NFL Power Rankings: Comparing Each Team to a Classic Holiday Movie
The holiday season is in full effect and what better way to get you ready for it then by mixing sports and holiday movies?
The NFL season is slowly winding down as we enter the final four games of the season. Playoff spots wil be won and loss. Fan bases will be jubilant and heartbroken. And through all of this we will experience Christmas and New Year's Eve/Day.
This is a favorite time of year for many, especially for sports fans. The playoffs are just around the corner and pretty soon a Super Bowl champion will be crowned.
With that being said let's get right to it. Here are your power rankings for the week and a comparison of each team to a holiday classic.
32. Indianapolis Colts (0-12)
Holiday movie: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (2003)
This isn't one of my personal favorites, but it is a favorite of many and is fitting of the Colts' season. Tim Burton brings a twisted touch to Christmas in this film about Jack Skellington, who presides over Halloweentown and stumbles into Christmas town.
It's been a nightmare season for the Colts and Indy would love if Peyton Manning would stumble back on good health sooner rather than later.
Analysis of loss to New England: The score will indicate that the 31-24 loss the Colts suffered that this game was close, but it's important to note that Indy added two touchdowns with under three minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Dan Orlovsky threw for 353 yards, two touchdowns and tore up the Patriots defense in garbage time. For Colts fans it was better than watching Curtis Painter under center, yet it was stinging to see their rival trounce all over them for three quarters.
There is hope for Indy though, and that is the No. 1 pick that will soon be clinched. The Colts can look forward to Andrew Luck, or the idea that they could trade the pick for a king's ransom.
31. St. Louis (2-10)
Holiday movie: "Scrooged" (1988)
"Scrooged" is centered around Bill Murray's character Frank Cross, who is a selfish TV executive. Sam Bradford is by no means selfish, but I thought this would be a fitting choice for the Rams. There isn't much hope for this team and there are plenty of holes on the roster.
The disappointing play of Bradford has to have fans of the team feeling "Scrooged".
Analysis of loss to San Francisco:
To be frank the Rams flat out stunk against the 49ers. The offense failed to get anything going with Bradford out, and the entire game was dominated by San Fran's spectacular defense. St. Louis isn't this bad, but injuries and a lack of offensive weapons in the passing game have caused this team to regress this season.
It will take an offseason for the Rams to get healthy and add some offensive pieces through free agency and the draft before they can show progression again.
30. Minnesota Vikings (2-10)
Holiday movie: "Jingle All the Way" (1996)
A movie that featured Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to remake himself as an actor. Instead of doing an action flick he goes soft in this story about a father trying to battle for a sold out toy that his son wants.
The Vikings haven't gone soft, yet they are definitely remaking themselves at this point. Minnesota has gone away from having a veteran quarterback for the first time in ages, and have fully committed to Christian Ponder and the rebuilding process.
Analysis of loss to Denver: Ponder threw for a season-high 381 yards against the Broncos and has his best statistical game of the season. With that being said he made two picks that directly led to points for Denver.
The first was a pick six and the second set up the game-winning field goal for the Broncos. Ponder also had a costly fumble in Denver territory that took points off the board for the Vikings. But considering he was without Adrian Peterson the rookie deserves a pass.
As for the Vikings' secondary, they definitely don't deserve a pass. The defensive backs routinely let receivers run free and looked lost in coverage on more than one occasion.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9)
Holiday movie: "Scrooge" (1970)
Albert Finney portrays Ebenezer Scrooge in this flick about the cranky and greedy old man who learns to be charitable during the Christmas season. One of my reasons for picking this film for the Jaguars is the similar resemblance Finney has to Blaine Gabbert.
Scrooge was a prisoner of his own greed throughout his life, just like the Jags are a prisoner to Gabbert starting this season as he suffers the lumps of being a rookie.
Analysis of loss to San Diego: I don't want to be too hard on Jacksonville, but in my opinion this team is going to struggle for years to come. Ownership is changing hands right now and the team is starting a rookie quarterback that hasn't shown the same promise as other rookies this season.
Gabbert actually started out well against the Chargers but fell apart as the game went on. With new ownership on board and a new coach to be hired this offseason you have to wonder how long of a leash Gabbert will have going forward.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)
Holiday movie: "Frosty the Snowman" (1969)
Tampa Bay was 10-6 a season ago and feasted on a weaker schedule. Things haven't gone as well this year for the Bucs who have struggled after a fast start. The expectations were too much for this young team and they have "melted" under them kind of like how good old Frosty ended up as a puddle of water.
Analysis of loss to Carolina: The Bucs were without their starting quarterback in Josh Freeman and it showed as Josh Johnson struggled throughout the afternoon. What was most concerning about the loss was how easily Carolina moved the football.
You hate to bring up the word "quit" with any team, but there's no reason the Bucs should have been trounced at home by a Panthers team that has plenty of its own issues.
27. Cleveland Browns (4-8)
Holiday movie: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987)
This hilarious movie about two travelers that can't stand one another reminds me of the Browns' situation with Peyton Hillis. Neither wants to be with each other, yet have to ride the season out together. It's been a rough season for Hillis and I'm sure he can't wait to get out of Cleveland.
Analysis of loss to Baltimore: The Browns didn't have an answer for Ray Rice and Ricky Williams, and once again the Cleveland offense was punchless. Upgrading at the wide receiver position is a must in the offseason for the Browns.
Colt McCoy had another so-so performance, but it's hard to truly judge him with the lack of offensive threats he has to throw to.
26. Washington Redskins (4-8)
Holiday movie: "The Year Without a Santa Clause" (2006)
This made for TV special has been remade twice with the latest time including John Goodman. It's about a little boy helping Santa regain his Christmas spirit, but that isn't why it is fitting for the Redskins. "The Year Without a Santa Clause" in Washington could be called "The Year Without a Competent Quarterback".
Analysis of loss to New York Jets: The Redskins hung in there against the Jets, and the game was much closer than the score indicated. Yet Washington came up short once again when it mattered most and lost its eighth game of the season.
A silver lining of the last two weeks for the 'Skins has been the play of Roy Helu who broke the 100-yard mark in back-to-back games.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (4-8)
Holiday movie: "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)
The Eagles came into the season as a Super Bowl favorite after free agent spending spree. Unfortunately, for the Eagles, it didn't work out. Philadelphia has limped to a 4-8 start and are the most disappointing team in the NFL this season.
Jim Carrey's rendition of the Grinch received a great deal of hype, but like the Eagles it is overrated.
Analysis of loss to Seattle: The Seahawks are sneakily average, so this loss shouldn't be that surprising, especially considering how the Eagles' season has been going thus far. Vince Young was bad again and Philadelphia fans will be excited to see Michael Vick back in the lineup against Miami.
24. Carolina Panthers (4-8)
Holiday movie: Elf (2003)
Elf is a movie that gets better as the years go by, and the Panthers should follow the same trajectory. Will Ferrell was the star of Elf and carried the movie from start to finish in the way that Cam Newton is going to be carrying the Panthers for years to come.
Analysis of win over Tampa Bay: The Cam Newton show came to Tampa Bay and the spectacular rookie quieted the Andy Dalton for Offensive Rookie of the Year crowd. Jonathan Stewart was also impressive and his touches are starting to increase.
For the Panthers to continue to win down the stretch they are going to have to stick with the ground game. As spectacular as Newton is this team is much more dangerous when the running game is in the mix.
23. Miami Dolphins (4-8)
Holiday movie: "The Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992)
An endearing movie that is quite enjoyable but isn't the first selection among holiday favorites. When you think about watching a Christmas movie this isn't your first choice--unless you have kids--kind of like how throwing on the Dolphins game isn't going to be a priority over other games this season.
Analysis of win over Oakland: You have to admire how the Dolphins have kept battling this season despite having nothing to play for. It appears that the team has rallied behind Matt Moore and Reggie Bush looks like a different player.
Miami led at one point in this game 34-0 over a 7-4 pretty solid Raiders team. It's too little too late for the Dolphins, but the pride that this team is playing with deserves more attention.
22. Kansas City Chiefs (5-7)
Holiday movie: "Babes in Toyland" (1934)
I have not had the chance to see this flick, but by all accounts it is a holiday classic. It's about two bumbling toymakers out to save Toyland. The description for the movie reminded me of the quarterback situation in Kansas City.
You have Tyler Palko, and for a play Kyle Orton, trying to save the Chiefs' playoff hopes and it hasn't been pretty. Yet the Chiefs are still just two games behind Oakland and Denver.
Analysis of win over Chicago: The Chiefs took advantage of a Bears team without two of its top playmakers in Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Forte got hurt during the game, but it was early enough in the game to where he didn't have a chance to make an impact.
Still, you can't fault Kansas City for the Bears' injuries. The Chiefs took advantage of the opportunity and pulled out an ugly win to stay in the playoff hunt.
21. Seattle Seahawks (5-7)
Holiday movie: "The Polar Express" (2004)
A movie that is relatively under the radar and is aesthetically pleasing at times. Yet it drags also, which reminds me of Seahawk games this season.
Analysis of win over Philadelphia: The Seahawks rode the legs of Marshawn Lynch as he cruised for 148 yards and two scores. Lynch has been a workhorse this season for Seattle and has resurrected his career with the Seahawks.
Due to the running game it allowed Tarvaris Jackson to sit back and not have to force anything. He completed 13-of-16 passes and threw for 190 yards and added a touchdown. It was one of the more efficient performances we've seen from him this season.
20. Buffalo Bills (5-7)
Holiday movie: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964)
We all know the story of Rudolph and how he ended up being the hero and guided Santa's sleigh. The Bills have the anti-Rudolph in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Buffalo was hoping that he would be the quarterback of the future for the team, but they trusted in the wrong "reindeer" to guide this team going forward by awarding him a hefty contract extension.
Analysis of loss to Tennessee: The BIlls' free fall continued against the Titans. Fitzpatrick didn't throw an interception, but wasn't able to get the offense to consistently move the football. The best thing that Bills fans can take away from the game was the play of C.J. Spiller.
Spiller was a high draft pick and is starting to show people why Buffalo drafted him.
19. San Diego Chargers (5-7)
Holiday movie: "Gremlins" (1984)
The frustrating Chargers get one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid. Yes, "Gremlins" isn't exactly a cheery movie, but how can you not like a movie with little furry monsters?
The Gremlins were all bad minus the lovable Gizmo, who was the cute little bugger in the movie. San Diego has been mostly bad this season, yet they had their first Gizmo (good) game in awhile with a thrashing of the Jaguars.
Analysis of win over Jacksonville: Philip Rivers has been bad this season for the most part, but that wasn't the case against the Jags, as the San Diego quarterback tossed three touchdowns and threw for 294 yards.
Ryan Matthews ran for 112 yards on just 13 carries and the Chargers did whatever they wanted on offense. The win kept San Diego in the playoff race, although the Chargers are up against the wall to say the least.
18. Arizona Cardinals (5-7)
Holiday movie: "The Santa Clause" (1994)
This Tim Allen movie is a classic among kids. While parents may not necessarily like the idea of Allen's character accidentally killing Santa, the movie is fun and entertaining.
The reason I paired this particular movie with the Cardinals is because John Skelton recently got to be the "Santa Claus" for Arizona due to Kevin Kolb's injury. Unfortunately, for Skelton, Kolb is back in the role of "Santa" and should keep it for the rest of the season.
Analysis of win over Dallas: LaRod Stephens-Howling ended the game for the Cardinals with a walk-off touchdown in overtime. This was one of the more exciting games this past Sunday and it resulted in a surprising win for Arizona. Kolb made his return to the field after missing a couple games with an injury and had a solid performance.
17. New York Giants (6-6)
Holiday movie: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
The Giants must truly feel lost in New York after losing four straight and falling back to .500. All of a sudden the playoffs seem to be slipping away just like Kevin McAllister was able to slip away from Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern throughout the flick. Man, if only we all could get out of certain situations like McAllister was able to.
Analysis of loss to Green Bay: It was in their grasps, but the Giants fell short against the defending Super Bowl champions. Eli Manning led a terrific game-tying drive, yet the offense left too much time on the clock for Aaron Rodgers and Co.
This game really felt like it would make or break the Giants' season based on the outcome. We will find out how they respond down the stretch with their backs up against the wall.
16. Chicago Bears (7-5)
Holiday movie: "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989)
A true classic for a classic team. The Bears get the honor of being compared to this brilliant flick because the movie is based in Chicago.
Analysis of loss to Kansas City: It's hard to get on the Bears too much, especially considering that they lost in part due to a fluke hail mary at the end of the first half. Without Jay Cutler leading the offense and Matt Forte running and catching the football, Chicago just didn't have enough weapons to overcome the Chiefs.
Now Chicago finds itself in a must-win situation on Sunday against the Broncos.
15. Oakland Raiders (7-5)
Holiday movie: "Die Hard" (1988)
When you think of "Die Hard" you don't really think Christmas, but this is an action flick that takes place during the holiday season. Bruce Willis evades death on numerous occasions and is pretty much indefensible.
You get the feeling that the Raiders' season is going to live or die on the right arm of Carson Palmer. I thought the name is fitting for this Oakland team that is hoping to make the postseason.
Analysis of loss to Miami: Plain and simple the Raiders didn't show up for this game. The Miami defense dominated the line of scrimmage all game long and Oakland never got the ground game going. Palmer wasn't awful, but he needed to be better.
Oakland is now tied with Denver for the division lead and is going to have to play better to overcome the red hot Broncos.
14. Tennessee Titans (7-5)
Holiday movie: "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965)
This may not be a "movie", but I'm including it in the list for no other reason than Matt Hasselbeck looks like a grown up Charlie Brown. I mean can you really not see the resemblance with the bald head? Here's hoping that Hasselbeck doesn't read this.
I don't think anyone would be happy with a comparison to Charlie Brown as far as looks go.
Analysis of win over Buffalo: Chris Johnson has awoken from his slumber the past few weeks and looks like his old self. He's hitting the hole decisively and with speed, which is something that we didn't see earlier in the season.
The Titans needed the win against the Bills and got it. Now they find themselves battling with three other teams for a wild card spot. Good luck.
13. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)
Holiday movie: "Love Actually" (2003)
A Christmas romantic comedy that does the genre justice. It isn't a spectacular flick, but it is good not great. The same can be said for this year's Bengals squad, which sports a nice record but has struggled against better competition of late.
Analysis of loss to Pittsburgh: Andy Dalton wasn't his best against the Steelers, but he can't be faulted for the poor play by the offensive line. The young quarterback was under duress through much of the game and never had a chance to get into a rhythm.
Overall it was a disappointing effort from the Bengals, and it looks like this team has some work to do before it is a legitimate playoff contender.
12. Detroit Lions (7-5)
Holiday movie: "Bad Santa" (2003)
If you like a little naughty in your holiday movies this is perfect for you. Billy Bob Thorton's character plays a drunk who is a Santa at a mall and is set on robbing a department store.
The Lions get the honor of being compared to "Bad Santa" due to their undisciplined play on the field of late. Ndamukong Suh has turned Detroit into the bad boys of the NFL, and quickly the Lions are becoming a hated team in the league.
Analysis of loss to New Orleans: The Lions need to run the football more if they want to be successful. Too much of the load is being put on Matthew Stafford to carry this offense.
There's no shame in losing to the Saints, but it never really felt like the Lions were in the game. A playoff spot once looked so promising for this team and now they will most likely have to win out to earn a wild card spot.
11. New York Jets (7-5)
Holiday movie: "The Family Stone" (2004)
The premise of "The Family Stone" is a conservative woman (Sarah Jessica Parker) meets her boyfriend's crazy family for the first time during the holidays. It reminded me of Brian Schottenheimer's conservative offense meeting Rex Ryan's crazy aggressive defense. This is a bit of a stretch, but hey, I had to pick something.
Analysis of win over Washington: New York had to earn this one against the 'Skins. Washington played the Jets tough through three and a half quarters and then fell apart at the end of the game.
It was New York's second consecutive win and you get the feeling that this team is poised for another late season run.
10. Atlanta Falcons (7-5)
Holiday movie: "The Dead" (1987)
I have not seen this movie, but I promise it is a Christmas flick. Although I haven't had a chance to see this the name perfectly describes how I feel about the Falcons right now.
Atlanta shouldn't have lost to Houston and now have to face the suddenly hot Panthers. One more loss for this team and the playoffs may be out the door.
Analysis of loss to Houston: The Falcons were facing a rookie quarterback who was making his NFL debut, and he had to do it without his top receiving option Andre Johnson for much of the game. Yet the Texans were able to churn out yards on the ground against the Falcons' run defense.
What was most disappointing about the loss for Atlanta was its inability to move the ball on offense. Matt Ryan threw two costly interceptions on the day and only led the Falcons to one touchdown.
This was a winnable game for the Falcons that could come back to haunt them.
9. Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
Holiday movie: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966)
The original animated version of the Grinch is a personal favorite of mine. For a storied team like the Cowboys I thought a true Christmas classic would fit with this team. Plus, Jerry Jones comes across kind of greedy like the Grinch.
Analysis of loss to Arizona: This was a game that the Cowboys are kicking themselves over. Dallas looks brilliant in some games and then lays clunkers like against Arizona.
If Jason Garrett doesn't ice his own kicker we aren't talking about this, but he did and it cost his team the game. And quite possibly a shot at the playoffs.
8. Denver Broncos (7-5)
Holiday movie: "One Magic Christmas" (1985)
This movie is about a woman who loses her belief in Christmas and needs help rediscovering her love for the holiday. Santa shows up and he helps her regain her belief in Christmas, and everything ends all warm and fuzzy.
Bronco fans lost belief in this team earlier in the season, but Tim Tebow showed up and has regained the faith of the fan base. What Tebow is doing is truly amazing considering his limitations as a passer at this point in his career, so hats off to him.
Analysis of win over Minnesota: Willis McGahee isn't getting nearly enough credit for what he is doing in Denver right now. The former Miami Hurricane stud running back has rejuvenated his career this season and has a burst that is reminiscent of his earlier playing days.
But, unfortunately all the credit is going to No. 15. To Tebow's credit he is getting better and he played a very strong game against the Vikings. There were a number of throws that he put right on the money where only the receiver could catch the ball.
7. Houston Texans (9-3)
Holiday movie: "Home Alone" (1990)
I'm going to keep this one simple. No Mario Williams, Andre Johnson or Matt Schaub. Arian Foster truly is home alone in Houston.
Analysis of win over Atlanta: If TJ Yates can make a few big throws a game to move the chains, the Texans will be just fine. Against the Falcons, Yates played well and was smart with the football.
It's clear that the Texans are going to ride the legs of Foster and Ben Tate going forward, but eventually Yates is going to have to make some plays in the passing game. Houston cannot be overly conservative with its play-calling and will have to trust Yates to move the football.
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-3)
Holiday movie: "White Christmas" (1954)
The Ravens have a chance to be a special team if they put it all together in the playoffs. "White Christmas" is an iconic move, yet it is just a notch below the likes of "Miracle on 34th Street", which is similar to how the Ravens are still perceived to be below the Steelers despite beating them twice already.
A deep playoff run and Baltimore will justify this comparison.
Analysis of win over Cleveland: Ray Rice was fantastic rushing for over 200 yards and one touchdown. Even Ricky Williams had it going for the Ravens with 76 rushing yards and a score.
The Ravens have played down to competition this season and suffered some puzzling defeats, but they took care of business against the Browns. Baltimore has the look and feel of a Super Bowl contender this year.
5. San Francisco (10-2)
Holiday movie: "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947)
The 49ers rise to prominence this season feels like a miracle. Jim Harbaugh has come in and turned this team into a division winner and has helped turn Alex Smith into a solid quarterback. It's amazing to think how far San Fran has come in a year.
Analysis of win over St. Louis: One thing that isn't a miracle is the dominant play of the 49er defense. Harbaugh's intensity and passion has spilled over to this defense and they have bought into playing tough physical football.
San Fran is playing old school football right now. Run the ball with Frank Gore, play good defense and don't turn the ball over is the 49ers recipe for success. So far, so good.
4. New England Patriots (9-3)
Holiday movie: "A Christmas Carol" (1951)
The movie that born a bunch of spinoffs and remakes goes to the Patriots. Many teams have tried to replicate the Patriots' formula, but nobody has been able to do it.
Oh, and Bill Belichick would make a magnificent Scrooge.
Analysis of win over Indianapolis: Rob Gronkowski continued his excellent season adding another two touchdowns to bring his season total to 13. Tom Brady did his thing and the Patriots had no trouble taking down the winless Colts.
One concern for New England going forward is the running game. As good as Brady is he needs some support from the running backs to help ease the load.
3. New Orleans (9-3)
Holiday movie: "Christmas in Connecticut" (1945)
This screwball comedy is about a food writer who misleads her readers and is one of the more underrated holiday films. Not a lot of people think "Christmas in Connecticut" when talking about classic Christmas movies, which is how I think Drew Brees will ultimately be viewed when it is all said and done.
Brees is an under appreciated quarterback who continues to do special things. Yet he doesn't quite get the attention that he deserves. When he retires it wouldn't surprise me if we kind of forgot about the Saints' veteran leader.
Analysis of win over Detroit: Over the past three games Brees has compiled 1,027 yards (342 yard per game) and thrown nine touchdown passes. If it weren't for what Aaron Rodgers is doing in Green Bay, Brees would be fighting for an MVP trophy.
The Saints were able to toy with the Lions secondary for much of the game and this one felt like it was in the bag for New Orleans from the get go.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
Holiday movie: "A Christmas Story" (1983)
By far the funniest holiday movie of all-time goes to the storied Steelers. Pittsburgh is a revered franchise and is often on TV like how "A Christmas Story" takes over Christmas day.
"A Christmas Story" is so awesome that it gets a full day to itself just airing continuously. This is among the Top 5 for many holiday movie lists, so it is fitting that it goes to a Top 5 franchise in the NFL.
Analysis of win over Cincinnati: The Steelers took the will out of the Bengals early. They pressured Andy Dalton through much of the game and didn't allow him to get comfortable.
What surprised me about the game was the way Isaac Redman ran the football. He had just eight carries but managed to turn it into 51 yards. It felt like every time he touched the football he was rumbling forwards for a nice gain.
1. Green Bay Packers (12-0)
Holiday movie: "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)
The classic of all classics goes to the best team in football. "It's a Wonderful Life" is a film about a suicidal man who is shown what life would have been like without him.
Packer fans don't want to know what life without Aaron Rodgers is like on the football field. The Green Bay quarterback is the franchise and has a great chance to be more iconic than Brett Favre when it's all said and done.
It truly is a wonderful life right now for the Packers and their fans.
Analysis of win over New York Giants: The Giants pushed the defending champs to the brink, but Rodgers responded by leading a game-winning drive. Green Bay didn't the run the ball as well as it would have wanted to, although at the end of the day it didn't matter because Rodgers was there to bail the team out.
The Packers now have a great chance at going 16-0. What the question turns to is can they go 19-0?
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