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Dolphins and Steelers chasing playoff dreams in NFL Power Rankings

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Continuing our updated power rankings, it's numbers sixteen to nine.

16) Cleveland Browns

With a 7-5 record after 12 games and the return of Josh Gordon there is plenty for Browns fans to be happy about.

Looking at the rest of the schedule though it is hard to make a strong case for them make the playoffs, especially given Brian Hoyer's lack of presence behind center. The local boy is simply too reliant on the play action pass to ever be truly effective in the long-term.

15) San Francisco 49ers

You can debate how much of the fault is the o-line's and how much is Frank Gore's, but at the moment, the wheels have well and truly come off the 49ers offense. Gore is averaging 10 yards fewer per game this season than last. He has also averaged less than 3 yards per carry in 5 separate games this season.

The 49ers might be okay if it was just Gore struggling, but the likes of Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree also out of form. The defense is still one of the league's best but with the offense struggling to score points even against the likes of Washington, San Francisco are going nowhere fast.

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14) Pittsburgh Steelers

They may have a so-so defense and a worrying propensity to lose game to bad teams, in the NFC South, but when the Steelers turn it on they are one of the most explosive units in the NFL.

Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are an offensive trio that ranks right up with the best in the league. If it all comes together at the right time, the Steelers could find themselves lifting the Lombardi Trophy. It's a big if though.

13) Kansas City Chiefs

If it wasn't for Bruce Arians, Kansas City coach Andy Reid would be the undisputed contender for coach of the year. He has marshalled a team with some severe limitations to a 7-4 record and a probable spot in the playoffs.

You could easily make a case that Kansas City are a top 10 team, but as the defeat to Oakland showed, they play with such a small margin for error that every game is going to be a close one.

12) Miami Dolphins

With the Bill Lazor offense coming together nicely and the defense hitting the QB frequently and often, the Dolphins are heading in the right direction after a tough few years. Have they got enough in the tank to make the playoffs though? With the AFC North being so crazy anything is possible.

11) Cincinnati Bengals

When the going gets tough the Bengals and Andy Dalton find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. Cincinnati have a great wide receiver in A.J. Green and two quality running backs but it is hard to see them winning a playoff game let alone winning a Super Bowl.

10) Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are slowly emerging as the best team in the super-tough AFC North.

Justin Forsett is arguably the most in-form player in the NFL, Steve Smith is playing
like a madman reborn, Torrey Smith offers a deep vertical threat, Joe Flacco looks at home in the Kubiak offense and the defense is more than holding their own. The Chargers may have edged the Ravens out by the narrowest of margins but come playoff time the Ravens will be the team no one wants to play.

9) Arizona Cardinals

The season ending injury to Carson Palmer means that Drew Stanton is now in charge of leading the offense down the home stretch into the playoffs. This is clearly unfortunate for the Cardinals, but fortunately for franchise, the defense is more than capable of picking up the slack.

Right now with the likes of Calais Campbell, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu in dominant form, the Cardinals have one of the best defenses in the NFL. I'm calling the Falcons game a one off aberration.

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Kansas City Chiefs
Cleveland Browns
Detroit Lions
San Francisco 49ers
Cincinnati Bengals
Miami Dolphins
Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers

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