The NFL season is quickly winding down, but the games just keep coming. After all, it’s not how many times you win or lose a game that matters in this league; it’s where your team ranks at the end of the year when they’re done with their regular campaign. With Week 15 complete and some teams still alive for playoff contention, who has been left behind? Let’s take a look at what went right and what doesn’t seem to be going so well for each squad as we head into Week 16.
The “nfl power rankings week 6” is a weekly article that ranks the NFL teams from 1-32. The article is published on Thursdays, and the latest article was published on November 23rd, 2016.
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In this week’s NFL Power Rankings, we decided to go beyond the usual stats and use ESPN’s Football Power Index to convey the narrative of each club. To explain why the clubs are where they are in the standings, the reporters looked at the offense, defense, and special teams FPI rankings of the teams they cover.
Some reporters were able to discuss topics they were interested in, such as the GOAT’s high-powered attack and Bill Belichick’s staunch defense with the New England Patriots. Other topics, such as the Houston Texans’ stuttering offense, the New York Jets’ leaky defense, and most things Lions and Jaguars, weren’t nearly as entertaining to debate. Others attempted to explain why the FPI rankings haven’t yet translated into what they predict, such as the Buffalo Bills’ underwhelming 7-6 record despite having every unit ranked in the top seven. It’s a lot, but believe us when we say that everything will make sense in the end.
Our authoritative panel of more than 80 journalists, editors, and TV personalities examines how teams stack up during the season to establish our Power Rankings.
14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 2 Preseason
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND JAX | KC | LV | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN NE | NO | PHI | PIT | SF SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
3rd place before.
1 on offense, 8 on defense 26 members of special teams
The Bucs’ averages of 31.54 points and 410.15 yards per game are the best in the NFL, so they deserve to be ranked first, and their defense, which has been destroyed by injuries for most of the season, is finally getting healthy at the perfect moment. They’re still allowing 22.85 points per game, which ranks 19th in the league, but it’s on level with last year at this time (22.6 through Week 14 in 2020). In special teams, they have a low ranking. Their field goal percentage of 81 percent is 20th in the league, and opponent kick return yardage is 27.54 yards, which is third worst in the NFL, but they are ninth in punt coverage. These figures are reasonable. Jenna Laine is a writer who lives in New York City.
1st place previously
6 on offense 3 for defense 12 members of special teams
The Cardinals are one of the top teams in football for a reason, and it has nothing to do with their high-powered, high-octane offensive. According to these stats, their defense is equally as excellent as — if not better than — their offense. The team’s special teams, which are ranked in the middle of the pack, might be a major worry for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs. However, the offense and defense are both strong enough to compensate for any special teams shortcomings. Josh Weinfuss (@JoshWeinfuss)
Previous position: 2
Defense: 16 Offense: 2 30 members of special teams
The offense has been dominating, the defense has performed well, and the special teams have been a complete catastrophe. The Packers’ triumph against the Bears on Sunday was a microcosm of their season and these rankings: The Packers scored 45 points and recovered an interception for a touchdown despite giving up a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first half and allowing Chicago to recover an onside kick in the fourth quarter. The Packers’ season might be jeopardized if the third component isn’t addressed. Demovsky, Rob
Previous position: 5
3 points for offense 15 points for defense 11 special teams
The Chiefs have had an erratic season on both sides of the ball, making it tough to put their rankings into context. Except for two recent games against the Raiders, the offense hasn’t felt like it’s been in the top three in the league in a long time. At the same time, the defense, which has allowed 12 points per game over the last six games, seems to be stronger than average. The Chiefs look to be in excellent shape for the stretch run after a victory against Las Vegas in which they were dominating on offense and defense. Adam Teicher’s remark
Previous position: 4
16th offense Special teams: 3 Defense: 1
Bill Belichick often mentions playing complimentary football, in which the three phases of the game are intertwined to generate victories. The Patriots have basically accomplished this, according to the FPI figures, thanks to a strong defense and special teams that have aided an offense that has brought rookie quarterback Mac Jones along expertly while he learns on the job. — Reiss, Mike
Previous position: 7
Defense: 7 Offense: 11 9 special teams
Who’d have guessed that this team’s defense would be its strongest suit? That would not have been uttered before the start of the season. The expectation was for the Cowboys to finish in the top half of the league, which would be a significant improvement on their 2020 performance. Being just good enough would’ve been enough to make them a contender, but the defense is having its best season in years, while the offense is struggling. To be a serious contender in January, the offense must return to scoring, which requires huge plays, which have been drastically reduced in recent weeks. Todd Archer is a writer.
