Case Brings Us His 2018 Power Rankings To Take Us On A Trip Around The NFL
It’s that time of year again when I present to you my oh-so-carefully-crafted and unimpeachably definitive list of who is indeed hot, and who is most certainly not, in the NFL. Use this list to place your bets on the 2018 NFL season and I guarantee you’ll walk away a millionaire. Editor’s Note: detroitlionspodcast.com can not be held accountable if you accept this horrible advice.
1 – Eagles
A team that continues to develop even after losing their QB is one I have to believe in going forward. I have certainly been a Carson Wentz doubter, as I am with every young or unproven QB, but there is no denying that this team went out last offseason and put the finishing touches on a roster that could allow even average play from the QB position to thrive.
2 – Patriots
The loss of a coordinator and a lot of talent, a 40 (41 in August) year old QB, and the growing persistence of rumors that things are less than copacetic in the Baked Bean would probably be enough to tank 31 NFL teams. The Patriots aren’t like the 31 other teams. They are almost certainly operating on borrowed time and it won’t be a surprise if they hit a few rough patches throughout the season. Barring the majorly unforeseeable though, they’ll still likely finish as one of the top teams in the league.
3 – Saints
Mark Ingram‘s four-game suspension is certainly a hurdle, but this team is primed and ready to compete for the top spot in what looks like a loaded NFC. The one area, on both sides of the ball, where New Orleans really needs to see improvement is on 3rd downs. The additions they made and the growth they’ll likely see from young players should make that attainable, especially on defense.
4 – Vikings
I think the question is whether or not this team, with a new OC and what they hope will finally be their franchise QB, will try to reinvent the wheel or not. Every indication would suggest, probably not. But new people in such major roles will inevitably alter a team’s chemistry, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Likely of more concern for the 2018 season though is that the Vikings were remarkably healthy on defense last year, a group that was easily top three in the league. If the depth is tested more this year, it could lead to some unexpected struggles.
There are a few other teams with higher upside, but anyone who listens to the podcast knows that when it comes to football, I’m pretty conservative. I value consistency. The ultimate question becomes consistency vs. age and stagnation, so that’s what Pittsburgh is up against. Ben Roethlisberger might not be the best QB in the league, but he hasn’t dropped below a 90 passer rating in his last eight seasons and still has arguably the most dynamic group of skill position players around him in the league. I never thought I’d say this about the Steelers, but they have one of the more underrated defenses in the league as well.
6 – Falcons
You might notice a trend here. Compared to most other rankings out there, I will almost always favor teams with a proven franchise QB, so long as they have good talent around them, over teams with young or unproven QBs (Eagles being the obvious exception on this list). But specifically in regards to the Falcons, they had their predictable slump last year, but despite some losses in FA, they sit on a very strong foundation and have some really good 2nd and 3rd-year players who should help buoy them back above the NFC tide.
7 – Rams
By even putting them this high, I’m afraid I’m giving too much credit to a team with massive change on their hands. On paper, they might be top three, although I’m far from a confirmed believer in Jared Goff at this point. If these guys gel quickly, despite the youth in the coaching staff and at QB, they could potentially re-write the book on how to turn a team from mediocre to great in record time, but if they fall anywhere short of a deep playoff run and see a mass exodus of talent next year, it will be remembered as a lesson in not letting hubris get the better of you.
8 – Jaguars
Were it not for the fact that Blake Bortles has had twice as long to prove his inconsistency as Jared Goff, I might feel more optimistic about the Jaguars. It’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two teams, as they both might field top-tier defenses and both have premier running backs, but at least in Los Angeles, I feel like the QB ceiling is higher. Give this team a Matt Ryan, or even a Philip Rivers, and they are immediately top three.