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NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Chiefs clinch first place in AFC

After ranking all 32 teams in our Week 17 NFL Power Rankings, we have a better idea of who the best and worst teams are in the NFL.

NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Chiefs clinch first place in AFC
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - DECEMBER 27: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs on to the field with teammates before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Arrowhead Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Our Week 17 NFL Power Rankings take a look at the best teams, with plenty of movement around the league. This includes several playoff contenders making a move up the board, the Kansas City Chiefs clinching first place in the AFC, Aaron Rodgers solidifying his MVP status, and the Jacksonville Jaguars securing the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. How do all 32 NFL teams stack up? Let’s take a look following all of the action in Week 16.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 17

As you read through these NFL Power Rankings, remember that they are not predictions. If a team projects to have an easy or difficult schedule ahead of them, that matters not for this exercise. These are very simply a list of how good each team is right this minute. Here’s how all 32 teams rank in my Week 17 NFL Power Rankings – including the best teams at the bottom – with just one more week remaining in the 2020 NFL regular season.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)

Mike Glennon got the start for Jacksonville and helped the Jaguars secure the first overall pick in next year’s draft as the Jaguars were destroyed by Chicago 41-17. Glennon threw two interceptions, and Jacksonville got little going on the ground. The Bears had 26 more plays in this game than Jacksonville.

31. Detroit Lions (5-10)

The Lions were without their interim head coach and either coordinator for their Saturday matchup against Tampa Bay. Then they lost Matthew Stafford extremely early on. However, the Lions did score on a punt return touchdown.

A lot is going against this franchise, and there is no denying that Detroit is amongst the very worst teams in football right now after losing to the Buccaneers by 40 points in a game where Tom Brady only played the first half.

30. Houston Texans (4-11)

Times are very tough for the Texans – ranked 30th in my Week 17 NFL Power Rankings – as they were dealt their 11th loss of the season against the Bengals. Houston’s defense was rather terrible against the run and pass, and it is evident that this is one of the NFL’s very worst defenses overall.

Deshaun Watson had his typical outstanding game and connected well with Brandin Cooks. Maybe the most promising thing of this game for Houston was the play of David Johnson, who broke off long runs and finished the day with 128 rushing yards.

29. New York Jets (2-13)

Cleveland was very short on receivers, but say what you want – the Jets are certainly improving as the year has progressed. New York took a 13-3 lead into halftime against the Browns, and their offense had a nice blend of running and passing. Maybe most importantly, the Jets were plus two in turnover differential and shut down the Browns’ excellent running game.

28. Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)

Brandon Allen got the start at quarterback against Houston and threw for 371 yards. Then, the Bengals’ running game chipped in for another 169 as Cincinnati got their fourth win of the season. That was certainly impressive, and the Bengals held the ball for over 36 minutes. But Houston also produced nearly identical yardage numbers to what Cincinnati produced on offense.

27. New York Giants (5-10)

The Ravens gained nearly two yards more per play than New York, outrushed them by nearly 200 yards, and controlled the football for about 10 minutes longer. New York never got anything going on the ground, and Daniel Jones was sacked six times.

At 5-10, the Giants have now dropped three straight, but if Washington loses to the Eagles and the Giants beat Dallas, this team wins the NFC East and hosts a playoff game.

26. New England Patriots (6-9)

The struggling Patriots hosted Buffalo on Monday night and fell to 6-9. Cam Newton deserves some blame, but that is also somewhat unfair. New England has no passing game to speak of and just horrible receivers. Newton had 34 passing yards at the half and Jarrett Stidham replaced him midway through the third quarter.

The Patriots’ pass-rush is also non-existent. It is just too difficult to compete in today’s NFL under those circumstances. This roster needs an awful lot of work.

25. Denver Broncos (5-10)

The Broncos didn’t score a point in the first half and went into the locker room with a 13-point deficit. However, Drew Lock never stopped slinging it and brought his team back to make this game very close. Jerry Jeudy had a very tough day with dropped passes, but there is a lot of promise with this young group of receivers.

24. Washington Football Team (6-9)

If Washington had won this game, they would be the champs of the lowly NFC East. But that wasn’t the case as they fell to Carolina 20-13. Dwayne Haskins was benched in the fourth quarter after throwing two interceptions and completing just half of his 28 passes for 154 yards. Taylor Heinicke came in down 14 points and moved the offense. Antonio Gibson looked good upon his return, but the Panthers were clearly the better team.

Washington’s great defensive front did get a lot of pressure on Teddy Bridgewater, but the Football Team’s secondary had a tough time with Carolina’s weaponry.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)

The Eagles have been eliminated from the postseason after losing to Dallas. Jalen Hurts again put up huge numbers, and the Eagles offense produced 477 total yards. The problem was that their defense allowed 514 yards and an average of 7.9 yards per play. The Eagles’ secondary, especially at the cornerback position, is a real problem for this team, and Dallas ate that group alive.

