Updated: Dec. 27
Los Angeles Rams (4-11) - Previously: 30.
Semi-controversial opinion that probably no one cares about: The Rams are the worst team in the NFL. They began the year 3-1, but aside from a victory over Bryce Petty, they haven't won since. They've suffered a defeat in every game Jared Goof has played, and even though Case Keenum wasn't any good, he appears to be so much better than Goff. The Rams just seem broken with Goff. Broken teams lose to the 49ers at home.
Cleveland Browns (1-14) - Previously: 32.
Congratulations to the Browns for winning a game and not ruining their precious draft position. Truly a Christmas miracle!
Browns fans, to commemorate this special occasion, please purchase the following merchandise:
Anyway, let's do an update for Terrelle Pryor, who, according to Charles Woodson, will accumulate 1,800 receiving yards this year:
Terrelle Pryor's Race for 1,800:
Current Receiving Yards: 913
Currently on Pace for: 974
Yards Per Game Needed for 1,800: 887
There's only one game left. Can Pryor get 887 yards in Week 17 to reach 1,800 for the season? Can't wait to find out!
San Francisco 49ers (2-13) - Previously: 31.
Only the 49ers would have a chance at the first pick of the draft and screw it up with a meaningless win. It's not like the Browns, who were trying desperately to avoid dubious history. No one would remember San Francisco being 1-15. If Myles Garrett ends up being a perennial Pro Bowler, and the 49ers miss out on him, do you think they'll look back and think, "Wow, it's a good thing we beat the Rams!"
By the way, I was thinking of not doing any sort of write-up for that game, and instead of posting this tweet from @Ninersnation, which perfectly described how boring the 49ers-Rams contest was:
New York Jets (4-11) - Previously: 29.
Why won't Ryan Fitzpatrick go away? The Jets wanted to use Geno Smith, but he got hurt and then they went back to Fitzpatrick. Then, they tried using Bryce Petty, but he suffered an injury as well, and in came Fitzpatrick instead of Christian Hackenberg. Fitzpatrick is like the girl who's into you and is always around and willing to bang, but you don't want to do it unless there are no other options and you have to be kind of drunk to get aroused with her. The only difference is that Fitzpatrick has a beard.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that the Jets need to start Hackenberg in Week 17. Try something new, Jets! You might just like it better than the mundane intercourse you've been having with Fitzpatrick.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) - Previously: 28.
I'm sure the 15 Jacksonville fans in existence would agree, but it was refreshing to see the Jaguars actually try for a change. Blake Bortles managed to take time out of his crazy, partying schedule to prepare for the Titans, while Allen Robinson put forth a positive percentage of effort for the first time all year. It was amazing. The Jaguars seemed like a real team for once. For a moment, I forgot they even had a swimming pool at their stadium.
Unfortunately for those 15 fans, I don't see this happening too often. Bortles will go back to partying, while Robinson has shown that he's more than willing to slack off. And yes, the pool is still there, and taking a dip in it remains one of my life goals.
Chicago Bears (3-12) - Previously: 27.
Underrated NFL Team: Matt Barkley has somehow been pretty competent in four of his five starts thus far. He imploded against the Redskins with five interceptions, but he had been playing well otherwise. Jordan Howard has been a forceful running back, while the defense performed well prior to playing Washington. The Bears also now have a dynamic downfield play-maker now that Alshon Jeffery is back from injury. The Bears are miles better than the other two-, three- and four-win teams in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1) - Previously: 23.
I listed the Bengals as underrated last week, but that was before I knew the owner backstabbed the coach and deactivated A.J. Green. I'm surprised Cincinnati nearly won in Houston despite missing Green, Vontaze Burfict and Tyler Eifert. They did cover, and with that in mind, don't you think the Bengals should consult the sportsbooks to find out who bet on them before they decide to block an extra point to affect a spread result? I've been a Cincinnati supporter this year - I called them underrated last week, after all - so the least the players could do is reward me.
Buffalo Bills (7-8) - Previously: 22.
