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NFL Lombardi Rankings: Bye Bye Bye?

Hawks piss away the second seed, probably, because they hate us can't you tell

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks
still a Seahawk
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Dear Seattle Seahawks, why do you ever lose? You know it harms your playoff seeding, your chances of returning to the Super Bowl, and your fans’ fragile psyches. Next time, win. Literally everyone wins when you win. Even the vanquished teams sincerely thank you for defeating them, because of the lessons they learn along the way. Your generosity, in victory, is praised by participants everywhere. So say we all.

On with it, then.

Lie of the past week: “Not that any of this concerns the Seahawks, who are quite above all this wild-card tomfoolery.” That was assuming a win at home over the reeling Cardinals. You know what happens when you assume? It only works like 97 percent of the time in life, that's what happens. As long as you can live with the bad 3 percent, it’s a pretty decent tool, the assuming.

Truth of the past week: Literally everything else of importance would’ve been true if Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota hadn’t gotten hurt, and if the Bengals hadn’t missed a 43-yard game-winning field goal against the Texans. The Raiders would be cruising to the 2 seed and the Titans would be in position to claim the South.

But among the victorially destitute, suprises abounded. In fact, last week stretched the limits of our collective incredulity.

The Browns. The Jaguars! The Niners!!

Note on that trinity of unexpected wins. Coming into last weekend’s action, CLE/SF/JAX were a combined 3-39. And promptly went 3-0 last week.

Our rankings look three weeks ahead but even then, three weeks usually isn't enough for those guys to rack up three wins total.

The Favored

The most Superb-looking Owls.

1. PATRIOTS (14-2, East champs)

Now 13-2, at Dolphins, Bye, defeat Raiders in divisional round

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

This week: “Pats-Chiefs is going to be a heckuvan AFCCG.”

2. CHIEFS (12-4, West champs)

Now 11-4, at Chargers, Bye, defeat Steelers in divisional round

Ranking Poes:

  1. Edgar Allan
  2. Dameron
  3. This guy:

Writing my case for the Chiefs as AFC representatives in Super Bowl LI will be loads of fun next week. If you’re looking for a team to support besides the Hawks, you could do a lot worse than KC.

3. STEELERS (11-5, North champs)

Now 10-5, vs. Browns, defeat Dolphins in wild-card round, lose to Chiefs in divisional round

I fervently believe the Steelers or Chiefs will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. I even have a hunch the winner of their division playoff game will go on to win the Lombardi. They're less flawed than everyone else, and the NFC’s contenders are in poor form. More on that in the last two editions of these here rankings.

4. RAIDERS (12-4, wild card)

Now 12-3, at Broncos, defeat Texans in wild-card round, lose to Patriots in divisional round

Losing Derek Carr for the playoffs is brutal. But with how inept the Texans offense is, the Raiders will win a round in Houston even with Matt McGloin at quarterback. 2016 makes you write really weird football sentences.

5. DOLPHINS (9-7, wild card)

Now 9-6, vs. Patriots, lose to Steelers in wild-card round

Dolphins are:

  • somehow unfortunate the Patriots have a 1 seed still to chase and something to play for Sunday;
  • somehow fortunate that it doesn’t matter because they’re locked into the 6 seed anyway;
  • somehow unfortunate and fortunate that Ryan Tannehill is hurt, because his backup, Matt Moore, presents perhaps the smallest drop-off from starter to backup this side of Brock Osweiler.

If any drop-off exists. In the tiny four-game sample size that is 2016, Moore has 6 TDs to 2 interceptions, 9.7 Y/A, a passer rating up there at 113.4 with one sack in 54 dropbacks. He’s not likely to torch the Steelers defense, but more unexpected things have happened.

6. TEXANS (10-6, South champs)

Now 9-6, vs. Titans, lose to Raiders in wild-card round

Oakland will tame the turbulent Savage in a disorderly, riotous wild-card tilt. The Raiders didn’t wait this long for a playoff experience just to blow it because their franchise quarterback is maimed.

Outside Peering In

Almost. Hand grenades and such.

7. RAVENS (9-7, so close)

Now 8-7, at Bengals

Had they managed to get past the Steelers in Week 16 and sneak into the postseason, would they have become the 2007 Giants or 2011 Packers? That's for the rest of the AFC to breathe a sigh of relief over. I know that's the team I wouldn't want the Hawks to face.

8. BRONCOS (9-7)

Now 8-7, vs. Raiders

It was going to be 8-8 and no playoffs for Denver, but guess they'll have to make do with 9-7 and no playoffs instead.

9. TITANS (8-8)

Now 8-7, at Texans

Probably a very small consolation that they'll be division favorites next season.

The Nopes

Spoilers fighting for pride and a worse draft position.

10. BILLS (8-8)

Now 7-8, at Jets

Their turn in 2017. Unless the Universe follows its usual patterns and says Nope.

11. COLTS (8-8)

Now 7-8, vs. Jaguars

Colts. The only nope they have going for them is Leslie. yesssssss

12. BENGALS (5-10-1)

Now 5-9-1, vs. Ravens

Does Marvin Lewis get a chance to prove 2016 was a fluke? I say nope! Get in line, Marvin.

13. CHARGERS (5-11)

Now 5-10, vs. Chiefs

Half of me still believes they're better than the Texans. Fat load of good that does them.

