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NFL Holiday Rankings: Merry Crunchtimemas

Next-to-last name change for Field Gulls’ proprietary power rankings as playoffs loom

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NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
you caption this one
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Fun week to be a fan of the league in general; less fun week to be a fan of the Seattle Seahawks specifically.

Lies of the past week: You were told the Broncos were serious contenders, the Cowboys would falter, and that Seahawks were the best team in the NFC.

Truths of the past week: You were told the Chiefs were headed for irrelevance, the Lions for relevance, and the Bengals for relegation.

Editorial reminder: the Holiday Rankings look ahead four weeks in the league calendar. That’s through the Christmas weekend. It's the most winderful time of the year!

The Best

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

1. PATRIOTS (13-2), no change

Now 9-2, vs. Rams, vs. Ravens, at Broncos, vs. Jets

Yada yada yada yawn, pile up the wins wins wins, lose to Hawks, pile up more wins wins wins yawn.

2. RAIDERS (11-4), no change

Now 9-2, vs. Bills, at Chiefs, at Chargers, vs. Colts

If you were thinking the Raiders are a one-man show, take the next few seconds to learn that they are 4-1 when Dereky Carr throws one or fewer TDs, and they are 5-1 when Carr’s passer rating is under 100 for the game.

That doesn't mean the Raiders are stout on defense or their running game is dominant. It does mean they can beat you multiple ways. I know another team like that.

The Bourgeoisie

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

3. CHIEFS (11-4), up one

Now 8-3, at Falcons, vs. Raiders, vs. Titans, vs. Broncos

Not only are the Chiefs winning the close games, they’re winning the close kicks they have no business winning.

i distinctly heard him call “bank”

4. DOLPHINS (9-6), no change

Now 7-4, at Ravens, vs. Cardinals, at Jets, at Bills

There is no such thing as a quality win in the NFL. Just a win. Dolphins keep accumulating those.

5. BRONCOS (9-6), down two

Now 7-4, at Jaguars, at Titans, vs. Patriots, at Chiefs

Maybe they dont even reach 10 victories. Maybe — no playoffs. Maybe, maybe, maybe — John Elway isn’t the shrewdest finder of value, the sneakiest circumventer of the salary cap, or the heartiest foe of parity. Maybe some other front office, SOMEWHERE OH I DON’T KNOW WHERE, skimps on a position group and still wins a playoff game or two or three every single year.

The Blinded by Parity

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

6. STEELERS (8-7), up two

Now 6-5, vs. Giants, at Bills, at Bengals, vs. Ravens (and then vs. Browns!)

Last week: “One 8-8 division title, coming right up.”

This week: One 9-7 division title, coming right up.

7. BILLS (8-7), no change

Now 6-5, at Raiders, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, vs. Dolphins

With a chance to make some late-season hay at home and nab that final AFC playoff spot, or break their fans’ hearts, the Bills will choose the obvious choice.

8. TEXANS (8-7), down two

Now 6-5, at Packers, at Colts, vs. Jaguars, vs. Bengals

Colts are surging from mediocrity to respectability while the Texans head in the opposite direction.

Houston point differential update: -42. Only six teams have performled worse on the season-long scoreboard: CLE, SF, CHI, LA, NYJ, JAX. Most of those teams are run by Twitter bots posing as executives. They are also a combined 15-62-1.

9. COLTS (7-8), up one

Now 5-6, at Jets, vs. Texans, at Vikings, at Raiders (and then vs. Jaguars!)

Texans and Colts have been on a collision course for 8-8 and the right to slog through seven tie-breakers for a division title that earns them a blowout loss at home on wild-card weekend at the hands of the vastly superior Chiefs. That sound familiar?

Man, I miss 2015.

10. CHARGERS (7-8), down one

Now 5-6, vs. Buccaneers, at Panthers, vs. Raiders, at Browns

They lose their upcoming home games and win their road games.

11. TITANS (6-9), no change

Now 6-6, Bye, vs. Broncos, at Chiefs, at Jaguars

It was fun while it lasted.

12. RAVENS (6-9), no change

Now 6-5, vs. Dolphins, at Patriots, vs. Eagles, at Steelers

It was fun while it lasted.

The Beggars

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

13. JETS (4-11), no change

Now 3-8, vs. Colts, at 49ers, vs. Dolphins, at Patriots

It was not fun, because it never lasted. I don’t understand why people think teams quit, on a collective level. If they did, why would the Jets have been leading the Patriots late in the fourth quarter last Sunday?

14. BENGALS (4-10-1), no change for now

Now 3-7-1, vs. Eagles, at Browns, vs. Steelers, at Texans

Legitimately the third-worst team in the league by season’s end. Their only win since September is against the Browns. So of course, they’ll beat the Eagles, then lose out. Have you met the National Football League?

15. JAGUARS (3-12), no change

Now 2-9, vs. Broncos, vs. Vikings, at Texans, vs. Titans

One more win left in their carcass, Week 16 to spoil the Titans’ season. The Broncos aren’t reeling THAT bad (are they? are they...?)

16. BROWNS (1-14), no change

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

After a victory over those hated Bengals, the only tears Hue Jackson sheds will be tears of joy. (But also 10 percent tears of embarrassment.)


The Best

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

1. COWBOYS (13-2), up one, usually yours

Now 10-1, at Vikings, at Giants, vs. Buccaneers, vs. Lions

And the Skins would’ve had a chance to win that Thanksgiving game in Dallas, too, with better kicking. Likely the Cowboys have the 1 seed sewn up, but they are ranked:

  • 21st in defense by yards
  • 23rd in defensive third-down percentage
  • 25th in sacks
  • 25th in defensive DVOA
  • 28th in passer rating against (101.9)
  • 29th in defensive yards per play
  • 31st in passes defensed

Their defense is not good. We’ll see if that matters in January.

2. SEAHAWKS (11-3-1), down one

Now 7-3-1, vs. Panthers, at Packers, vs. Rams, vs. Cardinals

Tripping up somewhere sounds likely. Probably Packers or Rams. Nah, not Rams. Probably Packers. Nah, not Packers. Okay, four wins. You talked me into it.

The return of Michael Bennett means a lot. Namely, that offensive lines can’t block him, Avril and keep the interior clean. Oh, and:

The return of Justin Britt means a lot. And getting DeShawn Shead back on the outside places all the defensive backs — save for one — into their usual places.

The imminent return of Earl Thomas will mean a lot.

I don’t think the Panthers, Rams and Cardinals are going to combine for even 40 points against the Hawks.

The Bourgeoisie

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

3. GIANTS (10-5), up one

Now 8-3, at Steelers, vs. Cowboys, vs. Lions, at Eagles

Presently the league will find out how good the Giants really are. Three wins and they’re a Super Bowl contender. Two wins and they’re a good playoff team. One win and they’re a borderline playoff team. Four losses and they were a mirage.

4. REDSKNS (8-6-1), up one

Now 6-4-1, at Cardinals, at Eagles, vs. Panthers, at Bears

Wait, is Kirk Cousins good?

Selected advanced stats:

  • 116 Rate+
  • 120 Y/A+
  • 121 Comp%+
  • 122 ANYA+

And last season his lowest indexed stat was 106. Meaning he was above average in all categories. (Link! Check for yourself!)

Holy shit, Kirk Cousins is good.

5. FALCONS (9-6), down two

Now 7-4, vs. Chiefs, at Rams, vs. 49ers, at Panthers

Falcons are now without Desmond Trufant (IR) and just lost DE Adrian Claybord for a month with a knee injury. They can’t afford to lose another body on defense, yet five weeks still remain in the season.

Be very interesting to see if that opening-week loss to the Buccaneers ends up costing them the division, as weird as that sounds.

6. LIONS (9-6), no change

Now 7-4, at Saints, vs. Bears, at Giants, at Cowboys

The Lions were once 1-3 with home losses to two division opponents, Packers and Bears. Yes, this season.

The Blinded by Parity

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

7. EAGLES (7-8), no change

Now 5-6, at Bengals, vs. Redskns, at Ravens, vs. Giants

Very important to remember that the Eagles, once the Dvoarlings of the league, still have three home division games left. Stranger things have happened. (But they're still overrated.)

8. SAINTS (8-7), up one

Now 5-6, vs. Lions, at Buccaneers, at Cardinals, vs. Buccaneers

Saints are a couple bounces away from 7-4 and legitimately in the hunt for the division title and the 2 seed. Their losses are by a grand total of 28 points combined, which is the same amount they defeated the Rams by last Sunday.

I’m not saying they’re good. But they’re definitely unbad.

9. PACKERS (8-7), up one

Now 5-6, vs. Texans, vs. Seahawks, at Bears, vs. Vikings

Surging Packers at Surprising Lions, Week 17, probably for the division title.

10. VIKINGS (8-7), down two

Now 6-5, vs. Cowboys, at Jaguars, vs. Colts, at Packers

Not a great year for them to start 3-0, then lose all their good players to injury, then draw an NFC East full of good-to-great teams. Then again, when is it a good year for that?

11. BUCCANEERS (7-8), no change

Now 6-5, at Chargers, vs. Saints, at Cowboys, at Saints

Last week: “They’ll probably move the ball well against the thin Hawks but lose a high-scoring game.”

So much error in such a short sentence. Of course, now watch them do exactly that against the Chargers.

The Beggars

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

12. CARDINALS (5-9-1), no change

Now 4-6-1, vs. Redskns, at Dolphins, vs. Saints, at Seahawks

My momma always said, if you can't say anything nice...

13. RAMS (6-9), no change

Now 4-7, at Patriots, vs. Falcons, at Seahawks, vs. 49ers

The Falcons and Niners. Those are the two wins. Stop whatever it is you are thinking.

14. PANTHERS (6-9), no change

Now 5-6, at Seahawks, vs. Chargers, at Redskns, vs. Falcons

The Chargers. That is the win. Stop whatever it is you are thinking.

Entirely possible that both of last year’s NFCCG participants could lose 10 games. What a sad thought. To cheer you up, please enjoy this picture of cookies.

15. BEARS (3-12), no change

Now 2-9, vs. 49ers, at Lions, vs. Packers, vs. Redskns

It’s December and they are still playing! Unlike the Cubs, those quitters.

16. 49ERS (1-14), no change anytime soon

Now 1-10, at Bears, vs. Jets, at Falcons, at Rams

There are tickets listed at $130 for Section 106, row 5, right where the Seahawks come out of the tunnel on their sideline at Levi’s Stadium, for the Week 17 game. That’s on New Year’s Day.

Or $188 to sit 10 rows up behind the Hawks’ bench in section 111. Looking out over the 20-yard line.

Road trip anyone? I promise I’m a lot nicer in person.


Projected AFC Seeds

(1) Patriots, (2) Raiders, (3) Steelers, (4) Colts, (5) Chiefs, (6) Dolphins

Broncos, who opened as No. 2 in the AFC, are out of the picture despite being better than the Steelers and Colts.

Projected NFC Seeds

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

Lions. Lions? Lions! They’re 5-2 in the conference and the Falcons are 5-3.

Those 12, ranked by chance to reach Super Bowl LI

  1. Patriots, 45 percent
  2. Cowboys, 36 percent
  3. Seahawks, 28 percent
  4. Raiders, 24 percent
  5. Steelers, 13 percent
  6. Falcons, 11 percent
  7. Giants, 10 percent
  8. Chiefs, 9 percent
  9. Lions, 8 percent
  10. Redskns, 7 percent
  11. Colts, 5 percent
  12. Dolphins, 4 percent