Early 2018 Power Rankings

What an end to a very weird season.

In a season in which a 2018 All-Injured team would probably have beaten the 2018 All-Pro lineup, the playoffs featured many unusual and intriguing match-ups. The AFC featured a Titans comeback over the Chiefs, a Jaguars upset on the Steelers, and a predictable Patriots Super Bowl run. In the NFC, nearly every week featured an upset, including the Eagles shellacking of Minnesota on their way to a surprise Super Bowl victory. Minnesota barely even squeaked into that game, but found hope after Stefon Diggs’ “Minnesota Miracle”. This offseason should have a lot of trades, free agent acquisitions and draft picks that drastically improve or worsen teams, but for now, here are the top 10 teams going into the 2018 offseason.

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. New England Patriots

The Eagles are fresh off of a Super Bowl victory, which is only partially the reason for their placement atop this list. They also possess the deepest and most talented roster in the league, as shown by their terrific Super Bowl run. In addition to getting MVP candidate Carson Wentz back at quarterback, they also get star left tackle Jason Peters and second round draft pick Sidney Jones at cornerback. With limited roster turnover expected in the offseason, the Eagles are prepared to repeat. Meanwhile, the Patriots seem to be in the midst of a transition phase, with McDaniels seemingly preparing to take over and Gronkowski contemplating retirement. However, the Patriots still have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, which puts them in contention every year. Although Malcolm Butler is leaving, the return of Edelman and Hightower bring back two of the team’s best players for next season.

3. New Orleans Saints

4. Los Angeles Rams

5. Atlanta Falcons

6. Minnesota Vikings

One fluke play away from the NFC Championship game, the Saints have a roster chock full of outstanding young talent and a Hall of Fame quarterback to match. With a playoff caliber head coach in Sean Payton as well, they should be able to challenge the Eagle’s supremacy in the NFC. After taking home offensive player, defensive player, and coach of the year, the Rams are primed for another big year. With Jared Goff gaining more big game experience, the Rams could push for playoff run. A bit higher than one would expect, the Falcons have a well balanced roster that should continue to improve under the tutelage of Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff. With a year under his belt, Sarkisian is expected to turn around the offense in Year 2 just as Kyle Shanahan did. Although the Vikings are getting back Dalvin Cook, the major quarterback questions and the self implosion during the NFC Championship game could limit their success. They have an elite defense and explosive offense, but even a returning Case Keenum doesn’t guarantee success.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

9. Dallas Cowboys

10. Kansas City Chiefs 

Even with Blake Bortles at quarterback, the Jaguars were able to put up a fight with New England in the AFC Championship. The defense is so deep and talented that they will always give their team a chance. After a stunning playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Steelers seem to be facing internal problems. The status of Le’Veon Bell will need to be monitered, but Antonio Brown and Big Ben can still put up points. The defense sans Ryan Shazier will continue to be a weak point. Getting Ezekiel Elliott back for a whole season will completely revitalize the Cowboys and put them back in the heart of the playoff race. Although Dez Bryant is questionable to return next year, Zeke and Dak can carry the offense. The defense has begun to emerge as well, with Demarcus Lawrence turning in an excellent 2017 season. Even after the stunning move to trade Alex Smith, the Chiefs are poised to win their division. Pat Mahomes adds to an offense that already contains many explosive players and a head coach that knows how to use them. The defense is the definite weak spot of the team, but the return of Eric Berry will work wonders.

Power Rankings – Week 14

1. New England Patriots

2. Philadelphia Eagles

It seems like the question marks surrounding the Eagles’ schedule were well-founded. Playing a motivated Seahawks team at home, the playoff atmosphere proved too much for Carson Wentz and the Eagles to handle. There were a few questionable decisions by coach Doug Pederson that could become problems in the playoffs, and this week’s matchup with the Rams will be telling. Meanwhile, between Brady’s sideline antics and Gronk’s cheap shot, the Patriots had a similarly sloppy day. In the end, however, they came out with a well earned and well executed win. If the Patriots are able to dominate the Steelers in Week 15, there is no reason why they shouldn’t retain the top seed and go on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

3. Los Angeles Rams

4. New Orleans Saints

5. Seattle Seahawks

6. Minnesota Vikings

Since their loss to the Vikings, the Rams have played outstanding football on both sides of the ball. With Robert Woods potentially returning for this week’s face-off, the Rams have a chance to take over as best team in the NFC. In a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates, the Saints beat the Panthers to claim sole possession of the NFC South. They made key plays in the secondary and continued to show dominance in the run game. I hate to put the Vikings so low on this list after a great defensive showing against the Falcons, but it’s hard to ignore the Seahawks beating the Eagles. Russell Wilson is looking like he could lead the Browns to a Super Bowl, and Pete Carroll is getting the Seahawks into playoff mode. However, the Vikings are still a wild card with Case Keenum at quarterback, no matter how good the defense is.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

8. Los Angeles Chargers

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

10. Atlanta Falcons

Although the Steelers beat the Bengals after losing Ryan Shazier, the outcome was in doubt for much of the game. If they want to be able to challenge the Patriots, they can’t play down to opponents. The Chargers play the way the Steelers want to, demolishing opponents with a strong offense and aggressive defense. As long as they keep winning, they will keep moving up. While I could never peg Jacksonville as a serious playoff contender with Blake Bortles at quarterback, this defense has been too impressive to ignore. An upset against the Seahawks would go a long way toward gaining credibility, but that doesn’t seem too likely of an outcome. Although the Falcons lost to the Vikings, the defense played pretty well. Matt Ryan needs to get better at reading the field and converting on third down, or else Atlanta will miss the playoffs. However, I believe the desperation will kick in at some point and they will start to make plays.

Power Rankings – Week 13

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. New England Patriots

The Eagles still haven’t played the competitive games that they need to win for credibility, but the utter dominance they displayed against the Bears was too much for me to keep them from the top. The crown jewels of their respective conferences, the Patriots and Eagles both appear poised to dominate the rest of the regular season. While we have grown accustomed to seeing the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, the Eagles have not won a playoff game since the McNabb era. Meanwhile, the Patriots have Brady and Belichick. What else is new?

3. Los Angeles Rams

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

5. New Orleans Saints

6. Minnesota Vikings

Although the Vikings dismantled the Rams on both sides of the ball two weeks ago, I still have trust in coaches Sean McVay and Wade Phillips. Both the Rams and Vikings have complete rosters, but where I am a skeptic of Case Keenum, I am a fan of Jared Goff. With the best quarterback of this bunch, the Saints remain a potent pick-your-poison offense that will easily adjust after losing to the Rams. While the most volatile of these teams, the Steelers are still 9-2 and possess three players on offense that are capable of taking over a game (although Antonio Brown has done the heavy lifting). With the exception of the Vikings and their outstanding defense, the three other teams are offensive powerhouses capable of dominating in the playoffs.

7. Seattle Seahawks

8. Atlanta Falcons

9. Las Angeles Chargers

10. Carolina Panthers

With Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Seahawks have the most dynamic and reliable quarterback play of these four teams, along with a dominant and experienced front seven. The recent narrow loss to the Falcons hurt, but they will rebound. Both the Falcons and Chargers finally saw their WR1’s emerge, with Julio Jones and Keenan Allen shredding opposing defenses. Finally unhindered by their typical bad luck, the Chargers are on a roll and have the potential to be the most dangerous team in the AFC. Although they own one of the league’s top defenses and a variety of skill players, the Panthers still ride or die with Cam Newton, who has been relatively streaky.


Eagles: Best in the NFL?

Dominant. That is how those in the football world would describe the Eagles 8-1 start, particularly on the heels of their 51-23 thrashing of the Broncos. With the NFL’s best record thus far, it begs the question: Are the Eagles the best team in the NFL?

The short answer is no. There are too many other talented teams for the Eagles claim to be undisputed. Granted, the Eagles have all the components of a great team and Super Bowl contender. Led by MVP candidate Carson Wentz, the team has played nearly flawless football in all three phases of the game. Additionally, I see the Eagles as perhaps the most complete roster in the league. However, they haven’t shown that they can beat any of the teams that they will undoubtedly be facing in the playoffs. While a few of the teams they have faced this season are solid football teams, the only playoff team they played was the Kansas City Chiefs, to whom they lost by a touchdown. I’m not saying that the Eagles lack the potential to be the best team in football, I’m only saying that they haven’t truly faced the adversity to gain that recognition.

To be a truly great football team it takes more than just wins and talent, it takes a certain mindset and culture. The Eagles have a chance to become one of those teams, but first they must show that they can beat perennial Super Bowl contenders. Luckily, they have a chance to garner that respect, with upcoming match-ups against the Cowboys, Seahawks, and similarly up-and-coming Rams.