NFL Power Rankings Week 15

When I do these power rankings, I try to separate fantasy from reality. Fantasy football, that is. But, as Week 14 marks the start to the playoffs in many fantasy leagues, I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate at least one opening to the "sport" that has taken over the lives of millions.

And in doing so, I'm going to do what most fantasy players do weekly. Complain. A lot. See, I've been playing fantasy football since I was in fourth grade, and while admittedly there is a great deal of luck that encompasses the activity, fantasy football is a game of skill. And through the years, I've been both skillful and lucky enough to inflate my bank account while engaging in the world of fantasy sports. Anytime you end up in the green, it's tough to complain.

I run one league a year because I'm not trying to root for and against a player at the same time. That'd make my head hurt. And this season, like most, I put together a solid team. I was comfortably in the playoffs going into the final week of the regular season, with a chance at a first-round bye.

Then, everything started going wrong. My first-round pick Melvin Gordon went down. Emmanuel Sanders, a mid-round steal tears his Achilles in practice Wednesday in a non-contact drill. My second-round pick Odell Beckham randomly decides he's injured, even after not being on the injury report on Friday. Drew Brees all of a sudden is turnover prone against an awful Buccaneers defense. Joe Philbin decides to start Jamaal Williams over Aaron Jones. Doug Baldwin can't go on Monday night. I even got cute and sat the sure-thing Bears defense because they were playing the mighty Rams. I scored 79 damn fantasy points in the playoffs. Even those who don't play fantasy football know that's awful. It was the perfect storm.

So here I sit, a loser. A loser who will be watching next week with no opportunity to talk shit to my friends. A loser who now not only owes $200 bucks to the league, but has to collect and pay out the winner at the end of the season to satisfy my commissioner duties.

This opening didn't really have any point. But it made me feel a little better. No, it didn't. Here's your power rankings.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2) — The best game on paper lived up to its billing. Patrick Mahomes is an absolute magician. On 4th-and-9 with the game on the line in regulation, he eluded the Ravens pass rush and somehow found Tyreek Hill 48 yards downfield. They scored a few plays later, and got the job done in overtime. I hope the playoff Chiefs are this exciting, as well.

2. New Orleans Saints (11-2) — The Saints had a big second half to win their second division title in two years. That's a lot of two's, like the upstairs bathroom after taco night.

3. Los Angeles Rams (11-2) — The Rams went to Chicago and looked like they just wanted to sit by the fireplace and drink hot chocolate. They probably won't have any cold weather games when it matters, as the NFC will likely go through either Los Angeles or New Orleans, but maybe the key to beating this team is as simple as lowering the thermostat.

4. Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) — It wasn't easy, but the Chargers got the job done against a beat up Cincinnati team. The Chargers are a little banged up, as well, and we're all hoping Melvin Gordon is ready to go again soon. I'm getting giddy thinking about Thursday against the Chiefs. I immediately regret using the word giddy.

5. Chicago Bears (9-4) — This team just made the fastest offense in the league look like Chris Christie running a 40. The Bears are absolutely phenomenal at home, even when Mitch Trubisky doesn't play like a soldier. A potential divisional game in New Orleans or Los Angeles would be fun, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

6. New England Patriots (9-4) — New England always struggles in Miami, but the Patriots don't lose games like that. Nobody loses games like that. This one hurts in the race for home field advantage. Why the hell was Gronk playing safety on the last play?

7. Houston Texans (9-4) — I guess the fairytale couldn't last forever. The Texans finally went down, though should still be comfortable in the division. This is a short week for Houston, who play the Jets on Saturday as the NFL tries to fill the shoes college football usually wears on Saturdays.

8. Dallas Cowboys (8-5) — Do you think the Cowboys miss that first round pick? 10 catches. 217 yards. Three touchdowns. That's quite the afternoon for Amari Cooper. And a Charms Play for the win. The Cowboys are grabbing this division by the horns.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers- (7-5-1) — Ben Roethlisberger, on a half-rack of ribs, led the Steelers down the field for the go ahead touchdown. That pass on the goal line was dangerous. Like lying in the middle of the road dangerous. Big Ben probably used to light shit on fire as a kid. But wait! The Raiders somehow answered and stole the victory handing the Steelers their third straight loss. Chris Boswell should be sponsored by Slip 'N Slide.

10. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) — This Seahawks team is tough, and have found a formula that's going to make them a tough out in the playoffs. They just always seem to find a way to win.

11. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) — Lamar Jackson wasn't spectacular, but I still think Baltimore's best shot in the short term is sticking with him at the helm. The Raven's D held their own against the most explosive offense in the league, even in a loss. This team will be a tough out if they sneak into the playoffs.

12. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) — A rollercoaster two weeks for Indianapolis started with getting shutout by a team that can't get out of their own way, and finished with a gutsy performance against the hottest team in the league. That's what you get with the Colts, and that's why they are on the fringe of the playoffs. I think I'd still be shocked if they somehow snuck in.

