Carolina Panthers (13-0) - Previously: #1 - Carolina's remaining schedule: at Giants, at Falcons, Buccaneers.
As I wrote last week and said on the podcast, I wouldn't be surprised at all if New York hands the Panthers their only loss of the season. The Giants play the "David" role very well, as they constantly give top-tier teams fits. Carolina also may look past them.
By the way, check this out: The Panthers were so dominant this past Sunday that even a Falcon fan turned traitor and bought up Carolina gear:
Arizona Cardinals (11-2) - Previously: #2 - The Cardinals didn't try very hard, yet they still managed to beat the Vikings. There's been an effort problem for Arizona recently, by the way, as the team didn't seem to be giving 100 percent against the Rams or 49ers. Perhaps the best thing for them entering the playoffs would be to lose one game. It's not like they're moving out of the No. 2 seed one way or another, so maybe a defeat would serve as a much-needed wake-up call.
New England Patriots (11-2) - Previously: #5 - The Patriots move into the No. 3 spot by default, really, as their victory at Houston wasn't very impressive. They averaged just 4.9 yards of offense even with Rob Gronkowski back. The offensive line continues to be a mess, and it could very well be their downfall in the playoffs.
Speaking of Gronkowski, I'm glad he's back because it gives me an excuse to post this:
You know, it's entirely possible that Gronk banged all of these girls at the same time - hopefully the one to his right at the very least - but it's also highly likely that he had tea and biscuits with these women and discussed philosophy for hours on end before everyone retired to their own separate chambers.
Denver Broncos (10-3) - Previously: #4 - I listed the Broncos in my Overrated-Underrated section as part of the former group because I thought their offense had been very stagnant against the Chargers. Averaging just 4.4 yards per play at San Diego was very eye-opening, so I can't say I'm surprised in the slightest that Denver failed to score more than 12 points against the Raiders.
That said, these arguments that the Broncos should turn back to Peyton Manning are idiotic. Brock Osweiler is definitely better right now. He just doesn't have much to work with. Demaryius Thomas is dropping dozens of passes each week; Vernon Davis does stupid things all the time; the offensive line can't block; and the running game is extremely inconsistent.
Seattle Seahawks (8-5) - Previously: #6 - The Seahawks continue to be awesome, but as I mentioned on the Disaster Grades page, losing Thomas Rawls could prove to be costly, especially if Marshawn Lynch doesn't return near 100 percent.
Then again, maybe DuJuan Harris is secretly a superstar? Look at what he was able to accomplish versus Baltimore, per CBS' tracker:
Wow, how impressive! Picking up a first down on a second-and-5 with a loss of two is pretty unreal.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) - Previously: #7 - It's a shame that we didn't get to see a real battle between the Steelers and Bengals, as the game was pretty much decided when Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert both left with injuries. Ah well, I'll collect my rare betting profits and spend them on stupid things like Step by Step DVDs.
The Steelers have to be ranked ahead of Cincinnati, by the way, as Dalton may not play again this year.
Green Bay Packers (9-4) - Previously: #8 - I feel like the mom in that one car commercial who thinks her son can be a football announcer because he sucks at football. The dad would be Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, who constantly exclaimed, "The Packers are back!" Why are they back? They led 14-7 before scoring two rushing touchdowns against a defense that lost Rolando McClain. They could barely score against a team that couldn't sustain offensive drives because of the combined ineptitude of Matt Cassel and Scott Linehan.
Buck and Aikman also made a big deal about James Jones' hoodie being lucky. Are all hoodies lucky? Bill Belichick might think so. Hmm... I think everyone reading this should wear a hoodie to the next wedding you go to. Just say it's your lucky hoodie. You'll probably be able to score at this wedding, or at the very least, enjoy some tea and biscuits with members of the opposite sex before retiring to your own separate chambers.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-3) - Previously: #3 - A.J. McCarron told the media that he happens to be in the same situation as Tom Brady back in 2001. Many laughed it off, but I think it's a legitimate comparison. McCarron reminds me a lot of Brady. In fact, they're practically the same except for some minor differences. These minor differences include: pinpoint accuracy, arm strength, pocket awareness, an ability to diagnose defenses, charisma, locker-room leadership, talent, and fancy-shmancy hairdos. But hey, they're almost identical if you exclude all of those trivial items.
