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NFL Power Rankings Week 15: 49ers clinch west, ascend rankings

Who is the best NFL team in 2022? Sportsnaut’s Week 15 NFL power rankings examine the National Football League after Week 14 reviewing all 32 teams following an exciting weekend of football.

The Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals made the biggest statements on Sunday. In decisive victories over rivals and playoff-caliber foes, all three clubs proved they are bonafide Super Bowl contenders entering Week 15.

Naturally, things aren’t great for everyone around the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys needed a game-winning drive to beat the worst NFL team in 2022 and the Cleveland Browns’ offense keeps struggling since Deshaun Watson hit the field. Elsewhere, the Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans found a way to create significant concern for their immediate futures we head down the final stretch.

Let’s dive into the Week 15 NFL power rankings.

32. Houston Texans

  • Previously: 32nd in NFL power rankings

The Houston Texans showed more fight than we’ve seen from them in months. Best of all, they still lost and essentially secured the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. That’s a win-win scenario while still losing.

Related: NFL stadium rankings

31. Chicago Bears

  • Previously: 31st in NFL power rankings

The Chicago Bears return from the bye week with a healthier Justin Fields and a better shot of landing Will Anderson Jr. or Jalen Carter in the NFL Draft. Considering the state of this defense, general manager Ryan Poles can’t go wrong no matter which player he chooses.

30. Denver Broncos

  • Previously: 29th in NFL power rankings

Credit to the Denver Broncos for not only putting up a far better fight than anyone expected, but also rallying from that 27-0 deficit against the Kansas City Chiefs. As for those wondering when Nathaniel Hackett will be fired, that comes on Black Monday in January.

Related: Denver Broncos coaching candidates

29. Arizona Cardinals

  • Previously: 27th in NFL power rankings

Stick a fork in the Cardinals. They are done following an ugly Week 14 loss to the New England Patriots at home. Equally as important, it looks like star quarterback Kyler Murray is done for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. At 4-9, an offseason of change could be coming in the desert.

28. New Orleans Saints

  • Previously: 28th in NFL power rankings

Anyone hoping for Sean Payton to save this team in 2023 is fooling themselves. The legendary coach bailed on this team for a reason, he saw the ship sinking fast. You can bet he’ll find better opportunities elsewhere, with New Orleans gaining draft capital out of it.

Related: NFL offense rankings

27. Los Angeles Rams

  • Previously: 31st in NFL power rankings

Baker Mayfield provided the Los Angeles Rams with perhaps their lone bright spot of the season. Even as the team celebrates, there are discussions regarding the futures of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Sean McVay with retirement seemingly on the table. This is not where anyone expected the reigning Super Bowl champs to be.

26. Atlanta Falcons

  • Previously: 26th in NFL power rankings

We finally get to see Desmond Ridder. It doesn’t matter whether he flames out or flashes starting-caliber traits, the Atlanta Falcons simply need to find out if he can be their quarterback of the future. It’s the only thing we’ll be evaluating for the Falcons moving forward.

25. Indianapolis Colts

  • Previously: 25th in NFL power rankings

Jeff Saturday isn’t to blame for the Indianapolis Colts being outplayed and outcoached in recent weeks, he was thrown into a position he never should have been in. Our only hope would be that Jim Irsay has seen enough to realize he needs to hire a legitimate head coach.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 23rd in NFL power rankings

The Pittsburgh Steelers were reminded on Sunday that signing Mitch Trubisky was a mistake, but at least they avoided a long-term commitment. Sunday also turned the focus on just how badly the front office needs to overhaul the offensive line.

23. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Previously: 20th in NFL power rankings

The Las Vegas Raiders are one of the worst NFL teams in the second half and fourth quarter of games. They’ve lost four games when they held a double-digit lead at halftime. If that doesn’t tell you Josh McDaniels isn’t fit to be an NFL head coach, nothing will.

