Week Eleven Rankings

nfl

Some truly weird stuff happened this week- the Patriots losing for an unprecedented second time in Foxborough (in ONE season) among it all. Granted, that was to a criminally underrated Seattle team with a remarkable Jimmy Graham, Doug Baldwin, Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, etc etc need I go on? A lot of other things happened this week as well. The Browns continued their bid for an imperfect season, the Texans scraped by somehow just barely yet again, the Broncos’ special teams was truly special, Matt Ryan and the Falcons lost to a Carson Wentz revival, the Panthers and Chargers blew late game leads YET again, the Vikings continued their downward spiral, the Titans decimated the Packers (????), and Dallas was back at it again with the win. With the magic in the air, let’s see where that leaves our rankings.

The Beaus of the League:

  1. Dallas Cowboys- Regardless of whether or not the number one position in any ranking is a Madden-like curse upon the best teams in the league, the Boys are truly deserved of it as they have inched their way from the dregs of the league all the way to this spot throughout the year. Ezekiel Elliott continues to make his potent bid for OROY and OPOY alongside the equally impressive and clutch Dak Prescott who may have taken the starting spot from Tony Romo a la Brady/Bledsoe. What a truly miraculous year so far for the Cowboys, regardless of how the final weeks play out. +1 8-1
  2. New England Patriots- For those of you who keep up with College Football and wondered how Michigan, Clemson, and Washington only dropped a few spots after losing to teams criminally lowered ranked than them, the same deal happens here. There is nobody better than the Patriots to beat them out of the top two position. Even a loss to the lower ranked but super clutch Seahawks can’t keep them down for long, it’s just a fact. -1 7-2
  3. Oakland Raiders- It’s a rare day when a team stays put even when they have a Bye Week, are ranked very high, and get knocked out of the number one slot in their division. Although the Chiefs ousted the Raiders from number one in the AFC West, that’s not to say the Raiders aren’t the stronger team right now and also that the Chiefs and teams below weren’t strong enough to oust them from the number three spot this week. Seattle comes very, very close but just doesn’t quite nail it even in their win over New England. +/- 7-2
  4. Seattle Seahawks- For the past decade or so and especially for the past four or five years, you’ve never truly been able to count the Seahawks out of things even in their supposed “off” seasons. Maybe it’s because of spectacular players such as Shaun Alexander, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, Percy Harvin, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, or any number of talented individuals on the roster during that time period, but they’ve always rebounded and exceeded even the loftiest of expectations it seems. This year is no different, as the team is repeatedly clutch when it needs to be, even on its most flawed of days. They are dangerously underrated. +2 6-2-1
  5. Kansas City Chiefs- The Chiefs’ marvelous streak of season wins seemed doomed to end in flames as the Carolina Panthers led at halftime by nearly two scores. However, thanks to the clutch play of both Eric Berry and Marcus Peters (among other players), the Chiefs were able to bounce back from the deficit, keep the Panthers scoreless in the second half, and win by a field goal. Such has been the fate of many teams to boast clutch wins and solid records this season. They manage to win when crunched for time and even in uneven situations. The team who blows all opponents out isn’t always the best as the undefeated Patriots learned the hard way after their Super Bowl loss to the upstart Giants (on one of those two losses). +/- 7-2
