Week 17 NFL Power Rankings (2020)

Welcome to the final regular-season edition of the 2020 NFL power rankings. The Jacksonville Jaguars have done the unthinkable and wrapped up the number one overall pick, likely stealing Trevor Lawrence from the suddenly red-hot Jets. With the draft sorted, the real drama lies in the AFC and NFC playoff races. Five teams are 10-5 in the AFC, and yet, only four of those teams will leave Week 17 with playoff berths. Meanwhile, three teams in the dreadful NFC East still have a shot to win the division. Finally, the NFC Wild Card race is far from over, with the Bears, Rams, and Cardinals battling for the final two playoff spots. 

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32) Jacksonville Jaguars (Prev: 31)

On Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost their 14th straight game, and they locked up the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. That all but ensures that Trevor Lawrence will be donning a Jaguars’ jersey next season. While that may fix some of the offensive woes, the defense will still need a lot of work. Jacksonville has given up 20+ points in every game this season.

31) New York Jets (Prev: 32)

The Jets picked a very interesting time to go on a run. Just when it looked like they were destined to draft Trevor Lawrence, the team decided to start to play good football and defeated two potential playoff teams in back-to-back weeks. Sam Darnold completed just 50% of his passes in the victory over the Browns, but he did throw for 175 yards and two touchdowns while not turning the ball over once. In an NFL milestone, Frank Gore became the third running back in history to rush for 16,000 yards.

30) Houston Texans (Prev: 28)

The Texans lost another one-possession game, their seventh of the season, and they are now positioned to finish with a top-five draft pick. The only problem: that draft pick belongs to the Miami Dolphins thanks to the Laremy Tunsil trade. Deshaun Watson continues to put up great numbers, but with no rushing attack and a Swiss cheese defense, the Texans’ future looks bleak.

29) Atlanta Falcons (Prev: 30)

Younghoe Koo has had arguably the best season of any kicker this year, but unfortunately, he will be best remembered for missing the game-tying field goal against the Chiefs in Week 16. The most recent loss was not wholly on Koo. AJ Terrell had a chance to wrap up the game with an interception of Patrick Mahomes and the Falcons leading 14-10, but he dropped it. Like so many other times this season, the Falcons found a way to lose a game that they absolutely should have won.

28) Detroit Lions (Prev: 26)

Are the Lions even trying anymore? Sure, their performance on Saturday came without Matthew Stafford following his opening-drive injury, but that doesn’t excuse the embarrassing performance of the defense. They allowed the Bucs to set all sorts of first-half records, and even when they elected to bench Tom Brady for the second half, they still kept scoring and moving the ball at will. The Lions were outgained 588-186, in what was surely the low-point of the season for a team that has had a lot of low points.

27) Philadelphia Eagles (Prev: 27)

Jalen Hurts played well in the first half, but he was bitten by the turnover bug in the second, and because of it, the Philadelphia Eagles have officially been eliminated from the playoffs. Will this be Jalen Hurts’ team moving forward, or are the Eagles going to give the former MVP of the league, Carson Wentz, one more shot? Both players have struggled with turnovers, but because of Hurts’ rushing ability, he may be the more explosive option moving forward. The offseason is going to be very interesting in Philadelphia.

26) Cincinnati Bengals (Prev: 29)

The Bengals won their second consecutive game, defeating the Texans in Houston 37-31. The offense was unstoppable both on the ground and in the air. Brandon Allen threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns, while Samaje Perine rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, all these wins are doing is hurting the draft position of the Bengals, but they are also proving that Cincinnati does have a lot of hope when their franchise QB is back.

25) Denver Broncos (Prev: 23)

The Broncos fought to the end on Sunday, but they fell short in a close game like they have done so many other times this season. The question in Denver this offseason is going to be whether or not Drew Lock actually is the future of this franchise. Like so many other young quarterbacks, he shows flashes of greatness, but he turns the ball over at an alarming rate. In Sunday’s loss, his two interceptions were likely the difference between victory and defeat.

