2016 NFL Week 16 Powre Rankings/Playoff Scenarios
It is officially crunch time now. You are what your record says you are. The rankings, however, are a gauge of how hot, cold or mediocre a team is playing, not a top-to-bottom ledger of win-loss records.
1. New England Patriots (12-2).
They are far from unstoppable, and their defensive statistics are built upon facing the dregs of the NFL among QBs. You saw what happened the last time they faced a good (great) QB, Russell Wilson. They haven’t faced even an average QB since. And that includes Joe Flacco.
2. New York Football Giants (10-4).
The Giants have won 8 of 9, and thanks to dubious officiating in Pittsburgh, is the only reason they haven’t won their last nine. With Earl Thomas out for season in Seattle, the Giants arguably have the best defense in the NFL and do enough offensively (with room to spare) to make a deep playoff run.
3. Oakland Raiders (11-3).
Derek Carr not playing under center has drastically altered the Raiders’ offensive attack. Coincidental with his finger injury? The dramatic dropoff in production from Amari Cooper. Carr seems to exclusively lock onto Michael Crabtree, his tight ends and running backs ever since the injury occurred.
4. Dallas Cowboys (12-2).
This is the flimsiest 12-2 team of all time. They needed criminal officiating to eke by a Minnesota team that is bereft of offense and just got shut down by a putrid Colts defense. At home. They were a blown coverage by Andrew Adams away from being shut out at Giants Stadium, and needed four turnovers (three unforced by Dallas) and God awful play by Gosder Cherilus to beat Tampa. Barely.
5. Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1).
Seattle has to get their offense going on the road, although if win Sunday, they likely won’t play another game there throughout the playoffs.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4).
The Chiefs love those close games with heart-stopping moments late. This time, it did not go in their favor.
7. Atlanta Falcons (9-5).
Sometimes you watch the Falcons and wonder how they lose games. Ever. But that defense can be exposed, and when they’ve lost, it has been a combination of that and their offense being stifled by good defenses. They’re a major wild card (and potentially be one literally if they don’t win out from here) when it comes to the playoffs.
8. Detroit Lions (9-5).
Packers fans can R-E-L-A-X, they’re not winning the NFC North nor making the playoffs. Losing to the best defense in the NFL on the road is not cause for concern for the Lions.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5).
The Steelers have quietly (as possibly “quiet” the Steelers can do anything) won five straight and it couldn’t have come at a better time. They can clinch the AFC North with a win vs. Baltimore Sunday.
10. Miami Dolphins (9-5).
The Fins are still alive, since the Broncos lost. How far can Noodle Arm Matt Moore take them, though? Beating the Jets is the farthest thing from an accomplishment or an accurate barometer, but a win is a win, and it was a win the Fins desperately needed to keep their playoff hopes alive. In fact, if they defeat Buffalo and Denver loses to Kansas City, the Miami Dolphins will officially be playoff bound.
11. Tennessee Titans (8-6).
A huge win in Kansas City for the Titans for a multitude of reasons. They gain confidence from winning in a tough stadium in comeback fashion, they keep their division and playoff wild card hopes (should they not win the division) alive, and their defense has played better, which was timely, as Marcus Mariota has struggled of late.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6).
Tampa is a year ahead of schedule, largely due to the moxie of Jameis Winston, but their massive flaws along the offensive line and their relative lack of receiving targets outside of Mike Evans and Cameron Brate was exposed on Sunday night. Despite three of the four turnovers they committed on Sunday being unforced, one was the result of the thing that doomed the Bucs in the end: Demar Dotson’s absence and the inability of Gosder Cherilus to block anyone.
13. Baltimore Ravens (8-6).
The Ravens tried to blow it vs. Philadelphia, and a loss would have put them on the brink. As it stands, they still sit there, because the Steelers are rolling. Defeating the Steelers gives the Ravens the season sweep, tiebreaker and puts them in a win-and-win (the division) scenario in Week 17. If they lose, they are already behind the Dolphins in the hunt, despite the head-to-head, and now they’re jockeying with Denver and Tennessee.
