The Aptitude Test: Week One

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This is the week one power rankings, but I decided to give it a more clever name, so from now on this will be called ‘The Aptitude Test’. Week one rankings are always tough, predictions are built off of common opinions nurtured over months of incessant information and air-time to fill. Some of it comes from self-grown opinions on players and teams, but the point I want to make is that nobody knows.

From the top NFL analyst at major sports networks to me, a little college freshman with his laptop and NFL game pass. I truly believe that their guess is just as good as mine. These rankings will update every week before the Thursday night game, and off we go. Teams are ranked first to last:

Carolina Panthers

Even though they weren’t Super Bowl Champions, the Panthers were the best team in the NFL last season and I don’t see much reason to expect that to change. They lost Norman, but young promising talents in the front 7 like Shaq Thompson and Kony Ealy should take the next step. Secondary is concerning. I’ll wait and see.

New England Patriots

Jimmy Garroppolo will at the very least go 2-2, just in time for Brady to guide the Pats ship to another 12-4 season. The offensive line and running game is a major concern, but then again, Tom Brady. Arguably they have the best pass catchers in the league with Edelman, Bennett, and Gronkowski all at Brady’s disposal. Scary thought.

Seattle Seahawks

Their defense is still impeccable. With all their key pieces signed through 2018, the Seahawks have a very large Super Bowl window open for the next few years. Russell Wilson is an escape artist with a great deep ball, and Tyler Lockett will become a really solid guy for them this season. Offensive line and running game worry me, but I expect a strong bounce back year from Pete Carroll.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is in the best shape of his life. Jordy Nelson is back. All position groups on this team are above average. Julius Peppers still has some left in the tank, Clay Matthews is back outside and Lacy is no longer fat. The Pack is back.

Denver Broncos

The defense has basically stayed the same, and they had nearly the worst quarterback play of any team in the league last year. Still managing to win a Super Bowl, so don’t tell me Siemian is a down grade. Respect the Super Bowl champs people, the hate has gone too far.

Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians is an incredible coach, and Steve Keim is a great GM. Carson Palmer still has some games left in him, but his playoff performance was worrisome. David Johnson is the next coming of Jesus Christ, their depth at wide out is among the best in the league. The pass rush should be much improved by a growing Markus Golden and newcomer Chandler Jones. The John Brown thing is concerning, but speedster J.J. Nelson should fill that #3 receiver role with no problems whatsoever.

Cincinnati Bengals

One of the strongest rosters in the league. They have been decimated by injuries this offseason, it’s just no one has noticed because their next-up men aren’t severe drop offs from the starter. Hue Jackson is gone, but that doesn’t mean that the world is ended, he was an offensive coordinator- not Vince Lombardi. Andy Dalton wowed us last year, can he continue to perform at a high level?

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Martavis Bryant suspension was a huge loss, and Le’Veon Bell is gone for three games as well. The offense still could be lethal, but this team is one season ending Ben Roethlisberger injury from a top ten draft pick. Have to love Ryan Shazier and James Harrison keeps on performing, but the defense is a question mark.

Kansas City Chiefs

I’m big on the Chiefs this year, but would be more excited if Justin Houston was healthy. I like Alex Smith to step up more this season, and Eric Berry is back in camp. Quietly a great team, the Chiefs will likely fly under the radar the entire season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

All the puzzle pieces are there, and it’s a make or break year for Gus Bradley and company. There’s no reason not to take the throne in a very winnable AFC South. Can Blake Bortles cut down on the mistakes and lead the Jags to a long awaited playoff appearance?

Oakland Raiders

Their roster is incredible; my only issue is that the division they play in is among the hardest in football. They should compete all season for a wild card spot, and could threaten for the division win. If Derek Carr continues to improve, the league needs to be on watch.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’m on the Bucs train. Jameis Winston will become a top ten QB in the eyes of many this season, and I like the Bucs to snag a wild card spot in the NFC. The defense is pretty good, Noah Spence has been making plays and Gearald McCoy is a beast. LaVonte David and Kwon Alexander should hold it down for the LBs and Brent Grimes is still a #1 corner.

New York Jets

This team will likely have a worse record than their roster talent suggests. The beneficiaries of a bad schedule last year, the Jets play the AFC North and the NFC West. This will not allow for an easy road to the playoffs. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a cute season last year, but he’s really not that great. I like Todd Bowles a lot, I hope he doesn’t get put on a hot seat if the team struggles early on in the season. Did I mention Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard?

New York Giants

I like the Giants to win the NFC East this year. Ben McAdoo looks like he was hired straight out of the Burger King drive thru, but Eli and Odell will light up scoreboards with a much improved defense.

Detroit Lions

The Lions have talented pieces, and their strength of schedule is super light. If Jim Bob Cooter and Matthew Stafford pick up where they left off at the end of last year, the future is promising. Teryl Austin is sure to have the defense over-perform their talent level. Calvin Johnson being gone sucks, but anyone who watched the Lions last year knows he wasn’t the same and his role in the offense had changed.

