Winning your division is normally met with excitement, but things feel a lot different when your team is in danger of losing your franchise quarterback. The Eagles win over the Rams secured the NFC East, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Eagles believe Carson Wentz will be out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
Philadelphia does have a solid backup in Nick Foles, but it is hard not to think back to last year’s Raiders team who found themselves in a similar situation. Oakland had been one of the best teams in the NFL, but the Raiders lost Derek Carr towards the end of the regular season. Despite already securing a playoff spot, the Raiders were unable to advance in the postseason without their quarterback.
Philly fans are hoping for a different outcome given Foles does have experience as a starting quarterback. Foles best season came in 2013 when he threw for 2,891 yards and 27 touchdowns in 10 games as the Eagles starter. If Wentz is lost for the season, the Eagles have at least three weeks to prepare a new game plan before the playoffs.
Elsewhere, the Jaguars had their most impressive win of the season with their victory over the Seahawks. The defense forced Russell Wilson into throwing an uncharacteristic three interceptions, while Blake Bortles led the Jaguars offense down the field with confidence. The loss puts the Seahawks in danger of missing the playoffs, and makes next week’s matchup against the Rams even more pivotal.
Several teams ranked in the middle and bottom of our rankings had surprise victories causing a bit of a shakeup. The rankings will continue to be adjusted as the remaining two games go final. Here’s a look at Heavy’s latest NFL power rankings.
NFL Power Rankings Week 15: Top 10 Teams
No. 1 New England Patriots
Last Week: at Dolphins (Monday Night Football)
Next Week: at Steelers
The Patriots head into their Monday night matchup with the third ranked offense averaging 29 points a game. New England’s defense has also improved since the start of the season, moving into the top ten as the unit is holding teams to 18.6 points per game. The Patriots head into their second of three straight road games.
New England has won eight straight games, but have been criticized for playing in a weak AFC East. There is no question it is not the strongest division, but the Patriots do have wins outside the division against the Saints, Falcons and Raiders.
No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: Defeated Ravens 39-38 (Sunday Night Football)
Next Week: vs. Patriots
Just when you thought the Steelers win streak was coming to an end, Ben Roethlisberger orchestrated a late comeback to push Pittsburgh’s streak to eight games. The Steelers also clinched the AFC North title. Le’Veon Bell’s three touchdowns helped the Steelers pull out the victory. Bell also had monster outings in his previous two games. Bell has 365 total yards in the two weeks prior, a number that has been helped by his 17 receptions.
Pittsburgh has a difficult stretch of games to finish the season, aside from their final contest against the Browns. Notably, the Steelers have a matchup against the Patriots next week.
No. 3 Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: Defeated Rams 43-35
Next Week: vs. Giants
Philadelphia won the NFC East, but has bigger problems to worry about. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Eagles fear Carson Wentz is out for the season with a torn ACL. Wentz took a giant step forward in his second season, looking like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Wentz was the favorite to win the MVP, and the Eagles will turn to Nick Foles for their playoff run.
Foles went 6-of-10 for 42 yards in limited action when Wentz went down, but he does have experience as a starting quarterback. Foles has had some success in the league, making the Pro Bowl for his 2013 season under Chip Kelly. The last time Foles was an NFL starting quarterback was in 2015 when he started 11 games for the Rams.
No. 4 Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: Lost 31-24 to Panthers
Next Week: vs. Bengals
Prior to this week, the Vikings had not lost since October 1st as Minnesota rattled off eight straight wins. While it was not Minnesota’s finest performance, there are worse losses than losing on the road to the Panthers by seven points. With remaining games against the Bengals, Packers and Bears, the Vikings will be favored in every matchup.
It was the rushing game on both sides of the ball that contributed to Minnesota’s recent loss. The Panthers rushed for 216 yards against Minnesota’s defense, while Jerick McKinnon led the Vikings in rushing with just 46 yards.
No. 5 Los Angeles Rams
Last Week: Lost 43-35 to Eagles
Next Week: at Seahawks
The Rams-Eagles game lived up to the shootout everyone was expecting, but the Rams came up short as the L.A. defense allowed 43 points. The Rams lost the turnover battle (2 to 1), and gave up 455 total yards. There is no question Los Angeles is having a stellar season, but the Eagles performance points to some of the vulnerabilities of the Rams defense. Rams fans likely will point out they were facing the best offense in the league.
Rookie Cooper Kupp may have had the best game of his early career with five receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort. Todd Gurley rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 7.4 yards per carry.
