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Week 16 Power Rankings

What’s the point of power rankings now that there is just one week left in the regular season? If you’ve asked that question, you are implicitly saying that power rankings serve a purpose earlier in the year! If you want to see the playoff picture, I laid that out earlier this week, so I’ll assume you’ll be staying on this post for the snark.

I was on the Seahawks’ bandwagon a couple of weeks earlier than most, but they’re now #1 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings and third in Advanced NFL Stats’ Efficiency Rankings. Seattle is also first in Pro-Football-Reference.com’s SRS Ratings; the Seahawks are second in the NFL in points differential, behind the Patriots, but a much tougher schedule was enough to close the gap there. Now that Richard Sherman is cleared to play in the postseason, Seattle is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They may not have home field advantage in the playoffs, but they do have my Coach of the Year.

Here’s the week 17 schedule along with my projected winner:

Road Team
 
Home Team
Time
Proj Winner
Tampa Bay Buccaneers@Atlanta Falcons1:00 PMAtlanta Falcons
New York Jets@Buffalo Bills1:00 PMBuffalo Bills
Baltimore Ravens@Cincinnati Bengals1:00 PMCincinnati Bengals
Houston Texans@Indianapolis Colts1:00 PMHouston Texans
Chicago Bears@Detroit Lions1:00 PMChicago Bears
Green Bay Packers@Minnesota Vikings1:00 PMGreen Bay Packers
Carolina Panthers@New Orleans Saints1:00 PMCarolina Panthers
Philadelphia Eagles@New York Giants1:00 PMNew York Giants
Jacksonville Jaguars@Tennessee Titans1:00 PMTennessee Titans
Cleveland Browns@Pittsburgh Steelers1:00 PMPittsburgh Steelers
Miami Dolphins@New England Patriots4:25 PMNew England Patriots
Kansas City Chiefs@Denver Broncos4:25 PMDenver Broncos
Oakland Raiders@San Diego Chargers4:25 PMSan Diego Chargers
St. Louis Rams@Seattle Seahawks4:25 PMSeattle Seahawks
Arizona Cardinals@San Francisco 49ers4:25 PMSan Francisco 49ers
Dallas Cowboys@Washington Redskins8:20 PMWashington Redskins

That leaves us with the final week 17 standings:

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Atlanta Falcons13-2141300.5001Mike Smith says the Falcons will play to win this game. I believe him.
Houston Texans12-3131410.6250The best season in Texans history will be secure with a win in Indianapolis in week 17.
Denver Broncos12-3131300.1251The best team in the AFC? With a win at home against Kansas City, the Broncos will finish the year on an 11-game win streak.
New England Patriots11-41212-10.4381A home win against the Dolphins will mark just the second time Bill Belichick's Patriots have gone undefeated in the division.
Green Bay Packers11-4121210.5000Winning in Minnesota is going to be difficult, but the Packers need a win to secure a much-needed bye.
San Francisco 49ers10-4-111.511.510.3131The 49ers can salvage a strong season by winning at home against Arizona; a loss and the team is in a full-fledged free fall.
Seattle Seahawks10-5111100.4061A Super Bowl championship? The coach of the year? The rookie of the year? Seattle might end up with all three in a couple of months.
Chicago Bears9-6101000.2500The Bears rooting for the Packers is one of the weirder twists of week 17.
Indianapolis Colts10-5101000.8751A magnificent season in Indianapolis is capped by the return of Chuck Pagano this weekend.
Baltimore Ravens10-5109-10.5630The Ravens plugged the leak against the Giants, but week 17 against the Bengals will be more like a pre-season game.
Washington Redskins9-610900.6251The Redskins entered the year with the least hype in the NFC East; they may end the year with the division crown.
Cincinnati Bengals9-610910.5631In a meaningless game, I'll take the home team. A.J. Green and Geno Atkins will give the Patriots trouble in round 1.
New York Giants8-791000.2501The only team the last three years to start 6-2 and miss the playoffs? The 2010 Giants. The 2012 Giants may soon join them.
Minnesota Vikings9-69810.7501I doubt they can do it, but if they beat the Packers and Texans in back-to-back weeks, they will have earned their playoff berth.
Dallas Cowboys8-781010.5630Tony Romo is closing in on 5,000 yards, Jason Witten set the single-season record for catches by a tight end, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer have double digit sacks, and the Cowboys still need to win in Washington to make the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers7-88900.3131It's 2006 and 2009 all over again for the Steelers. Another playoff absence that leaves more questions than answers for Pittsburgh.
St. Louis Rams7-7-17.56.5-10.6880Sam Bradford and the passing game haven't improved significantly, but the defense is above-average. Add some weapons and this team can compete in 2013.
Miami Dolphins7-87700.7500Cameron Wake is having the best season by a player you don't hear about.
Carolina Panthers6-97710.3750Cam Newton ranks 1st in yards per completion, 2nd in Y/A, 6th in NY/A, and 10th in NY/A this year. He's also added over 700 rushing yards.
San Diego Chargers6-976-10.2501In sixteen seasons as head coach, Norv Turner has made the playoffs just four times.
New Orleans Saints7-87600.4381The Saints have allowed the most yards of any team through 15 games in NFL history; they're only 282 yards allowed from the record.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-96810.8130Can the Bucs end the season first in rushing yards allowed and last in passing yards allowed?
New York Jets6-967-10.3750Just. End. The. Season.
Buffalo Bills5-106600.4381C.J. Spiller is closing in on the highest YPC average of any player with 1200 yards in league history.
Tennessee Titans5-106610.1251Chris Johnson joined Eddie George and Earl Campbell as just the 7th running back with 6800 rushing yards in his first five seasons.
Cleveland Browns5-1055-10.5630It's been a typical rookie season for Brandon Weeden, which just looks bad in 2012. A difficult decision faces Cleveland management in the offseason.
Arizona Cardinals5-105510.7190From Kevin Kolb to John Skelton to Ryan Lindley to Brian Hoyer. In case you didn't figure it out, it's been a rough year in the desert.
Detroit Lions4-1144-10.6251Calvin Johnson goes for 2,000 yards and Matt Stafford goes for 700 pass attempts as the Lions try to knock the Bears out of the playoffs.
Philadelphia Eagles4-1144-10.6250The Andy Reid era is going to go out with a whimper, with the Eagles losing 11 of their final 12 games.
Oakland Raiders4-114400.3750Terrelle Pryor or Matt Leinart? This is what the Raiders-Chargers rivalry has come to.
Jacksonville Jaguars2-1322-10.3750It's been a rough season in Jacksonville, but the Jaguars did put a scare into the Patriots on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs2-1322-10.8130The Chiefs are one loss away from securing the #1 pick. I think Peyton Manning will make sure of that.
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Week 15 Power Rankings

With only two weeks left in the regular season, it’s time to change the format of my projected standings. At this point, we might as well just predict each of the remaining 32 games. So here goes:

Week
Day
Visitor
Home
Time
Winner
16SatAtlanta FalconsDetroit Lions8:30 PMAtlanta Falcons
16SunOakland RaidersCarolina Panthers1:00 PMCarolina Panthers
16SunNew Orleans SaintsDallas Cowboys1:00 PMDallas Cowboys
16SunTennessee TitansGreen Bay Packers1:00 PMGreen Bay Packers
16SunMinnesota VikingsHouston Texans1:00 PMHouston Texans
16SunNew England PatriotsJacksonville Jaguars1:00 PMNew England Patriots
16SunIndianapolis ColtsKansas City Chiefs1:00 PMIndianapolis Colts
16SunBuffalo BillsMiami Dolphins1:00 PMMiami Dolphins
16SunWashington RedskinsPhiladelphia Eagles1:00 PMWashington Redskins
16SunCincinnati BengalsPittsburgh Steelers1:00 PMPittsburgh Steelers
16SunSan Diego ChargersNew York Jets1:00 PMNew York Jets
16SunSt. Louis RamsTampa Bay Buccaneers1:00 PMTampa Bay Buccaneers
16SunCleveland BrownsDenver Broncos4:05 PMDenver Broncos
16SunNew York GiantsBaltimore Ravens4:25 PMNew York Giants
16SunChicago BearsArizona Cardinals4:25 PMChicago Bears
16SunSan Francisco 49ersSeattle Seahawks8:20 PMSeattle Seahawks
17SunTampa Bay BuccaneersAtlanta Falcons1:00 PMTampa Bay Buccaneers
17SunNew York JetsBuffalo Bills1:00 PMBuffalo Bills
17SunBaltimore RavensCincinnati Bengals1:00 PMCincinnati Bengals
17SunHouston TexansIndianapolis Colts1:00 PMHouston Texans
17SunChicago BearsDetroit Lions1:00 PMChicago Bears
17SunGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings1:00 PMGreen Bay Packers
17SunCarolina PanthersNew Orleans Saints1:00 PMCarolina Panthers
17SunMiami DolphinsNew England Patriots1:00 PMNew England Patriots
17SunPhiladelphia EaglesNew York Giants1:00 PMNew York Giants
17SunJacksonville JaguarsTennessee Titans1:00 PMTennessee Titans
17SunCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers1:00 PMPittsburgh Steelers
17SunDallas CowboysWashington Redskins1:00 PMDallas Cowboys
17SunKansas City ChiefsDenver Broncos4:15 PMDenver Broncos
17SunOakland RaidersSan Diego Chargers4:15 PMSan Diego Chargers
17SunSt. Louis RamsSeattle Seahawks4:15 PMSeattle Seahawks
17SunArizona CardinalsSan Francisco 49ers4:15 PMSan Francisco 49ers

