NFL power rankings: Bills, Packers unseat stumbling Steelers, Saints as top contenders for Week 15

Week 14 in the NFL finally brought some key shakeup to the top of the league’s hierarchy. A couple of contenders made some power moves, while others took big hits to begin the final month of the regular season, also known as the stretch run for the playoffs.

If the playoffs started today, the home-field advantages would belong to the teams from Arrowhead Stadium and Lambeau Field. While the No. 1 seeds changed hands on Sunday, their primary competition got tougher, too.

Here’s breaking down how all 32 teams stack up against each other in Sporting News’ latest look at the NFL teams from best to worst in 2020:

MORE: Updated NFL playoff picture after Week 14

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NFL power rankings

1. Kansas City Chiefs 12-1 (last week: 1)

The Chiefs finally have reemerged as the unquestioned top team in the AFC. Even when Patrick Mahomes has an off day with mistakes, they have too much big-play juice on offense, defense and special teams, as the Dolphins quickly learned.

2. Green Bay Packers 10-3 (4)

The Packers have put it all together with an amazing follow-up season with Aaron Rodgers further locked into Matt LaFleur’s offensive-minded coaching. The defense still is a concern, especially against the run, but it matters little when Rodgers is playing on a Mahomes-like MVP level.

3. Buffalo Bills 10-3 (5)

Josh Allen is red-hot again and the Bills are showing all kinds of offensive swag, led by Stefon Diggs. Their defense is also starting to come up with big plays. Taking down the 49ers and Steelers back to back in a short week is impressive.

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4. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-2 (2)

The Steelers have gone from the verge of a perfect season to losing two straight games at the worst time. They’ve regressed to where they really should be with their offensive limitations and defensive lapses. Now the former AFC front-runners have real pressing questions related to injuries and execution.

5. New Orleans Saints 10-3 (3)

The Saints were taken down a few notches as Taysom Hill finally hit his rough patch as starting QB in the fourth game. The defense also had an off afternoon in Philadelphia. With the Chiefs next, they could experience a Steelers-like dent, NFC style.

5. Los Angeles Rams 9-4 (7)

The Rams keep bringing it defensively with their shutdown styling and run of big scoring plays from that side of the ball. Their offense is finding the running game to help balance out Jared Goff at the right time, thanks to unleashed rookie Cam Akers.

MORE: Are Bills or Steelers better built to take down Chiefs in AFC?

6. Seattle Seahawks 9-4 (8)

The Seahawks welcomed their tuneup game against the Jets to get their offense and defense back on the same page and back on track playing complementary football. Getting the pass rush and running game going at the same time is a notable development.

7. Cleveland Browns 9-4 (6)

The Browns have big prime-time opportunities back-to-back to show they are not just a mild surprise AFC wild-card team to a solid all-around force that can’t be forgotten as a dangerous playoff team. With the Ravens loss, they still showed a lot offensively with Baker Mayfield.

8. Tennessee Titans 9-4 (9)

The Titans took advantage of their get-well game in Jacksonville to rebound well from the Browns’ loss, most important for Derrick Henry and their defense. They have proved they can be a complete team but need to do it consistently.

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9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-5 (10)

The Buccaneers, as expected, seem to be a lot more put-together after the bye. They streamlined their offense, going with their most trustworthy playmakers around Tom Brady. They were more functional defensively against the Vikings after a pre-bye slump.

10. Indianapolis Colts 9-4 (12)

The Colts’ defense isn’t dominating like it was earlier in the season but it’s still making big plays. It serves as a good complementary unit with the offense rolling in the running game, thanks to Jonathan Taylor and Philip Rivers fully locked into his passing weapons, led by T.Y. Hilton.

11. Miami Dolphins 8-5 (11)  

The Dolphins fought their hardest to hang with the Chiefs, but their forcing of turnovers weren’t enough as their offense simply can’t match one led by Mahomes yet with Tua Tagovailoa. The defense continues to give them a high floor and great promise for 2021.

MORE: Browns’ best season in a decade, by the numbers

12. Baltimore Ravens 8-5 (14) 

The Ravens didn’t rest after taking down the Cowboys last Tuesday by beating the upstart Browns on Monday. They have a chance to save a third shot at the playoffs with Lamar Jackson, coming off two get-well games himself.

