Week 15 of the NFL season is upon us and we must sound the trumpet to begin it as we always do, by arbitrarily ranking teams in a sport where pretty much every honest debate is actually settled on the field.
For maybe the first time this season, we have had no change in the Top 5, with the entire group ensuring they’d ride into the Yuletide atop the rankings. The bottom three too seem etched in stone, but there is a caveat. One of those teams is pretty entertaining to watch. Which bodes well for its future and that of the entire league.
We have movement everywhere else, especially in the teens and early 20s, as squads vie for the chance to triumphantly make the postseason, only to lose in blowout fashion in the Wild Card round. But all we want is hope!
Let’s rank some teams.
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (12-1)
You want to know a big reason why the Eagles are not only No. 1 in this (and likely every) Power Rankings along with the best record in the league? They have 19 successful fourth down conversions this season out of 25 attempts, the most in the NFL. And if you think that’s probably related to their success in the red zone, I’m guessing you’re right./
Last week: No. 1
- SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (9-4)
Well, would you look at that. Kyle Shanahan’s offense that doesn’t require elite quarterback play to be successful turns out to be successful without an elite QB. You’d think I would have figured all this out by now. Still, it’s hard to believe that Brock Purdy can keep this up. Los Angeles Rams fans just need it one more night, particularly Thursday night to hang another loss on Seattle. So, of course, you know what’s going to happen. It doesn’t that Purdy spent the week on the injury report.
Last week: No. 2
- CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-4)
There’s getting “hot at the right time” and then there’s coming out of the kitchen as a sizzling skillet of fajitas. The Bengals are doing that second thing and everyone in the restaurant is watching them make their way to the table wishing they’d ordered the same. Also, good news, Tyler Boyd should be able to play, at least some, Sunday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Last week: No. 3
- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-3)
The Chiefs have taken losses from the two top AFC contenders, but can still absolutely rob both the Bengals and the Buffalo Bills by simply winning out on one of the easiest December and January schedules in the league. They play at the Houston Texans Sunday. It might as well be an extra bye.
Last week: No. 4
- DALLAS COWBOYS (10-3)
The Cowboys have won four straight, are within striking distance of not only the NFC East title, but home field advantage and absolutely none of us, not a single person on Earth, believes they’ll do it simply because Mike McCarthy is their head coach. Now, if was a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, they’d be the No. 1 seed.
Last week: No. 5
- BUFFALO BILLS (10-3)
I have bad news for the Bills. No team has won a game this season with Covid-19 Superspreading Plague Rate Cole Beasley on the roster or practice squad. What have you done?
Last week: No. 7
- BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-4)
It’s probably going to be Tyler Huntley again for the Ravens with Lamar Jackson still sidelined. They’ll need a significantly better performance from him to knock off a Cleveland Browns team with its actual quarterback on the field and not setting a new Fruit Ninja high score on his Microsoft Surface tablet. At least, I hope that was what Deshaun Watson was doing on that tablet. No one check his history.
Last week: No. 9
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-3)
The Vikings have experienced an odd few weeks, knocking off garbage teams, but getting outclassed across the board when facing a team with even a modicum of real coaching. Of course, that shouldn’t be a problem hosting the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday because of, ironically, a guy named “Saturday.”
Last week: No. 6
- LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (7-6)
While Sunday’s game against the equally 7-6 Tennessee Titans might not be an elimination game for their opponent, Los Angeles can’t afford to take the home loss. Tennessee is the last squad with a winning record left on their schedule. They should be thinking about running the table and grabbing the No. 5 seed.
Last week: No. 14
- WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (7-5-1)
Remember when everyone was calling out Ron Rivera for “badmouthing” Carson Wentz? This team has gone 5-1 since Wentz got hurt in Week 6. Maybe we don’t doubt Riverboat Ron anymore, how about it?
Last week: No. 15
- MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-5)
Miami has lost two in a row to realistic contenders and now their coast to the playoffs is looking significantly more rocky. It doesn’t help that they play at Buffalo Saturday, a franchise that is cleaning a literal ton of snow out of its stadium as I write this.
Preseason: No. 8
- NEW YORK GIANTS (7-5-1)
Reality seems to be finally coming home for the Giants, but they’re currently the No. 6 seed and could get a boost from a full go Saquon Barkley in a must win Sunday Night Football contest against the Commanders. There really can be no bad outcomes for the G-Men this season, but a playoff berth would be pretty sweet.
Last week: No. 10
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-6)
The Pats should be out of the playoff race at this point, but they’re hanging around like an HPV infection. And if we had any hope of that ending this week, I have bad news. They play the Las Vegas Raiders.
Last week: No. 17
- DETROIT LIONS (6-7)
The Lions opened the year as the NFL’s best offense and have spent the last seven weeks as the league’s best passing offense. Jared Goff has rejuvenated his career and Dan Campbell hasn’t been fed a kneecap in more than a month.
