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My 2021 NFL Week 16 NFL Power Index

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Rich has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Penn State. WE ARE!!!


2021 Week 16 NFL Power Index

Week 16 in the NFL saw quite a few NFC teams lock up a playoff spot. I expect more of the same from the AFC with this weekend’s slate of games. Typically, we would be entering the final week of the season, but we do get that bonus 17th game this year. Still not sure how I feel about it, but that’s where we are. More teams are still mathematically in the playoff picture than are eliminated, so that’s fun. Here’s hoping as we say goodbye to 2021 that your team is either already in the playoffs or has a realistic chance.

1. Green Bay Packers (12-3) ~ Head Coach Matt LaFleur has now won at least 12 games in each of his first three seasons at the helm of the Packers. You can look for another coach in NFL history to do that, but you won’t find one. If the Packers win at least one of their final two games he will have three straight seasons of at least 13 wins. Not too shabby. (Last Week’s Ranking 1)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) ~ The Chiefs are the only team in the AFC with a playoff spot locked up as they are your AFC West Champions. It’s easy to think of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and the explosive offense when you think of the Chiefs, but their defense has been stellar. During their eight-game winning streak, they’ve given up less than 13 points per game. That is championship level defense. (LWR 2)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) ~ Tampa Bay won the NFC South on Sunday for the first time since 2007. Let’s not forget that this team won the Super Bowl last year as a wild card. While they won handily in Carolina, they lost another key player in pass rusher Shaq Barrett. He has two sprained ligaments in his knee and is expected to miss at least the next two games. I won’t ever bet against Tom Brady again, but this is potentially another huge loss as the Bucs are getting ready for the playoffs. (LWR 3)

4. Dallas Cowboys (11-4) ~ The league’s highest scoring offense put up 42 points Sunday night in the first half. They had already clinched the NFC East title before taking the field, but they certainly did not take their foot off the gas pedal against Washington. Dallas outscored the Football Team 83-34 in their two games, both of which came in the last three weeks. That’s domination Holmes. (LWR 5)

5. Los Angeles Rams (11-4) ~ It was almost unthinkable a month ago, but the Rams are atop the NFC West and control their own destiny. If they win out, the division is theirs. They did lose running back Darrell Henderson to a knee sprain that landed him on IR, but the team activated running back Cam Akers who was supposed to be the starter coming into this season. Henderson hasn’t even been the most productive back in L.A. as Sony Michel leads the team with 728 yards on the ground. The Rams seem to be clicking at the right time. (LWR 6)

6. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) ~ They’ve won nine of their last 12 games after starting the season 0-3. It’s easy to point to running back Jonathan Taylor’s success (serious MVP threat) but the Colts are a bit more than just Taylor. Their defense has forced 31 turnovers which is second in the league behind Dallas. That’s more than two turnovers per game. A team that controls the ball on offense and forces turnovers on defense should be a tough out in the playoffs. (LWR 9)

7. Tennessee Titans (10-5) ~ Last week I mentioned that the Titans needed someone, anyone, to step up on offense. A.J. Brown must read my rankings because, in his first game back from injured reserve, he had 11 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown in a close victory over San Francisco. Tennessee can only hope that this is a sign he is ready to resume being a number one receiving threat. (LWR 8)

8. Buffalo Bills (9-6) ~ The Bills needed that win in New England and all they did was lead the game wire-to-wire. Josh Allen became the first Bills quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons and Buffalo controls their own destiny in the AFC East. If they win out, the division is theirs. All that stands in their way is home games against Atlanta and the New York Jets. (LWR 10)

9. New England Patriots (9-6) ~ Two tough losses in a row to two teams we’ve already discussed. Let’s not forget that the Pats are being led by a rookie quarterback. They still seem primed to grab a playoff spot in the AFC and get a late Christmas present with the Jaguars coming to town for a game this Sunday. Nothing in the NFL is a guarantee, but I think you can safely say the Pats will get their 10th win this weekend. (LWR 4)

10. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) ~ Joe Burrow threw for a franchise-record 525 yards against Baltimore as the Bengals assumed control of the AFC North. They’ve clinched their first winning season since 2015 which is the last time the team won the division. If they win out, it’s theirs again. (LWR 14)

11. Arizona Cardinals (10-5) ~ The Cardinals were 5-0 when the traded for one of my favorite players, Zach Ertz. Since that trade, the Cardinals are 5-5 and currently sit in the, you guessed it, five seed in the NFC playoff picture. Ah, symmetry. (LWR 7)

12. San Francisco 49ers (8-7) ~ Jimmy Garoppolo has a torn ligament and a fracture in his right thumb. Jimmy G, unfortunately, is not left-handed. I can’t see how he can play through this injury, but I am not a doctor. If he sits, rookie Trey Lance would be making his second career start. In that lone start, he threw for 192 yards and an interception, but also led the team with 16 carries for 89 yards. I’d be looking at his prop bets for this weekend’s game if he does, in fact, get the nod. (LWR 11)

13. Miami Dolphins (8-7) ~ They started the year 1-7 which included seven straight losses after a win in their opening game. They’ve followed that up by winning seven straight and, remarkably, control their own playoff destiny. If the season ended today, Miami would be in. If they win their final two games, they lock up a playoff spot for the first time since 2016. Truly remarkable. (LWR 17)

14. Baltimore Ravens (8-7) ~ They need Lamar Jackson back and they need him now. Baltimore is in the midst of a four-game losing streak and Jackson missed the last two and a half of those games. Baltimore is on the outside of the playoffs looking in and have games remaining against the Rams and Steelers. They’ll probably need to win both of them to ensure they play on in mid-January. (LWR 12)

15. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) ~ Oh no. A devastating loss in Houston dropped the Chargers to ninth in the AFC playoff picture. Yes, they were without top playmakers like Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams, but the offense still put up 29 points on the road. The problem was they gave up 41 to a team that had only scored 30+ against the Jaguars. If the Chargers miss the playoffs, they don’t have to look any further than this game. (LWR 13)

16. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) ~ Philly is another team that started the year slow, but now controls their own playoff destiny. They got a big win Sunday which was helped by a touchdown catch from a big man. Everyone loves a fat guy touchdown and I love that people on social media were referring to it as the “thick six.” Once again, the internet is undefeated. (LWR 19)

17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) ~ Hunter Renfrow needs just eight catches and 51 receiving yards to reach 100 catches and 1,000 yards for the season. He’s had three games this season with at least eight catches and they have all come in the last five games. Expect Renfrow to be busy over the next two games as the Raiders cling to slim playoff hopes. (LWR 18)

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18. Cleveland Browns (7-8) ~ Cleveland has now lost six games this season by six or fewer points. The inability to close out games, or make a late game-winning drive, may be what keeps them out of the playoffs. With an unsteady performance from Baker Mayfield for most of the year, it’s fair to wonder if the Browns will look for, at the very least, some competition for him in the offseason. (LWR 15)

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) ~ This Monday night could be Ben Roethlisberger’s last home game as a Steeler. Pittsburgh plays host to the Browns in a game that will essentially eliminate the loser. Last week I said that the Steelers and their fans hope Big Ben has one more vintage Big Ben performance in him. It’s now or never and what better scenario than this upcoming game against a hated rival? (LWR 16)

20. New Orleans Saints (7-8) ~ Their defense is lights out allowing just over 20 points per game which is 4th in the NFL. The problem is the offense. They haven’t scored a touchdown in their last two games and, somehow went 1-1 in those games to keep their playoff hopes on life support. Ian Book made his NFL debut Monday night and threw his first touchdown, expect, it went to a Miami player. It doesn’t help the defense when the offense is allowing the other team to score. (LWR 20)

21. Denver Broncos (7-8) ~ Another 7-8 team with a stellar defense and questions at quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater has been serviceable, if not spectacular. The run game and the defense has kept this team in it all year, but they need more from the offensive side of the ball before they can take that next step. (LWR 21)