Previous position: 10
15 points on offense, 13 points on defense 25 members of special teams
Significant players losing time due to injury have affected the FPI ratings on attack and defense. Tennessee began to run the football successfully with a committee system after losing running back Derrick Henry. With wide receiver Julio Jones’ return to health and A.J. Brown’s anticipated return, the passing game should improve. The defense forced four turnovers and seemed to have regained its mojo after the bye week. Getting linebacker Bud Dupree back will help the team progress even more. The special teams have been underwhelming. A healthy Titans club, on the other hand, will be in terrific shape to make a playoff run. Turron Davenport (Turron Davenport)
Previous position: 9
5 points for offense 5 points for defense 28 members of special teams
The figures are reasonable. The Rams’ inconsistency, on the other hand, does not add up this season. Matthew Stafford and the offense can be unstoppable at times, with the 13th-year quarterback creating explosive plays all over the field with his arm. However, in three straight defeats, he was prone to several turnovers. The defense has been able to generate stops when they’ve been required, but it’s also enabled the 49ers and Packers to remain on the field for much too long. And what about special teams? They’ve been an issue all season, as seen by their poor rating. Lindsey Thiry (Lindsey Thiry)
Previous position: 8
7 on offense 2 points for defense 1 special team
The Bills’ statistics represent a disheartening pattern for a club that has excelled in all three phases at different moments during the season but has come up short in far too many games, particularly on defense. The special teams rating stands out because it highlights place-kicker Tyler Bass’s strong season and why the team loves punter Matt Haack. These ratings reflect a squad that should have a better record than 7-6, but is 0-5 this season in one-score games. Alaina Getzenberg is a writer who lives in New York City.
Previous position: 6
Offense: 17 points 14 points for defense 2 special teams
Because both sides have carried them at points this season, the Ravens lead the AFC North with a middle-of-the-pack offense and defense. The Ravens’ lack of consistency stems from the loss of seven players due to season-ending injuries. Over the last month, the Ravens’ defense has been their most effective unit. Baltimore can make the playoffs for the fourth year in a row if Lamar Jackson (ankle) and the offense can get back on track. Jamison Hensley (Jamison Hensley)
14th place before.
Defense: 17 Offense: 8 29 members of special teams
The analytics confirm what the 49ers have been all season: a mediocre club capable of defeating or losing to just about anybody. When the offense is able to control the ball and the clock, and the defense is able to come up with timely interceptions or red zone stops, the Niners have been at their best. However, special teams have been a major factor in at least two of the Niners’ defeats, and although that unit was much better against the Bengals in Week 14, continuous development will be required to push the Niners above what seems to be a restricted ceiling at the time. Nick Wagoner is a writer.
This week’s essentials include: • Check out the full schedule » | Check out the standings » • Every team’s depth chart » • Injuries » | Transactions » • Rankings of the Football Power Index » Additional NFL coverage »
Previous position: 13
4 points for offense 25 points for defense 32 members of special teams
As proven by a magnificent 59-yard touchdown toss to Jalen Guyton in Sunday’s triumph, the Chargers’ offense is as good as Justin Herbert’s arm, which is quite good. When the Chargers are on their game, Herbert is a superstar, Austin Ekeler has improved, and the team is capable of defeating anybody. The Chargers’ defense, on the other hand, has been inconsistent at times and must improve if they are serious about making a postseason run. The special teams are somewhat better than their last-place rating. Shelley Smith says:
Previous position: 12
9 points for offense 20 points for defense 14 special teams
With MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor as running back, it’s no wonder that the Colts are rated in the top 10 offensively. The Colts’ defense will be put to the ultimate test over the season’s final stretch, as they face the Patriots, Cardinals, and Raiders in their next three games. The Patriots and Cardinals sit atop their divisions, while the Raiders are fighting to stay in the AFC postseason picture. Mike Wells’ remark
Previous position: 11
Defense: 11 Offense: 20 7 special teams
Cincinnati’s offensive has now been confirmed as the team’s weakest overall unit. The Bengals have failed to either get out to a good start, maintain consistency, or a mix of the two. According to NFL Second Gen, Cincinnati’s offensive line ranks next to bottom in pass block win rate, and the Bengals often seem to be torn between establishing the zone running scheme and airing it out with quarterback Joe Burrow. With the exception of two muffed punt returns in Sunday’s defeat to the 49ers, the defense has been extremely good under third-year coordinator Lou Anarumo, and Darrin Simmons’ special teams have been quite good. – Ben Little
Previous position: 19
13 on offense, 23 on defense 24 special teams
Regardless of the FPI rankings, Cleveland’s defense is starting to click just in time to make a postseason run. Two weeks ago, the Browns intercepted Lamar Jackson four times, and on Sunday, Myles Garrett’s strip and score gave them a defensive touchdown against the Ravens. The issue is that the Browns’ offense is still struggling. The Browns may be a difficult out in the playoffs if Kevin Stefanski can resurrect the offense, particularly the ground game. Jake Trotter’s remark
15th place before.
Defensive: 26 Defending: 10 16 members of special teams
Because it’s difficult to adequately describe the 2021 Steelers, it’s difficult to convey the FPI ratings. They looked like a club ranked 26th in offense and defense for the greater part of three quarters on Thursday night. They performed like they were in the top ten in both in the fourth quarter. This isn’t the first time something like this has occurred this season. Until the offensive goes no-huddle, the offense seems stiff and slow, and the defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody on the ground for a complete four quarters. Miles Killebrew and Chris Boswell have made game-changing plays on special teams, while rookie punter Pressley Harvin III has been inconsistent. The Steelers, like the numbers, are all over the place. Brooke Pryor is an actress who plays Brooke Pryor.
Previous position: 20
Defense: 9 Offense: 19 Offense: 19 Offense: 19 Offense: 19 Offense 18 members of special teams
Despite a slew of injuries, the Broncos have mostly played solid enough defense to be a playoff club; the defeats to Las Vegas, Cleveland, and Philadelphia being the outliers. The Broncos’ offense has been hit or miss, depending on their desire to adhere to what they know how to do best: run the ball and push the problem downfield in the throwing game out of play-action. Special teams have usually given up more huge plays than they have made. The Broncos may just be able to stay in the AFC playoff race until the end if they can maintain defensive consistency, be who they are on offense more regularly, and prevent the special teams from destroying a potentially good thing. Legwold, Jeff
Previous position: 17
22nd Offense 12 points for defense 21 special teams
The fact that Miami’s defensive FPI rating is barely 0.5 speaks much about the team’s performance in the first eight weeks of the season. Since Week 9, the defense has led the Dolphins to five straight victories and is presently playing like an elite team. The Dolphins’ offense has depended on huge plays and efficient performance from Tua Tagovailoa, but they have yet to prove that they can win a shootout. Miami has to win out to have any chance of reaching the playoffs, but everything is conceivable with its defense playing at this level. — Louis-Jacques Marcel
• Despite Jackson’s injury, the Ravens are optimistic • Veterans might help the Packers repair their special teams • The Browns’ soaring defense is propelling their playoff drive • The Lions are ‘playing for pride’ down the stretch Takeaways from Week 14: What We’ve Learned
Previous position: 16
21. Offense 18 points for defense 23 special teams
These figures reflect the team’s problems in the first half, which resulted in a 2-6 record. For the most of that time, the defense, which was meant to be the team’s backbone, was abysmal, ranking last in points and 29th in yards. However, Washington’s defense has allowed the fourth-most yards and the eighth-most points in the last six games. The special teams have been harmed by five kicks or extra points being blocked, but they’ve been strong overall. The offensive rating reflects the difficulties. Washington has seen important players go down with injuries (most notably quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and tight end Logan Thomas), while potential playmaker Curtis Samuel has yet to make an impact after missing eight games with a groin issue. ‘John Keim’
Previous position: 21
Offense number: 18 Defending: 19 17 special teams
The Eagles are the NFL’s best running team (averaging 160 yards per game), but they’re third worst in passing (averaging 196 yards per game), which explains why they’re in the middle of the pack. They have been strong since coach Nick Sirianni turned to a more ground-based strategy in Week 8 and rank 12th in points per game (25.9). The defense has been improving as well, thanks to the outstanding performance of cornerback Darius Slay, who has three touchdown returns this season (one interception, two fumbles). Over the last four weeks, the Eagles have held opponents to 17 points per game, which is promising as they go into the home stretch, with three of their remaining four games against Washington (20.5 PPG) and the Giants (17.8 PPG). While the special teams have been decent, kicker Jake Elliott has been outstanding (22-of-24, 92 percent success rate). Tim McManus, Ph.D.
