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End of Season Power Rankings

Posted Jan 3, 2017

For the final time this season Sky Sports' Neil Reynolds ranks the NFL teams from 1 to 32!

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1.       New England Patriots (Same)

It has often been said that the only team that can beat New England in the playoffs is the Patriots themselves. That’s bad news for the rest of the league as this team rarely shoots itself in the foot. Patriots quarterbacks threw two interceptions all season long!

2.       Dallas Cowboys (Same)

Dak Prescott has a firm grasp on the quarterback job heading into the playoffs, but one more Tony Romo touchdown in Philadelphia might have changed all of that. There will be nobody calling for Mark Sanchez to get the job after his dire showing, however.

3.       Kansas City Chiefs (Same)

With a strong defense that could get Justin Houston back to health soon, a quarterback who avoids mistakes in Alex Smith and a true game-breaker who can score from anywhere on the field in Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs could yet challenge the Patriots in the AFC.

4.       Green Bay Packers (Same)

Those conversations about a rift between head coach and quarterback seem a long time ago in Green Bay, as do the worries about Aaron Rodgers’ form. He is imperious right now and the red-hot Packers have won six in a row.

5.       Atlanta Falcons (Up 1)

This is one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL as the playoffs are about to get underway. Matt Ryan has a 1-4 record in the post-season but is spoiled for offensive weaponry and this might just represent the chance for him to lay those ghosts to rest.

6.       New York Giants (Up 3)

The Giants travelled to Lambeau Field and won in the 2007 and 2011 playoffs on their way to Super Bowl glory. They have the defense to mount a similar challenge but there are genuine worries about the inconsistency of Eli Manning.

7.       Pittsburgh Steelers (Up 1)

Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown enjoyed a day off in Week 17 but remain tis team’s best chance to advance deep into the playoffs. You never quite know what you’re going to get with the Steelers, but that trio is elite and proven.

8.       Seattle Seahawks (Down 1)

The Seahawks are in the post-season as the number three seed in the NFC but alarm bells should be ringing after their slow start in San Francisco and yet more fighting among themselves on the sidelines. This team does not look Super Bowl-bound.

9.       Miami Dolphins (Up 1)

There were occasional flashes against New England that suggest the Dolphins could set up a divisional round re-match. Standing in their way are the Steelers and their elite offensive talent. This is a mentally tough Miami team, though.

10.   Detroit Lions (Up 4)

The Lions are moonwalking into the playoffs like Michael Jackson. A three-game slide has taken some of the shine off of a return to the post-season. Jim Caldwell should be safe even with a first round exit, which is coming within the next week.

11.   Oakland Raiders (Down 6)

Oh what a shame the Silver and Black lost Derek Carr to a broken leg. Other injuries have started to mount in Oakland but none will prove as devastating as that one. A genuine Super Bowl challenge disappeared with a single snap of bone.

12.   Houston Texans (Down 1)

This team is only in my top 12 because I have tried to credit each club who made the post-season and have put them in the leading dozen clubs in the league. But this is a team crying out for good QB play and they have no Super Bowl shot.

13.   Washington Redskins (Down 2)

Did Kirk Cousins cost himself millions of dollars with a late interception that ended Washington’s playoff hopes? I don’t think so. Washington could do a lot worse than Cousins at quarterback, even though the team fell short in 2016.

14.   Baltimore Ravens (Down 2)

The Ravens need to fix their offense if they are to make serious strides in 2017. They always tend to play hard and their defense is for real. Joe Flacco can make every throw in the book but needs more help around him.

15.   Tennessee Titans (Up 1)

Here is the trendy pick for the 2017 off-season. The Titans are an arrow-up team who are going to be the talk of the league for the coming months. It won’t hurt that they pick twice in the first 18 selections of the NFL Draft, either.

16.   Denver Broncos (Up 1)

Gary Kubiak is gone as head coach after announcing his retirement but just as key could be the potential loss of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who is out of contract. Keeping that defense together is a must given the offensive inconsistency.

17.   Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Down 2)

Jameis Winston took strides in the right direction in 2016 and while the Bucs missed out on the playoffs, we should applaud the fact that they went 9-7 under first-year head coach Dirk Koetter. These guys will be another trendy pick.

