The NFL is a place where things chance 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.

This week’s theme: Holiday shopping!

at AT&T Stadium on November 26, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
at AT&T Stadium on November 26, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.

The “A Power Wheels?! Thanks mom and dad!” Division
Carolina Panthers (12-0)

Admit it, you thought it wasn’t going to happen — especially on Sunday afternoon when the Saints decided they would play like a real football team. But then, just when all looked lost, here comes Cam Newton to save the day. Again. Now, if you’re a Panthers fan, you’re really on top of the world and can’t wait to go cruising around the neighborhood, rubbing it in everyone else’s faces.


Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks

The “Video game console? I totally wasn’t expecting that!” Division
Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

How long have Cardinal fans pleaded for their franchise to be good? Decades? Eons? Even when the first Super Bowl came a few years ago, it ended in heartbreak. Another gut-punch for an eternally knocked-down team. But just when most least expected it, there it is: A real, live Super Bowl contender. And not just a team that can go to it, either. They can win it, too.


DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 29: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is sacked by outside linebacker Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos in overtime at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 29, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The “Handheld video game system? OK, that’s still cool!” Division
Denver Broncos (10-2)
New England Patriots (10-2)
Cincinnati Bengals (10-2)

Think of these teams as the “Cardinal Lites.” They are all otherwise perfectly constructed Super Bowl-contending squads, but just lack that one component that leaves them a notch below Arizona right now. The Broncos have the defense, but the offense? Eh. The Patriots have the offense, but the defense? Eh. The Bengals have both, but experience winning in the postseason? Eh.


Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks

The “Legos? Again?” Division
Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

You seem to get these every year. And every year, while you enjoy watching them, you secretly are rooting for terrible things to happen and for each franchise to be on the outside looking in. Both the Seahawks and Steelers were teetering on that line this season … and then leapt across it into full-fledged contender territory. Sorry, you’ll be seeing them under the tree again this year. (Ed note: Legos are always awesome. Always.)


Green Bay Packers v Carolina Panthers

The “You got me a board game?” Division
Green Bay Packers (8-4)
Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)
New York Jets (7-5)

Look, nothing against board games — everyone loves ’em — but unless you really wanted Monopoly, it’s a fall-back option. Same with these three. They are flawed teams (with a capital ‘F’), and in any other year, they are probably struggling to stay in the playoff race. But because we have two divisions that are very bad, here we are in December thinking the Chiefs have a shot in the AFC.



The “But the guy at the store said this is next year’s hot toy!” Division
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)

Your parents tried. Really, they did. They went everywhere searching for that one must-have toy on your list, but had zero luck. Then on the last stop, they found a magical salesperson who had the foresight to sell them on a toy that will be huge a year from now. It’s not what you wanted, and it probably won’t make you forget about the No. 1 item, but next year, every kid will want what you have. You won’t make the playoffs this year, Bucs, but hot damn if you don’t look great for the future.


San Diego Chargers v Minnesota Vikings

The “Oh, you bought me that movie I liked from last March on DVD” Division
Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
Houston Texans (6-6)
Buffalo Bills (6-6)

Kudos to your parents for listening when you came home from the movies and said, “Boy, I can’t wait until that comes out on DVD!” They made a note and filed it away for the holidays. Unfortunately for them, that was nine months ago, your tastes have changed. Undoubtedly, you will encounter a fan of one of these teams who thinks their squad has a real shot. And just like when you saw that movie under the tree, you’ll have to grin and tell them how much you love it.


Seattle Seahawks v Washington Redskins

The “You got a bike, but convinced yourself you’d put it together on your own” Division
Washington Redskins (5-7)
Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
New York Giants (5-7)
Dallas Cowboys (4-8)

Your kid wants a bike. Major milestone. So you do your research, find the best bike at the best price and buy it months ahead of time, storing it secretly in the garage. One problem: Instead of paying the extra $75 to have the guy trained on how to assemble it put it together, you decided to do it yourself. Now it’s 1:47 on Christmas morning, you’re slightly hungover on egg nog and surrounded by a pile of gears, cursing up a storm.

Congrats, NFC East, you’re the bike. Or the parent. Frankly, it doesn’t matter.


Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts

The “Remote-control car … without the batteries” Division
Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
Oakland Raiders (5-7)

A really great gift that has little wrong with it. You wanted it, it’s cool, it’ll grab your attention for the next two months straight. Only problem? Your parents forgot the batteries. Both of these teams have really good offenses and straight up zero defense. And what did you do with that car with no batteries? Spend all day staring at it and thinking how great it would’ve been to play with it.


Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints

The “I heard this was going to be the hot toy in July” Division
Atlanta Falcons (6-6)
How many parents do the “I’m going to get all my shopping done in the summer!” thing? (Side note: WHY????) Without fail, in their zealousness to beat the rush, they read some article on Facebook about a robot hamster that is going to be all the rage come holiday time. That’s the problem with jumping out early — you outkick the coverage. Raise your hand if you were on the “Dan Quinn for Coach of the Year” bandwagon. Right. Not looking so hot now.


Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns

The “I know you wanted G.I. Joes, but I saw these G.I. Johns for $3 at the supermarket” Division
Baltimore Ravens (4-8)
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)
Chicago Bears (5-7)
Detroit Lions (4-8)
Tennessee Titans (3-9)
San Francisco 49ers (4-8)

All of these teams bring something to the table. For all intents and purposes, their seasons are over and yet there they are week after week, battling for something. They are not perfect, but they are there. The G.I. Joes are an easy name-brand toy that your parents should have zero trouble messing up … until they see them at the local Acme for half the price. They don’t know the different between the knock-off version and the real thing? You sure as hell did.


Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars

The “Terrific, another sweater from grandma and grandpa” Division
Miami Dolphins (5-7)
New Orleans Saints (4-8)
San Diego Chargers (3-9)
St. Louis Rams (4-8)

“Grandma made you this very special gift!”

/eye roll

/begrudgingly opens used Talbot’s box

/obligatory “Thanks, Grandma.”

/go back to watching TV, mumbling, “Well, this gift sucks.”



The “Socks” Division
Cleveland Browns (2-10)

In a year where multiple 4-8 teams are still in the playoff race, the Browns were officially eliminated from the postseason before dinner time on Dec. 6. No matter how cool the patterns are, no matter how “rad” your parents try to sell you on them being, at the end of the day, socks are just that — socks.

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.