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NFL Power Rankings: Holding Serve

nfl power rankings
(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Folks, it’s happened again.

For just the second time this season, the top team in the Strike 7 Sports rankings has remained the same.

But that’s to be expected with a season like this one. With top teams losing key players, bottom feeders playing spoiler, and a whole swath of teams that are 8-7 and 7-8, this edition of the power rankings was the most difficult one yet.

How do they stack up as we enter the final two weeks of the regular season?

1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4, previous ranking: no. 1)

What’s this? A team retaining it’s place at the top of the Strike 7 Sports power rankings? In a year in which the top of the league has been so volatile – the Cardinals, Patriots and Titans are all teams that have been bumped from the perch – the Chiefs have been consistently dominant throughout the second half of the season.

2. Green Bay Packers (12-3, previous ranking: no. 2)

The owner of the NFL’s best record, Green Bay has already locked up the NFC North crown and is in the driver’s seat to claim the top seed in the conference. They got one step closer on Christmas, when they survived a late push from the Browns in primetime to win 24-22 and take their fourth straight victory.

3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4, previous ranking: no. 4)

While division rival Arizona is suffering from the absence of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Rams are enjoying one of the best single seasons for a wide receiver in NFL history. Cooper Kupp has been unplayable for defenses since Week 1, and with the Cardinals looking like a completely different team since Hopkins’ injury, the Rams have claimed control of the NFC West.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4, previous ranking: no. 5)

The Bucs got back to winning ways this past week after an embarrassing performance against the Saints on Monday Night Football in Week 15. They’ve long since clinched the NFC South and they’re only a game behind the Packers for the top spot in the NFC. Will the Saints game come back to haunt them?

5. Dallas Cowboys (11-4, previous ranking: no. 6)

We wrote earlier in the season about how the Cowboys just needed to take care of business in the NFC East if they wanted to keep their claim as one of the best teams in the conference. And boy, did they – a 56-14 drubbing of Washington in primetime that saw Ezekiel Elliott find the end zone twice helped clinch Dallas the division. Now, can they make a late run at Green Bay?

6. Indianapolis Colts (9-6, previous ranking: no. 10)

The biggest positive movers in this week’s power rankings, Indianapolis has thrust itself into the discussion regarding the best teams in the AFC. Noteworthy wins against the Patriots and Cardinals, two teams fighting for no.1 seeds, has turned the Colts into legitimate playoff contenders. Led by MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor, they’re a team that nobody should want to play right now.

7. Buffalo Bills (9-6, previous ranking: no. 11)

If there’s one thing we know about this Bills team, it’s that we really don’t know anything. But after getting revenge against the Patriots this past week following that horrific loss in Buffalo a few weeks ago, Josh Allen and the Bills look to be getting back to their best. But in a season in which they’ve been so inconsistent, is that a sign of things to come or just smoke and mirrors?

8. New England Patriots (9-6, previous ranking: no. 3)

Back-to-back losses have sent the Pats down the pecking order a bit, but they’re still an elite defense with an overachieving rookie quarterback. While they may be out of contention for the no.1 seed that some thought was possible a few weeks ago, their playoff place still doesn’t look to be in any real jeopardy.

9. Arizona Cardinals (10-5, previous ranking: no. 7)

It’s been disappointing to watch the Cardinals slip the way they have, given how much fun they were throughout the first half of the season. But without DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona is missing an obvious edge on offense. A loss to the Colts this week made it three straight defeats, and the team that was once thought to be a near lock for the top spot in the NFC is now the underdog in a division race.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6, previous ranking: no. 12)

The Bengals hosted arguably the most important game on the slate this past weekend when they welcomed fellow 8-6 AFC North foe Baltimore to town. The result was the best game of Joe Burrow’s career – the former no.1 pick threw for 525 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Bengals took a massive step towards the postseason.

11. Tennessee Titans (10-5, previous ranking: no. 14)

Tennessee got back to winning ways after dropping three of their previous four, and because the Colts also won, this week’s victory against San Francisco was crucial. No Derrick Henry means the Titans are a loose cannon once the playoffs come around, but they still have the easiest route to the AFC South crown.

12. Miami Dolphins (8-7, previous ranking: no. 13)

The first team in NFL history to have both a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak in the same season, the Dolphins’ second-half turnaround has been truly historic. They continued to roll on Monday night by terrorizing NFL debutant Ian Book all night long, getting him for eight sacks and not allowing the Saints to convert on a single third down situation.

13. Baltimore Ravens (8-7, previous ranking: no. 9)

This is the yin and the yang of postseason football – where the Bengals got a massive boost with their win over Baltimore, the Ravens suffered a major setback in the hunt for the division. They’ve now dropped four straight, and it doesn’t get easier with remaining games against the Rams and Steelers.

14. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7, previous ranking: no. 8)

Losses to the Texans are never good. Losses to the Texans when you’re in the middle of a division race are crippling. The Chargers are still in a decent position to earn a wild card berth, but unless they win both of their final games against the Broncos and Raiders, things could get ugly fast.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7, previous ranking: NR)

Here’s a crazy stat – even with Jalen Hurts under center and a lacking playmaker group, the Eagles have scored the fourth most points in the NFC, behind just the Cowboys, Rams and Buccaneers. Their Week 18 game against Dallas could singlehandedly determine their playoff fate. *grabs popcorn*

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