Home Articles/Editorials 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 17

2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 17

Stan: With the regular season all wrapped up, what can we say we learned this year? Rex Ryan learned that the luster of a couple playoff appearances goes away when your offense is so terrible. Mike Smith learned that the window of opportunity can close really quickly. Hopefully the Giants learned a thing or two from the Cowboys. Their success is all on the offensive line. The Lions might learn soon that they might be better off without their best defensive player and the Bears might finally be learning that Jay Cutler isn’t their guy and no one, not even the quarterback whisperer, can save them from him. Most of all, the fans are learning that the more things change, the more they stay the same. For what its worth, I’ve enjoyed every bit of doing these rankings and I think an official KIRS Top 100 Players of 2014 would be a great way to keep this going.
Rob: Stan, I think you are overrating what everyone has learned. Rex Ryan seems to have his stock higher than ever after being fired. Mike Smith closed his own window by being terrible at his job. Nobody ever learns that offensive lineman are important, they just keep drafting bad quarterbacks. The Lions need Suh, and sadly, the Bears need Cutler. I’d love to keep this going, can’t wait until our next project. While you wait, enjoy Wild Card weekend, and here are the last Power Rankings of the 2014 NFL season.


32. Tennessee Titans – Needless to say, a lot of these lower teams will need very little analysis so I think I’m gonna take a lot of this time to break down what these teams should be looking for in the offseason. The Titans don’t have a quarterback, despite having three guys on the roster that pretend to be. A new offensive line would be nice and a pass rusher is a definite need.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags have some pieces offensively. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, none of those pieces include an offensive line. They might have found themselves a running back in Denard Robinson but he’s not enough. The best thing the Jags have done so far is keep Gus Bradley. He comes from a solid organization and patience is the only way they’ll get anywhere.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I’m surprised the Bucs didn’t fire Lovie Smith but I guess they’re definitely looking to see what they do after they waste their draft pick on Jameis Winston. Mike Evans might make him look serviceable but without a running back or an offensive line, he’ll really be exposed.
29. Oakland Raiders – Is Tony Sparano coming back? The Raiders are taking this “interim” title a litle far aren’t they? Derek Carr has shown some flashes of competency, they have something in Latavious Murray and they have a few guys that can catch the ball. Khalil Mack looks really good so if they surround him with some quality linebackers and linemen, there are plenty of veterans to learn from.
28. Chicago Bears – Find a way to get rid of Jay Cutler. Its that simple. The offense is pretty good but he’s holding them back. There’s gotta be a sucker out there. The Jets, the Bucs and the Redskins all need quarterbacks. Defensively, the Bears have to get healthy and get deep. Get rid of Chris Conte, hope Charles Tillman can play a full season and keep developing Kyle Fuller. Maybe draft his brother Kendall.
27. Cleveland Browns – Like Rob mentioned last week, they have some guys with talent and might have had five Pro Bowlers if Josh Gordon and Alex Mack were around the whole year. Their biggest issue is at quarterback and running back. Again, the absence of Alex Mack was a part of their lack of success.
26. Washington Redskins – The Redskins have a lot of issues that need fixing. They need a quarterback, some wide receivers, a secondary and a few more linebackers. Outside of that, they’re alright.
25. New York Jets – The Jets shouldn’t have fired Rex Ryan. You can’t blame a chef for terrible cooking when you give him rotten ingredients. I recently watched the movie “Chef” starring Jon Favreau (highly recommended) and one scene that stood out to me was when Jon Favreau’s character got a bad review because he cooked a boring menu against his better judgement. Thats Rex Ryan in a nutshell. Jon Idzik and the rest of the front office gave him almost nothing, then fired him when he couldn’t turn water into wine. The Jets might not (and should not) keep Percy Harvin so they’ll need to get some receivers. Cornerback is a big need for them and if they can manage to get one…a quarterback.
24. New York Giants – Its hard for me to see what the Giants need because I like the players they have so much. They had a lot of injuries and those guys should come back and contribute. Still, they’ll need a tight end, some interior linemen for depth, linebackers and a better pass rush. They absolutely can’t let Jason Pierre-Paul sign elsewhere and they need some depth in the secondary. Theres a guy that got an interception against the Eagles that I’ve never heard of.
23. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons fired Mike Smith. Thats a good step in the right direction. They need a bring in an entirely new secondary. With a healthy Sean Weatherspoon coming back and he’ll help bolster the linebacking corps. I think they should look to add some depth to the defensive line as well.
22. St Louis Rams – The Rams need a quarterback really badly. Unfortunately, its going to be slim pickins for them this offseason. They can probably get one like Mariota if they trade up. Or they can hope Sam Bradford stays healthy enough to get them through the season when they can look to get a new quarterback in the spring of 2016.
21. New Orleans Saints – I think all the Saints really need to do is bring in some quality cornerbacks and fire Rob Ryan. Thats all they need to do. Everything else will work itself out as long as you have Drew Brees and Sean Payton.
20. Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings have some work to do. They need to figure out if they’re going to bring back Adrian Peterson and they need wide receivers. The defense seems solid enough to me. Harrison Smith has become a really good safety for them and Anthony Barr is going to be great.
19. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers are going to need new running backs. They made the playoffs but their seven wins are just lipstick on this pig they call a season. I can’t see a situation where they bring back Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. They also need another wide receiver and some offensive line depth. A quality pass rusher couldn’t hurt and some secondary help is gonna be necessary.
18. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers have talent, they just need a coach that can get alone with the front office. I think they need to go to PetCo and find a leash short enough for Colin Kaepernick. Outside of that, I think they’re pretty solid. Their biggest concern is going to be keeping that offensive line together.
17. Buffalo Bills – Don’t touch the defense. Get yourself a quarterback. That is all.
