Benigno’s Best: Week 16 NFL Power Rankings
1. Green Bay Packers 13-1 (1)
It’s quite a statement about the NFL when the Chiefs can look so bad against the Jets, get their coach fired then the next week go out and end the Pack’s 19 game winning streak. Somewhere in south Florida, Don Shula is smiling.
Next: vs. Bears
2. New Orleans Saints 11-3 (2)
New Orleans makes it six in a row with another 40-plus explosion in Atlanta. Five more TD passes for Drew Brees. Can wrap up division with win over Falcons on Monday night.
Next: vs. Falcons
3. New England Patriots 11-3 (5)
The Tebow/Brady matchup turned out to be pretty one-sided as the two beast tight ends, Gronkowski and Hernandez, lit up Broncos. Pats have now won six straight, have clinched the division and look like the AFC’s finest.
Next: vs. Dolphins
4. San Francisco 49ers 11-3 (7)
Frisco’s most impressive win this year as Niners defense lays the wood to banged up Roethlisberger and Steelers. Nobody’s given up fewer points this year than Niners. Even more impressive? Beating Pittsburgh without Patrick Willis.
Next: @ Seahawks
5. Baltimore Ravens 10-4 (3)
Catch break as Niners do Baltimore a favor by keeping Ravens in division lead with win over Steelers. Baltimore needs home field as all four of their losses on the road – Titans, Jaguars, Seahawks and Chargers. Titans loss to Colts clinches playoff spot for Ravens.
Next: vs. Browns
6. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-4 (6)
Four game winning streak came crashing down Monday in Frisco. Give Big Ben credit for playing on one leg, but his high ankle sprain and same injury for center Maurkice Pouncey has to be concern for Steelers as they head to playoffs once again.
Next: vs. Rams
7. Houston Texans 10-4 (4)
Division clinching hangover hits Houston as Panthers end Texans seven game winning streak. Big question for this team: Can TJ Yates take them anywhere in the playoffs?
Next: @ Colts
8. Atlanta Falcons 9-5 (10)
Atlanta closing in on playoff spot with spanking of lousy Jaguars on Thursday. Rookie Julio Jones is really starting to take off for Mike Smith’s team. Can still win division, but must beat Saints on Monday for a chance.
Next: @ Saints
9. Detroit Lions 9-5 (unranked)
Detroit all but clinches playoff spot for first time since Barry Sanders’ days, with stirring comeback in the ‘black hole’. Matthew Stafford directs game-winning 98 yard drive, hitting “Megatron” Johnson for game winner and Mr. Suh blocks Janikowski’s 65-yard game winning field goal attempt as time expires.
Next: vs. Chargers
10. Denver Broncos 8-6 (8)
Despite loss to Pats, Broncos hold on to lead in AFC West with Lions comeback in Oakland. Crazy division as all four teams can still win title with two games to play.
Next: @ Bills
Fading Out: New York Jets
Closing In: San Diego Chargers & Philadelphia Eagles