Power Ranking Ramblings: Week 13

Hello and welcome back for another week of us critiquing everyone’s favorite sports channel to hate, ESPN! Apologies for the weeks that we missed, but every week ESPN posts NFL Power Rankings that are generally terrible but not as bad as the commentary they provide to the rankings. So Jesse and I decided it is our duty to endlessly mock the low effort that ESPN put forth.

This year we are doing things a bit different by providing ESPN’s commentary right here on the blog with our personal commentary right below so you don’t have to click between the two articles. But for those of you who want to see the actual rankings, feel free to check them out here:

Week 13 NFL Power Rankings: Where every team ranks no. 1 (well, almost)

And thanks for tuning in. Enjoy!

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2017 record: 10-1
Week 12 ranking: No. 1

ESPN: The Eagles have the best record in the NFL and are the most efficient team, according to FPI — and that’s all thanks to balance. They’ve thrown for the most touchdowns, rushed for the most yards after contact, allowed the fewest rushing yards per game and allowed the second-fewest yards per pass attempt.

Kevin: Hmm…Eagles and Patriots at the top of the rankings? Have we traveled back to 2005? If we get a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, and since the Patriots still have Brady, can we force the Eagles to start Donovan McNabb at QB? I know Terrell Owens would be down for a comeback.

2. New England Patriots

2017 record: 9-2
Week 12 ranking: No. 2

ESPN: The defense has made a substantial turnaround since a slow start, but the Patriots’ bread and butter is still an offense led by a guy whose diet doesn’t allow much actual bread and butter. Tom Brady‘s offense has been the most efficient in the NFL this season, according to FPI, and has committed a league-low seven turnovers.

Jesse: So you’re saying the way to stop the Patriots is to force Brady to eat a lot of bread and butter? Man, teams are going to feel really stupid for spending all that money on pass rushers and shutdown corners when they find out all they needed was a bag of Hawaiian Rolls and a tub of Land O Lakes.

3. Los Angeles Rams

2017 record: 8-3
Week 12 ranking: No. 6

ESPN: Jared Goff is having a great season, but he has been getting plenty of help from his friends. The Rams are averaging an NFL-best 13.3 yards per reception and a league-best 6.7 yards after the catch.

Kevin: Jared Goff is having a great season…Did anyone expect that? Bueller? Bueller?

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

2017 record: 9-2
Week 12 ranking: No. 3

ESPN: Le’Veon Bell leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage and Antonio Brown leads all wide receivers. Their 2,572 combined yards from scrimmage are most by a pair of teammates this season.

Jesse: I’m sure this isn’t true, but it feels like those two have more yards by themselves than the entire Broncos offense. (Checks Broncos stats) Phew! It’s not. That would’ve been another embarrassing moment of a completely embarrassing season.

5. Minnesota Vikings

2017 record: 9-2
Week 12 ranking: No. 4

ESPN: Sam Bradford played well before his injury, and Case Keenum has been great with Bradford out. As a result, the Vikings have the best team Total QBR (74) this season. Give credit to the pass protection, too. The Vikings have allowed 12 sacks this year, tied for fewest in the NFL.

Kevin: Does anyone else think about Casey Kasem when they see Case Keenum’s name? I just imagine him taking the snap and in the pocket saying, “And now our top hit of the day, a touchdown pass to Kyle ‘I ain’t no reindeer’ Rudolph”. But maybe I’m weird.

6. New Orleans

2017 record: 8-3
Week 12 ranking: No. 5

ESPN: Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara might be the best backfield duo of 2017, and the stats bear that out. No team has gained more rushing yards from running backs and no team has gained more receiving yards from running backs than the Saints have this season.

Jesse: Alvin Kamara has been carrying two of my fantasy teams this year, so I’m a fan. Not even gonna compare his stats to our running backs, because I know it will just thoroughly depress me. Moving on.

7. Seattle Seahawks

2017 record: 7-4
Week 12 ranking: No. 10

ESPN: The Seahawks have actually been outscored in the first three quarters of games this season, but they’re 7-4 thanks to their dominance in the fourth. They’ve scored an NFL-best 104 points in the fourth quarter this season, outscoring opponents by a league-best 58 points.