No surprise the Bills lost to the Dolphins. In fact, the surprise was that they were favored by more than a field goal over a better team. The Bills' previous five victories have been against: Browns, Jaguars, Bengals (the game they lost A.J. Green), 49ers and Rams. Right before that, they beat the Patriots, quarterbacked by an injured Jacoby Brissett. Buffalo's one quality win was against the Cardinals, who have been horrible in all of their early East Coast games. Wow, very impressive, Rex Ryan.
Minnesota Vikings (7-8) - Previously: 21.
Pro tip for Minnesota's cornerbacks: Don't mutiny against the head coach, especially one who has decades upon decades of experience coaching great defenses in the NFL. If you do this, you will look stupid, just as you did when Jordy Nelson torched all of your a**es.
It's a sad end for the Vikings, so I once again have to 'member that they were once atop these power rankings...
...It was fantastic.
Indianapolis Colts (7-8) - Previously: 20.
I liked Andrew Luck getting more than a field goal against the Raiders. I didn't like Andrew Luck when he forced some horrible interceptions when he was in scoring range for no good reason. And I really didn't like Andrew Luck when he missed an open receiver on a third down to potentially cover the game after Derek Carr got hurt.
Houston Texans (9-6) - Previously: 19.
I marked this down as a loss initially until I remembered that the Texans won outright. It only felt like a loss because they barely beat a Cincinnati team missing its best downfield threat, top intermediate weapon, and most-dominant defensive player. If Roger Goodell had any balls, he would retroactively penalize the Texans with a loss for this. Hey, call it unfair, but it would give us one more compelling Week 17 game. Imagine, the Texans and Titans battling to see who wins the worst division in football! Tom Savage versus Matt... Cassel... yeah, never mind.
San Diego Chargers (5-10) - Previously: 18.
The Chargers pathetically lost to the 0-14 Browns. Mike McCoy needs to be fired. And whoever put on Philip Rivers' helmet needs to be axed as well:
Wow, no wonder the Browns won.
Carolina Panthers (6-9) - Previously: 15.
I was completely appalled by Carolina's lack of effort against the Falcons. The Panthers played their hearts out versus Washington, but completely quit in a divisional rivalry revenge game.
Why did this happen? Well, it could be argued that the Panthers were tired after playing on Monday night, so they had less time to prepare for that game than the Falcons. However, there's another very strong possibility. I think you know what it's time for...
Jeff Fisher: Yooouu knnkooww whhoo I llikke Buurrt andndn Errnniiee. Thhey''re hoommooss buutt theey're cooll wiitith ititt.
Cam Newton: Actually, now that I've gotten a closer look, you're not Burt Reynolds; you're Jeff Fisher. I don't know why you're here, but as long as a responsible adult is around Derek, I can trust him not to lace the Gatorade. Carry on, gentlemen.
Denver Broncos (8-7) - Previously: 14.
Think the Broncos saw something they liked out of a quarterback in the Kansas City game? I'm talking about Dontari Poe, who might just be a better passer than Trevor Siemian. I'd think the Broncos would offer Poe lots of money to quarterback their team, but John Elway is a smart guy. That said, I am reporting that the Texans have already offered Poe a $72 million contract.
In all seriousness, I'd like to say that I'm strongly disappointed in Denver's defense. You'd think that the Bronco players would've known who Travis Kelce was. Kelce had his own TV show, for crying out loud! Common sense would suggest that NFL players would cover an offensive player who has his own TV show, but apparently not.
Tennessee Titans (8-7) - Previously: 6.
So much for moving the Titans up considerably. They lost Marcus Mariota for the year, but they were getting clobbered even before that. Check out my Disaster Grades for the Mariota and Derek Carr injuries.
Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) - Previously: 26.
It's almost impossible to figure out this Arizona team. The Cardinals have been amazing in some games (vs. Buccaneers, Redskins), and they looked like absolute hot garbage in others (at Falcons, at Panthers). They definitely have a huge home-road dichotomy, or at least they did prior to their outright victory in Seattle. Hey, Arizona, what gives? Can't you just decide whether you're great or hot garbage?
