NFL Week 15 Power Rankings: Eagles back on top, but for how long?

NFL Power Rankings, Eagles, Patriots, Steelers

1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) Def. LA Rams 43-35. Last Week: 3

If the season ended today, Carson Wentz would be NFL MVP. After tearing his ACL, he remained in the game for four plays and threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the season (and fourth Sunday.) It was a franchise record set in 13 games. His injury is a tremendous loss for the Eagles. That said, they showed they would not hang their heads. Not after losing their first game since Week 2, and not after losing their quarterback. They’ve won their division and, if Nick Foles can lead them to victories over two of the final three games, they’ll have home field advantage in the playoffs.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) Def. Baltimore 39-38. Last Week: 4

Ben Roethlisberger picked apart the NFL’s most dangerous defense for 506 yards, 213 of them going to Antonio Brown. The latter is building a late-season MVP case. After Wentz’ injury and Tom Brady and Russell Wilson playing poorly in costly losses, why not give the award to a receiver with the NFL’s best winning streak (yep, the Steelers have rolled off eight in a row) and 1,500 yards through 13 games?

3. New England Patriots (10-3) Lost to Miami 27-20. Last Week: 1

The Patriots dropping a surprising egg in Miami won’t keep them from home field advantage if they can defeat the Steelers when the two play this weekend. But if they drop that game in Pittsburgh, they’re suddenly fighting the leader of the AFC South (Jaguars or Titans) for getting a first round bye at all. Brady has just six interceptions in 2017, but four in the last three games. Monday night was his first two interception game since the 2016 playoffs.

4. Minnesota Vikings (10-3) Lost to Carolina 31-24.  Last Week: 2

An uncharacteristic outing kept the Vikings from clinching their division Sunday. The offensive line that has been so improved in 2017 allowed six sacks and, perhaps not coincidentally, Case Keenum supplied the Panthers with three turnovers, far from his normal standard of play. The Vikings season is still entirely in their hands, though the loss drops them from being the favorites for home field advantage in the NFC.

5. Carolina Panthers (9-4) Def. Minnesota 31-24. Last Week: 8

Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton took it to the Vikings run defense in this upset. Each had a 60-plus yard run and Stewart finished with three total scores and his second 100 yard game in 2017. The Panthers are at the mercy of the Saints, who have beaten them twice in 2017 and share the same record. But they have to be feeling a lot better about this weekend’s results.

6. Los Angeles Rams (9-4) Lost to Philadelphia 43-35. Last Week: 5

A pair of former Rams turned the game after Carson Wentz was injured Sunday night. Chris Long forced a Jared Goff fumble and Rodney McLeod recovered it to set up the game-winning field goal. In so many ways, this matchup of top two picks and top two offenses lived up to the hype, despite the bitter ending for both quarterbacks. The Rams remain headed for a showdown with Seattle to determine the division.

7. New Orleans Saints (9-4) Lost to Atlanta 20-17. Last Week: 6

Injuries became the story of the night, and not for the first time this season, for the teams forced to play on Thursday. The Saints welcomed Marshon Lattimore back, but lost five new players to injury, most crucially rookie sensation Alvin Kamara, who was concussed after recording just one carry. The Saints remain in first place in the NFC South thanks to their season sweep of the Panthers, but the injuries are starting to add up.

8. Atlanta Falcons (8-5) Def. New Orleans 20-17. Last Week: 9

The Falcons offense wasn’t quite back to normal after going without a touchdown a week ago, but they did enough to set up the game winning field goal by Matt Bryant. It may not surprise you to hear the catch of the night was made by “Jones,” but it was linebacker Deion Jones, and not Julio, who brought in the ball to intercept Drew Brees and give the Falcons the win in the first of two final-month matchups with New Orleans.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4) Def. Seattle 30-24. Last Week: 11

Blake Bortles may have just had his best two games in a few years back-to-back and the Jaguars are alone in first place in the AFC South. They still need to go through Tennessee, who beat them in Jacksonville earlier this season, but right now they look like by far the better team, with the NFL’s top ranked defense to boot.

10. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) Def. Washington 30-13. Last Week: 10

Keenan Allen continued his 100-yard game streak as the Chargers won for the seventh time in their last nine games and the fourth straight. Getting up early on Washington even assured that some starters could rest in the final minutes before their short week sets up a Saturday matchup with Kansas City it’s hard to believe won’t decide the division winner.

11. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) Lost to Jacksonville 30-24. Last Week: 7

As sweet as the victory over Philadelphia was a week ago, the defeat in Jacksonville may be even more bitter. A number of players were ejected and penalized, Russell Wilson threw three interceptions and Bobby Wagner was injured and didn’t return. Seattle’s season is still in their hands, but they never make it look easy and have missed chance after chance to catch the Rams.

12. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) Lost to Pittsburgh 39-38. Last Week: 12

As embarrassing a night as Sunday was for the Ravens defense, it’s easy to forget they almost walked away with a victory. That’s mostly thanks to the return of a functioning offense to Baltimore. They wouldn’t make the playoffs if the season ended today, but with games left against Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati, the Ravens can be glad it doesn’t.

13. Dallas Cowboys (7-6) Def. NY Giants 30-10. Last Week: 15

The Cowboys were once again second half warriors this week, breaking a 10-10 tie with 20 fourth quarter points. Philadelphia’s win in Los Angeles put the division out of their hands, but they remain contenders in a crowded wild card race. One game remains of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension before he is eligible to return for the season’s final two games.

14. Green Bay Packers (7-6) Def. Cleveland 27-21(OT.) Last Week: 16

The Packers had a task in front of them: defeat Tampa Bay, defeat Cleveland, and possibly get Aaron Rodgers back in Week 15 and immediately re-inject themselves into the playoff conversation. It took two overtimes, but they got both wins. Now, we wait and see if Rodgers will return against the Panthers.

15. Tennessee Titans (8-5) Lost to Arizona 12-7. Last Week: 13

The Titans offense doesn’t travel, it seems. Their loss to Arizona drops them to 2-4 on the road this season. The two wins were their Week 2 victory over Jacksonville which has been giving them the tiebreaker in the AFC South and an overtime win against the Browns.

16. Detroit Lions (7-6) Def. Tampa Bay 24-21. Last Week: 14

This time it was Detroit who built an early lead and then watched their opponent try to furiously come back to no avail. Matthew Stafford had 381 yards passing despite an injured throwing hand and spread the ball around: Eric Ebron, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Theo Riddick all passed 60 yards receiving. Breaking a two game losing streak keeps Detroit in the playoff race.

17. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) Def. Oakland 26-15. Last Week: 23

Getting an early lead seemed to fix so many of Kansas City’s problems. They were able to run the clock out behind Kareem Hunt’s best game in months (116 rushing yards and a score.) They made Oakland one dimensional and intercepted Derek Carr twice while sacking him three times. Finishing a season sweep of the Chargers this week would put them one game up with two to play.

18. Buffalo Bills (7-6) Def. Indianapolis 13-7 (OT.) Last Week: 21

LeSean McCoy is building a resume for playing in the snow. With neither team reaching 100 yards passing in Sunday’s conditions, McCoy ran for 156 yards and the game-winning 21-yard touchdown in overtime. That’s crossing the 1,000 yard mark in style. At the moment, the Bills sit in the final AFC playoff spot.

19. Miami Dolphins (6-7) Def. New England 27-20. Last Week: 24

Jay Cutler outplayed Tom Brady. The Dolphins beat the Patriots. They’ve won their second in a row. And now Miami fans want the playoffs? Are they getting greedy? Maybe not. Miami ran off an impressive streak at the end of 2016 to do the same, and now with two games left against the Bills, that’s one AFC playoff spot they can sure overtake.

