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Flower Rankings, Week 10: Sore Hawks Soar

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Now with playoff predictions!

Atlanta Falcons v Seattle Seahawks
that is exACTly where the ball belongs
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Previously foretold on this season of Flower Rankings:

  • The Broncos’ TNF loss in San Diego
  • The Eagles falling from grace
  • The Ravens starting to lose close games instead of winning them
  • The Packers showing the Cowboys who’s boss
  • The Cardinals saving their season, the Panthers not so much

So much truth, concentrated in a single place. The Green Bay-related screw-ups are there just to keep you interested.

All right. The rankings continue to be arranged by conference only. They continue to look four weeks ahead. Power rankings usually have a very short shelf life. These are designed to last for a month. Pace yourselves.

UPDATE: there is a new wrinkle, now that we’ve arrived at the second half of the season. At the end of the post, I’ll nominate the six playoff teams from each conference and rank them in order 1-12, of their chance to reach — not win — the Super Bowl.

Let us put the petal to the metal, then.

AFC

The Best

The elite. The contenders. The crème de la crème. The possibly Superb.

1. PATRIOTS (7-2)

at Steelers, at Bills, Bye, vs. Seahawks

Ben Roethlisberger’s injury is precisely the kind of lucky break the Patriots needed.

2. BRONCOS (8-2)

vs. Texans, vs. Chargers, at Raiders, at Saints

‘Schedule 2016: The Softening.’ Four wins ahead as the Broncos get well. Raiders will make it close-ish. The others will not.

The Bourgeoisie

Playoff level teams whose station in life is comfortable enough. But they’re unlikely to rule the empire anytime soon.

3. BILLS (6-3), up two

at Dolphins, vs. Patriots, at Seahawks, Bye

From last week: “The Bills are clearly the second-best team in the division, at least. They’re going to get a chance to sweep the Patriots in Week 8. Is this... is this their year?”

It will be. They’re going to the bye above .500 at least, with five very winnable games after the week off. Ten wins is reasonable and 11 is attainable. Especially if they beat New England in Buffalo, which will happen in select universes near you.

Anyway, Bills fans deserve a playoff appearance. They’ve been waiting for the postseason longer than Mariners fans. Reread that sentence and activate your empathy glands.

4. RAIDERS (6-3), no change

at Jaguars, at Bucs, vs. Broncos, Bye

They’ll go 2-1 by winning the road games and losing the home game. Jags and Bucs can’t cover a dining room table, let alone Amari Cooper — but the Broncos will drive Carr off a cliff.

5. RAVENS (6-3), up two

at Jets, Bye, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns

As predicted, three close wins for Baltimore were followed by three close losses. Now they start winning again. The Jets and Browns are the two worst teams in a conference full of bad teams. The Steelers are probably starting Landry Jones that day.

Last night, the Ravens faced 145-1 odds to win the Super Bowl.

Baltimore is not going to be available at 145-1 in a few weeks. More like 30-1. Don’t bet on football, but if you’re gonna bet on football, maybe take a flier on the Ravens right now to win the conference, or the title? Stranger things have happened.

6. CHIEFS (6-3), no change

vs. Saints, at Colts, vs. Jaguars, at Panthers

Which team is the best of those four? Whichever you chose, they’re inferior to the Chiefs. Maybe the Panthers will be decent by then? I guess? Three more wins for KC to keep the AFC West super interesting.

The Blinded by Parity

Because they’ve been deluded into thinking that 2016 is their year.

7. STEELERS (4-5), down four

vs. Patriots, Bye, at Ravens, vs. Cowboys

Charlie Whitehurst is available. I’m just saying. If you’re gonna lose all three games, you might as well look good doing it.

never, ever, never underestimate the power of great hair

8. TITANS (5-5), up one

vs. Colts, vs. Jaguars, at Chargers, vs. Packers

Headed toward 9-7 and a division title and a collective yawn from the country because yes I know you stopped reading already here’s some closure via punctuation.

9. TEXANS (4-5), up one

at Broncos, vs. Lions, Bye, at Jaguars

Houston got so much momentum from that cray Sunday night comeback that they’ll lose their next three games by single digits instead of double.

The Beggars

All they’ll be choosing high in, is the 2017 draft.

10. BENGALS (3-6), down two

vs. Browns, vs. Skins, Bye, at Giants

Fear The Walking Bengals.

On second thought, don’t.

11. DOLPHINS (3-6), up one

vs. Bills, Bye, vs. Jets, at Chargers

They’re not dead yet!

12. CHARGERS (3-7), up one

at Falcons, at Broncos, vs. Titans, vs. Dolphins

Falcons gonna hang 60 on the Chargers. Then, Elway’s Revenge. Then, a split. San Diego seems like a really cool place to live. Please share your thoughts on Legoland below.

13. COLTS (2-7), down two

at Titans, vs. Chiefs, at Packers, Bye*

*pink slips all around

Of course, knowing the Packers, they’ll fumble and bumble and stumble enough to gift the Colts a shocking win, thus saving everyone’s job in Indy. Note that I do not believe this will happen but please please please make it happen oh please.

14. JAGUARS (3-6), up one

vs. Raiders, at Titans, at Chiefs, vs. Texans

Positive: Jacksonville’s not the worst team in the AFC.

Negative: pretty much everything else. Maybe Gus Bradley can hang on through 2017 somehow and then return as DC for the 2018 Seahawks?

15. JETS (1-9), down one

vs. Ravens, at Browns, at Dolphins, vs. Rams

From last week: “Nobody wants to read about them. Except that they’ll provide the Browns with their first win of the season.”

Unless the Bengals lay a poop egg vs. Cleveland first. God, I’m never going to forget that headline.

