Traditional power rankings overreact to one HUGE WIN and one sad (!) loss. Rarely do they take in account the entire season. To give a more accurate representation of what’s going on, and where these teams currently stand, I will not equivocate or give into the yank of heartstrings the NFL season brings week to week.
Instead of living with such a short memory, here’s where all 32 teams rank now that the 2020 NFL regular season is over, and the real fun begins.
32.) New York Jets—Record: 2-14. Point Differential: -214 (32). DVOA: -30.5% (32). Previously 32nd.
No team should go 0-16. I played on a YMCA basketball team that went winless. In the last game I fouled out after playing point guard at 5’9” 160 pounds because no one could bring the ball up without getting it stolen. I kicked the bench in frustration. It flipped and spilled water from red buckets across the floor. The ref tossed me out. My dad drove me home and told me I can’t act like that. I cried the whole way home.
Good for the New York Jets for playing Any Given Sunday against the Rams, and making the Browns’ butt pucker after they failed to run the ball or feed Kareem Hunt in the passing game until the third quarter despite having only two practice squad wide receivers available.
The Jets are interesting from here on out. They have Quinnen Williams, who you can build an entire front seven around, and the Jets have a competent defense as is, even though no one knows who John Franklin-Myers or Folorunso Fatukasi are. They have Mekhi Becton, a franchise left tackle, and an entire offense that no one knows anything about because it was designed and led by Adam Gase. They have a Sam Darnold decision to make too. 95% of his play is crap, but there’s 5% that’s spectacular and outlandish. If the 5% could be turned into 25%, and the 95% dropped down to 5%, there’s a good quarterback there. That’s a lot to have happen. It’s improbable, but not impossible.
They have the second overall pick. They can take Justin Fields, trade Darnold for what they can, and go from there. Or, they can trade down from second overall, and see what a new head coach can get out of Darnold, while taking another quarterback later on just in case.
Whatever they do, it will be fascinating. The Jets coaching job is better than it is currently being made out to be.
31.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 1-15. Point Differential: -186 (31). DVOA: -27.9% (31). Previously 31st.
The Jaguars had no business going 1-15, they had too much young talent to be this horrendous, but here we are, congratulations, they did it, they decomposed the quickest, and won the Trevor Lawrence tankfest. After years of being horrendous without being able to take an incredible quarterback prospect, the Jaguars finally get their chance.
I already can’t wait to watch the 2021 Jaguars. They get a new head coach after firing Doug Marrone, who was as bad as Bill O’Brien, but had less talent and an AFC Championship Game to his name, and a new general manager. They have two first round picks thanks to the Jalen Ramsey trade, and eleven total picks in next year’s draft. After releasing Andrew Norwell, A.J. Cann, and Tyler Eifert they’ll have $94 million in cap space. They’ll draft the newest prodigal quarterback. The AFC South is getting hot.
30.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 4-11-1. Point Differential: -113 (28). DVOA: -24.7% (30). Previously 30th.
Rebuilds in the NFL can sometimes happen immediately. Sometimes they take time. Cincinnati is having to rebuild their offensive line, and turn their decayed husk of a former defense into something new and beautiful. This year was another step in the rebuild. It remains to be seen if Zach Taylor is the man to run it.
29.) Detroit Lions—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -142 (30). DVOA: -15.7% (27). Previously 25th.
The Lions were hilarious this year. They spent the offseason getting BIG and STRONG and TOUGH to stop the run. They ended up finishing 27th in run defense DVOA. Despite Matthew Stafford being a deep passing demigod last season, this season their deep passing game disappeared along with Kenny Galladay’s injury, and instead they tried to establish the run and give Adrian Peterson as many carries as possible, until finally, realizing he was the worst running back on the team in week 14. I repeat, this team needed fourteen weeks to realize Adrian Peterson wasn’t as good as D’Andre Swift, someone they spent a second round pick on.
28.) Denver Broncos—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -123 (29). DVOA: -22.1% (29). Previously 26th.