24) New York Giants (Prev: 21)

No one would argue that the Giants are one of the worst teams in football and easily in the bottom third of the league. They have lost three straight games, and in that span have scored just 26 points while giving up 20 or more in each contest. And yet, the NFC East is so bad that the Giants have a chance to win the division in Week 17. And really, they don’t need that much to happen. They just need to beat the Cowboys and hope the Eagles can knock off Washington on Sunday Night Football. Crazier things have certainly happened.

23) Los Angeles Chargers (Prev: 25)

Despite the games being meaningless, it is worth noting that the Los Angeles Chargers have won three straight games. Even more impressive is that all three games were decided by exactly three points. Earlier in the season, the Chargers found themselves losing close games. However, if they can carry this trend over into next season, and if Justin Herbert continues to improve, it would not be ridiculous to think of LA as a contender. A team’s record in one-score games is often the difference between making the playoffs and sitting home in January.

22) Carolina Panthers (Prev: 22)

The Panthers ruined their old coach’s hopes of securing a playoff berth with their 20-13 win over Washington on Sunday. The defense forced four turnovers, while the offense did enough in the first half to build an insurmountable 20-0 lead. This was only Carolina’s second win in their last 10 tries, but they have been competitive in almost every game they’ve played this season. Eight of their 10 losses have been by one score or less.

21) New England Patriots (Prev: 19)

The one-year Cam Newton experiment feels all but over after Monday night’s horrific performance against the Bills. The former MVP threw for just 34 yards before being benched for Jarrett Stidham. Stidham wasn’t much more successful than Newton, as the Patriots’ offense finished with just 201 yards of total offense. Bill Belichick will have his work cut out for him if he wants to turn the Patriots into a contender next season.

20) Minnesota Vikings (Prev: 18)

The Vikings worked so hard to get back to 6-6, then they gave it all away by losing three straight and falling out of the playoff race. Saturday’s loss was one of their most embarrassing of the season, especially when you consider that the defense allowed a record-tying six rushing touchdowns to Alvin Kamara. The 52 points scored by the Saints is the most the Vikings have allowed all season. They were outgained 583-364 in the loss.

19) Dallas Cowboys (Prev: 24)

Wouldn’t it just be so 2020 if the Cowboys were to end up winning the NFC East? Dallas has the same chance as the Giants, and even if they win on Sunday afternoon, they’ll still need to root for the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. When you think about all the ups and downs the Cowboys have been through this season, it would be an incredible accomplishment for them to win the division even though their record would be far from impressive. They’ve won three straight. One more and there may be a playoff game in Jerry World during Mike McCarthy’s first season.

18) Las Vegas Raiders (Prev: 17)

For the second straight season, the Raiders gave their fans hope only to fall apart down the stretch. Las Vegas has lost five of their last six games, and none was more brutal than Saturday night’s loss to the Dolphins. The Raiders were gifted phenomenal field position after a questionable pass interference call but then elected not to score a touchdown so they could wind the clock and kick a field goal. One miraculous pass and a 15-yard face mask penalty later and the Raiders were watching Jason Sanders kick a field goal that ended their season.

17) Washington Football Team (Prev: 16)

Dwayne Haskins’ tenure in Washington is over after his performance on Sunday. Does this mean that Washington is confident that Alex Smith will be ready to go for the season finale, or were they simply through with a quarterback that wasn’t working out and had off the field issues? While that is likely to remain unclear for at least a few days, what is clear is that Washington is in danger of blowing their NFC East lead. Heading into Sunday night’s game against Philadelphia, they will need to win no matter what happens earlier in the day. Can Ron Rivera find a way to get his slumping guys to win one more game? The answer to that question may ultimately depend on the injury report, which was very long and full of recognizable names in Week 16.

