Rankings

NFL Week 15 Power Rankings: Cowboys Fall, 49ers and Bengals Rise

Style points obviously don’t matter at all in the standings or the playoffs, but they count for something in power rankings.

The Eagles (12-1) and Bills (10-3) secured their holds on the top two spots in The 33rd Team’s power rankings with impressive wins over division opponents Sunday.

The Eagles pummeled the over-matched Giants  (7-5-1),  48-22, while the Bills methodically disposed of the Jets (7-6), 20-12. The Bills’ win avenged an earlier three-point loss to the Jets in November.

On the flip side, the Cowboys (10-3) and Chiefs (10-3) took minor slides after winning but being taken to the brink by inferior opponents. The Cowboys needed a 98-yard touchdown drive to avoid an upset to the Texans (1-11-1), and the Chiefs survived three Patrick Mahomes interceptions for a much-harder-than-it-should-have-been win over the three-win Broncos.

The Cowboys, who had been ranked third, dropped to fifth. The Chiefs slid from fourth to sixth. They were replaced by the 49ers (9-4) and Bengals (9-4), who moved up from fifth and sixth with wins Sunday. The Niners whipped Tom Brady and the Bucs, 35-7, for their sixth straight win. The Bengals beat the Browns, 23-10, for their fifth straight win.

Making the biggest gain this week was the Chargers (7-6), who moved up eight spots from 17 to 9 after an impressive 23-17 win over the previously tenth-ranked Dolphins (8-5). With his two top receivers, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, finally healthy, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw for a season-high 367 yards. The Dolphins dropped one spot to No. 11.

The Panthers (5-8) and Jaguars (5-8) were two other big winners. The Panthers jumped five spots from 29 to 24 with their third win in four games, a 30-24 win over the Seahawks (7-6).

The Jaguars moved up four spots from 23 to 19 after taking down the AFC South-leading Titans (7-6), 36-22. The Titans, who now have lost three straight games, took the most significant drop of the week, sliding five spots from ninth to 14.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1)

Previous: 1 | Last week: W 48-22 at Giants | This week: at 3-10 Bears

Good news: Eagles have scored 123 points in their last three games. That’s the most they’ve put up in a three-game span since 1950.

Bad news: The playoffs don’t start for another five weeks. That’s a lot of time for key people to get hurt.

2. Buffalo Bills (10-3)

Previous: 2 | Last week: W 20-12 vs. Jets | This week: vs. 8-5 Dolphins

Good news: Defense has given up just 22 points in back-to-back division wins over the Patriots and Jets.

Bad news: Josh Allen has averaged just 6.1 yards per attempt in the Bills’ last three games, including 5.4 Sunday against the Jets.

 3. San Francisco 49ers (9-4)

Previous: 5 | Last week: W 35-7 vs. Bucs | This week: at 7-6 Seahawks

Good news: In his first NFL start, Brock Purdy’s passer rating was 70.3 points better than Tom Brady’s.

Bad news: One of the Niners’ top offensive weapons, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, was carted off with a high ankle sprain and likely will miss multiple games.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)

Previous: 6 | Last week: W 23-10 vs. Browns | This week: at 6-7 Bucs

Good news: The Bengals held Nick Chubb to 34 yards on 14 carries. In the last seven games, opponents have averaged just 3.8 yards per carry against the Bengals.

Bad news: The Bengals’ defense has just 21 sacks. That’s the third-fewest in the league. They’ve only had more than two sacks in a game twice this season.

5. Dallas Cowboys (10-3)

Previous: 3 | Last week: W 27-23 vs. Texans | This week: at 5-8 Jaguars

Good news: Dallas’ ground game has picked up the slack for an inconsistent passing game. They’ve averaged 171 yards on the ground in their last six games.

Bad news: They needed a do-or-die 11-play, 98-yard touchdown drive to beat the one-win Texans on Sunday. C’mon, man.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)

Previous: 4 | Last week: W 28-34 at Broncos | This week: at 1-11-1 Texans

Good news: Patrick Mahomes has thrown a league-high 33 touchdown passes, including three more Sunday.

Bad news: With a little help from Mahomes, who threw three interceptions for the third time in his career, the Chiefs gave up 28 points to a Broncos team averaging a league-worst 13.8 points per game.

7. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)

Previous: 8 | Last week: W 16-14 at Steelers | This week: at 5-8 Browns.

Good news: Ravens intercepted the Bears’ Mitch Trubisky three times Sunday. Their 23 takeaways are the second most in the league. They’re also second in turnover differential (plus-9).

Bad news: The Ravens may have to start their No. 3 quarterback, Anthony Brown, against the Browns on Saturday after backup Tyler Huntley (concussion) joined Lamar Jackson (knee) on the injured list. 

8. Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

Previous: 7 | Last week: L 23-34 at Lions | This week vs. 4-8-1 Colts

Good news: Kirk Cousins had the fifth 400-yard passing game of his career

Bad news: Vikings have given up 30 or more points in three of their last five games 

9. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)

Previous: 17 | Last week: W 23-17 vs. Dolphins | This week: vs. 7-6 Titans

Good news: Justin Herbert finally has the Chargers’ pass-catching band back together. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are healthy and combined for 18 catches, 208 yards receiving and a touchdown in Sunday night’s win over the Dolphins.

Bad news: The Chargers, who are last in the league in opponent rush average (5.4 yards allowed per carry), have a date with Derrick Henry on Sunday.

10  Miami Dolphins (8-5)

Previous: 10 | Last week: L 17-23 at Chargers | This week: at 10-3 Bills

Good news: With three of their last four games against division opponents starting with a short-week trip to Buffalo, the Dolphins pretty much control their own destiny.

Bad news: In their back-to-back losses to the 49ers and Chargers, Dolphins ran a stunning 63 fewer plays than their opponents. They scored just 17 points against an injury-ravaged Charger defense that is ranked 28th in points allowed (25.1).

11. NY Jets (7-6)

Previous: 11 | Last week: L 12-20 at Bills | This week: vs. 6-7 Lions

Good news: Jets held Josh Allen and the Bills to season-lows in total yards (232), first downs (14) and third-down success rate (15.4%).

Bad news: They could use a homecoming opponent next. Instead, they’re getting one of the league’s hottest teams, the Lions.

12. Washington Commanders (7-5-1)

Previous: 13 | Last week: bye | This week: vs. 7-5-1 Giants

Good news: Commanders are 6-1-1 since losing four of their first five. Even better, their defense, which finally will be getting Chase Young back this week, has held opponents to 16.0 points per game in the last eight games.

Bad news: Taylor Heinicke has energized the offense, but the Commanders still are 24th in scoring and have scored more than 23 points once since Week 2. 

13. New England Patriots (7-6)

Previous: 16 | Last week: W 27-13 at Cardinals| This week: at 5-8 Raiders

Good news: The Patriots’ 27 points were their most since week 6.

Bad news: Playoffs? Playoffs? Three of their remaining four games are against the 9-4 Bengals, 8-5 Dolphins and 10-3 Bills.

14. Tennessee Titans (7-6)

Previous: 9 | Last week: L 22-36 vs. Jaguars | This week: at 7-6 Chargers

Good news: Derrick Henry’s 121 yards rushing against the Jags were his most in seven games.

Bad news: The Titans have lost three in a row and have given up 71 points in their last two games.

15. Detroit Lions (6-7)

Previous: 19 | Last week: W 34-23 vs. Vikings | This week: at 7-6 Jets

Good news: The Lions have won five of their last six games and have scored 25 or more points in five straight games. It’s the first time they’ve done that since 1954. As in 68 years ago.

Bad news: Detroit’s pass defense leaves a lot to be desired. They’re giving up 277 yards passing per game, 8.0 yards per attempt and have recorded just 26 sacks.

16. Seattle Seahawks (7-6)

Previous: 12 | Last week: L 24-30 vs. Panthers | This week vs. 9-4 49ers

Good news: Seahawks still are in the playoff hunt even after losing three of their last four games.

Bad news: With the 49ers and Chiefs waiting for them in the next two weeks, they’re probably living on borrowed time

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)

Previous: 15 | Last week: L 7-35 at 49ers | This week: vs. 9-4 Bengals

Good news: Playing in the pitiful NFC South means never having to say I’m sorry.

Bad news: A week after engineering an impressive fourth-quarter comeback win over the Saints, Tom Brady played one of his poorest games in recent memory, averaging just 4.6 yards per attempt and throwing one touchdown pass and two interceptions in a lopsided loss to the Niners

18. NY Giants (7-5-1)

Previous: 14 | Last week: L 22-48 vs. Eagles | This week: at 7-5-1 Commanders

Good news: Despite not having any above-average receiving weapons, Daniel Jones continues to play well and prove his worth to Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen. He hasn’t thrown an interception in nine of the last ten games and has a 66.7 completion percentage.

Bad news: Giants are spiraling. They’re 0-3-1 in their last four games and scored 78 points in those four games.

19. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)

Previous: 23 | Last week: W 36-22 at Titans  This week: vs. 10-3 Cowboys

Good news: The light has gone on for Trevor Lawrence. In the Jags’ last five games, he has a 111.7 passer rating, a 71.8 completion percentage, 10 TDs and no interceptions in 181 attempts.