20. Oakland Raiders (6-7) Lost to Kansas City 26-15. Last Week: 18

It was a short time tied for the division lead for Oakland. They’re by no means out of it yet, one game back and with a game against the Chargers for their season finale, but the road is a lot tougher. Their other games are against the surging Cowboys and the NFC-best Eagles. The Raiders may feel some empathy for the latter, as their own season was derailed a year ago by losing Derek Carr to injury.

21. Arizona Cardinals (6-7) Def. Tennessee 12-7. Last Week: 20

A few weeks ago the Cardinals gave Tennessee a leg up in the AFC South race when they upset Jacksonville. Sunday they took it back, big time. In about as dominating a win as you can get without scoring a touchdown, the Cardinals, minus Adrian Peterson, out-rushed the potent Titans 136-65.

22. Washington (5-8) Lost to LA Chargers 30-13. Last Week: 19

The second half of the season hasn’t been the boon it appeared to be for Washington. Back-to-back blowout losses mean they won’t have a winning season, and now even .500 seems unlikely for a team with plenty of questions to answer as the off-season beckons. First: Kirk Cousins’ future.

23. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) Lost to Chicago 33-7. Last Week: 22

The loss to Pittsburgh took a lot out of the Bengals. Mainly: players. Injury decimated and on a short week, Cincinnati got little going against Chicago besides Giovani Bernard, who was effective a second straight week while filling in for Joe Mixon.

24. New York Jets (5-8) Lost to Denver 23-0. Last Week: 17

Sunday the Jets looked like the team everyone expected in 2017, and that has to create some worry for the years beyond. With Josh McCown knocked from the game it was Bryce Petty who entered. Petty went 2-for-9, and what does it say that Christian Hackenberg didn’t even play?

25. San Francisco 49ers (3-10) Def. Houston 26-16. Last Week: 28

The 49ers won their second in a row and are undefeated with Jimmy Garropolo starting under center. It may be tough to stay that way with games against Tennessee, Jacksonville, and the Rams remaining.

26. Chicago Bears (4-9) Def. Cincinnati 33-3. Last Week: 29

The Bears shook off their two worst weeks of the season to explode for 482 total yards, 232 on the ground, against the Bengals. Jordan Howard had 147 yards and Tarik Cohen added 80 more to get Chicago their first win in five games.

27. Denver Broncos (4-9) Def. NY Jets 23-0. Last Week: 30

The Broncos defense may have finally struck on what they need to do to win a game: allow 100 total yards, get two takeaways, and pitch a shutout. The win keeps Denver from tying it’s franchise record for consecutive losses at nine.

28. Houston Texans (4-9) Lost to San Francisco 26-16. Last Week: 25

After three consecutive 9-7 seasons and two straight division championships, the Texans are assured of their first losing season under Bill O’Brien. Deandre Hopkins showed yet again that it matters not a whit who lines up at quarterback on his team: 11 catches, 149 yards, two scores.

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) Lost to Detroit 24-21. Last Week: 26

If it’s time to look to the future in Tampa Bay (and it is) a pair of rookies led the Buccaneers in receiving Sunday. First round pick O.J. Howard had 54 yards and a touchdown, and third round selection Chris Godwin led the team with 68 yards on five catches.

30. Indianapolis Colts (3-10) Lost to Buffalo 13-7 (OT.)  Last Week: 27

The Colts took nearly the entire afternoon to score at all Sunday and then almost stole the game twice. First on a two-point conversion negated by an offensive pass-interference penalty and then again when Adam Vinatieri couldn’t repeat his extra point kick on a field goal at the end of the game.

31. New York Giants (2-11) Lost to Dallas 30-10. Last Week: 31

Eli Manning’s streak as a backup didn’t last nearly as long as his starting one, but his return was spoiled by another: Sean Lee’s. Manning threw two interceptions, one to Lee, and Steve Spagnuolo lost his debut as Interim Head Coach.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-13) Lost to Green Bay 27-21 (OT.) Last Week: 32

The Browns held a 14 point lead until the Packers scored the final 20 points Sunday. They’re running out of chances. Josh Gordon found the endzone for the first time and seems every bit his old self.

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