NFL power rankings: Detroit Lions slip after flashback to ugly defense

Detroit Free Press

NFL power rankings entering Week 17 of 2022 season (previous rank in parentheses):

1. Eagles (1): Since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, no team had had at least six in four consecutive games … until now. If Philadelphia can extend its streak to six weeks, it will overtake the 1984 Bears (72) for the most sacks by one team in a season. And if DE Brandon Graham adds one to his personal total, four Iggles will be in double digits. Makes getting by in the short term without injured QB Jalen Hurts a bit easier.

2. Bengals (2): They’ve got a path to the AFC’s No. 1 seed, and that starts with beating Buffalo in a massive Monday night matchup in Cincinnati.

3. Chiefs (3): They’ve got a path to the AFC’s No. 1 seed, and that starts with holding serve against Denver … and then hoping Bengals beat Buffalo in that massive Monday night matchup in Cincinnati.

4. 49ers (4): TE George Kittle has four TD grabs over past two weeks … matching total from his first 11 appearances of 2022. He’s the first Niner with multiple scoring catches in successive games since Terrell Owens in 2002.

5. Bills (5): Only the lowly Colts have more turnovers than Buffalo’s 24. Make too many mistakes in that, well, massive Monday night matchup in Cincinnati, and the AFC East champs could fall from first place in the conference to third.

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6. Cowboys (6): Not only does QB Dak Prescott continue to put the ball up for grabs (8 INTs in his past 5 starts), but a defense this team had been so reliant on has suddenly allowed nearly 1,000 yards over the past two weeks and is no longer providing pressure on enemy pockets.

7. Vikings (8): In order to keep their slim hopes of taking the home field from Philadelphia alive, dome-dwelling Vikes will have to win at Green Bay and Chicago as they conclude regular season.

8. Ravens (9): Now assured a spot in the postseason dance, the primary question for Baltimore continues to be when (or if) injured QB Lamar Jackson will be back in the lineup.

9. Chargers (11): No messing around until Week 18 this year. Bolts are playoff-bound for the first time since 2018 and, as they continue to get healthier, will continue to loom as a team few will want to face.

10. Jaguars (14): While it might now seem like smooth sailing to the AFC South throne, Jacksonville better beware its Week 17 opponent – Houston. The Jags haven’t beaten the Texans in five years.

11. Dolphins (7): Matters have gone from bad to worse regarding QB QB Tua Tagovailoa, who served up an interception on Miami’s final three drives Sunday and surprisingly wound up back in concussion protocol Monday. The Fins, now clinging to playoff viability, lost both games Tagovailoa has missed this season.

12. Giants (12): Aside from protecting the ball (league-low 15 turnovers) and RB Saquon Barkley’s heroics, just not much New York does exceptionally well. Be that as it may, one more win allows the G-Men to lumber into the playoffs.

13. Patriots (13): How’s it going on offense? Rookie DB Marcus Jones has three TDs this season … meaning he trails only RB Rhamondre Stevenson and WR Jakobi Meyers. That also begs the question why the versatile weapon hasn’t received more than 16 snaps on offense.

14. Lions (10): Will the clock strike midnight for Cinderella before postseason begins? Saturday’s collapse at Carolina was a vivid reminder that no team in the league surrenders more yards or points than Detroit.

15. Jets (15): QB Mike White will be back in the lineup Sunday at Seattle … and might just be the spark Gang Green needs to end its 12-year playoff absence – assuming New York can win out and New England drops a game.

16. Commanders (17): QB Carson Wentz could be back in the saddle for Week 17 as Washington tries to cling to its half-game lead for NFC’s last wild-card berth.

17. Packers (20): No time to R-E-L-A-X, but QB Aaron Rodgers and a resurgent defense might just fight their way to a wild card after all – and finishing out the regular season with a pair of games at Lambeau Field should be a boost for that objective.

18. Steelers (22): A shame Hall of Fame RB Franco Harris didn’t live long enough to see his No. 32 jersey retired over the weekend. But a man who inspired this team as a player and well into retirement continues to do so as Pittsburgh’s belated postseason drive pushes forward.

19. Panthers (23): Who would have thought they’d become so good at running the ball after trading RB Christian McCaffrey? Saturday’s team record 320 rushing yards marked Carolina’s sixth effort of at least 160 on the ground since CMC’s trade prior to Week 7.

20. Buccaneers (16): That’s twice in the past three weeks they’ve faced a quarterback making his first NFL start. Tom Brady and Co. are very fortunate to have split those games.

21. Saints (24): They’ve suddenly won three of five but probably too little, too late. Sunday’s trip to Philadelphia will likely provide the final nail in New Orleans’ coffin.

22. Seahawks (18): Must have been something in that Bavarian beer. ‘Hawks have dropped five of six since traveling to Munich and won’t even get the good fortune of facing Jets QB Zach Wilson in Week 17.

23. Titans (19): Rookie QB Malik Willis has started three games yet hasn’t passed for 100 yards in any of them. Starting to become apparent why he slipped into the third round.

24. Browns (21): How has the 2022 season gone? They got eliminated from playoff contention … at home … in the coldest NFL game in Cleveland history … by a dome team.

25. Rams (27): Fifty-one points from the backups? Maybe they’re not the worst team to ever “defend” a Super Bowl title.

26. Raiders (25): NFL rushing leader Josh Jacobs is sick of the losing … and he hasn’t put up with it even half as long as QB Derek Carr.

27. Falcons (28): First-round WR Drake London is pretty good at catching the ball … just not so much at hanging on to it, having now coughed up three fumbles in his rookie season.

28. Bears (26): Chicago’s losing streak has reached eight. Glass half full, Da Bears are just a half-game out of top spot in the 2023 draft.

29. Texans (32): They’ve still got league’s worst record (2-12-1), but Saturday’s upset in Nashville was Houston’s third consecutive game decided by six points or fewer.

30. Colts (29): Sure, Matt Ryan might be over the hill, but he’s the only quarterback on this roster who keeps Indianapolis competitive.

31. Cardinals (31): QB Kyler Murray’s ACL reconstruction is still a week away, casting further doubt on his availability for the start of the 2023 season.

32. Broncos (30): Nathaniel Hackett became the fifth coach in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to not complete a full season after being hired.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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