The other half watched them lose to the Browns, saving that poor franchise from the ignominy of Nope-and-16. Because the Chargers know how to lose. They do it in such original ways every week!

14. JETS (4-12)

Now 4-11, vs. Bills

J-E-T-S, that spells Moon!

Also nope.

15. JAGUARS (3-13)

Now 3-12, at Colts

Of course they would pull a surprise win out of their asses the second Gus Bradley left the building. Cats are weird and selfish (and awesome). Somewhere, Bradley shakes his head, going, “nopenopenope, nopenopenope”

16. BROWNS (1-15, they ruined it)

Now 1-14, at Steelers

They won, which should've cost them the top pick in the draft, except then the Niners won too — so, nope, it was a perfect Christmas Eve in Cleveland, if you ignore the 1-14 part of the deal.


The Favored

The most Superb-looking Owls.

1. COWBOYS (14-2)

Now 13-2, at Eagles, Bye, lose to Giants AGAIN in divisional round

All in all, a very good season, gentlemen. Next year we find out if Dak Prescott is RGIII or Russell Wilson. (Probably somewhere in between, honestly.)

2. SEAHAWKS (10-5-1)

Now 9-5-1, at 49ers, defeat Lions in wild-card round, defeat Falcons in divisional round

Even though they’re likely to take the third seed, I’m putting them at 2 in the Lombardi Rankings because I see them as likely to win in Atlanta. It’s not the worst case of homering out there, promise.

Dispatch Niners while resting starters in second half, win WC at home, exorcise some demons in Atlanta, host Giants for NFCCG. That’s the plan. Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan will try to ruin it at some point. We hate them.

3. FALCONS (11-5, South champs)

Now 10-5, vs. Saints, Bye, lose to Seahawks in divisional round

Some very intense psychology at work here. If I predict a Seattle victory in Atlanta while actually expecting the Hawks to lose, then put that less-than-authentic victory in writing, will fate reward my official prediction or my true feelings? FATE YOU ARE SO CONFUSED GOOD LUCK WITH THAT

4. GIANTS (11-5, wild card)

Now 10-5, at Redskns, defeat Packers in wild-card round, defeat Cowboys in divisional round

But if they lose Sunday in D.C., the entire playoff picture shifts to a parallel universe.

5. PACKERS (10-6, North champs)

Now 9-6, at Lions, lose to Giants in wild-card round

Winners of six straight headed into the playoffs. That being said, Green Bay’s defense seems exactly like the kind of swiss cheese(heads) that Eli Manning would carve up three out of four times -- and disintegrate the other time.

But not if the wrong Eli Manning shows up.

6. LIONS (9-7, wild card)

Now 9-6, vs. Packers, lose to Seahawks in wild-card round

Golden Tate’s last-minute touchdown catch apparently seals the division for the Lions and knocks the Packers down to the 6 seed — until officials rule he never completed the catch. No national outcry ensues.

Outside Peering In

So close. Hand grenades and such.

7. REDSKNS (8-7-1)

Now 8-6-1, vs. Giants

Win and they’re in. Simplest of scenarios. Then they’d probably have to trek to Seattle, where things usually go so well for them.


Now 8-7, vs. Panthers

Really screwed their postseason hopes over by losing last week. Now they need a Giants-Redskns tie and six other results to qualify for the postseason. Read about those here if you like farfetchedness.

The Nopes

Spoilers fighting for pride and a worse draft position.

9. VIKINGS (8-8)

Now 7-8, vs. Bears

Offensive lines, man. A bad one is hard to watch, and none is harder to watch than the Vikings’. Nope.

Some of you can scarcely imagine a worse one that Seattle’s. Trust me.

10. SAINTS (7-9)

Now 7-8, at Falcons

Allez les Saints! Hey, “nope” rhymes with “hope”!

11. CARDINALS (6-9-1)

Now 6-8-1, at Rams

I hear the golf is really good in parts of Arizona next month.

12. PANTHERS (6-10)

Now 6-9, at Buccaneers

Carolina Panthers = anagram for IR Charlatans? Nope

13. EAGLES (6-10)

Now 6-9, vs. Cowboys

nice? nope

14. RAMS (5-11)

Now 4-11, vs. Cardinals

Last week: “Entirely possible the Niners shut them out again, 28-nope.”

This week: Nope, but a win is close enough.

15. BEARS (3-13)

Now 3-12, at Vikings

Daaah Nopes.

16. 49ERS (2-14)

Now 2-13, vs. Seahawks

Guess they really didn't want that No. 1 overall selection after all, nope sirree. Oh Niners. You guys.

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

  1. Patriots, 33 percent
  2. Cowboys, 32 percent
  3. Chiefs, 29 percent
  4. Steelers, 21 percent
  5. Seahawks, 20 percent
  6. Falcons, 18 percent
  7. Giants, 11 percent
  8. Lions, 10 percent
  9. Buccaneers, 9 percent
  10. Ravens, 8 percent
  11. Texans, 5 percent
  12. Raiders, 4 percent

A few precipitous drops in percentage from last week, especially the Seahawks (down 10 percentage points) and Raiders (down 16 percentage points). Biggest climbers were the Chiefs and Falcons, who are the new probable 2 seeds in each conference. Yes, replacing those two idiot teams who lost last week.