Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 NFL Power Rankings - Week 17

ESPN and Sports Illustrated can eat it - these are the only pro football rankings anybody needs.

By: Jimbo X

This Week's Episode:
"Down to a Dozen"


New England Patriots (14-2)
Season Point Differential: +191

With a commanding 35-14 win over the Fins, the Patriots finish up the regular season with both the best overall record in pro football and the League's highest total point differential. Having secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the road to the Super Bowl will undoubtedly find its way snaking through Foxboro, one way or another.

Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
Season Point Differential: +134

With a 38-32 win over the Saints (in a game that saw Matt Ryan lob the rock 331 yards and four touchdowns), the Falcons snatched up the second seed in the NFC and with it, a pivotal first round bye. The offense is definitely there to propel the team far into the postseason, but will the team's suspect run defense sink them in the long haul?

Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
Season Point Differential: +115

With a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs locked up several weeks earlier, the Cowboys didn't risk it against the Eagles, benching Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott so the likes of Tony Romo (but mostly Mark Sanchez) and Darren McFadden could get some snaps. While what was effectively Dallas' B-team wound up losing the game 27-13, the late season loss doesn't appear to have derailed the team's momentum - although, as seasons past have shown us, this team sure does have a knack for hunching the pooch in mid-January...

Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
Season Point Differential: +78

A 37-27 win over the Chargers (in tandem with the Raiders imploding against the Broncos) not only gave the Chiefs the AFC West crown, it also slotted them into the conference's second seed and granted them a crucial first round bye in the playoffs. One thing's for sure - they sure as hell don't want to run into the Steelers, considering all the terrible things Pittsburgh did to 'em back in week four...

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
Season Point Differential: +72

With most of the Steelers' starters sitting out the final game of the season, maybe it's not that surprising it took Pittsburgh overtime to bump off the lowly Cleveland Browns over the weekend. Alas, they got the job done there, and now turn their attentions toward the surprising Miami Dolphins this weekend - a team that managed to best them 30-15 earlier this season in week six.

Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
Season Point Differential: +62

Seattle struggled to take down San Fran over the weekend, with the 'Hawks just narrowly racking up a 25-23 win. Are Russell Wilson's woes and the team's lackluster run game performance in the season ender an indication this team ain't exactly playoffs-ready? We'll see when the team hosts Detroit this weekend. 

Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1)
Season Point Differential: +56

Well, the Cardinals - picked by many "experts" to make it all the way to Super Bowl 51 - didn't even hit .500 at season's end. Oh well - at least they got to inflate their overall season point differential with a 44-6 blowout of the Rams. That's got to account for something, don't it?

Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Season Point Differential: +44

The Packers - fresh off a 31-24 win over the Lions - are quite possibly the hottest team heading into the playoffs, having won six consecutive games. We'll see if the team can keep the hot hand rolling this weekend, when they host the New York Giants for a wildcard round showdown.


Denver Broncos (9-7)
Season Point Differential: +36

Gary Kubiak ended his tenure as the Broncos' coach with a 24-6 win over the Raiders. Although the week 17 victory gives Denver a winning record, it still isn't enough to get them into the postseason - making 2016 the first season since 2002 that neither team participating in the previous year's Super Bowl qualified for the following postseason. 

Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)
Season Point Differential: +36

Carson Wentz and the rest of the crew won't be participating in the playoffs this year, but the team - after an abysmal October and November - did play a lot better heading down the stretch. Not all the pieces are in place quite yet, but give these kids a draft class or two and they could certainly be NFC East Champion material in no time at all. 

Oakland Raiders (12-4)
Season Point Differential: +31

Matt McGloin looked like shit in the Raiders' 24-6 loss to the Broncos - which, in tandem with the Chiefs bumping off the Chargers - cost them not only the AFC West, but a much, MUCH needed first round bye in the playoffs. That means the team's fate hinges on the shoulders of rookie QB Connor Cook, who will be getting his very first professional start against the Texans this Saturday. 