  6. Denver Broncos- It wasn’t the prettiest of games at times and for the most part, despite picking the Broncos as the “safe pick” to win it, I figured the Saints had the better chance. However, Denver’s special teams proved their worth in a truly spectacular way with a blocked extra point for a two point return and subsequent win over an astonished Drew Brees and demoralized Saints team. What could’ve been a clutch and narrow victory turned into a clutch and narrow victory the other way with time winding down shortly thereafter. What a day. +1 7-3
  7. Atlanta Falcons- It wasn’t a very high scoring or high numbers day for one of the better offenses in the league or for the Matt Ryan and Julio Jones connection. The Eagles burned them in the second half to the tune of a two score victory and proved that they aren’t completely down for the count in terms of record, although their lack of success in their own division says otherwise in terms of playoff potential. The Falcons lucked out that they have the upcoming week to fix things before returning to the field, but I’m sure they would’ve liked to go out on a much better note as well. -3 6-4
  8. Philadelphia Eagles- The Eagles have been a bird of a different feather since the loss of steam after their very early Bye Week around week four or five, however their recent win over the Falcons could be a sign that they might have what it takes to return to form for the following weeks. Carson Wentz isn’t particularly surrounded by much talent and the offense itself is often very lacking, however the defense has taken on a larger role against tougher opponents and really started to step up in a lot of situations, leading to lower scoring knockdown drag-outs win or loss notwithstanding. This squad has done a lot with a little, even amidst suspension and penalization issues. +1 5-4
  9. Washington Redskins- The Redskins secretly have a deeper talent pool than first glance would tell anyone save for seasoned critics or veteran fans. While will be the first to admit that I am neither, I’ve come to recognize this fact throughout the season. After letting the Vikings score twenty points in one quarter alone, I thought we would see the resurgence of whatever hellish pact it was Sam Bradford made for the first half of the season, however we were instead treated to yet another close match that the Skins managed to clutch. I for one would like to see the team make the wild card cutoff just to see if they can continue their famed second-half performance into the playoffs this time around. +3 5-3-1
  10. Detroit Lions- What used to be the “Maladroit” Lions has thus far this year proven to be a super effective and clutch squad in the final moments of a game. Matthew Stafford has at times quite literally put the entire team on his back and for the most part the Lions winning record can and should be attributed to him. He’s having quite the season as far as career seasons go. This is a slippery team to get a grasp or read on but definitely one you should keep an eye on. While the only team effectively out of the running right now in the NFC North is probably the Bears, the Lions, Vikings, and possibly the Packers could all have a decent and semi-equal chance at the divisional title. These guys should keep up the good work. +/- 5-4

