by Brandon Burnett (@B_Burnett49er)
Cold Hard Football Facts' Power Ranger
Week 15 in the NFL was a smashing success for the top six teams in our Cold, Hard Football Facts Quality Stats Power Rankings.
Each of the top six squads tacked one on the win column, with five of those victories coming against quality opponents, or teams with a winning record. Denver, our reigning No. 1, went to Baltimore and put a hurtin' on the injury-ravaged Ravens, winning 34-17.
San Francisco remained seated at No. 2 after Colin Kaepernick and Co. came away winners against the Patriots in Foxborough to hold on to the NFC's No. 2 seed. Tom Brady and the Pats stormed back from a 31-3 deficit to tie the game, but Kaepernick's fourth TD pass of the day sealed the win.
Seattle hung 50 on the Bills in Buffalo, winning 50-17 and sticking at No. 3 in the process. Houston recovered from an unsettling Week 14 defeat to clinch the AFC South with a key win over the Colts. The Texans stayed put in the rankings at No. 4.
The Pack jumped into the top five, at No. 5, with a NFC North-clinching win in Chicago. Atlanta slid up to No. 6 in dominant fashion, shutting out the defending champion Giants 31-0 at home.
For many of the teams below that, things obviously didn't go so smoothly in Week 15.
1. Denver Broncos (11-3) - All the Broncos must do is cruise past the Browns and Chiefs at home and they'll be guaranteed a first-round bye heading into the playoffs. Cleveland is 1-5 on the road and Kansas City is 1-6, so we like Denver's chances of resting up during Wild Card weekend.
2. San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) - The Niners became the first team to knock off the Pats in Foxborough during the month of December in ten years. San Fran jumped from No. 15 to No. 9 in Scoreability after the 41-34 win and can clinch the NFC West with a win or Seattle loss the next two weeks.
3. Seattle Seahawks (9-5) - After outscoring opponents 108-17 in their past two games, the Seahawks have managed to climb from No. 21 to No. 8 in Scoreability. That's almost unheard of this late in the year.
4. Houston Texans (12-2) - Houston avoided a potential mess with its 29-17 win over Indy. Now the Texans can lose one of their final two games and still walk away with the AFC's No. 1 seed.
5. Green Bay Packers (10-4) - The Pack keep on winning, and the'yre hanging tight at No. 1 in Passer Rating Differential, too. That's a telling sign that this team means business.
6. Atlanta Falcons (12-2) - Atlanta sits atop the Quality Standings as the NFL's only team without a loss against a quality opponent. The Falcons now have four wins against teams over .500 as well.
7. New England Patriots (10-4) - NE has five Super Bowl appearances in the 21st century, but earned a first-round bye in each of those seasons. Unless Denver slips, the Pats won't be getting a free pass to the divisional round this year.
8. Chicago Bears (8-6) - After a 7-1 start, the Bears are now on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. They've failed to score more than 17 points in all but one of their last six games.
9. Washington Redskins (8-6) - A rookie quarterback led the Redskins to victory and they now hold the edge in a three-way tie atop the NFC East. It was Kirk Cousins, not RGIII, that threw for 329 yards and two TDs in the 38-21 road win over Cleveland.
10a. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) - Amazingly enough, Pittsburgh has lost four of five and still controls its own destiny. The Steelers will battle Cincy for the No. 6 seed in Week 16 and can stay there should they win Week 17 against Cleveland.
10b. Baltimore Ravens (9-5) - Baltimore is nearing panic mode after dropping three in a row. The Ravens host the Giants in Week 16 and travel to Cincy in Week 17 with their season suddenly in jeopardy.
10c. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) - If the Bengals win their last two and Baltimore loses its last two, Cincy wins the AFC North. Just by beating the Steelers this weekend Cincy clinches a playoff berth.
13. New York Giants (8-6) - The Giants love pressure, and they're feeling it right now. There may be a four-team jam for the No. 6 seed in the NFC, but the G-Men are at the bottom of it. NYG dropped from No. 13 to No. 19 in DPR this week.
14. Carolina Panthers (5-9) - Having now won three of its last four, Carolina is doing a marvelous job of worsening its draft position and teasing fans with wins after it's too late.
15. New Orleans Saints (6-8) - It's pretty much the same story with the Saints, who squashed the Bucs 41-0 in front of a home crowd that most likely won't see its team qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2008.
16. Miami Dolphins (6-8) - The Dolphins climbed to No. 5 in Bendability with a 24-3 win over the Jaguars. If only Miami had won its overtime games against the Jets and Cardinals in Week 3 and Week 4, respectively.
17. St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) - The Rams and their bleak playoff chances felt Adrian Peterson's wrath in Week 15. AP scampered for 212 yards and a TD, forcing St. Louis to settle for playing spoiler the rest of the way.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-6) - Somehow the Boys have rattled off three straight and five of their last six. They were able to crack the top 10 in Offensive Passer Rating after Tony Romo's 341-yard, two-TD afternoon.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) - Tampa dropped seven spots from No. 3 to No. 10 in Scoreability, and four spots from No. 10 to No. 14 in Bendability. 41-0 losses tend to have that effect.
20. Arizona Cardinals (5-9) - Lose nine straight games, and then beat the Lions by four touchdowns? The Cardinals are one crazy bunch.
21. Detroit Lions (4-10) - The Lions have completely lost it now. They've fallen to No. 27 in Scoreability. Pretty shocking when you consider they finished No. 7 a season ago.
22. Minnesota Vikings (8-6) - When you have AP, anything is possible. He's 188 rushing yards shy of 2,000, and a team that finished 2-14 a year ago would suddenly make the playoffs if the season ended today.
23. Cleveland Browns (5-9) - The Browns are No. 8 in our Defensive Hog Index, but a porous offensive line has them at No. 27 in our Offensive Hog Index.
24. New York Jets (6-8) - The Jets went out like we figured they would, with plenty of giveaways for the holiday season. Mark Sanchez was particularly in a giving mood, tossing four interceptions in the 14-10 loss to Tennessee on Monday Night Football.
25. San Diego Chargers (5-9) - It appears there is absolutely no motivation to play football in San Diego. The Chargers were down 31-0 to Carolina at home halfway through the third quarter and needed a fourth-quarter TD pass to avoid becoming the fourth victim of a shutout in Week 15.
26. Buffalo Bills (5-9) - The Bills have now allowed 45 points or more in four of their 14 games this year. Buffalo falls to No. 30 in Scoreability and DHI.
27. Tennessee Titans (5-9) - Tennessee allowed at least 30 points in each of its first five games in 2012, but hasn't allowed more than 24 in any of its last five. The Titans are 0-7 against quality opponents.
28. Indianapolis Colts (9-5) - It baffles me that the Colts are so low, but the number's don't lie. Indy is No. 31 in Passer Rating Differential. 69 of the past 72 NFL champions since 1940 finished in the Top 10 of PRD. That's 96 percent of them.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) - The Eagles are No. 31 in both Scoreability and Bendability. Inefficiency across the board is what that means.
30. Oakland Raiders (4-10) - Never thought we'd see the Raiders notch a shutout in 2012, even if it did come against the lowly Chiefs. Now that's how you bow out of the race for next year's No. 1 draft pick in style.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) - The Jags are No. 22 or lower in every single Quality Stat. They're No. 31 in OHI, DHI and The Relativity Index. So, what's the bad news?
32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) - Ah, we always know where to find the Chiefs. It'd be a nice change of pace to finish off the list with another putrid excuse of an NFL franchise, but the truth is no team stinks quite like Kansas City does. They can stay as long as they'd like.