At this point, you can ignore half the teams in the league, which is what I am going to do. I am purging noncompetitive teams from the Power Rankings, and only keeping teams still in the playoff hunt. Now, some bad teams are in the playoff hunt, because the AFC is only 5 teams deep. The Jets and Dolphins, at 4-6, are only one game out of the wildcard. The Ravens, at 5-5, would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. So there will be some bad teams still mentioned. There are about 9 teams I consider in contention of a playoff spot in the AFC, and 9 teams in the NFC.
Teams no longer in contention-
NFC- Giants, Niners, Bucs, Bears, Washington, Cardinals, Packers
AFC- Browns, Bengals, Broncos, Colts, Texans, Raiders, Dolphins
That leaves 18 remaining teams. Not every listed is better than the above-disqualified teams. I think Washington is better than many AFC competing for that last wildcard spot. But, they really don’t have much of a chance to make the playoffs. They are two games out of the wildcard right now.
18.Dallas Cowboys (5-5)- Last Week- 13(-5)
I was tempted to put the Cowboys in the disqualified category. The Packers are also 5-5, and I disqualified them. But whereas I have no confidence in the Packers making a playoff push, I have a sliver of confidence in the Cowboys turning it around. Tyrone Smith may be back this week, and with him, their offense can operate fairly normally. They are only one game out of a wildcard spot. The division is lost for them, but they can sneak into the playoffs. Still, no Sean Lee for at least another week makes it unlikely. If they lose to the Chargers they are finished
17. Buffalo Bills (5-5)- Last Week- 16(-1)
The Bills are a mess. Three weeks ago, I would have said they were a lock for a wildcard. Now, they are out of the wildcard. They made the baffling decision to bench Tyrod Taylor this week, and it blew up in their face. They are technically in it, at 5-5 they have the same record as the Ravens who own the second wildcard. But with how they are playing, it seems unlikely they turn it around.
16. New York Jets (4-6)- Last Week- 18(+2)
The Jets are somehow still in this. They have not been great this year, but they find themselves only one game out of the wildcard. However, their remaining schedule is very tough. They have to play the Panthers, Chiefs, Chargers, Patriots, and Saints over the final six weeks. Seems unlikely that they pull this off.
15. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)- Last Week- 21(+6)
The Ravens do not deserve to be in the playoffs, but right now, they are. Their defense is actually good, but their offense is not. Flacco has been awful. Yet, their defense is good enough that they could hold on to this spot.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)- Last Week- 19(+5)
The Chargers have actually been playing pretty well since starting the year 0-4. They are 4-2 since then. If I had to pick a team I thought would win that final wildcard, it is the Chargers. Like the Ravens, their defense is good, but they also have a pretty good offense on top of that. Their 0-4 stretch to start the season looks bad, but they played 4 close games, against teams playing well at the time.
13. Tennesee Titans (6-4)- Last Week- 14(+1)
The Titans struggle from week to week. This was supposed to be their season, but they have been way too inconsistent. Still, they have manged to get to 6-4. They should be able to make the playoffs as one of the wildcards.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)- Last Week- 8(-4)
The Chiefs have collapsed more than almost any other team. They were 5-0 at one point, and now, have fallen to 6-4. They have lost three straight, including a loss this week to the lowly Giants. Reid has fallen back on old habits, and is trying to force the pass. The AFC West is weak, so they will make the playoffs, but they have gone from being favorites to win it all, to disaster, very quickly.
11. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)- Last Week- 6 (-5)
I do not really care about their record. They have lost both Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor for the season. The Legion of Boom is no longer on the field, and instead, they have to rely on players like Byron Maxwell, who is so bad he was cut by the Dolphins. I do not like their chances long-term. Carson Wentz, Drew Brees, and Jared Goff would tear this defense apart.
10. Atlanta Falcons (6-4)- Last Week- 11 (+1)
The Falcons are not the team they were last year, but they aren’t bad. They are ok. Ok is fine. Ok will get them into the playoffs potentially. But OK is not going to win in the playoffs. The Falcons defense is too leaky, and their offense hasn’t been reliable as many would expect from them.
9. Detroit Lions (6-4)- Last Week- 12(+3)
The Lions have been very mediocre at times, but, they are 6-4, and are playing better now as they approach the backstretch of games. I like how they matchup against the Vikings, who they play this Thursday. They will stay in the wildcard race into week 17. They also have an outside chance at the division.
8. Carolina Panthers (7-3)- Last Week- 9(+1)
The Panthers didn’t play this week. Many people are in on them now, but I still see too much inconsistency to buy into the team. You never know which Cam Newton will show up, and I do not like them matched up against any of the other top NFC teams.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)- Last Week- 10(+3)
The Jaguars are the Vikings-lite. Great defense, good playmakers on offense, but their QB just isn’t good enough. I would rather have Case Keenum than Blake Bortles though. Bortles is a detriment to his team and has almost cost them several games this year.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)- Last Week- 7(+1)
The Steelers are hitting their stride. I made the comparison to the Broncos in Peyton Mannings last year, and I think it is still apt. A struggling veteran QB, who is playing well enough to not hurt the team, while a young talented defense carries them.
5. Minnesota Vikings (8-2)- Last Week- 5
The Vikings played great against the Rams. Still, in a playoff matchup, I just cannot bet on Case Keenum to win. Keenum would be the worst QB in any playoff matchup. The team around him is very good though.
4. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)- Last Week- 3(-1)
The Rams looked lost on Sunday. As a team, I trust them more than the Vikings, despite losing badly to them. Still, beyond this game, their weakness has been red zone offense. They are 24th in red zone scoring percentage, scoring a touchdown on only 50% of red zone trips. If they cant hit big plays, they struggle to score. Vikings took away the big play, so the Rams struggled. Another team that takes away the big play, is the Philadelphia Eagles, who they play in a few weeks, and would likely have to go through to get to the Superbowl.
3. New Orleans Saints (8-2)- Last Week- 4(+1)
The Saints almost lost, but Drew Brees orchestrated a brilliant comeback, to keep the Saints at only two losses. Still, now the Saints defense has struggled against every good QB they have played. Does this mean they are bad? No, but it is something to keep an eye on at least.
2. New England Patriots (8-2)- Last Week- 2
The Patriots defense has improved tenfold from earlier in the season. They went from being one of the easiest teams to pass on, to one of the hardest. They are walking over bad teams right now. The pass rush still isn’t there, but everything else is working. Plus, with Tom Brady, they can win any game.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)- Last Week- 1
Not only do the Eagles have the best record, but they are killing every team they play now. They lead the league in point differential. Their defense is forcing turnovers at a very high rate now. They have arguably the best d line in the NFL. There is little doubt they are the best team right now. Carson Wentz has played like the MVP of the league, the defense is clicking, they are one of the best running teams, everything is working.