I’m short on time this week, so let’s move on to the weekly Power Rankings.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Houston Texans12-2141310.5631One game away from clinching the #1 seed in the AFC. That's huge -- they won't need to beat both Denver and New England to get to their first Super Bowl.
Atlanta Falcons12-2131300.3751A statement win for the Falcons? Unfortunately for Atlanta, regular season games have little upside for them.
Denver Broncos11-3131300.2192I'm still projecting the Broncos to win 13 games. More interestingly, will Peyton Manning become the first player since Ken Anderson to win MVP and Comeback Player of the Year in the same season?
New England Patriots10-41213-10.2811Tom Brady leads the league in ANY/A; if it holds, he will win the ANY/A crown for the third time in his last five full seasons.
Green Bay Packers10-4121110.4381One of the underreported stories of the year: Aaron Rodgers is having a bad year by his lofty standards; he ranks 15th in NY/A after ranking 1st last year.
San Francisco 49ers10-3-111.510.510.51Most non-topical 49ers comment ever: I am really excited to see what LaMichael James does in the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks9-5111100.5632The 49ers comeback may end up hurting the Seahawks more than the Patriots. Three road games is a tall order for what may be the best team in the NFC.
Chicago Bears8-6101000.2810Last year the Bears started 7-3, but Jay Cutler got hurt and Chicago finished 8-8. This year Chicago started 7-1 but now needs help to make the playoffs.
Indianapolis Colts9-5101000.51For the 2011 Colts, week 16 was when the worst team in the league won at home against an AFC South playoff team. Andrew Luck needs to make sure the same result doesn't happen in 2012.
New York Giants8-6101000.4061The Ravens started 9-2, the Giants started 6-2. This game has morphed from a potential SB preview to a 'which team can sink the fastest' battle.
Dallas Cowboys8-610910.4691Did you know that Tony Romo is on pace to throw for around 4900 yards this year and leads the NFL in 4th quarter comebacks?
Baltimore Ravens9-5910-10.5941That offense without Cam Cameron looked an awful lot like that offense with Joe Flacco from the last five years.
Pittsburgh Steelers7-79900.4382Ben Roethlisberger started the season white hot -- the Steelers need him to finish that way if 2012 won't be considered a lost year.
Washington Redskins8-69900.4381Will Robert Griffin III play this weekend? Washington can probably beat the Eagles without him, but I don't love the idea of Kirk Cousins going up against the Cowboys in week 17.
Cincinnati Bengals8-69810.5631This team has the feel of an 8-8 team, and if they don't want to end up that way, they're going to have to beat one of the big brothers of the AFC North.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-88710.6091Tampa Bay is 2-7 in one-score games, arguably the worst such record in the league.
Minnesota Vikings8-68710.8131Adrian Peterson is more likely to break Eric Dickerson's record than the Vikings are to make the playoffs.
New York Jets6-878-10.3751The Mark Sanchez era is over, for now. It's only six games too late, and now the Jets won't be able to really find out what they have in either Tim Tebow or Greg McElroy.
Miami Dolphins6-87700.5631Not a terrible inaugural season for Joe Philbin, especially after how things looked after Hard Knocks.
Carolina Panthers5-97610.3131Cam Newton and the Panthers just keep winning.
St. Louis Rams6-7-16.57.5-10.5940Sam Bradford did not have a great season, but he showed enough improvement considering the lack of weapons around him to give Rams fans hope.
San Diego Chargers5-967-10.3441Norv Turner can't save his job with wins over the Jets and Raiders, right? Right?!
New Orleans Saints6-86600.5311Drew Brees still leads the league in both passing touchdowns and interceptions. For the second year in a row.
Buffalo Bills5-96600.4381An embarrassing performance against Seattle; Canadians aren't going to become Bills fans anytime soon.
Tennessee Titans5-96510.4381Did Titans fans enjoy that win over the Jets? They couldn't have, right?
Cleveland Browns5-956-10.6880While it seems like the Browns have made some progress this year, will they be rebuilding in 2013?
Arizona Cardinals5-95410.6721I like what Aaron Schatz said on twitter: They should put Larry Fitzgerald in the Pro Bowl just so he can play with a real quarterback at least once this year
Detroit Lions4-1045-10.7192Calvin Johnson is going to break Jerry Rice's record, but fans should take the achievement with a grain of salt considering the record number of Lions pass attempts.
Philadelphia Eagles4-1045-10.5941Even Andy Reid has to know he only has two more games left with the Eagles, right?
Oakland Raiders4-104400.4060Will we see more of Terrelle Pryor this week?
Jacksonville Jaguars2-1223-10.5631Jaguars should have the #2 pick locked up, and hope for a "slip" by the Chiefs in the next two weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs2-1223-10.7191A miserable season in Kansas City is about to come to an end.
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Week 14 Power Rankings

Richard Sherman exhibits the proper form for 'You Mad Bro?' in sign language.

It’s time to take Seattle seriously. On Sunday, the Seahawks had a “name your score” game, the type of matchup college football powerhouses regularly use to beef up their statistics. The Seahawks defense took over the game, posting the 10th highest fantasy performance ever, but the offense wasn’t too shabby, either. Seattle rushed for 284 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Russell Wilson completed 7 of 13 passes for 148 yards.

Brian Burke now has the Seahawks 4th in his power rankings. Aaron Schatz has Seattle second overall, and even had them first before the Patriots blew out the Texans on Monday Night. Seattle is third according to the SRS, too. Seattle is better on offense than you think: the Seahawks rank 8th in ANY/A and 11th in NY/A and 4th in rushing yards and 5th in rushing first downs. Seattle is 15th in points scored and 14th in PFR’s Expected Points Added, but they’ve done all this despite facing a pretty difficult schedule filled with good defenses.

Defensively, they’re in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed, rushing first downs allowed, rushing touchdowns allowed and EPA. The Seahawks are 4th in NY/A and 2nd in ANY/A allowed, while ranking 7th in turnovers forced, 3rd in yards allowed and 2nd in points allowed.

They’re really good and really balanced. Are they a Super Bowl contender? Absolutely. So what about that 8-5 7-6 record according to Packers fans? Well, Seattle lost by 4 in Arizona, by 6 in St. Louis, by 7 in San Francisco, by 4 in Detroit, and by 3 in Miami. They were leading in the 4th quarter in every game except the 49ers loss (trailed by 4 late in the game) and the Rams loss (intercepted in Rams territory in the final minutes). They’ve lost some close games in the 4th quarter and dominated most of their other opponents. They’re one of the best teams in the NFL. Obviously they’re even better at home, but if New England defeats San Francisco this week, the entire landscape of the NFC playoffs will change.

If the 49ers lose in Foxboro, the Seahawks control their own destiny for the division title since they host the 49ers in week 16. And if the Packers lose one of their final three games, the Seahawks would control their own destiny for the 2 seed, which would mean a bye and a home playoff game — or possibly two, if Matt Ryan and the Falcons lose like everyone expects. Essentially, Seattle fans can dream about this scenario:

— New England wins at home against San Francisco (the Patriots are 5-point favorites)
— Green Bay loses in Chicago (or in Minnesota or at home against the Titans)
— Seattle wins in Toronto, which would be their last road game of the year if…
— Seattle beats San Francisco and St. Louis at home and…
— The Falcons lose to the Giants or 49ers or whichever team they face in the second round of the playoffs

There are a lot of “ifs” and “ands” but they’re in as good a position as I can ever remember an 8-5 team being. Of course, even as the 2 seed they would likely have to beat Green Bay and then either New York or San Francisco to get to the Super Bowl, so I wouldn’t book tickets to New Orleans just yet.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Atlanta Falcons11-21314-10.4582According to Advanced NFL Stats, the Panthers had a 62% chance of winning against Atlanta.
Houston Texans11-2131300.5632That's your classic 'burn the tape' game. Houston still controls their own destiny for the #1 seed.
Denver Broncos10-3131300.3962Guess what? I still think the Broncos win 13 games this year.
New England Patriots10-3131210.4272But so will the Patriots. We could have three 13-3 teams in the AFC and no one else with more than ten wins.
Green Bay Packers9-4111100.4581Aaron Rodgers leads the league in sacks for the second time in four years.
Seattle Seahawks8-5111010.5002Russell Wilson will get some Rookie of the Year votes if the Seahawks get 11 wins.
San Francisco 49ers9-3-110.511.5-10.5831Aldon Smith is a monster. He's got Michael Strahan's "record" in sight. But at New England and at Seattle are brutal tasks.
Baltimore Ravens9-41011-10.6462When the Ravens were 9-2, I wrote "I still don't believe in this team, because they aren't going to have amazing special teams or amazing 4th and 29 conversions every week."
Chicago Bears8-51011-10.4171The Bears took care of business early in the year, giving themselves some margin for error later on. Finishing against Arizona and Detroit gives them a safety net
Indianapolis Colts9-4101000.6041If it didn't look like they were going to play Baltimore, I'd say picking against the Colts will be the easiest call of the playoffs.
New York Giants8-510910.5831There are no easy games left, but I'm not ready to bet against the Giants.
Pittsburgh Steelers7-6910-10.4792This team suffers so many inexplicable losses, Mike Tomlin has to bear some of the blame.
Dallas Cowboys7-69810.5002Huge game for the Cowboys to beat the Bengals. Wait, if they won, it couldn't have been a huge game, right?
Washington Redskins7-69810.4171NFC East race is going to be fascinating. Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins combined for the comeback win to keep Washington alive.
Cincinnati Bengals7-689-10.5001Just when I start to get on their bandwagon, the Bengals did the unthinkable and blew a lead against the Cowboys.
New York Jets6-78710.3751The Jets proved that they can beat the worst teams in the league. The Titans are right on that border, so Monday Night will be interesting.
St. Louis Rams6-6-17.57.500.5211Incredible job by Jeff Fisher this year. Rams can make the playoffs if they run the table.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-778-10.5521I did not see that coming; blowing a big lead, at home, against Nick Foles, means this team is farther away than I thought.
Miami Dolphins5-87700.4582Miami gets to host in-state rival Jacksonville and division rival Buffalo the next two weeks. Unfortunately, it's another meaningless december for the Dolphins.
Minnesota Vikings7-67610.6561I thought the Vikings were done, but Adrian Peterson took over against the Bears.
San Diego Chargers5-87610.3752Keep Norv!
New Orleans Saints5-867-10.4582Drew Brees leads the league in both passing touchdowns and interceptions.
Buffalo Bills5-867-10.5422One loss away from clinching their 7th consecutive losing season. They get to expand their internationl reach in Toronto this weekend.
Carolina Panthers4-96510.3541That's the type of team Carolina could be. I don't think Ron Rivera can save his job, but his team was well-prepared against Atlanta.
Cleveland Browns5-86510.6461Cleveland won by 23 points. That's kind of a big deal, since the new Browns have only won by so many points once before.
Tennessee Titans4-956-10.4582Titans did a great job against Andrew Luck, but could not come away with the win. Next up? Mark Sanchez.
Detroit Lions4-95500.5632Only interesting thing over the next three weeks is whether Calvin Johnson can break Jerry Rice's record.
Philadelphia Eagles4-95410.5632Keep Andy!
Arizona Cardinals4-945-10.5312From 4-0 to 4-12.
Oakland Raiders3-104400.3331This was going to be a one step backwards type of season with a new regime; the question is will they ever take two steps forward?
Jacksonville Jaguars2-113300.5211Fought valiantly for a bad team that's been killed by injuries and lacks talent just about everywhere. Of course, their opponent was the Jets.
Kansas City Chiefs2-113300.5631Chiefs-Raiders this weekend with the #1 pick on the line.
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Week 13 Power Rankings

Unlike Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick's team won't kiss its sister.

We’re 75% of the way through the regular season. We know the Patriots, Broncos, and Texans are elite teams in the AFC, the Ravens and Colts aren’t as good as their gaudy records, and the Bengals and Steelers will consistently be inconsistent. In the NFC, the Giants remain the benchmark for consistent inconsistency. But if December plays out as another Groundhog’s Day for Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones, the NFC East will again go to New York. The Falcons are going to grab the #1 seed and the NFC North will likely come down to the winner of the Green Bay-Chicago matchup in week 15. The last wildcard is up for grabs — the first is reserved for the NFC North runner-up — but unfortunately the likely prize is just a road game against one of the last two Super Bowl champions.

So let’s take a moment and look at how the 49ers tie against the Rams could impact playoff seeding. In retrospect, that tie was no better than a loss for San Francisco. As an initial matter, the team is battling Seattle for the NFC West crown. San Francisco plays in Seattle in week 16; if the Seahawks win, they have a legitimate shot at the division. Right now they’re 1.5 games behind the 49ers, and the rest of the Seahawks schedule (ARI, @BUF, STL) is manageable; meanwhile, San Francisco also has to go to New England. If the Seahawks run the table and the Patriots beat the 49ers, the Seahawks win the NFC West.

