Updated: Dec. 12
Cleveland Browns (0-13) - Previously: 32.
I swear, the football gods hate me. I bet the Browns early in the season, and they didn't cover. Then, I didn't touch their games, and they didn't cover. Then, I bet against them when they played the Chargers, and they covered. Then, I bet on them against Brett Hundley, and despite leading 21-7, and going into overtime as a three-point underdog, they didn't cover. BLAAGGGHGHGHIRHRWIGRWIOGIOHGR!!!
The great Dave Cokin summed it up well:
New York Jets (5-8) - Previously: 19.
If I had any feelings, I would've felt bad for Josh McCown when he was crying during his press conference. He knows it's over. McCown had been playing very well, so it's a shame he broke his hand. Hopefully he gets a chance to compete for a starting job next year. If I were a team like the Broncos or Cardinals, and I can't get one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, I'd be very interested.
Oh, and the Jets, with either Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg, happen to be one of the worst, if not THE worst, team in the NFL.
New York Giants (2-11) - Previously: 31.
It was so great that Eli Manning started. That 30-10 loss was so meaningful, and New York learned so much about its young quarterbacks by sitting them against Dallas.
Indianapolis Colts (3-10) - Previously: 30.
Take out the two losses to the Jaguars, and the Colts have been competitive every game with Jacoby Brissett starting. They probably should've beaten the Bills, but the officials don't understand that a pick can occur within one yard of the line of scrimmage.
Speaking of that game, wow! What a crazy scene. If you somehow missed it, here's what it looked like:
Arizona Cardinals (6-7) - Previously: 28.
The Cardinals are really doing a great job of ruining their draft positioning with these meaningless wins against AFC South teams at home. I'm not saying they shouldn't try, but perhaps they can cool it with making field goals in the second halves of games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) - Previously: 25.
It's amazing how many mistakes the Buccaneers made against the Lions, yet were nearly in position to win! They have lots of talent, so it's absolutely ridiculous that they're 4-9 right now. Dirk Koetter has no idea how to be a head coach, so he needs to be fired as soon as the season ends.
Denver Broncos (4-9) - Previously: 24.
What I wrote last week: "The Broncos suck, but they're not nearly as bad as they looked at Miami. Not only were they missing some key players - Aqib Talib, Ronald Leary, Derek Wolfe, Domata Peko - but several members of the team were stricken with the flu."
So, no surprise that Denver rebounded with a win over the Jets. I only wish I hadn't canceled my wager upon hearing that Leary was out again!
Houston Texans (4-9) - Previously: 27.
I'd like to joke about Tom Savage Knuckleblade again, but holy hell, that seizure he suffered was scary. I can't believe he shook like that, coughed up blood, and then wanted to reenter the game! Savage is a warrior, but the Texans did well to hold him out of the game after... umm... letting him play a series. No player who has a seizure and then coughs up blood should ever play that same day.
Besides, I actually like T.J. Yates. As someone who wagered against the Texans, I was terrified when Yates replaced Savage. Did you know that Yates is 7-2 against the spread as a starter!? At one point, I would've been happy with a push!
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) - Previously: 21.
Underrated NFL Team: The Bengals are not a good team, by any means, but they weren't nearly as bad as they looked in a 33-7 blowout loss to the Bears. They were coming off their "Super Bowl" loss to the Steelers on short rest, and they were also missing Vontaze Burfict. We've seen enough proof now that the Bengals aren't nearly the same team without Burfict, so they'll improve markedly once he returns from his concussion.
Miami Dolphins (6-7) - Previously: 29.
I wrote in my NFL Game Recaps that Tom Brady and Jay Cutler may have switched jerseys prior to kickoff. Minutes later, someone sent me this:
The Dolphins just played the best game of the year, which means that they'll give us a nice, juicy stink bomb in the next week or two.
Tennessee Titans (8-5) - Previously: 17.
Overrated NFL Team: The Titans have been so sluggish, even before the loss to Arizona. They were blown out against the Steelers, and they've also had trouble putting away the Texans, Bengals, Browns and Colts (twice). They allowed Tom Savage to have a career day, and if it wasn't for Derrick Henry, their spread record would be abysmal. That said, I feel like the Titans are better than they've looked, so I just think it's terrible coaching that has hurt them. Now, Marcus Mariots is banged up, and Taylor Lewan is dealing with back spasms.
Washington Redskins (5-8) - Previously: 16.
The Redskins killed themselves with tons of dumb mistakes against the Cowboys. They then ran into a buzz saw when playing the Chargers. If the Redskins were healthy, they'd be a borderline top-10 team, but they've had so many injuries that they can't compete with good opponents any longer.