22. Carolina Panthers

NFL: Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 24th in NFL power rankings

Anything short of multiple head-coaching interviews with the Carolina Panthers would be a disservice to Steve Wilks. He’s done far more as an interim coach than Matt Rhule ever did in two-plus years. Jim Harbaugh and Sean Payton aren’t coming to Carolina, so Wilks is worthy of the full-time gig.

21. Green Bay Packers

Syndication: Journal Sentinel
  • Previously: 21st in NFL power rankings

The moment the Green Bay Packers are eliminated from playoff contention, they must focus on the future. It means creating a new game plan that is built around Jordan Love and A.J. Dillon, allowing the front office and coaching staff to determine if former top picks should be a part of Green Bay’s long-term core.

Related: Green Bay Packers schedule

20. Cleveland Browns

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 19 in NFL power rankings

In two games with their $230 million quarterback, the Cleveland Browns have scored one touchdown. Fans can blame it on rust if they’d like and maybe it will resolve itself with time. As of now, though, we might just have to acknowledge that two years away from football altered Watson’s career.

19. New York Giants

Syndication: The Record
Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 17 in NFL power rankings

The Philadelphia Eagles introduced the New York Giants to brutal reality on Sunday. Excitement after New York’s hot was understandable, but the hype got out of control. The past six weeks (1-4-1) are a better indicator of what this team really is. It shouldn’t diminish any confidence in the new regime, but this was always going to be a long-term build.

Related: New York Giants schedule

18. Jacksonville Jaguars

Syndication: The Tennessean
Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 22 in NFL power rankings

Even if the Jacksonville Jaguars don’t snap their playoff drought, this recent stretch proved quarterback Trevor Lawrence is ready to be the face of the franchise. The next step is for him to become a top-10 player at his position, but he’ll need more weapons to reach that tier.

17. Seattle Seahawks

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 14 in NFL power rankings

The 6-3 start feels like a distant memory. After narrowly escaping with a win over the Rams, the Seattle Seahawks were ripped to shreds by the Panthers. They’ve now lost four of their past five after a home defeat at the hands of the NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 13 in NFL power rankings

Any belief that Tom Brady and the defense could fall into the NFC South crown and then go on a surprising playoff run should be gone. Not only is Tampa Bay’s defense not good enough to reach the NFC title game, but its offense is also bad enough to where this team is struggling to win the worst division in the NFL.

15. New England Patriots

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 18 in NFL power rankings

New England’s defense did its thing in a huge win over the Arizona Cardinals Monday night. It recorded six sacks, forced two turnovers, scored a touchdown and sent Arizona pack on four turnovers on downs. This will be needed moving forward with issues on offense in New England.

14. Tennessee Titans

Syndication: The Tennessean
Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: 12th in NFL power rankings

The Tennessee Titans can be excused for losing to the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles, it happens to pretty much everyone. Turning a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter into a 36-22 defeat at home vs Jacksonville? That suggests the Titans might create a race in the division that shouldn’t exist.

13. Washington Commanders

NFL: Washington Commanders at New York Giants
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 11th in NFL power rankings

At a time in the 2022 NFL season when a majority of the teams in the middle are in flux, the Washington Commanders find themselves in a hunt for the playoffs. Taylor Heinicke hasn’t demonstrated he is worth a long-term investment, but this team wins games and rallies around him more than we ever saw with Carson Wentz.

Related: Ominous update on the likelihood of Washington Commanders’ sale

12. Baltimore Ravens

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: 10th in NFL power rankings

Ugly wins are still victories, but nothing the Baltimore Ravens have shown leaves you with the impression that this is a good team. We’ve seen the defense exposed by high-end opponents and the offense, even prior to the Lamar Jackson injury, looked awful. There just aren’t any reasons to have faith in this team doing anything worthwhile in January.

11. Los Angeles Chargers

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 15 in NFL power rankings

Quite a few things went the right way for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 14 with the Raiders, Browns and New York Jets all losing. It is a significant boost for the Chargers’ playoff chances, coming at a time when Joey Bosa is finally nearing a return. To top it off, Justin Herbert led the Chargers to a desperately-needed win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football.

