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2022 NFL Week 16 Power Rankings: The power balance is shifting to the AFC

NFL: DEC 18 Cowboys at Jaguars
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Checking in on where the Dallas Cowboys stack up across the NFL.

We have reached Christmas week and that is exciting for a number of reasons, but namely because things are starting to really crystallize across the National Football League. Entering Week 16, three divisions have been clinched (NFC North, NFC West, and AFC West) while two other playoff tickets have been punched by the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys. That means five of what will eventually be 14 playoff teams are already known, and while things seem set in some areas, there is usually some post-Christmas chaos that changes things up quite a bit.

There are a ton of Saturday games this week and in fact only three contests are happening on Sunday. Hopefully however you spend this week’s holiday, you enjoy some quality NFL action, including a Dallas Cowboys win first and foremost.

As we approach a pivotal Week 16, we have assembled our power rankings for how the league looks at this point in time as well as collected how outlets around the national media view America’s Team.

You can visit last week’s rankings right here. Let’s begin.


1. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 1)

The Eagles are very clearly the best team in the NFL right now and what happens with Jalen Hurts is obviously going to be the story of how this whole thing ends for them.

If he misses the rest of the regular season as some reports suggest he will go five weeks between playing a competitive game.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 2)

Interesting how there is no word about them needing overtime to beat the Texans.

3. Buffalo Bills (LW: 4)

Night games in Buffalo are the prettiest games in football. Saturday was special.

4. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 5)

Speaking for myself this is the last team that I want to see the Cowboys face in the playoffs. It got a little tight late in the game against Seattle, but they are so tough.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 6)

This might be number two on my list, though. Joe Burrow is an elite quarterback who can get it done with anyone and he happens to have some very good ones around him.

6. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 3)

Sunday’s loss was tough. But the good that we saw cannot be ignored.

This week will be telling, even in the weirdness that this Eagles game is.

7. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 7)

While a 33-0 comeback is impressive it can only happen if you fall into a 33-0 hole.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 8)

Couldn’t you see the Chargers going to Cincinnati or Kansas City and pulling off a shocking wild card win?

9. Detroit Lions (LW: 11)

The same story could be told here. Detroit is so much fun. Who isn’t rooting for them?

10. Miami Dolphins (LW: 9)

These recent losses are tough but the Dolphins are very clearly a good team. They will be in the mix and the future is very bright in Miami.

11. New York Giants (LW: 16)

Nobody was picking them to win on Sunday and in doing so they helped out the Cowboys. They are going to be a playoff team in all likelihood and should feel very proud of themselves. Brian Daboll might even be back in the mix for Coach of the Year.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 18)

They deserve all credit for clawing back and winning, plus Trevor Lawrence did all of the right things.

But Lawrence also inexcusably wasted precious time as the Jags were trying to tie the game, and they went three and out to start overtime. There are still signs that this is a young team. But honestly who cares? Let them have fun.

13. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 14)

I’m very anxious to see this team with Lamar Jackson once again. I want to believe.

14. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 10)

The wheels are starting to fall off. But they should hold their heads high. That Denver pick is going to be very nice.

15. Washington Commanders (LW: 12)

They lost and are still a playoff team. Time to hold on.

16. Tennessee Titans (LW: 13)

It is hard to feel good about the Titans these days. We will see them next Thursday night.

17. New York Jets (LW: 15)

It was never going to happen with Zach Wilson.

18. Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 20)

Generally speaking it is hard for something to happen in the NFL that forever football fans have never seen before, but the way that the Raiders beat the Patriots was a pretty surreal thing.

19. Cleveland Browns (LW: 23)

They won.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 24)

All they have to do is win out to protect Mike Tomlin’s streak of never finishing below .500 in a season.

21. Green Bay Packers (LW: 22)

They hardly looked impressive on Monday night.

22. New England Patriots (LW: 17)

How ironic is it that the coach who is known for discipline on tiny details had what happened to the Patriots happen to him?

23. Carolina Panthers (LW: 19)

Please win the NFC South.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 21)

Please do not.

