Because I don’t do enough stuff that hurts my brain, I’ll be whipping up this inevitably flawed house of cards for everyone to complain about every other week. I’m ranking these teams with a proprietary algorithm that spits out the likelihood that they can win it all at the end of the year. By “proprietary algorithm” I mean my brain after one too many cups of coffee.
Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments or hit me up on twitter @tomcapo57.
1. Rams (6-0)
This is easy. There’s only one other team in the top ten in PPG and PPG allowed. I’ll get there in a minute. The suspense will kill you. But seriously, the Rams are the class of the NFL right now and the only undefeated team left. The only question is if their youth will betray them in a close playoff game.
2. Saints (4-1)
Ok. This just got harder. Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and company score lots of points every week. That defense allows almost thirty per game, too. Fun to watch, but not dominant. Right now, though, they stand the best chance of beating the Rams come playoff time.
3. Chiefs (5-1)
I’m pretty sure we just saw a preview of the AFC title game. The Chiefs, even when they lose, are impressive. Who doesn’t want more of that in the playoffs?
4. Patriots (4-2)
Yes, I know that the Patriots just beat the Chiefs on Sunday Night. Calm down Fitzy. They’re still good. Different, but good. Sony Michel has averaged 80 YPG since skipping week 1. He’s on pace to crack 1200 yards. He’d become only the third Pats rusher to accomplish that during the Tom Brady era if he keeps that up. Just think about what Brady will see if teams start needing to load the box to stop Michel. It’s scary.
5. Vikings (3-2-1)
Are they an inconsistent enigma, or just a good team with a new QB that got trapped by Buffalo? I think the latter. The NFC North still goes through Minnesota.
6. Ravens (4-2)
That close loss to the Browns aside, the Ravens have been really good this year. Their defense has allowed the fewest points per game (12.8) in the league by far. As always with Baltimore, Flacco’s consistency will be the key to postseason success.
7. Steelers (3-2-1)
That was a rough early patch, but it looks like the wheels are back on the wagon. Big Ben has thrown for more yards than any passer thus far this season. Le’veon Bell (theoretically) returns to the team after the week 7 bye. I’m sure there’s still some weirdness, but you can’t rule them out.
8. Chargers (4-2)
This is the Chargers team I expected to see this year. Philip Rivers is still a top ten QB in this league and that defense has done enough without Joey Bosa to keep them winning. When he comes back, I expect the Chargers to make a push. The only two teams to beat the Chargers thus far are the Rams and the Chiefs.
9. Bengals (4-2)
Yeah. They’re 4-2. Technically they lead the AFC North. I don’t care. It’s the Bengals. It’s Marvin Lewis. If they make the playoffs, they’ll lose on Wild Card weekend.
10. Panthers (3-2)
This week’s loss to Washington isn’t super surprising. Cam Newton didn’t look comfortable and didn’t have a 100-yard receiver. Since Washington doesn’t allow the run, if you can’t pass, you’re toast. The Panthers are still a good squad with upside. I doubt that they’ll catch the Saints, though.
11. Eagles (3-3)
Hooray. They beat the Giants. They’ve also only beaten one team that made the playoffs last year. Carson Wentz looks great statistically speaking, but they aren’t putting the ball in the endzone. I just think something looks off in their approach. Losing Jay Ajayi won’t help, either. Can they beat Carolina next week? We’ll know more after that game.
12. Bears (3-2)
Remember up at the top when I said that there was only one other team ranked in the top ten in both PPG and PPG allowed? Yeah…it’s these guys. Maddening, right? They still lead the NFC North, but I really dislike that loss to the Dolphins (Brockweiler Edition). Would they be higher if they had won? Probably not.
13. Jaguars (3-3)
Yeah. I did mention that these guys might want to upgrade at quarterback, didn’t I? The absence of Leonard Fournette has taken the Jaguars out of contention. Blake Bortles appeared unnaturally good last year, and now we know why. Because teams were selling out to stop the running game. The Jags are barely putting up 18 PPG, and Blake Bortles has nine TD’s and 8 INTs. Ouch. BTW, “Sacksonville”’s defense is allowing 21 PPG and only ranks 18th in the league in team sacks. Seriously, they could be ranked lower.
14. Washington (3-2)
Alex Smith. Meh. Good defense, though.
15. Packers (3-2-1)
Yes, the Packers are in the mix for the NFC North, but it’s clear to me that Aaron Rodgers isn’t right. Granted, A Rod at fifty percent is still better than a lot of guys, but with no running game, he’s going to get hurt more than he already is. That Monday Night Miracle was cool, but the Packers should have beaten that Niners team by two touchdowns. They’re still not the best team in their own division.