Top 10 NFL teams in 2022: Playoff contenders

10. New York Jets

NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 9 in NFL power rankings

As the upper tier of the NFL standings gets so close together, evaluating teams doesn’t always factor in the win-loss record. While the New York Jets have hit a skid with three losses in four weeks, they look far superior to some of the other clubs in the same range. bet on the talent and coaching, even if it doesn’t result in a Week 15 win.

Related: Tom Brady leaving ‘all options open’ for 2023

9. Detroit Lions

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 16 in NFL power rankings

From evaluating Detroit Lions coaching candidates to five victories in six games, this team is rolling. Keep in mind, losses to the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills came with a combined point differential of -7. One thing is undeniable, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson needs to be an NFL head coach in 2023.

8. Miami Dolphins

NFL: Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 8 in NFL power rankings

A slow start and the inability to convert pivotal third-down attempts doomed the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. It certainly didn’t help matters that the Chargers’ receiving corps fried Miami’s secondary, but seeing Tua Tagovailoa really fall short on primetime raises some red flags about the Dolphins as they get ready to clash with the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.

7. Minnesota Vikings

NFL: New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 6 in NFL power rankings

Things are beginning to unravel slowly for the Minnesota Vikings. They’ll almost certainly still win the NFC North, but there’s no denying the Detroit Lions are the better football team right now. Justin Jefferson is doing everything humanly possible to keep things going, but it’s a lot harder when teammates on the other side can’t stop anything.

Related: NFL insiders project Justin Jefferson contract extension

NFL power rankings: Super Bowl favorites

6. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 5 in NFL power rankings

Patrick Mahomes had a three-interception game for only the third time in his NFL career. Everyone is willing to look past a bad day, it doesn’t change the outlook for this offense. However, there are big concerns surrounding a defense that has allowed 751 total yards and 55 points in its last two games.

Related: Kansas City Chiefs schedule

5. Dallas Cowboys

NFL: Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 2 in NFL power rankings

The best-case scenario for the Dallas Cowboys is that Sunday’s scare serves as a wake-up call. Dak Prescott came through on the game-winning drive and the offense found its rhythm when it mattered. However, we’ve seen inconsistency from this unit at times and it didn’t help that the Cowboys’ defense made key mistakes. Anything remotely close to this version of Dallas in the playoffs results in a first-round exit.

Related: Dallas Cowboys schedule

4. Cincinnati Bengals

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Previously: No. 4 in NFL power rankings

It’s Brock Purdy‘s world and we just live in it. A few days after taking out Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7, the 49ers were back at it Thursday night. With the ability to clinch the NFC West, Purdy and Co. put up another solid outing on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. While it’s hard to project a rookie quarterback to lead his team to a title, Purdy and the 49ers are looking the part.

Related: Super Bowl odds

3. San Francisco 49ers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 7 in NFL power rankings

It’s Brock Purdy‘s world and we just live in it. Facing a Tampa Bay defense that held its last four opponents to 198 pass ypg, Purdy reached 185 yards with three total touchdowns at halftime. It seems hard to believe that Kyle Shanahan and the San Francsico 49ers might have done it again, but Purdy’s last two games speak for themselves.

2. Buffalo Bills

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 3 in NFL power rankings

On a Sunday when neither the weather nor the offense did enough to win, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s unit delivered. This looked like the elite defense we saw earlier in the season before injuries decimated the secondary and front seven. If Buffalo can take Miami out in Week 15, it will definitely prove the Bills are the best team in the AFC.

Related: Leslie Frazier emerging as a candidate for head-coaching vacancy

1. Philadelphia Eagles

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
  • Previously: No. 1 in NFL power rankings

The Philadelphia Eagles are No. 1 in the NFL power rankings after becoming the first team to clinch a playoff spot. Sunday’s blowout victory said far more about the best team in the NFL than it did New York. This is the epitome of greatness and Philadelphia is now in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Related: NFL playoff-clinching scenarios

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