Minnesota Vikings (8-5) - Previously: #9 - The Vikings should feel good about their latest loss, as they were competitive at Arizona without three of their top defensive players. Plus, there was this:
It's pretty ridiculous how bad the officiating has gotten this year.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) - Previously: #10 - I thought about moving the Jets into this spot, as Alex Smith will surely be Kansas City's downfall during the stretch run/playoffs. But then I realized that Ryan Fitzpatrick will be New York's downfall. There are lots of downfalls in the NFL this season, apparently.
NFL Power Rankings: Week 15 - Bottom 10
32. San Francisco 49ers (4-9) - Previously: #24 - I really didn't know which team to rank No. 32. It was the Browns last week, but they beat San Francisco pretty soundly. I guess that makes the 49ers the worst team. Or, should I say the 4-9ers? Get it? Because they're 4-9?
Anyway, I'm glad to see that AMC is coming out with a new show:
Can't wait! It won't be as good as Scream Queens, but this looks like a hit for sure.
31. Cleveland Browns (3-10) - Previously: #32 - No. Johnny Manziel isn't the franchise future even though he beat the 49ers. I'm still going to have the Browns picking a quarterback in my 2016 NFL Mock Draft. Cleveland can't rely on him, as it's never clear if he'll show up sober to games or not.
30. Tennessee Titans (3-10) - Previously: #27 - Tennessee's lack of effort against the Jets was appalling. As a real-world example, the Week 14 Titans were some guy in your office who showed up three hours late, reeking of weed and beer, and then puked in the trash can and passed out at his desk until 5.
29. St. Louis Rams (5-8) - Previously: #31 - I feel like you can rank these bottom-eight teams in any order. Seriously, deciding which order to place them in was the toughest decision I had to make all weekend. And believe me, my life is full of difficult choices. Just this morning, I had to select between Cocoa Puffs and Pop Tarts for breakfast. I broke down in a seizure because I couldn't decide which one I wanted.
28. Baltimore Ravens (4-9) - Previously: #30 - When Jimmy Clausen connected with Kamar Aiken on an improbable deep bomb at the end of the first half, I thought back to this brilliant article I read in a USA Today magazine long ago that argued that Clausen should've been the No. 1 pick in the draft. "What a genius!" I exclaimed. "What foresight!"
Unfortunately, Clausen did not lead the Ravens to victory, and I went back to believing that the author of this article was a complete dope.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8) - Previously: #29 - Blake Bortles now has 30 passing touchdowns this year. THIRTY! Did you know that Joe Montana eclipsed 30 touchdowns in a season only once in his career? Not that I'm comparing Bortles to Montana, but I think it's remarkable how different the NFL is now. At any rate, Bortles is getting some excellent coaching from Greg Olson, so he'll continue to improve.
Of course, there were some memorable tweets from Jim Irsay during the Colts-Jaguars contest:
I CANT BELIEVE I MADE THE ROAD TRIP TO JAXONVILLE. SUCH A HARD TRIP, I COULDNT SLEEP ON MY PRIVATE JET UGH SO HARD BEING AN OWNER!!!
GUYS SRSLY IM TIRED AND ITS BS THAT A MAN AS RICH AS ME HAS TO MAKE HARD ROAD TRIPS ALL THE COLT GAMES SHOULD BE IN INDIANANAPOLOUS
"@ColtsFan716 We actually drove all the way down here." DRIVE HAHAHA WHO DRIVES ANYMORE JUST TAKE A PRIVATE JET LIKE ME IDIOT!!!!
UGH AND JAXONVILLE IS SUCH A DUMP. SRSLY THERE ARE LIKE TRAYLOR PARKS AND FAMILY DOLLAR STORES EVERYWHERE ITS HORRABLE!!!!
A HOOKER OFFERED ME SEX FOR $5 HERE THATS HOW MUCH OF A DUMP JAXONVILLE IS!!! I HAD SEX WITH HER BUT NOW I PROBABLY HVE DISEESES!!!
Check out my @FanDuel Lineup and use promo code IRSAY for 20% bonus
AND DONT GET ME STARTED ON THIS STADIUM DID YOU KNOW THEY HAVE A POOL LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
THE WORSE PART IS THE POOL DOESNT EVEN HAVE HOT LIFE GUARDS. WHATS THE POINT OF A LIFE GUARD IF SHES NOT HOT!?!?!?
SRSLY GUYS HOW AM I SUPPOST TO PAY A FAT LIFE GUARD FOR SEX ITS RIDUCLOSE I MEAN I STILL HAD SEX WITHTHEM BUT IT WAS NOT VERY FUN!!!
IF IT WERE UP TOME I WOULD MOVE THIS TEAM FROM THIS DUMP TO LONDON A REAL CITY WITH CLASS. THE HOOKERS THERE DONT HAVE DISESSES!!!!
WAIT I FORGOT A GAME WAS GOING ON WTF HOW ARE THE COLT LOSTING BY 51 TO 16!?!?!?! ANDREW LUCK IS SUCKS TIME TO CUT HIM!!!!!
"@ColtsFan511 Andrew Luck's not even playing dude" SHUT YOU'RE FACE BEFORE I GIVE YOU SOME OF MY NEW DISSEESES!!!
26. San Diego Chargers (3-10) - Previously: #28 - I love listening to Chris Berman and Tom Jackson do their thing Sunday nights. Well, except for the part where I cry in my sleep because the old version of NFL Primetime no longer exists, which is a major bummer.
Anyway, I bring this up because Jackson said something rather depressing. He made a statement about admiring Philip Rivers because he constantly fights and tries his hardest. I found that depressing because all NFL players are supposed to do this. They're paid six, seven, or even eight figures, so you'd think they'd always give full effort, but then I was reminded of how sloth-like the Titans happened to be in their loss to the Jets. It's pretty ridiculous that all players don't give 100 percent.
25. Miami Dolphins (5-8) - Previously: #26 - Here's the Week 14 NFL Recap, including Giants-Dolphins.
By the way, what a great showing by the Miami fans on Monday night. You couldn't see them because they came dressed as either New York supporters or empty seats, but they were cheering in full force.
24. Dallas Cowboys (4-9) - Previously: #23 - Is it just me, or is Jerry Jones losing his mind? He called Brandon Weeden a great quarterback before throwing him under the bus, stating that the team would've won all the games it lost had Matt Cassel started. Then, there was the whole "Greg Hardy is one of our leaders" bit. Jones may have to be removed before he pulls something like this:
23. Atlanta Falcons (6-7) - Previously: #25 - The Saints move ahead of the Falcons, as they did something Atlanta couldn't do: Beat Tampa Bay this year.
Speaking of the Falcons loss, it was cool to see a particular quarterback get one snap...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Cam Newton: Oh no, I am injured, and that means that Derek Anderson has to come in for one play! This cannot possibly be good because Derek found his magic flask last week!
Derek Anderson: Have no fear, Cameron! I am as sober as I've been since the day before my 12th birthday.
Cam Newton: How is this possible? Was I incorrect in stating that you had unearthed your missing flask?
Derek Anderson: No, you were right on the money, Cameron. However, being the ultimate team player, I put some of the contents of my flask into an opposing player's Gatorade.
*** Meanwhile, on the Falcons sideline... ***
Kyle Shanahan: Matthew, get your head in the game!
Matt Ryan: Myyy heaaddss innnn thrhhee ggamamamee yyuuoo asskskshoollee!!!
Kyle Shanahan: What is wrong with you? You were sober in pre-game warmups! Why do you reek of alcohol now?
Something new this year - I'm keeping track of precise run defense, pass defense and pass protection rankings in Excel. The benefit to this is that it'll be broken down by week. Here are the download links: