Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NFL 2016: Week 13 Power Rankings & The Rest


The "2017 is only 9 months away" Trio

16.) Cleveland Browns  (0-12  =  197-352)
15.) Jacksonville Jaguars  (2-9  =  214-293)
14.) New York Jets  (3-8  =  196-266)

No change here, as the Browns lose another game on their slow slog to what should have been inevitable the whole time, and the Jags and Jets lose games where we can pretend to argue that they played well in. The Jags and Jets both had decent shots to win, but erratic QBs against good teams in close games rarely works out well. Somehow, the 0-12 team seems to have the brightest future of the three. The Browns have oodles of draft picks and no cap room. The Jags seem stuck with Bortles, and the Jets have an expensive roster with no way out. Not great times.

The "End of an Era?" Uno

13.) Cincinnati Bengals  (3-7-1  =  213-245)

I don't think anyone saw this coming. The Bengals have a ton of injuries that they have had to deal with, but even then they should not be this bad. I think we all underestimated the impact losing Marvin Jones and Muhammad Sanu would have on that offense, and the defense lost some key pieces. The real issue, though, has been the dramatic drop-off of the offensive line. The Bengals had one of the best OLs in the NFL last year. Without losing anyone major, they turned suddenly into one of the worst. That was so unexpected and I'm not sure how the Bengals turn that around. Also, I have to think that this is the end for Marvin Lewis - which is sad to some degree. I think the Bengals will long for the days of the 2011-2015 period, even though they never did win a playoff game.

The "Can someone just not win the AFC South?" Trio

12.) Houston Texans  (6-5  =  194-236)
11.) San Diego Chargers  (5-6  =  313-291)
10.) Buffalo Bills  (6-5  =  281-236)

The Texans are just terrible. Their best game in recent weeks was a loss to the Raiders played in a strange environment where Raiders players slipped and slopped across it and that was the only reason it was close. The Texans defense dropped from really good in 2015 to slightly above average in 2016. I need them to not win that division, but if they do it may open up questions on why a division winner is guaranteed a playoff spot. The Chargers and Bills are far better teams, but they are stuck in tough divisions and unless either wins out (and for the Chargers it still may not be enough) they will be at home in January. Also, I'm not sure how either gets much better. The Bills have some upward mobility of Tyrod continues to improve and if Sammy Watkins ever were to stay healthy, but with Rex it is hard to ever see everything coming together.

The "If someone has to win the AFC South, can it be one of these two?" Duo

9.) Indianapolis Colts  (5-6  =  270-301)
8.) Tennessee Titans  (6-6  =  308-296)

In a weird way, the Colts were surprisingly good in that Steelers game. Their defense was not good, but their offense was able to limit the number of possessions, and if they were a little better in the red zone they may have pushed the Steelers. I'm assuming Luck is back next week, and if so, they have a chance to go on a run. It will come down to winning all their remaining division games against Houston and Jacksonville, but they should be able to do so. With the Titans, they got the win they needed to, but I have questions on how that game became so close. They were within a couple of drops from the Bears away from losing that game. Still, I would take either as our token #4 seed ahead of Houston.

The "3rd Tier Playoff Contenders" Trio

7.) Miami Dolphins  (7-4  =  249-240)
6.) Pittsburgh Steelers  (6-5  =  218-201)
5.) Baltimore Ravens  (6-5  =  266-222)

The Dolphins are actually the #6 seed at the moment because of conference record, but that is solely due to them having played an additional conference game. I don't buy the Dolphins long-term. That schedule is going to get much harder. 10-6 may not make it either. I would find them dangerous, but we haven't seen them go and outplay a good team yet. The Steelers and Ravens are polar opposites in their offense and defense respectively being really good, and the other side of the ball being worse than it should given their talent. The Steelers with all their pieces are terrifying, and the Ravens, with Dumervil back are equally terrifying on their end of the ball. It really seems like this is going to come down to that Christmas Night game against the Ravens.

The "Muddled Greatness of the AFC West" Trio

4.) Kansas City Chiefs  (8-3  =  252-214)
3.) Denver Broncos  (7-4  =  266-219)

2.) Oakland Raiders  (9-2  =  307-275)

That was a fantastic game on Sunday Night, but one that the Broncos should never have lost. Their defense, for the first time in two seasons, collapsed late when defending a lead. They were given the impossible equation of that 62-yard field goal vs. punting and hoping for a tie. The Broncos also gave up 9 points via a safety and punt return TD. The Chiefs should get a lot of credit for coming back, running a good 2-minute drill for once, and not folding, but I still think Denver is the better team. It know becomes a tough situation for them in terms of getting to the playoffs though. The Raiders just keep trucking along. They have a weird schedule quirk of having to play all their divisional road games in the last four, but this is also a team that is 5-0 on the road. The Raiders probably were praying for a tie, and with a win against Denver, probably rooting for a Denver win, but if they can close at 12-4, they should be good.

The "Let's Move On" Uno

1.) New England Patriots  (9-2  =  293-197)

Yeah, let's move on. I can't do this. I'm fully enjoying this season, but the looming spectre of them winning again is making my mind hurt.


The "2017 is only 9 months away" Trio

16.) Chicago Bears  (2-9  =  178-264)
15.) San Francisco 49ers  (1-10  =  228-344)
14.) St. Louis Rams  (4-7  =  170-236)

I'm moving the Rams here, who are 0-2 in their last two games. The first they lost when their defense could not support an awful offense. The next week, that defense gives up 49 while the offense looks decent. It looks pretty obvious they are going to be worse than Fisher's hilarious 7-9 disposition, which may easily spell the end of Fisher. The Bears and 49ers are obviously bad and should be in full 2017 planning mode, starting with whether their head coaches in Fox and Chip continue.

The "It's time to start thinking about 2017" Duo

13.) Arizona Cardinals  (4-6-1  =  245-228)
12.) Carolina Panthers  (4-7  =  276-281)

I still believe long-term in the Panthers. They have a ton of money to spend, talent on both sides of the ball, and only two clear weaknesses to shore up - their OL and secondary. There is a recipe here and still believe in the two main cooks in Dave Gettleman and Ron Rivera. That all said, their year-to-year inconsistency is not a good sign. For the Cardinals, there are more serious issues to deal with - starting with whether Carson Palmer is just on the way down. Beyond that, there are oodles of free agents with not too much money, and they have to deal with putting all their chips in for 2016 and now facing the consequences.

The "Too many wasted moments" Duo

11.) Philadelphia Eagles  (5-6  =  254-213)
10.) Green Bay Packers  (5-6  =  274-289)

I was very much looking forward to that MNF game and instead we got a complete dud, as the 2010-2014 Packers showed up for a game and the Eagles defense decided not to. Honestly, with the Eagles, the more surprising element of the game was the lack of a pass rush by the defense more than any issues with Wentz, who had a perfectly acceptable game. The Packers are still two back in the division with five to go, but the Lions tough schedule and the Packers opening to get a season sweep in Week 17 certainly leaves them in play for a miracle playoff berth. The Eagles are in the periphery of the wild card race, but some of those early season losses are really starting to hurt them now.

The "Fringe playoff contenders" Trio

9.) New Orleans Saints  (5-6  =  334-307)
8.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (6-5  =  249-264)
7.) Washington Redskins  (6-4-1  =  280-264)

Technically, the Redskins are the current #6 seed, but I find them to be a more fring playoff contender than Minnesota (who I have ahead of them) as with the Redskins the divsion is completely out at this point. The Redskins still have something close to the Saints offense (worse QB, but better complementary weapons), with something close to the Buccaneers defense (decent pass rush and coverage, but holes at safety). What helps them is they don't have the flaws that those two teams have. With the Saints and Bucs, they play twice, which is nice, and I'm sure Atlanta is hoping for a split there. The Saints offense showed it can still dominate bad teams, but we will get a nice test of their abilities when they take their show out of the Superdome soon.

The "Not that great NFC North Race" Duo

6.) Detroit Lions  (7-4  =  247-238)
5.) Minnesota Vikings  (6-5  =  218-192)

The Vikings blew that game, and their OL problems continue to surface, but if Adrian Peterson is on the way back for December, that could be the best little jolt the Vikings could get. I still believe in that defense, which was great once again. The pass rush has returned, with six sacks in the last two games. The Lions are continuing to squeak out games, and their ability to dominate up front will keep them from being blown out, but you have to wonder if an innate ability to win 1-7 point games with 4th quarter comebacks week-after-week won't ultimately prove to be unsustainable.

The "Weirdest Giants Team Ever" Uno

4.) New York Giants  (8-3  =  231-213)

The easy part of the Giants schedule is over, and they find themselves in nice shape off of their first, and really only, solid win of the season from a score perspective. The offense still has no run game for the umpteenth season, and the passing attack is far less than the sum of its parts, but a defense that is coming close to doing what the older Giants units did is really helping. There are some serious tests in the coming weeks (Pittsburgh, Dallas, Washington) but the Giants are probably safe even if they close the season 2-3 and get 10 wins. This Giants team bares no resemblance to the running-led 2007-2008 teams, nor the passing-heavy teams of 2011-2015. This is new water for them, but it is working, with a low-key solid defense supporting a two-man (Eli & OBJ) offense.

The "Can we have a divisional round matchup here?" Duo

3.) Atlanta Falcons  (7-4  =  358-302)
2.) Seattle Seahawks  (7-3-1  =  224-187)

The Falcons and Seahawks played an excellent Divisional Round Game in 2012, Year #1 of the Russell wilson experience. The Falcons and Seahawks played a very good game earlier this year in Seattle. These two teams seem to match-up well with each other, as even the Seahawks defense can't contain Julio Jones (Matt Ryan himself has done well against Seattle). I really hope they get to play against each other come playoff time, in either building. The Falcons may come to rue losses to Tampa in Week 1, or San Diego in Week 7, but I think they've begun to fully right themselves and take off, and I would imagine the playoff version of Seattle to very different than the one that laid an egg in Tampa.

The "How is this happening?" Uno

1.) Dallas Cowboys  (10-1  =  316-213)

At some point, I have to stop believing they would be better with Romo. Now, I can still argue that going forward it is safer to play Romo over a rookie when no rookie has ever won a Super Bowl, but even that becomes hard given Romo's injury history. This season is proving to be closely alligning to the 2004 Steelers. That team had a great roster coming off of an uncharacteristic 6-10 season (Cowboys were 4-12 last year), when they went to a rookie QB who used a great OL and running game and dominanat receivers (Hines & Plax), to personally go 14-0 (Tommy Maddox went 1-1). Roethlisberger, when you adjust for era, had probably the best statistical rookie season from an efficiency standpoint as well. Until Dak this year. Roethlisberger fell apart in the playoffs. Obviously, that wouldn't last long term, but his performances in each of the Steelers playoff games were not good. There is a little inkling in my mind that Dak and the Cowboys could ultimately face a similar fate.

Playoff Projections


1.) New England Patriots  =  13-3
2.) Oakland Raiders  =  12-4
3.) Baltimore Ravens  =  9-7
4.) Indianapolis Colts  =  8-8
5.) Denver Broncos  =  11-5
6.) Kansas City Chiefs  =  11-5


1.) Dallas Cowboys  =  13-3
2.) Seattle Seahawks  =  11-4-1
3.) Atlanta Falcons  =  11-5
4.) Detroit Lions  =  10-6
5.) New York Giants  =  11-5

Looking Ahead to Next Week's Games

Byes: Tennesee Titans (6-6), Cleveland Browns (0-12)

15.) San Francisco 49ers (1-10)  @  Chicago Bears (2-9)  (1:00 - FOX)

I call it "Who Gives a Shit" Sunday

14.) Denver Broncos (7-4)  @  Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)  (1:00 - CBS)
13.) St. Louis Rams (4-7)  @  New England Patriots (9-2)  (1:00 - FOX)

I call it "I don't see a spoiler here" Sunday

12.) Indianapolis Colts (5-6)  @  New York Jets (3-8)  (MNF - ESPN)
11.) Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)  @  Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)  (1:00 - FOX)

I call it "Uninteresting games with a fringe playoff team" Sunday and Monday

10.) Houston Texans (6-5)  @  Green Bay Packers (6-5)  (1:00 - CBS)
9.) Washington Redskins (6-4-1)  @  Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)  (4:25 - FOX)
8.) Detroit Lions (7-4)  @  New Orleans Saints (5-6)  (1:00 - FOX)
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5)  @  San Diego Chargers (5-6)  (4:25 - FOX)

I call it "Quasi-interesting games with playoff (some fringe) teams" Sunday

6.) Carolina Panthers (4-7)  @  Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)  (SNF - NBC)

I call it "This game was supposed to be so much more meaningful" Sunday

5.) Kansas City Chiefs (8-3)  @  Atlanta Falcons (7-4)  (1:00 - CBS)
4.) Buffalo Bills (6-5)  @  Oakland Raiders (9-2)  (4:05 - CBS)

I call it "Good games between potential playoff teams" Sunday

3.) Miami Dolphins (7-4)  @  Baltimore Ravens (6-5)  (1:00 - CBS)
2.) New York Giants (8-3)  @  Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)  (4:25 - FOX)
1.) Dallas Cowboys (10-1)  @  Minnesota Vikings (6-5)  (TNF - NBC)

I call it "Really good games between potential playoff teams" Sunday

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.