Kevin: This fourth quarter dominance makes me want to run an experiment. What if we took each team that is the best in each of the four quarters and make them play in a game with only those quarters. For example, the Seahawks would play a normal NFL game but each quarter would be called the fourth quarter. If we did that do you think the Seahawks would dominate the whole game? Would the team that dominates the first quarter feel less tired after a game of only first quarters? So many questions in this hypothetical.

8. Carolina Panthers

2017 record: 8-3
Week 12 ranking: No. 8

ESPN: An 8-3 team has to be doing a lot stuff well, but the Panthers’ biggest strength this season might be what they don’t do: commit penalties. Carolina has been flagged a league-low 67 times, and only 21 of those have been against the defense.

Jesse: So the Panthers’ biggest strength is that they screw up less than their opponent? That kind of seems like a backhanded compliment, but I would take that from the Broncos in a heartbeat.

9. Atlanta Falcons

2017 record: 7-4
Week 12 ranking: No. 9

ESPN: Atlanta’s specialty this season has been moving the chains. The Falcons have converted 48 percent of third downs, best in the NFL. It also would be the best by the Falcons since the 1999 team — which made the Super Bowl — converted 54 percent of third downs.


10. Los Angeles Chargers

2017 record: 5-6
Week 12 ranking: No. 16

ESPN: The Chargers are tied for the second-best turnover differential this season, but no team has been better since their 0-4 start. Since the start of Week 5, the Chargers have committed a league-low five turnovers while forcing a league-best 17 turnovers.

Jesse: I guess we were due for another season like this: the Chargers get off to a horrible start, but the AFC West falls apart down the stretch and so the Dolts rise up and take advantage. Are you ready for a playoff game at StubHub Center? Because we are probably having an NFL playoff game at the freaking StubHub Center.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 record: 7-4
Week 12 ranking: No. 7

ESPN: Pick something related to pass defense and odds are the Jaguars are leading in it. They’ve allowed the fewest yards per attempt (5.9), passing yards (1,856) and passing touchdowns (9) and posted the best TD-INT ratio (0.64). They’ve also sacked the quarterback a league-high 41 times.

Kevin: Challenge accepted ESPN Bot. Is the Jaguars pass defense number one in the league in good looks? Checks the player’s bios, okay yeah they’re not bad. But how about number one in the league in small talk? Or kind gestures to strangers? Yeah see it’s not so easy, we need more stats to complete this picture.

12. Washington Redskins

2017 record: 5-7
Week 12 ranking: No. 15

ESPN: The Redskins don’t have many big-name receivers, but that hasn’t stopped their pass offense from ripping off explosive plays. Washington has 22 pass plays of 30 or more yards this season, three more than any other team.

Jesse: I attribute this more to Kirk Cousins’ ability to improvise and run for his life than any of Washington’s receivers. The Broncos could certainly use a guy like that. Do you like pot, Kirk?

13. Detroit Lions

2017 record: 6-5
Week 12 ranking: No. 11

ESPN: The Lions are ranked fifth in points per game, but the offense isn’t the sole reason. Detroit has scored seven defensive and special teams touchdowns, best in the NFL.

Kevin: I drove to Detroit to pickup my wife from the airport. I was only there for about five minutes. Ironically enough that’s roughly the same amount of time that Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson stuck around. Hey-oh!

14. Tennessee Titans

2017 record: 7-4
Week 12 ranking: No. 14

ESPN: The Titans hold onto the ball better than any other team. Not in terms of time of possession — they rank 11th in that — but physically holding the ball. Tennessee has fumbled a league-low five times and the Titans’ pass-catchers have dropped only seven passes, also fewest in the NFL.

Jesse: I think this stat is somewhat misleading. While the Titans may hold their balls better than the rest, I’ve seen Marcus Mariota give it away plenty of times this season. Can’t hold on to your ball that much if the other guy can’t get it to you. Alright, sorry about all that. I’m done.

15. Kansas City Chiefs

2017 record: 6-5
Week 12 ranking: No. 10

ESPN: The Chiefs’ offense has disappeared and the defense hasn’t been as strong as it has in recent years, but the special teams units are still firing on all cylinders. Kansas City has had the best special teams play, according to FPI, which is bolstered by no missed extra points and a league-best 96.3 field goal percentage.

