Updated: April 6
New York Jets (8-8) - Previously: 26.
I like Rex Ryan as a coach. Getting the Jets to 8-8 last year was a borderline miracle. So with that in mind, it sucks that Ryan will be looking for employment next offseason. He has no chance of sticking around because New York signed the ultimate coach-killer to be its new starting quarterback. QBDK has gotten so many coaches fired in his career because he's one of the most overrated football players in league history, as he's fully incapable of grasping the mental aspect of the game. That's why the Jets will have a top-two choice next April/May, as you can see in my 2015 mock.
Anyway, the Jets are the worst team in the NFL. Outside of their defensive line, I can't name one positive unit on their team. The quarterbacks stink. The running backs are meh. The receivers stink. The offensive line is meh. The linebackers stink. The secondary really stinks. And before any Jet fans comment, "WE WERE 8-8 LAST YEAR YOUR AN IDIOT!" let's not forget that the Texans went from division champ to 2-14 in just one season. These things happen in the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) - Previously: 30.
If the Jaguars don't select a quarterback No. 3 overall, their starting backfield to open the 2014 season will likely be Chad Henne and Toby Gerhart. Henne will have one legitimate receiver to throw to because Justin Blackmon is suspended. Henne will be protected by Luke Joeckel, who struggled last year, and Zane Beadles, who was overpaid. But hey, at least the Jags brought in a couple of aging former Seattle defensive linemen.
Cleveland Browns (4-12) - Previously: 31.
My favorite feature in my power rankings is the Gong Rant:
Talent is either allergic to Cleveland, or Cleveland is allergic to talent.
I am not sure any of our athletes has ever stayed. I guess Larry Nance (once he got here) stayed. Z stayed. Vizquel stayed like 5 years longer than I thought he would, and would have stayed till the end if Indians let him.
All the rest, left us in the dust.
Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Previously: 28.
There must have been panic in Buffalo when the rumors surfaced about their team moving up to No. 1 in May's draft. If the Bills give up their 2015 first-rounder to do this, it would be a disaster. They'd gain another pass-rusher, but for what? Losing a chance to obtain either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston? Because they might just be in position to select one of them in the wake of losing Jairus Byrd, who was willing to take less money to leave Buffalo. My Willis McGahee joke still applies.
Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - Previously: 22.
I still can't get over how douchey this picture looks:
I guess Dallas' mediocrity rubbed all over Duke. That would explain the Mercer loss.
At any rate, the Cowboys are counting on Jeremy Mincey and Henry Melton on defense this season, so they're pretty much f***ed.
Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Previously: 32.
Make all the jokes you want about the Raiders collecting over-the-hill veterans; they're going to be competitive this season. They're going to win 5-6 games, and it'll be great. Let's just hope they don't get to eight victories; otherwise, Mark Davis may do something crazy and shave off his Captain Kangaroo hair.
Washington Redskins (3-13) - Previously: 29.
The Redskins spent most of the offseason overpaying for crappy players. Then they signed DeSean Jackson, which was lauded as some great move. It's not. I gave Washington a "C" for signing DeSean Jackson (click the link to read why).
Washington will be better in 2014 by default because Robert Griffin will be healthier, but the team around him sucks. Oh, and let's not forget that Griffin will be injured at some point.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) - Previously: 27. I visited Tampa Bay during the summer. When I told Buccaneer fans that I had their team going 5-11, they looked at me like I was crazy. In fact, Charlie had to defend my season preview in local radio interviews. Considering that, it's funny that I actually overshot their win total.
The good news is that Josh Freeman's personal problems and Greg Schiano's poop-throwing tactics are no longer going to burden the team. Even better, Tampa has a legitimate quarterback now. Some are laughing at the Buccaneers for putting faith in a Marc Trestman-less Josh McCown, but McCown already showed signs of improvement prior to Chicago's current coaching regime. Besides, Jeff Tedford is a solid quarterbacks' coach himself.
