By Reece Mowlem
Week 4 was the first sign that the NFL is starting to settle down and therefore there hasn't been as much movement in my power rankings as usual. Unfortunately due to a busy week I have not been able to write about each team, but telow are how the teams rank entering Week 5 of the NFL season.
1. Los Angeles Rams (No Change)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (No Change)
3. New England Patriots (Up 2)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (No Change)
5. New Orleans Saints (Down 2)
6. Minnesota Vikings (Up 1)
7. Cincinnati Bengals (Up 6)
8. Green Bay Packers (Up 1)
9. Baltimore Ravens (Up 6)
10. Philadelphia Eagles (Down 2)
11. Atlanta Falcons (Down 5)
12. Carolina Panthers (No Change)
13. Tennessee Titans (Up 9)
14. Chicago Bears (Up 6)
15. Los Angeles Chargers (Down 4)
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (Down 6)
17. Washington Redskins (Up 1)
18. Denver Broncos (Up 3)
19. Cleveland Browns (No Change)
20. Miami Dolphins (Down 4)
21. Oakland Raiders (Up 6)
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Down 8)
23. Indianapolis Colts (Down 6)
24. Dallas Cowboys (Up 1)
25. Detroit Lions (Down 2)
26. New York Giants (No Change)
27. Seattle Seahawks (Down 3)
28. Houston Texans (Up 2)
29. San Francisco 49ers (Up 2)
30. New York Jets (Down 2)
31. Buffalo Bills (Down 2)
32. Arizona Cardinals (No Change)
By Reece Mowlem
Week 3 cooked up a fair amount shocks results and consequently there has been a large amount of movement in my power rankings. Below are how the teams look entering Week 4 of the NFL season.
1. Los Angeles Rams (Up 1)
There aren't many NFL teams that could lose both their starting cornerbacks to injury and still be the best in the league, but the Rams are just that. They won the 'Battle of LA' convincingly against the Chargers, looking dominant on offence, defence and special teams. Quite simply, the Rams are the best team in football.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (Up 5)
Is there anyone that can slow down Pat Mahomes? Like seriously? The second year QB put on a show yet again, throwing for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns, one of which was eerily similar to the kind of pass you'd see from Aaron Rodgers. They still have to come up against the Jaguars defence, but right now the Chiefs offence looks invincible.
3. New Orleans Saints (Up 6)
The Saints' overtime victory against the Falcons on Sunday was best game of the year so far in my opinion. Drew Brees came out on top in what was straight shootout with Matt Ryan, ending the day with 396 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns and 2 rushing touchdowns. The defence still has a way to go, but much like the Chiefs' unit, this offence can win games on its own.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Up 1)
I don't put much weight into the 9-6 loss to the Titans, the Jags just seem to falter against Tennessee in recent years. I have complete faith that Jacksonville will bounce back, and they have moved up in my rankings purely because their loss wasn't as bad as the beatings the Patriots and Vikings took. Don't sound the alarm, the Jaguars will be fine.
5. New England Patriots (Down 2)
On last week's podcast I announced that there was no way the Patriots would lose to the Lions. Well then. New England looked less than impressive on both sides of the ball in Detroit and have now lost back to back games by double digits for the first time since 2002. As always, the Patriots will be back in the mix come December, but they're performing well below expectation right now.
6. Atlanta Falcons (No Change)
It's not often a quarterback throws 5 touchdowns and still loses a game, but that's what Matt Ryan suffered on Sunday afternoon. Despite Julio Jones having a quiet day, the Falcons offence flourished as first round rookie receiver Calvin Ridley scored 3 touchdowns and racked up 146 receiving yards. The defence continued to struggle without Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, and have now lost another safety (Ricardo Allen) for the season. They may have a losing record right now, but I'm still confident the Falcons will be a playoff team.
7. Minnesota Vikings (Down 6)
The curse of the number one ranking continues as for the third week in a row the team at the top of my Power Rankings has lost their next game (Falcons Wk.1, Patriots Wk.2, Vikings Wk.3). But the Vikings didn't just lose, they lost the Bills. Now Buffalo might be a better team with Josh Allen leading the offence, but they still have one of the worst rosters in the league. It might have just been an anomaly, but Minnesota's performance was far from what you'd expect from a supposed Super Bowl contender.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (No Change)
I think it's fair to say that Carson Wentz's return wasn't as magical as the Philly faithful would have hoped, but he did enough to the home win against the Colts. Wentz will undoubtedly improve as the season ages and the Eagles defence is still an elite group. Philadelphia don't look as explosive as last year, but they are trending upwards.
9. Green Bay Packers (Down 5)
I don't think we'll see the true level of the Packers until Aaron Rodgers is fully healthy, but it's not just the offence that has looked of out sorts. The Green Bay defence, although marginally improved from last year, is still not the disruptive force that many expected Mike Pettine to create. The Packers are another team that I believe should get better and better as each week passes.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (Up 1)
They cut it fine but the Steelers finally won their first game of the 2018 season. I say finally, it's only been three weeks, but it must have felt like a lifetime to Pittsburgh fans. The defence stepped up, collecting 3 interceptions in the first half, one of which was pick six. The offence also flourished in the first half as they put up 30 points, however they didn't score at all in the second half. It wasn't pretty, but at least the Steelers no longer have a zero in the win column.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (Down 1)
The Chargers were utterly outplayed in all faucets of the game against in the Rams on Sunday, losing by 35-23. I still find it hard to assess the Chargers with their losses coming against two of the best teams in the NFL and their lone win coming against the Bills. At the current moment I'd say that the Chargers are a fringe playoff team but need Joey Bosa back to guarantee their spot.
12. Carolina Panthers (Up 2)
The Panthers win was great, but I really need to talk about Efe Obada here. As a Brit, to see someone from the UK go straight from the British American Football Association National League to the NFL is quite incredible. After three years bouncing around practice squads, Obada was finally given his chance by Carolina and he most definitely made the most of it. The defensive end finished his debut with an interception, a sack and pass defended, earning him not only the game ball, but the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. Congratulations Efe, the whole NFL UK community is behind you!
13. Cincinnati Bengals (Down 1)
Until A.J. Green left the field with a groin injury the Bengals were going toe to toe with the Panthers, but the wide receiver's absence was enough of a loss to the Cincinnati offence to hand the game to Carolina. I still believe the Bengals could be back in the playoffs in 2018 but having key players like Joe Mixon and A.J Green stood on the sideline well certainly diminish their chances.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Down 1)
Fitzmagic must have lost his wand in the first half against the Steelers on Monday night, throwing three poor interceptions. But he found it again after the break and became the first quarterback top ever start the season with three 400 yard passing games. The secondary is still a concern on defence, but the Bucs have talent up front and a high-powered offence. They're still in the mix for a wildcard spot.
15. Baltimore Ravens (Up 1)
Not only were the Ravens impressive against the Broncos, Joe Flacco played his best game of the past few years. Baltimore just seem like a typical 8-8 team with no real weaknesses, but also no real strengths. That being said, I wouldn't be shocked if they found their way into the postseason in what is wide open AFC North.
