The Cardiac Cards continue the roller coaster. While they put up 41 points (6 of that from a defensive touchdown) they managed to give up 48 points on defense and fell completely out of playoff contention, officially.
With that, there's nothing to really do except play for pride with the upcoming showdown with the Seahawks on Christmas Eve. How about the best of the rest? Here are the pre-Week 16 Power Rankings:
1) Dallas Cowboys (11-2) - I was tempted to put the Patriots #1 but despite Dak's struggles, they continue to win close games. You could say the same of the Patriots but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt as their defense has really come on in the last few weeks.
2) New England Patriots (10-2) - The Patriots really do miss Gronk. After they put up 400 yards on the Ravens, Tom Brady had one of his worst games of the season, and yet, still managed to pull out a victory. The Pats seem Super Bowl bound, but there are three things that are standing in their way. First--lack of weapons (guys dropping left and right). Secondly--lack of a pass-rush. And third--the other 4 contenders in the AFC (KC, Oakland, Pitt, Denver) all have top-notch pass-rushers who can get after Brady. If Aldon Smith comes back to pair with Khalil Mack, you can bet that Brady will start wishing that the Tuck Rule rears its ugly head again.
3) Oakland Raiders (10-3) - Why keep the Raiders at #3 when they lost to the Chiefs? Simple: their Quarterback. The Chiefs couldn't stop the Titans run game and while their defense has been lock-down at times, they've struggled when Justin Houston has been injured recently. Plus, if the Raiders get Aldon Smith back...edge Oakland.
4) New York Giants (9-4) I'm a bit surprised myself I don't have the Giants higher at this point considering what they're doing on offense and defense, but color me sold on them as a Super Bowl threat. If anything, it's the middling play of Eli Manning, of which Odell Beckham Jr. is making up for, that has me concerned. There might not be a better team right now in the NFC if Dak continues to hit the rookie wall next week.
5) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) Hey look, we're finally getting to see what happens when the trifecta of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are healthy. While Big Ben's health is always a question, the defense has improved and the offense is straight rolling teams on the ground and through the air. The AFC is just so much stronger this year, and the Steelers are a big reason why.
6) Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1) - The injury to Earl Thomas has proved itself with the loss to the Bucs, and while they rolled the Jeff Fisher-less Rams this week, they only put up 24 points. For this Seattle team it's kind of a low standard, even on TNF. Their offense and defense have some holes and they're going to be playing an Arizona team who's desperate for a win and has beaten them every home game in which they've faced Carson Palmer. Not good.
7) Atlanta Falcons (7-5) The Falcons defense still has issues, and Julio hasn't been healthy. But lately? They haven't needed him. The #1 offense in the NFL got it done and will get it done for a while. The question is, can they get to the Super Bowl? I don't think so, as defense is what wins Championships and what games in the playoffs. And the Falcons are short that right now.
8) Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) The Chiefs have been rolling teams and then they suddenly drop a dud to the Titans. I think they can still go far but unfortunately for them, their quarterback situation just seems up and down. They'll go as far as their pass rush and Alex Smith can take them. The upside? Jeremy Mac is back!
9) Tennessee Titans (8-6) The Titans actually make the top 10 in the power poll. While the team hasn't the prettiest record, they've been on fire lately, and even in a bad day from Mariota, scraped together a win and separated themselves as the threat to beat in the AFC South as long as Andrew Luck has a bad O-line and defense. Why put them over the Texans? Simply: when you bench your starting QB, I don't think that's sustainable. Maybe Tom Savage will prove me wrong, (he only beat the Jags) but I think the Titans will win the division. Now, they're NOT a Super Bowl contender, but a playoff spoiler? You bet.
10) Detroit Lions (9-5) Man, the Lions stunk up the joint, as a late INT from Matthew Stafford sunk their late-game comeback attempts. Detroit will have to stave off a surging Green Bay Packers team if they want to steal the crown of the NFC North from their rivals. And that's gonna be a tall task to accomplish.
And the rest:
11) Miami Dolphins (9-5)
12) Green Bay Packers (8-6)
13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6)
14) Denver Broncos (8-6)
15) Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
17) Washington Redskins (7-6-1(
18) Minnesota Vikings (7-7)
19) Buffalo Bills (7-7)
20) Houston Texans (8-6)
21) Carolina Panthers (6-8)
22) New Orleans Saints (6-8)
23) Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1)
24) Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) Honestly, what more can you say about the season? Record-wise, Arizona is the 9th worst team in the NFL and will have, likely, a top 10 pick in the draft, but it feels even worse. It feels like this team could lose to any team except for the 49ers, Jets (both who they've beaten) Bears, Jags or Rams. And they'll have a chance to lose to the Rams again at the end of the season.
Right now, this team is dysfunctional in almost one area of the team every game. Even when the offense is clicking, Fitzgerald and Golden turn it over or J.J. Nelson drops a pass. The defense gets burned deep on a deep route and crosser, and continues to have punting and extra point problems week-in and week-out.
This season will ultimately go down as one of a team with potential who could never put it all together at once like they could a year ago. Changes will likely come as a result. Fortunately, Keim and Arians have shown that they're the ones to lead this team back from this new low. But if they drop the next two games and end up with a top 7 pick? Perhaps they start thinking about life after Palmer for 2018 and beyond.
Otherwise, I don't really know what more to say, other than that you are only as strong as your weakest link. The Cards have far too many of those weak links. It's time to cut them and move on.
25) Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)
26) San Diego Chargers (5-9)
27) Los Angeles Rams (4-10)
28) Chicago Bears (3-11)
29) New York Jets (3-11)
30) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)
31) San Francisco 49ers (1-13)
What do you think? Did I give a team too much credit? Too low on one? Sound off in the comments section!
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