Okay, I have a quick question. DID YOU SEE JOHNNY FOOTBALL TRY TO PLAY QUARTERBACK ON SUNDAY?!? Oh my God. OH MY GOD. That was the most exciting 60 minutes of football all season, and that includes the 60 minutes I watched the Odell catch on loop on my phone while sitting in the bathroom.
We’re heading into Week 15 and it feels like the more things change, the more they stay the same. Inconsistent teams stay inconsistent, the good teams separate themselves from the pack and the pretenders start to get exposed for the frauds they truly are. When Rob and I first came up with the idea of doing joint power rankings, we assumed that we’d have a lot of differences but as you’ve seen, we’ve disagreed very seldomly. Even this week, the only differences between our rankings is where we rank the Raiders, the Steelers and the Lions. Every other ranking we have is pretty close to each other. So what does that tell you? I think it says that we’re both geniuses.
32. Tennessee Titans
31. New York Jets
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
28. Washington Redskins
I think the Titans have pretty clearly separated themselves as the worst team in the NFL. They blew out the Chiefs on the opening weekend, and have proceeded to go 1-11 since then, with their only win being a narrow two-point victory over the lowly Jaguars. Since the October 12th meeting, the Jaguars are 2-5 while the Titans are 0-7.
Really, we are splitting hairs between all five of these teams. These five franchises have sparse talent, horrific quarterback situations, and overall terrible coaching.
27. Oakland Raiders
26. Carolina Panthers
25. New York Giants
The Raiders are not the worst team in the NFL Stan. You wrote a nice little paragraph about how we haven’t disagreed enough and I am taking you to task on it, because even though some teams we only have a small difference, those few spots matter to me.
The Raiders were a pretty good 0-9 team. They played the Patriots tough. They played the Seahawks tough. They played the Chargers tough twice. Then they beat the Chiefs and 49ers, two talented—albeit flawed—teams with playoff aspirations. You’re right; they may not have the talent. Still, they beat two teams in the playoff hunt. They have played above their heads all season. They beat two teams with winning records. The five teams below them have nine combined wins since week two, and have feasted on each other and the Steelers for six of those wins, with the most embarrassing losses of the season Cowboys, Browns, and Giants getting the number up to nine.
Derek Carr is still only okay to me, although he certainly looks like he has adapted better to football than Blake Bortles, selected a full round earlier. The Raiders could have very easily been a fantastic 0-16 football team with their schedule, and those wins make them worthy of far better than the 32nd ranked team in these Power Rankings.
Also the Panthers and Giants continue to frustrate their fans by flashing absolute brilliance this past weekend, even if it was against some underwhelming competition.
24. Atlanta Falcons
23. New Orleans Saints
Quick math: both the Falcons and the Saints are tied for the division lead at 5-8. The Falcons hold the tiebreaker because of a head-to-head win earlier in the year. I believe the division winner will win six games. They each have three games left, and play each other in Week 16.
Yes, that means a part of me believes that both the Falcons and Saints will lose out, and the winner of that game will be the division champion. Looking at the schedules you would think the Saints have an excellent shot at going 8-8 and salvaging some pride. I do not expect this to happen. They just got murdered by a terrible Panthers team. I am so over the NFC South.
22. Chicago Bears
21. San Francisco 49ers
This offseason, both the Bears and 49ers did two things. First, they seemed to put themselves in position for a deep playoff run. They gave money to their quarterbacks, made sure there were enough weapons on offense, and tried to patch up holes elsewhere with veterans and highly drafted rookies. All this was supposed to be enough to propel them and their beloved coaches into January.
At the same time, both offseasons brought up doubts for the 2014 season. Jay Cutler over Josh McCown was questioned, especially after former Bears’ coach Lovie Smith took over in Tampa Bay. The Bears also let Peppers go to their rival Packers, while then snatching Jared Allen from the Vikings. One of those two signings went well.
The 49ers had to deal with Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald this offseason. They also had the Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland rumors circling. With Navarro Bowman expected to miss most of the season, they had plenty of questions themselves.
Both teams playi in divisions that included juggernauts (Packers/Seahawks), frisky borderline contenders (Lions/Cardinals), and a pair of really frisky teams destined for fourth place (Vikings/Rams—both of which would have blown away the NFC South). The recipe was there for a meltdown season. Both teams obliged.