Bad news: Jacksonville’s defense has struggled on third down. They’re 29th in third-down defense (45.9 opponent success rate). They’re giving up 8.5 yards per pass attempt and 5.3 yards per carry on third down.

20. Green Bay Packers (5-8)

Previous: 18 Last week: bye | This week: vs. 4-9 Rams

Good news: Rookie Christian Watson has seven TD catches and has averaged 20.9 yards per catch over the Packers’ last four games.

Bad news: The Packers will likely sit out the playoffs for the third time in six years.

21. Cleveland Browns (5-8)

Previous: 21 | Last week: L 10-23 at Bengals | This week: vs. 9-4 Ravens

Good news: Deshaun Watson’s passer rating in his second start (79.1) was a little better than in his first start (53.4).

Bad news: The Browns are 21st in sacks with 27. Myles Garrett has 12, but no one else has more than 2 ½. Jadeveon Clowney has half of a sack in his last eight games.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)

Previous: 22 | Last week: L 14-16 vs. Ravens | This week: at 5-8 Panthers

Good news: Since T.J. Watt’s return, the Steelers are 3-2 with close one-score losses to the 9-4 Bengals and Ravens. With Watt, just one of their last five opponents (Bengals) has scored more than 17 points.

Bad news: Starting QB Kenny Pickett was knocked out of the game with a head injury on the opening drive against the Ravens. Replacement Mitch Trubisky threw three interceptions.

23. Las Vegas Raiders (5-8)

Previous: 20 | Last week: L 16-17 at Rams | This week: vs. 7-6 Patriots

Good news: Davante Adams has been everything the Raiders hoped he’d be. He’s tied for first in the league in TD catches (12), third in yards receiving (1,247), and fifth in receptions (82).

Bad news: Even with Adams and NFL rushing leader Josh Jacobs, the Raiders are 29th in red-zone touchdown percentage (45.9). Their ineptitude in the red zone is why they’ve lost seven of ten one-score games this season.

24. Carolina Panthers (5-8)

Previous: 29 | Last week: W 30-24 at Seahawks | This week: vs. 5-8 Steelers

Good news: A month ago, they were in the hunt for the first pick in the 2023 draft. After winning three of their last four, they are unbelievably back in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Bad news: They need to procure one of the draft’s top quarterbacks more than they do a one-and-done playoff appearance.

25  Arizona Cardinals (4-9)

Previous: 24 | Last week: L 13-27 vs. Patriots | This week: at 3-10 Broncos

Good news: Well, right now they’ll be picking sixth in the draft.

Bad news: It looks like Colt McCoy will be adding to his 35 starts.

26. Los Angeles Rams (4-9)

Previous: 28 | Last week: W 17-16 vs. Raiders | This week: at 5-8 Packers

Good news: The decision to claim Baker Mayfield off waivers already has paid for itself.

Bad news: Rams are averaging more than 10 points per game less this season than last year.

27. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1)

Previous: 25 | Last week: bye | This week: at 10-3 Vikings

Good news: Given the pressure the offense places on the defense, that unit has played very well this season. They’ve allowed 20 points or less in seven of 13 games.

Bad news: The Colts need to find a QB in the offseason. But their offensive line has seriously struggled. Who knew they’d miss Anthony Castonzo so much?

28. Denver Broncos (3-10)

Previous: 30 | Last week: L 28-34 vs. Chiefs | This week: vs. 4-9 Cardinals

Good news: Seven of the Broncos’ 10 losses have been by 7 points or less.

Bad news: Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. 

29. Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

Previous: 26 | Last week: bye | This week: at 4-9 Saints

Good news: Falcons are second in the league in rushing (158.9 yards per game) and fifth in yards per carry (4.9)

Bad news: You win in the NFL by throwing the football. They’ve lost four of their last five games and scored 17 points or less in all four.

30. New Orleans Saints (4-9)

Previous: 27 | Last week: bye | This week: vs. 5-8 Falcons

Good news: Rookie WR Chris Olave has 35 catches in the last seven games and is on pace for 1,100-plus yards receiving.

Bad news: The Saints have given up just 97 points in the last six games but are 2-4 over that span.

31. Houston Texans (1-11-1)

Previous: 32 | Last week: L 23-27 at Cowboys | This week: vs. 10-3 Chiefs

Good news: Hard as this is to believe, their 23 points against the Cowboys was the most they’ve scored since a 34-24 Week 4 loss to the Chargers.

Bad news: Next up, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

32. Chicago Bears (3-10)

Previous: 31 | Last week: bye | This week: vs. 12-1 Eagles

Good news: Justin Fields is still a work-in-progress as a passer, but he’s giving opposing defenses fits with his running. He has rushed for 711 yards and seven TDs in his last seven starts.

Bad news: Bears have lost six in a row and have given up 27 or more points in all of them.

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