This season marks an odd season for the NFL. Win-loss records aside, the NFL may have the most bad or underperforming teams in recent memory. The NFC East appears on track to potentially send the first team with a losing record to the playoffs with homefield advantage, as someone will still HAVE to win the division. The trend continued last week, with some of the league’s worst teams vying for that coveted number 32 spot that is currently held in a death grip by Jacksonville.
This column saw a fair amount of response last week, and the feedback is truly appreciated. We’ll look to bring this back each week for the foreseeable future, and continue to attempt to rank the teams as fairly as possible based on merit more-so than win/loss record. In this power ranking, we’ll barely account for the win-loss records since there is such a large gap between the “Have’s” and the “Have-not’s” this season. This is a power ranking without records being heavily factored, and they’ll be shown in worst-to-first order with section titles based upon their performance thus far.
Hopeless: These are the worst of the worst, for various reasons. There appears to be no hope in sight for these teams, many are off to an 0-3 start
32. Jacksonville Jaguars: While several teams appear to be vying for the Jags crown, they continue to hold a death grip on this spot until further notice. The Bucs attempted to trade Josh Freeman this past week, and Jacksonville immediately let it be known that they weren’t looking to trade for him, they were very happy with their current lack of a quarterback. Just to make it interesting, the Jags went ahead and traded away one of their best offensive linemen, because, hey… you have to be certain that you’ll get that #1 overall draft pick in 2014.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay and Schiano can’t seem to go a day without making headlines. Cutting your star quarterback, but only after dragging his name through the mud? Check. Benching him for an underperforming rookie? Check. Kicking him out of HIS suite and making him stay with the other inactive players instead of his family? Oh hell yeah! Stuffed ballot boxes, drug program leaks, a divided locker room… Schiano is vying for a coin flip next year against the Jags for that number one overall pick – and that coin flip should be interesting, because I don’t think either the Bucs or Jags could even win THAT at this point.
30. New York Giants: I’m about ready to start an office pool with odds on whether Eli gets injured or Coughlin spontaneously combusts first. This team is pretty boring, and it’s a shame to see Coughlin’s career appear to be concluding this way.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers: We sent our “O-fer” teams to England to give their fans a break. Guess which team still lives amongst the “O-fers?” Yup. Somewhere Terry Bradshaw is weeping openly watching his former team play.
28. Buffalo Bills: You looked terrible BEFORE your starting QB got hurt and went out indefinitely on Thursday night. The team is imploding, cutting their punter because he can’t tackle… and starting an undrafted rookie at QB. Way to go, Buffalo.
27. St Louis Rams: This team doesn’t appear to be good at ANYTHING at the moment, other than helping to pad the stats of opposing teams.
26. New York Jets: It appears the Jets MIGHT have found their quarterback of the future, unfortunately, their quarterback of the NOW doesn’t exist, their receivers are injured, and their defense is only so-so. Gangrene… er… Gang Green needs a bit more seasoning, and showed signs of their implosion after knocking Jake Locker from the game and having Ryan Fitzpatrick come in and pick up where Locker left off. Ryan Fitzpatrick.
25. Minnesota Vikings: You’re terrible, and beating a terrible team while keeping them in the game doesn’t move you up. You have the best running back in the league, but no quarterback and the gaps in your roster are daunting. Somehow, the Vikings last year would have torn this team apart in a game.
24. Oakland Raiders: Guess who’s dropping like a stone? I’ll give you a hint, with a badass fan base, they unveiled a campy new children’s character as a new mascot. The Raider Rusher doesn’t scare anyone, and neither does your terrible team. Al Davis is spinning in his grave right now.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly, the college ranks are calling… it might be wise to run back there now, as your team has played nearly 1 half of good football all season. You have all the stars to make it work, and can’t seem to do anything with it.
21. Washington Redskins: The Redskins finally notched a win last week, and no one cares. This team is shaping up to get rid of Shanahan within 2 years, chasing him from coaching for good.
These guys aren’t that great, but they’re not as bad as the bottom 12: In any other season, these guys would be ranked lower, but the teams behind them are not good at all right now.
20. Carolina Panthers: Panthers had a bye week last week, which seems to be the best way for them to move up in this weeks rankings, moving past several pretenders by not playing.
19. Baltimore Ravens: 5 interceptions from Flacco, no receivers at the moment that appear to be able to catch, an inability to establish the running game… these are just a few of the issues plaguing the defending champs during their free fall. Along with the Bengals, the Ravens are playing catch up with the Browns after their win Thursday night, and they are not poised to step back into the spotlight just yet.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: The AFC North appears willing to TRY to give the NFC East a run for it’s money as the worst division in football, but no one can seem to stink THAT badly. Don’t look for the Bungles to look any better this week against a Patriots team that appears to be picking up stteam.
