News Flash: NFL Power Rankings: Where 49ers stand after win vs. Cardinals

Week 15 of the NFL season took a lot of the expected turns with a few unexpected twists.

Which category does the Bears’ blowing a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead fall into, you might ask? The former.

The Bears have now blown three double-digit, fourth-quarter leads this season. During Sunday’s 20-17 loss in Cleveland, the Bears became just the fourth team since 2013 to record three interceptions and four sacks and lose. The previous 101 teams were 97-3-1.

This is who the 2023 Bears are Elsewhere, the 49ers eviscerated the Arizona Cardinals to move to within an inch of an NFC West title, while the Buffalo Bills humiliated the Dallas Cowboys in Buffalo.

On the unexpected front, Baker Mayfield picked apart the Green Bay Packers en route to a perfect passer rating at Lambeau Field, and the Bengals just won’t say die behind Jake Browning. Although, time might be running out on Cincy’s miracle playoff run.

Here’s where each team stands after Sunday’s Week 15 action:

49ers grades in NFC West-clinching win over Cardinals

32. Carolina Panthers (2-12): The Panthers picked up their second win of the season Sunday. The mediocrity of the NFL might be just enough to get them to three, which could see the Patriots swoop in and steal the No. 1 pick from the Bears.

31. New England Patriots (3-11): Taylor Swift and Bon Jovi were both in Foxboro to watch Bailey Zappe take on Patrick Mahomes. They should have made the Patriots forfeit and held a concert instead.

30. Arizona Cardinals (3-11): The Cardinals once again showed why they are the perfect “tank” team in the NFL. Arizona was good enough to hang with the 49ers for a half, but eventually, their roster holes were too much to overcome, and the Niners pulled away. There’s a lot of work to do in the desert.

29. Washington Commanders (4-11): Sam Howell looked like the future a month ago. On Sunday, he was replaced by Jacoby Brissett. Eric Bieniemy’s offense has been a flop, the line can’t protect, and the Commanders need another big-play receiver to help the next coach get a rebuild off the ground. No word yet on whether or not the Commanders can move to Alexandria with the Capitals and Wizards, but I’m not sure Virginia will take them.

28. Tennessee Titans (5-9): The Titans were officially eliminated from playoff contention Sunday after losing to Case Keenum. At least they found their franchise quarterback in Will Levis. What a weird sentence to type.

27. Los Angeles Chargers (5-9): The Brandon Staley era ended with a blowout loss to a Raiders team that was shutout the week before. Do people still think Justin Herbert wasn’t the only thing keeping the Chargers relevant?

26. New York Jets (5-9): Aaron Rodgers made a cool leaping interception playing on the scout team in practice this week. That’s probably going to be all the action he sees this season after the Jets were blasted by the Dolphins 30-0 to be officially eliminated from playoff contention.

25. New York Giants (5-9): Tommy DeVito’s Italian Cinderella story crashed and burned Sunday in New Orleans. That’s no surprise, NOLA has laid waste to much wilder fantasies than the one Giants fans had cooked up about DeVito being their franchise savior.

24. Atlanta Falcons (6-8): That should about do it for the Desmond Ridder experiment in Atlanta. One more loss, and Arthur Smith might not be too far behind.

23. Chicago Bears (5-9): In Sunday’s least surprising development, the Bears blew their third double-digit, fourth-quarter lead of the season. I still think Matt Eberflus is safe, but he’s starting to play with fire.

22. Green Bay Packers (6-8): The Packers have struggled to stop the run for two seasons. But after allowing Baker Mayfield to throw for 381 yards, it appears Green Bay’s once-elite defense can’t stop anything. Joe Barry, pack your bags.

21. Las Vegas Raiders (6-8): The Silver and Black embarrassed the Chargers in primetime and might have got Antonio Pierce the full-time gig in the process.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7): Mike Tomlin is a legend, and it almost always ends poorly with legends. His seat isn’t hot, nor should it be. But Tomlin has to start evolving quickly, or the modern NFL game might race past the Steelers.