New York Giants (7-9) - Previously: 23.
The Giants have been lauded for having a great offseason, but I don't see what they've done that's so remarkable. They've had a few solid signings, but the major things they've done is sign or retain crappy linebackers and throw way too much money at a talented, but lethargic cornerback who will quit now that he has tons of cash in his bank account. Read more about it in my NFL Free Agent Grades page. And no, I'm not an Eagle fan as some Giant backers have speculated. Philadelphians who read this site know that very well, as I've criticized their team ad nauseum over the years.
Miami Dolphins (8-8) - Previously: 25.
The Dolphins made some nice signings this offseason (Knowshon Moreno, Louis Delmas). They also overpaid for disappointing big names (Branden Albert, Cortland Finnegan). All in all, the Dolphins are about the same, talent-wise, as they were last year. Fortunately, they won't have the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin scandal hanging over their heads in 2014. Then again, they could always acquire the Governor, as I suggest in my April Fools Mock.
Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1) - Previously: 24.
The Vikings have enjoyed a pretty solid offseason thus far, as they've gotten younger on the defensive line and better in the secondary. Of course, their 2014 season hinges on what they do at quarterback. Thanks to the plethora of dumb teams drafting at the top, one of the better quarterbacks now may fall to Minnesota at No. 8.
Then again, I'm currently writing about a team whose general manager gave John Carlson a $25 million contract, so let's move on.
Carolina Panthers (12-4) - Previously: 10.
The Panthers lost their top six free agents, and that doesn't even include Ted Ginn, Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. All of the wide receivers signed elsewhere, while all of the linemen retired. I think this picture properly illustrated how bleak the situation is:
Carolina's definitely taking a major step back this season.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) - Previously: 17.
The Chiefs lost their top four free agents and only gained Vance Walker in return. That's not good. What's worse is that they have to battle the Patriots, Colts, Bengals, the entire NFC West and both the Broncos and Chargers twice. Those are 11 difficult games, so Kansas City is definitely not starting a fraudulent 9-0 again.
Detroit Lions (7-9) - Previously: 21.
Nice plan by the Lions to focus on their primary running game. I mean, they have Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, but the secret to winning games is handing the ball off to Joique Bell.
Houston Texans (2-14) - Previously: 19.
Remember when it was rumored that the Patriots would trade for Ryan Mallett? Who the hell broke that story? You really have to wonder what some people will believe. I bet that if someone with more than 50,000 followers tweeted out: "Bob McNair to trade Arian Foster and 1st-round pick for a toupee, horse manure and five mithril ores," half of Twitter would believe it.
As mentioned before though, the Texans will rebound, as nine of their 14 losses this past season were decided by seven points or fewer.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - Previously: 15.
The Steelers ended the year on an 8-4 run, so that's the good news. The bad news is that they've paid too much to keep their old veterans on the team, meaning they're going to be in salary-cap hell in a couple of seasons. Note to Pittsburgh management: Put down Jerry Jones' book, How to Build a Super Bowl Champion in 10 Easy Steps, because you're clearly on "Chapter 2: Give Tons of Money to Old Players Because They Used to Be Good." And no, "Chapter 3: Hire Five Coordinators for Each Side of the Ball" isn't worth reading either.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) - Previously: 14.
Three reasons why the Bengals will regress in 2014:
1. Mike Brown is a cheap SOB. The team lost some key free agents (Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins) and didn't get anyone in return.
2. Cincinnati lost both coordinators (Jay Gruden, Mike Zimmer).
3. A first-place schedule means that the Bengals will have to battle the Broncos, Colts and Patriots, while their divisional rivals will only have to take on one of those teams.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8) - Previously: 20.
The Steve Smith signing had me bewildered for the longest time. Why would Ozzie Newsome, one of the sharpest minds in football, overpay for an old receiver who has nothing left in the tank? But then I realized it - and I put it in my April Fools Mock Draft - Newsome is trying to save the world by acquiring the three Steve Smiths. He'll also be able to nab the iron boots from the Saints. But the great question is whether he'll beat those farmer a**holes with Epona in the horse race.
