Why the Jaguars are the NFL's biggest surprise this season (0:49)

Dan Orlovsky says that theJaguars have impressed him so much with their new coach. It was 0:49

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This week is Week 17 Two weeks remain in the regular season of the National Football League.

A group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personality evaluated how teams are stacking up.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers are moving up in the rankings. Make sure to check out the picture of the playoffs, which includesclinching scenarios and the regular season.

We checked in with NFL Nation reporters across the league and asked them to name a defining moment from the upcoming calendar year for each team. These moments set the tone for the rest of the year or have an impact on the teams' futures.

It's time to get to it.

Jump to a team:




NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF


1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-3)

Week 16 ranking: 3

The defining moment was trading tyreek hill.

When they traded their top wide receiver to Miami in March, the Chiefs got draft picks and salary-cap room. They seem to have extended their window to win one or more Super Bowl titles with the picks they acquired in the trade, but they look to have done so without hurting their chances to win one this season. The league leaders in scoring were still there even after Hill was traded. They're in a good position to make a deep run in the playoffs, but they need to win some games in the playoffs to vindicate the trade.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)

Week 16 ranking: 1

The defining moment was a 35-10) win over the TITANS.

The talk going into Week 13 was that the Eagles would have to match Tennessee's physical style of play and that the Titans could give them a problem. It wasn't a problem at all. Tennessee's Derrick Henry was limited to 30 yards on 11 carries, Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts ascended to another level as a passer with380 yards and three touchdown through the air, and Eagles wideout A.J. Brown solidified his case for why theTitans. The Eagles showed the rest of the league that they are for real after beating the bully.

3. Buffalo Bills (12-3)

Week 16 ranking: 2

The defining moment was an overtime loss.

The signing of Von Miller is a strong candidate, but the loss to Kansas City led to the Miller signing, impacting the Super Bowl expectations for this season and keeping a chip on the team's shoulders. Some of the moves that followed and made the regular-season win over Kansas City that much more significant was due to the second playoff loss to the Chiefs. If the Bills win their final two games, they will have home field advantage in the playoffs.

4. San Francisco 49ers (11-4)

Week 16 ranking: 5

It was a defining moment in the Week 8 game.

The Niners got a win against the Rams because of this catch, but there are a lot of other moments to choose from. According to John Lynch, the general manager of the team, McCaffrey is a force multiplier for the many ways he affects a game. The leaping catch was a good sign for the current eight-game winning streak that has elevated the 49ers from 3-4 no-man's-land to a legit Super Bowl contender.

5. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)

Week 16 ranking: 6

The defining moment was when the team went 4-1 without the quarterback.

Many thought the Cowboys' season was over when quarterback Prescott broke his thumb in the first game, but backup Cooper Rush saved everything. Without Rush, the Cowboys wouldn't have made the playoffs. He wasn't at a Pro Bowl level but he was steady and avoided mistakes. Rush mostly delivered when the time came to make a play. There were a lot of questions surrounding Rush in Week 2. He is the most valuable player to the Cowboys.


The Cowboys are expected to overlook a banged up team in Week 17.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)

Week 16 ranking: 4

There is a defining moment.

The Cincinnati team hadn't won a playoff game in three decades before they made it to the Super Bowl. The fan base was filled with apathy and there were questions about the long-term future of the team. The loss to the Rams in the Super Bowl showed that the Bengal's were a championship caliber team.

7. Minnesota Vikings (12-3)

Week 16 ranking: 7

On fourth-and-18, Jefferson converted.

In the most unbelievable moment of a most unbelievable season, the NFL's receiving leader caught a high pass from KirkCousins with one hand and held on as he crashed to the ground late in the Vikings' Week 10 game at Buffalo After turning the ball over on downs at Buffalo's 1-yard line, the Vikings were able to score on the next play after recovering a Josh Allen fumbled in the end zone. The Vikings have won eight games in a row after trailing or being tied in the fourth quarter. The Vikings have won an NFL-record 11 games by one score this season.

8. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

Week 16 ranking: 10

The defining moment was Lamar Jackson's injury.

The Ravens have scored two touchdown in three games without Jackson. The health of Jackson will determine if Baltimore is a legitimate title contender. If Jackson's mobility is limited, it's hard to see Baltimore getting past the likes of the Chiefs, Bills and Cincinnati in the conference. Jackson has missed multiple games in December in the past, which could affect his contract negotiations after the season.

9. Los Angeles Chargers (9-6)

Week 16 ranking: 9

The one-point win over the Cards was a defining moment.

The Bolts seemed destined for a deep playoff run after undergoing several roster changes. There were a lot of injuries on both the offense and the defense. A late-season two-game losing streak looked like it would turn into three against the Cards, until quarterback Justin Herbert put together a seven-play, 38 yard touchdown drive to pull L.A. within a point at 24-23. The coach decided to go for a 2-point conversion and the win with 15 seconds left. The drive proved that the Bolts were willing to fight for a playoff spot, even if it meant they wouldn't be in the picture.

