The 2021-22 NFL season has officially come full circle. After initially topping the Power Rankings for the first two weeks of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs appeared to have […]
The 2021-22 NFL season has officially come full circle. After initially topping the Power Rankings for the first two weeks of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs appeared to have fallen off by midseason, with a 3-4 record after a bad loss to the Tennessee Titans. But eight weeks later, Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and the Chiefs have rallied with seven straight wins, becoming the hottest team in the NFL.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers also made a move this week, now sitting alone and holding the NFL’s best record at 11-3 after a narrow victory over Tyler Huntley and the Baltimore Ravens.
The Chiefs and Packers are on the rise by virtue of their own play, but the teams that once inhabited the top of these rankings are also experiencing some late-season hiccups. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a rare shutout at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, who Tampa Bay still can’t seem to beat in the regular season. Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals had an even more embarrassing defeat, falling to Jared Goff and the 1-11-1 Detroit Lions by 18 points. The Tennessee Titans continued to slide with a one-score loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the New England Patriots was win steak was snapped as they finally showed some vulnerability against the Indianapolis Colts.
We’re 15 weeks in to the season, and the border between good and great teams is still undefined. As such, Week 15’s results had ripple effects through the Top 10 and on for this edition of my Power Rankings.
Read on for my full Power Rankings, and if you’d like to debate or discuss any rankings, join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.
After looking downright mediocre at 3-4 earlier this season, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have rattled off seven straight wins to claim the AFC West lead, AFC top seed lead, and now, the #1 spot in this week’s Power Rankings. After three straight weeks of holding opponents under 10 points, Week 15’s matchup with Justin Herbert and the Chargers was bit tougher, but Kansas City prevailed 34-28 on a Travis Kelce catch-and-run touchdown. The Chiefs have officially come full circle, topping my rankings for the first time since Week 2, after bottoming out at #14 in the Post-Week 7 Power Rankings.
Green Bay Packers (11-3) [Last Week: 3]
Tyler Huntley and the Ravens gave the Green Bay Packers more trouble than they would have expected, and Baltimore could have very easily won if they converted a two-point conversion at the end of the game. But they didn’t, and the outcome of that one play allowed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to claim the best record in the NFL with just three weeks left to play.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4) [Last Week: 1]
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers grabbed the top spot in my Power Rankings last week, but after a shocking 9-0 loss to the Saints on Sunday night, the defending Super Bowl champions take a step back down. Tampa By is still obviously one of the best teams in the NFL, but Tom Brady just can’t seem to beat the Saints in the regular season in a Buccaneers uniform. To make matters worse, wide receiver Chris Godwin has been lost for the season with a torn ACL.
New England Patriots (9-5) [Last Week: 2]
Mac Jones and the New England Patriots finally came back down to Earth with a 27-17 loss to the Colts on Saturday night, ending their seven-game winning streak. The 27 points allowed by New England’s defense was the most in eight weeks, since a 35-29 loss to the Cowboys that directly preceded the Patriots winning streak.
Dallas Cowboys (10-4) [Last Week: 6]
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys chipped away at the Giants defense on Sunday, ultimately winning 21-6 with a couple extra points missed on a windy afternoon in MetLife Stadium. Dallas has won three straight games and is currently tied for the second-best record in the NFL, with the 2nd-ranked offense and 7th-ranked defense in the league.
Los Angeles Rams (10-4) [Last Week: 7]
Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams dispatched the Seahawks 20-10 on Tuesday night for their third straight win following a previous three-game losing streak. After beating the Cardinals last week, Los Angeles looks like a contender once again, but it’s worth noting that the Rams have the weakest strength of victory (.382) of any of the 14 teams currently holding playoff spots.
Indianapolis Colts (8-6) [Last Week: 11]
Carson Wentz, Jonathan Taylor, and the Indianapolis Colts are peaking at the right time. After a 1-4 start to the season, Indianapolis has gone 7-2 in their last nine games and 5-1 in their last six matchups, losing only to the Buccaneers by seven. Saturday night’s 27-17 win over the Patriots puts the Colts firmly in the playoff mix, with a chance at both a wildcard spot and possibly even the AFC South lead with three weeks left to play.
Buffalo Bills (8-6) [Last Week: 8]
Josh Allen threw three touchdown passes against the Panthers in a 31-14 home win for the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo’s 8-6 record is good for a playoff spot in the AFC, but a 1-5 record against teams currently in playoff position doesn’t bode well for the Bills postseason chances.
Arizona Cardinals (10-4) [Last Week: 4]
While some teams are peaking late, Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals appear to be fading towards the end of the regular season. After a 7-0 start, the Cardinals are 3-4 in their last seven games, with back-to-back losses against the Rams and Lions. Los Angeles is a tough opponent, but this week’s 30-12 loss to Detroit is a real head-turner.
Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) [Last Week: 12]
Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers put up an incredible fight against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Thursday night, but fell 34-28 after Travis Kelce weaved his way through the Chargers defense for a game-winning score in overtime.
Baltimore Ravens (8-6) [Last Week: 9]
In all honesty, the Baltimore Ravens played incredibly well given the circumstances in Week 15, nearly knocking off the Packers with Lamar Jackson out and Tyler Huntley at quarterback. Baltimore could have won the game or at least forced overtime, but failed once again going for two points to win in regulation. This loss to Green Bay almost feels like a step in the right direction, but with three straight losses and a 3-5 record in their last eight games, I can’t currently call the Ravens a Top 10 team.
San Francisco 49ers (8-6) [Last Week: 13]
A well-rounded team effort helped Jimmy Garoppolo, Jeff Wilson Jr., and the San Francisco 49ers to down the visiting Falcons 31-13 for their fifth win in six games. San Francisco would be the sixth seed in the NFC if the season ended today, and certainly look like a playoff team as of late.
