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Vic Carucci's Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

(Through Thursday’s game. Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

1. New England Patriots. Offense isn’t a problem, obviously, but can the defense really take this team the distance? (1)

2. Dallas Cowboys. With the NFL’s most dynamic rookie duo, it’s hard to see these guys being stopped. (3)

3. Oakland Raiders. The defense looks to be getting some reinforcement at the right time. (4)

4. Kansas City Chiefs. They have to like their chances vs. the fading defending Super Bowl champs. (2)

5. Atlanta Falcons. Let’s see, they scored 41 points without Julio Jones. And now he’s back. Woah! (6)

6. Pittsburgh Steelers. They can do wonders for their contender credibility by beating the Ravens on Christmas Day. (7)

7. Baltimore Ravens. All eyes are on Joe Flacco to see if he can deliver, as he’s supposed to, in crunch time. (10)

8. Seattle Seahawks. Richard Sherman, who apparently has too much free time with his CB duties, wants to be in charge of the offense and the media as well. (11)

9. Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers looks to have reclaimed his best-quarterback-in-the-game status … if he ever actually lost it. (14)

10. Miami Dolphins. They can make a massive statement by doing what they rarely do: win in Orchard Park. (12)

11. New York Giants. That was just a pathetic showing in Philadelphia. (8)

12. Detroit Lions. If nothing else, they’ll figure out how much the new glove will help Matthew Stafford’s injured finger. (5)

13. Tennessee Titans. Mike Mularkey will deservedly receive some coach-of-the-year votes. (17)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s notable that they more than held their own against the Cowboys. (13)

15. Denver Broncos. It doesn’t figure to be a very Merry Christmas at Arrowhead. (9)

16. Washington Redskins. Maybe these guys got ahead of themselves with a whole bunch of smack-talking. (16)

17. Minnesota Vikings. If the Vikings have anything left in the tank from this draining season, now would be a good time to find it. (15)

18. Buffalo Bills. Beating the Browns should only count as half of a win. (19)

19. Philadelphia Eagles. Jim Schwartz’s defense made Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense look as bad as usual. (20)

20. Houston Texans. Giving Tom Savage a chance to show what he can do is a smart, beyond simply recognizing that Brock Osweiler is a bust. (23)

21. Cincinnati Bengals. Even with A.J. Green back, this isn’t looking like a festive weekend for these guys. (18)

22. San Diego Chargers. After playing in what felt like a Raiders home game in San Diego, the Chargers get to have some fun in Cleveland. (22)

23. Carolina Panthers. Even without Luke Kuechly, Sean McDermott’s defense is holding its own. (24)

24. Indianapolis Colts. The final two games figure to be critical to the futures of coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson. (26)

25. New Orleans Saints. Sean Payton says Jairus Byrd is playing “as good a football as we’ve seen” with the Saints. (25)

26. Arizona Cardinals. Fun fact: This is the least-fined team in the NFL. So at least they have that going for them. (21)

27. Los Angeles Rams. Behold the “Stinker Bowl” with the 49ers. (27)

28. Chicago Bears. Matt Barkley is doing a solid job. (28)

29. New York Jets. To say they’re just going through the motions seems like giving them too much credit. (29)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars. Saint Doug to the rescue! (30)

31. San Francisco 49ers. See No. 27. (31)

32. Cleveland Browns. Hue Jackson’s still looking for his challenge flag. (32)

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