NFL Power Rankings for Week 15: Commanders making meteoric rise

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College football is played best in the region of the country where the NFL is played worst. 

Or at least that’s been the case this season. 

With apologies to the Big Ten, the SEC — which is sending 11 teams to bowl games — still rules. In the NFL, however, the South is a wasteland. 

Of the eight total teams in the NFC South and AFC South, only one has a winning record. While the Tennessee Titans (7-6) bask in their relative glory, the other seven teams are a combined 29 games under .500. Are we still sure both divisions have to send their first-place team to the playoffs? 

Here are The Post’s NFL power rankings for Week 15: 

1. Philadelphia Eagles 12-1 (1) 

Jalen Hurts threw two touchdown passes to his lethal duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, Miles Sanders ran for two touchdowns, Boston Scott had two long kickoff returns and the defense recorded seven sacks as the Eagles clinched their fifth playoff berth in six years with a 48-22 win against the Giants. It is the second 12-1 start in franchise history (2004). 

Jalen Hurts
AP

2. Buffalo Bills 10-3 (2) 

Josh Allen broke a scoreless tie with a touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half and added a touchdown run on the Bills’ first possession of the second half in a 20-12 revenge win against the Jets. The defense tallied eight quarterback hits, four sacks, two takeaways and a game-clinching turnover on downs. 

3. Dallas Cowboys 10-3 (3) 

The battle for Texas nearly ended in a huge upset. Then the Cowboys’ defense got a stop at the 2-yard line when the Texans tried for a fourth-down touchdown instead of doubling their three-point lead. Given new life, Dak Prescott led a 98-yard touchdown drive punctuated by Ezekiel Elliott’s touchdown run with 41 seconds remaining in a 27-23 victory. 

4. Cincinnati Bengals 9-4 (5) 

With two receivers sidelined — Tyler Body and Tee Higgins — the Bengals still ended a five-game losing streak against the Browns with a 23-10 victory. Joe Burrow earned his first win in the rivalry with two touchdown passes — including one off a flea-flicker — and Joe Mixon returned from a two-game injury absence to rush for 96 yards. 

5. Kansas City Chiefs 10-3 (6) 

Three touchdowns — including a sensational improvisational toss to Jerick McKinnon — for Patrick Mahomes. What else is new? Three interceptions, too. That’s new. The Chiefs beat the Broncos for the 14th straight time by scoring the first 27 points and then hanging on for a 34-28 win. L’Jarius Sneed sealed the victory with a late interception of backup Brett Rypien. 

6. San Francisco 49ers 9-4 (7) 

Tom Brady had never lost to an opposing quarterback making his first career start. Then rookie third-stringer Brock Purdy came along and threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in a 35-7 rout of the Bucs. The NFL’s top-ranked scoring defense struck again. Deebo Samuel (sprained MCL) is expected back during the regular season, so disaster narrowly avoided. 

Brock Purdy
Brock Purdy
AP

7. Baltimore Ravens 9-4 (9) 

Down to rookie third-string quarterback Anthony Brown for most of the second half, the Ravens fed a total of 28 carries to J.K. Dobbins (120 rushing yards) and Gus Edwards (66) in a 16-14 win against the Steelers. Justin Tucker drilled three field goals and Calais Campbell blocked a kick as the Ravens won in Pittsburgh for the first time since 2019. 

8. Minnesota Vikings 10-3 (4) 

Needing a win or a tie to clinch the NFC North, the Vikings flopped in a 34-23 loss to the red-hot Lions. Even a franchise-record 223 receiving yards on 11 catches by Justin Jefferson wasn’t enough. The offense lacked balance (23 rushing yards for Dalvin Cook), and the defense lacked the speed to keep up with opposing receivers. 

9. Miami Dolphins 8-5 (8) 

The dream of winning the AFC East all but officially ended with a 23-17 loss to the Chargers. Tyreek Hill can’t carry the offense by himself, even when it feels like he can do the impossible by scooping up a fumble, cutting across the field and racing 57 yards for a touchdown. Tua Tagovailoa completed just 10 of 28 passes. 

10. Washington Commanders 7-5-1 (12) 

What a meteoric rise. The Commanders were dead last in these rankings after a 1-4 start. But Taylor Heinicke is 5-1-1 since taking over as the starting quarterback and better utilizing the receiver trio of Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson. Chase Young is expected to make his debut coming off the bye week to bolster an already dominant defensive line. 

Taylor Heinicke
Taylor Heinicke
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

11. Los Angeles Chargers 7-6 (17) 

12. Tennessee Titans 7-6 (10) 

13. Seattle Seahawks 7-6 (11) 

14. New England Patriots 7-6 (15) 

15. Detroit Lions 6-7 (19) 

16. New York Giants 7-5-1 (13) 

The Giants have won just once in their last six games, after the blowout loss. Saquon Barkley, who is fighting through shoulder and neck injuries, carried nine times for 28 yards. The Eagles’ 48 points were the most scored on a Wink Martindale-coordinated defense (Ravens included) and 253 rushing yards are the most allowed by Big Blue since 2014. 

17. New York Jets 7-6 (16) 

Point the finger at the offensive line not protecting Mike White, who left the game twice but returned both times — only to be taken by ambulance to the hospital to have his ribs examined after the loss to the Bills. Tough days for running back Michael Carter (lost fumble in fourth quarter) and cornerback Michael Carter II (two penalties). 

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-7 (14) 

19. Pittsburgh Steelers 5-8 (18) 

20. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-8 (26) 

21. Carolina Panthers 5-8 (28) 

22. Atlanta Falcons 5-8 (21) 

23. Green Bay Packers 5-8 (24) 

24. Cleveland Browns 5-8 (23) 

25. Arizona Cardinals 4-9 (22) 

26. Los Angeles Rams 4-9 (29) 

27. Las Vegas Raiders 5-8 (20) 

28. Indianapolis Colts 4-8-1 (25) 

29. New Orleans Saints 4-9 (27) 

30. Chicago Bears 3-10 (30) 

31. Denver Broncos 3-10 (31) 

32. Houston Texans 1-11-1 (32)

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