2016 NFL Week 11 Powre Rankings

2016 NFL Week 11 Powre Rankings
M.D. Wright

1. Dallas Cowboys (8-1).
The thing that makes Dallas a tough match up is that the good defenses they face have anemic offenses, and the teams with high flying offenses cannot stop a team with Dallas’ offensive design and function. Oddly enough, the only teams that have a legitimate shot of beating Dallas in the NFC are Seattle and New York.

2. Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1).
They do this every year, don’t they? Annual loss(es?) to the Rams? Check. A game where the officiating is slanted against them, resulting in a loss? Check. A game where it is perceived that the officials “blew” a call that helped them close out a game (while conveniently ignoring calls/non-calls that benefited the other team all game)? Check. Getting key players back from injury midseason? Check. About to go on a 7-1, 8-0 run? We’ll see. But they seemingly get hot and become unstoppable right around this time of year annually.

3. Oakland Raiders (7-2).
Oakland features the best offensive line in the NFL and an efficient offense. Much can be made about the sometimes-ghastly performance of their defense, but keep in mind, Aldon Smith’s reinstatement could/should be coming down by the end of this week, and they will also be getting Mario Edwards, Jr. (from) back soon, as well.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2).
Chiefs football is not particularly aesthetically-pleasing, but it is effective.

5. Denver Broncos (7-3).
The B-Men just know how to close out games. Missing two of their best defensive players in a place that is extremely difficult to play? The mark of a great team (and particularly, defense) is always finding a way to pull it off and close out games, no matter the locale and issues with personnel.

6. New England Patriots (7-2).
People have attempted to put the Patriots into the Super Bowl by default all season. It was ludicrous from the get-go; partially because they were playing teams that have turned out to not be any good, and their unorthodox personnel management is finally coming back to haunt them. People touted their defense based upon outdated metrics of yardage and points against without considering opponents. They finally ran into a balanced and good-to-great team on both sides of the ball and lost. And it shouldn’t have been close (Prosise scored both live and on replay and the officials took a Seattle touchdown off the board), plus the bogus facemask call against Richard Sherman that resulted in a Patriots touchdown. That’s an 11 point swing. They have issues on defense, and they’re not going to get fixed this season. Bill and Matt Patricia will adjust to what they have, but they’re not to be mentioned with close-out defenses such as Seattle, Denver or the Giants.

7. New York Football Giants (6-3).
The Giants gave away a game against Washington. A game they led 21-9 at halftime, and one whose conclusion was marred by slanted officiating in favor of Washington and the need for a last minute comeback attempt that should have never been, falling short. The losses to Minnesota and Green Bay were particularly baffling, because those teams have shown to not be good at all, as the season wore on. After the bye, the Giants clearly showed that they have adjusted to get away from their extremely staid offensive ways (although reverting back to those methods in these two games post-bye), but with their defense and the offense eventually playing to top 3-5 output potential, this is a team to be reckoned with. The concern would be that they should have won the last two games (and the Washington game) going away, and arguably should have beaten either or both of Green Bay and Minnesota with better preparation. As it stands, they sit in the catbird seat in all tiebreaker scenarios, regardless of what transpires in the NFC East.

For discussion purposes, in 2007, Dallas went 13-3 and the Giants went 10-6. We think the Giants might win 11 instead of 10, but the biggest Dallas cheerleader on TV, Skip Bayless, picked Dallas to win 13, and the Giants 10, just as was the case in 2007, and, as was the case in 2007, the Giants were the only team equipped (at the time) to beat them come playoff time.

And we know how that played out.

8. Houston Texans (6-3).
How are they winning these games? Yes, playing Jacksonville helps, but…

9. Detroit Lions (5-4).
The Lions have trailed in the 4th quarter at some point in all nine games. They are the poster boys for the parity and the quick changes that can occur in NFL games now that you rarely saw before the 1990s.

10. Atlanta Falcons (6-4).
Point blank and simple, the Falcons do not have a championship defense. And Matt Ryan just does not play well in the northeast outside of domes. It is documented.

11. Miami Dolphins (5-4).
The Dolphins?!?!?! (Chris Berman incredulous voice).

The Bolts blew another one, this time, with Philip Rivers throwing four atrocious interceptions in the 4th quarter alone.

12. Washington Redskins (5-3-1).
Washington’s offense is very good, but their defense is only good situationally. It is not one that can be counted on for 60 minutes. Minnesota was very bad (yet again) offensively, and it appears that their offensive line cannot block anyone in the run or pass, even teams that struggle to stop both. However, they played Dallas to the final moments in their first meeting, and will have a chance to avenge that loss on Thanksgiving Day, nine days from now.

13. Baltimore Ravens (5-4).
The Ravens have a tall task, traveling to Arlington to face Dallas, but with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both losing in Week 10, they also have the opportunity to put some distance between themselves and those teams who have both lost to Dallas this season.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4).
We’re still not impressed with the Eagles offense, but their defense and special teams do enough to keep them within striking distance most weeks.

15. Tennessee Titans (5-5).
When Marcus Mariota does not commit foolhardy turnovers late in close games (or they have the rare, blowout win like Week 10), they win.

16. Minnesota Vikings (5-4).
The Vikes could miss the playoffs altogether. The only reason they have five wins is the turnovers and short fields their defense provided. Cutting Blair Walsh was all but guaranteed after Sunday.

17. Buffalo Bills (4-5).
Rex went from gloating and sitting pretty at 4-2, to rearranging the chairs on the Titanic again. Now he’s basically putting players on notice that they’re playing for their jobs this week in practice. The Bills can only afford another loss or two before they are in serious danger of missing the playoffs.

18. Green Bay Packers (4-5).
They’re not good enough offensively to overcome the mess that they have on defense. Many Packer fans bellowed that Dom Capers should have been fired years ago. They may get their wish this offseason (if not sooner), as Mike McCarthy might make Capers a sacrificial lamb in order to save his own hide, which rests on a rather hot seat, as it is.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5).
The Steelers are basically mirror images of the Packers, although Mike Tomlin nor Keith Butler are going anywhere. They have a ton of work to do in the offseason with personnel on defense.

20. New Orleans Saints (4-5).
The Saints cannot afford to lose at home, because, outside of playing the dregs of the league on the road, they rarely win there.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5).
Tampa has a ton of injuries to offensive linemen and running backs, along with a leaky defense (although one that played very well against Jay Cutler and the Bears on Sunday), but as long as you have Jameis Winston, all things  are possible.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1).
As depressing as their record looks on paper, they are likely not going to be more than a half game out of first place after Week 11’s games.

23. Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1).
That tie is going to kill them come the end of the season, and losing to San Francisco certainly would have increased those odds. As hard as the Cards tried to blow it, they ultimately walked off with a field goal as the clock hit 0:00 in a game that should not have been remotely close.

24. Indianapolis Colts (4-5).
They’re sitting and watching Texans games hoping for losses from here. It is their only hope of making the playoffs.

25. San Diego Chargers (4-6).
They need their bye week to evaluate things (including a succession plan to the nightmare that has been Mike McCoy as head coach), as they hope they can somehow go 5-1 or 6-0 to make the playoffs.

26. Los Angeles Rams (4-5).
So Jeff Fisher, who recently said that he would not start Jared Goff until the Rams were eliminated from playoff contention (and with each Giants and Lions win, they will be pushed further to that brink), wins a game that he should have probably not won, then reverses course to risk playing a bona fide rookie behind an offensive line that cannot block for Todd Gurley nor protect Case Keenum to this point? With how the Rams mortgaged their future to get Goff, this reeks of Jeff Fisher attempting to bide time in order to save his job. Notice the extensions that were purportedly all but offered to him and GM Les Snead still have not materialized.

27. Carolina Panthers (3-6).
They can begin to prepare for the 2017 Draft now. And, considering they don’t need a QB, it is a great draft to be selecting offensive linemen, running backs and defensive backs; the three chief reasons why they’re not good this year.

28. New York Jets (3-7).
Does anyone on this team, from the general manager, head coach, assistants and players (who blow off meetings in cavalier fashion) know what they’re doing?

29. Chicago Bears (2-7).
Alshon Jeffery using PEDs is shocking, as he’s having the worst year of his career, and that was with Brian Hoyer’s relatively efficient play before Jay Cutler had a vintage Jay Cutler game a day before the announcement of Jeffery’s four-game suspension came down. With their pass defense in shambles, the Giants are not what they want to face right now. Even the Bears can tank properly… right?

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7).
The Jags had the talent to contend for the division this year. That they didn’t is an indictment squarely on the coaching of Gus Bradley. He’s a fine human being and may eventually be a good coach elsewhere, but like O.C. said in 1994, “Time’s Up” for Gus in Jacksonville. The job SHOULD be Tom Coughlin’s to return and shape the Jags yet again, as he did from the team’s inception in 1995.

31. San Francisco 49ers (1-8).
It is in just about everyone’s best interests that they continue to lose and keep Colin Kaepernick healthy (if he gets hurt, even though the 49ers have no further liability to him beyond this league year, they would face a severe backlash — as would Kaepernick himself, for forfeiting the protections of his previously existing contract — if he were to get injured on this junior varsity team that they field every week). Other than that, there is nothing to say about this team. You do have to wonder if Chip Kelly, despite his protestations, would go back to Oregon with mega booster Phil Knight prepared to pay the next coach astronomically more than any head coach in North American professional sports.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-10).
Yes, the Browns have pieces to build with moving ahead, including tens of millions in cap space and a million draft picks, but 2017 isn’t the year to be looking for a quarterback, either. They may not need one (Cody Kessler can be good if they shore up their offensive line), but they have 5-6 glaring holes on both sides of the football. They’re going to need every last one of those draft picks in 2017 and spend their free agent dollars on impact players and not guys on their last legs looking for one more payday. That business model is precisely why they’ve stunk since reentering the league in 1999.

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