Oh, and speaking of Terrelle Pryor (or not)...
Terrelle Pryor's Race for 1,800:
Current Receiving Yards: 240
Currently on Pace for: 295
Yards Per Game Needed for 1,800: 520.0
Sure, Pryor has to break the all-time record for receiving in a single game three times, but if he takes the field, look out!
Oakland Raiders (6-7) - Previously: 12.
R.I.P. Raiders Over 9.5 bet. R.I.P. stupid Raiders Super Bowl prediction that I changed from the Patriots because I wanted to be different. F.M.L.
Chicago Bears (4-9) - Previously: 23.
Underrated NFL Team: The Bears dropped four in a row prior to beating the Bengals, but they were without Danny Trevathan or top safety Adrian Amos for all four of contests. Trevathan is not only the heart and soul of Chicago's defense, but he also happens to be the brains of the operation. Amos, meanwhile, has been playing on a Pro Bowl level. The Bears frequently blow coverages with Trevathan being out of the lineup, so it's no surprise that their defense has been much better with him back on the field.
San Francisco 49ers (3-10) - Previously: 22.
Underrated NFL Team: It's amazing what a competent signal-caller can do. The 49ers have had bad (Brian Hoyer) and abysmal (C.J. Beathard) quarterbacking this year, but Jimmy Garoppolo was solid against the Bears and Texans. With Garoppolo, the 49ers are so much better than 3-10. They have a solid running back, two talented tackles, and several impressive play-makers in the front seven. They still have some glaring holes at receiver and in the secondary, but had Garoppolo started all year, I get the sense that the 49ers would be 7-6 or so right now.
Detroit Lions (7-6) - Previously: 20.
Honestly, I don't know if the Lions are better than the Bears or 49ers, but if I slotted them behind Chicago, I'd have to make them less than field-goal favorites in their Saturday matchup against Chicago, which seemed wrong.
By the way, if you didn't hear it on the podcast, Stafford has the second-worst spread record among current starting quarterbacks in December onward since 2003, being only better than Jay Cutler. Isn't that crazy?
Buffalo Bills (7-6) - Previously: 18.
The Bills hold the sixth seed right now, but they aren't guaranteed a playoff spot if they win out, as Baltimore would pass them if both teams are 10-6 because of records against common opponents.
Regardless of whether or not Buffalo qualifies for the postseason, the players should be thankful that they're still alive after that game, based on who showed up:
Oh, and in case you're wondering, Nathan J. Peterman is now a White Walker. Perhaps that means he'll refrain from turning the ball over from now on.
Baltimore Ravens (7-6) - Previously: 15.
I know Jeremy Maclin is talented, but the Ravens need to stop using him. His heart is not into it anymore, and that's been apparent with his inability to integrate himself into Baltimore's offense and refrain from making countless mistakes every week. It would be nice if the Ravens could sign Anquan Boldin to replace Maclin, but the Bills were dicks and didn't grant Boldin his release.
Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) - Previously: 1.
The Eagles go from No. 1 to the middle of the pack because Carson Wentz is out for the year. Check out my Disaster Grades for more.
I was very bummed out. Here's how my Sunday night went...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Me: NOOOOO!!! MY 35:1 SUPER BOWL TICKET IS RUINED!!! AHHHHHH!!!
Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4) - Previously: 14.
Overrated NFL Team: The Jaguars prevailed over the Seahawks because Seattle lost both of its star linebackers. They beat the Chargers because Los Angeles made so many mistakes. Jacksonville had just one legitimate scoring drive in that contest. The team also had a nice win over a lethargic Cincinnati team that couldn't pressure the quarterback or get off the field on third down. Plus, the result would've likely been 16-7 if it weren't for a punt return, which is obviously less impressive than 23-7. Beating the Colts wasn't impressive at all. Blake Bortles still sucks, his receivers are pedestrian (although I like Dede Westbrook), and his offensive line is not good. The Jaguars are just an average team, so it's no surprise they lost at Arizona. They remind me of the Giants from 2016. They're overachieving, and they're likely going to make the playoffs, but they'll lose in the postseason right away and will win just 3-4 games next year once things stop going their way.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) - Previously: 13.
About four weeks ago, the Chiefs would've been -6.5 against the Chargers at home. Now, the Chargers are favored! It's crazy how much can change in a span of a month, but perhaps something else that changed was Kansas City's defense, which held the Raiders to a shutout until garbage time.
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) - Previously: 10.
Overrated NFL Team: The Steelers are definitely not the same without Ryan Shazier, as they couldn't stop Alex Collins runs and Joe Flacco passes without him. The freaking Ravens scored 38 points against them! The New England game could get extremely ugly, and I don't trust Pittsburgh to win many games in the playoffs without its star linebacker.
