SLR’s Week 16 NFL Power Rankings: 16-9 Dec 15, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas (31) celebrates his interception during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Miami defeated New England 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
16. Detroit Lions (7-7) ▼3
That might be it for this era of Detroit Lions football. Justin Tucker may have given Jim Schwartz the boot personally. The Lions are still alive in the playoff hunt, but they’re sinking fast, and now need help from both the Bears and Packers to even have a chance. They’ve gone from controlling their own destiny to being eliminated next week if the Bears and Packers both win.
15. San Diego Chargers (7-7) ▲1
I wish I could push a 7-7 team up higher than this. Winning a road game on Thursday night against the Broncos, and holding their offense to a season low output is a very good way to announce your arrival in the playoff hunt. They finish the season with two home games against Oakland and Kansas City. The season isn’t over yet, and Philip Rivers deserves a playoff run to cap off the best season of his career (that nobody at all is talking about).
14. Chicago Bears (8-6) NC
The positive thinker will say the Bears dug deep and clutched this game out, thanks to Jay Cutler’s play and strong defense late. The detractor will say they never should have struggled so much against the Browns, Cutler threw more interceptions in 60 minutes than Josh McCown has all season, and the go-ahead touchdown to Alshon Jeffery should never have been completed with even marginally competent defense. So pick your side.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) ▼4
They’re lucky the Cowboys are so god-awful as to bail them out, because losing to the Vikings was not the way to keep the playoff train rolling. The battle for the NFC East is most likely going to come down to their Week 17 game in Dallas.
12. Miami Dolphins (8-6) ▲3
Man, nobody in the AFC wants to go away quietly, do they? The quest for the No. 6 seed in the AFC looked like a blizzard of mediocrity a few weeks ago, but the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers are all starting to get hot and play like teams that nobody wants to see in January. Can we officially say Ryan Tannehill is the real deal?
11. Baltimore Ravens (8-6) ▲1
The Super Bowl champs, armed with a lot of Justin Tucker, are right back in the playoff picture with only two weeks to go. They’re starting to heat up at just the right time, much the same way they did last year. They’re not an especially impressive team on either side of the ball, but they do enough to win more than they lose.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) ▼3
Nice. Way to lay an egg in primetime after the Patriots left the door to the No. 2 seed hanging wide open. I can’t tell if this team is a Super Bowl contender or a first-round out. Whatever your expectation of them is, they’ll do the opposite.
9. Indianapolis Colts (9-5) ▲2
That would have been a more impressive win if it weren’t against the “is this a joke, are you seriously that bad” Texans. That’s not really their fault, though. They beat the team in front of them, and even managed to get Trent Richardson going. I wouldn’t count on that continuing though, Fantasy players.