NFL power rankings after Week 17: Chiefs, Packers, Bills bunched at top
NFL power rankings, 2020 post-Week 17 edition (previous rank in parentheses):
1. Chiefs (1): They're arguably the league's best team ... even if reigning champs are inviting quite a "rest vs. rust" debate given so many of their key performers will have had a three-week layoff when the divisional playoff round kicks off.
2. Packers (2): They're arguably the league's best team ... and playing exclusively at Lambeau Field in January – even if it's not packed with fans – should confer a legitimate home-field advantage given NFC's other fair-weather powers.
3. Bills (3): They're arguably the league's best team ... and almost certainly its hottest, Buffalo's average margin of victory over the last six weeks nearly three touchdowns.
4. Saints (4): If recent playoff history is an accurate harbinger, RB Alvin Kamara (reserve/COVID-19 list) will miss the wild-card round, thus opening door for a fluky Chicago win.
5. Ravens (5): This team has run for nearly 6,400 yards over the past two years – simply insane. Now, can Baltimore get its first playoff win in six years?
WORST TO FIRST:Ranking NFL's six open head coaching jobs in 2021
32 THINGS WE LEARNED:From Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season
PLAYOFF PICTURE:Field, schedule lock as Week 17 ends
6. Buccaneers (6): WR Mike Evans' knee injury is worrisome ... but maybe not so much given how Antonio Brown (4 TDs in past 3 games) is surging. Could really hurt not having LB Devin White (reserve/COVID-19 list) for playoff opener.
7. Seahawks (7): This may be the rare Seattle team under Pete Carroll that peaked way too early ... but at least they're drawing a Rams squad in a similar predicament.
8. Steelers (8): A team that started 11-0 now looks iffy to survive wild-card round amid defensive dip and near-total inability to run the ball.
9. Browns (10): DE Olivier Vernon had nine sacks over his past nine games. Losing him now to a blown Achilles is such typical Cleveland luck.
10. Titans (11): If RB Derrick Henry can push his overall rushing total for the 2020 season beyond 2,500 yards, this franchise just might finally hoist its first Lombardi Trophy.
11. Colts (12): No matter how far they go – and it may be a short playoff stay given upcoming trip to Buffalo – the Philip Rivers/Carson Wentz/fill-in-the-blank QB conjecture will amplify as soon as Indianapolis' season concludes.
12. Dolphins (9): Considering he's a rookie, the speculation and criticism are probably overblown and unfair – but the fact remains that QB Tua Tagovailoa didn't play well enough in December to make Miami a playoff team. With Ryan Fitzpatrick unsigned, it will be fascinating to see how 2021's quarterback depth chart takes shape.
13. Rams (14): Emergency QB John Wolford is one of the season's feel-good subplots. Now, can he outduel Russell Wilson after besting ... Chris Streveler?
14. Cardinals (15): Some pretty dubious play calling by Kliff Kingsbury with a playoff berth at stake. Arizona got better in 2020, but team's late fade likely won't leave KK much margin for error in 2021.
15. Washington (22): Much has been made of the feel-good elements from this locker room – and an underrated one is LB Thomas Davis' opportunity to cap his estimable career with a playoff squad.
16. Bears (13): Pretty remarkable Matt Nagy got this team to eight wins and the postseason, but Chicago's 1-6 record against teams with winning records is probably playoff-predictive.
17. Patriots (19): QB Cam Newton's best game for New England – he was involved in all four TDs in Sunday's win – was very likely his last. Lots to fix here.
18. Chargers (20): Prospective head coaches should be beating a path to coach a team with QB Justin Herbert and DE Joey Bosa as cornerstones.
19. Falcons (16): They only won four games, but it seemed as if they were in almost all of them. Interesting blow-it-up or buff-it-up quandary for next regime.
20. Raiders (21): Despite another disappointing December, Silver and Black continue to steadily improve under Jon Gruden ... well, on the offensive side of the ball anyway.
21. Vikings (17): If Gary Kubiak retires, Mike Zimmer will go into 2021 with his sixth different offensive coordinator over six seasons.
22. Giants (27): Give rookie coach Joe Judge a lot of credit for getting the most from this roster ... and unfailingly telling it like it is from the podium.
23. Cowboys (23): Another franchise tag for QB Dak Prescott is gonna run about $38 million, so Dallas better start taking a hard look at its salary cap now.
24. 49ers (24): Kinda crazy to think Kyle Shanahan's four-year record with Niners is 29-35, though it's certainly not indicative of his coaching abilities.
25. Broncos (28): A little strange that John Elway vacates his GM role, but leaves his successor a coach who will immediately start 2021 on the hot seat?
26. Panthers (18): The defense was OK. QB Teddy Bridgewater was OK. RB Christian McCaffrey was really never OK. It wasn't a lost season for first-year coach Matt Rhule, but also hard to tell how much progress was made.
27. Bengals (25): Rare to see an unproven second-year coach get a vote of confidence after a 35-point loss in the regular-season finale. But Zac Taylor deserves one more year to turn this around with a healthy Joe Burrow.
28. Eagles (26): If you're a Philly fan, maybe you're applauding Doug Pederson for improving the first-round pick by three positions to No. 6. If you're anyone else, you won't soon forget watching a team tanking in prime time.
29. Texans (29): They appear to be set long term at quarterback and left tackle and ... welp, that's pretty much it.
30. Lions (31): They were burned for at least 41 points five times and surrendered at least 460 yards on a half-dozen occasions. Oh, and not great on offense, either.
31. Jets (30): For the most part, this mess isn't of GM Joe Douglas' making ... but it's now clearly his responsibility to clean it up – starting with the man he tabs to lead the NYJ out of their long stay in the NFL wilderness.
32. Jaguars (32): Amazing to think this is an attractive job given 15-game losing streak in which defense allowed at least 24 points per loss, tied for longest stretch in league history. Careful what's on your wish (demands?) list, Urb ...
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