Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 NFL Power Rankings (Week 17 - PLUS PLAYOFFS PREDICTIONS!)

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


By:
Jimbo X

JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

This Week's Episode:
"The Last Hurrah"

THE ELITES

#01
New England Patriots (13-3)
Season Point Differential: +162

Another year and yet another season in which the Patriots finish with the best overall record in pro football. For the record, they finished with the best overall record last year, too, and we all know what that eventually lead to. With a stellar offense and a defense that has improved by leaps and bounds over the last two months, it seems like Tom Terrific is practically destined for his sixth Super Bowl ring - but then again, we've said that before, only to get surprised come the first Sunday in February.

#02
Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
Season Point Differential: +162

With most of their starters benched, the Eagles wrapped up their otherwise stellar regular season campaign with a 6-0 loss to Dallas. By virtue of their 13-3 record, the Eagles have locked up home field throughout the playoffs and a first round bye, but questions abound regarding the physical and mental durability of QB Nick Foles, who hasn't exactly looked like Joe Montana heading down the December stretch. Regardless, in two weeks' time we'll see whether Carson Wentz's back-up is destined to be the next Rocky Balboa - or the next Mitch Williams.

#03
Minnesota Vikings (13-3)
Season Point Differential: +130

After thumping Chicago 23-10 in their regular season closer, the Vikes have earned themselves the second overall seed in the NFC and a much-needed first round bye. The golden trifecta of Case Keenum, Latavius Murray and Adam Thielen has helped Minnesota put a lot of points on the board, but their real secret weapon is their potent D; allowing opponents just 192.4 yards per game, the Vikings have far and away the stingiest defense in the National Football League.

#04
Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
Season Point Differential: +98

The Steelers closed out their regular season with an astonishingly close 28-24 win over the now 0-16 Browns (not that Pittsburgh really had much of an incentive to win the game, of course.) With the second seed in the AFC locked down, the Steelers will receive a bye and host at least one playoffs skirmish at Heinz Field. Many analysts predict a second rendezvous with the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game as a foregone conclusion - only time will tell if Big Ben gets to avenge his infamous "fake spike interception" from a few weeks back.

#05
Los Angeles Rams (11-5)
Season Point Differential: +149

With pretty much all of their starters benched, the Rams fell 34-13 against the Niners in an utterly meaningless closing day game. Alas, expect Todd Gurley, Jared Goff and the rest of the crew to be suited up for this weekend's wild card home stand against the Falcons; the big question now is, will L.A. be able to get more than 30,000 people to show up for the city's first playoffs game in almost a quarter century?

#06
New Orleans Saints (11-5)
Season Point Differential: +122

A last second 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay bumped New Orleans out of the third seed, which means the Saints will now host NFC South rivals Carolina during the first week of the playoffs. Thankfully for the boys in black and gold, New Orleans has played quite well against the Panthers so far this season. They've already beaten Cam Newton and pals twice - they notched up a 34-13 win on Sept. 24 and a 31-21 win on Dec. 3.

#07
Carolina Panthers (11-5)
Season Point Differential: +36

In the wake of a 22-10 loss to the Falcons, not only do the Panthers cede the NFC South crown to New Orleans, they lose a pivotal home game in the playoffs against the Saints this weekend. By the way, the Panthers are 0-2 against New Orleans in the regular season - is there really any reason to believe they'll find a way to flip the script in the post-season?

#08
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
Season Point Differential: +149

The Jags fell 15-10 against the Titans in Week 17, in a game Jacksonville was obviously not that interested in winning.  Considering the Jags had already locked up the third seed in the AFC, I suppose there was no use putting that much effort in the showing. And for their obvious lack of giving a shit, they've been awarded a playoffs home game against a team with a minus 64 season points differential who just barely Flair flopped into the postseason. The lesson here, kids? Don't ever try, and very good things will inevitably come your way.

Shit - they're already making the kid practice his mea culpa for why the team gets bounced in the second round.

THE PLAYOFFS HOPEFULS

#09
Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Season Point Differential: +76

Just barely getting past the Broncos with Patrick Mahones at QB in Week 17, don't expect to see much of anybody not named "Alex Smith" behind center for the Chiefs when they host the Titans this Saturday. Kansas City has to be considered a huge favorite heading into the showdown; the last time the Chiefs played the Titans (last August), Kansas City thumped 'em to the tune of 30-6.

#10
Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
Season Point Differential: +38

The Falcons did what they needed to do and triumphed over Carolina last Sunday, thus securing them the sixth and final seed in the NFC side of the playoffs. Now Atlanta travels to Los Angeles for a Saturday night showdown with the Rams - as of midweek, Las Vegas has Matt Ryan and amigos listed as +6 underdogs.

#11
Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
Season Point Differential: +92

With Cincinnati roaring back to topple them 31-27, not only did Baltimore close the season with a humiliating defeat, they managed to screw themselves out of a postseason appearance. Still, considering the team finished the year with a 9-7 record, there probably won't be that many radical changes for the Ravens in the offseason ... or, it at least seems at the moment.

#12
Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
Season Point Differential: +83

Despite slapping the shit outta' the Raiders 30-10 in Week 17, the playoffs math worked against L.A., as Tennessee and Buffalo both won while Baltimore lost, thus setting into motion a weird series of events that effectively factored the Chargers out of a postseason berth. Considering the team's low, low expectations at the beginning of the season, one can't help but consider their 9-7 finish a major surprise - if not a sign that even better things are to come for the uprooted franchise in 2018.

#13
Detroit Lions (9-7)
Season Point Differential: +34

The Lions have been out of the playoffs hunt since last week, but they still brought their A-game against the Packers in their regular season finale. Alas, despite chalking up a dominant 35-11 win over Green Bay, the Lions' upper brass nonetheless thought it was time to shit can head coach Jim Caldwell - this, despite leading the Lions to winning records in three out of the last four seasons. Surely, such won't wind up blowing up in the teams' face as they slowly begin to spiral back into mediocrity in his absence next season, right?

#14
Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
Season Point Differential: +34

By virtue of the Falcons beating the Panthers, Seattle was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs even before they dropped last Sunday's game to Arizona 26-24. Considering the talent the Seahawks have on both sides of the ball, it's pretty hard to consider this year anything other than a huge disappointment. Alas, we'll just have to wait until next September to see if the team rebounds or regresses.

#15
Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
Season Point Differential: +22

The Cowboys scored a 6-0 victory over the Eagles in their regular season finale - primarily, because virtually every impact player for Philadelphia was taking a breather. Despite their 9-7 record, the Cowboys yet again find themselves watching January football from their living rooms instead of the sidelines. If you were wondering just how important Ezekiel Elliott was to this team as a whole, well - there's your answer right there.

#16
Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Season Point Differential: -22

With a 15-10 win over a Jaguars team that clearly wasn't giving any shits about anything, the Titans chalked up the fifth overall seed in the AFC, which puts them on a collision course with the Chiefs this Saturday afternoon. Las Vegas, obviously, doesn't have a whole lot of faith in Marcus Mariota and them, though; as of mid-week, the insider line has the Titans listed as a +8 road dog heading into the K.C. field trip.

More like "Buffal-HO," am I right?

THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK

#17
Buffalo Bills (9-7)
Season Point Differential: -57

An aberrant number of freaky things had to transpire for the Bills to get in the playoffs, but in a direct affront to probability as a mathematics-based science, every last one of them happened and now Buffalo is playing postseason football for the first time in 17 years. Not that anyone expects T-Mobile and company to hang around that long; Las Vegas lists Buffalo as an +8.5 underdog heading into their road game against Jacksonville Sunday.

#18
Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Season Point Differential: -66

Considering how shitty the Cards have looked throughout the season, the fact they finished their 2018 campaign at .500 is actually kinda' surprising. Obviously, the team is in total rebuild mode heading into the offseason. Priority number one? Finding a much-needed replacement for long-time QB Carson Palmer, who, after this disastrous season, has about as much shelf life left as decorative protective solar glasses.

#19
Washington Redskins (7-9)
Season Point Differential: -46

After a ho-hum 7-9 season, the big question is whether or not Kirk Cousins will stay with the Skins next year or leave for greener pastures. If Washington doesn't resign him, common sense would dictate their first draft priority is a new QB - think the top-level execs might roll the dice on Lamar Jackson, or maybe even Mason Rudolph?

#20
Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)
Season Point Differential: -59

Sunday's come from behind win over Baltimore might make the Bengals' faithful feel good about themselves for awhile, but that still can't mask the fact this franchise has some serious problems moving forward. Andy Dalton's probably a lock to stay, but both the rushing and receiving corps need a desperate, dire shot of adrenaline. Expect Cincinnati to roll the dice on a big name halfback come draft time - Kerryon Johnson or one of them Georgia boys, most likely.

#21
Green Bay Packers (7-9)
Season Point Differential: -64

Yikes. Even with Aaron Rodgers returning from injury, the Packers still managed to conclude their once-promising 2017 campaign with three consecutive losses, including last Sunday's 35-11 thumpin' from Detroit. So, was this a one-year blip or a serious sign that the mighty is about to fall big time this upcoming autumn?

#22
San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
Season Point Differential: -52

After an 0-9 start, the Niners totally reversed course, finishing the second half of the season with a stellar 6-1 record. Indeed, ever since Jimmy Garoppolo became San Fran's starter, they've been on a 5-0 win streak; with a retooled offense and revamped defense cobbled together in the offseason, there's a strong chance the Niners could continue their winning ways LONG into the 2018 season.

#23
Oakland Raiders (6-10)
Season Point Differential: -72

To say the Raiders' 2017 season has been a clusterfuck of biblical proportions would be an understatement. Both Oakland's offense and defense took big steps backwards this season, thus instigating the firing of head coach Jack Del Rio, who almost certainly will be replaced by former Raiders HC Jon Gruden - which, in turn, makes this Child's Play 2 poster all the more prophetic in hindsight.