22. San Francisco 49ers (6-9)

C.J. Beathard got the start for San Francisco against the Cardinals on Saturday and pulled off the upset victory as the Niners averaged 7.2 yards per play compared to just 4.4 from Arizona. The 49ers rushed for 227 yards in this game.

Highlighted by Fred Warner, San Francisco’s defense did an excellent job overall flying around the field and limited DeAndre Hopkins in particular. George Kittle looked like his old self, and it is exciting to think about the weaponry for next year.

21. Dallas Cowboys (6-9)

This was a huge day for Andy Dalton and the Cowboys’ talented offense. Ezekiel Elliott actually got back on track and ran for over 100 yards. The Cowboys’ excellent receiving corps had their way with Philadelphia’s suspect group of cornerbacks, with Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper accumulating 121 receiving yards.

Dallas’ defense was uninspiring once again, but they did cause three turnovers. The Cowboys are somehow still alive for the playoffs.

NFL Power Rankings, Week 17: Teams ranked 20-11

We kick off the top 20 of these Week 17 NFL Power Rankings with the Carolina Panthers. Let’s continue our march as we count down to the best teams in the NFL heading into Week 17.

20. Carolina Panthers (5-10)

The Panthers took a 20-3 lead into halftime and held on to beat Washington. Carolina got just their fifth win of the season, but this team has been highly competitive every step of the way. Overall, there is now a foundation in place for Matt Rhule’s organization.

Teddy Bridgewater didn’t put up big stats, but his top three receivers all played a big role in this win. That being said, finishing this game plus two in the turnover differential was the biggest thing working in Carolina’s favor.

19. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9)

Los Angeles allowed the Broncos to get back into this game but still advanced to 6-9 despite missing some key pieces like Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry, and Keenan Allen. Even though Denver held the ball substantially longer than the Chargers, Los Angeles was plus two in turnover differential. Justin Herbert, their star rookie quarterback, continues to impress.

18. Minnesota Vikings (6-9)

Against New Orleans on Christmas Day, the usual suspects in Minnesota’s offense – Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and Kirk Cousins – had strong outings against a very good Saints defense. But the Vikings were still outplayed. Obviously, the Vikings’ run defense was rather problematic as New Orleans rushed for 264 yards.

17. Atlanta Falcons (4-11)

The usually super reliable Younghoe Koo missed a field goal in the closing moments that would have sent the game to overtime. That said, the Falcons battled Kansas City very tough for 60 minutes. Atlanta controlled the clock even though they didn’t run the ball particularly well yet again, and Matt Ryan played a strong game.

16. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)

In the whacky final minutes of play, the Raiders fell to Miami. At 7-8, they are out of the NFL playoff race. Derek Carr put together a huge game and had two receivers go over 100 yards. A missed extra point and going 0 for 10 on third downs and drastically losing the time of possession battle was really the undoing for the Raiders, though.

15. Arizona Cardinals (8-7)

Kyler Murray completed 31 passes but for only 247 yards in a game where nothing came easy for Arizona’s offense. Penalties were a problem, and Arizona’s offense struggled to finish drives against a very stingy 49ers defense.

The Cardinals’ blitz pickup was also very poor. Murray didn’t play well, but it was Arizona’s total inability to stop the run that was their obvious downfall. The Cardinals – ranked 15th in these Week 17 NFL Power Rankings – now sit at 8-7 on the season.

14. Chicago Bears (8-7)

The Bears are on fire, having won their last three, and rolled over Jacksonville on Sunday. Mitchell Trubisky had another impressive showing while Allen Robinson and David Montgomery both showed up big once again. But it was Chicago’s defense that was the best unit on the field. The Bears have now advanced to 8-7, and if they win next week, they are in the playoffs.

13. Miami Dolphins (10-5)

The final game of the Saturday slate really got crazy when Miami replaced Tua Tagovailoa with Ryan Fitzpatrick. A key to this game was Miami’s ability to control the football, even when Tua was at quarterback, and the Dolphins ended up with over 33 minutes of possession time.

But a bigger key was taking advantage of Las Vegas’ mistakes, something that the Dolphins have done all year long. The Dolphins are now 10-5 and, with a win at Buffalo in Week 17, are guaranteed a playoff appearance.

12. Cleveland Browns (10-5)

Cleveland’s receiving corps was massively depleted against the Jets and the Browns somewhat surprisingly dropped to 10-5. They lost the turnover differential by two and never got anything going on the ground. Despite being so depleted, Baker Mayfield and the passing game overall was quite effective.