The Tennessee Titans are continuing to fade, with just one win against the Jaguars in their last four games. This week’s 19-13 loss to the Steelers wasn’t terrible, but it certainly opens the door for Indianapolis to catch Tennessee for the AFC South lead over the season’s final three weeks.
Miami Dolphins (7-7) [Last Week: 19]
Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins just keep winning, incredibly turning a 1-7 start in to a 7-7 record with six straight wins. Miami may not be defeating the strongest teams in the NFL (this week the Dolphins needed 14 points in the fourth quarter to overcome the Jets) but they are still surging. The Dolphins have an outside shot at the playoffs now, but will need the teams in front of them to lose a couple games.
Minnesota Vikings (7-7) [Last Week: 15]
It was a little ugly, but having Dalvin Cook on the field allowed the Minnesota Vikings to drag their way to a 17-9 win over the Bears on Monday Night Football. Cook had 89 yards on 28 carries, and Kirk Cousins had just 87 yards through the air on 12-of-24 passing with two touchdowns and one interception.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1) [Last Week: 21]
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers outdueled Ryan Tannehill and the Titans in Week 15, picking up a crucial 19-13 win to stay in the playoff hunt with three weeks left to play. Pittsburgh has won two of three games after a three-game winless streak.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-7) [Last Week: 18]
Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame a short-handed Washington Football Team on Tuesday night, prevailing 27-17 to put themselves in a tie for the NFC’s final wildcard spot. Philadelphia is 4-1 in their last five games, with more winnable matchups against the Giants and Washington on the docket.
Washington Football Team (6-8) [Last Week: 16]
Washington Football Team lost 27-17 to the Eagles on Tuesday: with Garrett Gilbert, freshly signed off the Patriots practice squad, starting at quarterback. In a situation where Washington’s roster isn’t ravaged by COVID-19, they’re still a pretty decent team, but now face an uphill battle at 6-8 with just three games left to play.
New Orleans Saints (7-7) [Last Week: 23]
Just when it seemed like the New Orleans Saints season was dead, the team has won back-to-back contests with Taysom Hill under center. Beating the Jets didn’t mean much, but after shutting out Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in a 9-0 win, the Saints might still be a playoff squad this season.
Denver Broncos (7-7) [Last Week: 20]
The Denver Broncos had a second-half lead on the visiting Bengals, but couldn’t hold on in a narrow 15-10 loss. Teddy Bridgewater left the game early with a scary on-field injury, leaving Drew Lock to close out the game.
Cleveland Browns (7-7) [Last Week: 17]
It’s hard to fault the Cleveland Browns too much for losing by only two points with their third-string quarterback Nick Mullens forced to start and over a dozen players inactive due to COVID-19 protocols. A healthy Browns team may have won that game, but looking at Cleveland’ recent work with a full squad (last week’s 24-22 win over Baltimore was preceded by a 16-10 loss to the Ravens, 13-10 win over Detroit, and 45-7 loss to the Patriots,) the Browns just aren’t a great team this season.
Atlanta Falcons (6-8) [Last Week: 22]
The Atlanta Falcons show up some weeks, but this wasn’t one of them: Matt Ryan and the Falcons fell 31-13 to the 49ers in San Francisco, allowing 14 points in the third quarter as the game got out of reach.
Las Vegas Raiders (7-7) [Last Week: 21]
It may not have been the prettiest victory, but Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders were able to down a COVID-depleted Browns team on a last-second field goal on Monday afternoon after being bumped from their original Saturday slot. Las Vegas evens their record at 7-7, but the Raiders are just 2-5 in their last seven games.
Seattle Seahawks (5-9) [Last Week: 24]
Any rumblings of the Seattle Seahawks winning out in order to make the playoffs were put to rest on Tuesday night when Russell Wilson and company fell to the Rams 20-10.
ChicagoBears (4-10) [Last Week: 26]
Justin Fields wasn’t terrible on Monday Night Football, and neither was the Chicago Bears defense. But nine points isn’t nearly enough in today’s NFL, and Chicago fell 17-9 to the Vikings for their eighth loss in their last nine games.
New York Giants (4-10) [Last Week: 27]
The New York Giants are 0-3 since losing Daniel Jones to a neck injury, with Mike Glennon putting up just six points in New York’s 21-6 home loss to the Cowboys in Week 15.
Detroit Lions (2-11-1) [Last Week: 29]
After last week’s embarrassing loss to the Broncos, Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions turned right around and upset a team that was tied for the best record in the NFL. Detroit absolutely stunned the Cardinals, jumping out to a 17-0 lead and cruising to a 30-12 victory behind three touchdown passes from Goff.
New York Jets (3-11) [Last Week: 30]
Zach Wilson and the New York Jets put up a fight in Miami, leading 17-10 at halftime, but their defense couldn’t hold on as the Dolphins scored 21 points en route to a 31-24 win over Gang Green.
Carolina Panthers (5-9) [Last Week: 28]
The Cam Newton experiment looks worse each week, with the Carolina Panthers being blown out 31-14 in Buffalo for their fourth straight loss. Carolina has gone 2-9 following a promising 3-0 start this season.
Houston Texans (3-11) [Last Week: 31]
Davis Mills and the Houston Texans put up 30 points in Week 15, downing the only team in the NFL worse than themselves: their AFC South rival Jaguars.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) [Last Week: 32]
Firing head coach Urban Meyer didn’t spark any immediate change for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who actually hit a new low this week: losing 30-16 to a pretty poor Texans team. Now, after selecting Trevor Lawrence first overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jacksonville is in line to earn the top pick again in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Leave a Reply