Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus each team's MVP

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The NFL Power Rankings are all about deciding who is the best of the best from a team standpoint. We're taking that one step further this week, as our NFL Nation reporters select the MVP for the teams they cover.

No matter how good or bad a team is this season, it will have a player who's worthy of praise (this is even true for the Lions). Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings:16 |15 |14 |13 |12|11 |10 |9 |8 |7 |6 |5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

1. Baltimore Ravens (13-2)

Week 16 ranking: 1

Team MVP: Lamar Jackson, QB

Jackson isn't just the MVP of the Ravens. He's the best player in football. Jackson leads the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and ranks No. 6 in the league with 1,206 rushing yards. In leading the Ravens to their first-ever No. 1 seed, Jackson has thrown for four or more touchdowns in four games and has rushed for more than 100 yards in five games. He has 43 touchdowns (36 passing and seven rushing), eclipsing the TD total for 21 other teams this season. Jackson is redefining the quarterback position, and he's finishing just his first full season as an NFL starter. -- Jamison Hensley

2. New Orleans Saints (12-3)

Week 16 ranking: 2

Team MVP: Michael Thomas, WR

If not for Lamar Jackson, Thomas would have a great chance to become the first receiver to win the league MVP award. His 145 receptions broke Marvin Harrison's single-season record (143) with one game to spare. He also leads the NFL with 1,688 receiving yards and has nine touchdown catches. He has been a go-to guy for both Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater. And he has been vital for a team that is short on reliable targets in the passing game. Thomas has 116 more catches than any other wide receiver on the team. -- Mike Triplett

3. San Francisco 49ers (12-3)

Week 16 ranking: 3

Team MVP: George Kittle, TE

His final receiving numbers won't approach the record-breaking standard he set last season but, believe it or not, Kittle has been even better in 2019. Despite missing two games with ankle and knee injuries, Kittle was easily the Niners' most indispensable player. As a punishing blocker and a dynamic receiving threat, Kittle does it all for the Niners, making him one of the most valuable non-quarterbacks in the league. -- Nick Wagoner

4. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)

Week 16 ranking: 4

Team MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB

Mahomes isn't winning this award by as wide a margin as last year, but he's still the one who makes the Chiefs' offense work. Mahomes, along with a greatly improved defense, is the reason the Chiefs can feel confident in a deep playoff run. -- Adam Teicher

5. New England Patriots (12-3)

Week 16 ranking: 6

Team MVP: Stephon Gilmore, CB

A top candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, Gilmore has six interceptions and his excellence in man coverage against a wide variety of receivers has been instrumental in the success of the defense, which has been been the backbone of the team. Gilmore has two pick-sixes, which are exclamation-point plays in his stellar season. -- Mike Reiss

6. Green Bay Packers (12-3)

Week 16 ranking: 7

Team MVP: Aaron Jones, RB

All the talk about how new coach Matt LaFleur's offense was tailor-made for Jones turned out to be spot on. He leads the team with 1,415 yards from scrimmage -- the most by a Packers back since Eddie Lacy (1,566) in 2014 -- and joined Jim Taylor (1962) and Ahman Green (2003) as the only backs in franchise history to post 1,250-plus yards from scrimmage and 17-plus touchdowns in a season. Jones is up to 19 total TDs after the Packers' win over the Vikings on Monday night. -- Rob Demovsky

7. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)

Week 16 ranking: 5

Team MVP: Russell Wilson, QB

Wilson is the obvious choice for the Seahawks even though he has fallen off his MVP pace from earlier in the season. He's fifth in the NFL in passer rating at 107.3 and has thrown 29 touchdown passes to only five interceptions for a 5.8 TD/INT ratio that also ranks fifth. Wilson has led five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, one reason the Seahawks have tied the NFL record for most one-score victories with 10 and have white-knuckled their way into another playoff berth. Bobby Wagner gets honorable mention for MVP as the league's leading tackler through 15 games. -- Brady Henderson

