Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: Chiefs move into top three

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The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots remain the top two teams in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings, but it's the Kansas City Chiefs -- and Dontari Poe's fourth-quarter touchdown pass -- that will have folks talking this week.

ESPN's power panel (a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities) tabbed the 11-4 Chiefs at No. 3 for the team's highest ranking this regular season. Also joining the top five ranks are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who moved up two spots thanks to a Week 16 win against division rival Baltimore.

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.

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ESPN Stats & Information contributed the following research.

1. Dallas Cowboys

2016 record: 13-2
Week 16 ranking: 1

Remember when Dak Prescott lost to the Giants in Week 14 and some were calling for Tony Romo to start again? Well, Prescott is 47-of-56 (83.9 percent) passing with three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in two games since. With the top spot in the NFC wrapped up, the question is, will Prescott (and Ezekiel Elliott) rest in Week 17 against the Eagles?

2. New England Patriots

2016 record: 13-2
Week 16 ranking: 2

Who in the AFC can stop the Patriots right now? They've allowed 33 fewer points than any other team this season, they have the league leader in rushing touchdowns in LeGarrette Blount (17), and Tom Brady has thrown 25 touchdowns to two interceptions. One final tuneup at Miami stands between the Patriots and the playoffs.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

2016 record: 11-4
Week 16 ranking: 6

Travis Kelce has recorded 100 receiving yards in five of the Chiefs' past six games. In that time, Kelce leads the NFL in receiving yards with 651, which is actually 89 more than the next-closest receiver. Looks like nobody is catching Kelce.

4. Oakland Raiders

2016 record: 12-3
Week 16 ranking: 4

Oh no. Oh no, no, no. Derek Carr's broken fibula comes in his 12th win of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no quarterback who won 12 games failed to start a playoff game that season. It will be on Matt McGloin to clinch a first-round bye in Week 17 against the Broncos.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers

2016 record: 10-5
Week 16 ranking: 7

During the Steelers' six-game winning streak, Le'Veon Bell has averaged 181.8 scrimmage yards per game and scored seven touchdowns. He has averaged 5.2 yards per rush in that stretch as well. So in other words: Bell is good. He'll try to add to those numbers against the Browns in Week 17.

6. Seattle Seahawks

2016 record: 9-5-1
Week 16 ranking: 3

The Seahawks are vulnerable. They are 2-3 in their past five games, with 12 giveaways to only five takeaways in that stretch. They close their regular season at San Francisco.

7. Atlanta Falcons

2016 record: 10-5
Week 16 ranking: 5

The Falcons are on pace for 535 points scored this season, which would be the most for a team since the 2013 Broncos scored 606. The Falcons' high-flying offense needs one more big effort in Week 17 against New Orleans to keep a first-round bye intact.

8. Green Bay Packers

2016 record: 9-6
Week 16 ranking: 9

Aaron Rodgers has reconnected with Jordy Nelson during the Packers' five-game winning streak. Rodgers has completed 80.9 percent of his passes to Nelson in that time after completing 56.4 percent in the first 10 games. Rodgers needs a few more big plays to Nelson to seal a playoff spot at Detroit this week.

9. New York Giants

2016 record: 10-5
Week 16 ranking: 8

The Giants haven't scored 20 points in four straight games, and they've committed eight turnovers in that stretch. The defense has allowed the third-fewest points this season, but the offense has to get going for the Giants to make a playoff run. They play at Washington in Week 17.

10. Detroit Lions

2016 record: 9-6
Week 16 ranking: 11

The Lions' two most decisive losses of the season have come in Weeks 15 and 16 with the team on the verge of a playoff spot. Now the Lions' spot could be in jeopardy as they host the Packers in Week 17. Winner takes the North, loser could miss out, depending on other outcomes.

11. Miami Dolphins

2016 record: 10-5
Week 16 ranking: 14

The Dolphins are 9-1 in their past 10 games. In that time, Jay Ajayi has rushed for 1,096 yards and six touchdowns and has topped 200 yards three times. He might not draw the MVP buzz, but he's huge for the Dolphins. He'll look to run through the Patriots in Week 17.

12. Baltimore Ravens

2016 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: 10

The Ravens have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2004 and 2005. If the Ravens lose Sunday to the Bengals, they'll have finished .500 or worse in three of the four seasons since winning Super Bowl XLVII.

13. Washington Redskins

2016 record: 8-6-1
Week 16 ranking: 15

Run the ball, win the game. Run the ball, win the game. The Redskins are 5-1-1 when rushing for 100 yards or more this season and 6-1-1 when rushing for at least 90 yards. Washington needs another big running day in Week 17 against the Giants to stay alive for the playoffs.

14. Denver Broncos

2016 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: 13

A Super Bowl champ missing the playoffs the next year isn't that uncommon; it has now happened 16 times in the Super Bowl era. But this Broncos team started 4-0 and then went 4-7. The Broncos can still finish with a winning record with a win against the Raiders on Sunday.

