There are only six weeks remaining in the regular season and teams are beginning to take their place in the standings. Only one team has officially been eliminated, and you guessed it, the Browns are that team. There are a ton of questions still left to answer but here are how the teams rank currently.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-10)
Last ranking: 32 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Cincinnati
The Browns are heading toward a 0-16 season which has only been done once before by the Detroit Lions. Looking at their schedule, there are two games in which they have a shot at winning. December 17th versus Baltimore and on Christmas Eve at Chicago. Now just because they are winnable doesn’t mean the Browns will pull off the win, everything about the Browns this season is totally embarrassing. No matter what happens the rest of the season it is hard to envision a scenario where they ever move out of this spot.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-9)
Last ranking: 31 (no change)
Next game: home vs. Seattle
Since the rankings were done the 49ers have won a game but they didn’t move up because the Giants won another game as well. The 49ers are in prime position for a top three pick but if they start Jimmy Garoppolo they have a better shot to win more games. Because he could win them some games, it makes sense that they haven’t started him yet.
San Francisco is looking toward the future and adding another top three pick to this roster could give them the talent to be competitive for the next 10 years with the other moves they have made. This season though they are stuck in this spot in the rankings.
30. New York Giants (2-8)
Last ranking: 30 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Washington
In a big surprise, the New York Giants upset the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. It was only the second win of the season for the Giants. The win doesn’t do much for the Giants other than pushing them from the second overall pick to the third. It could have been the win that forces the Giants to keep Ben McAdoo which would be disastrous for the future of New York.
29. Indianapolis Colts (3-7)
Last ranking: 29 (no change)
Next game: home vs. Tennessee
The last time we saw the Colts play they blew a chance to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their next game is a divisional contest against the Tennessee Titans. The game will likely be close because divisional games are always more difficult. Jacoby Brissett is doing a solid job since being traded but he is struggling to put points up as the Colts are only averaging 17.9 points per game. Indianapolis will remain competitive but they too are preparing for the NFL draft.
28. Denver Broncos (3-7)
Last ranking: 28 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Oakland
At one point the Denver Broncos were 3-1 and looked like a formidable team. Since then the Broncos have lost six straight games and have fallen into the top five of the draft. The quarterback situation is a mess and can be considered the worst in the NFL. The defense is no longer fearsome and elite. Everything is crumbling in Denver and it may be time for a complete rebuild.
27. Miami Dolphins (4-6)
Last ranking: 27 (no change)
Next game: away vs. New England
Similar to the Broncos, the Dolphins were once in a great position in the standings. Miami was sitting at 4-2 but has lost four straight games. The Jay Cutler experiment has been a total failure as he has only thrown for 1,603 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also been in and out of the lineup because of injury. Miami has also traded away their starting running back. The season is going to continue to nosedive and the season is all but over.
26. New York Jets (4-6)
Last ranking: 19 (-7)
Next game: home vs. Carolina
The New York Jets are stuck completely in the middle of mediocrity. They win just enough games to not get a top three pick and lose enough games to not make the playoffs. This week they get the Carolina Panthers who are one of the top teams in the NFL. They will have trouble scoring as they average just 20.1 points per game and the Panthers are giving up 18 points per game. The Jets will likely lose this game to remain mediocre.
25. Chicago Bears (3-7)
Last ranking: 24 (-1)
Next game: away vs. Philadelphia
Chicago was a missed field goal away from playing in overtime against the Lions. It led to a kicking change that might make a difference throughout the rest of the season. At worst the Bears are competitive but still a few pieces away from becoming a legitimate contender. This season they are playing for the development of their players and pride. Chicago will end up with a top 10 pick to continue their rebuild.
24. Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
Last ranking: 25 (+1)
Next game: home vs. Jacksonville
Despite the major injuries, and using their third quarterback of the season, the Cardinals are still fighting. Arizona is sitting at 4-6 and still have a slim possibility of making the playoffs. Blaine Gabbert got his first start in the last game throwing for 257 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He will be starting this week against the Jaguars in what will be his chance at revenge. It will likely hurt the Cardinals and possibly push them lower in the rankings.
23. Green Bay Packers (5-5)
Last ranking: 20 (-3)
Next game: away vs. Pittsburgh
The Packers are hanging around at 5-5 but a shutout loss at home to the Ravens doesn’t look promising. Aaron Rodgers is truly the only reason the Packers have been good in recent years and without him, the entire offense is lost.
The Packers’ brass needs to really think about finding a new general manager and coach that can build the rest of this team so that losing Rodgers doesn’t mean they get shutout. The season doesn’t get any easier this week with Pittsburgh on the schedule next.
22. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
Last ranking: 26 (+4)
Next game: home vs. Houston
Baltimore is fresh off a 23-0 win in Lambeau and now have positioned themselves for a run at a wildcard spot. The Ravens continue to do it with defense. Baltimore ranks third in points allowed per game with 17.1. They also rank second in pass defense allowing 185.2 yards per game. If they are able to put up 20 points in the rest of their games they should have a great shot at one of the two wildcard spots.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)
Last ranking: 22 (+1)
Next game: home vs. Cleveland
Just like Baltimore, Cincinnati is still fighting for a berth in one of the wildcard spots. The Bengals are fresh off a 20-17 win against Denver. Their remaining schedule has three divisional games and three games against the NFC North, the Packers not one of them. The schedule will be tough but winning five of these six games will give them a chance. Will the Bengals step up to the plate or miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season? My money is on the latter.
20. Houston Texans (4-6)
Last ranking: 21 (+1)
Next game: away vs. Baltimore
Poor Houston is just dealing with countless injuries or they would be one of the best teams in the AFC. Somehow they still managed to win last week against the Cardinals. Houston is still mathematically in the playoff race. The problem though is their remaining schedule is littered with tough tests including road games at Jacksonville, Baltimore and Tennesse. They also have to play the Steelers in Houston.
Houston will finish somewhere between five and seven wins which will leave them out of the playoffs. The good news is they will have a draft pick within the top 15 and therefore add talent to a team that is loaded with tons of talent already. The only thing that can stop the Texans in the future is bad health.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)
Last ranking: 23 (+4)
Next game: away vs. Atlanta
The Bucs have won two straight games with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center but the opponents have been the Jets and the Dolphins. This won’t keep up over the final six games with four divisional games still remaining. Tampa Bay has underperformed all season and it is unclear in which direction they are heading. They don’t have an identity. Dirk Koetter needs to use the rest of the season to form an identity to take into next year that way the Bucs can become a playoff team.
18. Buffalo Bills (5-5)
Last ranking: 15 (-3)
Next game: away vs. Kansas City
A few weeks ago the Bills looked like one of the top 10 teams in the NFL. The butt whooping they just received from the Chargers, and their other recent losses show otherwise. In a head-scratching move, the Bills decided to start rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman from Pittsburgh. That didn’t turn out all too well as he threw five interceptions in the first half, more than Tyrod Taylor had on the entire season. Taylor finished the game but it was out of reach. This week they head to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs in a game that both teams desperately need.
17. Oakland Raiders (4-6)
Last ranking: 17 (no change)
Next game: home vs. Denver
It is somewhat puzzling to see how bad the Raiders are this year after such a successful 2016 campaign. The offense went from averaging 25.3 points per game down to 20.4 points per game this season. Derek Carr needs to step it up if the Raiders are to turn this season into a successful one. The defense also needs to pick it up, they are the only team without an interception yet this season. Oakland should have no trouble this week with Denver to pick up some confidence and momentum.
16. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)
Last ranking: 18 (+2)
Next game: away vs. Dallas
Do not sleep on the Chargers in the AFC playoff picture. This team is a few close losses from having a much better record and the defense is beginning to play at a high level. Los Angeles is giving up less than 20 points per game this year and has the fourth most interceptions on the season. As long as Philip Rivers protects the ball and they continue to feed Melvin Gordon then the Chargers will win most of their remaining games.
