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Green Zone League Articles

S2017W08:: GZL Power Rankings
By Anthony Fernandez
Special to gzl-football.com

The 'We Are Scientists' Edition
Tuesday, September 9th, 2017
AF, GreenZone Media Committee

S2015W15 (Brad Pitt Edition) | S2015W09 (J. Cole Edition) | S2015W03 (One Hit Wonder Edition) | S2015Q04 (Cartoon Character Edition)

32. Philadelphia Eagles ( LR #22 )
31. Indianapolis Colts ( LR #26 )
30. Cincinnati Bengals ( LR #31 )
It's a QB-driven league. This trio starts Johnny F'kn Football, Malik McNabb, and Terrelle Pryor - so don't look so surprised. Sure, this trio of scramblers could eventually turn into passable starters like RG3 and Vick have, but my gut (and the standings) tell me it won't be in 2017. I like all three of these GMs and think they are ok rebuilding, plus they all have their own 1st round picks. It will be interesting to see if any of these 2017 ghouls get in on Jameis Winston next year. There is a lot to like on the rosters from recent drafts, but until the QB play improves, the losses will continue. (Please do not look to recent back-up QBs winning SBs to debunk the first sentence of this column)!

29. San Francisco 49ers ( LR #18 )
28. New England Patriots ( LR #12 )
27. Seattle Seahawks ( LR #2 )
26. Carolina Panthers ( LR #29 )
Really not too much to say here other than these talented teams with fantastic GMs have dug themselves a hole pretty deep. With each sporting at least 5 losses at the halfway point, it would take a memorable run in the 2nd half to sneak into the tournament. Other than the Seahawks, all of these teams have their 1st Round Pick, so another loss or two and these wise GMs will probably start thinking about how competitive LOSSES might help their franchise. And while Nic doesn't have the 1st Rounder, he DOES have a Super Bowl trophy and back-to-back NFC Championships, so I think he'll sleep just fine.

25. New York Jets ( LR #27 )
24. Atlanta Falcons ( LR #32 )
23. Jacksonville Jaguars ( LR #21 )
22. Buffalo Bills ( LR #24 )
21. Oakland Raiders ( LR #5 )
Would be really easy to write these teams off already, with 4 losses each like the last group that has 5, but I think that would be overreacting in this case. The Jets have victories over the Chiefs and Dolphins, and would have a much more attractive record if they hadn't been bent over by the tough NFC North. They've got a run of winnable games coming up, and a Franchise QB that is starting to look like a #1 overall pick. The Falcons have lost a few close games to good teams, but have a world of talent and an elite GM. They have a Top 10 QB to start grooming, but could also parlay Matt Ryan into serious compensation, so they will be an interesting team to track. The Jaguars are only a couple years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, and will be just fine if they can get their offense clicking. The Bills and Raiders have looked rough, but have yet to lose to a team with a losing record and truly have two of the best GMs in the community. Could easily see those two teams turning it around and soon. No need to overreact.

20. Minnesota Vikings ( LR #20 )
19. Washington Redskins ( LR #9 )
18. Baltimore Ravens ( LR #15 )
17. Denver Broncos ( LR #14 )
16. Cleveland Browns ( LR #25 )
These five teams are really in ok position at the midway point, but they are on that 16-20 fringe where it's tough to see which way they are going. Surely some teams from 10-15 will drop some, and some teams from 21-25 could rise. So which way will these go? Well your guess is as good as mine, and it would certainly be worth the wait (a few weeks at least) before you try and decide if they will be heroes or zeroes. Some of these GMs are truly storied members of the Madden RZL/GZL community, so if they DO turn it around and make a run for a Super Bowl, I'm sure that awesome feeling would certainly be worth the wait as well.