Drew Lock is a slightly better version of Dwayne Haskins, but instead of going to the adult ballerina show in the middle of a ‘freaking’ pandemic, he’s dancing in the mirror, revisiting those halycon days when he won his fourth grade talent show. Plain and simple. He’s too inaccurate to be a NFL quarterback. That’s it. No amount of arm strength or little bit of mobility can make up for it.
The defense was pretty good this year regardless of the injuries. It’s a testament to how great of a defensive mind Vic Fangio is. The power run game is fun. Jerry Jeudy is the most talented receiver of his class, but needs a quarterback who won’t throw behind him every time he runs a slant route. Until they nail the quarterback position, a limbo they’ve been in since they sold their soul in 2015, this team is orange and garish.
27.) Philadelphia Eagles—Record: 4-11-1. Point Differential: -84 (27). DVOA: -18.8% (28). Previously 28th.
Jalen Hurts showed what Tom Brady showed in Tampa this year to a lesser extent. There’s something to be said about not actively hurting your team. Wentz led the league in sacks that lost more than seven yards this year, led the league in sacks taken, was tied for first in interceptions thrown in only twelve starts, was tied third with ten fumbles, was 34th in completion percentage ahead of only Drew Lock, and finished last in DVOA and DYAR. By simply throwing the ball out of bounds instead of into triple coverage and blindfoled, Hurts was dramatically improved this team.
I guarantee you Doug Pederson told Carson, “ We don’t need you, we won a title without you,” to make Carson not suit up in week seventeen. They are going to have to give up a pick to trade that contract and take a dead cap hit of $59 million to get rid of him. It’s like if the Brock Osweiler trade was an intergalactic trade deal to end the embargo on szxtizn.
26.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -78 (25). DVOA: -11.1% (23). Previously 29th.
The Cowboys almost blew it in the most Cowboys way possible. Winning in week seventeen then watching the Washington Football Team do it would have been too perfect. Unfortunately, they saved their Miller Lite swigging silicon stuffed spray painted backwards hat wearing fanbase the misery of having to watch Philadelphia rest their starters Sunday night. It’s for the better. Dallas may have exploded.
25.) Atlanta Falcons—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -18 (18). DVOA: -4.2% (17). Previously 22nd.
Since the Falcons Superbowl loss, after blowing a 28-3 lead, the Falcons are 15-21 in one-possession games. This season they went 2-8 in one score games. The Falcons are just the Falcons now. They have a terrible defense that gets better in the second half, their great offense can’t do enough and has the occasional diaper crapping performance, and they lose close games. Run it back year after year after year after year.
I’ll always love the 2020 Falcons for two reasons. One, they lost to Dallas because they didn’t touch the football on an onside kick. Two, they traded interceptions in a hilarious and beautiful “WHO WANTS IT THE LEAST” loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
I love what Rahim Moore did to their defense in the second half, proving Dan Quinn’s same zone coverage failures without a front four who could create a pass rush was the real reason for the defensive errors. That being said, I wouldn’t buy in on the same second half resurgence. If Arthur Smith leaves my kuntry kuzinz in Tennessee he needs to go to Atlanta.
24.) Houston Texans—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -80 (26). DVOA: -12.5% (24). Previously 23rd.
The Texans needed this season so they can move on for the future. Good. I’m glad it happened. It needed to happen. No longer is blowing a 24 point lead inevitable and the pinnacle of this franchise. Now it’s up to Nick Caserio to try and put this crumbling shanty back together.
23.) New York Giants—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -77 (24). DVOA: -13.8% (25). Previously 24th.
The New York Giants crying over the Philadelphia Eagles benching Hurts is hysterical. You went 6-10! There should never be a reality where a 6-10 team makes the postseason. If you wanted to get in the dance maybe you should have won more games.
The Giants were frisky this season though. They played hard throughout the season even when they were 1-7. They lost to five playoff teams by a combined score of 48 points. Their two close losses to Dallas and Philadelphia are what derailed their season.