19. Seattle Seahawks (6-7): If Geno Smith can’t go Monday, Drew Lock will be all the stands between the Seahawks and an 0-4 stretch that likely will doom their playoff chances.

18. New Orleans Saints (7-7): On Sunday, Derek Carr finally looked like the quarterback the Saints were dreaming about when they acquired him. Only 14 weeks later than expected.

17. Minnesota Vikings (7-7): The Vikings’ tush push play needs work. Minnesota outthought itself on two tush-push flops against the Bengals, and it could wind up costing them a playoff spot.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7): Baker Mayfield diced up the Packers in a statement win for both he and the Bucs. Tampa Bay now has a 66 percent chance to make the playoffs, per ESPN analytics. If Mayfield and the offense can keep producing at Saturday’s high clip, they’ll be a frisky team to face on Wild Card Weekend.

15. Denver Broncos (7-7): Denver’s run defense was gashed by the Lions on Saturday as the Broncos looked like a team playing its third road game in 13 days. The loss to Detroit won’t kill the Broncos in the wild-card race, but it’s hard to say how much Denver has left in the tank for one last postseason push.

14. Indianapolis Colts (8-6): The Colts lost wide receiver Michael Pittman (concussion) and running back Zack Moss (arm) during Saturday’s trouncing of the Steelers. Indy is in a three-way tie for first place in the lowly AFC South, but the injuries might be too much to finish an unlikely march to a division crown.

13. Houston Texans (8-6): Case Keenum did just enough to help the Texans stay afloat in C.J. Stroud’s absence. Houston didn’t score a touchdown until three minutes left in the game. That won’t work next week against the Browns.

12. Los Angeles Rams (7-7): Cooper Kupp now has back-to-back 100-yard games, and the Rams’ offense is firing on all cylinders. The offense will make them dangerous in the playoffs, but it’s the defense that will determine their fate.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6): If you take out Trevor Lawrence’s 41 rushing yards, the Ravens outrushed the Jaguars 251-34. Woof.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6): Cincinnati has somehow been able to withstand the loss of quarterback Joe Burrow so far. But losing D.J. Reader and potentially Ja’Marr Chase on Saturday might be too much for the Bengals to overcome.

9. Cleveland Browns (9-5): The Browns are the most injured team in the NFL, but their backups – and 38-year-old Joe Flacco – delivered when it mattered in Sunday’s comeback win over the Bears. OK, they had a lot of help from the Bears.

8. Detroit Lions (10-4): Detroit finally got its groove back Saturday night against the Broncos. Jared Goff threw five touchdown passes, and the Broncos allowed tight end Sam LaPorta to score three touchdowns. Are the Lions back, or will the turnover-prone slop fest that has been wearing blue and silver for the past month return in Week 16?

7. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5): The Chiefs beat the Patriots on Sunday and looked as sloppy as could be in doing so. The Chiefs are running out of time to find their playoff form.

6. Dallas Cowboys (10-4): Nothing was more predictable than the Cowboys laying an egg in Buffalo after finally getting over the Eagles hump. Back to the pretender zone.

5. Buffalo Bills (8-6): With their backs against the wall, the Bills are playing their best football. Running back James Cook racked up 221 yards from scrimmage, and Buffalo’s defense held Dak Prescott to 43 passing yards in the first half. Statement made.

4. Miami Dolphins (10-4): The Dolphins didn’t need Tyreek Hill to scorch the Jets on Sunday. But they’ll need his ankle to be right in a month when they start playing for keeps.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-3): Things are so bad in Philadelphia that the Eagles demoted Sean Desai and are having Matt Patricia call the plays for the remainder of the season. *puts 49ers as NFC champions in Sharpie*

2. Baltimore Ravens (11-3): Lamar Jackson is now on pace for 3,770 passing yards and 900 rushing yards. A 3,700 passing-yard/900 rushing-yard season has never been done before in NFL history. M…V….

1. San Francisco 49ers (11-3): Is Brock Purdy the MVP? Is it Christian McCaffrey? What about Kyle Shanahan? No one has the amount of riches the 49ers do. Truly in a league of their own.

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