Week Thirteen Rankings

nflWe are due for another exciting and interesting week in the National Football League with this thirteenth week of regular season action. We’ve entered crunch time and the final main month of gameplay as well. Most teams will be hitting their stride in December and others will prove whether or not they’ve got what it takes to squeeze their way into the contention for playoff berths. Let’s take a look at where the teams reside after last week’s entertaining matchups.

Juggernauts:

  1. Dallas Cowboys- The Boys were America’s team for yet another week and have continued their roll after edging out the fiery Washington Redskins in a close match. Dak Prescott is on track to potentially tie Ben Roethlisberger’s phenomenal rookie game winning run of thirteen games but the challenges are far from over. In fact, the Cowboys look to continue their bid for top seed in the NFC but must first overcome the likes of talented Minnesota and Giants teams. Regardless of whether they go 15-1 or 13-3, this team looks hot and I only hope they can continue to eat alongside Zeke and not flame out in the early stages of the playoffs. +/- 10-1
  2. New England Patriots- Welcome back to the cream of the crop Brady Bunch. After taking  a slight hit the other week when the Seahawks soared to the second spot overall, the tables have turned as the Pats leapfrogged a surprised Seattle who was trounced by the Bucs D. Despite making it to this spot, things look rough in the near future as players such as Brady and Gronk have yet to be cleared for their next game against the Los Angeles Rams. While this shouldn’t spell too much trouble, it has been an up and down year for a team plagued by injuries and somehow they’re still playing at the top of their game. +1 9-2
  3. Oakland Raiders- The Raiders have been a hot young team for the past two years but it has really finally taken root this year and it’s easy to see why with players like Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree at the helm. These brigands have steered their ship in search of many challenges and have proven time and time again that they’ve regained the magic at least for the season and have triumphed over and over. Who would’ve thought just a few short seasons ago that they would be looking to make their first playoff appearance in at least a decade? I for one hope to see the spark continually kindled as they blossom into a truly talented young franchise again. +1 9-2
  4. Atlanta Falcons- Matt Ryan and the Falcons make their way back into the top five for the first time in weeks. They dominated Arizona in the fourth quarter which shouldn’t be overlooked even though the Cardinals have struggled mightily this year. Considering that the Cards are still a very talented team, that’s not small accomplishment and it may be just the fire and drive that the Falcons need in order to finish out the season strong and avoid challenges from the Saints or Buccaneers within their division, while also solidifying their own position within the conference as a whole. +3 7-4
  5. Seattle Seahawks- Although it truly surprised me that the Buccaneers would maintain their hot streak even against a typically very dangerous Seattle offense and defense, it hasn’t hurt the Hawks too terribly much. They’re taking the obvious hit right now, however they’ve got plenty of road left ahead of them with which to fully cement themselves as a dangerous two or three seed in the NFC. Truly this is still a team to fear even in supposed off-years such as this one. In many ways I would compare them to College Football’s Alabama, especially because people will constantly bet against them and lose thanks to their clutch play. -3 7-3-1
