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S2017W10:: GZL Power Rankings
By Anthony Fernandez
Special to gzl-football.com

S2017W10:: GZL POWER RANKINGS
The 'Robin Williams' Edition
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2017
AF, GreenZone Media Committee

WANT TO CATCH UP?
S2017W08 (We Are Scientists)


TOYS::
32. Cincinnati Bengals ( LR #30 )
31. Indianapolis Colts ( LR #31 )
30. San Francisco 49ers ( LR #29 )
29. Jacksonville Jaguars ( LR #23 )
Ladies and gentlemen, you're 2017 play toys! Yes, these are the only 4 teams on the schedule in ALL of GZL that I think you can honestly consider an "easy win" at this point. Even the (0-8) Eagles are playing teams tough. The Bengals are fresh off of dropping a 10-0 lead in Tampa, where they allowed 45 unanswered points. The Colts had a nice win last week over an unsuspecting Cowboys team, but nobody really thinks they are winning too many more (including GM Jason Arnold). The 49ers are destined for their 4th Top 5 pick in FIVE years - a stat that may literally never occur again. And the Jaguars have looked weak and ineffective since they got shut out in Super Bowl V. Would you believe the Jaguars don't even own their 1st round pick? And the 49ers are so historically bad they tried to "swap" future 1st Round Picks with teams this past offseason to net more assets before the league shut it down? On the bright side, Brady made a killing with the pick the LAST time he had #1 overall, so maybe he'll luck into that again.


RV::
28. New England Patriots ( LR #28 )
27. New York Jets ( LR #25 )
26. Buffalo Bills ( LR #22 )
What happened to the AFC East? This division with tons of Top 10 and 1st Round Pick QBs has just fallen flat in 2017. It's almost like Breck packed everyone up in his RV and drove that sumbitch straight to next year's draft. The Dolphins will likely win the division, but this is not a division that should get a playoff team in 2017. All three of these teams remain feisty because of talented GMs, so don't mark it down as an easy win just yet, but another loss or two and the wise GMs will begin looking to the future yet one more year.


THE BIRDCAGE::
25. Philadelphia Eagles ( LR #32 )
24. Atlanta Falcons ( LR #24 )
23. Seattle Seahawks ( LR #27 )
I'm going to catch some crap for putting the winless Eagles anywhere but 32nd, but this is a talented team that is playing competitive football. That is much more than the Bengals, Colts, 49ers, and Jaguars can say. Since the Titans blew the Eagles out in WK5, the Eagles have lost by one score or less to likely playoff teams in the Redskins, Rams, and Bears. Malik McNabb is playing better, and by all accounts it appears that this team is headed in the right direction. Neal will be happy with the #1 overall pick, and the Eagles will be a team NEXT year we are talking about as a real threat in GZL - something I don't necessarily think is so obvious for the bottom 4 teams, or the AFC East. If the Eagles were in the AFC East, they may be (4-4) already. The Falcons and Seahawks were teams with high expectations this year, but stumbled out of the gate. On the heels of some impressive wins, it's too early to rule them out, but we're probably one more loss away from putting that nail in the coffin for 2017.


MAN OF THE YEAR::
22. New York Giants ( LR #12 )
Big drop here for the Super Bowl V Champions. Nobody wanted JP to be in the playoffs more than me, but back-to-back losses have that looking unlikely. Romeo Mendez, another lifetime Giants fan, is waiting in the wings to takeover the Giants - and the only thing holding me back from bringing him on prior to the end of the season is me wanting to retire JP with 69 regular season wins - I think he'd love that. He technically passed with 69 total GZL wins (if you count the 4 playoff wins), but I think the writing is on the wall that Mr. Mendez will be taking over in New York soon. R.I.P. JP, I miss you every day.


WHAT DREAMS MAY COME::
21. Carolina Panthers ( LR #26 )
20. New Orleans Saints ( LR #11 )
19. Minnesota Vikings ( LR #20 )
18. Cleveland Browns ( LR #16 )
These 4 teams may be dead already and not know it. I know that wasn't quite the plot of the movie, but if you don't like that analogy you could just say these 4 teams probably only have DREAMS of the playoffs in 2017, and those dreams are likely about to become nightmares. While I think these teams are talented, they either play in a division too tough, lack the experience, or lack the talent under center. I wouldn't be surprised to see as many as two of these teams in the playoffs NEXT year, but I think they are dead already in 2017.


