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Green Zone League Articles

S2015W15:: GZL Power Rankings
By Anthony Fernandez
Special to gzl-football.com

The Brad Pitt Edition
AF, GreenZone Media Committee
Friday, November 1st, 2015

S2015W03 | S2015W09

32. Atlanta Falcons ( LR #32 )
31. Cincinnati Bengals ( LR #29 )
30. Miami Dolphins ( LR #27 )
Ah, the tank-a-palooza crew! These three teams have been awful, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to wonder if these teams weren’t “Riggin’ for Higgins”. That is of course Jonathan Higgins, the 6’6”, 94THP, 88THA, 73AWR QB from Ole Miss. Higgins looks like a healthy cross between Boston Mallett (CLE) and Andrew Luck (KC), and he will surely make whoever drafts him very happy. He even looks like he could be better than QB Kendall Irving, last year’s #1 pick for the Houston Texans. Houston was in a similar situation as these three teams – having a capable starter on the roster and the tough decision of replacing him with the #1 overall pick. While Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, and Mike Glennon should be on high alert – no amount of talent in the draft will let these three GMs off the hook. By all accounts, three talented GMs zombified their seasons for a better pick.

29. Carolina Panthers ( LR #31 )
28. Kansas City Chiefs ( LR #16 )
There are only 4 teams that have 0 playoff games in GZL, and these are two of them. Between these two teams, they will extend the torment of their fan base to 12 consecutive seasons without a playoff berth. Each team has made top picks and added talented players to their roster, yet can’t seem to break through. Unlike last year, however, when each of these two teams traded their 1st round pick to Tampa Bay before the season had even started (Tampa ended up getting the 4th and 18th picks), each team enters the offseason with their 1st and an opportunity to gain something from another painful season.

27. New York Jets ( LR #26 )
26. Indianapolis Colts ( LR #25 )
Oh come on, how could I resist! And no, I’m not implying one of these two fine gentleman are “Mrs. Smith”, I’m simply paying homage to the parents of these two GMs. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we have two great members of the GZL community who have put in some serious legwork when it comes to broadcasting, article contribution, and draft class creation. Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Smith! As for the Jets and Colts – sure, it’s been a rough year, but the fan bases are used to it. Along with the two teams in the previous caption, these are the only other teams in GZL who have never made the playoffs. I have confidence in all 4 GMs, and would not be surprised to see any or all of them there in the near future.

25. Cleveland Browns ( LR #22 )
24. Buffalo Bills ( LR #9 )
Two teams that have had a weird progression here in GZL. These rosters started out very old – with the likes of David Garrard, Lee Evans, Vince Young, Jake Delhomme, and Antonio Bryant. Over time, each team got progressively younger. Behind rookie pups like RG3 and Boston Mallett, each team saw their first playoff berth last year. It was like a renaissance for each fan base. And then in a sudden turn of events, each team died this year. So much for reverse aging.

