Photo via PackersWire/USA Today
Week 16 of the NFL season gave us three consecutive days of football, headlined by a thrilling triple header on Saturday. It started off with the Houston Texans clinching the AFC South with a 23-20 win at Tampa by forcing five Buccaneer turnovers. Then, the Bills and Patriots battled in a back-and-forth game, where the Patriots prevailed 24-17 to win the AFC East. The night-capper saw San Francisco beat the Los Angeles Rams 34-31 in an epic shootout and eliminate LA from the playoffs. After a thrilling Week 16, let us take a look at the rankings in the last edition of the Rich 10 NFL Rankings for 2019.
10. Houston Texans (10-5)
Previous Ranking: 10
The Texans survived an intense battle at Tampa Bay. Despite the Buccaneers outgaining the Texans by 206 yards, the Texans came away with the victory by forcing five turnovers. The Texans have claimed the AFC South championship for the fourth time in the last five years and are most likely going to be the fourth seed heading into the AFC playoffs. They face the Titans, who need to win to make the playoffs, at home in the finale.
9. Minnesota Vikings (10-5)
Previous Ranking: 8
Minnesota had a chance to make a statement on Monday Night Football against their rivals, the Green Bay Packers, and fell flat on their face. Their offense was shut down as they gained a total of 139 yards, and could not take advantage of three Packer turnovers. Kirk Cousins is now 0-9 on Monday Night Football in his career and his critics have plenty of ammunition as Cousins heads into postseason play. They are locked into the six seed as they look to gain momentum for the playoffs in their Week 17 matchup against the Chicago Bears.
8. Buffalo Bills (10-5)
Previous Ranking: 7
Josh Allen and Sean McDermott played Saturday afternoon in their biggest game together as they faced the New England Patriots with a chance to remain in the hunt for an AFC East championship. They played well, but fell short to their hated rivals 24-17. The Bills proved they are good, but are not at an elite level just yet. They are locked into the AFC’s fifth seed and will face the New York Jets in the season finale as they prepare for their second postseason in three years.
7. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
Previous Ranking: 5
The Seahawks took a gut punch Sunday from the Arizona Cardinals as they were defeated by a score of 27-13. The shocking part is the 4-9-1 Cardinals dominated the 11-3 Seahawks on the road. Not only did they fall from first place, but they took some tough personnel losses. Running backs Chris Carson and CJ Prosise suffered season-ending injuries, and are now down their top three running backs for the rest of the season. They also lost their starting left tackle Duane Brown to injury. Seattle brought back their top two running backs from their Super Bowl championship team in Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin for reinforcements. They limp into their NFC West championship game vs the 49ers, hoping they can win and possibly get a much needed bye.
6. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
Previous Ranking: 9
OK, Packer fans. I admit they are pretty good. But I still don’t think they are good enough to be in a conference championship game. Even still, the Packers’ looked very impressive in their Monday Night Football win at Minnesota, shutting down their offense. Aaron Jones continues to be a valuable asset to the team as he rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers clinched the NFC North championship. A win next week at Detroit, and the Packers will clinch a first-round bye and will clinch the number one seed if Seattle beats San Francisco.
5. New England Patriots (12-3)
Previous Ranking: 6
The Patriots have finally clinched the AFC East championship after a 24-17 win over the Buffalo Bills. It was a battle and Tom Brady showed up and put on his best performance of the season. He threw for 271 yards and a touchdown and even threw a block on a run that went for a first down, and led the Patriots to their best win of the season. The Patriots are starting to get into a rhythm, and will look to wrap up a first-round bye as they host the Miami Dolphins this Sunday.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
Previous Ranking: 4
Kansas City went into Chicago on Sunday Night Football and dominated the Chicago Bears 26-3. Patrick Mahomes made a statement and continued to prove the Bears made a costly mistake by drafting Mitchell Trubisky over him in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Chiefs are hot and they have not surrendered a single touchdown in their last two games. If their defense continues to play like this, expect to see the Chiefs making a run in the playoffs. They will finish the regular season at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.
3. San Francisco 49ers (12-3)
Previous Ranking: 3
Regardless if you love or hate the 49ers, you have to admit they are entertaining to watch. Each of the 49ers last four games came down to the final snap, and Saturday night was no different. Against the desperate Rams, they prevailed in a shootout thanks to two 3rd-and-16 conversions. The 49ers went back to the number one seed and the NFC West lead. They can lock both of those up in Game 256 and the NFL regular season finale as they head to Seattle.
2. New Orleans Saints (12-3)
Previous Ranking: 2
The Saints continue to hum along offensively much better than they did at this time last season. The Saints lit up the Titans’ defense in cold and windy Nashville, and Michael Thomas continues to put up one of the best receiving single-season performances as he broke Marvin Harrison’s record of 143 receptions in a season. However, due to the Packers’ win, the Saints are in danger of having to play on Wild Card weekend as they no longer control their destiny for a first-round bye. They will have to beat the Panthers and hope either the Packers or 49ers lose.
1. Baltimore Ravens (13-2)
Previous Ranking: 1
The Ravens defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-15 on Sunday to win their 11th game in a row. After getting revenge on the Browns for their Week 4 loss, the Ravens have now locked up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With nothing to play for, the Ravens will rest a lot of key starters, including probable MVP Lamar Jackson. Mark Ingram suffered a calf-injury and will need the three weeks to recover. The Ravens’ starters will not play for three weeks and it will be interesting to see if the Ravens can play at this level again in the postseason.