Los Angeles finishes the season out with two out of three games on the road, including next week’s game in Seattle. The winner will be in the driver’s seat to win the NFC West.
No. 6 Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: Defeated Seahawks 30-24
Next Week: vs. Texans
It is understandable fans are skeptical of the Jaguars, with many believing the Jags offense will not show up during the playoffs. However, the Jaguars made a big statement by dominating the Seahawks for most of the game. While Seattle rallied late to make it a contest, the Jaguars looked in control throughout the game, including a defense that forced Russell Wilson into throwing three interceptions.
It wasn’t just the defense that contributed to the win, as Blake Bortles had another great outing. Bortles threw for 268 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions while completing over 66 percent of his passes. Leonard Fournette iced the game for the Jags in the second half, and finished with 24 carries for 101 yards along with a touchdown.
The Jaguars have two very winable games next against the Texans and 49ers. Jacksonville finishes out the season with a massive game against the Titans, which has a good chance to be for the AFC South title.
No. 7 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: Defeated Vikings 31-24
Next Week: vs. Packers
The Vikings got a glimpse of vintage Jonathan Stewart as he rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Cam Newton added 70 rushing yards as the Panthers upset a red-hot Vikings team. Carolina needed the win to keep up with the Falcons and Saints in the NFC South.
All signs point to the Week 17 matchup against the Falcons having big NFC South implications and potentially a playoff birth on the line.
No. 8 Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: Defeated Saints 20-17
Next Week: at Bucs
It has not exactly been the kind of season the Falcons had hoped for after their Super Bowl letdown. The offense has sputtered at times, but the Falcons came away with a huge win on Thursday Night Football to stay in the hunt for the NFC South. Over the last five weeks, Atlanta has wins over the Cowboys, Seahawks and Saints.
The Falcons have all NFC South matchups to finish out the season, including their final two games against the Saints and Panthers. The Falcons still have a chance to win the division, but will likely need to win out to be able to do so.
No. 9 New Orleans Saints
Last Week: Lost 20-17 to Falcons
Next Week: vs. Jets
After winning eight straight games, the Saints have lost two of their last three matchups. It is not as bad as it sounds as the Saints did lose to two teams ranked inside Heavy’s top 10. However, things could look a lot more grim if the Saints lose to the Falcons again in two weeks. New Orleans has the advantage of hosting the rivalry matchup this time around.
The Saints take on the Jets this week, and would be wise to beware of a letdown with the game sandwiched between the two Falcons games. If the Saints can avoid looking ahead, New Orleans should enter the game against the Falcons 10-4.
No. 10 Tennessee Titans
Last Week: Lost 12-7 to Cardinals
Next Week: at 49ers
The Titans just barely sneak into our top 10 with the Ravens loss to the Steelers. Tennessee is just 2-2 in their last four games, but will have every opportunity to win the AFC South. The Titans should be able to take care of business against the 49ers, then move on to two very challenging opponents in the Rams and Jaguars to close out the season. The good news for Titans fans is Tennessee hosts both matchups. The Week 17 matchup against the Jaguars should have big AFC South implications.
NFL Power Rankings: All 32 Teams
|1||New England Patriots (10-2)||1|
|2||Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)||4|
|3||Philadelphia Eagles (11-2)||2|
|4||Minnesota Vikings (10-3)||3|
|5||Los Angeles Rams (9-4)||5|
|6||Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)||9|
|7||Carolina Panthers (9-4)||10|
|8||Atlanta Falcons (8-5)||11|
|9||New Orleans Saints (9-4)||6|
|10||Tennessee Titans (8-5)||8|
|11||Baltimore Ravens (7-6)||12|
|12||Seattle Seahawks (8-5)||7|
|13||Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)||13|
|14||Dallas Cowboys (7-6)||14|
|15||Detroit Lions (7-6)||17|
|16||Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)||19|
|17||Buffalo Bills (7-6)||18|
|18||Green Bay Packers (7-6)||16|
|19||Oakland Raiders (6-7)||15|
|20||Arizona Cardinals (6-7)||24|
|21||Washington Redskins (5-8)||20|
|22||New York Jets (5-8)||21|
|23||Miami Dolphins (5-7)||23|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)||22|
|25||Houston Texans (4-9)||25|
|26||Chicago Bears (4-9)||27|
|27||Denver Broncos (4-9)||28|
|28||Tampa Bay Bucs (4-9)||26|
|29||San Francisco 49ers (3-10)||30|
|30||Indianapolis Colts (3-10)||28|
|31||New York Giants (2-11)||31|
|32||Cleveland Browns (0-13)||32|