HOOK::
17. Kansas City Chiefs ( LR #5 )
16. Oakland Raiders ( LR #21 )
The Raiders (hello, pirates!) were absolutely fine last week playing the villains, doing everything from calling out the division-leading Chiefs in media articles, to pulling out all the stops to get RG3 back. I believe the expression Garth Pearce used in regards to the Kansas City Chiefs was "pretenders". Ouch! The Raiders ARE however the reigning AFC Champions and the back-to-back-to-back AFC West Champions, even if they let their little brother Chiefs into the tournament last year. Apparently all of the games worked, as the Raiders thumped the Chiefs and now appear to be right back in the thick of the AFC West despite a (1-3) start. The Chiefs look like missing E.J. Manuel is catching up to them - but the best thing they did last week was re-injure RG3 to give themselves a fighting chance. Both teams should be in the discussions for the AFC West, but you have to wonder if the Broncos or Chargers won't sneak away with the division while these two bitter rivals - Peter Pan (Mr. Miller in green spandex) and Captain Hook (Garth with an eye patch and a hook-hand) dick around at each other's throats.


THE FINAL CUT::
15. Washington Redskins ( LR #19 )
14. Houston Texans ( LR #7 )
These were two teams in a rare, but precarious situation. Despite nice starts that saw both teams get to 4 or 5 wins by the midway mark, each is likely facing must-win games coming up the next few weeks. You hesitate to say "must-win", because ultimately it's still early, but these teams need to PROVE they are playoff teams if they hope to jump from that 14-15 range into the Top 12. While the Texans were there last time, losing 2 of 3 games (including a home loss to the Titans for the sweep) means this team is trending in the wrong direction. Despite being (2-2) in the division, both wins came over the hapless Colts, and the Titans haven't lost a game this season yet. Already at 3 losses and incapable of winning a tiebreaker with the Titans, it seems highly unlikely the Titans lose 4 down the stretch to allow the Texans to steal the AFC South (presumably by winning out). They can start though by beating up the sorry Jaguars twice in the next few weeks. As for the Redskins, who are in a much easier division, they are (2-2) in the East but both wins came over the win-less Eagles. While they are only one game out in the East, they have the Packers, Titans, Rams, and Cowboys the next 4 weeks, so if they go (1-3) over that span they will be in hot water. These two teams should remain in the conversation for Wild Cards, however, even if they are on their final cut inside their divisions.


JUMANJI::
13. Denver Broncos ( LR #17 )
12. Detroit Lions ( LR #15 )
11. Chicago Bears ( LR #8 )
It's been years since I saw this movie, but all I remember is wild animals running wild in packs through the streets. That is actually also a somewhat accurate description of the season thus far for the (5-3) Bears, (5-4) Lions, and (5-3) Broncos. The Lions and Bears have been perhaps the two most up-and-down teams in all of GZL, and it's hard to get a finger on which team will show up on a week-to-week basis. I'm on record saying that I think the Bears are one of the most talented teams in GZL, but I'd be amiss to not mention the Lions as being one of the most talented offenses in GZL. I ultimately expect the Bears to be the team that fends off the Packers, Lions and Vikings to win the NFC North, but they've already assembled a string of wins so ugly, it's hard to feel good about them. The Lions will remain dangerous, but GM Riddell has recently begun thinking for himself again gameplan-wise (switching away from the Colts PB following two losses), and despite them getting a nice morale-building win, you have to wonder if it could work in a negative way for the team, as he'll feel encouraged to back off the sound league-wide advice that saw his team break offensive records last year. As for the Broncos, I don't particularly like that they are banged up, or that the Raiders seem to be putting it together, but I do think Wade is the one GM in the AFC West with whom Garth will be unable to get inside his head. I think that will help the Broncos and give them an edge in the division, coupled with the fact they have games remaining vNYJ, @NE, vSF, vSEA that could very well be the four wins to push them over .500, but that probably means they'll need to find a couple W's over teams like the Raiders, Texans, and Chiefs (who they play twice). If you split the difference, we could be looking at three (9-7) teams here.


GOOD WILL HUNTING::
10. Miami Dolphins ( LR #4 )
More like Good (Russell) Wil(son) Hunting, amirite? Well, to start the season anyway. The last three weeks we've seen bad Russell Wilson, and the team responded with three losses on the heels of his ~60 QB Rating. These losses have revealed to me that the 'fins were ranked way too high at #4, and my gut said to drop them even further, but perhaps the best good will towards the Dolphins this year has been the fact that the other three teams in the division packed themselves up into an RV and drove right to Radio City Music Hall for the 2018 GZL Draft. Despite a moderately tough schedule remaining, two starters returning and the huge lead they were spotted in the AFC East likely means we'll have playoff football on South Beach for the 2nd year in a row.


