With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror and the Broncos on a bye, this feels like a good week to zoom back out and take a look around the league. Is there a chance Denver can make a little noise over the final seven games? How hard would it be to tank?
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.
The Tank is on.
The Bungles benched Andy Dalton and will look to move him this off-season. Nothing says “committed to the world of suck” quite like starting a rookie third rounder over a $100 million guy to see “what you have.”
31. New York Jets
After toppling a tank, it’s fair to wonder if Adam Gase survives 2019.
Dwayne Haskins means they’re sort of compelling. Sort of.
29. Miami Dolphins
Brian Flores fooled around and stole a win. Has anyone put money on him receiving walking papers?
28. Atlanta Falcons
My dark horse contender for the third pick in the draft. Unlike the other teams down in the cellar, Atlanta has a really rough schedule down the final half of the year.
27. New York Giants
So my fantasy team “Pickle Rick” went into last night’s game with a 37.1 lead with Saquon Barkley yet to play facing off against Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot. We won by 11. To say I should have bid on Christian McCaffrey back in August is a bit of an understatement.
Maybe next year
26. Cleveland Browns
Every way you turn, the Browns are a disaster.
Browns player Jermaine Whitehead just got his twitter suspended 15 min after losing to the Broncos.— Sports Nation Ohio (@SN_Ohio) November 4, 2019
Things are going well! pic.twitter.com/yPVPOwtHVW
Needless to say, Whitehead was released yesterday.
Guess who has the second hardest schedule in football over the back half of the season?
24. Denver Broncos
With the Broncos looking at a 1.2% chance of making the playoffs, the rebuild is most certainly on. It’s fair to wonder if their upcoming schedule is already having an impact on the plan with Drew Lock and his return from injured reserve. Bringing him back this past week in order to start immediately after the bye would have sacrificed him to Everson Griffin and Danielle Hunter in Minnesota. I’ve already written about the most optimal start for him.
23. Chicago Bears
One of the great “what-if” scenarios that will haunt Chicago is how the Bears went into camp with no capable replacement for Mitch Trubisky. Things got so bad a healthy chunk of the fan base was pining for Andy Dalton this past month. The current defense is championship caliber and faces an off-season cap crunch that could decimate the core.
Turnover prone offense and young defense makes for a 2-6 record. Even still, the pieces are there to drag Pete Carroll and the Seahawks into a 34-all overtime. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the Bucs approach this off-season. Bruce Arians will have a very real ability to shape the team as he sees fit with 27 expiring contracts and something like $83 million in cap space.
21. Tennessee Titans
Before the Titans wandered into Carolina, they looked a lot like a team that made a quarterback swap a little too late to take advantage of their strong defense. Then Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers’ talented receivers made mincemeat of Dean Pees’ defense while Ryan Tannehill did his best Marcus Mariota impression.
They still have dates with the Colts and finish their season with a Texans-Saints-Texans sandwich. Maybe next year.
I’d feel a lot better about the Jags if they weren’t shaving their Minshew in the middle of Movember for Nick Foles.
So you’re saying there’s a chance...
19. Detroit Lions
Lions fans I respect believe Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn deserve more time. It remains an open question if the Fords provide it.
I was too wrapped up in the Broncos game to see L.A shock the Cheeseheads, but holy cow, they dominated, eh? Going to be fun walking into class on Tuesday.
Something tells me Pittsburgh fans are going to become insufferable as they beat up on teams like the Browns (twice), Bengals, Cardinals, and Jets over the next two months.
16. Oakland Raiders
It’s hard to believe Antonio Brown threw this same team into turmoil two months ago. They’ve made it to .500 with one of the toughest schedules in the league and face a bit of a cake walk to finish. The Bungles, Jets, and Titans could mean Fangio has a chance at spoiling Jon Gruden’s playoff aspirations to close the year.
With reports coming out about Cam Newton’s health complications, it’s looking more and more likely that Kyle Allen gets an extended audition to prove he’s the guy. Life in the NFC South means Ron Rivera will probably need more Superman than Clark Kent to guide the Cats back into the dance.
Sweating the standings
The Vikings loss helped the Iggles playoff aspirations. A date with the Patriots after a bye does not. Bill Belichick is close to automatic with an extra week to prepare.
13. Buffalo Bills
I fully expect the Buffalo Bills to continue smacking around the hapless teams pushed in front of them and wind up the fifth seed. Then they’ll be “disrespected” as teams maneuver to get to face off against Josh Allen in January.
Jacoby Brissett’s health concerns are the biggest factor here. Even as good as Frank Reich is, stumbling down a bumpy road with a third string quarterback would hurt.
11. Los Angeles Rams
For all of the washing of hands over Sean McVay, Jared Goff, and Todd Gurley, it’s Wade Phillips’ defense that has helped keep LA in the hunt for a shot at redemption this year. Now that Jalen Ramsey’s had a couple weeks to get acquainted with the scheme, things could get interesting quick.
Here’s a quick look at their next final slog: Steelers, Bears, Ravens, Cards, Seahawks, Cowboys, Niners, and a rematch with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray to finish the regular season.
Just as soon as I accept the Vikes as legitimate playoff contenders, they get
robbed beat by the Chiefs’ backup quarterback.
Scheduling gods can be cruel: Jason Garrett got to play three games against New York teams, two against Washington, and Miami so far. The fact they’re sitting at 5-3 despite this is a bit concerning. Up next are the Vikings, Lions, Patriots, Bills, Bears, and Rams.
You can’t convince me Jerry Jones doesn’t have Lincoln Riley’s number on speed dial. Just in case.
Remember when there was doubt about Russell Wilson as the clear MVP?
Russell Wilson so far in 2019: 200-of-293 (68.3%), 2,505, 22 TD, 1 INT and Seattle is 7-2.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 4, 2019
The clear cut MVP front runner.
I’m sure if you told Reid he’d split the games with Minny and Green Bay starting Matt Moore, he’d gladly take it. It’s going to be fascinating to see how they manage Patrick Mahomes’ health with a game against the Raiders to open December before a trip to Foxboro.
A win while the rest of the AFC South takes a Lump could be big with the Ravens, Colts and Patriots looming. Deshaun Watson will be battle tested by the time Wild Card weekend comes around.
In some alternate dimension I’d try and explain to you how the Broncos played Green Bay tough and smacked around the Chargers that beat up on Matt LaFleuer’s team, so they’re clearly better than 3-6.
But I’m too lazy, so I adjusted all three rankings.
Hard to believe Lamar Jackson can pull off another stunner in January, but Sunday revealed who the true second best team in the AFC is.
Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) is the 2nd player with a passing touchdown and multiple rushing touchdowns in a single game against the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era.— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 4, 2019
The only other? Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown in Week 3, 2008.#SundayNightFootball
Why do I have the lone unbeaten at 3?
The game on December 8th between Sean Payton and Kyle Shanahan is going to be so much fun.
You didn’t really think I was going to slide them down because they aren’t undefeated, did you?