18.   Indianapolis Colts (Up 1)

Andrew Luck showed his passion and commitment to the cause in a meaningless Week 17 win over Jacksonville, but he deserves so much more from those around him. Owner Jim Irsay does not want to see Luck’s golden years wasted.

19.   Arizona Cardinals (Up 1)

Thank goodness David Johnson did not suffer a serious injury in Arizona’s meaningless final game against the Rams. This talented team must get back on track in 2017. This 2016 season was a huge disappointment but the talent is available and on the roster.

20.   Minnesota Vikings (Up 5)

Sam Bradford set a new NFL high for completion percentage in a season (71.6) but that’s hardly surprising given Minnesota’s dink and dunk approach to throwing the ball. The way the defense played in Week 17 resembled the unit that started 2016 red hot.

21.   New Orleans Saints (Down 3)

We are now in the ‘Is Sean Payton coming back?’ period of winter. Once the Saints ride that out, they should be happy with their head coach and offense – now the concern is upgrading a defense that ships far too many yards and points.

22.   Cincinnati Bengals (Same)

Marvin Lewis appears set to survive a lost season in Cincinnati but this is a team that must show more discipline and professionalism in 2017. The Bengals’ Super Bowl window is closing fast and might actually be slammed all the way shut.

23.   Philadelphia Eagles (Same)

That was some decent on-the-job learning for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who hit on 62.4% of his passes for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His passer rating of 79.3 was respectable and that all bodes well for the future.

24.   Carolina Panthers (Down 3)

Meanwhile, a league MVP slides in the other direction. Cam Newton was all too often flawed in 2016 and he was not alone in under-achieving. The Panthers could rarely put together a complete game and are on the outside looking in at the post-season party.

25.   San Diego Chargers (Up 1)

The Chargers may have played their last game in San Diego, they are looking for a new head coach and also a new home. The one constant is quarterback Philip Rivers and another bright spot to watch in 2017 and beyond is defensive end Joey Bosa.

26.   Buffalo Bills (Down 2)

The injured quarterback is on the verge of securing an incredible $27 million in guaranteed money in 2017, the general manager did not know the head coach was getting fired and the players need to be more disciplined and professional. Apart from that, all is fine in Buffalo.

27.   Jacksonville Jaguars (Same)

For one final time in the 2016 season, the Jaguars found a way to lose a close game that they could and possibly should have won. There is some young talent on this roster but it has no idea how to win close football games and that will be the first order of business for the new head coach.

28.   Chicago Bears (Bears)

Alshon Jeffery says the Chicago Bears will win the Super Bowl at the end of the 2017 season. In other news, the tooth fairy is real and a big bloke in a red suit makes his way around the entire world in one night delivering presents every December!

29.   New York Jets (Up 3)

I was hoping to cut and paste in here that the Jets were not trying and had given up on their season. And then they go and win big in Week 17. Mind you, that was against a Buffalo team that had definitely given up and whose players were already planning their holidays.

30.   San Francisco 49ers (Same)

The 49ers played hard against the Seahawks but came up short. They have at least shown fight in the second half of 2016. It was not enough to save Chip Kelly’s job and this is not the most attractive of head coach openings in the NFL.

31.   Los Angeles Rams (Down 2)

Ah, those halcyon days of summer when 90,000 fans packed into the Los Angeles Coliseum to celebrate the return of the Rams. Now, they’re celebrating the misery being over. A fast start turned sour in a hurry and there is work to be done in the coming months.

32.   Cleveland Browns (Down 1)

The biggest task facing the Browns this off-season is to keep talented players such as Terrelle Pryor and Jamie Collins on the roster. This team consistently lets talented young stars walk out the door and that kind of annual exodus has to be step one on Rebuild Road.









Ask Neil Reynolds

Ask Neil

Submit your question now! Neil Reynolds answers your questions about American Football and the NFL, whether it’s about the strategies, schedules or the rules behind America’s most popular sports league. Neil has covered NFL since 1991 and is current co-host of Sky Sports’ American football coverage and the Inside the Huddle podcast.

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