Before we get started, full disclosure is needed: My job is to talk and write about sports, so this might not be the best thing to admit, but I didn’t watch a single second of Monday night’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
And you know what? I feel great about it.
Monday night’s game, going off of highlights, box scores and tweets, was an absolute disgrace. There were 10 punts. Seven field goals. Seventeen penalties. The Cowboys won and improved to 4-8, which puts them one game out of first place — behind the other three teams in the division who are all 5-7.
Sure, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots this week, and all it took was an unending list of Patriots injuries, a drop kick (???) and two special teams scores for that to happen. But would anyone be surprised if the Eagles lose out to end the season?
This division stinks, and it should make football fans sad. With that said, on to the power rankings.
1. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 1): This is life as the NFL’s lone undefeated team. You get everyone’s best shot. The Saints did all they could, but Cam Newton had one too many answers with another five-touchdown performance.
2. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 3): The Cardinals now rank in the top five in both offense and defense, and are now 26-8 under Carson Palmer since he came aboard prior to the 2013 season.
3. Denver Broncos (Last week: 4): There will be questions whether the offense is good enough to make a run no matter who’s under center, but the defense is stout as ever, forcing six turnovers over the course of this now three-game winning streak.
4. New England Patriots (Last week: 2): As bad as the Patriots were Sunday, there’s no reason to believe this skid will continue much longer. They’ll fix the special teams issues that did them in Sunday.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 5): The Bengals are getting help on both sides of the ball right now, averaging 33 points per game over their last three and forcing seven turnovers in the same span.
6. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 7): Russell Wilson knows how to finish a season. He’s thrown 51 touchdown passes and just 13 picks in 30 November/December games for his career, and the Seahawks are 25-5 in those games.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 8): Gotta feel for the Steelers. They’re 7-5 and just beat the Colts by 35 points, yet they’re still not in the playoff picture. Making matters worse, they still have games remaining against both Cincinnati and Denver.
8. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 9): The Packers are back atop the NFC North, but they’re far from out of the woods. Their win Thursday night was miraculous, but it also kind of overshadows the myriad issues they had in the first three quarters versus Detroit.
9. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 11): The turnover streak is finally over — Kansas City turned it over a whopping two times Sunday — but the Chiefs used 27 second-half points to stay in the AFC playoff field.
10. New York Jets (Last week: 12): The Jets are very much alive, and Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves a lot of credit for that. He’s got a 112.6 passer rating over the last two weeks and had a sensational performance in Sunday’s comeback win over the Giants.
11. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 6): The Vikings are better this season, sure, but it’s becoming pretty evident they’re still not among the big boys yet. Minnesota’s last two losses both came at home, to Green Bay and Seattle — by a combined 48 points.
12. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 16): Tyrod Taylor hasn’t thrown an interception since the first week of October and now has a better passer rating than Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers.
13. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 11): The Colts allowed season-highs on both the ground and through the air Sunday night, which is not a good way to do business when you’ve got Matt Hasselbeck under center.
14. Houston Texans (Last week: 13): The Texans didn’t play horribly Sunday in Buffalo, but they didn’t play great, either. They’ll have to play pretty close to great next week when the Patriots come to town for primetime.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 20): How about Doug Martin for comeback player of the year? He’s 49 yards shy of Adrian Peterson after another horse-like performance Sunday in a win over Atlanta.
T-16. Washington Redskins (Last week: 14): We’re instituting a three-team tie for No. 16 because it’s the NFC East, and I hate you all.
T-16. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 24): Philly shocked the Patriots by taking full advantage of all the Patriots’ numerous mistakes. And because of that, they’re back in the NFC East race.
T-16. New York Giants (Last week: 15): The Giants aren’t very good, but they’re still alive because the NFC East is horrible.
19. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 17): The Falcons have lost five in a row, and now the team’s best player is questioning his role in the team’s offense. Things are going swimmingly in Atlanta!
20. Chicago Bears (Last week: 18): The Bears are dead. Blaine Gabbert (!) killed them.
21. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 19): Tough time for Derek Carr to play his worst game of the season. Three picks, including a back-breaking pick-six in the fourth quarter, might have killed any sliver of playoff hope the Raiders had.
22. St. Louis Rams (Last week: 18): Teams have figured out how to bottle up Todd Gurley, who hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards in the team’s last five games, all losses. The Rams haven’t scored more than 18 points in any of those games, including just 10 in the last two weeks.
23. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 25): How is this team still alive?!?!
24. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 26): The Dolphins won Sunday despite totaling just eight first downs. That seems borderline impossible.
25. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 22): Matt Schaub has now thrown 90 passes since the start of last season — and six of them have been intercepted.
26. Detroit Lions (Last week: 23): It took a borderline facemask and a Hail Mary to end the Lions’ three-game winning streak, and with it any hopes of a playoff miracle. So Lions it hurts.
27. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 27): How in the world does this team have four wins?
28. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 31): Feels weird to say, but Gabbert made plays when he needed to Sunday with a 44-yard game-tying touchdown scamper and then the game-winning 71-yard touchdown pass in overtime.
29. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 30): The Titans won in Nashville on Sunday for the first time since Oct. 12 … of 2014.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 29): I’ve been banging this drum for a few weeks, and the more I see, the more I like Blake Bortles. He and his five touchdown passes certainly aren’t to blame for the Jags’ loss to the Titans.
31. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 28): The Chargers have scored just six points combined in their last two home games. Just move them already.
32. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 32): Cleveland has lost seven in a row, and they’ve been outscored by an average score of 31-14. They’re bad, people.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images