No Sleep Till Football

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NFL POWER 32 – 2016 WEEK 17

#1 Computer Hope It almost seems inevitable that the Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl for the 7th time in the Brady/Belichick era. That’s absurd. If they couldn’t get any luckier, the Patriots caught a break with the Chiefs winning and Oakland losing. With the Chiefs getting the #2 seed, there isn’t a possible scenario where the Patriots would have to beat both Pittsburgh & Kansas City to reach the Super Bowl. At worst they’ll only have to play one of them. They walk into the AFC championship.
#2 Computer Hope As a Cowboys fan I was a little disappointed that Dallas didn’t really try to finish the season 14-2 because it would have been the first time in history the Cowboys won 14 games in a regular season. Instead the Boys lost to Philly and rested the players instead. I see the reasoning behind it, but I’m not sure it’s the right thing. The Patriots way works pretty well and I don’t think Belichick knows how to take the foot off the pedal. I hope it works out for Dallas. I guess we are about to find out.
#3 Computer Hope The Chiefs just keep playing Chiefs football. With the AFC West potentially on the line, Kansas City showed up in San Diego and notched a 37-27 win over the Chargers to secure a 12-4 record which eventually won the AFC West due to Oakland losing. The win also gives Kansas City a first round bye. The Chiefs were going to be tough enough but Tyreek Hill is going to be a MAJOR problem for opposing teams to defend. Having him come playoff time is a huge advantage for the Chiefs.
#4 Computer Hope You can’t read too much into Pittsburgh’s 27-24 OT win over the Browns. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell didn’t even play so this was hardly the Steelers team we’ll see next week when they host the Dolphins in the Wild Card game. Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t even at full force. The Steelers finish 11-5 and on a 7 game winning streak. They are brutally hot right now and are a team I’d want to avoid if possible. I think we are headed for Steelers v. Chiefs in 2 weeks.
#5 Computer Hope The Falcons had a first round bye on the line against New Orleans in Week 17 and didn’t disappoint. The 38-32 victory is misleading as the Falcons held a 38-13 lead deep into the 4th quarter. Matt Ryan put an exclamation point on his MVP candidacy by going 27 of 36 for 331 yards 4TD! There will be arguments for Brady & Rodgers, but Matt Ryan is my MVP pick. He completed 70% of his passes for 4,944 yards with 38TD to 7INT. It was the best season of his career. An MVP year.
#6 Computer Hope At some point you wonder if Aaron Rodgers is just trolling us. Is the NFL that easy for him? Remember that the Packers were 4-6 after Week 11 and at that time Green Bay would have been the 14th seed in the NFC! Of course Rodgers tells us to relax and Green Bay rips off 6 straight wins to finish 10-6 with an NFC North championship. In his last 7 games, Rogers has completed 70% of his passes for 2,018 yards with 18TD to nary an interception. Is Green Bay NFC favorites now?
#7 Computer Hope Intuitively knowing a trip to Lambeau was looming, it would have been easy for the Giants to overlook the Redskins and start the real work. Instead, the G-Men showed that rivalries mattered and spoiling the playoff hopes of a division rival was worth the work! You have to admire the Giants for putting the screws to the Redskins. It’s almost too bad the Giants & Packers have to face each other in the Wild Card. I think it’ll have the feel of a NFC Championship game. Brutally tough.
#8 Computer Hope This is quite a jump for me with the Seahawks and their performance against the 49ers was uneven at best, but I’ve said all season long that the Seahawks are a better team when they can run the football. I thought they found the answer to Marshawn Lynch when CJ Prosise did well, but when Prosise got injured, the Seahawks were back in the wilderness. Against the 49ers, Alex Collins flashed a little bit. If Collins can get loose in the playoffs, Seattle is a much more different animal.
#9 Computer Hope Sure the Broncos hammered away at a 3rd string QB on their way to beating Oakland 24-6 and teams can do crazy things for their outgoing head coaches, but this game reminded me that the Broncos really are just a QB away from potentially getting back to the Super Bowl. It’s hard to argue with a defense this good and I think the offense has more than enough weapons now that Devontae Booker is poised to become the next big thing. The playoffs are better with Von Miller in them.
#10 Computer Hope The Bucs needed a truckload of help in order to get that #6 seed, but Tampa at least got a 17-16 win over division rival Carolina. I think the win was especially sweet given that Tampa stopped a 2-point conversion on Carolina’s last TD that would have given the Panthers an 18-17 win. Missing the playoffs is tough to swallow, but Tampa has to feel good going from 6-10 in 2015 to 9-7 in 2016. Remember too that Tampa was 6-2 in their final 8 games. Good things are coming in 2017.
#11 Computer Hope The Dolphins were down 20-0 before they even blinked, but I’m not sure the 35-14 loss to the Patriots meant all that much. Miami was going to be the 6th seed regardless I think which means a road game against the Steelers. The really interesting news coming out of Miami is that Ryan Tannehill wants to play. His recover is going exceptionally well, but I have a hard time believing he’ll play. That probably means a loss but Adam Gase got to the playoffs in his first season as head coach.
#12 Computer Hope The good news is that Detroit got into the playoffs and will go on the road to take on a Seahawks team that all of a sudden looks pretty darn vulnerable. The bad news is that the Lions aren’t exactly blazing hot either having lose their last 3 games which essentially cost them the division and potentially the #2 seed in the NFC. Are the Lions a…em….paper tiger? Against playoff teams Detroit was 0-5 this season meaning they were 7-2 against non-playoff teams. That’s not good.
#13 Computer Hope With everything to play for at home, the Redskins gagged losing to the Giants 19-10. The worst part is the way they gagged. New York got out to a 10-0 lead only for the Redskins to tie the game up early in the 4th quarter. Then the Skins let New York outscore them 9-0 late in the 4th including a Kirk Cousins pick that essentially ended the game. I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in this team. I think the talent on hand was much better than an 8-7-1 team to be honest.
#14 Computer Hope The 24-6 loss to Denver cost the Raiders the AFC West and the #2 seed in the AFC. That’s absolutely terrible, but what might be even worse is that the Raiders have to travel to Houston for the AFC Wild Card game and might have Connor Cook playing QB. The Texans are BY FAR the worst team in the playoffs yet they could potentially come out with a win because Oakland’s QB situation is so bad. Even worse? If Oakland wins then it could be Connor Cook facing Tom Brady! Wow!
#15 Computer Hope New Orleans outscored Atlanta 19-0 in the 4th quarter to fall to the Falcons 38-32, but the real issue was going down 38-13 to begin with. The game wasn’t as close as the final score for much of the game, but it goes down as yet another one possession loss for the Saints who finish a disappointing 7-9 but with 7 losses coming by one possession. How about this: There have been 9 seasons in which a QB has thrown for 5,000 yards. Drew Brees is now the owner of five of them!
#16 Computer Hope The Ravens laid an egg in their season finale against the Bengals, falling 27-10 to finish 8-8. Over the last four seasons, QB Joe Flacco has averaged 3,752 yards per year while completing 62.5% of his passes. In those 4 years, Flacco has thrown 80TD to 61INT! Flacco is 29-29 as a starter in those 4 seasons, 3 of which the Ravens missed the playoffs. Yes he’s won a Super Bowl. So has Brad Johnson. Baltimore has big offensive issues & I wonder if they don’t start with Flacco?
#17 Computer Hope The Eagles ended the year on a very high note being the 13-3 Dallas Cowboys 27-13. Sure it was Dallas’ 2nd string team, but the Eagles finished the year by beating the Giants and Cowboys in back to back weeks. They also have wins over the Steelers, Falcons & Vikings. The Eagles finished 7-9 but they got 4 wins over playoff teams. Compare that to Detroit’s zero! According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles played the 2nd most difficult schedule in 2016. Finishing 7-9 is a huge win.
#18 Computer Hope The Cardinals got a major scare in their season finale against the Rams when RB David Johnson was injured and their was thought that the injury might be significant. Turns out that Johnson only had an MCL sprain so he should be good to go next season. The Cardinals hammered the Rams 44-6 to finish the year 7-8-1. The Cardinals sacked Jared Goff seven times and turned the Rams over once, but did force 5 fumbles. The Cardinals really never got into a groove in ’16.
#19 Computer Hope What a way to end the season! The Titans beat the Texans 24-16 to finish 9-7 but ultimately lose the tiebreaker with Houston which sends the Titans home for the postseason. You have to wonder what would have happened in Week 16 had Marcus Mariota not gotten hurt? This rankings is essentially based on what Tennessee looks like now with Matt Cassel as the starter. A 10-6 Titans team going into the playoffs with a healthy Mariota ranks in the top-10 & are legitimate threats.
#20 Computer Hope Can there be a worse 9-7 team? The most amazing thing this week to come out of Houston is the possibility that Bill O’Brien might lose his job of the Texans lose in the first round…..WHAT!? Yes, that has been a rumor. O’Brien has TJ Yates, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden & Ryan Mallett last season & won the AFC South. This year O’Brien had Brock Osweiler & Tom Savage and won the AFC South again. O’Brien is arguably the best coach in the NFL over the past 2 seasons!
#21 Computer Hope Down 17-3 at home at halftime against the Jaguars, the Colts needed a Herculean effort to eek out a 24-20 victory including a last minute drive to seal the deal. That’s part of the problem in Indianapolis. When you have a top-10 scoring offense, Andrew Luck is your QB, and you play in the worst division in the NFL, division titles should be the least of your worries. Instead, Indianapolis has failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons & I don’t see how Chuck Pagano retains his job.
