Power Ranking Ramblings: Week 17

Here is the last edition of our Power Ranking Ramblings. There’s no picture and no snappy intro, because I want to move on from this season and put it out of my mind. Starting…. now!

1. New England Patriots

2017 record: 12-3
Week 16 ranking: No. 1

ESPN: 12.5 wins: New England has won 12 games for the eighth straight season, the longest streak of its kind in NFL history. A potential 13th win is on the line in Week 17 in Foxborough against the Jets. The last time Tom Brady lost a regular-season home game to the Jets: 2006.

Kevin: Well the good news, for those of us who aren’t Patriots’ fans (AKA the majority of the world), is that they didn’t go undefeated this season. Something I thought was definitely going to happen because that’s just how 2017 should have ended.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

2017 record: 12-3
Week 16 ranking: No. 2

ESPN: 10.5 wins: Pittsburgh ranks seventh in points scored and fifth in points allowed this season, so it’s no surprise how well the team is doing. A Week 17 matchup against the winless Browns stands in the way of the Pittsburgh’s first 13-win season since 2004 — Ben Roethlisberger‘s rookie season.

Jesse: Have I ever told you that I hate the Steelers? It kinda gets lost in the shuffle because of my hate for the Pats, Chiefs and Raiders, but I hate the Steelers.

3. Minnesota Vikings

2017 record: 12-3
Week 16 ranking: No. 4

ESPN: 8.5 wins: Minnesota blew by its projection back in Week 12. Case Keenum‘s surprise season keeps making waves, but give it up for Minnesota’s defense. It ranks second in the NFL in both points allowed (16.1 per game) and yards allowed (280.9 per game).

Kevin: Get a competent QB and back him up with a scary defense and look what you can do! Sorry Broncos fans, we only had half of that formula.

4. Los Angeles Rams

2017 record: 11-4
Week 16 ranking: No. 5

ESPN: 6 wins: You know you’re having a special season when you hit your preseason over/under halfway through the schedule. That’s what Los Angeles did this year. And while Jared Goff‘s improvement has been key, give some love to Todd Gurley, who eclipsed 2,000 yards from scrimmage in Week 16.

Jesse: Raise your hand if you were dumb like me and didn’t think Todd Gurley was worth picking up in the second round of your fantasy draft. Wow, that’s a lot of hands!

5. Philadelphia Eagles

2017 record: 13-2
Week 16 ranking: No. 3

ESPN: 8.5 wins: It took Philadelphia 10 games to pass its preseason projection. But now without Carson Wentz, who knows what will happen, but Philly is 2-0 since Nick Foles has taken over. Even accounting for Foles at quarterback, FPI rates Philadelphia as a top-three team.

Kevin: Case Keenum and Nick Foles leading playoff teams. Damn Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian are really, really bad after all.

6. New Orleans Saints

2017 record: 11-4
Week 16 ranking: No. 7

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: Raise your hand if you were smart like me and picked up Kamara from waivers. My point is that nothing in life makes you feel smarter and dumber in equal measures than fantasy football.

7. Carolina Panthers

2017 record: 11-4
Week 16 ranking: No. 8

ESPN: 9 wins: Cam Newton has had some of the best success of his career running this year, which has helped Carolina to 11 wins. Newton currently leads the team in rushing and has set a career high in yards on designed rushing plays.

Kevin: What did Santa get Cam Newton for Christmas this year? Well he kept Von Miller out of the playoffs so that’s nice.

8. Kansas City Chiefs

2017 record: 9-6
Week 16 ranking: No. 10

ESPN: 9 wins: After a 5-0 start, it seems pretty crazy that Kansas City might not surpass nine wins. It seems even crazier when you take into consideration that, according to Elias Sports Bureau research, the Chiefs are just the second team with a 4,000-yard passer (Alex Smith), a 1,000-yard running back (Kareem Hunt), a 1,000-yard wide receiver (Tyreek Hill) and a 1,000-yard tight end (Travis Kelce).

Jesse: Are the Chiefs really going to run Alex Smith out of town? Because the Broncos would gladly scoop up a 4,000 yard passer that I guess isn’t good enough for the mighty Chiefs and their history of big time playoff victor… sorry, I just couldn’t finish that without laughing.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 record: 10-5
Week 16 ranking: No. 6

ESPN: 6.5 wins: The Jaguars have cruised past their projected wins, but forgive fans for feeling a little uneasy after their Week 16 loss. The defense allowed 40-plus points to the 49ers while Blake Bortles threw his first pick-six of the year and had his first three-interception game since Week 3 of 2016.

Kevin: Forgive fans for feeling a little uneasy? Blake Bortles threw his FIRST pick-six of the year in week 16. Jaguar fans should be rejoicing. There should be a parade. Take a week off of work to celebrate Jacksonville!

10. Baltimore Ravens

2017 record: 9-6
Week 16 ranking: No. 12

ESPN: 8.5 wins: Baltimore hovered around .500 for a bit, but Joe Flacco and the offense have finally started holding up their end of the bargain. Over the past four weeks, Flacco has thrown seven touchdowns to one interception after throwing nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in the first 11 games of the season.

Jesse: I don’t want to hear about Joe Flacco playing well around this time of the year, for obvious reasons.

11. Atlanta Falcons

2017 record: 9-6
Week 16 ranking: No. 9

ESPN: 9.5 wins: The 2016 Panthers are the only Super Bowl loser in the past eight seasons to miss the playoffs the following year. Atlanta would need to lose to Carolina in Week 17 for that to be a possibility. A win would mean another shot at a Super Bowl run for the Falcons.

Kevin: “This week on Fox, one team blew the big game two years ago against a body formerly known as Peyton Manning, meanwhile last year another team blew a lead so large that the league had to drug test it for steroids, now they battle for a shot at an early playoff exit!”

12. Los Angeles Chargers 

2017 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: No. 15

ESPN: 7.5 wins: The Chargers’ record is still good enough to keep them in the postseason hunt. While Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon both have racked up 1,000 yards, it’s the defense that is doing the best work. Los Angeles has allowed 17.5 points per game this season, its fewest since 1992.

Jesse: I can’t even keep the two LA teams straight in our rankings, as Kevin nicely pointed out in a revision for this piece. How closely do you think people who actually live out there are paying attention?

13. Seattle Seahawks

2017 record: 9-6
Week 16 ranking: No. 11

ESPN: 10.5 wins: Seattle won’t reach 11 wins, but a 10-win season could still get the Seahawks back into the playoffs for a sixth straight season. It all rests on Russell Wilson, who will likely finish as the team’s leading rusher and has set an NFL record for fourth-quarter passing touchdowns, per Elias Sports Bureau research.

Kevin: I zoned out of this NFL season at some point, somewhere around week 1, can anyone explain what happened to the Seahawks? No? No one is left on the bandwagon to explain it to me? Surprise…

14. Detroit Lions

2017 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: No. 16

ESPN: 7.5 wins: Prior to Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati, all of Detroit’s losses had been to teams that have either clinched a playoff berth or are likely to do so in Week 17. But despite going over their projection, the Lions will not make the playoffs.

Jesse: Oh the Lions, the team that can surpass expectations for itself and fail at the same time.

15. Buffalo Bills

2017 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: No. 17

ESPN: 6.5 wins: Finishing above its projection is nice for Buffalo, but the team and the city would really love a playoff berth to go along with it. The Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, the longest playoff drought in the league.

Kevin: After visiting Buffalo to witness a game decided by a fake handshake, I have decided that I would rather live in a world where the Bills haven’t made the playoffs in the 21st century than one where they have. So go Dolphins.

16. Dallas Cowboys

2017 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: No. 13

ESPN: 9.5 wins: Dallas just didn’t have the same magic it did in 2016. After throwing just four interceptions last year, Dak Prescott has thrown 13 interceptions this season, four of which were returned for touchdowns.

Jesse: To be fair to Dak, when I had him on my team in Madden I think I had more picks returned for touchdowns than he did.

17. Tennessee Titans

2017 record: 8-7
Week 16 ranking: No. 18

ESPN: 9 wins: Is Marcus Mariota actually holding back the Titans? In his past six games — a stretch in which Tennessee is 2-4 — Mariota has thrown six touchdowns to nine interceptions. To put that in perspective: Mariota threw nine interceptions in all of 2016.

Kevin: Hmm, well the Titans’ best win was, arguably, week two against the Jaguars. But that’s not quite fair to the Jags who were still figuring out that they are indeed a good team. So maybe this isn’t Mariota’s fault? Maybe their success this season was just smoke and mirrors. Luckily this week is a rematch of that week two matchup.

18. Washington Redskins

2017 record: 7-8
Week 16 ranking: No. 21

ESPN: 7.5 wins: Washington has hovered around .500 ever since making Kirk Cousins the primary starter in 2015 but has yet to dip below. If the team wins in Week 17, it will mean a third straight season of .500 or better — something Washington hasn’t done since 1999 to 2001.

Jesse: Everyone gives Kirk shit for not having a playoff win on his resume, but they should love him in Washington for keeping their team average instead of how they usually are: atrocious. They should build a statue of him in D.C., for fuck’s sake.

19. San Francisco 49ers

2017 record: 5-10
Week 16 ranking: No. 23

ESPN: 5 wins: Clearly the win total came well before the Jimmy Garoppolo deal. Garoppolo is now 4-0 as the starter in San Francisco, the only undefeated quarterback in the league since Week 13.

Kevin: I like to imagine that John Lynch was sitting in his new office where he stumbled across the ESPN article that projected his 49ers to finish with 5 wins, saw his team only had 1 win, did some math in his head, picked up the phone and said, “Bill, now is the time, we need Jimmy G.” Bill obliged and 4 wins later we are here. They did it, they matched ESPN Bot’s prediction.

Also, might I suggest a chant for the fans at 49ers games? One side of the stadium closes their eyes and says, “Garop” and the other side says “Polo!” for the world’s biggest game of Marco Polo ever.

20. Oakland Raiders

2017 record: 6-9
Week 16 ranking: No. 19

ESPN: 9.5 wins: Last year’s 12-4 campaign seemed like a sign of brighter days ahead for the Raiders, but 2017 is making 2016 look like an aberration. Oakland’s offense is averaging six points fewer per game this season, which has led to a 14th non-winning season in the past 15 years.

Jesse: I’ll say this for 2017, it returned the Raiders back to their mediocre ways. Thanks for not being completely unreasonable, 2017.

21. Green Bay Packers

2017 record: 7-8
Week 16 ranking: No. 14

ESPN: 10.5 wins: The expectation was Green Bay would post yet another winning season, but heading into Week 17, the best-case scenario for the Packers is a .500 finish. Losing Aaron Rodgers hurt, and Brett Hundley‘s failing to throw a touchdown pass at Lambeau Field didn’t help.

Kevin: A couple of weeks ago Green Bay fans flooded to Cleveland for their game. And they wore their Packers gear everywhere, all week long. It annoyed me and now I’m pleased they are in the middle of a lost season. That’ll teach you to rep your team while at dinner in Cleveland on a Thursday! You crazy bastards.

22. Cincinnati Bengals

2017 record: 6-9
Week 16 ranking: No. 26

ESPN: 8.5 wins: Marvin Lewis got one last win in Cincinnati before his reported farewell from the team following Week 17. Win or lose next week, Cincy is finishing under 8.5 wins, but a few breaks here and there could have led to a different story. The Bengals have lost four games by four or fewer points this season, tied for second most in the NFL.

Jesse: Bengals fans, rejoice! You were a few breaks here and there from having to endure another few years with Marvin Lewis.

23. Arizona Cardinals

2017 record: 7-8
Week 16 ranking: No. 22

ESPN: 8.5 wins: Arizona has had an up-and-down season. The Cardinals have only one winning or losing streak of two games this season — lost in Weeks 10 and 11 — and have essentially alternated wins and losses all other weeks. Hard to go over 8.5 wins doing that all season.

Kevin: Good News Bad News. Good News: My pal Jesse has a girlfriend. Bad News: She’s from Arizona and an alleged Cardinals “fan”. Good News: The Cardinals are about as frustrating as the Broncos. Why is that good news? Well in a relationship you should either both be happy or both be miserable, obviously, so it’s probably bringing Jesse and his girl closer together. Aww isn’t that sweet? Mediocre-to-bad football bringing people together.

24. Miami Dolphins

2017 record: 6-9
Week 16 ranking: No. 20

ESPN: 7 wins: Miami has clinched its eighth non-winning season in the past nine years. Would things have turned out differently with Ryan Tannehill at the helm? Jay Cutler‘s Total QBR this season is lower than any season of Tannehill’s career.

Jesse: You mean to tell me that the Dolphins had a disappointing season with Cutler at the helm? No fucking way! It’s not like we’ve never seen that before.

