Week Sixteen Rankings

nfl

One more week down, only  a couple more to go this season before regular season play wraps up. There are still many storylines alive and well today. Will the Cowboys win out? Will the Browns go the full monty with their “perfect” season? Will the Patriots be the dominant team to beat in the AFC for the umpteenth year? Only time can tell for most of these burning questions, and time is something that the majority of teams do not have a lot of if they hope to make the playoffs.Let’s get down to business.

Winning Smiles:

  1. New England Patriots- It was a defensive matchup all day but wow, what a rebound for New England in terms of beating the team that snubbed them last year and then went on to win the Super Bowl for added measure. The Pats held the Broncos to one field goal in the first quarter and then never looked back. Both teams had their fair share of troubles, but the Patriots are one of the most versatile and well-rounded crews in football and it shows in crunch time. +/- 12-2 *Playoffs
  2. Dallas Cowboys- This spot essentially boiled down to the tale of two comebacks but the Cowboys edged out the Raiders in spectacular fashion and leap into number two again just as Zeke leapt into the charity cauldron. The Bucs certainly proved they’re still hot and they’re still hot on the heels of Atlanta for a divisional title as well. I’d actually almost rather see them in the wild card round than the Falcons, but that’s beside the point. The Boys are back on the wagon again. +1 12-2 *Playoffs
  3. Oakland Raiders- Through no fault of their own, seeing as they clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time in a good long while (think 2002), the Raiders drop a spot nonetheless. They overcame a slight deficit and tie game to win one and secure their playoff berth over divisional rival and regular party pooper San Diego. It’s a shame we haven’t seen a healthier and more competitive and evenly matched Chargers team this year but the rest of the division is probably thankful for that because it’s a tough match anyway. -1 11-3 *Playoffs
  4. Seattle Seahawks- The Los Angeles Rams didn’t stand a chance and they certainly weren’t Seattle-brand kryptonite this week. In fact, they didn’t amount to much of anything, least of all a challenge to the Seattle authority. The Seahawks absolutely dominated the Rams and to make matters better, they secured a divisional title as well as a playoff slot. Only time will tell where they end up seeding wise, but in a volatile NFC any slot will do right now. +2 9-4-1 *Playoffs
  5. Atlanta Falcons- Granted the Falcons played an abysmal 49ers team which is second only to the Browns in the level of which they do not play, however the routing that Atlanta gave them gives me shivers to think about. The Falcons have been one of the most explosive offenses all year long and they’ve certainly had a lot better luck than last year’s initially hot then stone cold campaign. They’re barely ahead of the Bucs in the NFC South playoff race, but they’ve got some interesting times ahead as well. I’d be interested to see how things go. +/- 9-5
  6. Kansas City Chiefs- Talk about bad luck at the most inopportune time. After a hard fought win over the Raiders gave them the divisional front seat and they improved to 4-0 for the division, Kansas City lost to the Titans who’ve been upsetting folks right and left lately. Now they’ve been bumped down a notch and despite their pristine record, they stand to lose even more ground. Kansas City needs a few more important wins and losses by themselves and other teams in their division and conference at this rate. -2 10-4
  7. New York Giants- In case you were wondering which of the two 9-4 teams that played this week were strongest, look no further. The Giants absolutely out-dueled the Lions and no amount of fourth quarter magic could’ve saved that team anyway. The Eli-OBJ connection was as real as it’s ever been. The Giants defense was swarming Stafford and the nonexistent Detroit run game all day. It was a tough time for one team and a relative cakewalk for the other. +2 10-4
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers- Not only did the Steelers notch another important divisional win over the Bengals who admirably tried to bring the game back their way, but they furthered their bid for the title over the Ravens who barely won this week. Big Ben and the Steelers have been a dark horse candidate for the Super Bowl run all year with many folks and those hopes could still be alive if this team keeps up the good work. All things taken for what they are, I’m interested to see how they finish the season first of all. +3 9-5
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tough break for a Bucs team that deserves all the attention they can get this season. This team is a hot one and in the perfect world both themselves and the Falcons make the playoff cutoff. I’d like to see their hard work and difficult schedule well-rewarded. As it is, I’d also like to see how they fare for the rest of the season and whether or not they can win out now that they’ve made their bid against Dallas and just barely come up short. +3 8-6
  10. Detroit Lions- It was a dark day for a Lions team that has seen a spectacular run this season and may have just moved one step closer to seeing that run wasted. The Packers won their game, however barely a win it was, and while the Vikings lost and are essentially out of the question for a division title run, the Lions are feeling more pressure than ever to win out and maintain their first place spot. They may have already lost the first round playoff bye assuming they make the playoffs, but to lose the title itself would be a shame. -3 9-5