16) San Francisco 49ers (Prev: 20)

The 49ers may not be going to the postseason this year, but they will certainly be happy to know they may have just ruined their division rival’s chances of making the playoffs. In Saturday’s 20-12 win over the Cardinals, the defense, which was without numerous starters, held Kyler Murray to just 247 yards passing and one interception. Offensively, Jeff Wilson Jr. had a career day, rushing for 183 yards on 22 carries. In his first start of the season, CJ Beathard threw for 182 yards and three touchdowns. 

15) Arizona Cardinals (Prev: 14)

Even if they make the playoffs, the Cardinals just aren’t there yet. They’re 8-7, but after suffering Sunday’s loss to the 49ers, they’re now in a win-or-go-home situation against the Rams in Week 17. The first time the two teams met, the Rams simply overpowered the Cardinals on their way to a 38-28 win. With a loss, the Cardinals will be eliminated from playoff contention.

14) Chicago Bears (Prev: 15)

The Bears scored 30+ points for the third-straight week for the first time since 1965, and they are now in a position to make the playoffs by simply winning in Week 17. The bad news for Chicago is that their final game will be against the Packers, a team that also needs to win in order to lock up the number one seed in the NFC. The good news for Chicago is that even if they lose, they can still make the playoffs if the Cardinals lose to the Rams. After losing six straight games in the middle of the season, controlling their own fate is the best thing the Bears could have asked for.

13) Los Angeles Rams (Prev: 13)

The LA Rams have played themselves right into a precarious situation. After losing back-to-back games, they are in danger of missing out on the playoffs entirely, though they do have the best chances out of any of the teams vying for an NFC Wild Card spot. Jared Goff struggled yet again, throwing for 234 yards and one interception in the loss, though the broken thumb he suffered on Sunday may have a lot to do with that. If he is unable to go, will the Rams be able to keep up with the Cardinals’ offense, or will they find themselves the first team out of the playoffs for the second straight season?

12) Cleveland Browns (Prev: 6)

Without most of their offensive weapons due to COVID, the Browns struggled offensively against the Jets, and they are now in danger of missing out on the playoffs entirely. They have arguably the toughest matchup of any of the 10-5 teams, considering the Steelers will be playing for the number two seed. The other team with a tough matchup is the Dolphins, but Miami holds the tiebreaker over Cleveland, so if they’re the only two teams to lose of the five 10-5 teams, then Cleveland would miss the playoffs. Losing to the Jets was something that simply could not happen.

11) Baltimore Ravens (Prev: 12)

The Ravens picked the right time to get red-hot. They’ve won four straight games, and they’ve needed every single one of the wins in order to stay in the AFC playoff hunt. Because of their strong play, the Ravens control their own destiny heading into their Week 17 matchup with the Bengals. In Sunday’s victory over the Giants, Lamar Jackson looked like the former MVP, throwing for 183 yards and two touchdowns and adding 80 yards on the ground.

10) Indianapolis Colts (Prev:4)

The Colts’ collapse has them on the outside looking in at the AFC playoffs. Despite still being in the running for the AFC South title, the Colts hold zero tiebreakers and will miss the playoffs if they lose in Week 17. They could also miss the playoffs if they win if the Ravens, Dolphins, Titans, and Browns all win as well. Leading 24-7 late in the third quarter, Indianapolis looked like they had the Steelers dead to rights. Instead, the offense and defense both fell asleep. With how the playoff picture is shaping up, the timing could not have been worse.

9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Prev: 11)

The Bucs wrapped up their first playoff berth in 13 years, ending the league’s longest playoff drought in the process. The season may not have gone exactly how they wanted, but Tampa Bay has made it to the postseason in their first season with Tom Brady under center, and they will likely take on a below .500 NFC East champion in the first round of the playoffs. In Saturday’s beat-down of Detroit, Tom Brady was 22-27 for 348 yards and four touchdowns in one half of play.