25. Houston Texans

2017 record: 4-11
Week 16 ranking: No. 27

ESPN: 8.5 wins: Houston could have very well finished with a winning season had Deshaun Watson stayed healthy. Houston was 3-3 and averaging almost 35 points per game with Watson as the starter. In all other games, Houston has gone 1-8 and averaged 13 points per game.

Kevin: Which obvious pun should I go with? “Houston, we have a problem”? or “Elementary my Deshaun Watson”? Eh neither are great, I better just forget about it like Texans’ fans are trying to forget about this season. And their entire existence.

26. New York Jets

2017 record: 5-10
Week 16 ranking: No. 25

ESPN: 3.5 wins: At first it looked like New York would finish well beyond 3.5 wins, starting the season 3-2. The team is just 2-8 since then, tied for the third-worst record since Week 6. Put it all together, though, and you still have a team exceeding expectations.

Jesse: As Kevin likes to call them, this is definitely something that I would expect from the Jesters. “Hey guys, we’re almost past ESPN’s projected win total for us this year. Should we see how much better we can do?”

“Nah. I’m sure we’ll get a couple more wins eventually. Let’s just mail the rest of the year in.”

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2017 record: 4-11
Week 16 ranking: No. 28

ESPN: 8.5 wins: Jameis Winston has lost his past nine starts, tied for the second-longest active losing streak among starting quarterbacks behind only rookie DeShone Kizer. Winston’s numbers might not look bad, but more wins were expected following the additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard.

Kevin: I would like to see the math behind ESPN Bot’s calculations. 8.5 wins for the Bucs? Way to set them up for failure ESPN Bot, you jerk.

28. Chicago Bears

2017 record: 5-10
Week 16 ranking: No. 29

ESPN: 5.5 wins: A trip to Minnesota in Week 17 could keep Chicago from reaching six wins, but the Bears are close to that mark thanks to Jordan Howard. If Howard can rush for another touchdown in Week 17, he’d be the first Chicago player with 1,000 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in a season since Raymont Harris in 1997.

Jesse: Congrats, Jordan Howard. You caused me to google Raymont Harris, something I’d never thought I’d do in my life. 2017 just doesn’t quit.

29. Denver Broncos

2017 record: 5-10
Week 16 ranking: No. 24

ESPN: 8 wins: Denver’s disappointing campaign can be boiled down to quarterback play. Broncos QBs have combined for 17 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

Kevin: Folks, this is it. We have reached The Technological Singularity. ESPN Bot has been a long running experiment from ESPN. I’ve teased it all season long but it has finally arrived to full human understanding. Never before has a single sentence written by an AI been as perfect and apt as “Denver’s disappointing campaign can be boiled down to quarterback play”. This is it human beings. It was a good time while it lasted but we are no longer needed. Thanks for playing.

30. New York Giants

2017 record: 2-13
Week 16 ranking: No. 30

ESPN: 9 wins: How bad has this season been for New York? A Week 17 victory over Washington would mean the Giants’ fewest wins (3) since 1983, when they went 3-12-1. A loss would mean their fewest wins since 1974, when they went 2-12.

Jesse: I mean, a tie would also mean their fewest wins since 1974, right? Come on, ESPN, we need all the possibilities on the table!

31. Indianapolis Colts

2017 record: 3-12
Week 16 ranking: No. 31

ESPN:  8 wins: Without Andrew Luck, the Colts’ chances at an eight-win season took a serious dive. Since Luck was drafted in 2012, Indianapolis is just 9-15 (.375) without Luck and 43-27 (.614) with him.

Kevin: I take everything I said about the ESPN Bot back. How did it miss the “Without Luck on their side…” pun? Come on! I thought you perfected puns in week three!

32. Cleveland Browns

2017 record: 0-15
Week 16 ranking: No. 32

ESPN: 4.5 wins: Switch that to 0.5. Does Cleveland go over? If it doesn’t happen, the Browns would be the second team in NFL history to finish 0-16, joining Detroit’s 2008 squad.

Jesse: It would be rude of me to not pass this off to Kevin, considering it may be his last chance to take a shot at the Browns while living in Cleveland. Kevin, take it away!

Kevin: It’s 16 degrees here in Cleveland today. Only one degree more than the Browns have losses this season. Pray for Cleveland.

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