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S2015W09:: GZL Power Rankings
By Anthony Fernandez
Special to gzl-football.com

S2015W09:: GZL POWER RANKINGS
The J. Cole Edition
AF, GreenZone Media Committee
Sunday, September 15th, 2015

WANT TO CATCH UP?
S2015W03



LIGHTS PLEASE::
32. Atlanta Falcons ( LR #30 )
31. Carolina Panthers ( LR #25 )
30. Detroit Lions ( LR #31 )
Lady’s and Gentleman, with the 1st pick in the 2016 Draft the ____ select ____. That’s pretty much where we are at with these three franchises. The Falcons have had a tidal wave of bad luck and just appear to not care about 2015 anymore. They play the Bucs twice in the next three weeks, and it’s possible this team won’t win a game at all this season. The Panthers aren’t much better, and are prowling close behind in the race for the #1 pick. They are coming off a Bucs loss and get a rematch in two weeks. Don’t write off the Lions either though, as they are playing like they are a CFL team that has no desire to return to their Super Bowl status of just two seasons ago. Turn off the lights.


LOST ONES::
29. Cincinnati Bengals ( LR #32 )
28. Philadelphia Eagles ( LR #8 )
27. Miami Dolphins ( LR #24 )
Historically, the Dolphins, Eagles, and Bengals have had moderate success in GZL, but each franchise has been off the beaten path for quite some time. It is conceivable that none of these teams entered 2015 with aspirations of competing THIS year, but after shaky starts each franchise looks like they need some help to compete anytime in the future, either.


LET NAS DOWN::
26. New York Jets ( LR #14 )
Ah, the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. Because Corey Smith is such a likeable guy, I think most had huge expectations for the Jets entering 2015. It now appears that injuries and the reality of playing with a rookie QB are catching up with the Jets, and perhaps it’s time to start thinking about 2016. Let's not forget where the Jets were when Corey took over though, as this is definitely a team headed in the right direction.The Bills aren’t so far ahead that it’s impossible for the Jets to come back, but another loss or two and it might be time to drive down to Queensbridge and throw the baby out with the bathwater (and score a nick).


DOLLAR AND A DREAM::
25. Indianapolis Colts ( LR #11 )
24. Minnesota Vikings ( LR #18 )
23. Denver Broncos ( LR #6 )
Three teams who had decent buzz building at different times this year and last, but the buzz is now barely a hum. While none of these teams are eliminated and could conceivably go on a run – it’s just a dollar and a dream at this point. Unlike the teams in the next category, there is nothing historically to indicate that we should expect any of THESE three teams to make any noise in the 2nd half of 2015.


TROUBLE::
22. Cleveland Browns ( LR #23 )
21. Jacksonville Jaguars ( LR #21 )
20. New England Patriots ( LR #15 )
These three teams entered 2015 with huge expectations, and thus far have struggled. While none of these teams are out of it, they are in considerable trouble at this point and need a string of W’s in the worst way. I have confidence in these three GMs to do just that, and getting back to .500 should be the first step. I don’t see any of these teams throwing in the towel anytime soon.


WHO DAT::
19. New Orleans Saints ( LR #26 )
Who dat ‘gon beat them Saints? Hard to believe this team was in 1st Place in the NFC South a couple weeks ago, but behind rookie scrambling QB Matt Scott they faltered 2 of the last 3 weeks and have lost precious ground on the Tampa Bay Bucs (who are in the midst of a BYE month – Panthers x2 and Falcons x2). Thankfully for Saints fans, New Orleans has a history of overcoming the Bucs, so it would be silly to write this team off at this point.


RISE AND SHINE::
18. Washington Redskins ( LR #9 )
17. St. Louis Rams ( LR #17 )
16. Kansas City Chiefs ( LR #16 )
15. Tennessee Titans ( LR #22 )
Four teams that have struggled at times this year, but remain firmly in striking distance. Each franchise has a great GM who is more than capable of going on a Super Bowl run if they can get all the players to wake up. Each team has a certain flaw, but there are no perfect teams in this league. The Rams and Redskins likely have the hardest path to a playoff spot, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these teams in the tournament.


SIDELINE STORY::
14. Baltimore Ravens ( LR #29 )
13. Chicago Bears ( LR #2 )
12. Pittsburgh Steelers ( LR #3 )
11. Green Bay Packers ( LR #20 )
Just can’t get enough of these two rivalries, two of the best ever. Unfortunately, with these teams sliding back to near .500, it’s very likely two of these teams will be watching the playoffs from the sidelines. The Packers and Steelers have the Championship pedigree, so have earned the right to get the edge in this debate (plus the Packers have already swept the Bears this year), but don’t sleep on any of these teams. Nobody will want to face these teams come playoff time.


NEW YORK TIMES::
10. New York Giants ( LR #1 )
9. Buffalo Bills ( LR #4 )
Maybe we just really love Corey Smith, while JP and Breck get off on the antagonistic, villematic model – but I think many entered 2015 hoping the Jets would be the class of New York. That never materialized, and while the Super Bowl Champion Giants and AFC East Champion Bills have struggled slightly this year, both remain firmly in striking distance and should be a force once the tournament rolls around. Each GM has Championship pedigree, and will be a tough out once we get there.


FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS::
8. Dallas Cowboys ( LR #28 )
7. Houston Texans ( LR #19 )
The Cowboys and Texans – who’d have thunk? With the high quality GMs running the teams, it is no surprise to see these Texas teams shine, but after each team plummeted to the bottom of GZL last year and replenished their rosters with players so young it would appear they were gearing up for a Friday Night Lights high school game, it would not have been a surprise to see these teams struggle one more year. But we overlooked the fact that in Texas there are only three things – Guns, God, and Football. And strapped onto the broad backs of the likes of Ricky Stanzi and Kendall Irving, football is BACK in Texas.


CAN’T GET ENOUGH::
6. San Diego Chargers ( LR #13 )
The Raiders are going to get the headlines as the last undefeated team, but the Chargers are lingering close behind. And considering they played portions of this season with their 3rd string QB, the fact they are still near the top of the league is a tribute to their outstanding GM. While we love to share the wealth and see numerous teams win Super Bowls, it appears that management in San Diego is downright greedy and can't get enough of those Lombardi trophies.


POWER TRIP::
5. San Francisco 49ers ( LR #27 )
4. Seattle Seahawks ( LR #12 )
3. Arizona Cardinals ( LR #7 )
Is the West Coast the best coast? It appears so thus far, as all FOUR teams in the division (including the 4-4 Rams) are playing above their heads, and at this point it would be a huge surprise if this division does not field at LEAST two playoff teams. Smart money would say the Cardinals and Seahawks – but the 49ers have been stockpiling Top 10 picks for a while, and you had to know eventually they’d perform at this level. At (5-2), the 49ers will have a good chance this week to tie their win total from the last two years combined.


SPARKS WILL FLY::
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( LR #10 )
1. Oakland Raiders ( LR #5 )
The NFL SBXXXVII “Chucky Bowl” rematch! This pair of pirate-themed teams are locked and loaded for a Week 12 clash that could very well feature two teams with combined records of (19-1). As the last undefeated team, the Raiders have tough but winnable games against the Bengals, Ravens, and Chargers. The Buccaneers, coming off of a win over the lowly Panthers, play the Panthers once more, and the Falcons twice over the next three weeks. The Bucs have a history of dropping a game like that every now and then, but don’t be surprised if they cruise to (9-1) before being tasked with slaying the final undefeated team in GZL. If that scenario plays out, sparks will fly!


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


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