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NFL Power Rankings Week 15: Locked and loaded

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The Denver Broncos are climbing, but how far will they go with Drew Lock at the helm?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Houston Texans
The future looks bright in Denver.
John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Like last week, things are going to be split into two parts. For the teams that still have a legitimate chance at the Lombardi, the rankings will remain as they’ve been every week. I will rank them according to how likely it looks that they’ll win the Super Bowl.

For everyone else we’re grabbing a crystal ball and thinking about “win from now on.”

Playing for next year

32. Snyder’s Swamp

31. Cincinnati Bungles

30. New York’s Little Giants

It’s a fool’s errand to take victory laps off of two games... but I had Drew Lock over Daniel Jones last April.

29. Detroit Lions

28. #TrustthePorpoise

27.Atlanta Falcons

Reports are Dan Quinn’s on the outs, which means this team could take a wild turn in either direction.

26.Jacksonville Jaguars

Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin should be on the outs, but ‘til they are this team is stuck in a cellar. Someone tell Shahid Khan 2017 isn’t getting any closer.

25.London Chargers

Thought about this watching the Broncos’ tape in the middle of last week: why has Anthony Lynn escaped all of the criticism for Chargers $#!+? His team is notorious for it and yet it never sticks to his shoes.

24.New York Jets

Sam Darnold is going to make this team a trendy sleeper pick in the revamped AFC East post-Brady. Adam Gase is going to make sure that’s all they ever are.

23.Arizona Cardinals

22.Carolina Panthers

21.Chicago Bears

Mitch Trubisky and no picks hurts them. It’ll probably take another year or two because he’s making chicken salad and they do have (aging) talent on this roster, but I bet Matt Nagy will look pretty good at his next job.

20.Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The decision about Jameis Winston clouds their future, but this team has the cap space for Bruce Arians to rebuild on the fly if he so chooses.

19. Denver Broncos

All of the following apply to the 2019 Broncos.

  • Houston’s defense isn’t particularly strong minus J.J. Watt.
  • If Lock can keep this going, Elway found a quarterback.
  • They look like a different offense with a real quarterback.
  • They’ve looked like a playoff contender the last two weeks.
  • Drew Lock benefited from the time he had on I.R.
  • There’s no guarantee he would look this good if thrown into the fire week 1 (even if healthy)
  • OT, DL, CB, and WR remain question marks next season.
  • There’s $50 million+ in cap space in 2020.
  • Next year could be really, really fun.

18. Oakland Raiders

Outside of the Chargers who could be swallowed by obscurity in the post-Rivers era, the AFC West is looking like it’s going to be nasty for years to come. Joking aside, Jon Gruden has done a commendable job with this roster after gutting it in 2018. It’s hard to believe the Antonio Brown saga was three short months ago because Oakland’s done some things on the field.

What makes them scary going forward is they’ll collect another first rounder from the Khalil Mack trade. It gives Gruden the ammo to go up and replace Derek Carr if he so chooses, or to add two more first round talents to this current group. This is looking like a draft that fits the Raiders biggest needs to a T.

Real Playoff Contenders

Here’s where 2019 alters the rankings again. These teams are playing for this year’s title. Some more successfully than others.

17. Los Angeles Rams

16. Philadelphia Eagles

I don’t really believe in the Cowboys, but watching the Iggles last night there’s no way they’re going to win out. There’s too many injuries at too many important positions for them to overcome it unless Big D just completely implodes.

AFC Bubble

14.Indianapolis Colts

They’re looking like a 2019 long shot with a decent future, if they can secure a long term answer at QB.

15.Cleveland Browns

KOA’s Benjamin Allbright reported Sunday that Kitchens has to win out to keep his job. After the Cardinals game this week, Cleveland faces the Ravens.

13.Tennessee Titans

Not completely sure the signing Ryan Tannehill to a long-term extension based on one season won’t turn the Titans into a purgatory team for the next three of four seasons. Hoping the next couple weeks clear this up in one way or the other.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

They have a better chance at the dance than the Titans. Duck is going to get roasted when they square off with the Chiefs.

Playoff Contenders

11. Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett needs to win out to keep his job. He won’t.

10. Buffalo Bills

I spoke with future me, he wanted me to congratulate the Buffalo Bills on securing the fifth seed in the AFC and serving as a speed bump for the real contenders.

9. Green Bay Packers

Matt LaFleur’s team seems to be in a rut. They’re beating bad teams right now which is hiding issues, but the D looks problematic and I’d like to see more from the secondary and tertiary receiving options. As it stands, that Vikings game looks like it could prove huge.

8. New England Patriots

Losing to Kansas City in and of itself didn’t push me to push them down. The Patriots just caught the Zebra Game of the Week, losing because the refs jobbed them.

Unfortunately, this creates a scenario where a 42-year old Tom Brady will probably have to face the Chiefs and Baltimore if Bill Belichick is going to haul in another title. Expect this to be heralded as his best feat yet if it comes to pass.

7. Houston Texans

I wrote this last week when I had them at 5.

Keep this ranking in mind when Broncos’ Country lose their collect minds next Sunday.

6. Minnesota Vikings

I spent ten minutes trying to talk myself into pushing the Vikings down below Houston and New England because of the Kirk Cousins factor. I can’t do it. Even with serious questions, this team looks like it has a better chance at reaching the Super Bowl than either of them right now. Green Bay will surely spoil that faith, right?

5. Seattle Seahawks

4. Kansas City Chiefs

The Favorites

3. New Orleans Saints

2. San Francisco 49ers

1. Baltimore Ravens

Not a lot to write about these three teams. Saints-49ers came down to a last drive while the Ravens stand a head above everyone lately. Baltimore isn’t perfect and they could definitely stumble in a rematch with the all of the AFC playoff teams, but it’d be dishonest to pick anyone else right now.