23. Detroit Lions ( LR #30 )
22. Philadelphia Eagles ( LR #28 )
21. Jacksonville Jaguars ( LR #21 )
20. Minnesota Vikings ( LR #24 )
19. New Orleans Saints ( LR #19 )
18. San Francisco 49ers ( LR #5 )
17. St. Louis Rams ( LR #17 )
These seven teams have talent – but each has plenty of holes. On top of that, each GM is guilty of violating one of the seven deadly sins. The Detroit Lions were an NFC Champion caliber team (both figuratively and literally) when GM Tom Riddell took over, but his pride has really cost the team. He’s been hell bent on “winning his way”. He has even rationed changing the winning formula that was already in place in Detroit by alluding to the fact he wants to instill “CFL values” here in our video game league (whatever that means), and ultimately the team has struggled since losing SBIV. The Eagles have been single handedly wasting the career of Super Bowl winner Aaron Rodgers, with most GMs probably not even being aware he’s rotting there. It’s tough to explain what the reason the Eagles are not better is, but it’s clear to me at least that it is NOT always sunny in Philadelphia, and that might be tied to the GM Eric Eggleston, who has demonstrated a great deal of sloth in his tenure in Philly. He’s overlooked numerous opportunities to engage in training camp to gain access to +5 attribute points to improve his roster, and has even missed draft picks in the past. While he’s engaged in plenty of trades, I’d be curious to wonder how motivated he actually has been in improving the roster. The Jaguars have been one of the bigger disappointments this year, falling from AFC Champion to the basement of the AFC. GM Justin Herr has recently displayed a great deal of wrath towards GZL management over decisions made regarding the Washington Redskins, and perhaps it was their way of venting because they have just not been that good this year, on the heels of their most successful season ever. Vikings GM Anthony Cepparulo has clearly been guilty of some degree of lust, announcing that he and his wife will be having a child here shortly. While that is certainly a great reason to not be as active as usual, this will be the first time in three seasons AC is not a nominee for GMOTY. The Saints organization has been doubly affected by greed, initially by former GM Dorian Edwards who was quite upset with GZL Commissioner Anthony Fernandez for booting him from GZL. GM Fernandez paid Mr. Edwards’ GZL dues LAST year to secure him in the league, but then informed him he must pay the small $5 cost for 2015. He said he would, didn’t, nearly got booted, promised to pay, was invited back, stayed for another month, didn’t pay, and then “promised to pay at the end of the year”, got replaced, got upset. Yes, times are tough – but it’s $5. This is countless hours of entertainment at the cost of one matinee movie a season. GM Adam Sloat has come into New Orleans, and while things are clearly looking up in the bayou, Sloat has also been guilty of some degree of greed, as he clearly expected to be better quicker. Despite coming into the season halfway through, the competitive Sloat appeared genuinely upset they did not defeat the Buccaneers for their Fan Appreciation Day. They haven’t won since, either. That just leaves the 49ers and Rams. The 49ers are clearly guilty of gluttony, having digested more Top 10 picks than any other GM the last few seasons, while the Rams are guilty of envy, as GM Richardson has always harbored a good deal of discontent for me and my madden prowess.

16. New York Giants ( LR #10 )
2011 Chargers – (7-9). 2012 Packers – (7-8-1). 2013 Steelers – (11-5). 2014 Chargers – (7-9). 2015 Giants – (6-8). This is the reality of GZL, where competition is as tough or tougher than any league on the internet. Defending Super Bowl GM James Paronne has been down in the dumps lately for numerous reasons surely not limited to the struggling GZL Giants, but it’s just been really tough for Super Bowl Champions to defend their crown in GZL. Of all the previous Super Bowl winners, only one (the 2013 Steelers) had a winning season the year following their Super Bowl win – and even the Steelers got bounced in ugly fashion at home in their first playoff game that season. Progressively worsening cancer may have my buddy JP feeling a little more anxious to reach the pinnacle once more, but the Chargers are proof that a super-hangover doesn’t necessarily mean success will not return. A loss last week in Washington to his tormentor assured JP would not win the NFC East this season, but the Giants are not yet eliminated from playoff contention. While it would take some help to get there, JP got to hang a Super Bowl banner last season without the NFC East banner, too. I’m not expecting it to happen, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for my buddy. Even if they don’t get in, they still got to finally win a madden title, plus have seen the Red Sox win three titles in 10 years, the NFL Giants win two titles in 10 years, and the Heat win two in a row.

15. Baltimore Ravens ( LR #14 )
14. Denver Broncos ( LR #23 )
13. Dallas Cowboys ( LR #8 )
These are the proverbial good “bad teams” this season. While each team has a couple holes at key positions, three phenomenal GMs have kept all these teams very competitive. I fully expect all of these teams to fight until the very end, and give whoever is on the schedule hell each week. I know firsthand, as the Broncos came into Tampa last week and made us look dumb. The Dallas Cowboys appear to be the only team in the category that can still make the playoffs, and they’d certainly be a dangerous team if they get in.