Kevin: Wow guys, let’s give a slow clap to the Chiefs for their dominance in extra points. I wonder if Arrowhead chants “Emmmm…Veeeee…Peeeee” every time their kicker lines up for the PAT.

16. Baltimore Ravens

2017 record: 6-5
Week 12 ranking: No. 15

ESPN: After forcing three turnovers against the Texans on Monday night, the Ravens lead the NFL with 26 takeaways. The bulk of those have come through the air. Their 18 interceptions are a league high.

Jesse: That Baltimore defense must be amazing, right? When you’re able to pick off the likes of Andy Dalton, DeShone Kizer, Case Keenum, Matt Moore, Mariota and Brett Hundley, you are definitely outfoxing the competition.

17. Buffalo Bills

2017 record: 6-5
Week 12 ranking: No. 24

ESPN: The defense might be getting beat on the ground, but the Bills are definitely not getting beat through the air. Buffalo’s opponents have thrown 400 times this season resulting in only 10 touchdown passes. That’s a TD allowed on 2.5 percent of passes, tied with the Jaguars for best in the NFL.

Kevin: Rock Bottom as defined by Merriam Webster: Being tied for the best in anything with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Damn that’s harsh. Must be an old edition.

18. Arizona Cardinals

2017 record: 5-6
Week 12 ranking: No. 21

ESPN: Punters need love, too. Cardinals punter Andy Lee continues to be one of the best in the league. He has pinned opponents inside the 5-yard line five times this season, most in the NFL.

Jesse: My Arizona girlfriend is going to be thrilled to see that ESPN thinks the punter is the best thing about her team. (Kevin’s note: She’s also going to be thrilled to know she’s only your Arizona girlfriend. Do you have an Illinois girlfriend? A Montana girlfriend?)

19. Cincinnati Bengals

2017 record: 5-6
Week 12 ranking: No. 18

ESPN: The 5-6 Bengals are subscribing to the “bend don’t break” theory of defense. Opponents have reached the red zone against them 38 times, the seventh most in the NFL. But Cincinnati has allowed a touchdown on only 39.5 percent of those drives, the best in the NFL.

Kevin: Ahh the only “bend don’t break” defense, or as Bengals fans call it, “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. YES!”.

20. Oakland Raiders

2017 record: 5-6
Week 12 ranking: No. 20

ESPN: Drops have been a problem in Oakland and the running game hasn’t been as stout as expected, but at least Derek Carr is getting protection. The Raiders have allowed pressure on 16.7 percent of dropbacks this season, the lowest in the NFL.

Jesse: So Carr has a nice garage but he isn’t getting much further than that? Got it.

21. Dallas Cowboys

2017 record: 6-6
Week 12 ranking: No. 21

ESPN: The rushing offense has actually been strong without Ezekiel Elliott this season. As a team, the Cowboys are averaging 4.7 yards per rush, the second-best mark in the NFL. They’re also picking up a first down on 27.4 percent of their rushes, the highest in the NFL.

Kevin: I recently visited Dallas. I had an Uber driver tell me that driving was his side business. He said the way he pays the bills is he bets against the Cowboys with all of his friends. Or as he called them, “idiot, blind Cowboys fans”. Best Uber driver ever.

22. Green Bay Packers

2017 record: 5-6
Week 12 ranking: No. 26

ESPN: Even without Aaron Rodgers, one thing that has remained consistent for the Packers is their red zone offense. Green Bay has scored a touchdown on 68 percent of its red zone drives this season, second only to the 10-1 Eagles (72 percent).

Jesse: I’m sure that helps all the cheeseheads sleep well at night, knowing that although they don’t have Rodgers, those red zone numbers are still looking amazing!

23. New York Jets

2017 record: 4-7
Week 12 ranking: No. 22

ESPN: For a team that wasn’t supposed to have much of a vertical offense this season, the Jets are really airing it out. On passes thrown 30 or more yards past the line of scrimmage, they’ve completed 50 percent of attempts with five touchdowns, both tied for most in the NFL.

Kevin: I have a confession. I had to look up who the quarterback of the Jets is. Fun fact, it’s Josh McCown. Another fun fact, did you know Josh McCown was still in the league?

