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. Saints (8-1)
No Dez. OK. No problem. Let’s just grab Brandon Marshall instead. There’s a reason why the Saints have access to a seemingly unending string of over-sized Pro Bowl caliber wideouts. It’s because they know this team is going deep in the postseason. They haven’t lost since week one.
2. Rams (9-1)
The loss of Cooper Kupp to injury concerns me, as does the recent scorch-ability of Marcus Peters, but it’s not enough for me to take them out of the top two.
3. Chiefs (9-1)
The lone loss to New England stands out here, but the Chiefs have slowed from their early frenetic pace. They beat Cleveland and Arizona the past two weeks, but honestly, not by enough.
4. Patriots (7-3)
They got dismantled Sunday by a Mike Vrabel-led team with a number of former Pats on the roster. It wasn’t pretty, and it looked a lot like the ugly loss against Detroit which featured Matt Patricia, and a host of ex-Patriots. Get the picture? If you think the sky is falling in New England, you’re probably wrong. And they’re going into the bye.
5. Steelers (6-3-1)
Le’Veon Bell aside, Pittsburgh is running away with the AFC North. They just manhandled a very, very good Carolina defense to the tune of fifty-two points. Oh, and they allow barely ninety YPG on the ground. Be ready for Steelers-Patriots in week 15 to have some serious playoff seeding ramifications.
6. Chargers (7-2)
The OTHER Los Angeles team is now a top ten team in points scored and points allowed. Philip Rivers looks as good as always, but the emergence of Melvin Gordon as a top five rusher has given the Chargers a different dimension.
7. Texans (6-3)
Very quietly, the Texans have won six-straight. Deshaun Watson has settled down from some early season nerves, and that defense is a top ten unit in points allowed. A key injury could easily derail them, but I’m pretty sure they have the inside track on the AFC South.
8. Bears (6-3)
They allow scarcely nineteen points per game and Khalil Mack has more sacks than his old team COMBINED. Mitchell Trubisky is on pace for over thirty touchdowns. They’ve won three- straight, but a week eleven showdown with the Vikings for the lead in the NFC North looms large.
9. Panthers (6-3)
Repeat after me. The Panthers are not as bad as that loss to the Steelers made them look. Their only other “bad” loss was a divisional road game against the Falcons. Here’s the bad news. They have to play New Orleans twice in the final three weeks.
10. Washington (6-3)
OK- so it’s still Alex Smith, but they look to be solidifying their stranglehold on the NFC East. That defense is a lot better than people give them credit for and like every Alex Smith team ever, they don’t make mistakes. No one wants to see this team in the divisional round.
11. Vikings (5-3-1)
Yeah, this team just isn’t the same this year. Top five in yardage allowed, but barely in the top ten in points allowed. Kirk Cousins might have been a slight upgrade at QB, but at what cost? The soul of the team looks lost.
12. Titans (5-4)
Getting a boost here for that systematic handling of New England but watching some of Mariota’s errant throws gives me pause. I don’t think that hand is right, but they don’t have any other options. If he can get/stay healthy, they might be a factor.
13. Packers (4-4-1)
He may have lost the battle of the GOATS against Tom Brady, but if he’s still breathing, the Packers stand a chance. In a division that doesn’t have much separation, I can’t be sure he won’t catch the Vikings and Bears.
14. Seahawks (4-5)
They’ve lost two straight games, but that was the Rams and Chargers. Both heartbreakers, so they could easily be 6-3 right now. Pete Carroll should be up for Coach of the Year if he can squeeze this roster into a wild card slot.
15. Eagles (4-5)
Nothing has changed, but this is not the same team that beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl last year. Only scoring twenty-two points per game will do that to you.
16. Cowboys (4-5)
Even with that win over Philly, I can’t see this team going anywhere. Too many questions. Like this one. WHY THE HELL AREN’T THEY RUNNING THE BALL MORE????
17. Ravens (4-5)
Coach Harbaugh is on the hot seat and Flacco is probably out for week eleven, but that defense is textbook Baltimore, allowing the second-fewest points per game in the league.
18. Falcons (4-5)
Good offense. BAD defense. Now a signature loss to the Browns that likely ends their chances of a playoff run. Julio Jones leads the league in receiving yards, but only has two touchdowns. (Shakes head and feels bad for people who play fantasy football)
19. Dolphins (5-5)
OK. They beat the Bears, and Brock Osweiler looked like a legend. Since then, they’ve only beaten the Jets. Still, they’re at .500 this late in the season with a replacement at quarterback…
20. Bengals (5-4)
They’re above .500, in a winnable division. They’re also not nearly as good as you think. They can’t stop…well, anything. They’re seriously lucky that the Saints didn’t hang triple digits on them. How you can have a winning record with a -53 point differential is just beyond me.
21. Colts (4-5)
They’ve WON three straight games, but don’t get too excited. It was the Bills, Raiders and the suddenly moribund Jaguars. They allowed the Jets to score forty-two points in a week six loss. The Jets have only scored 208 points all season long.
22. Browns (3-6-1)
Did you see that locker room after the Falcons win? It’s week ten guys. Don’t be so surprised that you got some points on the board.
23. Broncos (3-6)
They’ve lost to the Chiefs twice. By eleven points COMBINED. They were within a field goal of both the Rams and Texans. Sometimes good teams just don’t win as much as they should. This is the sort of thing that gets coaches fired, regardless of what John Elway says this week.
24. Lions (3-6)
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. Jaguars (3-6)
Man. Jalen Ramsey REALLY needs to stop talking.
26. Buccaneers (3-6)
Five hundred yards of offense. Three points. The math boggles the mind. I don’t even know how that’s possible. Oh, and the defense is non-existent.
27. Bills (3-7)
This team, which has scored only one-hundred-thirty-seven points all season long (forty-one of those in week ten with Matt Barkley at QB), somehow beat both the Vikings and the Titans. Their defense has also allowed the fewest yards per game in the entire league. I’m so confused.
28. Jets (3-7)
Without Sam Darnold, the lack of offensive weapons just became very obvious. Todd Bowles could well lose his job after losing to the Bills that badly. If you’re wondering why the Jets are ranked right behind a team that crushed them this week, it’s about to get a lot uglier…
29. Cardinals (2-7)
Only Buffalo scores fewer points per game. One of only two teams with a point differential worse than -100. Those two wins against the Niners might be it for these guys all season long. Larry Fitzgerald deserves better.
30. Giants (2-7)
Eli Manning might be playing for his job, and I think that’s probably fair. But don’t think for a single second that the Giants made the wrong pick. Saquon Barkley is the offensive rookie of the year, racking up eight 100-yard games in his first nine starts. Only Eric Dickerson has done that before. Barkley is a generational talent. Period.
31. 49ers (2-8)
Isn’t it weird how a game between two bad teams can look almost like a good game? But the Niners have only beaten Oakland since Jimmy G went down.
32. Raiders (1-9)
They somehow beat the Browns in a shootout in week four, but I have no idea how. This is a team that lost to the Niners by four touchdowns. Jon Gruden might have been the worst investment in modern sports history.