New York Giants (11-5)
Season Point Differential: +26

The Giants dashed the Redskins' playoff dreams Sunday via a 19-10 road win. The G-Men now set sail for Lambeau, as Eli Manning, OBJ and the rest of the gang tango with Green Bay in the opening round of the playoffs. And if they lose, definitely expect the team's mid-week partying to be cited as a factor for defeat.

Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
Season Point Differential: +22

The Ravens were firmly in the race for the AFC North crown all the way up until two weeks ago. As you'd expect a team with nothing left to play for to do, they proceeded to spend the final week of the regular season getting their ass kicked by a divisional rival, to the tune of a 27-10 Bengals victory.

Buffalo Bills (7-9)
Season Point Differential: +21

It's not really surprising that Rex Ryan got shit-canned following the Bills' 30-10 loss to the Jets. There's a pretty good offensive core up there in Almost-Toronto, but the team still has plenty of defensive deficiencies to work on through the offseason.

Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
Season Point Differential: +20

The Vikes started out the year 5-0, but somehow managed to fuck up a good three months of football en route to a ho-hum .500 average. But hey, they did manage to beat the Bears 38-10 in their regular season finale and a whole bunch of hippie protesters showed the entire world just how incredibly easy it is to break into their stadium with a 20 foot banner and hang it from the scaffolding without any security guards knowing about it. That's got to make you feel some kind of pride, don't it?

Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
Season Point Differential: +19

Andrew Luck and the gang broke even with a 24-20 win over the Jaguars last weekend. With a midrange draft pick in the cards, the team will probably look to beef up its porous run defense - I mean, can their GM really sleep well at night knowing the motherfucking Jags are able to drop 182 rushing yards on them?


New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Season Point Differential: +15

Had Lady Luck pushed a couple of field goals just a wee bit closer to the uprights, this Saints team very well could have finished up the season 9-7, or maybe even 10-6. Alas, Drew Brees and amigos caught some tough breaks down the road - despite scoring a million bajillion points, their paper-thin defense allowed opposing teams to rack up just as many digits on the scoreboard all season long. 

Washington Redskins (8-7-1)
Season Point Differential: +13

All the Redskins had to do was beat the Giants on their home turf Sunday and they were playoffs-bound. Well, after dropping that little heartbreaker 19-10, last year's NFC East champs will have to watch the remainder of the postseason on TV at home - and something tells me they are going to be doing a lot of rooting for whoever winds up playing against the Cowboys or Giants. 

Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1)
Season Point Differential: +10

The Bengals' collapse in 2016 has to be the most flabbergasting of the year (well, if you don't count Carolina in the equation, anyway.) Still, they managed to end the disappointing season on something that at least formally resembles a high note - a 27-10 win over a deflated Ravens' squad that clearly did not give a shit about what was happening on the field.

Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Season Point Differential: +03

Despite finishing the season with a winning record, their 24-17 win over the Texans really didn't account for much, seeing as how Houston already held the tiebreaker over them. Still, this team did way better than expected - if Marcus Mariota can come back 100 percent next year, definitely expect this team to make a strong push for the 2017-18 postseason.

Detroit Lions (9-7)
Season Point Differential: -12

Falling 31-24 to the Packers, Detroit handed Green Bay the NFC North championship last Sunday night. Still, the Lions (thanks to a Redskins' loss) managed to secure the sixth seed in the conference, thus facilitating a trip to Seattle this weekend. In that, one can't help but wonder: is Matt Stafford and Golden Tate enough to get this team past the first round, let alone carry the team deep into January play?

San Diego Chargers (5-11)
Season Point Differential: -13

The Chargers concluded their disappointing season with a disappointing 37-27 loss to divisional foes Kansas City. Alas, the big question heading into the offseason is where this team will be playing this time next year: unless some miracle deal is struck between now and the end of February, it's pretty much a given we just saw our last NFL game in San Diego for a long time to come

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Season Point Differential: -15

The Bucs' slim playoff hopes came crashing down Sunday, even though T.B. did finish the year with a 17-16 win over Carolina. In an alternate reality, there's a pretty good chance a few fortuitous bounces would've propelled this team to an 11-5 record - alas, on this Earth, it looks like Tampa Bay came up, ahem, - a Buc short - of making the postseason.

