It’s May. So, naturally, I want to do an NFL power rankings. I know, I know, it’s way too early to even think about who the best teams in the league will be next season, but it’s never too early to look at how good a team is on paper.
Let’s kick it off
32. Cleveland Brown
While the Browns made a few picks in the draft that I liked a lot, Myles Garrett and DeShone Kizer as the most notable, they just didn’t do enough to get off the floor of the NFL in my eyes.
31.New York Jets
While the Jets addressed the defense in the offseason, they still have a QB conundrum. Nobody on their roster, in my eyes, is more than a serviceable backup QB.
30.San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had a great draft, but a fairly lackluster offseason everywhere else. They lost Kaepernick, but brought in Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer who, in my eyes, are respectable backup QBs at most. However, I do think Barkley has a high ceiling, but with a very, very low floor.
What is there to say about the Bears? If at all possible, I think they got worse. GM Ryan Pace had a huge blunder, giving up quite a few high draft picks to get Mitchell Trubisky, a QB that they could have easily had at No. 3. Trubisky doesn’t really have anyone to throw the football to either, the Bears will struggle mightily this season.
They Jaguars probably won the offseason, again. But the Jags will manage to suck, again. It’s an endless and vicious cycle, but with Fournette in the backfield and Bortles under center, the Jaguars could very well be in the mix for a Wild Card spot.
27.St. Louis Rams
The Rams didn’t do much to improve this offseason, and lost their best receiver in Kenny Britt. Jared Goff needs to have a much better season if the Rams even want to think about being in the playoff conversation.
The Bills resigned Tyrod Taylor in the offseason, but didn’t do much else to improve the team. I did like the Zay Jones pick a lot though, but losing Mike Gillislee was big, as their RB depth leaves quite a bit to be desired.
After the season they had last year, finishing a dismal 3-8 after a hot 5-0 start, you have to wonder just how good the Vikings will be. Teddy Bridgewater coming back will be a big help, assuming he can return to the player he was prior to injury, but AP is a big loss, even with a drop in production in recent years. The Vikings may have a good season, but their run game will struggle mightily behind an average at best offensive line, even after drafting Dalvin Cook and signing Latavius Murray.
The Eagles moved up slightly after signing LeGarette Blount. They got off to a hot start last season, and made big moves in the offseason. They could very easily shoot up to the top half of the league in the first few weeks if Carson Wentz and Blount have a strong start, but with a bit of a logjam of No. 2 running backs, you have to think that training camp and the preseason will be the time that they find a true No. 1, whether it be in house, or bringing someone in late. The thing holding the Eagles back is their defense, with a less than average pass defense.
The Colts had a very strong offseason and draft. But still didn’t improve the defensive side of the ball enough to compete at a high level. The offense, lead by Andrew Luck and the apparent ageless wonder Frank Gore, should be able to compete with any other offense in the league, but again, that defense leaves a lot to be desired.
The Ravens got better on defense, and, they should be among one of the better units in the NFL. But on offense, there are a lot of question marks, like who is their No. 2 WR? and they don’t have an outright No. 1 RB on the roster. However, with a defense as good as theirs, it’d be hard to miss the postseason.
The Texans made, arguably, the best move of the offseason. They got rid of Brock Osweiler, but they gave up a lot to get rid of him for only a 4th round pick in return. The Texans got better for this season though. They got their QB of the future in Deshaun Watson, and strengthened their depth on the defensive side of the ball. And with DeAndre Hopkins coming back, the Texans could be in for a very good season.
20.Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers had a strong draft, but a mediocre free agency period. They did however get Philip Rivers that big target he’s sorely missed since Vince Jackson left in Mike Williams. The Chargers are another team that could easily shoot up the power rankings, but in a strong AFC West division, it may be hard for them to make the playoffs this year.
I don’t understand why people are so high on the Panthers. I do think they’re in for a strong season after a dismal showing last year, but they didn’t get a whole lot better from last year. Cam Newton will likely return to form this year, but their offense outside him is average at best.
18.New Orleans Saints
Another team I’m not so sure about everyone being high on them. Their defense is just slightly better, but still terrible, with an embarrassingly bad pass defense, and okay run defense. An offense with Drew Brees is always going to be good though, so the Saints could surprise.
The Redskins had a strong draft, and a relatively strong free agency. They franchise tagged Kirk Cousins, and didn’t trade him away during the offseason. They could be in for a big season in a very unpredictable NFC East.
Nobody knows what the Broncos are doing at QB. And their offensive line is a major grey area, and without a definitive slot receiver, the Broncos offense could struggle mightily. But with their defense, it would be hard for them to not be, at the very least, in the conversation for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.
The Dolphins had both a respectable draft and free agency, but nothing to wow me. Tannehill is still under center, and while he may be their franchise QB, I don’t think he’s good enough to single handedly lead the Dolphins to the playoffs this season. Their defense improved exponentially this offseason, and could very well be in top half of the league in many categories.
14. Cincinatti Bengals
The Bengals had a really, really good draft, but didn’t really bring in anybody during free agency and lost two of their best offensive lineman. The Bengals will likely finish this season in the middle of the NFL, but in the hunt for a playoff spot at worst.
13. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals had a good draft, with the highlight being Haason Reddick, but they didn’t have a great free agency period. This is one of the last years we will see if Carson Palmer can win a Super Bowl. We also get to see how big of a fluke, if at all, last season was. This may very well be a make-or-break year for Bruce Arians and Co.
The Titans are an interesting scenario. They play in one of the weakest divisions in football, and they gave Mariota a big target by drafting Corey Davis. Outside Davis though, the Titans still had a strong draft, and a respectable free agency pull. They could win the division with a 9-7 record, and be a huge threat in the playoffs. Watch out for the Titans this year, they could surprise many.
The Lions drastically improved their offensive line, but left a lot to be desired otherwise in free agency. They cut DeAndre Levy, and only signed one LB, a depth and special teams guy in Paul Worrilow. The draft wasn’t much better in improving their defense, they waited until late to get any defensive lineman, the position widely viewed as their biggest need. Detroit may challenge for the NFC North title because of how weak it is, but don’t be surprised to see them miss the playoffs this year.
10.Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City had a very strong draft, with the most notable pick being Patrick Mahomes. He will learn under Alex Smith, one of the better mobile QBs in the NFL, something Mahomes needs to improve exponentially to be a great NFL quarterback. Otherwise, the Chiefs didn’t do a whole lot to get better, but they certainly didn’t get worse and will challenge the Raiders for the AFC West title.
9.Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are one of the better young teams in football in a very weak division outside Atlanta. With Jameis Winston leading a potent and young offense, and Lavonte David leading a respectable defense, Tampa Bay could be in for a very, very good season if most things go their way.
8.Green Bay Packers
Why is everybody so high on the Packers? I understand they have Aaron Rodgers and with him anything can happen. However, they didn’t get a whole lot better, if at all, and lost arguably their best offensive lineman in TJ Lang to division rivals Detroit. They’re not a team that builds through free agency by any means, but Ted Thompson has let that team down all too often, and Green Bay is wasting Aaron Rodgers’s prime.
I was a firm believer that the Cowboys were a fluke team until the blew out Detroit and outplayed Green Bay in the Divisional Round. They’re the real deal, and while they may not have as good a season as last year, they will certainly be among the league’s best with Dak under center and Ezekiel Elliot running the football behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
A team that didn’t improve a whole lot through the draft or free agency, but didn’t get much worse either. And, can you really doubt a team led by Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas. The Seahawks will win the NFC West again this year because it’s so bad, unless the Cardinals surprise us all.
The Steelers improved from last season, and are easily one of the best teams in football. They got their OLB of the future in TJ Watt, and give him at least one season of learning from one of the greatest OLB’s ever in James Harrison. The Steelers should win their division, but it will be no easy task
This was between the Giants and Raiders, easily the hardest decision I’ve made in this. But the Raiders defense is the one thing holding them back. The have a phenomenal pass defense, but their front seven could be better. Their offense is going to be among the best units in the NFL with Derek Carr coming back healthy. Their only question on offense is whether or not Marshawn Lynch can return to form after taking a season off football.
3.New York Giants
Their offense got better with the addition of Brandon Marshall. Hard to believe a pass offense that potent could get better, but my God it did. Their defense didn’t get a whole lot worse, their pass defense is still one of the best in the league on paper, and the only concern in their front seven is losing Johnathan Hankins to the Colts in free agency. The Giants will challenge the Cowboys for the NFC East crown, with Washington looking to rain on their parades.
The Falcons didn’t do much to improve on their team from last year. Adding Takkarist McKinley through the draft will help a lot on an otherwise unchanged defensive unit. They’ve got arguably the best backfield duo in Freeman and Coleman, and with Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel all returning, the Falcons could easily have the best offense in the NFL.
1.New England Patriots
Somehow, someway, the Patriots became a better football team. They still have questions at RB in my eyes, but they always find a way to have a good run game. They managed to keep hold of Dont’a Hightower and Malcolm Butler, while trading the 32nd pick to the Saints for Brandin Cooks. Both their offense and defense will be among the league’s best units. The Patriots could very well repeat this year, or at the very worst, make it to the AFC title game.