They have a great run stopping defensive line who can get a little bit of a pass rush. Their entire offensive line is built out for the future. The run game picked up once Wayne Gallman took over at running back, and next season, it will have its all-time talent back at the position. Daniel Jones improved in year two, was raw to begin with, and it took Jason Garrett way too much time to bring the vertical passing offense that was paraded this summer out of the closet and into the living room. Utilizing this from the get go will go a long way next year.
The Giants, like the other three idiots in this division, will be right back in the thick of it next year.
22.) Carolina Panthers—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -52 (23). DVOA: -6.7% (21). Previously 19th.
Joe Brady is interviewing for head coaching positions as expected. The man who turned Joe Burrow into Joey Buckets and a first overall pick, and crafted a top ten offense by DVOA without Christian McCaffrey, a left tackle, and Teddy Bridgewater <3 is probably going to get the opportunity he deserves. I hope he stays one more year though. They went 5-11 because they didn’t have a linebacker aside from Shaq Thompson, fielded a horrendous run defense, and played a tough schedule. Their defense is a nursery and the babies should begin to bloom next year.
By adding another linebacker, a top ten pick, and playing an easier schedule next season, they should be a postseason competing team. This is also a team that could trade Bridgewater to a team like Denver, and trade up in the draft to try to get Justin Fields, or the leftovers from there. I hope not, but it’s a possibility.
21.) San Francisco 49ers—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -14 (17). DVOA: 5.4% (11). Previously 21st.
Fred Warner is the best player in the NFL no one cares about. He deserves more love. He can carry out every coverage assignment a linebacker can be tasked with; carry the seam, sit in the short hook, stampede the flat, play man against running backs and tight ends; he can blitz, smash in the run game, and play from the middle of the field to the sideline. He’s what makes Robert Saleh’s defense work.
The NFL, like every sport, like every season, had plenty of traumatic injuries. The worst one was losing Nick Bosa for the season. He was an absolute barbarian in week one against Arizona before shredding his knee in the woodchipper. The second worst one was losing George Kittle off and on this season. He’s not only the best blocking tight end, but one of the best outside zone run blocking tight ends in the league even when grouped amongst offensive linemen. Plus, he’s incredible after the catch.
There’s an enormous Jimmy Garppolo question facing them this offseason. Average. Lifted up by this offense. Due a $26.9 million cap hit with zero guaranteed money tied to it. Has never proved he can carry an offense on his own. No one can spell his last name.
20.) Minnesota Vikings—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -45 (22). DVOA: -6.4% (20). Previously 14th.
Peace out Gary K. The outside zone Denver goliath is retiring once again. It took him way too long to get Justin Jefferson integrated in the offense, even though he was only missing the first two weeks of the season. With him going, Kubiak’s offense was revolutionized by a novel concept of having two great wide receivers, instead of just one. Adding guard-tight end power as a counter to all the outside zone running was crucial too. Both leading to great seasons from Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook.
As good of a job Kubiak did, Mike Zimmer was even better. His defense to start the season was atrocious. They lost around 60% of their snaps from the previous season. He was stuck playing young cornerbacks who couldn’t stay ontop of their routes. By the midpoint of the season everything was passable. This was mainly because of the two Erics they have at inside linebacker. They finished 18th in DVOA after being absolutely blasted the first six weeks of the season and allowing 32 points a game.
They’re stuck though. They still haven’t fought off their salary cap sins. They have another season of Kirk Cousins, and since his extension, they still can’t move on from him. They just are what they are. It’s going to take further Zimmer magic and development of their young defensive talent for them to get back to where they were doing, getting trounced in the postseason.
19.) Las Vegas Raiders—Record: 8-8. Point Differential: -44 (21). DVOA: -6.3% (19). Previously 15th.
Control+C. Control+V. The 2019 and 2020 Raiders seasons are identical. Derek Carr is the same as he was his rookie year, great without pressure, terrible with it. The defense is still abysmal. Until they find a passable defense they just pretty much are what they are. Pretty good.
18.) Los Angeles Chargers—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -42 (20). DVOA: -23.4% (26). Previously 26th.