15. Washington Redskins (4-6)
Last ranking: 12 (-3)
Next game: home vs. New York Giants
Washington was in two close games against in the past two weeks against the Vikings and Saints, both of which resulted in a loss for the Redskins. Washington is a tough out for whoever they play but they won’t make the playoffs. The defense needs to be loaded with more talent to help an offense that ranks 12th in scoring and ninth in yards. If they can commit to Kirk Cousins and improve the defense then the Redskins can be dangerous next season. Right now though they must focus on playing spoiler.
14. Detroit Lions (6-4)
Last ranking: 14 (no change)
Next game: home vs. Minnesota
Detroit has a massive test this week with the Vikings coming into town on Thanksgiving but the Lions already beat the Vikes in Minnesota, 14-7. This game will likely be different because the Vikings have a lot of momentum and confidence due to a six-game win streak. Detroit needs to win this week to keep the division title within reach. The Lion’s defense will be key like it was in the first matchup with Minnesota.
13. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
Last ranking: 13 (no change)
Next game: away vs. San Francisco
It is quite admirable how well the Seahawks performed despite losing two members of the Legion of Boom. If Blair Walsh could have put a little more power into his attempted game-tying field goal then the Seahawks might have gotten a win against the Falcons. With the injuries, the Seahawks are going through and their subpar offensive line, it will be a tough go for the Seahawks the rest of this season. Looking at their schedule though they should win around three more games putting them somewhere around 9-7. The Seahawks will not make the playoffs season.
12. Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
Last ranking: 8 (-4)
Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Dallas is another team that shouldn’t be slept on in the playoff picture. Right now they are missing Ezekiel Elliot but if Sean Lee can get healthy then the defense becomes formidable. If the Cowboys can start playing solid defense they will make the playoffs. They can still run the ball effectively no matter who their back is. Once the offensive line becomes healthy again then Dak will feel more comfortable and play better. The Chargers will be a huge test and this is a must-win game.
11. Tennessee Titans (6-4)
Last ranking: 11 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Indianapolis
Not many people are talking about the Titans but they still have a shot to be a dangerous team. Marcus Mariota hasn’t fully hit his stride yet this season but the Titans have found a way to win six games stills. They run the ball well averaging 117.5 yards per game. Tennessee needs to unleash Mariota and let him sling the ball around. The Titan’s should get back in the win column this week against the Colts and would keep them in control of their destiny.
10. Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
Last ranking: 16 (+5)
Next game: home vs. Tampa Bay
Currently, Atlanta sits in the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs with the Lions, Seahawks, Packers and Cowboys right on their tail. Getting to the playoffs is going to be extremely difficult with their remaining schedule. They still must face the Panthers, Vikings and both the Buccaneers and Saints twice. All six games will be battles and the Falcons will likely lose half of these games putting them somewhere around 9-7. It may or may not be enough to sneak into the playoffs.
9. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
Last ranking: 6 (-4)
Next game: home vs. Buffalo
No team has cooled off quite like the Chiefs have. At one point they looked like the most dominant team in the NFL. They are the only team this season to hand the Eagles a loss who most view as the best team in the NFL. Kansas City has floundered offensively and that is why they are losing games. Over their last three games, they are scoring just 18.3 points per game, eight points less than their season average. If the offense can get rolling again then the Chiefs will become dangerous again.