Concession Handshakes:

  1. Green Bay Packers- It’s not often that a team barely wins a game by a field goal against an inferior opponent and moves up several spots in the rankings, but this week’s case has a story to go along with it. The Packers are now officially “back in the game” if the hype is believable and they can keep the wins coming. Not only did the Vikings flame out in glorious fashion, but the Lions lost as well which makes the division title that much more attainable for a raging Rodgers and co. +3 8-6
  2. Miami Dolphins- Don’t sleep on Miami just yet. Apparently you don’t even need Ryan Tannehill in order to post a winning season this year with the Fins. Don’t look now, but the Dolphins’ playoff potential grows by the week and if they can hold of a Bills or Jets playoff berth buster level of a failure then they may be good for a wild card slot indeed. +4 9-5
  3. Washington Redskins- A tough break for the Redskins this week as their playoffs hopes may be completely dashed in a surprising loss to Carolina. They would’ve had a tough time as is with the record they have, but now it’s gotten even tougher. Not to mention they’re third down in their division behind tow teams with more than ten wins apiece and better divisional and conference play. It’ll be interesting to see how Kirk Cousins and co cope. -5 7-6-1
  4. Denver Broncos- The Broncos were snapped back to reality in harsh fashion by the Patriots and are the second team in a row to be three down in their division and still hoping against everything that they can secure a playoff slot somehow. It really doesn’t help that the AFC West is continually one of the most difficult division to play within and that conference matchups are hard enough when you’ve got to play the Patriots. -4 8-6
  5. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens may have gotten the win this week, but they’re still stuck one game behind the Steelers who currently hold the divisional lead. In a conference that boasts another close race in the AFC South between the Texans and Titans at the moment, it’ll be interesting to see how this particular one turns out. The Ravens have a tough time ahead of them for the next couple of weeks as well and may have lost out on the chance to win out. -2 8-6
  6. Tennessee Titans- Another week and another big, clutch-time win for Marcus Mariota and the Titans. As it stands, I can’t help but feel that Mariota and Jameis Winston will almost always be competing with each other in more ways than one. They’ve constantly come up against each other in both college and pro football and both post similar stats and results with their teams even now. I’d like to see the Titans win out and topple the tyrannical Texans who have somehow slithered their way to a 5-0 divisional run and still maintain the technical lead. +2 8-6
  7. Buffalo Bills- As impressive a win as it was score-wise, the Bills played the Browns and that counts for very little right this moment in a league where the race is so close between teams. They’re not completely out of the picture yet but this team needs to step it up just a little bit more since they have some of their most important pieces back on the board again. I’m curious as to where they will end up for the season as well. +/- 7-7
  8. Houston Texans- By simple virtue of somehow still being in the lead for the AFC South and because they won another game and did it with a surprisingly not-bad comeback as well (against the Jags though, ugh) I’ll grant the Texans a little leeway this week. But don’t expect much more than that. The Quarterback situation is still very much a mess. And there’s still a lot that’s just waiting to build into another week one playoff implosion when they probably play against the Chiefs again, at least as it would stand today. +3 8-6
  9. Indianapolis Colts- What an absolute blistering the Colts gave the Vikings this week, effectively eliminating their opponent from playoff contention for that matter as well. At least, any serious talk of playoff contention, which the Colts themselves are actually still in considering their relatively weak division as well. It’s hard to believe that they’re only one game back behind both of the teams ahead of them, and that it has been that way for most of the year with the teams occasionally flip-flopping each other along the way. +/- 7-7
  10. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikings have come seemingly full circle since their idiotic playoff chip shot field goal that apparently was symbolic of the end times in Norse mythology. The serpent wyrm has devoured their world and their record. Blair Walsh has since left but the curse of the black spot remains. After going a remarkable 5-0 and even being the number one here a few times, they’ve gone a thoroughly unremarkable 2-7 since. And now sit not-so-pretty at an even record. -5 7-7

