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NFL Harvest Rankings, Week 15: You’re Thankful

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Yeah.

Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks
simon says lie down
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Reminder of the reference referenced in the headline:

he is thankful

And the Seattle Seahawks are once again greatfull. Thanks for asking.

Lie of the past week: You were told the Cards and Vikings would tie. That was a gamble. Turns out they tied anyway. For “most mediocre faux contenders.” Neither team will finish above .500, you know.

Truths of the past week: You were told the Chiefs had some losses coming down the pike, and quickly. Check. You were told the Dolphins were the 5th best team in the AFC. Check check. You were told the Bengals would continue to free-fall, Tom Petty style, and that the Ravens were in real danger of finishing 6-10. Check check check check.

Basically, the Harvest Rankings, as they will be called for a very short time, are gold-pixelated.

Editorial reminder: the Harvest Rankings look ahead four weeks in the league calendar. So to mid-December, or as I call it, 6-8 for everyone.

AFC

The Best

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

1. PATRIOTS (12-2), no change

Now 8-2, at Jets, vs. Rams, vs. Ravens, at Broncos

Back to cruise control goes New England, after the minor speed bump of playing the best team from the better conference.

2. RAIDERS (10-4), no change

Now 8-2, vs. Panthers, vs. Bills, at Chiefs, at Chargers

Bruce Irvin update: Bruuuuuuce has 23 tackles so far. Usually with Seattle he’d finish in the 40s. However, he’s found a new skill: forcing four fumbles — he’s responsible for four of those, or as many as all of his seasons as a Hawk, combind.

3. BRONCOS (10-4), no change

Now 7-3, vs. Chiefs, at Jaguars, at Titans, vs. Patriots

Oh goodness gracious they host the Raiders in Week 17. The NFL does a ton of stuff wrong (note: you don’t say) but the move to stack division games at the end of the season was pretty shrewd.

The Bourgeoisie

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

4. DOLPHINS (9-5), up one

Now 6-4, vs. 49ers, at Ravens, vs. Cardinals, at Jets

Suddenly, a wild card appears.

5. CHIEFS (9-5), down one

Now 7-3, at Broncos, at Falcons, vs. Raiders, vs. Titans

Last week: The Chiefs are 17-2 in their last 19 regular-season games. If they run the table here I’ll rename my youngest son Alex.

This week: Are they even going to make the playoffs? Broncos and Chargers loom in Weeks 16 and 17.

Next week: Irrelevancy rears its relevant head.

The Blinded by Parity

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

6. TEXANS (8-6), down one

Now 6-4, vs. Chargers, at Packers, at Colts, vs. Jaguars

It would be hard for them to win fewer than two games from that set above. Of course, almost every team in the league ought to fish two wins out of there.

Here the Texans sit, in first place, while being outscored on the season. Sigh. I guess you can survive a minus-34 point differential if you go 3-0 in your division. And if you’re not the Rams.

7. BILLS (8-6), up one

Now 5-5, vs. Jaguars, at Raiders, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns

Nobody would want to play these guys in the playoffs, so they’re politely going to finish seventh in the conference. PEOPLE THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PLAY GAMES REGULARLY IN CANADA

8. STEELERS (7-7), up one

Now 5-5, at Colts, vs. Giants, at Bills, at Bengals

One 8-8 division title, coming right up.

9. CHARGERS (6-8), down two

Now 4-6, at Texans, vs. Buccaneers, at Panthers, vs. Raiders

Their brief flirtation with “interesting” has now run its course.

10. COLTS (7-7), up two

Now 5-5, vs. Steelers, at Jets, vs. Texans, at Vikings

Gigantic win for Indy against Tennessee. It was their 11th victory in the two teams’ last 11 meetings. While enjoying an 11-0 run against the Titans, the Colts are somehow 6-4 against the Jaguars. The NFL, man. It’s weird.

11. TITANS (6-8), no change

Now 5-6, at Bears, Bye, vs. Broncos, at Chiefs

The Titans trail the division-leading Texans by a game and a half but have somehow scored 20 more touchdowns. In ten games.

12. RAVENS (6-8), down two

Now 5-5, vs. Bengals, vs. Dolphins, at Patriots, vs. Eagles

With A.J. Green out for the year, a win presents itself on Sunday. They’d better take it because that might well be their last one until 2017.

some stat

The Beggars

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

13. JETS (4-10), up one by default

Now 3-7, vs. Patriots, vs. Colts, at 49ers, vs. Dolphins

After their resurgence last year, it would have been challenging to find a pundit predicting them to finish last in the East. And yet here we are.

14. BENGALS (3-10-1), down one

Now 3-6-1, at Ravens, vs. Eagles, at Browns, vs. Steelers

New candidate for First/Only Browns Win: the A.J. Green-less Bengals.

15. JAGUARS (2-12), no change

Now 2-8, at Bills, vs. Broncos, vs. Vikings, at Texans

Gave the Lions a good scare. But when almost beating the Lions is a major moral victory of your season, your season needs more immoral victories.

16. BROWNS (1-13), no change

Now 0-11, vs. Giants, Bye, vs. Bengals, at Bills

There’s something far more aesthetically pleasing about a goose egg in the win column, than a lonely, lonely one sitting there all. Lonely.

NFC

The Best

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

1. SEAHAWKS (10-3-1), up one

Now 7-2-1, at Buccaneers, vs. Panthers, at Packers, vs. Rams

Rationale: I’m a homer.

