Playoff Power Rankings
1. Denver — Peyton Manning’s past failures have nothing to do with this playoff run … but neither does his record-setting regular season. Be that as it may, if Denver’s defense can merely be competent, Manning’s odds of juggernauting the franchise to its third Super Bowl title are high.
2. Seattle — The Seahawks have the most imposing home-field advantage in recent memory, but an offense that’s sputtering at the wrong time. Anything less than a Super Bowl appearance would be a major upset, but a win over Denver would almost certainly require more than the 19.3 points Russell Wilson’s offense averaged over its final four games.
3. San Francisco — Peaking at the right time, San Francisco is ideally built to survive a three-game road gauntlet to maintain its NFC crown. All roads lead to Seattle?
4. New England — New England is healthy enough to win a Divisional Round game, but a conference title via Denver? The task will be tall.
5. Indianapolis — Back on track after a mid-season malaise befitting of the NFC North, Indy has moved past the loss of Reggie Wayne. The question is, can it neutralize the Chiefs’ pass rush for the second time in three weeks? It won’t be easy.
6. Carolina — All season long, the Panthers had just enough offense to supplement their stifling defense. That formula will be severely tested if Steve Smith isn’t ready for the Divisional Round.
7. New Orleans — The Saints have the same road record as the Giants and Jaguars. They’ll have a strong chance of beating the Eagles in a likely shootout in Philly, but anything beyond that would be gravy for a team that takes too many punches away from the Superdome.
8. Cincinnati — Live by Andrew Gregory Dalton, die by Andrew Gregory Dalton. The Bengals should beat San Diego, but should can go out the window depending on which Andy Dalton shows up at Paul Brown Stadium.
9. Kansas City — A well-rounded club with an unfortunate draw. The Chiefs went 1-5 against playoff teams this season, and would likely have to win three games away from raucous Arrowhead Stadium to reach the Super Bowl. The Chiefs have two wins since November 3, with both coming over teams picking in the top five of next May's draft. The Chiefs' 11-5 record was the worst ever for a team that started 9-0. That’s not indicative of the talent level in Kansas City, but a real run seems unlikely.
10. Green Bay — Anything can happen with Aaron Rodgers under center, but do the Pack have anything left after a draining, injury-marred 3-5-1 closing stretch? Probably not enough to beat San Francisco.
11. Philadelphia — The Eagles are a good team playing their best football at the right time, but can they out-score Drew Brees? That’s what it’s going to take, as for all the advances Bill Davis’ defense has made, it’s still a highly-ordinary unit.
12. San Diego — There’s backing into the playoffs, and then there’s outlasting Chase Daniel at home in overtime. The Chargers are a feel-good story — an extremely well-coached feel-good story — but by far the worst team, on paper, heading into this year’s tournament.
Top 10 Fantasy Quarterbacks By Raw Points
1. Peyton Manning (496.8 points) — Manning CTRL+ALT+DLTed the record book and CTRL+Ved in his own new numbers.
2. Drew Brees (437.5 points) — There have been eight 5,000-yard seasons in NFL history. Half of them belong to Brees.
3. Andy Dalton (377.1 points) — Dalton was wildly inconsistent. He was a far more rewarding proposition in points-only leagues.
4. Matthew Stafford (367.8) — Stafford don’t need no stinkin’ QB “guru”! Ok, at least not for fantasy. Totaled only 49.9 points over his final four games.
5. Cam Newton (359.7 points) — Cam ran less than ever, but remained as productive as ever. That’s despite throwing to one of the league’s worst receiver corps.
6. Philip Rivers (359.1 points) — Revived like no one since John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction,” Rivers was nevertheless much quieter over the season’s second half.
7. Andrew Luck (345.2 points) — It’s remarkable Luck finished as high as he did considering his lack of weapons and Indy’s nearly nonexistent running game.
8. Ben Roethlisberger (341.0 points) — Roethlisberger appeared in all 16 games for the first time since 2008.
9. Matt Ryan (335.3 points) — Ryan wasn’t the same without Julio Jones, but didn’t fade into oblivion. This is his fantasy floor. That’s not bad.
10. Russell Wilson (331.8 points) — Wilson averaged 20.7 points on the year, but just 14.65 over his final four games. Still a stellar campaign for a sophomore.
Top 10 Fantasy Running Backs By Raw Points
1. Jamaal Charles (312.1 points) — ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Receptions And Touchdowns
2. LeSean McCoy (280.7 points) — Shady had 268 more rushing yards than anyone else, and 166 more yards from scrimmage.
3. Matt Forte (265.3 points) — An all-purpose animal who fit Marc Trestman’s offense like a custom-made Italian glove.
4. Marshawn Lynch (241.3 points) — Lynch seemed to wear out down the stretch, but his 14 total touchdowns were a new career high.
5. Knowshon Moreno (236.7 points) — Whatever McCoy thinks, Moreno brought the goods in one of 2013’s most unlikely breakout seasons.
6. Adrian Peterson (209.7 points) — AD rushed for 831 yards fewer than he did in 2012, and was still the league’s No. 5 back by yards.
