Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015-16 NFL Power Rankings (Week 16)

The end of history and the last man (in shoulder pads)... 

By: Jimbo X


Arizona Cardinals (13-2)
Season Point Differential: (+206)

In a week that saw Cam Newton and pals finally drop one in the "L" column, Carson Palmer and Company certainly made a statement with their resounding 38-8 win over the Packers. We all know the Cards' offense is elite-tastic, but it was Arizona's defense that looked Lombardi-worthy on Sunday afternoon; they limited Green Bay's receivers to just 155 yards, their rushers to 101, and forced three turnovers. Oh, and they sacked the ever-loving dogshit out of Aaron Rodgers, crushing him behind the line eight times for a cumulative loss of 70 yards. 

Carolina Panthers (14-1)
Season Point Differential: (+164)

The '72 Dolphins can safely uncork their champagne, as the Panthers tasted their first loss of the season in a 20-13 road loss against divisional foes Atlanta. While Cam was able to sprint for 46 yards and a TD, his passing stats were abnormally low; he completed just 17 of 30 passes, producing no touchdowns and only 142 yards in the air (which rolls back to 113, if you can't those two times he got dropped way behind the line by Falcons blitzers.) 

New England Patriots (12-3)
Season Point Differential: (+160)

In one of the biggest blunders of the 2015-16 season, the Pats elected to hand the ball off to the Jets in O.T., and what do you know, New York took the ball into the end zone on their very first post-regulation possession. While New England had some success throwing the ball (Tom B. finished the contest with 231 yards and 22 completions), they had no luck at all running the pigskin, ultimately wrapping up the contest with a puny 63 yards on 22 rushing attempts. 

Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)
Season Point Differential: (+132)

With A.J. MacCarron behind center, the Bengals have definitely played substantially worse than when they had a healthy Andy Dalton calling the shots. Alas, the Bengals played fairly well against the equally ailing Broncos on Monday night, even though they eventually lost in O.T. on a Brandon McManus game winner. 

Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
Season Point Differential: (+116)

After some very impressive offensive and defensive showings the last few weeks, the Temple of Boom blew a woofer against the Rams last Sunday, falling 23-17 in a sloppy loss. Russell Wilson had some respectable numbers (289 yards on 25 completions, with two TDs and an INT), but the 'Hawks run game never got rolling; they concluded the contest with just 60 yards on 22 attempts, while the Rams outyarded them 104 on 30 rushes. 

Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)
Season Point Differential: (+112)

After starting the season 1-5, the Chiefs have won nine games in a row and already locked up a playoff berth. Amazingly, if they beat the Raiders on Sunday and the Broncos lose to the Chargers, not only does K.C. steal the AFC divisional crown, they very well could wind up with a first-round bye, depending on whether or not the Ravens can upset the Bengals earlier in the evening. 

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6)
Season Point Differential: (+88)

Following an improbably 20-17 loss to the lowly Ravens, the Steelers are now living on a prayer when it comes to postseason play. Obviously, they have to beat Cleveland this weekend, but that still won't get 'em into the playoffs unless the Jets lose, too. Looks like the Steelers faithful will be rooting doubly hard this Sunday; for the Bills to pull off the upset against Ryan Fitzpatrick and his green and white brethren, and for Big Ben to not fuck up like he did last week and lob a pair of interceptions when it victory is well within reach. 

New York Jets (10-5)
Season Point Differential: (+78)

Thanks to the Patriots literally gift-bagging them the game, the Jets are now in control of their own destiny. Following their 26-20 O.T. win against New England, New York controls its own destiny; if they beat Buffalo next week, they're in the playoffs. If they lose, however, and the Steelers beat Cleveland, then it's off to the golf courses come the second week of January. 


Minnesota Vikings (10-5)
Season Point Differential: (+56)

In a 49-17 drubbing, the Vikes absolutely pummeled the Giants, as Adrian Peterson ran wild for 104 yards and a TD while back up half back bruiser Jerick McKinnon collected an additional 89 yards and two more end zone visits for the purple-clad. Oh, and the defense looked pretty stellar, too, sacking Eli Manning four times and intercepting him three ... including a pick six lobbed to and cashed-in by Minnesota defender Harrison Smith. 

Denver Broncos (11-4)
Season Point Differential: (+52)

Believe it or not, the Broncos have yet to lock up the AFC West. If they drop this Sunday's tilt against the Chargers - and the surging Chiefs best the Raiders at home - then the divisional crown goes to K.C. They are guaranteed a playoff spot, regardless, but with an injury-plagued offense, Denver needs that potential first-round bye in the worst way possible. 

Green Bay Packers (10-5)
Season Point Differential: (+52)

Yeah, Aaron Rodgers has probably seen better days than last Sunday. In a humiliating 38-8 road loss, the Packers QB got sacked no less than EIGHT times, dropping his total yardage count to a ridiculous 77. The defense tried - they got an INT off Carson Palmer and forced an additional fumble - but the offense did absolutely nothing to keep the Packers in the game. 