Real rationale: If the Cowboys met the Seahawks this coming Sunday, on a neutral field, with half the Legion out of commission and a chasm of uncertainty in the backfield, I’d favor the Boys. But since the Harvest Rankings look four weeks ahead, I’m confident in saying that the Hawks will be the better team at that time. Regardless of performance between now and then.

Teams that give the Hawks fits are tough on defense. Cowboys ain’t that. Rookie quarterbacks don’t beat Seattle. Dallas has one.

Fun fact: Seattle will likely take over the top DVOA spot, later today, after beating the Patriots and Eagles in succession while struggling mightily in the red zone and leaving points on the board with bad kicks.

2. COWBOYS (11-3), down one

Now 9-1, vs. Redskns, at Vikings, at Giants, vs. Buccaneers

Since early October I’ve circled the Thanksgiving Day game as a home loss. Giants could also pose a problem. Division games are tough. Dallas’ last loss is to New York and Washington played them tough in a 27-23 loss earlier this season.

The Bourgeoisie

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

3. FALCONS (9-5), no change

Now 6-4, vs. Cardinals, vs. Chiefs, at Rams, vs. 49ers

Hey there’s the rest of the NFC West. Just remember to lose in LA because there’s some 7-9 bullshit to observe.

4. GIANTS (10-4), no change

Now 7-3, at Browns, at Steelers, vs. Cowboys, vs. Lions

Giants-Lions is probably a preview of wild-card weekend.

5. REDSKNS (8-5-1), up one

Now 6-3-1, at Cowboys, at Cardinals, at Eagles, vs. Panthers

But if they don’t follow through with the weeks-long prediction of turkey victory, then the wheels could quickly come off.

6. LIONS (8-6), down one

Now 6-4, vs. Vikings, at Saints, vs. Bears, at Giants

The Lions have won double-digit games in a season nine times in their franchise history. The Seahawks have done so... also nine times. Neat!

The Lions began play in Detroit in 1934.

The Blinded by Parity

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

7. EAGLES (7-7), no change

Now 5-5, vs. Packers, at Bengals, vs. Redskns, at Ravens

Carson Wentz, last six weeks: 134-221-1226-4-6. With 17 rushes for 13 yards. Someone is rookieing like a rook.

8. VIKINGS (8-6), no change

Now 6-4, at Lions, vs. Cowboys, at Jaguars, vs. Colts

Getting swept by the Lions isn’t exactly going to help with season-ending tie-breakers.

9. SAINTS (7-7), up one

Now 4-6, vs. Rams, vs. Lions, at Buccaneers, at Cardinals

Oh look, .500, sure, that’s nice, but good luck getting a wild-card berth armed with only nine wins this year.

10. PACKERS (6-8), down one

Now 4-6, at Eagles, vs. Texans, vs. Seahawks, at Bears

Seahawks extended John Schneider already, right?

The Beggars

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

11. BUCCANEERS (6-8), up three

Now 5-5, vs. Seahawks, at Chargers, vs. Saints, at Cowboys

They’ll probably move the ball well against the thin Hawks but lose a high-scoring game.

12. CARDINALS (5-8-1), down one

Now 4-5-1, at Falcons, vs. Redskns, at Dolphins, vs. Saints

Carson Palmer was pressured on 60 percent of his dropbacks last week, per PFF. Which was weird because all the Cardinals’ linemen graded above 85.

13. RAMS (5-9), down one

Now 4-6, at Saints, at Patriots, vs. Falcons, at Seahawks

Blew a 10-0 fourth-quarter lead at home to the Dolphins. To atone for that mossive goff and keep their 7-9 hopes alive, they’ll need to take one of the four above games. Any volunteers? (Don’t answer that.)

14. PANTHERS (4-10), down one

Now 4-6, at Raiders, at Seahawks, vs. Chargers, at Redskns

Screw it, they could easily lose out. At Falcons and vs. Bucs completes the schedule.

15. BEARS (3-9), no change

Now 2-8, vs. Titans, vs. 49ers, at Lions, vs. Packers

The Bears have 14 players on IR, four more declared out, and eight more listed as questionable. The Titans have three on IR, one out, and two questionable.

16. 49ERS (1-13), no change anytime soon

Now 1-9, vs. Patriots, at Dolphins, at Bears, vs. Jets, at Falcons

It’s just total yards, but the Niners are 30th in offense and 32nd in defense. At least DVOA has them 14th in special teams?

REGULAR FEATURES:

Projected AFC Seeds

(1) Patriots, (2) Raiders, (3) Texans, (4) Steelers, (5) Broncos, (6) Dolphins

Miami makes the cut for the first time.

Projected NFC Seeds

(1) Cowboys, (2) Seahawks, (3) Falcons, (4) Lions, (5) Giants, (6) Redskns

But I’d take the Hawks in an NFCCG, no matter the location.

Those 12, ranked by chance to reach Super Bowl LI

  1. Patriots, 50 percent
  2. Seahawks, 33 percent
  3. Cowboys, 30 percent
  4. Raiders, 20 percent
  5. Broncos, 16 percent
  6. Falcons, 15 percent
  7. Lions, 10 percent
  8. Giants, 9 percent
  9. Steelers, 7 percent
  10. Texans, 5 percent
  11. Dolphins, 4 percent
  12. Redskns, 3 percent