NFL Week 17 Power Rankings 2022

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Welcome to Week 17. There are just two weeks left in the NFL regular season.

Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — has evaluated how teams are stacking up through 16 weeks.

The top three teams have changed — again — and the Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers are climbing up the rankings. With many divisional races still up in the air, make sure to check out the playoff picture, which includes clinching scenarios and standings.

In addition to our updated rankings, we checked in with NFL Nation reporters across the league and asked them to name a defining moment from the 2022 calendar year for each team. From the Super Bowl to the NFL draft, these moments — good or bad — set the tone for the rest of the year or impacted the teams’ futures.

Let’s get to it.

Jump to a team:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LV | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

Week 16 ranking: 3

Defining moment: Trading Tyreek Hill.

The Chiefs picked up draft picks and salary-cap room when they sent their top wide receiver to Miami back in March. Not only do they appear to have lengthened their window to win one or more Super Bowl championships with the picks they acquired in the trade but they look to have done so without hurting their chances to win one this season. Even after trading Hill, the Chiefs were still among the league leaders in scoring. At 12-3, they are in position to make a deep run in the playoffs, but they’ll have to deliver some victories in the postseason to completely vindicate the trade. — Adam Teicher

2 Related

Week 16 ranking: 1

Defining moment: A 35-10 win over the Titans in Week 13.

The talk heading into Week 13 was that Philadelphia would have to match Tennessee’s physicality and that the Titans, also boasting a strong run game, might be the type of team that could give the Eagles a problem. But it was no problem at all. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry was limited to 30 yards on 11 carries; Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts ascended to another level as a passer with 380 yards and three touchdowns through the air; and Eagles wideout A.J. Brown (119 receiving yards, two scores) solidified his case for why the Titans made a mistake by trading him away. The Eagles bullied the bullies to improve to 11-1 and showed the rest of the league they’re for real. — Tim McManus

Week 16 ranking: 2

Defining moment: An overtime loss in the 2021 divisional playoffs.

There have been plenty of noteworthy moments for the Bills this year — the signing of Von Miller is a strong candidate — but the loss to Kansas City led to the Miller signing, impacted the Super Bowl expectations for this season and kept a chip on the team’s shoulder. The second straight playoff loss to the Chiefs played a part in some of the offseason moves that followed and made the regular-season win over Kansas City in Week 6 that much more impactful. Now, the Bills have two games left to secure home-field advantage to avoid a potential third straight postseason trip to Arrowhead Stadium. — Alaina Getzenberg

Week 16 ranking: 5

Defining moment: RB Christian McCaffrey’s 9-yard TD catch to beat the Rams in Week 8.

There are plenty of moments to pick from, including McCaffrey’s touchdown pass earlier in the game, but this catch not only spurred the Niners to a win against the Rams but began the turnaround of their season. General manager John Lynch has called McCaffrey a “force multiplier” for the many ways he affects a game, and McCaffrey provided a touchdown three ways against the Rams. The leaping catch served as a harbinger for the current eight-game winning streak that has elevated the 49ers from 3-4 no-man’s-land to NFC West champs and legitimate Super Bowl contenders. — Nick Wagoner

Week 16 ranking: 6

Defining moment: Going 4-1 without Dak Prescott.

Many thought the Cowboys’ season was over when Prescott suffered a fractured thumb in the season opener, but backup QB Cooper Rush saved everything. The Cowboys would not be in the playoffs without Rush. It’s not that his play was at a Pro Bowl level, but he was steady and largely avoided mistakes. Others helped raise his level of play, but when it was time to make a play, Rush mostly delivered. Even though there were major questions surrounding Rush in Week 2, he answered the call. In terms of most valuable to the Cowboys, he should not be overlooked. — Todd Archer

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0:41

Joe Fortenbaugh anticipates the Cowboys will overlook a banged up Titans team in Week 17.

Week 16 ranking: 4

Defining moment: Super Bowl LVI.

Cincinnati hadn’t won a playoff game in three decades before a blistering run led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years. Up until that point, the fan base was filled with apathy, and there were questions about the team’s long-term future under coach Zac Taylor. Even in a dramatic loss to the Rams, the Super Bowl showed the Bengals were a championship-caliber franchise, a feeling validated by the 2022 season. — Ben Baby

Week 16 ranking: 7

Defining moment: Justin Jefferson converting on fourth-and-18.

In the most improbable moment of a most improbable season, the NFL’s receiving leader snagged a high pass from Kirk Cousins with one hand and held on as he crashed to the ground late in the Vikings’ Week 10 game at Buffalo. The 32-yard play allowed the Vikings to continue their final possession of regulation; the Vikings eventually turned the ball over on downs at Buffalo’s 1-yard line, but they scored on the next play after recovering a Josh Allen fumble in the end zone. The Vikings prevailed in overtime, one of eight games they’ve won after trailing or being tied in the fourth quarter. On the year, Minnesota has won an NFL-record 11 games by one score. — Kevin Seifert

Week 16 ranking: 10

Defining moment: Lamar Jackson’s injury.

Jackson suffered a knee injury Dec. 4, and the Ravens have scored a total of two touchdowns in his three-game absence. Baltimore has clinched a playoff berth, but the health of Jackson will determine whether it is a legitimate championship contender. If Jackson’s mobility is limited, it’s difficult to see the Ravens getting past the likes of the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals in the AFC. This also marks the second straight season that Jackson has missed multiple games in December, which could impact contract negotiations after the season. — Jamison Hensley

Week 16 ranking: 9

Defining moment: The one-point win over the Cardinals in Week 12.

After undergoing several roster upgrades during the offseason, the Chargers seemed destined for a deep playoff run. But that goal appeared largely upended by a plethora of injuries on the offense and the defense. A late-season two-game losing streak looked as if it would turn into three against the Cardinals, until — with 1:48 remaining in the game — quarterback Justin Herbert put together a seven-play, 38-yard touchdown drive to pull L.A. within a point at 24-23. With 15 seconds left, coach Brandon Staley elected to go for a 2-point conversion and the win, and Herbert connected with tight end Gerald Everett. That drive proved the Bolts were not ready to merely fade into the background but were instead willing to fight for a first playoff berth since 2018. — Lindsey Thiry

Week 16 ranking: 11

Defining moment: A 2-point conversion to win in Week 1.

This play set the tone for the season. First-year head coach Brian Daboll went for two points and the win (on a Saquon Barkley run) in the final minutes of the opener at Tennessee. For a team that has struggled to win close games in recent seasons, this was the sign that these Giants were different. They parlayed that emotional victory into a 6-1 start to the season, with all six wins being in one-score games. — Jordan Raanan

Week 16 ranking: 8

Defining moment: Trading for Tyreek Hill.

The Dolphins swung for the fences with Hill, and the trade immediately paid off. The seven-time Pro Bowl wideout has set franchise records in receptions and yards — with two games remaining — as well as career highs in both categories. It’s difficult to imagine this Dolphins offense without him at this point. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

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Robert Griffin III, Booger McFarland and Adam Schefter discuss the concerns for Tua Tagovailoa as he enters concussion protocol for second time this season.

Week 16 ranking: 16

Defining moment: Losing to Denver in London.

The loss to the Broncos on Oct. 30 is what sparked Trevor Lawrence’s turnaround. He threw two interceptions that day, one in the end zone and another on the first play of the Jaguars’ final possession inside of two minutes remaining. Lawrence said recently that he never wants to feel like that after a game again and that it “kind of flipped a switch in me.” Since that defeat, the Jaguars are 5-2, Lawrence is second in the NFL in completion percentage and passer rating and fifth in Total QBR, and he has thrown for 1,909 yards and 14 TDs with one interception. And the Jaguars have a shot to win the AFC South. — Michael DiRocco

Week 16 ranking: 12

Defining moment: The loss to the Dolphins on Oct. 30.

After falling to 1-6, coach Dan Campbell knew he had to make some changes. So after losing to Miami, the Lions let go of defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, then traded Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson before going on to win six of their next seven games and making a late push for a playoff spot. — Eric Woodyard

Week 16 ranking: 13

Defining moment: Trading for Carson Wentz.

Washington has unsuccessfully sought an answer at quarterback for decades, and it was intent on finding a solution last offseason. Some used the word “desperate.” The Commanders missed on Russell Wilson — in hindsight, perhaps fortunately — and inquired about a lot of options. Acquiring Wentz cost them two third-round draft picks and $28 million in cap space. But so far, he has not proved he is anything other than a one-year experiment, playing inconsistently in his first six starts, including throwing seven touchdown passes over his first two games and only three over the next four outings. Washington remains in the playoff race in part because backup Taylor Heinicke went 5-3-1 in relief, but Wentz could still have a chance to prove his worth over the final two games and possibly the postseason. — John Keim

Aaron Donald, Christian McCaffrey & Ja’Marr Chase ESPN

Week 16 ranking: 19

Defining moment: Christian Watson’s 58-yard TD against the Cowboys.

Before that play, Watson’s rookie season was a struggle. In the first nine weeks, he had just 10 catches for 88 yards. His only touchdown came on a run play. His drop on what would’ve been a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the first game of the season seemingly hung over him like a dark cloud. Week 10 didn’t start much better: He dropped two more passes early against the Cowboys. Then he hauled in the deep ball in the second quarter. From Week 10 on, he has caught 25 passes for 408 yards and seven touchdowns and has completely changed the Packers’ offense. “Sometimes it just takes one play. One play changes your whole mindset and direction of your career,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of Watson. — Rob Demovsky

Week 16 ranking: 17

Defining moment: The 2022 draft.

The Jets landed three impact players — CB Sauce Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson and RB Breece Hall — providing a foundation for the future. Wilson and Gardner could become only the second pair of teammates in the past 50-plus years to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in the same season. The rookies have highlighted a wild campaign, one that has included a four-game losing streak (current), a four-game winning streak and four quarterbacks who’ve played. The fall of QB Zach Wilson also could be considered a defining storyline. — Rich Cimini

Week 16 ranking: 14

Defining moment: Trading QB Russell Wilson.

When the Seahawks made the blockbuster trade in March that sent Wilson to Denver, it looked like a move that would have more of a long-term benefit. But while Wilson has foundered, Geno Smith has flourished as his replacement, earning a Pro Bowl berth and keeping Seattle in playoff contention. The Seahawks have received solid production from tight end Noah Fant and defensive end Shelby Harris, two veterans they acquired from Denver, and they drafted two core players from the picks Denver sent: left tackle Charles Cross and outside linebacker Boye Mafe. The Seahawks also own Denver’s top two picks in this coming draft, including a likely top-five selection thanks to the Broncos’ 4-11 record. — Brady Henderson

Everything you need this week:
• Full schedule » | Standings »
• Depth charts for every team »
• Transactions » | Injuries »
• Football Power Index rankings »
More NFL coverage »

Week 16 ranking: 21

Defining moment: Drafting Kenny Pickett.

The Steelers saw the retirement of one franchise quarterback and drafted someone the organization hopes will be its next. In one of his final acts as general manager before retirement, Kevin Colbert drafted Pickett in the first round as the first QB selected in the 2022 draft. The Steelers already had signed Mitch Trubisky in free agency, but it became more and more clear that it was a matter of when — not if — Pickett would take over the starting job. That led to conservative play from Trubisky to start the season, and once Pickett took over at halftime of Week 4, there was a steep learning curve for the rookie. It has led to growing pains this year, but it could help the Steelers get a jump on 2023. — Brooke Pryor

Week 16 ranking: 15

Defining moment: Trading A.J. Brown.

Trading Brown was a big step back for the Titans. The wideout was Tennessee’s answer to defenses that focused on stopping running back Derrick Henry. Losing Brown was the start of a bizarre season for the Titans. Wide receiver Treylon Burks was selected in the draft with one of the picks they got for Brown, and Burks showed up in spurts. But injuries and inconsistency on offense kept the rookie from having a major impact. — Turron Davenport

Week 16 ranking: 18

Defining moment: The lateral play in Las Vegas.

The Patriots lost on the final play of regulation in Week 15 by lateraling the game away. It reflected how the sloppy Patriots came up short in many critical situations over the course of the season. It was incomprehensible and catastrophic to be treating the football with such disrespect. Per Elias Sports Bureau research, the score on the fumble return by the Raiders was the second go-ahead defensive TD on the final play of regulation in NFL history. (The first came in 1960.) — Mike Reiss

Week 16 ranking: 26

Defining moment: Firing of Matt Rhule and hiring of Steve Wilks.

The Panthers were 1-4 under Rhule when he was fired. They have gone 5-5 under Wilks and can capture the NFC South title by winning their final two games, at Tampa Bay and at New Orleans. Under Wilks, the Panthers have found an identity as a smashmouth team that was apparent Saturday, when Carolina rushed for a single-game team-record 320 yards en route to a single-game team-high 570 total yards in a victory over the visiting Lions. — David Newton

Week 16 ranking: 22

Defining moment: Tom Brady unretiring.

Brady was retired for 40 days before deciding to return to the NFL for a chance at another Super Bowl. And while things have not been easy for Brady and the Buccaneers this season, their playoff destiny is still to be decided over the next two weeks. They have a chance to clinch the NFC South and punch a ticket to the playoffs if they defeat Carolina this weekend. And it will be up to Brady to dig deep and find a better version of himself than he has shown over the past several weeks and up to the defense to be as close to perfect as possible to overcome the lack of offensive output. — Jenna Laine

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Rex Ryan says Tom Brady was “awful” in the Bucs’ overtime win against the Cardinals.

Week 16 ranking: 24

Defining moment: Promoting Dennis Allen to head coach.

