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NFL Lombardi Rankings: No Cards are wild cards

Looking past Week 17, and through wild card weekend even

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks
where we’re goin we don’t need any blockers
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Not that any of this concerns the Seahawks, who are quite above all this wild-card tomfoolery.

  1. As explained last week, we’re leaving eliminated teams behind except if they have an interesting spoiler role.
  2. As explained last week, we’re looking three weeks ahead. That takes us through the wild-card appetizers.
  3. As explained last week, teams ranked 1-6 are who I expect to make the playoffs; teams ranked 7-11ish are the ones still in the playoff hunt; beyond that it’s time to talk draft order, or coaching turnover. (Sorry Gus. But you got more than a fair shake.)

Lie of the past week: You were told the Chiefs had the inside track to the 2 seed, relegating the Raiders to the 5 slot. Now the opposite looks true.

Truth of the past week: You were told to expect struggles from the Cowboys and Texans. Not even going to mention how right I was about the Broncos because that would be rubbing it in. So consider Denver’s very foreseeable struggles officially unaddressed.

In theory we’ve got fewer surprises in the final two weeks of the season, but then if you can tell me for sure what the playoffs look like with 12 flawed teams, by all means, go ahead.

The Favored

The most Superb-looking Owls.

1. PATRIOTS (14-2)

Now 12-2, vs. Jets, at Dolphins, Bye

Pats-Chiefs was going to be a heckuvan AFCCG but I’ll take it as a divisional matchup.

2. RAIDERS (13-3)

Now 11-3, vs. Colts, at Broncos, Bye

Broncos will be out of it by Week 17. Raiders should win both. Thus completing their turnaround from a decade of mediocrity and awfulness just in time to ditch Oakland. Beast is not amused. Don’t mess with Beast.

3. STEELERS (11-5 plus playoff win)

Now 9-5, vs. Ravens, vs. Browns, defeat Ravens again in wild-card round

She is the opposite of wrong.

4. TITANS (10-6 plus playoff loss)

Now 8-6, at Jaguars, vs. Texans, lose to Chiefs in wild-card round

Revenge match for the Chiefs turns into a shootrout. Not a typo. Nor, disappointingly, is it an SEO original; others have coined it before me. There is nothing nude under the sun.

5. CHIEFS (12-4 plus playoff win)

Now 10-4, vs. Broncos, at Chargers, defeat Titans in wild-card round

Still a believer in this team. Despite Andy Reid’s monthly brain farts. Really, Andy? Really?

6. RAVENS (9-7 plus playoff loss)

Now 8-6, at Steelers, at Bengals, lose to Steelers in wild-card round

Edging out the Dolphins and Bills on a conference tie-breaker.

Outside Peering In

But back in with a few lucky/unlucky bounces, breaks or upsets. Good thing those don’t happen.

7. DOLPHINS (9-7)

Now 9-5, at Bills, vs. Patriots

Last week: “They still beat the Jets to help create the 9-7 logjam. Because nobody misses Ryan Tannehill that much.” Indeed, Matt Moore relieved Tannehill and led the Fish to a 34-13 victory by throwing four (4) (cuatro) (vier) (IV) TD passes.

Little bit of adifferent story coming up against two real teams left on the docket.

8. BILLS (9-7)

Now 7-7, vs. Dolphins, at Jets

But if they falter against Miami, which looks better with Matt Moore, that changes everything...

9. BRONCOS (8-8)

Now 8-6, at Chiefs, vs. Raiders

The tie-breakers are not in the Broncos’ favor. They need to win both games because a 9-7 record and 6-6 in the AFC isn’t cutting it. Spoiler: they’re probably not even going to earn a split. Complainers about the state of the Seattle offense would be advised to watch Denver operate with the ball.

10. TEXANS (8-8)

Now 8-6, vs. Bengals, at Titans

Week 17, for the division title. But it’ll be Marcus Mariota who savages the Texans. You see that I see what you see I did there.

11. COLTS (8-8)

Now 7-7, at Raiders, vs. Jaguars

The AFC South finishes with three non-losing teams. The NFC West finishes with three losing teams. Ladies and gentlemen — 2016.

Fun fact! Robert Turbin rushed for two touchdowns on Sunday. He now has as many scores on the ground as all current Seahawks, combined. That includes Wilson, Lockett and Prosise. Ladies and gentlemen — what the flying fuck.

The Nopes

Spoilers fighting for pride and a worse draft position.

12. BENGALS (6-9-1)

Now 5-8-1, at Texans, vs. Ravens

Still on target for a very “nice” final record, so they’ve got that going for them. Anything else? Nope.

13. CHARGERS (6-10)

Now 5-9, at Browns, vs. Chiefs

On the plus side, Joey Bosa. The petty contract dispute from training camp has given way to the emergence of a real star. Seven and a half sacks in just 11 games. May the Seahawks never be forced to play him. Somehow. But probably nope.

With a last-place schedule next year, combined with a little better ball security from Philip Rivers, and fewer unfortunate bounces, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 2017 Chargers turn their record around and cause some AFC upheaval at 10-6 or even 11-5.

14. JETS (4-12)

Now 4-10, at Patriots, vs. Bills

Very, very nope. Some of the shine coming off of Todd Bowles, too.

15. JAGUARS (2-14)

Now 2-12, vs. Titans, at Colts

Let the Texans off the hook. Then let the coach off the bus. Another year of nope.

16. BROWNS (0-16), they’re still gonna do it

Now 0-14, vs. Chargers, at Steelers

Though we suppose Rivers could always throw six interceptions in Cleveland. Which might be enough to sway the outcome. Maybe. Or nope.


The Favored

The most Superb-looking Owls.

1 SEED: COWBOYS (14-2)

Now 12-2, vs. Lions, at Eagles, Bye

Did not impress vs. Vikings, Giants or Buccaneers. Maybe they’re peeking at the right time? Yes, peeking. Like at the good teams right on their tail. Yes, exactly like that.

2. SEAHAWKS (11-4-1)

Now 9-4-1, vs. Cardinals, at 49ers, Bye

The Pete Carroll Seahawks have been a 1 seed, a 4 seed, a 5 seed and a 6 seed already. This year, a 2. Save the 3 for some other time, guys. There will be plenty of other times.

3. BUCCANEERS (10-6)

Who saw this coming when they were 3-5 halfway through the season? Oh put your hand down, you liar.

They win a tie-breaker over the Falcons if both teams finish 10-6.

4 SEED: LIONS (10-6)

Now 9-5, at Cowboys, vs. Packers, lose to Giants in wild-card round

They can win to knock the Pack out of the playoffs, regardless of what happens in Dallas on Sunday. Hint: it’s going to be a close game.

6. FALCONS (10-6)

Now 9-5, at Panthers, vs. Saints, defeat Buccaneers in wild-card round

Already salivating at the Atlanta-Tampa Bay grudge match.

5. GIANTS (11-5)

Now 10-4, at Eagles, at Redskns, defeat Lions in wild-card round

A lot of the shine came off that Week 17 matchup when the Skins stumbled against the Panthers. Now the Giants are likely to walk into D.C. already locked into the 5 seed.

Outside Peering In

But back in with a lucky/unlucky bounce, break or upset. Good thing those don’t happen.

7. REDSKNS (9-6-1)

Now 7-6-1, at Bears, vs. Giants

Mommas, don’t let your babies tie NFL games.

8. PACKERS (9-7)

Now 8-6, vs. Vikings, at Lions

Too little, too late. Unless they knock the Lions out of the playoffs Week 17. But that doesn’t sound at all like the Lions to blow a home game with the postseason on the line — uhhhhh

9. VIKINGS (8-8)

Now 7-7, at Packers, vs. Bears

Vikings were once 5-0. Fun nugget for all people not associated with Minnesota: the last time the league’s final remaining undefeated team missed the playoffs was in 1993, when the Saints pulled it off.

10. SAINTS (7-9)

Now 6-8, vs. Buccaneers, at Falcons

There’s some sort of scenario in which the Saints, or their beloved Panthers below, still sneak into the postseason. That means there are several sorts of scenarios in which one of them visits the CLink in January again. Which they would take in a heartbeat. Well, maybe a heartbeating.

11. PANTHERS (7-9)

Now 6-8, vs. Falcons, at Buccaneers

Not dead yet! But still not a good year to be a cat.

The Nopes

Spoilers fighting for pride and a worse draft position.

12. CARDINALS (6-9-1)

Now 5-8-1, at Seahawks, at Rams

There’s a new sheriff in town. Same as the old sheriff, though.

13. EAGLES (6-10)

Now 5-9, vs. Giants, vs. Cowboys

Good thing they finish up with two home divisional games!

14. RAMS (5-11)

Now 4-10, vs. 49ers, vs. Cardinals

Entirely possible the Niners shut them out again, 28-nope.

15. BEARS (3-13)

Now 3-11, vs. Redskns, at Vikings

This team is competitive and a win in Minnesota to close out another blah year would not surprise me in the least, nope.

16. 49ERS (2-14)

Now 1-13, at Rams, vs. Seahawks

14 divided by 2 is seven. 2 plus 1 plus 4 is seven. Seven by seven is 49. I guess the 2-14 record was fated. #Math’d

The 12 playoff participants, ranked by chance to reach Super Bowl LI

  1. Patriots, 35 percent
  2. Cowboys, 33 percent
  3. Seahawks, 30 percent
  4. Raiders, 20 percent
  5. Steelers, 17 percent
  6. Chiefs, 15 percent
  7. Giants, 11 percent
  8. Lions, 10 percent
  9. Buccaneers, 9 percent
  10. Ravens, 8 percent
  11. Falcons, 7 percent
  12. Titans, 5 percent

First week all 12 of those stayed the same, with no new entrants, just some percentage jiggling.