Minnesota Vikings

The trade for Sam Bradford was bold, and I like that the front office wasn’t going to sit still and watch a talented team go to waste with Shaun Hill at the helm. Albeit Sam Bradford is an upgrade over Hill, he’s still Sam Bradford. A first-round pick was a lot to give up, and Bradford has an injury history.

Houston Texans

The talent on this team is immense, there’s just too many new pieces on offense for this to go as well as it could in the future. I like the trend of the Texans, it’ll just be too little too late towards the end of the season to put a playoff push together.

Washington Redskins

Always beware of the not that great team that won a bad division. The Redskins have pieces, but their success largely relies on Kirk Cousins performance at QB. Since they finished 1st, they draw a much harder schedule than the rest of the NFC East, and that concerns me. They have two of the best CBs in the league with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland.

San Diego Chargers

I would’ve had the Chargers as a sleeper team to make the playoffs if they played in a different division. The AFC East is just so loaded this year that I found it hard to put them better than other proven teams in that division. I would thoroughly enjoy watching a Phillip Rivers led Chargers shock the league this season.

Dallas Cowboys

The Romo injury killed them. If Dak Prescott hadn’t performed so well in the pre-season they’d be a bottom five team for me. In fact, I probably have them too high but Ezekiel Elliot has me excited, so I’ll put them here before I see it on the field.

Buffalo Bills

I love Tyrod Taylor, but the Rex Ryan experiment has done everything but completely end in disaster. They almost fired him last season, but management gave him one more chance this year. They have been decimated by injuries, I don’t see it going well for the Bills this year.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have consistently underwhelmed, so I’m putting them in the underwhelming spot of 22. I’m excited to see their young line-backing trio in Vic Beasley, De’Vondre Campbell, and Deion Jones. This team is a few years away from competing. Show me something Matt Ryan.

Tennessee Titans

Love me some exotic smash mouth. The Titans have undergone a complete overhaul in the offseason, and look to be headed in the right direction. They’ve invested in their offensive line and given Mariota a good power running game. I like them as a deep sleeper and it wouldn’t shock me if they competed in the South, but I’ll believe when I see.

New Orleans Saints

Fantastic QB but horrendous defense. 1st round pick Sheldon Rankins is out with an injnury, and they’re beginning their road to recovery after the Rob Ryan experience. I won’t ever count Drew Brees out, but the rest of the team is too weak to have the Saints contend.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are exactly like the Saints, except their offensive line is much, much worse. Luck is a great QB with solid weapons at his disposal, but the team around him is so embarrassingly weak I wouldn’t be shocked if Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano were out after this season.

Philadelphia Eagles

Surprisingly they just announced Wentz as the starter and the outlook for this offense is bleak. They lost their best lineman Lane Johnson to a 10 game suspension, and their receiving group is second worst to the Rams. The defense will be very good with Jim Schwartz at the controls. Fletcher Cox is from a different planet.

Cleveland Browns

I kinda like the Browns this year. RG3 still has undeniable raw talent, whether he can turn that talent into being a good QB is a big question. You could do a lot worse than Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Terrelle Pryor, Gary Barnidge, and Duke Johnson Jr on offense too. The defense is awful.

Miami Dolphins

I was in on the Dolphins earlier this summer, but I quickly realized there isn’t much to get excited about. Jarvis Landry is a beast, and I like the combination of him and De’Vante Parker at wideout, but Gase is going to have to be a miracle worker with Tannehill.

Baltimore Ravens

This is the team I could be the most wrong about, but they’re my prediction for the most surprising team to have a bad season. They really don’t have much there if you look at it. Flacco has vastly underperformed his massive deal, the offense as a whole is below average, and the defense is old and slow. Weddle was a nice signing; I wish Will Hill would stay out of trouble.

Chicago Bears

The Bears will be very bad this season. If they are not, I will question everything I have ever known about the game of football. They lost the three most important pieces outside of Alshon Jeffrey in Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, and Adam Gase. Jay Cutler is trash. Everyone is injured. 4-12.

San Francisco 49ers

Not much can go well when Blaine Gabbert is quarterbacking one of the most talent poor teams in the league. Hard to believe this team was an NFC powerhouse just a few years back. Winning games with insane Jim Harbaugh then losing them with Chip Kelly, who hasn’t exactly made any friends.

Los Angeles Rams

Jared Goff isn’t starting, the offense is one dark hole except for Todd Gurley. LA is wasting a Super Bowl level defense with a 2-14 offense.

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About the Author

Chris is the founder of everything you see here. A former radio presenter and Detroit native, he now resides in sunny California – and like so many of us, he found himself marooned on an island devoid of other Lions fans. After spending a few years in the Detroit Lions Reddit community he decided to start the Detroit Lions Podcast. Its become the #1 Detroit Lions podcast, and regularly ranks with the top podcasts in Detroit. With a mixture of pre-recorded shows, live & recorded phone-ins, and live post-game broadcasts - this is his slice of Honolulu Blue heaven.