I’m not quite ready to put my stamp on my final predictions for records yet. That will be out tomorrow. For now, here’s a look at how every team stacks up against each other. This list will look very different by the end of the year.
1) Philadelphia Eagles (0-0)
The Super Bowl Champions get the top ranking until proven otherwise. They have a stacked front seven, a loaded offensive line, and an MVP caliber QB. Their secondary has some interesting young talent as well, and their skill position players get the job done. They are the kings of the NFL heading into the season.
2) Los Angeles Rams (0-0)
This is really tough. I don’t like crowning offseason champions very often. Usually when I see a ton of big splashes, I groan when the NFL analysts and bloggers go nuts about it. But the Rams made all of these moves while also maintaining what made them great last season. They have a great coach, a franchise QB, a very good offensive line, arguably the best running back in football, and a dynamic receiving corps. They have the best player in defense, and they went and added 3 more all-pro level players… Not to mention they have a favorable schedule.
3) Atlanta Falcons (0-0)
The Falcons were one Julio Jones catch away from beating the Eagles in Philly. They are about as complete as it gets when it comes to a football team; their defense is incredibly deep, and so many of the players on the unit have speed. They should only get better on offense as they incorporate Calvin Ridley.
4) New England Patriots (0-0)
I struggled with this. Ignore Bill Belichick, and ignore Tom Brady, and this is a fairly mediocre roster. Not a bad roster. Not a great roster. Middle of the pack. The next few teams I’ll put after them blow them out of the water on paper. But it’s Tom and Bill. I can’t put them too low.
5) New Orleans Saints (0-0)
There are two key differences between New Orleans and Atlanta; depth, and Drew Brees. Drew Brees is better than Matt Ryan. It’s not by a super wide margin, but there is a noticeable difference. However, Atlanta has way more depth, especially on defense. They can afford to lose a few players and they’ll continue to operate just fine. If Marshon Lattimore or Cameron Jordan go down for New Orleans, suddenly they’re in trouble.
6) Green Bay Packers (0-0)
Aaron Rodgers is back, in case you missed it. He is a football player. But what makes the Packers even more interesting is their new additions on defense. Muhammad Wilkerson still has plenty in the tank, and they have a solid crop of rookies in Oren Burks, Joshua Jackson, and Jaire Alexander who should help improve this defense. If the defense can be average and Aaron Rodgers stays healthy, this is a Super Bowl favorite.
7) Minnesota Vikings (0-0)
The fact that Minnesota falls to 7 shows how stacked the NFL is this season. This roster is insanely talented. I’d move them up a few slots if they didn’t have so many injuries on the offensive line, but that’s essentially their only weakness. If Kirk Cousins proves to be a massive upgrade over Case Keenum, this will be a fun year for Minnesota.
8) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0)
If the Playoffs just included these 8 teams, I don’t think many people would complain once they got over the sadness of their team missing out. The Steelers are easily a Super Bowl contender, and they only fall because of how loaded all of these other teams are. You could argue 2-8 in any order you want honestly, maybe my bias against Pittsburgh is showing a little bit.
9) Los Angeles Chargers (0-0)
I’m sure they’ll find a way to underachieve and finish 9-7, with six 1 point losses, despite losing 43% of their roster to injury. Then we’ll all pick them as a dark horse next season. That being said, this roster really is loaded. There’s very few weaknesses, aside from offensive line depth. But the starting line is the best it has been in years, and even without Hunter Henry, Rivers has weapons galore.
10) Houston Texans (0-0)
Similar to the Chargers, the success of the Texans will hinge on health. Deshaun Watson could win the MVP if he stays healthy. Their receiving corps is loaded, and the defense has an unbelievable amount of talent. But there’s a lot of injury risk with them.
11) San Francisco 49ers (0-0)
A little high right? Welp, I never said there wouldn’t be controversy with this list. I just like everything about this team. They have one of the better coach and QB combos in the league, a good offensive line, and plenty of versatile pieces on defense. I’ll go bold and put them high.
12) Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
This list keeps getting tougher. I’ll say right now, there’s plenty of interchangeable pieces. I’m high on Patrick Mahomes, but low on this defense. Still, I think Andy Reid will make it work. The Chiefs lead my rankings of “Fun Power Rankings” too. They’ll be a delight to watch on a weekly basis.
13) Detroit Lions (0-0)
Their success will all depend on the offensive line. Frank Ragnow appears to be a stud, Taylor Decker could be due for some improvement, and TJ Lang is a nice temporary option. The defense isn’t great, but there’s some very interesting pieces. Really, I have them highly ranked because I respect Matthew Stafford, and they feel safer than some of the other options.
14) Indianapolis Colts (0-0)
If Andrew Luck is 100% healthy, this is a top 10 team. But his first few weeks could be rusty, so I’ll temper my expectations for them. But the offensive line is reloaded, and the defense at least has a few decent players. Andrew Luck is good enough to make it work.