8) Tennessee Titans (Prev: 7)

The Titans went into snowy Lambeau Field and laid an egg. They were outplayed in every single aspect of the game and because of it, they were defeated 40-14. They still have numerous pathways to the playoffs, and they would win the AFC South if they simply defeat the Texans this week. They will need to sure things up defensively, however, and get Derrick Henry going against the flawed Texans’ run defense if they want to win the game. They were outgained 448-260 in Sunday night’s loss to the Packers.

7) Miami Dolphins (Prev: 10)

Was Ryan Fitzpatrick’s miracle pass one of the best throws in NFL history? You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a throw with so much meaning and difficulty that was executed to such perfection. Fitzmagic is alive and well in Miami, and somehow, someway, the Miami Dolphins are 10-5 and in control of their own destiny. A win on Sunday against the Bills and they’re in. The good news for Miami is that they own the tiebreaker over every team they’re competing with for one of the three Wild Card spots. So, even with a loss, they are well-positioned to make the playoffs. And if they do, how does Brian Flores not win Coach of the Year? Between his handling of the QB situation, and the way he has navigated the schedule to win double-digit games when no one was expecting more than five, no one has done more with less.

6) Seattle Seahawks (Prev: 9)

The Seahawks wrapped up the NFC West with their victory over the Rams on Sunday, and they could still earn the number one seed in the NFC if enough things go their way this week. The Seahawks have won three straight games since their loss to the Giants, and they are getting healthy at an opportune time. Despite falling off from his early-season performance, Russell Wilson has started to correct his play, which is a dangerous thing for all teams the Seahawks face in the playoffs.

5) Pittsburgh Steelers (Prev: 8)

The Steelers were well on their way to a fourth-straight loss, and millions of questions about their legitimacy heading into the playoffs, but the offense caught fire and turned a 24-7 deficit into a 28-24 victory. Could this be the turning point Pittsburgh needed to get out of their funk or was it simply a collapse by the Colts? Either way, the Steelers could still wrap up the two seed in the AFC playoffs with a win and a Bills’ loss in Week 17.

4) New Orleans Saints (Prev: 5)

Alvin Kamara is a bad man. Everyone knew he was a stud, but what he did on Christmas Day was absolutely absurd. The fantasy star rushed for 155 yards and a record-tying six touchdowns. Thanks to the victory, the Saints are still in the running for the number one overall seed, but they would need to win, have Seattle win, and have Green Bay lose. Even if they don’t get the top seed, they’re well-positioned to get the two-seed, meaning they would take on an 8-8 or 9-7 team in the first round of the playoffs.

3) Green Bay Packers (Prev: 3)

Many believe that whoever the AFC sends to the Super Bowl is going to defeat the NFC challenger. On Sunday night, the Packers said, “Not so fast.” They dominated the Titans, a team that very well could be a division winner from the AFC, and did so without even playing their best football. The Packers are 12-3, but they still have not wrapped up a first-round bye due to tiebreakers. However, with a win in Week 17, the NFC playoffs would go through Green Bay. After what we saw on Sunday night, that does not seem like an enviable task for anyone in the NFC.

2) Buffalo Bills (Prev: 2)

Josh Allen added four passing touchdowns on Monday night on his way to breaking Jim Kelly’s franchise record for passing touchdowns in a season. Allen will likely break his passing yards record next week when the Bills take on the Dolphins. In addition, Stefon Diggs hauled in nine passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the NFL in both receiving yards and touchdowns. While the overall number one seed is out of play, the Bills will wrap up the number two seed with a win in Week 17.

1) Kansas City Chiefs (Prev: 1)

It wasn’t pretty, but the Chiefs held off the Falcons and secured the number one seed in the AFC. They will now play a meaningless game in Week 17 due to earning the coveted bye for the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Kansas City is in the midst of a 10-game winning streak and is the heavy favorite to come out of the AFC, however, their last seven victories have all been by one score or less. They will need to up their play if they’re going to survive an incredibly difficult AFC.

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