NFL Power Rankings – pre draft (31.03.18)
1. Philadelphia Eagles
A steady offseason from the Superbowl champs. re-signing Bradham to a long term deal along with Ngata and Michael Bennett, ensuring that this defence will be one of the premier ones for the next few years. Added in to that, the return of Carson Wentz and upgrading the speed at WR, replacing Torrey Smith with Mike Wallace in another great low cost deal for the Eagle’s. *Pukes*
2. Minnesota Vikings
With the highest profile capture of the offseason in Captain Kirk, this team which was already deemed SuperBowl ready with Bradford/Keenum last year and the next year or so is going to be how this Vikings team is judged. Despite letting Jerrick McKinnon go, they have the returning Dalvin Cook makes this team a stellar one and can expect that they’ll be deep in the postseason come January 2019. Oh yeah, and they added Sheldon Richardson to that defence…
3. Los Angeles Rams
Boy, what an overhaul going on in LA. Wade Phillips, a defensive master in the NFL now has so many weapons on that defence. Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Nickell Robey-Coleman sure up the secondary to help alleviate pressures that Jared Goff may have felt when going out and forcing the issue along with Suh to partner Aaron Donald to get some pressure on opposing QBs, which was a void showed in their loss to the Falcons in the postseason. Many may see #3 too high for this team, but this team is built for success next year and anything other that a championship match this year will be considered a very disappointing season. I’d take them to beat the patriots (maybe even at Foxboro!)
4. New England Patriots
Despite that massive exodus in personnel including star RB Dion Lewis, clutch performer WR Danny Amendola and Nate Solder on the O-Line and Malcolm Butler in the secondary, this will likely be the highest the Patriots will get on the power rankings. Why? well this could be the season where it all falls flat for New England. Helped by a poor quality division (which usually is the main reason why they get the #1 seed for the past few years), New England can regress but still win the division with ease considering the coaching staff there. Matt Patricia has gone, but Belichick called most plays on defence anyway and they managed to keep Josh McDaniels as OC, with a view to him taking over the patriots in due course (probably working out well for the Colts too). There were some players brought in as cover, not that they make many heads turn. In fact, their best signing will probably be the new deal for Rex Burkhead, who seems to be the go to guy in this offence for 2018. Watch out for the Gronk rumours though….
5. New Orleans Saints
Teams from 5-10 could probably be shuffled around and not too many eyebrows would be raised. Considering how close they came last year to the NFC championship game, it makes sense to put the Saints here. Adding pieces to the resurgent defence along with resigning Brees’s to a relatively low contract will see the Saints in the post season again in 2018.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh are here by default on the offensive talent. However, they wont want to have a repeat of last seasons and secure LeVeon Bell. Look out for a resurgent season from Martavis Bryant. Defence will have to play tough again this year to beat the New England hump. the additions of Burnett and Bostic will help.
7. Atlanta Falcons
Probably a bit too high for Atlanta, but the offence is so powerful. letting Taylor Gabriel go probably wont hurt them a great deal. Letting Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn go may hurt them more. I put Atlanta at 7 as it was either them or the Packers, and i fancy the Falcons to take the Packers at this point
8. Green Bay Packers
The main question heading into the 2018 season is how will Rodgers get on in a Nelson-less offence? Davantae Adams obviously will see a lot of targets and receptions this year. As may new TE Jimmy Graham, who will be the redzone target that Jordy Nelson vacated. Defence will be their downfall again this season but any team with Rodgers in it is capable of getting to the big one.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
Had Blake Bortles been replaced by someone slightly more forward thinking (Alex Smith, Case Keenum), then the Jags would be leapfrogging the Packers and the Falcons. Andrew Norwell signing will help the run game and Austin Seferian-Jenkins upgrade the TE position, where the Jags could do with helping for Bortles. The loss of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns puts pressure on the young WR core in Jacksonville.
10. San Francisco 49ers
The ranking of 10 for Jimmy G and Kyle Shanahan’s boys is assuming that the trajectory continues from the promise shown in the back end of 2017. The capture of Richard Sherman will pay immediate dividends and it will be interesting to see the market share of carries in this backfield with Jerrick McKinnon coming over from Minnesota to take over from Carlos Hyde. Either way, they are in good shape heading in to the draft and the future looks very good for the Bay side team.
11. Houston Texans
This is another ranking assuming the starting QB is as good as last year. Deshaun Watson lit up opposing defences last year before suffering injury. JJ Watt needs to stay healthy, something he has done for a few seasons so that he , Whitney Mercilus and the newly signed Tyrann Mathieu can do some serious damage in what is an intriguing division last year.
12. Los Angeles Chargers
Quiet offseason for the chargers, though did sign C Markice Pouncey, which will help the run game. Health has always been an issue for the chargers, so it was nice to see most guys stay healthy last year, especially Keenan Allen. More of the same will be the prescribe modus operandi for this team and are my dark horses for the AFC participant in the Superbowl.
13. Dallas Cowboys
The re-signing of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving along with the potential reinstatement of Randy Gregory will give the cowboys much needed oomph on the D Line. Sean Lee will always be the key to the defence but with the way they’ve played the last few seasons, they try and take the game out of their hands. Zeke will be back so expect a run heavy offence. WR help has been signed in the offseason in Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson; speedsters to cover the ageing Dez Bryant and the indifferent Williams/Beasley combo. Interesting season for the Cowboys.
14. Kansas City Chiefs
The defence has seen better days, but the offence is one of the most interesting to watch going into week 1. Pat Mahomes gets the keys to the Chiefs Cadillac and the signing off Sammy Watkins raised a few eyebrows. will be a very hot and cold team, but always efficient in their gameplay may see them win more games than most expect them to.