15. Detroit Lions ( LR #23 )
14. Dallas Cowboys ( LR #13 )
These two teams are truly scary. Perhaps the two teams not from Wisconsin that I fear the most in the NFC. They can score at will and are long overdue for a Super Bowl run. I definitely think that whatever they are doing to get guys like Mark Sanchez and David Gettis playing at this level is a hit. Someone is going to have to figure out how to stop the Colts playbook if they face either of these teams in the playoffs, and I hope that's not a challenge we will have in Tampa.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( LR #1 )
12. New York Giants ( LR #16 )
C'mon, who is NOT rooting for the Giants to make the playoffs in 2017? Our dearly departed was one of the GZL's biggest personalities, and if nothing else, he was our biggest fan. He fucking loved this place, and it was always easy for me to latch onto that passion and produce hours and hours of content. He was my best friend that didn't HAVE to be (co-workers and family), and I can honestly say I don't think there is anyone in the world that better understood my cynical personality. We were both a little fucked up, and that made us better when we were together. I've been lost since he's been gone, mostly because I've been so entrenched in these leagues for so long (since Ricky vanished). It's hard to be here because it makes me think about him, and I've never been very good dealing with hurt. I thought pretty hard about trying to walk away completely, and it would have been easy with how busy I've been professionally and personally. That is not what he would have wanted though, and this place makes me feel a little closer to his spirit, even if he's not here anymore. It still hurts though, and it makes it that much tougher because there really is NOBODY in your real life you can talk to about your online friend from your fantasy Madden 08 league. My wife has been pretty much the only person, plus you all, but I've had the feeling lately that those mentioned are pretty tired of seeing me moping around feeling sorry for myself, so I've been trying to pull it together, but it's regular to breakdown. This makes the song choice fitting because for one, JP finally made the great escape, to that heaven he battled me on so many times on PTI and personal phone calls. He was very, very catholic in his beliefs, and while I'm much more skeptical, I hope for him he was right. It is also fitting because of the line "everyone keeps telling me to take it like a man, take it like a man, well fuck that. I don't understand, I don't understand, so please repeat whatever you just said, cause nothing is making sense." That's pretty much where I'm at. But what would make sense to me, and what would provide me some closure is seeing this Giants team in the playoffs. Winning a Super Bowl is obviously going to be very tough without him spending the HOURS of game-planning he spent, so I'm not going to be crushed if they don't complete that high degree of difficulty task, but I think the playoffs are in reach. And hell, if the Bucs and Giants are close on the Wild Card standings towards the end of the year, I'd probably bench players just to see the big guy's final assembled team trot out for one more playoff game -- angels in the outfield style. At the end of the day though, I'm just happy he lived to see his team win one, as going back and re-listening to EVERY PTI we recorded reminded me that was certainly not a guarantee. He was tough and hung on as long as he could, and I'm PROUD of him. I do regret very much not taking KVW's advice and just inducting him into the GZL/RZL Hall of Fame these past two offseasons while he was alive here to see it, rather than now after he's gone and will miss out on the kind words and seeing how much he's meant to this place. But that's my guilt to carry.

11. New Orleans Saints ( LR #19 )
10. San Diego Chargers ( LR #8 )
More like Good(man) answer! ZING! Yes, We Are Scientists have a song titled "Good Answer", and yes, it was too easy to pair up with both Father Goodman (SD) and Son One Goodman (NO) sitting at (4-2) and in very good shape midway through 2017. The Chargers are a team with Championship pedigree, and father Mike has done a fine job with the squad since taking over for future HOFer John Stanley. In the meantime, son Jordan is doing a fine job in New Orleans, and you can't help but think former Saints GM Adam Sloat may have cashed out a little too early, as my gut tells me the Saints are going to be a playoff team this season (perhaps a division winner), and it's in large part due to Sloat painfully stabilizing this roster the last few years. Jay Cutler and a fantastic draft have done wonders. The Goodman’s will need to prove themselves by outlasting crafty vets like Tim Miller, the Pearce Brothers, and Anthony Fernandez to win their respective divisions, but each team should make some noise sooner, rather than later. Scary enough, they have another Goodman brother who is eager to sign up for GZL in the future. Someone tell the Pearce's and Manning's to watch out!

