Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are red hot entering Week 17.
“The dynasty in Kansas City is over.”
“This just isn’t Patrick Mahomes’ year.”
Yes, those were quotes possibly uttered by many a few months ago. But all of a sudden, the Chiefs have won eight straight, have clinched the AFC West for the sixth consecutive year, and have sole possession of the No. 1 seed in their conference. Not to mention, Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 4,310 yards (fifth in the NFL) and 33 touchdowns (tied for fourth).
Once again, Kansas City will probably be the team to beat in the AFC Playoffs and is a Super Bowl contender.
Where do the Chiefs stand in ESNY’s latest 2021 NFL Power Rankings?
32. Jacksonville Jaguars ( → )
Jacksonville is currently in possession of the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. Will it keep that precious resource?
31. New York Giants ( ↓ 2 )
Let’s tell it like it is: the Giants are horrendous. They’re worse than the Jets (at least in our opinion).
Big Blue suffered arguably its worse loss of the year Sunday in what was a 34-10 blowout in Philadelphia. The offense is atrocious, the offensive line hasn’t been good in what’s seemed like a decade, and the defense is inconsistent.
30. New York Jets ( → )
The Jets remain at No. 30 after defeating the Jaguars, a win we won’t give them much credit for because…well…it’s the Jaguars.
This was a nice touchdown run by Zach Wilson though…
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 26, 2021
29. Houston Texans ( ↑ 2 )
The Texans have exited the bottom-three portion of our power rankings after notching what many deemed an improbable win over the Chargers.
Quarterback Davis Mills looked good — the rookie threw for 254 yards and two scores in the 41-29 victory.
28. Detroit Lions ( → )
The Lions remain at No. 28 after suffering a loss to the Falcons.
We won’t lower their ranking, however, because we still believe they’re better than the aforementioned ballclubs (at least right now).
27. Carolina Panthers ( ↓ 1 )
Again, let’s tell it like it is: Cam Newton isn’t a good quarterback anymore.
In a 32-6 loss to Tampa, the veteran quarterback threw for 61 yards on 7-of-13 passing (53.9% completion rate) with a 34.5 passer rating. Horrible.
26. Seattle Seahawks ( ↓ 2 )
The Seahawks are a lost cause.
Seattle allowed a late touchdown in Sunday’s matchup with the Bears that made it a one-point game (in favor of the Seahawks). The Seahawks subsequently let up a two-point conversion en route to losing by one.
The Russell Wilson era might be coming to a close in the Pacific Northwest.
25. Chicago Bears ( ↑ 2 )
Like we just mentioned, the Bears defeated the Seahawks in Week 16 and thus move up two spots.
Chicago remains one of the league’s worst squads though, and head coach Matt Nagy could very well be on his way out.
24. Washington Football Team ( ↓ 1 )
There is still the belief that Washington is better than teams like Chicago and Seattle.
But boy were the Football Team horrendous on Sunday night, losing to the Cowboys 56-14.
The defense put together a lackluster performance in spite of Dallas’ offensive inefficiencies in recent weeks.
23. Atlanta Falcons ( ↑ 2 )
The Falcons move up a few spots to make room for Washington’s aforementioned drop-off.
Atlanta notched a 20-16 win over the Lions on Sunday in which quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 215 yards and one touchdown.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers ( ↓ 1 )
The Steelers: also terrible in Week 16.
Pittsburgh couldn’t compete with the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, losing 36-10.
Is this Ben Roethlisberger’s final year in the Steel City? The veteran threw for just 159 yards, one touchdown, and one interception with a 73.4 passer rating.
21. Denver Broncos ( ↑ 1 )
The Broncos, despite losing to the Raiders Sunday, move up one spot to make room for the Steelers’ movement.
Denver is still mathematically alive though despite sitting as the 13th-best team in the AFC and last-place team in the AFC West.
20. New Orleans Saints ( ↓ 3 )
The Saints absolutely need a quarterback.
Taysom Hill isn’t the answer. Neither is Trevor Siemian and neither is Ian Book. The latter-most individual was sacked eight times in a 20-3 loss to Miami on Monday.
Maybe Jameis Winston returns on another one-year deal?
19. Cleveland Browns ( → )
Baker Mayfield was awful (four interceptions) in a Christmas Day loss to Green Bay, but we’ll keep Cleveland at No. 19 considering it only lost by two points to a superior ballclub.
18. Miami Dolphins ( ↑ 2 )
The Dolphins have won seven straight after losing seven straight.
They’re the first team in NFL history to do both in the same season, so good for them.
At 8-7, Miami is in the playoff picture as the No. 7 seed in the AFC. It would be amazing if Tua Tagovailoa, Brian Flores, and co. play postseason football after starting the year 1-7.
17. Las Vegas Raiders ( ↑ 1 )
The Raiders are still in the mix for a playoff spot. Following a 17-13 win over Denver this past Sunday, Vegas is 8-7 and the ninth seed in the AFC.
