: at Colts
16. Baltimore Ravens (8-7) Prev: 13
How the mighty have fallen. Josh Johnson played well given the circumstances, but when Tyler Huntley caught COVID, and Lamar Jackson was ruled out, it seemed like it was over for the Ravens. Baltimore once led the entire AFC but now is out of the playoff picture. If one of the three Wild Card teams were to falter, Baltimore is first in line, but they will need Lamar Jackson back ASAP.
Team MVP: Mark Andrews (8 rec, 125 yds, TD)
Next: vs Rams
15. Miami Dolphins (8-7) Prev: 18
From way out of the picture to being in the playoff picture, Miami has fought its way to an over .500 record. The Dolphins have two tough opponents to end the season, but it also could be argued that nobody in the NFL is hotter right now.
Team MVP: Jaylen Waddle (10 rec, 92 yds, TD)
Next: at Titans
14. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) Prev: 14
The Chargers suffered an inexcusable loss to a Texans team near the bottom of the entire league. The Chargers have now been leapfrogged by the Dolphins and the Ravens. Los Angeles will need some help to get back into the playoff picture.
Team MVP: Justin Jackson (64 yds, 2 TDs, 8 rec, 98 yds)
Next: vs Broncos
13. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) Prev: 20
The Eagles have stolen a spot in the playoff picture after a win over the Giants. Philly has another divisional matchup next week against an angry Washington team. It won’t be easy, but it’s a game the Eagles should win.
Team MVP: Alex Singleton (12 tackles, INT, TD)
Next: at Washington
12. San Francisco 49ers (8-7) Prev: 11
San Fran took a loss to the Titans this week, and it was the first game in a while where Jimmy Garopollo was a liability. He missed several big throws, including one to Kyle Juszcyzk for an easy touchdown. The Niners are still in the playoffs, but it’s never good to lose ground.
Team MVP: Deebo Samuel (9 rec, 159 yds, 32 yds)
Next: vs Texans
11. New England Patriots (9-6) Prev: 8
It was never supposed to be the season where New England retook control over the AFC East, but it’s shocking to see a Bill Belichick-led team play this bad in December. The Pats now have lost control of the AFC East and are the sixth seed in the AFC. They have a get-right game against Jacksonville next week, but it could also be a trap game with how they’ve been playing.
Team MVP: Damien Harris (103 yds, 3 TDs)
Next: vs Jaguars
10. Cincinatti Bengals (9-6) Prev: 12
The surprise team of this season gave its best performance yet. Joe Burrow put his name in NFL record books with his performance against the Ravens. He finished with the 4th most passing yards in a single game in history. The Bengals now control their destiny, as they lead the AFC North and hold tiebreakers over their division rivals.
Team MVP: Joe Burrow (37/46, 525 yds, 4 TDs)
Next: vs Chiefs
9. Buffalo Bills (9-6) Prev: 10
Speaking of teams that took control of their destiny, the Bills beat the Patriots in Foxboro to reclaim the AFC East. Buffalo looked rough early on in the season, but they are playing their best football when it matters. Buffalo needs to win out, and they have two games they should win on their schedule.
Team MVP: Josh Allen (30/47, 314 yds, 3 TDs, 64 yds)
Next: vs Falcons
8. Tennessee Titans (10-5) Prev: 9
The Titans got a big win over the 49ers to move back into the second seed in the AFC. AJ Brown is back, and he gave Ryan Tannehill a target he could trust for the first time in a while. The Titans remain a very dangerous team in the AFC playoffs, especially if Derrick Henry comes back.
Team MVP: AJ Brown (11 rec, 145 yds, TD)
Next: vs Dolphins
7. Arizona Cardinals (10-5) Prev: 6
Despite collapsing in the second half of the season, the Cardinals have clinched a playoff spot. The collapse continued with a Christmas loss to the Colts, but Arizona did stay competitive. The Cardinals get another tough opponent next week.
Team MVP: Chase Edmonds (56 yds, TD, 8 rec, 71 yds)
Next: at Cowboys
6. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) Prev: 7
Indy got yet another win this week over the Cardinals. Indy has turned itself from playoff hopeful to Super Bowl hopeful with a phenomenal second half. The Colts can take out one team looking to steal their playoff spot next week.
Team MVP: Carson Wentz (18/28, 225 yds, 2 TDs)
Next: vs Raiders
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) Prev: 5
The banged-up Bucs beat down their division rivals, the Panthers, to claim the NFC South crown. Tom Brady has been a divisional champion in the AFC and NFC, an impressive feat. The Bucs are now guaranteed at least one home game in the playoffs and are fighting for seeding.
Team MVP: William Gholston (3 tackles, 2.5 sacks)
Next: at Jets
4. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) Prev: 4
The top team in the AFC continues to roll with a dominating win over the Steelers. Kansas City is firing on all cylinders, playing the best they have since before last year’s Super Bowl. The Chiefs don’t look like they can be stopped right now.
Team MVP: Patrick Mahomes (258 yds, 3 TDs)
Next: at Bengals
3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4) Prev: 3
The Rams now lead the NFC West thanks to a Cardinals loss. Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions, which is a little concerning, but Sony Michel has emerged as the lead back in LA. With Arizona seemingly imploding, the Rams look like they have the NFC West locked down.
Team MVP: Sony Michel (131 yds, TD)
Next: at Ravens
2. Dallas Cowboys (11-4) Prev: 2
The Cowboys ensured that there would be no back-to-back NFC East champion again this year, as they claimed the division title for their own. To top it off, Dallas humiliated Washington in prime time, making two of Washington’s defensive linemen even come to blows. The Cowboys currently hold the second seed in the NFC and are praying on the downfall of the top team in the power rankings.
Team MVP: Demarcus Lawrence (2 tackles, sack, INT, TD)
Next: vs Cardinals
1. Green Bay Packers (12-3) Prev: 1
The best team in the NFL remains in the top spot after a Christmas W over the Browns. Green Bay has been a well-oiled machine for weeks now and shows no signs of slowing down. The big question for this team is if they can get that big NFC Championship monkey off their back this year. Of course, that implies they don’t get beat before they make that game.
Team MVP: Davante Adams (10 rec, 114 yds, 2 TDs)