extrapolate: [verb] extend the application of (a method or conclusion, especially one based on statistics) to an unknown situation by assuming that existing trends will continue or similar methods will be applicable.
Sometimes starting a piece with a definition is a profound way to sum up your topic. Sometimes it’s just a nice way to eat up space. I think this time it’s the former …
Having not done any Power Rankings before the season (I was busy doing far more important things), this will be my first time organizing teams in a manner that typically angers 31 of a possible 32 fanbases. It also means I’m going to put far too much stock into Week 1 performances, extrapolating (see, I told you there’d be a tie-in) the results across the entire season. If I do it right, there will never be a need to update this list.
The biggest lesson we can draw from Week 1 is that the AFC rules, the NFC drools, and Kevin Harlan is cool(s). Using 16 games’ worth of data, here is exactly how the NFL stacks up for 2016.
Definitive 2016 NFL Power Rankings
1. New England Patriots:
After beating a Super Bowl contender on the road without their two best offensive weapons, it’s clear this team is going undefeated and we should simply hand them the Lombardi Trophy now.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers:
One of the best offenses in Week 1, the Steelers weren’t even at full strength. When they are, they’ll score 50 points a game. And no one important will get hurt, ever.
3. Cincinnati Bengals:
The Bengals tried not pass blocking, just to see what that was like. Good news, they still won! Consistent Cincy will be the third-best team all year and still, no one will trust them in the playoffs.
4. Denver Broncos:
Trevor Siemian > the reigning MVP. (By “greater than”, I mean his team caught more lucky breaks and won.) The Broncos proved their roster has no holes and will continue to squeak out close wins at an unsustainable rate.
5. Green Bay Packers:
Davante Adams caught a pass! That’s a sure sign that this is the Packers’ year. Except we already established it’s New England’s year, so they’ll have to settle for winning the NFC.
6. Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs tried coming from behind, just to see what that was like. Alex Smith showed he could potentially check-down his way to a passing title.
7. Carolina Panthers:
There’s no shame in losing to a bona fide stud like Siemian. There is shame in falling for the “icing the kicker” trick. Luckily, residing in the dumpy NFC will allow Carolina to lick their wounds by beating teams 38-0.
8. Arizona Cardinals:
There’s no shame in losing to a bona fide stud like Jimmy Garrapolo. Oh, I did that joke already? Well that’s fitting; I had playoff deja vu seeing Carson Palmer overthrow receivers all night. Somehow, this team will endure though. Maybe because David Johnson is awesome?
9. Seattle Seahawks:
How dare you only beat Miami by two! And how dare Russell Wilson get injured! And how dare players raise their fists during the anthem! (Whoops, that’s for a different piece.) But the Seahawks o-line keeps them from being ranked higher. The Cardinals QB may not be reliable, but at least he has time.
10. New York Giants:
The Giants rank as the best New York team, not because they looked more impressive (they didn’t), but because it’s been a few years since Eli went on a crazy run to sneak into the playoffs, and it feels overdue.
11. Oakland Raiders:
After squeaking out a win over a terrible defense on the road, it’s official: THE RAIDERS ARE BACK BABY!
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Isn’t it great when all the “sleeper teams” get a win in their first week? It’s a nice reminder that, typically, half the league gets wins in Week 1 and they mean virtually nothing. But sure, Jameis Winston is a top-ten quarterback now. Why not?
13. Minnesota Vikings:
I’d say you can’t rely on a defensive touchdown to win you every game, but the 2015 Broncos are watching me right now and I’d hate to offend them. So somehow, in 2016, this garbage offense gets to remain relevant!
14. Houston Texans:
Osweiler brought his winning ways to Houston in a strong first week showing. Really the only question now is, who will take his starting job away right before the playoffs?
15. New York Jets:
The Jets have the best d-line in the NFL. Much like the 2014 Bills, it should make for a nice footnote on an otherwise bummer of a 9-7 year.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars:
Not getting blown out by a playoff team at home was actually a massive improvement for the Jaguars, so congratulations!
17. Detroit Lions:
Their offense was unstoppable … against Indianapolis, which I’m pretty sure means: their offense is stoppable.
18. Baltimore Ravens:
It was nice to have the gang all back and ready to go in Week 1. But if a 13-7 snoozer over Buffalo is the best the healthy Ravens can do, well, I don’t want to say I’m hoping for injuries, but …
19. Philadelphia Eagles:
Carson Wentz won one game and Philly loves him. Donovan McNabb won over a hundred and the city never seemed to accept him. I wonder what the difference between the two is? Oh, I know what it is! McNabb never locked himself in a bathroom. Also his Eagles teams were good.
20. Dallas Cowboys:
I’m just going to leave this here.
With all their supposed weapons on offense, Chris Thompson has the only touchdown for Washington so far. The biggest surprise will come at the end of the year, though, when Ladell Betts ends up leading the team.
22. New Orleans Saints:
Prediction: the Saints set a record this year for most points scored by a five-win team.
23. Indianapolis Colts:
Andrew Luck needs more help, blah blah blah. You know who else needs help? Louisiana flood victims. Why not donate today? (How’s that for a sincere comment?)
24. Miami Dolphins:
The Dolphins proved it’s not coaching holding them back, meaning the only reasonable explanation is that Hard Rock Stadium was built on an Indian burial ground.
25. Chicago Bears:
John Fox will improve this team in his second year. The Bears will go from last in the NFC North to tied for third. Oooooooh!
26. Tennessee Titans:
More like “exotic your-quarterback-gets-smashed-in-the-mouth” football.
27. Atlanta Falcons:
I can see the headlines now: “Atlanta Wins!” These headlines are, of course, in reference to Donald Glover’s new show. The actual Falcons? Their headlines will be more like, “Atlanta gets embarrassed” and “Atlanta can’t play defense.”
28. San Francisco 49ers:
The 2016 San Francisco 49ers [written by Seth MacFarlane]: Relying on the same jokes they did last year, the Niners open the season with a resounding win in the Monday nighter nobody cares about, only to go on to be complete trash. Hilarious!
29. Buffalo Bills:
Rest up and get healthy Bills. The 2017 season is only 358 days away!
30. San Diego Chargers:
Having already lost his top two wide receivers for the year, Philip Rivers should be throwing in the towel. Instead he’ll continue to rally this team … to a 4-12 season.
31. Los Angeles Rams:
I know it’s hard to find a good quarterback in this league, but c’mon Rams; if the best one you have is terrible, you’re allowed to keep looking.
32. Cleveland Browns:
The Browns tried to hide it this offseason, but it’s become glaringly obvious this team is purposely throwing the season. Their “fake punt” against Philly was the equivalent of resting DeMarcus Cousins on the last day of the year.