Trips to the Bench:

  1. New Orleans Saints- In this week’s game that didn’t really matter, the Saints and Drew Brees dueled with destiny and the Cardinals and came out on top. I say it doesn’t really matter because the division is effectively going to either the Falcons or Buccaneers at this point, and the Saints, however much I respect them and their work ethic at QB, are only going to maybe edge out the Panthers this year. So congratulations on the win but at this point it may have come too little too late. -1 6-8
  2. Carolina Panthers- Oh Carolina, you’re always on my mind. But not always for the best of reasons. Tonight it is for a good reason, considering you all put a moderate dent in Washington’s playoff hopes and actually managed to keep the majority of a fourth quarter lead for the first time in forever. In fact, I’m proud that the Panthers actually showed up to play against former-Panther Josh Norman and his new trash talking and punch throwing teammates. +/- 6-8
  3. Philadelphia Eagles- Alas poor Philadelphia, we knew you well. The Eagles have had several last gasps this year but this one was one of the most painful to witness yet, because they came closer than they have in a few games and still fell short to the Ravens. It doesn’t make matters better that the team that beat them is also one that could in theory secure a playoff berth as well, however barely. +/- 5-9
  4. Arizona Cardinals- Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Three teams in a row thus far have retained their exact position from the previous week, which is virtually unheard of. But it’s happening nonetheless. The Cards showed up and showed out against the Saints but it just wasn’t quite enough for them to walk away with a victory. The Seahawks have already secured the division title and the other two teams in the division aren’t doing much to change that either. +/- 5-8-1
  5. Chicago Bears- The Bengals played the Steelers close but they didn’t even score in the second half once. The Bears on the other hand scored a whopping seventeen points in the fourth quarter and Matt Barkley and co put the burden on Aaron Rodgers and his team to come and take the win from them. Really, even in a lost season and on a lost team, some games just shine. And the Bears have been doing far too well to be the 3-11 team they are for at least the last few games and their win over Minnesota earlier in the season. +1 3-11
  6. San Diego Chargers- For much the same reason as the Bears and Bengals being in the slots they will find themselves right now this week, the Chargers played well against a superior team as they have even in this dismal season so far. It wasn’t enough to get a win but it was more than enough to get the blood pumping and hearts beating. I really wish things had been different for this team so far but it looks like they’re in for a six win season if they’re lucky. +1 5-9
  7. Cincinnati Bengals- The Bengals are once more the Bungles this week even though they showed some poise last week. They had the chance to win and led for a while and ultimately lost the game in a second half where they couldn’t score even the measliest of field goals to secure a victory. It’s been a tough team to watch this season and ever since they gave their would-be playoff victory away on penalties and a field goal to the Steelers last year, it’s been a tough game to watch anytime the two play. -2 5-8-1
  8. Jacksonville Jaguars- Well, the Jags finally showed some signs of life as they gave the Texans a run for their money. Even though I predicted them carrying out the win and they didn’t, I’ll gladly take this week’s L knowing they had the opportunity to do so as I’d hoped. +1 2-12
  9. New York Jets- As I get closer and closer to the bottom of the barrel, there’s always seemingly less and less to say about teams because it’s past the time for them to take any of those things into account anyway. The Jets had a wonderful albeit frustrating year last year and could’ve made the playoffs if not for literally one game. This year they’d be lucky to win one more game. -1 4-10
  10. Los Angeles Rams- After a hot rookie debut, Todd Gurley has cooled this year. After a cold season debut and then a hot four games and wins, the Rams have cooled this year. Such is the way things are in Rams-land with and without Jeff Fisher it seems. I’d like to see how the team evolves past that and how they do in the future. +/- 4-10

No Man’s Land:

  1. San Fransisco 49ers- The 49ers outscored the Falcons 13-7 in the second quarter of their game this week. That’s the only thing I have to say about them and those were the only points they scored at all to the Falcons’ 41. +/- 1-13
  2. Cleveland Browns- If it weren’t for that pesky record I could put Cleveland above San Fransisco based upon the relative strength of their earlier games and upon the fact they also scored 13 points this week. Alas, one can only hope as the Browns further their pursuit of the imperfect season. +/- 0-14
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