FOXBORO, MA – SEPTEMBER 10: Fans stand with a sign stating “Hey Mr. Trump Tom Brady for V.P.” before the game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The NFL is a place where things change on a week-to-week basis. It’s just how life is. You’re up one week, near the bottom the next. There are obviously other power rankings around the internet for you to read, but here at The Comeback, we’re going to present your NFL Power Rankings with a bit of a twist each week. This week’s theme imagines each NFL team as 2016 Republican Presidential candidates!

 (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The “Congrats Ben Carson — you’re leading, but no one believes it” Division
Carolina Panthers (11-0)
There’s a real possibility that this is the least thought-of last-remaining unbeaten team in NFL history. Honestly, can you think of another team that’s made it this far into a season without a loss and when they’re mentioned as a Super Bowl contender, the reaction is: “No, but seriously, it’s the Panthers.” Kinda mind-boggling when you think about it.


The “Everything’s going against Donald Trump, yet amazingly this could still happen” Division
New England Patriots (10-1)
Denver Broncos (9-2)
So good for so long to start, even when it simply defied the odds. But both the Patriots and Broncos, in any other setting, would easily be written off due to the litany of injuries. (Seriously, do the Patriots have anyone left to catch the football now?) And yet … they’re hanging around like Matt Damon in “Rounders.” Guess that means you can’t count them out?


The “Sure he’s down, but Marco Rubio actually has a decent shot” Division
Arizona Cardinals (9-2)
Minnesota Vikings (8-3)
Cincinnati Bengals (9-2)
There so much that we all don’t like about the top three on this list, that you go looking for other options. Even more flawed ones, just because the prospects are there. The Cards, Vikes and Bengals could each win the Super Bowl — but they’re going to need the squads at the top to collapse first.


The “Yeah, you’re a stalwart, no you’re not winning, Jeb Bush” Division
Green Bay Packers (7-4)
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
I mean, yeah, could these three win a title? Sure, we guess that’s possible. But in actuality? No, they’re not winning. Aaron Rodgers still doesn’t look comfortable without Jordy Nelson; Ben Roethlisberger no longer has Le’Veon Bell; and oh look, Andrew Luck just got sacked and/or injured again. Moving on.


The “Holy crap, Ted Cruz is hanging in there, which is totally crazy” Division
Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
Houston Texans (6-5)
Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)
Oakland Raiders (5-6)
Here’s where it gets kinda nuts. All four of these teams were left for dead by the beginning of October. Brian Hoyer could be leading a team to the playoffs — think about that! Truthfully, it would be kind of great to see some combination of the Texans/Chiefs/Raiders make the postseason in the AFC, simply because that’s the perfect team to go into Foxboro and play with nothing to lose and leave with a win. RAIDERS FOR POSTSEASON 2015! LET’S DO THIS!


New York Jets v New York Giants

The “Remember when ‘Carla Fiorina for President’ was a thing?” Division
Atlanta Falcons (6-5)
New York Jets (6-5)
Man, the beginning of the season was such a wild time. Atlanta was 5-0. The Jets were 4-1. Goodness gracious, both doing it with rookie head coaches. Start mailing those playoff invoices people! Oh, but how hard the fall back to Earth is when you’re exposed and everyone realizes you’re just a future 7-9 team in disguise.


Philadelphia Eagles v Atlanta Falcons

The “If we ignore Mike Huckabee, will he just go away?” Division
Washington Redskins (5-6)
New York Giants (5-6)
Philadelphia Eagles (4-7)
Dallas Cowboys (3-8)
Do we really have to address the NFC East? Decide who you’d like the sacrificial lamb to be and let us know.


Buffalo Bills Introduce Rex Ryan

Buffalo Bills (5-6)
There’s just no way the Bills are making the postseason, but they’re not mathematically eliminated yet and keep showing up just enough to make you remember they’re still hanging around. Plus, if that doesn’t work, Rex Ryan will yell about it until you do.


Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns

The “John Kasich is a good fit for a cabinet position” Division
Chicago Bears (5-6)
Detroit Lions (4-7)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
St. Louis Rams (4-7)
A quartet of teams that are so very obviously flawed they cannot win anything of substance on their own, but are good enough to spoil the party for someone who has a lot to lose. They’ll all finish in that 6-10/7-9 range and fool us into thinking: “Hey you know, these guys are a team to pay attention to next year.”


The “If only Rand Paul had better debates, he’d be right there” Division
Miami Dolphins (4-7)
New Orleans Saints (4-7)
San Diego Chargers (3-8)
Drop into Miami, New Orleans or San Diego and you be flooded with the excuses: “Our head coach was so bad,” “Our defensive coordinator drew up schemes using crayons,” “Our quarterback has no one to throw to.” Those are just “If’s” and “But’s”, guys, covering up the real problem: You stink.


Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars

The “Maybe if the stars had aligned, Lindsay Graham, you’d be in fifth” Division
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
Tennessee Titans (2-9)
Okay, so the records are bad. And the overall play has been pretty ugly. But there’s some things to enjoy watching about the Jaguars and Titans for the first time in a while. Jacksonville’s passing offense is terrific and Marcus Mariota looks like he could be very good. This year isn’t the year, but maybe if everything goes right in the futu— oh, who are we kidding? Its the Jaguars and Titans.


New York Jets v Baltimore Ravens

The “George Pataki is running? That’s just sad” Division
Baltimore Ravens (4-7)
Baltimore has such a good pedigree that you hate to see it tarnished by such a bad season, yet it’s what’s happening. This is why the NFL is the home of self-fulfilling prophecies: If the Ravens get off to a bad start next year, John Harbaugh will undoubtedly be on the hot seat. It makes no sense and yet, you can see the end result from a mile away.


San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals

The “Crazy things still come out of Rick Santorum’s mouth” Division
San Francisco 49ers (3-8)
You want the biggest holiday shopping bargain around? Go to StubHub and buy some 49ers tickets. They might even pay you to take them!


Cleveland Browns v Buffalo Bills

The “You bought a ‘Bobby Jindal for President’ bumper sticker” Division
Cleveland Browns (2-9)
Look, if you thought the Browns were going somewhere this year, that’s on you.

About Brendan Prunty

Brendan Prunty is a nationally-recognized, award-winning writer who is a regular contributor to the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone. He lives in New Jersey.