5 takeaways from NFL week 16, updated power rankings

Movie quote of the day:

“Help me! I’m…feeling!”

– The Grinch, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Takeaways from week 16:

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) shakes hands with Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) after an NFL football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. I think New Orleans and the Rams are the best overall teams in the NFC

I’m not sure if anyone can argue that these two teams aren’t the most complete teams in the NFC playoff picture right now. Think about it, Philadelphia isn’t going anywhere with Nick Foles at quarterback (I’ll go into more detail later), Minnesota is good but there’s question marks surrounding Case Keenum in the postseason, Carolina has a great defense but Cam Newton is too hot and cold, Atlanta is certainly capable but not if Matt Ryan continues to play average, and Seattle has too many injuries defensively to make a postseason run. Both New Orleans and the Rams have Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Jared Goff – both quarterbacks have a combined 50 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a passer rating of 102. Both teams have two of the best rushing offenses and offensive lines in the NFL – ranking in the top 10 in total rushing yards, yards per attempt, and rushing yards per game. Both teams have excellent defenses that are very strong in the front seven. Lastly, both teams have smart, offensive-minded head coaches, which will help when facing defensive-minded coaching staffs such as Minnesota, Carolina, Atlanta, and Seattle. I feel pretty confident in saying that either the Saints or the Rams will be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters (22) entertains fans in a timeout during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2. Kansas City is heating up just in time, so the AFC should be on alert

Remember when everyone (myself included) was writing off Kansas City just three weeks ago? Well, that’s not the case anymore. The Chiefs have quietly won three games in a row by a combined score of 85-41. Alex Smith is even starting to play very well again – in his last three starts, he has a 66.5 completion percentage, 803 passing yards, 7.8 yards per attempt, three touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 96.2. This team is starting to get hot at the right time and is looking like the team we saw back in September. If that’s the case, I think the AFC needs to be paying attention. Kansas City has the head coach that can beat anyone with enough preparation, a strong run game led by Kareem Hunt, and an over performing defense. That’s not to say that I think the Chiefs can make a Super Bowl run, but I certainly believe that this team can pull off an upset or two in the playoffs and get to the AFC championship – especially if Smith continues to play well.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) runs against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

3. Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal

Last weekend had to silence any Garoppolo doubters. Jacksonville’s defense was leading the NFL is just about every statistical category, and Garoppolo finished the game with a 70 completion percentage, 242 passing yards, two touchdowns, and a passer rating of 102.4. He also led San Francisco’s offense to 369 total yards and scored 37 points on probably the best defense in the league, and all of that happened without a sufficient run game, offensive line, or wide receivers to help him out. The 49ers got an absolute steal when they traded for Garoppolo and gave up a second-round pick in exchange. This franchise better get ready to pay the man in the offseason because he deserves it.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett argues with an official during a game against the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

4. Dallas has a lot of issues, but I don’t think a coaching change is necessary

As much fun as it is to see Dallas get eliminated from the postseason and seeing every Cowboys fan in disarray and wanting to fire every coach on staff, I’m going to stick up for head coach Jason Garrett and say that I think he should keep his job. I’ve actually said for years that I feel like Garrett is a decent head coach, but he’s being held back because Jerry Jones is an egomaniac and below-average general manager. I think Dallas fans shouldn’t be emotional and give it some thought before even thinking about firing Garrett. First, the Cowboys had a tough schedule this season and didn’t have All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott for a portion of it due to suspension – it’s hard to win in those circumstances unless you have Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady at quarterback. Second, the perimeter weapons offensively are incredibly overrated – Dez Bryant isn’t the same player he used to be, Jason Witten is old, and Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams are average players at best. Third, despite all of that, Dallas still finished in the top 12 in the NFL offensively in total offense, points per game, rushing yards per game, and time of possession per game. Lastly, the Cowboys’ defense doesn’t have very many playmakers and, I think, has been over performing the last few years – which is solely because of defensive coordinator Rob Marinelli. If Dallas fires Garrett, that means that the coaching staff will likely be broken up. Do Cowboys fans really want to risk losing Marinelli or Garrett? There’s not very many names out there for future NFL head coaches and I don’t think Dallas would be nearly as good of a team without either Marinelli and Garrett on staff.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) passes against the Oakland Raiders during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

5. Philadelphia officially isn’t going anywhere with Nick Foles at quarterback

I don’t care if Philadelphia got the win anyway, Nick Foles was hot garbage Monday night. He finished the game with a 50 completion percentage, 163 passing yards, 4.3 yards per attempt, one touchdown, one interception, and a passer rating of 59.4 at home against one of the NFL’s worst defenses. I doubt Foles continues to play as poorly as he did Monday, but I don’t think he’s going to be a whole lot better than that going forward. The Eagles are likely going to be relying too much on their defense to make a postseason run, which is never what you want to do during the playoffs. Even though Philadelphia clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC, I really believe this team is in trouble, but most NFL fans knew that after Carson Wentz got hurt.

Power rankings:

1. New England Patriots (12-3)
Week 16 result: W, 37-16 vs. Buffalo
Last week: 1

New England continues to show that it’s the most consistent team in the NFL.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
Week 16 result: W, 34-6 at Houston
Last week: 2

Pittsburgh played with a lot of anger Monday night as the Steelers clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs.