12. New England Patriots ( LR #20 )
The Patriots have been one of the bigger underachievers since GZL opened the door – allowing Tom Brady to retire without ever really adding much to his HOF resume. For years it seemed like they followed the same script – big money, big name players – and the results were nil. This season they appeared to take a different approach, and it included trading their Franchise QB even though the season was in progress. It has worked magically, and the Patriots have stumbled their way to the AFC East title. That means that the Patriots will be returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2011! Now here is the real test – can anyone here name their starting QB, HB, and WRs? Good luck. Hats off to Matty.

11. Tennessee Titans ( LR #15 )
10. Chicago Bears ( LR #13 )
I’ve been driving the Bears bandwagon all year, and I’ll be damned if a little 4-game losing streak is going to stop me now! Regardless of limitations in the W/L column, these two teams secretly have a ton of talent from shrewd trades, great drafting, and crafty coaching. When the playoffs start, everyone will be talking about teams like Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tampa, and Green Bay – but don’t be surprised if it ends up being either the Bears or Titans that take the crown.

9. Washington Redskins ( LR #18 )
The surging Redskins have won 4 in a row (with a slight assist from the Rams playbook), but they’ve proved their relevancy by taking their punishment like men, and by using their backup QB to smack around the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants to snatch another NFC East Championship. While that is nice, that certainly will not satisfy Kurt or the Redskins. Now is the tough part, as it appears unlikely the Redskins can obtain a BYE, and with the Packers surging it’s very likely the Redskins could be looking at hosting the runner-up in the NFC West, arguably the best division in football.

8. San Diego Chargers ( LR #6 )
7. Green Bay Packers ( LR #11 )
6. Pittsburgh Steelers ( LR #12 )
There are a lot of teams with better records that will get attention in the tournament, but these are three teams that have the tools and experience to win SBVI. We already know all three teams are capable, as the franchises have collectively won 4 of our 5 GZL Super Bowls, not to mention a bevy of titles and accomplishments between the three GMs in other leagues. This is exactly where teams like this would like to be at the start of the tournament – lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce. And to anyone who thinks Pittsburgh is ranked too low, just remember that their last real “impressive” win was Week 1. They do have the best record in the AFC today, but it has come at the expense of some really bad teams, and two of the three teams they lost to – San Diego and Oakland – are very likely matchups in the tournament.

5. Oakland Raiders ( LR #1 )
4. Houston Texans ( LR #7 )
3. Arizona Cardinals ( LR #3 )
Here are they are – decorated soldiers of the GZL community, ready to claim their first title. The Raiders have been struggling lately, which had to be expected to some degree with Collin Klein as the QB. The Texans have been phenomenal and have exceeded anyone’s expectations after they had the #1 overall pick last year – but the fact remains they have a rookie under center. The Cardinals have been a real feel good story in the NFC thus far, but I don’t know many people who are placing bets on Adarsh to outwit St. Marie in a battle of gameplanning wits. That said, it is USUALLY a team from a group like this that wins the Super Bowl.

2. Seattle Seahawks ( LR #4 )
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( LR #2 )
Last but not least, the two best teams in GZL right now. Their epic matchup a couple weeks ago truly felt like a playoff preview, and had the same tense feel of when these two GMs played each other in last year’s RZL Super Bowl. Two legends of the madden community, the scary part is that neither GM even has the time right now to put in the game planning work each GM is accustomed to, yet they remain at the top of the league. These rosters are very close, but the Bucs get the edge right now for the impressive H2H win, plus the fact that Tampa has been in some heavy duty matchups lately and come out on top. In fact, I think Tampa has been involved in the “Game of the Week” each of the last 4 weeks (Oakland, New Orleans, Denver, Green Bay) – but it’s only fair after they essentially got a BYE month (Carolina twice, Atlanta twice). Honestly I don’t see either of these two winning the Super Bowl THIS year, but it would be a nice story if it did.

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

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