We have arrived at what used to be the final week of the regular season and half of the NFL’s eight divisions have been locked up. This has been quite the year as far as unpredictability is concerned. Almost on a weekly basis there have been would-be contenders losing to teams that seemed like they had no business even competing with them, but as the playoffs near things are starting to crystallize overall.
As we do every week, we have put together our power rankings of how things look across the NFL. With only two weeks to go some teams have established themselves as serious threats come playoffs all while others are still trying to find a way into the tournament.
1 - Green Bay Packers (LW: 1)
Unless the Cowboys get some help it is looking more and more like the road to the Super Bowl is going to go through Lambeau Field. Bundle up.
2 - Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 2)
The Chiefs have won eight games in a row. It is amazing how they were left for dead and now are on the precipice of securing the number one seed in the AFC.
3 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 3)
Losing Chris Godwin last week is likely going to be something that shows itself at one point, but that wasn’t last week against Carolina. For now the Buccaneers remain in the top three.
4 - Dallas Cowboys (LW: 4)
My gut tells me that the Cowboys are a top three team in the NFL, but this past week saw wins from all of the top squads. There is no movement for Dallas here but they are very much in the mix among the best teams in the league.
5 - Indianapolis Colts (LW: 5)
It kind of felt like their magic would run out last week against Arizona. But alas, here we are.
6 - Los Angeles Rams (LW: 8)
As the Cowboys need someone to tie both them and the Buccaneers if they and Tampa win out, we are rooting for the Rams down the stretch. Last week was a bit tough, but after staring up at Arizona all season long they are finally atop the NFC West.
7 - Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 11)
Joe Burrow is insane. The Bengals are about to win the AFC North. The Bengals!
8 - Tennessee Titans (LW: 10)
Last Thursday night’s win was really impressive. If Tennessee ultimately does get Derrick Henry back then they are very much in the mix of things in the playoffs.
9 - Buffalo Bills (LW: 15)
I’ll be honest and admit that I had already given up on Buffalo (I’m still not all the way back). Keeping their season alive lately has been something that they should be proud of, but we need to see it in January.
10 - New England Patriots (LW: 7)
It’s starting to feel more and more like they have a very obvious ceiling.
11 - Arizona Cardinals (LW: 6)
They have lost back to back games... against teams led by Jared Goff and Carson Wentz.
In the year 2021.
12 - San Francisco 49ers (LW: 9)
It is beyond me how Kyle Shanahan can believe in a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo let alone one with a damaged thumb.
13 - Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 17)
Thank you for the assist on Sunday afternoon!
14 - Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 12)
Get me as far away from possible as the Chargers. I wish I could drop them lower if it made sense.
You cannot lose to the Texans. You can’t. People crowned them way too early.
15 - Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 22)
This is a big jump, but a lot of it is because of losses everyone else took. Nevertheless they are in the mix for the final wildcard spot.
16 - Miami Dolphins (LW: 21)
They have won seven in a row and completely destroyed the first-round pick that they are sending to Philadelphia in the process. You hate to see it.
17 - Minnesota Vikings (LW: 13)
There is just a funk with this team. They have pieces that can partly get it done. They just always find a way to get in their own way.
18 - Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 14)
It has been plain as day all season that they are trapped by their quarterback and that continues to show itself week after week.
19 - Baltimore Ravens (LW: 16)
John Harbaugh did an admirable job keeping this thing together amid all of the injuries that Baltimore suffered. At some point it is just too much, though.
20 - Cleveland Browns (LW: 18)
It is going to be fascinating to see how the Browns handle Baker Mayfield’s contract situation.
21 - Atlanta Falcons (LW: 25)
Can they possibly finish above .500?!
22 - Denver Broncos (LW: 20)
Ultimately this season they have proven that they have the pieces if an Aaron Rodgers does want to go there in 2022. I suppose that is some sort of victory.
23 - New Orleans Saints (LW: 19)
It just hasn’t been their year.
24 - Chicago Bears (LW: 27)
Stay away from Dan Quinn.
25 - Washington Football Team (LW: 23)
26 - Houston Texans (LW: 30)
What an impressive win. Their rebuild is going to be interesting to watch from afar.
27 - New York Jets (LW: 29)
Another lost year.
28 - Seattle Seahawks (LW: 24)
Are we even sure that whoever gets Russell Wilson in the offseason is getting an elite quarterback? He hasn’t exactly been great this season.
29 - Detroit Lions (LW: 26)
Maybe next year.
30 - Carolina Panthers (LW: 28)
Your weekly reminder that a lot of people were upset about the Cowboys hiring Mike McCarthy over Matt Rhule.
31 - New York Giants (LW: 31)
It was reported on Sunday morning that they are bringing both Joe Judge and Daniel Jones back for 2022.
32 - Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 32)
It is almost over, Jags.
NFL.com: 6 (LW: 8)
Behind the Colts. Seriously.
Sunday Night Football was the setting for a masterpiece by the Cowboys, rightful champions of the NFC East. Greatness was everywhere: Dak Prescott busted out of an extended slump with four touchdowns in the first half alone. DeMarcus Lawrence had a 40-yard pick-six for a perpetually opportunistic defense that rattled Washington QB Taylor Heinicke. The special teams thrived, too, scoring a touchdown on a blocked punt. The 56-14 final score told the story: Dallas in full flight is a sight to behold and a figure of intimidation in the NFC. The No. 1 seed remains within grasp.
ESPN: 3 (LW: 4)
Only trailing Kansas City and Green Bay.
Non-QB MVP: LB Micah Parsons
While a case could be made for Trevon Diggs, Parsons has done more to transform the Cowboys’ defense. Parsons leads the team in sacks, has made key plays in key moments and has dominated at the line of scrimmage and off the ball. And to think, the Cowboys were disappointed they couldn’t get either of the top cornerbacks available in Jaycee Horn or Pat Surtain II. That they were able to trade back and still get Parsons should be viewed as a coup. He should be a lock selection for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and also should be one of the top contenders for the Defensive Player of the Year. — Todd Archer
USA Today: 4 (LW: 4)
A similar top four to ours.
QB Dak Prescott’s notion of holiday gifting? Air Jordans for all of his teammates, Four Seasons gift certificates to his offensive linemen, and four TD passes – to an RB, WR, TE and OL (something that had never happened before in the regular season) – during Sunday night’s NFC East coronation.
Yahoo: 3 (LW: 3)
The top four in general can go a number of ways.
Micah Parsons has a great shot to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He’s getting publicity late and that will continue. There’s a concern that Trevon Diggs could steal some Cowboys votes if he keeps piling up interceptions, but no other player is taking over the race like Parsons. What a remarkable rookie season.
CBS Sports: 3 (LW: 3)
These last two weeks are going to be interesting.
They got the offense cranked up against Washington, which is a good sign. Dak Prescott needed a big day. The pass-rushers will make them a dangerous playoff team.
Sports Illustrated: 3 (LW: 4)
Three is a popular spot.
The Cowboys are still loaded on offense and now very scary on defense. They should not be afraid of anybody in the playoffs, even if they have to go on the road. I’ll be interested to see how many people pick them as their NFC Super Bowl team, and if the most popular team in the country tries to claim it’s been counted out.
Sporting News: 3 (LW: 4)
The Cowboys smashed Washington on Sunday night to send a message to the rest of the NFC they can hang with the Packers, Buccaneers and Rams come playoff time. The defense was a given, but getting Dak Prescott well was awesome to see.