13. Arizona Cardinals 7-6 (17)

The Cardinals’ defense needed that strong effort on the road to stop their winning streak. Kyler Murray looked much healthier for the offense, which went back to operating the spread at a high level.

14. Las Vegas Raiders 7-6 (13)

The Raiders’ offense was game for the Colts’ game, until Derek Carr made too many mistakes after they couldn’t run the ball well. The big plays in the passing game allowed plus getting consistently gashed against the run forced Jon Gruden to make a defensive coordinator change.

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15. Minnesota Vikings 6-7 (15)

The Vikings were let down by their kicking game, but they also can’t make up enough for their defensive deficiencies with an injury-riddled and rebuilding group. The playoffs can still be reached, but they’re a shell of the division-round advancers from 2019.

16. Washington Football Team 6-7 (20)

Ron Rivera needs some coach of the year consideration given what adversity he, his team and his organization have gone through. He is still a heck of a defensive-minded coach, one armed with a cornerstone named Chase Young.

18. Chicago Bears 6-7 (22)

The Bears showed their full offensive potential by ripping apart the Texans’ defense with Mitchell Trubisky and David Montgomery. They might want to think about giving Matt Nagy another year to build on that.


19. New England Patriots 6-7 (16)

The Patriots’ offense has tried to hide the passing of its quarterback, Cam Newton, and his replacement-level wide receiver corps all season. It doesn’t work against teams with better defenses who can force them into negative game scripts.

20. San Francisco 49ers 5-8 (18)

The 49ers can keep thinking what could have been with Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle and Nick Bosa. It’s clear their losses affect them every week, in the form of losses in games that usually would have been wins.

21. New York Giants 5-8 (19)

What was that? The Giants paid the price for rushing back a hamstrung Daniel Jones against the Cardinals. In the end, their lack of reliable, mistake-free offense may cost them the NFC East title in Joe Judge’s rookie season.

22. Detroit Lions 5-8 (21)

The Lions keep fighting for interim coach Darrell Bevell, especially with the offense finding a groove with Matthew Stafford and young stars T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift. But that can’t mask their leftover defensive deficiencies without Matt Patricia.

23. Denver Broncos 5-8 (25)

Drew Lock needed that performance against the Panthers for his team to have more confidence in him for 2021. Maybe everyone was simply a year early on their emergence with him.

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24. Philadelphia Eagles 4-8-1 (27)

The Eagles found a little more than something offensively with Jalen Hurts, manifesting in a big way with their rushing attack serving as complementary football to the defense. It still might be too little, too late, but is it also too late for Carson Wentz?

MORE: Breaking down Jalen Hurts’ first NFL start at QB

25. Houston Texans 4-9 (23)

The Texans, between injuries, suspensions and defensive dysfunction save for J.J. Watt, have put Deshaun Watson on an impossible island where everything is on him to make them competitive. They need an overhaul with their new coach to not waste their massive QB asset.

26. Dallas Cowboys 4-9 (28)

The Cowboys let Andy Dalton go to work against his former team and the results were pleasing again. Dallas still needs a minor miracle to save its season without Dak Prescott.

27. Carolina Panthers 4-9 (26)

The Panthers’ offense did its best without Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore, with Teddy Bridgewater keeping it quite competitive. The problem is, the defense has seemed to spring more holes than it had earlier in the season.

28. Los Angeles Chargers 4-9 (29)

The Chargers finally won a close game where the other team made more critical mistakes in key situations during the endgame. For much heat Anthony Lynn deserves, that’s outweighed by his staff’s quick development of Justin Herbert.

29. Atlanta Falcons 4-9 (24)

What was that? It was just the Falcons falconing worse than the Chargers charging. Matt Ryan has gotten to the point of being an incompetent passer whenever Julio Jones doesn’t play.

30. Cincinnati Bengals 2-10-1 (30)

The Bengals keep trying their best to have an offense without Joe Burrow and their defense is scrappier than you think. The results will be much better after the wasted end to 2020.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-12 (31)

The Jaguars might as well get one more look at what Gardner Minshew can do before the eventual high drafting of a true franchise option.

32. New York Jets 0-13 (32)

The Jets went from nearly beating the Raiders to hardly trying to beat the Seahawks. Every time someone gets fired, Adam Gase doesn’t.