Tennessee Titans (7-9) - Previously: 18.
The Chris Johnson era is over. Tennessee couldn't find a real trading partner for him, which says a lot about A) Johnson's declining talent and B) the lack of demand for running backs. Of course, the Titans could have dealt him to the Singapore Sonics, so they blew that opportunity.
In all seriousness, Tennessee will be better without Johnson and his penchant for taking negative runs. In fact, I have him slotted pretty low in my free agent running back rankings.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) - Previously: 11.
Think Eagle fans are pissed about losing DeSean Jackson? Guess again. My dad, upon hearing the news, called me and exclaimed excitedly, "The three a**holes are gone! No more Andy Reid, fat idiot! No more Michael vick, dog rapist! No more DeSean Jackson, gang-banging mother-f***er! Finally!"
I don't know if Jackson's departure makes the Eagles better or worse. Probably neutral. The locker room will be better without him, but Riley Cooper will now see a lot more attention. Perhaps Jeremy Maclin can deflect that, but that would require him staying healthy.
San Diego Chargers (9-7) - Previously: 13.
San Diego's big signing was Donald Brown, which tells you how uneventful its offseason was. However, the Chargers are essentially returning the same team, as they didn't lose any major free agents. That would be a good thing, except that they are likely to miss the playoffs, considering that they go from playing the NFC East to the NFC West. There's no way in hell three teams from the AFC West are making the playoffs again. It's probably only going to be Denver, unless, of course, Philip Rivers kidnaps Peyton Manning and stuffs him into an overgrown labyrinthine structure in the woods somewhere in the swamps of Louisiana.
Atlanta Falcons (4-12) - Previously: 9.
I love the incorrect notion that the Falcons are so far away from being a Super Bowl contender. Some writers made this argument for why they shouldn't trade up for Jadeveon Clowney. Umm... weren't they in the NFC Championship two seasons ago? Wasn't their entire team injured last year? Derp dee derp.
The Falcons made some solid moves this offseason, filling several of their needs. They still have to fix the safety, rush linebacker, tight end and running back positions, but they should be able to do that in the draft.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Previously: 12.
Hakeem Nicks, if he stays healthy, makes this offense pretty potent. He, Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton will be a dangerous trio. And let's not forget that Trent Richardson vowed to actually learn the playbook, so he may improve. Let's just hope this isn't a long process because I could see some little girl teaching him how to process everything, with Richardson constantly asking questions like, "Why's there a 'G' in 'night?'"
St. Louis Rams (7-9) - Previously: 8.
Excluding a defeat to the Panthers, the Rams lost just one game outside of the division after Week 3. They crushed the Saints and Colts despite missing their starting quarterback. If Sam Bradford can remain healthy, this will be a dangerous team in 2014. That's a big if, unfortunately.
The good news is that the Rams signed Shaun Hill this offseason. Unlike Kellen Clemens, Hill can step in and be responsible for winning some games if/when Bradford goes down.
Chicago Bears (8-8) - Previously: 16.
A couple of years ago, who would've thought that the Bears could improve in an offseason in which they lost Julius Peppers? Well, they're better now with Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen and Willie Young, all of whom will be able to mask the deficiencies in the secondary, though Chicago could just improve that area in the draft.
Arizona Cardinals (10-6) - Previously: 6.
The Cardinals would've done some major damage in the playoffs had they been included. It's just a shame that they played in the NFC West. Think about it: They went 2-4 in the league's toughest division, meaning they were 8-2 outside of it. Their only non-divisional defeats came against the Eagles and Saints, both on the road. They crushed the Panthers and Colts, and they were the only team to win at Seattle. Many will argue the 49ers would've beaten the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Call me crazy, but I think Arizona would've won the game as well, albeit by a much slimmer margin.