Had the 49ers defeated the Rams, even losing to Seattle and New England in the last two weeks wouldn’t cost them the division. That’s because Seattle already lost in Arizona, St. Louis, and San Francisco, so the 49ers would have won the tiebreaker. A win would have been helpful, while that tie against the Rams comes out as no more helpful than a loss — in either case, San Francisco would have 10 wins to Seattle’s 11. Since they would have had the tiebreaker, the difference between a win and a tie was much larger than the difference between a tie and a loss (which was essentially nothing).

But perhaps the more important race is against the Packers for the #2 seed. San Francisco is unlikely to lose to both Seattle and New England while the Seahawks run the table, so I think 49ers fans are more concerned about securing that bye. Right now, the 49ers are just a half-game ahead of Green Bay. Since the 49ers defeated the Packers, they would have held the tiebreaker if the two teams finished with the same record. Therefore, just like in the case of the Seahawks, “salvaging” a tie against the Rams will end up having been meaningless.

With that, perhaps it is time to turn our attention to the bottom of the list. We can skip from the top to the bottom after this short break

The Jets, the Eagles, Rex Ryan, the Chargers, Tim Tebow, Andy Reid, Mark Sanchez, Norv Turner

Now that that’s covered, the race for the #1 draft pick is on. Jason Lisk did a nice job handicapping the race, placing the Chiefs in the pole position but giving both the Raiders and Jaguars a better than 20% chance of the top pick. Football Outsiders sees things slightly different, giving both Kansas City and Jacksonville a two-in-five chance of shouting “We’re #1″… in April.

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Atlanta Falcons11-1141310.422214-2 but with a Matt Ryan-sized monkey on their backs.
Houston Texans11-1131300.5942The game of the regular season takes place in New England on Monday Night.
Denver Broncos9-3131300.3592From 2-3 to 13-3? The Broncos will be streaking towards the playoffs and Peyton Manning is the favorite to earn his 5th MVP award
New England Patriots9-3121200.5393A win in Houston gives the Patriots a chance for the 1 seed; a loss means they may have to beat Pittsburgh and win in Denver and Houston to get to New Orleans.
San Francisco 49ers8-3-111.512.5-10.5312Hey, at least they didn't tie the Rams!
Green Bay Packers8-4111100.4382At 2-3, who would have guessed that Green Bay could still end up with a first round bye? They're only a half-game behind San Francisco.
Baltimore Ravens9-3111100.6092Stage 1 of regression to the mean happened last week.
Chicago Bears8-4111100.4221That was a tough loss to Seattle, but the Bears still control their own destiny in the NFC North with one game left against each rival.
Indianapolis Colts8-4101000.5472The difference between the 5 and 6 seed in the AFC is enormous, because it's a tall order asking Andrew Luck to win at Denver/NE/Houston.
Pittsburgh Steelers7-510910.4383Ben Roethlisberger may be back this weekend; the Steelers still have enormous upside but rarely flash it.
Seattle Seahawks7-510910.4843Russell Wilson is climbing up the Rookie of the Year charts. He doesn't have to do as much as Luck or Robert Griffin III but he's been excellent.
New York Giants7-5910-10.5632After week 8, I had them at 11 wins. Early in the season I had them at 9. The lesson: don't get confused by what happens to the Giants in the middle of the year.
Cincinnati Bengals7-59810.5162Starting to come around on the Bengals, although that may just be because the bar known as the rest of the conference keeps falling.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-689-10.5082Close losses against the Falcons and Broncosshow how far the team has come but are likely season killers.
Dallas Cowboys6-68800.5312It's December - can Tony Romo rewrite history?
Washington Redskins6-68800.4382Own the tiebreaker over the Giants and a much easier schedule.
St. Louis Rams5-6-17.56.510.4841Being able to go toe-to-toe with the 49ers should be a huge confidence booster for a young team.
New Orleans Saints5-778-10.4692Playing out the string in a disappointing season. Saints should consider giving some younger players playing time.
Miami Dolphins5-77700.5232Losing a close game to the Patriots doesn't drop your win total.
New York Jets5-77610.3441Anything between 5-9 and 9-7 is possible. But I doubt Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, or Greg McElroy quarterback the next Jets team that makes the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills5-77610.4923Another below-average but not terrible year for the Bills. At least they have a great running game.
Minnesota Vikings6-667-10.6642Percy Harvin out for the year is the final nail in the coffin for the Vikings' playoff hopes.
Tennessee Titans4-86600.4842Figuring out how to turn Jake Locker into the quarterback of the future should be the only goal for the rest of the year.
San Diego Chargers4-86600.4062This team started 2-0 but hasn't beaten anyone but the Chiefs since then.
Detroit Lions4-856-10.6412Calvin Johnson's pursuit of Jerry Rice is the only drama left in Lions land.
Carolina Panthers3-956-10.4842It's hard to reconcile this team with their record. Cam Newton still leads the league in yards per attempt.
Arizona Cardinals4-856-10.5862Kevin Kolb looks like Joe Montana compared to Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals were 0-15 on third down against the Jets.
Cleveland Browns4-85410.5312Cleveland is 3-2 in their last five games, which would inspire more confidence if this wasn't a lost season under a dead-end regime.
Oakland Raiders3-945-10.4222A good candidate to steal the #1 pick from KC and Jacksonville due to their weak SOS.
Philadelphia Eagles3-94400.5312Will the Eagles be able to win one last game under Andy Reid? At this point, I'm not counting on anything.
Jacksonville Jaguars2-103300.5002Best case scenario is Chad Henne plays well enough to convince the team to move on from Blaine Gabbert but not so well as to convince them in Henne himself.
Kansas City Chiefs2-103210.5001A tragic week in Kansas City. Thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the horrific events.

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Week 12 Power Rankings

Belichick has an eye on the AFC standings.

The contenders have emerged in both conferences. The numbers say that the Broncos, Patriots, 49ers, and Texans are legit, while there are still question marks surrounding Atlanta, Baltimore, and Chicago despite their records. What to make of the Giants? No one ever knows.

Are we headed towards a rematch of Super Bowl XXIV? That year involved a San Francisco team with two different starting quarterbacks and a Broncos team built around a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Perhaps John Elway will get his revenge this year. Football Outsiders puts the likelihood of a Denver-San Francisco Super Bowl at 8.2%, just behind San Francisco-New England as the most likely matchup.

While things seem set in the AFC, there’s a very important race still going on. Whichever team ends up with the 1 seed always has an advantage, but this year, having the first seed takes on added value. There are three Tier 1 teams in the conference; the 2 and 3 seeds will very likely have to beat two of them to get there, while the 1 seed will likely get an easy matchup in the division round of the playoffs. New England hosts Houston in two weeks. If the Patriots win, they’ll own the tiebreaker over both the Texans and Broncos, and will trail Houston by only one game. It’s easy to envision the Pats having a first round bye followed by a second round game against Indianapolis or Baltimore before hosting Houston or Denver in the title game.

But if New England loses to the Texans, they’ll be behind the Broncos and in line for the 3 seed. That might mean having to deal with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, followed by trips to Denver and Houston. New England’s matchup against Houston next Monday night (Dec. 10) is one of the most important games of the year.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Houston Texans10-1131300.5632Monday night in Foxboro is the last remaining hurdle for this team to clear until January.
Atlanta Falcons10-1131300.4883The Falcons have 10 wins and 7.5 Pythagorean wins. Apparently we're going to party like it's 2010.
Denver Broncos8-3131300.3883I continue to project them to finish 13-3. Ugly win against Chiefs doesn't change anything for me.
San Francisco 49ers8-2-112.511.510.5062The 49ers rank 1st in pass defense, as measured by NY/A. It doesn't matter whether Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith is the quarterback.
New England Patriots8-3121110.5313Patriots offense is operating at historically good levels. They have 10 days to prepare for Miami, which is roughly 9 more than necessary.
Green Bay Packers7-4111100.4633The loss in New York looked worse than it was, because the Packers still control their own destiny for the division. The #2 seed was always a long shot.
Baltimore Ravens9-2111100.6003I still don't believe in this team, because they aren't going to have amazing special teams or amazing 4th and 29 conversions every week.
Chicago Bears8-3111010.4882A big win for the Bears, increasing their margin of error for the wild card and giving them a leg up in the NFC North. They play Green Bay on Dec. 16th.
New York Giants7-410910.5502As usual, no one knows anything about the Giants. I do know that teams are in trouble when the good Eli Manning shows up.
Indianapolis Colts7-410910.5002Basically clinched a playoff berth with win over Buffalo and Steelers loss. Hard not to like this team. #Chuckstrong
Pittsburgh Steelers6-59900.4633Yes, losing to Cleveland was horrible, but their schedule is easy enough for them to get to 9 wins. I think.
Seattle Seahawks6-59900.5253With three home games remaining, I am keeping Seattle at 9 wins.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-59900.5562Bucs may be in luck, as Atlanta's week 17 game may be meaningless for the Falcons.
Dallas Cowboys5-689-10.4633The schedule isn't bad, but Dallas' playoff hopes are now on life support.
New Orleans Saints5-689-10.5752A tough loss against San Francisco, but still technically alive.
Cincinnati Bengals6-58800.4752Streaking Bengals look good, but none of their remaining games will be easy. Andy Dalton is quietly having a very good year.
Washington Redskins5-68710.4633Robert Griffin III on Monday Night Football vs. the Giants? Yes please. Washington very much alive in NFC East.
Minnesota Vikings6-578-10.6562It was a great half of a season.
Miami Dolphins5-67610.5693I dropped Miami from 8 to 6 wins last week, but feel comfortable settling on 7 with NE and SF the next two weeks.
St. Louis Rams4-6-16.55.510.5442No longer the worst team in the NFC West!
Tennessee Titans4-767-10.5383Lose to Jacksonville, move down one win.
New York Jets4-767-10.3382Last week's comment presented without further comment: "Jets looked good against the Rams; do they blow all that goodwill tonight?"
Buffalo Bills4-767-10.3944This has to be Chan Gailey's last year, right?
San Diego Chargers4-76600.4253I don't even know what to say anymore.
Detroit Lions4-76600.6383I challenge you to find a more hard luck team than Detroit.
Carolina Panthers3-86600.4252With a new coach, this team should be a sleeper team entering 2013.
Arizona Cardinals4-76600.5562Arizona is the first team ever to start both 4-0 and 4-7 in the same season.
Oakland Raiders3-856-10.3883New report is that Terrelle Pryor may become the quarterback. Spoiler alert: He's not the answer in Oakland.
Philadelphia Eagles3-845-10.5382Another embarrassing performance; how low can this team go? Sadly, they invade our prime-time lineup again this week.
Cleveland Browns3-84400.4632Hard to call it a great win when their turnover differential was larger than their points differential, but in Cleveland, a win is a win.
Jacksonville Jaguars2-93300.4632Good win for the Jaguars, although it may hurt them in April.
Kansas City Chiefs1-102200.4752They have a one game lead on Jacksonville for the #1 pick and will likely "win" the tiebreaker (easier schedule)
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An exact replica of Tim Tebow's throwing motion.

The majority of power rankings out there have the Broncos, Texans, Patriots, Falcons, Packers, and 49ers in their top six. Each conference appears to have three elite teams, and one can justifiably rank them in just about any order.

Brian Burke has Denver first, San Francisco second, and Houston third (although his algorithm leaves the Patriots batting in the nine hole). Football Outsiders puts the 49ers first, followed by the Patriots and Broncos (and his algorithm has Atlanta down at #12). I don’t see much room separating any of those teams, although I’d probably rank them Houston, Denver, San Francisco, Green Bay, New England, Atlanta, if forced to choose. But power rankings at this stage of the game (like every other week!) are meaningless; all six teams will make the playoffs, where their true legacies will be formed.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers out there. Check back at noon EST for some Turkey Day trivia.

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Houston Texans9-1131300.5212Sure, it was against Jacksonville, but still good to see Houston win when the game doesn't go according to script.
Atlanta Falcons9-1131300.5003Well I'm certainly not going to bump Atlanta after that game.
Denver Broncos7-3131300.3543I can't project more than 13 wins for Denver, right?
San Francisco 49ers7-2-111.510.510.4842Considering the opponent, I'm not sure I've seen a better offensive performance all year. Alex Smith may have been Wally Pipped
New England Patriots7-3111100.4843Patriots look fantastic, but a difficult remaining schedule makes it hard to project a 5-1 finish.
Green Bay Packers7-3111100.5003I'm now projecting the Packers to win the NFC North without the need for a tiebreaker. Nate Silver, watch out.
Baltimore Ravens8-2111100.5423According to Football Outsiders, Baltimore has the best special teams since 1991 through 10 weeks. Schatz tweeted that Baltimore's the 16th best team based on just offense and defense.
Chicago Bears7-31011-10.5003In what has become a November ritual, Jay Cutler's agent is getting very excited, because we are seeing just how much the Bears need him. Although no quarterback could have succeeded against San Francisco.
Pittsburgh Steelers6-4910-10.4383An easy schedule should be the saving grace, but hard to ignore that the glaring quarterback issues here.
New York Giants6-49900.5833The lead in the NFC East is getting smaller; the Giants' margin for error is razor thin right now.
Seattle Seahawks6-49900.4793If the passing game can click, Seahawks should cruise to a playoff berth.
Indianapolis Colts6-49900.5003Rude awakening, but the Colts don't need to be all that good to make the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys5-59900.4694Survive and advance against Cleveland. Matchup against Robert Griffin III should be fantastic.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-49900.6093I really like the direction Tampa Bay is going. Unfortunately, they have a difficult schedule and will lose a tiebreaker to both the Giants and Cowboys.
New Orleans Saints5-59810.5993Saints fans may want to start calculating tiebreaker scenarios with the Giants, Cowboys and Seahawks.
Cincinnati Bengals5-58800.4793Everything about this team screams 8-8. Although with A.J. Green and Geno Atkins, they have a couple of potential All-Pros.
Minnesota Vikings6-48710.6302They had a very good bye week, which consisted of watching the Bears -- their opponent in two of the next three weeks -- look like the Chiefs.
Miami Dolphins4-668-20.5474A few weeks ago, this was the 4th best team in the conference. Now they're the 4th best team in a terrible division. What happened?
Tennessee Titans4-67700.4793On again, off again, Chris Johnson did zilch last week.
Washington Redskins4-67610.4903Robert Griffin III looked outstanding off of a bye week. Washington just needs to keep him healthy.
New York Jets4-67610.4173Jets looked good against the Rams; do they blow all that goodwill tonight?
Buffalo Bills4-67610.4114If Buffalo can upset Indianapolis, realistic to think the #6 seed is in play for them with three straight workable home games on deck.
San Diego Chargers4-66600.4904Norv Turner and Philip Rivers should thank the Jets and the Eagles for taking attention away from how far they've fallen.
Detroit Lions4-66600.6464Lions' season effectively over, as it is most years by Thanksgiving.
Carolina Panthers2-86600.4272As bad as they've looked, three games against the bottom of the AFC West and Philadelphia should help. Burke still says they're better than we think.
Arizona Cardinals4-66600.5103At this point, even I feel bad making fun of the Cardinals.
Oakland Raiders3-76600.4063Underachieving and injured, this Raiders team looks like just about every other Oakland team over the last decade. An easy schedule will help.
St. Louis Rams3-6-15.56.5-10.5262When you get blown out, at home, by a team that spent the whole week forgetting they have a game, you move down in the rankings.
Philadelphia Eagles3-75500.5003Eagles are reminding me of the 2011 Bucs -- they appear to be in full-fledged quit mode.
Cleveland Browns2-84400.4793Browns will play hard, but still lack the talent to do much. Interesting rivalry game this week against a banged up Steelers team.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-93300.4693I don't think Chad Henne is the answer, but his performance is a sign that Blaine Gabbert isn't, either.
Kansas City Chiefs1-923-10.5313Matt Barkley was hurt last weekend, but Chiefs fans weren't happy about that injury to a USC quarterback.
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Week 10 Power Rankings

Houston, we may have a rematch.

Jason Lisk put the Texans on top of his power rankings. Both Aaron Schatz and Brian Burke loves the Broncos. The Patriots offense looks historically great. I know what you’re thinking: wasn’t it only five weeks ago that I read somewhere that the NFC was by far the superior conference in the NFL?

That still may be true. Football Outsiders has the Jaguars, Chiefs, Raiders, Titans, Browns and… Colts as their bottom six teams in the league. Advanced NFL Stats largely agrees, putting the Jaguars, Chiefs, Titans, Bills, Cardinals, Colts, Browns and Raiders — that’s 7 AFC teams — in the bottom quarter of the NFL. There is a large gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in the AFC, and the three teams straddling the border — Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis — are tremendously flawed. That says nothing of the middle tier of the AFC, populated by the schizophrenic Dolphins, Bengals, and Chargers. The AFC may not be any good this year, but that doesn’t mean it the Super Bowl winner won’t come from there.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comments
Atlanta Falcons8-1131300.4734Their first loss doesn't change their outlook -- this is a 13-win team that should get the #1 seed in the NFC.
Houston Texans8-1131300.4643Until someone mentioned it Monday Night, I forgot the Texans play in a dome. There's no team built for the outdoors like Houston.
Denver Broncos6-3131210.3754They still have, by far, the easiest remaining schedule. Their win total keeps rising.
Chicago Bears7-21112-10.5043The loss to Houston isn't as significant as Jay Cutler's concussion.
New England Patriots6-3111100.5134Suddenly, the remaining schedule looks a little challenging, with Ind, @NYJ, @MIA, Hou, and SF the next five weeks.
Green Bay Packers6-3111100.4733If Green Bay can manage to win road games against the Lions and Giants the next two weeks, the hype machine will be rolling.
Baltimore Ravens7-2111010.5543Not a fan of this team at all, but they're getting a break facing Pittsburgh this week.
San Francisco 49ers6-2-110.512-1.50.5313There are no gimmes left on their schedule and the 49ers are starting to show some cracks.
Pittsburgh Steelers6-31011-10.4734Losing Ben Roethlisberger hurts, but an easy schedule means the Steelers are playing with a safety net.
New York Giants6-4910-10.5633Four weeks ago, I wrote: "I've projected the Giants at 9 wins every week so far, and I'm not going to change now. The Giants are plagued by inconsistency." Two weeks ago, I had them at 11 wins. I should know better.
Seattle Seahawks6-49900.5003Three home games remaining = three more wins.
Indianapolis Colts6-39900.5273No, a win over Jacksonville does not give you a bump in the projections.
Dallas Cowboys4-59810.4205Streaking and still have 5 games left in Jerry's World to go with a creampuff easy schedule.
Miami Dolphins4-589-10.5044Seriously, what was that? The loss to Tennessee wasn't just the most unexpected game of the year; it was also the worst one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers5-49720.5763Josh Freeman is having a magnificent year. The schedule is difficult but a 9-win season is within their grasp.
New Orleans Saints4-58710.5583There's no margin for error for the Saints, who aren't good enough to operate with no margin of error.
Cincinnati Bengals4-58620.4463Can the Bengals win three straight games against the little sisters of the AFC West?
Minnesota Vikings6-47700.6612Not only does Minnesota have the most difficult remaining schedule but the Vikings are the only team with two home games left.
Tennessee Titans4-67610.4693I'm not about to buy into this team, but maybe they can use that win as a springboard.
St. Louis Rams3-5-16.560.50.4783A win over the Jets in the Schottenheimer Bowl may be the highpoint of the season. Anything would be better than kissing the 49ers.
San Diego Chargers4-567-10.5364Now that I think I've got them figured out, surely they're about to go on a winning streak.
Detroit Lions4-567-10.6615The loss to the Vikings effectively ended their season, as they are tied with the Vikings in having the hardest remaining schedule in the league.
Washington Redskins3-66600.4644Robert Griffin III off a bye week against the Eagles? Cover your eyes, Philly fans.
Arizona Cardinals4-56600.5543The St. Louis Cardinals won a game more recently than the football version. A regular season game.
Oakland Raiders3-66600.4294An easy remaining schedule means they probably won't be in contention for the top pick.
New York Jets3-66600.4063I hate this team.
Buffalo Bills3-66600.4425For the Bills, playing the Patriots close tends to be the highlight of their season.
Carolina Panthers2-76600.4463This team is much more talented than a 2-7 team, but I'm not sure what that gets them.
Philadelphia Eagles3-656-10.4733Yeah, the schedule is easy, but Philadelphia is on a 5-game losing streak that shows no sign of ending.
Cleveland Browns2-74400.5093The last 7 games will be very important for some members of the Cleveland franchise.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-834-10.5183Blaine Gabbert is ranked 33rd in NY/A out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks, sandwiched between the awfulness in Arizona.
Kansas City Chiefs1-83300.5274Hey, at least they didn't tie!

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Week 9 Power Rankings

Things were happier in Jets world three months ago.

Maybe it was the election, the great weekend of college football, or the fact that I had no cable and barely watched the NFL this weekend, but power rankings this week don’t generate any buzz for me. I only was able to see the two night games this week, which worked out well, as I didn’t miss the rare opportunity to see the Cowboys or Eagles implode on a national stage.

I’ve already said my piece about the Falcons; with their remaining schedule, we should expect 5 or 6 more wins more than 50% of the time. Right now, the odds of them landing on “5” and “6” are almost identical, but that assumes independence; since they might bench players (or suffer injuries), 13 wins still feels like the best projection for them.

Advanced NFL Stats continues to love the Panthers; after their victory over the Redskins, perhaps they’re going to have a second-half surge? The most head-scratching result from Football Outsiders is probably their sixth-place ranking of the Seahawks, just in time for the Jets to visit. If that game doesn’t start the Tim Tebow era, I don’t know what will.

