With two weeks left in the regular season, the NFL playoff picture is starting to develop. The New England Patriots once again staked their claim as the AFC’s top team, while the Los Angeles Rams made a statement by blasting the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle and the Philadelphia Eagles looked mortal in their first game without injured quarterback Carson Wentz.
Here?s a look at where each team stands in NESN.com?s NFL power rankings as we enter Week 16. (To see our Week 15 power rankings, click here.)
1. New England Patriots (11-3; last week’s rank: 3): Once again, everything comes up Patriots. New England defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field thanks to a controversial overturned touchdown, a baffling fake-spike call and Rob Gronkowski’s super-human effort. The Patriots control their own destiny for the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
2. Los Angeles Rams (10-4; 5): CenturyLink Field currently is in the process of being renamed after Rams star Todd Gurley (180 total yards, four total touchdowns) following the running back’s explosion in L.A.’s 42-7 statement win over the Seahawks.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3; 1): In predictable Steelers’ fashion, Pittsburgh allowed Gronkowski to run rampant when it mattered most, and Ben Roethlisberger was picked off at the goal line after throwing into triple coverage. Still, the Steelers should feel encouraged by their effort, especially with Antonio Brown missing most of the game with a calf injury.
4. Minnesota Vikings (10-3-; 4): Minnesota locked up the NFC North by pummeling the Cincinnati Bengals. The Vikings remain one game behind the Philadelphia Eagles for the top seed in the NFC and will continue to rely on a vicious defense with hopes of playing a home game in Super Bowl LII.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4; 6): Blake Bortles no longer looks like a guy who won a contest to be an NFL quarterback, as the Jaguars QB has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three games. But will he make plays in the playoffs?
6. Philadelphia Eagles (12-2; 2): Nick Foles did throw four touchdowns passes in his first start since Wentz’s injury, but the Eagles’ defense was shredded by Eli Manning and the New York Giants in a 34-29 win. Philadephia won’t be long for the playoffs if its defense continues to get eviscerated through the air.
7. New Orleans Saints (10-4; 7): The Saints didn’t dominate the New York Jets as many expected, but New Orleans still sits atop the NFC South and should be dangerous in the playoffs.
8. Carolina Panthers (10-4; 8): With all the talk about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the Panthers took care of business on their home field to maintain a grip on the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs. Carolina’s defense hit Rodgers early and often, and Cam Newton thoroughly outplayed the rusty Packers star.
9. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6; 14): Are the Chiefs back? Probably not, but handing the ball to Kareem Hunt should help get them back on the right track. The rookie back rushed for 155 yards and a score while adding 51 yards and a touchdown through the air in the Chiefs’ 30-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
10. Atlanta Falcons (9-5; 9): Atlanta tried to throw up on themselves during their Monday night win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Dan Quinn’s squad narrowly escaped to stay a game up on a pack of 8-6 teams in the NFC.
11. Dallas Cowboys (8-6; 12): Dallas went 3-3 in Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but will need some help in the final two weeks to make the playoffs. Still, the ‘Boys are alive as Elliott returns with two games to play, and that’s all they could have asked for when Elliott’s suspension began.
12. Los Angeles Chargers (7-7; 11): The moment was too big for the Chargers, as Philip Rivers tossed three interceptions and L.A. lost a crucial AFC West matchup with the Chiefs. The loss now puts the Chargers a game behind the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
13. Detroit Lions (8-6; 13): Matthew Stafford and Co. took care of the Chicago Bears on Saturday, but the Lions must win out and hope some games break their way to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
14. Seattle Seahawks (8-6; 10): The Seahawks got manhandled by the Rams at home, and things got worse after the game when linebacker Bobby Wagner and safety Earl Thomas traded verbal jabs.
15. Buffalo Bills (8-6; 18): Buffalo is in the driver’s seat for the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but unfortunately, they have to make a trip to Gillette Stadium in Week 16.
16. Tennessee Titans (8-6; 15): Mike Mularkey continues to coach scared and not trust his best offensive player, quarterback Marcus Mariota, and it cost the Titans in a 23-22 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Some Titans are asking the staff to allow Mariota to call more of the offense, and if Mularkey wants to keep his job, he should listen.
17. Baltimore Ravens (8-6; 17): With remaining games against the Indianapolis Colts and Bengals, the Ravens have a good shot to sneak into the AFC playoffs. For everyone’s sake, we hope that doesn’t happen.
18. San Francisco 49ers (4-10; 26): Sure they’re 4-10, but the 49ers are 3-0 with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm and are bound to give the Jaguars fits in Week 16.
19. Green Bay Packers (7-7; 16): As good as he is, Rodgers couldn’t save the Packers from their own abysmal defense and now he should take a seat for the rest of the season.
20. Miami Dolphins (6-8; 19): The Dolphins had a chance to beat the Bills and stay in the playoff hunt, but Jay Cutler went full Jay Cutler, tossing three interceptions in a 24-16 loss. Miami can’t wait to get off the Cutler roller coaster.
21. Oakland Raiders (6-8; 20): Oakland’s loss to the Cowboys epitomized the Raiders’ season, as Oakland had a chance to tie or win the game, but Derek Carr fumbled out of the end zone to seal a 20-17 loss. Hard to see Jack Del Rio returning to The Black Hole in 2018.
22. Washington Redskins (6-8; 23): Only two more games, Redskins fans, just hold on.
23. Arizona Cardinals (6-8; 21): So much for Blaine Gabbert. The Cardinals reportedly are turning back to Drew Stanton at QB in Week 16, and we can’t blame them.
24. Denver Broncos (5-9; 29): Brock Osweiler picked up a win in relief of the injured Trevor Siemian, but beating the Colts is tantamount to beating your grandmother in the 40-yard dash.
25. New York Jets (5-9; 22): Bryce Petty is playing QB and a ghost might be haunting MetLife Stadium, according to suspended and recently waived wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. What a way to end the season.
26. Chicago Bears (4-10; 24): As long as the Bears don’t rehire Marc Trestman after they can John Fox, things should continue to head up for the Monsters of the Midway.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10; 28): The Bucs gave the Falcons all they could handle, but moral victories aren’t going to save Dirk Koetter’s job.
28. Houston Texans (4-10; 27): T.J Yates or Tom Savage, it doesn’t really matter, as the Texans were obliterated by the Jaguars, and Bill O’Brien might not be long for Houston.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (5-9; 25): Cincinnati has officially mailed it in, as it followed up a 33-7 loss to the Bears with a 34-7 clunker against the Vikings. At least Marvin Lewis reportedly isn’t coming back, right?
30. Indianapolis Colts (3-11; 29): If things weren’t bad enough in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck could possibly need another surgery. Yikes.
31. New York Giants (2-12; 31): It’s going to be a long rebuild in New York.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-14; 32): Hue Jackson is 1-29 in his last 30, so it’s a good thing the Browns reportedly want him to come back for Year 3.