The Chargers went 4-0 the last month of the season to turn 3-9 into 7-9. I’m proud of the Chargers. They didn’t give into the improved record and squint their eyes and keep Anthony Lynn around. The end of half and end of game failures happen too often and it was too much. Running the ball on 3rd and 1 with zero timeouts left and failing to get the field goal unit on was too much. Lynn and the Chargers should have parted ways on the spot. Middle school coaches would be fired for less.
Justin Herbert is transcendent. He’s the best young quarterback in the league. Better than Joe Burrow, better than Kyler Murray, better than Baker Mayfield, and it’s not even close. He’s transcendent in the sense that he’s incredible enough to make up for the Chargers curse of losing one score games. The Chargers were terrible in these situations, but most of it can be chalked up to coaching alone.
Herbert on a rookie contact, in addition to their top offensive and defensive talent, with a top fifteen pick, and cap space for next season is the best coaching job available. This is a Super Bowl contender waiting to happen, and is far and away the best head coaching job available.
17.) New England Patriots—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -27 (19). DVOA: -7.1% (22). Previously 18th.
I know the numbers don’t love the Patriots defense, but I still like it. Their secondary can rock man coverage. They can turn anyone into a competent cornerback. It’s sickening how much of a hipster selection the D-II Kyle Dugger was, and how right they were for picking him. Their front seven lacks a true impact player, and just hovers around acceptable, but it’s young and needs more time to brew.
Even though Cam is done, taking a shot on Cam Newton was worth the risk. He can’t throw the football with any accuracy. His downfield passing attempts hurt my AC joint busted shoulder. He’s a backup and nothing more. He’s going to be beautiful on the sideline in New Orleans or Baltimore.
After decades of quarterback consistency, and then greatest quarterback of all-time play, it’s going to be lovely for those who don’t put queso in a breadbowl and get sunburned at 55 degrees to watch this team navigate quarterback purgatory.
16.) Chicago Bears—Record: 8-8. Point Differential: +2 (15). DVOA: -0.5% (15). Previously 20th.
There are six playoff games this weekend. That’s going to be twenty hours of football. THANK GOD the NFL added two extra playoff teams all so the crappy Chicago Bears could get in and keep Jim Nagy and Mitch Trubisky around for another year.
15.) Cleveland Browns—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: -11 (16). DVOA: -5.6% (18). Previously 16th.
The drought is over. Good for Cleveland. They finally stopped drinking beers at 6 a.m., failing to fake call in sick to work, ranting about the cannibalic cabal that actually runs the world on Facebook, and started showering and shaving, stopped blaming everyone for their problems, and took accountability of their actions to get into the postseason.
Kevin Stefaniski deserves the credit for this. He took the easy outside zone play action offense from Minnesota and brought it to Cleveland. It was a perfect marriage of scheme and talent. The Earth trembles when Nick Chubb puts his foot in the ground. They nailed the selection of Jedrick Willis and the acquisition of Wyatt Teller. Baker can roll right and roll left and curve the bullet after drinking from the boot.
Baker still has his pocket problems. He’s improved dramatically this season, and the Ravens game could be the turning point of his career, but he still has it in him to run his way into sacks—see the New York Jets game. This is especially problematic when Cleveland falls behind, or has offensive line injuries, and they mainly operate from the shotgun. His pocket problems stem from his height, which makes it difficult to see and get the ball over the line of scrimmage. He needs to put on the Drew Brees tape.
The Browns are in the postseason because they beat bad teams, and picked up a win against Tennessee, because they eviscerated a back up cornerback, and a Mason Rudloph Pittsburgh team that sat its best front seven defenders. They are kind of phonies. Regardless, I’m glad they are finally here. No one should have to suffer as long as they did.
14.) Arizona Cardinals—Record: 8-8. Point Differential: +43 (13). DVOA: 3.6% (13). Previously 13th.