16. Miami Dolphins (Up 5)
I can already hear the Dolphins fans shouting at their phones/laptops/tablets. "HOW CAN YOU PUT A 3-0 TEAM AT 16 IN YOUR POWER RANKINGS?". Well Dolphins fan, because your team isn't as good as the record suggests. Don't get me wrong, they might beat the Patriots on Sunday and go on to win the division, but I don't think that's likely. Much like Baltimore, Miami are a middle of the pack team. Sorry. PS. Adam Gase is a really good head coach.
17. Indianapolis Colts (Up 6)
Stick 2014 Andrew Luck on this Colts team and they'd be a lock for January football. Unfortunately for the fans Indy, 'The Captain' is still looking rusty he returns from the shoulder injury that kept him off the field for nearly two years. On the positive side, the Indianapolis defence, led by Margus Hunt and Darius Leonard, is continuing to play better than anyone predicted. If Luck can get back to his best, the Colts have a chance to make a playoff push.
18. Washington Redskins (Up 8)
The Redskins' performance level has been on a rollercoaster this past three weeks, but if they can keep it close to how they played against the Packers, they have a legitimate shot at winning the NFC East. They're another team built solidly from top to bottom. There's a lot to like about this team, just not a lot to love.
19. Cleveland Browns (Up 1)
BAKER MAYFIELD! (*clap clap, clap clap clap*). BAKER MAYFIELD! (*clap clap, clap clap clap*). BAKER MAYFIELD! (*clap clap, clap clap clap*). BAKER MAYFIELD! (*clap clap, clap clap clap*)
20. Chicago Bears (Down 5)
The Bears might seem particularly low on the list, but to be honest with you, it's because I'm losing faith in Mitch Trubisky. The defence is scary with Khalil Mack already looking the favourite for defensive MVP and the weapons around Trubisky on offence are exciting, but it's just not coming together. Also, Mitch doesn't like throwing the ball left very much. What's that all about?
21. Denver Broncos (Down 3)
As I predicted, the Broncos didn't look as strong in their first road game of the year against the Ravens. Case Keenum and the offence wasn't too awful, but I think it's fair to say that the 'No Fly Zone' is well and truly over. Denver can't rely on good defence anymore, this team's hopes and dreams rest on the shoulders rest on Keenum.
22. Tennessee Titans (Up 3)
The Titans are 2-1. Don't ask me how, but they are. I will give Mike Vrabel credit though, he is setting up his team perfectly, creating effective gamelans and winning games by out coaching his opponent.
23. Detroit Lions (Up 6)
As I mentioned earlier, I didn't give the Lions a shot against the Patriots and not only did they win the game, they won it reasonably comfortably. The defence managed to stifle Tom Brady, holding the GOAT to only 133 passing yards. They also performed well offensively and finally had a 100-yard rusher in rookie Kerry Johnson. I'm sure Matt Patricia is hoping that the victory will kickstart their season.
24. Seattle Seahawks (Up 3)
Having Bobby Wagner back in the lineup made a huge difference to the Seahawks defence. Seattle held the Cowboys to only 13 points, allowing Russell Wilson to go get his first win of the season. Earl Thomas also had two interceptions despite not practicing all week. The question is, how much longer will he be in Seattle?
25. Dallas Cowboys (Down 6)
Even with Dak and Zeke, the Cowboys offence could be one of the worst in the NFL. The lack of receiver has been telling and that has led to teams stuffing box, stopping the run and forcing Prescott to throw the ball to the subpar wideouts. The only saving grace for Dallas is that the defence is playing well, but well enough to carry this team to a winning record.
26. New York Giants (Up 4)
It wasn't as impressive as most Giants fan would have hoped, but at least the G-Men got their maiden victory of 2018. Although not statistically, Saquon Barkley had his most impactful performance in what was a solid display from the Giants offence. Defensively, they did what they had to and managed to hold on for the win.
27. Oakland Raiders (Down 5)
I know I sound like a broken record, but once again the Raiders led at halftime in a game they ended up losing. Oakland have decent talent but just can't seem to find the extra gear in the fourth quarter to kill the game. I am in no doubt that the Raiders will throw everything at the Browns in Week 4 to get the $100 million man his first victory.
28. New York Jets (No Change)
The Jets have been disappointing the past two weeks after their surprise Week 1 victory. Sam Darnold is young and it's understandable that he is making rookie errors, but he's not being helped out too much by those around him (apart from Quincy Enunwa). The defence also hasn't played anywhere close to the level they did against the Lions in their matchups with the Dolphins and Browns. As I've said before, this Jets team has a bright future, but they still have a long way to go.
29. Buffalo Bills (Up 3)
The Bills beat the Vikings 27-6. Need I say more?
30. Houston Texans (Down 6)
The Texans were so bad on Sunday that they made the Giants look good. DeShaun Watson continues to struggle behind the revolving door that is the Houston offensive line despite having skill player talent around him. At least J.J. Watt had a great game and is looking closer to the player that was the undisputed best defender in the NFL only a few years ago.
31. San Francisco 49ers (Down 14)
Sorry 49ers fans but C.J. Beathard won't win more than 4 games. He's not too bad, but he's certainly no Jimmy G. At least you'll be picking top 5 in the 2019 NFL Draft.
32. Arizona Cardinals (Down 1)
The Cardinals had a chance to march down the field, kick a field goal and win their first game of the season against the Bears. But head coach Steve Wilks had other plans as he decided to chuck Josh Rosen into the game for his NFL debut against Khalil Mack with 2 minutes left on the clock. As you can imagine, that didn't well. Rosen will get his first start against the Seahawks and might be a better option than Sam Bradford, but I doubt he'll improve the offence enough to win a significant amount of games.
By Reece Mowlem
Week 2 cooked up a lot of shocks and consequently there has been a large amount of movement in my power rankings. Below are how the teams look entering Week 2 of the NFL season.
1. Minnesota Vikings (Up 1)
If Daniel Carlson had just hit a 35-yard field goal, then the Kirk Cousins could say that he went into Lambeau Field and took down Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately for Kirk, it just wasn't meant to be. It was also unfortunate for Carlson, who is now a free agent despite being a 5th round pick a mere five months ago. His replacement in Minnesota will be veteran placekicker Dan Bailey, the second most accurate kicker in NFL history. Not bad. Despite the tie in Green Bay, the Vikings showed they could compete in the big games, even on the road, and that's why they have climbed to the top of the power rankings mountain. I've heard it's a nice view up there.
2. Los Angeles Rams (Up 1)
I can't take too much from the Rams performance against the Cardinals because their opponent was so lacking in ability to do, well, pretty much anything. LA prevented Arizona from crossing halfway until the 4th quarter and gave up only five first downs all day, let alone any points. Offensively, McVay's boys put up 34 points with ease, even without star kicker Greg Zuerlein, who left the game with a groin injury. I'm intrigued to see how the Rams will fare against their LA counterparts on Sunday as don't believe they've been truly tested yet.
3. New England Patriots (Down 2)
The Patriots of recent years seem to always drop a few bad performances in the opening weeks of the season, and this year it was in Jacksonville where they first faltered. The Jags dominated on both sides of the ball and Blake Bortles put up more Brady like stats than the man himself. The arrival of Josh Gordon could be a help to TB12, but with his history it's definitely not a guarantee that he'll even be on the field. New England will inevitably bounce back as they always do, but the Jags showed that Belichick can be beaten.