Seattle Seahawks (8-5) - Previously: 9.
I don't know how to rank the Seahawks because it's unknown if Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright will be healthy going forward. Seattle lost to Jacksonville because it lost its two star linebackers, and thus had no talent outside of Earl Thomas in the back seven. The Seahawks aren't going to win much without Wagner and Wright, but having them back will give them an opportunity to rebound.
Atlanta Falcons (8-5) - Previously: 8.
The Falcons need to thank their lucky stars that they're still alive in the playoff race. They barely beat the Saints at home when New Orleans had Alvin Kamara get knocked out on their opening drive. Matt Ryan was awful, and the team's clock management at the end of the first half was abysmal. It had me yelling at the TV, "How the f*** did I lose money on the Seahawks-Falcons Monday night game!?"
Dallas Cowboys (7-6) - Previously: 11.
I just mentioned that the Steelers aren't nearly the same without Ryan Shazier. Well, the converse is true with the Cowboys and Sean Lee. Dallas, with Lee back, is once again a top-10 NFL team, and it stands a good chance of finishing 10-6. Beating the Cowboys and Carson Wentz-less Eagles should be easy, so all that stands in the way of them achieving double-digit wins is Seattle in Week 16. As it so happens, that's when Ezekiel Elliott will return.
Carolina Panthers (9-4) - Previously: 7.
"Do you think if a stone tablet fell out of the sky and onto Ron Rivera's front lawn with the engraving, 'Run Christian McCaffrey more, you idiot,' that Rivera would keep using Jonathan Stewart?"
I wrote this last week, and I suppose it's a good thing that Rivera didn't listen to that stupid tablet! Stewart inexplicably went off against the Vikings, of all defenses. The NFL makes absolutely no sense sometimes.
Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) - Previously: 6.
It's crazy to think that if the Chargers didn't have kicking woes, or if they could simply run out the clock at Jacksonville, they could be 10-3 right now, with their only losses being to New England, Philadelphia and Kansas City. It's even crazier to think that they were once 0-4.
The Chargers are expected to win in Kansas City, but it's not going to be as easy as some bettors expect it to be. The Chiefs have dominated the rivalry over the years, beating the Chargers in seven consecutive meetings.
Los Angeles Rams (9-4) - Previously: 5.
Much like the Vikings, the Rams have made great strides this season because of offensive line play. And like the Vikings, they lost both of their tackles in Week 14, which is why Jared Goff was pressured heavily at the end of the game and coughed up the ball. The Rams will need Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein if they want a chance at defeating the Seahawks. Otherwise, things could get ugly in Seattle.
Green Bay Packers (7-6) - Previously: 26.
The Packers went from No. 3 to 27 when Aaron Rodgers suffered an injury. Now, they go from No. 26 to 4 with Rodgers presumably back. It could be argued the Packers should be second, but I wanted to be slightly conservative, as we don't know if Rodgers will be 100 percent upon his return.
New Orleans Saints (9-4) - Previously: 4.
The Saints shouldn't be penalized for their loss to the Falcons, as they didn't have Alvin Kamara for 55 minutes. And speaking of Kamara, of course he would get hurt in the first round of the playoffs. I had him in TWO leagues. Yes, yes, I know concussions are serious, but so are my fantasy teams!!!
Minnesota Vikings (10-3) - Previously: 3.
The Vikings have moved up despite the loss because of Carson Wentz's injury. Besides, I think they'll bounce back as long as their offensive linemen are healthy. Minnesota fans must have had flashbacks from 2016 based on how poorly the line played in Carolina. The center and right tackle were ruled out prior to kickoff, and the left tackle was lost during the game.
New England Patriots (10-3) - Previously: 2.
Don't be fooled by the loss to Miami. The Patriots were half-asleep Monday night. They've had other horrible clunkers over the years. They lost to Chip Kelly's terrible Eagles in 2015, and still were able to advance to the AFC Championship. They lost 41-14 to the Chiefs on a Monday night in 2014, and yet won the Super Bowl that year. That was the "We're on to Cincinnati" game, and now the Patriots are on to Pittsburgh.
The MVP race:
1. Tom Brady
2. Russell Wilson
3. Cam Newton
4. Philip Rivers
5. Drew Brees
There's a major shake-up here, with Carson Wentz out for the year. Tom Brady moves into the top spot, with Russell Wilson hot on his heels. I've moved Drew Brees down after losing without Alvin Kamara.
The one addition here is Philip Rivers. Now that the Chargers are over .500, Rivers needs to be considered MVP. He'll have a good chance of winning the award if he can lead his team to a divisional victory after beginning the year 0-4.