The NFL preseason is just 2 months away and it is time to start thinking about the NFL Power Ratings. This article is the second part, take a look at Part One: First Look at NFL Power Rankings 22-32.
21. Minnesota Vikings - Talk about a team that had so much potential, then Teddy Bridgewater was injured in training camp and Sam Bradford took over. The team simply wasn’t the same without Bridgewater and lacked a rushing attack to prevent teams from double-teaming WR’s and playing a spy in the middle. This year, they went out and signed Latavius Murray to a 3-year deal, and also picked up Dalvin Cook in the draft. Their offense should be ok but what did they do for the defensive side of the ball? Without a defense, this team will struggle.
20. Baltimore Ravens - The Baltimore Ravens ramped up their defense with the signing a free-agent Tony Jefferson in the off-season. The Ravens also went very defense oriented in this year's draft picking up Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Houston linebacker Tyus Bowser, Michigan defensive lineman Chris Wormley and Alabama D lineman Tim Williams. The defense should be improved but what about the offense? Steve Smith Sr. is no longer on the team as he retired at the end of last year. Second-leading receiver Kamar Aiken left the Ravens for the Indianapolis Colts. If Breshard Perriman can step up and live up to his potential, and Dennis Pitta can get back to his form, they should be fine. But if not it will be a long year for the Baltimore Ravens fans.
19. Arizona Cardinals - I badly wanted to place the Cardinals higher in the rankings, and the reality is there probably worthy of a top 10 ranking, but Carson Palmer has shown a drastic decline over the past 2 years and I simply don't have the confidence that he can remain healthy for the year. The Cardinals have one of the best running backs in the NFL, David Johnson, and Palmer still has Larry Fitzgerald to throw the ball to... But the question still remains can Palmer remain healthy?
18. Carolina Panthers - The Carolina Panthers certainly didn't have a good 2016 season on paper but if you look deep into their schedule you will find they lost six games by 3 or less points. If Cam Newton can get back to his MVP ways, this team could end up going deep into the postseason.
17. Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles spent some money in the off-season to help Carson Wentz and the offense. They went out and signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, two veteran WRs, and retained Jordan Matthews. The offense is going to be decent and the defense won’t be bad either as they spent their draft picks on formulating a talented pass rushing corp. They picked up Derek Barnett with the first round pick and he should make an immediate impact. The reason they are so low right now is they are in a tough division and I don’t foresee any more than 8 wins on the year in regular season.
16. Denver Broncos - Has anyone checked to see if Peyton Manning is available to play quarterback for the Denver Broncos? It appears that this year the Broncos start the preseason with a quarterback battle between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. The Broncos muscled up on the offense of line signing guard Ron Leary and right tackle Menelik Watson. They have the pieces around the quarterback to make him successful but the question remains are either of these 2 quarterbacks good enough to lead the Broncos.
15. Washington Redskins - It’s another year as a franchise QB for Kirk Cousins. That will not make him happy, but I may be part of the minority but I think he ends up signing long term with the Skins this year and ends up having a decent year. He has back-to-back 4k yard passing seasons, and one should only expect the same this year.
14. New Orleans Saints - The Saints signed Adrian Peterson in the off-season to booster a lacking rushing attack. They also signed defensive key components Manti Te’o, Alex Okafor and AJ Klein. With Sean Payton at the helm of the team, this team is always dangerous but if their defense hasn’t improved, it will be a long season for Saints fans.
13. Tennessee Titans - In 2015, the Titans were 3-13. In 2016, the Titans improved to 9-7 and then their QB went down with injury. What happens if this team can stay healthy? They added Corey Davis for Marcus Mariota and now have a legitimate #1 for him to throw to. They are still young but they are growing and capable of big things this year.
12. Miami Dolphins - I had a hard time placing the Dolphins. Adam Gase started out his first season as a head coach with a ton of success and his team had plenty of optimism with the play of Ryan Tannehill prior to going down with a sprained ACL and MCL in his knee. They went out and signed Kenny Stills and Andre Branch in free agency and went after defense in the draft. If Tannehill returns to form, they could be decent but if he has lingering effects from the injury, they will fall fast in the rankings.
11. Detroit Lions - The Lions were a good team last year…or were they? In a majority of their wins, they needed to come from behind to defeat bad football teams.
10. Kansas City Chiefs - Not much has changed in Kansas City from last year. They ended the season 12-4, and I would expect a similar season this year, maybe not as good with a 10-6 season more likely. Alex Smith won’t have a WR to throw the ball to that had over 600 yards last year. I expect a run heavy offense but if things turn south for the Chiefs and QB Alex Smith fails to perform, could we see Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes get a shot for the Chiefs. Time will tell...
9. Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks O-line struggled last year and that caused headaches for QB Russell Wilson. That made them to go out in free agency and sign former 1st round draft pick, Luke Joeckel. They then drafted LSU’s Ethan Pocic to play either right tackle or possibly center. Is that enough? We won’t know until the season kicks off, but either way, you can never count these Seahawks out!
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs signed DeSean Jackson in the off-season and he will line up on the other side of Mike Evans to create a formidable offensive tandem in Tampa Bay. They then went out and drafted OJ Howard, helping them possess one of the most dangerous offensive sides in the NFC. This team will be powerful this year and you better be able to put some points on the board if you want to keep up.
7. New York Giants - It’s do or die for the Giants and their fans! They had a decent team in 2016 and they improved this offseason by signing Brandon Marshall and drafting a tight end to cover ground in Evan Engram. Head Coach Ben McAdoo showed he is building a success in New York and this year he continues on the second phase. The Giants are playoff bound!
6. Green Bay Packers - This team needed to improve on defense this year as they finished last year as one of the worst in the NFL. They spent the majority of their picks in the draft and their signings in free agency to replenish the depleted defense. This team was plagued by injury throughout the year, so bad that they had to use a WR to play RB. If they stay healthy, we could see Aaron Rodgers have another championship run in Green Bay.
5. Dallas Cowboys - The cat is out of the bag with the Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott leading the Cowboys to the playoffs as the NFC East Champions. But how will the sophomore slump affect the Cowboys rookies from last year? I personally don't believe in myths like the sophomore slump, and am more of a believer of the Cowboys talent.
4. Oakland Raiders - You're probably thinking that we’re gonna say something about more Marshawn Lynch, but you're wrong. The most important part on the Raiders this year is without a doubt quarterback Derek Carr. Carr was injured prior to the playoffs last year and this offense suffered drastically because of it. He should be back healthy this year with the supreme supporting cast around him. If he can stay on his feet and remain in the pocket untouched, the Raiders could be looking at a very successful year!
3. Pittsburgh Steelers - What's not to like about the Pittsburgh Steelers this year? They have a tandem of Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown to lead the team. The Steelers open up the year with a very soft schedule over their first 5 games, playing Cleveland, Chicago, Jacksonville, Baltimore and Minnesota. Pretty good chance that they will end up 5-0 to start the year.
2. Atlanta Falcons - Yes, the Atlanta Falcons choked in the Super Bowl, but that's last year and it's time to move on. This team is clearly the best team in the NFC, building a defense within the draft and free agency, to match their high-power offense. They were a young team last year and the inexperience showed in the Super Bowl. That experience is now worth its weight in gold and the rookies now have one year under their belt.
1. New England Patriots - No sense in changing something that isn't broken, and there's no sense of placing any other team in the NFL in the number 1 spot other than the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots. The only thing I can say bad about the Patriots this year is that there quarterback turns 40 years old in August and he is on the cover of Madden football this year. If you believe in the Madden curse, it could be a long year for the Patriots.