15. Houston Texans

2016 record: 9-6
Week 16 ranking: 17

The Texans won their past three games, so they didn't exactly back into the playoffs, but those three wins have come by a combined eight points. Tom Savage gets one more start this week at Tennessee before making his postseason debut.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2016 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: 12

The Buccaneers were 8-5 and in great position for a playoff spot. Since then, Jameis Winston has thrown five interceptions in two games against the Cowboys and Saints. The Bucs host the Panthers in Week 17.

17. Tennessee Titans

2016 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: 16

Marcus Mariota's injury is a heartbreaker, but no matter what the Titans do in Week 17, this season will be considered a success. It's easy to forget they held the No. 1 pick heading into the 2015 NFL draft (before trading it), and they were just outside the playoff picture this season.

18. Arizona Cardinals

2016 record: 6-8-1
Week 16 ranking: 22

David Johnson has a chance to record 100 scrimmage yards in all 16 games when the Cardinals take on the Rams in Week 17. Do you know how many players have recorded 100 scrimmage yards in all 16 regular-season games? Zero.

19. New Orleans Saints

2016 record: 7-8
Week 16 ranking: 23

The Saints are 7-8 heading into a Week 17 matchup at Atlanta. The Saints have finished 7-9 in three of the past four seasons. Perhaps with a win, New Orleans can play spoiler to the Falcons clinching the conference's No. 2 seed and first-round bye.

20. Minnesota Vikings

2016 record: 7-8
Week 16 ranking: 20

The Vikings are 2-8 since Week 7. In that time, only the 49ers, Rams, Browns and Jaguars have posted worse records. That's not company you want to be keeping, especially when you traded your 2017 first-rounder for QB Sam Bradford. The Vikings end their season against the Bears.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

2016 record: 5-9-1
Week 16 ranking: 19

The Bengals have missed seven field goals and six extra points this season, a total of 13 missed kicks, most in the NFL. The Bengals are 5-9-1, but have a minus-7 point differential, meaning those missed kicks could have made a world of difference. Cincinnati hosts Baltimore in Week 17.

22. Indianapolis Colts

2016 record: 7-8
Week 16 ranking: 18

The Colts have been eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight season, and Andrew Luck drops to 9-12 as a starter in that time. He may have the skill set, but it's not translating to wins recently. Luck & Co. host the Jaguars in Week 17.

23. Philadelphia Eagles

2016 record: 6-9
Week 16 ranking: 24

The Eagles are 6-9 this season despite a 3-0 start. Before getting down on the birds and rookie Carson Wentz, consider this: The Eagles have played a league-high 11 games against teams currently with a winning record. Another winning team, the Cowboys, awaits in Week 17.

24. Buffalo Bills

2016 record: 7-8
Week 16 ranking: 25

The Bills have the eighth-best point differential and fifth-best turnover differential this season, but the best they can finish the season is .500. It has been an odd year for the Bills, but it, and potentially the Rex Ryan era, comes to an end Sunday at the Jets.

25. Carolina Panthers

2016 record: 6-9
Week 16 ranking: 21

Cam Newton is completing 45.3 percent of his passes in the Panthers' past six games with a 39.0 Total QBR. That's a far, far cry from the MVP-level performance he had last season. The Panthers' disappointing season comes to an end this week at Tampa.

26. San Diego Chargers

2016 record: 5-10
Week 16 ranking: 26

In a season defined by blown fourth-quarter leads, the Chargers didn't even hold a lead in the fourth quarter against the previously winless Browns. Ouch. The Chargers face a much tougher test in Week 17 when they host the Chiefs, in what could be the last game in San Diego.

27. Chicago Bears

2016 record: 3-12
Week 16 ranking: 27

Say what you want about QB Jay Cutler, but he has never thrown at least three interceptions in back-to-back games, something fourth-year QB Matt Barkley just accomplished for the Bears. The Bears cap off their season in Minnesota this Sunday.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

2016 record: 3-12
Week 16 ranking: 30

Blake Bortles has thrown for 300 yards 11 times in his career. Saturday's win against the Titans was the first time the Jaguars won when Bortles threw for 300. Despite the win, could the Week 17 game at the Colts be Bortles' last as the Jags' starter?

29. New York Jets

2016 record: 4-11
Week 16 ranking: 29

This "Fitz-magic" might have turned into a dark magic. In three of the games Ryan Fitzpatrick has not started this season, he has still ended up throwing 10 or more passes. He could get the starting nod one last time in the Jets' finale against the Bills.

30. San Francisco 49ers

2016 record: 2-13
Week 16 ranking: 31

The 49ers are 2-0 against the Rams this season and 0-13 against everyone else. Are 49ers fans going to remember QB Colin Kaepernick's two-point conversion play as a great moment in a down season, or as a play that cost the team the top pick in the 2017 draft?

31. Los Angeles Rams

2016 record: 4-11
Week 16 ranking: 28

Jared Goff is 0-6 as a starter this season. Johnny Manziel (2014) is the only first-round rookie QB to go winless with multiple starts since 1995. Goff looks to avoid that dubious distinction against the Cardinals in Week 17.

32. Cleveland Browns

2016 record: 1-14
Week 16 ranking: 32

How about this? The Browns win their first game of the season and avoid becoming the second team to go 0-16. However, the 49ers and Jaguars win, too! The Browns' FPI chances for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft improved from 85 percent to 94 percent following Week 16.