Only one week remains in the 2017 regular season. We have seen a ton of surprise teams this year and lots of injuries that have derailed playoff hopes. How do all 32 NFL teams stack up heading in to Week 17? Let’s take a look at the rankings.
(1) Los Angeles Rams
For the first time this season, the Rams top our power rankings. Los Angeles appears to be hitting its stride at the perfect time. The Rams have locked up the NFC West and head coach Sean McVay has said he will rest players in Week 17. While that will undoubtedly bring up the “rest vs. rust” argument, I’m not sure anyone can question McVay at this point.
(2) New England Patriots
New England predictably picked up former Steelers’ workout monster James Harrison. Bill Belichick gave high praise to Harrison by calling him “good.” I think this is why the majority of NFL fans hate the Patriots; not only are they good year after year after year, they are also boring. But boring continues to win and the Patriots are once again the Super Bowl favorites.
(3) Pittsburgh Steelers
You can’t read too much into the Steelers’ blowout win in Week 16 because the Houston Texans were the opponent, but the offense didn’t really seem to miss Antonio Brown, which is tough to do. Brown should be back for the playoffs and we’ll see if Pittsburgh can keep the offense rolling and finally get past their rival right above them in the power rankings.
(4) Jacksonville Jaguars
A week after the rankings anointed the Jaguars as the best team in the league, they went out and laid an egg against the 49ers. San Francisco deserves some credit, but Blake Bortles had too many turnovers, the Jaguars had too many penalties, and the best defense in the league looked average against Jimmy Garoppolo & Co. Jacksonville still may be underrated heading into the postseason, but they have to follow the gameplan of running the football, limiting turnovers, and letting their defense make big plays.
(5) New Orleans Saints
Does any team look as scary as the Saints do right now? I know the Rams are in the top spot this week, but absolutely nobody wants to try to slow down the two-headed monster of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, especially in the loud and raucous Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
(6) Minnesota Vikings
The love for the Vikings has cooled in recent weeks but if they are nearly a lock to get a bye and with the Eagles offense missing Carson Wentz, could easily see themselves in a situation where they have to win three home games to win the Super Bowl. The Rams and Saints may be slightly ahead right now, but the Vikings’ path is the one with the least resistance in the NFC.
(7) Baltimore Ravens
A lot of people are dismissing the Ravens this year and think they are rated too highly in our rankings. A lot of that is because Joe Flacco has been, in the words of Bill Belichick, “not good”. But Alex Collins has anchored their running game and they still have a defense that can keep them in any game.
(8) Carolina Panthers
We have Carolina as the 8th-best team in the NFL and they most likely will wind up as the 5-seed in the NFC playoffs. The team predictably had a Super Bowl hangover in 2016-17, but have bounced back nicely and now have an MVP quarterback from just two years ago somehow flying under the radar.
(9) Kansas City Chiefs
In the words of Bill Belichick, the Chiefs were “good”, then they were “not good”, and now they are “good” again. They’ll likely rest most of their players on Sunday against the Broncos, but we’ll see which Chiefs team decides to show up in January.
(10) Philadelphia Eagles
You are never going to believe this, but some fans in Philadelphia took issue with the Eagles’ ranking after Carson Wentz went down. I’m not sure how saying there is a big downgrade from the potential MVP to Nick Foles is a controversy, but here we are. Their offense struggled mightily against the Raiders defense on Christmas and while they have nothing to play for, you could make the case to get Nick Foles some more reps before heading into the playoffs.
(11) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are hoping the Jaguars don’t rest anyone, because a Jacksonville win coupled with a Chargers win would see them sneak into the playoffs as a very dangerous 6-seed. Luckily for the Chargers and their fans, there isn’t a game earlier in the season they can look back on and regret not winning it. No way they will be thinking about that the entire offseason if they don’t make it. Nope.
(12) Atlanta Falcons
Yards per play is a favorite statistic among modelers and bettors and that metric has had Atlanta as one of the top teams in the league. And while I think the stat has merit, it’s why you can’t rely on just one piece of information to make a decision about any team. The Falcons can still get into the playoffs with a win but it won’t be an easy one with Cam Newton coming to town.
