Organized offseason training is in the books, and players get some time off before they hit training camp in late July. While it marks the beginning of team building for the coming season, those OTAs and minicamps didn’t change much in terms of where teams stand in power rankings. Since my last power rankings at the beginning of May, there have been some big moves, though; with Jeremy Maclin being released by the Chiefs and signing with the Ravens being the most notable.
A lot can change, but this is where I see each team right now. For a more detailed look at each team and more background on these rankings, take a look at my Post-Draft Power Rankings from May 1.
1. New England Patriots
There isn’t much debate about the number one spot in the power rankings. After winning Super Bowl LI, the Patriots added a lot of firepower to the team, including signing long-time Jets linebacker David Harris yesterday. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to win back-to-back championships, but this team knows that and isn’t going to rest on their laurels.
2. Atlanta Falcons
As much as there’s little debate for the number one spot, I feel the same way about the Falcons at number two. My only concern is the situation with All-Pro running back Devonta Freeman. He said on SiriusXM NFL the other day that he would’ve been Super Bowl MVP if he “stayed in the game.” Freeman—who was on the field for Don’t’a Hightower’s huge play—might not have meant much by it, and if he lets it go there shouldn’t be any issues, but he can’t hold on to it like we’ve seen with Richard Sherman in Seattle.
3. Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr just inked the biggest extension in league history, and the attention will probably turn to their star on defense, Khalil Mack. Energy is something that should be prevalent with the Raiders, as they extended their franchise quarterback, brought in Marshawn Lynch, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jared Cook as more muscle for the offense, and are trying to win a Super Bowl for Oakland before they leave.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
I don’t like releasing Jeremy Maclin, who I believe is the most underrated receiver in the NFL. It’s just hard to see how releasing your best receiver helps you win a Super Bowl, which the Chiefs have a chance of doing. Still, they have one of the best rosters in the NFL, along with one of the best head coaches in the NFL. It is also tremendously puzzling why the team basically fired GM John Dorsey (did it have something to do with the release of Maclin?)
5. Minnesota Vikings
Rookie running back Dalvin Cook has gotten rave reviews through the spring, and he, Latavius Murray, and Jerrick McKinnon will try to bring balance back to the Vikings offense. Murray is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery, but the three of them should all contribute and help take pressure of Sam Bradford. Second-year receiver Laquon Treadwell has also been talked highly of this offseason.
6. Green Bay Packers
With Aaron Rodgers running the show for the Packers, they can’t be counted out in any game they play. If Green Bay is able to get off to a fast start this season, it’d be a great sign, as they have some difficult games to start the season, including against Atlanta and Seattle.
7. Dallas Cowboys
Heading into his second year in the league, Dak Prescott might be even better than he was in his sensational rookie season. He’s the bona fide leader of the team, and if the offensive line plays as well as they did last season and gives him plenty of time to throw, Prescott will continue playing like a seasoned vet.
8. Tennessee Titans
The Titans continued adding to their offense, with the addition of former Broncos and Jets receiver Eric Decker. Marcus Mariota has plenty of toys to play with, in what is one of the deepest offenses in the NFL. Mariota is the main reason I think Tennessee could become an elite team this season.
9. Houston Texans
Like their division rival Titans, the Texans look to be building something. The defense gets three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt back, and they now have a great quarterback situation with Tom Savage more comfortable this season, and Deshaun Watson—a proven winner—waiting in the wings with the luxury of sitting to watch and learn behind Savage.
10. Baltimore Ravens
Kansas City’s loss is Baltimore’s gain, as they signed Jeremy Maclin to add a clutch veteran receiver to the offense. Maclin’s going to have a chip on his shoulder to prove people that think he has lost a step wrong. It’s only on paper for now, but the Ravens might have had the best offseason of any team in the league.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
You can’t help but like what the Steelers can do on offense, and the young defense keeps improving and played great at times last season. But they play the first-place schedule in the AFC, and other teams might be gunning for them as their seen as near the top of the AFC. They could end up a lot higher through the course of the season.
12. Los Angeles Chargers
Top-ten pick Mike Williams is dealing with back issues, which caused him to miss time in the spring. Hopefully he’s healthy for the start of training camp and gets time to form chemistry with Philip Rivers and get used to the offense. With a stronger offensive line and one of the best running backs in the league, this could be one of the more balanced offenses this season, making it tough on opposing defenses.
13. New York Giants
I very much disagree with the sentiment that Odell Beckham Jr. skipping voluntary workouts doesn’t matter. OBJ talked about how hard he worked, and I’m sure he did; but you don’t see guys like Larry Fitzgerald or Aaron Rodgers skipping workouts with their team like that. Things better go well for the Giants, or things could get ugly.
14. Seattle Seahawks
The same can be said about Seattle—if they start losing games, the fingers could start pointing. They also have a lot of upside, however. Eddie Lacy has hit all his weight checkpoints so far, and he looks to be take getting in shape seriously. The Seahawks should have more balance this season with the combination of Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise, along with what should be an improved offensive line.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
By all accounts, the Bucs are clicking with their new weapons. DeSean Jackson is a great compliment to Mike Evans, and rookie former Penn State receiver Chris Godwin is unsurprisingly making a great first impression on the team. Jameis Winston, who is a true gunslinger, just needs to avoid making too many ill-advised passes and Tampa Bay will be a real threat this year. We’ll get a good look at them during HBO’s Hard Knocks.