Derek Carr’s squad needs to win out in order to earn its first postseason berth since the 2016 season.
16. Minnesota Vikings ( ↓ 1 )
Minnesota put on a decent showing in what was just a seven-point loss to the superior Rams. But we lower its ranking because the Vikings absolutely need to win these late-season games in order to reach the postseason.
At 7-8, the Vikings are just outside the NFC playoff picture as the No. 8 seed.
15. Philadelphia Eagles ( ↑ 1 )
The Eagles are currently in the playoff picture, which is definitely something many didn’t expect heading into the season.
Philly’s latest win came over the last-place Giants by a score of 34-10.
If the Eagles win out, they will earn a spot in the postseason.
14. Baltimore Ravens ( ↓ 1 )
Did the Ravens have any plans of stopping Joe Burrow on Sunday? Because it didn’t exactly seem like they did.
Baltimore’s defense couldn’t contain the Bengals quarterback and the Ravens have now lost four straight. They currently sit outside the playoff picture at 8-7.
13. Los Angeles Chargers ( ↓ 2 )
The 8-7 Chargers are the definition of inconsistent.
They beat the Bengals and Giants earlier this month but followed that up with two straight losses to the Chiefs and Texans.
Yes, the Texans.
The final two regular-season weeks will be important for Los Angeles when it comes to a potential playoff berth.
12. San Francisco 49ers ( ↓ 2 )
San Fran needs to win these late-season games in order to earn a playoff berth.
The 49ers have been on a roll in the second half of the year but lost to Tennessee in Week 16. Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t great (two interceptions) and must step up in this final sprint.
If the Niners win out, they will return to the postseason for the first time since 2019.
11. Cincinnati Bengals ( ↑ 3 )
Joe Burrow was incredible on Sunday, throwing for 525 yards (fourth-highest single-game total in NFL history) and four touchdowns against Baltimore.
He’s really solidifying himself as one of the top young quarterbacks in the league and should lead Cincinnati into the playoffs.
10. Indianapolis Colts ( ↑ 2 )
The Colts are a top-10 team — don’t argue with me on this.
Jonathan Taylor is fantastic, the coaching staff is great, and Indy is peaking at the right moment.
The Colts have won six of their last seven games and are the fifth seed in the AFC, sitting behind only Tennessee in the AFC South.
9. Arizona Cardinals ( ↓ 5 )
The Cardinals were once atop our power rankings, but following three straight defeats, are back to No. 9.
Arizona is the No. 5 seed in the NFC and needs to find momentum down this final stretch.
8. Tennessee Titans ( → )
Tennessee notched a huge victory over the 49ers last Thursday night and has won two of its last three games.
The Titans are the second seed in the AFC and still have an opportunity to sit atop the conference (and earn a first-round bye) heading into the playoffs.
7. New England Patriots ( ↓ 4 )
Are the Patriots in trouble?
They were just the top seed in the AFC a short time ago but are currently the No. 6 seed in the conference following two straight losses.
The most recent defeat came against the Bills in what was a huge divisional matchup.
What do you think Bill Belichick’s New Year’s resolution is?
6. Dallas Cowboys ( ↑ 3 )
The Cowboys put together an absolute statement win Sunday night in what was a 56-14 thrashing of Washington.
Dak Prescott and Dallas are 11-4, the second seed in the NFC, and could still earn a first-round bye as the conference’s top seed.
5. Buffalo Bills ( ↑ 2 )
The Bills recorded likely their biggest win of the year over the Patriots Sunday, defeating New England by a score of 33-21.
Buffalo was in danger of losing out on a playoff spot but has moved into first place in its division and is now the No. 4 seed in the AFC.
4. Los Angeles Rams ( ↑ 1 )
The Rams are still a Super Bowl contender even after their previous midseason woes.
Four straight wins have led to the Rams being the No. 3 NFC seed heading into Week 17, with the top seed still in sight.
3. Kansas City Chiefs ( ↑ 3 )
The Chiefs are the hottest team in football and have won eight straight after starting 3-4.
KC remains an AFC powerhouse despite its rough commencement to the year and would have a first-round bye if the season were to end today.
The dynasty isn’t over in Kansas City, whether you like it or not.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( → )
Tampa Bay is the fourth seed in the NFC but I still would trust Tom Brady, Bruce Arians, and this roster over many of the other teams in the league right now.
Actually, I would trust them over every team except for one…
1. Green Bay Packers ( → )
Green Bay is rolling, Aaron Rodgers is spectacular, and the Packers are atop our latest power rankings.
Matt LaFleur and co. own the best record in the NFL at 12-3 and are surging into the postseason.
Will Rodgers win his second straight MVP and fourth overall? Will the Packers win their first Super Bowl title since February 2011?
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY