Arizona Cardinals (13-2) - Previously: #2 - The Cardinals were so dominant against the Packers that they forced their opponent to rage quit:
The Packers will now crawl into the bed in their mom's basement, dreading the chores they have to do in the coming minutes.
In all seriousness, the Cardinals are damn good. They're dominant in every facet, so if their offense has a bad day, their defense can carry them, and vice versa. I think they deserve to be in the top spot.
Carolina Panthers (14-1) - Previously: #1 - The Panthers got what they deserve. They were flat against the Falcons, expecting to demolish a team they destroyed two weeks earlier. Instead, they struggled in all regards and lost as a consequence. I think this is a good thing for the Panthers' Super Bowl chances - but only if they beat the Buccaneers this week. If they cough up home-field advantage and have to go into Arizona for the NFC Championship as a consequence, they could be screwed.
So, why were the Panthers flat? There's only one reasonable explanation...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Cam Newton: Derek, it's the same plan as two weeks ago, right? You're going to spike Matt Ryan's Gatorade, and we're going to win easily again!
Derek Anderson: Ohhh mamnanan I foofroroggett whwhatt Gaaatotoraddee I wasss spspooseed tooso sppikkeke hic!
Cam Newton: Derek, are you drunk!? I thought we agreed to get other teams drunk from now on!
Josh Norman: Oohhhh wowowowo I drranakkk exxttrraa Gaaatotoraadde anandnd I'mmm feeeleiigging googoogdododd whwoo ammm I covovoverrinng thhisis weekek eheh I jusstt wonnnt cocovver annyyonene beecauusse I fofoorrget whooooo weerr'e spllaayinngg yyeaahahah!
Seattle Seahawks (9-6) - Previously: #3 - I'm not penalizing the Seahawks at all for the St. Louis loss. That game literally meant nothing to them, so I can't say I'm surprised that the effort wasn't there.
Having said that, the Seahawks need Marshawn Lynch back for the playoff run. Counting on the likes of Christine Michael and Bryce Brown is not a recipe for success.
New England Patriots (12-3) - Previously: #4 - Is it just me, or did Bill Belichick wave the white flag last week? He didn't even try to score right before halftime, and it sounded like he was more than happy to allow the Jets to win the game in overtime. People are criticizing Belichick for the decision, but come on, he's smarter than that. I just think he didn't want to risk Tom Brady's health in the wake of Sebastian Vollmer's injury in what was a meaningless game.
By the way, can someone do us all a favor and kidnap Bob Costas so that he can't deliver his weekly halftime speeches that make me want to vomit? Costas stupidly argued that both teams should have a chance in overtime, even if the initial squad scores a touchdown. Salty that his favorite team lost, Costas deemed this "unfair" because the game was decided on a coin flip.
Umm... hey, Bob, you do know the Patriots won the coin toss, right? Derp. And no, the games aren't decided on coin flips. I know you're busy arranging your wine coolers throughout the week, Bob, so let me explain that there's something called a defense, and that entity has a chance to stop the opposing team on the first drive. So please, stop it with this whiny, douchey mentality you always seem to have, and stop trying to make things fair for everyone. Life's not fair. Get a helmet.
Denver Broncos (11-4) - Previously: #7 - If you somehow missed it, terrorist cell Al Jazeera reported this weekend that Peyton Manning, among other athletes, used HGH in the past. Manning vehemently denied the report, which was strange because the following commercial aired recently:
In all seriousness, it's difficult to believe this report. First of all, terrorist cells bomb people; they typically don't break news. I don't know, maybe I missed it, but Al Qaeda didn't report the stock market crash or Robin Williams' suicide. Second, couldn't Al Jazeera find someone who sounds more credible than Charlie Sly? The only way he could've sounded more shady is if his name happened to be Compulsive Liar. Call me crazy, but Al Jazeera should've asked Charlie Sly to report under the pseudonym Charlie Truth, or Charlie Facts, or something of that nature.
In summary, it doesn't sound like Manning used HGH. However, it's also fair to say that where there's smoke, there's fire, and perhaps the proof has been in front of us all along:
Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) - Previously: #8 - Remember when A.J. McCarron called himself Tom Brady? Well, both he and Brady both lost at Denver in overtime. It's like they're blood brothers, or something. Now, all A.J. needs is some European lesbian haircuts, and he'll effectively be a Brady clone.
Minnesota Vikings (10-5) - Previously: #9 - I've been wrong about a billion things this season, but I at least nailed the Vikings. I projected them to go 10-6 and ultimately lose in the second round of the playoffs. Go me!
