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WCG Power Rankings: Patriots take charge

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New England stays on top, Dallas and Oakland stay close

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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 #1 ) Now THAT was a whooping. Even though Tom Brady didn’t have the big day, and the Patriots offense struggled to score points, the Patriots defense absolutely obliterated what little offense Denver possesses. HUGE win at Denver.

2) Cowboys - (Last week's rating # ) The Boys are back in town. Dallas moved back into "smack down" territory again, even though they let the game get close at the end. They Boys have finally turned the Jerry Dome into a home field advantage, and Dak Prescott is back.

3) Raiders - (Last week's rating #4 ) This is one of those "on the one hand" kind of deals. On the one hand, Oakland beat a very game San Diego team on the road. On the other hand, about 75 percent of the people in the stands were Raiders fans so it was just like an Oakland home game. On the other other hand, San Diego is far better than their record and they are a lot like Chicago, playing challenging football with a ton of backups because of hideous injuries. On the other other other hand, Oakland barely beat a 5-9 basement dweller team. They pass KC because of the playoff pictures, but you expect more than a 3-point win in a road home game.

4) Giants - (Last week's rating #5 ) The New York Giants have the best defense in the NFL this season. Argue all you like, but if you’ve watched them play, you know what I mean. They are TIGHT. If you like D, this is your team this year. Offensively? Still not convinced, but Eli Manning has shown twice he can transcend in the playoffs. They still can win the division, but chances are they will be the top playoff wildcard & hosting a wildcard game. New York absolutely dismantled the Lions in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score looked. It was a complete butt kicking.

5) Chiefs - (Last week's rating #2 ) Brutal way to lose a game, but this perhaps (other than our game) was the best game to watch of the whole series. Bottom Line, Kansas City needs to win out to win the division.

6) Falcons - (Last week's rating #8 ) The game was actually surprisingly close early on, but then "Niners" happened. There’s nothing to learn from this game for Atlanta. Next.

7) Steelers - (Last week's rating #7 ) Tough task this week, throw out the records, Cincy is a good team. Having said that, this was far from the dominating performance that the media would have you believe it was... except by Steelers kicker Chris Boswell. Boswell had 18 of the team’s 24 points, and he also saved the game with a shoestring (and I do mean SHOESTRING) tackle on a kickoff return that otherwise would have been a TD. Forget Ben Roethlisberger, forget Antonio Brown & Le’Veon Bell, the only player that REALLY mattered this week for the Steel Town Boys was Boswell.

8) Lions - (Last week's rating #6 ) I’ve said all along that the Lions just don’t convince me, and they don’t. I think they are a product of an easy schedule as much as anything. Who have they beaten that’s actually good? Look at their wins, Indy (horrible early on), Philly (last place in the East), LA (horrible), Washington (meh), Minnesota (after we broke them), Jacksonville (horrible), Minnesota again, New Orleans (meh), us by 3 at home and that’s it. Seriously, this team hasn’t beaten a single top team.

9) Seahawks - (Last week's rating #11 ) I should dock them points for the retina damage done to my eyes by those color rush uniforms. This team will have home games in the playoffs and probably have a first-round bye. They may even win the Super Bowl... unless they play the Giants. New York will absolutely KILL that Seattle offensive line.

10) Dolphins - (Last week's rating #13 ) The Fish beat the ever loving snot out of the Jets on the road in Jersey. Next.

11) Ravens - (Last week's rating #15 ) Note to Joe Flacco. DO NOT MAKE THAT THROW when you are up by 7 late in the game. That is all.

12) Packers - (Last week's rating #14 ) On the one hand, they have moved back into the playoff picture. On the other hand, they Bear-ly beat a 3 win team by the slimmest of margins. Still not impressed, it’s taking total God-Level Aaron Rodgers for them to even stay in a game against our practice squad offense.

13 (tied) Titans - (Last week's rating #17 ) Big, huge, gigantic road win at Kansas City in one of the most exciting games of the year. The Titans keep their playoff dreams alive-and-kicking by both staying in a first-place tie with the Texans and moving towards that 10-6 record that looks to be the minimum price of admittance into the AFC playoffs this year (assuming that will even do it). Great game, if you can’t watch the game at least see the extended highlights.

13 (tied) Texans - (Last week's rating #16 ) Another "on the one hand" game. On the one hand, the Texans win at home, in the division, in a must-win game. On the other hand, they beat a horrible Jacksonville team that played badly. By a point. There’s only one thing that stands out about this game. Jadeveon Clowney is a grown ass man.

15) Buccaneers - (Last week's rating #9 ) I like Jameis Winston, the guy has that ‘spark’ about him that reminds me of guys like Kenny Stabler. One thing I don’t like about his game is that, as athletic as he is, he never looks to run the ball, always looking instead to pass. There were several times during this game against the Cowboys that the field was wide open for him, but the Boys knew he just doesn’t run so they didn’t actually have to spy him. Dallas Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli sure doesn’t miss many tricks, and he didn’t miss on this one. Tampa Bay falls, and before people bust my chops on it, just remember they are STILL upside-down on their points differential for the season (the've given up more points than they have scored), they play in a weak division, and that point differential it’s actually getting worse.

16) Broncos - (Last week's rating #10 ) The Denver defense is totally legit against the pass. Against the run? Not so much. The Denver offense is entirely incompetent and should be taken out behind the barn and shot. They can’t run, they can’t pass and they can’t block. Denver has to win out to have any hope of making the playoffs... at Kansas City and against Oakland at home... and both of those teams need to win these games. Good luck with that. Fun Fact: The only quarterback ever drafted by the Denver Broncos to put up more than 10,000 career yards as a Bronco? Brian Griese who had 11761. By far, bar none the most successful career of any quarterback drafted by the Broncos? Jay Cutler (and it’s not even close).

17) Colts - (Last week's rating #19 ) The Colts went in and knocked the living dog snot out of the Vikings. Skol! There’s never been any doubt that Indy can score, but the Horseshoes stopped what little offense Minnesota could put together cold. Ugly game.

18) Chargers - (Last week's rating #21 ) I think the most painful thing I may have seen this season was this week, watching Phillip Rivers trying to run away from Stacey McGee. It was like seeing a guy with feet encased in concrete trying to outrun a mountain lion, to about the same effect. San Diego played well and darned near won this one, and proved that they (in just about any other division and less injuries) would be a bottom level playoff team. 2016 just isn’t their year.

19) Redskins - (Last week's rating #12 ) In a must win game against a bad (this year) Carolina team, Washington flopped like a fish. The road to the playoffs from 7-6 looks bleak for the Washington squad.

20) Cardinals - (Last week's rating #20 ) The Cardinals put up 41 points & lost. I’m not shocked they lost, the have lost plenty this year. I’m shocked they put up 41 points. I’m even more shocked they gave up 48. Something’s not right in the desert.

21) Vikings - (Last week's rating #18 ) We broke the Vikings. Again, sorry not sorry.

22) Bills - (Last week's rating #22 ) The Bills beat the tar out of Cleveland. Nothing really else to say except don’t watch this game on replay unless you are a die-hard Bills fan.

23) Saints - (Last week's rating #23 ) In 1979, former Kingston Trio member & folk rock legend John Stewart released the million selling album "Bombs Away Dream Babies". Drew Brees was born in 1979. Coincidence? I think not. Brees has been scattering chaos throughout the backfields and end zones of opponents for a decade-and-a-half, so nobody can be really surprised when he rips yet another team a new one, can they? This week? The vaunted Cardinals defense got shredded by Brees to the tune of 389 and 4 TD’s. The most impressive part? That’s nowhere near career highs in either categories. Heck, it’s the third time this year for the 4 TD’s and only the third best game of the year yardage wise. In the end, it just amounts to an entertaining game, because the Saints are going nowhere but home this post season. For those of you who have never heard of John Stewart here’s one of his hits from "Bombs Away Dream Babies".

24) Panthers - (Last week's rating #26 ) Well, it looks like the Panthers have finally learned how to stop sombody in the secondary. Looking for a "rebound" team next year? These guys in Carolina should be that and more.

25) Bengals - (Last week's rating #25 ) The Bengals are by fart the best really bad team in the NFL. They darned near pulled out yet another win. The difference between Pittsburgh and Cincy in this game? A shoelace. It was that close. Still, 5-8-1 is what it is... only Carolina saves the Bengals from being the leagues most disappointing team.

26) Eagles - (Last week's rating #24 ) The Eagles have locked up last place in the NFC East. Like I mentioned last week, NFL defensive coordinators are really, really smart and they have been throwing the book at rookie Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Not only do the Ravens have a smart DC, they also have a LOT of talent on that side of the ball. Wentz was picked early but came back and made some great throws. Due to an ill-advised Joe Flacco pass over the middle late, Wentz was able to take the Eagles down the field with some nice throws and move the game to 26-27 with the extra point to follow with four seconds left. Eagles coach Doug Pederson went for two instead of a tie and overtime, and the decision backfired against him. Eagles drop their fifth in a row and Coach Pederson sat down directly onto the hot seat in Philly.

27) Bears - (Last week's rating #27 ) Stuck at 27, I’m putting us here not because I am a homer, but rather because we are at least ALMOST winning our games against playoff contenders.

28) Jaguars - (Last week's rating #29 ) I’m still annoyed that we lost to this team. This week, Jacksonville gave the Texans everything they wanted on the road, but in the end came up short. This was (obviously) the kind of game that gets a coach fired. Honestly, Jacksonville didn’t play badly... at least to me they weren’t bad enough to fire the coach before the trip home, then have the guy who just got fired ride home on the team plane. That’s a bit much, don’t ya think?

29) Rams - (Last week's rating #28 ) I got nuttin here. I watched the game, and I got nuttin. Just like the Rams had nuttin.

30) Jets - (Last week's rating #30 ) Bryce Petty and Ryan Fitzpatrick were a combined 25-46 for 286 with 1 TD and 3 INT & a fumble lost. Brandon Marshall had 1 catch for 16 and two hideous drops and about 10 malevolent glares at his quarterbacks, coaches, teammates and the fans. Matt Forte had 4 carries for 21 yards. I’m throwing out numbers here because I watched the game and I have absolutely nothing to say about this horrible Jets team.

31) Browns - (Last week's rating #31 ) Another non-competitive ugly loss (and waste of a 37-minutes of my life watching this mess). Everybody at the bottom of the league seems to be saying "At least we aren’t Cleveland." The only good news about this year is that Cleveland fans can honestly say "at least we aren’t the Niners". Due to the Eagles fall from grace, Cleveland is looking to have two top-10 draft picks. Now if they can only not be Cleveland-ish in picking the right guys.

32) 49ers -(Last week's rating #32 ) If you watched about 5 minutes of the Atlanta game this weekend (I watched the whole brutal thing) then you KNOW that the Niners are the worst team in the NFL. They face the one team that they have beaten this year again this week, so they probably have a chance of winning another game. If they do, I will move them ahead of Cleveland (assuming Cleveland loses to San Diego).

As always, tell us what I got right and what I got wrong. Don’t be shy!