It was obvious that Allen was New Orleans’ top coaching candidate from the moment Sean Payton stepped down Jan. 25, and the Saints made it clear that the intent was to keep the team intact instead of starting over from scratch. That meant retaining almost all of the assistants and promoting two of them to co-defensive coordinators instead of having one voice. It’s hard to know how the season would have gone with a fresh start, but the current 6-9 record has made one thing clear: The Saints can’t stick with the status quo if they want a winning record in 2023. — Katherine Terrell

Week 16 ranking: 23

Defining moment: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

There have been so many bizarre moments to sum up an even stranger season. But Raiders owner Mark Davis’ comments to ESPN the day after his team dropped to 2-7 all but ended speculation about first-year coach Josh McDaniels’ job security. The signal to Raiders players and fans alike that Davis was probably staying the course with McDaniels allowed players to exhale, and the Raiders responded by winning three straight games and four out of six. — Paul Gutierrez

Week 16 ranking: 28

Defining moment: Winning Super Bowl LVI.

During the 2021 campaign, the Rams went all-in by making big moves, including trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford and linebacker Von Miller. It paid off in February, when the Rams won the Super Bowl for the first time since 2000 and the first time since moving the franchise back to Los Angeles. Although defensive tackle Aaron Donald made the game-sealing play, it was wide receiver Cooper Kupp who was named Super Bowl MVP with eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdown receptions. — Sarah Barshop

Simulate your own scenarios and check the latest playoff picture. Playoff Machine »
• Full schedule » | Standings » | More »

Week 16 ranking: 20

Defining moment: Trading for Deshaun Watson.

On March 18, the Browns traded three first-round picks to the Texans for Watson then signed him to a new five-year deal worth $230 million, the richest contract in NFL history. Watson, however, was suspended for 11 games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual misconduct during massage sessions. The suspension meant backup QB Jacoby Brissett filled in for those 11 games. Whatever happens moving forward, the franchise will be defined by the Watson trade. — Jake Trotter

Week 16 ranking: 25

Defining moment: The Matt Ryan trade.

The failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson partially led to the trade of Ryan to Indianapolis, immediately giving the Falcons over $40 million in dead cap and representing the official shifting of an era. Trading Ryan signified the start of a rebuild that has shadowed everything the Falcons have done this year, from whom they drafted (wide receiver Drake London, quarterback Desmond Ridder) to cap issues that forced them to mostly sign veterans to one-year contracts in free agency. The combination of moves helped push a reset on the franchise that had been coming since the firing of coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff in 2020. — Michael Rothstein

Week 16 ranking: 29

Defining moment: Firing of coach Frank Reich.

The decision to fire Reich after nine games was an aggressive move for a team owner (Jim Irsay) who had never fired a coach during the season. It was yet another shift in the power dynamic inside the organization toward Irsay and further demonstrated his dissatisfaction with the state of the team. Many key decisions lie ahead, and it’s possible this team could look very different next season. — Stephen Holder

Week 16 ranking: 27

Defining moment: Trading Khalil Mack.

The 2022 season in Chicago is defined by massive rebuilding efforts this franchise underwent to lay the foundation for a sustainable and successful operation. It started with Ryan Poles sending the Pro Bowl linebacker to the Los Angeles Chargers for picks and continued when the first-year general manager let more than 20 players from last season’s team walk in free agency. It culminated with Poles trading defensive end Robert Quinn and linebacker Roquan Smith at the deadline. The Bears learned two very important things this season: Justin Fields is their franchise quarterback, and everything this front office does needs to be geared toward building around him on offense. — Courtney Cronin

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Week 16 ranking: 30

Defining moment: QB Kyler Murray tearing his left ACL.

That was the moment the Cardinals’ already-disappointing season was all but over. Murray’s injury crushed Arizona’s chances of sneaking into the playoffs, which, in turn, helped gift them a better draft spot. Without Murray, the Cardinals’ offense had to change, and not having him on the field eliminated the possibility of him making a game-changing play that could lead to Arizona escaping with a win. — Josh Weinfuss

Week 16 ranking: 32

Defining moment: Benching Davis Mills.

When Mills was benched after his first 10 starts, it publicly signaled that he was not the long-term answer. Coming into the season, the hope was Mills could become the team’s quarterback of the future. But now, the Texans are the favorites to earn the No. 1 draft pick in the 2023 draft. In Mills’ first 10 starts, his passer rating was 78.1, which ranked in the bottom third of the league. Mills also had thrown 11 interceptions at the time he was benched, which was the third most in the NFL at the time. — DJ Bien-Aime

Week 16 ranking: 31

Defining moment: Firing of coach Nathaniel Hackett.

After just 15 games as head coach, Hackett was fired after the Broncos unraveled in every way on Christmas Day at the Rams. The loss included three interceptions of quarterback Russell Wilson; a defensive meltdown that saw the Rams score on eight of nine possessions; sideline tantrums between Broncos players; and outside linebacker Randy Gregory throwing a punch at a Rams player in the postgame walk-off. — Jeff Legwold



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