16. Houston Texans – Is there a way they can find 21 other guys like JJ Watt? No? Then, it’ll have to be quarterback for the Texans. Just find a guy that can turn around and hand the ball off to Arian Foster 25 times and put the ball within reach of DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson. Thats it. JJ Watt will do the rest. And you know what? Maybe Jadeveon Clowney turns out to be half as good as he’s hyped to be. Thats still pretty good.
15. Kansas City Chiefs – I think Andy Reid should be banished to a place where he can’t ruin the careers of quality wide receivers like Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery. What he’s done to them is totally unfair. And yes, I’m definitely implying that Andy Reid purposely found ways to keep the ball out of the hands of his wide receivers in the end zone. In fact, I think that was his plan from the beginning of the season as a prank and after a while the receivers forgot what it was like to score touchdowns. Pretty soon, it became a mental thing. Thats why Dwayne Bowe fumbled right outside the end zone and served it up to Travis Kelce. He’s unable to score touchdowns. He’s broken. Andy Reid broke his wide receivers.
14. Philadelphia Eagles – Obviously a quarterback. I think thats it though. What else could they need? They have to keep the players they have, of course. Jeremy Maclin is going to be making a lot of money this offseason but the Eagles have to be the ones to pay him that money. They shouldn’t get cocky and let him walk, thinking that they can turn someone else into the player he is. Unless they make a play for another wideout like Randall Cobb or something. By the way, it wouldn’t surprise me if Chip Kelly purposely dropped a few games so he could be closer to drafting his boy Marcus Mariota. That would be stupid but it wouldn’t surprise me.
13. Miami Dolphins – Man, things got out of hand in a hurry for the Dolphins didn’t it? The defense at one point was so scary, ESPN showed a slow motion video of Cameron Wake screaming for 15 entire seconds. That image is burned into my brain. I’m afraid of him. Everyone else on that defense? Not as much. Theres talent there, especially Brent Grimes who’s a heck of a player but what happened against the Jets? They made Geno Smith look like a guy who knows how to play quarterback int he NFL.
12. Arizona Cardinals – I really wish we could have seen what a fully healthy Cardinals team would look like in the playoffs. It shows you how good they were early in the season that they could plug in their third and fourth string quarterbacks and still manage to make the playoffs in the toughest division in the league. I’d say maybe next year but its hard to put together a season like that again. I’d still look for a quarterback because theres a good chance Carson Palmer is done. Oh and an entire offensive line. Andre Ellington will thank them. Maybe a new medical staff?
11. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are going to play the Colts in the first round of the playoffs which means one thing: At least one good bad team will move on in the playoffs. I think it’ll be the Colts because the Bengals have Andy Dalton. In order to win, the Bengals will have to take all the pressure off of Dalton so if they follow that gameplan, expect Jeremy Hill to run the ball 137 times. Sorry AJ Green…its not your fault. In the offseason, its tough to really say what the Bengals should target because they actually have a good team with few weaknesses. The one glaring weakness they do have just signed a huge contract to play quarterback for several years.
10. San Diego Chargers – Can we get Phillip Rivers a good wide receiver? Not a guy with a lot of upside and potential. A legitimate wide receiver that other defenses have to gameplan against. Thats all they need. Thats it. Lets get this guy some weapons. Has he had some down games? Sure. Look what he has to work with! Antonio Gates is great but come on.
9. Baltimore Ravens – If the Ravens don’t bring Torrey Smith back, it really wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. He didn’t set the world on fire and the good games he did have were few and far between. If they do decide to bring him back, they should sign or draft another guy out there to spread the field a little. I believe they still have another year of Justin Forsett so thats good and their first round pick better be a cornerback because they’re one step away from calling me to play and Rob will tell you…I’m terrible.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers – I think the Steelers are a really dangerous team in the playoffs. Antonio Brown is a grown man. He puts his big boy pants on week in and week out. Did you guys see him literally throw his own blocker to the ground in front of him on that punt return? The guy is incredible. Troy Polumalu and Ike Taylor need to go. Secondary is a glaring need for them.
7. Indianapolis Colts – Like I said earlier, the Colts are going to be that good bad team that advances in the playoffs, mostly because of Andrew Luck. I say mostly because TY Hilton has something to do with it. The defense clearly has its own agenda so they should look to get some help on that side of the ball. I think they have capable running backs but the offensive line needs work. Gosder Cherilus got worked this year whenever they played the Texans.
6. Detroit Lions – Good news for the Lions! Ndamukong Suh won his appeal and he’ll play Sunday in the Lions wildcard game against the Cowboys. The Lions defense is clearly better with Suh than without him but the rest of the defense is going to have to step up and stop Dez Bryant. In the offseason, I have a good feeling Suh won’t be coming back to Detroit so they might want to find a replacement or whatever’s close.
5. Denver Broncos – The Broncos are in a situation where they’ll likely be trying to keep their guys rather than bolster what they already have. Last year they got exposed in the Super Bowl and used the offseason to push all their chips to the center of table. This year they may not even make it back to the Super Bowl so who’s to say what things will look like in 6 months. Right now, all they can do is rest up for their playoff game in two weeks.
4. New England Patriots – The Patriots lost to the Bills but it didn’t look like they even cared. They rested Gronk, didn’t play Edelman and took Brady out after halftime. For now they’ll rest and get the upper hand on everyone else. Brady’s already restructured his deal to free up $24 million that they’ll use to keep a guy like Revis around. The rich get richer.
3. Dallas Cowboys – With the Lions coming into town, the Cowboys have a lot on their plate. They look good enough to win and they have an advantage called Matthew Stafford’s decision making. This is the first bit of success the Cowboys have had in a long time so I’ll let them live for now. Isn’t Dez Bryant going to be a free agent though?
2. Green Bay Packers – The Packers have a lot of work to do this offseason but the front office is one of the best in football. They always seem to bounce back from free agency losses. I doubt they plan on losing Randall Cobb but if they do for some reason, they’ll be fine as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center.
1. Seattle Seahawks – Like the Packers, the Seahawks are a well run organization. Some of their coaches are already being sought after and if they lose guys, other will step up. And just like the Packers, they’ve got two weeks to chill.


