NFL Power Rankings, Week 16 edition

It was risky promoting Colin Kaepernick to starter, but the 49ers are riding the momentum all the way to the top of our power rankings.

1. 49ers (10-3-1): There are statement wins, then there are franchise-changing wins. The latter is what Colin Kaepernick and the Niners got last Sunday night over the Patriots. They could have easily crumbled on a rainy night in Foxboro. They didn’t. And the entire NFL is on notice.

2. Patriots (10-4): Was anyone surprised that Tom Brady guided a 28-point comeback? The way he was yelling at his troops and pumping his fist, Brady is already in playoff mode.

3. Texans (12-2): J.J. Watt only increased his MVP candidacy, finishing with three sacks, 10 tackles and a forced fumble in a must-win game. That’s how you answer your critics.

4. Broncos (11-3): Peyton Manning can smell blood in the water and he hasn’t lost since Oct. 7 — at New England, when the team was still adjusting to him. That Baltimore final was only close on paper.

5. Falcons (12-2): With all apologies to Asante Samuel, we’re not trying to hate by having Atlanta this low after a 34-0 win, it’s just too crowded at the top. Ask yourself this: would you take the Falcons over the four teams above them?

6. Packers (10-4): They put up 391 yards against one of the stingier defenses in football. Aaron Rodgers and Co. are starting to look eerily similar to that 2010 Super Bowl squad.

7. Seahawks (9-5): Pete Carroll thinks he’s back at USC, running up the score for BCS votes. Seahawks have outscored their opposition 108-17 in the past two weeks.

8. Ravens (9-5): The hits keep coming with Torrey Smith (concussion) possibly out. Terrible news for a team that can’t seem to find its early-season mojo.

9. Colts (9-5): Tough spot for Indy, which looked the part of a young, inexperienced team in a big December game. They’ll make the playoffs and they’ll bounce back. Trust us.

10. Redskins (8-6): Wait, Washington went two decades without a legit quarterback and now they might have two? The football gods work in mysterious ways.

11. Giants (8-6): The ultimate Jekyll and Hyde. They do the pummeling and then get pummeled. Still wouldn’t count them out to run the table and make a run.

12. Vikings (8-6): Here comes Adrian, here comes Adrian, right down Adrian’s lane. Vikings keep proving quarterbacks don’t matter in the NFL — ummm, say what?

13. Cowboys (8-6): Forget Tony Romo. Forget DeMarcus Ware. A healthy DeMarco Murray makes Dallas a suddenly dangerous out.

14. Bengals (8-6): Eagles gift-wrapped one for them, but they’ll take it. Andy Dalton needs to improve (13-of-27, 127 yards) for anyone to take them seriously.

15. Steelers (7-7): Usually one of the most disciplined teams in the league is having major issues — and Big Ben is openly questioning his offensive coordinator’s play-calling. Sell, sell, sell.

16. Bears (8-6): As Tom Petty famously crooned, “And I’m free … free falling.” Brandon Marshall was brought to tears after fifth loss in six tries. Sell, sell, sell here too.

17. Rams (6-7-1): Former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer doesn’t look so bad now, does he?

18. Saints (6-8): Put 41 on the Bucs and get chance to play spoiler by going down to Big D and beating the Cowboys in what could be the Sean Payton Bowl.

19. Dolphins (6-8): Miami is still alive for a postseason berth if they win out. That, and they’ll need a meatball blizzard, a swarm of locusts and a Ricky Williams comeback, among other things.

20. Buccaneers (6-8): After Josh Freeman did his best Mark Sanchez impression (or vice versa?), Tampa is looking ahead to 2013.

And, with a slew of teams nobody cares about rounding out the rankings, we’re cutting it here. If you want to know who gets the first pick in the draft, it’s got to be those abysmal Kansas City Chiefs coming in at No. 32.

For the record, every team not listed in the Top 20 is having a serious discussion about their head coach. That means there could be a lot of job openings in 2013 — a lot.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Flood Wall Street protesters shut down lower Manhattan…

Riding the momentum of Sunday’s People’s Climate March, more than a thousand protesters filled Broadway in lower Manhattan on Monday, shutting down traffic. Flood Wall…

National

How much weight did Gov. Chris Christie lose?

It's been about a year and a half since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie underwent stomach lap band surgery and his weight loss has definitely…

Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Movies

Antoine Fuqua can kill someone with just a…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

Books

Does Lena Dunham have any secrets left?

Get a sneak peek at her new book to determine if it’s worth the read.

Movies

List: David Bowie — Great (cracked) actor

With the documentary "David Bowie Is" hitting theaters, we round up his work as a terrific screen actor, in films like "The Prestige" and "The Hunger."

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Education

4 ways to help at-risk high school students

Each year, a reported 1.3 million high school students drop out of school, a number so high that many experts say addressing it is one…

Food

Now you can eat Momofuku at your desk

Now you can eat Momofuku at your desk

Style

Transgender model Andreja Pejic opens up

The transgender model talks life after Sex Reassignment Surgery.

Wellbeing

E-cigarettes underutilized for smoking cessation

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. If you identify yourself as a smoker, chances are you don’t want to. In fact, roughly 68…