13. Tennessee Titans (7-6) — This was one of the most exciting blowouts I've ever watched. Derrick Henry has been stuck in a committee since he's been in the NFL, and has typically been the second fiddle. Maybe a game like this will elevate him to the feature back role.

14. Miami Dolphins (7-6) — Yooo! That last play was like an NFL Street 2 game-breaker, minus the concrete field and the football spinning on Drake's fingers as he scored the game-winning touchdown. I usually save my game-breakers for defense, but I respect the play nonetheless. Somebody get Chris Foerster a line and a lappy. I don't care that he's no longer on the staff, he deserves it.

15. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1) — This is not the same team they were last year, and they are playing like they want to watch the playoffs at home. I think they'll still sneak in, and then disappear as if they were never there.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) — Yes, we get it. The refs were bad. Possibly even alcoholics, according to Malcolm Jenkins. That's football though, and still no excuse for giving up three touchdowns in the 4th quarter and overtime to one player. That cost them any shot at the division.

17. Carolina Panthers (6-7) — The Panthers just can't stop the bleeding. Five losses straight for a team that is watching their playoff hopes disappear like Cam Newton's accuracy in the fourth quarter. You got to hit Jarius Wright on that 4th-and-3.

18. Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) — Joe Philbin is like that classic bench player who finally gets his first start, and is so excited that he bricks threes on the first two possessions. Philbin couldn't wait to throw that challenge flag. And then he couldn't wait to throw it again five seconds later. I'm sure he would have loved to challenge another obviously correct call if he was allowed. Nonetheless, a Packers win is probably still too little, too late.

19. Denver Broncos (6-7) — Well, at least we can stop worrying about the playoffs in Denver, and get back to testing the city's new cannabis strains. This team's playoff hopes died when their lifeblood went down in a non-contact injury in Wednesday's practice. Let's hope that isn't the end of Emmanual Sanders' career.

20. New York Giants (5-8) — Saquan Barkley is an absolute star. I don't think that can be said enough. I'm not sure if the Giants are just beating up on bad teams at the end of the year, or they're actually finally putting the puzzle pieces together. The Giants played their best game of the year on Sunday, even without Odell Beckham.

21. Detroit Lions (5-8) — Detroittttt fooootballl. (John Mason voice.) The Lions played well, much to the chagrin of Lions fans looking for a top-five pick. This team went from Wild Card contender to NFC North basement quicker than Ron Artest's right hook on a random fan who did absolutely nothing during the Malice in the Palace.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) — I don't have much analysis on the Bengals, but the head referees pre-pubescent mustache was the highlight of the weekend for me. Joe Mixon is still a dog, but the rest of the team are playing like puppies.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) — I'll golf clap the Buccaneers fight, but it wasn't enough to get the win against the division-leading Saints. It was nasty in Tampa on Sunday, the type of weather that makes Phyllis Vance want to sit inside all day and curl up with a good book.

24. Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) — A bounce-back game for Baker Mayfield and the Browns after a letdown in Houston a week ago. The Dog Pound is growing in numbers weekly. What else are they going to do, watch Jordan Clarkson refuse to pass the ball?

25. Washington Redskins (6-7) — Starting Mark Sanchez is the universal symbol for packing it in. Josh Johnson actually looked pretty good after he replaced him, albeit in a meaningless football game. The Redskins were talking playoffs just a few weeks ago.

26. Atlanta Falcons (4-9) — The Falcons only lost by 14, but it felt like 40. We don't talk about the loss of Devonta Freeman enough.

27 New York Jets (4-9) — It seems like every December there's a Bills-Jets game that nobody cares about. Still, this was a fun game, even if Red Zone was tuned in to it way too often. Give it up for Sam Darnold, who had his first career fourth-quarter comeback. He's now only 42 behind Peyton Manning for most all-time.

28. Buffalo Bills (4-9) — Paying fans to shovel snow is actually a genius idea. I probably would have taken the bait if I didn't hurt my back the other day. And if I had any interest in attending this game. Josh Allen has 90+ yards on the ground in three consecutive games.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) — This team has no leadership. This team has no heart. But let me tell you, this team knows how to celebrate random tackles when they're down 30. It's weird to see such lack of discipline on a team that employs Tom Coughlin. Maybe he should be on the sidelines.

30. San Francisco 49ers (3-10) — This blurb is dedicated to George Kittle. Sure, he didn't break Shannon Sharpe's record after only needing 4 second half yards to do so, but 210 yards on 7 catches and a score in the first half is downright ridiculous. Let's start putting him the tight end elites. He probably would have made that tackle on Kenyan Drake, too.

31. Oakland Raiders (3-10) — I don't know if Charles Woodson actually saw this coming, or if he was still contractually obligated to pick the Raiders in this game. Somehow Oakland comes away with the win, converting a 4th-and-goal with 30 seconds left. Gruden hit 'em with that Spider 2 Y Banana.

32. Arizona Cardinals (3-10) — Brown paper bags have got to be a top-seller in Arizona right now. The offensive struggles have been a common theme for the Cardinals this year, and Steve Wilks' seat-warmer is reaching dangerous levels.

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