25. New Orleans Saints (LW: 31)

Truth be told the best-case scenario is New Orleans winning the NFC South as it would really hurt the first-round pick of theirs that belongs to Philly.

26. Chicago Bears (LW: 27)

It feels like the darkest part of the night is over for the Bears. This season is lost but Justin Fields is very bright.

27. Los Angeles Rams (LW: 25)

Do you think Sean McVay wishes he had gone into broadcasting?

28. Houston Texans (LW: 30)

Look at them playing with some pride near the end of the season.

29. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 26)

They are a very bad football team.

30. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 28)

Maybe next week, Desmond Ridder.

31. Denver Broncos (LW: 29)

Still very bad.

32. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 32)

THEY BLEW A 33-POINT LEAD!


NFL.com: 6 (LW: 6)

No movement here.

The Cowboys’ Christmas Eve matchup with the Eagles lost some sizzle after a damaging 40-34 defeat to the Jaguars that likely locks Dallas into a wild-card path in the playoffs. The Cowboys have no one to blame but themselves: Mike McCarthy’s team had a 27-10 lead on Jacksonville with less than six minutes to play in the third quarter, but the defense couldn’t cool off a scorching Trevor Lawrence, and Dak Prescott threw two more interceptions, including the overtime pick-six that ended the game in stunning fashion. The Cowboys aren’t playing very sharp football right now — if they don’t clean things up, this will be yet another year to feature a fast start and depressing finish.

ESPN: 6 (LW: 4)

They also included a player who has been a pleasant surprise for each team.

Pleasant surprise: DE Dorance Armstrong

Armstrong has eight sacks, which is a career high. Not only that, but they also top the career total he had in his first four seasons combined. When the Cowboys lost Randy Gregory in free agency, they needed another pass-rusher alongside Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. Armstrong has more than filled that role. This very easily could have been Tony Pollard — as he is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing and surpassing his career touchdown total with 11 — but he already showed last season that he could be productive. — Todd Archer

USA Today: 6 (LW: 4)

This is a popular spot this week.

They’re in consecutive postseasons for the first time in 15 years. But QB Dak Prescott’s 3.9% interception rate is easily the highest of his career ... and looms as a much bigger concern than whoever might be running deep routes as Dallas’ No. 3 wideout in the postseason.

Yahoo: 5 (LW: 3)

Still inside of the top 5 here.

The Cowboys’ loss on Sunday is even bigger now that we know Jalen Hurts could miss time with a shoulder injury. Had Dallas won, all they would have needed was an Eagles loss and also a win over Philadelphia on Dec. 24 to steal the division. Now the Cowboys need to win out and hope Philadelphia doesn’t win again. Blowing that lead to the Jaguars wasn’t the worst loss an NFL team will take, but it looked a lot worse by Monday afternoon.

CBS Sports: 7 (LW: 3)

But not here.

The loss to the Jaguars all but means they will be taking the wild-card road in the playoffs. It also means they haven’t looked good in two consecutive weeks, which is the bigger issue.

The Athletic: 6 (LW: 6)

We appear to have a consensus.

Dallas has to really be kicking itself about its blown lead Sunday following the Jalen Hurts injury news. Had the Cowboys just taken care of business, they’d be in realistic position to potentially grab the conference’s top seed by winning out. Alas, their nagging habit of shooting themselves in the foot like pretend cowboys in a B movie returned again. One small sample-size concern? The vaunted Cowboys pass rush has just one sack over its last two games. And yes, now Micah Parsons is in the odd predicament trying to make the Eagles offense look feckless with Minshew likely at the helm, thereby disproving his “system” comments from a week ago.

Sports Illustrated: 6 (LW: 4)

We definitely do.

The Cowboys have had some late-game sloppiness this year, though a deflected pick-six isn’t the kind of play I’m using as any sort of telling referendum—it was actually quite a throw by Dak Prescott. For now, these power rankings illustrate pretty well where I feel Dallas lines up at the moment, as it is a cut below Philadelphia and a thin sliver behind San Francisco.


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