We all love the idea of the Arizona Cardinals, but the idea is not the same thing as what the Arizona Cardinals are. The Air Raid can work in the NFL. Throwing the ball 55-60 times a game can work in the NFL. What the Cardinals did this year wasn’t that. Hot coach Kliff Kingbury consistently hurt his offense by running the ball through the interior, throwing screens to nowhere, and utilizing speed outs to the left sideline to DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray scrambles as the easiest ways for this offense to pick up yards. Their offense dropped off once defenses didn’t chase Murray, and instead stayed in front of him until the rest of the defense could swarm him.
Kliff and Kyler are still new at this. Even things beautiful on paper need sometime to work out and become reality. The pieces are in place for this to be a top five offense. It just needs the play design and Kyler’s accuracy to improve, especially on intermediate throws, for this to occur.
13.) Miami Dolphins—Record: 10-6. Point Differential: +66 (11). DVOA: 4.6% (12). Previously 11th.
I had a friend of mine, from way back when I was working at a call center and was manically depressed and wanted to die every day and never saw the sun, who had an interesting idea. Why don’t NFL teams draft a quarterback in the first round every year? It’s the most important position. Once you find a great one you are set, and if he isn’t, you can still trade him because of the pedigree of the player’s draft position to recoup some of your investment.
We kind of saw this happen in Arizona when they quickly moved on from Josh Rosen and selected Kyler Murray first overall. We may see this again with Miami. They have the third overall pick, and may have quarterback concerns after watching Tu’a Tagovaiola only be able to throw flats, swings, and slants this season.
This friend was also a Dolphins fan, who wanted and waited three years for Tu’a to make it to Miami. Life is funny, ain’t it?
That being said, the Dolphins are a perfect example of how quick things can be turned around in the NFL. With three first round picks last season, and triple digit salary cap space, their defense went abhorrent to acceptable and good across the board. Brian Flores morphed the Dolphins into a devouring defense thanks to a high blitz rate and great man coverage outside cornerbacks. This year they’ll have the third overall pick because of Houston, and two second round picks because of Houston, and they have $33 million in cap space next season. The Laremy Tunsil trade was atrocious. I told you then. I’m telling you it again.
Dolphins v. Bill is going to be a hilarious and unexpected rivalry this decade after the thirty years of failure that preceded it.
12.) Washington Football Team—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: +6 (14). DVOA: -2.3% (16). Previously 17th.
WOOO FOOTBALL TEAM WOOOOO
Every year there is a team that comes out of nowhere to steal my heart. This year it was The Football Team. They have one of the best defenses in the league, based entirely around a defensive line built from top draft picks. Chase Young (1st overall), is what we all wanted Jadeveon Clowney to be, Montez Sweat (26th overall), is my favorite R&B singer and the NFL’s best rim protector, Daron Payne (13th overall), is a balanced player who can play the run and pass well, and Jonathan Allen (17th overall), is always seeing red and always bull rushing, are the foundation for this. Each is on their rookie contracts, and Allen, who is the most experienced and best defensive lineman on their roster, will play on his fifth round option next year. Even with Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller at cornerback, and a carousel of linebackers and safeties, the Football Team finished third in DVOA.
They have a pretty good outside zone offense whenever Antonio Gibson is getting touches. Logan Thomas is a terminator with an enormous hit box and is so gargantuan that even Dwayne Haskins could complete passes to him. And Cam Sims, enormous, Steve Sims, fast, Terry McClaurin, a wide receiver number one, and J.D. McKissic, great pass catching back, are a fun group of skill players. The key at quarterback is to just put someone out there who doesn’t make mistakes.
Haskins wasn’t this. He doesn’t have the accuracy to be a NFL quarterback and he turns the ball over too often. He isn’t good enough to go to the titty bar during a pandemic. Smith, on the other hand, is the same mistake free quarterback as before except he’s slower with a greater propensity to throw it downfield.
The Football team went 5-1 with him starting at quarterback. They went 2-8 without him.
11.) Indianapolis Colts—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +89 (8). DVOA: 14.3% (10). Previously 12th.