(13) Seattle Seahawks
Seattle is the team trying to snatch the last playoff spot away from the Falcons. If you just looked at the score, you would think that the Seahawks played well against the Cowboys last week. You would also be very wrong. Russell Wilson had less than 100 yards of passing, the team averaged 2.5 yards per carry on the ground, and they also benefited from from two missed field goals. All that being said, a win is a win and the Seahawks still have playoff life.
(14) Dallas Cowboys
A fully healthy Cowboys squad would still be a dangerous team in the playoffs, but that’s not going to happen anymore. You have to wonder if there’s going to be big changes in Big D coming up in the offseason.
(15) Detroit Lions
Detroit’s playoff hopes died in the most Lions-y way possible. By losing to a bad Bengals team with a lame duck coach and absolutely no motivation.
(16) Washington Redskins
Washington is the most average team in the NFL according to the numbers. Which is exactly why they have a quarterback conundrum. If Kirk Cousins gets you to exactly average, why pay him a ton of money?
(17) Tennessee Titans
I’ve been saying for a while now that the Titans were a fraudulent football team. If they do back into the playoffs, it’ll be a gift for whatever team gets to face them. That team could be the Jaguars, which makes you think they should absolutely roll over on Sunday and just gift themselves a first round matchup against their division rival.
(18) Oakland Raiders
Remember when Derek Carr signed a $125M contract? No way that will be an albatross deal that will hamper the Raiders’ ability to compete in the coming years. Nope.
(19) Chicago Bears
I don’t think the Bears have necessarily gotten that much better but every other team has just fallen by the wayside around them.
(20) San Francisco 49ers
Handsome Jimmy G has already proven he is the best quarterback to ever wear a Patriots or 49ers jersey. No other quarterback even comes to mind. Go ahead and give him the Derek Carr contract and start planning your Super Bowl parades for the next five years.
(21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are rumors that the Bucs may be going back to Jon Gruden as head coach next year. That would be great for my Monday football watching but not sure how much that’s going to help Jameis develop into the franchise quarterback that every scout predicted coming out of college.
(22) Cincinnati Bengals
This appears to bet Marvin Lewis’ last game as head coach of the Bengals. While some Cincinnati fans may be celebrating the move, I’d be cautious and at least hold off until the new replacement is named. Making the move from Marvin Lewis to Jeff Fisher seems something stupid enough that the Bengals would do it.
(23) Arizona Cardinals
While the Cardinals aren’t any good, I think it’s important to appreciate what Larry Fitzgerald is doing. If you don’t love Fitzgerald, I will fight you. Seriously, you should love him.
(24) Buffalo Bills
There’s still a shot that Buffalo can make it into the playoffs. There’s still no shot that Buffalo is actually a good football team.
(25) Denver Broncos
The Broncos are going to start Paxton Lynch on Sunday. Let’s assume he’s terrible as that seems to be the safest bet. Will Denver be in the hunt for one of the free agent quarterbacks? A trade for Eli? Anyone? Bueller?
(26) Green Bay Packers
It’s amazing how bad the Packers are without Aaron Rodgers. Give him the MVP every year that he’s healthy from now on. Hell, give it to him this year too.
(27) Miami Dolphins
It’s still crazy to me that bringing in Jay Cutler didn’t work out for Miami.
(28) New York Jets
I see some people calling this Jets season a failure because their goal was to tank to get a franchise quarterback in the draft. Well, if that is your goal, you are going to have to do what the Browns did: hire Hue Jackson.
(29) New York Giants
In a year where the Jets had a historically low season win total, the Giants still managed to be the shittiest team in New York this year.
(30) Houston Texans
In the words of Bill Belichick, Deshaun Watson is “good” and Tom Savage and TJ Yates are “not good.”
(31) Indianapolis Colts
The only thing good about the Colts is this twitter account.
(32) Cleveland Browns
Always and forever.
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