According to the Football Outsider’s Playoff Odds Report, the Broncos are looking at a 1.4% chance at the postseason. With a legitimate defense and an arguably improving quarterback situation, I’d say they aren’t dead and buried yet. I wouldn’t bet on them though.
With that in mind, with this week starting the final half of Denver’s 2019 season and a bit of a clear hierarchy breaking out the league I’m going to take a closer look at the tiers as I see them. Should be fun.
Quick Disclaimer: As always, the Power Rankings are based upon how I see each team’s chances at winning the 2019 Lombardi. That means some teams will be lower than their record indicates and some teams will be lower than previous opponents they beat.
Race to the Bottom
It may be fair to start ranking these teams based entirely on how likely they are to win the 2020 Draft. They’re a mix of dumpster fires, rebuilding outfits, and perpetual disappointments. When these teams show up on NFL Redzone, I tend to check Twitter.
30. New York Giants
Daniel Jones’ ball security password is “password”— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) November 10, 2019
29. Miami Dolphins
28. Atlanta Falcons
27. New York Jets
Amazing play by Jamal pic.twitter.com/1xYWOmPsUa— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) November 10, 2019
These are the teams caught in the middle. If this was the NBA there’d be arguments that they should trade all their assets and restart once again. Oh, wait.
26. Detroit Lions
FAKE PUNT OF THE YEAR pic.twitter.com/MgyGMYNtZ6— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 10, 2019
Enjoy it each morning with a nice balanced breakfast https://t.co/J2guUocSq3— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) November 10, 2019
23. Chicago Bears
22. Cleveland Browns
This may be the most Cleveland Browns' thing, ever pic.twitter.com/BkaGhQt5na— John M. (@CalifInspector) November 10, 2019
21. Denver Broncos
This may seem a bit high for the Broncos considering the fact that they’ve got some pretty short odds at a top ten pick in the upcoming draft. The thing is, outside of the 0-4 start Denver’s won more than they’ve lost and face three overrated teams over the last seven games. If they can steal a win over the Raiders, Chiefs, or Vikings the narrative on Vic Fangio’s first season could take a dramatic change.
Obviously, the quarterback situation is the biggest wildcard. I’ve written about it and a few other X-factors last week. The short version of that is how I think Allen comes back to Earth against the Vikings before he goes on to have some success against Buffalo. Failing that, pulling the plug for Drew Lock should be a pretty straightforward decision.
If he defies my expectations, things could get very interesting.
It’s all relative, and they’re a sea away
Due to alignment, injury luck, or their QB situations (or a combination of the three) these teams look like legitimate playoff teams some weeks and complete jokes on others.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers are a banged up team who can’t get out of their own way. Sean McVay may be pining for 2021 already. Jacksonville’s about to nerf their offense for a backup quarterback, while the Panthers’ are giving theirs an extended look.
20. London Chargers
19. Los Angeles Rams
#Panthers have shown enough RB Angles by McCaffrey they went for an Angle Return/Pivot.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) November 11, 2019
Allen’s feet get out of whack after he gives a pump fake which makes him feel late on the throw, and they just miss connecting. pic.twitter.com/zazdeefYhT
The AFC Bubble
This is one of the big changes from previous weeks. More and more it’s looking like there’s a clear divide between the conferences. On the NFC side of things, it’d be surprising if the current division leaders don’t square things away, with one exception. With that being the case, the road into January is far narrower there.
16. Tennessee Titans
14. Buffalo Bills
13. Oakland Raiders
I expect all five of these AFC teams to make the dance by season’s end. I know the Colts seem high after losing to Miami, but keep in mind that they started their third choice at quarterback after the injury to Jacoby Brissett. It’s a similar story for the Chiefs. Yes they just lost, but it was one of those wild losses that probably doesn’t happen as Patrick Mahomes gets back to health.
Russell Wilson is my MVP and has been for a long while now, he’s carrying perhaps the worst great coach in the league. Minnesota’s a far better team top to bottom, but Kirk Cousins’ and both lines’ interiors make them volatile.
The NFC East is going to wind up as the most interesting division race to finish the season. Hope you haven’t gotten tired of the Cowboys on national T.V!
10. Dallas Cowboys
Russell Wilson when it’s time to save the Seahawks again pic.twitter.com/uPFv4gxpSC— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) November 4, 2019
MAHOMES MY LORD pic.twitter.com/4HCQ2Dc4Te— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) November 10, 2019
Barring some really bad luck over the next seven weeks, these are the teams I expect to play in the final rounds of the playoffs.
The Packers offense has some serious questions and the defense plays up and down, but if Aaron Rodgers can get hot they’re as good as any team in the NFC. Consider them the low floor, high ceiling contender. I trust the Saints top to bottom more than them, but Drew Brees’ age and couple of depth questions make things interesting.
It may be a bit of an overreaction to move the 49ers down two spots after last night. After all, it’s a division game and Kyle Shanahan was down both George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders by the end. That said, it’s not like Jimmy Garoppolo was facing off against the Legion of Boom. If this team’s for real he’ll have to beat far better defenses, or at least stay out of the defenses’ way.
In the AFC, it remains hard to pick against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady when things get tight. The 42-year old signal caller’s been doing this so long it’s boring and Father Time could creep in once the weather really cools down, but until then I have a hard time picking the Ravens over them. I hope Lamar Jackson and the Wink Martindale’s defense can spring another upset when it matters most because that’d be such a fun lead up to the Super Bowl, but my brain isn’t buying what my heart wants to sell it.
Bill O'Brien: "I'll be honest with you I've been basically immersed in watching the Ravens. I mean, have you watched the Ravens on film? There's a lot to watch."— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) November 11, 2019
I know this feeling. pic.twitter.com/8lopT6I6pu