FanPost

No, Your Team Isn’t Better Than Their Record

To my one reader, I apologize for being so late getting my power rankings out this week. It's Thanksgiving, which means I had to recover two returning college students, take care of some family business that could only be accomplished while they were in town and pick up the Thanksgiving spread from Cracker Barrel (we don't do the "spend all day cooking" routine on Thanksgiving in the Grythms household). But it also means that we're only a few hours away from Week 12 starting, so let's get right to it.

This week, I am starting to look more closely at playoff seedings, and so I won't have my rankings divided by tiers as in prior weeks, but will be looking at each team's current playoff seeding, and trying to look ahead to where they might be at the end of the season. So, without further ado, on to the rankings.

1. Eagles (-) The Eagles remain atop the power rankings, lead the NFC East and currently hold the number one seed in the NFC. I don't have any fancy prediction models to give a percentage, but they're about as much a lock for the playoffs as there can be. Prediction: NFC East Champs and #1 seed.

2. Lions (+1) The Lions moved up one place again this week, are the current NFC North Division leaders and hold the #2 seed in the NFC. With a 2 ½ game lead on the second place Vikings, who don't project any level of confidence about their ability to go on a run, their position in the division seems pretty safe. If they should falter down the stretch however, there is a good chance the 49ers could overtake them for the #2 seed, which isn't as big a deal as in years past since only the #1 seed gets a bye. Prediction: NFC North Champs, #2 seed.

3. Ravens (+1) The Ravens are the best team in the AFC and currently hold the #1 seed. They have a penchant for blowing leads late in the game, however, which could bite them if they don't get that figured out. The AFC is overall a stronger conference this year than the NFC, so it's important they start holding leads. Prediction: AFC North Champs, #1 seed in the AFC.

4. Chiefs (-2) The Chiefs' loss to the Eagles allowed both the Lions and Ravens to pass them in the power rankings this week, but they still lead the AFC West by two games. They have not looked like the same untouchable Chiefs team that we have gotten used to seeing during the Patrick Mahomes era. Maybe all the Allstate commercials are starting to take their toll. They do have a fairly easy schedule the rest of the way, with only two teams capable of beating them without them taking preemptive action to beat themselves. Prediction: AFC West Champs and #2 seed in the AFC.

5. Browns (+1) The Browns currently hold the AFC's #1 wild card slot at 7-3, and after I predicted they would quickly fade from the playoff picture, they went out and got an ugly win over a good Steelers team. They have a fairly favorable schedule for the remainder of the season, with only 2-3 games against good teams left. The question is can they ride their defense into the playoffs? Prediction: AFC Wild Card team.

6. Jaguars (-1) The Jaguars whupped up on a bad Titans team last week, but still slipped one spot in the rankings, but they still lead the AFC South by a game. However, the Houston Texans are playing well behind their rookie QB, so the pressure is on to keep winning games. They face a fairly stringent schedule for the next month, which will determine where the Jags sit for the playoffs. Prediction: AFC South Champs, #4 seed.

7. 49ers (+1) The Niners continue their climb toward the top of the power rankings, and currently lead the NFC West Division by a game after the Seahawks dropped another one to the Rams last Sunday. The Niners and Seahawks play each other today in what will hopefully be another Thanksgiving Day classic, but recent history between these two teams doesn't suggest that will be the case. The results of the season series between the Niners and Hawks will likely determine the Division Championship. Prediction: NFC West champs, #3 NFC Playoff seed.

8. Dolphins (+2) My comment about the Dolphins from last weeks stands, but they are in first place in the AFC East and tied for the second best record in the AFC with the Jags and Chiefs. They also don't have a particularly hard schedule the rest of the way, minus games against the Ravens and Cowboys (the battle of the bullies). Prediction: AFC East Champs, #3 seed.

9. Cowboys (+2) The Cowboys moved up two places in the power rankings last week after beating up on the hapless Panthers, and currently hold the top Wild Card slot in the NFC by a game. They have a strong schedule to finish the season, which could negatively impact their playoff seeding. As I've said before, they excel at trouncing bad teams, but haven't shown they can beat good ones. If that trend continues, they could fall in the playoff seedings, or potentially even out of them. Prediction: NFC Wild Card team.

10. Steelers (-3) The Steelers fell three places in the power rankings this week, losing to the Browns. However, if the playoffs started today, they would have a slot. The rest of the season for them is slightly on the hard side, with more losable than winnable games showing at a glance. Prediction: Miss the playoffs.

