Week 15 had more than it's fair share of upsets, with both the only undefeated team losing and the "defeated" team finally winning it's first game. In fact, at least 5 of the 8 early games on Sunday could be considered upsets (go ahead and check, I'll give you a minute). More and more teams continue to get eliminated from postseason eligibility, but there are still plenty in the hunt for the final wild card spots.
This week will be a short one for most teams, with all of the games being played on Saturday (Christmas Eve) sans the Thursday and Sunday night games along with the ESPN Monday Night Football matchup between the Falcons and the Saints. That said, let's see what the power rankings look like headed into week 16. I'll be basing them off of Jess' rankings, as he covered for my absence last week.
1. Green Bay Packers (13-1) (LW: 1): The Packers remain atop the board, but with a loss to the Chiefs, one has to wonder how their defense will hold up in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers will be there to put points on the board, but his receivers will need to help him out as well.
2. New Orleans Saints (11-3) (LW: 3): The Saints traveled to the Metrodome and Drew Brees decided to put on a show for the fans. 412 yards and five touchdowns? Congrats if you have him on your fantasy team. Oh, and Mr. Marino: wave goodbye to your record.
3. New England Patriots (11-3) (LW: 4): Not even the almighty Tim Tebow could trump the offensive firepower of Tom Brady's Pats. The Broncos gameplanned to take away Rob Gronkowski, so Brady decided to go to his other dynamic tight end, Aaron Hernandez, who had 129 receiving yards and a TD on the day. They are officially the best team in the AFC, despite their banged up secondary.
4. San Francisco 49ers (11-3) (LW: 8): After two blackouts fell over Candlestick Park, the 49ers were able to keep the Steelers at bay with their outstanding defense. Alex Smith managed the game quite effectively and the 49ers have now allowed no rushing TDs in their last 14 games, something no other team has ever done before.
5. Baltimore Ravens (10-4) (LW: 2): The Ravens were manhandled by the Bolts, but had already clinched a spot in the postseason since the Jets had lost earlier in the day. Much like Mark Sanchez, many are beginning to question if Joe Flacco is the franchise quarterback that can get his team over the hump.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4) (LW: 5): Big Ben Roesthlisberger's played noticeably different on a gimpy ankle and the Steelers' offense suffered because of it. The team was only able to put three points on the board. They are still one of the better teams in the AFC, but if Big Ben can't get some of his mobility back, they won't go far in the playoffs.
7. Arizona Cardinals (7-7) (LW: 10): As Jess mentioned last week, this is a power rankings post. That said, the Cardinals are playing some of the best football in the league right now. Their defense is aggressive and their offense continues to come back from deficits for the victory. If only this team would have had an offseason...
8. Atlanta Falcons (9-5) (LW: 11): John Abraham had 3 1/2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles against the Jaguars, which pretty much became the story of the game. This 41-14 victory was wrapped up by halftime.
9. San Diego Chargers (7-7) (LW: 13): The Chargers' offense, led by second year back Ryan Mathews, showed the rest of the AFC West that they're not out of this race yet. My only question is: if the Bolts do make the playoffs, does that mean they still keep Norv Turner as head coach? That shouldn't sit well with San Diego fans.
10. Denver Broncos (8-6) (LW: 7): Tebow's Broncos played a bit backwards on Sunday, scoring most of their points in the first quarter as opposed to the fourth. The Chargers are nipping at their heels, now.
11. Houston Texans (10-4) (LW: 6): Arian Foster played well, but quarterback T.J. Yates played like a rookie (finally). I honestly can't see this team doing much in the playoffs, either. They were ravaged by just too many injuries this season.
12. Detroit Lions (9-5) (LW: 14): With a huge comeback victory over the Raiders, the Lions are in prime position to win the second NFC wildcard spot and enter the playoffs. They will need to find more of a run game if they want to advance in the postseason, but their defense (and special teams, for that matter) looked much improved with Ndamukong Suh back in the lineup.
13. Dallas Cowboys (8-6) (LW: 16): Now that DeMarco Murray is out for the season, the Cowboys are relying on the legs of Felix Jones to give them a ground game. He didn't disappoint, rushing for 108 yards against a porous Tampa defense. Tony Romo also threw 3 TDs and ran for one. The Giants' loss really helped this team.
14. Seattle Seahawks (7-7) (LW: 17): The defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs all had members of their squads get picks against Caleb Hanie on Sunday. If not for their great defense, this game may have been close due to Seattle's pedestrian offense.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) (LW: 19): The Bengals are making a strong bid at a wildcard spot after beating the Rams. The bad news is that their star rookie receiver A.J. Green suffered a shoulder injury and is questionable to play against the Cardinals on Christmas Eve. They are currently tied with the Jets for the final spot to make the postseason.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) (LW: 20): Shady was a beast, that's all that needs to be said. Through all the turmoil, it is amazing that it is still mathematically possible for the Iggles to make the playoffs. If that happens, they could do some damage given all of the talent they possess.
17. New York Jets (8-6) (LW: 9): Did the Jets even show up to this game? LeSean McCoy ran all over their team and the Jets couldn't cover Brent Celek to save their souls. They have a big game against the Giants this weekend that may determine their eligibility in the playoffs.
18. New York Giants (7-7) (LW: 12): Sad, sad, sad. The Giants had the opportunity to keep pace with the Cowboys, bringing their fate to the last game of the season against Dallas, but instead, they decided to lose to a different division foe: the Redskins. If they don't win the NFC East, they will not make the playoffs,as both the Lions and the Falcons are ahead of them.
19. Washington Redskins (5-9) (LW: 21): It was a meaningless game for the 'Skins, but what it did was show us that with a few more pieces, this team could actually be decent. Rex Grossman has got to go and they need some better receivers.
20. Carolina Panthers (5-9) (LW: 23): Cam Newton never ceases to amaze. Playing against a very talented defense, the Panthers put up 28 points, including two TDs from their rookie QB sensation. This is another team, that with a couple of pieces, could do pretty well for themselves next season.
21. Miami Dolphins (5-9) (LW: 26): Apparently Reggie Bush likes the cold, because he had a career-high 203 yards rushing against the Bills in Ralph Wilson stadium. This team played exceptionally well considering this was their first game since their head coach was fired.
22. Tennessee Titans (7-7) (LW: 15): So you have a shot at creeping into the playoffs and then you go and lose to a team that doesn't have a single win on the season? I am disgusted.
23. Kansas City Chiefs (6-8) (LW: 30): Any time you beat the only undefeated team left in the league, your team is going to take a huge jump in the rankings. The Chiefs looked inspired playing under interim head coach Romeo Crennel and they played an excellent game against the Pack. Have they created the blueprint for how to take down Aaron Rodgers?
24. Oakland Raiders (7-7) (LW: 18): The Raiders were up 27-14 with just under eight minutes to go and ended up folding Cowboys style. Darrius Heyward-Bey looked impressive, as did Carson Palmer, but their defense had too many penalties, as usual.
25. Chicago Bears (7-7) (LW: 22): The Bears lost and Marion Barber's absence from this game single-handedly kicked me out of my fantasy playoffs, so there's that. It's impressive how bad teams are when they lose their franchise QBs to injury.
26. Cleveland Browns (4-10) (LW: 25): The Browns were able to take a surging Cardinals team to OT, but came up short after a couple of big plays by Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald. Seneca Wallace looked pretty good at quarterback and if it were my team, I would start him moving forward.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) (LW: 24): The Jags played their third nationally televised game of the year (don't ask) and lost this one in style. Blaine Gabbert flinches anytime a bit of pressure is applied, which is something that he needs to learn to deal with.
28. Buffalo Bills (5-9) (LW: 27): Make that seven straight losses for the Bills. Injuries really killed their season, but it was hard to imagine them actually beating out the Patriots for a division title, wasn't it? Extending Ryan Fitzpatrick may have been a mistake.
29. Minnesota Vikings (2-12) (LW: 28): Drew Brees killed the Vikes, but they also killed themselves. How do you let your franchise player, Adrian Peterson, only carry the ball ten times? The math just doesn't add up in that equation.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) (LW: 29): Not to be outdone by Buffalo, Tampa Bay has dropped eight straight and are looking to win the award for most disappointing team of the year. Raheem Morris' job status is is severe jeopardy.
31. Indianapolis Colts (1-13) (LW: 32): I had to do it. Gotta show the Colts some love. They better quit winning, though. They might just miss out on Andrew Luck if they win again.
32. St. Louis Rams (2-12) (LW: 31): The Rams have now hit rock bottom-- literally. Not only are they below the Colts in the power rankings, but they are being forced to start Kellen Clemens. It's getting ugly in St. Louis. Steve Spagnuolo is probably a goner.