4. Green Bay Packers (Up 2)
For a man with only one functional knee, Aaron Rodgers was pretty impressive against the Vikings on Sunday, as was the majority of the Packers team. If it wasn't for a questionable 'roughing the passer' penalty on linebacker Clay Matthews, Green Bay would have almost definitely won the game and gone clear at the top of the division. Instead they have to share space with the Vikings at the summit of the NFC North.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (Up 4)
Thankfully Hurricane Florence isn't doing much damage in Jacksonville at the moment, but the Jaguars were causing destruction all over the field against the Patriots this weekend. As I mentioned earlier, Bortles put up superb numbers through the air, boasting an impressive stat-line of 377 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. The Jags defence was also at its disruptive best, holding Brady to under 250 yards as well as stealing a victory securing fumble in the fourth quarter. Oh, and Keelan Cole produced a one-handed catch that may just be the best we've seen since OBJ's against Dallas. Jacksonville look like contenders in 2018.
6. Atlanta Falcons (Up 2)
That's more like it Matty! The Falcons looked much more like themselves against the Panthers with Atlanta holding on for the win after a final second Hail Mary attempt from Cam Newton. The offence was much improved and even managed to score in the red zone (can you believe it?) and the defence was solid despite missing two key players. If they keep trending upwards my Super Bowl prediction could still come true.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (Up 4)
After throwing six against the Steelers, Pat Mahomes broke the record for most touchdowns thrown in the first two games of a season with 10 TD's. That's a pretty impressive feat for a player who is basically a rookie. What helps is having a coach like Andy Reid and playmakers like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins, but Mahomes still has to get them the ball and he's doing a good job of that. The defence still looks like a huge problem, but this offence might be unstoppable.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (Down 2)
Giving up a 75-yard touchdown to a former star of your team on the opening play of the game was not quite the start the Eagles would have wanted to make in Tampa. The Philly defence, normally one the best in the business, was dissected by Fitzpatrick and Bucs, giving up 27 points, a total they only allowed three times last season. The sole reason the Eagles are still in the Top 10 on this list is that it seems the Carson Wentz return is imminent. Fans in Philadelphia must pray that Wentz can recapture his 2017 form because Nick Foles certainly hasn't.
9. New Orleans Saints (Down 2)
I think someone needs to tell the Saints defence that the season has actually started. If it wasn't for a kicking nightmare from the Browns, New Orleans would be 0-2 right now having lost to Tampa Bay and Cleveland, hardly two powerhouses. Brees looks good and both Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas have started the season strongly, but until the defence can step up, the Saints are going to struggle to make the playoffs.
10. Los Angeles Chargers (No Change)
The Chargers did the job they needed to do against Bills in Buffalo and took home the W in a pretty comfortable manner. The offence once again showed its class, but the defence still had its susceptible moments. If Bosa can get back on the field that will of course help, but the defence needs to improve to give the Chargers a chance of overtaking the Chiefs in the AFC West.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (Down 6)
I think the fact that Big Ben threw for over 450 yards and 3 touchdowns and still lost shows how inept the Pittsburgh defence is. The Chiefs offence is most certainly a tough beast to tame, but the Steelers had no answers for Mahomes and his ample weapons. I'm not too worried yet, but if they can't get a win against the Bucs then you have to question whether Mike Tomlin can win the division in an improved AFC North.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (No Change)
After their win over the Ravens on Thursday night, the Bengals are in pole position in the AFC North. Losing Mixon for 2-4 weeks following his knee surgery is certainly a blow, but I think the offence, that showed well against Baltimore, should be able to cope without him. The defence also continued to play well, especially upfront with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap wreaking havoc and getting to Flacco on multiple occasions. Also, A.J. Green scored 3 touchdowns in the first half, which was rather impressive. The Bengals are showing why I picked them as a playoff team in the offseason.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Up 7)
Fitzmagic threw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns for the second week in a row as he led his team to their second straight victory of the year. At this rate, the supposed franchise QB James Winston, won't even see the field in 2018. The defence has its flaws, but the offence is playing lights out through the air and that's how they're winning games. The only question is whether the Bucs can sustain this level of play for 16 games.
14. Carolina Panthers (Down 1)
In a huge NFC South matchup with the Falcons, the Panthers ended up second best. Cam played well for the majority and the offence was more than capable, but the defence couldn't do what the Eagles could and stop Atlanta in the red zone. I don't know why, but I can see this team looking playoff likely in early December, just to lose their final three games against divisional rivals and narrowly miss out. Sorry Carolina fans, that's just how I see it.
15. Chicago Bears (No Change)
The 24-17 scoreline definitely didn't do the Bears justice in a game in which they dominated the Seahawks throughout. The defensive line, led by Khalil Mack, feasted on Russell Wilson and stifled the whole Seattle offence. The Chicago offence was more successful than their opponent's, but still seemed to fizzle out as the game went on. The defence is most certainly legit, but whether Trubisky is good enough to take this team to the playoffs is still yet to be seen.
16. Baltimore Ravens (Down 2)
After putting up an astronomical amount of points against the Bills in Week 1, the Ravens came crashing down to earth against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. The offensive line just couldn't contain the Cincinnati pass rush and that left Flacco in a real tough spot. The larger issue was that the usually dominant defence was torn apart by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. The defence will have to get back to their best if they want to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC.
17. San Francisco 49ers (Down 1)
I still don't like how high the 49ers are in the rankings, but I think they're a team that might stronger and stronger each week. They nearly blew a big lead against the Lions on Sunday, but there was an abundance of promising signs. The biggest was that Matt Breida can be a lead running back and enters Week 3 as the league's leading rusher. The important thing is that the 49ers have proven that they can win even when Jimmy Garoppolo isn't at his best.
18. Denver Broncos (Up 1)
The Broncos may be 2-0, but they're also one of the only teams to have opened the season with back to home games and we know how much better Denver play up in Mile High. Case Keenum played badly for three quarters but turned up the heat in the fourth and led an impressive drive to set up the game winning field goal. The defence was also pretty damn good. My biggest takeaway was that rookie running back and Colorado native Phillip Lindsay looked like a real game changer for the second consecutive week. They may have found a home town superstar.
19. Dallas Cowboys (Up 4)
Before the season, I definitely would not have predicted that the Cowboys defence would be better than their offence, but after two weeks, it looks like that's the case. DeMarcus Lawrence led the charge up front, pressuring Manning on what seemed like every single play, as well as holding Saquon Barkley to only 28 rushing yards. I still think Dak and the offence need to improve further from their primetime performance, but they seem to be on the rise.
20. Cleveland Browns (Up 1)
It's crazy to think that if the Browns just had a league average kicker, they'd be 2-0 right now. That's right, the Browns were a single player away from beating both the Steelers and the Saints. By going into the dome and holding New Orleans to only 21 points, Cleveland proved that they were one of the league's elite units. The offence however, still struggled and is now without wideout Josh Gordon after his trade to the Patriots. For now Tyrod Taylor's doing enough, but if he continues to lose, we might see Baker Mayfield sooner rather than later.
