NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus each team's most notable 2010s moment

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The NFL Power Rankings are not only ending for this season, but they are ending for the 2010s as well. A lot has happened in the league over the past 10 years, but some things mattered more than others. So we had our NFL Nation reporters ring in the 2020s by looking back at the prime moments of the past decade.

There will be good things (yeah, we know, Patriots fans). There will be not-so-good things, such as butt fumbles. Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings:17 |16 |15 |14 |13 |12|11 |10 |9 |8 |7 |6 |5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

1. Baltimore Ravens (14-2)

Week 17 ranking: 1

Most notable 2010s event: Joe Flacco leads Ravens to Super Bowl triumph, Feb. 3, 2013

Flacco led the Ravens to a 34-31 victory over the 49ers to complete one of the most impressive postseasons by a quarterback in NFL history. On the night when the lights temporarily went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Flacco threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns as Baltimore held off San Francisco for the franchise's second Lombardi trophy. It was a magical championship run by Flacco, who finished those playoffs with 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Only Kurt Warner and Joe Montana -- both Hall of Famers -- have thrown as many touchdown passes during a single postseason. -- Jamison Hensley

2. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)

Week 17 ranking: 3

Most notable 2010s event: Hiring John Lynch (Jan. 29, 2017) and Kyle Shanahan (Feb. 6, 2017)

The 49ers had some success in the early part of the decade, even winning an NFC championship in 2012, which also could be the winner here. But when Jed York hired Shanahan and Lynch in tandem, he finally paired a coach and general manager capable of working together and building something sustainable. It took a couple of years, but the Niners are reaping the rewards now, claiming the No. 1 seed in the NFC and looking like a team loaded with enough young talent and organizational synergy to be a contender for the foreseeable future. -- Nick Wagoner

3. New Orleans Saints (13-3)

Week 17 ranking: 2

Most notable 2010s event: Winning Super Bowl XLIV, Feb. 7, 2010

This one barely fits into the decade, but the Saints haven't been able to top the only Super Bowl win in franchise history -- a 31-17 victory over the Colts that included Sean Payton's legendary surprise onside kick to start the second half and Tracy Porter's pick-six of Peyton Manning to seal the game. Payton and Drew Brees have led the Saints back to the playoffs six more times since but haven't gotten back to the Super Bowl yet, thanks to some gut-wrenching playoff losses that included the no-call in last year's NFC Championship Game and the "Minneapolis Miracle." -- Mike Triplett

4. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

Week 17 ranking: 4

Most notable 2010s event: Drafting QB Patrick Mahomes, April 27, 2017

The Chiefs ended decades of a mostly fruitless search for a franchise quarterback when they traded up from No. 27 to No. 10 to draft Mahomes. He is a major reason the Chiefs won the AFC West in each of his two seasons as a starter and that they seem positioned to dominate the division for years to come. -- Adam Teicher

5. Green Bay Packers (13-3)

Week 17 ranking: 6

Most notable 2010s event: Winning Super Bowl XLV, Feb. 6, 2011

Should the Packers have won more than one Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers by now? That debate can rage on, but no one can take away the one he and the Packers won after the 2010 season. It validated not only the Packers' decision to draft Rodgers but also to move on from Brett Favre in 2008. Coach Mike McCarthy got a street named after him following the Super Bowl win, and Rodgers would go on to win two MVPs. And they did it as a wild-card team that had to win three playoff games on the road. -- Rob Demovsky

6. New England Patriots (12-4)

Week 17 ranking: 5

Most notable 2010s event: Malcolm Butler's Super Bowl-saving INT, Feb. 1, 2015

The Patriots hadn't won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season -- it had been a full decade -- when it appeared they were going to lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Seahawks. There were 26 seconds remaining, the ball was on the Patriots' 1, and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass that was intercepted by Butler in one of the most clutch plays in Super Bowl history. So instead of losing the Super Bowl like they had in 2007 and 2011, they brought a fourth Lombardi trophy back to New England. -- Mike Reiss

7. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)

Week 17 ranking: 7

Most notable 2010s event: Winning Super Bowl XLVIII, Feb. 2, 2014

Nothing tops that night when the Seahawks won their first and only world championship, hammering Peyton Manning's Broncos 43-8. They recorded a safety 12 seconds into the game and later got a pick-six, meaning their defense scored as many points as one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. The highest of highs was followed by the lowest of lows a year later when the Seahawks got to the doorstep of a second straight title, only to see it vanish with a Russell Wilson goal-line interception. The Seahawks haven't advanced past the divisional round since. -- Brady Henderson

8. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

Week 17 ranking: 8

Most notable 2010s event: Signing Kirk Cousins in free agency, March 15, 2018

Two months after losing the 2017 NFC Championship, the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to a historic three-year, $84 million, fully guaranteed contract. The Vikings were searching for a franchise quarterback for years, and Cousins was viewed as the missing piece toward its ultimate goal. While the Vikings have been careful as to not utter the exact phrase "Kirk Cousins was brought to Minnesota to win a Super Bowl," the QB is very much viewed as this franchise's way to bridge the gap from where it left off in its quest for a Lombardi trophy. -- Courtney Cronin

9. Buffalo Bills (10-6)

Week 17 ranking: 9

Most notable 2010s event: The end of "The Drought," Dec. 31, 2017

One could make the argument for Terry and Kim Pegula's purchase of the team, but the end of a 17-season playoff drought brought hope to a fan base and raised the standards for the franchise. Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane's early success earned them the benefit of the doubt during a six-win season in 2018 and set the foundation for their second playoff appearance in three years in 2019. Buffalo earned that wild-card berth in 2017 thanks to a last-minute touchdown pass from Bengals quarterbackAndy Dalton to Tyler Boyd to beat the Ravens; both players are still revered in Buffalo. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

10. Houston Texans (10-6)

Week 17 ranking: 10

Most notable 2010s event: J.J. Watt wins NFL Defensive Player of the Year after his second season, Feb. 2, 2013

Before the start of the 2012 season, then-Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said, "[J.J. Watt's] going to be a bust -- not a first-round bust, but a bust in the Hall of Fame." Watt got off to a strong start with 20.5 sacks that season. Watt became the first Texans player to receive an NFL player of the year award. The defensive end has since won the award for his performance in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but the first one showed the Texans the type of player they had and why he would become the face of the franchise. -- Sarah Barshop

11. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

Week 17 ranking: 11

Most notable 2010s event: Derrick Henry's 99-yard TD run, Dec. 6, 2018

Henry's memorable run tied Cowboys Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett for the longest run in NFL history. The roar of the crowd as Henry hit the open field and the "HEN-RY, HEN-RY" chants that followed were reminiscent of the glory days when Eddie George made the fans come alive at Nissan Stadium. Henry finished the day with 238 rushing yards in Tennessee's 30-9 win over the Jaguars. It also sparked a December to remember, as Henry rushed for 625 yards and scored eight touchdowns to push the Titans into playoff contention. -- Turron Davenport

12. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

Week 17 ranking: 13

Most notable 2010s event: Super Bowl LII win, Feb. 4, 2018

The Eagles delivered Philadelphia its first Lombardi trophy with a 41-33 win over the Patriots. The city is still partying. From the "Philly Special" to Brandon Graham's strip sack of Tom Brady to Jason Kelce's "hungry dogs" speech from the Art Museum steps, many of the top moments in franchise history were born just two postseasons ago. -- Tim McManus

13. Los Angeles Rams (9-7)

Week 17 ranking: 12

Most notable 2010s event: NFL owners vote to allow Rams to return to L.A., Jan. 12, 2016