The Colts season pretty much played out as expected. The offense was pretty good. Philip Rivers was pretty good as long as he wasn’t smearing inebriated and dumbfounding interceptions at the worst times. The run game was disappointing until recently once Zach Taylor proved that talent wins out, and his eyes began to gel with his body. The defense is where the big jump was made. They went from good to really good, thanks to Xavier Rhodes pairing with Matt Eberflus’s cover seven scheme, and the world Deforest Buckner creates for those around him.
10.) Los Angeles Rams—Record: 10-6. Point Differential: +76 (10). DVOA: 15.4% (9). Previously 6th.
The Rams are science fiction. They are innovation the that has to occur when Jared Goff is your quarterback. Running counter with your wide receivers as pullers, the jet sweep fakes that create middle of the field play action passes, a bizarre screen game, and a defense that has completely capitalized on Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald, the two best players at their respective positions, are what a coaching staff has to come up with when your quarterback makes $28 million and doesn’t lift up those around him.
9.) Baltimore Ravens—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +165 (1). DVOA: 18.6% (7). Previously 10th.
I told you it was going to happen. I read the palms, gazed at the crystals, and drank the loose leaf tea.
The Ravens were 6-5 after losing to Pittsburgh. They were written off as the Superbowl powerhouse they were expected to be entering this season. Then they would go and play Dallas, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New York (G), and Cincinnati, completely crush them, and then, the talk would begin again, the Ravens are hot and have hit their stride for the postseason only to lose in the first round again. They did exactly this. Going 5-0 down the stretch and finishing with a point differential of +97 in their wins.
Now they just have to lose to Tennessee for the prophecy to be complete.
WE SHOULD BE CONTENDERS
8.) Tennessee Titans—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +52 (12). DVOA: 2.9% (14). Previously 8th.
Of all the things I was most wrong about, the Titans having a great defense is highest on the list. The defense is so bad. UGH. It stinks. It’s bottom five and it broke my big stupid heart.
Adoree Jackson was hurt, their back up cornerback play in the meantime was atrocious, they actually relied upon Jonathan Joseph at cornerback until cutting him, Vic Beasley provided nothing, the pass rush is non existent, their linebackers haven’t played as well as they did last year, and Mike Vrabel proved again he is a leader, he isn’t a defensive coordinator. Oh, and Jadeveon Clowney was skinny, gasping for air after the first quarter, and had knee surgery prematurely ending his 2020 season.
The offense is even better than it was last season. There was no Ryan Tannehill regression, he is still hitting scorching deep passes off play action, and completing impossible throws through cracks in the defense in the short game. Arthur Smith has lifted the carpet of reality and discovered the keys to scoring touchdowns in the redzone every trip. Derrick Henry broke 2K. And even through offensive line injuries that would have derailed lesser teams, the Titans are still devouring their young.
The problem with their offense is it requires a close game or a lead. The Titans can’t fall behind early. They have to play their hillbilly brand of football. They can’t turn the ball over, fail to convert on fourth down, give up an early lead, or miss challenges. They can’t make mistakes. If the Titans are playing a Titans football game they’re unstoppable. If they don’t, it ends up in a disappointing and confusing heap of slop and ruined blue jeans.
7.) Seattle Seahawks—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +88 (9). DVOA: 20.1% (5). Previously 9th.
The Seahawks have been two entirely different teams. The deep passing game has dissipated since the Rams were able to generate interior pressure and big blitz them to smithereens. Now they are quick passing and throwing slants and flats created by design, and by Russell Wilson moving the defense with his eyes, slithering around the pocket, and completing his short finds.
The defense is average. Because of how much Nickle they play, and how big their defensive line bellies are, its pretty easy to get in the open field if you can hold up on the first level long enough. You can catch them deep down the field and in the short middle between their linebackers. It’s down the sideline and in the flat where they get you.
They need early season Russell Wilson to carry them in the postseason. If they don’t its going to be the same Divisional Round frustration like was seen last year in Green Bay, when they opted to give Marshawn Lynch’s sugary corpse carries and failed to comeback from the dark depths they jumped into. If Wilson is MVP Wilson they have a shot, if he isn’t, it’s going to be like how it always is.
6.) Pittsburgh Steelers—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +104 (7). DVOA: 16.8% (8). Previously 2nd.
With the front seven injuries they’ve had, they no longer have the front that can carry this team entirely on its own. Without Bud Dupree, and Devin Bush, and sporadic injuries throughout the season, the defense is a giant bomb, instead of just a nuclear bomb. They’ll need more from their offense.
The Steelers can’t run the football though. Every game is extended as a result. Their pass game is their run game. Ben Roethlisberger is a point guard, not a quarterback now. This postseason the most important thing isn’t their pass rush, or their run defense, or Minkah Fitzpatrick controlling the middle of the field, it’s their deep passing offense. If Ben can find the fountain of Keystone Light and hit Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Nate Washington Jr. often enough to set up scoring chances in a flash, the Steelers can have the postseason success that matches their record.
5.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +137 (4). DVOA: 31.5% (2). Previously 7th.
The Bucs have hit their stride. Tom Brady’s arm has only gotten better as the season has progressed. He has the zip to throw to the sideline again. His rolling right stop and throw to Antonio Brown was horrifying. The fade routes from tight splits where the ball is the rainbow and the receiver is the pot are still here, and have been there the entire season.
Tampa is the team best suited to play Green Bay. They have the linebacker speed to chase down the Packers toss plays and outside zone game, and keep Aaron Rodgers from riding his motorcycle through the traffic jam. The cornerback play isn’t great, but again, they have the speed to run with the Packers vertical play passing game. They can create the interior pressure needed to bury Aaron Rodgers. Plus, you know, that Tom Brady is pretty good in the snow.
4.) New Orleans Saints—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +145 (2). DVOA: 33.3% (1). Previously 3rd.
The Saints have the best overall roster in the NFC. The problem is of course the quarterback, like it has been the past three seasons. The one hole they have on defense is they struggle covering vertical patters. Green Bay is the perfect antidote to them, and Seattle can be if Wilson is smoking. If the schedule breaks right they can play in the biggest game because of how many offensive options they have, Alvin Kamara’s ability to carry them in the run and pass game, their outside zone blocking, and the occasional Taysom Hill deep pass where he cucks Drew Brees.
3.) Buffalo Bills—Record: 13-3. Point Differential: +126 (5). DVOA: 23.8% (4). Previously 5th.
The rest of the team has narrowed the gap between their incredible passing offense and their own performance. They get to play outdoors in the postseason where Josh Allen’s arm strength is really going to shine as the football slices through the wind that turns Philip Rivers drives into putts. This is the one team who can compete with Kansas City in the AFC.
The bandwagon is closed. Sorry. Have fun watching Baker Mayfield. Losers. Your hatred is a stain on your heart and can never be forgiven.
2.) Green Bay Packers—Record: 13-3. Point Differential: +140 (3). DVOA: 25.9% (3). Previously 4th.
Matt LaFleur did a tremendous job this season learning from his previous mistakes, turning the Packers into the most balanced offense in the NFL, and getting the most out of Rodgers since his Super Bowl run. He also did this with a nearly identical team. The Packers didn’t get better this offseason. They got worse and drafted players that will help the 2023 Packers, not the 2020 Packers. LaFleur fulfilled his hero’s journey. The Packers are the one seed because of it.
1.) Kansas City Chiefs—Record: 14-2. Point Differential: +111 (6). DVOA: 19.5% (6). Previously 1st.
This is what I said twelve weeks ago. This is what I said again eight weeks ago. This is what I said all over again four weeks ago. It stands, here, now, then, always and forever.
Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league, playing the most important position, carrying the most important aspect of the game, and at the end of the day, that’s really what matters.
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Chase Young
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Justin Herbert
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Derrick Henry
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Myles Garrett
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alex Smith
MVP: Aaron Rodgers
COORDINATOR OF THE YEAR: Brian Daboll
COACH OF THE YEAR: Matt LaFleur
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Brandon Beane
SUPER BOWL: Kansas City over Tampa Bay