With that in mind, however, I don't understand how I'm 7-8 ATS picking Minnesota games this year. It turns out that I'm still an idiot after all.
At any rate, I'm curious about the Week 17 battle at Lambeau. The Vikings are the better team right now, but they have yet to win a big game, and they haven't been able to overcome Green Bay. Will they take the next step this week?
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6) - Previously: #5 - We didn't have a podcast episode this week because of conflicting Christmas schedules, but Matvei lamented one particular thing on Sunday:
"Most disappointing part of Xmas was not being able to talk up this inevitable Pittsburgh stinkbomb on the pod. So like Tomlin's Steelers to blow a game like this. It's uncanny."
Totally. I had two units on the Ravens, and I instantly regretted not betting more on Baltimore. The Steelers always blow these stupid road games. They are now 1-9 against the spread as road favorites of nine-plus under Tomlin!
Green Bay Packers (10-5) - Previously: #6 - I called it last week: "If it wasn't for Derek Carr's two early interceptions, the Packers would've posted just 16 on the scoreboard. Something's definitely wrong here, and time is running out for Green Bay to fix things."
So, what did I end up doing? I wagered three units on the Packers versus the best team in football. I'm an idiot. In fact, if alien beings are investigating us for first contact, all they'd have to do is look at my NFL selections and realize that we aren't ready as a civilization.
New York Jets (10-5) - Previously: #10 - The Jets move into the No. 10 spot over the Chiefs because beating the Patriots is much more impressive than barely winning against the Browns, and barely winning against the Ravens, and barely winning against the Chargers, and barely winning against the Raiders. But hey, I must just be a hater for pointing out that Kansas City's best victory this season has come against Landry Jones. Yeah, that's clearly it.
NFL Power Rankings: Week 17 - Bottom 10
32. Tennessee Titans (3-12) - Previously: #31 - I think we can now confirm that the Titans are the worst team in the NFL after that ridiculous showing they had versus the Texans. It's amazing how poorly coached they are. Mike Mularkey might as well have shown up drunk. I think you know what it's time for...
Ah, damn it, I already used up the Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask! I should really plan this out next time.
31. San Francisco 49ers (4-11) - Previously: #32 - I mentioned last week that Jed York's Twitter page is hilarious to read because of all the negative responses he gets. York has been in hiding for the most part, though he did re-tweet the @49ers' tweet about Joe Staley and NaVorro Bowman making the Pro Bowl. San Francisco fans, not failing to disappoint, still had fantastic replies for York:
Amazing. The guy is so hated that he'll get responses like this for just re-tweeting something. Keep it going, Niner fans! Your venomous hatred is the only way to get that trust-fund idiot out of the owner's box.
30. Miami Dolphins (5-10) - Previously: #30 - I'm confused. Did the Dolphins make the playoffs or not? You'd think they'd be out of it with their 5-10 record, but someone told me otherwise:
What? Should Steve Harvey not be trusted, or something?
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) - Previously: #27 - The Jaguars ended up costing me two units with their lethargic play against the Saints on Sunday. I'd criticize them for not showing up in the wake of being eliminated in the 1 p.m. hour, but this could be better in the long run, given that Jacksonville was able to improve its draft positioning.
28. Cleveland Browns (3-12) - Previously: #29 - Speaking of the draft, I'm beginning to think the Browns will eschew one of the many mediocre quarterbacks in this class and just select Joey Bosa instead. Johnny Manziel hasn't been great, but he has shown enough to warrant another chance. Then again, he could just get caught drinking and rolling $20s at one of his stupid parties this offseason.
Update: Manziel was caught acting like a drunken a**hole on camera during Christmas.
Regardless, it doesn't sound promising for Cleveland fans. What if they just stopped rooting for the Browns all together? That's what one little boy wanted for his dad in this real letter that he sent to Santa:
27. Dallas Cowboys (4-11) - Previously: #26 - Remember when Jerry Jones was legitimately excited about the switch to Kellen Moore? LOL.
By the way, I don't get this talk about Jason Garrett being fired. Mike Florio mentioned it, but probably as just another scheme to drum up page views. Garrett being axed makes no sense. What was Garrett supposed to do with just five games with Tony Romo? Besides, Jerry Jones is senile enough already to already forget what his team's record is.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (6-9) - Previously: #23 - I love how the Eagles are now spinning that Jason Peters didn't play at the end of the game because he was dealing with an injury. Peters took himself out of the game and was actually overheard saying the following: "I'm not getting hurt for this."