24. Houston Texans

2017 record: 4-7
Week 12 ranking: No. 19

ESPN: Houston’s wide receivers thrived with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, but they’ve done some damage with Tom Savage throwing the ball, too. Texans receivers have combined for 19 receiving touchdowns, three more than any other team.

Jesse: Savage just has four touchdown passes on the season, but nice try making it look like the Texans don’t miss Watson that much, ESPN.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2017 record: 4-7
Week 12 ranking: No. 23

ESPN: There’s not a lot the Buccaneers rate highly in, but one area they do is fumbles. They have the best fumble differential in the NFL this season, recovering 11 on defense (tied for most) and losing only five on offense.

Kevin: If you subscribe to the Bill Barnwell theory of fumbles, which is, recoveries depend fully on luck, then congratulations Bucs! You’re the luckiest team in the league. Uh the luckiest 4-7 team that is…

26. Chicago Bears

2017 record: 3-8
Week 12 ranking: No. 25

ESPN: Luck or skill? The Bears have forced 14 fumbles on defense and recovered 11 of them, tied for most in the NFL. The rate of recovery (79 percent) is best in the NFL. Probably luck — but hey, it doesn’t change that the Bears still rate well in the stat.

Jesse: I also drank a lot of beer last weekend and didn’t have a hangover the next day. Probably luck, but hey, doesn’t change the fact that I was still doing well that day!

27. Miami Dolphins

2017 record: 4-7
Week 12 ranking: No. 28

ESPN: The kicking game might be the highlight of Miami’s season. The Dolphins are one of three teams — along with the Lions and Panthers — that have yet to miss a field goal inside of 50 yards this year. They also have yielded the second-deepest average start position following kickoffs.

Kevin: I guess the Broncos will get to hear all the “Emmm…Veee…Peee” chants in Miami this week. The Dolphins and Chiefs’ kickers are in a fierce competition this year.

28. Denver Broncos

2017 record: 3-8
Week 12 ranking: No. 27

ESPN: Don’t blame the rushing defense for the disappointing record. The Broncos have allowed the fewest yards per rush (3.2), fewest yards before contact per rush (1.69) and the lowest third-down conversion percentage on rushes (21 percent) in the league.

Jesse: Trust me ESPN, we don’t blame the rushing defense. We blame everything else.

29. Indianapolis Colts

2017 record: 3-8
Week 12 ranking: No. 30

ESPN: The Colts have only nine passing touchdowns this season, but when they do find the end zone through the air, it’s usually a long one. They’re averaging 41.1 yards on their passing touchdowns, 12 more than any other team.

Kevin: I haven’t watched a single Colts game this season but this fun fact leads me to believe that the Colts are just calling Hail Marys on every play. Not a bad tanking strategy actually.

30. New York Giants

2017 record: 2-9
Week 12 ranking: No. 29

ESPN: The Giants actually have been one of the best defenses in goal-to-go situations this year, allowing a touchdown on only 56 percent of such drives, second best in the NFL. They’ve allowed opponents to complete 38 percent of passes and just 0.7 yards per rush in those situations, both second best in the league.

Jesse: But the Giants have the worst defense for, “Why we benched our two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback for Geno freaking Smith.”

31. San Francisco 49ers

2017 record: 1-10
Week 12 ranking: No. 31

ESPN: It’s no surprise the 49ers have punted a lot this season (5.6 times per game), but their punt coverage has been phenomenal. They’re allowing 2.54 yards per punt return, which is not only best in the NFL this season, it’s the best in the NFL since the 2008 Falcons (2.45).

Kevin: Look, I could give the 49ers shit for having the most boring “best” ranking. But it’s self explanatory alright? I think I’ll just punt this one, it’s too easy.

32. Cleveland Browns

2017 record: 0-11
Week 12 ranking: No. 32

ESPN: As bad as the Browns have been, their rushing defense has been stellar. They’re allowing 3.3 yards per rush and 1.7 yards before contact per rush, both second best in the NFL. And no, it’s not because opposing teams kneel a lot. Take away kneel-downs and the Browns still rank second best in each.

Jesse: Kevin, I’ll let you take this one.

Kevin: My absolute favorite mental image is of an ESPN intern actually having to consider, and take away, kneel-downs to make sure they weren’t getting head faked by the Browns actually being good at something. Bravo ESPN, so glad you are making sure you are seeing all angles on this one.

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