B-List Actors Seeking Redemption:

  1. Green Bay Packers- Aaron Rodgers’ playcalling notwithstanding, the Packers seem to have become a week to week flavor. Sometimes they’re hot sometimes they’re not. You never really can know until you let Marcus Mariota and the Titans steamroll you for a 47-25 victory. If ever there was a surprise game of the week it was this one. Even if the Pack had lost anyway, I would’ve expected it to be a contest. Aaron Rodgers is right to call out his team for their lack of care, effort, and overall juice. Just because you’ve now dipped to a losing record doesn’t mean you should lose all motivation at all, especially when you have such a clutch performer on your team constantly trying to make seasonal and quarterly comebacks. -3 4-5
  2. New York Giants- It was a neck and neck game with Cincinnati pretty much the entire way, but Eli Manning and Odell Beckham made their respective contributions and the Giants managed to win another close one to maintain their surprisingly good record. They may have pretty much as equal a shot at getting a record-based wild card bid as most anyone else in the NFC at this rate, however they are in a tight race for second place behind the Dallas Cowboys and with the likes of Washington and Philadelphia breathing down their neck. Can they maintain and can they even get progressively better and channel another Super Bowl level season like they did as underdogs against the Patriots so long ago in some alternate universe where Eli didn’t throw picks on picks and they didn’t have OBJ? +1 6-3
  3. Minnesota Vikings- The trend continues and the Vikings continue to disappoint despite being the best team at one or two points this season. They’ve now lost almost as many in a row as they had initially won in a row. Can they maintain enough steam to take back the NFC North? Can they maintain enough of anything to win another game? Or have their injuries finally caught up to them and made them realize that not only are they mortal but also not nearly as good a ball club as they initially thought? Losing Norv Turner can’t be  a good sign either. -2 5-4
  4. Houston Texans- It actually pains me to move the Texans up a spot despite their good record because we have all seen and all know that they aren’t for real and that they’ve been incredibly lucky so far in their campaign. They’re pretty much on track to have a similar post-season performance to last year where they were absolutely annihilated. However, I must recognize the good where it is. They’ve managed to stay on top of the crap pile that for the most part is the AFC South. So there’s that. However, there’s a difference between the Cowboys being clutch and winning close games and the Texans barely edging out the Jaguars. I’ll just leave that there for all to see. +1 6-3
  5. New Orleans Saints- What a game. The Saints get the move here because they played their hearts out as they typically do in their heartbreaking close calls. Sure, they lost the game to the Broncos on a blocked and returned PAT. Sure that absolutely sucks and I can’t even begin to think how demoralizing snatching defeat from the jaws of victory must be. However at least it wasn’t a failed 2PAT on the five that was picked and returned so it could always be worse. Drew Brees and the Saints will continue to make a truly viable attempt at the NFC South title and will continue to post impressive offensive numbers record notwithstanding. +2 4-5
  6. Buffalo Bills- I’m truly sorry for the drop to .500 territory here on the rankings Bills fans, but you know how the Bye-Week giveth and the Bye-Week taketh away. Tyrod Taylor and the Bills came out in force and proved they are strong contenders for the second slot in the AFC East even though Miami is truly making strides to distance themselves from the competition in their second-half of the season bump in the rankings. If the Bills continue to lean heavy on the run game as well as balance in the passing attack like they have been, they’re going to be met with some success if they can continue to adapt to their opponents like they did in their close loss to Seattle who was by far the superior team and knew it. -2 4-5
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers- The Steelers get the nod here even though they lost to the seasonal comeback kings that are the Cowboys. Big Ben and AB combined for a truly terrific day on the stats line and in terms of overall level of play as well. It was a great game and definitely a contender for game of the year at this rate. Also, let’s revel over the fact that the Steelers brought back a good old fashioned Dan Marino fake spike play and brought in what could’ve been a game solidifying score if not for the no-clutch Pittsburgh defense that constantly “parted like the Red Sea” (Zeke’s words, not mine) and allowed a lengthy rushing TD by yours truly. +1 4-5
  8. Arizona Cardinals- Well, a win is a win as they say. But man, sometimes you feel good about a team winning by a field goal and other times you feel like they barely scraped out that W. As with the Texans over the Jags, so too do I feel about the Cards over the 49ers. A win is a win but if you can only beat one of the weakest teams in the league by three points when they still weren’t very effective at all in their recent games, then what does that truly say about your own team? This definitely isn’t the talented squad that made their way to the NFC Championship last season. -2 4-4-1
  9. Miami Dolphins- Props to the Dolphins on securing another win and potentially saving their season for yet another week. They’ve kicked it in and started to turn things around which can only mean good things at this point, even if its pretty much out of the question that they do much else save for finish second in their division. The Chargers folded yet again when it mattered and the Dolphins were buoyed off of several key players like a lengthy Kiko Alonso pick six that left Philip Rivers visibly crushed. That’s how you’re supposed to do it. +1 5-4
  10. Tennessee Titans- Even if it’s (probably) only for the week before they do their one on, one off routine and lose the next game, the Titans deserve this major boost. It’s not every week that a team comes on the field and absolutely smashes Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, even in what is obviously an off-season such as this one. Marcus Mariota showed yet again that he can in fact have huge days even if he still falters in some clutch situations and makes his fair share of mistakes. Heck, DeMarco Murray even got in on the quarterbacking business an tossed a rock to Delanie Walker for a TD as well. It was raining points Sunday and all signs pointed towards the Titans as the ones getting a slot on Noah’s Ark to avoid the flood that washed the Pack away. +3 5-5

Eat Your Heart Out:

  1. Baltimore Ravens- Say hello to the (still) new leaders of the AFC North. Yes, that’s right. In a characteristically weak division, the Ravens have risen to the occasion and are now the leaders. Sorry Browns fans, still not your year. Speaking of the Browns, The Ravens overcame a 7-6 halftime deficit on Thursday night to run over the Browns for a final score of 28-7. If that surprises you then I’m not entirely sure what rock you’ve been living under but invest in some internet or common sense. It’s still up for grabs between the Steelers and Ravens at the moment but so far fortune is favoring the bird. (I take donations.) +3 5-4
  2. San Diego Chargers- And it’s back down to the lower tier for the Chargers. Sorry fans, hope you weren’t hoping they were making a comeback run just yet. Playing in what is arguably the best division in football right now can’t be that easy either. When there are three teams dominating there’s got to be one that’s falling down on the job. The Chargers could easily be one of those six plus win teams if only they didn’t constantly fall apart at the seams in the second half. This time around however they decided to go ahead and slow on down in the first half. Don’t underestimate Philip Rivers but don’t expect these guys to turn too many heads by the end of the season either. -3 4-6
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Sure, it was Chicago that they faced but a big win is still a big win and anybody would take one right about now. Let’s talk about Jameis Winston’s truly AMAZING escape and lob to Mike Evans by the way. I mean seriously? That stuff doesn’t happen too often unless you’re on wheels like Russell Wilson. So congratulations to the Bucs on a truly remarkable save there. While I still think they’re the third (or fourth, if Carolina gets their act together) team down in the NFC South, the Buccaneers could still play a better season overall than last year’s 6-10 campaign even if they get the same record this time around. +3 4-5
  4. Indianapolis Colts- As with pretty much every team this Bye-Week, the Colts are suffering in the rankings because of the rest period coupled with better showings than the teams surrounding them. Don’t expect it to affect them too much in the coming week however as they played hot against the Packers and won going into the Bye. I’m eager to see the matchup between the Titans and Colts because both teams have played great against the same team lately and it could truly go either way as well as determine a possible usurper of the AFC South title later on down the road. -3 4-5
  5. Cincinnati Bengals- I don’t know what it is with cats this years but teams that seem to have them as mascots haven’t been doing too great as of late. The Bengals are channeling more of their bungling personality and even the spectacular work of AJ Green hasn’t been able to save them or their season. Monday night’s loss to the Giants only further solidified that fact in everyone’s mind and even though it was a close one that came down to the clock it was a letdown nonetheless. If you’re waiting for the season to turn around then you’re probably already too late. -3 3-5-1
  6. Carolina Panthers- If ever there was a squad this year that epitomized the definition of second half collapse it would be the San Diego Chargers, but the Carolina Panthers would be a very close second. How you can go from a dominant 17-3 halftime lead over the Chiefs and then never score again, much less lose the game, is entirely beyond me. Granted the Chiefs’ defense was entirely more clutch than any unit I’ve seen save for Denver’s special teams this week, but that is no excuse. The Chargers let the Chiefs stake their claim and make their comeback early in the season with a fourth quarter collapse and overtime loss and this time the Panthers followed suit, allowing them to line up for a late field goal. -1 3-6
  7. Los Angeles Rams- It was a gritty and ugly game and honestly I’m not sure what else I really have to say about it. “Gang Green” didn’t accomplish very much but then neither did Los Angeles, albeit more than the Jets and just enough for the win. They’ve been adept at winning ugly so I guess a win is a win after all. But for the love of everything holy, please get Todd Gurley back into the swing of things so he can have at least a few good games in his sophomore season after such a stellar rookie year. Get some run protection for that boy. +2 4-5
  8. New York Jets- So, pretty much the majority of what I’ve just stated for the Rams could apply here as well seeing as they were the other half of the knockdown drag-out fight that ensued between the two. It was a defensive matchup if that’s what you call games that lack for scoring out of a pure lack of talent. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t even because of Ryan Fitzpatrick for once. So there’s that small adjustment I suppose. But losing is losing no matter who puts the icing on the cake for you. +/- 3-7
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars- I suppose the Jags deserve some credit for making their version of an attempt at a fourth quarter comeback against their divisional opponent (the weak Broncos, aka the Texans). Whereas the Texans poured it on in the first quarter, the Jaguars poured on the coal in the fourth albeit to no such luck as a win would provide. They showed signs of life and perhaps that’s what is most important at this juncture even if the season is a complete bust and they’re likely to be searching for a new coach in the coming one. +1 2-7
  10. Chicago Bears- Sorry Jay Cutler, sorry Bears fans- it wasn’t your time to shine this week. Although the game against Minnesota’s ailing record was a brief reprieve, things continued to go disastrously this week as the Buccaneers dismantled the Bears to the tune of a lopsided 36-10 victory. Bring back Brian Hoyer! (Too bad his arm says otherwise.) Oh, and let’s not forget Alshon Jeffrey decided to remove himself from this sinking ship for four days by violating the league’s performance enhancing substance policy. YAY!! -3 2-7

Goodbye, Hope:

  1. San Fransisco 49ers- Almost. That’s the word that comes to mind here. The 49ers ALMOST caught the Cardinals off-guard enough to move on from this lowly position, but not quite. Apparently almost only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and Colin Kap voting. Barbs aside (I’ve plenty to say after this week) nothing much else has changed and nothing much else will. +/- 1-8
  2. Cleveland Browns- New phone, who dis? +/- 0-10
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Milly Schmidt

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