16. Indianapolis Colts
It’s unclear when Andrew Luck will be back from his shoulder surgery. The team would do well to get him back for the start of training camp, but the good news is the talented quarterback will be healthier than he’s been in the past couple of seasons. The defense and offensive line will be critical for the Colts’ success.
17. Arizona Cardinals
After a sub-par 2016, it would not be surprising to see Arizona come back strong this season and win the NFC West. The team changed Carson Palmer’s schedule to keep the veteran quarterback fresh, and he reportedly looked good when he hit the field. If he gets back to his 2014/2015 form, the Cardinals will be one of the favorites in the entire NFC.
18. New Orleans Saints
If not for the injury to left tackle Terron Armstead, who will miss 4-6 months with a torn labrum, the Saints would be higher in the rankings. Not surprisingly, a motivated Adrian Peterson is turning heads so far, and it’s scary to think about AD and Drew Brees in the same offense (not to mention Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara). The defense needs to use some of their new pieces like first-round corner Marshon Lattimore to help them get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
19. Miami Dolphins
The talk of feeding Jay Ajayi upwards of 350 carries should be seen as a positive for Miami. An offense that can ground-and-pound with Ajayi, along with the very good and talented defense, could be the recipe for success in getting the Dolphins to the playoffs for a second straight season.
20. Washington Redskins
Doug Williams was named vice president of player personnel for the team, and he wants to get a long-term deal done with Kirk Cousins. They have a little under a month to get something done, but either way it’ll be Cousins under center for Washington in 2017. I want to put the Redskins higher, but there are more moving parts on offense than with some of the other teams ahead of them.
21. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are another team I feel could be higher, but I’m more confident in some of the other teams ahead of them, despite Carolina being a year removed from playing in the Super Bowl. If Cam Newton gets back to his MVP-form, this team will be a lot higher than this quickly.
22. Detroit Lions
Because of the presence of the Packers and Vikings, I believe the Lions might take a step back this season. With a healthy Ameer Abdullah and stronger offensive to help improve the run game, it should help take pressure off the middle-of-the-road defense. Ziggy Ansah being 100% and bouncing back would be huge, as Detroit was 30th in sacks last year.
23. Denver Broncos
The addition of Jamaal Charles with a chip on his shoulder is one of the most-underrated of the offseason. Charles is a future Hall of Famer that has the highest yards per carry in NFL history. But the quarterback situation is a bigger mystery than all the teams ahead of them, and the defense will have to adjust without Wade Phillips coaching them.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
Second-year quarterback has everything at his disposal to have a good sophomore season in the NFL. He’ll look to bounce back after he struggled from about Week 6 on. Adding LeGarrette Blount will hopefully keep them more committed to the run game, after head coach Doug Pederson said they would be last season, but never really followed through on it.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s clear Jacksonville plans to run the ball a lot this year, led by fourth overall pick Leonard Fournette. If a healthy Blake Bortles limits mistakes, the Jags might be able to make a playoff push behind the run game and the defense. Bortles is someone to watch during training camp.
26. Los Angeles Rams
New head coach Sean McVay and new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips might be a solid combination that can lead the Rams to a quick turnaround. If Phillips can get this team to play consistently and become a top unit, they can compete each week. On offense, the offensive line will need to come together during training camp for McVay, Jared Goff, and company to have success.
27. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals this low shows the number of good teams currently in the NFL, at least in my opinion. As they’ve shown for quite a while, they can be one of the better teams in the NFL during the regular season. Rookies John Ross and Joe Mixon will help give a jolt to the offense, while the defense looks to remain a top-ten unit.
28. Buffalo Bills
After being in the mix for Jeremy Maclin, the Bills must be a little disappointed. They need their star receiver Sammy Watkins to stay healthy in a contract year, and look for Andre Holmes to step up opposite him. Maybe Sean McDermott can turn this defense into an elite unit in his first season as head coach.
29. Cleveland Browns
On paper, the Browns have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. They made some big strides this offseason in terms of adding talent to the roster, and they should be able to take a step forward this season. While they might not make a playoff push, Cleveland might be an exciting team to watch this year.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Like the Browns, the Niners are a lot more talented than they were last season. Quarterback Brian Hoyer will look to steady the ship for Kyle Shanahan on offense, as the team meshes in training camp.
31. Chicago Bears
The progression of Mitchell Trubisky will be the most important thing for the Bears’ future. Mike Glennon is fully expected to start at quarterback, but it’ll still be the position to watch during training camp. The revamped receiving corps should bring some competition throughout camp as well, with some key contributors (like former first-rounde Kevin White) hopefully emerging.
32. New York Jets
In terms of talent, the Jets are probably the worst team in the league. But they don’t quite rival the lack of talent the Niners had last season, and they might be able to notch a few more wins than most people anticipate. They decided to release linebacker David Harris, one of the best players in franchise history, who then signed with…the Patriots.