NFL Power Rankings 2016: Final Edition
The 2016 NFL regular season schedule is over. Now it’s time to see how all 32 teams stack up for one last time. Let’s dive right in to this final edition of NFL Power Rankings. For reference purposes, here’s a link to last week’s order.
1 – New England Patriots 14-2 (Last week: 1) – Tom Brady’s four-game suspension due to DeflateGate didn’t end up making a difference for the Patriots in 2016. New England still had a great season and clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Patriots don’t have a very challenging road to the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick could easily add another ring to his collection this year.
2 – Atlanta Falcons 11-5 (LW: 4) – The Falcons may not have finished as the top team in the NFC, but they’re arguably playing like it right now. Atlanta’s offense is straight up ridiculous. Kyle Shanahan’s unit is responsible for the eighth highest-scoring performance in single-season NFL history. The Falcons’ defense is vulnerable, but an offense averaging 34 points per game helps make up for that.
3 – Dallas Cowboys 13-3 (LW: 2) – Dallas decided to rest their starters for the most part against the Eagles. Dallas got through the game unscathed, which is all that matters for them. The key to beating the Cowboys in the playoffs will be stopping their running game. That’s easier said than done.
4 – Kansas City Chiefs 12-4 (LW: 5) – Andy Reid’s Chiefs won the AFC West title in Week 17. The former Eagles head coach has had a lot of regular season success in Kansas City. But can he finally translate that into post-season success? The Chiefs are 1-2 in the playoffs under Big Red so far.
5 – Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5 (LW: 6) – Along with the Chiefs, the Steelers are one of the two teams in the AFC playoff picture that have a chance of beating the Patriots. Pittsburgh is riding a seven-game win streak into the post-season.
6 – Green Bay Packers 10-6 (LW: 7) – Aaron Rodgers is red hot. The Packers ran the table to end the season and win the NFC North, just like Rodgers said Green Bay would. No one should want to play the Packers right now.
7 – New York Giants 11-5 (LW: 10) – Despite having nothing to play for, the Giants went out and beat Washington in order to prevent their NFC East rival from making the playoffs. New York’s defense bounced back in Week 17 after looking vulnerable against the Eagles the week before.
8 – Seattle Seahawks 10-5-1 (LW: 11) – This Seahawks team is hard to place. They’ve had some bad games this year and they only managed to beat the lowly 49ers by two points on Sunday. Seattle is typically good at home, so it’s good news for them that they’ll play at CenturyLink Field in the first round. But this is hardly the juggernaut Seahawks team most people are used to seeing. They’re suspect.
9 – Oakland Raiders 12-4 (LW: 3) – Derek Carr’s serious injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Oakland. And now backup quarterback Matt McGloin is hurt, too. The Raiders are down to third string rookie quarterback Connor Cook.
10 – Miami Dolphins 10-6 (LW: 8) – Matt Moore has been serviceable enough in wake of Ryan Tannehill’s injury, but he’s ultimately not going to be good enough for the Dolphins to do much in the post-season.
11 – Detroit Lions 9-7 (LW: 9) – The Lions are cold going into the playoffs. Detroit went 0-3 in their final three games. The Lions were outscored 90 to 54 during that span. Playing in Seattle will be a tough task for Jim Caldwell’s unit. Will his job be safe if the Lions lose, as expected?
12 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-7 (LW: 13) – Tampa Bay exceeded expectations in 2016 but fell just short of the playoffs. The Bucs have the NFL’s eighth-youngest roster, so there’s hope for the future, especially with young talents such as Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Maybe just don’t draft a kicker in the second-round again, though.
13 – Denver Broncos 9-7 (LW: 16) – The Super Bowl 50 champions didn’t make it back to the playoffs to defend their title, but they still had a winning season. If the Broncos can upgrade at the quarterback position, they should be back in the post-season next year.
14 – Arizona Cardinals 7-8-1 (LW: 19) – Arizona finished their season on a high note by beating the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 16 and then obliterating the Rams in Week 17. No playoffs, still, but it could have been worse.
15 – Washington Redskins 8-7-1 (LW: 12) – In a game they needed to win in order to make the playoffs, Washington couldn’t beat the Giants despite the fact New York had nothing to gain by winning. Total choke job. Kirk Cousins fails to come up big in big spots but Washington will still probably give him a ton of money this offseason.