15) Tennessee Titans (0-0)
The Titans have a better roster than you think. Their players aren’t popular, but they’re talented. Corey Davis could be a stud this season. The offensive line is possibly the best in football. The front 7 has a ton of solid pieces. The secondary could be fantastic. But I have no idea what to expect from the coaching staff, so for now I have to be a little bearish on them.
16) Chicago Bears (0-0)
That’s right, I’m all in. To make it clear, I was all in on the Bears BEFORE they traded for Khalil Mack. Now I already feel semi-vindicated. This defense could be the best in football, and the offense improved immensely. This opinion will not fly with many of my readers, but that’s ok with me. There’s no fun in making a cookie-cutter list.
17) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
Here it is. I’m a “hater” for sure on this one. I just think we’re all a little too high on a team that has arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. Their defense is great, but it benefitted greatly from competing against a slew of journeymen at QB throughout the season last year. People seem to forget that before their fun 2 game run, they barely squeaked by Buffalo at home in the Wild Card round. They’re still a good roster, but I expect some regression.
18) Carolina Panthers (0-0)
This is a pretty good roster, but the offensive line isn’t as good as it was a few years ago, and they don’t have the best receiving corps, though I think Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore both deserve plenty of playing time. The front 7 is still very good. It all comes down to how Cam Newton performs.
19) Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
This is all contingent on how well Joe Flacco plays. The defense has plenty of standouts, and the offense made some major upgrades this offseason. Can Joe Flacco step up his game with Lamar Jackson sitting on the bench, waiting to take his job?
20) Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
I might be a little low on them, especially since Russell Wilson is still one of the top 5 quarterbacks in football. Their defense is also underrated, they still have plenty of talent. But that offensive line is just so bad.
21) Washington Redskins (0-0)
People love to knock Alex Smith, but he always wins. This roster isn’t as loaded at the top as Kansas City was, but it might be more balanced. Jay Gruden isn’t Andy Reid, but he’s not terrible either. I think they’re better than anyone is giving them credit for.
22) Dallas Cowboys (0-0)
I’m concerned about their offensive line now that Travis Frederick is expected to miss time, but they still have plenty of depth. Their defense will be better than anybody thinks as well, and while they don’t have superstar wideouts, Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Michael Gallup are all being underrated by the media. They’re all solid options, and with a great running game they’ll get the job done.
23) Cleveland Browns (0-0)
Say what? Cleveland at 23? This roster is pretty loaded, and Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield are the two best QBs to don a Browns uniform since Bernie Kosar, or Derek Anderson at the very least. I think they’re in for one of their better seasons in recent years, though that’s not saying much at all.
24) New York Giants (0-0)
Everybody thinks that picking the Giants as a sleeper team is super creative, unique, and bold. They were 11-5 two years ago, so it’s not exactly bold. So I’ll go in the other direction. The offensive line still has a lot of work to do, though it did improve. Eli Manning has become slightly underrated, but he’s still past his prime. I think they can bounce back, but they have a rough schedule and some holes to worry about.
25) Arizona Cardinals (0-0)
If Sam Bradford can stay healthy, they could be in for a great year. If Josh Rosen ends up taking over, and he stays healthy, they could be very fun. But if Mike Glennon ends up seeing significant playing time, well…
26) Miami Dolphins (0-0)
They actually have a decent roster, but decent won’t fly nowadays. There’s too many better teams with better quarterbacks. Miami could easily shoot up this list, especially since Ryan Tannehill is a nice safe option at quarterback. But I don’t have a ton of faith in them this year.
27) Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)
What do you get when you pair Andy Dalton with a below average offensive line? A pretty mediocre season. Still, the roster has more talent than I’m crediting them for, so maybe I’ll end up regretting this one.
28) Denver Broncos (0-0)
Case Keenum isn’t very good. He’s a very good backup, but I doubt he’s in for another great year. The defense is still fantastic, but will it matter if the offense struggles to move the ball?
29) New York Jets (0-0)
I doubt that the Jets finish this low, but as high as I am on Sam Darnold, their offense is similar to the Bills. The only difference is that Sam Darnold is better than any quarterback on the Bills roster. The defense is solid, and I think Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa are both better than we think. But until I see it, I can’t put them high.
30) Oakland Raiders (0-0)
With or without Mack, this defense was bad. Now it’s going to be even worse. Derek Carr is still a fine option at quarterback, but the rest of this team feels very volatile.
31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
I don’t think they’re terrible actually, which goes to show how fun the season will be. But until proven otherwise, this defensive is still bad. Jameis is pretty inconsistent, and the offensive line doesn’t appear to be elite. They might have the worst coaching staff in the league as well.
32) Buffalo Bills (0-0)
I like their young defense, and I actually think they’re headed in the right direction. But the offense is atrocious on paper as of now. Josh Allen could be a franchise QB some day, but as of now, he can’t beat out Nathan Peterman. This offense lacks firepower as of now.
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