21. Miami Dolphins (Up 5)
The Dolphins going 2-0 has gone largely under the radar, but right now they're atop the AFC East and leaking sneaky good. Tannehill has now won 9 of his last 10 games as a starter and the Miami defence is looking better than almost anyone expected. They possess a dangerous secondary trio with Xavien Howard, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Reshad Jones who are all playmakers. If the conference starts to crumble, with their favourable schedule, the Dolphins could end up being a playoff team this season.
22. Oakland Raiders (Up 6)
For the second week in a row the Raiders entered halftime with the lead, just to run out of steam in the second half and lose the contest. Derek Carr had a better game than he did in Week 1, throwing for 288 yards and a touchdown, as well as boasting a completion percentage of over 90%. The defence still misses Khalil Mack and will have to step up if they want Gruden to be happy in January.
23. Indianapolis Colts (Up 6)
Looking through the roster you wouldn't expect it, but the Colts defence is actually pretty good. Estonian defensive linemen Margus Hunt is in the form of his life, safety Malik Hooker is looking back to his best in his second year and rookie linebacker Darius Leonard looks like a steal in the second round. Also, as I said on the First Down Podcast, Andrew Luck looks more and more like his former self each week. Indy might just be the second best team in the AFC South.
24. Houston Texans (Down 7)
When I ruled out the Texans as a playoff team back in August, people thought I was insane. I know it's very early to say this, but I think I was right. The Texans managed to somehow lose to a Titans team that started Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and has a defensive back as their leading receiver. The Houston offensive line is still a huge issue and DeShaun Watson continues to make poor decisions. The one positive I would take is that J.J. Watt is slowly getting back to the guy who won defensive MVP only a few seasons ago.
25. Tennessee Titans (Up 2)
Who would have thought that putting Blaine Gabbert into the lineup would get the Titans their first win of the 2018 season. It took a touchdown on a fake punt, but Tennessee hung on to win a tough division game against the Texans on Sunday. But even though they won, the Titans still looked mediocre at best, especially offensively. As much as I want it to be otherwise, the Titans don't look like a playoff team this year, be it Mariota or Gabbert under centre.
26. Washington Redskins (Down 8)
Everyone got excited after the Redskins' victory in Week 1 against the Cardinals, but now it's clear that the Cardinals are really bad and the Redskins aren't quite as good as we first thought. Their offence was highly inefficient against the Colts and the defence was far less disruptive than it was 7 days earlier. I still don't know where exactly they lie, but Washington currently look like an average to below average NFL team.
27. Seattle Seahawks (Down 3)
Poor Russell Wilson. I'm getting bored of saying this, but once again the Seahawks' offensive line couldn't give their quarterback any protection and that was ultimately the problem with the offence. Seattle continue to struggle to forge a run game and now that Doug Baldwin is missing, there's not much of a passing game either. Also, as expected, the defence is weaker than it was last year, especially without Bobby Wagner. I think it's fair to say the Seahawks Super Bowl window has well and truly shut.
28. New York Jets (Down 3)
The Jets had a quite amazing takeoff in Week 1 as the beat the Lions, but they crash landed in Week 2 against their division rival Dolphins. Darnold look less like the Messiah and more like a 21-year-old rookie, plus the defence wasn't quite as dynamic as it was in Detroit. The combination of those factors led to an underwhelming performance in their home opener. The future is bright, but the present is hazy.
29. Detroit Lions (No Change)
The Lions should have pulled off the comeback against the 49er, but got burnt by stupid penalties on big plays. The biggest thing to take from this game was that Matthew Stafford looked better, much better. But Patricia's defence still looked incredibly lacklustre and is likely to struggle again against Tom Brady and the Pats in Week 3. It's going to be a long year for the fans in Motor City.
30. New York Giants (Down 8)
Saquon Barkley is a talented player, that's not in doubt, but due to the situation around him he can't help this team win games. The rookie running back had only 28 yards rushing and even though he had 14 receptions, the average depth of his targets was 1.9 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Giants didn't actually solve their problems up front despite throwing money at Nate Solder and that has caused the G-Men to be a bad football team.
31. Arizona Cardinals (No Change)
Despite having a handful of stars, the Cardinals seem to be pretty bad a playing football at the moment. For me it's simple. It's Josh Rosen time.
32. Buffalo Bills (No Change)
One of their starting cornerbacks retired at half time. Need I say more?
By Reece Mowlem
Week 1 contained a lot of shocks and consequently there has been a lot of movement in my power rankings. Below are how the teams look entering Week 2 of the NFL season.
1. New England Patriots (Up 1)
It may have looked close at the end, but the Patriots were comfortable in their victory against the Texans on Sunday. New England looked great on both sides of the ball and Tom Brady showed no signs of elderly decline whatsoever. Also, the offensive line looked sneaky good. A solid game was all the Pats needed to climb to the top of the list thanks to a lacklustre performance from the Falcons against the Eagles on Thursday night.
2. Minnesota Vikings (Up 6)
The only thing that prevented me having the Vikings in my top 3 last week was my concern over the new offensive scheme being brought in by OC John DeFillippo, but after their game against the 49ers I'm not so worried. It was only shown in flashes, but QB Kirk Cousins moved the ball well using both Thielen and Diggs in the passing game, as well as assisting running back Dalvin Cook to a decent day on the ground. The offensive line is still a weakness, but the defensive line looked like one of the best in the league and have helped Minnesota climb my rankings after Week 1.
3. Los Angeles Rams (No Change)
The Rams started slowly against the Raiders, but the final result was as expected; an LA victory. Running back Todd Gurley continued his elite form from 2017 with 147 total yards and a touchdown in Oakland, plus new star cornerback Marcus Peters added a pick six on his debut to seal the game. Considering that most of the starters saw no preseason action, McVay's team showed me enough to remain at the number 3 spot in my rankings.
4. Green Bay Packers (Up 2)
It wasn't looking good for the Packers as Aaron Rodgers was carted off early in the game, leaving backup QB DeShone Kizer to be humiliated by a rampant Khalil Mack. But despite being down 17-0, Rodgers limped out of the locker-room to perform an exquisite second-half come back and win the game in front of the jubilant Lambeau faithful. As I said last week, Rodgers can carry this team to a Super Bowl and he showed us how on Sunday.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (Down 1)
A tie with the Browns was definitely not how the Steelers intended to start their year. Big Ben turned the ball over 5 times and kicker Chris Boswell missed a game winner, but there were still some positives to take away from the game. James Conner looked like a legitimate starter who can do much more than just simply fill in for the absent Le'Veon Bell and T.J. Watt proved himself as a potentially elite pass rusher. With Bell around or not, Pittsburgh are still one of the best teams in the AFC despite the Week 1 hiccup.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (Up 3)
The Nick Foles led offence may have been flat, but this Eagles defensive unit is one dominant group of players. Fletcher Cox and his colleagues on the defensive line were putting pressure on Matt Ryan repeatably throughout the game and helped prevent the Falcons from scoring a TD on any of their four trips to the red-zone. It might be a while till we see him back on the field, but when Carson Wentz returns he will most likely elevate the offence and make the Eagles a contender once again.
