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Week 8 NFL Flower Rankings: The Taima Awakens

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“Flower” Rankings is not a typo. Neither is “Week 8.”

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at New York Jets
Richard Sherman getting exposed
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Previously, on Flower Rankings:

  • You were told that these conference power rankings reflect not the past, nor the present, but the supposed hierarchy of the league four weeks from now;
  • The Patriots, Broncos, Vikings and Eagles had occupied the top four spots in these scientifically rigorous rankings;
  • You were told the Seahawks would lose at the Jets, that the Patriots had little to fear, that the Raiders were good, and that the Panthers were in trouble;
  • In short, you were told true and false things on the internet.

Then, gridiron games happened, and each team’s blooms either faded or brightened. Or refused to flower at all. Yes, that’s where the name comes from. No, you don’t have to think it clever.

NOTE OF DUBIOUS IMPORTANCE: Since we’re in the second week of these rankings, a new feature appears — how much each team moved up or down from their previous flower ranking.

One last thing to notice is that teams will often be listed in order of W-L record. Like regular power rankings! But certain exceptions will apply if a weaker or stronger team happens upon good or bad fortune. Like regular power rankings. For example, I don’t think the Raiders will win 12 games, nor that the Panthers will finish with 12 losses. And I don’t think a 4-4 Rams team would be better than the 3-5 Cardinals. Although many of us would welcome that exact debate.

Let us roll.

AFC

The Best

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

1. BRONCOS (7-1), up one

vs. Falcons, at Chargers, vs. Texans, vs. Chargers

Sticking with the Thursday night road loss in San Diego even though the Chargers just dropped an undroppable game there to the Saints today. Road divisional games are hard! Just ask the Rams and Seahawks. Sometimes even home divisional games are hard! You’ll want to ask the Cardinals about that.

2. PATRIOTS (6-2), down one

at Browns, vs. Bengals, at Steelers, at Bills

Tom Brady returns to pump new life into a situation suddenly full of pressure: New England was shut out at home for the first time since 1993. Still see them losing to one of the NFC North teams (hint: not Cleveland) and then revengely taking care of the Bills. When was the last time Buffalo swept that season series? Exactly.

The Bourgeoisie

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

3. RAIDERS (6-2), unchanged

vs. Chargers, vs. Chiefs, at Jaguars, at Bucs

Home wins, road split. Good teams follow that blueprint, orangeprint, even silverandblackprint. The Raiders are a balanced, almost good team. The NFL is a better place when the Raiders are good. If not this year, next. But maybe this year!

4. BENGALS (6-2), up one

at Cowboys, at Patriots, vs. Browns, vs. Skins

Winning in Foxboro will put them on track to contend for a first-round bye, eventually. Extremely eventually. Still not bad for a team that started 1-2.

5. STEELERS (4-3), up three

vs. Jets, at Dolphins, vs. Patriots, Bye

Most recently lost by 31, then won by 29. Patriots had better hope the first version shows up. Steelers had better figure out who they are themselves before the holidays, or it could be a long season.

Cowardly hedge: 2-5 is really, really not out of the question here at all.

6. RAVENS (4-3), down two

vs. Skins, at Giants, at Jets, Bye

Four games decided by 14 total points. The presently 3-1 Ravens are what I call a JAT — Just A Team. They’re borderline playoff level, but they’re about as elite as Joe Flacco. Yeah, I went there. Somebody @ PFTCommenter for me.

7. CHIEFS (4-3), down one

at Steelers, Bye, at Raiders, vs. Saints

The Chiefs weren’t as good as they looked Week 3 in Happy Turnover Cornucopia, nor as bad as the Week 4 embarrassment they suffered in Pittsburgh. They’re the third-best team in their division. Which isn’t good but might not be so bad. Former Husky Marcus Peters is the shit, however, in the best way possible.

(Aside: the Washington Huskies are legit, and in the right season, too. If they win in Eugene on Saturday they’re a real threat to represent the Pac-12 in a national semifinal. Straight-face-no-joke. If you’re into that sort of thing, the Apple Cup this year is going to be intense, because of the pending implications.)

The Blinded by Parity

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

But in a month, they’ll be staring at long odds to make the playoffs. Parity gouged their eyes out and replaced them with glass eyes that throw stones at other teams’ houses while failing to see the plank in their own. (Yeah.)

8. TITANS (4-4), down one

at Dolphins, vs. Browns, vs. Colts, vs. Jaguars

Not inconceivable they could sweep. Dolphins are a mess, wait Browns are the messiest, Colts are a hot mess, Jaguars mess themselves. Tennessee is good enough to win all four games, riding DeMarco Murray’s legs and a couple timely plays from Mariota or their defense. But they’ll lose one.

9. BILLS (4-4), unchanged

at Rams, vs. 49ers, at Dolphins, vs. Patriots

They’ll do the Hawks a solid by sweeping the NFC West teams, then squander it with two division losses. Have you met the Bills? It’s what they do. Sorry, Tonia.

10. TEXANS (4-4), up one

at Vikings, vs. Colts, at Browns, vs. Lions

Smart move to shelve J.J. Watt and wreck the Titans’ game plan. Smart move to start 3-1! But ahead, the losing. So much losing. The Vikings and Lions defenses will consume Brock Osweiler alive, and the Texans will find a way to split the other two.

The Beggars

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

11. JETS (2-6), down one

at Steelers, at Cardinals, vs. Ravens, at Browns

Quick quiz: which is higher — Ryan Fitzpatrick’s career wins as a Jet, or his 2016 interceptions to date? No googling. No pro-football-referencing.

This is a season headed in the wrong direction, unless the direction was a date with Cleveland in the AFC Not-Worst Bowl.

12. CHARGERS (2-6), no change

at Raiders, vs. Broncos, at Falcons, at Broncos

Brutal division. Brutal schedule. The Chargers were already the worst team in the AFC West, but they’ll still pick up a win here and there, like at home on Thursday night, no matter who the oppon—hold that thought, no matter the opp—division road gam—Thursd—yes no matter the opponent. Pencil them in for one October win.

13. DOLPHINS (2-5), no change

vs. Titans, vs. Steelers, vs. Bills, Bye

The Fins are now at home for five consecutive weeks. November 13 is their next road game. November. They’re staring at four home games and a vacation, during which the players will surely escape Miami’s oppressive fall climate and head to their second homes in sunny Alberta or their picturesque hometowns of eastern Montana. They’ll win one of the three home games first.

14. COLTS (2-6), no change

vs. Bears, at Texans, at Titans, vs. Chiefs

With any lower-case luck they’ll win twice and stay in the NFC South race. With any upper-case Luck, literally anything can happen.

15. JAGUARS (1-6), no change

Bye, at Bears, vs. Raiders, at Titans

Gus Bradley avoids the Bye-Bye Axe Of Bye with an unconvincing win in London. For now. Losses loom. Maybe the Jags pull one out in Chicago, but their late-game management doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence.

16. BROWNS (0-8), no change

vs. Patriots, at Titans, at Bengals, vs. Jets

No change indeed. Each day the Browns lose a new lineman. And of course they draw the Pats for Tom Brady’s return. And you figure that by the time the Jets roll into town, Ryan INTShatrick might be benched. Which is either good or bad for the Browns, who will win a game this year. We just don’t know which one. In their favor: the AFC is loaded with bad teams.

NFC

The Best

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

1. VIKINGS (6-1), no change

vs. Texans, Bye, at Eagles, at Bears

They will lose a game in the first half of the season, and it’ll probably be the fault of the quarterback or special teams, or maybe because the quarterback shatters into a bloody limbless carcass. ‘Cause the defense and the running game are exceptional.

2. SEAHAWKS (6-1), up two

Bye, vs. Falcons, at Cardinals, at Saints

Tyler Lockett, Doug Baldwin, and Russell Wilson all sent Roger Goodell thank-you notes for the bye placement this year. They are such nice young men.

Not impossible the Hawks could go four games up on the Cards in the loss column when the teams collide later this month.

3. PACKERS (5-2), down one

vs. Giants, vs. Cowboys, vs. Bears, at Falcons

A Vikings-Packers NFCGG is not out of the question. But it’d be unwatchable, much like Panthers-Cardinals last year.