22. Minnesota Vikings (7-8) ~ Justin Jefferson has 2,851 career receiving yards which is the most by any player through their first two seasons. He still has two games left to pad that record. As an Eagles fan, it still makes me wonder what could have been if the Eagles selected Jefferson in the draft last year as I hoped they would. Sigh. (LWR 22)

23. Atlanta Falcons (7-8) ~ The Falcons are 7-8 and could still make the playoffs, but that would mean they would play against a team with a winning record. The Falcons have just one win this season against a team currently sporting a winning record and that is the Dolphins who just moved above .500 last night. They play a winning team Sunday when the visit the Bills. (LWR 24)

24. Washington Football Team (6-9) ~ They say things happen in….fours? Earlier this season Washington had a four-game losing streak which they followed up by winning their next four games. Now, they’ve lost three in a row and, if that streak reaches four, they will officially be eliminated from playoff contention. (LWR 23)

25. Seattle Seahawks (5-10) ~ They’ve lost eight of their last 11 games and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2017 when they at least finished with a winning 9-7 record. It could very well be the end of the line for one of the true greats to ever play the game as I believe his time in a Seahawk uniform is coming to a close. I’m talking about Adrian Peterson of course. Who did you think I meant? (LWR 25)

26. Chicago Bears (5-10) ~ Nick Foles started for the Bears and delivered a 4th quarter comeback to get the Bears just their second win in their last 10 games. It’s been a rough year in Chicago, but I’m glad Foles was able to get on the field. He’s proven that he can, at the very least, be a very good number two quarterback for any team that might be interested. (LWR 28)

27. Carolina Panthers (5-10) ~ Remember when the Panthers started 3-0 and Sam Darnold looked like a competent quarterback? Me neither. They’ve lost 10 of their last 12 games and look like an absolute mess. Now, they have to deal with a covid outbreak and their game Sunday in New Orleans could be in jeopardy. I bet the Panthers could have benefitted from having a Nick Foles on the team. (LWR 26)

28. New York Jets (4-11) ~ In a matchup of the number one overall pick in last year’s draft versus the number two overall pick, number two came out as number one. Got it? Good. Zach Wilson and the covid-riddled Jets were able to handle Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars behind a franchise-record 91 rushing yards from Wilson. They now sit with the same record as the New York Giants. Which New York team will finish the season with the most wins? (LWR 29)

29. Houston Texans (4-11) ~ It was a matchup of the worst rushing attack in the league versus one of the worst rushing defenses. Advantage….worst rushing attack. Houston ran for a season-high 189 yards, more than 100 more than their average, and pulled off their second big upset of the season by upending the Chargers. Houston has won two in a row. For all you Texans fans out there, that’s called a winning streak. (LWR 31)

30. New York Giants (4-11) ~ Jake Fromm made his first NFL start against the Eagles and it didn’t go well. He was benched in the third quarter with just 25 yards passing. Things didn’t get much better with Mike Glennon who had an interception returned for a touchdown. It will be interesting to see who the Giants have under center next week with Daniel Jones officially done for the season. (LWR 27)

31. Detroit Lions (2-12-1) ~ Entering the season it was a legitimate question as to who would emerge as the go-to receiver for the Lions. That question has now been answered. Rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown has at least eight catches in each of the past four games and has found the end zone three times. Two of those games were Lions wins and they nearly eked out a third against the Falcons. The Lions appear to have found a gem in the fourth round of last year’s draft. (LWR 30)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) ~ The good news for the Jags is that, with the Jets and Texans winning Sunday, their chance at the number one overall pick improved. The bad news for the Jags is that they lost their best player, running back James Robinson, to an Achilles injury. It happened in a non-contact play which always seems to be worse for some reason. Robinson was placed on IR and his season is officially over. (LWR 32)

And that is that. That's all I've got this week. You're now free to go about the rest of your day. Or night. Whatever it may be. If you want more of me, leave a comment below or follow me on social media via the link in my bio.

© 2021 Rich

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