8. Minnesota Vikings (10-5)

Week 16 ranking: 8

Team MVP: Dalvin Cook, RB

Fairly obvious answer, no? Cook is expected to be shut down for the final week, given the Vikings have locked up a playoff bid, but the running back's impact on this offense is the reason they'll be playing in January. The way the offense was built around him has helped everyone be successful, notably quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose play-action attack has the Vikings firing on all cylinders. When Adam Thielen missed six weeks, Minnesota was able to thrive with the heavy use of its run game, and Cook entered the league-wide MVP conversation in that stretch. -- Courtney Cronin

9. Buffalo Bills (10-5)

Week 16 ranking: 9

Team MVP: Tre'Davious White, CB

On a Bills team that seems greater than the sum of its parts, White stands out as its clear-cut best player. Buffalo's lone Pro Bowler has established himself as a top-three cornerback in the league with a strong case for being the best player at the position. His six interceptions are tied for the league lead and he has yet to give up a touchdown despite lining up against the opposition's best receiver. White will likely reset the market when he signs his next contract, although he is eligible for a fifth-year option this offseason. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

10. Houston Texans (10-5)

Week 16 ranking: 10

Team MVP: Deshaun Watson, QB

Although the offense has been inconsistent, the Texans would not be AFC South champions without Watson's impact. In 15 games, Watson has thrown 26 touchdown passes and is just four passing touchdowns away from setting a single-season franchise record. -- Sarah Barshop

11. Tennessee Titans (8-7)

Week 16 ranking: 11

Team MVP: Derrick Henry, RB

Whenever the Titans need to put together a big drive, Henry is the player they lean on. He has been the most reliable and productive player for Tennessee. His 1,329 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns rank among the league's leaders. Henry's four-game stretch of 100 yards or more on the ground fueled Tennessee's four-game winning streak that propelled the team back into the hunt for a playoff spot. It's pretty clear the fourth-year back is the MVP in the fans' eyes, as shown by the "HEN-RY, HEN-RY" chants after he breaks off long runs. -- Turron Davenport

12. Los Angeles Rams (8-7)

Week 16 ranking: 12

Team MVP: Aaron Donald, DT

In an uneven season for the Rams, Donald is consistently the best player on the field. The two-time defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year has 12.5 sacks, which ranks sixth in the league, and has absorbed multiple double- and even triple-teams. That has enabled teammates to find more success in getting to the quarterback; the Rams are third in the league with 49 sacks. -- Lindsey Thiry

13. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)

Week 16 ranking: 16

Team MVP: Carson Wentz, QB

Wentz has been lights out over the past three games, completing 71% of his throws for 910 yards with six touchdowns and zero interceptions to rally the Eagles to a December push that has them on the doorstep of capturing the NFC East title. And he has done it with all three of his original starting receivers and primary running back Jordan Howard sidelined with injuries. Wentz was up-and-down for much of the season, but he has recaptured his MVP-like form at the most critical point of the year. -- Tim McManus

14. Dallas Cowboys (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 13

Team MVP: Dak Prescott, QB

The close to the season has not been kind to Prescott. His production has tailed off and he is banged up with a sprained right shoulder, injured right index finger and a sore left wrist. But he has been the Cowboys' MVP, carrying them at times in the passing game while making big plays with his feet. The Cowboys are as committed to him being their future quarterback as they have ever been. Prescott has more steps to take, but he has added new aspects to his game over the years. Ask yourself two questions: If he's not the MVP, who is? Where would this team be without him? -- Todd Archer

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7)

Week 16 ranking: 14

Team MVP: TJ Watt, OLB

The defense is the obvious strength of this team, and Watt has been its consistent anchor. With 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two interceptions, Watt is a strong Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Without his forced turnovers, the Steelers wouldn't have been in a number of games, and he kept them competitive even when the offense couldn't hold up its end. Watt is also a leader. The tabletop soccer game in the Steelers' locker room was brought in by Watt to boost camaraderie -- one example of the ways he has helped maintain the culture that makes the Steelers unique. -- Brooke Pryor

16. Chicago Bears (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 15

Team MVP: Allen Robinson, WR

The Bears have one of the league's worst offenses, yet Robinson has managed to catch 89 passes for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns. That productivity is remarkable when you also factor in the wild inconsistency of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Still, Robinson continues to thrive despite all the built-in obstacles on Chicago's offense. That is the true definition of an MVP. -- Jeff Dickerson

