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Original 2016 NFL Power Rankings: The Conclusion, With Awards And Playoff Predictions

Matt Weston ranks all 32 teams one last time and hands out postseason awards and playoff picks.

This article made this bearable all year.
This article made this bearable all year.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Every week of of the season, I ranked every NFL team from 1-32, power rankings style, and arranged them into four blocks.

The Worst

The Mediocre


The Contenders

The biggest problem with traditional power rankings is they take too much in account of every week. Each game is exacerbated. Every loss is the end of the world. Every win is another stitch in a dream season. Part of it just goes along with football in general. These games happen only once a week. There are only sixteen of them. Exaggeration is just part of it. I'm going to try and remove that by looking at the big picture instead of bumping up and down based on one loss or one win. The rankings below are simply adjustments made based on what I thought heading into the season; in the future, they will be adjusted based on an entire body of work and trends, not because of a single HUGE win or one BAD loss.

This is the last iteration of the year. There will be a short summary of every team, NFL awards, and my playoff picks. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. 

The Worst:

32.) Cleveland Browns--Record: 1-15.  Point Differential: -188.  DVOA: -30.9% (31). Last Week: 32.

The only team in the history of the NFL to go 1-15 and have a successful season.

31.) New York Jets--Record: 5-11.  Point Differential: -134.  DVOA: -32.4% (32). Last Week: 31.

The personnel doesn't fit the scheme on defense. The quarterback situation is rotten. This team is a wreck and so am I.

30.) San Francisco 49ers--Record: 2-14.  Point Differential: -171.  DVOA: -19.7% (28). Last Week: 30.

Having a terrible owner is a raccoon in the attic you can never get rid of. Chip Kelly's offense was bland and didn't show much, but you'd think he would get more than one year with a bad team.

29.) Los Angeles Rams--Record: 4-12.  Point Differential: -170.  DVOA: -29.0% (30). Last Week: 29.

I picked Jeff Fisher to be the first coach fired. I finally got something right.  This is a terrible situation for whoever comes in next.

28.) Jacksonville Jaguars--Record: 3-13.  Point Differential: -82.  DVOA: -10.7% (26). Last Week: 28.

Get Blake Bortles a run game and maybe he can be good. Or don't, and find a new quarterback, continue to add young talent, and hope the defense makes the leap for this team to be competitive.

27.) Chicago Bears--Record: 3-13. Point Differential: -120. DVOA: -7.9% (25). Last Week: 27.

It's going to be FUN FUN FUN to see which rookie quarterback they end up with.

26.) Carolina Panthers--Record: 6-10.  Point Differential: -33.  DVOA: -4.8% (23). Last Week: 26.

Either Denver or Carolina was always going to miss the playoffs. They both were the luckiest teams in the league last year. They both missed the playoffs this year. Carolina has too much talent to not end up back in it all again next season.

The Mediocre:

25.) Indianapolis Colts--Record: 8-8.  Point Differential: +19.  DVOA: -5.1% (24). Last Week: 25.

If they win two more one-possession games, they make the playoffs. They didn't. At least they will have the cap space to try and build a good team around Andrew Luck again. I still can't believe Ryan Grigson is getting another shot to do that.

24.) San Diego Chargers--Record: 5-11.  Point Differential: -13.  DVOA: -1.0% (20). Last Week: 22.

This was the unluckiest team in the league. They have talent.  They have a great quarterback.  They will get key players back from injury. They will have a new head coach that won't throw the ball four times against an all-time great pass defense from the two yard line. I already can't wait to pick this team to make the 2017 NFL Playoffs.

23.) Minnesota Vikings--Record: 8-8.  Point Differential: +20.  DVOA: -1.1% (23). Last Week: 21.

The Sam Bradford trade is miserable since they thought they were going to contend. You can thank the defense not being great and offensive injuries to an already mediocre offensive line for that.

22.) Buffalo Bills--Record: 7-9.  Point Differential: +21.  DVOA: -0.7% (19). Last Week: 19.

Rex Ryan should have been fired last year after he mangled that defense. I hope Tygod Taylor stays. He's perfect for that scheme and that team. The defense was the problem this year, not the offense.

21.) New Orleans Saints--Record: 7-9.  Point Differential: +15.  DVOA: -0.4% (18). Last Week: 20.

A team that exists just for Drew Brees to throw a lot in a haze of nostalgia will have cap space to improve their defense again. They have to pick the right players this time.  If not, they will have wasted the end of Brees' Hall of Fame career.

20.) Arizona Cardinals--Record: 7-8-1.  Point Differential: +56.  DVOA: 1.7% (16). Last Week: 23.

Two missed field goals soured their season. They need to move on from Carson Palmer.

19.) Cincinnati Bengals--Record: 6-9-1.  Point Differential: +10.  DVOA: 3.0% (15). Last Week: 24.

It's possible this is the end of those Bengals teams that could never win a playoff game. What should have been great teams to look on upon with a stretched mouth may just end up being wasted time and potential.

18.) Tennessee Titans--Record: 9-7.  Point Differential: +3.  DVOA: 3.9% (13). Last Week: 17.

The AFC South favorite for next year. They have two top fifteen picks and a ton of cap space.  They played well this year, and they know what they do well.