FYI: Geno Smith will start some of these games. He has 27 career TDs against 35 interceptions. His ANY/A is 4.63 and he once took 48 sacks in a season.

16. BROWNS (1-9), no change

at Bengals, vs. Jets, vs. Cowboys, at Ravens

Just run the ball 45 times against the Jets. That isn’t a joke.

NFC

The Best

The elite. The contenders. The crème de la crème. The possibly Superb.

1. VIKINGS (8-1), no change

at Eagles, at Bears, vs. Lions, at Redskns

Three road games and a definite un-gimme against the Lions at home. A first loss looks likely somewhere in there, maybe in Washington?

The Vikings are currently running a 12-1 turnover ratio. Sam Bradford has thrown no interceptions and only one fumble has fallen to the opposition. In five games! You want to know what the Vikings aren’t going to do? Finish the season with 38 takeaways and 3 giveaways. That’s the pace they’re on. Yeah no, an ugly game or two will surface eventually, and they’ll lose those.

2. SEAHAWKS (7-2), no change

at Cardinals, at Saints, vs. Bills, at Patriots

Three wins, then a short week before traveling to Foxboro. Don’t have to win that one if you take care of the Cardinals on Sunday night.

3. COWBOYS (8-1), up two

Bye, vs. Eagles, at Browns, at Steelers

Eagles are overrated, Browns are Browns, Steelers are a big fat unknown at this point. No reason for the Cowboys to drop any on this slate — except have you watched this season? Something fuckalicious happens every single week.

The Bourgeoisie

Playoff level teams whose station in life is comfortable. But they’re unlikely to rule the empire anytime soon.

4. FALCONS (7-3), no change

vs. Chargers, vs. Packers, at Bucs, at Eagles

Falcons will win the South but might only get the 4 seed, with how strong the NFC’s top three teams look at the moment. Oh well, sorry we “interfered” with your playoff plans.

5. PACKERS (5-4), down two

vs. Bears, at Falcons, vs. Colts, at Titans

I see no reason they should win either road game, with Aaron Rodgers performing 1.4 YPA and 15 passer rating points under his career norms.

6. GIANTS (5-4), no change

at Rams, Bye, vs. Eagles, vs. Bengals

Will they catch the good Rams, the good Eagles, the good Bengals, or each team’s clumsy twin? Yes.

7. CARDINALS (5-4), up three

vs. Seahawks, at Panthers, Bye, vs. Niners

Possible wild-card berth if they can win two out of the next three. They’ll need to get into position quickly, however, because five of their last seven are on the road. They can get started on the winning in Week 8 in Charlotte.

The Blinded by Parity

Because they’ve been deluded into thinking that 2016 is their year.

8. RAMS (5-4), no change

vs. Giants, Bye, vs. Panthers, at Jets

They’re gonna lose five out of their last six down the stretch (look here for confirmation), so now is the time to fish a couple wins out of the NFsea.

9. REDSKNS (5-4), up two

at Lions, at Bengals, Bye, vs. Vikings

Road split, close loss to Minny is what the surprising 4-2 Skins need, at a minimum. Three ugly defeats and they’re basically out of the picture. No pressure.

10. EAGLES (4-5), down three

vs. Vikings, at Cowboys, at Giants, vs. Falcons

Likely the once-undefeated-Eagles will be underdogs in all four. But they’ll win one. Atlanta maybe? My money’s on the Giants game, because division.

11. LIONS (4-5), up one

vs. Skins, at Texans, at Vikings, Bye

Maybe they’re the beneficiaries of the inevitable Minnesota sloppy game? If so, update to 5-4 and put them in the playoff hunt.

The Beggars

All they’ll be choosing high in, is the 2017 draft.

12. PANTHERS (2-7), down three

Bye, vs. Cardinals, at Rams, vs. Chiefs

Ron Rivera is already working on his 2017 Coach of the Year acceptance speech.

13. BUCCANEERS (3-6), no change

at 49ers, vs. Raiders, vs. Falcons, vs. Bears

Spent their week off watching the Saints win, but Falcons and Panthers lose. Result: Bucs are in second place in the NFC South. They of the -48 point differential, and -23.6 passer rating differential, which is one of the best predictors of W-L record out there.

Have they considered maybe having a bye every week?

14. SAINTS (3-6), up two

at Chiefs, vs. Seahawks, at 49ers, vs. Broncos

From last week: “The bye ended, the Saints can go back to giving up five touchdowns a game.” Another correct piece of insight for you. Can you believe these rankings are free?

Of course, giving up five touchdowns and a FG to the Panthers isn’t terrible if you score five touchdowns and two FG yourself.

15. BEARS (1-8), no change

at Packers, vs. Vikings, Bye, at Bucs

Go Cubs.

16. 49ERS (2-7), down two

vs. Bucs, Bye, vs. Saints, at Cardinals

They can’t score, they can’t defend (31 ppg allowed including the shutout win Week 1), and I’m not sure they can coach. But at least they’re set at owner for a long time.

(oof)

NEW FEATURES:

Projected AFC Seeds

(1) Patriots, (2) Broncos, (3) Ravens, (4) Titans, (5) Bills, (6) Raiders

Projected NFC Seeds

(1) Vikings, (2) Seahawks, (3) Cowboys, (4) Falcons, (5) Giants, (6) Packers

Ranked by chance to reach Super Bowl LI

  1. Patriots
  2. Seahawks
  3. Vikings
  4. Cowboys
  5. Broncos
  6. Bills
  7. Falcons
  8. Packers
  9. Ravens
  10. Raiders
  11. Giants (so long as they’re not 9-7)
  12. Titans