Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: 49ers Eviscerate Buccaneers While Lions Keep Climbing

The Week 15 NFL Power Rankings won't see too much vertical change in rankings, but there are a few tier changes to better fit mid-tier teams.

The NFL Power Rankings are back in Week 15, and we have an outstanding idea of what many of these teams are at this point. However, there is still a logjam of teams around the .500 mark. More teams are still alive and in the playoff hunt than we thought would be at this point. Which teams moved most this week?

Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 6 | Unadulterated Awfulness

Only one team graces Tier 6, and unless things go horribly wrong for another low-win franchise, it’s tough to imagine any team will join Houston here for the rest of the season.

32. Houston Texans

It’s been a while since the Texans were legitimately competitive in a game, but we did see it earlier in the season. Houston either held leads or kept games close heading into the final quarter, only to lose it at the end of the game. They played off a similar script in Week 14.

The Texans did it again versus Dallas, a team that looked to completely overpower them early in the game. Houston had an interesting offensive game plan, using Jeff Driskel against the Cowboys’ defense, which struggles to defend QB runs. But in the end, the Texans’ defense couldn’t get the final stop, allowing Dallas to go 98 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

Tier 5 | Ugly Football Teams

We needed to add a Tier for Week 15. There are a few teams currently under .500, who are still fighting for playoff contention and should be separated from the truly ugly football teams.

31. Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos could have played the role of a dead horse down 27-0. Kansas City could have beaten them to a pulp. But Denver fought back and played hard to crawl back into the game and even had a chance to win the game late.

Russell Wilson played better once again, stacking two of his best weeks together as a Bronco in the past two weeks. Unfortunately, Wilson ended up in concussion protocol after scrambling on a crucial third down to pick up a first.

There are no moral victories in the NFL, but it was nice to see the Broncos’ offense show some life.

30. Chicago Bears

The Bears are a very bad football team right now, but they have a lot to look forward to, given the way Justin Fields has developed thus far in 2022. The defense has dissolved into mush, but Fields is using his legs as an unfair advantage against opposing defenses.

MORE: 2023 NFL Free Agents by Position

There are a lot of holes to fill on the roster during the offseason, but Chicago will have a ridiculous amount of cash to spend on free agents.

29. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams were admittedly helped out by some surprising and poor defensive play-calling late in their game against the Raiders. Las Vegas remained aggressive, playing man coverage from press alignment, and unlikely hero Baker Mayfield made them pay for it.

Mayfield is auditioning for a possible starting role somewhere next season, and for picking up the Rams’ playbook just two days before the game, he couldn’t have been happier about how he played.

28. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts played well against Dallas for three quarters in Week 13 but took an absolute shellacking in the fourth quarter, unlike we’ve seen for a long time at the NFL level. They were outscored 33-0 in the final 15 minutes.

Nobody yet knows what will become of Chris Ballard in the offseason, but the Colts GM must swiftly figure out the team’s QB situation in a hurry if he’s to survive 2023, That is, if he survives to see 2023 at all.

27. New Orleans Saints

The Saints are lost. After their defense held Tampa Bay to just three points through most of the contest, New Orleans allowed touchdowns on the final two drives of the game, leading to a one-point loss.

The Saints have aging talent at multiple important positions and about as unhealthy a cap situation as one can get in a league with a salary cap climbing at a ridiculous rate. With just a few games left and another year on Jameis Winston’s deal, it might be time to work him back into the fold.

26. Las Vegas Raiders

On Thursday, the Las Vegas Raiders ran 22 offensive plays in the second half. Meanwhile, the Rams had a 17-play drive in the fourth quarter. Sloppy special-teams play and poor defensive play-calling cost Vegas the game.

Who knows what the future has in store for the Raiders. Derek Carr has another year on his contract and a no-trade clause, but it feels like the days of the Raiders’ longtime QB could be numbered. There is a lot of talent on Las Vegas’ roster, but the team’s overall construction needs to be revamped.

25. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals can — and probably should — look elsewhere at both general manager and head coach in the offseason, despite signing both Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury to contract extensions. Arizona’s roster is a mess, and Kyler Murray hasn’t progressed the way he needed to as a passer.

According to DVOA, the Cardinals rank 30th as a team, with the 29th-most efficient offense and 24th-most efficient defense. They also rank 28th in special-teams DVOA, making the Bears the only teams to rank outside the top 20 in all three categories.

MORE: Steve Keim Among GMs Who Could Be Fired

Things probably won’t improve much after their 27-13 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. The Patriots’ defense gets after the quarterback with outstanding fervor, and paired against an underwhelming offensive line and no Kyler Murray after the third offensive play, the Cardinals couldn’t keep up.

