Brian Sullivan (@MadManScouting)
Yesterday, I published my rankings of the AFC. Take a look there if you’re curious. In case you didn’t see it, these are not necessarily power rankings. They aren’t rankings of how I think the teams will actually perform, since schedule will play a huge role. Interest and appeal do play some sort of role in this list. The NFC is far more interesting than the AFC, at least at the top. Let’s take a look at how the teams stack up against one another. Also, keep in mind that the order is not intentional, the teams are simply being bunched into tiers. I’ll release a power rankings soon, because I know everybody loves them.
Tier 1 – The Juggernauts
Los Angeles Rams
Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints
Unlike the AFC, the NFC is incredibly top-heavy. It isn’t just “potential”, it’s 6 teams that all have legitimate title aspirations. Proven commodities. The Eagles are adding back Carson Wentz to a team that just won the Super Bowl. The Rams went and added star power to their defense without sacrificing anything on either side of the ball. The Vikings upgraded from Case Keenum to Kirk Cousins… that will make a difference. The Packers are getting back this guy named Aaron Rodgers, you might have heard of him. They also are loaded with young talent on defense. New Orleans has Drew Brees, and they’re adding a year of experience to one of the most talented rookie classes we’ve seen in years. Atlanta was one play away from upsetting Philly in Philly, and they didn’t lose any key pieces. So… the NFC is going to be a insane.
Tier 2 – They Have The Pieces
Honestly, I like some of the teams below this tier. I think teams below this tier have higher upside than these three. But, the three teams here all have established franchise quarterbacks. The Lions might actually have a competent offensive line, which will be huge for them. The Cowboys are already suffering losses to their line, but they still have the depth, and their young defense could be surprisingly good this year. The Panthers remain tough in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and they have some interesting young weapons on offense. These three all have a shot to make some noise if things go right.
Tier 3 – The Newbies
San Francisco 49ers
I am more excited to watch these two teams than any of the above teams. At least in the regular season. Chicago completely upgraded their offense, and their new coaching staff can’t possibly be worse than the old regime. San Francisco is everybody’s dark horse, to the point where now it’s bolder to say they won’t be good. Everybody likes the new quarterback coach combo, but nobody is acknowledging that their defense is stacked with young pieces. I can see either team sneaking into the Playoffs.
Tier 4 – I Might Be Underselling Them
New York Giants
You can make a case for any of these teams, but in the end, they all have a flaw that turns me off. Any of them could be a surprisingly good 10-11 win team, the gap between teams in the league right now is surprisingly small. But I don’t trust the health of the Arizona Cardinals. I do not trust the offensive lines of the Giants or the Seahawks. The Redskins don’t appear to have the firepower to keep up with the elite teams in the NFC. However, it would be unfair for me to not point out the positives. The Giants are stacked on defense, they upgraded their offense significantly, and Eli Manning is not as terrible as we all think. Russell Wilson is unbelievable. Alex Smith is always a winner. And the Cardinals have 2 quarterbacks who could both be successful, as long as they stay healthy. So, who knows?
Tier 5 – Sorry Bucs Fans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s gonna be real awkward when Ryan Fitzmagic leads Tampa Bay to a 3-0 start, catapulting them to a 13-3 season with the 1 seed in the NFC. I don’t know what it is about Tampa. They actually made some nice improvements this offseason, but I don’t trust their coaching staff, and Jameis Winston is far too inconsistent for my liking. If Vita Vea hadn’t already suffered an injury, I might be more optimistic. I like the receiving corps and I like the upgrades they made on the defensive line. But a weak offensive line, an uncreative coaching staff, and an inconsistent quarterback will not suffice in today’s NFC.
Image Credit – https://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2017/6/3/15734244/espn-picks-carson-wentz-biggest-leap-forward-2017-nfl-insider-predictions-philadelphia-alshon-qb