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.
This week’s theme: Super Bowl chances! For every team! Even those already at home!
The “It’s probably going to be one of these two” Division
Carolina Panthers (15-1)
Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
It’s pretty clear now that the Super Bowl likely will run through the NFC. For most of the season, we thought that the Panthers were the team to beat — and they still may be. But goodness gracious, Seattle looks locked and loaded. The Seahawks should run right over Minnesota, setting up a potentially epic Divisional game. Our guess? Winner is your SB50 champ.
The “But don’t count out these guys” Division
Arizona Cardinals (13-3)
Cards get knocked down a peg (barely) by virtue of getting gobsmacked by the Seahawks in their own building in Week 17. There’s a lot to like about Arizona — passing attack, run game, defense — but they still seem a tier below the upper echelon.
The “You might think it’s crazy, but it’s really not” Division
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
The AFC is crazy. The two teams you have to feel the best about are the two Wild Card teams. One who began the season 1-5 and the other who needed a Jets choke-job to make the postseason. But man, oh man do the Chiefs and Steelers look head and shoulders above the higher-seeded teams in the AFC. Here’s rooting for chaos … and a title game between the 5 and 6-seeds in Kansas City in a few weeks.
The “Good from far, far from good” Division
Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Denver Broncos (12-4)
New England Patriots (12-4)
Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
You want to call us crazy for discounting these double-digit win teams? Fine. But try and make an argument for why they’re better than any of the teams listed above them. Bengals? Injured QB. Broncos? Inexperience QB and aged, hobbled backup. Or starter. We don’t know. Patriots? Literally everyone is injured. Vikings? Enjoy that 21 carries-74 yards-TD stat line from AP.
They’re all good. They all can win the Super Bowl. They just won’t.
The “Sure, why not, right? Let’s get nuts” Division
Washington Redskins (9-7)
Houston Texans (9-7)
Look, if we’re living in a world where Kirk Cousins and Brian Hoyer are among the safest playoff QB options, anything can happen.
The “Predictable ending you can see from a mile away” Division
Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Please, Packers. Just stop. This is sad to see. Just get licked by the Redskins, regroup, get healthy and check back with us in August.
The “Close, but no cigar” Division
New York Jets (10-6)
Was there any doubt, the minute the Jets beat the Patriots in thrilling fashion in overtime in Week 16, that they wouldn’t go out and lay an egg to end the season? Of course not. It’s classic Jets. Getting done in by a Rex Ryan team that has borderline quit on him was just the icing on top of the cake. Worse? This Jets team would’ve been a favorite to win the AFC had they gotten in.
The “Had we played in another division, we’d be in” Division
Buffalo Bills (8-8)
Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
Oakland Raiders (7-9)
Detroit Lions (7-9)
Call this the mixed bag group. There’s some positives for each team here, but at the end of the day it just wasn’t enough for the playoffs. If you’re looking for a handful of teams to watch for the 2016 season, it’s these four squads. (Ed note: Calvin Johnson may have something to say about one of these teams.) Gun to our heads: Raiders will be a handful in the AFC next year.
The “We’re keeping the status quo for 2016 … in more ways than one” Division
Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
St. Louis Rams (7-9)
New Orleans Saints (7-9)
The Colts spend all season with a coach and a GM who can’t stand each other and an owner who can’t stand either, so what do they do? Sign up to do it again! Hooray! If Andrew Luck learned anything at Stanford, it’s seeing a trainwreck coming from a mile away — he should start positioning himself for a new franchise. Meanwhile, Jeff Fisher continues to perpetrate the biggest fraud operation this side of Enron, getting another season despite a sub-.500 finish.
The “As bad as things were, we probably should be more optimistic” Division
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)
Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
Baltimore Ravens (5-11)
Chicago Bears (6-10)
Honestly, there’s a lot to hate about how 2015 unfolded for each of these teams, but these fan bases should be looking for the silver linings. They may not (and probably won’t) be playoff teams in 2016, but 2017 and beyond should be better if they play their cards right, as each are just a couple of front-office or smart on-the-field personnel moves (and some new head coaches) away from being successfull.
The “We fired our coaches, but should’ve canned the GMs, too” Division
New York Giants (6-10)
Miami Dolphins (6-10)
San Francisco 49ers (5-11)
There’s a lot of sugar-coating, but bottom line is each of these teams packed it in once the season started going down the drain. Tom Coughlin had run his course with the Giants. The Dolphins figured out that firing every coach on staff eventually stops sparking the team to success, and while they did technically fire their GM, they hired a guy who has been with the team for a decade and a half to replace him. And firing Jim Harbaugh for Jim Tomsula will go down as one of the worst personnel decisions in team history. The common thread? The guys above the coaches making the decisions … who now will get another round of hires to try and correct their mistakes.
The “We were terrible because everyone got injured” Division
San Diego Chargers (4-12)
Dallas Cowboys (4-12)
It’s puzzling why the Chargers would fire OC Frank Reich, because it seems like they talked themselves into it. Dallas probably cans a coordinator or two so Jason Garrett can keep his job another year, because they feel like it. But it makes no sense. The problems for both teams in 2015 wasn’t the coaching, it was the lack of talented players staying healthy.
The “We have the guy … but no one else” Division
Tennessee Titans (3-13)
The Titans seem to have found the answer at QB in Marcus Mariota. Now comes the hard part: Not messing it up. They don’t have a great track record in that category, but given how good Mariota showed he could be, maybe the light finally turns on.
The “No.” Division
Cleveland Browns (3-13)
The last Browns head coach to be on the sidelines for more than four seasons? BILL BELICHICK. Come on Browns, get it together.