One thing Burke, Schatz, and the SRS Standings agree on is that the Chiefs are the 32nd best team. Sorry, Jason, but even he agrees.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Atlanta Falcons8-0131300.4454There are nits to pick, but an 8-0 start positions them well to quiet the doubters.
Houston Texans7-1131210.5083Great matchup with the Bears this week, but Houston is going to get the #1 seed either way.
San Francisco 49ers6-2121200.5164At this point, San Francisco seems very likely to get the 2 seed. Will be interesting to see how Harbaugh treats the end of the season.
Chicago Bears7-1121110.5634Dominant defense but they have a brutal remaining schedule. If they lose to the Packers, they may drop from a bye to the 5 seed.
Denver Broncos5-3121110.3594As a matter of principle, projecting a team to finish 7-1 is never advised. But this seems to be a good place to make an exception.
New England Patriots5-3111100.5315Can Aqib Talib make a difference on this defense?
Green Bay Packers6-3111100.5003Streaking Packers head into the bye week on a four-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh Steelers5-3111010.4065I have been a big Ben Roethlisberger fan all season, and will continue to get burned by believing in this team.
New York Giants6-31011-10.5273Even with a difficult schedule, the typical Giants second-half collapse shouldn't cost them much in a watered down NFC East.
Baltimore Ravens6-2101000.5394Nobody wins uglier than the Ravens.
Seattle Seahawks5-49810.5094Russell Wilson on the road in a playoff game is not going to be pretty, especially when it's at Lambeau or Soldier Field.
Indianapolis Colts5-39810.4923They are looking at a first round game in Foxboro or Mile High. Think there will be some storylines there?
Miami Dolphins4-49900.5085The Dolphins have been burned with some ugly fourth quarter performances; they've lost two games in overtime and were tied late in the 4th quarter against the Colts.
Dallas Cowboys3-58800.4065Even with an easy schedule, the Cowboys have a lot of ground to make up to win the division or beat the Seahawks out for a playoff berth.
Minnesota Vikings5-478-10.6433Sell. Sell. SELL!
San Diego Chargers4-47700.5004Wins over the Chiefs should be treated like FCS victories.
Detroit Lions4-47700.6415The remaining schedule is brutal; the Lions are streaking, but they dug themselves an enormous hole.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers4-47700.5474Can they be the team to end the Falcons perfect season?
New Orleans Saints3-57610.5864They'll need a miracle to make the playoffs, but ruining the Falcons perfect season is a decent consolation prize.
Philadelphia Eagles3-567-10.4454They are the worst team in the NFC, previously unthinkable under Andy Reid.
Washington Redskins3-667-10.4644The breakout team of 2013.
Arizona Cardinals4-567-10.5803Did you know the Arizona Cardinals are 11-7 in their last 18 games?
Cincinnati Bengals3-567-10.4774Is Marvin Lewis ever going to be on a hot seat?
Oakland Raiders3-567-10.4304Nobody racks up meaningless numbers like Carson Palmer.
New York Jets3-56600.4303Will Tim Tebow play this week? If not, maybe the Jets can give Greg McElroy some playing time.
St. Louis Rams3-56600.5083The second half of the season may tell us a lot about the future of Sam Bradford.
Tennessee Titans3-66600.5003An embarrassing performance against the Bears.
Buffalo Bills3-56600.4925This has to be the last 8 games of the Chan Gailey era, right?
Carolina Panthers2-66510.4774With an easy schedule, they should build some momentum for next year.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-74400.5164Can Blaine Gabbert show over the next 8 weeks that he deserves to be the quarterback of the future?
Cleveland Browns2-74400.5093Gritty performances against Baltimore but two losses in the standings.
Kansas City Chiefs1-734-10.5164May be headed for the worst season in franchise history.
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Week 8 Power Rankings

I’d like to extend my best wishes to everyone dealing with the fallout from Sandy. I’m in my fourth location in five nights, and have lost power in my building for two days, but consider myself one of the lucky ones. This has been a tragedy for many out there, and thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been harmed.

But that won’t stop me from publishing the week 8 power rankings. This week it’s time to vault Atlanta to the top of the heap. I don’t love the Falcons, but it’s hard to see them not winning 13 games this year. So why don’t I love them?

The MVP of the first half of the season?

  • According to Football Outsiders’ drive stats, Atlanta ranks 8th in yards per drive, 3rd in points per drive (partially because they rank 3rd in starting field position per drive and 5th in fumble rate per drive), and 4th in drive success rate. That’s great; defensively, they’re 11th in yards per drive, 6th in points per drive, and 11th in drive success rate allowed. That’s less impressive but still pretty good. As far as “net” categories go, they are 6th in net yards per drive, 2nd in net points per drive, and 4th in net drive success rate. In other words, they look like an elite team, perhaps the best in the league. Except…
  • In Football Outsiders’ Rankings, the Falcons are just 8th. Aaron Schatz sums up why: “First, close wins: four by a touchdown or less. Second, its schedule so far ranks 29th in the NFL. Third, the Falcons have recovered 75 percent of fumbles.” If you ignore SOS — which the drive stats do — Atlanta looks like an elite team. Factor in the fumble luck, and it makes sense why FO does not view the Falcons as a top-five team.
  • Brian Burke now has Atlanta as his fifth ranked team; he doesn’t think Atlanta’s schedule has been all that easy. That’s because Denver is his #1 team and his system loves the Panthers and doesn’t think the Raiders are that bad.
  • According to the Simple Rating System, the Falcons are just the 7th best team, behind the Texans, Patriots, and Broncos in the AFC and San Francisco, New York, Chicago in the NFC.

Atlanta is a very good team, but probably not the best team in the league. My guess is on a neutral site, they’d be an underdog to at least five teams in the NFL, if not more.

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Atlanta Falcons7-0131210.4445With 9 games left and a pretty easy schedule, the Falcons should hit the 13-win mark.
Houston Texans6-1121200.4794Mario Williams comes back to Houston this week. Spoiler: It's not going to be a happy homecoming.
San Francisco 49ers6-2121200.5004Better than the Falcons but 2 games behind them in the loss column and a tougher remaining schedule makes the #1 seed a longshot.
Chicago Bears6-1111100.5494Didn't win over any doubters against the Panthers, but with the streaking Packers, Chicago will 'survive and advance' for as long as they can.
Denver Broncos4-3111100.3824At 3-3, I thought they would go 8-2 the rest of the way. That might have been conservative.
New England Patriots5-3111010.5165Hey, the Patriots are back. New England gets 4 division games in the second half, along with the Jaguars and Colts.
Green Bay Packers5-3111010.5084No reason not to expect a 6-2 finish for this team. Four games left with Detroit and Minnesota don't look so challenging right now.
New York Giants6-2111010.5554The schedule is starting to look easier (Bal, Phi, Cin) and the team keeps banking wins.
Baltimore Ravens5-2101000.5144Baltimore's season will depend on what they do in their 2 games against the Steelers. Two warm-up games with the Browns and Raiders before round one.
Pittsburgh Steelers4-310910.4515Head to New Jersey to face the Giants in one of the games of the week. I can't seem to quit the Steelers bandwagon, and have them back at 10 wins -- for now.
Miami Dolphins4-39900.5005I really like this team. Three weeks ago I had them at 8 wins (pats back), and now 9 may be conservative.
Seattle Seahawks4-489-10.5085Could not afford to lose to the Lions last week. The 49ers, Packers and Bears are going to make the playoffs, so Seattle must finish ahead of the Vikings, Cowboys, Cardinals and Redskins. They'd be looking a lot better at 5-3.
Minnesota Vikings5-38800.6023The toughest remaining schedule in the NFL means there is no margin for error now for the Vikings.
Dallas Cowboys3-48800.4725Heartbreaking loss to the Giants but there's still a very good chance the Cowboys make the playoffs and face the Giants in the first round.
Indianapolis Colts4-38710.4934A wildcard darkhorse? I don't think the Colts are very good -- they're just 29th according to Football Outsiders -- but a win over Miami this weekend puts them in the driver's seat.
Philadelphia Eagles3-478-10.4584I can't think of anything positive to say about the Eagles right now.
San Diego Chargers3-478-10.4655I can't think of anything positive to say about the Chargers right now.
Washington Redskins3-578-10.4695I have to drop Washington in the rankings after last weekend's games. Fortunately, their receivers are comfortable with that.
Arizona Cardinals4-47700.5783Did you know the Arizona Cardinals are 11-6 in their last 17 games? Oh, and the Cardinals have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals3-47700.5215With losses to Baltimore, Miami and Pittsburgh on the books, the Bengals are not in good tiebreaker shape. The next two games are against Denver and New York; if they don't win at least one, the season is effectively over.
Detroit Lions3-47610.5905You know, the NFC is really good, but really only have 5 very good teams. That means even at 3-4 in the NFC, Detroit could make the playoffs, although they have the 2nd toughest remaining schedule.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers3-47610.5214The same comment applies to Tampa Bay, who can get fat off of games with Oakland, San Diego and Carolina the next three weeks.
Oakland Raiders3-47610.4245Dominating the Chiefs means they're not as bad as the Chiefs. I think.
New York Jets3-567-10.4303[Comment Redacted.]
New Orleans Saints2-567-10.5765A difficult schedule and a terrible defense mean I'm ready to revise my predictions down to 6 wins for the Saints for the first time this season.
St. Louis Rams3-567-10.5163I don't want to overreact to one game, but man was that ugly.
Tennessee Titans3-567-10.5084A tough loss to the Colts, but this time wasn't going anywhere, anyway.
Buffalo Bills3-46600.5075With upcoming games in Houston and Foxboro, the Bills can turn their season around. Or officially turn the clock to 2013.
Carolina Panthers1-65500.4794One more loss and I have to drop them more, but for now, they stay at 5 wins.
Kansas City Chiefs1-645-10.4864When the Bills killed the Chiefs in week 2, I thought "man, the Chiefs might be really bad this year." Nostradamus, look out.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-64400.4935The Jaguars put up a fight against the Packers, but lack the talent to compete with most teams.
Cleveland Browns2-64400.5234The win over the Chargers says a lot more about San Diego than it does Cleveland.
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Week 7 Power Rankings

The Big 10 used to have good athletes.

At 6-1, Houston is sitting pretty atop the AFC. They have to be the Super Bowl favorite right now, as they’re the most likely team in either conference to wrap up the 1 seed and they won’t have to go through two very good teams to get to New Orleans. In addition, they’re also really, really good.

