Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: Two New Teams in the Top 5

A Vikings Defensive Exodus May Hurt
Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams (30) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

In the aftermath of the Week 14 action, we are beginning to see the NFL playoff bracket take shape. We officially have our first team punching their ticket to the playoffs, and they sit atop the Week 15 NFL power rankings for another consecutive week. Prior to Week 15, the first since Week 5 without any teams on bye, here’s the full breakdown of where each team stands.

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1. Philadelphia Eagles, 12-1

  • Last Week: 48-22 win @ NYG
  • Trending: —
  • This Week: 12/18 @ CHI

If you weren’t sure about the Eagles a few weeks ago, you better be sure about them now. After demolishing the Tennessee Titans in Week 13, Philly went into the New York Giants home and stole their lunch money to become the first NFC team to clinch a playoff berth.

2. Cincinnati Bengals, 9-4

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) adjusts wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) on the line before a play in the second quarter of the NFL Week 14 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. The Bengals led 13-3 at halftime. Cleveland Browns At Cincinnati Bengals Week 14 Syndication The Enquirer
  • Last Week: 23-10 win vs. CLE
  • Trending: —
  • This Week: 12/18 @ TB

The Bengals avenged their Halloween loss to the Cleveland Browns by coming back to win their home game against the AFC North rivals. With the win, they maintain pace with the Baltimore Ravens atop the division with four weeks remaining.

3. Kansas City Chiefs, 10-3

  • Last Week: 34-28 win @ DEN
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/18 @ HOU

Granted, the Chiefs defense didn’t look great at times against the Broncos, and Patrick Mahomes had an untimely interception in the fourth quarter. However, this game being close seemed like more of a product of the Broncos beginning to figure things out rather than the Chiefs not being great.

4. San Francisco 49ers, 9-4

  • Last Week: 35-7 win vs. TB
  • Trending: +2
  • This Week: 12/15 @ BAL

Who else thought the 49ers couldn’t possibly maintain the same level of success to be considered Super Bowl contenders as long as Brock Purdy, 2022’s “Mr. Irrelevant”, was their QB? Well, so far, it appears we were all wrong. Purdy put on a masterclass, but Deebo Samuel’s exit with injury is certainly cause for concern moving forward.

5. Buffalo Bills, 10-3

  • Last Week: 20-12 win vs. NYJ
  • Trending: +2
  • This Week: 12/17 vs. MIA

It wasn’t pretty throughout the entire afternoon, but Josh Allen made a few big plays, Dawson Knox somersaulted into the end zone, and the Bills came away with their 10th victory.

6. Dallas Cowboys, 10-3

  • Last Week: 27-23 win vs. HOU
  • Trending: -3
  • This Week: 12/18 @ JAX

If the Dallas Cowboys were playing anyone other than the Houston Texans this week, they probably would have lost this game. It was not a great game from their defense nor QB Dak Prescott, but a few heroics across the board down the stretch helped pull off another victory.

7. Minnesota Vikings, 10-3

Reaction to Vikings Win over Jets
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.
  • Last Week: 23-34 loss @ DET
  • Trending: -3
  • This Week: 12/17 vs. IND

It’s becoming clearer and clearer as the weeks wear on that the Vikings need big plays from their defense if they want to make any noise in the playoffs. They didn’t get any of those against the Lions this weekend, and it led to a double-digit loss.

8. Washington Commanders, 7-5-1

  • Last Week: Bye
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. NYG

The Commanders got to sit on their couches this week and watch both the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks come back to them in the NFC standings. Now, with a game against the Giants this weekend, Washington has a massive opportunity to grab a wild card spot by the throat.

9. Baltimore Ravens, 9-4

  • Last Week: 16-14 win @ PIT
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/17 @ CLE

The Lamar Jackson-less Baltimore Ravens went into Pittsburgh and got a victory, largely behind the strength of their defense. Steelers QB Kenny Pickett left the game, and Baltimore intercepted backup QB Mitch Trubisky three times over the course of the afternoon.

10. Miami Dolphins, 8-5

  • Last Week: 17-23 loss @ LAC
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/17 @ BUF

The Dolphins couldn’t quite surpass Tua Tagovailoa having one of his worst games as a professional. Making matters worse, this stinker of a game came against his built-in rival, Justin Herbert.

11. New York Jets, 7-6

  • Last Week: 12-20 loss @ BUF
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. DET

The New York Jets hanging around in this game despite Mike White leaving not once, but twice with injury, and losing both Quinnen Williams and Corey Davis is impressive regardless of a win or loss. At full strength, despite back-to-back losses, the Jets have proven they can compete with anyone in the NFL.

12. New England Patriots, 7-6

  • Last Week: 27-13 win @ ARI
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/18 @ LV

All-around, the Patriots played a strong game on Monday night. Mac Jones made few mistakes throwing the ball, they got a few big plays out of the running game, and their defense, albeit playing mostly against Colt McCoy, held the Cardinals offense in check.

13. Detroit Lions, 6-7

  • Last Week: 34-23 win vs. MIN
  • Trending: +4
  • This Week: 12/18 @ NYJ

The red-hot Detroit Lions won another game this week, and they’ve firmly inserted themselves into the NFC playoff picture with their fifth victory in six games. The offense has some of the best firepower in the league, but can the defense make stops to allow them to hang around?

14. New York Giants, 7-5-1

  • Last Week: 22-48 loss vs. PHI
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 12/18 @ WSH

The New York Giants are in a tailspin at the worst possible time. After beginning the season 6-1, they’ve now only won a single time in their last six games.

15. Tennessee Titans, 7-6

  • Last Week: 22-36 loss vs. JAX
  • Trending: -4
  • This Week: 12/18 @ LAC

Perhaps we crowned the Titans as a playoff contender too early. After losing their second straight game by double digits, and third consecutive loss overall, the Titans suddenly find themselves among the middling teams in the AFC. Luckily for them, no one is an immediate threat to take over the AFC South, but this recent stretch does not inspire confidence with January approaching.

16. Los Angeles Chargers, 7-6

Dec 11, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) celebrates after the game against the Miami Dolphins at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Last Week: 23-17 win vs. MIA
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. TEN

Justin Herbert deserves a ton of credit for putting together a huge performance on Sunday night, but the Chargers defense, despite being limited by injuries, really stepped up and made big plays in crucial moments.

17. Seattle Seahawks, 7-6

  • Last Week: 24-30 loss vs. CAR
  • Trending: -3
  • This Week: 12/15 vs. SF

Speaking of middling playoff teams, not only are the Seattle Seahawks in danger of missing out on an NFC West title, but they may be in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. After their third loss in four weeks, they are now on the outside looking in with a short week against the 49ers awaiting them.

18. Cleveland Browns, 5-8

  • Last Week: 10-23 loss @ CIN
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/17 vs. BAL

Deshaun Watson’s second game as a Brown was almost as ugly as his first, but this time around, Cleveland’s defense was unable to bail an inconsistent offense out.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-8

  • Last Week: 14-16 loss vs. BAL
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 12/18 @ CAR

Kenny Pickett left this game very early with a concussion, so it became a backup QB vs. backup QB game. Even with that in mind, this is a valiant effort by Pittsburgh that they probably would have won with Kenny Pickett rather than Mitch Trubisky.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-8

  • Last Week: 36-22 win @ TEN
  • Trending: +5
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. DAL

Trevor Lawrence had a tough game last weekend against Detroit, but this game against the Titans was infinitely more impressive than anything he could’ve done versus the Lions defense. Now, the next step in his development is stringing multiple of these games together in back-to-back weeks.

21. Atlanta Falcons, 5-8

  • Last Week: Bye
  • Trending: —
  • This Week: 12/18 @ NO

The Atlanta Falcons had to be laughing with joy watching Tom Brady’s Buccaneers get torched by Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. Once again, they sit just one game behind Tampa for the NFC South lead.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 6-7

  • Last Week: 7-35 loss @ SF
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. CIN

Well, that was ugly, and honestly, quite unexpected. After Tom Brady led a miraculous comeback against the New Orleans Saints in Week 13, he found no such luck against Brock Purdy and the 49ers. San Francisco dominated this game forward, backward, sideways, and in-between.

23. Carolina Panthers, 5-8

  • Last Week: 30-24 win @ SEA
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. PIT

Every time the Panthers dump players that, at the beginning of the season, seemed like they would be crucial pieces to their offense, they suddenly find ways to win games. This week, after waiving QB Baker Mayfield, it happened once again.

24. Green Bay Packers, 5-8

  • Last Week: Bye
  • Trending: —
  • This Week: 12/19 vs. LAR

Unlike many of the teams on bye this week, the Green Bay Packers didn’t get the help they needed towards a potential playoff run. Instead, the Detroit Lions defeating the Minnesota Vikings all but officially eliminates them from the chase.

25. Arizona Cardinals, 4-9

  • Last Week: 13-27 loss vs. NE
  • Trending: -3
  • This Week: 12/18 @ DEN

Colt McCoy got thrown onto the field yet again with Kyler Murray leaving this game early with a knee injury, and the offense struggled throughout the entirety of Monday night against a strong Patriots defense.

26. Los Angeles Rams, 4-9

  • Last Week: 17-16 win vs. LV
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. NE

Baker Mayfield stepped in at QB for the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, and it looked like he’d been there for 1.5 years rather than 1.5 days. In a year where the Rams do not own their own first-round pick, wins like this probably feel much sweeter despite their poor record.

27. Las Vegas Raiders, 5-8

  • Last Week: 16-17 loss @ LAR
  • Trending: -4
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. NE

Las Vegas looked like a team that could surge into the playoff picture after a three-game winning streak. However, a loss to the Rams in horrific fashion dashes those hopes.

28. Denver Broncos

  • Last Week: 28-34 loss vs. KC
  • Trending: +3
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. ARI

This is the first time that Russell Wilson really looked like vintage Russell Wilson. Unfortunately, Wilson also left this game with a concussion, so Denver couldn’t complete the comeback with Brett Rypien under center.

29. Indianapolis Colts, 4-8-1

  • Last Week: Bye
  • Trending: -2
  • This Week: 12/17 @ MIN

The Colts found themselves in a peculiar spot watching football from their couches this week. On one hand, it was probably delicious to see the Titans get blown out at home. On the other hand, the fact that it was the Jaguars delivering the dismantling was probably terrifying.

30. New Orleans Saints, 4-9

  • Last Week: Bye
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. ATL

If anyone could find a way to blow a lead against the bye week, it’s probably Dennis Allen.

31. Houston Texans, 1-11-1

  • Last Week: 23-27 loss @ DAL
  • Trending: +1
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. KC

There’s no way to prove it, but it really seems like if the Texans had anything to gain from beating the Cowboys, they would have done so. You’re not fooling anyone, Houston, it’s time to get out of the NFL’s basement for a week.

32. Chicago Bears, 3-10

  • Last Week: Bye
  • Trending: -1
  • This Week: 12/18 vs. PHI

Chicago is best served to lose games from now on, and they get a great opportunity to do that this week against the Eagles in their first game post-bye.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.