Despite putting three straight scoring drives together in the second quarter, they couldn’t maintain that momentum, and their defense simply doesn’t have the talent to continuously get stops.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

With a healthy Kenny Pickett, there’s a good chance that the Steelers come away with a victory against the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Pickett went into concussion protocol, and Mitch Trubisky had a rough day at the office in relief.

Pittsburgh’s defense also struggled to defend the run, which was practically all Baltimore had after their own starting QB went down with an injury. Baltimore turned to undrafted rookie Anthony Brown, who threw the ball five times in the third and fourth quarters.

23. Cleveland Browns

A Cleveland offense that ranked sixth in offensive EPA per play has looked anemic in Deshaun Watson’s two starts. Luckily, the Browns were all but out of the playoff hunt before his return, so they won’t mind taking some lumps to get their franchise QB some much-needed time under live fire.

The Bengals’ defense didn’t let Nick Chubb beat them, and the Browns’ offense could only manage 4.9 yards per play and 4 of 15 on third downs. Watson doesn’t need to look like his old self in 2022, but he needs to get acclimated for the rest of the season and start showing signs of improvement.

22. Green Bay Packers

The Packers are all but eliminated from playoff contention, but it’s been nice to see some fight in the team over a tough four-week stretch that included the Cowboys, Titans, and Eagles.

Christian Watson has been a TD magnet for a Packers offense that had struggled all season without high-end receiver play. Aaron Rodgers and the rookie have a good rapport, and the North Dakota State receiver’s speed has been a difference-maker for Green Bay’s offense.

Tier 4 | Ugly, But Alive

There will be better football teams that miss out on the playoffs, but six of these teams still have a fighting chance to make it.

21. Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers… could still win their division. Somehow, they look like the strongest of the NFC South teams as we approach Week 15!

The 5-8 Panthers are just a game out, and they still have a game against the Buccaneers in Week 17, plus they have a better divisional record than the Falcons.

We saw a similar situation in Las Vegas a season ago. Although, when the Raiders fired their head coach, they weren’t arguably the worst team in the NFL like Carolina. Sam Darnold has played well so far in his stint as the starting QB, and the young Panthers defense is making plays.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Tennessee Titans’ defense is a shell of its former self, but Trevor Lawrence is starting to stack weeks together, looking like the transcendent prospect coming out of Clemson. The lanky, long-haired QB finished 30 of 42 for 368 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a TD.

There’s always a give and take with QB runs, but Lawrence was an outstanding runner in college, and the offense could really take the next step if he becomes a weapon in the run game. Jacksonville is somehow still in the AFC Wild Card and AFC South playoff picture.

19. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are making a change at the most important position in professional sports during their bye week. They held on as long as possible with Marcus Mariota, but his play has deteriorated such that they feel rookie third-round pick Desmond Ridder may be the better option.

He might be. From a process perspective, Ridder was arguably the most advanced of any 2022 QB prospect. His accuracy always let him down a bit, but he’s athletic and has a strong arm, which should fit well into Arthur Smith’s play-action offense.

18. New York Giants

The New York Giants feel like the antithesis of the Lions. New York has lost or tied five of their last six. While we felt their strong early-season run was a fluke, they’ve fallen completely off the rails in recent weeks.

Their pass defense has been ravaged by injuries, and that hurt them greatly against an Eagles team that has multiple receivers that seem to separate at will. New York still faces three teams with winning records down the stretch and could find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady’s performance against the San Francisco 49ers may have been his worst display ever. The Buccaneers’ offense doesn’t run the ball well or often, so the onus is on Brady to elevate them with an efficient passing attack.

But what might be even more worrisome was the Buccaneers’ poor defensive output against a seventh-round rookie QB, who effectively picked them apart and made plays downfield to his receivers.

Yet, even at 6-7, the Buccaneers control their fate in the NFC South.

16. Detroit Lions

Maybe it’s because of the Lions’ laughably bad franchise history. Maybe it’s because of Dan Campbell’s energy. Maybe it’s the questionable defense and high-powered offense that makes them feel somewhat like a college program. Whatever it is, the Detroit Lions are remarkably easy to root for.

MORE: Lions Prove Playoff Potential With Win Over Vikings

Detroit is arguably the hottest team in the NFL, winning five of its last six games. Their only loss came against Josh Allen and the Bills by three points on Thanksgiving. Heck, Detroit has a positive point differential now and is right in the middle of the NFC playoff hunt.

15. Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers are 15th in the NFL Power Rankings, but they had been playing worse than their ranking and record suggested. Their highly-paid defense hasn’t yet materialized into a competent unit, and as only the Chargers can do, they’re endlessly injured.

Brandon Staley and Joe Lombardi needed answers immediately if they want to see another season in sunny LA. A win against Miami goes a long way toward that goal. The Chargers were looking like a legitimate bottom-10 team in the NFL over the past month or so, losing four of their last six games before their win at home against Miami.

Justin Herbert shredded the Dolphins’ defense — if they can keep up this offensive firepower headed into the home stretch of the season, they’ll quiet a lot of their doubters.

Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 3 | The Playoff Contenders

Having these teams inside the playoff contenders tier or better wasn’t on purpose, but it worked out this way. Unfortunately, a few of the teams inside of this tier will miss the playoffs, even though they’re playing better football than the Tier 4 teams.

14. Seattle Seahawks

Maybe the Panthers are a legitimately improved team looking to make a playoff push. However, the Seahawks have followed the same script as so many NFL teams in 2022. They’re playing in streaks.

After winning four games in a row, Seattle’s lost three of their last four games, and their next three games are against the 49ers, Chiefs, and Jets, who are all playoff-caliber teams. The loss knocks Seattle out of the NFC playoffs at the moment, and with their schedule, it would take a significantly improved team to make a run to sneak back in.

13. Washington Commanders

For all the FUBAR off-field happenings surrounding the Commanders, the team itself has been incredibly focused on its task. Ron Rivera deserves Coach of the Year consideration for keeping this team relevant, let alone smack dab in the middle of a playoff hunt!

Washington is the only team to beat Philadelphia this season, and their defense has really improved as the season’s progressed. Taylor Heinicke might not be a franchise starter, and he may not even be what we’d consider “good,” but he has the magical moments we thought we might get with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

12. New York Jets

The Jets battled against the Buffalo Bills, but they’ll have to live with splitting their season series. The weather dictated little offense between the two teams today, and both strong defenses came to play.

Mike White was an absolute warrior, leaving and returning to the game multiple times and then heading to the hospital as a precaution after the game. The shot he took from Ed Oliver was one of the most significant pops we’ve seen from a legal hit on a QB in some time.

The rest of New York’s schedule is not kind. They’ll have to fight and claw to retain their playoff standing against the Patriots, Chargers, and possibly, the Jaguars.

11. Tennessee Titans

The 2022 NFL season has been a story of streaks. The Titans rattled off seven wins in eight games, doing so by winning in their patented ugly fashion. However, they’ve now lost three straight games, and, just this past week, fired general manager Jon Robinson.

Tennessee’s receiving corps is underdeveloped, their tackles are bad, the secondary is injured, and they’ve struggled to run the football the way we’re used to seeing from the Titans this season.

10. New England Patriots

The Patriots’ defense continues to play some of the best football in the NFL. Meanwhile, they’ve struggled both in the passing game and on the ground. Losing Josh McDaniels has had a lasting negative effect on the offense, particularly on the run game, where he’s somewhat of a savant.

Without the run game, things have become harder on Mac Jones, who is trying to be more of a playmaker at QB, but with unconvincing results. Luckily, New England’s defense keeps them in football games, thanks to a defensive line that generates pressure at an incredible rate.

The Patriots’ offense remains underwhelming. They finished three of 11 on third down and didn’t complete a pass over 20 yards (to a receiver). Without Jakobi Meyers on the field, they have next to no talent on the outside. And while DeVante Parker has a reputation and size, he’s not a good fit for Mac Jones’s game.

Nonetheless, they were able to come away with a comfortable win against a bad Cardinals squad after Kyler Murray left with an unfortunate non-contact injury three plays into the game.

9. Baltimore Ravens

It was ugly, but the Baltimore Ravens survived against their hated division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, they lost backup QB Tyler Huntley to injury in the third quarter and had to finish the game with undrafted rookie Anthony Brown.

Huntley will go through concussion protocol this week and hopefully be ready for Baltimore’s Week 15 matchup against the Browns. If he can’t go, it will be hard for the Ravens to come out of Cleveland with a win, unless they simply run all over the Browns’ poor rushing defense.

8. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are really something. To keep their undefeated record in one-score games, they made sure to allow a late field goal to Detroit so they wouldn’t lose that run. Despite their 10-3 record, the Vikings have a -1 point differential this season, and they ranked 20th in team DVOA before the loss to Detroit.

Even a franchise-record effort from Justin Jefferson wasn’t enough to give Minnesota the edge against their divisional foe. But with games against the Colts, Giants, Packers, and Bears to end the season, Minnesota should still roll into the playoffs.

Tier 2 | Conference Championship Contenders

Minnesota gets bumped out of the Conference Championship Tier despite having just three losses. However, the number of teams in Tier 2 remains the same because one of the elite teams hasn’t played very well over the past eight quarters.

7. Miami Dolphins

Miami is an incredibly talented offense, but they struggled a week ago against DeMeco Ryans’ San Francisco defense. While other teams may “have the blueprint” to defend Miami’s offense, they don’t have the talent to replicate San Francisco’s game plan.

MORE: Has the NFL Figured Out McDaniel and Tua?

The Dolphins’ defense isn’t nearly on the level their offense is. They need to get pressure on the opposing QB because their secondary hasn’t been healthy all season, and their coverage scheme is incredibly aggressive.

Miami’s defense couldn’t hold up against Justin Herbert and a healthier Chargers offense than we’ve seen for most of the season. Still, Miami remains in good standing within the AFC playoff race, maintaining the sixth seed. However, they are two games out of the AFC East crown after the loss against the Chargers.

6. Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals are rolling! They’ve won seven of their last eight games, and their offense figured out how to run the football a long time ago. Cincinnati’s defense has stepped up in Chidobe Awuzie’s absence, and the Bengals team we thought may contend as a top AFC team looks the part.

With so many offensive weapons and a well-coached defense to boot, the Bengals could be the giant killers. They’re a team that magically found its way to the Super Bowl a season ago, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them there again this season.

5. San Francisco 49ers

Brock Purdy was Mr. Irrelevant. He’s not supposed to be able to do what he did against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense. The scariest part about all of this for opposing teams is that he’s creating explosiveness in the offense with his athleticism and playmaking ability.

MORE: How Brock Purdy Stole the Spotlight from Tom Brady

Pair that with a defense that is about as good as you’ll find, and it’s tough to imagine a more dangerous team in the NFC if Purdy can keep up this level of play. And while the 49ers won’t get whatever that version of Brady was this week, they’ve proven to be among the league’s best.

4. Buffalo Bills

It took a long time for the Bills’ offense to get rolling against the Jets. Nevertheless, Buffalo scored points on four straight possessions, eventually taking a 20-9 lead.

It’s tough to get a feel for whether Buffalo’s offense was struggling on its own because New York’s defense is talented, the weather, or a combination of everything. The Bills struggled on third down, and Josh Allen had another somewhat pedestrian game as a passer.

With games left against Miami, Cincinnati, and New England, we’ll still learn a lot more about what kind of form Buffalo is in as they enter the playoffs.

3. Dallas Cowboys

Dallas doesn’t drop in the Power Rankings, but they don’t get to keep their elite status. They needed 59+ minutes to gain the edge over a truly horrific Texans squad. The Cowboys have effectively played one good quarter in their last eight. While that one quarter was a 33-0 drubbing, consistent play matters, especially as we head down the stretch.

Dallas will face a surging Jacksonville team boasting an improved Trevor Lawrence, who is playing like he’s on the precipice of stardom. They’re still down two games and the head-to-head against Philadelphia, who would need another loss somewhere on their schedule to let Dallas back into the NFC East and top seed.

Tier 1 | The Elite Teams

There are a few teams on the cusp of the elite tier. In fact, a league that seemed to only have two or three legitimately good teams halfway through the season looks to have about half a dozen now. Who will join the Chiefs and Eagles for Week 16?

2. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs looked like they were going to play the role of S.W.A.T and blow the doors off of the Broncos, but they took their foot off the gas, and Patrick Mahomes made a few bad reads that led to Josey Jewell interceptions. A missed throw gave Patrick Surtain II another interception.

The Chiefs have the highest potential of any offense in the league if they avoid mistakes like they did against Denver. After letting the Broncos get within six points, Kansas City scored again to make it a two-possession game, and their offense iced the game on the final drive.

However, the Chiefs’ defense needs to start making some more plays if they want to get through the AFC playoff gauntlet.

1. Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles’ offense wins in so many ways. Their run game is multi-faceted and explosive. Their passing attack has two receivers that can seemingly separate at will, and another with outstanding speed to complement it all. And that’s before getting to their offensive line, which may be the best in the game.

MORE: After Tumultuous Week for Super Bowl Contenders, Eagles Rise to the Top

The most consistent team in the NFL also showed that when they want to, they can match their NFC East rival Cowboys in ceiling during their blowout win against the New York Giants. Jalen Hurts is one of the most intelligent rushers in the NFL, regardless of position.

They’re a complete team.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Stories

Related Articles