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 (10-1)
That win over the Chiefs was dramatic and high-scoring, but it was the defensive effort that has me lifting the Rams back to the top of the rankings. Aaron Donald leads the league in sacks, and he scared the pants off of Patrick Mahomes. He has that effect on quarterbacks.
2. Saints (10-1)
Not a lot to complain about here, they still haven’t lost since week one, but Drew Brees didn’t have his best game against a lackluster Falcons team. The switcheroo is more about the Rams than the Saints.
3. Patriots (8-3)
Why the bump ahead of the 9-2 Chiefs? Two reasons. First, that Brady to Gronk TD strike looked more like 2007 than 2018, and second, Sony Michel looked very close to 100% in week 12. 133 yards rushing and a TD on 22 carries, for an average of over 6 yards per attempt. Brady also hit eight different targets in week 12, correcting his mistake from the Tennessee loss. If Kansas City stumbles, New England will snatch that number one seed in the AFC. They haven’t lost at home this year.
4. Chiefs (9-2)
This is still a very, very dangerous team, but Patrick Mahomes showed his inexperience against the Rams. Their two losses are against two well-coached elite teams, so it gets harder for me to see them getting the job done come playoff time. Especially if they continue to allow almost thirty points per game.
5. Chargers (8-3)
One incompletion. One. Phillip Rivers is on the next level right now, even if it was the Cardinals. In the (very likely) event that these guys end up as a wildcard, someone is in for a rough one and done to their playoffs.
6. Steelers (7-3-1)
No Bell, no problem, right? Wrong. James Conner has run for 143 yards…in the last three games combined, and only found the end zone once in that time. The loss to Denver at Mile High doesn’t surprise me as much as it did some, but it’s a tough loss to take.
7. Texans (8-3)
Rolling, rolling, rolling…the second longest winning streak in the league, at eight straight. Watson’s arm is dangerous, but he gouged the Titans on the ground this week, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown on only nine carries. If he’s healthy, the Texans can beat anyone.
8. Bears (8-3)
They likely sewed up the NFC North with that win over Minnesota in week 11. Can they contend for an NFC title? I’m not sure. A week fourteen date with the Rams will tell us more. Love the defense and love the improvement in Trubisky’s decision making.
9. Vikings (6-4-1)
In the mix for a wildcard, but I really don’t see it happening. Kirk Cousins has the feel of a guy who’s comfortable. I mean that in a bad way.
10. Cowboys (6-5)
They have to be in the top ten. Why? Because they’re going to win the NFC East. They’ll lose to whichever wildcard team they face, guaranteed.
11. Seahawks (6-5)
Wildcard contenders. Two straight wins over the Packers and Panthers AFTER scaring the Rams down in LA. Pete Carroll has got his team humming again. Also, they play San Francisco two of the next three weeks, so at WORST, they’ll be 8-6 going into their final two weeks.
12. Colts (6-5)
OK. Now they’ve won five straight, and Andrew Luck is that guy again. He’s stayed upright, and trails only Patrick Mahomes in passing touchdowns. Darius Leonard might not win Defensive Rookie of Year, but that’s only if winning the Defensive Player of the Year award somehow disqualifies him. He leads all tacklers with 114. No one else is over 100.
13. Panthers (6-5)
Three losses in a row in November does not a contender make.
14. Ravens (6-5)
Lamar Jackson is a different look for the Ravens, as he’s ran with the ball almost as much as he’s thrown it. But they’ve won two-straight. Full disclosure, it was Cincinnati and Oakland, but they’ve got a pulse.
15. Washington (6-5)
Mark Sanchez? Really? Rueben Foster? Seriously? Buh-Bye.
16. Titans (5-6)
Since beating New England, the Titans have lost two divisional matchups by a total of 35 points. They rank thirtieth in passing and total yards. Think they had the Pats circled on their calendar?
17. Packers (4-6-1)
Consecutive losses to Seattle and Minnesota have the Packers on life support. IF they can win out, they’ll need some serious help to snatch a wild card slot.
18. Eagles (5-6)
Beating the Giants by only three points at home tells us a lot about who you are. So, too does losing by forty-one to the Saints…
19. Falcons (4-7)
Losing to Cleveland isn’t a good look, but as part of a three-game slide, it looks terrible. Just awful. They allow the fourth-most points in the league and are the second-worst team at running the ball. UGH. Want to know how bad it really is? Matt Ryan is the league’s leading passer. Julio Jones is the league’s leading receiver. It doesn’t matter.
20. Browns (4-6-1)
I chastised the Browns for sending Hue Jackson away midseason, but they’ve now won two in a row. Mea culpa. It will be uphill sledding, though. Their next three weeks they’ll play Houston, a desperate Carolina team and the way-better-than-their-record Denver Broncos. Still, if the Browns win five games, they can see that as the beginning of a turnaround.
21. Broncos (5-6)
Knocking off AFC North-leading Pittsburgh has to be vindication for a team that could EASILY be several games over .500 right now. Mark my words: They are going to shift playoff seeding before this year is over.
22. Dolphins (5-6)
The loss to the Colts has to sting here. They let Andrew Luck off the mat and he dissected them. Ryan Tannehill fell apart, as did any sense of rational play-calling by Adam Gase. A win there would have kept their playoff hopes alive, but they’re FIN-ished. Get it?
23. Bills (4-7)
If I told you before the season started that the Bills would beat Minnesota, Tennessee and Jacksonville, and allow the second fewest total yards per game in the league, you’d probably assume they’d be headed back to the playoffs. Football is weird.
24. Bengals (5-6)
Bengals gonna Bungle. Three straight losses and no signs of hope.
25. Lions (4-7)
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.
26. Buccaneers (4-7)
I can’t see any reason to bring back anyone from this defense. If there’s a defensive water boy, fire him, too. Honestly. If this defense was in the top 25, this is a playoff team. With EITHER quarterback.
27. Giants (3-8)
Can’t catch a break. Also, broke themselves by removing the best young runner in the game after leading at halftime 19-3. They should be better.
28. Jaguars (3-8)
I’m sorry, what was that Jalen Ramsey said about Josh Allen? This Jaguars team has lost seven-straight games and any sense of pride they once had. They gambled on Blake Bortles and lost big.
29. Jets (3-8)
Did you get the feeling that the Jets crumbled like a graham cracker when Gronk caught that touchdown dart from Brady? Yeah. Me, too. It’s as if they remembered who the Patriots were, and more importantly, who THEY were.
30. Cardinals (2-9)
Crazy stat time. After Philip Rivers carved them up on Sunday, completing 96.6% of his passes, the Cardinals STILL have the fourth-best passing defense by yards allowed. Right??? Mind = Blown.
31. 49ers (2-9)
If the Niners end up with a top three pick in the draft, who do you think they’re looking for? So many needs in so many places. Trade away the pick? Stockpile young talent? This team needs more than the return of Jimmy G to get back on track.
32. Raiders (2-9)
These guys lost to San Francisco by 31 points. Remember that when I tell you that the Raiders must face Kansas City twice in the final five weeks of the season. And Pittsburgh. Damn.
Image Source: NBC News