10. New York Giants (8-6-1)

Week 16 ranking: 11

The defining moment was a 2-point conversion in the first week.

The play was the beginning of the season. The first-year coach went for two points and the win in the final minutes of the opener at Tennessee. This was a sign that the Giants were a different team than they have been in the past. All six of their wins were in one- score games.

11. Miami Dolphins (8-7)

Week 16 ranking: 8

There is a defining moment when trading for Tyreek Hill begins.

The trade with Hill paid off immediately. With two games left in the season, the seven-time Pro Bowl wideout has set franchise records in both reception and yards, as well as career highs in both categories. It is hard to imagine the Dolphins offense without him.


The concerns for Tua Tagovailoa as he enters concussion protocol for the second time this season were discussed.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 16

The defining moment was losing to Denver in London.

The loss to the Broncos made a difference. He threw two picks that day, one in the end zone and the other on the first play of the final drive. Lawrence said that it "kind of flipped a switch in me" when he felt like that after a game. Lawrence is second in the NFL in completion percentage and passer rating and fifth in Total QBR since that defeat, and he has thrown for 1,905 yards and 14 touchdown. The team has a chance to win the division.

13. Detroit Lions (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 12

It was the loss to the Dolphins.

Dan Campbell knew he had to make some changes after his team fell to 1-6. The Lions went on to win six of their next seven games and make a late push for a playoff spot after losing to Miami.

14. Washington Commanders (7-7-1)

Week 16 ranking: 13

The defining moment was trading for the quarterback.

Washington has been trying to find a solution to its quarterback problem for a long time. "Desperate" was used by some. The Commanders inquired about a lot of options after missing on Russell Wilson. The acquisition of Wentz cost them two third-round draft picks. He hasn't proved he's anything other than a one-year experiment, playing inconsistently in his first six starts while throwing seven touchdown passes in his first two games and only three in the next four. Washington is in the playoff race because backup Taylor Heinicke went 5-3-1 in relief, but he could still have a chance to prove himself over the final two games and possibly the playoffs.

Aaron Donald, Christian McCaffrey & Ja'Marr Chase ESPN

15. Green Bay Packers (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 19

The 58-yard touchdown was the defining moment.

The rookies season was a struggle. He had just 10 catches in the first nine weeks. On the run play, he scored. The drop on the first play of the season seemed to hang over him like a dark cloud. He dropped a couple of passes against the Cowboys. He caught the ball in the second quarter. He has caught 25 passes for 408 yards and seven touchdown in the 10 weeks since. It might take one play. Rodgers said that one play changed his career.

16. New York Jets (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 17

There is a defining moment in the future.

A foundation for the future was provided by the Jets landing three impact players. Only two teammates in the past 50 years have been offensive and defensive rookies of the year at the same time. A wild season has included a four-game losing streak, a four-game winning streak and four different quarterbacks. The fall of Wilson is a defining storyline.

17. Seattle Seahawks (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 14

The defining moment was trading Russell Wilson.

The trade that sent Wilson to Denver looked like a move that would benefit from time to time. Geno Smith has flourished as Wilson's replacement, earning a Pro Bowl berth and keeping Seattle in the running for the playoffs. Two veterans they acquired from Denver, tight end Noah Fant and defensive end Shelby Harris, and two core players from the picks Denver sent in left tackle Charles Cross and outside LB Boye Mafe, have helped the Seahawks. The Broncos have a good chance of getting a top-five pick thanks to their 4-11 record.

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18. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 21

The defining moment was the drafting of Kenny Picket.

The retirement of a franchise quarterback led to the drafting of what the organization hopes will be its next choice. Kevin Colbert was the general manager before he retired and he drafted Pickett in the first round. After signingMitch Trubisky in free agency, it became clear that the starting job was going to be taken by Pickett. There was a steep learning curve for the rookies after Trubisky started the season with conservative play. It has led to growing pains this year, but it could help the team in the long run.

19. Tennessee Titans (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 15

The defining moment was trading A. J. Brown.

The trading of Brown was a huge step back for the team. The wideout was Tennessee's answer to the defense's focus on stopping Henry. Losing Brown was the beginning of a strange season for the team. The TennesseeTitans got one of the picks they got for Brown in the draft in the form of a wide receiver, and he showed up quickly. Injuries and inconsistent offense kept the rookies from having a big impact.

20. New England Patriots (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 18

There is a defining moment in Las Vegas.

In Week 15 of the season, the Pats lost on the last play of regulation. The sloppy Pats came up short in a lot of critical situations. It was terrible to treat the football in such a disrespectful way. It was the second defensive touchdown on the final play of regulation in the history of the league. In 1960, the first one came.