7. New Orleans Saints (Down 2)
Well nobody saw that coming. The Saints gave up 48 points at home to a ruthless Bucs team with Fitzmagic at the helm, putting Drew Brees and the offence in an almost impossible position. They managed to score 40 points of their own, but it wasn't enough. New Orleans' offence will still be a juggernaut this year, but the defence looks like a real problem right now. I did actually predict a defensive regression, but I didn't think it would be this dramatic. However, the Saints have lost seven of their last eight Week 1 games ,so I expect them to get back on track and still be one of the teams to beat in the NFC.
8. Atlanta Falcons (Down 7)
I had initially only dropped the Falcons down to fifth in the rankings, but after the news that linebacker Deion Jones has been placed on IR I had to slide them even further. Matt Ryan's arm looked like a noodle against the Eagles and the red-zone woes from last season still seem to be a problem for this offence. On the plus side, Julio Jones is a beast and the defence is still a solid group, even without safety Keanu Neal and Deion Jones. They should still make the playoffs, but I'm far less confident now than I was a week ago.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (Up 1)
The Jags were as expected against the Giants on Sunday; dominant on defence and competent on offence. Hopefully Leonard Fournette's injury won't mean he misses any time, but T.J. Yeldon is a more then serviceable backup and the offensive line looks improved. They say defence wins championships and this unit certainly could do just that.
10. Los Angeles Chargers (Down 3)
If it wasn't for big time drops and a muffed punt, the Chargers would have probably beaten the Chiefs in their Sunday shootout. Rivers had a great day through the air throwing over 400 yards and Melvin Gordon ran well racking up 166 all-purpose yards, so the offence doesn't look like a problem. The Joey Bosa-less defence however, was unable to deal with Tyreek Hill and the dynamic KC offence and will have to improve if they want to win the AFC West.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (Up 10)
The Chiefs offence, as expected, was lights out but the defence was, as expected, a bit of a mess. My biggest takeaway from this game wasn't that Pat Mahomes is a top tier QB, but that Tyreek Hill is top five receiver in the NFL and is going to continue tearing up defences throughout 2018 with his electric speed and ridiculous elusiveness.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (No Change)
It took a comeback, but the Bengals got the win in Indy on Andrew Luck's return. There were moments of sloppiness from both the offence and defence, but overall, I thought it was a decent performance. The standout player for me was running back Joe Mixon, a second-year guy who looks like he could be a Pro Bowl calibre three-down back if he can maintain a level of performance similar to the high standard he set against the Colts.
13. Carolina Panthers (Down 2)
Despite the victory, I found the Panthers Week 1 performance slightly disappointing. The defence looked great, but for the offence to only put up 16 points against a susceptible Cowboys defence was certainly underwhelming (and losing Greg Olsen won't help). Carolina are still a playoff contender, but I need to see more from Cam Newton and the offence for the Panthers to break into my Top 10.
14. Baltimore Ravens (Up 6)
The Ravens convincingly beat the Bills in Week 1 but I'm not putting too much stock in the result after seeing how bad Buffalo were. But what we can take away from the game is that Joe Flacco can still get it done, the new receiving corps looks better than last year's unit, and the defence is still pretty damn good. I think the Thursday night matchup against the Bengals will be a good measuring stick for this team.
15. Chicago Bears (Up 2)
The Bear's first offensive drive was one of the best I saw this weekend and showed the innovation of new head coach Matt Nagy, but after that they seemed to struggle to get out of first gear. The defence also started strong and seemed to fade as the game progressed. However, this team has a lot of potential and if this game is anything to go by, Khalil Mack will be well worth the $141 million that Chicago are paying him.
16. San Francisco 49ers (No Change)
Jimmy G's play was up and down in Minnesota on Sunday, but that's understandable when you go up against one of the league's best defences. Despite the loss, there were lots of positives to take away from this game for the 49ers, none more so than the rookie performances. Linebacker Fred Warner played exceptionally on his debut and wide receiver Dante Pettis, a guy I liked a lot coming out of Washington, scored a nice touchdown after coming in for the injured Marquise Goodwin. I still don't believe they're a playoff team, but there were promising signs for the fans back in San Fran.
17. Houston Texans (Down 2)
For the majority of their game against the Patriots, the Texans struggled to both get the ball moving on offence and stop New England on defence. DeShaun Watson did seem to grow into the game behind a shoddy line, but it was ultimately too late to get anything out of the matchup. Defensively, Clowney and Watt were quiet but the unit as a whole put it in okay performance. Overall, Houston were average and that's what I was expecting in Week 1.
18. Washington Redskins (Up 10)
Wherever Alex Smith goes he wins games. He was a picture of consistency against the Cardinals on Sunday, feeding TE Jordan Reed who looked as good as he ever has coming off his toe injury. Washington also looked great in the run game with 33-year-old Adrian Peterson, who was brought in late in the preseason, rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown. The defensive line also looked great, headed by a dominant performance from Matt Ioannidis. The Redskins look like a team lacking any real weaknesses and might be the second-best bet for the playoffs in the NFC East this year.
19. Denver Broncos (Up 7)
He may have thrown three interceptions, but Case Keenum looked good on his Denver debut and ultimately did enough to get the W in a close game against the Seahawks. The dual back running game of rookie's Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay was highly effective, as was the receiving duo of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, creating an offence much more dynamic than the Broncos' 2017 group. On defence, Von Miller feasted against the Seahawks' right tackle and racked up three sacks and two force fumbled, further cementing his position as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The playoffs may be a step too far, but Denver look a lot better than most expected.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Up 5)
I don't really care that the Buccaneers defence looked shaky, because Ryan Fitzpatrick balled out this week in New Orleans. The veteran QB threw for over 400 yards and had 4 touchdowns in a game that shocked the NFL world. I doubt it will continue, but Fitzmagic is back and it's looking beautiful.
21. Cleveland Browns (Up 3)
All I could think about watching the Browns this weekend was that Myles Garrett might be in the conversation for defensive player of the year come the end of the season. He was the star in a disruptive performance by the whole Cleveland defence, including 4th overall pick Denzel Ward who had two interceptions. The offence did struggle, but the weather was far from easy to play in and there were some promising signs. The Browns may not have won, but at least they didn't lose.
22. New York Giants (Down 4)
How Ereck Flowers is still a starting tackle in the NFL is beyond me. He and his fellow linemen struggled to contain the Jags defensive front, causing the Giants offence to flounder for most of the game. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley did have an impressive touchdown run but was bottled up for the majority. I also saw nothing form Eli Manning to convince me that they shouldn't have drafted Sam Darnold at number two in the draft. At least we got to see Odell back out there doing his thing.
23. Dallas Cowboys (Down 9)
I expected the Cowboys offence to bounce back this year, but it looks like that prediction was majorly incorrect. In their game with Carolina, Dallas didn't convert a third down until the second half, Dak Prescott seemed to lose all his arm strength and Zeke Elliott struggled to find any real rhythm. The defence did show some signs of an improvement from last season, but unless they can sort out the offence, it might be a down year for "America's Team".
