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NFL power rankings, Week 16: Shake-up at the top

The Patriots lost on Sunday night, knocking them from their perch as the NFL's best team in SB Nation's Week 16 NFL power rankings.

Jim Rogash

This was the most difficult set of NFL power rankings to create all season. There were no less than four teams that could make a legitimate argument for the No. 1 spot -- Broncos, Falcons, 49ers and Texans. The Patriots, last week's No. 1 team, lost on Sunday night to the 49ers.

There will undoubtedly be disagreement at the top of the rankings. Let us know in the comments how you would rank the top five.

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1. Denver Broncos (LW: 3, 11-3): Last week I called the Ravens game a "good barometer" for where the Broncos stand. They beat the Ravens by three scores, notching their ninth consecutive win. Any more questions?

2. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 4, 12-2): They could stake a claim for the top spot, too. The Falcons crushed the Giants, 34-0. They finish at Detroit and against the Bucs. Looks like a 14-2 season.

3. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 5, 10-3-1): Like the Broncos and Falcons, there's a legit argument for putting them No. 1. Winning in Foxboro in December is no joke. The 49ers have as good of a shot as anyone to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

4. Houston Texans (LW: 2, 12-2): The Texans wrapped up their second straight AFC South crown by beating the Colts on Sunday. Somehow I have them dropping two spots anyway. Care to make the argument they should be above the 49ers, Falcons or Broncos after what we saw last week? It can be done.

5. New England Patriots (LW: 1, 10-4): Don't feel bad for the Patriots. They're still one of the five best teams in the NFL and have as good of a shot as anyone to win the Super Bowl. Don't over think the occasional loss.

6. Green Bay Packers (LW: 6, 10-4): The Packers were one of my preseason Super Bowl picks. I'm still feeling good about that. Their offense can still get better.

7. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 11, 9-5): Am I allowed to put Seattle this high?

8. Washington Redskins (LW: 10, 8-6): This is actually happening. The Redskins have arguably the best shot at a playoff spot among NFC East teams given the final two weeks of the schedule. RGIII in the playoffs? Yes, please.

9. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 8, 9-5): Another one of my preseason Super Bowl picks. I don't feel so good about this one. Three losses in a row and two games coming up against the Giants and Bengals. It's possible they slide into the playoffs on a five-game losing streak.

10. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 9, 9-5): It's as if 2011 never happened. Colts fans are doing what they've always done this time of year -- looking at playoff scenarios.

Previous Power Rankings: Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15

11. New York Giants (LW: 7, 8-6): When the Falcons crushed the Giants, my first thought was: "Well, that's it. The Giants will run the table and win the Super Bowl."

12. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 13, 8-6): It seems right to have all three of the top NFC East teams clustered together. The Cowboys aren't noticeably better or worse than the Giants or Redskins. This is coming down to Week 17.

13. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 16, 8-6): I still don't have a great read on the Bengals. If they can beat both the Ravens and Steelers in the final two weeks, then they'll have earned that playoff spot.

14. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 14, 8-6): The Adrian Peterson watch is on. He's at 1,812 yards, 188 yards shy of 2,000. He's also 293 yards away from Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Dickerson had 313 yards in his final two weeks so AP is ahead of his pace.

15. Chicago Bears (LW: 15, 8-6): I would not want to be a Bears fan right now. Chicago was 7-1 at one point. Now they're 8-6 and in danger of missing the playoffs. They finish at Arizona and at Detroit.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 12, 7-7): This Steelers team looks a lot like the 2009 team, also the last Steelers team to miss the playoffs.

17. New Orleans Saints (LW: 20, 6-8): Games like that remind us of the times when the Saints were one of the best teams in football.

18. Cleveland Browns (LW: 27, 5-9): Sometimes when you do these rankings, you don't realize how bad you screwed a team on their ranking until someone points it out. Browns fans at Dawgs By Nature were kind enough to point out to me that I had Cleveland dropping two spots last week, despite dropping a 23-point victory on the Chiefs. So, I apologize to you Browns fans. This is a more appropriate ranking.

19. Miami Dolphins (LW: 22, 6-8): The Dolphins are still in the playoff picture! (...but they're not going to make it.)

20. St. Louis Rams (LW: 19, 6-7-1): A seven or eight win season would raise expectations in St. Louis for next season.

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21. Carolina Panthers (LW: 24, 5-9): Are the Panthers a sleeping giant next year? Or did we say that about them this year?

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 18, 6-8): Josh Freeman is completing less than 55 percent of his passes. That's really bad. And he's losing the "Oh, he's just young and inexperienced" excuse.

23. Buffalo Bills (LW: 21, 5-9): Appropriate headline: "Bills mail in the season, fall 50-17 to the Seahawks"

24. New York Jets (LW: 17, 6-8): The most appropriate ending to a team's playoff hopes I've ever seen.

25. Tennessee Titans (LW: 25, 5-9): It's the type of season where after your team wins a nationally televised game, the lead story the next day is the current NFL Draft order.

26. San Diego Chargers (LW: 23, 5-9): Norv watch 2012: Will be fired in two weeks.

27. Detroit Lions (LW: 26, 4-10): According to this terrific research at Pride of Detroit, Jim Schwartz might want to start collecting his things.

28. Oakland Raiders (LW: 29, 4-10): The Raiders beat the Chiefs on Sunday but by far the most interesting part of the game was this pigeon who refused to leave the field.

29. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 30, 5-9): Nine-game losing streak over! Celebrate! Go Cards!

30. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 28, 4-10): It'll be over soon. Their worst season in more than a decade is ending soon.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 31, 2-12): Just a gutsy performance by the Jags to stay in the race for the top pick. No one wants the No. 1 pick more than them. No one!

32. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 32, 2-12): The four worst point differentials in franchise history have come in the last five years.


Heading into Week 16, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are the new top team in the NFL power rankings after dismantling the Baltimore Ravens. Will they keep it up through the final two weeks?