17. Indianapolis Colts (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 18

Team MVP: Darius Leonard, LB

Andrew Luck had owned this spot every year he played since he was drafted in 2012. But now this is Leonard's spot. He'll lead the Colts in tackles (115 currently) for the second straight season while contributing five sacks, six passes defended, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a touchdown. And Leonard doesn't have to worry about a Pro Bowl snub this year, either, as he made the first of what will likely be numerous Pro Bowl squads during his career. -- Mike Wells

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 17

Team MVP: Shaquil Barrett, OLB

Barrett went from signing a one-year "prove it" deal and playing in the fourth preseason game to putting up 16.5 sacks in 15 games -- second in the NFL -- and essentially being pegged as the one guy the Bucs cannot let out of the building this offseason. Had Mike Evans and Chris Godwin finished the season healthy, they would be in consideration. Jameis Winston would be too, considering he is approaching 5,000 passing yards, but his 28 interceptions have cost them games. -- Jenna Laine

19. Oakland Raiders (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 19

Team MVP: Josh Jacobs, RB

Despite missing two of the Raiders' past three games with a fractured right shoulder, the rookie running back has carried the Raiders' offense in rushing for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns on 242 carries (4.75 yards per carry). "He is a tough guy, he is a great kid and he's smart. And he's a great competitor," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of Jacobs. "Those are the things that people don't see. Maybe they feel it, but he is off the charts when it comes to being on the mark in terms of his assignments, and he has a lot of pride in his performance. He's the perfect centerpiece for our offense." -- Paul Gutierrez

20. Atlanta Falcons (6-9)

Week 16 ranking: 22

Team MVP: Julio Jones, WR

Jones, who reached 12,000 receiving yards quicker than any receiver in history, isn't the team MVP just because he is arguably the most feared player in the NFL. His value goes beyond statistics with his professionalism and the way he mentors young players. When he speaks up, people listen, and Jones was vocal in putting the blame on the players and not on coach Dan Quinn. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, a first-time Pro Bowler and a first-class pro, is the runner-up. -- Vaughn McClure

21. Cleveland Browns (6-9)

Week 16 ranking: 20

Team MVP: Nick Chubb, RB

Chubb has been a reliable and steady force in this otherwise turbulent and dispiriting Browns season. The second-year back out of Georgia, who was named to his first Pro Bowl last week, is primed to win the NFL rushing title, despite Cleveland's offensive problems along the line and in the passing game. Never once has Chubb been a part of the surrounding drama that has enveloped these Browns at every turn. All he has done is break tackles and move the chains. He's Cleveland's clear MVP. -- Jake Trotter

22. Denver Broncos (6-9)

Week 16 ranking: 24

Team MVP: Justin Simmons, S

That's not to say wide receiver Courtland Sutton or pass-rusher Von Miller aren't worthy. But in a year filled with key defensive injuries, Simmons has helped Denver become the best red zone defense and a top-10 unit overall. Simmons has had a career year as one of only a handful of players to top 80 tackles and grab at least four interceptions this season. He has played every snap the past two seasons -- 1,079 in 2018 to go with 1,008 through 15 games this season. He is slated to be an unrestricted free agent at season's end and should be one of the Broncos' top offseason priorities. -- Jeff Legwold

23. Los Angeles Chargers (5-10)

Week 16 ranking: 21

Team MVP: Austin Ekeler, RB

The third-year running back out of Western Colorado has been this scuffling team's most consistent performer. Ekeler leads the Bolts with 11 total touchdowns. His 950 receiving yards are the most among running backs in the NFL this season and the second most in team history behind Lionel James' 1,027 in 1985. -- Eric D. Williams

24. Arizona Cardinals (5-9-1)

Week 16 ranking: 25

Team MVP: Chandler Jones, OLB

There has been one constant this season for the Cardinals: Jones getting sacks. He leads the league with 19 after a four-sack performance against the Seahawks. And for a defense that's allowing more than 400 yards per game -- second most in the NFL -- Jones has been one of the few bright spots while forcing himself into the conversation of the league's best defenders. -- Josh Weinfuss

