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Week 16 NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys take away No. 1 from Pats

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Cowboys leap Patriots for top spot in Power Rankings (1:05)

A Patriots win over the defending champions was not enough to prevent the Cowboys from reclaiming the No. 1 spot in the Power Rankings. The red-hot Packers jumped into the top 10, but the Giants weren't rewarded for a quality win. (1:05)

Well, that didn't last long -- one week to be exact. The Dallas Cowboys have regained their top standing from Week 14 and unseated the New England Patriots as the No. 1 team in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings this week.

ESPN's power panel (a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities) moved the Seattle Seahawks up four spots and back into the top five following a Week 15 win against the Los Angeles Rams. With a two-point loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Kansas City Chiefs dropped three spots to No. 6.

Methodology note: These rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams would be favored against lower-ranked teams. Coming off a win doesn't guarantee a jump, and coming off a loss doesn't guarantee a fall.

Check out the rest of the league and where each team ranks.

Previous rankings: Week 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | Preseason

ESPN Stats & Information contributed the following research.

1. Dallas Cowboys

2016 record: 12-2
Week 15 ranking: 2

QB Dak Prescott went 32-of-36 (88.9 percent) against the Buccaneers in Week 15, which should quiet the push for Tony Romo for at least another week. Dak has a chance to do even more damage on Monday against the Lions, who have allowed an NFL-worst 72.8 completion percentage this season.

2. New England Patriots

2016 record: 12-2
Week 15 ranking: 1

The Patriots have allowed 16.6 points per game this season, best in the NFL. The Patriots' offense has averaged 117 rushing yards per game this season, seventh best in the NFL. The Patriots ranked in the top seven in both categories only once previously during the Tom Brady era: 2004. They should have no problem with the Jets in Week 16.

3. Seattle Seahawks

2016 record: 9-4-1
Week 15 ranking: 7

These last few games for the Seahawks will be key in securing a first-round bye and at least one home playoff game. The Seahawks are 7-0 at home this season compared to 2-4-1 on the road. They'll try to improve to 8-0 at home on Christmas Eve against the Cardinals.

4. Oakland Raiders

2016 record: 11-3
Week 15 ranking: 4

The Raiders are officially back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and now have a first-round bye in their sights. But that's not all. If the Raiders can win out against the Colts and Broncos, they'll reach 13 wins for the first time since 1976.

5. Atlanta Falcons

2016 record: 9-5
Week 15 ranking: 6

Julio Jones has missed the past two games, but that hasn't stopped the Falcons from scoring 40-plus points in each, and they also scored 45 earlier this season in a game in which he had 16 yards. Moral of the story: Jones is great, but the Falcons have a complete offense capable of scoring big without him. Atlanta heads to Carolina in Week 16.

6. Kansas City Chiefs

2016 record: 10-4
Week 15 ranking: 3

The Chiefs have lost only four times this season, and in three of those losses they allowed exactly 19 points. When the offense shows up, the Chiefs are hard to beat. A win Sunday against the Broncos will clinch a playoff berth for the second straight season.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

2016 record: 9-5
Week 15 ranking: 8

That's five straight wins for the Steelers, who can clinch the AFC North with another victory Sunday against the Ravens. The big names on offense get the headlines, but give credit to the defense: The Steelers have 19 sacks and seven interceptions in their past five games.

8. New York Giants

2016 record: 10-4
Week 15 ranking: 5

Since Week 6, Odell Beckham Jr. leads the NFL in receiving yards (814) and receiving touchdowns (nine). The Giants are 8-1 in that span. Coincidence? Probably not. Beckham looks to stay hot at Philadelphia on Thursday night.

9. Green Bay Packers

2016 record: 8-6
Week 15 ranking: 11

Do you think Aaron Rodgers has a flair for the dramatic? Over the past two seasons, Rodgers is 4-of-6 when passing 40 or more yards downfield in the final two minutes of regulation. The rest of the NFL is 2-of-39 in those situations. The Packers hope to not need a late-game bomb to win against the Vikings this week.

10. Baltimore Ravens

2016 record: 8-6
Week 15 ranking: 12

Beating the Eagles was crucial for the Ravens, but they still have work to do. Two road games await them (Steelers, Bengals) and they are 2-4 on the road this season. ESPN's Football Power Index gives the Ravens no better than a 35 percent chance to win either game.

11. Detroit Lions

2016 record: 9-5
Week 15 ranking: 9

The Lions are looking to avoid a late-season collapse, but with a loss to the Giants already in the bag, and games against the Cowboys and Packers on tap, fans in Detroit may be getting nervous. FPI gives the Lions an 11 percent chance of winning out and a 42 percent chance of losing out.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2016 record: 8-6
Week 15 ranking: 10

The Buccaneers can't afford to commit too many turnovers, and the four they had against the Cowboys were the second most they have committed all season. The Bucs are now 1-5 this season when turning it over multiple times in a game. The Saints await in Week 16.

13. Denver Broncos

2016 record: 8-6
Week 15 ranking: 13

The Broncos were 4-0 to start the season and had a 96 percent chance of making the playoffs, which was best in the league, according to FPI. The Broncos are just 4-6 since, and FPI now gives them a 25 chance of making the playoffs. A win Sunday at the Chiefs would go a long way in improving those odds.

14. Miami Dolphins

2016 record: 9-5
Week 15 ranking: 18

Maybe QB Matt Moore should be a starter? In his past 10 starts (dating back to 2011), Moore is 7-3 and has thrown 19 touchdowns to six interceptions. He looks to keep the Dolphins in the playoff hunt at Buffalo on Saturday.

15. Washington Redskins

2016 record: 7-6-1
Week 15 ranking: 14

Kirk Cousins is good, but the Redskins can't over-rely on him. The Redskins are now 1-5-1 when Cousins throws for 300 yards this season and 6-1 when he doesn't. Cousins might not need to throw that much against the 3-11 Bears this week.

16. Tennessee Titans

2016 record: 8-6
Week 15 ranking: 16

That's two straight games without a passing touchdown for Marcus Mariota, but it's also two straight wins for the Titans. Tennessee is proving it can win with rushing and defense, but Mariota returning to form wouldn't hurt, either. The Titans play at Jacksonville in Week 16.

17. Houston Texans

2016 record: 8-6
Week 15 ranking: 17

There are three qualified quarterbacks (on pace for at least 320 action plays for the year) with more interceptions than touchdowns this season, and all three lost their starting jobs. That includes Brock Osweiler, who will be taking a backseat to Tom Savage in Week 16, as the 2014 fourth-round pick is slated to make his first career start Christmas Eve against the Bengals.

18. Indianapolis Colts

2016 record: 7-7
Week 15 ranking: 24

Monster wins against the Jets and Vikings sandwich that painful Week 14 loss to the Texans, and the 7-7 Colts now need a lot of help to win the division. The Colts have to travel to Oakland this week, and FPI gives them only a 35 percent chance of winning.

19. Cincinnati Bengals

2016 record: 5-8-1
Week 15 ranking: 20

Sunday's loss guarantees the Bengals a losing season for the first time since 2010. The defense has remained strong, but the offense went from averaging the seventh-most points last season to ranking 23rd this season (20.6). The Bengals look to rebound with a win Saturday night at Houston.

20. Minnesota Vikings

2016 record: 7-7
Week 15 ranking: 15

Adrian Peterson's return didn't exactly spark the offense. He has now rushed 37 times this season for 72 yards, an average of 1.95 yards per rush. Peterson and the struggling Vikings visit Green Bay in Week 16.

21. Carolina Panthers

2016 record: 6-8
Week 15 ranking: 22

QB Cam Newton improves to 20-5 in December and January regular-season games following Monday's 26-15 victory over the Redskins. It might be too little, too late with these past two wins, but at least the Panthers are showing signs of life. Carolina looks to spoil some of Atlanta's fun in Week 16.

22. Arizona Cardinals

2016 record: 5-8-1
Week 15 ranking: 19

The Cardinals drop to 5-8-1 following their Week 15 loss to New Orleans, but let's appreciate David Johnson for a second: On Sunday, Johnson set the Cardinals' franchise record for scrimmage yards in a season and matched the Cardinals' single-season touchdown record (17). He'll look to add to that against the Seahawks on Saturday.

23. New Orleans Saints

2016 record: 6-8
Week 15 ranking: 23

The Saints are pretty much all-or-nothing this season. They have scored 13 or fewer points three times this season and have scored 40 or more four times. The Saints next host the Buccaneers, a team they were fairly "nothing" against last time out (losing 16-11).

24. Philadelphia Eagles

2016 record: 5-9
Week 15 ranking: 27

Remember Carson Wentz's streak without an interception to start the season? He has thrown an interception in each of his past five, totaling eight picks in those games, all Eagles losses. Philly hopes to get the Wentz Wagon rolling again Thursday versus the Giants.

25. Buffalo Bills

2016 record: 7-7
Week 15 ranking: 25

The Bills keep hovering around the .500 mark -- and not just this season. Buffalo is 24-22 the past three seasons, and have no playoff berths to show for it. The Bills are still technically alive, and a win against Miami on Saturday could keep them in the hunt.

26. San Diego Chargers

2016 record: 5-9
Week 15 ranking: 21

The Chargers have already been eliminated from the playoffs, but you'd think that Saturday's game against the winless Browns is a must-win for San Diego. They can't let the Browns hang around: San Diego has lost six games in which it held a lead in the fourth quarter this season.

27. Chicago Bears

2016 record: 3-11
Week 15 ranking: 28

The Bears aren't winning games, but they've put big scares into the Titans, Lions and Packers in recent weeks, losing to those teams by a combined 12 points. It might be frustrating to watch as a Bears fan, but at least the end result will be a better draft pick. The Bears host another playoff contender in the Redskins this week.

28. Los Angeles Rams

2016 record: 4-10
Week 15 ranking: 30

The Rams have been outscored by 93 points in their past four games, an average of 23.3 points per game. You'd think they'll have a chance to improve on that against the 49ers this week, but remember, the 49ers beat the Rams 28-0 in Week 1 this season.

29. New York Jets

2016 record: 4-10
Week 15 ranking: 26

The Jets have lost by at least 20 points four times this season, tied with the Browns and Rams for the most such losses this season. And once again, Ryan Fitzpatrick might find himself starting because of Bryce Petty's injury. Could another 20-point loss happen in New England this week?

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

2016 record: 2-12
Week 15 ranking: 31

The Gus Bradley era is officially over. The Jaguars went 14-48 (.226) during Bradley's head-coaching tenure, tied for the worst record in the NFL in that span. The Jags' season is effectively over, but they can play spoiler to the Titans and possibly the Colts the next two weeks.

31. San Francisco 49ers

2016 record: 1-13
Week 15 ranking: 29

The 49ers allowed 248 rushing yards to the Falcons on Sunday, and that wasn't even one of the two highest rushing totals allowed by the Niners this season. The league's worst rush defense heads to Los Angeles in Week 16.

32. Cleveland Browns

2016 record: 0-14
Week 15 ranking: 32

The Browns are the fourth team to start a season 0-14, joining the 2008 Lions, 1980 Saints and 1976 Buccaneers (who played a 14-game schedule). The 1980 Saints were the only one of those teams to win a game (they went 1-15). We'll see if the Browns' Christmas wish of a win comes true Saturday against the Chargers.