What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?
CRAIG’S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Panthers (14-0)
Last week: Panthers.
Why: Standing between Carolina and a 16-0 season is a road game against the Falcons (7-7) and a home game against the Bucs (6-8). Somewhere, Gary Anderson is cringing about the pitfalls of the pressure of taking perfection into the post-season.
2. Cardinals (12-2); 3. Patriots (12-2); 4. Seahawks (9-5); 5. Chiefs (9-5); 6. Packers (10-4); 7. Steelers (9-5); 8. Bengals (11-3); 9. Broncos (10-4).
10, VIKINGS (9-5). (Last week: 12).
Why: This is a good team that can play better than good and a lot worse than bad. Consistency should improve as the defense appears to be regaining its health at the right time.
THE REST OF THE REST
11. Jets (9-5); 12. Redskins (7-7); 13. Texans (7-7); 14. Giants (6-8); 15. Eagles (6-8); 16. Raiders (7-8); 17. Falcons (7-7); 18. Rams (6-8); 19. Bills (6-8); 20. Lions (5-9); 21. Saints (5-9); 22. Buccaneers (6-8); 23. Chargers (4-11); 24. Jaguars (5-9); 25. Dolphins (5-9); 26. Colts (6-8); 27. Bears (5-9); 28. Ravens (4-10); 29. Cowboys (4-10); 30. Titans (3-11); 31. 49ers (4-10).
32. Browns (3-11)
WORST OF THE BUNCH
32:Browns (3-11). Last week: 49ers.
Why?: They’re just jockeying for draft day, which should be moved to Cleveland and renamed: “Browns Season.”
THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE HOPEFUL
1,Odell Beckham Jr. played the last Giants game as a child without adult supervision and will spend Sunday night’s game sitting in a timeout.
2,Linval Joseph’s big toe, Harrison Smith’s knee/hamstring and Anthony Barr’s groin/knee are smiling again.
3, The Giants’ 2015 defense looks like the Vikings’ 2013 defense.
THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE NERVOUS
1,No one expects the Giants to win without Beckham Jr. Always fear the team with low expectations.
2, Adrian Peterson’s ankle and shoulder.
3, The Vikings sometimes relax after impressive wins, which is common for teams that aren’t fully battle-tested. So let’s not get too carried away with last week’s win over the Bears.
Giants plus-6 at Vikings. The pick: Vikings 31, Giants 17
Why?:Even if the Giants are still mathematically alive, their season is dead. And possibly their second-best players, Beckham Jr., is suspended. Not sure their heart will be into this one.
Last week: Bears plus-5 1/2 at Vikings. The pick: Vikings 24, Bears 21. The score: Vikings 38, Bears 17. Record: 9-5.
THE OTHER GAMES
Redskins plus-3 at Eagles: Eagles by 6
Bears plus-3 at Buccaneers: Buccaneers by 7
Panthers minus-7 at Falcons: Panthers by 20
Cowboys plus-6 at Bills: Bills by 10
Jaguars plus-3 at Saints: Jaguars by 3
49ers plus-10 at Lions: Lions by 3
Colts plus-2 1/2 at Dolphins: Dolphins by 3
Patriots minus-3 at Jets: Patriots by 7
Texans minus-3 1/2 at Titans: Texans by 6
Packers plus-4 1/2 at Cardinals: Packers by 3
Rams plus-12 1/2 at Seahawks: Seahawks by 10
Steelers minus-10 at Ravens: Steelers by 9
Bengals plus-3 1/2 at Broncos: Bengals by 3
Browns plus-11 at Chiefs. The pick: Browns 27, Chiefs 24.
Why?: The Chiefs have won eight in a row, but the Browns are fighting for the No. 1 draft pick. So we’ll go with whatever will be the worst of two possibilities for the Browns.
Last week: Panthers minus-5 1/2 at Giants. The pick: Giants 28, Panthers 27. The score: Panthers 38, Giants 35. Record: 5-9.
Last week/overall: 6-9/117-91. Last week versus spread/overall: 5-10/97-111.
Final 2014 regular-season record overall/versus spread: 146-90-1/125-111-1.