The AFC North title is now out of reach for the Browns. However, if they win next week against Pittsburgh, they are in the playoffs.

11. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)

The Colts were missing both of their starting offensive tackles but still totally controlled the game in the first half at Pittsburgh. The defense was great against the run but fell apart against the pass as the game went on. The Colts uncharacteristically were minus two in turnover differential and were outscored 21-3 in the second half. As it stands right now, the Colts are on the outside looking in for the AFC playoffs and need a little help to get in.

Teams ranked 10-6

We’re getting closer to the top five best teams in the NFL heading into Week 17 but first, let’s take a look at who is ranked 10-6 in my Power Rankings. We begin with the Tennessee Titans.

10. Tennessee Titans (10-5)

On Sunday night in snowy Green Bay, Tennessee got down early and couldn’t lean on Derrick Henry from start to finish. The Titans didn’t handle the weather conditions nearly as well as Green Bay did, and they were also just flat-out outplayed. Probably the league’s worst pass-rushing defense, that was in full effect against Aaron Rodgers, who is far too great to allow extra time in the pocket.

And, of course, Rodgers and Davante Adams ate the Titans’ pass defense alive. Tennessee still controls their playoff situation, and a win against the Texans makes this squad the AFC South division winner.

9. Los Angeles Rams (9-6)

Jared Goff once again had a tough time under pressure, and Seattle got to him regularly. Their inefficiency in the red zone really hurt Los Angeles as well. The Rams – who are beat up at the running back position – are now 9-6 after having dropped two in a row. But if the Rams win next week, they are in the playoffs. However, Goff’s thumb injury could throw a wrench into everything.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)

The Colts came to Pittsburgh and dominated the Steelers early on. The Steelers had just four rushing yards at the half, and Ben Roethlisberger continued his inaccuracy as well as his inability to push the ball down the field.

However, it was a different story in the second half, and Pittsburgh came alive on Roethlisberger’s back. He finished the day with 342 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Steelers have won the AFC North and really needed this victory.

7. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)

Now at 11-4, with a convincing win over the Rams, Seattle has won the NFC West. Seattle’s pass-rush has really come a long way, and they consistently disrupted Jared Goff. The Seahawks’ pass protection leaves something to be desired, and this offense isn’t dominating their opponents as they did early in the year.

But the Seahawks have won three in a row and five of their last six. They are playing quite well as we quickly approach the postseason.

6. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

Baltimore got up early on the Giants, and as we have become accustomed to, the Ravens then smothered out their opponent. Baltimore outrushed their opponent by nearly 200 yards in this game and sacked Daniel Jones six times.

The Ravens are now 10-5 but certainly are not guaranteed a playoff spot. They are hitting their stride, and if they beat the Bengals in Week 17, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are in the playoffs…as a very dangerous team.

The top 5 NFL teams

We kick off the top five of these NFL Week 17 Power Rankings with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the other four best teams in the league.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)

The Bucs jumped all over a very depleted Detroit team on Saturday and utterly destroyed them to the point where Tom Brady didn’t even have to take a snap in the second half. Along with Brady, Mike Evans was the headliner with his 10 catches for 181 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Buccaneers are really starting to click at the right time on both sides of the ball at the most important time of the season. Tampa is going to the playoffs.

4. New Orleans Saints (11-4)

On Christmas Day against the Vikings, Alvin Kamara and his six rushing touchdowns stole the show. New Orleans played very well, and although Drew Brees made some questionable throws and put the ball in harm’s way, he ended the day with 311 yards. The Saints averaged 8.0 yards per play while advancing to 11-4 and have locked up the NFC South crown.

3. Buffalo Bills (12-3)

The red-hot Bills traveled to New England Monday night to cap off Week 16 and showed the world that the AFC East now belongs to Buffalo. This offense is humming as well as any in the league right now and Buffalo’s defense continues to get better late in the regular season. If it weren’t for the “Hail Murray,” Buffalo would be on a nine-game winning streak. The Bills are now 12-3 and are very capable of winning the entire thing this year.

2. Green Bay Packers (12-3)

Hosting the Titans on Sunday night, Aaron Rodgers should have solidified the MVP award as he carved up a poor Tennessee pass defense. The Packers’ defensive backs also did a great job of jumping routes in this game.

Green Bay advances to 12-3 and have won five in a row. They will be very difficult to knock off in the NFC playoffs, especially if the road to the Super Bowl goes through Green Bay.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs had a tough battle with Atlanta but still advanced to 14-1. Travis Kelce once again stood out on offense and continued his historic season. Kansas City is still the top team in football, but they have been playing an awful lot of really close games, and there are holes in this Chiefs team. But heading into Week 17, they are the best team in the NFL.

Matt Williamson is a Senior NFL Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @WilliamsonNFL.

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