Wednesday, December 21, 2016

NFL 2016: Week 16 Power Rankings & The Rest


The 'Better Luck Next Year Boys' Quinto

16.) Cleveland Browns  (0-14  =  220-408)
15.) Jacksonville Jaguars  (2-12  =  260-359)
14.) New York Jets  (4-10  =  242-358)

There are actually fewer teams in the AFC totally out of it than in the NFC, but the AFC teams feel far less hopeful about their future. The bottom three are shaping up to be disasters. The Browns are on their way to a well deserved 0-16, but at least they have a bevy of picks. They really have to avoid whatever inclination they may have to trade for Jimmy Garrappolo. The Jaguars finished the first half of their two-part reset by firing Gus Bradley. How quickly they can move on comes down to what happens with Blake Bortles. For the Jets, I'm really not sure. They aren't as bad as 4-10, but they weren't close to as good as 10-6 last year either. Bryce Petty was decent last week, but if we have to get a Hackenburg appearance, the upcoming game in New England can get really ugly, quick.

The 'Debating whether to hit the re-set or not' Duo

13.) San Diego Chargers  (5-9  =  366-366)
12.) Cincinnati Bengals  (5-8-1  =  288-293)

Both teams were supposed to be better. By point differential, both teams are a lot better. Injuries have hit each, whether it is to AJ Green on Cincinnati, or everyone who can catch a pass on San Diego. Both will have to face some really tough questions this offseason on their future. Both will face questions on their coach, with McCoy and Lewis on the hot seat. I have a sneaking suspicion Marvin Lewis stays. The Chargers and Bengals aren't far away but what hurts is the division they are in. Even the current iteration of these teams would be reasonably competitive in the AFC South, but alas they aren't there. I'm glad it isn't me making decisions on the future direction of the franchise.

The 'Playoff Fodder' Quatro

11.) Houston Texans  (8-6  =  250-294)
10.) Buffalo Bills  (7-7  =  358-314)
9.) Indianapolis Colts  (7-7  =  362-339)
8.) Miami Dolphins  (9-5  =  315-314)

All of these teams have shots at the playoffs. The Texans have a pretty easy path. All they have to do is beat Tennessee in Week 17 and they are in (honestly, they could consider resting their guys against Cincinnati). The Dolphins also are more or less one win away with a clear shot at that this week against the Bills. The Bills and Colts need a lot of help, but are alive. Of course, the Bills and Colts are probably the two best teams of the four. I have no idea how the Texans are possibly 8-6. I have a larger idea on how good Tom Savage is, or is not. The Colts will have gone from mightily overachieving to 8-8 last year to underachieving their way to 8-8. In a way that is better, but for any Colts fan you have to be hoping a late season push does not cloud the fact that Pagano and/or Grigson needs to go.

The 'I Mean, the 2008 Cardinals made the Super Bowl' Quatro

7.) Tennessee Titans  (8-6  =  340-323)
6.) Baltimore Ravens  (8-6  =  306-263)
5.) Denver Broncos  (8-6  =  299-258)
4.) Kansas City Chiefs  (10-4  =  319-274)

The Titans, Ravens and Broncos are pretty easy to group together. Teams with good enough strengths to potentially go on a run (yes, even the Mike Mularkey-led Titans), but with obvious holes that could easily keep them out of the playoffs all together. I'm putting the Chiefs here despite the fact they are essentially assured of a playoff spot. To me, they are, very underratedly, not that good of a team. They have lived off of defensive and special teams TDs, and won a handful of games they had little to no business winning (@CAR, @DEN, @ATL). This Chiefs team is nowhere near as good as last years group. The Ravens have a clear path in. Win out and they win the division. The key will be the upcoming game against the Steelers, obviously, and they get a chance for a reverse-2008 scenario where they can steal the division with a win in Pittsburgh. The Titans also have a clear path. One of the two just might get it done.

The 'If one of us don't make the Super Bowl, call this January Madness' Trio

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers  (9-5  =  341-276)
2.) Oakland Raiders  (11-3  =  377-336)
1.) New England Patriots  (12-2  =  365-233)

I'm putting Pittsburgh up here as that team has quietly won five straight and started to right itself on both sides of the ball. They are 9-3 in games that Roethlisberger plays and finishes. The Raiders may still fall to the Wild Card, but to me they still have a far higher upside than the Chiefs, with a more sustainable model of not needing ridiculous Special Teams TDs to win games. As for New England, let's just move on. If they had just regressed like they should I would be wholly supportive of this NFL season.