24. Seattle Seahawks (Down 2)
We don't yet know how long he'll be staying in Seattle, but Earl Thomas showed us this weekend why he is still the best safety in the NFL. The veteran stood out on a mediocre defence that couldn't seem to contain the Case Keenum led Broncos offence for large parts of their contest in Denver. However, the Seahawks' main problem was once again that the offensive line couldn't protect Russell Wilson at all, and as good he is, he can't work miracles if he has no time in the pocket. But to take something positive away from the game, rookie tight end Will Dissly made a real impact on his NFL debut and could be a real factor on this offence.
25. New York Jets (Up 6)
As impressive as Sam Darnold was in this game, it was second year safety Jamal Adams that stood out to me most in the Jets' convincing victory of the Lions on Monday night. Adams was all over the field making plays and looks like a real leader on the defence. It was also nice to see the Jets possess a solid run game with Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell both having good days in the ground. It's only one game and we might all be getting ahead of ourselves, but the future looks bright for the green half of New York.
26. Miami Dolphins (Up 4)
They had to battle through two lengthy lightening stoppages, but the Dolphins got the all-important win at home against a lacklustre Titans team. Tannehill moments both bad and good in his return from injury but did enough to get Miami across the line. He was helped by Jakeem Grant scoring a 100+ yard kick return touchdown.
27. Tennessee Titans (Down 14)
I can admit when I make mistakes and looks like I made a big one when I announced the Titans as a 2018 playoff team. Martiota and the Tennessee offensive looked uninventive and dry (even with the torrential rain) and the defence couldn't create anything to really shout about either. The one bright spark from the game was the performance of running back Dion Lewis, who was favoured heavily over fellow back Derrick Henry, even in goal-line situations. It could just have been an opening week blip, but it looks like the Titans might be a mediocre or worse football team in 2018.
28. Oakland Raiders (Down 1)
The Raiders played far beyond their expectations in the first half on Monday night, leading the Rams 13-10 as they ran into the locker-room. The second half was a different story as Derek Carr fell apart and the defence stopped bending and began to break. After the game Jon Gruden told the media that the defence failed to put Goff and the LA offence under pressure. Sounds like they need an elite pass rusher.
29. Indianapolis Colts (No Change)
Andrew Luck showed flashes of his former self against the Bengals but had some pretty rusty moments mixed in as well. It didn't help him that the Colts tackles were being beaten consistently, leaving Luck under pressure for the majority of the game. The defence played slightly above expectations but is still one of worst units in the NFL. It's great to see Luck back out there, but he doesn't have enough around him to make this team competitive in 2018.
30. Detroit Lions (Down 11)
The Lions got their arses handed to them by a Jets team that had a rookie QB starting his first ever game at just 21. That definitely wasn't the start Matt Patricia wanted as the new head coach in Detroit. Matt Stafford looked uncharacteristically lost for the majority of the contest, throwing four touchdowns to an opportunistic Jets defence. The Lions defence also decided to go missing for vast stretches of the game, allowing 48 points. Patricia will have to turn things around quickly to avoid being yet another coach from the Belichick school to fail outside of New England.
31. Arizona Cardinals (Down 8)
If Sam Bradford plays like he did against the Redskins over the next few weeks then I doubt we'll have to wait long to see rookie QB Josh Rosen take the field. But Bradford wasn't the only problem with the Arizona performance. The Cardinals were second-best all over pitch and showed nothing for the fans to cling into in terms of positives. It might be a tough debut season for new coach Steve Wilks.
32. Buffalo Bills (No Change)
The Buffalo Bills lost 47-3 to the Ravens. Need I say more?
By Reece Mowlem
With the NFL regular season just hours away, I have decided to release my first Power Rankings list of 2018. I have ranked all NFL teams from 1-32 based on how good I believe they will be this season, and therefore how likely they are to win Super Bowl LIII (in my opinion). There might be a few surprises and these rankings will undoubtedly change throughout the year, but this list reflects how I see it right now entering the first week of the NFL season. Where is your team on the list?
1. Atlanta Falcons
There were quite a few teams in the competition for the number one position on the list but the Falcons just edged out TB12 and the Pats for top spot. Atlanta were considered by most as a team that regressed last season after their Super Bowl LI appearance and they did have a small dip in results. However, they still won a playoff game and were arguably unlucky to lose to the Eagles in the Divisional round, who as we all know were the eventual champs. So despite losing their offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, Matt Ryan and his men still had a strong season in 2017 and I see no reason why they can't go even further this year. Firstly, 2018 will be offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian's second year calling plays in Atlanta and we saw the huge jump his predecessor made from year 1 to 2 with almost an identical offence to the Falcons' current unit. If anything the offence is even better on paper after the addition of wideout Calvin Ridley in the draft to join what is already one of the strongest receiving corps in the NFL. On the other side of the ball, the defence is a solid group with a star in middle linebacker Deion Jones, who had a breakout year in 2017. They may be in a tough division, but overall I think the Atlanta Falcons have one of the most complete and balanced rosters in the NFL and Dan Quinn is a top tier coach capable of winning a Super Bowl.
2. New England Patriots
I really didn't want to put the Patriots this high in my rankings after their abysmal offseason activity, but I just can't discount the Belichick-Brady combination and its pedigree, even if it is potentially coming to an end. Some important players have walked out the door in Foxborough since their Super Bowl loss, including WR Brandin Cooks, OT Nate Solder and CB Malcolm Butler, and I can't say any of them have been well replaced. On top of that, their only notable free agency signing was defensive end Adrian Clayborn (who is far from a stud) and neither of their two first round draft picks are healthy with running back Sony Michel struggling with a knee injury and offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn out for the season. Oh and Brady's go to wide receiver Julian Edelman is suspended for four games. But despite all the mess in New England, as long as Bill Belichick is the coach and Tom Brady is the quarterback, the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC.
3. Los Angeles Rams
In my opinion, the Rams had the best offseason of all the teams in the NFL. They've brought in two playmaking cornerbacks with Marcus Peters arriving from Kansas via trade and veteran Aqib Talib making the move from the Broncos, and they weren't even the biggest signings made by the team this summer with Ndamukong Suh joining also. He'll be lining up next to the reigning defensive player of the year Aaron Donald on the defensive line, creating the most feared defensive tackle duo in all of pro football. The Rams also improved on offence this offseason by trading for Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks, further strengthening what was already one the league's most exciting offences. There are a lot of new parts that all have to click, but if they can get it right, the Rams will be one of the teams in the mix come January.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
This could be the Steelers' last chance to win a Super Bowl with the 3 B's (Ben, Bell and Brown) on the roster now that it looks likely running back Le'Veon Bell will be a free agent in 2019. There's no question that Pittsburgh still boast one of the most dynamic offences in the NFL with arguably the best receiver and rusher both in the starting lineup, however the defence leaves a lot to be desired. There's still a huge Ryan Shazier shaped hole at the middle linebacker position and I'm not sure T.J. Watt is ready yet to be an elite pass rusher, plus the secondary still lacks top tier talent. They do have a Pro Bowl calibre player on the defensive line in Cameron Heyward but there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders to be a major disruptor up front. If it all goes to plan, this team is certainly capable of winning a Super Bowl, but if they can't take home the Lombardi in 2018, they might be waiting a while.
5. New Orleans Saints
Much like the Rams' unit, the Saints offence was a beast last year and despite running back Mark Ingram serving a four-game suspension, I expect New Orleans to still be one of the league's very best. The triplet of Brees, Kamara and Thomas is probably second to only the Steelers' in terms of talent and they're well protected by a solid offensive line. I do still have concerns over the defence as I believe we could see a regression after last year's surprise improvement, even with the addition of first round edge rusher Marcus Davenport in the draft. Even so, the Saints have a top 5 NFL roster and a great coaching staff and will certainly consider themselves as one of the Super Bowl favourites entering the 2018 season, and I'm inclined to agree.
6. Green Bay Packers
This one is simple for me. Aaron Rodgers is probably the best quarterback in the NFL and that automatically makes the Packers a contender. Add to this some young defensive talent and an exciting new defensive coordinator and you might also get an improvement on that side of the ball. Yes Jordy Nelson has gone and there's no clear number one running back, but this team is always competitive with Rodgers under centre and I don't see 2018 being any different.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Those who listen to the First Down Podcast know that I have a slight crush on the Chargers so I'm hoping this year can finally be the year they live up to their expectations because everything is in place for this team to make a deep playoff run. Quarterback Philip Rivers has seemed to show no signing of ageing and is surrounded by a plethora of elite weapons, including wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Melvin Gordon. The defence also possesses a handful of superstars and arguably the best pass running duo in the league in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming off the edge. Add in a rookie playmaker on defence named Derwin James and you have a roster capable of Super Bowl supremacy. Knowing the Chargers it will probably all fall apart by November but I think there's a good chance we see two LA teams in the playoffs this season.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Many experts have the Vikings tipped for greatness in 2018 and you can understand why. The only real difference between this year's roster and the one that made the AFC Championship last season is the addition of quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is most likely an upgrade on Case Keenum. The return of running back Dalvin Cook from injury should also not be ignored. However, I do have my concerns with Minnesota and they lie mainly with the offensive line, a group Pro Football Focus ranked as the 28th best in the league. I also question how much of a drop off there will be from Pat Shurmur to John DeFillippo in the offensive coordinator role. The Vikings will most definitely be competitive, but I think a Super Bowl might still be just out of reach in 2018.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
Unlike most, I think the defending Super Bowl champions might struggle a bit this year. Although I have them ranked at nine, I wouldn't be shocked if they missed out on the playoffs with a 9-7 record come the end of the regular season. Yes they do still bags of talent across the board, particularly on the offensive and defensive line, but quarterback Carson Wentz is coming off a major knee injury and it's highly presumptuous to think he can repeat his form from 2017. I still think it's likely this team wins the division based on their competition, but Eagles fans most certainly shouldn't expect to have the Lombardi in Philly for the second year in a row.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
If this team had even a top half of the league quarterback they'd without a doubt be in my top 5 teams on this list, but sadly Blake Bortles just isn't that. Despite showing flashes in the playoffs, I don't have faith in Bortles to make big plays consistently, especially without any elite weapons around him in the passing game. The Jags' hopes lie partly on running back Leonard Fournette but mainly on the elite defence. I'm sorry to say it but I don't think Jacksonville will be a Super Bowl winning team until they address the QB situation.
11. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are a team I wasn't sure about a few weeks ago but I have now risen on due to one main factor; Christian McCaffrey is going to be heavily involved in this offence. The second year back lit up the preseason, running well both between the tackles and on the outside as well as further confirming his abilities as a top pass catcher. I also really like rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore to be a contributor in his first year opposite Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen, giving quarterback Cam Newton a nice set of pass catchers. On defence, the secondary is a weakness, but they still have players who can bring some heat upfront and arguably the best linebacker in the NFL in Luke Kuechly. Because they're in the NFC South with the Falcons and Saints they might struggle to make the playoffs, but they'll most likely be in contention for a wildcard spot in a loaded conference come December.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
This might come as a shock to most people, but I truly believe the Bengals can be a playoff team in 2018. The Eagles proved last year that if you can win in the trenches you can win football games and Cincinnati look stronger this season on both the offensive and defensive lines than they did 12 months ago. You also can't forget that A.J. Green is a borderline top 5 wide receiver, running back Joe Mixon is poised for a breakout and Andy Dalton is actually a reasonably good quarterback on his day. They might seem like a long shot, but don't be surprised if the Bengals grab one of the wildcard spots in a weak AFC.
13. Tennessee Titans
Recent injuries to key players and poor preseason performances tempted me to lower the Titans in my rankings but I ultimately decided to stick to my guns and keep them as a fringe playoff team. This is due mainly to the addition of Matt LaFleur as the new offensive coordinator and the hope that he can get the most out of Marcus Mariota, something I don't believe we have seen in the NFL. I also like the secondary with Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Kevin Byard and Adoree' Jackson looking like potentially one of the best secondary groups in the AFC. I think a lot of people forget the Titans won a playoff game last year and if anything they look to be a stronger team in 2018, so I see no reason why they can't make a push for a wildcard spot, and maybe even the division title.
14. Dallas Cowboys
I initially had the Cowboys as potential NFC East champs a few weeks ago, but now with guard Zach Martin banged up and centre Travis Frederick battling an auto-immune disease, the Cowboys main strength has been weakened and that has an effect on the whole team. I still think running back Zeke Elliott could league the lead in rushing and I'm not as down as most on the passing weapons available to quarterback Dan Prescott, however I'm still not a fan of the Cowboys defence outside of edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence and I believe that will be the reason Dallas miss the playoffs in 2018.
15. Houston Texans
The Texans are one of the teams that I'm very sceptical about. The potential for this team may be through the roof, but I expect the reality to be much lower than the high ceiling many are hoping for. Firstly, I'd be shocked if we didn't see a regression from quarterback DeShaun Watson, especially behind probably the worst offensive line in the NFL. Then on defence, despite the front seven containing stars such as Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt, there's a lot of holes in the secondary and that could prove costly. I won't deny that if everything fell into place this team could make a Super Bowl, but I don't believe that it's likely to happen in 2018.
16. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are another team that I've been tempering my expectations on despite the playoff buzz. It's understandable that so many people are all aboard the Jimmy Garoppolo hype train after his performances last year but he's not the reason I think San Fran will struggle to make the playoffs this season. They may be building something special in the Golden State, but I think it might be a year early for a team with an unproven defence and a lack of weapons on offence. The future looks bright for the 49ers but in a conference where you might need 10 wins just to get a wildcard berth, I think the playoffs might be a (Golden Gate) bridge too far Jimmy G and co.
17. Chicago Bears
I think the Bears, much like the 49ers, are a year or two away from making the playoffs, but by trading for edge rusher Khalil Mack they've definitely increased their chances of making the leap this year. The primary reason I'm not ready to call Chicago a playoff team is that I'm not quite sure yet how good quarterback Mitchell Trubisky actually is or whether he is capable of leading the high-powered offence Matt Nagy will be bringing over from Kansas City. Another problem the Bears face is that they are in a division with both the Vikings and the Packers (and the Lions aren't too shabby either). They may end up taking a huge step forward this year much like the Rams did last season, but until I see an improvement from Trubisky I'm not ready to call them a playoff contender.