20. Cleveland Browns
19. Minnesota Vikings
18. Buffalo Bills
17. St. Louis Rams
Brian Hoyer may very well stink, but boy were the Browns scrappy this season. Wins over the Saints, Steelers, Bengals, and Falcons don’t look great in context, but all four teams had serious playoff hopes before the season and still now. The Browns only found themselves in contention after they were still standing after 11 games. The loss to the Colts after giving up that huge lead and the beating they took from the Jaguars will loom large for a team that had a chance to do something special, and for a quarterback who had a chance to revive his career.
The Vikings run was a little more expected. Unless you take into account a “bad pro day”, Teddy Bridgewater was a can’t miss kid. It is a travesty he lasted until pick 32. The Texans should be kicking themselves for not making the move up a few spots to grab him. The Bills made the moves to push the chips all in for this year and next year, moving up to grab Sammy Watkins and signing Kyle Orton as EJ Manuel insurance. The team looks good, and needs to make only a small improvement to be a legitimate playoff team next year, but they need to figure out the answer at quarterback. It is not Orton, and if it isn’t Manuel, then who takes snaps in what will amount to a critical 2015 campaign?
The Rams have been awesome to watch. Back-to-back shutouts is great, but that isn’t what got the Rams their own very special section here in the Power Rankings.
I don’t like Jeff Fisher. I do not think he is a good coach. Why do I think that? Because (assuming the Rams don’t finish the season 3-0) he has now coached 20 seasons in the NFL. He has won the division exactly THREE TIMES. He has finished with a winning record exactly SIX TIMES. He has made the playoffs exactly SIX TIMES. He has finished third or fourth in the division exactly THIRTEEN TIMES. All of those are out of twenty. This guy has grossly underachieved in terms of wins for a head coach who has had this many chances.
He pulled one of the greatest moves in my recent memory, openly trolling the Redskins by sending out all six players they acquired in the RGIII trade as captains. Nothing like finishing fourth in your division and still rubbing it in the face of your also fourth place opponent. Just classic. Second best moment of Fisher’s career after the Music City Miracle. Bravo.
16. Cincinnati Bengals
Boo Andy Dalton.
15. Miami Dolphins
14. Houston Texans
13. Kansas City Chiefs
12. Baltimore Ravens
11. San Diego Chargers
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
Okay Stan, this is the section where I think you continually fail to adjust based on what I see on the field. The Dolphins are might be a top ten teams in terms of talent, but they have bad coaching and they do not have the quarterback play to overcome it. Joe Philbin is the worst coach of these six teams, and it isn’t even close.
Now the Steelers have very good coaching, a great quarterback, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. The defense isn’t great, but the Dolphins’ offense isn’t great. I know they really just failed to show up against the Jets and Buccaneers, but at this point, I think you have to take them over the Dolphins. The Ravens just beat the Dolphins in a game where John Harbaugh completely out coached Philbin.
Also, the Chargers have been just as Jekyll and Hyde as the Steelers, and you have them all the way up at 7! I love the Chargers on offense, but that team is really frustrating for the spot you put them.
Also, J.J. Watt is so good and the Texans can make the playoffs by beating either the Colts or the Ravens, and they basically lock into a playoff spot if they beat them both. Leaving them at 20 would really make Watt angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
9. Arizona Cardinals
8. Dallas Cowboys
7. Philadelphia Eagles
6. Indianapolis Colts
5. Detroit Lions
I think the Cardinals more or less locked themselves into the playoffs with a win. At 10-6 with tiebreakers over the Eagles, Lions, and Cowboys, I think their chances skyrocketed even if they lose out. The next four teams are very strange. All four of them seem like sure playoff teams, but none of them feel great about where they are despite strong records.
4. Seattle Seahawks
3. Denver Broncos
2. New England Patriots
1.Green Bay Packers
I mean, come on. These guys are just taking care of business.
I know Stan is pretty depressed about his Giants, and probably about New York sports in general. Even still, I found it necessary to take a bunch of shots at the Giants, who might be in full tank mode. The Jets could also be tanking, after a deliriously fantastic game in which they threw the ball only 13 times. Now, in case you missed it, I will answer a few questions about that game.