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NFL power rankings 2016, Week 16: Falcons are back, but Broncos are fading fast

It hasn’t come against the best competition, but the Falcons offense is lighting up scoreboards again.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

There was a feeling of “not again” when the Atlanta Falcons reeled off 128 points in three games early in the season as part of a 4-1 start that was followed by back-to-back losses. In the weeks that followed, the Falcons seemed to dazzle one week but disappoint the next and failed to find consistency.

Wins against the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers aren’t the most impressive, but with 83 points in two weeks, Atlanta looks like the September version of itself that rips apart defenses.

It couldn’t come at a better time either with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers surging up the standings. But a 26-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys for the Buccaneers means the Falcons have some breathing room.

And thanks to a loss by the Kansas City Chiefs, the Falcons are all the way at No. 3 in the Week 16 power rankings.

Deep falls

What’s wrong with the Denver Broncos?

When Trevor Siemian went down with an injury and first-round pick — but still raw — Paxton Lynch was forced into action, it made sense that the team struggled to score points. But Siemian is back and the Broncos have put up just 13 points in the last two weeks.

With playoff hopes dwindling and back-to-back games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders up next, it looks bleak for Denver. The team is struggling to run the ball, committing too many turnovers, and the defense just isn’t enough to win games alone.

Big jumps

It may be time to give the AFC South a little bit more credit. Once the laughingstock division of the NFL, it now has two 8-6 teams and the Indianapolis Colts just behind at 7-7. The whole division had a pretty good Week 15, with the exception of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who blew a big lead against the Texans and fired their head coach.

The Tennessee Titans managed to put together a last-second victory over one of the best teams in the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts freight trained the once-vaunted Minnesota Vikings defense, and the Houston Texans found out they had a capable quarterback all along — he was just sitting on the bench. Not a bad Sunday at all, and easily one of the most intriguing playoff races to finish the season.

Bottom of the trash heap

The bottom five teams are still the bottom five teams and none have shown any reason to think things are going to have any kind of happy ending, with the exception of draft position.

Both the Los Angeles Rams and Jaguars have already decided to start the hunt for a new head coach, but the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns can’t have had their hopes too high for first-year coaches walking into a disaster. There were high hopes for the New York Jets, though, and things are only getting worse for Todd Bowles.

With two weeks left to play, here’s the Week 16 rankings:

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

Steelers beat Bengals because of Terrible Towel