2017 NFL Week 1 Powre Rankings
Now that preseason has concluded and most pivotal roster spots have all but been sewn up, we can now roll out the inaugural Powre Rankings for 2017. We may or may not do “What We Know” weekly this season; it depends purely on demand and time constraints, but as always, these rankings are based upon where teams are today, not how they finished last year (unless the team is largely intact and unchanged from the 2016 season).
1. Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle recently pulled off a smart trade by handing off Jermaine Kearse — who went kicking and screaming, as he did not want to leave Seattle — and a 2nd Round pick (swapping 7th Round picks) to the Jets, and acquiring DE Sheldon Richardson. Richardson bolsters what is already a stout defensive line with Uncle Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Jarran Reed and rotational defensive end Frank Clark. Richardson will definitely be a 3-tech in some packages and a nose in some of the exotic looks Seattle can devise. With Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright anchoring the linebackers and the notorious Legion of Boom, Seattle arguably possesses the best defense in the NFL.
Their offensive line has a question mark (not MARKS) at left tackle only. When George Fant went down in the preseason at left tackle, the scramble ensued to fill the role. We won’t know what to expect from whoever will be on Russell Wilson’s blind side until Week 1.
2. Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons are what they are offensively. That has not changed. No real detractions on that side of the ball. Their defense will be even better with numerous young players notching important experience last season. And they have gotten dramatically better with Dontari Poe at defensive tackle, and exceptional drafting of Takk McKinley and others. They will be a formidable force, though we don’t think they will win the NFC South.
3. New York Football Giants.
The Giants defense is a known quantity. It got even deeper on the defensive line, and BJ Goodson is the best athlete with the best instincts they have had at the position in over 10 years. The secondary rivals that of Seattle’s. If the free safety position can remain healthy (for once this decade), it will be extremely difficult to consistently move the ball against this defense all season; just as it was last season.
The Giants offense had its major woes in 2016. Left tackle Ereck Flowers has improved (though he is still not where he needs to be in order for the passing game to get to where Ben McAdoo would like), Bobby Hart was dominant in pass protection in the preseason. Whenever John Jerry was in the lineup, the interior of the line was piss poor (including Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, who often get passes for their substandard play from some fans and writers). When substitutions came in for Jerry, both run blocking and pass pro were markedly better.
The Giants need to keep Shane Smith at fullback. He has been very solid in the hole and springing runners. With all the other additions the Giants have made to their “skill” positions, it is highly unlikely that the team will struggle offensively as they did in 2016.
4. Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders shuffled their offensive line and allowed Latavius Murray to walk in free agency. However, they coaxed Marshawn Lynch out of retirement and now any concerns about the running game are erased. Derek Carr is back to 100% health. The questions surround Mario Edwards, Jr. and his health, and what can the team do to replace “lost cause” Aldon Smith, who has thrown away potentially generational talent. The Raiders are our pick to come out of the AFC, and barring injury, they very well should be. They would have done so in 2016 if Carr had not been injured late in the regular season.
5. New England Patriots.
We know about all of the superlatives when discussing Bill Belichick and his staff’s ability to shapeshift and adjust, but the loss of Julian Edelman cannot be quantified by statistics. There is a certain feel between Edelman and QB Tom Brady that cannot be quickly replicated by whoever the Patriots throw into the slot. Plus the team has injuries at key positions like CB, as Cyrus Jones blew out his knee in the preseason finale — a position where they team does not have much depth behind Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler. They’ll cakewalk through the AFC East, as usual, as it is arguably worse than it has been since the early 1990s, but they’re not coming out of the AFC this year.
6. Green Bay Packers.
The Packers need to show that they have improved defensively. They’ve made moves to that end, but we won’t find out about their defense until the regular season dictates them playing 60 minutes, unlike preseason. We have zero concerns about what should be a rather explosive offense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa is not ranked higher at this point, because we know that they have some questions in their secondary. These are not major questions, however. They are loaded up front, especially in acquiring run-stuffing defensive tackle Chris Baker to play next to Gerald McCoy, and their linebacking corps might be the most athletic in the league INCLUDING Seattle, in Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David, and rookie Kendall Beckwith.
Tampa signed Desean Jackson and drafted OJ Howard out of Alabama to give burgeoning superstar Jameis Winston even more weapons to go along with favorite targets Mike Evans and Cameron Brate. They have also upgraded their offensive line, a line that killed their playoff hopes in December last season, as it fell apart with horrid efforts following the loss of Demar Dotson at right tackle. They will win the NFC South.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers.
Like many of the teams in the top 10 in these rankings, the Steelers’ offense is not of much concern. They’ll get whatever they want quite often. Getting Martavis Bryant back from his year-long suspension is a welcomed sight. The defense appears to be better with Bud Dupree healthy and the drafting of TJ Watt. You still have to wonder about their secondary, even after the acquisition of Joe Haden, which really does not move the needle.
9. Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas has shuffled their offensive line due to the retirement of Doug Free, moving La’el Collins to right tackle and Chaz Green to left guard. This is not going to work out as well as the line they featured in 2016. Whenever Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension kicks in (and it will be all six games, despite his, the NFLPA’s and his counsel’s antics), Dak Prescott will be exposed. Dallas has no real secondary to speak of, and half their front seven is suspended and/or out for season due to injury before Week 1 arrives. They could arguably be ranked in the teens or twenties right now.
