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NFL power rankings Week 15: Ravens, 49ers stake their claims as league’s top two teams

Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers had plenty to savor after Sunday's 48-46 victory at New Orleans. (Brett Duke/AP)

Each week during the season, Post NFL writer Mark Maske ranks the 32 teams. This week, the Ravens keep the top spot after their road win at Buffalo. The 49ers move up to second based on their thrilling triumph at New Orleans in what was probably the game of the season. The Saints aren’t penalized for that narrow defeat and remain third, while the Seahawks drop from second to fourth following their listless defeat to the Rams in L.A. The Chiefs move ahead of the Patriots for fifth after winning at New England, albeit with some help from a pair of officiating gaffes, and the Packers climb two spots to No. 7. The Titans ascend into the top 10.

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-2) | Last Week’s Rank: 1

The win in Buffalo showed that the Ravens can go on the road in cold weather and beat a good team when it matters. That could be irrelevant, however, as the Ravens close in on securing home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

2. San Francisco 49ers (11-2) | Last Week’s Rank: 4

The 49ers were on the right end of a final-play field goal this time and gave the NFL its game of the season with the 48-46 triumph in New Orleans. The defense didn’t look quite so overpowering against the Saints. But that notion about opponents being wise to force Jimmy Garoppolo to beat them in the passing game? That can’t be the approach any longer.

The 49ers and Saints gave the NFL a new game of the year and a possible playoff preview

3. New Orleans Saints (10-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 3

The top seed in the NFC may have slipped away with the loss to the 49ers. That could be significant. There’s little difference between the top NFC contenders, but it’s an issue if the Saints must go on the road for the conference championship game instead of hosting it at the Superdome.

4. Seattle Seahawks (10-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 2

Russell Wilson and the offense never got going Sunday night in L.A. The Seahawks squandered their chance to take over the No. 1 seed in the NFC and fell behind the 49ers in the NFC West. But the division race, at least, still should come down to Niners at Seahawks in Week 17.

The Seahawks had their chance to be the No. 1 seed and knock out the Rams. They didn’t deliver.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 6

The Chiefs were very fortunate to get the victory at New England, given the officiating gaffes that went in their favor. But they still went to a place where it’s next to impossible for a visiting team to win, and won. That means something, whether or not good luck was involved.

6. New England Patriots (10-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 5

The Patriots had a legitimate gripe about the officiating blunders that plagued them in Sunday’s loss at home to the Chiefs. Stephon Gilmore might have scored if the play had not been erroneously whistled dead on his fumble recovery. N’Keal Harry did score when he was mistakenly ruled out of bounds. It’s doubtful anyone wants to hear about the woes of the six-time Super Bowl champs, however.

The NFL just can’t seem to work out its officiating issues

7. Green Bay Packers (10-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 9

It’s debatable whether beating the Redskins should count in the standings, but the Packers nonetheless moved into the NFC’s No. 2 seed.

8. Minnesota Vikings (9-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 10

The Vikings regrouped from the loss to the Seahawks to craft a relatively routine victory Sunday over the Lions. This weekend’s meeting with the Chargers in L.A. will be challenging as the Vikings try to hold on to a playoff spot.

9. Tennessee Titans (8-5) | Last Week’s Rank: 11

Ryan Tannehill continues to work wonders. He had another big performance in Sunday’s win at Oakland, and he has lifted the Titans back into the AFC South race. The Texans had better be wary.

10. Buffalo Bills (9-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 7

The Bills couldn’t quite make it happen against the Ravens. They’re a legitimately solid team, but next up are difficult games at Pittsburgh and New England.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) | Last Week’s Rank: 12

Mike Tomlin has done a fantastic coaching job. He has the Steelers in the thick of the playoff chase with Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph splitting the QB duties. That’s not easy to do.

12. Chicago Bears (7-6) | Last Week’s Rank: 13

Mitchell Trubisky has six TD passes and a rushing TD over his past two games. Coach Matt Nagy stuck with him at QB and he’s producing. But is this the real thing or just a little bit of fool’s gold? That’s been tough to figure out.

13. Los Angeles Rams (8-5) | Last Week’s Rank: 14

It’s not quite over for the Rams, but they’re still a game out of the second wild-card spot. The defense played well in the win Sunday night over the Seahawks. Jared Goff had a very good first half before reverting to his 2019 form with a two-interception second half.

14. Houston Texans (8-5) | Last Week’s Rank: 8

The Texans apparently still were celebrating the victory over the Patriots when they found themselves behind the Broncos 38-3. That’s just not acceptable for a supposedly playoff-bound team.

