Ken's Note: These rankings are the views of the author, and may/do not reflect the views of any other Windy City Gridiron contributor.
Welcome to this week's Power Rankings.
Power rankings are kind of silly and entirely meaningless, and they are also completely subjective... what one person sees as a strength another might see as a weakness. I get that. My reason for doing this feature isn't "I think I know better," but rather to entertain, hopefully amuse and also to generate friendly discussion and debate (within the site rules, of course).
My feature comes out later in the week than pretty much everybody else's on the web because I actually watch every single game I talk about BEFORE posted my rankings (as far as I know, I am the ONLY person doing this in the online media). Gamepass condensed games are the greatest tool ever made for the NFL football junkie. By doing this instead of just watching the highlights (if that) or browsing the box score, I suspect my list looks significantly different than most.
Here's how I have the league shaking out:
1) Patriots - (Last week's rating #4 ) I think pretty much everybody watched this game and you all saw what I saw. I’m moving them up to #1, but... this is a team that (when all was said and done) barely beat the Ravens in New England. There are a lot of holes on this squad, so they are vulnerable in the playoffs, but Brady is Brady and 11-2 is just plain the best record in the AFC.
2) Cowboys - (Last week's rating #1 ) So, Dak Prescott is human after all. Bad day for the Boys, but Dallas is still 2 ahead in the win column in their division. The Giants will have to tie Dallas (basically win out and hope Dallas loses two) to win the East. Dallas also has home field advantage at this point in time. Let’s not get too crazy about one loss. The Cowboys are the only team that has clinched a playoff spot so far.
3) Chiefs - (Last week's rating #2 ) Kansas City just beat a top-notch Raiders team and Atlanta in Atlanta. I would move them up to my #1 but... and this is a big but... all-world linebacker Derrick Johnson was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. This is, to KC, what losing Urlacher in his prime was to us.
4) Raiders - (Last week's rating #3 ) Silver and Black almost beat Kansas City at Kansas City, but the bottom line is that ALMOST beating them gets you nothing in the NFL. KC sweeps the season series and puts themselves into first place with that 10-3 record but holding tiebreakers over everybody. Oakland is 10-3 but needs to beat KC by a game or a tie to win the division. How bad is the Derek Carr injury? He sure was off-target against Kansas City.
5) Giants - (Last week's rating #11 ) The Giants can beat the Cowboys. The Giants defense is for REAL, and we know that Eli can play in the playoffs. Honestly, this was just a knock-down bar fight of a game. Fun to watch in a low-scoring sort of way. Look for the G-Men to put Stafford and the Lions into the hurt locker this week.
6) Lions - (Last week's rating #8 ) Can you all see why I am not impressed by the Lions. A couple of dropped passes away from losing to one of the worst teams in the league, at home? No thanks, I’m a seller, not a buyer of Detroit. Still, it’s impressive what they have done this year, it really is. That and everybody else at the top is pooping the bed.
7) Steelers - (Last week's rating #10 ) Le'Veon Bell single handedly kept the Steelers in the playoff hunt with his 238 yard effort. Big Ben was throwing picks left and right, and Buffalo played tough at home... but in the snow, the Steelers did what they had to do. Right now, they are a game up on Baltimore with Cincy, Baltimore and Cleveland yet to play. If they beat Baltimore, they pretty much are in as divisional champs. If not? Baltimore has the tiebreaker.
8) Falcons - (Last week's rating #9 ) Seriously, don’t watch this game. I could go on and on about everything the Falcons did right, but this was a case of a good hungry team deep in a playoff drive vs a bad team yearning to get their coaching staff fired. Nothing to be learned from this game, other than props to Atlanta for showing up ready to kick tail.
9) Buccaneers - (Last week's rating #14 ) Tampa keeps winning, and I keep edging them up bit by bit. I’ll move them up even more when they reach the point where they have actually scored more points than allowed for the season. Props for picking Drew Brees three times (one at the end when it REALLY counted), but on offense Tampa got little moving against a very bad Saints defense.
10) Broncos - (Last week's rating #6 ) Denver fans are still mocking Brock Osweiler. They are still mocking Jay Cutler . Mock this, Denver fans... Marcus Mariota is 10 times better as a quarterback than anybody you have developed since John Elway retired about 20 years ago. That Denver defense IS good, but it may be the best defense in the league not in the playoffs this year. What you got Denver? Patriots, @KC & Raiders and you need to win all three of them to guarantee making the show. Good luck with that. Shout out to Aqib Talib for protecting his man, yeah, Talib’s action WAS a penalty, don’t care, it was legit.
11) Seahawks - (Last week's rating #5 ) There’s a reason I have been punishing these people all year in my rankings, they have a Kenworth sized hole in their game, that stunningly bad offensive line. I don’t care what their record is, I don’t care how good they can look at times, this team is not a top 10 team. There are times that Seattle stops playing like supermen and start acting like an undisciplined mob. This was one of those games. Seriously, as much as I hate the Packers, I was screaming at the screen for this Seattle team just quitting. If they weren’t shoe-ins to win the division (only the Rams, Arizona and the 49ers are left for them), I would kill em more in the rankings, but they have a good record and except for Arizona are basically unopposed from here on out. Russell Wilson’s 5 picks and 3 sacks are just brutal.
12) Redskins - (Last week's rating #12 ) To understand the Redskins & why they beat the Eagles, the one play that stands out to me is Rob Kelly’s TD to open Washington’s scoring. The TD run was a nice one, but Kelly isn’t the guy to key on. Pull up a replay of it somewhere and watch Washington wide receiver Jamison Crowder’s absolute pancake block of the Eagles defensive back Nolan Carroll. That one play defines the difference between Philly’s soon-to-be-ending season and Washington’s push for the playoffs.
