And just like that, we have a doubleheader. With the season being only hours away, I figured it’d be fun to rank the teams going into the seasons. It won’t be your typical 1-32 Power Rankings (which will likely start coming next week), but instead, we’ll list the teams by tiers. Teams in one tier might not all be better than the teams in a lower tier, but it’ll all make sense as you read along.
Tier 1 – The Patriots
These are the teams that are… Well… it’s pretty self explanatory.
New England Patriots – Why do they get their own tier? Well, in the AFC, they’re in a league of their own. Every other team has some sort of issue. Injuries, dumb suspensions (looking at you Pittsburgh…), mediocre QB play… Yes, Brady will be out for 4 games but who cares? It’s Brady and Belicheck…. They’ll find a way.
Tier 2 – The Other Championship Contenders
These are the teams that should contend for the AFC title, but at the same time have some question marks.
Pittsburgh Steelers – A good O-line, an elite QB, and the best RB AND WR in football. However, the offense already lost one piece (Bryant), and the defense still has a LOT of work to do. Still, barring catastrophe, the Steelers will likely be back in the hunt.
Cincinnati Bengals – This is one of the best rosters in all of football… It’s the same old thing every year. Can Dalton and Lewis actually WIN a playoff game?
Kansas City Chiefs – The team might struggle early in the season without Houston and with a hobbled Charles. Still, they have a fantastic defense, plenty of offensive talent, and one of the best coaches in football.
Tier 3 – The “They Can’t Possibly Pull Off that Shit Again? Can They?”
Denver Broncos – Seriously… They earned their trophy last year, don’t get me wrong. But everything went perfectly for this team last year. They suffered very few injuries, they won all of their close games, and they played against a decimated Pats offensive line in the title game. Now, they lose Manning, as well as some key defensive players. So I’ll say it again… They can’t possibly pull off that shit again, right?
Tier 4 – The Dark Horse Championship Contenders
These teams need to have at least a few of the following – A good coach, an elite QB who has won playoff games, a loaded defense and lack of turnover from last year.
Baltimore Ravens – Once Joe Flacco gets to the Playoffs, anything is possible. This team was the anti-Broncos last year. Everything went wrong. Things should balance out this year.
San Diego Chargers – Philip Rivers is good enough to lead this team deep into the Playoffs any year. Like the Ravens, everything went wrong for this team. With the return of Whisenhunt, a rebuilt d-line, and less injuries, this team can really compete.
New York Jets – Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t exactly a sexy name, but he brings consistency. The Jets still have a loaded d-line, a great receiving corps, and one Matt Forte. They have a shot.
Tier 5 – Likely Playoff Contenders
These are the teams that are more likely to make the playoffs than Tier 4, but less likely to actually win a championship, due to inexperience or lack of QB play.
Oakland Raiders – Everyone is high on the Raiders this year…And they should be. The team has a lot of young talent and a great O-line. Still, this team hasn’t sniffed the Playoffs in years. I highly doubt they win a title this year, but a Playoff appearance/win is certainly realistic.
Houston Texans – Playing in a weak division, the Texans have a chance to make the Playoffs again. But nothing about this team screams “championship contender” just yet. Let’s see what Brock can do.
Indianapolis Colts – The team with the best QB on the list, but the worst roster overall. Indy has a lot of question marks, I can’t see them returning to glory just yet.
Tier 6 – The Exciting Young Playoff Dark Horses
It’s pretty self explanatory, and you probably won’t be surprised.
Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars are like the Raiders without the offensive line. Bortles continues to improve, they have a loaded WR corps, and the defense added a ton of talent. Still, like the Giants in the NFC, they’ll need time to adjust to the Jaguars. Still, in a relatively weak AFC South, there’s a chance.
Tennessee Titans – Basically re-read the Jaguars snippet and make a few little changes. Mariota looks to be a future star, but they still need some time.
Tier 7 – Meh
These teams probably have a better shot at the Playoffs than tier 6, but nothing about them really excites me. They’ll probably be ok, nothing more, nothing less.
Buffalo Bills – I like Tyrod Taylor, but the defense already lost all of it’s new rookies. This team looked to be really exciting before the plethora of injuries and suspensions. Still, they have a shot to surprise people. I wish them luck.
Miami Dolphins – I really want to believe in Tannehill but… The Dolphins don’t ever give him a chance. They are building the O-line slowly, so if that works out then they could shock some people. I like this team, I’m just tired of believing in them.
Tier 8 – The Browns
Cleveland Browns – Don’t be sad Browns fans, the team is headed in the right direction. They have a ton of picks and young talent. This year will be rough, but expect the trend to change soon.
Tier 1 – The Big Boys
Unlike the AFC, the NFC is loaded with legitimate contenders. Any of these teams could come out and I wouldn’t be surprised.
Carolina Panthers – Yes, they lost Norman. But have you seen that front 7? That offensive line? Kelvin is back also. Oh yea, and Cam is pretty good.
Seattle Seahawks – Russell Wilson will be fine, he can handle a bad o-line. Plus, the defense is still as loaded as ever.
Arizona Cardinals – The defense got better. The offense got better. As long as Carson Palmer returns to his 2015 form, the Cardinals should be dominant.
Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers…
Tier 2 – The Medium Boys
They have a shot to make some noise, but just aren’t on the level of these the top 4.
Minnesota Vikings – The defense might be the best in the NFC but… QB issues will likely hurt them. Get well soon Teddy.
Dallas Cowboys – The offense is loaded. If Dak is even 70% as good as he was in the preseason, and the defense isn’t atrocious, they should be alright.
Washington Redskins – This is just a very balanced team… There’s really very few glaring holes. Can Kirk take his game to the next level?
Tier 3 – “8-8”
These are the teams that have some solid strengths, but have some equally concerning holes.
Atlanta Falcons – This team could actually surprise a lot of people. The defense has some question marks, but if Dan Quinn can get the best out of them, they could really surprise some people.
New Orleans Saints – Can the defense stay healthy? Can the o-line stay healthy? If the answer is “yes” for both of those, this team can compete with anybody.
New York Giants – So many new faces on defense. Will they all fit in well? Or will this be the Giants version of the “Dream Team”.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Can Jameis take his game to the next level? Will the offensive line step it up? Can this young defense start putting it together? The Bucs are a very interesting team.
The Chicago Bears – How will the offensive line play this year? Can Langford replace Forte? Will the new additions on defense play to their potential?
Tier 4 – “Meh” Part 2
These teams just don’t seem to have a lot of hope for this season. Maybe they prove me wrong?
Los Angeles Rams – Todd Gurley is a stud. The front 7 is loaded. But they lost some key secondary pieces and the offense looks awful.
Philadelphia Eagles – Frank Reich is calling plays. The o-line looks bad. The receivers can’t catch. And you’re starting a rookie out of a D2 school. Yes, Wentz will get better, but will he come in and immediately play well? The defense does look solid though.
Detroit Lions – Darius Slay is awesome. Deandre Levy is awesome. Golden Tate is solid. I really like Ameer Abdullah. But I’ve never been a Stafford believer, and this team continues to lose it’s star players.
Tier 5 – The 49ers
San Francisco 49ers – Maybe next year guys (I’ll seriously regret this if they end up playing well this year… But that’s a risk I’m willing to take.)
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @MadManBsul for plenty of NFL and College football takes and articles throughout the year!