The Bourgeoisie

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

4. EAGLES (4-3), down one

at Lions, at Skins, vs. Vikings, at Cowboys

They’ll win one. Washington maybe? Wentz is a rookie and he’s not Russell Wilson, or even RGOne. Eagles have beaten the Browns, Bears, Steelers. I’m impressed, but not with them.

Carson has to play decent defenses now. How does he feel about that?

5. FALCONS (5-3), no change

at Broncos, at Seahawks, vs. Chargers, vs. Packers

They’ll fall to 3-3 but make up the ground almost instantly afterward. Falcons are a wild-card team and not a mirage this time around. Still trying to make “The Quinn Qrew” a thing, please help me get that trending thanks.

The Hawks’ next test is to contain Julio “300” Jones at home. 12 days is going to feel like an eternity times another eternity.

6. COWBOYS (4-3), up two

vs. Bengals, at Packers, Bye, vs. Eagles

Yay, they beat the Niners, but all I can see is more .500 on the horizon. Cowboys are following the pre-Holmgren Seahawks master plan. Win some but not too many, lose some but not too many, and whatever happens, don’t make any noise in the playoffs or draft.

The Blinded by Parity

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

But in a month, they’ll be staring at long odds to make the playoffs. Parity gouged their eyes out and replaced them with glass eyes that throw stones at other teams’ houses while failing to see the plank in their own. (Yeah.)

7. RAMS (4-3), up three

vs. Bills, at Lions, vs. Giants, Bye

Hey, now on track for 8-8. Glitch in the matrix I guess. Also possibly good enough for second in the NFC West. Which is another glitch in the matrix.

8. PANTHERS (3-4), down one

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

This space called the loss at Atlanta. Now it will call a split in the next two division games, before the Seahawks Benefit Bowl that takes place Week 8 in Charlotte.

9. GIANTS (4-3), up three

at Packers, vs. Ravens, at Rams, Bye

They lost and I moved them up three spots. Gonna reverse course and give them wins against Baltimore and LA. Should make for a nice NFC East battle down the stretch.

10. REDSKNS (4-4), down one

at Ravens, vs. Eagles, at Lions, at Bengals

Maybe they win the home game? There’s always the Ravens game too, that’ll be close. And who knows about the Lions? Yes I will type something like every week, because that’s how running jokes work. Fine, two wins, Jesus. Go away.

11. CARDINALS (2-6), down six

at Niners, vs. Jets, vs. Seahawks, at Panthers

Carson Palmer is in the concussion protocol — he’s listed as doubtful on the injury report for Thursday’s game/loss in Santa Clara. ESPN reporter John Clayton, who was on the Cards sideline a couple days ago, doesn’t expect him to play.

Even after they beat the Jets, the Arizona Cardinals are going to spend the middle of the 2016 season in last place. In a division that includes the Rams and 49ers. Process that.

The Beggars

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

12. LIONS (3-5), down one

vs. Eagles, vs. Rams, vs. Skins, at Texans

Are you even reading this paragraph?

13. 49ERS (3-4), up one

vs. Cardinals, at Bills, vs. Buccaneers, Bye

That opening shutout win over the Rams at home now looks like the single greatest outlier of the 2016 season so far. But that being said, the opposition softens considerably for the Niners in the immediate future, with the Palmer in the shop. So the Niners had better gather their rosebuds while they may. Which is October.

Maybe Colin Kaepernick will start one of the games above...? No I don’t mean the bye week, you smart-ass.

14. BUCCANEERS (2-5), down one

at Panthers, Bye, at 49ers, vs. Raiders

A win takes them to 2-5 and irrelevance. Two wins gets them to 3-4 and irrelevance. Three wins ain’t happening.

15. BEARS (2-6), no change

at Colts, vs. Jaguars, at Packers, vs. Vikings

Raise your hand if you watched a single minute of Chicago’s thrilling 17-14 victory over Detroit. Redzone and highlights don’t count. (You can put your hand back down, solitary reader from Bourbonnais who is reading these Flower Rankings by pure internet happenstance.)

16. SAINTS (1-6), no change

Bye, vs. Panthers, at Chiefs, vs. Seahawks

Somebody woke them up when September ended! Ruined their chance for a perfect season and maybe the first pick in the 2017 draft.

If momentum existed, I’d call upon the revitalized Saints to seize the moment and take down their hated division foes in two weeks. Alas.