Power Rankings

    The Times’ NFL rankings (after Week 16)

    by Lance Pugmire
    Hope you are ready for a Denver-Atlanta Super Bowl, because that’s what looks like will happen judging by the rankings.

    Up: Chargers + 5 | Down: Giants - 4

    1

    broncos

    12-3
    0

    In cruise control toward an 11-win run to end the season by closing against the Browns (34-12 victory) and Chiefs.

    2

    falcons

    13-2
    1

    Home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs after another strong showing by QB Matt Ryan. Concern is run game, but always better to be at home.

    3

    patriots

    11-4
    2

    Surprise struggle against Jacksonville as Brady intercepted twice, but their resilience remains one of their greatest assets moving forward.

    4

    texans

    12-3
    2

    Seemed to have bye wrapped up, but now they’re desperate to win at Colts to hang onto spot. RB Arian Foster, rest of offense fell ill vs. Vikings.

    5

    packers

    11-4
    1

    Peaking at right time: defense sacked Titans’ Jake Locker seven times, Aaron Rodgers threw for 342 yards and sub RB Ryan Grant had 80 yards.

    6

    seahawks

    10-5
    1

    The way QB Russell Wilson played against such a formidable defense makes you like their chances even when they’re out of home-field comfort.

    7

    49ers

    10-4-1
    2

    Inability to put together two strong road games doesn’t bode well for playoffs. Neither does knowing Seattle is an entrant, too.

    8

    redskins

    9-6
    0

    Robert Griffin III threw two TD passes coming back from knee surgery, and now the great rookie has chance to lift long-dormant team to playoffs vs. Dallas.

    9

    colts

    10-5
    0

    A seventh winning fourth-quarter drive by QB Andrew Luck gives inspired team a spot in the playoffs. Gave up a lot of yards to Chiefs, however.

    10

    vikings

    9-6
    0

    Adrian Peterson has an uphill task to catch Eric Dickerson’s record 1984 rushing total, but after beating Texans, home win vs. Packers not inconceivable.

    11

    ravens

    10-5
    1

    Showed by dominating Giants how dangerous they are when QB Joe Flacco plays well, RB Ray Rice gets running room. Battle hardened.

    12

    bengals

    9-6
    2

    Found a way to eliminate Steelers, advance to playoffs for second straight season (first since 1982) as K Josh Brown showed mettle with 43-yard FG at wire.

    13

    bears

    9-6
    2

    Back to old ways scoring two TDs on defense at Cardinals, and they can find way in playoffs reasonably by beating Lions, having Vikings lose to Packers.

    14

    cowboys

    8-7
    1

    Loss to Saints stings, but Tony Romo is playing sharp (416 yards) and they win division if they can win at Washington.

    15

    giants

    8-7
    4

    Startling downfall from the team that dominated the 49ers in San Francisco and hammered Green Bay. Now, pass protection a mess, defense full of holes.

    16

    saints

    7-8
    3

    Kicking themselves over slow start after Drew Brees threw for 446 yards in OT win at Dallas. They’ll get ‘em next year.

    17

    dolphins

    7-8
    0

    Can hang heads high after this encouraging campaign that included strong running game, clean showing vs. Buffalo.

    18

    rams

    7-7-1
    0

    Coach Jeff Fisher’s solid hand at work still after riding four interceptions of Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman to victory. Doubt they win at Seattle, but seven wins a big step forward.

    19

    steelers

    7-8
    3

    Defensive missteps plagued them throughout, and ultimately caused death of playoff hope when they let A.J. Green catch that pass.

    20

    panthers

    6-9
    0

    Won another by fistfight vs. Raiders as Cam Newton ran and threw for a TD. These late strides make them force a in deep division next season.

    21

    buccaneers

    6-9
    0

    QB Josh Freeman has unraveled in five-game skid, defusing game plans of relying on Doug Martin, defense.

    22

    chargers

    6-9
    5

    Defense has shined at times this year, and 11-sack effort vs. Jets’ Greg McElroy shows their strong suit to build off next year.

    23

    browns

    5-10
    1

    Losing at Denver a routine for nearly all. Defiant in defeat, but likely end at 5-11 because QB Brandon Weeden hurt.

    24

    bills

    5-10
    1

    Housecleaning clinched by fuility at Miami. Problems nearly everywhere (QB, run defense) and Coach Chan Gailey will pay.

    25

    titans

    5-10
    1

    Getting blasted at Green Bay, 55-7, shows the tremendous amount of rebuilding necessary here

    26

    jets

    6-9
    1

    So bad there are reports the fiery Tim Tebow has opted out of playing for them. Best pass Sunday was by their WR Kerley.

    27

    lions

    4-11
    3

    At least they have WR Calvin Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yards record Saturday against the Falcons.

    28

    eagles

    4-11
    0

    Coach Andy Reid had final home game in loss to Redskins, who gained more than 300 yards and sacked QB five times.

    29

    cardinals

    5-10
    3

    Another team with infinite issues. Their leading rusher in Bears’ loss had 20 yards. Threw 49 passes, none for TDS, but had one returned for TD.

    30

    raiders

    4-11
    1

    Reverted to old-school violent ways to no effect in 17-6 loss at Panthers. Interesting that Matt Leinart replaced injured Carson Palmer.

    31

    chiefs

    2-13
    0

    Played admirably to threaten playoff-bound Colts, as RB Jamall Charles rushed for 226 yards at home.

    32

    jaguars

    2-13
    0

    Perhaps their best game of the season was Sunday’s loss. That sums up how these 17 weeks have gone.

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