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My 2021 Week 17 NFL Power Index

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Rich has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Penn State. WE ARE!!!


2021 Week 17 NFL Power Index

Happy New Year! We made it to 2022! Our reward is one extra week of the NFL regular season. Most of the playoff spots are locked up, but the season will end with a play-in game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders. The winner of that game gets in. Simple as that. Part of me is rooting for a tie, but the other part of me is rooting for the team that has the best uniforms in the NFL. See, it’s not just me who thinks that. Anyway, I mentioned there was only one week left, so let’s see where your favorite team comes in this week.

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3) ~ The road to the Super Bowl will officially go through Lambeau Field once again. Aaron Rodgers and company have the number one seed in the NFC locked up with a game to spare. Considering this team already has a bunch of star players on injured reserve, I’d expect to see a lot of back-ups take the field Sunday in Detroit in what is a meaningless game for the Packers. (Last Week’s Ranking 1)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) ~ Yes, they lost this weekend. No, a loss doesn’t always mean the team will drop in the rankings. They went on the road, to a playoff calibur team, and lost on a last second field goal. One that, wouldn’t even have happened if not for back-to-back penalties by the defense on fourth down. Kansas City did fall from the top spot in the AFC, but in my eyes, they are still the cream of the crop in that conference. (LWR 2)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) ~ It would be easy to talk about Antonio Brown, but, in the words of Head Coach Bruce Arians, he is no longer a Buc. So, I won’t waste any more time on that subject. The Bucs should have lost to the New York Jets. They were dead to rights. But then we remember that you can never, ever, ever count out Tom Brady. Just ask the Atlanta Falcons. (LWR 3)

4. Tennessee Titans (11-5) ~ Head Coach Mike Vrabel said that Derrick Henry has begun working out and could return to the team for their playoff run. If the Titans can avenge their earlier loss to Houston, they would wrap up the number one seed giving Henry an extra week to get back into game shape. Henry, who hasn’t played since injuring his foot on Halloween, is still the sixth leading rusher in the league. (LWR 7)

5. Los Angeles Rams (12-4) ~ Matthew Stafford has to eliminate the turnovers. Over his past three games, Stafford has five touchdowns and six interceptions. The Rams have won all three of those games, but just imagine how this Rams team could look if he stopped throwing so many picks. Sunday, in Baltimore, he threw his NFL-leading fourth pick six. Those are the things that can derail a playoff run pretty quickly. (LWR 5)

6. Dallas Cowboys (11-5) ~ Michael Gallup, perhaps the best third receiver in the league, tore an ACL in Sunday’s loss to Arizona. It comes at a terrible time with the playoffs and free agency on the horizon. Look for Cedrick Wilson’s role to expand as he will be the next man up to replace Gallup. Wilson does have 40 catches for 483 yards and four scores this season so he is certainly capable. (LWR 4)

7. Buffalo Bills (10-6) ~ Don’t look now, but the Bills are rolling. Three straight wins by double-digits. They don’t need to win big in their finale against the Jets, but a win will give them the AFC East title in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1990 and 1991. If that happens, I fear for the lives of all the folding tables in the greater Buffalo area. (LWR 8)

8. New England Patriots (10-6) ~ After two straight losses, the Pats got their get well present with a home game against Jacksonville. New England then put up a 50 spot while clinching a playoff berth. This was the second time this season that New England reached 50 points after putting up 54 against the Jets on October 24th. (LWR 9)

9. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) ~ Coming into this season there were rumblings that Zac Taylor could be fired if the Bengals did not show enough improvement. Now, after clinching their first AFC North title since 2015, Taylor should be receiving some Coach of the Year votes. My, how the turn tables. (LWR 10)

10. Arizona Cardinals (11-5) ~ 9-0. That is Kyler Murray’s career record at Dallas’ AT&T stadium. Granted, five of those games were in high school and two others in college, but, with Sunday’s win over the Cowboys, Murray improved his record to 9-0 at that stadium across all levels. It’s the house that Kyler built. (LWR 11)

11. Indianapolis Colts (9-7) ~ Carson Wentz returned from the covid list, but it wasn’t enough as the Colts fell to the Raiders and failed to clinch a playoff spot. They’ll get another crack at it next week in Jacksonville, but Wentz may need to provide a little more for the offense. He’s thrown for more than 160 yards just once in their last four games. It’s been a shaky season at best for a quarterback that the team gave up a first round pick to acquire. (LWR 6)

12. San Francisco 49ers (9-7) ~ Trey Lance looked pretty good filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo and before you say oh, it was against the Texans, remember that Houston came in on a two-game winning streak. It was a game the Niners needed to have and their rookie backup quarterback did more good than bad. It remains to be seen who will take the field Sunday at the Rams when San Fran can clinch a playoff spot with a win. (LWR 12)

13. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) ~ Jalen Hurts, the man who replaced Carson Wentz, has led the Eagles back to the playoffs. Hurts’ team is 9-7 which is the same record as Wentz’s new team. Hurts is also a man of the people. Hurts is my quarterback. (LWR 16)

14. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) ~ I said it in the lead and I’ll say it again. The Chargers will close out the regular season Sunday night in Vegas with a chance to go to the playoffs. A win and they are in. Simple as that. The Rams have already clinched and the Super Bowl will be played in Los Angeles this year. Before the season started I said how cool it would be to have the Chargers and Rams meet in the Super Bowl so that both teams would have home field advantage. In order for that to happen, the Chargers need to take care of business this weekend. (LWR 15)

15. Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) ~ Three straight wins for the Raiders. If they can make it four, they would be in the playoffs for just the second time since 2002. Think for a second just how long ago that was. I graduated high school in 2002. The Raiders have made the playoffs just once since I graduated high school. Their fans deserve better. (LWR 17)

16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8) ~ Five straight losses for Baltimore. Five agonizing losses. Three of those games were decided by just one point. A fourth was decided by two. Somehow, they still have a mathematical shot at making the playoffs, but that starts with them getting a win. That’s something they haven’t done since November 29th. (LWR 14)

17. Miami Dolphins (8-8) ~ Their improbable run at the playoffs came to an end when Tennessee snapped their seven-game winning streak. While the Dolphins won’t have much to play for besides pride next week, one of their players might have their eyes on a personal achievement. Rookie received Jaylen Waddle needs just three catches to break the rookie record for receptions in a season (101) set by Anquan Boldin back in 2003. Waddle does have the advantage of the 17th game, but we expected a lot of records to be broken with the addition of the extra game. (LWR 13)

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18. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) ~ Ben Roethilsberger got a win in what was likely his last game at Heinz Field. He can thank rookie running back Najee Harris who took over Monday’s game with runs like this. Harris had a career-high 188 yards rushing which broke the Steelers’ rookie rushing record that was set by Franco Harris way back in 1972. (LWR 19)

19. New Orleans Saints (8-8) ~ They finally got into the end zone. A fourth quarter touchdown prevented the Saints from going three straight weeks without finding the end zone. That is a big, big problem for a team that can still sneak into the playoffs. It’s clear that their quarterback of the future is not on the roster. Could they go big and try and lure Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson to the Big Easy this offseason? (LWR 20)

20. Cleveland Browns (7-9) ~ Speaking of teams who could be in the market for a quarterback, we can’t forget about the Browns. Yes, it’s easy to point to the lengthy injury list that Mayfield has been playing through most of the season, but it’s also worth looking at how well Odell Beckham Jr. has played since being traded to the Rams. Maybe OBJ had a point when he was complaining about his role in the offense and Mayfield’s shortcomings. (LWR 18)

21. Denver Broncos (7-9) ~ Their third straight loss eliminated the Broncos from the playoff chase. This is the sixth straight year Denver will miss the postseason. Their last trip to the postseason ended with a Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers. That was also Peyton Manning’s last career game. Kicker Brandon McManus is the only player left of the roster to appear in a playoff game for the Broncos. (LWR 21)