The 'Better Luck Next Year Boys' Trio

16.) San Francisco 49ers  (1-13  =  264-434)
15.) Chicago Bears  (3-11  =  248-320)
14.) Los Angeles Rams  (4-10  =  197-328)

The Bears are by far the best team of this trio. Yes, the team with the old, conservative coach and the team starting Matt Barkley at QB. At least they can point to injuries as an excuse. What exactly do the 49ers and Rams have? The 49ers tried the whole 'stockpile draft picks' plan and then forgot that for it to work you actually have to draft well. The Rams tried the 'trade all the picks for a QB' plan and, admittedly through just five starts, that QB is a disaster. The Rams are already looking for a new coach, and you have to imagine the 49ers might be as well. It is amazing how quickly the best division in the league was gutted.

The '2017 isn't too far away, guys' Quatro

13.) Philadelphia Eagles  (5-9  =  316-299)
12.) New Orleans Saints  (6-8  =  406-392)
11.) Arizona Cardinals  (5-8-1  =  340-325)
10.) Carolina Panthers  (6-8  =  337-352)

All these four teams can at least start to get excited about a potential run in 2017. The Eagles still have a positive point differential, and a QB who had some good moments. All they really need is more weapons for Wentz and a better health at the o-line. The Saints defense has also had its share of moments, and Drew Brees, when not throwing INTs a lot, is quietly having another fantastic season. Finally we get to the two teams that met in last years NFC Championship Game, going a combined 28-4 last year. Neither is having close to the season it expected, but the Cardinals probably won't be as hurt next year and the foundation is still solid. The Panthers are still the organization I wrote about so glowingly. Consistency is needed at some point, but for now they have a great foundation to build off of for next season.

The 'Playoff Fodder' Trio

9.) Washington Redskins  (7-6-1  =  345-343)
8.) Minnesota Vikings  (7-7  =  264-259)
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (8-6  =  313-322)

Right now all three are on the outside looking in, but still have a shot at the playoffs. The Redskins really blew it on Monday Night and now need a ton of help to get there. I think they were all a little overpsyched by the Josh Norman revenge-ness of the game and didn't seem all that prepared. Also, I have a feeling Kirk Cousins is playing himself out of a lot of millions at this point. The Vikings will be one of the few teams to achieve the 'last unbeaten team in the league' distinction and then miss the playoffs in a long time. As for the Bucs, the future is really bright, but consistency will always be a concern with both Jameis and a defense that seems to vary in their pass rush and coverage discipline a lot. These are fixable issues, but I don't know if Jameis will ever really be all that consistent.

The 'I mean, the Giants (or if the Giants, 'We') won the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011' Trio

6.) Detroit Lions  (9-5  =  301-285)
5.) Green Bay Packers  (8-6  =  363-339)
4.) New York Giants  (10-4  =  272-250)

I happen to think the NFC is quite a bit more open than the AFC, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if any of these three teams make the Super Bowl. Now, none are all that great, but each have had enough quality wins to be taken very seriously, whether it is the Lions going to New Orleans and winning, or the Packers routing Seattle, or the Giants beating the Cowboys twice. At this point it seems inevitable we are getting Packers @ Lions, Week 17 Sunday Night, which would be fantastic. Less fantastic would be if both are making the playoffs anyway at the start of that game.

The 'If one of us don't make the Super Bowl, call this January Madness' Trio

3.) Seattle Seahawks  (9-4-1  =  298-235)
2.) Atlanta Falcons  (9-5  =  469-358)
1.) Dallas Cowboys  (12-2  =  366-258)

Honestly, Atlanta has quietly been one of the best teams in the league, but their five losses will make people overlook them. Some of that is deserved, I mean there is still a non-inconsequential chance they don't win the division. They will really rue the few games they absolutely blew, especially both of their home losses to the Chargers and Chiefs. They should have won the bye, and even more those losses will probably keep Matt Ryan from an MVP award he so rightfully deserves. As for Seattle and Dallas, they keep chugging along and will get all of us (not to mention FOX executives) wet at the chance of a showdown in Jerryworld in January.

Playoff Projections


1.) New England Patriots  =  14-2
2.) Oakland Raiders  =  12-4
3.) Pittsburgh Steelers  =  11-5
4.) Tennessee Titans  =  9-7
5.) Kansas City Chiefs  =  11-5
6.) Miami Dolphins  =  10-6


1.) Dallas Cowboys  =  13-3
2.) Seattle Seahawks  =  11-4-1
3.) Atlanta Falcons  =  11-5

4.) Green Bay Packers  =  10-6
5.) New York Giants  =  11-5

6.) Detroit Lions  =  9-7

Looking Ahead to Next Week's Games

16.) San Francisco 49ers (1-13)  @  Los Angeles Rams (4-10)  (4:25 - FOX)
15.) San Diego Chargers (5-9)  @  Cleveland Browns (0-14)  (1:00 - CBS)

I call it "Amazingly there are only two of these disasters" Saturday, as we only get two games between teams that are completely out of it, which is a nice surprise this late in the season. That first game is an absolutely trainwreck of epic proportions. The second is slightly intriguing as it represents the Browns last chance of conceivably getting a win as it is hard to see them beating the Steelers in a game in Pittsburgh in Week 17 that they will likely need.