17. Houston Texans: This team plays a bipolar game of football… good one minute, terrible the next. No lead is safe, and pick sixes abound. Until they can sort through their issues, they will continue to drop while handing the division to a very good Colts team.
16. Cleveland Browns: Ladies and gentleman, this terrible team just doesn’t quit. They started out the season 0-2, and appeared to give up on the season. They trade away Trent Richardson, benched their starting QB, and started a winning streak. Boasting an excellent defense, a dynamic outside receiver, a very good slot receiver and arguably the second best tight end in football, Cleveland appears to be distancing itself from the rest of the AFC North. Any team that can trade away Trent Richardson and be forced to platoon Weeden and still be putting opponents in their place is a team to watch out for.
15. Dallas Cowboys: Dallas has the talent to get it done, they just don’t on any form of a consistent basis. They’ll win the NFC East with a “Participation” ribbon at this rate, possibly with a losing record.
14. Green Bay Packers: They didn’t play last week, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they are better than this, but they just haven’t earned a place any higher than this as of yet this season.
13. San Diego Chargers: Until Philip Rivers comes back down to Earth and realizes he’s Philip Rivers, this team will float near the top 10. They have to play the Chiefs and Broncos twice this season, however, which should serve as a bit of a wakeup call for a team that is overachieving at this point.
12.Atlanta Falcons: You can only come up short in so many games before something starts to smell fishy for your team. After dropping another one, albeit to a good team
11. Chicago Bears: Speaking of QB’s crashing back down to earth, it appears the real Jay Cutler finally stood up. After being dismantled at the hands of the Lions, Chicago was exposed for the team it is against good teams.
10. Tennessee Titans: The Titans were looking like a very good team until they lost Jake Locker indefinitely. With Ryan Fitzpatrick being the man to fill his shoes, look for the Titans to start turning the ball over and possibly drop in the rankings most weeks until Jake Locker returns.
Now we’re getting somewhere: These are some good teams that are either not-quite-there yet, or are battling injuries.
9. San Francisco 49ers: They had a strong showing against a bad Rams team last night without a number of key individuals, combined with the return of Vernon Davis, moves them back into the top 10, albeit further down than some folks would expect going into the season.
8. Detroit Lions: The Reggie and Megatron show will continue to electrify, at least until Reggie runs out of gas around the midpoint of the season. Lost in the mix, Detroit has a pretty dominating, swarming defense.
Very good teams:
7. The New England Patriots: The Patriots are a bit of an enigma this season, as they looked terrible through the first three weeks while going undefeated, and then appeared ready and willing to light it up against the Falcons. The Patriots draw the reeling Bengals this week, and if they can prove last week was no fluke and come out strong again, they should continue to rise in the polls.
6. Miami Dolphins: Miami dropped their first game of the season on Monday night, and while the game was a tight game for the first half, a tough Saints team pulled away in the second half. Miami lost a game they should have lost, and has arguably beaten more top teams than anyone to this point in the season. If Miami loses to a mediocre Baltimore team this week, look for them to drop drastically in the rankings.
5. Indianapolis Colts: This Colts team gets better every week. After the beating they put on the 49ers the previous week, the Colts had a relative bye week against a terrible Jags team. The Colts drew the short straw this week, and are playing a VERY good Seattle team. The Colts should take this one, as Seattle is not the same team on the road as they are at home.
4. Kansas City Chiefs: Another week, another batch of proof that letting Andy Reid walk was the kindest thing that Philly ever could have done for the man. Kansas City plays the Titans this week, and without Jake Locker the Chiefs defense should have a field day.
3. Seattle Seahawks: After almost losing to Houston, and exposing themselves as a team that plays better at home than on the road, Seattle slips 1 spot this week.
2. New Orleans Saints: The Saints overtook the Seahawks by beating another top 10 team on Monday Night Football this past week. Their rise stops here, however, as Denver is nearly impossible to pry out of the number one spot this week. Like the Seahawks, this team isn’t a “road team” – so this week could be interesting.
In a league of their own: How is this team even possible?
1. Denver Broncos: In Peyton we trust. This man is superhuman, and the team is getting a few of their missing pieces back. They are already downright scary without them, and a Von Miller who gets to play with a large lead could still post monster sack numbers in a shortened season. I wouldn’t want to play against Miller when he can pin his ears back and fly at opposing QB’s, but Peyton will not take his foot off the accelerator.