  6. Kansas City Chiefs- The powerhouse Chiefs took a slight dip in the rankings last week with their missed opportunity and loss, however this week they glide back up a few spots after an impressive win to lift them over the Broncos for the second time this season. They have a tough week ahead in which they will have to slow down the number one offensive unit in the NFL right now, however if anyone is prepared its Justin Houston, Eric Berry, and the rest of the showstopping Chiefs D. I’m eager to see how well this team continues to perform and how the AFC West as a whole fares when it comes to the playoffs. Someone is likely to get their feelings hurt when they barely miss the calling just like the Jets did last season thanks to the Bills.+2 8-3
  7. Denver Broncos- The Broncos take a slight hit thanks to the aforementioned Chiefs but they aren’t falling very far and they are still very much in the thick of things in the AFC West. Weeks after a tight victory over New Orleans thanks to some clutch special teams work, the Broncos found themselves on the other side looking in when the Chiefs narrowly beat them thanks to a Cairo Santos field goal that barely hooked in off the upright. They’re a tough team to keep down and win or lose they’ve got a bright future on offense as well as their continually improving defensive secondary and line. -1 7-4
  8. New York Giants- The Giants are looking like their Super Bowl winning selves more and more by the day and I have high hopes for this underdog team. They have a much better record than probably initially expected and they are doing very well even at number two in the highly competitive NFC East behind Dallas. In a tough conference where each and every team has a viable shot at the playoffs in many ways, the Giants are holding their own and winning close games as opposed to losing them. Sure, this week’s victim was the Browns but regardless the Giants’ defensive unit is improving and working just as hard as the offense has been. +1 8-3
  9. Washington Redskins- Washington is taking one of the bigger hits this week considering the fact that many teams rose above them on wins or better performances. Kirk Cousins and Jordan Reed are beasts even if the latter will probably be ruled out due to an injured shoulder and tons of pain. The Redskins put together a solid fourth quarter run against the Cowboys but ultimately fell just short as many other teams have this season and it’s nothing to be ashamed of at all. They definitely still have a shot at making a wildcard appearance if they keep the good work up and keep the big plays rolling. -4 6-4-1
  10. Detroit Lions- For yet another week, the Lions remain a constant at their familiar position thanks in equal part to another close win as well as some solid effort. This is a team that has been truly buoyed by a Matt Stafford resurgence tour and just the fact that the man alone has won them five of their seven wins is spectacular as is. A career year from the Staff and clutch Darius Slay picks can and will secure fourth quarter victories over and over again it seems and that’s what we saw yet again this week. I’m eager to see this team reach for the stars and whether or not they can maintain their position over both Minnesota and Green Bay. +/- 7-4

Bulked Up Hulks:

  1. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikes will maintain their same spot for another week just like the Lions, and for largely the same reasons despite losing to Detroit. Although their mid-season antics have been much less successful than their hot start, I think this is a talented team that has the chance to turn around and come out on top in their division if they can fend off both the Lions and Packers who will be looking to successfully do the same. They should be due for some players who’ve been injured to return and also if they continue to make clutch defensive plays when needed it’ll truly be difficult to slow their roll. +/- 6-5
  2. Miami Dolphins- It sort of pains me to see this team up this far but they’ve been on a winning streak and because a win is a win that must be rewarded in some manner. There are plenty of teams like Miami that are definitely a lot weaker than their records would show and by the same token there are many teams who are a lot stronger than theirs would boast, such as San Diego. I’m intrigued to see some of the fresh talent and the new resolve on the Dolphins offense which is finally giving the defense a little bit of a break, however they also need to get out of the habit of playing down to inferior opponents like they did against the 49ers last week and the Browns earlier on. +2 7-4
  3. Buffalo Bills- The Bills have been up and down at best which is partly due to injuries and troubles that have followed them all year. However, despite that fact they are still a truly dangerous team and as much in the wild card race with Miami in their division as anyone else is for the conference. I’m truly interested to see where the up and down, hit or miss teams like Tennessee and Buffalo end up come January when all of the cards get laid out on the table for the post-season. +2 6-5
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers- The Steelers had a surprisingly big day over the Colts and it wasn’t all necessarily due to the fact that Andrew Luck was out thanks to a concussion. We knew this would probably be the outcome of the game, but not that it would be completely one-sided once the cannon arm mechanic was out of the game for their opponents. This team is still very dangerous even though they are tied and/or behind Baltimore right now as far as divisional standings are concerned. They’re another one of those middling teams that you can never quite count out because they have some very dangerous and very powerful tools at their disposal. Don’t discount the terrible towels. +3 6-5
  5. New Orleans Saints- What a huge day this team posted over a truly formidable defensive front. It comes as little surprise that a team with Drew Brees at the helm would post such large numbers but it did surprise me that it came against the flawed yet powerful Rams and their defense. I don’t expect to see this same exact result in the weeks to come when it gets down to the wire and the Saints play some tougher foes, however I think it will be entertaining and interesting to see how Drew Brees attempts to lead his team to a closely contested NFC South title. +3 5-6
  6. Baltimore Ravens- Despite being neck in neck with or ahead of the Steelers in the AFC North, the Ravens are right where they’re at due to the fact that they won a close game over their other AFC North rivals and it came truly down to the final seconds and another wise John Harbaugh safety by the special teams unit. They repeated a strategic move they pulled off in the Super Bowl not so long ago and it worked very much the same way now as it did then, forcing the clock to wind down and the Bengals to essentially give up any hope of a punt return or big bomb for a field goal chance. +/- 6-5
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs aren’t killing it quite as much as their fellow pirating companions in Oakland, but they’re currently killing it nonetheless. They just marked a huge win over the Seahawks in a largely defensive contest where they truly stunned the birds and left Russell Wilson in the dirt a lot of the time after botched plays or extended runs. Jameis Winston is truly finding himself and as such his team is now in contention for the NFC South title right behind the Falcons and just ahead of the Saints. Things are truly heating up and getting more interesting now and I’m curious as to where we can go from here on out. +2 6-5
  8. Philadelphia Eagles- These guys have had a tough schedule and a pretty rough year so far. They’ve been a challenging team to engage but also one that has lost all of its major divisional matchups which is not exactly a good thing. They, like the Redskins, are taking quite a blow this week in part because of their loss to the Packers but also due to the fact that several teams listed above made more of a convincing argument for why they should be listed there. Carson Wentz is not bad for a rookie at all but his numbers and his game could use some work. Considering the hand he’s been dealt in Philadelphia this year, he’s done an excellent job managing what resources they do have. -6 5-6
  9. Carolina Panthers- The Panthers are moving up ever so slightly even in their loss to the Oakland Raiders. Yes, Cam Newton gave up some big turnovers which effectively halted Carolina’s potential comeback, however despite that they were still very much in the game and only lost by  afield goal against a Raiders team that has been both clutch and hot for the entirety of the season. That having been said, Carolina is undoubtedly one of the deadliest 4-7 teams out there right now, even if their late-game mistakes continue to be the bane of their existence as well as their very record. +2 4-7
  10. Houston Texans- The Texans are taking a huge blow this week alongside more talented and dangerous teams that were also knocked down and are stumbling back in the rankings. Brock Osweiler’s struggles continue and San Diego ran rampant against their AFC foe yet again this week. I can’t help but think that he should’ve stayed in Denver with that effective defense and even better offensive weapons than are available in the historically problem plagued Houston Texans offense. Houston could’ve easily gotten a cheaper and just as effective deal elsewhere and it seems like they’re far from out of the woods with their QB issues of late. -7 6-5

Veritable Messes:

