Even in a league obsessed with parity, some teams are always a bit more equal than others. As the season’s first game approaches, it’s time to sort out where the teams stand. Who’s ready to roll? Who’s just ready to roll over?
There aren’t many surprises at the top, nor many at the bottom. The Patriots are the team to beat, while the Jets are a total joke. But there’s plenty of room for debate, and seven other divisions, between those extremes. I’ve highlighted a few prominent teams, as well as the Broncos and our division rivals. Go ahead and tell me where I’m wrong- and why. I’d love to know what you think.
Public Service Announcement: Knee-jerking will commence at the regularly scheduled time after this weekend’s games.
Week 1 NFL Power Rankings
1. New England Patriots
The Patriots won the Super Bowl. They had a very good offseason. They deserve the top spot. Blah, blah, etc. Is it just me, or has seeing the Patriots at the top of power rankings lists gotten utterly boring?
The Falcons get the benefit of the doubt over our #3 team by virtue of having been perfectly positioned to actually win the Super Bowl before that dream was ruined by some historically bad playcalling that left the door open for Tom Brady to do Tom Brady things.
Raiders fans like to fondly think that they’d have run the postseason table if it weren’t for Derek Carr’s leg breaking in 2016. It’s more likely that they’d have been thumped by a more complete team and revealed to be a watered down version of the 2013 Broncos. That defense wasn’t good enough to survive postseason play against the likes of the Patriots, Steelers, or Falcons. The Raiders look like possible contenders to start the 2017 season, but much will hinge on whether or not their defense can hack it.
10. Tennessee Titans
The Chiefs excel at finding weird ways to lose. This year, they got an early start by canning the GM who’s built consistently talented rosters for them for quite a while now. His replacement? A sock puppet with barbeque stains on it suspiciously similar to the ones on Andy Reid’s fingers.
13. Denver Broncos
It’s been awhile since we’ve had to read this long to get to the Broncos. But it’s an accurate reflection of where this team is right now: a team that could find itself missing the playoffs as easily as it could find itself making a run. The good news is, barring significant injuries on defense, it’d be a surprise to see the Broncos fall much lower despite a tough schedule.
On the other hand, there are some hopeful signs indicating that several problem areas have been addressed this offseason. If the offensive line continues to look improved and if the holes in the run defense have been plugged, this team can be an intimidating opponent for any team in the NFL. Quarterback is still a question, and could make or break the team’s chances of making noise in the playoffs.
14. Houston Texans
15. Detroit Lions
16. Miami Dolphins
23. Baltimore Ravens
Here they are! Feast your eyes on the most over-hyped offseason team in the NFL!
Don’t get me wrong- Rivers has game, and the Chargers have a number of other skillful players. But let’s get real. Their owner just flew the bird at their entire fanbase and moved the franchise to a city their fans hate. A city that didn’t want them in the first place, where they’ll play in a professional soccer stadium ⅓ the size of a legitimate NFL venue (and they’ll still fail to sell it out).
The Chargers play in the toughest division in the NFL, featuring most of the best pass rushers in the league and several of the stingiest secondaries. Oh, and the bad joke that passes for their training staff, led by the charlatan they call their team doctor, has already guided them to so many season-ending injuries that it’d be considered an outlier. Or it would if this wasn’t the sixth year in a row that it’s happened. Seriously, they’re not going to be as good as the talking heads think.
26. Los Angeles Rams
27. Buffalo Bills
30. Chicago Bears
31. Cleveland Browns
32. New York Jets
Authors of the most transparent tank job since the 2011 Colts, the Jets are far and away the worst team in the NFL today. That’s something of an accomplishment, considering the fact that last year’s Browns unit was set to be the 2nd 0-16 team ever until they crossed paths with the hapless San Diego Chargers.