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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.]

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.
  • Bob

    Slight typo in the description of Seattle’s dream scenario… Seattle has to beat San Francisco and St. Louis at home.

    • Chase Stuart

      Thanks Bob. Fixed.