13) Dolphins - (Last week's rating #13 ) Matt Moore is not Ryan Tannehill. Having said that, before going out with a knee injury, Tannehill threw just the rock bottom worst pass of the season. Ugly doesn’t even begin to cover it. Not to be outdone, the single worst block of the season was put in by Miami’s Kenyon Drake who wiped out his own punt returner and caused a fumble turnover. However, Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed two extra points (one of which was blocked and returned for a 2-point Miami conversion and the other of which - albeit with a bad snap - almost missed the pointy end of the stadium entirely) and a field goal.
14) Packers - (Last week's rating #15 ) The internet is full of people fauning over Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. Did they have a good game? Yes. Are they improving? Yes. Are they a lock to win the next 5 Super Bowls? No. I’m not even picking them against against us this week, and it’s not just me being a homer. Simply put, Seattle didn’t get off the bus. Still, credit where it is due, Green Bay is a legit wildcard contender this season at least for now.
15) Ravens - (Last week's rating #7 ) The Ravens D is absolutely legit. This was a funky game, wasn’t it? At 7-6 though, Baltimore is going to have to beat Pittsburgh (and probably win out) to get the division. Baltimore and Pittsburgh play in 2 weeks, but the Ravens have the tougher remaining schedule (Pittsburgh gets Cleveland whereas Baltimore gets Philly. Both teams get Cincy).
16) Texans - (Last week's rating #17 ) Biggest win of the year, the Texans needed to find a way to beat Indianapolis and they did. That way? Pressure Luck. A LOT. A WHOLE LOT. Then, pressure him some more. Jadeveon Clowney is a grown-ass man, in case anybody was wondering.
17) Titans - (Last week's rating #19 ) First, Harry Douglas is a dirtbag. That shot at Chris Harris was (legal or not) a load of BS, there was ZERO reason to cut block Harris like that. OK, with that out of the way, big Win for the Titans. Tennessee isn’t there yet, but they are a team that’s vastly improved and are in playoff contention. Up they go.
18) Vikings - (Last week's rating #22 ) The Vikings won on the road. The Vikings trailed (then) 2-10 Jacksonville early in the fourth quarter. Both of these are true. Neither of this is in any way impressive Power Rankings wise. They move up because they jump some teams that are going to have a really tough time making the playoffs.
19) Colts - (Last week's rating #16 ) They had their chance, they needed to beat Houston this week and they didn’t do it. Now they have to win out and hope for help. That horseshoe defense still can’t stop anybody. Coming up? At Minnesota, at Oakland and home against Jacksonville. Good luck with that.
20) Cardinals - (Last week's rating #20 ) Close but exceedingly sloppy game in Miami. See Miami’s post for further details. Cardinals will struggle to reach .500 this season in a bad division.
21) Chargers - (Last week's rating #21 ) On the one hand, San Diego nearly made a huge comeback... a questionable call on what should have been a monster pick 6 against Cam Newton was the difference in the game... that and Phillip Rivers kept throwing the ball to the wrong team. I suppose I should move them down a bit but frankly nobody in Chicago cares about the Chargers one way or the other. Heck, nobody in San Diego really cares that much about the Chargers... I guess I will just call this a "credit" for playing in the toughest division in the NFL.
22) Bills - (Last week's rating #18 ) Boy, talk about a rough one... Buffalo was right there with Pittsburgh, and yet... not... this was a game the Bills HAD to win, they needed to be 7-6 to have a real shot at the playoffs. At 6-7, they need to win out and hope they can move past the four teams in front of them for a wildcard.
23) Saints - (Last week's rating #23 ) Drew Brees wasn’t a Football God this week, and when he’s not a FG then the Saints are not going to win. Best case scenario for them is beating the Cardinals, Bucs and Falcons to get to .500 for the year. Yeah, I don’t think so.
24) Eagles - (Last week's rating #24 ) There’s a lot to like about what’s going on in Philly. They have a great-to-be young quarterback who, while taking his rookie lumps, is also wowing us. It’s just not Philly’s year.
25) Bengals - (Last week's rating #25 ) See Cleveland entry for all you need to know about the Bengals-Browns game.
26) Panthers - (Last week's rating #26 ) Most under-achieving team in football, they dominated San Diego... so... there’s that anyway. Kind of a boring game to watch, Panthers jumped out early but the Chargers fought back.
27) Bears - (Last week's rating #27 ) You guys know the score. We dang near
should have beaten a top 10 team this last weekend. We are better than our record, but yet, we aren’t. Ya know?
28) Rams - (Last week's rating #28 ) Last week I wrote: "I guess with the Rams this week, it's ‘hire everybody’ instead of what they should be doing, which is ‘fire everybody’." Since Rams owner Stan Kroenke is a devout reader of the WCG Power Rankings, all it took was an excuse-game for him to change his mind and give Jeff Fisher the axe. You can believe as much of this statement as you like.
29) Jaguars - (Last week's rating #29 ) They kinda sorta almost beat Minnesota, up until they didn’t. SO... yeah.
30) Jets - (Last week's rating #30 ) ANYBODY watching the Jets vs Ravens who isn’t a fan of either team needs to get a life. I need to get a life. So do both of these teams. The Jets squeak out a win over the hapless Niners in what could only be called "The Toilet Bowl". Having said that, for sheer "wow, what’s going to happen next" action, the game was kinda fun to watch. Really. Bryce Petty? I don’t know if he’s the answer the Jets are looking for, but I DO know Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t.
31) Browns - (Last week's rating #31 )
32) 49ers -(Last week's rating #32 ) Going to overtime might get you ahead of Cleveland. Losing at home to the lugubrious Jets, however, won’t. Losing to the 3 win Jets the week after losing to the 2 win Bears? Dismal.