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2021 NFL power rankings heading into Week 16

We use point differential against the spread to see where the value lies in our Week 16 NFL power rankings.

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor breaks away from the Patriots defense on his fourth-quarter touchdown run. Grace Hollars / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tuesday update: The NFL wrapped up its pair of Tuesday games to close out Week 15 and both favorites won by ten points. The Rams beat the Seahawks and the Eagles beat Washington. Philly has climbed into third place in our updated power rankings.

During the NFL season, weekly power rankings drop on Tuesday morning. Some outlets will post them as soon as Monday Night Football wraps, while others might wait until Wednesday, but for the most part, Tuesday morning is power rankings time.

This week offers a little confusion to that timeline due to COVID-19. The NFL moved Saturday’s Raiders-Browns game to Monday ahead of Monday Night Football and moved Sunday’s Washington-Eagles and Seahawks-Rams matchups to 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday. It will be a quick turnaround this week with Week 16 Thursday Night Football kicking off less than 48 hours after the two Week 15 Tuesday games wrap.

In spite of that, we’re still comfortable dropping our power rankings Tuesday morning because they’re easier to adjust than more subjective rankings. Rather than ranking out teams based on gut feeling, we’re trying something a little different. Below we’ve ranked the teams based on spread differential. We took the pre-game point spread at DraftKings Sportsbook and added in the point differential from the game. For example, the Patriots closed as 2.5-point underdogs against the Colts and lost the game by 10 points. For the Patriots spread differential, we added -10 to +2.5. For the Colts spread differential, we added 10 to -2.5.

Point differential is a helpful tool for figuring out the best and worst teams. However, point spread can offer a little more context to how good or bad teams might be. The Patriots and Colts have been two of the hottest teams in recent weeks. The Patriots have been up top since Week 11 and built a sizable lead. The Colts have been in second since Week 14 as they are suddenly breathing down the Titans’ neck. We’ll update these following Tuesday’s two games.

NFL Power Rankings ahead of Week 16

2021 NFL power rankings, Week 16

Rk Team Record Spread differential Point differential LW
Rk Team Record Spread differential Point differential LW
1 New England Patriots 9-5 +113.0 +140 1
2 Indianapolis Colts 8-6 +86.0 +98 2
3 Philadelphia Eagles 7-7 +64.5 +56 4
4 Dallas Cowboys 10-4 +58.0 +108 5
5 Cincinnati Bengals 8-6 +55.0 +66 6
6 Buffalo Bills 8-6 +46.0 +151 7
7 New Orleans Saints 7-7 +39.5 +28 11
8 Arizona Cardinals 10-4 +32.5 +94 3
9 Denver Broncos 7-7 +27.0 +42 8
10 Tennessee Titans 9-5 +24.0 +28 9
11 Green Bay Packers 11-3 +20.5 +57 10
12 Kansas City Chiefs 10-4 +10.0 +89 13
13 Minnesota Vikings 7-7 +7.5 +19 14
14 San Francisco 49ers 8-6 +3.0 46 18
15 Los Angeles Rams 10-4 -4.0 +83 19
16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-4 -6.0 +104 12
17 Detroit Lions 2-11-1 -7.0 -123 25
18 Seattle Seahawks 5-9 -7.5 0 15
19 Los Angeles Chargers 8-6 -9.0 +9 16
20 New York Giants 4-10 -10.0 -93 17
21 Miami Dolphins 7-7 -12.5 -27 20
22 Washington 6-8 -18.0 -68 21
23 Baltimore Ravens 8-6 -18.0 +19 22
24 Carolina Panthers 5-9 -28.0 -42 23
25 Houston Texans 3-11 -31.5 -165 28
26 Pittsburgh Steelers 7-6-1 -34.5 -44 26
27 Chicago Bears 4-10 -37.5 -109 24
28 Cleveland Browns 7-7 -47.5 -13 27
29 Las Vegas Raiders 7-7 -58.0 -75 29
30 Atlanta Falcons 6-8 -79.5 -126 30
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 2-12 -96.5 -174 31
32 New York Jets 3-11 -101.5 -178 32