#22 Computer Hope I said last week that the Vikings needed a huge win this week over the Bears to calm some of the crazy talk involving a mutiny against HC Mike Zimmer to die down. The Vikings got it with a 38-10 win over the Bears in Chicago. I think Minnesota has to be very careful here. Siding with the players over Zimmer is a terrible idea and I get the feeling that if Minnesota blows it, they are going to be very disappointed when Zimmer takes a different head coaching position. Be wary.
#23 Computer Hope The Bengals ended their season with a 27-10 win over the Ravens but where does Cincinnati go from here? Marvin Lewis seems like a lame duck coach heading into 2017. Andy Dalton isn’t really elite. The tandem of Jeremy Hill and Geovani Bernard isn’t fantastic. AJ Green missed 6 games. Tyler Eifert has been in the league for 4 years & has been hurt in 3 of them. They still haven’t shown they can beat good teams & they can’t win the playoffs. Maybe the organization needs change?
#24 Computer Hope So Anthony Lynn gets a chance to coach the Bills and he starts EJ Manuel? And when that doesn’t work out he puts in Cardale Jones? That ended with a season ending blowout loss to the Jets, 30-10! What this tells me a little is that the Bills don’t like any of their QBs and I’m not sure they should. I don’t think Tyrod Taylor can win a championship and we know Manuel & Jones can’t. When the Bills get a new HC, they need to allow him to get a QB of his own choosing.
#25 Computer Hope The Bolts lost their 5th straight game to drop to 5-11 on the season, losing to the Chiefs 37-27 in what could be their last game in San Diego. I’m optimistic that the Chargers will stay in San Diego, but we all know that HC Mike McCoy is gone. I think that is a pretty big mistake. San Diego has dealt with massive injuries and massive bad luck the last two seasons and I think it’s indicative of the shortsightedness of the front office not to see those trends. I hope McCoy is HC again soon.
#26 Computer Hope A lot of credit needs to be given to Riverboat Ron to go for the 2-point conversion to try and steal a win away from the Bucs on the last day of the season. A win would have been nice, but the loss is meaningless as Carolina was going to finish in the last place either way. The Panthers might have bigger problems. Take out last year’s 15-1 season & Cam Newton is 36-39-1 as a starter over 5 years with 4 of those 5 seasons having losing records. 2015 looks like a big aberration to me.
#27 Computer Hope The Jags snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once again this past week losing to the Colts 24-20. Jacksonville on the season was 2-8 in one possession games which is downright awful. There is a lot regression built into the Jaguars for 2017 and I wonder if this isn’t the job to take for prospective head coaches. Even Bortles got a lot better this year when you look as his interception rate and how many sacks he took. There is so much young talent on this roster!
#28 Computer Hope The Jets make a statement at the end of the season by hammering Buffalo 30-10! It’s brutally disappointing to go from 10-6 to 5-11, but the Jets feel old to me and you wonder if completely blowing the team up isn’t in the card. Clearly Ryan Fitzpatrick & Bryce Petty aren’t the answers at QB. Chances are slim that Christian Hackenburg is the answer either which puts the Jets in the same boat as teams like the 49ers, Browns, Bears, Bills & Texans with no clear cut QB to lead.
#29 Computer Hope Given Matt Barkley’s 6.5% interception rate, if he would have thrown every pass a Bears QB threw in 2016, the USC product would have thrown between 36 and 37 picks! The 6.5% pick rate was the highest of any QB with at least 200 passing attempts. The last player to exceed Barkley’s pick rate with at least 200 attempts was in 1997 when Heath Schuler posted a 6.9% pick rate for the Saints. It was Schuler’s last year in the NFL. I think Barkley will stick around a bit longer.
#30 Computer Hope I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Was the 2016 49ers the worst 49ers team in history? When you look at point differential, the 2016 49ers with their -171 mark would rank behind the 1963 49ers (-193), the 2004 49ers (-193) and the 2005 49ers (-189). The 2-14 season does tie for the franchise’s worst record. If I had to pick I’d say the 2016 squad isn’t quite as bad as either the 2004 or the 1963 teams, but it’s astounding to think the 49ers were this bad.
#31 Computer Hope Jared Goff is the 3rd player since the merger in 1970 to start 7 games his rookie season and lose all 7. The other two were Craig Whelihan for the Chargers in 1997 and John Reaves for the Eagles in 1972. Whelihan and Reeves weren’t high draft picks, but there have been two other #1 overall picks who started 7 games their rookie seasons. They are Eli Manning & Alex Smith. Manning went 1-6. Smith was 2-5. Both took big jumps in their 2nd year. Goff will be OK as will the Rams.
#32 Computer Hope The Browns ALMOST got that 2nd win! I think we knew the Browns weren’t going to be a good team in 2016 but what them too was a schedule that was pretty rough. Getting the AFC East and NFC East was killer with those squads and the AFC North isn’t too shabby either even with the Bengals having a down season. I hope the Browns resist the temptation to take a QB in the 2017 draft. They have big needs at RT, DB and Edge Rusher. I’d get as many of those as I possibly could.

January 4, 2017 - Posted by | Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Power 32, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Week 17

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