MRS. DOUBTFIRE::
9. San Diego Chargers ( LR #10 )
This is in no way insinuating that Mr. Goodman dresses up in drag, or that there is anything wrong with that. But from my conversations I've had with him, you can tell he'd do anything for his kids (one of which is now GM'ing in New Orleans, and another who is on the GZL Wait List) - even if that meant dressing up like an old woman who cleans houses to spend time with them. Michael is a good dad, but more importantly, he's a good GM. He's picked up right where future HOFer John Stanley (who recently checked in with me via text message) left off. With a win over the Raiders and a season-split with the Broncos, I'd have to give the Chargers the edge at the moment, but I've got limited experience with Michael, so I'm unsure how they'll respond to the streaking Raiders, who appear to be back in it after a tumultuous start.


OLD DOGS::
8. St. Louis Rams ( LR #9 )
7. Baltimore Ravens ( LR #18 )
6. Pittsburgh Steelers ( LR #2 )
5. Dallas Cowboys ( LR #14 )
4. Green Bay Packers ( LR #6 )
Ah, these guys are basically the old guard of RZL, minus a few faces of course. Kevin, KVW, Robbins, Joe, and Richardson were among the most successful guys in RZL history, including winning a couple Super Bowls between them, and they've been able (for the most part) to parlay that success over to GZL, too. Kevin and his Packers are likely the best of this group, but an injury to Doug Martin and a close loss to the Cardinals prevents them from moving up any higher than 4th this time around. The Bears will be on their heels all year, but Kevin certainly has the ability to hold him off. I think the real danger is that the Bears still aren't even playing GOOD, and they are right in the race. Couple that with perhaps the toughest division in GZL, and you can see Kevin has his work cut out for him. The Cowboys are big risers after taking a nice lead in the NFC East (despite almost giving it back with an ugly home loss to the Colts). They have work to do, but they should win the NFC East. The Steelers tumble down the charts a bit after a loss to Baltimore, who made a considerable leap but ultimately still seem like the 2nd best team in the AFC North. The Ravens are healthy, which has to be music to Gaspar's ears, but I fear that the next two weeks (where the Ravens play tough matchups and the Steelers get two BYEs - one actual one, and the Falcons) will have the Steelers feeling just right for the rematch WK11. The winner of that game should win the AFC North, and likely the #2 seed behind Tennessee. The Rams have had a rough three weeks, including two losses and nearly giving the Eagles their first win, but with Bradford returning, a win over Seattle this week could be just enough to get them back on track and reroute them on their trajectory of competing with the Cardinals for the NFC West crown.


HAPPY FEET::
3. Arizona Cardinals ( LR #3 )
Arizona hasn't done anything worth getting leap-frogged in the NFC by the Buccaneers, as the Cards spent the last two weeks beating the Panthers and Redskins. That said, they'll have to settle for staying put at 3rd overall for now, as the Buccaneers appear to be running away with the NFC South, while the Cardinals still have much fight left in them with the Rams and suddenly-resurrected Seahawks. The home loss to the Rams has hurt this Cardinals team moving forward, but ultimately I think the Cardinals have the best shot at securing the crown. They've got a truly explosive offense that is averaging 30+ points in their W's, thanks to great play by rookie HB Tre Mason, as well as a cast of speedy, happy footed receivers like Jeremy Maclin, Julio Jones, and Dave Aikman. While they appear to have a hole in the secondary at one corner spot, Bowman is talented enough to shadow the opposing teams best player, and I don't think enough teams are 2-studs deep at WR to take advantage of it and outscore a team who routinely goes +30 on the scoreboard. This team is in real good shape moving forward.


AUGUST RUSH::
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( LR #13 )
1. Tennessee Titans ( LR #1 )
You'd be hard pressed to find a team that is more consistently good in the regular season than these two teams. Since Nissens' first full season in 2012, his teams have won 10 or more games every year but once - last year, when the team won 9 with a carousel at QB due to injuries. This year they already have 8 wins after 8 games played. The Bucs are ACTUALLY the only team in GZL history to record double-digit wins EVERY year of GZL's existence, and with 7 wins already it appears that will last one more year at least. Despite this immense regular season success, neither team has won a Super Bowl in GZL, despite 3 trips to the Championship Game and 1 Super Bowl appearance. The Bucs have been downright miserable in the postseason, going 1-and-done EVERY year minus their NFC Championship year. The Titans have been much better posting a respectable (4-5) playoff record, but getting bounced twice in the AFC Championship must be painful, not to mention having your season ended in Pittsburgh twice (the most successful team in GZL history). That might just be the luck of the draw, but whose to say Tennessee might not be the most successful team in GZL history had they not just avoided the Steelers in the playoffs? Either way, it's great these two teams are doing so great (*yawn*), but I think we all can see that it doesn't mean anything right now, other than assurance they'll get one more shot at getting let down.

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


"Genie... you're free."


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