32. Tennessee Titans – The Titans may not be picking first overall this offseason, but they certainly were bad enough to deserve a pick that high. With two wins on the season, a Week 1 blowout of Kansas City and a 16-14 victory over the Jags, this is pretty clearly the worst team in the NFL. Before the season I wrote that Jake Locker and Shonn Greene might be the worst starters in the league at their positions, but there was enough talent elsewhere to get them to four or five wins. Well, I was right about part of that.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – They hold the key to their franchise’s future: Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. This draft is likely quarterback or bust for the Bucs, who have a talented young core with Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, and Mike Evans. The only question is whether they go with the quarterback or the bust.

(Also, if you watched the Rose Bowl, that question has basically been answered. Yes, there is a chance a defensive lineman or some other stud jumps to the top of the NFL Draft. No, Winston is not going to jump Mariota to be the top quarterback taken.)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars have made some strides toward becoming a decent NFL team. They have put a number of weapons on the field on offense, most of them really young and with upside. They also have a pretty ferocious pass rush that Gus Bradley is getting the most out of. Still, what could haunt them is that they took a quarterback at #3 overall, and he isn’t one of the two best rookie quarterbacks.

29. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons got blown out by a pretty terrible Panthers team. Matt Ryan was tremendously bad in a big game. This team is supposedly wrecked by the Julio Jones trade, but for the last two years, Jones has been the only above average NFL starter they have put on the field. Stan was generous to put them as high as he did, with six wins and a 5-1 divisional record, only beating a Carson Palmer-less Cardinals team out of their division.