11. Texans (+2) The Texans moved up two more places this week with a win over the Cardinals, making a 3-game winning streak. CJ Stroud continues to play well, and the hype around him is growing. If the playoffs were to start today, they would be a wildcard team. A fairly permissive schedule the rest of the way will help them hold onto that slot. Prediction: AFC Wild Card team, but will be a first round exit.

12. Seahawks (-3) The Seahawks, as I feared, fell to the Rams last week, but they currently still hold the second wild card slot. The next four games include home and home against the 49ers sandwiched around a game in Dallas and finishing against the Eagles. It's not inconceivable that the Seahawks could be 6-8 in a month and on a five-game losing streak, needing to win out to have a winning record. Prediction: Wild Card Team

13. Vikings (-1) The Vikings lost a close one last week to the suddenly resurgent Broncos, but are still sitting in a wild card slot if the playoffs started today. Fortunately for them, they have a favorable schedule the rest of the way. Prediction: Wild Card team.

14. Bills (+2) The Bills moved up two slots after beating up on the Jets last week but if the playoffs started today would be on the outside looking in. They have a tough schedule rest of the way, with four games against teams above them in the standings. They have the talent to win all those games, but do they have the mojo? Prediction: Miss the playoffs.

15. Bengals (-1) The Bengals dropped one position with a close loss last week against the Cleveland Browns. Currently on the outside of playoff position and with Joe Burrow gone for the season, it's not looking good for the Bengals. Prediction: Miss the playoffs.

16. Broncos (+5) Climbing another five slots in the power rankings after beating the Vikings and climbing to .500, the suddenly resurgent Broncos have ridden a 4-game winning streak to second place in the AFC West. With a favorable schedule the rest of the way, it's beginning to look like Sean Payton is going to bring this franchise back to relevance. Prediction: AFC Wild Card team.

17. Colts (-2) A 2-game win streak has gotten the Colts back to .500, but their schedule the rest of the way appears set to keep them there. The question is, can 9-8 get them into the playoffs. Prediction: Miss the playoffs.

18. Saints (-3) The Saints currently lead the horrendous NFC South with the Falcons and Buccaneers each a game behind. I don't have any faith in the Falcons to win games however, so look for the week 17 matchup between the Saints and Buccaneers to decide the division, with the winner going to the playoffs and the loser going home. Prediction: Miss the playoffs.

19. Raiders (-2) Prediction: Miss the playoffs.

20. Buccaneers (-) Please see the writeup on the Saints above. Prediction: NFC South Champs, first round exit.

Count Them Out

Okay, so I'm going to make one category this week. These are the teams that are already out of the hunt for all intents and purposes. My prediction for all of these teams is that they miss the playoffs. This category will grow as we get closer to the end of the season, but it's the black hole where no team escapes.

21. Rams (+4) As feared, the Rams managed just enough to beat the Seahawks last week, and moved up four places in the power rankings as a result. But at 4-6 with a middling schedule the rest of the way, it's too little too late for them this season.

22. Jets (-) As above, the season is too far gone, and there are enough good teams left on the schedule for the Jets to have any hope of making the playoffs this year. But hey, there's always next year, and if Aaron Rodgers comes back, this team will be an immediate favorite in the AFC.

23. Chargers (-4) Cellar dwellers in the AFC West, the Chargers will have to buck the odds to get more than one more win all season.

24. Packers (+3) The Packers won last week to get to 4-6, but will likely struggle the rest of the way en route to a 7-10 finish.

25. Falcons (-1) Currently tied for second in the NFC South, but on a three-game losing streak, with little evidence that they will be able to turn things around. Of the bottom tier teams, the Falcons have the best chance at the playoffs, due to being in the worst division in football.

26. Commanders (-3) Already an ugly season, it's conceivable that the Commanders (almost wrote Redskins) have reached their 2023 win total.

27. Titans (-1) Stick a fork in them. This team, and those below it are now vying for draft seeding.

28. Giants (+2) The worst of all worlds, the Giants are out of the playoffs, but have 2-3 more winnable games, so could take themselves out of top draft pick seeding.

29. Bears (-1) The Bears might get one more win this season.

30. Patriots (-1) The Patriots are looking like a 4-win team this year, and Bill Belichek is being rumored to be moving on after this season. Queue discussions about how great he really was as a coach. For the record, I still think he's the best ever, as much as I hate to admit that.

31. Cardinals (-) This is probably where the Cards finish the season in the power rankings.

32. Panthers (-) The good news is that the Panthers can use their #1 pick to get a QB. That will turn them around.

Biggest Gainers:

1. 1. Broncos (+5)

2. 2. Rams (+4)

3. 3. Packers (+3)

Biggest Losers:

1. 1. Chargers (-4)

2. 2. 3 Tied (-3)

3. 3. 3 Tied (-2)