After week 15, the playoff pictures is becoming a lot clearer. Here is a ranking of all 32 teams heading into week 16.
1.New England Patriots 11-3 Prev:2
The Patriots hung on to win a controversial game over the Steelers. Tom Brady has now struggled in back-to-back weeks but his game-winning drive last Sunday proves he is still in MVP form.
2.Minnesota Vikings 11-3 Prev:4
Minnesota blew out the Bengals to clinch the NFC North. Case Keenum is the biggest question for Minnesota heading into the playoffs. That game also brought the feel-good moment of the week when Teddy Bridgewater returned for the first time since tearing his ACL in the summer of 2016.
3.Los Angeles Rams 10-4 Prev:5
Los Angeles destroyed the Seahawks to take full control of the NFC West in week 15. Todd Gurley scored four times and has helped turn a four-win team into a potential Super Bowl winner. So, should he be in the conversation for MVP? Yes.
4.Philadelphia Eagles 12-2 Prev:3
In the win for Philly, Nick Foles threw four touchdowns, clinching a first round bye, and proving he can lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Their defense struggled for a third consecutive week, allowing over 500 yards to the Giants. Still, Nick Foles being effective answers a more important question for Philly.
5.Pittsburgh Steelers 11-3 Prev:1
Was it a catch? No. As soon as I saw the replay I said “this should be a touchdown but they’re going to overturn it.” The NFL needs to change this rule; if a player reachers for the goal line and loses possession, it should be a catch.
6.Jacksonville Jaguars 10-4 Prev:6
After blowing out the Texans, the Jaguars clinch their first playoff appearance since 2007. Believe it, this team is a true Super Bowl contender. Many think Blake Bortles is a problem but he has been effective to this point, having thrown 19 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions.
7.New Orleans Saints 10-4 Prev:7
The Saints had a strong showing in week 15, beating the New York Jets. For all of the attention that Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram get, Michael Thomas is also an offensive threat as he is over 1,000 receiving yards for the second time in as many NFL seasons.
8.Carolina Panthers 10-4 Prev:8
The Panthers ruined Aaron Rodgers’ return to football, picking him off three times. Forget all of the distractions with the management of this team; they have many threats on both sides of the ball and could surprise some teams come playoff time.
9.Atlanta Falcons 9-5 Prev:10
Atlanta escaped on Monday night, beating Tampa Bay on a missed last second field goal. A loss could be fatal for Atlanta but they control their own destiny, currently positioned as the six seed in the NFC.
10.Dallas Cowboys 8-6 Prev:14
Dallas has many options on offense: Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, and even an index card. Seriously, in a league of advanced technology, did they really have to go that old-fashioned? Dallas will get their best offensive threat back next week when Zeke Elliott returns.
11.Kansas City Chiefs 8-6 Prev:17
Kansas City beat the San Diego Chargers last week, to take full control of the AFC West. They’re a near lock to make the playoffs but their inconsistency will hold them back from competing for the Super Bowl.
12.Baltimore Ravens 8-6 Prev:12
Baltimore won in week 15, beating Cleveland to stay in contention. With the Colts and Bengals on the schedule, they should make the playoffs even though they will need help from either Tennessee or Buffalo.
13.Detroit Lions 8-6 Prev:15
Detroit beat the Bears last Saturday, giving them a chance to make the playoffs. This will be tough to do because they need Atlanta to lose their two remaining games to even have a chance at the playoffs.
14.Seattle Seahawks 8-6 Prev:9
Seattle blew their chance to take control of the NFC west, get demolished by the Rams. Now, positioned as the eight seed, Seattle has to bank on losses from Detroit and Atlanta to make the playoffs.
15.Buffalo Bills 8-6 Prev:18
Tre’Davious White has established himself as a candidate for defensive ROY. His late fourth quarter interception last week kept Buffalo in position to make the Playoffs.
16.Los Angeles Chargers 7-7 Prev:11
The Chargers blew their opportunity to take the lead in the AFC west, losing to the Kansas Chiefs. They still have a chance at playoff football, but they’ll need more than one loss from multiple teams.
17.Green Bay Packers 7-7 Prev:13
The Packers were eliminated from the playoffs as Aaron Rodgers struggled in his return. Back to Brett Hundley at QB, the Packers will have to wait until 2018 when they get a healthy Aaron Rodgers.
18.San Francisco 49ers 4-10 Prev:22
With Jimmy Garoppolo in at QB, the 49ers are 3-0. With Garoppolo a free agent this winter, the 49ers should lock him up on a long term contract.
19.Tennessee Titans 8-6 Prev:16
Sure, they’re 8-6 and sit as the fifth seed in the AFC. However they have Los Angeles and Jacksonville left on the schedule. If they lose out, it will only take one win apiece from Baltimore and Buffalo for the Titans to miss the playoffs.
20.Washington Redskins 6-8 Prev:23
Washington got back in the win column, holding off a late comeback by the Arizona Cardinals. Washington has been one of the most injury-plagued teams in the league and Kirk Cousins is likely playing for his job in these last few games of the season.
21.Oakland Raiders 6-8 Prev:19
Oakland lost on a late fumble by Derek Carr in week 15 to the Dallas Cowboys. The Raiders have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL, coming off a 12-4 season.
22.Denver Broncos 5-9 Prev:27
With Brock Osweiler back in as QB, the Broncos won their second straight game during a primetime game that likely no watched. This raises an interesting question: why is Broncos-Colts a primetime game?
23.Arizona Cardinals 6-8 Prev:20
Arizona could not complete the comeback, losing by one possession to the Redskins. In week 16, they will replace a mediocre QB with another mediocre QB, replacing Blaine Gabbert with Drew Stanton.
24.Miami Dolphins 5-9 Prev:21
If Jay Cutler does not make the Pro Bowl then the NFL is rigged. Seriously, though, he threw three interceptions last week, all right into the hands of Buffalo defenders.
25.Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-10 Prev:26
Tampa Bay’s season-long kicking problem continued last week when Patrick Murray missed a 54-yarder that would have sent the game to overtime. This season has been disappointing and the Bucs will have many questions to answer this offseason.
26.Chicago Bears 4-10 Prev:25
Chicago struggled again, losing a low scorer to the Lions. Their defense has been decent but their offense is one of the worst in the NFL. Still, if they get more offensive weapons and development from Mitch Trubisky, they will compete in the next few seasons.
27.New York Jets 5-9 Prev:28
With Bryce Petty at QB, the Jets could not pull out a win, losing to the Saints. The Jets should be looking forward to drafting a quarterback in the 2018 draft.
28.Indianapolis Colts 3-11 Prev:30
The Colts stayed in the loss column once again, losing to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night. It doesn’t seem like Andrew Luck has healed. Dark future in Indy.
29.Cincinnati Bengals 5-9 Prev:24
Cincy showed no heart, getting blown out by the Minnesota Vikings. With Marvin Lewis on the way out in Cincy, the future is unclear for the Bengals.
30.New York Giants 2-12 Prev:31
Despite the loss to the Eagles, the Giants played arguably their best game of the season in week 15. Their offense produced over 500 yards, but many special team errors hurt them.
31.Houston Texans 4-10 Prev:29
Houston was blown out, losing by multiple scores to the Jaguars in week 15. Not much to say about this team except that they can’t wait to get Deshaun Watson back.
32.Cleveland Browns 0-14 Prev:32
Is this the worst team in NFL history? No. Despite having a win to their name, the 2016 Browns were the worst team in NFL history. Last year, the Browns were bottom five in offense and defense. Their defense is better this year and they have Josh Gordon.