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.
Of the top contenders in the league right now, this is the team that went out and handled its business in week 14. No muss, no fuss in a divisional road win. After seeing the Rams, Pats and Texans slip, you have to respect that.
They won against a playoff-caliber team, but they got pushed around and needed some amazing Harry Houdini stuff from Pat Mahomes to walk away with the win in overtime. Still, they got the job done.
Did they peak too early? Or are they playing possum? I tend to think that they just got beat by a Bears team that is creeping rapidly up these ranking with the return of Mitchell Trubisky. I think they might still be better than the Saints, but I can’t reward that loss.
Next week is going to be a doozy, and unless I miss my hunch, these guys will likely snatch the top seed in the AFC West, and maybe the entire AFC. Here’s the thing, they might need to do it without Melvin Gordon, which would sway the odds.
The loss in Miami isn’t unexpected. Tom Brady and company have dropped six of their last seven in South Beach. What is interesting is the “how”. Missed field goals and extra points. Allowing a sack that wiped a guaranteed three points off the board. Overly conservative and unimaginative play calling that left the game in question under a minute. A flat-out terrible defensive coaching decision in the final moments. This week in Foxboro isn’t going to be fun.
Can these Bears muddy the waters against anyone? I think so. They held the Rams to a woeful 52 yards on the ground. Oh, and they almost QUADRUPLED that rushing total themselves…lookout.
A win over the resurgent Colts could have sewn up the division and a probable first round bye, but week 14 belonged to the dragon slayers. The Texans are still a dragon.
Quick. Who has the longest winning streak in the NFL right now? Yup, the Dallas Cowboys have shaken off the funk of an early slump, thanks primarily to the addition of Amari Cooper, who has legitimized Dak Prescott again. They might not be among the NFC’s power players, but they’re headed for a home playoff game.
These birds have the second-longest winning streak in the league and a healthy head start on the rest of the NFC’s wildcard contenders. That win over the current six seed, the Vikings, only shows you exactly how far up they are on their competition.
Yes, technically they still trail the Steelers for the NFC North crown, but the Ravens just put the Chiefs in a corner. Not many teams have been able to do that.
After losing to Oakland in week 14 to continue a three-game slide, I struggle to leave the Steelers up this high. They still lead the division, but the Ravens are hot on their heels. A tilt with the Patriots will decide their season.
Pretty good candidate for the sixth seed in the AFC, especially if Pittsburgh continues their slide. They took care of business in week 14, keeping the AFC South in play and halting the Texans win streak.
Technically speaking, this is a playoff team at the moment. Kirk Cousins threw for only 208 yards and converted only two out of ten attempts on third down. They’ve since fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, but they should probably fire the person in the front office who decided that Kirk Cousins needed three years for $84 million. This was a better, more dangerous team with Case Keenum at the helm last year.
They put the final nail in the Jaguars dismal season and kept their wildcard hopes alive in the process. I’m not sure that they have as much upside as the Ravens or Colts, but when you can rush for 264 yards on the still defensively stout Jaguars, you’re on to something. DID YOU SEE DERRICK HENRY? He would have rushed for almost 140…without that crushing 99-yard TD.
You’ve got to give the Fins a lift for finding a way to beat New England yet again. That desperation lateral play was smart. Super smart with Gronk lumbering around at safety instead of Devin McCourty. It won’t matter. They won’t make the playoffs. Their -55 point differential is the worst among the wild card contenders and a week 15 date with a desperate Minnesota team will most likely close out their season.
Interesting tidbit. The Packers, as of today, are the tenth seed in the NFC and are alive for a wildcard slot. The teams between them and a playoff berth, Washington, Philly, Carolina and Minnesota are ALL lugging around a negative point differential, but the Packers are above water. If they can find a way to upset the apple cart against the Bears next week, they are very much alive.
It took overtime, but the Eagles let the Cowboys and the division slip away. This team is a far cry from the one that out-dueled Brady and the Patriots for all the marbles last year.
On life support. Five straight losses have dropped them way down on this list. Change is in the wind. Riverboat Ron might be looking for a new casino next year.
Can they get into the playoffs? Probably not, but for this Browns team that had already moved the needle before firing Hue Jackson, getting back to the middle of the pack would be a drastic improvement. That win over a still-contending Carolina team shows how far they’ve come.
The Giants took out their frustrations on these guys in week 14, pummeling them 40-16. Saquon Barkley was a monster, ripping off 170 yards, including a back-breaking 78-yard touchdown. The quarterback situation in Washington isn’t even funny at this point. It’s sad.
I really don’t understand how the Broncos can beat Pittsburgh in week 12, then get rolled by San Francisco two weeks later. That simply doesn’t compute.
That’s doubly true of the Bills, who are making a habit of beating good teams and losing to bad ones. Letting the Jets get away with this one was just a little sad. On the plus side, Josh Allen is among the top-ten rookie rushers in the league. Yes, I said rushers.
I’d love to say that I understand what’s going on in New York, but I’m officially lost. It’s like watching a Ferrari bumble around on flat tires all season long, then start passing cars in the last lap. Just weird.
Julio Jones. Matt Ryan. Garbage time all-stars at the moment. A loss to the Buccs will likely trigger a rebuild.
Speaking of rebuilds…Just rebuild already. Please. Marvin Lewis isn’t the guy. Hasn’t been for a long time.
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.
In a perfect world, the Buccaneers could still be in the mix. They did slow Drew Brees and the Saints down for a while… But they’re not. Sad pirates.
Now this is the Jaguars team we all know and love. That AFC Championship run last year kinda feels like a weird fever dream now, doesn’t it?
The Niners beating the Lions seems a little fluky, but not when you realize that George Kittle caught seven passes for 210 yards and a touchdown. The second year TE averaged an insane thirty yards per catch. His 85-yard TD was the longest pass play in the league thus far this year, and he’s just cracked the top ten in receiving yards. Imagine what he’d be doing with Jimmy G sending balls his way.
I’m not sure how politely I can put this, but can you imagine how good Oakland might be if they had, I dunno, kept their two best players? Khalil Mack has the Bears competing with the class of the NFC, and Amari Cooper has made Dallas a contender. Both are thriving away from Oakland. Is Gruden on something? They do have a mountain of early picks in the next draft. But it’s looking increasingly likely that they won’t need to package them to move up…
That win over the Bills doesn’t do a lot for me. But let’s give credit where credit is due. Fun matters. Points to Todd Bowles for going for it on fourth-and-the-season-is-over-anyway-so-why-not.
They dealt a near-death blow to the Packers, then blew it against the Lions. Josh Rosen is looking especially bust-ish this week. That pick-six by Darrius Slay was fun to watch, though.
Image courtesy of Danpatrick.com