After the Rams spent more than two decades in St. Louis, NFL owners voted to approve their relocation to Los Angeles, where the organization played from 1946 to 1994. The vote was monumental for the NFL, as it signaled the league's return to the country's second-largest media market, which had been devoid of a team for 21 seasons following the departure of the Rams and Raiders. -- Lindsey Thiry

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

Week 17 ranking: 14

Most notable 2010s event: Dez Bryant's catch/non-catch, Jan. 11, 2015

As the Cowboys' Super Bowl drought extends, fans are left with nothing but what-ifs. The biggest what-if of the past decade came in the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs at Green Bay. Bryant made a terrific leaping grab of a Tony Romo pass on fourth down at the Packers' goal line, only to see the call overturned via replay. The Cowboys lost 26-21. There was no guarantee the Cowboys would have won had they scored there, but they had a defense that made plays in key moments. They would have gone to Seattle, where they beat the Seahawks during the season, had they won. -- Todd Archer

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)

Week 17 ranking: 15

Most notable 2010s event: Ryan Shazier's spinal injury (Dec. 4, 2017) and walk across the stage at the NFL draft (April 26, 2018).

Shazier's life changed when he tried to tackle Bengals receiver Josh Malone head-on. The impact left Shazier with a severe spinal injury, leaving him unable to move his legs after impact. Unsure if he would be able to walk again, doctors performed spinal stabilization on Shazier shortly after the injury. Shazier would walk again, and later did so across the stage at the 2018 NFL draft. Though he hasn't been able to play, Shazier continues to be a major part of the locker room and has been a mentor for younger players such asDevin Bush. -- Brooke Pryor

16. Chicago Bears (8-8)

Week 17 ranking: 16

Most notable 2010s event: Hiring Marc Trestman, Jan. 15, 2013

The Bears posted five winning seasons and three playoff appearances under head coach Lovie Smith, but that wasn't good enough for former general manager Phil Emery, who fired Smith after the 2012 season and replaced him with Trestman. Chicago missed the postseason in 2013, then plunged into darkness with four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North. Matt Nagy taking over in 2018 somewhat straightened things out, but Chicago is still searching for the consistency it had under Smith. John Fox also was a major part of the problem, but the team's unraveling began with Emery's regrettable decision to install the overmatched Trestman. -- Jeff Dickerson

17. Indianapolis Colts (7-9)

Week 17 ranking: 17

Most notable 2010s event: Andrew Luck retires, Aug. 24, 2019

You could argue that the Colts releasing Peyton Manning after he missed the 2011 season with a neck injury was bigger. But it was no secret that the Colts were going to release Manning. Nobody, and I mean nobody, had any idea that Luck would shock the sports world by retiring two weeks before the start of this season, no longer able to deal with shoulder, ribs, kidney, calf and ankle injuries that started to take a toll on him in 2015. Luck's retirement is why the Colts will likely look to address the quarterback position this offseason after Jacoby Brissett struggled as his replacement. -- Mike Wells

18. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

Week 17 ranking: 20

Most notable 2010s event: Blowing a 28-3, third-quarter lead in Super Bowl LI, Feb. 5, 2017

The Falcons seemed well on the way to their first Super Bowl title in team history. But the Patriots mounted a historic comeback to pull out a 34-28 overtime victory. "If you say you don't think about it, you're lying," Falcons linebacker De'Vondre Campbell said of the Super Bowl implosion. "It's just one of those situations where you feel like you wasted an opportunity." The Super Bowl hangover is sure to last -- at least with the city and the fans -- until the Falcons win it all. -- Vaughn McClure

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)

Week 17 ranking: 18

Most notable 2010s event: The drama of the 2013 season

Coach Greg Schiano was accused of rigging the captain's vote. Quarterback Josh Freeman overslept and missed the team photo, was benched by Week 4 and was released for doing an unauthorized media interview. The NFLPA accused Schiano of leaking Freeman's participation in the NFL's substance abuse program. Then there was a MRSA outbreak that plagued Lawrence Tynes, Carl Nicks and Johnthan Banks. The team put Tynes on the non-football injury list, impacting his pension and setting up a nasty legal situation that wasn't resolved until 2017. -- Jenna Laine

20. Oakland Raiders (7-9)

Week 17 ranking: 19

Most notable 2010s event: Derek Carr breaking his right leg, Dec. 24, 2016

The Raiders were rolling to a 12-3 start and a sexy pick to upend the Patriots for AFC supremacy. But in a game against the Colts, Carr suffered a broken right fibula on a sack by Trent Cole, crushing the Raiders' mojo going forward. With the division title and a bye on the line in Denver, Matt McGloin was overmatched. Then rookie Connor Cook was beaten up in a wild-card game in Houston. It was an unceremonious end to the Raiders' lone winning season since the Super Bowl season of 2002. And, as Carr's detractors gladly claim, Carr has simply not been the same since. -- Paul Gutierrez

21. Denver Broncos (7-9)

Week 17 ranking: 22

Most notable 2010s event: Super Bowl 50 win, Feb. 7, 2016

The win not only culminated the best moment of the decade, but the best four-year run in the franchise's history, also known as the Peyton Manning era in Denver. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10 in the game as Von Miller was the game's MVP (2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles) and the league's No. 1 defense dominated from start to finish, including a defensive touchdown in the first quarter. The Broncos were so good on defense in 2015, they overcame Manning's foot injury, which kept him from starting seven games that season. -- Jeff Legwold

22. Cleveland Browns (6-10)

Week 17 ranking: 21

Most notable 2010s event: Baker Mayfield's coming-out party, Sept. 20, 2018

The past decade came and went without a Browns winning season. But Week 3 of 2018 proved to be a seminal moment in Cleveland, which had gone 635 days without a football victory. That Thursday night, Mayfield captivated the city by propelling the Browns to a come-from-behind win off the bench while announcing his promise as the potential franchise QB that Cleveland had been longing for. -- Jake Trotter

23. New York Jets (7-9)

Week 17 ranking: 25

Most notable 2010s event: The Butt Fumble, Nov. 22, 2012

It's one of the most memorable bloopers in NFL history, and it symbolized a lost decade for the Jets, who missed the playoffs for the past nine years. On Thanksgiving night in 2012, quarterback Mark Sanchez, running on a broken play, plowed into the rear end of right guard Brandon Moore. The ball came loose and was returned for a touchdown by the Patriots, who won in a 49-19 rout. The Butt Fumble became an institution on ESPN. -- Rich Cimini

24. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)

Week 17 ranking: 23

Most notable 2010s event: Chargers move to L.A., Jan. 12, 2017

Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced his intention to move the team to Los Angeles, ending a 56-year relationship with San Diego and creating bitterness among the team's loyal fan base in that city. The team's first three years in Los Angeles have been rocky at best, with opposing teams' fans regularly taking over the stadium at the Chargers' temporary home in Carson, California. However, with the team's move into a sparkling new facility in Inglewood next season, the hope among the Chargers' brass is the organization can begin growing the Bolts' fan base in L.A. -- Eric D. Williams

25. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1)

Week 17 ranking: 24

Most notable 2010s event: Hiring Bruce Arians, Jan. 17, 2013

After regressing back to their losing ways after closing out the 2000s with back-to-back winning seasons, including a trip to Super Bowl XLIII, the Cardinals hired Arians. He went on to lead Arizona to its best three-year stretch in franchise history -- which included a 13-3 season and a run to the NFC Championship Game in 2015 -- and became the first Cardinals coach to win 50 games in his first five seasons with the franchise. He changed the culture for a franchise that couldn't win consistently. -- Josh Weinfuss

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)

Week 17 ranking: 27

Most notable 2010s event: Nearly beating the Patriots in the AFC title game, Jan. 21, 2018

