Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NFL 2016: Week 12 Power Rankings & The Rest


The "2017 is only 9 Months Away" Trio

16.) Cleveland Browns  (0-11  =  184-325)
15.) Jacksonville Jaguars  (2-8  =  193-265)
14.) New York Jets  (3-7  =  179-244)
I think the Jets are slightly better than the Browns and Jaguars, at least in terms of talent. But with their QB carousel-ing, they really seem well placed amid the mess in Cleveland and Jacksonville. Honestly, the most hopeless in this group seem to be Jacksonville, which looks about to bust on a 2nd straight Top-10 QB, with Blake Bortles being only an improvement when compared to Blaine Gabbert. The Browns have 0-16 in their sites, and for their sake I hope they don't overreact and clean house again. This was the plan, after all. As for the Jets, just do your job and beat New England and then go fulfill your 5-11 destiny.

The "What the Hell is Going On?" Uno

13.) Cincinnati Bengals  (3-6-1  =  199-226)

I've heard a lot of 'well, at least they won't lose a playoff game this year' jokes, which I think does a great job of showing why the Bengals have been a success from 2011-2015. Only once did they truly blow a playoff game, their awful 10-27 loss to the Chargers in 2013. They were clearly the worse of the two teams in 2011, 2012 and 2014 (AJ Green concussion missed the game), and had an injury to Andy Dalton end what likely would have been a Super Bowl appearance last year. Now? Well now their team is in tatters and questions will be raised again about Marvin Lewis's job. I have a feeling he will be gone, and five years from we will wonder how the Bengals ever made the playoffs five straight seasons.

The "Least Exciting Division Race Ever" Trio

12.) Houston Texans  (6-4  =  181-215)
11.) Tennessee Titans  (5-6  =  281-275)
10.) Indianapolis Colts  (5-5  =  263-273)
With the news that Andrew Luck may miss the Thanksgiving game due to a concussion, we really have to fear for a world where the Texans, with their negative 34 point differential and lack of JJ Watt and lack of lack of Brock Osweiler end up winning the division as well. At least with Tennessee, which hasn't had a home playoff game since 2008, and Indianapolis, there is a chance for a semi-exciting Wild Card game. I honestly wouldn't mind Tennessee making it and seeing the world re-evaluate their thoughts on Mike Mularkey once again.

The "Upset Special Teams" Duo

9.) Buffalo Bills  (5-5  =  253-215)
8.) San Diego Chargers  (4-6  =  292-278)

There is a very low chance either of these teams makes the playoffs. The Chargers have next to no shot. The Bills have to probably run the table or go 5-1 at worst. Still, these are two teams that are better than any of the AFC South teams as currently constituted, and arguably better than the AFC North champion as well. The Bills offense continues to be surprisingly good, and while the defense has still not reached the levels it was at pre-Rex, the sacks and pressure have returned nicely. The Chargers are done, but they still have a true Wild Card in Philip Rivers who can pull an upset at any time, and with them still hosting the Chiefs and Raiders, there is a chance they factor in to the AFC West outcome.

The "Here we go again" Duo

7.) Pittsburgh Steelers  (5-5  =  238-215)
6.) Baltimore Ravens  (5-5  =  199-187) 

The Ravens gave the Cowboys a good game for 28 minutes, and my main takeaway there is Dallas is a dominant force and the Ravens secondary has major holes. For the most part, the Ravens run defense did its job and kept Zeke Elliott in check. The Ravens and Steelers are diametric opposites, and while I think the Ravens are slightly better, it is hard to favor them in this division race. The Steelers still get the Browns one more time, and get the Ravens in Heinz later in the season (Christmas Night, I believe), which easily gives them the edge. That all said, what was with the Steelers letting the Browns hang around like that, and Ben throwing for way under 10 YPC? They have a history of playing down to their opponents 2-3 times a year, and were lucky enough to win this one.

The "AFC Playoff Periphery" Duo

5.) Kansas City Chiefs  (7-3  =  222-187)
4.) Miami Dolphins  (6-4  =  218-216)

The Chiefs were somewhat living off of borrowed time the last couple weeks. They absolutely should have lost to Carolina, so it was somewhat a make-up that they blew a winnable game to Tampa Bay. Their issue is they still have to play Denver twice (starting this week), and their offense just seems broken right now. Whatever running game magic they had last year that was deployed when Jamaal Charles went down is completely missing. For the Dolphins, they are a somewhat better version of the Chiefs right now. Tannehill is still not getting any protection, but their talented players are coming up big and their schedule is far more manageable the rest of the way than Kansas City's. By the way, for all the talk of how bad the AFC South is, if the Dolphins make the playoffs, this will be the first time the AFC East sends multiple playoff teams since 2010.

