Football is back! We’re just two days away from the 2018 NFL regular season kickoff game on Thursday night. The reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will host the Atlanta Falcons to open the new year.
Now that the NFL season is back, so is everyone’s favorite pointless exercise: NFL Power Rankings. It’s that time of year to see where all 32 teams rank for the first time. Let’s get right to it.
BLG’S WEEK 1 NFL POWER RANKINGS
1 - Philadelphia Eagles - THE REIGNING SUPER BOWL CHAMPION EAGLES begin the season on top. This team has some injury issues they’re still dealing with (most notably Carson Wentz) but hey, they’re still starting the Super Bowl MVP in Week 1. So it could be worse.
2 - New England Patriots - The Patriots lost the Super Bowl but they’re very much still the Patriots with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Just don’t ask Brady to catch the ball and this team should manage to cruise to another AFC East title.
3 - New Orleans Saints - The Saints arguably have the most talented roster in the NFL. Alvin Kamara proved to be a very dangerous weapon as a rookie. He could take another step forward this year, as might shutdown corner Marshon Lattimore. This team will be tough to beat on a weekly basis.
4 - Green Bay Packers - Getting Aaron Rodgers back changes everything for this team. When he’s on, he’s the best football player on the planet, and that makes a huge difference.
5 - Atlanta Falcons - Atlanta was inches away from defeating the eventual Super Bowl champs in the playoffs earlier this year. We also know they were very close to actually winning the Super Bowl before choking it away in February 2017. Despite their failures, this roster is still very talented.
6 - Minnesota Vikings - Minnesota’s defense is due for some level of regression after being historically good on third down last year. The Vikings still have a lot of talent, though, and they added Kirk Cousins. I’ve never been the biggest Cousins believer, especially since he’s never really won a big game, but he’s obviously not the worst quarterback ever. (That’s my attempt at a compliment.)
7 - Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jags’ defense is elite. The Jags’ quarterback is not. Blake Bortles is always going to limit this team’s ceiling.
8 - Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers suffered a disappointing end to their season but Pittsburgh still has a lot going for them. Things would be even better if Le’Veon Bell decides to show up.
9 - Los Angeles Rams - Sean McVay, last year’s Coach of the First Round Playoff Exit, will likely face more adversity than he did last year. Now the Rams have to play a first place schedule and they likely won’t get to benefit from being the healthiest team for the second year in a row. I’d put this team higher but I’m just not a huge believer in Jared Goff. Not to say that he’s bad, but I just don’t think he’s elite. I do like this team’s defensive situation given that Wade Phillips is running the show there and the Rams added a lot of talent in the offseason. The Rams have the potential to rise quickly here. But they could also blow up in 2011 Eagles Dream Team fashion.
10 - Kansas City Chiefs - Pat Mahomes is unquestionably intriguing. He also makes this team a wild card since he’s not a proven commodity. Overall, though, I feel confident in Andy Reid’s ability to have him playing well. I don’t see why I’d doubt Big Red will have the Chiefs being a good regular season team once again.
11 - Los Angeles Chargers - The Bolts have a distinct home field disadvantage but I still believe in them. The Chargers had the ninth best point differential last year. They also ranked 11th in DVOA. They were better than their 9-7 record indicated. They’ve just been unlucky to some extent. They’re eventually due to get some good luck ... right?
12 - Carolina Panthers - The Panthers have been on the seesaw since 2012. By this I mean they’ve struggled to string back-to-back good seasons together. It’s always been a good one followed by a bad one. Or vice versa. If that pattern holds up, the Panthers figure to be bad again in 2018. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the case. For now, I’m starting them here since they were good last year.
13 - San Francisco 49ers - I’m not fully buying into the 49ers hype just yet. I’d swear some people think they’re the best team in the NFL already. I do like Jimmy Garoppolo, even though I never not struggle to spell his last name, but let’s see a little more from this team in 2018 before we crown them.
14 - Washington Redskins - Washington is a team that people are sleeping on heading into 2018. They still have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and Alex Smith might even be an upgrade over their previous starting quarterback. Not to mention Jay Gruden is the second best coach in the NFC East. I’ve often said that Smith limits this team’s ceiling but he lowers their floor.
15 - Houston Texans - The Texans have the potential to shoot up the rankings if Deshaun Watson can continue to look like the phenom he was last season. I wouldn’t call myself a Watson doubter but I do want to see him in a bigger sample size. The Texans definitely have the potential to win the AFC South this year.
16 - Detroit Lions - Matt Patricia is the new boss in Detroit. I’m not really sure what to make of this Lions team just yet, so I figured I’d stick them directly in the middle of the pack. They have a franchise quarterback in place with Matthew Stafford but is there a lot to get excited about outside of that?
17 - Baltimore Ravens - Joe Flacco’s last three seasons as a starter: 52 touchdowns, 40 interceptions, 82.4 passer rating. For reference, that rating would rank 22nd among NFL quarterbacks last year. What I’m trying to say is he’s not good. Baltimore’s boon is is their defense (third in DVOA last year) and special teams unit (first overall last year).
18 - Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks haven’t had a good offseason. The Legion of Boom is essentially over with Richard Sherman released, Kam Chancellor not being able to play anymore, and Earl Thomas holding out. Seattle still has one of the better head coach-quarterback combos in the league with Pete Carroll and Russel Wilson. But this hardly seems like a team on the rise at this point.
19 - Dallas Cowboys - Dak Prescott predictably regressed last year when he didn’t have the benefit of handing off to Ezekiel Elliott all game long. It turns out Dallas is worse when Prescott actually has to do his job of throwing the football. Getting Zeke back should help the Cowboys this season, yes, but Dallas is still dealing with offensive line issues. Starting center Travis Frederick will miss time as he’s dealing with a rare autoimmune disease. The Cowboys’ receiving options at both wide receiver and tight end also aren’t very inspiring with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten now gone.
20 - Tennessee Titans - I’ll forever love former future Eagles quarterback Marcus Mariota but ... is he actually good? I don’t know. I don’t think this Titans team is bad but I don’t think they’re good.
21 - Chicago Bears - The Bears are being billed as the new Eagles. Young high draft pick at quarterback, former Chiefs offensive coordinator at head coach, you get the idea. I’m not really sold on Mitchell Trubisky but he does have some offensive weapons to work with. I also like the Bears’ defense under Vic Fangio. Especially now after they just acquired Khalil Mack.
22 - Denver Broncos - Denver still has some defensive talent but John Elway hasn’t done a great job building this roster. Case Keenum is coming off an unexpected career year and seems like a lock to regress.
23 - Cincinnati Bengals - For the 118th consecutive year in a row, the Bengals are trying to run it back with Marvin Lewis. It’ll totally be different this time, guys!
24 - Indianapolis Colts - I think Frank Reich is going to be a good NFL head coach. With that said, the Colts still lack talent and I’m not sure what to make of Andrew Luck. He didn’t look great in the preseason.
25 - New York Jets - This might be too high for the Jets, who will be starting rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, but I’m betting on his potential here. His presence gives them a higher ceiling compared to some of these other bad teams.
26 - New York Giants - Some people are expecting the G-Men to bounce back this year. I don’t think these people are giving enough weight to the fact that Eli Manning looks washed, the Giants’ offensive line is only returning one starter, and New York is facing the toughest schedule in the league by some metrics. Add in that Dave Gettleman doesn’t seem to understand modern football and I just don’t see it with this group.
27 - Oakland Raiders - It’s been a dumpster fire offseason for the Raiders, who handed a 10-year, $100 million contract to Jon Gruden. Even if you think Oakland got great value for Mack (and they didn’t), those draft picks certainly don’t help the team this year.
28 - Arizona Cardinals - Sam Bradford is the starting quarterback. Need I say more?
29- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs will be forced to start Ryan Fitzpatrick for the first three games of the season.
30 - Buffalo Bills - The Bills are starting NATHAN PETERMAN at quarterback. And I don’t think that I think he’s even as bad as most would think. I thought he showed some good signs last preseason. He posted some good numbers again this summer. But he also really struggled in real games as a rookie and that’s hard to ignore.
31 - Miami Dolphins - I’m not in on Ryan Tannehill and I don’t think this roster is very good. Miami had the fourth worst point differential in 2017. That suggests they were even worse than their 6-10 record indicated.
32 - Cleveland Browns - The Browns may very well improve this year (nowhere to go but up!) but I’m not just going to give the benefit of the doubt to a team that’s 1-31 in their last 32 games. The talent may be improved but the coaching is still suspect.