#24
Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Season Point Differential: -112

Jay Cutler, to the shock of all carbon-based lifeforms on the planet, didn't suck out loud this season. Alas, despite literally living out of a hotel room for the entire season, odds are Smokin' Joe won't be wearing orange and teal come next season. Which, naturally, raises the question - will Miami try to find their next quarterback through the draft, or some frugal offseason free agent shopping?

Just remember: the giant shit this elephant took won just as many NFL games as the Browns this season.

ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT

#25
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
Season Point Differential: -47

Expectations were sky high for the Bucs, with many analysts predicting them to run away with the NFC South title. Well, in the wake of a disastrous 5-11 campaign, now they're the only team in the NFC South not participating in this year's playoffs. Needless to say, it'll be interesting seeing what offseason moves this team makes - or, in the case of one Jameis Winston - don't make

#26
Chicago Bears (5-11)
Season Point Differential: -56

Mitch "The Bitch" Trubisky had a rookie season to forget - he wrapped up his freshman NFL year with 2,193 yards, a 59.4 percent completion rate and a seven-to-seven TD-to-INT split. At least back Jordan Howard looked great all year-long - with 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns, he finished the regular season as the League's sixth most productive rusher.

#27
New York Jets (5-11)
Season Point Differential: -84

Considering many analysts predicted the Jets to be the worst team in the NFL at the beginning of the season, their 5-11 final record actually makes them stand out as overachievers compared to the likes of the Giants and the Browns. Still, this is a team that needs to rebuild from the ground up at virtually every position; quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, defense - shit, it's gonna' be awhile before this team gets all the pieces they need to be truly competitive.

#28
Denver Broncos (5-11)
Season Point Differential: -93

Holy shit, was it amazing watching the Broncos shit the bed all season-long. Just two years removed from a freakin' Super Bowl victory, Denver struggled all season long, eventually going an amazing 2-10 in their final 12 games of the year. And with Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock goddamn Osweiler on the depth chart, don't expect the post-Peyton quarterback woes to end anytime soon.

#29
Houston Texans (4-12)
Season Point Differential: -98

Talk about a tragedy - had DeShaun Watson not tore his ACL in practice, who knows how much better the Texans would've been? Shit, there's a strong chance that not only would they have finished with a winning record, they may have even won the AFC South. Aye, much like the prospects of what a 2016 Raiders squad with a healthy Derek Carr could've done in last year's postseason, I guess this is one of those things we'll just have to guess about for all eternity.

#30
Indianapolis Colts (4-12)
Season Point Differential: -141

Andrew Luck didn't play a single game all year round and ex-Pat Jacoby Brissett was pretty much the Bizarro Jimmy Garoppolo, wrapping up the year with a 13-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio and the dubious distinction of being the most sacked quarterback in the League. Unsurprisingly, head coach Chuck Pagano got shit canned immediately after the final game of the regular season; I hate to be a pessimist, but with all the things going awry in Indy these days, something tells me making one coaching change won't be enough to put out the raging dumpster fire ... 

#31
New York Giants (3-13)
Season Point Differential: -142

Well, what more can be said about this absolute train wreck of a season? Believe it or not, many experts predicted the Giants to win the NFC East, yet here we are, trying to dissect the reason why a team with so much upswing wound up with the second worst record in pro football. And no, you can't blame it all on OBJ getting hurt, either ... 

#32
Cleveland Browns (0-16)
Season Point Differential: -176

THEY DID IT! Against all odds, even with a final game against a clearly disinterested second string-studded Pittsburgh Steelers squad, the Browns STILL managed to finish the '18 campaign with a grand total of zero wins. Well, if there's an upside to the abysmal season, I suppose it's the fact the Browns will receive both the first and fourth overall picks in next year's draft. Although at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if General Manager John Dorsey uses the first pick to select a handgun, and the fourth overall to draft a single bullet.


And I suppose it's only fitting that I wrapped up this 17-week series with my predictions for the remainder of the playoffs. 

In the wildcard round I've got the Chiefs bumping off the Titans, The Jaguars dispatching the Bills, the Rams knocking off the Falcons and the Saints besting the Panthers.

In the divisional round, I have the Patriots exacting revenge for their Week 1 home loss and defeating the Chiefs, the Steelers just barely getting past the Jags in overtime, the Vikings bumping off the Rams and the Saints upsetting the Eagles on the road. 

For the AFC Conference title game I've got the Patriots outlasting the Steelers and in the NFC Conference championship shindig I've got the Saints shocking the Vikes on their home turf. And in Super Bowl 52, I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict Tom Brady becoming the first player to ever win SIX Super Bowl rings as the Patriots sneak by the Saints by the skin of their teeth up there in Minneapolis in a 34-31 classic.

Well, that's all she wrote for the 2017-18 NFL season. We laughed, we cried, we protested, we cheap shotted motherfuckers right in the head and we all learned to love goofy, choreographed touchdown celebrations again

Aye - it truly was the best of times and worst of times simultaneously, wasn't it?

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