16. Cowboys (3-3)
That pummeling over the Jags gives me pause, but honestly, I think that game was more about the Jags deflating than the Cowboys becoming some sort of contender. This is still a team that will be in the middle of the pack.
17. Dolphins (4-2)
Not sure if/when Tannehill is coming back, but don’t be fooled. Brock Osweiler can’t and won’t reproduce what he did against Chicago.
18. Titans (3-3)
I’m tempted to put the Titans a little further up the list, but with Mariota playing with a numb hand and getting blanked by the Ravens, I just don’t see the Titans returning to the postseason.
19. Texans (3-3)
Something is weird in Houston after that 0-3 start. Deshaun Watson is back and he’s throwing for more yards and at a better percentage than he did before his injury. The Texans defense is better with the return of J.J. Watt. Are they on the rise? I’m not sure. Best point differential in the AFC South…at -2.
20. Falcons (2-4)
I’m convinced that the Falcons are better than this, but for some reason Matt Ryan can’t or won’t throw to Julio Jones when it matters. Jones still doesn’t have a touchdown this season. I’d start there…
21. Buccaneers (2-3)
Jameis Winston threw for just under four-hundred yards and four touchdowns. It wasn’t enough. Why? Because the Buccs can’t stop the pass. They’ve thrown for more yards than anyone thus far, but allowed the most yards in the air, too. And they’ve allowed the most points in the league. They’ll win a few shootouts, but unless they shore up that secondary, they’re going to get burned by every QB with a decent arm.
22. Broncos (2-4)
I probably should have the Broncos a little bit higher than this. That was a CLOSE game against the Rams. With that being said, the Broncos have taken on the stench of folly, losing control of a winnable game late, after somehow getting blown out by the Jets in week 5. We’ll soon see if Vance Joseph can get Case Keenum humming again.
23. Seahawks (3-3)
Yeah. I really hate the Earl Thomas situation, and I really don’t understand how the Seahawks are still one of the top secondaries in the NFL, allowing only 206 yards per game in the air. Makes no sense. They’ve only beaten Dallas, Oakland and Arizona, so I need to see more before I think they can contend for a wild card spot.
24. Lions (2-3)
Matthew Stafford is wildly overpaid. They need other pieces to contend but can’t afford any. I’m just going to keep repeating that until it sinks in.
25. Browns (2-3-1)
Yeah. It’s actually happening. There are a handful of teams below the Browns on this list. It will stay that way. Getting to 7-8-1 is still a stretch, but it’s not impossible.
26. Jets (3-3)
I should give the Jets more credit than this for being 3-3. But I can’t. They’ve beaten Detroit, a floundering Denver team, and the Colts. Isiah Crowell came to play, though, huh. They were also the first team in forever to lose to the Browns…
27. Colts (1-5)
Andrew Luck? I’m not sure if that shoulder will ever be the same, but either way, he needs some help. They simply can’t run the ball and that defense, despite Darius Leonard leading the league in tackles, allows thirty points per game. You can’t win games like that.
28. Bills (2-4)
I have no idea how on earth this team beat Minnesota. They also beat the Titans. It’s bizarre. They’ve put up fewer points than anybody in the NFL, but if Josh Allen doesn’t injure his throwing arm, allowing Nathan Peterman to throw two INT’s in short order, these guys are 3-3 and somehow in the mix. Like I said, bizarre.
29. Niners (1-5)
No Jimmy G, no bueno. Matt Breida has been a bright spot for this team that expected to contend this year. That won’t happen with C.J. Beathard under center. That MNF game was weird, right? Until the end, when the Niners short circuited spectacularly in the final three minutes.
30. Giants (1-5)
I’d love to tell Giants fans that this is all going to be o.k. It probably isn’t. Saquon Barkley is exactly as good as we thought he was, but OBJ is rankling under the pressure of losing and Eli doesn’t seem to have much in the tank. It’s going to be a rough year if they can’t find a spark.
31. Cardinals (1-5)
Second-worst point differential in the NFL. -57 after only six games. If there’s a bright spot here, I’m struggling to find it.
32. Raiders (1-5)
There’s an argument to be made here that the Raiders are better than the Cards and Giants. I won’t make it. They’re trying to ship off Amari Cooper for a first round pick. They might get it, but it looks like a desperate Jon Gruden trying to pretend he has a plan. I don’t buy it.
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