Things are muddy in the NFC, and we get another NFC East showdown this week between the Giants and Cowboys. A New York win would open up a three-game lead over Dallas, but that would make things way too smooth in New York. The Atlanta Falcons already have a four-game lead in the NFC South, but it won’t take much for them to slip and miss out on a bye. The Packers, Bears and Vikings all look like playoff teams; Chicago might be the favorite to win the division right now, but these teams still play each other 5 more times. The NFC West looks like a competitive division but one that everyone assumes the 49ers will win. A Cardinals upset this weekend would send ripple effects throughout the conference. We’re in for a treat, as that’s the Monday Night game this week, and I expect the Cardinals to play well despite the three-game losing streak.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Houston Texans6-1121200.4584The Texans the clear best team in the AFC; projecting only 12 wins includes a potential loss when they rest starters.
Atlanta Falcons6-0121200.4385Atlanta hasn't had a difficult schedule to date, but the schedule isn't that challenging the rest of the way, either.
San Francisco 49ers5-2121110.5144I keep going back and forth on the 49ers, from 11 to 12 to 11 and now back to 12 wins. But no matter how you say it, they're elite.
Chicago Bears5-1111100.5255A good win against the Lions, but I'm not ready to project a 7-3 finish. Two games with Minnesota, and games left against SF, Hou and GB make 12 wins an uphill battle.
Denver Broncos3-3111100.3945Good news: the Broncos didn't lose a close game after a crazy 4th quarter rally last week. Denver has by far the easiest remaining schedule in the league.
New England Patriots4-3101000.5075The Patriots made Mark Sanchez look good last week. Two games against Miami and a rematch with the Jets doesn't look so easy anymore, not to mention the games still against Houston and San Francisco.
Baltimore Ravens5-2101000.5004I dropped the Ravens a win last week despite the fact that they had just defeated Dallas; can they go 5-4 against a mediocre schedule the rest of the way? Probably.
Green Bay Packers4-3101000.4655The Packers are back, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to call them 7-2 the rest of the way good.
New York Giants5-210910.5494Giants got a big win against the Redskins, and look like the class of the division. We'll see if Dallas can change that.
Pittsburgh Steelers3-39900.4636Pittsburgh took care of business against Cincinnati, but I think we'll see a couple more Raiders-like slip-ups the rest of the way.
Miami Dolphins3-39900.4885Miami is the 4th or 5th best team in the AFC according to nearly every advanced stats metric out there.
Seattle Seahawks4-39900.5075Can't get too disappointed with a loss in San Francisco on a short week, but a loss in Detroit this weekend will be damaging.
Minnesota Vikings5-28800.5694The Vikings face Green Bay and Chicago twice along with Houston in their last six games; they must take care of business against Tampa Bay this weekend.
Philadelphia Eagles3-38800.4945Last week did not feel right without an Eagles meltdown.
San Diego Chargers3-38800.4385Last week did not feel right without a Chargers meltdown.
Dallas Cowboys3-38800.5066Cowboys could flip the script by sweeping the Giants this year and stealing the division. Game of the season for the Cowboys, and 98% of the nation will get to watch (sorry
Washington Redskins3-48800.4865Redskins went on the road against an elite team and nearly won; they don't drop a game for that.
Arizona Cardinals4-378-10.5974Did you know the Arizona Cardinals are 11-5 in their last 16 games? Oh, and the Cardinals have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL.
New York Jets3-478-10.4654A great effort against the Patriots, but I'm not ready to say this team has turned things around. I don't expect them to beat Miami.
Cincinnati Bengals3-47700.5215Just think: three weeks ago, the Bengals were 3-1 with two home games sandwiched around a trip to Cleveland.
New Orleans Saints2-47700.5635With a difficult schedule in front of them, I'm not ready to put New Orleans even at 8-8 despite the fact that they're playing like a playoff team.
St. Louis Rams3-47700.5354A loss against the Packers isn't going to drop many teams.
Indianapolis Colts3-37610.4884A win at home against Cleveland is essentially holding serve, but I think they can go 4-6 against a workable schedule.
Tennessee Titans3-47610.4935I'm pretty sure this team is still garbage - they've been outscored by 89 points - and I don't expect them to beat Indianapolis this weekend.
Buffalo Bills3-467-10.5145Buffalo is really bad.
Detroit Lions2-46600.5636A loss in Chicago doesn't change my outlook on Detroit: a mediocre team with a brutal schedule.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers2-46600.5254A tough home loss to the Saints but I don't think Tampa Bay is that far from being a good team. A 95-yard pass helps, but Josh Freeman is 2nd in the NFL in ANY/A, NY/A and Y/A.
Oakland Raiders2-46510.4255How is Darren McFadden healthy but terrible? An easy schedule should make Oakland a 6-win team.
Carolina Panthers1-556-10.5134I don't really know when the bleeding will end, but in Chicago this weekend doesn't seem like the answer to that question.
Kansas City Chiefs1-55500.4635Romeo Crennel didn't go for it once on 4th down last week, and he probably won't this week, either.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-545-10.5065Things are not good in Jacksonville, as a loss to the Raiders was combined with injuries to Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert.
Cleveland Browns1-64400.5145Pat Shurmur hates winning.
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Week 6 Power Rankings

Eli, what is your reaction to people picking the Giants to be #1?

Jason Lisk and the wisdom of crowds say the Giants are the best team in the league; Aaron Schatz’ DVOA numbers agree. The computer operated by Brian Burke prefers Denver and Bill Barnwell’s wheel landed on Chicago. ESPN prefers the Falcons, a pick that is surely more retrodictive than predictive.

Technically, I don’t do power rankings, because I don’t even know what power rankings are supposed to represent. What I do is predict how many games I expect each team to win in 2012. And while it was ugly and under the spotlight, Houston’s performance against the Packers on Sunday Night wasn’t enough to make me think any other team ends up winning more games than the Texans will this season.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Houston Texans5-11213-10.4695I'm not sure how many teams would have beaten the Packers last week. The gap between Houston and the next best AFC team is still significant.
Atlanta Falcons6-0121200.4445Their last 5 wins have all come against quarterbacks drafted in the top 4: Carson Palmer, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, and Peyton Manning.
San Francisco 49ers4-21112-10.5315A reality check for a 49ers team that looked unstoppable a week ago. Last week I wrote "I can't imagine projecting SF under 12 wins again this year." My imagination is pretty narrow, apparently.
Chicago Bears4-1111010.5116Chicago just experienced the greatest bye week ever according to every power ranking I've seen.
Denver Broncos3-311920.3945According to Advanced NFL Stats, Denver is the best team in the league. Their remaining schedule is absurdly easy, so I'm going to perhaps prematurely give them a two-win bump. Their week 15 game in Baltimore may be for a bye, and I now think Denver is the favorite.
New England Patriots3-31012-20.5136New England is three plays away from being 6-0, but with terrible pass defense, I'm not sure they're that much better than their record.
Baltimore Ravens5-11011-10.5134Baltimore's defense is forced to rely on the continued good health of Ed Reed. Now, he latest news is that Reed has been playing with a torn labrum.
Green Bay Packers3-310910.4635As bad as the season has been, the Packers looked like world champs against the Texans. Now we just need to see some consistency.
Pittsburgh Steelers2-3911-20.4556Pittsburgh, I just can't quit you. I still kind of think the Steelers are a Super Bowl contender, but only because I'm an idiot. Still, a 7-4 record the rest of the way isn't a high bar for them against this schedule.
New York Giants4-29900.5445I've projected the Giants at 9 wins every week so far, and I'm not going to change now. The Giants are plagued by inconsistency, so I won't drop them from 9 wins if they lose to Washington this week.
Miami Dolphins3-39810.4945I'm on the bandwagon, although the Rams win was really ugly. Still, Philbin Phever!
Seattle Seahawks4-29810.5385Brutal remaining schedule and serious doubts about their offense makes it hard for me to bump them to 10 wins, but a huge win over New England.
Minnesota Vikings4-289-10.5635I knew it! Minnesota could not prove that they were "for real for real"!
Arizona Cardinals4-289-10.5814I'd like to pat myself on the back for having Arizona at 9 wins two weeks ago. :patsback:
Philadelphia Eagles3-389-10.4945Okay, even Eagles apologists have to wonder what's going on here. I'm no longer giving this team the benefit of any doubt.
San Diego Chargers3-38800.4445They're terrible, I know, but they still have games against CLE, KC, TB, CIN, CAR, NYJ and OAK.
Dallas Cowboys2-38800.4896The Cowboys had a bad week, but they still have an edge on the Giants and could win the division if they defeat New York at home in 10 days.
New York Jets3-38710.4944Jets have already been 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3; can see them at 4-4 in two weeks, too.
Washington Redskins3-38620.4945Robert Griffin III is two good games away from being the MVP of the first half of the season. RG3 is 4th in ANY/A and 2nd in both rushing touchdowns and yards per carry.
Cincinnati Bengals3-378-10.5136Lose to the Browns: Drop 1 win.
New Orleans Saints1-47700.5345How is Drew Brees 23rd in completion percentage?
St. Louis Rams3-37700.5505With the exception of the Bears game, St. Louis has looked pretty good every week.
Buffalo Bills3-37610.5066The most uninspiring road win ever against a 4-1 team.
Detroit Lions2-36600.5806Big win over Philadelphia but I'm not sure if much has changed in Detroit. What can they do against that schedule?
Carolina Panthers1-46600.5065Cam Newton's body language last week was invisible.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers2-36600.5175The next five games are against New Orleans, Minnesota, Oakland, San Diego, and Carolina. I have no idea how any of those games will go.
Indianapolis Colts2-36600.4665I pat myself on the back for the extreme caution I advised regarding the Indy bandwagon. The sign that I have only two pats on the back is not good.
Tennessee Titans2-46510.4945Not a lot to like here, which makes them a darkhorse playoff team in the AFC.
Kansas City Chiefs1-556-10.4505Join the 2005 Texans as the only teams to fail to hold a lead for even a second in any of their first six games.
Oakland Raiders1-45500.4206Good showing in Atlanta, but even a 4-7 record might be pushing it for this team the rest of the way.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-45500.4835Big game this week in Oakland, which should show if there's any hope for a playoff push or if they're competing for the #1 pick.
Cleveland Browns1-54310.4945Welcome to 2012, where every AFC team has a chance to make the playoffs.
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Week 5 Power Rankings

Cameron Wake does not need to leave the ground to sack the quarterback.

I agree with Aaron Schatz and Brian Burke: the 49ers are the best team in the league, not that such a designation holds any meaning. Last week, I had Houston as my only 13-win team, and the Texans aren’t dropping from that pedestal (and Jason Lisk still has Houston at #1).

But the big mover this week is Miami, who look to be one of the six best teams in the AFC. Disagree? Quick, name another good team in the AFC outside of Houston, New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Denver. As I wrote in this week’s Fifth Down post, the AFC is clearly the inferior conference in the NFL today. Well, Miami legitimately appears to be a playoff contender in the watered down conference. Note that all of Miami’s three losses have come to either Houston or in overtime in games in which Miami looked to be the superior team.

One reason for Miami’s success is the dominant play of outside linebacker-turned-defensive end Cameron Wake. Miami’s defensive line is dominating the run and Wake is leading the league in combined sacks, hits, and hurries. This offseason, the media gushed about the Bills and wouldn’t stop talking about the Jets, but so far this season, Miami has been the second best team in the division.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

Team
Rec
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
RemSOS
RemHG
Comment
Houston Texans5-0131300.4836Not only do the Texans still have 6 home games remaining, but they have 4 more games against the AFC South and get the Bills and Lions. Even without Brian Cushing, I don't see why they don't win 8 more games.
San Francisco 49ers4-1121110.5346I said last week that a win over Buffalo would bump SF to 12 wins. At this point, I can't imagine projecting SF under 12 wins again this year.
New England Patriots3-2121110.4946Presented without comment: New England's remaining games: @SEA, @STL, NYJ, @NYJ, MIA, @MIA, BUF, IND, HOU, SF, @JAX
Atlanta Falcons5-0121200.4436I still don't feel warm and fuzzy about the Falcons, but the wins keep adding up. You could argue that projecting a 7-4 finish against a cupcake schedule is not giving them enough credit. They probably will have nothing to play for in week 17, though.
Baltimore Ravens4-1111100.5175I said last week that it's getting harder to make fun of Joe Flacco's play, and then he responds by going 13 for 27 as the Ravens fail to score a touchdown and win. What should I jinx next?
Pittsburgh Steelers2-2111010.4486Not a great statistical game by Ben Roethlisberger, but he played very well last weekend. The defense and running game looked good against the Eagles, and if forced to choose, I'll still pick the Steelers over the Ravens.
Chicago Bears4-1101000.5236Almost nothing has changed since last week when I noted that the Bears were lucky to have banked so many wins because there are a zillion questions about this offense, which was really ugly in the first half against Jacksonville. But even if it's ugly, they should go 6-5 the rest of the way.
Green Bay Packers2-3910-10.5005Aaron Rodgers is starting to play like his old self, but a loss to the Colts has to drop the Packers. They're not good enough now to project 8 more wins in 2012.
Philadelphia Eagles3-2910-10.4666All things told, a last-second loss in Pittsburgh is nothing to be ashamed of. Philadelphia will drive everyone crazy, but I'm not going under 9 wins just yet.
Denver Broncos2-3910-10.4205Denver has the easiest remaining schedule in the league. The Broncos have 5 division games remaining, and 6 games against the non-Falcons team in the NFC South and non-Steelers teams in the AFC North. A 7-4 finish should be expected.
New York Giants3-29900.5635Good win against Cleveland, but the schedule gets brutal now. I don't think New York is consistent enough or has enough depth to expect a great finish with that schedule.
Arizona Cardinals4-19900.5575No running game and no passing game? Still only need to go 5-7 to get to 9 wins, but man did that bandwagon deflate quickly.
Minnesota Vikings4-19810.5285Minnesota proved that they were 'for real' last week, but now must answer the bigger question: are the Vikings "for real for real?"
Miami Dolphins2-38620.4896The rarely seen two-win bump: Miami ranks 5th in Burke's efficiency model and 12th in Schatz' rankings; they're slightly above average in NY/A and NY/A allowed, and #1 in rushing yards and yards per carry allowed. With a below-average remaining schedule and 6 home games, 6-5 may be a modest projection.
Cincinnati Bengals3-289-10.5116Miami is pretty good, and could end up stealing the 6 seed from Cincinnati now that they own the tiebreaker. Bengals can't afford a letdown against Cleveland on Sunday.
San Diego Chargers3-289-10.4606I wanted to put them at 8 wins last week, but thought the easy schedule made 9 wins more likely. I forgot that Norv Turner is still here.
Dallas Cowboys2-28800.5056Not only did Tony Romo not choke last week, but the Cowboys didn't even lose.
Seattle Seahawks3-28800.5576A good road win for the Seahawks, but until that offense gets more effective, I have my doubts. On the other hand, I don't think I'll drop them below 8 wins even if they lose to the Pats this weekend.
New Orleans Saints1-47700.5345The schedule is challening, but the Saints are an above-average team. I'm projecting a 6-5 finish as Drew Brees looks like he has his mojo back.
New York Jets2-37700.4895Jets showed some heart against Houston, but just as important: they showed how far away from good they really are. Still, with Dustin Keller and Stephon Hill returning, the offense should look a little better.
St. Louis Rams3-27610.5575Hard not to bump them after they manhandled the Cardinals. A brutal schedule and playing in the wrong conference makes the playoffs a longshot at this point.
Buffalo Bills2-367-10.5006At this point, the sky literally falling on Buffalo might not be as traumatic to Bills fans as watching the Bills play football.
Carolina Panthers1-467-10.4895Cam Newton leading the NFL in Y/A is enough to make me question the statistic. The Panthers are currently 27th in points per drive and 20th in both yards per drive and drive success rate. And the D is still really bad.
Detroit Lions1-36600.5686We'll see if Jim Schwartz can use the bye week to jumpstart a struggling Lions team, but the hardest remaining schedule in the league won't do them any favors.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1-36600.5056[Insert bye-week joke about Greg Schiano and quarterback kneeldowns here.]
Kansas City Chiefs1-46600.4325I would like to congratulte myself for my prescient comment of a week ago: The Tire Fire of the Year award is the only thing Kansas City is winning this year. Still, a good running game and a good defense plus an easy schedule means even this passing attack can win five more games.
Washington Redskins2-36600.5236Gave the Falcons a good battle; Washington continues to have that feel of the breakout team of 2013.
Indianapolis Colts2-26510.4645Andrew Luck is very good, but I'm not ready to bump them to 7 wins until they beat the Jets. That might not happen, because they are still below average against the run and against the pass while having one of the league's worst rushing attacks.
Tennessee Titans1-45500.4896Why haven't the Titans traded Chris Johnson to the Cardinals yet?
Oakland Raiders1-35500.4536Oakland had two weeks to prepare for Atlanta, which could have been the difference if they had an actual NFL defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-45500.4665The schedule is really workable, which is important because they're not any good.
Cleveland Browns0-534-10.5066Cleveland looked decent against the Giants, but at some point, they're simply in too much of a hole to project even 4 wins. The Browns are 4-17 under Pat Shurmur, and they'll need to outperform that rate over their last 11 games just to get to three wins.

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Week 3 Power Rankings

Matt Schaub has the Texans undefeated and atop my power rankings.

Some additions to the weekly power rankings table. After the team name, I have listed each team’s record in column two and the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with in column 3 (i.e., the power rankings and the metric by which the table is sorted). The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected for that team last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games. Lastly, my witty and insightful comments remain in the final column.

A lot of power rankings out there had Green Bay as #1 entering week 1, New England up top before week 2, and the 49ers in the 1 spot last week. That means each week of the season, the #1 team on most power rankings have lost. I didn’t do pre-season power rankings, but I did have New England first two weeks ago and San Francisco number one last week. This week, it’s the Texans chance to disappoint their fan base.

The other surprising nugget? There are just two 0-3 teams so far this season, and one of them is the Saints. The Cleveland Browns are now everyone’s front runners to win the Matt Barkley sweepstakes. If Brandon Weeden wants to keep his job, he’ll have to earn it.

Team
Rec
Wins
PWin
Diff
RSOS
RHG
Comment
Houston Texans3-0121110.4716No compelling reason not to list the Texans as the best team in the NFL. The schedule is easy -- Houston will be favored in nearly every game -- so the Texans can easily go 9-4 the rest of the way.
San Francisco 49ers2-11112-10.5006A loss to Minnesota has to drop them a game. I'll keep them at 11 for now, but a loss to either the Jets or the Bills the next two weeks probably gets them back down to 10.
New England Patriots1-21112-10.4816By sweeping their not-so-good division, New England can go 4-3 against the rest of their schedule and get to 11 wins. A 12- or 13-win season isn't out of the question, and the Pats are only two plays away from 3-0.
Baltimore Ravens2-1111010.4907Joe Flacco was his typical inconsistent self, but Torrey Smith gets the award for performance of the week. Without Terrell Suggs I hestitate to put them at 11 wins, but their rest of season schedule is pretty manageable.
Atlanta Falcons3-0111010.4666 I still have questions about Atlanta's offensive line and defense, but they're off to a great start. With an easy schedule and three banked wins -- the Falcons are probably a favorite to get a bye.
Pittsburgh Steelers1-21011-10.4816The bye week comes at a good time for the Steelers, who should get a healthy James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Rashard Mendenhall in week five. I'm only dropping them one win for that ugly second half against Oakland because Ben Roethlisberger had another great game.
Green Bay Packers1-21011-10.4577Technically, four of my top five teams from last week lost. And technically, Green Bay is now 1-2. Officially, the Packers passing offense looks like garbage, as Aaron Rodgers ranks 28th in ANY/A. The Packers get the Rams, Colts and Jaguars in October, which is a decent consolation prize.
Philadelphia Eagles2-1910-10.5056Yeah, they had a disaster against Arizona. And the Eagles can't protect Michael Vick. But doesn't this happen every year and then Philadelphia wins 5 in a row?
New York Giants2-19900.5347Giants looked outstanding against Carolina, but not ready to bump them to 10 wins/project a 8-5 finish against a brutal remaining schedule. A win in Philadelphia this weekend bumps them to 10 wins, but a loss probably won't drop them from 9 wins.
Dallas Cowboys2-19900.5106A 'take care of business' day against Tampa Bay. For any team in the NFC East, that's a must.
Seattle Seahawks2-19810.5007The Seahawks got a free win this week, but Russell Wilson struggled for much of the game. Still, an excellent performance by the defense against Green Bay and a strong running game show that they are a real threat in the NFC.
Arizona Cardinals3-09720.5147A two-game bump seems appropriate given how dominant the Cardinals' defense and special teams have been so far. I'm far from convinced about this team, though, which is why I'm still projecting a losing record the rest of the way.
Denver Broncos1-2910-10.4667You know, this power rankings thing is harder than I thought. There's a very strong temptation to drop losing teams by a win and bump winning teams by one. I'm trying to resist that temptation, but so far, I'm not very good at it. Expect future Chase to make fun of current Chase for really squiggly lines when I post the final win charts. Oh, and Denver is lucky the AFC West stinks and their remaining schedule is full of flour and sugar.
Chicago Bears2-19900.5107An unimpressive win against the Rams. Jay Cutler is last in the NFL in ANY/A. The Bears have already used their Rams and Colts coupons1 which means they need to play a lot better to go 7-6 the rest of the way. Fortunately the defense looks good so far.
San Diego Chargers2-189-10.4817Philip Rivers has a career high completion rate (67%) and a career low yards per attempt average (6.7). You know what that means: his anemic 10.0 yards per completion is horrible by any standard, let alone that of the guy who led the league in that metric in '09. I'm not ready to bail on the Chargers, but I'm close. Unfortunately for San Diego, I don't think an easy schedule means much for a team accustomed to shooting itself in the foot.
New York Jets2-189-10.5106A win over Miami helps, but the Jets drop due to the Darrelle Revis injury. Even 8 wins will be tough, but I think the Jets can win 2 games against the AFC South, with 2 out of 4 against BUF/MIA/NE/NE, and then 2 out of 5 against the NFC West and San Diego.
Cincinnati Bengals2-18710.4956After an ugly week 1, Andy Dalton and the Bengals are looking better. I'm far from on the bandwagon, but they might be the favorite right now for the AFC's 6 seed.
Buffalo Bills2-18710.5006Took care of business against the Browns; hopefully the injury to C.J. Spiller doesn't cost him to miss much time. If Ryan Fitzpatrick could improve even a little, Buffalo could sneak into the playoffs.
Detroit Lions1-279-20.5386A fluky game all around in Tennessee, but that's a bad loss for the Lions. They're a last-second win against the Rams from being 0-3, a bad sign for a team with a brutal remaining schedule.
New Orleans Saints0-378-10.5487If we restarted the season, I would still like New Orleans. But I can't project them to do any better than 7-6 against the rest of the way against the toughest schedule in the league.
Carolina Panthers1-278-10.5197Projecting a 6-7 finish for a team with 6 home games left and no cupcakes until December. Playoff hopes on the brink this weekend in Atlanta.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1-27700.4816A close in Dallas isn't anything to cry about. But if they have playoff aspirations, they'll need to beat Washington this week. Of course, the same holds true for the Redskins. Huge difference between 1-3 and 2-2.
Kansas City Chiefs1-27610.4716A save the season win in New Orleans gives them a one win bump. The good news is Jamaal Charles looks great and the AFC West is as wide open as it gets.
Minnesota Vikings2-17520.5107If we chose Pro Bowlers after week 3, Christian Ponder would make it in the NFC and Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees would not. A huge win over the 49ers at least gives the Vikings some playoff hope.
Washington Redskins1-26600.5346I'm not going to sour on Robert Griffin III, but losing to Cincinnati and dropping to 1-2 is a blow to playoff aspirations when you have a tough remaining schedule. Do-or-die game against Tampa Bay this week.
Miami Dolphins1-26600.5007The run defense has been excellent and Reggie Bush looked as good as I've seen him in the first half against the Jets; fortunately his knee injury is not expected to cause him too miss much time.
Tennessee Titans1-26510.4907Jake Locker had a great game, but the defense and Chris Johnson are very shaky. When Locker is the consistent element of your team, you're in trouble.
Oakland Raiders1-26510.4817That was a gritty win against the Steelers, but Oakland has to get a lot better if they want to make the playoffs. Their defense is not very good.
St. Louis Rams1-256-10.5536The NFC West is brutal; the Rams are going to be heavy underdogs most weeks, making even 5 wins a challenging goal. They need to win at least one game the next two week as they host Seattle and Arizona or this season could go downhill in a hurry.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-25500.4906Blaine Gabbert still has a long way to go. Before the 80-yard throw to Cecil Shorts that won the game, he was averaging fewer than five yards per attempt this year.
Indianapolis Colts1-25500.4907Tough loss to the Jaguars and one where Chuck Pagano again made some questionable strategy calls. But I think Luck and the offense has enough firepower to get them 4 more wins.
Cleveland Browns0-34400.5247The schedule doesn't lighten up, and the Browns are staring 0-6 down the hole with trips to Baltimore and New York on tap. I'll wait until they lose both of those games before dropping them to 3 wins.
  1. I liked when Mike Tanier used that line last week, so I'm going to steal it. Although I don't know if it's stealing it if I announce that I'm doing it. []
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Week 2 Power Rankings

San Francisco's Dr. Frankentstein has created Alex Smith 2.0.

With week 2 in the books, it’s time to present updated win projections for each team. I kept half of the league’s teams at the same win total as last week, gave one additional win to one-quarter of the league, and took one win away from the remaining eight teams.

This week, the 49ers move in to the top spot. More on the remarkable transformation of Alex Smith tomorrow, but right now San Francisco will be the top team in most power rankings. With a great defense and an efficient offense, it’s hard to imagine the 49ers losing many games. San Francisco has held a 4th quarter lead in 19 of 20 games under coach Jim Harbaugh, and was tied in the 20th (against Baltimore). The only reason the 49ers may not win 12 games is that they could fall victim to the same trap that catches some teams that succeed with a conservative offense juxtaposed opposite an elite defense: a couple of random bounces can turn the game. These defensive-heavy teams generally live on the edge, with only a small margin for error most weeks.

Team
Wins
PrvWin
Diff
Comment
San Francisco 49ers12111Alex Smith led the NFL in interception rate and in sacks in 2011; so far his interception rate is lower and his sack rate is higher in 2012. These metrics may be related.
New England Patriots1213-1I suspect that I will regret dropping them a win because the Patriots occasionally stumble early, but a home loss to the Cardinals can not go unpunished.
Houston Texans11101No, destroying Jacksonville didn't tell us anything we didn't know. But dominating the bad teams is the sign of an elite team, so I'm happy to bump them this week. Some tough games coming up, but Houston shouldn't be afraid of any opponent.
Pittsburgh Steelers11101I don't know if he's going to get MVP recognition, but I've been very impressed with Ben Roethlisberger in 2012. This is subjective, but I sense a lot of maturation to his game vs. where he was even two years ago. Steelers defense will be elite once they're healthy.
Green Bay Packers11110Aaron Rodgers is currently 25th in the NFL in ANY/A. He's 27th in NY/A. Until Rodgers gets back to his old form, 11 wins is the ceiling for this team, but I'm not going to drop them after a win against the Bears.
Philadelphia Eagles10100It's just perfect that Andy Reid's Eagles are the first team to ever start the season with two one-point wins. A 16-0 season followed by a division round blowout loss to the Giants would have Philly fans calling for Reid's head. Big win against the Ravens, but I was already high on the Eagles.
Baltimore Ravens10100Joe Flacco was fantastic in the first half and then miserable in the second half. I kind of feel like we might see this comment again this year. Ravens still look like a 10-win team, and a road loss to an NFC team doesn't hurt too much.
Denver Broncos10100Peyton Manning showed that he's got some rust to shake off, but the Broncos still look like a 10-win team to me. 5-1 in the division is attainable.
Atlanta Falcons1091Falcons have already notched two wins and looked pretty good doing it. The schedule isn't easy, but Atlanta isn't going to be an underdog very often.
Chicago Bears910-1The Bears blocking scheme looks like it was devised by the guy who came up with the Randy Ratio.
New York Giants990As my friend Mike Tanier tweeted during the game, the Giants condensed a typical season into 1 game against the Bucs. Eli Manning can take the Giants far, but let's not forget that New York has a brutal schedule and the Giants only won 9 games lats year.
Detroit Lions990Detroit needs to beat Tennessee and Minnesota the next two weeks, because the schedule is filled with landmines after the bye. The key to being a playoff team is taking care of business against the bad teams.
San Diego Chargers990The Chargers looking good early doesn't suit them well, as no one is talking about them. What is Norv Turner thinking?
Dallas Cowboys990A disappointing loss after a big win? No, my opinion of the Cowboys didn't change this week. I expect this to be a top-10 offense and at worst an average defense, which gets me to 9 wins.
New York Jets990Losing to the Steelers doesn't change much for the Jets. Neither will a win against Miami this weekend, if they get it. If not….
New Orleans Saints89-1I still like the Saints offense, but the defense looks downright dreadful. I expect them to beat the Chiefs but lose to the Packers, so putting them at 7-5 after that is a nod to how good the offense can be. But this is far from a good team right now.
Seattle Seahawks880Seattle has a tough schedule but I like the makeup of this team. Very good defense, strong running game, and I think Russell Wilson can get them 8 wins. Yes, this was the comment from last week.
Carolina Panthers880Huge for the Panthers to erase some doubts and knock off the defending division champs. But this is a difficult schedule to maneuver and even if Cam Newton has a monster year the Panthers might only get 8 wins.
Cincinnati Bengals770The next four games: @Washington, @Jacksonville, Miami and @Cleveland. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bengals were 1-5 or 5-1 at the end of that stretch. For now, they are a mediocre team in a tough division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers770I don't get the sense that Tampa Bay is quitting on anything this year. They are far from complete on either side of the ball, and most weeks will be difficult. The next two weeks take them to Dallas and then home for Washington; a split would be a success there.
Buffalo Bills761Bills notched a win and looked good doing it. The schedule is manageable and C.J. Spiller looks like a star. A loss in Cleveland this week would drop them back to 6 wins, but I don't see that happening.
Arizona Cardinals761Had them at 6 wins last week, and you can imagine that that none of those wins were projected to come against the Patriots. But still not convinced about this offense, hence just a one-game bump to 7 wins.
Kansas City Chiefs67-1They've now been outscored by 204 points in their last 20 games. I kind of doubt the prescription for that is Drew Brees.
Washington Redskins67-1The loss of Brian Orakpo is huge, but at least Washington still has Ryan Kerrigan! Losing to the Rams drops the Skins, but Robert Griffin III is for real.
St. Louis Rams660Impressive performance against the Redskins. 6 wins is a nod to Jeff Fisher, as I think the Rams are one of the least talented in the league. Yes, this was essentially the same comment as last week.
Miami Dolphins651Their remaining schedule is workable. Games against the 3 bottom feeders of the AFC South and Cincinnati will let us know if Miami is on their level or a tier above. Reggie Bush is second in the league in rushing.
Tennessee Titans56-1No bigger disaster so far in the NFL than the Tennessee Titans. They might need to split against IND/JAX just to get to five wins. Chris Johnson looks lost while the defense is struggling. Don't expect any leniency this week when former coach Jim Schwartz brings his Lions to town.
Oakland Raiders56-1Raise your hand if you thought Darren McFadden would stay healthy but be ineffective. Oakland has just two offensive touchdowns and Dennis Allen looks overwhelmed as a head coach. Allowing 263 rushing yards to Miami was embarassing.
Minnesota Vikings56-1Their last six games feature 4 against the Bears and Packers and one against the Texans. Minnesota might need to go 4-4 over the next 8 weeks if they want to finish with 5 wins.
Jacksonville Jaguars550A loss in Indianapolis this weekend would be devastating. I'm not sure if they win more than two games outside their division (remaining non-division schedule is GB/CHI/DET; AFC East; CIN, @OAK).
Indianapolis Colts541Andrew Luck is too good to keep them at 5 wins. A playoff berth might be too much, but they can end up with the second best record in the division.
Cleveland Browns440Brandon Weeden looked much better and Trent Richardson looked great. Now the Browns look like a decent team with a brutal schedule instead of a bad team with a brutal schedule. Must-win game against the Bills this weekend ahead of road games against the Ravens and Giants.

**Update. It occurred to me that it would be easy to calculate remaining strength of schedule based on the projected wins I’m giving to each opponent. So I did that. The Saints and Giants have the toughest remaining schedules, while the Steelers and Packers have the easiest slates.

OppWin%
Team
0.549New Orleans Saints
0.545New York Giants
0.536Minnesota Vikings
0.536Arizona Cardinals
0.536St. Louis Rams
0.531Seattle Seahawks
0.527Washington Redskins
0.518Carolina Panthers
0.513Dallas Cowboys
0.513Philadelphia Eagles
0.513Cleveland Browns
0.509Baltimore Ravens
0.496Cincinnati Bengals
0.496Detroit Lions
0.496New England Patriots
0.496San Diego Chargers
0.496Miami Dolphins
0.496New York Jets
0.496Oakland Raiders
0.491Atlanta Falcons
0.491Tampa Bay Buccaneers
0.491Chicago Bears
0.487Tennessee Titans
0.482Buffalo Bills
0.482Kansas City Chiefs
0.478Denver Broncos
0.478San Francisco 49ers
0.478Houston Texans
0.473Indianapolis Colts
0.473Jacksonville Jaguars
0.451Pittsburgh Steelers
0.451Green Bay Packers
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Week 1 Power Rankings

Tom Brady has been known to wear Suggs.

In my experience, most power rankings are pretty vague about what the rankings are supposed to represent. In general, ranking systems are usually either retrodictive or predictive, meaning they’re either supposed to explain the past or predict the future.

If you’re going to make power rankings, you should be clear what you’re rankings are supposed to represent. Are they a snapshot of how good teams are right now? Are they a prediction for which teams have the best odds of winning the Super Bowl? Are they supposed to predict which teams will end the year with the best record? Are they supposed to reflect what we have seen so far?

Nearly every set of power rankings conflate these principles. It’s true that in some ways, the philosophies of retrodictive and predictive are less binary and more two ends of a continuum. On the far left end of the spectrum you have the actual NFL standings, published every day. On the far right you would have the Las Vegas power ratings which drive the point spread in each game (or the Simple Rating System). Power rankings sort of hover in the middle, with writers generally ranking teams by record but then bumping up the teams they like because they think they will play better soon.

Another component of most power rankings: they’re usually forgotten as soon as next week’s rankings are released. But I want to create power rankings that are testable. So here’s the plan. Each week, I’m going to predict how many wins I expect each team to have by the end of the season. Right now, this isn’t so easy. By week 16, it will be really easy. I’m curious to see how my thoughts change on certain teams throughout the year, and the goal is to put up a cool chart at the end of the season tracking the progress. At least, that’s the plan.

Without further ado, here are my Week 1 Power Rankings, which simply represent my best guess — as of today — as to the total number of games each team will ultimately end up winning this year.
[click to continue…]

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