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NFL power rankings coming out of Week 16, broken down by tier

We break down how things looking before heading into Week 17.

Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 and cornerback Cameron Sutton #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers react after an incomplete pass on fourth down and eight by the Indianapolis Colts to turn over the ball on downs in the fourth quarter of their game at Heinz Field on December 27, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The NFL has one more game to wrap up Week 16, and then we’re headed to the final week of the regular season. The Buccaneers have clinched a playoff berth, the Chiefs clinched the AFC’s top seed, and the Saints, Steelers, and Seahawks each locked up their respective divisions. The Bills and Patriots close out Week 16 on Monday Night Football.

In the meantime, we’re back for another round of tier NFL power rankings. Rather than rank teams 1-32, we’ve broken them down into tiers. They’re ranked in their respective tier by record, but teams with the same record are not purposely situated one over another. It’s just to group teams with similar teams in terms of where they stand.

The Chiefs tier

Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)

The Chiefs win over the Falcons wasn’t pretty, but even the best teams have their stumbles along the way. They are the best team in the league even coming off a struggle like that.

Top tier — not Chiefs edition

Buffalo Bills (12-3)
Green Bay Packers (12-3)
New Orleans Saints (11-4)
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
Seattle Seahawks (11-4)

The Saints, Steelers, and Seahawks all got huge wins to lock up their respective divisions. For Pittsburgh in particular, beating Indianapolis could be what gets them back on track after looking like they wee in a tailspin.

Going to the playoffs officially tier

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)

The Bucs clinched a wild card berth and if they beat the Falcons or the Rams lose to the Cardinals in Week 17, they get to face the NFC East champ in the wild card round. That’s gotta be worth something!

Going to the playoffs in all likelihood tier

Tennessee Titans (10-5)

The Titans took one on the chin in Green Bay, but they’re still on track for a playoff berth. Even with the loss, they hold the tiebreaker over Indianapolis and only need a win in Houston to clinch it.

This has gotten interesting — AFC edition

Cleveland Browns (10-5)
Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
Miami Dolphins (10-5)
Indianapolis Colts (10-5)

Three of these four teams are going to the playoffs, but this whole situation went sideways in Week 16. The Ravens were on the outside looking in, but now they’ve passed the Browns and the Colts now sit on the outside looking in. It’s going to be a wild Week 17.

This has gotten interesting — NFC edition

Los Angeles Rams (9-6)
Arizona Cardinals (8-7)
Chicago Bears (8-7)

Rams-Cardinals was going to be important in Week 17, but now it could be a win or go home game. The Rams hold a head-to-head edge over Chicago, but if they lose to the Cardinals, LA drops behind them and thus out of the playoff picture. Chicago could need a win over Green Bay to get in.

NFC East tier

Washington Football Team (6-9)
Dallas Cowboys (6-9)
New York Giants (5-10)

We’re down to a three-team race for the division. if Washington beats Philadelphia, they win the division. If Washington loses, the winner of Cowboys-Giants claims the division.

Mathematically eliminated

The Jalen Hurts tier

Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)

The Eagles are a curious team. Hurts appears to be emerging as a potential answer at the quarterback position, but he also has only three career starts under his belt. The Eagles are playing for nothing but pride and to be a spoiler in Week 17. I’m already looking forward to Jalen Hurts in 2021.

At least they have a QB of the future sub-tier

Los Angeles Chargers (6-9)
Houston Texans (4-11)
Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)

These three are not going to the playoffs and have plenty of issues to deal with, but they head into 2021 at least thinking they have an answer at the most important position on the field.

Facing big questions

Atlanta Falcons (4-11)
Carolina Panthers (4-10)
New England Patriots (6-9)
San Francisco 49ers (6-9)
Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)
Minnesota Vikings (6-9)

We add the Raiders and Vikings to this group now that both have been eliminated. Neither has a clear long-term answer at quarterback, and both have huge questions about their respective defenses. I suspect neither makes a big move at QB this offseason, but do invest heavily on defense.

I’m not sure what to make of these two

Denver Broncos (5-10)
Detroit Lions (5-10)

Same as last week: Detroit has a solid quarterback in Matthew Stafford and Denver has a quarterback in Drew Lock that they hope can be their feature. I don’t know what to make of them compared to the big questions group above.

Whatever the Jets are sub-tier

New York Jets (2-13)

The Jets were on track to claim the No. 1 pick, and then beat two Super Bowl contenders in back-to-back weeks. They’re locked into the No. 2 pick, but what do they do with it? And has Adam Gase somehow saved his job?

Trevor Lawrence sub-tier

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)

The Jags did it! They lost in Week 16 and that coupled with the Jets win means Jacksonville secured the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Welcome to the Trevor Lawrence era in Duval.