NFL Power Rankings Week 12

I'm not a man. I ate a salad for lunch yesterday. I don't own a leather jacket or ride a motorcycle, and every time I try to smoke a cigar, I start coughing uncontrollably. And don't ask me anything about cars aside from if I can pick you up in mine. Though the answer to that is also probably no.

I have no problem admitting it, either. I consider myself an intelligent guy, but handiness is certainly not a trait I possess. I'll gladly write a check. If my life was Parks and Recreation, I'm Ben Wyatt, not Ron Swanson.

But, I'm 27-years-old now and living on my own. My newly-found expenses have turned me a bit frugal, and the start to my career has given me some fresh confidence. So, when I bought a television stand this past weekend to add to my new apartment, I told myself that I was building it on my own.

The words "Assembly Required" appears in bold, black letters on the box to the television stand I acquired from Target, and stands out like a white running back in an NFL backfield. Normally, for someone like me, these are two of the most daunting words in the English language when placed side-by-side, ranked only behind "I'm pregnant" and "it's yours." But, I'm a man now, I tell myself. The words "Assembly Required" are no longer an unmanageable task, and instead a challenge I'm determined to conquer. It's something I must do, a right of passage into manhood I've forever longed for.

I walk into Lowe's to buy the necessary tools to build the stand, and my previously mentioned confidence instantly takes a hit. Lowe's is a place you don't want to be. Real men go to Lowe's. You know, guys named Hunter or Dirk, who wear mud-stained jeans and boots to dinner. Guys who work on their cars for 12 hours every Saturday, drinking whiskey and listening to Pink Floyd on their outdated boom boxes. Guys who build clubhouses and think computers are for nerds. Guys not like me. I ask a question and get looked at like I'm an idiot. Nobody helps you at Lowe's; you figure it out yourself like the old days. The employees' only job is to tell you to stop being soft. Man the hell up, Bob.

Eventually, I find what I need and bring both the tools and the television stand box back to my apartment to begin, though not before I nearly give myself a hernia carrying the box up the steps. I'm focused and ready to go, and throw some Graduation Kanye on to hype me up. Always go Graduation or College Dropout, never Yeezus. But you already knew that.

Then, it happens.

I open the box, expecting a 12 or 14-piece set as the outer box seems to portray, and am instead greeted with an 84-piece nightmare, accompanied by an 18-page flip-book for directions. 18 fucking pages! The diagrams look like a Masters-level physics word problem, and I immediately become overwhelmed. This is going to be difficult. Flashbacks to yesterday's Waldorf salad appear in my mind, and I'm reminded that I am indeed not a man. That Waldorf salad was bomb, screw you.

I don't even know where to start. I can't do this crap. I try matching up the pieces to the corresponding labeled ones in the manual, and even that is difficult. I flip through the directions, and it looks Spanish. Oh, crap, that is Spanish. I find the English version and it doesn't seem any easier. The people at Lowe's are probably laughing at me right now. I don't care, where's my cell phone?

Before I can even really begin, I have given up. I've been defeated. It's not worth it. I call a handyman in Pittsburgh and he puts the damn thing together in 30-minutes. I dejectedly write a check and give him a thought-to-be firm handshake as he's walking out the door. He comments on how small my hands are. I'm not a man.

Here are your rankings.

1. New Orleans Saints (9-1) — Airheads are the new skittles, and this team is absolutely unstoppable. I love Patrick Mahommes, but Drew Brees has got to be the MVP right now. If the Giants weren't going 9-7 and winning the Super Bowl, then I'd say I'm rooting for New Orleans.

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1) — This game really lived up to the hype. After a difficult week in the Los Angeles area, the Rams showed out on Monday night, even without Todd Gurley having a Todd Gurley game. Their defense made big plays when they needed them, and they got the win in a potential Super Bowl matchup..

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) — They lost, but they entertained in the process. A few too many turnovers for Patrick Mahomes was the difference, though it's hard to blame him when they still put up 50. The Chefs will be just fine.

4. New England Patriots (7-3) — This whole Tom Brady falling off a cliff declaration is an absolute joke. I don't care what some obscure statistic states; this is still the best player we have ever witnessed. Why do people hate on greatness so much? Go back to remedial math.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1) — A game of two halves would be an understatement, and Big Ben is carrying the game ball home. The Steelers are quietly on track for a first-round bye, and with the Le'Veon Bell talks a thing of the past, they can finally focus on what's truly important. Mike Tomlin's definitely that coach that thinks he can ball, but is actually really unathletic.

6. Chicago Bears (7-3) — Can we officially say that the Chicago Bears are for real? This defense made Kirk Cousins look unrelated, and Matt Nagy's Andy-Reid inspired offense is the new normal for winning teams in the NFL. They are this year's Rams.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3) — We don't have to discuss the kicking disasters again, because there are tons of moments that happen throughout the course of the game that change the outcome. The Chargers let one get away here, and are carrying that L into Thanksgiving weekend even if Keenan Allen thinks the Broncos still suck.

8. Houston Texans (7-3) — Bring out the oxygen after that 101 interception return. The Texans are the second hottest team in the league right now, but does anybody actually think that have a shot to make noise in the playoffs? The divisional round still seems like their peak.

9. Carolina Panthers (6-4) — I don't live on a riverboat, but I just don't understand not kicking the extra point and taking the game to overtime. Going for two in that situation is something you do when you're either injured or completely outmatched. The Panthers were neither, and have now lost two straight.

10. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1) — Minnesota hasn't showed up in their last two primetime games. Throwback Thursday to handing that large check to Kirk Cousins. Was it worth it?

11. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) — Over the last two weeks, he Cowboys figured out what everybody else already knew. Give the damn ball to Ezekiel Elliot. An impressive last-minute drive for Dallas puts them in position to take over the NFC East on Thanksgiving.

12. Washington Redskins (6-4) — The loss was bad. The injury was worse. You got to feel for a guy like Alex Smith, who was leading the Redskins to perhaps a division title even though he wasn't playing his best. Enter Colt McCoy, who I guess has been on the Redskins since cable television.

13. Baltimore Ravens (5-5) — Has the Lamar Jackson era begun in Baltimore? He may have looked more running back than quarterback, but maybe that's the recipe for short-term success for the Ravens. And who the hell is Gus Edwards?

14. Seattle Seahawks (5-5) — The Seahawks squeaked one out at home against the Packers in a rivalry that always seems to go down to the final plays. They were about to get blown out before Russell Wilson went Sicko mode.

15. Green Bay Packers (4-5-1) — I'm not giving Aaron Rodgers get a pass on an easy missed third down throw. I'm not giving Mike McCarthy get a pass on punting it on 4th-and-4 when everybody watching knew they wouldn't get the ball back. I'm not giving my girlfriend a pass in the MetLife parking lot ever again because I'm going to have to pay for another smashed window.

16. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) — Here's your stat of the day. The Bengals are on pace to give up more yards than any defense in NFL history? Are you kidding me? It's like the Ravens ball carriers sprayed WD40 on themselves.

17. Indianapolis Colts (5-5) — Let's give credit where credit is due. Frank Reich is showing glimpses of greatness in his first year as head coach, and Andrew Luck absolutely dismantled a Tennessee defense that just smashed Tom Brady. The improved offensive line is key.

18. Tennessee Titans (5-5) — A huge win last week followed by a huge letdown this week. I believe Marcus Mariotta was hurting, but he just kind of seems like the guy with a list of excuses when things don't go his way. It's back to reality for Tennessee.

19. Miami Dolphins (5-5) — Most Miami residents probably didn't even realize the Dolphins had an off-week. They were just laughing at people in the Northeast for choosing to live in a place where slipping on ice is your reality November through March.

20. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) — The Falcons are three or four plays away from being 7-4. Except you are what your record says, so now it's time for the Falcons to think about the future. Three straight games with touchdowns for Julio Jones is uplifting at least.

21. Denver Broncos (4-6) — With the ball on their own 8-yard line and down two, Case Keenum led the Broncos to an improbable road victory on Sunday. I don't know what it means for this year, but it was encouraging nonetheless.

22. Detroit Lions (4-6) — Is Matt Patricia a secret coaching genius? Probably not, though it was nice to see them respond to the adversity and grind out a win against a good Panthers team. Let's hope Kerryon Johnson is okay.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) — I think we're all waiting for the Eagles to look like the Super Bowl champions of last year. Maybe it's just time to accept that they aren't that team.

24. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) — A slow news day in Cleveland turns into Condoleeza Rice being thrown into the coaching race for the Browns. It would be pretty damn cool if it actually happened, but I'd like to think she has more important things to do than try to get Cleveland to .500.

25. New York Giants (3-7) — The Giants tried to blow it, but you can't deny two in a row for a team that is somehow only three games out of the division, with three division games to play, and looking up at Colt McCoy. Maybe it is my internal optimism, but Giants are going 9-7. No, they're not.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) — Missing: Jaguars season. If found, please return to Doug Marrone.

27. Buffalo Bills (3-7) — It's nuts that the final AFC wild card team is currently 5-5. That being said, the Bills — and everyone else in their position, for that matter — aren't actually out of the playoff race yet. With Josh Allen coming back, who knows what can happen.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) — Something tells me that Dirk Koetter orders soup, then changes it to salad. He can't decide between Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston, and every answer seems like the wrong one.

29 New York Jets (3-7) — The best way to describe the Jets season was in a headline I read on "New York Jets fan blames DWI on team's performance." What else really needs to be said?

30. San Francisco 49ers (2-8) — There's actually a sense of excitement in San Francisco, even for a 2-8 team. Despite the injuries, it feels like this team is doing what they need to do to prepare for the future.

31. Oakland Raiders (2-7) — I didn't even consider putting this game on. I don't think SportsCenter acknowledged that it happened. Good win for Oakland? That question mark isn't a typo.

32. Arizona Cardinals (2-8) — It was nice to see Larry Fitzgerald cross the goal line twice, even if they were his only two catches of the day. The jury is still out on Josh Rosen, who struggled to pick apart a trash Raiders defense.

Comments and Conversation

November 20, 2018

Anthony Brancato:

You’re right about Kirk Cousins: He’s 4-11 in prime-time games (Thursday, Sunday, and Monday night), and 27-24-2 in the rest of his games.

And Carson Wentz is like a cheap speed horse in a horse race: If allowed to make an easy lead, he’s awesome; but if someone runs with him, he falls apart like a twenty-dollar suit in a driving rainstorm (in 37 career starts, Wentz has three fourth-quarter comebacks and three game-winning drives, while Dak Prescott has seven fourth-quarter comebacks and seven game-winning drives in 43 career starts, and Tim Tebow had eight of each in 16 starts).

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