15. Tennessee Titans
Some interesting signings for the Titans in this offseason. Dion Lewis again means a crowded backfield, whilst Malcolm Butler will help their gaps on defence. The change in coaching on the offence will help Marcus Mariota, just a shame they are in a tough division.
16. Carolina Panthers
Quiet offseason means that Carolina will be a middle of the road team this year. They’ll expect a 8/9 win season, and they’ll need Cam Newton to be more consistent than last year to achieve that in a competitive division, and conference.
17. Seattle Seahawks
Massive fall for the Seahawks. Ed Dickson replaces Jimmy Graham, and there are just so many holes here, as shown last year. Russell Wilson covered up most of the cracks, but he can only do so much. plenty of free agent signing on defence after the Legion of Boom has been disbanded. Will take all of Pete Carroll’s coaching abilities to get this team to a winning record this year.
18. Denver Broncos
Keeping both Sanders and Thomas at WR will be music to the ears of new QB Case Keenum. If he shows the same level as last season, the Broncos could becoming contenders in a tough AFC West.
19. Cincinnati Bengals
Quiet Free Agency for the Bengals, but they have enough on this team to be in contention for a wildcard again this season.
20. Detroit Lions
Detroit will have new faces on defences this year and will also try and finally solve the RB puzzle. Legarrette Blount will add power and brute force which probably signals the end of Ameer Abdullah. For the offence to flourish, the defence will need to improve on their 27th rank in total defence last year.
21. Washington Redskins
Alex Smith takes over the reigns in the nations capital where there are question marks all over the place. Seemingly no leaders on this team, especially on offence, so Alex Smith will have a lot on his plate to replicate last season at Arrowhead.
22. Baltimore Ravens
Probably a bit low on the Ravens here, who will once again rely on defence to win them games. Offence was inept last year so a slight overhaul at WR. with the outgoing Wallace and Maclin being replaced by Michael Crabtree and John Brown. Will struggle to post a .500+ record.
23. Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden obviously is in a 2013 time warp. Swapping their most reliable WR for Jordy Nelson. Adding other golden oldies like Doug Martin and signing a whole host of new faces on defence, could mean that Oakland fans wont have much cause for optimism when they head to Las Vegas.
24. Chicago Bears
It’s a put up or shut up, no excuses time in Chicago after Mitch Trubisky was given a lot more weapons on offence. Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel will certainly keep defences honest, which should help JoHo. the re-signing of Kyle Fuller and Amukamara will help them stay in games from a defensive standpoint. Will need to make Soldier Field a fotress to get anywhere near a .500 record.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The defence has been addressed with the capture of Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry. RB question marks will probably be addressed in the draft or maybe DeMarco Murray? Will blow hot and cold again this year, probably 4th in the NFC South though,.
26. New York Giants
Big year for the Giants. New coaching staff and GM captaining the ship, and plenty of voids that need addressing. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Giants trade back to try and accumulate picks like the Colts did, but it could be a long 2018, especially with the OBJ trade rumours circling, but expect him to stay. They have the talent on offence, especially with the addition of Nate Solder, but have no running game and a QB in the twilight of his career.
27. Cleveland Browns
Cleveland have had a massive overhaul which is not surprising considering the last 2 years. reasons for optimism are that the WR core has never been as good (or safe) as it is this year, they have a QB that is going to be a calming influence and not turn the ball over as often as his predecessors and they have some talented sparks such as NJoku heading in to his second year. They also have picks #1 and #4 in the draft so could surprise with number of wins if it all goes together.
28. New York Jets
The re-signing of Josh McCown will probably be the best bit of business, maintaining the stability of the team. Robby Anderson will probably be suspended for a lengthy portion but Quincy Enunwa returns. Trumaine Johnson Signing helps their young defence. Will be taking a QB in the draft with their #3 pick, which they need to get right considering the price they paid.
29. Buffalo Bills
Going for the Bills to sink like I thought they would last season. No More Tyrod Taylor for the Bills who will sorely miss him, even if they don’t know it now. AJ McCarron has been signed to replace him and likely to take a QB in the draft. Signing of Gaines and Davis at CB will help but they’ll be fighting with Miami and New York for 2nd place in the AFC which will flatter any of them as none of them have a chance at the offseason.
30. Arizona Cardinals
Signing of Sam Bradford could be a costly one if he doesn’t stay healthy (especially behind one of the worst Offensive lines). Honey Badger has left the defence and all signs point to a top 5 pick in next years draft. David Johnson will have a heavy workload in this offence, along with Larry Fitz in probably his final year.
31. Indianapolis Colts
Loads of holes, but more importantly, loads of questions for this team;
Is Luck healthy? what are their options at RB? how much will they address the defence going in to the draft. Almost certainly candidates for worst record this season, ever with Andrew Luck playing a full 16 games. Signing of Eric Ebron, Ryan Grant and Christine Michael do not excite anyone.
32. Miami Dolphins.
No Suh, Pouncey or Timmons on Defence. No Landry, Julius Thomas or Jay Ajayi on offence means that the Dolphins are fighting for identity this year. I don’t think they have any idea what they are doing at all. Tannehill will be coming back and the goings on in Miami can all be symbolised by the signing of Brocket Man, Brock Osweiler. They will be relying on Danny Amendola to be their discount Jarvis Landry and Frank Gore to be their Jay Ajayi (though Kenyan Drake should have this backfield). Their only wins will probably come at home vs the poor divisional opponents, if they are lucky.