22. Minnesota Vikings (7-9) ~ Another year and another waste of talent from the Vikings. They have two top flight receivers in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. Dalvin Cook is a Pro Bowl running back. Kirk Cousins had another fantastic year under center. Yet, here they are. On the outside of the playoffs looking in. Head Coach Mike Zimmer has perhaps the hottest seat in the league. (LWR 22)

23. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) ~ Rookie Kyle Pitts has been a bright spot for a Falcons team that has been exactly what we thought they’d be. Pitts eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark setting a new Falcon rookie receiving record of 1,018. He’s also the first rookie tight end to be named to the Pro Bowl since Jeremy Shockey of the New York Giants back in 2002. Atlanta may have a lot to figure out in the offseason, but the tight end position is not among them. (LWR 23)

24. Seattle Seahawks (6-10) ~ Is Rashaad Penny ready to be a lead back? Seattle drafted Penny in the first round back in 2017, but he never really had a grasp on the lead back role. Now, due to injuries, he’s had his chance and he’s, well, run with it. Penny has at least 130 yards rushing in three of his last four games. He had zero such games prior to this streak. (LWR 25)

25. Chicago Bears (6-10) ~ The Bears have lost eight of the games in which rookie quarterback Justin Fields has started. They actually have a winning record when anyone else is under center. Now, that isn’t to say that Fields isn’t the quarterback of the future. Odds are that Andy Dalton, and maybe even Nick Foles, will be elsewhere next season. It should be Fields’ team and it could also come with a shiny new head coach. (LWR 26)

26. Washington Football Team (6-10) ~ The Football Team is set to unveil their new moniker on 2-2-22. I feel like whatever they came up with will be a disappointment. I said they should be the Washington Pigskins, so they could still be called the ‘skins, but what do I know? What if, however, this is just a big time troll job and they are sticking with the Football Team? All the hype for nothing? Considering the owner of this franchise, I’d say it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing. (LWR 24)

27. Carolina Panthers (5-11) ~ Sam Darnold was inserted back into the starting lineup, but I’m guessing he wished the team waited another week. Darnold was sacked seven times by New Orleans. The Panthers have given up 50 sacks this season, which is the second most in the league behind Baltimore. Sounds like the offensive line might be a focal point during the offseason. (LWR 27)

28. New York Jets (4-12) ~ They almost had it. The upset of the year. The Jets had a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter on the defending Super Bowl Champion Bucs. Then, Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does. He threw a touchdown pass to Cyril Grayson to rip out the hearts of the Jets and their fans. Grayson may not be a name you knew before this game, but I assure you, it is a name Jets fans know now. (LWR 28)

29. Houston Texans (4-12) ~ It hasn’t been a banner year for the Texans, but, I think you could actually call it a success? Most people assumed Houston would be the worst team in all of football this year. That hasn’t been the case and they’ve been more competitive of late. They host the Titans Sunday and, if they can beat their division rival for a second time this year, they could keep Tennessee from earning the top seed in the AFC playoffs. I think that could be quite the high note for the franchise. (LWR 29)

30. New York Giants (4-12) ~ Mike Glennon finished 4-of-11 for 24 yards while throwing two interceptions. He was sacked four times and fumbled four times, losing two. Mike Glennon did not have a good game. Jake Fromm seems to be the early candidate to start the season finale as Glennon has a wrist injury that will require surgery. (LWR 30)

31. Detroit Lions (2-13-1) ~ I nearly put the Lions ahead of the Giants simply because the Lions are fielding a competitive team each game. The same can’t be said about the G-Men. Detroit can do no worse than the 2nd overall pick in next year’s draft and they are set to play a Packers team that doesn’t have anything to play for. I think closing the season with a win would be a good thing for the Lions. (LWR 31)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) ~ The Jags guarantee themselves the top overall pick in next year’s draft. They can almost guarantee ending Indianapolis’ season if they can find a way to beat the Colts on Sunday. There’s still the chance they beat Indy and wind up with the top overall pick. The Jags don’t have much. Can we try and give them this? (LWR 32)

And that is that. That's all I've got this week. You're now free to go about the rest of your day. Or night. Whatever it may be. If you want more of me, leave a comment below or follow me on social media via the link in my bio.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Rich

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