Previous position: 23
10 points for offense 26 points for defense 20 members of special teams
Minnesota has participated in ten one-score games in a row, as shown by their defensive FPI rating. The Vikings have been defeated on their opponent’s last drive four times, and they came close to allowing the biggest comeback in NFL regular-season history by almost blowing a 29-point lead against Pittsburgh. Kirk Cousins’ league-best touchdown-to-interception ratio (27-5) and Justin Jefferson’s productivity after Week 10 have helped the offense reach a top-10 ranking. The Vikings’ inability to put together a full offensive and defensive game (along with some ups and downs in the kicking game) has them on the outside looking in heading into their final four games. Courtney Cronin (Courtney Cronin)
Here’s how the playoff bracket currently stands, as well as the possible outcomes. • Playoff picture and potential clinchers « • ESPN’s NFL Playoff Machine is interactive » • Football Power Index » | Standings
22nd in the previous ranking
24 points on offense 4 points for defense 8 special teams
When compared to so many previous seasons during Drew Brees’ peak, when the offense was dominating and the defense kept the Saints back, this season has been strange. But in a season when they’ve been missing their QB1, WR1, RB1, TE1, and OT1 and OT2 for significant periods, these figures make sense. The good news is that the Saints’ offense and defense should be about as healthy as they’ve been all season down the stretch, which might keep their slim playoff aspirations alive. Triplett, Mike
Previous position: 18
14th offense 29 points for defense 22 members of special teams
“You are what your record says you are,” Bill Parcells once stated. When it comes to the FPI numbers, it’s the same. In general, and quarterback Derek Carr in particular, the offense is in the middle of the pack. Yes, the defense has improved, but it remains a bottom-feeder. The special teams are maybe the most damning statistic here, with interim head coach Rich Bisaccia being one of the most recognized special teams coaches in the NFL. But, in the end, it’s all about victories and loses, right? And, to quote Al Davis, another Hall of Famer: Just go for it, sweetie! Gutierrez, Paul
Previous position: 24
Offense: 23 points 27 points for defense 27 members of special teams
If you’ve been following the Falcons this season, none of these ratings are shocking. The majority of their victories have come by one possession, including Sunday’s triumph against Carolina, while their defeats have been blowouts. Atlanta is one of just two teams (hello, Jets) who haven’t been in the top 20 in any of the three phases of the game. The Falcons are the lowest-rated club in postseason contention, coming in at No. 27 overall. So, how does this reflect on the Falcons? Despite each side of the ball having its own challenges, they are playing well as a collective and are being well-coached. Michael Rothstein is a writer and producer.
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Previous position: 25
12 on offense, 21 on defense 5 special teams
The Seahawks’ offense is ranked No. 12 in the NFL, which is a touch better than you would anticipate considering how inconsistent they have been while dealing with Russell Wilson’s finger injury and the loss of their top running back, Chris Carson, for the most of the season. The Seahawks struggled in two of Geno Smith’s three starts and in Wilson’s first three games back, but they’ve found their stride in the last two weeks. It’s even more remarkable that they have such a poor defense while surrendering the fifth-fewest points in the NFL. With Aaron Rodgers being the lone exception, they’ve had the most of their success against weaker quarterbacks. On Sunday, they kept rookie Davis Mills and the Texans to 13 points, but Seattle will face Matthew Stafford and the Rams this week. Brady Henderson’s quote
Previous position: 26
30 minutes of offense 6 points for defense ten special teams
The offensive rating encapsulates where this club has gone wrong and what will keep them from being successful for the rest of the season. In Sunday’s defeat to Atlanta, quarterbacks Cam Newton and P.J. Walker combined for two interceptions and a lost fumble, which resulted in 13 points for Atlanta. Newton’s two turnovers were “catastrophic,” according to coach Matt Rhule, and there have been others since Sam Darnold’s 3-0 start. The offensive statistics are unmistakable. David Newton is an author.