17.) Philadelphia Eagles--Record: 7-9.  Point Differential: +36.  DVOA: 17.1% (4). Last Week: 18.

This is the one team I never understood. The numbers never matched the eyes.


16.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers--Record: 9-7.  Point Differential: -15.  DVOA: -1.6% (22). Last Week: 14.

They blew it after riding an unsustainable spat of defensive play that created more turnovers and sacks than they had all year. That's better than being 6-10. Jameis Winston is really good.

15.) Denver Broncos--Record: 9-7.  Point Differential: +36.  DVOA: 3.8% (14) Last Week: 16.

Do you feel that? Do you hear that? Could that be Tony Romo? They have bigger holes than quarterback, like their offensive line and interior defense, but this may end up being where Romo goes.

14.) Baltimore Ravens--Record: 8-8.  Point Differential: +22.  DVOA: 5.9% (12) Last Week: 15.

They blew it as well, thanks to Antonio Brown going all Space Jam on them. Their run defense was such a joy to watch this year. Improvement was expected after last year's disaster.

13.) Washington Redskins--Record: 8-7-1.  Point Differential: +13.  DVOA: 9.2% (8). Last Week: 10.

Kirk Cousins is going to get paid like Andrew Luck and I don't know how I feel about that. That fourth quarter interception he threw on first down against the Giants last week was a travesty.

12.) Houston Texans--Record: 9-7.  Point Differential: -49.  DVOA: -21.4% (29). Last Week: 12.

Won a lot of close games and played well in the division. Their luck exceeded their record. They need better quarterback play next year or they will probably end up dropping below .500. I hate Brock Osweiler.

11.) Oakland Raiders--Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +31. DVOA: 8.3% (11). Last Week 9.

Oh, Fortuna. That sly nymph can be so cruel sometimes.

10.) Detroit Lions--Record: 9-7.  Point Differential: -12.  DVOA: -17.6% (27). Last Week: 13.

This team was bad this year. They won because Matthew Stafford is a magician who pulls hats out of rabbits.

9.) Miami Dolphins--Record: 10-6.  Point Differential: -7.  DVOA: 0.3% (17). Last Week: 11.

Won a lot of close games against bad teams to get hot to end the year. Ajayi, baby!

The Contenders:

8.) Green Bay Packers--Record: 10-6.  Point Differential: +44.  DVOA: 12.1% (7). Last Week: 9.

HEY, so, like, don't doubt an all-time great quarterbacks when a slide occurs unless they he is, like, 41 years old. Aaron Rodgers is better and smarter than everyone else.

7.) Pittsburgh Steelers--Record: 11-5.  Point Differential: +72.  DVOA: 15.8% (5) Last Week: 7.

The Chimera that is Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell is something else. Let's just skip to the AFC Championship Game and see if either them or Kansas City can beat New England.

6.) Seattle Seahawks--Record: 10-5-1.  Point Differential: +62.  DVOA: 8.7% (9). Last Week: 5.

Now's the time we see if Russell Wilson can lead a team on his own through the playoffs.

5.) New York Giants--Record: 11-5.  Point Differential: +26.  DVOA: 8.7% (10). Last Week: 8.

All of that money this offseason paid off. They hit on every one of their free agents they spent tons on. The emergence of Paul Perkins to help the run game has made this team horrifying for the postseason. It's all going to be up to which Eli Manning they get. The stage is set.

4.) Kansas City Chiefs--Record: 12-4.  Point Differential: +78.  DVOA: 13.9% (6). Last Week: 6.

The most balanced team in the AFC. They have the best shot to beat New England. Alex Smith is going to have to win one of these games instead of being just a complement.

3.) Atlanta Falcons--Record: 11-5.  Point Differential: +134.  DVOA: 19.6% (3). Last Week: 4.

The best offense in the NFL. Matt Ryan had one of the most efficient seasons of all time. If their defense gets sacks and forces turnovers, they are going to win a title.

2.) Dallas Cowboys--Record: 13-3.  Point Differential: +115.  DVOA: 21.0% (2). Last Week: 1.

One of the worst parts of this season was that I wasn't able to even hate the Cowboys this year. Their offensive line and how they dealt with the Romo injury has been incredible.

1.) New England Patriots--Record: 14-2.  Point Differential: +191.  DVOA: 25.3% (1). Last Week: 2.

Tom Brady threw two interceptions. He was absurd on third down. Their one flaw is their pass rush. It may not even matter until the Super Bowl.


MVP: Matt Ryan (ATL)

Off Player: David Johnson (ARI)

Def Player: Von Miller (DEN)

Coach of the Year: Jason Garrett (DAL)

Comeback Player of the Year: Melvin Gordon (SD)

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jalen Ramsey (JAX)


Wild Card Round:

Houston beats Oakland.

Pittsburgh beats Miami.

Seattle beats Detroit.

New York (G) beats Green Bay.

Divisional Round:

Kansas City beats Pittsburgh.

New England beats Houston.

Atlanta beats Seattle.

New York (G) beats Dallas.

Conference Championships:

New England beats Kansas City.

Atlanta beats New York (G).

Super Bowl:

Atlanta beats New England.

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