*** The usual post-week power rankings (including the Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask) will be incorporated into overall NFL power rankings for 2016, which will be posted Tuesday morning. ***
Carolina Panthers (17-1) - Previously: #1 - The Panthers are the better team in the Super Bowl. There's no doubt about that. However, there's a big concern I'd have if I were a fan, and that's the fact that the players are talking as if they already won the Super Bowl. They were yelling about proving everyone wrong and whatnot, and I fear that they might be overconfident about putting 49 on the Cardinals, who were considered the second-best team in the NFL.
That said, I'm glad the Panthers are in the Super Bowl. They're fun to watch, though I still hate that the kids get all of the footballs. I guess my pleas about the fat guy memorabilia collectors being hurt by this trend will continue to be ignored.
Also, Newton being in the Super Bowl gives us a chance to laugh at one of the many dumb things Skip Bayless has said over the years:
Look, people say stupid things all the time. I've had my share of derp moments - Jimmy Clausen, anyone? - but Bayless is a douche troll, so let's all laugh at how stupid he and his racist partner Stephen The Smith are.
Arizona Cardinals (14-4) - Previously: #2 - It's a shame we haven't seen much of Carson Palmer in the playoffs over the years; otherwise, I may have known not to bet heavily on him in the NFC Championship. Palmer is now 1-3 and hasn't covered a single spread in the postseason. A classic choke artist. Some will say that Palmer's injured finger played a factor, but that's crap. His finger had nothing to do with his horrible decision-making.
Speaking of Palmer, his ugly performance was so bad that, well, you know where I'm going with this...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Cam Newton: Derek, this is crucial, It's the NFC Championship, and we're favored by only three points. The Cardinals are a great team, so it's your time to shine.
Derek Anderson: Don't worry, Cam. I'm completely sober. It's terrible, but I've been preparing for this moment my entire life. Even my blonde friend Billy is sober.
New England Patriots (13-5) - Previously: #4 - Everyone thought the Patriots were going to win. When everyone thinks something will happen, the opposite usually occurs. The public was simply misled by the media, which glorified the Patriots despite the fact that New England hadn't played anyone all year. That, and this photo was taken of Belichick during the week:
Despite this, the Patriots were still the better team, and the fact that Denver pulled the upset means that we won't have as great of a Super Bowl as we should enjoy. Actually, the team that should be representing the AFC should be the Steelers, who led the entire way against the Broncos despite missing Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams.
Denver Broncos (14-4) - Previously: #7 - The Broncos were the worst team of the four playing on Championship Sunday, yet they'll be in the Super Bowl. It's truly amazing that they won, considering that their offense averaged just 3.8 yards per play. To give you an idea of how bad that is, Brian Hoyer and the Texans maintained nearly the same figure (3.6) in their shutout loss to the Chiefs in the opening round of the playoffs.
Denver's defense is amazing, sure, but so is Carolina's. The difference between the two teams will be the offense, as there is a huge disparity between Cam Newton and Peyton Manning. The general public may not think so, but Manning nearly cost his team by missing numerous touchdowns against the Patriots. He's just not that good anymore.
One person disagrees, as we can see in this picture, sent over by Shreyas R:
At first, it appears as though Manning looks like he's dropping a deuce. However, if you look carefully, you might just see Matt Millen inserting a kielbasa into one of his 100-percent USDA Men. A special kielbasa that he saved for his Sheriff.
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: