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Top Five Shakeup: Crunching The Numbers Week 16

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday with their families. As far as the NFL goes, the playoff picture starts to fall into place as the top tier of teams jockey for position in the rankings.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As Eagles players begin to dust off their golf bags, we begin to wind down the 2015 edition of Crunching The Numbers. The final tally will be next week, but with the playoff picture mostly in place there shouldn't be much movement. There is a decent mix of teams who have a lot to play for and others who have nothing to play for, so things could get interesting. With the Eagles out of the picture entirely, "interesting" may be a strong word, though.

Once again, teams will be seeded based upon their rank, which can be compared to the actual playoff picture as it stands now.

Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 16

1. New England (19.917, 1st Seed): Another year, another twelve-plus win season for the Patriots. It's absurd how the wild success of Bill Belichick seems to be a foregone conclusion; every season it's like clockwork. The sun sets in the west and the Patriots win the AFC East.  Last Week: 1, 21.607

2. Green Bay (17.801, 1st Seed): The Packers have slipped lately, squeaking out a win over Atlanta, losing to Buffalo, and *only* scoring twenty points against Tampa Bay (I feel that's a fair statement). However, they are only one home win away from grabbing a first round bye and potentially homefield advantage. Last Week: 4, 16.884

3. Denver (17.011, 2nd Seed): Peyton Manning is often revered as football's Lord and Savior, a God amongst men. And yet he tends to have games like these every once in a while when a team manages to get legal hits on him even with his lightning-fast release. Monday night was one of those games, but the Broncos are still in good position to keep that first round bye. Last Week: 2, 19.290

4. Seattle (16.630, 2nd Seed): The Seahawks are playing like a team possessed as they violently seized the first seed from Ryan Lindley-led Arizona. The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC could very well run through Seattle again, which means we might get to see Tom Brady attempt to do what Peyton Manning couldn't last year. Last Week: 5, 14.306

5. Baltimore (15.329, 3rd Seed): The Ravens could potentially be left out in the cold in spite of their high ranking here. They will have to beat a reeling Cleveland squad and hope Kansas City defeats San Diego, which is very much within the realm of possibility. If they get in the numbers say they can do some damage.  Last Week: 3, 17.904

6. Dallas (13.752, 3rd Seed): The Cowboys showed the world that they are indeed the best team in the NFC East this season, and they did that in December, no less. Tony Romo's playoff struggles aside, this is the only team outside of Green Bay that I can see beating the Seahawks in Seattle (again). Last Week: 8, 10.761

7. Houston (12.964, 4th Seed): The Texans need a little more help to make the postseason, but as they have shown they will play like it's a "win-and-in" game for them. Regardless, Bill O'Brien has done a nice job with this team and they have a great young nucleus to build on in the future. Last Week: 7, 11.705

8. Cincinnati (11.784, 5th Seed): What a game for the Bengals. Too bad we'll all forget about it if they don't beat Pittsburgh next week. Last Week: 11, 10.539

9. Indianapolis (10.260, 6th Seed): This drop for the Colts is obviously meaningless since they had little to play for in their game versus Dallas. But numbers don't discriminate, so they wind up here.  Last Week: 6, 14.060

10. Philadelphia (10.000, 5th Seed): Well, here we are. I'll have a lot to say about this team over the next few weeks, but for now I'll just say this: December really sucked. Last Week: 10, 10.541

11. Pittsburgh (9.776): The Steelers get some respect from the numbers as they jump up four spots after their win over Kansas City. Ben Roethlisberger is having an MVP-caliber season and Pittsburgh is peaking at the right time. That suspect secondary (opposing passer rating of 99.5) could haunt them in the playoffs, though. Last Week: 15, 9.038

12. Kansas City (9.225): Chiefs fans are now participants in the Andy Reid Game Show. You never really win; you just get a slight sense of what winning feels like. You also never really lose; you just end up wondering where you're headed in the future and convince yourself that your performance was better than it actually was. Last Week: 9, 10.654

13. Buffalo (9.069): I was wondering how the Bills would respond after that emotional win over the Packers. And it ended up how I suspected it would. But fledgling teams all go through that, so I won't hold it against them. Last Week: 12, 9.913

14. Detroit (8.984): The Lions secured a playoff spot over the weekend, but that comfy first round bye they have is all on the line this week. The numbers suggest they won't be keeping it. Last Week: 14, 9.046

15. Miami (7.685): The Dolphins had a decent season, but it could just be a flash in the pan. A lot of it will hang on the consistency of Ryan Tannehill and that secondary, which is easier said than done. Last Week: 16, 7.806

16. Arizona (6.624): The Cardinals are unfortunately learning the same lesson the Eagles are this season: if you don't have the right quarterback for the right system, you don't stand a chance. Even if they don't make noise in the playoffs, they are still good enough to stay competitive next season. Last Week: 13, 9.860

17. Atlanta (6.045, 4th Seed): It looks like the Falcons are the flavor of the week in the NFC South. Both teams in next week's woeful NFC South Championship Game are eager to hit the golf courses in January, but only one can be fortunate enough to lose. The numbers say it won't be Atlanta. Last Week: 20, 4.261

18. San Diego (5.938): In the real playoff picture, the Chargers just have to win and they'll make the playoffs. The stats say that won't happen, and even if it does they probably won't go far. Last Week: 19, 5.782

19. Cleveland (5.379): The Browns were a nice story... for a while... and then Johnny Manziel happened. The good news is that they won't have to start over from scratch like they normally do. Last Week: 18, 5.858

20. New York Giants (4.642): The Giants got hot just in time to ruin their draft positioning. The only thing that can make their impending offseason worse is if Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning are still with the organization by the time the draft arrives. Last Week: 22, 3.470

21. New Orleans (3.896): Home wins used to be automatic for the Saints. Now the last two losses in the Superdome have dashed their postseason hopes, a statement that will probably define their season. Last Week: 17, 6.209

22. San Francisco (3.163): The 49ers collapse has gotten less press than the Eagles, mostly because it was nowhere near as dramatic. Still, this was a team that has had consistent Super Bowl aspirations the past three seasons and now cannot even finish above .500. Jim Harbaugh is going to be a hot commodity in January. Last Week: 23, 2.832

23. St. Louis (2.779): The second half of the Rams' season has been a nice surprise. Their ability to win takes them out of the Marcus Mariota sweepstakes, but they have enough pieces in place where a fear-inspiring franchise quarterback might be a luxury rather than a necessity. Last Week: 21, 3.927

24. Minnesota (1.842): The Vikings are a weird team. They've managed to win but haven't really done anything to generate intrigue. Teddy Bridgewater has at least shown he is an asset worth spending resources developing over the next few seasons. Last Week: 24, 1.851

25. Carolina (0.381): The Panthers are in the black as they enter their division championship game. I honestly can't wait for Wild Card Weekend to be over so we are no longer forced to talk about these teams. Last Week: 25, -0.375

26. Chicago (-4.518): The Bears have seemingly moved on from Jay Cutler, but who's going to want him? He's the epitome of the player with all of the tools but none of the execution. On the flip side, who's going to be under center for the Bears next season? Most likely somebody who's not currently on the roster. Last Week: 26, -5.076

27. Washington (-5.161): Jay Gruden said the Redskins 'wanted to play the Grinch' for the Eagles, and that's what they did. That seems to be their MO every December, so this offseason will be important if they want to change that narrative.  Last Week: -5.892

28. New York Jets (-6.499): I'll hand it to the Jets for giving it their all against the Patriots, even if they still came up short. If there is any bright spot to this season, after their next game fans will no longer have to see that awful sweater vest Rex Ryan wears. Last Week: 29, -7.380

29. Tampa Bay (-7.356): The Buccaneers currently hold the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. If they do select Mariota, I'm not sure if an RGIII-like rookie season from him will be enough to turn this team around. That defense needs a lot of help. Last Week: 28, -6.372

30. Tennessee (-8.117): Surprise, surprise: the Titans still can't beat anyone. *Yawn* Last Week: 30, -8.609

31. Jacksonville (-8.916): The Jaguars got a feel-good story last week, because the good news is that even with the win they'll still get a great pick. Now we'll see if they use it to address that offensive line... Last Week: 32, -10.436

32. Oakland (-9.056): The Raiders probably deserve to be higher than last after the way they've played recently, but the Jaguars managed to leapfrog them. This is a team that could make the playoffs in 2016 if they continue to draft well. Last Week: 31, -10.276

So what do you think? Which teams are too high? Too low? Any thoughts on the Eagles? Sound off in the comments below!

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