Another season, another Super Bowl win for the Patriots. They land at number one in my power rankings for 2017. A lot can change in the offseason, but here is where all the teams stand right now.
1. New England Patriots
With the best coach and the best quarterback in the game, the Patriots are the favorites to win another Super Bowl next season. It’s obviously not all Brady and Belichick, though. They have a great coaching staff and roster. This organization is simply top notch. Right now, it’d hard to see a team in the AFC being able to knock them off.
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are losing their offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, to the 49ers, but this team should still strike fear into their opponents next season. The offense has a ton of weapons and the MVP running the show, while the defense is very young and should keep improving.
3. Green Bay Packers
There is speculation that Green Bay may be more active in free agency, which would be welcomed by Aaron Rodgers. The top three teams on this list might have the three best quarterbacks in the NFL right now.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
As it stands today, the Chiefs are the only team that I can see taking down the Patriots in the AFC. They won’t beat themselves and have a plethora of weapons on offense, including Travis Kelce, Jeremy Maclin, and Tyreek Hill.
5. Minnesota Vikings
I know. You’re probably shocked to see the Vikings in the top five. But remember, this team started the season much like the Falcons did in 2015 before falling off. Of course, the Falcons represented the NFC in the Super Bowl this season.
6. Dallas Cowboys
Because they can control the game with their offensive line, the Cowboys are tough to beat. If they can add some difference makers to the defense, the Cowboys could be playing in the Super Bowl next season.
7. Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr keeps improving, as does his entire team. They have the Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack, to go along with their young quarterback. They’ll likely compete with the Chiefs (and maybe the Broncos and Chargers, too) for the AFC West crown and possible top two seed.
8. Seattle Seahawks
The defense isn’t quite as intimidating as it once was, but the Legion of Boom is still among the best in the NFL. Having a healthy Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise to go along with a (hopefully) improved running game could really boost Seattle’s chances next season.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
Honestly, they should hope they don’t have to face the Patriots in January—especially if it’s in Foxborough. I am assuming Ben Roethlisberger will be back despite the retirement talk.
10. Baltimore Ravens
They have a great coach and a Super Bowl winning quarterback, so it’s hard not to like this team. They always seem to play the top dog New England Patriots tough, so that’s a bonus.
11. Indianapolis Colts
With former GM Ryan Grigson out, and new GM Chris Ballard in, the Colts will no doubt be building around Andrew Luck to make things easier for him. Luck keeps you in almost any game.
12. Houston Texans
Houston will be an interesting team to watch this offseason. The quarterback situation is a big question mark, but with J.J. Watt returning to the number one defense in terms of yardage in 2016, watch out.
13. Tennessee Titans
Make it three straight AFC South teams in the rankings. They have future superstar Marcus Mariota at quarterback, so don’t be surprised if the Titans explode next season.
14. Washington Redskins
The loss of offensive coordinator Sean McVay might hurt, but the Redskins are in good hands with Jay Gruden. If the defense adds some pieces, they might be able to knock the Cowboys off in the NFC East.
15. Miami Dolphins
Another team with a lost coordinator (defensive coordinator Vance Joseph) that should be OK without him. The Dolphins have a good offensive line and should be able to ride Jay Ajayi and this defense to another nice season.
16. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees and the Saints can still score points, so they’ll never be out of games. The defense played hard in the second half of the season and if they keep progressing, the Saints might be able to make some noise next season in the NFC.
17. Arizona Cardinals
This is a team that’s tough to rank; they could be up near the top ten, but I have them down here. Larry Fitzgerald is coming back (likely along with Carson Palmer) so that must be a huge relief for Bruce Arians.
18. Denver Broncos
The Broncos have a chance to bounce back next season and get right back into the playoffs, where they could make some noise with their defense.
19. Carolina Panthers
2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton will need to step up next season to get the Panthers back to their winning ways. The young corners will have more experience and might be the unit to watch, besides Newton.
20. New York Giants
Like the Cardinals, the Giants could be higher on this list, but they’re in a tough division and have a quarterback that seemed to take a step back. They also may lose Jason Pierre-Paul to free agency.
21. Detroit Lions
I didn’t quite buy in to the Lions in 2016, but they proved me wrong when they made the playoffs. I’m just not crazy about them with the Packers and Vikings also in their division.
22. Los Angeles Chargers
It doesn’t feel right having a team with Philip Rivers at quarterback this low on the list, but the Chargers haven’t had much success lately. With Keenan Allen returning, along with Melvin Gordon, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, and Tyrell Williams among their weapons, the Chargers could be a surprise team in 2017.
23. Philadelphia Eagles
The 2017 Eagles will likely come down to the progression of Carson Wentz. If the second-year quarterback can take a big step forward, the Eagles could be flying high.
24. Los Angeles Rams
I might be way too low on this team. With Sean McVay to pair with Jared Goff, and Wade Phillips running the defense, the Rams appear to have things headed in the right direction. They need to give Jared Goff some more toys on offense and get Todd Gurley going.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If the Buccaneers add another weapon to go along with Mike Evans, it would obviously help Jameis Winston, who will be entering his third season. The Bucs play in a tough division.
26. Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati obviously took a step back this season, and I fear they might not be able to recover. A healthy A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert for a full season would help them bounce back.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
New head coach Doug Marrone did a good job when he filled in on an interim basis for the Jaguars at the end of the season. He and Blake Bortles will look to take some momentum into next season.
28. Buffalo Bills
This defense has good talent, so maybe new head coach Sean McDermott can get the most out of it. The quarterback situation is a big question mark.
29. Chicago Bears
The Bears might be able to jump up this list, depending on who their quarterback is. They have a good offensive line and running game. The 2016 Bears sustained a ton of injuries and a healthy team may go a long way.
30. Cleveland Browns
The Browns front office has a great chance to really improve the team this offseason. They have the number one overall pick and the number twelve overall pick in the draft. I think it would be a mistake to pass on Deshaun Watson, but Myles Garrett wouldn’t be a bad pick at all and they might be able to snatch Watson later in the first.
31. New York Jets
No one knows what’s going on with the Jets’ quarterback situation. Not much to get excited about with the Jets until they get that situation settled.
32. San Francisco 49ers
They’re lucky Kyle Shanahan wanted to come to them, after they were shunned by other coaches and front office members. This team is the least talented in the NFL by far, but they might be able to improve in the offseason.