18. New York Giants
The offensive weapons the Giants possess are impressive, from superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to rookie running back Saquon Barkley, but sadly for them I think quarterback Eli Manning is too far past his peak to carry this team into the playoffs, even if the offensive line is improved from last year. I'm also not onboard with the notion that the defence will be dominant again after what was a poor season in 2017. There's no doubt they'll be an exciting team to watch this year, but they might not be a very good one.
19. Detroit Lions
Since his arrival, it seems new head coach Matt Patricia has tried to create a team that won't rely purely on the play of quarterback Matt Stafford by investing in the offensive line and putting together the pieces to forge a decent run game. Whether this will materialise or not is yet to be seen. On defence, the secondary does have talent but almost no pass rush outside of Ziggy Ansah, and even he isn't a sure-fire pressure bringer. I won't completely discount the Lions because I still believe in the talent of Stafford, but I wouldn't be shocked if Detroit finished at the bottom of the pile in the NFC North.
20. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are a team that I look at and I really don't like what I see, but they always seem to find a way to be competitive thanks to an aggressive defence and I expect similar in 2018. The defence will have to be as good as it has been in recent past because I highly doubt either Joe Flacco or rookie Lamar Jackson can be the centrepiece of an effective offence, especially with the surrounding cast available to them in Baltimore. As always, they'll probably be in the mix, but I don't see the Ravens making it into the playoffs this year, even in a weak AFC.
21. Kansas City Chiefs
On the one hand the Chiefs might have the most exciting and explosive offence in the NFL with big-armed quarterback Pat Mahomes throwing to dominant tight end Travis Kelce and speed demon wide receiver Tyreek Hill. On the other hand, the defence was pretty average last year, and it's now lost arguably its best player to the Rams. Andy Reid is still one of the best coaches in the league and KC games should be high scoring, but they could end up losing more than they win if the defence can't step up.
22. Seattle Seahawks
Not many teams have been decimated as much this offseason than the Seattle Seahawks. Key players on defence have left with Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett both finding new teams and Kam Chancellor retiring, leaving what used to be a threatening defence depleted. Then on offence, the front office failed once again to truly address the offensive line problem and that keeps quarterback Russell Wilson in a tough position. Wilson's top 3 ability could keep them in games this year, but Seattle might be one of the lower end teams in the NFC.
23. Arizona Cardinals
If I knew quarterback Sam Bradford would play all 16 games this season then the Cardinals would probably be higher up my rankings. But if history is anything to go by, Bradford will probably be injured by week 5 and that would thrust rookie QB Josh Rosen into the line-up prematurely. Now there are weapons on this offence, including David Johnson, one of the best running backs in all of football, but there's something about this offensive unit that just doesn't fill me with confidence. It's the same on defence. They have studs in cornerback Patrick Peterson and edge rusher Chandler Jones, but the group as a whole just doesn't excite me. As much as I wish otherwise, if this is to be veteran wider receiver Larry Fitzgerald's final year in the NFL, I think he'll be retiring without a Super Bowl ring.
24. Cleveland Browns
It might just be the 'Hard Knocks' effect but I think the Browns might actually be okay this season. I'm not being crazy and picking them as a playoff team like some, but they could win 6 or 7 games with this roster. There are high-end players on both sides of the ball and first overall pick Baker Mayfield looks like a potential stud, but Hue Jackson is still the head coach of this football team and I struggle to have faith in his abilities after the last two abysmal seasons. The Browns will be better in 2018, but let's be honest, they can't get any worse.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston has made me really dislike this team but I'll do my best to take that out of it while assessing the Bucs chances this season. The defence should be improved after the offseason additions on the defensive line and wide receiver Mike Evans is still an offensive superstar on his day, but this team still has major weaknesses all over the roster and I expect them to struggle in maybe the toughest division in the NFL.
26. Denver Broncos
In my opinion, the Broncos' season boils down to how much better Case Keenum is than Trevor Siemian. Rookie running back Royce Freeman could add a lot to this offence and edge rusher Bradley Chubb is a potential defensive rookie of the year, but if Keenum can't repeat something close to his form from last year then I don't think this team can get anywhere near the playoffs and may even struggle to reach last year's win total of five victories.
27. Oakland Raiders
I didn't really like the look of this roster a week ago, but now Khalil Mack has been shipped off to Chicago I REALLY don't like it. Although I do predict a bounce back for quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders offence, the Oakland defence might be the worst in the NFL and bad defence doesn't usually win football games. Maybe Jon Gruden knows what he's doing, but I believe that the team he's put together is one of the worst in the AFC.
28. Washington Redskins
Now despite them being listed as such, I don't think the Redskins will be the worst team in the NFC come the end of the season. However, I do think they have the lowest upside of all teams in the NFC and that's why they are so low on my list. Alex Smith is a more than capable starting quarterback and if the offensive line can stay healthy, this team could be competitive. But the reason I don't like the Redskins chances this year is that the offensive weapons in Washington leave me cold and I can't see Smith raising them to a higher level. On defence, they of course have Josh Norman, but outside of the number one cornerback, the secondary is weak and I'm yet to be convinced that the front seven can be a dominant group. The Redskins could end up with 8 wins in 2018, but I'd say that's there ceiling and I expect the total to be lower in reality.
29. Indianapolis Colts
Take quarterback Andrew Luck away from this team and I'd bet the Colts win less than 5 games this year. Lucky for Indy, Luck looks healthy and ready to go. The returning QB has taken some pretty bad rosters to the playoffs in years past but I think he might struggle with this year's group as the offence looks to lack both weapons and a solid offensive line. And if anything, the defence is even worse than the offence with second year safety Malik Hooker the lone star in a sky of mediocrity. The Colts may be on the rise, but they are still one of the worst teams in the NFL entering the 2018 season.
30. Miami Dolphins
As you can probably see, the bottom three times in my rankings all hail from the AFC East. Now the Dolphins might be a tad unlucky to be this low on the lis, but I think they've been weakened significantly this offseason on both sides of the ball. Miami have lost arguably their most important players on offence and defence by allowing both wide receiver Jarvis Landry and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to move on to potentially greener pastures. I do have faith in head coach Adam Gase and some faith in quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but I still don't think the Dolphins can be competitive this year despite being in a bum division.
31. New York Jets
With Sam Darnold at the helm the future looks bright for the Jets, but at only 21 the rookie might struggle in his debut season. The USC alum has possibly the worst supporting cast in the league in terms of receivers and running backs and this won't help him in what is already a tough situation for a young QB. The defence does have some promise in 2018 with second year safety Jamal Adams at the heart of a unit that could over-perform, but I doubt they'll be good enough to make the Jets relevant. You have found your Messiah Jets fans, but this year is much more likely to bring heartbreak than success.
32. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are starting Nathan Peterman at quarterback. Need I say more?
Mowlem is a young sports writer from Reading, United Kingdom. All articles are written by Reece Mowlem (unless stated otherwise).