Oh, am I ever starting to feel football withdrawal. Multiple times this weekend, I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and scrambled to see if there was a player available on my waiver wire who was suddenly projected to score 16 points because they were thrust into a starting role only to remember I wasn’t playing fantasy football anymore and I shouldn’t be waking in a cold sweat screaming out, “I need you Travis Homer!” for any reason whatsoever.
Before the playoffs get started, here are my power rankings of the 12 starting quarterbacks, head coaches and defenses left duking it out for a championship as well as a ranking of the 12 teams based on their chances of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
3. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
6. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
7. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
8. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
10. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
11. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
12. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
This list was particularly difficult because one has to measure the player’s overall body of work vs. what they’ve done this season. For example, Jackson was by far the best quarterback in the NFL this season and Rodgers might be the overall most talented quarterback in football history, but I still couldn’t rank either ahead of Mahomes or Brees, who have been downright ridiculous in terms of slinging the ball around of late.
Brady, of course, is a bit of a wild card as we all know he hasn’t played well but, like, this is Tom freaking Brady we’re talking about. You know, good looking fella, six Super Bowls, three MVPs, tiny balls, Tom Brady!
1. Bill Belichick, Patriots
2. Sean Payton, Saints
3. John Harbaugh, Ravens
4. Doug Pederson, Eagles
5. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
6. Kyle Shanahan, 49ers
7. Andy Reid, Chiefs
8. Bill O’Brien, Texans
9. Mike Zimmer, Vikings
10. Matt LaFleur, Packers
11. Mike Vrabel, Titans
12. Sean McDermott, Bills
I’m torn about LaFleur, who has done a really nice job of getting the Packers’ run game going this season and had them literally a millimeter away from being the No. 1 seed in the NFC despite the fact that none of us believe them to be a serious Super Bowl threat. (The millimeter was the same one that won the 49ers the NFC West, by the way.) He’s clearly done a very good job, yet somehow we’re, I dunno, actually kinda unimpressed by the job he’s done, including nearly losing a game to the friggin’ Lions with a bye at stake.
Shanahan appears to be the coach most poised to move himself into the true upper echelon of coaches, which is example number actual infinity of how good getting away from Washington and Cleveland is for your football health.
The potential for a J.J. Watt return certainly makes the Texans a little more interesting, but until we know for sure he’ll play (and what impact he can have coming off a torn pec), Houston gets no further bump from me.
Patriots fans wouldn’t be thrilled to see their group sitting behind anyone else but, 1 ) They just got shredded by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and 2 ) Their schedule just wasn’t compelling enough for me to buy into the idea that it was some sort of historically great unit.
It feels at the moment like there are four teams who really have a chance of winning the Super Bowl (Baltimore, Kansas City, San Francisco and New Orleans). The Packers might be just well-rounded enough to argue their way into that group, and Seattle, despite its injury concerns, was legitimately less than an inch away from forcing the Niners to start the playoffs on the road.
And while the Ravens are the very deserving favorites to win it all, sometimes goofy things happen in the playoffs. You know, like a sideline route turning into a walk-off, 61-yard touchdown or a defensive back attempting to maim a wide receiver but having the pass interference go uncalled and lead to sweeping stupid rules changes throughout the league. And sometimes things even happen to teams OTHER than the Saints!
The Ravens are in great shape. On paper, there’s no reason to think they won’t be celebrating in Miami in a few weeks. But I’m entirely too superstitious to continue this conversation. Enjoy the playoffs.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen and Sabina Moran/PressBox