9. St. Louis Rams ( LR #17 )
8. Chicago Bears ( LR #10 )
We have to get pretty deep in the Power Rankings before we get our 3rd and 4th teams in the NFC, and it's not really a knock on the talent of the blue conference, but a statement to how stacked the AFC appears to be at the halfway point. The Rams are coming off of a huge season and probably should have beat the Landry Jones-led Seahawks last year and won Super Bowl VII, but it wasn't to be. They have been bitten by the injury bug, and Bradford will be tough to lose, but their only losses so far are road losses to the talented Chiefs and these Bears. They will make a huge statement tonight by spanking the Buccaneers. The scary thing about the Bears is that they probably couldn't have played WORSE to begin 2017, but have somehow stumbled onto a (4-2) record. The loss to New England a couple weeks ago is a red flag, but I suspect that was more fluke than anything else. I fully expect these teams to challenge deep into the NFC Playoffs and perhaps play in the NFC Championship like most thought they would last year.

7. Houston Texans ( LR #4 )
6. Green Bay Packers ( LR #7 )
Let's be clear - NOBODY is better at building and executing their rushing attack than Kevin Mullendore. He is textbook in every league he's in that he'll assemble a rushing attack that will wreak havoc on stat sheets. It was the story in RZL, and it's been a dominating trend in GZL too with the Muscle Hamster Doug Martin. It appears that Paul Willis may have caught a glimpse of this though, as he's been doing a great job orchestrating a similar attack in Houston the last couple years. They paid a premium for Trent Richardson, and he's paid dividends. Last year he led the league in rushing, and this year he trails only Doug Martin and David Wilson. As long as these teams are dominating on the ground, expect them to compete for their very tough divisions. I personally like these two teams as Wild Cards who will upset some teams in the playoffs.

5. Kansas City Chiefs ( LR #28 )
4. Miami Dolphins ( LR #30 )
3. Arizona Cardinals ( LR #3 )
No, I didn't expect to have the Cardinals as the best team in the NFC nearly halfway through the season, nor did I have the Chiefs and Dolphins as playoff teams. Maybe I just haven't been paying as good attention as usual, as the Chiefs and Dolphins were surprise teams LAST year who made the playoffs, but this year they seem to be sustaining and extending that success. As for the Cardinals, they've been a team I've liked a lot since their (13-3) season in 2015, but last year they dropped off despite still getting 9-wins in a tough division with the Rams and back-to-back NFC Champion Seahawks. While each team is in premium position with 5 wins already midway, I'd encourage them to not blow a great opportunity, because who knows how often they'll come along when you play annually in divisions with teams and GMs like the Seahawks/St.Marie, Rams/Richardson, Raiders/Garth, Broncos/Wade, Patriots/Spencer, Bills/Breck, and a handful of other great guys who should be coming into their own soon.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers ( LR #6 )
Yes, We Are Scientists have a song called "Pittsburgh". Are there more appropriate song choices for them? Perhaps, but this was too easy to pass up. Pittsburgh may not be the 2nd best team in GZL, but let's look at the facts. They have a future HOF GM who has won Super Bowls in multiple leagues, including here in GZL two years ago. Had Big Ben not died last year in the Preseason, who knows how successful Travis might have been in defending his SB trophy? They are off to a hot start where their only two losses were to an improved Browns team in a WK1 upset, and a narrow loss to an improved Bucs team. Looking forward the Steelers play @BAL, @ATL, vBAL, @NYJ, and vCIN. It's very likely they could win all five of those and be (10-2) when they travel to Cleveland for that pivotal rematch. I like this Steelers team a lot, and I think their Championship pedigree will have them stick around for a long time in 2017 as long as they're healthy. That is bad news for Nissen and his Titans, who have seen promising playoff seasons end in Pittsburgh twice. Both of those years, the Steelers won the Super Bowl.

1. Tennessee Titans ( LR #11 )
At (6-0) the Titans are GZL's final undefeated team of 2017, and for good reason as Mr. Nissen is a fine GM who has assembled a fantastic team capable of winning a Super Bowl any given year. Nearly halfway through the regular season he still has his starting QB, so that's a plus. They get the Jaguars again this week before traveling to Houston. If they get through those games to (8-0), they get the lowly Colts and Redskins, so we could be looking at them hitting 10 wins before they get their first L. With tough games down the stretch like @DAL, vMIA, @BAL, @PIT, and @NYG, it's highly unlikely this team WON'T lose, but right now they certainly look tough to beat.

Thanks for reading! This is an OCCASIONAL feature! I would love to hear your thoughts!

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