21. Carolina Panthers (6-9)

Week 16 ranking: 26

The firing of Matt Rhule was a defining moment.

When Rhule was fired, the panthers were a dismal 1-4. If they win their final two games, at New Orleans and at Tampa Bay, they will win the division. The panthers have found an identity as a smashmouth team that was apparent on Saturday when they rushed for a single-game team-record320 yards in a victory over the Lions.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)

Week 16 ranking: 22

The defining moment was when Tom Brady quit.

After 40 days of retirement, Brady decided to return to the football field for a chance at a second Super Bowl. The playoffs are still up for grabs over the next two weeks for Brady and the Buccaneers. If they beat Carolina this weekend, they will have a chance to win the South. It will be up to Brady to find a better version of himself and the defense to be as close to perfect as possible to overcome the lack of offensive output.


According to Rex Ryan, Tom Brady was awful in the overtime win against the Cards.

23. New Orleans Saints (6-9)

Week 16 ranking: 24

It was a defining moment when Dennis Allen was promoted to head coach.

The intent was to keep the team intact instead of starting over from scratch, and it was obvious that Allen was New Orleans' top coaching candidate. Retaining almost all of the assistants and promoting two of them to co-defensive coordinators was necessary. The current 6-9 record makes it clear that the Saints can't stick with the status quo if they want a winning record in three years.

24. Las Vegas Raiders (6-9)

Week 16 ranking: 23

The defining moment was when Rome wasn't built in a day.

There have been a lot of strange moments this season. The day after the Raiders dropped to 2-7 all but ended speculation about the future of first-year coach Josh McDaniels. The Raiders responded to the signal that Davis was probably staying the course with a three-game winning streak and a four-game win streak.

25. Los Angeles Rams (5-10)

Week 16 ranking: 28

The defining moment was winning the Super Bowl.

The Rams made a number of big moves during the campaign, including trading for Matthew Stafford. The Rams won the Super Bowl in February for the first time since 2000 and the first time since moving to Los Angeles. Cooper Kupp was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player after catching eight passes for 92 yards and two touchdown catches.

Check the latest picture of the playoffs. The Playoff machine.

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26. Cleveland Browns (6-9)

Week 16 ranking: 20

The defining moment was trading for Deshaun

On March 18, the Texans traded three first-round picks to the Cleveland Browns, who then signed him to a five-year contract worth more than 200 million dollars. After more than two dozen women accused him of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions, he was suspended for 11 games by the National Football League. Brissett took over for the 11 games. The franchise will be defined by theWatson trade

27. Atlanta Falcons (5-10)

Week 16 ranking: 25

The Matt Ryan trade is considered to be a defining moment.

The trade of Ryan to Indianapolis gave the Falcons over 40 million dollars in dead cap and marked the official shift of an era. The trading of Ryan signaled the beginning of a rebuild that has shadowed everything the Falcons have done this year, from who they've drafted to cap issues that forced them to mostly sign veterans to one-year contracts in free agency. Since the firing of coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff in 2020, the franchise has undergone a reset.

28. Indianapolis Colts (4-10-1)

Week 16 ranking: 29

The firing of Frank Reich was a defining moment.

Jim Irsay, the team's owner, had never fired a coach during the season. Irsay's discontent with the state of the team was demonstrated by the shift in power dynamics inside the organization towards him. It is possible that this team will look very different next season.

29. Chicago Bears (3-12)

Week 16 ranking: 27

The defining moment was trading Mack.

This franchise underwent a lot of rebuilding in order to lay the foundation for a successful operation in the years to come. It began with Ryan Poles sending the Pro Bowl linebacker to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for picks and continued when the first-year general manager let more than 20 players walk in free agency. Poles traded defensive end RobertQuinn and linebacker Roquan Smith at the deadline The Bears learned a lot this season, including the fact that they have a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields.

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30. Arizona Cardinals (4-11)

Week 16 ranking: 30

Kyler Murray tore his leftACL.

The season was almost over when that happened. Arizona's chances of making the playoffs were ruined by Murray's injury, which gave them a better draft position. Without Murray, the offense had to change, and not having him on the field eliminated the possibility of him making a game-changing play.

31. Houston Texans (2-12-1)

Week 16 ranking: 32

The defining moment was when Davis Mills was benched.

The benching of Mills after his first 10 starts signaled that he wasn't the long term answer. Mills was supposed to be the team's quarterback of the future. The Texans are the favorite to get the top pick in the draft. His passer rating was the lowest in the league in his first 10 starts. At the time he was benched, Mills had 11 picks, which was the third most in the league.

32. Denver Broncos (4-11)

Week 16 ranking: 31

Firing of a coach is considered a defining moment.

After just 15 games as head coach of the Broncos, he was fired. The Broncos lost because of three turnovers by quarterback Russell Wilson, a defense that allowed the Rams to score on eight of nine possessions, and a sideline fight between Broncos and Rams players.