We have made it! We don’t have to sit through anymore preseason games. The NFL season kicks off tonight, as the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles take on the Atlanta Falcons. We have a lot to look forward to this upcoming season. Luck looks to be healthy, Rodgers is back, and Gruden is coaching again!? Raiders fans might not like that Gruden is back, as he just traded away the best player on the team, but the AFC West sure likes it.
During the season, I will include the team’s weekly win-loss record. Since it is prior to week 1, I will include the win-loss record for each team from last season. Let’s take a look at how the league shakes up in FlurrySports’ NFL Power Rankings.
32.) Buffalo Bills (9-7) 31.) New York Jets (5-11) 30.) Cleveland Browns (0-16) 29.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) 28.) Miami Dolphins (6-10) 27.) Oakland Raiders (6-10) 26.) Denver Broncos (5-11) 25.) Chicago Bears (5-11) 24.) Washington Redskins (7-9) 23.) Houston Texans (4-12) 22.) Cincinnati Bengals 21.) Tennessee Titans (9-7) 20.) Indianapolis Colts (4-12) 19.)New York Giants 18.) Arizona Cardinals 17.) Baltimore Ravens 16.) Dallas Cowboys (9-7) 15.) Seattle Seahawks 14.) Detroit Lions 13.) Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) 12.) Carolina Panthers (11-5) 11.) Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
The Top Ten
10.) San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
The 49ers averaged 28.8 PPG when Jimmy Garappolo was the starting quarterback. When he wasn’t under center, San Fran only averaged 17 PPG. Losing Jerick McKinnon definitely hurts the offense, but Matt Breida and Alfred Morris will be a good 1-2 combo. When Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Redskins, Morris rushed for at least 1,200 yards and no less than 7 touchdowns per season. They also swiped up Richard Sherman this offseason. Has he lost a step? We will find out, but he will bring a good veteran presence to a young defense that runs a similar scheme to Seattle’s. Shanahan has had two seasons to mold his team into what he wants, and his starting quarterback is 7-0 as starter in the league.
9.) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
The Jaguars had a 10-point lead going into the 4th quarter of the AFC Championship, but Tom Brady and the Patriots are the kings of comebacks. Jacksonville only got better on defense this offseason, drafting Taven Bryan, Ronnie Harrison and Leon Jacobs. The defense isn’t what is keeping this team out of the top-5, it is Blake Bortles. Bortles has shown to be majorly inconsistent over his career, but the Jags just signed him to a contract extension. On the offensive side of the ball, Jacksonville added Andrew Norwell, Donte Moncrief, DJ Chark and Austin Seferian-Jenkins this offseason. Can Bortles be consistent this year?
8.) Los Angeles Rams (11-5)
Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks. The Rams allowed 122.3 yards on the ground last season, which was the 28th worst. Teams will no longer get to double team Aaron Donald, as they have to deal with Suh alongside him. They had a ridiculous haul this offseason. The Rams still have a lot of holes on defense, but they added some stars. Will the stars be enough to elevate the defense to help them become contenders this season? The offense hit a speed bump when they matched up with Atlanta in the playoffs. Last year was basically Goff’s first year, if we are talking about development. Look for Goff to potentially take the next step as a pro under offensive mastermind Sean McVay.
7.) Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
The last time we saw the Steelers play meaningful football, they dug too deep of a hole to get out of against the Jaguars. Le’Veon Bell has yet to report. Luckily, James Conner looks more than able to handle the workload. Martavis Bryant was replaced by James Washington this offseason. Washington showed in the preseason he has big play ability when he Moss’d a defender on a 20-yard touchdown reception. The Steelers have the offense to compete with anyone, however the defense could be a major problem.
6.) New Orleans Saints (11-5)
The Minneapolis Miracle, three words Saint’s fans cringe when hearing. The New Orleans Saints were 14 seconds away from advancing to the NFC Championship last season. Drew Brees signed a two-year contract extension during the offseason and starting running back, Mark Ingram, is suspended the first four games of the season. Alvin Kamara scored at an unprecedented rate last season, which will be hard to repeat. New Orleans had an unbelievable draft last season, getting the DROY and OROY. In the 2018 draft, they traded away their 2019 first round pick to move up and get Marcus Davenport. Time will tell if Davenport was worth two first round picks. The Saints seem all in for the final two years of Brees’ career.
5.) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
Nick Foles was named the starting quarterback for the Eagles week one matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. It appears that Wentz is very close to being ready, but Philly didn’t want to risk his long term health. Even though Doug Pederson calls the plays for the team, they lost their offensive coordinator and quarterback coach during the offseason. Frank Reich and John DeFilippo were both brought in when Pederson was named the head coach in 2016. Reich left to become the head coach in Indy and DeFilippo is now the offensive coordinator for the Vikings. Both coaches played a vital role in cleaning up the mess Chip Kelly left and turning the team into a Super Bowl champion. Can the Eagles overcome the loss of two vital coaches, and will Wentz be the same after a major injury?
4.) Green Bay Packers (7-9)
Green Bay cut ties with Jordy Nelson this offseason, which Rodgers didn’t appear to be thrilled with. They did get him a shiny new toy, being Jimmy Graham. What he is also happy about is his new contract that made him the highest-paid player in NFL history. The Pack have a problem at linebacker, but added two of the best defensive backs in the draft, Josh Jackson and Jaire Alexander. They also took a flier on Muhammad Wilkerson, who will be a nice rotational piece on the defensive line. Look for the Pack to be right back in the mix of things, competing in the best conference in football.
3.) Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
Steve Sarkisian. The Falcons biggest problem in 2017 was their inconsistency on offense. Matt Ryan threw 20 touchdowns, which was his lowest total since his rookie season. Even though he didn’t stuff the stat sheet, Ryan was ranked the third-best quarterback, per PFF. Atlanta had 34 drops this past season, which was seventh-most in the league. Of Ryan’s twelve interceptions, eight of them were because of the ball being deflected off of his receiver into the defender’s hands, or them running the wrong route. Atlanta was the only team to go to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons from the NFC the last two years. They were one play away from being back in the NFC Championship game. With Greg Knapp bringing 20+ years of coaching experience to the coaching staff, Sarkisian should take the next step.
2.) Minnesota Vikings (13-3)
The Minnesota Vikings were embarrassed by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. The Eagles went in as the “underdogs” and finished the season as the “top dogs.” Minnesota went out and gave Kirk Cousins a rare fully guaranteed contract. Not only did Minnesota add a new quarterback, but they added to their already outstanding defense. Mike Hughes, who was selected in the first round, has gotten rave reviews from his peers during the offseason. They also went out and signed Sheldon Richardson and George Ioka; the rich get richer. Besides chemistry on offense between Kirk and his arsenal, the major question mark for the Vikings is their banged up offensive line.
1.) New England Patriots (13-3)
Before the Patriots claimed Chad Hansen and Amara Darboh off waivers, they only had three wide receivers eligible to play week one on the roster. Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis and Nate Solder are no longer on the team. Both of the Patriots’ first-round picks may miss time this season. Unfortunately for Isaiah Wynn, he will be out the entire season with a torn ACL. Brady has been known for making no-names look like stars. It helps that the Pats have the best head coach of all time. They have been to seven consecutive conference championships. It will be no surprise if we see them make that eight and if they are competing for the championship in Atlanta this February.