14.) Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1)  @  Houston Texans (8-6)  (8:30 Sat - NFLN)

I call it "One of these things is not like the other" Saturday, as this is by far the worst of the primetime games this week. Because of the weird Christmas Eve / Christmas Day competing games, there are five games that are in standalone windows. Three are great games (spoiler: my top three). Thursday night's is decent. This is a disaster. The Bengals are just depressing given they should have been so much better. The Texans can honestly punt this game as win or lose they have to win Week 17 in Tennessee (technically, a Titans loss to Jacksonville and Texans win gives them the division - but that is not happening).

13.) New York Jets (4-10)  @  New England Patriots (12-2)  (1:00 - CBS)
12.) Washington Redskins (7-6-1)  @  Chicago Bears (3-11)  (1:00 - FOX)
11.) Tennessee Titans (8-6)  @  Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)  (1:00 - CBS)

I call it "No Chance of a Spoler" Saturday, as we get these three games with one potential playoff team (in NE's case, obviously playoff-bound) go up against three teams that are completely out of it. I can't imagine the Jets or Jaguars pulling the upset. I guess the fighting Matt Barkley's have a shot at officially ending the Redskins season, but even there I can't imagine the Redskins laying another egg when fighting truly for their playoff life. What I wouldn't give, however, for the Patriots to have a repeat of their memorable 2004 loss to the 4-12 Dolphins.

10.) Miami Dolphins (9-5)  @  Buffalo Bills (7-7)  (1:00 - CBS)
9.) Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1)  @  Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1)  (4:25 - FOX)
8.) New York Giants (10-4)  @  Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)  (TNF - NBC)

I call it "Far better chance of a spoiler" Thursday and Saturday, as we get three inter-division games where teams currently in good playoff positioning have to play rivals that are at least live spoilers. The Bills are arguably plain better than a Matt Moore-led Dolphins team and this is just the type of game Rex Ryan would get up for (sidebar: I know his defense hasn't been good, but I don't get the rush to fire Rex). The Cardinals have been in this position before, beating the eventual Super Bowl Champion Seahawks in Week 16 in Seattle in 2013. The Eagles gave the Giants a great run in the first matchup and still have the defense to stay in the game. I feel like one, if not two, of the lesser teams spoil here.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6)  @  New Orleans Saints (6-8)  (4:25 - FOX)
6.) Atlanta Falcons (9-5)  @  Carolina Panthers (6-8)  (1:00 - FOX)

I call it "Better get that spoiler warning loaded" Saturday, as the NFC South takes center stage. The Saints and Panthers are both proud teams, and the NFC South has some underrated rivalries going on. The Bucs embarrassed the Saints to some degree two weeks ago, and the Saints now get a chance to show them that life is a lot different in the Superdome. The Panthers also get to show that life is a lot different not in the Georgia Dome. I actually think the Falcons are pretty safe bets, but Carolina is a proud team that would like nothing more to end their season on a nice run to set them up for 2017.

5.) Indianapolis Colts (7-7)  @  Oakland Raiders (11-3)  (4:05 - CBS)
4.) Minnesota Vikings (7-7)  @  Green Bay Packers (8-6)  (1:00 - FOX)

I call it "Let's just have fun" Saturday, as these two games look fun for no real reason. The Colts last two road games were wins of 41-10 and 34-6. Two ridiculous ass-kickings. The Raiders are a different challenge than the Vikings and certainly the Jets. The Colts are the type of team to really give the Raiders a run though. With the Vikings, they obviously have had a crushing last 9 games (2-7), but they still have some matchup advantages against the Packers that they can exploit.

3.) Detroit Lions (9-5)  @  Dallas Cowboys (12-2)  (MNF - ESPN)
2.) Denver Broncos (8-6)  @  Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)  (8:30 Sun - NBC)
1.) Baltimore Ravens (8-6)  @  Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)  (4:30 Sun - NFLN)

I call it "Let's just have all the standalone primetime games all the time" Sunday and Monday, as we get some weird scheduling, but the NFL hit gold this time. I don't think the NFL could have flexed any of this, but they didn't have to. I have no idea why we have two Christmas Day games, but we get two great ones. My top ranked game is easily the game of the weekend, with the winner getting the clear road to the AFC North Title. I feel a lot of people are expecting Pittsburgh to win, but the Ravens have a peak level this is definitely high enough to beat them. The Broncos have to win out and hope for help, but a good start would be to get back a game against the team that stole one from them (and really started them down this downward spiral of poor play. Finally, Detroit and Dallas is a great game, one ESPN couldn't have imagined would fall into their lap this way come Week 16. Both teams need the game (the Lions obviously more so - a win here pretty much assures them a playoff spot), and should be a great capper to what looks like an excellent Holiday weekend of football.

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.