The Jaguars were 10 minutes away from their first Super Bowl appearance and had the Patriots down 10 points in the fourth quarter. Had the officials not blown Myles Jack's fumble recovery dead the Jaguars might very well have beaten the Patriots. Instead, Tom Brady did what makes him the greatest quarterback of all time. He led the Patriots on two touchdown drives -- converting a third-and-18 on one drive -- and the Jaguars lost 24-20. In a decade filled with bad moments, reaching that title game was definitely the highlight. -- Mike DiRocco

27. Miami Dolphins (5-11)

Week 17 ranking: 30

Most notable 2010s event: Bullygate, November 2013

This decade has been mired in mediocrity for the Dolphins and ultimately will be remembered for chaotic moments such as Bullygate. The NFLPA investigatedRichie Incognito's role in bullying fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin in incidents that led to the latter leaving the team. Incognito was suspended by the team for the rest of the season and didn't play another snap for Miami. Offensive line coach Jim Turner was fired in February 2014. The report from NFL investigator Ted Wells found Martin was a victim of "a pattern of harassment" that included racial slurs and vicious sexual taunts about his mother and sister by three teammates. The lingering impact lasted many years for all parties involved. -- Cameron Wolfe

28. Carolina Panthers (5-11)

Week 17 ranking: 26

Most notable 2010s event: Jerry Richardson selling the team, May 22, 2018

With allegations of sexual and racial misconduct, the team founder was left with little choice but to sell the team he created in 1995 and disappear from the NFL with a blemish that will forever follow his name. Since new owner David Tepper has taken over the Panthers, the team has gone a collective 1-15 in the second halves of the past two seasons, leading to the firing of coach Ron Rivera and what ultimately will be a complete overhaul of the football side. -- David Newton

29. New York Giants (4-12)

Week 17 ranking: 28

Most notable 2010s event: Winning Super Bowl XLVI, Feb. 5, 2012

This was the Giants' second Super Bowl title in four years. It was Eli Manning's second Super Bowl MVP. Little did they know, it was the beginning of the end of a quality run. And little did the Giants know that two years later Manning would throw 27 interceptions in a season and there would be only one more playoff appearance in the decade. -- Jordan Raanan

30. Detroit Lions (3-12-1)

Week 17 ranking: 29

Most notable 2010s event: Losing Ndamukong Suh in free agency, March 11, 2015

It might seem weird for a defensive tackle move to be the most notable event, but consider these things: The Lions were coming off an 11-5 season in 2014 -- one of the best years in franchise history -- with one of the NFL's top defenses, and Suh was their best player. Then-Lions GM Martin Mayhew believed the team would get a deal done with him as well. When they didn't, it left a massive hole in the middle of Teryl Austin's 4-3 defense. The Lions started 1-7 in 2015, overhauled their organization and have been to the playoffs only once since. -- Michael Rothstein

31. Washington Redskins (3-13)

Week 17 ranking: 31

Most notable 2010s event: Robert Griffin III's knee injury, Jan. 6, 2013

The Redskins led Seattle 14-0 in a wild-card playoff game, and their future looked bright. But Griffin, who injured his knee a month earlier, was still feeling the effects. In the fourth quarter he tore his ACL. So not only did the Redskins lose the game, their star rookie quarterback's future was altered. After being named to the Pro Bowl and earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, Griffin has never come close to matching his rookie success. Meanwhile, the Redskins went from an exciting team dreaming of grand days ahead to a bad one that plays in front of half-filled stands at home. -- John Keim

32. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14)

Week 17 ranking: 32

Most notable 2010s event: Lost wild-card game to Steelers, Jan. 9, 2016

The Bengals were on the verge of ending a playoff win drought that started in 1991. But Vontaze Burfict laid out Antonio Brown, Pacman Jones shoved Joey Porter and the Steelers made a field goal with 14 seconds left to close the window on the Bengals' best chance at postseason success since they lost in Super Bowl XXIII. They haven't made the playoffs since. -- Ben Baby

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