What a surprise that all of this blew up in Chip Kelly's smug face. Actually, it's not a surprise at all for me, as the Eagles didn't even meet my pessimistic 8-8 projection heading into the season. It was obvious that this was going to fail, as Kelly stressed scheme over personnel. That has never and will never work in the NFL. Kelly styled himself as someone who could revolutionize the game, being arrogant enough to head into the 2015 season with a receiving corps comprised of Miles Austin and Riley the Racist Receiver.
Sadly, it's just going to get worse, as scum-bag owner Jeffrey Lurie is too incompetent to fire Kelly.
25. Baltimore Ravens (5-10) - Previously: #28 - I can't believe how great Ryan Mallett looked against the Steelers. It was like he was a completely different person. There were definitely three factors in Mallett's improvement:
1. Quarterback whisperer Marc Trestman coaching him up.
2. Humility and self-reflection after being released by the Texans.
3. Mallett hiring a personal assistant to help him set his alarm.
24. Chicago Bears (6-9) - Previously: #25 - The Bears-Buccaneers game was weird. First of all, Jay Cutler tried and didn't smoke a single cigarette on the sideline. Amazing. And two, the score was this at one point:
I think Mario Migelini is the only person who isn't confused right now.
23. San Diego Chargers (4-11) - Previously: #24 - The Chargers probably should've won Christmas Eve. I'm going to have a rant about that game prepared on my NFL Picks page on Tuesday, but for now...
E-mailer John R. told me that he missed the Jim Irsay tweets from my NFL Power Rankings and requested for some to appear in my live draft blog. Sounds good to me! Here are some memorable tweets from Irsay at the beginning of the draft:
I'M GOING TO MIAMI. ITS LIKE THAT SONG WILL SMITH USE TO SING. I'M GOING TO MIAMI. I'M COOL AND HIP AND KNOW NEW SONGS
I LOVE WILL SMITH ESPECIALLY ON FRESH PRINCE OF BALL AIR. ONE OF MY FAVORATE SHOWS. CARTON WAS MY FAVORATE CHARACTER
"@ColtsFan716 I think you mean Carlton" I FORGOT TWO LETTERS SO SUE ME YOU A**HOLE BEFORE I F*** YOU UP THE A**HOLE WITH MY POLL
UGH THE HOUSTON TEXAS ARE ALL READY UP 10-0 ARE SEASON IS DOWN THE DRAIN. IM GOING TO DO SOMETHING USEFUL WITH MY TIME
OK I JUST WENT DOWN TO THE FOOTBALL FEILD AND HIT ON A DOLPHINS CHEARLEADER THEIR SO HOT LOL
Check out my @FanDuel Lineup and use promo code IRSAY for 20% bonus
THE DOLPHIN CHEARLEADER TOLD ME TO GET LOSSED. I TOLD HER WHOM I WAS AND HOW MUCH MONEY I WAS WORTH THAN SHE GAVE ME A BLOW JOB!!!
I DONT GET WHY MORE PPL DONT DO THIS IF YOU SEE A HOT WOMEN WALK UP TO HER WITH CONFIDANTS. WHEN SHE TELLS YOU TO GET LOSSED TELL (1/2)
HER HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE AND THAN SHELL GIVE YOU A BLOW JOB EVERY TIME HAHAHAAHA IT ALL SO HELPS IF YOU HAVE COKE HANDY!!! (2/2)
COKE IS IMPORTENT BECAUSE SOME WOMAN LIKE TO SNORT IT. IF YOU GIVE THEM FREE COKE YOU GET A FREE BLOW JOB ALL MOST ALL TEH TIME!!!
"@ColtsFan716 Can you actually talk about your team?" HEY F*** YOU T**T FACE YOUR MAKING ME LOOK BAD IN FRONT OF THE CHEARLEADER
UGH NOW SHES LEAVING BECAUSE SHE SAW MY HOLE PLAN UGH F*** YOU UNLESS YOUR A FEMAIL IF SO WANT SOME FREE COKE LOL!?!?!?!
NFL Power Rankings: The Rest: 11. Kansas City Chiefs (10-5). Previously: #10
12. Washington Redskins (8-7). Previously: #14
13. Indianapolis Colts (7-8). Previously: #12
14. Oakland Raiders (6-8). Previously: #15
15. Houston Texans (8-7). Previously: #16
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8). Previously: #19
17. Detroit Lions (6-9). Previously: #20
18. Buffalo Bills (6-9). Previously: #18
19. New Orleans Saints (6-9). Previously: #21
20. Atlanta Falcons (8-7). Previously: #23
21. New York Giants (6-9). Previously: #13
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9). Previously: #22
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: