NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Nobody Wants to Make the Playoffs

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SLR’s Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: 16-9 Dec 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is sacked as Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) comes from the left and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (41) holds Brees

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) ▲3

Shockingly, improbably, the Steelers are still breathing in the playoff hunt, though they need almost literal magic to make it in. Still, even without a playoff run, having a shot at 8-8 is an awful lot better than where this season looked like it was going.

15. St. Louis Rams (7-8) ▲3

Man, if that defense had come on when this season started, things might be different right now. You can bet that every single team in the NFC is glad they don’t have to deal with Robert Quinn and Chris Long in the playoffs. There is lots to be excited about for next year, including the return of Sam Bradford (that’s exciting, right?).

14. Baltimore Ravens (8-7) ▼3

To be fair, those were the New England Patriots that just beat them down, not the Texans. But those were the kinds of games the Ravens won last year in their improbable Super Bowl run. If they’re going to try to recapture that magic, they have to beat teams like the Patriots.

13. Miami Dolphins (8-7) ▲1

As is customary, the Bills are super spoiler trolls late in the season, and the Dolphins found themselves on the wrong end of a shutout. A win would have made them the prohibitive favorites for the final AFC playoff spot, but a bunch of other teams can say the same over the last couple weeks. Still, something just feels wrong about letting a team into the playoffs after it got shut out by the Bills.

12. San Diego Chargers (8-7) ▲3

Beating the Raiders isn’t much of an accomplishment, but it was necessary to stay alive in the playoff chase. Oddly enough, there are four teams in the running for the final playoff spot in the AFC, and every one of them needs some kind of help. Week 17 is going to be interesting, if we’re understating things.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) ▲2

The interesting thing about the Eagles blowout win over the Bears was that it was completely meaningless to them. With the Cowboys’ win earlier in the day, they were already locked into a win-or-go-home matchup with Dallas in Week 17, win or lose. So with nothing to play for except next week, they took the field against a Bears team with everything to lose and absolutely humiliated them in the process. I’m not sure which team that says more about.

10. New Orleans Saints (10-5) ▼4

Just like that, the Saints are not only out of position for a first-round bye, but they could slip right out of playoff position entirely. The Cardinals are knocking on the door of a wildcard spot, and they’re just waiting for someone to slip up. The Saints are a prime target, but luckily, they only have to hold up against the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week. The bad news is they just lost the thing that makes them dangerous: the Superdome.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) ▼4

They played against Indianapolis like a team already contently locked into their playoff position. They weren’t until they lost of course, but it still looked like a halfhearted effort. Maybe they just didn’t want to show too much of their hand because they’re anticipating seeing them again at Lucas Oil Stadium in two weeks.