25. New York Jets (6-9)

Week 16 ranking: 27

Team MVP: Jamal Adams, S

And it's not even close. Adams, selected to his second Pro Bowl, is the catalyst of an overachieving defense. He has been a force near the line of scrimmage, racking up 6.5 sacks (1.5 shy of the NFL record for defensive backs) and 12 tackles for loss. The defense is just ... well, different when he's on the field. The subject of midseason trade rumors, Adams will be a big story in the offseason, as he likely will seek a new contract. -- Rich Cimini

26. Carolina Panthers (5-10)

Week 16 ranking: 23

Team MVP: Christian McCaffrey, RB

This is a no-brainer. McCaffrey needs 67 yards receiving in the finale to become the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards receiving and rushing in the same season. He leads the NFL in total yards from scrimmage by a wide margin. In a season in which the Panthers lost seven straight after a 5-3 start and head coach Ron Rivera was fired, McCaffrey is the lone bright spot -- period. Said safety Tre Boston: "Christian is a highlight of what's going on, 'cause if we didn't have him, I can only imagine." -- David Newton

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10)

Week 16 ranking: 26

Team MVP: Leonard Fournette, RB

There were questions about Fournette's commitment, work ethic and maturity coming into the season, and he has answered them all. He has rushed for a career-high 1,152 yards (and counting) and his 1,674 scrimmage yards (and counting) are the fifth most in franchise history and the most since Maurice Jones-Drew's franchise record of 1,908 set in 2011. Fournette hasn't missed a practice or a game and has become one of the team leaders. It hasn't been a great season on the field for the Jaguars, but Fournette has been one of the few bright spots. Without him, they wouldn't have won the five games they have. -- Mike DiRocco

28. New York Giants (4-11)

Week 16 ranking: 29

Team MVP: Markus Golden, OLB

You know it's a rough year when his top competition was punter Riley Dixon. But Golden has 9.5 sacks and could have more if not for being forced to share more than a few in which he did the majority of the work. This was the high reward the Giants were hoping for when they signed Golden to a one-year deal this offseason. Golden looks like the player he was before tearing his ACL two years ago -- pressuring quarterbacks and finding himself in the backfield on a regular basis. He has been the Giants' best and most consistent defensive player by a mile. -- Jordan Raanan

29. Detroit Lions (3-11-1)

Week 16 ranking: 28

Team MVP: Matthew Stafford, QB

Yes, it's strange to name someone who has played only half a season an MVP, but Stafford was playing at an MVP pace when he got hurt (2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns, five interceptions), and since he has been out, Detroit has been awful. The Lions are winless without Stafford in the lineup, and it just proves he is the team's best and most valuable player. -- Michael Rothstein

30. Miami Dolphins (4-11)

Week 16 ranking: 31

Team MVP: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB

It's a two-man race between Fitzpatrick and receiver DeVante Parker, who is in the midst of a breakout season in surpassing 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Many players credit Fitzpatrick -- who in Sunday's win over the Bengals became the first Dolphins quarterback since Dan Marino to throw for 400-plus yards and four TDs--for keeping together a young, constantly evolving team and guiding them out of the depths of an 0-7 start. Since then, the Dolphins are 4-4, including a win over the Eagles -- a team that will clinch the NFC East title with a victory in Week 17. -- Cameron Wolfe

31. Washington Redskins (3-12)

Week 16 ranking: 30

Team MVP: Terry McLaurin, WR

Punter Tress Way has been the most consistent player, but McLaurin, a third-round pick in April, is the only one who provided any sort of juice or sizzle to the offense. He'll enter the finale with 58 catches for 910 yards; he's 17 yards and two receptions away from setting rookie team records in both categories. He also could become the 21st player to surpass 1,000 yards receiving as a rookie -- and first since 2016. McLaurin has accomplished this despite a less-than-ideal quarterback situation. Still, he has three 100-yard receiving games and seven touchdowns. He also has 15 receptions for 20 yards or more; the rest of the roster has combined for 20. -- John Keim

32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-14)

Week 16 ranking: 32

Team MVP: Shawn Williams, S

It's hard to pick an MVP for the worst team in the NFL, but Williams deserves recognition. The safety essentially lined up at linebacker all season as he tried to keep the defense afloat. Williams has a team-high 109 tackles heading into Week 17. -- Ben Baby

Related Video