The "Fight to the Death, AFC West Style" Duo

3.) Oakland Raiders  (8-2  =  272-243)
2.) Denver Broncos  (7-3  =  239-189)

I still believe the Broncos are better, that their strength (a ridiculous pass defense) is more consistent week to week than Oakland's strength at passing. Denver has a somewhat easier schedule the rest of the way as well, at least when it comes to having their more important games at home (including the rematch between Denver and Oakland). But there is something rolling with the Raiders right now. That was not a game they should win by any stretch. The Raiders won a game with a defense that came up big (and played well throughout the night, if a little soft on 3rd down), and a passing game that changed on the fly and drove the Texans into submission with their backs in the passing game. That was a mature performance by the Raiders in a season full of them. They should be 6-4, but maybe a year from now they are a deserving 8-2 as they continue to improve.

The "It's Always Them" Uno

1.) New England Patriots  (8-2  =  271-180)

One of more misleading 13 point wins in recent memory, and one of the lesser 4TD games I have ever seen. Sure, we can toss some of it up to a rainstorm in the first half, but that was a sloppy New England team beating a team that anyone in the NFL, save for the Browns, can easily beat. Still, the Patriots have only a few tough games left, and while they are not hte #1 seed for the moment, the AFC West will beat each other enough to give them likely a one-game cushion where 13-3 should be good enough.


The "Cover your eyes and run" Duo

16.) San Francisco 49ers  (1-9  =  204-313)
15.) Chicago Bears  (2-8  =  157-237)  

The Bears will be starting their 3rd string running back, be without their top-2 WRs coming into the season (Jefferey, White), have a bad OL, be without their young promising rookie defensive lineman (Leonard Floyd) and now without their starting QB in Cutler. Despite all of that, the 49ers are worse. Let's be real for a moment. What exactly is so innovative about Chip Kelly? His offense was really nice for a year and a half, but midway through the 2014 season teams started figuring it out. Now they are a disaster. His personnel judgement has been the source of many a punchline. There is nothing redeeming about him as a coach at the moment. I have to think he's back in college by 2018 at the latest.

The "We need to talk about change, right now" Trio

14.) Los Angeles Rams  (4-6  =  149-187)
13.) New Orleans Saints  (4-6  =  244-246)
12.) Green Bay Packers  (4-6  =  247-276)

Jeff Fisher has been coaching the Rams for 5 seasons, but outside of 2011, coaching some team for 22 seasons. Sean Payton and Mike McCarthy were both hired in 2006, and are now in Year 11 in their stops. All three have had really good highpoints, specifically Payton and McCarthy who achieved them with their current teams, but it is definitely time to ask if change is inevitable. It seems like the Packers situation is screaming for a new head coach (and it is stunning how the Packers offense went from the most frightening thing ever in 2014 to middling in two years), but it should be just as much in New Orleans as well. Somehow, Sean Payton has escaped criticism because Drew Brees is an alien and he has been able to get away with throwing defensive coordinator after defensive coordinator under the bus. Change is needed there as well.

The "On the way up!?" Duo

11.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (5-5  =  235-259)
10.) Detroit Lions  (6-4  =  231-225)

I'll admit, I thought it was a bad move to fire Lovie Smith and replace him with Dirk Koetter, and I thought it was worse to keep Jim Caldwell. I further assumed the Lions were dead after Calvin's retirement. Instead, the Lions are tied for first and the Buccaneers are a game behind. I don't think either team is particularly good. The Lions have had way too many close games and calls with teams of far less talent (Houston and Tennessee in losses, Jacksonville in wins - maybe it is an AFC South problem) to trust, and while their defense and offense both remain competent, neither seems to produce as well as the play-by-play numbers would suggest. The Buccaneers are an interesting team, but I still worry about that defense that hsa been so prone to the big play without Lovie Smith running it, especially given what lies ahead.

The "This Wasn't supposed to happen" Duo

9.) Arizona Cardinals  (4-5-1  =  226-190)
8.) Carolina Panthers  (4-6  =  244-246)

Last January, the Cardinals and Panthers played in the NFC Championship Game. This was not any old NFC Championship Game. The two teams combined for the 2nd highest combined win total of any two Title Game participants (28-4, only the 29-3 put up in the 99 NFC and 04 AFC title games were higher). The game was a laugher (Carolina won 49-15), and less than a year later it seems impossible that that game happened. Arizona seems more broken in that a lot of their success last year came from older players who now have fallen off (Palmer the biggest factor). The Panthers are in a state where this seems like a fluke. Secondary issues that have now righted themselves cost them the first Saints game. Cam missing a game cost them another. Graham Gano missing a field goal cost them another. The Panthers are probably a game too far away from Atlanta at this point, but the makings of a great team still reside in Charlotte. In Glendale? I'm not so sure.

The "Three Teams Enter, Two Teams Leave" Trio

7.) Philadelphia Eagles  (5-5  =  241-186)
6.) New York Giants  (7-3  =  204-200)
5.) Washington Redskins  (6-3-1  =  254-233)

Unless the Cardinals go on a great run, or the runner-up in the North is a lot better than we think, two of these NFC East teams will be making the playoffs. The Eagles, by the advanced metrics, are the best, and their defense and special teams will keep them competitive. But with Carson Wentz really struggling and injuries hurting the run game you have to wonder if they have enough to go on the 5-1 type run they need to after already suffering five losses. What helps is they still have to play all of their home divisional games. The Giants and Redskins both have fairly challenging schedules ahead, but enough ability to finish 10-6 or 10-5-1 and take the wild cards. The Giants defense is legitimately very good, and Redskins offense is the same. The Giants probably have slightly higher upside because by personnel their offense should be better than it is, but given we are 10 games in, it is more likely the Giants offense is what it is at this point.

The "2nd Tier Playoff Teams" Duo

4.) Minnesota Vikings  (6-4  =  254-233)
3.) Atlanta Falcons  (6-4  =  320-283)

The Vikings offense is still a mess, but the defense course corrected in a big way, harassing the living hell out of Carson Palmer last week. If that Vikings defense shows up, they should be in fairly good shape as they still have the makings of one of the best units in the NFL. The Falcons are the inverse, with the better offense supplementing a bad defense. Neither formula is great, but both should be good enough to win their flawed divisions.

The "Only Tier Playoff Teams" Duo

2.) Dallas Cowboys  (9-1  =  285-187)
1.) Seattle Seahawks  (7-2-1  =  219-173)

Seriously, each week that goes by makes it more and more obvious that these two teams need to play in the NFC Championship. If we don't get that, this whole season will be a disaster. I am not a fan, and have something of a moderate dislike, of the three teams that seem like a lock to win the Super Bowl (Dallas, Seattle, New England), but still would salivate over the prospect of Dallas and Seattle playing an NFC Championship Game in either building. Just a perfect matchup.

Playoff Projections


1.) New England Patriots  =  13-3
2.) Oakland Raiders  =  12-4
3.) Pittsburgh Steelers  =  9-7
4.) Indianapolis Colts  =  9-7
5.) Denver Broncos  =  11-5
6.) Miami Dolphins  =  10-6


1.) Dallas Cowboys  =  13-3
2.) Seattle Seahawks  =  12-3-1
3.) Minnesota Vikings  =  10-6

4.) Atlanta Falcons  =  10-6
5.) Washington Redskins  =  10-5-1
6.) New York Giants  =  10-6

Looking Ahead to Next Week's Games

16.) St. Louis Rams (4-6)  @  New Orleans Saints (4-6)  (1:00 - FOX)
15.) Tennessee Titans (5-6)  @  Chicago Bears (2-8)  (1:00 - CBS)

I call it "Bad vs. Bad" Sunday

14.) New York Giants (7-3)  @  Cleveland Browns (0-10)  (1:00 - FOX)
13.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8)  @  Buffalo Bills (5-5)  (1:00 - CBS)
12.) San Francisco 49ers (1-9)  @  Miami Dolphins (6-4)  (1:00 - FOX
11.) San Diego Chargers (4-6)  @  Houston Texans (6-4)  (1:00 - CBS)

I call it "I round down when we get 50% of a good matchup" Sunday

10.) Green Bay Packers (4-6)  @  Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)  (MNF - ESPN)
9.) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5)  @  Indianapolis Colts (5-5)  (Thanksgiving - NBC)

I call it "The most hyped games between average teams ever" Thursday and Monday

8.) New England Patriots (8-2)  @  New York Jets (3-7)  (4:25 - CBS)
7.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1)  @  Baltimore Ravens (5-5)  (1:00 - CBS)

I call it "Semi-fun Divisional games" Sunday

6.) Carolina Panthers (4-6)  @  Oakland Raiders (8-2)  (4:25 - CBS)
5.) Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1)  @  Atlanta Falcons (6-4)  (1:00 - FOX)
4.) Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1)  @  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)  (4:05 - FOX)

I call it "Oddly Intriguing Games for No Great Reason" Sunday

3.) Kansas City Chiefs (7-3)  @  Denver Broncos (7-3)  (SNF - NBC)

I call it "Another Night in the AFC West" Sunday

2.) Minnesota Vikings (6-4)  @  Detroit Lions (6-4)  (Thanksgiving - CBS)
1.) Washington Redskins (6-3-1)  @  Dallas Cowboys (9-1)  (Thanksgiving - FOX)

I call it "This is what Thanksgiving is all about" Thursday

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.