Miami Dolphins (10-6)
Season Point Differential: -17

The Dolphins got absolutely hammered by Tom Brady and pals, losing their regular season finale against the Patriots 35-14. Things won't get any easier for Matt Moore and company this weekend, when they must travel to Pittsburgh and go toe-to-toe with Big Ben and the boys in the wildcard round of the playoffs.


Carolina Panthers (6-10)
Season Point Differential: -33

...and that's the way the defending NFC Champs' dumpster fire of a season wraps up; not with a whimper, but with a 17-16 loss to Tampa Bay. Pigskin historians are going to be studying the mechanics of this team's astounding fall from glory for years to come - and no, the team can't blame all their hardships on Cam Newton eatin' helmet every other play, either.

Houston Texans (9-7)
Season Point Differential: -49

By just about every quantitative margin you want to use, the Texans are probably the worst team to make the playoffs this year. Alas, the statistical odometer unofficially rolls over once the postseason begins, and we'll just have to wait and see what Brock Os brings to the table when Houston hosts the Raiders this Saturday afternoon.

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)
Season Point Differential: -82

Never mind the top five draft pick, the big question mark heading into the offseason is who will wind up filling in as the team's head coach. Two names being bandied about early are Falcons' O.C. Kyle Shanahan and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. With Blake Bortles routinely posting 300 yards a game and the running back committee flirting with 200 YPG, there's definitely a lot of potential for the men in teal - you know, just as long as they get their super shitty defense fixed sometime this century.

Chicago Bears (3-13)
Season Point Differential: -120

The Bears had their worst season in ages, wrapping up a shitty year with a shitty 38-10 loss to a Vikings team that stopped giving a damn a month and a half ago. Sitting pretty with a top five pick in the draft, one would imagine the team's top priority is picking up a new signal caller - that is, unless they see something in Matt Barkley that don't nobody else in the world knows about

New York Jets (5-11)
Season Point Differential: -134

The Jets haven't had a whole lot of high points this season, but at least they managed to bump off divisional foes Buffalo 30-10 in week 17. There is a whole lot to work on in the downtime, but the team's most pressing priority, of course, is landing themselves a quarterback halfway worth a shit. And seeing as how this is the same franchise that once gave Chad Pennington $64 million to do Jack Shit, I wouldn't exactly have a whole lot of optimism on management to make much headway there one iota.

Los Angeles Rams (4-12)
Season Point Differential: -170

The Rams concluded their season by getting the ever-loving shit pounded out of them by Arizona 44-6. Destined for a top five draft pick, it's pretty hard to determine what L.A. needs to remedy first - an offense that could only muster 71 yards passing and 52 yards rushing in week 17 or a defense that allowed the corpse of Carson Palmer to lob the rock for 255 yards and three touchdown passes.

San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Season Point Differential: -171

The Niners racked up one of their worst seasons ever, concluding the 17-week shitstorm with a painfully close 25-23 loss to divisional foes Seattle. Needless to say, this team is going to be doing a LOT of retooling in the offseason - and if either Colin K. or Blaine Gabbert are still on the roster come next August, I'll eat my own hat and put it on YouTube.

Cleveland Browns (1-15)
Season Point Differential: -188

Sure, it was the Steelers' back-up crew, but the Browns nonetheless looked somewhat valiant in their tough overtime loss to Pittsburgh last weekend. Destined for the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, Cleveland has a lot to rebuild in the offseason; as in, pretty much the whole goddamn team. Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen, DeShone Kizer, Leonard Fournette - at this point, they've all got to be considered improvements over the dumpster fire down by Lake Erie.


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