10. Kansas City Chiefs.
There is a ceiling for a team with regards to Alex Smith’s ability to lead them. This must be known by now.
11. Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikes have all the defense in the world, but their offensive line looked no better in preseason than it did in its atrocious display in 2016.
12. Tennessee Titans.
We really like what the Titans are building here. Don’t act surprised when they show it by winning the AFC South.
13. Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens surprisingly haven’t signed a WR at the tail end of his career as is their typical wont to do. Their defense will be its typically stout unit, though their secondary is dealing with injuries, but what do they even have offensively? Yuck. Their defense bolsters this ranking, that much is for sure.
14. Miami Dolphins.
Miami signed Jay Cutler because of his (ONE YEAR) “familiarity” with Adam Gase’s system. You do not master someone’s system in one year, with a bunch of players you haven’t played with. Speaking of “played,” Miami played themselves by cutting off their nose to spite their face and not signing Colin Kaepernick when Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season. They will pay for it by missing out on the playoffs in excruciating fashion in Week 17.
15. Denver Broncos.
Is Trevor Siemian better than he was last year? It doesn’t appear to be the case. Denver’s willing to cut TJ Ward (which they still may do on the 53-man deadline). Who knows what this team really is.
16. New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have runners, but Drew Brees will still be back there passing 40 times a game. They got a Super Bowl win they should not have in 2009, and have not figured out that without all-world defensive players, their offensive approach does not mesh and hence all the shootouts the Saints face week in and week out. Adrian Peterson at this point in his career will not move the needle much unless the Saints really stick with the running game.
17. Houston Texans.
The Texans have defense for days, but who is their QB? Tom Savage knows the offense, but how far can they take them? Deshaun Watson has all the moxie in the world, but he is NFL-raw.
18. Philadelphia Eagles.
Another season, and Eagles fans are ridiculously delusional about their team. They have potential to be good for sure, but you cannot count on a bunch of young players at key positions to play complete games every week. There will be growing pains. This team may finish the team in strong fashion, however.
19. Carolina Panthers.
A mediocre outfit here.
20. Detroit Lions.
What is the Lions’ identity? They haven’t been able to run the football in years, their passing game is the only consistent thing they’ve had the past few years. They have major question marks at each level on defense.
21. Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals will eventually be good towards the midseason and latter portion of the season, but right now they don’t look that good.
22. Arizona Cardinals.
Wait-and-see mode with this team. They will eventually challenge Seattle with a scare for the division, but there just feels like something is missing with this team.
23. Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts stink. And they’re playing games with the fans knowing full well Andrew Luck isn’t anywhere near ready to play football.
24. Washington Redskins.
The Redskins have a lot of questions on defense. We know about Kirk Cousins’ situation and the signing of Terrelle Pryor to a prove-it deal on his way to big money next offseason, but outside of that, what do they have? Yes, Josh Doctson is finally healthy, and Jamison Crowder has some things in which he excels, but what running game do the Redskins possess? If they have one, they did a great job in slipping it in through the back door during preseason, because it was nowhere to be found during August.
25. Los Angeles Chargers.
If a tree falls in a forest, and no one hears it, does it actually make a sound? That is a perfect axiom to describe the Chargers’ presence in Los Angeles versus San Diego.
26. Los Angeles Rams.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars.
This team wastes more talent on both sides of the ball than any team in the league. They literally have playmakers all over the field. Last year, the defensive talent was misused by a system not fit for their collective abilities. The offense has players, but Blake Bortles’ inadequacies stifle any potential for success of the offense; while reverberating throughout the team as a whole, as the defense ends up on the field for long stretches every week, losing effectiveness.
28. Cleveland Browns.
The Browns will be tough defensively, if not dirty, which they have shown to be in preseason. Who knows what to make of their offense? DeShone Kizer got the nod as the Browns’ starting QB, and he has some talent on the outside. Did the Browns do enough to augment their offensive line play? We’ll see. They have major question marks in their secondary on defense, as well.
29. Buffalo Bills.
The Bills are in pure tank mode, but they still have some talent
30. Chicago Bears.
The Bears looked like fools giving Mike Glennon all that money, only to play themselves in a trade with San Francisco, only to turn around and draft a QB with just as many college starts as the aforementioned QB has had in the NFL. Talk about mismanagement of assets. Who even know what the Bears plan consist of, or if they even have one at all. They are practically looking to hypnotize WR Kevin White into believing he can actually play at the NFL level. That is where the Bears are right now.
31. San Francisco 49ers.
This is a wait-and-see situation. They were horrid from a talent standpoint last year; while Colin Kaepernick still managed respectable numbers while passing to a bunch of #3 WRs, no healthy running backs, and all behind a beat-up offensive line, across from one of the franchise’s worst seasons on the defensive side of the ball). There has naturally been a major overhaul of personnel with new GM John Lynch and new head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers could be markedly better in 2017, but have to wait and see over the first couple of months of the season to truly know of the ability with this made-over team.
32. New York Jets.
The Jets should fold.
Todd Bowles deserves hazard pay for having to deal with this toxic waste which was set up for him to fail and lose his job after the season (watch the Jets bring in a new coach, suddenly want to spend in free agency and the new coach gets all the credit in 2018; mark these words).