  1. Green Bay Packers- You may be wondering why the Pack Attack is still even in this tier after what has been dubbed a “vintage” Aaron Rodgers showing against the Eagles this past week. They’re moving back up slowly and maybe surely, but first I want to see if they can continue this trend and not fizzle out again game to game. They should be due for some healthier players to return from injuries on the defensive side of things and that can hardly hurt. Aaron Rodgers is still carrying his team however this week he had a little bit more help and maybe that also means things are looking up for the Packers. +1 5-6
  2. Tennessee Titans- The Titans have such promise if they can just break this week in week out winning and losing pattern. Now’s their chance to finally make that run against the Texans who are faltering and liable to get smoked by both the Colts and Titans in terms of divisional records. If only they can use the newfound confidence of Marcus Mariota and the deadly one-two backfield tandem of Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray to their advantage even more so. Murray is the second leading rusher in the league and the team definitely relies heavily upon the rushing attack which has been difficult to slow all year. So that should be their focus. +1 6-6
  3. San Diego Chargers- Another week and another well-deserved win for the Chargers. This team is so much better than their average record would go to show. Philip Rivers constantly comes up big and in that way is very similar to Drew Brees and the same situation the Saints find themselves in currently. The Chargers have proven themselves to be dangerous in their own division which is easily the most difficult to play in the AFC and that’s even without many of their key players being healthy. If they’re lucky, some of those players will be returning soon and could help with a final few weeks of hard work and grinding towards the end. +2 5-6
  4. Indianapolis Colts- The Colts took quite the beating when they lost to Pittsburgh by multiple scores. In fact, it was never really a game to begin with. It’s sad that a quarterback can carry a team so much but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. After all, without Andrew Luck this team could barely get off the ground last season as well. They’ve had a tough break this season but are still a better team when he is around and when they can actually protect him in the pocket as well. This team definitely needs to rebuild for the future and need to make sure they can rely on multiple players and not just one or two. -4 5-6
  5. Arizona Cardinals- Arizona is getting lucky this week that they are only dropping ever so slightly because I know they can still be  a potentially dangerous squad even if they are more than likely not playoff bound. Carson Palmer’s age is definitely showing and not in the same way it was last year when he made the most of his field general experience and led his team to the championship game. He’s seemed out of sorts ever since and it’s a shame because it has led to many lost opportunities and lost games as a result. -1 4-6-1
  6. Cincinnati Bengals- Ever since they virtually threw away their closest shot of winning a playoff game in the Dalton era last year against Pittsburgh, the Bengals have been in full Bungles mode this season. It’s been a tough time and things don’t look like they’ll be changing very soon. It’s a shame that they seem to be channeling classic Bengals not only in their record but the mistakes they make on the field as well. When you have such rich talent as this team but you can’t keep it healthy or combine it for wins, it’s a sad thing indeed. +1 3-7-1
  7. Chicago Bears- Chicago is ironically moving up ever so slightly even though they played pretty much just as horribly as the few teams below them did this week. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I saw a Bears receiver drop a pass that could’ve scored but I do know that is certainly isn’t Matt Barkley’s fault in the least. The man made some special passes and the Bears should’ve stolen one from the Titans but they cheated themselves out of the win. +1 2-9
  8. New York Jets- The Jets played surprisingly not bad in this grudge match but then they always do regardless of success or record. It probably helps that the Pats played down to their level at many instances and that their defense was pretty hot all night when going after Tom Brady. The Jets are very much still the Jets, but it’s a nice day for your team when you don’t end a game with a crippling interception return or other terrible mistakes. Almost makes it seem as if they could win a few more games this year, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. +1 3-8
  9. Los Angeles Rams- Who would’ve thought a three touchdown day for Jared Goff could be a miserable day for the Rams? The offense may not have done much more in the second half but fault the defense for the majority of the mistakes in their blowout loss to the Saints. Who would’ve thought that I’d be saying the Rams offense finally did something better than their typically strong defensive unit? Still feels weird but then maybe that spells fairer fortunes for the Rams in the future if both sides of the ball can find success. -3 4-7
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars- Another unlucky day for Jacksonville and it all boils down to the fact that Blake Bortles has been garbage all year long. In a game where Tyrod Taylor wasn’t very effective in terms of passing, neither was Bortles and his arm. Granted he did some rushing, but it’s pretty bad when the extent of your four quarters of passing is a measly 125 yards or so. The Jaguars have some young guns on both sides of the ball but they need to step up more often and hold their quarterback more responsible as well if they want to improve. +/- 2-9

Whodat:

  1. San Fransisco 49ers- Who could’ve ever dreamed of me cheering at a potential 49ers fourth quarter comeback against the Dolphins this week? But it’s true, I swear. And somehow they almost did it. But the Dolphins pulled out yet another close one and the 49ers lost yet another game in which they reigned supreme in garbage time scoring. Kap may be back and may be crunching some numbers, but it’s far from the play he used to present and the 49ers team he used to lead. Bring back Jim!+/- 1-10
  2. Cleveland Browns- I’m one more loss away from only listing thirty-one teams in the rankings because we all know who is last right now anyway. Seriously, is it out of the realm of possibility to win at least one game this season? +/- 0-12
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