15. Cleveland Browns (6-7) | Last Week’s Rank: 16

Odell Beckham Jr. said last week he doesn’t know whether he’ll be in Cleveland next year. Baker Mayfield said Sunday the team’s training staff mishandled Beckham’s injury, then tried to take it back on social media. Even when the Browns win, they lose.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) | Last Week’s Rank: 18

Jameis Winston has 26 TD passes and 23 interceptions and is on pace to top 5,000 passing yards. That’s either the worst excellent season or the best terrible season that a QB has ever had. The three-game winning streak at least is making everyone feel better about the Bucs’ fortunes in Year 1 for Coach Bruce Arians.

17. Denver Broncos (5-8) | Last Week’s Rank: 19

It’s early, but it certainly appears there’s a chance that Drew Lock is the real deal. Maybe John Elway has finally found a solution to the Broncos’ QB woes.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) | Last Week’s Rank: 22

It wasn’t elegant Monday night against the Giants. It took OT. The injuries continued to pile up. The Eagles trailed by 14 points at halftime and the fans booed. But Carson Wentz’s tying and winning TD passes to Zach Ertz got the Eagles a win they had to have.

19. Los Angeles Chargers (5-8) | Last Week’s Rank: 23

Philip Rivers was interception-free in Sunday’s lopsided triumph at Jacksonville. There was a stretch this season during which that no longer seemed possible.

20. Dallas Cowboys (6-7) | Last Week’s Rank: 15

If the Cowboys make it to eight wins and beat the Eagles in Week 16, they win the division. It certainly wouldn’t be pretty, but at least the Cowboys would be in the postseason.

Free-falling Cowboys leave the once-proud NFC East in shambles with loss to Bears

21. New York Jets (5-8) | Last Week’s Rank: 24

When it takes an instant replay reversal on pass interference to be able to beat the Dolphins with a field goal as time expires at home, there’s really not that much to celebrate.

22. Oakland Raiders (6-7) | Last Week’s Rank: 17

Remember when the Raiders were playing like a contender? No one else does, either.

23. Indianapolis Colts (6-7) | Last Week’s Rank: 20

Coach Frank Reich and the Colts held things together as long as they could, and longer than anyone rightfully could have expected. But the three-game losing streak has made just finishing at .500 a more realistic goal than reaching the playoffs.

24. Atlanta Falcons (4-9) | Last Week’s Rank: 27

There’s no salvaging the Falcons’ season, but at least the players haven’t given up on Coach Dan Quinn. If Quinn is going to be fired, he deserves to exit with his coaching dignity intact.

25. Miami Dolphins (3-10) | Last Week’s Rank: 21

Brian Flores was livid about the instant replay reversal on pass interference that led to the Dolphins losing to the Jets. But he’s a rookie NFL head coach and he has a three-win team. The football-watching world is not exactly going to stand up and take notice.

26. Washington Redskins (3-10) | Last Week’s Rank: 25

It’s not that easy to be officially eliminated from playoff contention in this season’s pitiable NFC East. But the Redskins have finally managed to do it.

27. Carolina Panthers (5-8) | Last Week’s Rank: 26

Firing Ron Rivera as the coach did not exactly fix the Panthers’ problems, did it? That was an ugly performance in Atlanta.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) | Last Week’s Rank: 28

Minshew Mania is a distant memory at this point, as rookie QB Gardner Minshew couldn’t even reach 170 passing yards in Sunday’s dreary loss to the Chargers.

29. Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1) | Last Week’s Rank: 29

The losing streak has reached six games, and the end of the season can’t come soon enough for the Cardinals.

30. Detroit Lions (3-9-1) | Last Week’s Rank: 30

A six-game losing streak isn’t doing much to bolster the case that Coach Matt Patricia deserves to keep his job.

31. Cincinnati Bengals (1-12) | Last Week’s Rank: 31

Joe Burrow is warming up in the bullpen for the Bengals. Pity the poor kid. He has no idea what he’ll be getting into.

32. New York Giants (2-11) | Last Week’s Rank: 32

Eli Manning made things interesting Monday night in Philly, but the offense stalled in the second half and the Giants couldn’t hold on. The OT loss just increases the scrutiny on Coach Pat Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman as the losing streak grew to nine games.

Read more on the NFL:

Giants’ Pat Shurmur will ‘wait and see’ how long he remains coach. It probably won’t be long.

Eli Manning made it interesting, but the Eagles’ OT win got them a share of the NFC East lead

Patriots admit they violated NFL policy by shooting video of Bengals’ sideline

The NFL has a crowded field of Super Bowl contenders. Here’s the biggest weakness for each.

Michael Vick will be honored at the Pro Bowl. Thousands signed petitions demanding a change.