Kirk Cousins against the Giants when NYG had nothing to play for:
22/35, 285 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 74.1 ratinghttps://t.co/X0Q5luDecO
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 2, 2017
Kirk Cousins’ starting record: 19-21-1
Cousins’ record against teams with 9+ wins: 2-11
Teams with 8+ wins: 5-13https://t.co/8g1soNsA5E
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 2, 2017
16 – Tennessee Titans 9-7 (LW: 21) – Hardly a bad season for the Titans. After finishing as the NFL’s worst team in 2015, the Titans went on to earn a winning record this season. Tennessee was arguably the best team in the AFC South this year; they just didn’t come up big in important division games.
17 – Indianapolis Colts 8-8 (LW: 17) – The Colts needed a big comeback effort to beat the Jags in Week 17. A win’s a win, but not the best look to end a disappointing and mediocre season. The pressure on Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson continues to mount.
18 – Philadelphia Eagles 7-9 (LW: 22) – Doug Pederson thinks the Eagles are “very close” to being a contender. He might not be as crazy as some think. The Eagles went 7-9 with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback despite playing the NFL’s toughest schedule. Philadelphia finished 10th in point differential and fourth in DVOA. This evidence suggests they’re closer to being a good team than they are closer to being a bad one. This isn’t to say the Eagles are right on the brink as their roster is currently constructed. This offseason figures to be a critical one. The Eagles must absolutely give Carson Wentz more weapons to work with. That might prove easier said than done; there are still legitimate concerns about the Eagles’ personnel structure. But if the Eagles upgrade their roster and Wentz takes a big jump in Year 2, Philadelphia could easily figure in as a playoff contender.
19 – Minnesota Vikings 8-8 (LW: 24) – The Vikings traded their 2017 first-round pick for Sam Bradford just so they could go 7-8 in games when Bradford started. Well worth it? Probably not.
20 – Houston Texans 9-7 (LW: 14) – The Texans are easily the worst team to make the playoffs this year (just like they were last year). Houston finished seventh to last in point differential and 29th in DVOA. Their quarterback situation is bad and they could be bound for another first round exit.
21 – Cincinnati Bengals 6-9-1 (LW: 25) – Marvin Lewis did just enough to save his job and ensure at least one more year of mediocrity in Cincinnati.
22 – Baltimore Ravens 8-8 (LW: 15) – Getting blown out by the Bengals wasn’t the best send off for Steve Smith Sr. The Ravens seriously need to fix their offense in order to get back to the playoffs. Perhaps Joe Flacco will bounce back next season when he’s more removed from his 2015 injury.
23 – New Orleans Saints 7-9 (LW: 18) – Same old Saints. Great offense, terrible defense. Are changes coming in New Orleans? There’s rumors of teams wanting to trade for Sean Payton.
24 – Buffalo Bills 7-9 (LW: 20) – Hard to watch Doug Whaley’s press conference and not think the Bills are one of, if not the most, dysfunctional franchises in the league right now. Buffalo has a lot of work to do.
25 – Carolina Panthers 6-10 (LW: 23) – Just not their year. The Panthers could be a prime candidate to bounce back in 2017.
26 – San Diego Chargers 5-11 (LW: 26) – Mike McCoy is gone. The Chargers will be looking for a new head coach. Will they also be playing in a new city moving forward?
27 – New York Jets 5-11 (LW: 31) – Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan are safe despite a very disappointing 2016 season. The Jets really need to find an answer at quarterback. Hint: it’s not currently on their roster.
28 – Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13 (LW: 27) – Jacksonville showed some good fight with Doug Marrone taking over as the interim head coach. It might not be enough to get him the full-time job. The Jaguars might go the nostalgic route with former head coach Tom Coughlin.
29 – Chicago Bears 3-13 (LW: 28) – Matt Barkley had a nice little run there but he’s clearly not the answer to the Bears’ quarterback situation. Might the Bears be able to land Tony Romo?
30 – Cleveland Browns 1-15 (LW: 30) – Very clutch loss by the Browns. Had they beaten the Steelers in overtime, they would have lost their claim on the No. 1 overall pick. Cleveland will also be picking at No. 12 thanks to the Wentz trade with the Eagles last year.
31 – San Francisco 49ers 2-14 (LW: 29) – Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke are both out in San Fran. This means the 49ers will now be paying three head coaches in 2017: Jim Tomsula, Kelly, and whoever they hire next. It’s no secret the 49ers are one of the most unstable organizations in the NFL.
32 – Los Angeles Rams 4-12 (LW: 32) – Jared Goff finished his rookie seasons 0-7 in seven games played. His stats: 54.6% completion, 1089 yards (5.4 yards/attempt), 5 TD, 7 INT, 63.6 rating. Not great. And the Rams gave up a bunch of picks for him.