28. Cleveland Browns – A great start to the season for Brian Hoyer and the Browns, and a horrific end of the year. Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert are looking like a pair of players who don’t belong in the NFL mentally or physically, and the lone bright spot from their 2013 campaign has disappeared into thin air.

27. Chicago Bears – Jay Cutler was bad, but the defense was just a disaster. This team has a lot of problems, and they don’t have a quarterback that can mask those problems. Still, the grass is always greener, and Cutler has put together a few good seasons for winning teams.

26. New Orleans Saints – Easily the most disappointing of any team in the league. We both ranked them third preseason. Everyone though the defense would improve. I thought even if the defense got worse, the offense was going to be unstoppable. I was incorrect in my assessment.

25. Washington Redskins – Racist nickname and a black quarterback were a bad mix. Jay Gruden wasted a season trying to convince us that Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy were better options than Robert Griffin III. He is lucky he still has a job. I hope RGIII stays healthy, because the world doesn’t deserve to have to watch Cousins throw the ball.

24. Oakland Raiders – This was a tough as nails 3-13 team, with three very quality wins over teams that barely missed the playoffs. David Carr showed some strides during his rookie season, and the defense has a few standout players. Can the general manager find a new coach and actually build on one of the more positive three win seasons in NFL history?

23. New York Jets – Rex Ryan did a good job coaching the Jets the past six seasons. He had his problems. He could never fix that offense, and he was loyal to his players to a fault. These are correctable mistakes, and if I ran the Falcons or Raiders, I would have hired him already.

22. St. Louis Rams – This is a team that needed a quarterback this year. They didn’t have one. In one of the best coaching jobs of Jeff Fisher’s career, he managed six wins out of this team. I feel like they underachieved.

21. New York Giants – This was a bad season for the Giants, even if it was better than Giants’ fans like Stan should have expected. They can hold their heads high thinking Odell Beckham Jr. was the lone bright spot, but they got a secretly great year out of Eli Manning. Manning played like one of the 12 best quarterbacks for the first time in a long time, possibly for the first time in his career. If they get that back next year, they will be in good shape.

(Side note, everyone seems to now think Beckham is going to win Offensive Rookie of the Year unanimously. Yes, he very well might. He pretty clearly passed Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. Teddy Bridgewater was great, but not really on that level.

Still, I am not convinced that Zack Martin shouldn’t win it. The guy made the damn All-Pro team, and deserves every accolade that comes his way. Nothing against Beckham, who did in 12 games what no other rookie receiver besides Randy Moss could do in 16. Still, this should be a split vote if everyone paid attention to offensive line play like it was actually an important position.)

20. Miami Dolphins – This team underachieved tremendously. Joe Philbin may be a bad coach. I don’t know, but I bet that he is. Still, they have a pretty good quarterback. Ryan Tannehill is already playing at a level where you can see him on a winning team in the playoffs, a couple more improvements and he might be a lead you to a few playoff wins himself.

19. Philadelphia Eagles – The sad thing about this season is that everyone is going to pile on Mark Sanchez, and the Eagles will go into next season thinking Nick Foles is the guy. Foles would have folded down the stretch the same way Sanchez did. The Eagles have a quarterback problem.

They also scored a lot of points when their offense was not on the field. That makes their total numbers look good in terms of scoring, where in reality they probably overachieved in terms of scoring. This team had quite a few games, with both Foles and Sanchez, when their offense never seemed to even have a chance to score.

18. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers played almost the whole season without their three best defensive players, who also happen to be three of the six best linebackers in the NFL. The shadow of Jim Harbaugh haunted them all year, but the real story is that Colin Kaepernick had another dismal regular season, and didn’t get a chance to make up for it in the playoffs like he did the last two years.

17. Buffalo Bills – Doug Marrone opting out is a little crazy, but it doesn’t change the fact that this defense was outrageously good in 2014. The filthy defense needs a quarterback who can move the ball to match it, but really they need EJ Manuel to take a giant leap forward he may not be capable of making.

16. San Diego Chargers – This Chargers team blew some games, but not really if you think about it. Everyone knows the defense stinks, but the offensive line is among the league’s worst. The running backs are as bad as any outside the AFC South, and the receivers, even with Keenan Allen healthy, are mediocre at best. Philip Rivers worked miracles again this year, but they need a lot more in a few spots.

15. Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater will be the difference between this team competing or staying in the basement. I always look at the line for a good quarterback as right between Andy Dalton and Alex Smith. Teddy needs to land comfortably on the Smith side of that chart.

14. Kansas City Chiefs – Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery are terrible football players. The Chiefs defense held up, Jamaal Charles is amazing, and Alex Smith is a good quarterback. Offensive line and receivers are needed desperately.

13. Houston Texans – I don’t know if J.J. Watt is the MVP, but I know that he deserves to be right there at the top of the candidates list. Of course, if we are finally able to admit a defensive lineman can be the MVP, we need to start paying respect to offensive linemen as well.

Still, I think if the Texans snuck into the playoffs at 9-7, Watt might have been a lock to take home the hardware.

12. Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Lindley is going to murder this team’s chances at a playoff victory.

It is sad, really. Carson Palmer has been the butt of many jokes in recent years, but he lost a decent shot at winning some playoff games, if not contending for a Super Bowl. It was probably his last shot to win a playoff game.

I make fun of him all the time, but please don’t forget how good Palmer was when he was in his early 20s. Don’t forget he was a legitimate MVP candidate and the Bengals were a top notch Super Bowl contender when he blew out his knee early in that playoff game against the Steelers. Palmer deserves to be remembered for that iteration of him.

11. Cincinnati Bengals – So far Stan and I have the same two teams penciled in as the worst playoff teams. No coincidence that they have the worst quarterbacks among the twelve contenders.

Sadly, for the Bengals, Andy Dalton can only find company with Ryan Lindley in terms of his playoff companions.

I know, I know. Dalton takes a beating. Yes he does. But is he a top 20 quarterback.

Okay, I know you said yes, easily. Now count. Is he?

10. Carolina Panthers – At 7-8-1, can’t really justify putting them higher than this.

Stan, I understand leaving them at 19. I know the Dolphins and Chargers and Bills and 49ers and Vikings and Texans and Chiefs would be better and more interesting playoff teams.

I know that they have basically zero shot of making it out of the NFC, let alone winning the Super Bowl, and that is assuming they basically have a first round bye.

It is a weird situation.

Still, they have been playing well as of late, and they are about to win a playoff game. Also, at least they didn’t back into the playoffs like the Saints and Falcons tried to. They had to win and win and win down the stretch to get in. That winning will continue one more week.

9. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are the worst of the nine playoff teams I could actually envision getting hot and making some playoff noise. Flacco has done this before.

I wish the secondary was a little better, and I wish the offense didn’t crumble in the last few weeks.

At midseason, however, I thought this was the bad team that could get hot and make a run. My enthusiasm is tempered now, but not completely gone.

8. Detroit Lions – The defense is nice, but the offense is rough. It is unfortunate that the Cowboys and Lions have to play in round one, while either the Panthers or Cardinals will be traveling for the divisional round.

Good thing the game will be played inside in Dallas, wouldn’t want Ndamukong Suh’s feet getting numb against an awesome Cowboys’ offensive line.

7. Indianapolis Colts – This team goes as far as Andrew Luck takes them. Probably not too far, but I have to think they beat the Bengals.

Seeing them beat the Patriots, however, is hard to envision given their recent history of getting mutilated by them.

6. Denver Broncos – The Broncos seem less and less like the Super Bowl contender from midseason with each passing week.

I don’t want to count out Peyton Manning, especially with that dynamic offense to work with, but I am kind of giving up on this team’s chances, especially if they have to go into New England.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers – Losing LeVeon Bell is just a killer blow to a team that had some real sneaky Super Bowl potential and a Hall of Fame quarterback.

Hopefully they can beat the Ravens anyway and get Bell back quickly for the divisional round.

4. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys will have a murderous row to a championship, likely having to beat the Lions, Packers, and Seahawks in a row, before taking on the AFC Champion in the Super Bowl. The defense is as terrible as everyone thought it would be, even if four MVP candidates on the offense were able to mask that.

3. Green Bay Packers – The Packers didn’t exactly end the season on a hot streak, but I wouldn’t want to cover Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in a playoff game. If they make it to the NFC Championship and have to travel to Seattle, I assure you they will force Richard Sherman to make plays on their receivers.

2. New England Patriots – The Patriots seem to have an easy route to the Super Bowl, but don’t be surprised if the Steelers can give them a run for their money. Technically, anyone in the AFC can get hot. Once again, two really bad Giants teams and a bad Ravens team won it all since 2007. Still, the Patriots have to be heavy favorites right now.

1. Seattle Seahawks – You come at the king, you best not miss.

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