Last week: No. 18
- TENNESSEE TITANS (7-6)
Tennessee has lost three in a row and now faces what would be an elimination game Sunday against the Chargers if they played in any other division. A 9-8 finish will absolutely hang an AFC South championship banner next year.
Last week: No. 11
- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-6)
Losing to the Carolina Panthers at home was a solid fall back to Earth for a Seahawks I’ve been expecting to crater out since Week 1.
Last week: No. 11
- NEW YORK JETS (7-6)
Tell your mom she can start checking her DMs again. Zach Wilson will suit up again for the Jets this Sunday, this time serving as the No. 2 quarterback behind Mike White.
Last week: No. 16
- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-7)
Not only is there a chance a team with a losing record can make the NFC playoffs (I’m looking at you, Los Angeles Rams), there’s also a real danger that two teams will, especially if the Buccaneers lose to the Bengals Sunday (and they should) and hang on to win the NFC South.
Last week: No. 13
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-8)
Just when you think the Jaguars might go ahead and fold their tents for the season, they unveil a $100,000 deluxe motor home and put themselves right back into the playoff hunt.
Last week: No. 26
- GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-8)
Aaron Rodgers might want to rethink that “play four more years” plan. He’ll have plenty of time to consider it if the Packers lose to the Los Angeles Rams Monday night in what should be an elimination game.
Last week: No. 23
- LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-9)
Baker Mayfield might have brought his career, and the Rams’ 2022-23 season back to life with his addition to the team. In leading a 17-16 come from behind win over the Las Vegas Raiders, he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week and LA’s starter for the rest of the year. This team is still alive for the playoffs. For at least another week. They face an elimination game with the Packers Monday night. As a bonus, one thing the Rams have had working for them most of the season is the defense, who allowed just 67 total yards and two first downs in the second half to the Raiders last Thursday.
Last week: No. 27
- CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-8)
Steve Wilks probably should have been the Panthers’ head coach from the start. Sam Darnold probably should have never been benched and replaced by Baker Mayfield and Carolina might just win out and take the NFC South title. None of those statements were jokes.
Last week: No. 29
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS (5-8)
With Kenny Pickett possibly out for Sunday’s game against the suddenly dangerous Carolina Panthers, the team could turn back to Mitchell Trubisky. So prepare yourself ahead of time for that first Mike Tomlin losing season” because it might be coming this week.
Last week: 20
- ATLANTA FALCONS (5-8)
With their season officially in the toilet, the Falcons have tossed the keys to rookie Desmond Ridder and will let the chips, and probably losses, fall where they may. On the bright side, if he shows he can play in the NFL, they can use their high draft pick to build around him. If not, they can use the pick on another quarterback.
Last week: No. 21
- CLEVELAND BROWNS (5-8)
Deshaun Watson now has two NFL games under his belt and, more importantly, managed to keep that belt fastened. Whew!
Last week: No. 22
- ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-9)
If you thought the Cardinals season couldn’t get any worse, Kyler Murray is now out of the year (and possibly part of next year) after tearing his ACL last Sunday. The good news is, he should get all the Call of Duty out of his system while on crutches.
Last week: No. 24
- NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (4-9)
Well, at least the Saints will get a solid and high first round pick in the 2023 draft for this lost season… checks notes… oh, wait. They don’t. I’m not sure Trevor Penning was worth it considering he’s played a total of 16 snaps this season.
Last week: No. 25
- INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-8-1)
I have a fun fact for Jeff Saturday. He’s about to take his first ever head coaching loss on the day for which his surname comes from when his team is blown out by the Vikings Saturday.
Last week: No. 28
- LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (5-8)
Josh McDaniels now owns the two worst losses of the season by any head coach — falling to Jeff Saturday in his professional head coaching debut and then to the Baker Mayfield led Rams two days after they acquired that quarterback. In the “offensive genius’” offense, Derek Carr went 2 for 7 in the second half for 11 yards.
Last week: No. 19
- CHICAGO BEARS (3-10)
The Bears are now officially the most fun double digit loss team in NFL history. They’re the first 10 loss team in December you’re happy to see show up on NFL Red Zone. That has to be worth something.
Last week: No. 30
- DENVER BRONCOS (3-10)
I would say, I can’t believe that Nathaniel Hackett has made it as a head coach until Christmas, but it’s still a week away. He still might not.
Last week: No. 31
- HOUSTON TEXANS (1-11-1)
Started at the bottom and now we’re here, Texans. Still at the bottom. I do think this might be a decent job for a new head coach next year and probably Baker Mayfield’s next destination if he doesn’t want to hang out in Southern California.
Last week: No. 32
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.