• Top 10, Bottom 5: Week 13

    After a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Top 10, Bottom 5 storms back in with a vengeance! I can't really be bothered to clarify exactly who it is that I'm seeking vengeance against, but just know that it is very real; so it's better if everyone just keeps their guard up. Or don't. I'm really not very threatening. Perhaps we should just move on.

    Top 10:

    1) Carolina Panthers - This is not necessarily to say that I think that Carolina is the best team in the NFL, but they're the only undefeated team left and that should count for something. I mean, it counts in real life too, because the Panthers will probably get the top seed in the NFC Playoffs, but the distinguished honor of being in the top spot of the "Top 10, Bottom 5" I think is something that's worth just as much in emotional value. (PR: 2)

    2) New England Patriots - The Patriots finally take their first loss of the season, but taking it on the road against the Broncos is pretty respectable (especially now that they have an offense!). They're still in a pretty strong spot in the AFC and are still a game up on the Broncos and Bengals for the top seed, but their biggest concern at this point has to be health. Their offensive line has been in shambles almost all year long, and now all of their white receivers are getting broken. At least with Gronk they can just swap out his parts. (PR: 1)

    3) Cincinnati Bengals - Over the past couple of weeks, the Bengals slaughtered some Rams and fought to a close loss with the Cardinals; but one thing they didn't do was almost lose to a team led by Blaine Gabbert, which is why they get to place ahead of Arizona anyway. Cincinnati has to be hoping almost as much as anybody that the Broncos end up going back to Peyton Manning, since that would probably leave the door wide open for them to go ahead and take one of the two first-round byes in the Playoffs. (PR: 4)

    4) Arizona Cardinals - As I mentioned, to even flirt with the idea of losing to a team led by Blaine Gabbert is almost akin to committing an unforgivable sin. I think that the Cardinals are really good, and of course things happen in one-game sample sizes that aren't necessarily predictive, but there has to be some residual taint for at least a week or two. The good news is that by the time the Playoffs roll around it will have dissolved, and Arizona will still be one of the most intimidating draws in the NFC. (PR: 3)

    5) Denver Broncos - Bossweiler!! For the first time all season, the Broncos' offense looks like it has a pulse. It doesn't really seem to be a debatable subject; Brock Osweiler gives the Broncos a better chance to win games than Peyton Manning does. This ranking is predicated upon that. If Denver even has just a passable offense, they could ride their dominating defense pretty far. The million dollar question (or however much money they're paying Peyton Manning) is whether or not John Elway and Gary Kubiak have the fortitude to keep Manning on the bench for the sake of the team. (PR: NR)

    6) Kansas City Chiefs - Break up the Chiefs!! It's happened pretty suddenly, but the Chiefs have risen to the top in the quagmire of .500-ish teams in the AFC. Only three teams in all of football finish drives with scores more often than the Chiefs - the Patriots, the Cardinals, and the Panthers. Alex Smith has been the best quarterback in the league this year at not throwing interceptions with just three on 354 attempts (0.8%). A top ten offense and a top ten defense is always going to be a formula for success. (PR: 10)

    7) Green Bay Packers - An unexpected loss to the Bears on Thanksgiving night paired with a trouncing of the Vikings the week before still leaves questions about the Packers. It's worth noting that Chicago is a much improved team with Jay Cutler back behind center, but Green Bay is still supposed to be demonstrably better. This could very well be more one-game sample size in action, but the Packers do seem to be lagging behind the Panthers and Cardinals now. (PR: 6)

    8) Seattle Seahawks - A much needed win over the Pittsburgh Steelers gives Seattle a foothold in the NFC Wild Card race, and they would be the #6 seed if the postseason began this weekend. As much as there's been made of Seattle's early demise, the Seahawks are top five in yards per play on offense, and yards allowed per play on defense. Thomas Rawls looks like a gem of a find as he runs rampant over defenses. If Seattle's position holds and they make it into the Playoffs, do you think anyone wants to play them in the first round? (PR: 8)

    9) Minnesota Vikings - The Vikings rebounded from the hurting that the Packers put on them with a victory over the Falcons, who are deflating like a lead balloon. I still think that their record looks better than their actual on-field results have been, but as of right now they'd be the NFC North champions and that isn't something to disregard entirely. I do get the feeling that they could be destined for a first-round exit in less than dignified fashion if they get paired up with the Seahawks or Packers. (PR: 7)

    10) Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers lost to the Seahawks and had a bye week since the last edition of these rankings went out, so there wasn't much opportunity for advancement and that's how they've ended up just barely hanging onto a spot in the Top 10 with the Jets, Bills, and Raiders all nipping right at their heels - just as those teams are doing in the AFC. Games against the Bengals and the Broncos aren't going to make for particularly easy sledding the rest of the way, but as long as Ben Roethlisberger can stay in one piece the Steelers will always have a chance. (PR: 5)

    Honorable Mentions:

    - As I mentioned just above, the Bills, Jets, and Raiders are all still firmly in the mix in the AFC Wild Card race and any one of them could jump into the rankings next week with a strong performance.

    - I wouldn't say that they're close to the Top 10 yet, but the real improvements that the Buccaneers have made over the course of the season shouldn't go unnoticed.

    Bottom 5:

    28) Dallas Cowboys - Well so much for the whole idea that the Cowboys would run the table and win the NFC East now that Tony Romo was back. Romo looked awful and the rest of the team followed suit on Thanksgiving when the Panthers came into town and roasted them. Glad the Greg Hardy mess was worth it. (PR: NR)

    29) Tennessee Titans - A bit of rough luck for the Titans the last two weeks, dropping two pretty close games to the Jaguars and to the Raiders, but when you're already at the bottom it takes something more than moral victories to get out of the basement. (PR: 28)

    30) New Orleans Saints - One would think that coming out of the bye week would leave you fresh and prepared to take on the next team in front of you...or you lose by three possessions to the Texans, who earlier this season were regular patrons in the Bottom 5. (PR: NR)

    31) Cleveland Browns - As a Ravens fan, I don't even know if you would accept any of my apologies. (PR: 31)

    32) San Francisco 49ers - Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Cleveland get's to pick their new QB next year thanks to that loss to the Ravens. Brilliantly taking a dive there by Pettine (I am sure this was all orchestrated), they were making sure they ha d ahigher pick than Baltimore. You do not want to give Ozzie a top 5 pick.

      After watching the Pack last night, ughh that was ugly playing by them. It took 2 huge brain farts in letting Aaron Rodgers run in for a TD (keep contain), and then the Hail-Mask at the end.

      I do think the Vikings are the better team of the division. Except that they just might need Teddy B to win a game for them at some point, instead of Anthony Barr and AP destroying the world.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      Cleveland get's to pick their new QB next year thanks to that loss to the Ravens. Brilliantly taking a dive there by Pettine (I am sure this was all orchestrated), they were making sure they ha d ahigher pick than Baltimore. You do not want to give Ozzie a top 5 pick.
      There really isn't a quarterback to take with the Top 3 pick they're guaranteed to have. If they end up at #1 and they pass on Bosa, I'm going to be furious. I don't care if they draft a QB in the second round and cut Manziel, or cut Manziel and sign another dead-end veteran, but if they pass on Bosa to draft Goff or Lynch, I'm going to throw things.