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Week 16 NFL Pundit Power Rankings: Chiefs fall to third place

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The loss to the Chargers carried weight with the national writers, and the Chiefs fall to third place in our aggregated rankings.

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

No one should be surprised that the Kansas City Chiefs would fall in this week’s NFL power rankings after their 29-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday. The only question was how much the Chiefs would fall. So here’s your answer: from second place to third in our aggregated power rankings.

Pundit Power Rankings for Week 16

Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC Teams

Rank Team ESPN MMQB NFL SpNws Yahoo CBS USA
1
(1)
Saints
12-2
1
(1)
1
(1)
1
(1)
1
(1)
1
(1)
1
(2)
1
(1)
2
(5)
Chargers
11-3
2
(4)
2
(6)
2
(5)
2
(4)
3
(4)
2
(8)
2
(4)
3
(2)
Chiefs
11-3
3
(2)
3
(2)
3
(2)
3
(2)
2
(3)
4
(1)
5
(3)
4
(6)
Bears
10-4
5
(6)
5
(5)
4
(6)
4
(5)
5
(5)
5
(6)
3
(6)
5
(3)
Rams
11-3
4
(3)
7
(3)
5
(3)
5
(3)
4
(2)
3
(3)
4
(2)
6
(8)
Texans
10-4
6
(7)
8
(10)
7
(7)
6
(7)
6
(7)
7
(9)
7
(7)
7
(4)
Patriots
9-5
7
(5)
6
(4)
6
(4)
8
(6)
7
(6)
6
(4)
9
(5)
8
(10)
Steelers
8-5-1
8
(10)
4
(9)
9
(12)
7
(10)
8
(9)
8
(11)
8
(11)
Rank Team ESPN MMQB NFL SpNws Yahoo CBS USA
9
(12)
Colts
8-6
9
(12)
9
(14)
8
(11)
10
(12)
13
(13)
9
(10)
6
(12)
10
(11)
Ravens
8-6
10
(11)
14
(13)
10
(10)
9
(11)
10
(11)
12
(12)
10
(10)
11
(7)
Cowboys
8-6
12
(8)
9
(7)
14
(9)
13
(9)
9
(8)
10
(5)
13
(8)
12
(9)
Seahawks
8-6
11
(9)
13
(8)
11
(8)
11
(8)
11
(10)
11
(7)
12
(9)
13
(13)
Vikings
7-6-1
13
(13)
11
(11)
12
(13)
14
(15)
14
(16)
13
(14)
14
(15)
14
(14)
Titans
8-6
14
(14)
15
(15)
13
(14)
12
(14)
12
(12)
14
(15)
11
(14)
15
(16)
Eagles
7-7
15
(15)
12
(12)
15
(18)
15
(19)
16
(17)
15
(17)
15
(19)
16
(20)
Browns
6-7-1
17
(20)
16
(19)
16
(19)
17
(18)
15
(15)
16
(18)
16
(17)
Rank Team ESPN MMQB NFL SpNws Yahoo CBS USA
17
(15)
Dolphins
7-7
18
(17)
19
(16)
20
(16)
16
(13)
17
(14)
17
(13)
17
(13)
18
(17)
Panthers
6-8
16
(16)
17
(18)
23
(22)
19
(16)
18
(18)
20
(20)
18
(18)
19
(18)
Packers
5-8-1
19
(19)
18
(17)
18
(15)
22
(17)
22
(20)
22
(21)
19
(20)
20
(18)
Broncos
6-8
20
(18)
22
(20)
17
(17)
20
(20)
21
(19)
18
(16)
24
(16)
21
(25)
Redskins
7-7
21
(21)
21
(31)
19
(23)
18
(21)
20
(26)
23
(24)
25
(25)
22
(24)
Falcons
5-9
22
(23)
20
(22)
24
(26)
23
(26)
24
(27)
26
(28)
20
(21)
23
(21)
Giants
5-9
23
(22)
27
(21)
25
(20)
25
(22)
26
(22)
19
(19)
21
(22)
24
(26)
Bengals
6-8
25
(27)
23
(27)
27
(28)
21
(24)
28
(28)
21
(22)
26
(26)
Rank Team ESPN MMQB NFL SpNws Yahoo CBS USA
25
(27)
Bills
5-9
27
(28)
24
(27)
21
(25)
24
(28)
19
(25)
24
(25)
28
(30)
26
(23)
Buccaneers
5-9
24
(24)
25
(24)
28
(24)
26
(25)
23
(21)
28
(26)
22
(23)
27
(22)
Lions
5-9
26
(25)
26
(23)
22
(21)
27
(23)
25
(23)
25
(23)
29
(24)
28
(31)
49ers
4-10
29
(30)
28
(30)
26
(29)
28
(30)
29
(30)
27
(30)
23
(27)
29
(29)
Jets
4-10
30
(29)
29
(26)
30
(31)
29
(27)
27
(24)
31
(31)
27
(28)
30
(28)
Jaguars
4-10
28
(26)
30
(25)
31
(30)
30
(29)
30
(29)
30
(29)
31
(31)
31
(30)
Raiders
3-11
31
(31)
31
(29)
29
(27)
31
(31)
31
(31)
29
(27)
30
(29)
32
(32)
Cardinals
3-11
32
(32)
32
(32)
32
(32)
32
(32)
32
(32)
32
(32)
32
(32)
Numbers in parentheses are the previous week's ranking.
The left-hand column is the aggregate of all rankings.
ESPN and MMQB rankings are weighted 2.5 times all others.
Other questions?
Read the True Power Rankings Methodology

Here's what the pundits we're tracking said about the Chiefs this week:

ESPN (3rd from 2nd)

The Chiefs no longer have to go with some other team's cast-off at the most important position, as they did for most of their first 58 seasons. With Mahomes at quarterback, the Chiefs have the look of a team that will contend for division and conference championships for years to come.

NFL.com (Elliot Harrison - 3rd from 2nd)

The Chiefs' lack of balance bit them in the cold of Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night. No, I'm not just talking about the running back situation, which, in the wake of Kareem Hunt's departure, is problematic without a healthy Spencer Ware. My concern is the constant leaning on Patrick Mahomes to outscore the other offense. Kansas City couldn't make it happen on Thursday night, and the Chiefs lost -- consider it version 3.0 of a problem that came to bear in the Monday night track meet with the Rams or the loss to the Patriots in Week 6. When you score 28 points at home, that should be seen as "enough," not a disappointing final tally. That said, the Mahomes-led attack needed more from a ground game that produced 60 yards. The offense as a whole garnered less than 300 yards for the first time this season.

Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer - 3rd from 2nd)

The Chiefs' defensive issues resurfaced, as they couldn't stop the run or pass when they needed to against the Chargers. They are suddenly facing a tough task to keep the AFC West lead with a trip to the Seahawks next on Sunday night.

Yahoo! Sports (Frank Schwab - 2nd from 3rd)

I’m still giving the Chiefs the top AFC spot, and here’s why: They still have the inside track to the No. 1 seed. I think they’ll win at Seattle next week and destroy the Raiders in Week 17. They’d be the top seed if they win out, the Chargers would be the fifth seed and possibly have to beat the Steelers and Texans on the road to even get an AFC championship game at the Chiefs. The Chargers are in that spot because they lost to the Broncos at home, a loss that isn’t aging well and cost them the tiebreaker against Kansas City. And don’t forget that the Chiefs won at the Chargers too.

CBS Sports (Pete Prisco - 4th from 1st)

They still own the top spot in the division, but now they face a tough road game at Seattle. They can't afford a loss.

USA Today (Nate Davis - 5th from 3rd)

Chris Jones has morphed into a one-man gang on defense. Unfortunately, that's a big part of the problem — he could use more gangsters.

Other power rankings we noticed this week:

NBCSports.com (Cam Ellis — 3rd from 2nd) It’s got to be maddening to be 11-3 and still fighting this hard for home-field and a bye week.

Bleeding Green Nation (Brandon Lee Gowton — 3rd from 1st) Andy Reid’s Chiefs are 2-2 in their last four games. They’re still good but they haven’t looked quite as dominant.

Washington Post (Mark Maske — 5th from 1st) The Chiefs still can secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC by winning out. But getting a victory at Seattle won’t be easy, and trust in the Chiefs has been eroded by their inability to hold on to a trio of 14-point leads Thursday night against the Chargers.

NJ.com (Joe Giglio — 3rd from 2nd) Kansas City is an excellent team, but it has lost all three (Patriots, Rams, Chargers) of its big-time head-to-head games.

NESN.com (Joshua Schrock — 3rd from 3rd) KC’s poor secondary play finally caught up to it against the Chargers. The Chiefs still are in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but one more loss could send them to the wild-card round — on the road.

Mile High Report (Pete Baron — 5th from 1st) Patrick Mahomes is legit and will terrorize the AFC for the next 15 years, but something isn’t right in KC. I really thought this team would be immune to their late season collapse, but the losses (at home even) are mounting and the rumblings and confidence in this team is waning. Are we beginning to see the yearly collapse of a ‘Regular Season’ juggernaut?


Well, there’s at least one silver lining: we can go back to hating Pete Prisco.

Or... maybe not.

You really can’t argue that the Chiefs shouldn’t have fallen in the power rankings this week. In fact, it’s a little surprising they didn’t fall more. Most of the pundits — following their usual pattern — put the Chargers ahead of the Chiefs. But it wouldn’t have been terribly out of character for most of them to conclude that the Chargers loss proves that the Chiefs don’t have a defense that can help them in big postseason games, and mark them down even further. Based on their comments, some — but not all — did exactly that.

The Chiefs-Chargers game seemed to trigger a bigger shakeup in the top tier than we’ve seen for a while. Among the top teams, only the New Orleans Saints held steady this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers moved back into the top tier, and the Dallas Cowboys fell out. In the bottom tier, the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins busted out, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions took their places behind bars.

Another chart this week — this one about the team the Chiefs will face on Sunday.

The Seattle Seahawks have had an interesting ride with the pundits this season. Undervalued by the pundits through most of the year, they ended up being a bit overvalued through the last few weeks — that is, until losing to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Snark of the week

The Seahawks are also the subject of the week’s best snarky pundit comment — this one from USA Today’s Nate Davis:

Just when they thought their kicking situation was solved... Sebastian Janikowski winds up in space against a capable return man. Oof.

That’s it for the pundits. Join us on Wednesday, and we’ll run through the data from the number-crunchers, and calculate the Week 16 True Power Rankings!