Previous position: 27
Offense: 25 points 22 points for defense 15 members of special teams
Yes, that seems to be the case. The Giants aren’t very excellent at anything, but they’ll get a top-10 draft selection as a result. They’re averaging 17.8 points per game, can’t run consistently, and their passing game hasn’t been great with so many players in and out of the lineup (including quarterback Daniel Jones and wide outs Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Kadarius Toney). Without a true pass rush, the defense will be unable to handle excellent quarterbacks. It’s no wonder that their special teams are their most effective unit. After all, Joe Judge was a special teams coach. This is how you finish the season with a losing record for the fifth time in a row. Jordan Raanan is a writer.
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Previous position: 28
28. Offense 24 defenders 6 special teams
Chicago’s offense is 29th in scoring, 31st in yards, and dead last in throwing because to the dearth of skill around Justin Fields, from the offensive line to the receivers. Fields’ rookie season calls into question his growth and highlights where the Bears should spend their draft attempts to help him. It’s clear that Chicago’s defense has lost its edge, and the once-feared team has been ravaged by injuries, from Khalil Mack to Danny Trevathan. However, the Bears’ return teams have made things interesting. Jakeem Grant Sr. had a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown in a Week 14 defeat, the first punt return for a touchdown in the NFL this season. — Cronin, Courtney
Previous position: 29
Offense: 27 points 32 points for defense 31 special teams
There is no hope for the present; only hope for the future, which is 2022 and beyond. With expansion-level players, the defense has a horrible track record. It won’t get better unless the Jets spend top draft picks in that area. On offense, they have no talent; wide receivers Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, as well as running back Michael Carter, are all on injured reserve. The remaining four games will be difficult for quarterback Zach Wilson. Cimini, Rich
Previous position: 31
31. Offense 28 points for defense 13 special teams
Since the team’s bye week, the offense has been a shambles, and the defense has had to be flawless to even give the Jaguars a chance to win. That occurred once, in a 9-6 win against Buffalo in which the offense only scored three field goals, but the defense lacks the talent to play at that level every week. Trevor Lawrence hasn’t had a good season, and he hasn’t been helped by his pass-catchers (24 drops, second most in the NFL) or RB James Robinson’s fumble suspension. The Jaguars have scored only 9.1 points per game in their last seven games since defeating Miami 23-20 in London to end a 20-game losing skid. — Mike DiRocco is an actor who has been in many films.
30th in the previous ranking
29. Offense 31 for the defense 4 special teams
The Lions now have the best probability of receiving the first overall choice in the NFL draft in 2022. Even at its best, this club may have had a five-win season with the present roster in place, and that’s being charitable. However, season-ending injuries to important players like cornerback Jeff Okudah, center Frank Ragnow, and linebacker Romeo Okwara contribute to the offense and defense’s dismal ratings. The Lions’ remaining four games might be difficult as they attempt to rebuild for the future under first-year coach Dan Campbell. Eric Woodyard’s remark
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32nd in the previous ranking
32 OFFENSE 30 points for defense 19 special teams
The Texans switched quarterbacks, replacing Tyrod Taylor with Davis Mills, but it didn’t improve a struggling offense that ranks worst in the NFL according to the FPI. Although Houston’s defense boasts a few playmakers, it has been hammered all season. The Texans’ special teams have been a bright light, led by kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, who nailed a 61-yard field goal against the Seahawks on Sunday. Sarah Barshop is a writer.
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The “nfl power rankings week 5, 2021” is a blog post of the NFL Power Rankings. The article was published on November 9th, 2021.
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