NFL Power Rankings Week 15: The NFC Opens Wide

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SLR’s Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: 16-9 Dec 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) gets ready to snap the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter action at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

16. Dallas Cowboys (7-6) ▼5

That was an embarrassing performance for a team that desperately needed to hold serve against the Eagles. Tony Romo’s performance quality continues to have an inverse relationship with the importance level of the game he plays in. But put this one on the defense. Even on a good day, Romo and the Cowboy offense would have had a tough time beating 42 points.

15. Miami Dolphins (7-6) NC

Nobody is really talking about them, but the Dolphins have emerged as one of the favorites for the final playoff spot in the AFC. If the wild finish in Baltimore had gone differently, they’d be in the driver’s seat. The rest of their season consists only of games within the AFC East.

14. Chicago Bears (7-6) ▲2

That was a big-time performance by Josh McCown, and just like that, the Bears are right back into the playoff hunt. They’re the only team in the NFC playing a team with a losing record next week (Cleveland), so if they keep playing like they did Monday night, who knows what could happen? It helps (a lot) that Alshon Jeffery is having a breakout season. The offense carries this team, and without Cutler in the lineup, who thought we’d be saying that?

13. Detroit Lions (7-6) ▼2

This team is baffling. They jump out to a 14-0 lead, looking dominant in all three phases of the game, and then as soon as the Eagles find some daylight, they just beat the Lions over the head with it for the rest of the game. It’s like they can’t adjust at all when the opposing team finds something that works. They’re not a lock for the playoffs by any means, especially now.

12. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) ▲2

I’m convinced nobody lost that crazy game between the Ravens and Vikings. Time just ran out before the rest of the touchdowns could be scored. This team is making a strong case for their playoff candidacy, but the Dolphins are keeping pace.

11. Indianapolis Colts (8-5) ▼2

Give credit to Andrew Luck for trying to engineer a comeback on a sinking ship, but he got absolutely no support from his running game, defense or special teams. At one point this was one of the better-looking teams in the NFL. They’ve knocked off the Broncos, 49ers and Seahawks. Things have pretty much gone downhill from there, but at least they backed into the AFC South title on account of the rest of the division being awful.

10. Arizona Cardinals (8-5) ▲3

These Cardinals are not even slightly interested in giving up their playoff aspirations. Right now, they’d be the best team in the NFL to miss the playoffs, but they’re playing their best ball of the year right now, and while the NFC West title is out of reach, they are right over the shoulder of the 49ers for the sixth seed.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) ▲1

That’s five straight wins, capped off by a snow-covered romp over the Lions. Nick Foles finally threw a pick, but in the blizzard conditions, it was LeSean McCoy who made his statement. With the injury to Adrian Peterson, McCoy is the odds-on favorite to win the rushing title now. More importantly, the Eagles look like a real playoff team.