Week 17 NFL Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (12/26/17)
After 16 weeks, eight NFL division champs have been crowned, but six teams remain in the hunt for three wild card berths.
In the AFC, the Ravens, ranked 12th in our weekly NFL power rankings, Titans, 16th, Los Angeles Chargers, ninth, and Buffalo Bills, 19th, can still advance on to the postseason.
Baltimore locks up a playoff spot if …
· They beat the Bengals Week 17 OR
· The Bills lose to the Dolphins AND/OR
· The Titans lose to the Jaguars
The Ravens wouldn't earn a wild card if they lose to the Bengals and Buffalo and Tennessee both win.
Tennessee locks up a playoff spot if …
· They beat the Jaguars Week 17 or
· The Bills AND Chargers both lose
Los Angeles locks up a playoff spot if …
· They beat the Raiders Week 17 AND
· Jaguars beat the Titans and Ravens beat the Bengals
Buffalo locks up a playoff spot if …
· They beat the Dolphins Week 17 AND
· Chargers lose to the Raiders and Titans lose to the Jaguars OR
· They beat the Dolphins and Bengals beat the Ravens
In the NFC, the Falcons, 11th in our weekly rankings, are trying to hold off the up-and-down Seahawks, 14th, for the final wild card berth.
Atlanta locks up a playoff spot if …
· They beat the Panthers Week 17 OR
· The Seahawks lose to the Cardinals
Seattle locks up a playoff spot if …
· They beat the Cardinals Week 17 AND
· The Panthers beat the Falcons
The Saints ranked 20th in our NFL Power Rankings after their Week 1 loss to the Vikings. However, after starting the season 0-2, New Orleans won nine out of their next 10 games via a balanced pass/rush attack on offense and behind a drastically improved defense.
In case you forgot, New Orleans ranked 27th in total defense and 31st in scoring defense (28.4 PAPG) a season ago. This season, they rank 15th in total defense and have allowed 19.7 points per game, which ranks eighth in the NFL.
Their rookie running back Alvin Kamara (1,426 yards, 12 TDs) and rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore (5 INTs) are in position to sweep Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Following an 0-4 start, the Chargers dipped to 20th in our weekly rankings the first week of October. Their 7-2 record over the next nine games helped right the ship, but a costly late-season loss at Kansas City tossed their postseason aspirations up in the air.
Statistically speaking, the Chargers defense has flown well under the radar this season. They're allowing only 17.5 points per game – third-fewest in the NFL – with the third-best pass defense, 195 PYAPG, ahead of the Broncos "no fly zone."
Ever since reports surfaced that Andy Reid would give up playcalling duties ahead of Week 13's game against the Jets, Kansas City is 3-1 and averaging 29 points per game.
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt has touched the ball 28+ times in three straight and averaged 120.6 rush yards with four touchdowns – his only four scores since Week 3.
Also, it's worth noting that despite the Chiefs holding their last three opponents to 13.6 points per game, they've allowed 5.4 yards per play, which is in line with their 5.6 YAPP this season. Even if 5.4 YAPP was K.C.'s new normal, it would rank 20th on a season split. In other words, not great.
Is there enough bronze in the world for the inevitable Jimmy Garoppolo statue?
Before Jimmy G. took over behind center, the Niners ranked 26th in our weekly rankings. Four consecutive wins later, and voila they're 13th! Over the past three games, San Francisco is averaging 6.0 yards per play compared to 5.2 YPP on the season. Only four offenses have averaged 6.0 yards-or-better this season: Saints, Chiefs, Patriots, and Falcons.
Two things stood out from the Falcons loss to the Saints in Week 16 and, no, neither were the butt interception.
First, you aren't going to control your playoff destiny with Devonta Freeman rushing 11 times for 36 yards and a goal line fumble. This is profound. I know.
However, the second item, buried within the box score, was Matt Ryan's offensive line, which has been reliable to-date, failing him at the worst time.
Heading into Week 16's matchup, Ryan's sack percentage (Times Sacked / Pass Attempts) was 4.0% or 18 sacks on 448 attempts, which ranked among the league's top five. He was sacked five - or 12.2% of drop backs - and hit 12 times by the Saints on Sunday.
Thus, the need for a win or Seahawks loss to survive and advance on into the playoffs.
How did the Cowboys' defense allow 2.5 yards per play and lose? Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant turned the ball over and Seattle converted the three miscues into 21 points. Seattle held Dallas to 4.2 yards per play and kept Ezekiel Elliott out of the end zone.
Before he took a knee to end the game, Russell Wilson became only the second quarterback in the past 41 years to pass for fewer than 100 yards with two touchdown passes and 30-or-more rushing yards.
The last quarterback to achieve the feat? Seattle's Charlie Frye in 2008.