Philadelphia Eagles (6-9) - Previously: 25.
Underrated NFL Team: The Eagles are now 4-1 with Lane Johnson, and that record would be 5-0 if Ryan Mathews hadn't fumbled at the end of the Detroit game. That's one of many close contests the Eagles have lost this season, as six of their nine defeats have been within a touchdown, and that includes the loss at Dallas in which they were winning in the fourth quarter. With some positive adjustments this upcoming offseason, the Eagles will be in a position to make a run at the NFC East crown in 2017.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7) - Previously: 13.
The Buccaneers were a huge disappointment this past weekend. They had multiple shots to cover/push, but they lost by seven instead of three. What dicks.
Anyway, I think we can end all discussion about Tampa's defense being remotely good. The Buccaneers' display the past two weeks has been horrific. And why the hell is Chris Conte playing? Tampa had been better without him on the field, and yet, upon his return, the sideline reports gawked at him being on the field again. "CHRIS CONTE IS HEALTHY FOR THE BUCCANEERS DEFENSE THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN GOOD, NOW IT'LL BE BESTOR!!!" Uhh... no. Chris Conte makes defenses worse. In fact, he makes everything worse. I imagine his kids were having a great time with their Christmas presents, and then he walked in through the front door, and all of the toys instantly broke.
Miami Dolphins (10-5) - Previously: 17.
The Ravens absolutely crushed the Dolphins back in Week 13, so it's hard to believe that Miami has gotten into the playoffs over Baltimore. We all know the Dolphins aren't doing anything in the postseason this year because of the quarterbacking situation, so I think they should do the honorable thing and relinquish their playoff spot to the Ravens. In return, Baltimore can offer a third-round pick, cash, five orichalcum ores and 20 new fans to add to the low level of Miami supporters.
New Orleans Saints (7-8) - Previously: 24.
Underrated NFL Team: I know yards per play is not a concrete determination of how teams are playing, but it's still an important statistic, and the Saints happen to be doing very well in that regard. Did you know that they've outgained their opponents in yards per play in six of their previous seven games? The lone exception was at Arizona, a contest New Orleans won. The Saints have had some bad luck. They had their game-winning extra point blocked versus Denver, and they also dropped numerous touchdowns in a loss at Tampa. The Saints have six defeats this year of six or fewer points, so they could be much better than 7-8 right now.
Detroit Lions (9-6) - Previously: 11.
The Lions seem done to me. They tried their hardest, and even were up 21-14 with possession against the Cowboys, but they were ultimately blown out. Unless both Darius Slay and Travis Swanson return for the Green Bay game, the Lions won't have a chance.
Washington Redskins (8-6-1) - Previously: 16.
Imagine if the Redskins actually showed up to play hard against the Panthers. They'd be in such great shape right now, needing only to beat the Giants' backups in Week 17. It just goes to show how detrimental in can be to take a game for granted, given that there are only 16 of them. It's not like the NBA, where players can show up completely stoned to 10 games, and their team can still get home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Oakland Raiders (12-3) - Previously: 5.
The Raiders drop considerably in these power rankings because Derek Carr is injured. Oakland may say that it believes in Matt McGloin, but imagine if you're going in for a heart operation, and the hospital's chief surgeon isn't available, and as a replacement, the hospital offers a doctor who barely has any experience and who also barely passed medical school. Are you going to say you trust this new doctor, or are you going to fear for your life? Of course, the latter. Oakland fans should fear for their lives with McGloin at quarterback.
Atlanta Falcons (9-6) - Previously: 12.
Overrated NFL Team: The Falcons are just 2-2 in the previous four games they've played against real NFL teams. Atlanta just defeated Carolina, but the Panthers looked too fatigued to tackle, given that they were playing on just four days of rest. Anyway, I still can't get over how the Falcons were bullied in the trenches by a Philadelphia team that was stomped on by the Seahawks. The Falcons are a soft team that can be pushed around. Also, Desmond Trufant is lost for the year, which will be huge against real NFL teams.
New York Giants (10-5) - Previously: 10.
Overrated NFL Team: People were asking me if I changed my mind about the Giants being overrated in the wake of their victory over Detroit. I haven't, and as a result, the Philadelphia loss didn't surprise me at all. The Lions lost the player they planned on covering Odell Beckham Jr. with in the first quarter, and Zach Zenner fumbled inside the 5-yard line. The Lions outgained the Giants in total yards and yards per play. This Giant team reminds me a lot of the 2013 Chiefs, who started 10-0. I called that Kansas City team vastly overrated, even when they were 10-0, and it lost its initial playoff game, which was hardly a surprise. Those Chiefs eked out close wins versus mediocre and bad teams and lucked out versus decent competition, and that's what this New York team has done.
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) - Previously: 9.
Underrated NFL Team: The Ravens are the best team not to make the playoffs. They incurred some losses earlier in the year when they were banged up, but they played better when everyone returned from injuries. The only team I can definitively say is better than them in the AFC is New England; the Ravens and Chiefs appear to be pretty even, and Baltimore is very close to the Steelers as well, given that the Ravens were nine seconds away from winning in Pittsburgh. I would've listed the Raiders prior to the Derek Carr injury, and Miami can't be considered at all because the Ravens destroyed the Ryan Tannehill-led Dolphins in Week 13.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) - Previously: 8.
Overrated NFL Team: Everyone is going to be focusing on the wins against the Broncos and Raiders. However, Denver sucks, and Oakland didn't have its top offensive lineman, who was a surprise scratch, and Derek Carr was so banged up that he couldn't complete routine 3-yard passes. Meanwhile, the Chiefs lost to the Buccaneers and Titans at home recently, and let's not forget that they needed a miraculous comeback to win at Carolina.
Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) - Previously: 4.
I'm not going to penalize the Seahawks very much for their loss to the Cardinals, despite it being at home. Arizona seems to have Seattle's number, as its defensive line matches up so well against Seattle's poor tackles. Meanwhile, if Carson Palmer is on, he can abuse a secondary missing Earl Thomas.
That said, the Seahawks' recent struggles are pretty apparent. Prior to the Arizona loss, Seattle had trouble putting the Rams away, and this happened after getting blown out at Green Bay. Thomas' absence has had a huge impact.
Green Bay Packers (9-6) - Previously: 7.
Some say Green Bay's recent success has to do with Aaron Rodgers proclaiming that his team was going to run the table. I happen to think it's because of this super fan, skin flab and all:
In all seriousness, is anyone still concerned about Green Bay's secondary? Sam Bradford looked great despite losing, and Adam Thielen topped 200 yards. This is not normal!
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) - Previously: 3.
Ben Roethlisberger went nuts in the fourth quarter against the Ravens, and the Steelers are going to be very difficult to beat if he keeps playing like that. Unless my attempts at the ESPN playoff calculator were wrong, it seems as though they're locked into the No. 3 seed. If so, the Steelers should think about resting Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown against the Browns. I'm usually against resting players, but those three are so vital to Pittsburgh's offensive success, plus the Steelers won't have to worry about their stars having two weeks off because there's no bye.
Dallas Cowboys (13-2) - Previously: 2.
I semi-jokingly said in my NFL Game Recaps that Jerry Jones sold his soul to Satan in order for the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this year. The Cowboys have made so many bad decisions over the past year, but they've all worked out. Even Tyron Smith seemed to escape a potential injury. I thought it was dumb for Dallas to play its starters the entire game to risk injury, but that apparently isn't an issue because Satan has Jones' back right now.
New England Patriots (13-2) - Previously: 1.
Before we crown the Patriots as Super Bowl champions, let's not forget that since Week 11, which was right after the home loss to Seattle, they've won four games against the Jets (twice), Rams and 49ers. Another victory of theirs was at Denver, which seemed somewhat impressive until the Broncos completely crapped the bed in Kansas City the following week. I'm still ranking the Patriots at No. 1, but without Rob Gronkowski, they definitely are not as invulnerable as many think they are.