7. Eddie Lacy (209.5 points) — Lacy averaged 23.3 touches per game after returning from his Week 2 concussion.
8. DeMarco Murray (207.2 points) — Once Murray got over his obligatory injury, he was the league’s fiercest runner, banging out 5.2 yards per carry.
9. Chris Johnson (202.2 points) — Getting here was as tedious as ever, but CJ?K refuses to let go of his RB1/2 value. Whether he maintains it in 2014 will depend on where he’s playing.
10. Reggie Bush (193.2 points) — Bush beat out a host of notable names despite missing two games with injury and withstanding multiple benchings for fumbling. He’ll remain on the RB1 fringe in 2014.
Top 10 Fantasy Receivers By Raw Points
1. Josh Gordon (227.4 points) — Gordon led the league in receiving despite being suspended for Weeks 1 and 2 and catching his passes from Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer. Did I mention he won’t turn 23 until April?
2. Demaryius Thomas (227.0 points) — It’s all about the YAC, baby. No one had more of it in 2013.
3. Calvin Johnson (220.9 points) — Megatron’s latest top-three finish is all the more remarkable considering he missed two games and was severely limited in two others. A man without peer at his position.
4. A.J. Green (208.6 points) — Perhaps the most underrated superstar in all of football.
5. Dez Bryant (203.0 points) — Bryant has 25 touchdowns since the start of the 2012 season.
6. Brandon Marshall (201.5 points) — Marshall has now caught 100 passes in five of his eight NFL seasons. He’s averaging 98.8 catches since becoming a starter in 2007.
7. Antonio Brown (198.2 points) — Brown became the first player in league history to catch at least five passes for 50 yards in all 16 games.
8. Eric Decker (194.8 points) — Decker might get overpaid in free agency, but that’s missing the point. He’s going to get real paid.
9. Alshon Jeffery (194.6 points) — Remember when Jeffery was too fat?
10. DeSean Jackson (187.4 points) — As usual, D-Jax was boom-or-bust, but he boomed much bigger than in years past, while his valleys weren’t nearly as low as they were under Andy Reid.
Top 10 Fantasy Tight Ends By Raw Points
1. Jimmy Graham (217.5 points) — It was Graham and then everyone else.
2. Vernon Davis (163.0 points) — Davis’ 13 touchdowns were more than he scored in his first two seasons combined under Jim Harbaugh.
3. Julius Thomas (150.8 points) — Thomas caught at least three passes in every single game. He averaged 4.6 catches.
4. Jordan Cameron (133.7 points) — Cameron’s 917 yards were second only to Graham’s 1,215.
5. Jason Witten (133.1 points) — About to become the league’s tight end emeritus with Tony Gonzalez’s retirement.
6. Tony Gonzalez (132.7 points) — Gonzalez totaled 859 yards in his final NFL campaign. Gonzo was held below 800 yards just four times in 17 seasons, and only twice after 1998.
7. Charles Clay (119.4 points) — Will hopefully be more creatively and consistently utilized in 2013.
8. Greg Olsen (117.6 points) — Olsen topped 80 yards only three times all season, but set his watch to 5-50.
9. Antonio Gates (111.2 points) — 48.4 of Gates’ points came in his first four games. He topped 6.0 points only four more times all season.
10. Martellus Bennett (105.9 points) — Bennett continued his gradual breakout, recording his first top-10 fantasy campaign.
Week 17 Fantasy All Pro Team: QB Drew Brees, RB LeGarrette Blount, RB Matt Forte, WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Jordy Nelson, WR Anquan Boldin, TE Jason Witten, TE Jimmy Graham
The 2013 All Bust Team: QB Robert Griffin III, RB Trent Richardson, RB Ray Rice, WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Vincent Brown, WR Danny Amendola, TE Coby Fleener, TE Kyle Rudolph
Most Inexplicable Player of 2013: Matt Flynn
Tweet of the Week, via @DonBanks: Listening to Jason Garrett in the post-game, he makes 8-8, year after year, sound almost heroic.
Tweet of the Week II, via @themantz: I have jeans I haven't washed since before Chud was hired.
Stats of the Week
This stat courtesy of Adam Levitan: Over the final five games of what had been a lost year, Roddy White averaged 8.6 catches for 100.4 yards.
Per the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley, the Dolphins scored just one touchdown over their final 25 possessions of the season. Seriously.
Via Colts Authority’s Kyle J. Rodriguez: Trent Richardson’s 2.92 yards per carry was the worst mark in franchise history (minimum 150 attempts).
Ray Rice’s 3.08 YPC was the fourth worst mark in the league, ahead of only Trent Richardson, teammate Bernard Pierce and Willis McGahee.
Ryan Tannehill had three 20-plus yard carries this season. Ray Rice had one.
Pierre Garcon was the most targeted player in the NFL.
Peyton Manning threw 16 more touchdowns than anyone else in the NFL. Eli Manning threw 18 touchdowns.
Ryan Tannehill took 58 sacks, the most since Jon Kitna took 63 in 2006.
Most Desirable Current Head-Coaching Vacancies
2. Tampa Bay