Here are my power rankings for Week 17 of the NFL season.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1 record, No. 1 ranking last week)
And this week we revisit my preseason “gut reaction” and ranking for each team to see if I had any idea of what I was talking about. For example:
No. 1 (entering Week 1): “My gut tells me it’s very difficult to win consecutive Super Bowls and almost no one does. But if they can keep their quarterback even mostly upright, they’re going to at the very least be in the mix to do it.”
So yeah. I’m obviously brilliant and you guys should probably start tipping me.
2. Green Bay Packers (12-3, No. 2)
No. 7: “My gut tells me Jordan Love better prove to be nearly as good for the Packers as Lamar Jackson has been for the Ravens because this team with another breakout receiver could be a Super Bowl contender.”
While we don’t know yet about Love, the Packers may well regret using a first-round pick on a player who hasn’t seen the field should they fall short of winning the Super Bowl.
3. Buffalo Bills (12-3, No. 3)
No. 12: “My gut tells me that while we’ve seen quarterbacks get significantly more accurate from one year to the next recently (and particularly one from Allen’s draft class!), we need to see it from Allen before we get too carried away with Buffalo.”
I am the dumbest analyst alive!
4. New Orleans Saints (11-4, No. 5)
No. 3: “My gut tells me this will be their last “best” chance to win a Super Bowl with Drew Brees and that their offensive line is far too good for me to bet against them making a run at it.”
I am the greatest analyst alive!
5. Seattle Seahawks (11-4, No. 7)
No. 6: “My gut tells me (for no obvious reason) that this is the year Russell Wilson gets them back to the Super Bowl (to face KC).”
Nope, I was right the first time!
6. Tennessee Titans (10-5, No. 4)
No. 5: “My gut tells me that while we’re keenly aware of how good they were in the playoffs, we’ve forgotten about how good they were in the second half of last season as a whole. Unless Ryan Tannehill regresses (which is a fair question), they should compete for a top seed in the AFC.”
Yeah. While Sunday was ugly, I nailed that. I should make you guys pay for this stuff.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5, No. 8)
No. 10: “My gut tells me that if Tom Brady has ANYTHING left, he’ll definitely be better off here than where he was. But my gut also tells me that the “if” is an important part of the conversation.”
He certainly had SOMETHING left. Is it enough for them to make a run to the Super Bowl? I have a couple more doubts than Gwen Stefani.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3, No. 9)
No. 11: “My gut tells me they’ll be better than they were last year when they had absolutely zero quarterback play. I’m just not sure yet how much more than zero they’ll have this year.”
If the Steelers hadn’t rallied Dec. 27, I’d feel really good about this. Still, I was right to be suspect.
9. Baltimore Ravens (10-5, No. 11)
No. 2: “My gut tells me that if Patrick Mahomes didn’t exist, they’d be the easy choice to win the AFC. The season will be defined by whether they can get past KC in the playoffs.”
Well … I might still be right about this one.
10. Indianapolis Colts (10-5, No. 6)
No. 18: “My gut tells me Philip Rivers won’t do any more for them than Jacoby Brissett would have done and they would have been better off getting an answer on Brissett or just moving on to their next signal-caller.”
I don’t even want to admit that I’m fully wrong about this just yet. (I mean, clearly I did not give them enough credit.) But if the Colts miss the playoffs — even at 11 wins — was that worth it instead of trying to get an answer on a long-term quarterback?
11. Miami Dolphins (10-5, No. 10)
No. 24: “My gut tells me they could be one of the more intriguing teams in the league whenever Tua Tagovailoa is ready to start.”
Can I get partial credit? This was the ranking I was most wrong about BUT I was right to think of them as intriguing. Although they’ve been MORE intriguing when Tagovailoa hasn’t played.
12. Chicago Bears (8-7, No. 15)
No. 26: “My gut tells me “THEY WON EIGHT GAMES LAST YEAR? HOW IN THE HELL DID THEY WIN EIGHT GAMES LAST YEAR?” But yeah, this season will likely be a fruitless exercise for all involved.”
Strike that. THIS was the ranking I was most wrong about. And then doubled down by trashing a team that may well end up making the playoffs (in a non-“technically made the playoffs by winning the worst division ever” way, too). This is so bad that I should probably have a show on Fox Sports 1.
13. Cleveland Browns (10-5, No. 12)
No. 21: “My gut tells me we’re going to say “they have to be better than they were last year” but that’s not absolutely true.”
OK, I begrudgingly admit that they were better than they were last year.
14. Los Angeles Rams (9-6, No. 14)
No. 15: “My gut tells me their ability to compete in a brutally tough division will come down to how good Cam Akers can be quickly.”
That’s not even a bad take. You’re all right, Glenn from the past.
15. Arizona Cardinals (8-7, No. 13)
No. 20: “My gut tells me they could win the NFC East. It’s just a shame they’re not in the NFC East.”
16. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8, No. 16)
No. 22: “My gut tells me they’re building up lots of great young talent but there’s just no reason to think they’ll have good enough quarterback play for that to matter much right now.”
Turns out their quarterback play was far less a concern than their “this game is over, let’s just not hit the guy in the face or leave a receiver wide open 30 yards downfield” play.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9, No. 18)
No. 27: “My gut tells me it’s a shame they’re not more relevant on the field to take advantage of the one year in which their biggest storyline could be something other than the fact that no one in their home market cares about them.”
Nice call, idiot. They have one of the most exciting young stars in football and will be massively intriguing going into next season.
18. Dallas Cowboys (6-9, No. 21)
No. 17: “My gut tells me the NFL expanded playoffs in part to help make sure they get in and yet they’ll still find a way to not get in.”
While I actually think they’re going to end up getting in … I nailed this one, no?
19. San Francisco 49ers (6-9, No. 23)
No. 4: “My gut tells me they’ll come back to earth just slightly this season, putting the ultra-competitive NFC West back in play. And also that someone you know will permanently struggle to pronounce ‘Aiyuk.’”
OK, make THIS the ranking I was most wrong about. But they did come back to earth and the West was back in play and there’s no f*cking chance you’d pronounce “Aiyuk” correctly by anything other than a lucky guess.
20. New England Patriots (6-9, No. 19)
No. 19: “My gut tells me I’m only ranking them this high because I have to respect the possibility that Cam Newton MIGHT still have a little to offer. If he does, their defense is still good enough to win the division.”
Narrator: “He did NOT have a little to offer.”
21. Minnesota Vikings (6-9, No. 20)
No. 21: “My gut tells me they’re again set to be a very solid but still unspectacular team that will threaten to do great things but ultimately come up short. It won’t necessarily be their quarterback’s fault, but we’ll continue to wonder whether he’ll ever be good enough.”
And let’s just copy and paste all of that for Week 1 of the 2021 season.
22. Washington Football Team (6-9, No. 17)
No. 31: “My gut tells me it’s an absolute disaster and this is as good as it will get.”
It took 15 weeks but I want a point for this one, too.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1, No. 28)
No. 28: “My gut tells me there’s actually a lot of talent on the offense and if Joe Burrow clicks early, they could genuinely be a fascinating story this season.”
So Joe Burrow did kinda click early and they ARE kinda fascinating going into Week 17 so like, half a point?
24. Denver Broncos (5-10, No. 22)
No. 16: “My gut tells me they’re the AFC team we’re just not talking enough about. They’ll need more from Melvin Gordon than we can reasonably expect and Drew Lock needs to look like the dude we saw against the Texans last year, but there’s a legitimate path to the postseason for them despite sharing a division with The Half-Billion Dollar Man.”
25. Carolina Panthers (5-10, No. 29)
No. 23: “My gut tells me there’s a similarity between them not figuring out how to get things done with Christian McCaffrey on the roster and the Angels consistently failing despite actually having Mike Trout on the roster. I like Teddy Bridgewater but it’s hard to see the path for them.”
26. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1, No. 24)
No. 14: “My gut tells me that if Carson Wentz could stay healthy, they’d be a threat but that he probably won’t and we’ll be spending lots of time talking about Jalen Hurts and Wentz’s future until the spring (or beyond).”
If a baseball player were to bat .500 as I successfully just did, they’d go to the Hall of Fame.
27. New York Giants (5-10, No. 25)
No. 29: “My gut tells me that Daniel Jones will have a lot of moments in which we truly see how good he’s capable of being but ultimately they still don’t have enough.”
I mean, we really didn’t even get that.
28. Houston Texans (4-11, No. 26)
No. 8: “My gut tells me they’d be a better team if they didn’t give away their best non-quarterback player this offseason and that their season will be made or broken based on how close David Johnson might be to being David Johnson.”
OK, THIS was the ranking I was most wrong about. But again, the whole “getting rid of your good players” thing actually didn’t work out. Stunning.
29. Atlanta Falcons (4-11, No. 30)
No. 13: “My gut tells me we’ve largely forgotten about how well they played in the second half of the season last year and that there’s a real chance that they’re the bigger threat to New Orleans than Tampa.”
30. Detroit Lions (5-10, No. 27)
No. 25: “My gut tells me we’ve forgotten that they were so ungodly terrible last season because Matthew Stafford was hurt. But that doesn’t guarantee they’ll be much better with him this year.”
31. New York Jets (2-13, No. 31)
No. 30: “My gut tells me that if healthy, similar things could be said about Sam Darnold.”
The context is that I was comparing him to Daniel Jones. Jones was disappointing. Darnold was notably less than that.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14, No. 32)
No. 32: “My gut tells me that didn’t we think the Dolphins were doing the same thing last year? This is the NFL. Nothing is guaranteed.”
I was specifically talking about the concept of tanking. I don’t think the Jaguars tanked. I think they sucked.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox