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NFL power rankings, Week 15: Patriots jump Cowboys for top spot

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A stumble for the Cowboys means there’s a new No. 1.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries are suddenly a theme among several of the top playoff contenders, but not just your regular bumps and bruises across the roster. There are a few teams that will have to survive down the stretch without the contributions of hugely important players.

The Seattle Seahawks struggled to stop Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, and it’s hard to say the loss of Earl Thomas wasn’t a massive factor. And while the New England Patriots offense found ways to score against the Baltimore Ravens, the loss of Rob Gronkowski can’t be overstated.

But Week 14 added a few more key injuries to teams jockeying for position in the playoff race.

Both the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins bolstered their chances, but Matthew Stafford and Ryan Tannehill each suffered injuries.

Tannehill’s knee injury is more serious than the finger dislocation for Stafford, but they’re setbacks for two teams that can’t afford to slip up in the final weeks of the year.

Deep falls

In the last three weeks, Russell Wilson has had two of the worst performances of his career. While the Seahawks have the NFC West essentially wrapped up, now isn’t the time for Wilson to hit a slump, especially with the defense looking more vulnerable than ever with Thomas sidelined.

The Denver Broncos don’t have much of an excuse for such a terrible offensive output. Trevor Siemian returned to the lineup and played well, but couldn’t overcome a porous offensive line and a complete lack of a rushing attack.

Broncos running backs Devontae Booker and Justin Forsett combined for 18 rushing yards and it was really just up to Siemian to get points on the board. That’s not a winning formula for the Broncos if the team hopes to get into the playoffs.

Big jumps

The New York Giants couldn’t find much offense at all against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the offense didn’t have a big bounceback game against the Dallas Cowboys. But the defense looks like it can give just about any team a problem and has eight forced turnovers in the last three weeks.

Similarly, the Tennessee Titans defense did enough to make up for a lackluster offensive performance. The Titans are a weird team to figure out — they can blow out the Green Bay Packers one week and lose to the Indianapolis Colts in the next — but of the AFC South teams, the Titans appear the most capable of actually knocking off a playoff-caliber team.

Bottom of the trash heap

The bottom three hasn’t changed in a very long time and that’s because the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, and Cleveland Browns always find a way to lose.

San Francisco looked well in control before blowing a late lead, and the Jaguars also carried a lead into the fourth quarter before it circled the drain. But, hey, good on the New York Jets for overcoming the 49ers late. I guess that counts for something.

Week 12 Team Last week
1 New England Patriots 3
2 Dallas Cowboys 1
3 Kansas City Chiefs 5
4 Atlanta Falcons 6
5 Oakland Raiders 2
6 Pittsburgh Steelers 9
7 New York Giants 11
8 Detroit Lions 8
9 Seattle Seahawks 4
10 Washington 12
11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13
12 Baltimore Ravens 10
13 Denver Broncos 7
14 Miami Dolphins 14
15 Green Bay Packers 17
16 Cincinnati Bengals 16
17 Buffalo Bills 15
18 New Orleans Saints 18
19 Tennessee Titans 23
20 Minnesota Vikings 22
21 San Diego Chargers 19
22 Arizona Cardinals 20
23 Philadelphia Eagles 21
24 Carolina Panthers 26
25 Houston Texans 25
26 Indianapolis Colts 24
27 New York Jets 29
28 Chicago Bears 27
29 Los Angeles Rams 28
30 Jacksonville Jaguars 30
31 San Francisco 49ers 31
32 Cleveland Browns 32

The Browns can't do anything right