8. Carolina Panthers (7-3)
Last ranking: 10 (+2)
Next game: away vs. New York Jets
The media loves to talk about the bad things that Cam Newton does but the fact of the matter is he has led the Panthers to a roughly quiet 7-3 start. A bad loss to the Bears is the difference in this team from being the second seed as opposed to their current fifth seed ranking. Carolina will continue to play stifling defense and Cam will lead the offense. The Panthers should easily get to 8-3 this week with a road game against the mediocre Jets.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)
Last ranking: 9 (+2)
Next game: away vs. Arizona
Jacksonville is the most dangerous team to the Patriots throne. Yes, you read that right. They have the defense that can actually cause problems in the postseason for the great Tom Brady. Playoff football becomes about who can punch who in the mouth defensively and who can run the ball. Well, the Jaguars can do both. Offensively the Jaguars average 160.6 yards per game, the best mark in the NFL. Defensively, Jacksonville is first in scoring defense, total defense and passing defense. Come January nobody is going to want to face the Jags and their elite defense.
6. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
Last ranking: 4 (-2)
Next game: home vs. New Orleans
There is no shame in losing to the Vikings on the road but the shame does come from being the number one offense in the league and being held scoreless for the final 55 minutes of the game. Minnesota bullied the Rams and that is why the Rams fell two spots in the rankings. The road remains diffcult with the Saints coming into town. A loss here would put the Rams even lower in the rankings and out of contention for a first-round bye.
5. New Orleans Saints (8-2)
Last ranking: 7 (+2)
Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Rams
With an eight-game win streak, many believe the Saints are the only threat to the Eagles in the NFC. They are ranked fifth though because they did lose to the Minnesota Vikings in week one. Many want to discredit that because of how early it was in the season and that the game would be much different if they played now. That may be the case but that fact is they still lost to the Vikings.
Even so, the Saints have the makings of a Super Bowl contender. A win against the Rams could vault them higher into the rankings even if the top four teams end up winning this week. The Saints are marching right now, but what happens when adversity strikes? We will have to wait and see.
4. Minnesota Vikings (8-2)
Last ranking: 5 (+1)
Next game: away vs. Detroit
Minnesota fans, the Vikings aren’t getting much love right now but don’ let that worry you. These Vikings are great and are a team nobody will want to play in the playoffs. Minnesota’s defense isn’t ranked first in scoring defense but alot of points against them have come in garbage time.
Case Keenum is also being overlooked and he is the most improved player in the NFL this season. If you look at his stats last year, in Los Angeles, they were atrocious. The Vikings have a big game this week in Detroit. They will be looking for revenge from an earlier loss, but more importantly, they are looking to strangle their hold on the divisional lead they own. Getting to 9-2 will be a huge checkpoint in the race for the division title and a possible first-round bye.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)
Last ranking: 2 (-1)
Next game: home vs. Green Bay
Pittsburgh is winning but they don’t always win pretty. Two weeks ago they barely scraped by the Colts. The Steelers made everyone forget that performance with an annihilation of the Titans. The offense is rolling putting up 26.7 points and 352.3 yards per game in their last three. Pittsburgh is succeeding though because of their defense. The Steelers rank second in points allowed at 16.5 points per game. The Steelers are going to have a lot to say in the playoffs because of their play on both sides of the ball. This week they get the undermanned Packers.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
Last ranking: 1 (-1)
Next game: home vs. Chicago
Before you grab your pitchforks and attack me for putting the Eagles at two in the rankings hear me out. The Eagles are a great team with an explosive offense that is soaring but they haven’t played the hardest of schedules. Eight of their nine wins have come against teams with a .500 record or worse. Being 9-1 is still impressive but would you take them to beat the Patriots, I wouldn’t. The Eagles are a great team, but they aren’t the best.
1.New England Patriots (8-2)
Last ranking: 3 (+1)
Next game: home vs. Miami
New England is the best team in the NFL, not the Eagles. New England is on a roll winning six straight games by an average of 14.3 points. The defense has become extremely hot giving up just 12.5 points per game during this six-game winning streak. There is no reason to think they won’t keep this up under the direction of Brian Belichick. Because the defense is rolling and they have the great Tom Brady it is safe to assume the Patriots will end up in the AFC Championship game and most likely the Super Bowl. Boston is home to the best team in the NFL.
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