Sid Saraf’s NFL Power Rankings: Week 16
Greetings from the front lines.
I’m reporting live as the War on Christmas rages on for another painful year. All around me are the bodies of elves, the strewn-about carcasses of gifts that failed to live up to expectations and punch bowls full of eggnog that don’t have the appropriate amount of alcohol.
How many lives will be ruined by the phrase “Happy Holidays”? How many dreams will be shattered? When will it end?
Things are great, as they always are. Here’s hoping your holiday season is going well and you’re surrounded by people who enjoy your company.
And if you’re spending this time of the year alone – like I have a few times in the past – don’t feel down. Pour yourself a glass of something fun and put your feet up. You’ve earned some relaxation time.
Anyway, let’s see how the league looks heading into Week 16.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
NFL’S TOP 10
1) Patriots – See? Just six days after their worst performance in recent memory, Tom Brady, Gronk and the gang made things all better with a gutsy and predictable road win over the Steelers. Now they’re in the top spot in the AFC and control their own destiny. They might not leave New England until the Super Bowl. Typical.
2) Eagles – Sure, they dropped a spot in the rankings, but that’s fine. The Eagles, despite a strangely uneven defensive performance, saw what they needed to see out of Nick Foles in their win over the Giants. He might not be Carson Wentz, but he very well could be good enough to get Philadelphia to the Super Bowl.
3) Vikings – With the Rodgers-less Packers and Bears left on the schedule, Minnesota is in a perfect spot to get a bye and at least one home playoff game.
4) Rams – It’s not surprising they won in Seattle. It’s really surprising they pushed the Seahawks – or what’s left of them – around like that. And yes, this team is a legitimate contender, even though they’re probably still a year away from making that happen.
5) Panthers – How entertaining is Cam Newton? I don’t care how petulant he acts from time to time, he’s still appointment television as far as I’m concerned. And the Panthers seem to have figured things out at just the right time.
6) Jaguars – I love this squad. The Jaguars are the reincarnation of the 2012 Seahawks: a team with a vicious defense and a quarterback that’s starting to find himself. And don’t be surprised if Jacksonville makes serious noise come January.
7) Steelers – The sixth spot might be a little rough, but that loss was really something else. All they needed was one stop late and they couldn’t keep the ball out of Rob Gronkowski’s hands. And then came that precious final drive. Ugh. Look, maybe they rebound and actually beat New England on the road in the playoffs. But I’m not putting any money on that.
8) Saints – Are they a true Super Bowl contender? Hmmm, I don’t buy it. However, you can’t argue with running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, both of whom have scored 10 combined TDs and amassed at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage. Beasts.
9) Falcons – While it was good to see Devonta Freeman gash the Bucs with almost 200 total yards, Matt Ryan just doesn’t appear to be the same gunslinger he was last season. Actually, he’s firing just as much as he did, but he’s just not hitting anything.
10) Chiefs – Just when you thought they were out, they pull you back in. The Chiefs did an excellent job of raining on my Chargers parade last week.
WHAT’S THE CHATTER?
Tom Brady: So, Bill Belichick finally put his foot down and banned Rasputin from the Patriots sideline and facilities. That’s a good thing. Brady was weird to begin with, but when he started spouting health regimen theories supplied by that quack trainer of his, it all went off the rails. End it now.
Just die already: It appears we’re a nation divided. There are people with brains who feel “Die Hard,” a film released in the summer of 1988, was an epic action romp that pleased crowds everywhere. Then there are IDIOTS who call it a Christmas movie. These people must be destroyed. I’m not interested in having a debate, nor will I tolerate any dissent.
Saturday football: Always the surest sign that the calendar year is coming to a close. And they’re much better viewing experiences compared to games on Thursday nights.
Index cards: It figures that Gene Steratore was the referee responsible for MeasureGate. That grin when he came up to signal first down was classic.
Aaron Rodgers: Nice of him to stop by for a week. Now he’s back in the dark realm of the IR. See you next season, dude.
WHAT TO WATCH IN WEEK 16
Bills at Patriots: I’m definitely in the minority here, but I don’t think this game will be an easy one for New England. Again, not saying the Patriots will lose, but this one will be close late.
Rams at Titans: A win here and the division belongs to Los Angeles, completing the 180 degree turn from last season’s putrid 4-12 campaign. The ghost of Jeff Fisher will be exorcised.
Falcons at Saints: This one is simple: If Atlanta stops the run, the win will be there for the taking. Good luck with that.
Seahawks at Cowboys: Dallas will most likely spend January watching football, but at least the Cowboys are making the last few weeks of the season interesting. And hey, Zeke is back!
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.