Buffalo Bills (7-8)
Season Point Differential: (+15)

Although way out of playoff contention, perhaps the Bills can take some succor in their 16-6 win over the Cowboys last Sunday. Sure, it may not erase the sting of losing back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowls, but at least the offense looks solid enough to maybe make a playoff run next year, right? 

Houston Texans (8-7)
Season Point Differential: (+02)

It's a real easy situation for Houston. Following a resounding 34-6 win over the bottom-feeding Titans last weekend, all the Texans have to do is beat the perpetually struggling Jaguars at home on Sunday. However, if they drop the game, and the Colts manage to knock off Tennessee ... well, it's never too early to start working on that golf swing, I suppose

Washington Redskins (8-7)
Season Point Differential: (-02)

Thanks to an inexplicably hot Kirk Cousins, the Redskins are officially the unlikely champions of the NFC East, which will go down as one of the most colossal divisional clusterfucks in the history of the NFL. In the 38-24 win, Cousins went 31 for 46, racking up 365 yards and FOUR aerial touchdowns, two of which landed in the more than capable mitts of Jordan Reed (who finished the contest with 129 yards on nine catches.) Take heed, whoever winds up with the fifth seed in the NFC brackets; you might have some, ahem ... reservations ... about playing this team in January. 

Atlanta Falcons (8-7)
Season Point Differential: (-03)

Matt Ryan and the boys may not be playing in January, but at least they can take some solace in handing the formerly undefeated Panthers their first "L" of the 2015-16 season. The trifecta of Matt Ryan (306 yards and a TD), Devonta Freeman (73 yards and rushing TD) and Julio Jones (178 yards and a TD on just nine receptions) certainly did what needed to be done for the Falcons to win this game, but give their defense some credit too; they managed to keep Carolina's explosive offense limited to 155 yards rushing and just 142 receiving. 

New York Giants (6-9)
Season Point Differential: (-17)

The G-Men are officially out of playoff contention, following the Redskins' division-clinching win over Philadelphia last Saturday. In the penultimate game of the season, the Giants offensive woes continued, as Eli Manning tossed three interceptions in a crushing 49-17 loss to the Vikings. Considering back-up Ryan Nassib went five-for-five and had just as many touchdown passes as Eli, is it too early for a QB controversy to start brewing up for 2016?


Oakland Raiders (7-8)
Season Point Differential: (-34)

Regardless whether the Raiders can upset the Chiefs this Sunday, they've already posted their third best season in about 15 years, with a fair shot at hitting .500 for the first time since 2011 this Sunday. They wrapped up their last home game of the season - and quite possibly their last game in Oakland, period - with a 23-20 O.T. thriller win against divisional rivals San Diego on Christmas Eve, which was doubly significant for being Charles Woodson's final game at O.Co before retiring at season's end. 

Detroit Lions (6-9)
Season Point Differential: (-46)

The Lions didn't have much trouble surmounting the LOL-worthy Niners last weekend, as Matt Stafford and the rest of the pride (get it? because they are lions!) pummeled San Fran 32-17. Stafford finished the game with 301 yards and two TD passes, with Megatron hauling in one score and concluding the contest with 77 yards on six receptions. 

St. Louis Rams (7-8)
Season Point Differential: (-47)

Case Keenum (103 yards, one TD, 14 for 23 on attempts) may have had a day to forget on Sunday, but Todd Gurley certainly proved his merits in the Rams' 23-17 upset over the surging Seahawks. The former UGA standout had 85 yards and one TD on 19 carries - a sum on the ground that surpassed the total rushing yards of Seattle by 25 yards. The defense also did a good job keeping the pressure on Russell Wilson; at the final whistle, they intercepted him once and sacked him four times for a cumulative loss of 36 yards.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9)
Season Point Differential: (-47)

Jameis Winston finished the Bucs' 26-21 loss to the Bears five yards shy of 300 passing, lobbing two touchdowns and one INT. Tampa Bay's lackluster run defense cost them this one; while they held Cutler to about 150-some-odd yards passing, they let the Forte-less Bears chalk up 174 on the ground, with dual threat rusher/receiver Jeremy Langford leading the pack with 83 yards on 19 carries. 

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10)
Season Point Differential: (-48)

Sure, the Jags may have lost 38-27 to the Saints on Sunday, but they sure made fantasy football players happy. Quarterback Blake Bortles lobbed four touchdown passes and two interceptions for 368 yards, while the two Allens doubled up for three touchdowns and 267 yards of total offense. Now if only they could figure out how to stop the run ... and the pass ... and develop their run game ... they might just make for a dandy football squad a good three or four years down the line. 

Chicago Bears (6-9)
Season Point Differential: (-58)

In the definition of a forgettable outing, Jay Cutler produced one touchdown and 156 yards in Chicago's 26-21 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. While their pass defense absolutely crumbled, their run defense did manage to do something that few teams have been able to; they held Doug Martin to less than 50 yards rushing, and only let Jameis Winston rack up 10 yards with his legs. 

Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)
Season Point Differential: (-58)

The Chip Kelly experiment proved far less successful than it has in years past - and remember, those are still years in which the Eagles failed to make it to the playoffs. Following the team's 38-24 loss to Washington, the Eagles are heading back to square one for 2016 - almost certainly with a new QB en tow to accompany that brand new head coach they are now in the market for. The Solatano family, assuredly, most be inconsolable. 

Baltimore Ravens (5-10)
Season Point Differential: (-65)

The Ravens may only have five wins this season, but seeing as how 40 percent of them have come against the Steelers, that's at least some reason to remain optimistic. Judging from his performance in their 20-17 win over Pittsburgh last Sunday, the Ravens might just have a QB solution in the form of Ryan Mallett, whose 274 yards, one-TD day certainly outshined Big Ben's score-less outing. 


New Orleans Saints (6-9)
Season Point Differential: (-71)

Even in the twilight of his career, Drew Brees can still air the ball out like few others. In New Orleans' 38-27 win over the Jags, he wrapped up the contest with three touchdowns and 412 yards on 25 completions, which pans out to an average 11.4 yards per pass. With solid producers like Tim Hightower (122 yards and two touchdowns) and Brandin Cooks (one TD and 123 yards on five receptions), the Saints certainly have the potential for pouring on the points. Alas, their once ferocious defense, especially against the pass, has been defanged, as apparent by the fact they let Blake Bortles drop four touchdowns on them. 

San Diego Chargers (4-11)
Season Point Differential: (-71)

The Chargers gave it their best shot, but Philip Rivers' 277-yard, one TD day wasn't enough to carry San Diego over the Raiders, who bested the Bolts 23-20 in overtime on Christmas Eve. There is a lot of rebuilding for the Chargers in the offseason, but there are a few bright spots - namely, the dual offensive threat of receiver Dontrelle Inman and rusher Danny Woodhead. The bigger question, however, is whether the team will be playing in slightly more northern Southern California next year - and of course, who, if anybody, will be splitting the L.A. rent money with them?

Indianapolis Colts (7-8)
Season Point Differential: (-81)

Following a slim 18-12 win over the long-beached Dolphins, the Colts still have a shot at the AFC South crown, and thus the postseason, just as long as they can beat Tennessee this weekend AND the Texans lose to the Jaguars. Which means, yes, 10 years after Super Bowl XL, Matt Freakin' Hasselbeck might be in the playoffs while Big Ben watches it from the safety of his sofa. Some world, eh?

Dallas Cowboys (4-11)
Season Point Differential: (-88)

With KELLEN GODDAMN MOORE as quarterback, the Cowboys dropped Sunday's game against Buffalo 16-6. In what has been an absolute disaster of a season, there are at least two glimmers of optimism to be found on the 'Boys offense: underrated receiver Brice Butler (who had 74 yards on four receptions last weekend), and unbelievably, ex-Raiders running back Darren McFadden, who managed to post a yard shy of triple digits in the utterly meaningless late-season skirmish. 

Miami Dolphins (5-10)
Season Point Differential: (-89)

The funny thing is, the Dolphins actually have some pretty solid receivers. That's evident by the team's 18-12 loss to Indianapolis Sunday, in which Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker still combined for 200 plus yards. Unfortunately, Miami has two big things working against it, which are unlikely to be solved by the team the 2016 season rolls around; the complete and utter lack of a run game, and the continued inconsistency of Ryan Tannehill. 

Tennessee Titans (3-12)
Season Point Differential: (-118)

To put it delicately, the Titans are a goddamn sonofabitching motherfuckin' mess of a team right now. In their horrific 34-6 loss to the Texans last week, Zach Mettenberger - who is NOT Marcus Mariota, in case you weren't aware of it - went one-for-one on TDs-to-INTs, ultimately collecting 234 yards on 27 completions. Meanwhile, their run game completely evaporated, on both sides of the ball; at the final tally, Tennessee had just 30 rushing yards, while they allowed Houston to run all over them for 128 yards and a Brandon Weeden scrambling TD. 

Cleveland Browns (3-12)
Season Point Differential: (-138)

Granted, there hasn't been much for the "Dog Pound" to get excited about this season. But look on the bright side of things: not only did Johnny Manziel hit triple digits throwing and rushing in Cleveland's narrow 17-13 loss to the Chiefs last Sunday, the dude also knows all the words to Future's "March Madness!" Be thankful, Browns' fans: there aren't that many quarterbacks in the League who know the lyrics to so many songs about molly. 

San Francisco 49ers (4-11)
Season Point Differential: (-152)

Just three years ago, the 49ers, led by golden-armed stud Colin K., were *this close* to hoisting another Lombardi Trophy. Flash forward 34 months later, and the 49ers are the laughingstock of the NFL, commandeered by BLAINE GABBERT and top offensive players DuJuan Harris and Vance McDonald. Needless to say, this franchise is in store for a LOT of retooling in the offseason, with SF almost certain to use their top five draft pick on a would-be QB of the Future. Paxton Lynch, Jared Goff? You have our condolences in advance. 


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