3. Minnesota Vikings (12-3)
Week 16 result: W, 16-0 at Green Bay
Last week: 3

Minnesota didn’t have the best showing against Green Bay, but that defense is still playing at a high level.

4. Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
Week 16 result: W, 27-23 at Tennessee
Last week: 4

The Rams clinched their first NFC West division title since 2003 over the weekend.

5. New Orleans Saints (11-4)
Week 16 result: W, 23-13 vs. Atlanta
Last week: 5

I’m really starting to like New Orleans to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.

6. Carolina Panthers (11-4)
Week 16 result: W, 22-19 vs. Tampa Bay
Last week: 8

Carolina squeaked out a win against an inferior team, but a win is still a win.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5)
Week 16 result: L, 33-44 at San Francisco
Last week: 6

Jacksonville committed three turnovers on the road against a team with a quality quarterback and a good defense, and still managed to score 33 points.

8. Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
Week 16 result: W, 23-16 vs. Indianapolis
Last week: 9

After the win over Indianapolis, Baltimore is now in the driver’s seat to clinch a wild card spot in the playoffs next week.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)
Week 16 result: W, 29-13 vs. Miami
Last week: 10

I really think Kansas City is “back” and getting hot at the right time.

10. Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
Week 16 result: L, 13-23 at New Orleans
Last week: 7

I wanted to drop Atlanta out of the top 10 because of Matt Ryan’s play the last few weeks, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)
Week 16 result: W, 19-10 vs. Oakland
Last week: 11

Nick Foles showed Monday night why I can’t consider this team a Super Bowl contender right now.

12. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)
Week 16 result: W, 14-7 at New York Jets
Last week: 12

The Chargers bounced back last week, but didn’t beat the Jets nearly as bad as I thought they would.

13. Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
Week 16 result: W, 21-12 at Dallas
Last week: 18

I’m still trying to figure out how Seattle won that game last week despite having more penalty yards than offensive yards.

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
Week 16 result: L, 12-21 vs. Seattle
Last week: 13

Dallas is officially eliminated from the playoffs, which is what I predicted would happen in the preseason.

15. Washington Redskins (7-8)
Week 16 result: W, 27-11 vs. Denver
Last week: 17

I’ve said it plenty times already, but if Washington didn’t have so many injuries this year, I really think the Redskins would be fighting for a playoff spot right now.

16. San Francisco 49ers (5-10)
Week 16 result: W, 44-33 vs. Jacksonville
Last week: 21

Everyone can mock me for having San Francisco ranked this high, but this is a totally different team with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback.

17. Detroit Lions (8-7)
Week 16 result: L, 17-26 at Cincinnati
Last week: 14

Detroit losing to Cincinnati by two possessions with a playoff spot on the line is why I can never see the Lions as a serious threat.

18. Buffalo Bills (8-7)
Week 16 result: L, 16-37 at New England
Last week: 15

Once again, as soon as I start giving Buffalo any credit, the Bills fall on their face.

19. Arizona Cardinals (7-8)
Week 16 result: W, 23-0 vs. New York Giants
Last week: 20

Arizona is a decent quarterback away from being a potential playoff team this year.

20. Green Bay Packers (7-8)
Week 16 result: L, 0-16 vs. Minnesota
Last week: 16

How can Brett Hundley be awful at home but pretty adequate on the road?

21. Oakland Raiders (6-9)
Week 16 result: L, 10-19 at Philadelphia
Last week: 19

Man, this team has fallen quickly from last year.

22. Tennessee Titans (8-7)
Week 16 result: L, 23-27 vs. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 22

I’d honestly be fine if Tennessee made a coaching change after this season.

23. Chicago Bears (5-10)
Week 16 result: W, 20-3 vs. Cleveland
Last week: 24

I actually think Chicago is a decent team that just needs to revamp its coaching staff.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9)
Week 16 result: W, 26-17 vs. Detroit
Last week: 25

With a win next week, Marvin Lewis just might keep his job for another year.

25. Miami Dolphins (6-9)
Week 16 result: L, 13-29 at Kansas City
Last week: 23

Miami is now officially eliminated from the playoffs, which is disappointing since I had high expectations for the Dolphins this season.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11)
Week 16 result: L, 19-22 at Carolina
Last week: 27

Tampa Bay came pretty darn close to getting a big win against Carolina, which is why I decided to move the Buccaneers up a spot.

27. Denver Broncos (5-10)
Week 16 result: L, 11-27 at Washington
Last week: 26

That was just an atrocious showing by Denver last week.

28. Indianapolis Colts (3-12)
Week 16 result: L, 16-23 at Baltimore
Last week: 29

I was surprised Indianapolis actually hung in there with Baltimore on Saturday.

29. Houston Texans (4-11)
Week 16 result: L, 6-34 vs. Pittsburgh
Last week: 28

It’s tough to score points with a third-string quarterback let alone win games.

30. New York Jets (5-10)
Week 16 result: L, 7-14 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week: 30

Todd Bowles once again keeps the Jets competitive in a game they should’ve lost by a considerable margin.

31. New York Giants (2-13)
Week 16 result: L, 0-23 at Arizona
Last week: 31

If Cleveland wasn’t so bad, I think we’d be talking about the Giants getting the top pick in the draft.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-15)
Week 16 result: L, 3-20 at Chicago
Last week: 32

Cleveland clinches the No. 1 overall draft pick for a second-consecutive season and is one more loss away from being only the second 0-16 team in NFL history.

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53


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