Arizona has improved after this offseason. The team lost Karlos Dansby, which will hurt, but Jared Veldheer and Antonio Cromartie make the Cardinals better.
Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) - Previously: 3.
I previously mentioned that my LVH Supercontest partner Matvei put a wager on the Packers at 16:1 to win the Super Bowl next year. I thought that was a good bet, but I don't think so anymore. There are four teams clearly superior to Green Bay (and perhaps five with the Saints), so if the 2014 season were played 16 times, would the Packers win the Super Bowl once? I thought so before, but I'm not so sure now. Green Bay is, at least, one of the top two non-elite teams, for what it's worth.
New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Previously: 5.
I love how Drew Brees was pissed that the Saints traded away Darren Sproles. Maybe this wouldn't have happened if, I don't know, he didn't sign a $100 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. Brees could have taken something like $85 million and $32 million guaranteed to have a better supporting cast. Sure, losing $8 million guaranteed hurts, but having an upgraded team means more shots at the Super Bowl, which translates into more endorsements. And that means recouping any lost money. I don't get how athletes don't understand this concept.
New England Patriots (12-4) - Previously: 7.
Super Bowl XLVI is a four-horse race, and the lamest one is New England - only because the team failed to upgrade Tom Brady's receiving corps. The defense should be excellent. With Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at corner, how are teams going to throw on the Patriots?
Hmm... one quarterback in the AFC East puts his dog in a pushchair because its feet hurt, while another tied dogs' feet and electrocuted them when he wasn't drowning them. I wonder which quarterback is going to win that karmic battle.
Denver Broncos (13-3) - Previously: 4.
The second-worst of the teams in the four-horse race, the Broncos have the potential to own an awesome defense with DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and a healthy Von Miller. Of course, they have to overcome Peyton Manning's tendency to choke in the clutch. There's no Rex Grossman coming out of the NFC for a Super Bowl matchup this year. Grossman, of course, is heading to the AFC soon:
Isn't it great having silly teams like the Browns in the NFL? They're like the fat kid in those Disney Channel comedies. They add nothing to the storyline, but everyone thinks they're cute because they do/say something stupid every now and then.
Seattle Seahawks (13-3) - Previously: 2.
I have the Seahawks behind the 49ers, but before any fans batter me with hate mail, keep in mind that I chose Seattle to win the Super Bowl back in August. I also had them as my Pick of the Month in the Super Bowl. I have some concerns:
1. I don't think the Seahawks will be as hungry. They're champions, so the chip they had on their shoulder that helped them prevail in 2013 won't be there next year.
2. Why is Russell Wilson playing baseball? Seriously, it's so stupid. I know that the Seahawks aren't allowing him to do anything with the Rangers, but I don't understand why Wilson suddenly thinks he's a baseball player. Stop it.
3. Wilson hanging out with Jay-Z and stupid Brooklyn Nets games can't be good. Jay-Z may flood Wilson's head with horrible rap lyrics, which could make Wilson forget some of the playbook.
4. Tweets from Seattle fans:
San Francisco 49ers (12-4) - Previously: 1.
The 49ers are my No. 1 team heading into 2014. They nearly won in Seattle in the NFC Championship, which was a very evenly played game. They'll be hungrier after losing out to Seattle in the rubber match. They'll also have their top offensive weapons on the field for most of the season this time, unlike last year. Oh, and they traded for Blaine Gabbert. How can Gabbert not enter the second half of the NFC Championship for an injured Colin Kaepernick and redeem himself by leading San Francisco to victory? This almost has to happen, right?
I mentioned four concerns with the Seahawks. I only have one for the 49ers, which is the Jim Harbaugh rumor that surfaced in February (albeit reported by the same unreliable source that told the world that Terry Bradshaw died). However, San Francisco has since traded for Jonathan Martin per Harbaugh's wishes, so maybe that's a non-factor going forward.