14. Denver Broncos (8-6).
Trevor Siemian is not the answer, and arguably, Paxton Lynch isn’t, either. It would help either quarterback if Demaryius Thomas wasn’t one of the softest WRs in the league — at 6’3″ 230 lbs.
15. Houston Texans (8-6).
After the shutout trashing in Foxborough earlier this year, the Texans should have arguably gone to Tom Savage at that point. The team won four of the five games they’ve won since that game despite Brock Osweiler, not because of him.
16. Green Bay Packers (8-6).
Yes, the Packers are putting up pretty stats offensively of late, but they’re still not good, and they allowed the Bears to outscore them 20-3 in the 2nd half.
And needed a miracle play/awfully blown coverage just to avoid potentially losing that game and any hopes of making the playoffs. It would have been 4th and 11 with a little over a minute left for the Bears to get a game-winning field goal had that play not been converted.
In short? They’re not good enough. R-E-L-A-X.
17. Indianapolis Colts (7-7).
Games like Sunday send the Andrew Luck worship into overdrive, but the biggest oddity to Luck’s career thus far is his proclivity for putting together his best games against the best defenses in the league and struggling with some of the worst. It is uncanny.
18. Buffalo Bills (7-7).
Nine wins won’t get anyone in on the AFC side this year, we don’t think, but the Bills can keep any hopes they have alive, and play spoilers against Miami in the process. At least they did not allow the Browns off the schneid.
19. Carolina Panthers (6-8).
Credit to them for not lying down despite their season pretty much being over since their 40-7 blowout loss in Seattle.
20. Minnesota Vikings (7-7).
We said here when the Vikings were 5-0 that they would miss the playoffs. Lo and behold.
21. Washington Redskins (7-6-1).
Imagine having your playoff hopes on the line. At home. In primetime. And you lay probably your biggest egg of the season?
22. New Orleans Saints (6-8).
They’re just spinning their wheels, but they have a large hand in deciding who wins the NFC South, with their remaining games against the two teams atop the division.
By the way, have the Saints won a game (their non-blowout wins) without the refs making criminal calls in the Saints’ favor?
23. Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1).
They got robbed by Saints refs, but their season was all but over anyway.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1).
In typical Bengals fashion, Cincinnati went from dominating the game, up multiple scores, only to blow it in the 4th quarter.
25. San Diego Chargers (5-9).
That “security guard” though.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (5-9).
We went from hearing Carson Wentz was already a Hall of Famer to the Eagles being reduced to attempting to spoil Dallas and the Giants’ playoff seeding aspirations to finish the season.
27. Chicago Bears (3-11).
The Bears have been in most games, and had come back to potentially win this one before dubious officiating stalled a potential game-winning drive, and then blown coverage late, resulting in a game-winning field goal by Mason Crosby.
28. Los Angeles Rams (4-10).
If I’m Jared Goff, I’m sitting out in protest until they give me an offensive line and receivers worth a damn.
29. New York Jets (4-10).
The Jets were in a bad position entering the 2016 season. Do you try to load up and make a run for it with a veteran roster with good talent on both sides of the football, or do you let your young QB play? The thing is, only a fool would think that Ryan Fitzpatrick would commandeer the ship of a real playoff contender. Darrelle Revis aged 7 years overnight in the past 18 months and then the customary injuries and here we are.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12).
If the Jags had even a semi-competent quarterback who didn’t spend all offseason partying and developing mechanical bad habits, they would be leading the AFC South. Their defense is plenty good enough. Blake Bortles is the worst starting QB in the NFL.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-13).
Who survives this mess in terms of coaching and front office? The general manager certainly won’t. But will Chip Kelly and his staff?
32. Cleveland Browns (0-14).
Even in an 0-16 the Browns won’t be lucky enough to find a franchise quarterback in the 2017 Draft, with the guaranteed #1 pick.
Week 16 Playoff Scenarios
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
The Patriots have clinched the AFC East and a first-round bye. They can clinch the #1 seed in the AFC with a win and an Oakland loss.
Can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Denver loss.
The Bills are mathematically alive for a wild card, but let’s face it, they’re done. But for consistency’s sake, they would need to win out (beginning with Miami in Week 16), and would need Miami to lose again in Week 17, Tennessee to lose out, Denver to lose out, Indianapolis to lose out, and even then, there may not be a tiebreaker in their favor.
Can clinch AFC North with win vs. Baltimore in Week 16.
Can pull into a 9-6 tie (with head-to-head tiebreaker vs. Pittsburgh) with win vs. Pittsburgh in Week 16, and would be in position to win the AFC North with win vs. Cincinnati in Week 17.
Don’t think this needs explanation.
Can clinch AFC South with win and Tennessee loss.
Need to win to maintain pace with Houston for the division lead (Houston owns tiebreaker).
The Colts need a ton of help, even if they win out. They are still mathematically alive.
They finally fired Gus Bradley, their first win in weeks.
Raiders can clinch the AFC West with win vs. Indianapolis and Kansas City loss to Denver. Can potentially move into #1 seed with two wins and two New England losses.
Chiefs can clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie vs. Denver. A Baltimore loss or tie would clinch a Chiefs playoff berth, as well.
Denver is in massive trouble. They must win out to have any chance to have tiebreakers in their favor. They get Kansas City in Week 16 on Sunday Night.
Just a matter of time before we know where the team is moving, while their “security” detail tosses off while gawking at Bolts’ cheerleaders in the interim.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
Can clinch NFC East with win. Can also clinch NFC East with loss, but New York loss. Can clinch #1 seed with win and New York loss.
Can clinch playoff berth with win vs. Philadelphia in Week 16. They can also clinch a berth with a loss or tie by Green Bay OR Detroit OR Tampa Bay, or a loss by Atlanta. They can win the NFC East and clinch the #1 seed with a combination of two wins and two losses by Dallas.
The Skins put themselves in deep turmoil with their virtual no-show in Week 15 on Monday Night Football. They own a tiebreaker against Minnesota (head-to-head), but lost to Green Bay, which currently sits in the #6 seed, and the tie vs. Cincinnati is currently costing them in the tiebreaker department with Tampa Bay.
Lions can clinch the NFC North with win and Green Bay loss or tie, or if Detroit ties Dallas with a Green Bay loss.
The Packers actually have their destiny in their own hands. If they win out, they win the NFC North. For now, Week 16, the Packers can actually clinch a playoff berth by virtue of a win, ownership of the strength of victory tiebreaker over Tampa Bay, coupled with losses or ties by Washington and Atlanta.
The Vikes are all but done. They have the two teams ahead of them in the division, as well as the loss head-to-head to Washington. They are not officially eliminated, but anyone who has watched them play of late knows they’re done.
They’ve tried hard, and will continue to attempt to serve as spoilers (they can end the Redskins’ playoff hopes with a win on Sunday).
Falcons can clinch the NFC South with a win and Tampa Bay tie or loss, or a tie of their own and a Tampa Bay loss.
They can also clinch a playoff berth with a win and either a loss or tie by Green Bay or Detroit. They would clinch a berth with a tie and a Detroit tie, a Green Bay loss, and Washington loss or tie, thereby claiming the strength of victory tiebreaker over Detroit.
Tampa Bay must win and needs losses by Green Bay, Detroit and Washington in Week 16 in order to clinch at least a playoff berth. If Detroit and Green Bay lose and Washington ties Chicago in Week 16, would clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over Detroit.
New Orleans is all but done, there are about nine scenarios that must occur for them to make the playoffs. If they win in Week 16 vs. Tampa Bay, we will revisit.
Same for Carolina, including a second tie by Washington vs. Chicago in Week 16. They’re all but done.
Clinched NFC West in Week 15. Can clinch a first-round playoff bye with win vs. Arizona, and a loss by Detroit and a loss or tie by Atlanta. Can not go any higher than #2 seed. The #1 seed in the NFC will either be Dallas or New York.
Officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Officially eliminated from playoff contention.