Updated: April 9
Miami Dolphins (6-10) - Previously: 31.
Miami is a complete mess. The team dealt its top receiver for nothing. Ndamukong Suh is gone. The offensive line can't block. The linebackers can't cover. Other than that, well, things still suck. The Dolphins could be the worst team in the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals (8-8) - Previously: 30.
So, the Cardinals had to cut Tyrann Mathieu because they paid tons of money to Sam Bradford. Many will criticize this, but I think it's a smart move as long as Bradford can stay hea... never mind, he just got injured walking into his house. On to Mike Glennon!
New York Jets (5-11) - Previously: 32.
The Jets decided to acquire all the quarterbacks this offseason, re-signing Josh McCown, adding Teddy Bridgewater, and then trading up to No. 3 for presumably either Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield.
Speaking of that trade, I loved Todd Bowles' response to a question about it... "We're looking at 6-7 players there." Uhh... if you like six players, why not stay at No. 6?
New York Giants (3-13) - Previously: 27.
The Giants weren't as good as they looked in 2016, but they weren't as bad as they finished in 2017 either, so they seem like a possible 6-10 or 7-9 squad to me. They lost some talented players this offseason, but added Nate Solder, who potentially gives them solid blind-side blocking for the first time in ages. "Potentially" is the key word there, however, as Solder has an extensive injury history. Plus, Justin Pugh is gone, so it's not like New York's offensive line is going to be much better.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-9) - Previously: 29.
The Bengals have really struggled in recent seasons. A big part of that, at least in 2017, was the decline of their offensive front. Fixing the blocking had to be priorities A, B and C this offseason, and the "A" solution was Cordy Glenn in a nice trade with Buffalo. Now, "B" and "C" have to be found via the draft.
Cleveland Browns (0-16) - Previously: 28.
The Browns were slotted No. 32 entering the offseason. Then, they made a billion trades to improve themselves, rising to No. 28. They followed that up by signing some solid players like Chris Hubbard and E.J. Gaines. Joe Thomas retired, but adding a franchise quarterback at No. 1 and Saquon Barkley at No. 4 will further improve the Browns. If they manage to trade for Odell Beckham Jr., they just might make the playoffs!
Indianapolis Colts (4-12) - Previously: 26.
Indianapolis' ranking depends on Andrew Luck's health. If Luck is 100 percent, the Colts can compete for a playoff spot. If he's hurt, Indianapolis could go 4-12 again. For that reason, the Colts are the hardest team to slot.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7) - Previously: 22.
A conversation I had with my dad recently (which I mentioned on the podcast:
Dad: Did anything happen in the NFL today?
Me: Yeah, the Ravens signed Robert Griffin.
Dad: Oh? So, are they going to cut or trade Joe Flacco then?
My dad isn't the most dedicated of football fans, but he does bet on it, so he knows the players and teams well enough. So, if people like him think that lowly of Flacco, I really wonder if Griffin will start at some point in 2018. Either way, Baltimore seems like a train wreck right now, as Flacco's albatross of a contract continues to capsize the team.
Seattle Seahawks (9-7) - Previously: 21.
The Seahawks' defense was so bad at the end of this past season that it couldn't stop Drew freaking Stanton in a must-win game. Sure, they had injuries, but their glaring lack of depth was a problem. Now, the team lost Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman, as Seattle is blowing things up.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) - Previously: 25.
Some of the stuff I hear from Jameis Winston scares me, and I wonder if he'll once again struggle to become a consistent quarterback. So many talented players have flamed out in Tampa, and I fear that Mons Jameis could belong in that group if he doesn't grow up soon.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers improved their roster, but not by a significant amount. What really matters is Winston taking the next step and being a consistent quarterback. I'm not sure he'll be able to do that.
Washington Redskins (7-9) - Previously: 19.
I still can't believe the Redskins traded for Alex Smith in exchange for a third-round pick and a solid cornerback. To be fair, it didn't sound like Kirk Cousins was willing to even negotiate with the Redskins prior to the deal being made, so I can't completely blame Washington for pulling the trigger on Smith, even though I still think the team gave up too much for a quarterback who will be in decline in the near future.
Detroit Lions (9-7) - Previously: 18.
Underrated NFL Team: The Lions seldom had anything close to a complete roster this past season. In their most crucial game of the year, they were missing three starting offensive linemen. Detroit will be better in 2018 with improved injury luck, and perhaps Matt Patricia will improve the defense. He should be able to do that if the most recent Super Bowl is any indication.
Buffalo Bills (9-7) - Previously: 17.
It's difficult to rank the Bills right now because we still don't know who their quarterback is going to be. A.J. McCarron is the sole viable signal-caller right now, and while he can lead a team into the playoffs, he won't win there, much like Andy Dalton. Buffalo has been "trying like hell" to move up to No. 2 overall, but it remains to be seen if that'll actually happen.
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) - Previously: 24.
Overrated NFL Team: The Jaguars reached the AFC Championship, but let's not forget that they almost lost to the Bills at home, and that they lost at Tennessee in Week 17, and that they were blown out in San Francisco the week before, and that they lost to Blaine Gabbert in Week 12, and that they were up just 10-7 at Cleveland a week earlier. The Jaguars were super lucky all year, both with their schedule and lack of injuries. They won't be as fortunate next year, and both Indianapolis and Houston will be back in 2018. It's likely that the Jaguars will slips to 6-10 or 7-9 in 2018. I was previously more pessimistic, but I love the Andrew Norwell signing.
Denver Broncos (5-11) - Previously: 23.
Case Keenum wasn't Denver's first option, but he's undoubtedly a big upgrade over Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. He's even better if you combine the three and form a super-crappy quarterback named Paxweilian. The Broncos still have some major concerns on the offensive line, but that can be fixed with Quenton Nelson.
Dallas Cowboys (9-7) - Previously: 16.
The regression of Dallas' offensive line was a major reason the Cowboys struggled last year. The addition of Cameron Fleming will help that, as Fleming will push La'el Collins back to his natural spot at left guard. The Cowboys will be better as a result, though Dak Prescott will need to excel without the lack of a downfield threat. And no, Allen Hurns and his garbage-time stats from 2015 don't count.
Chicago Bears (5-11) - Previously: 14.
Underrated NFL Team: The Bears were extremely competitive in most of the games that Danny Trevathan played. They beat the Steelers, Panthers and Ravens, and they nearly took down the Falcons and Vikings (in the first meeting). Chicago will have its receivers back from injury, as well as Allen Robinson, and Mitchell Trubisky will have more experience under his belt. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Bears went something like 10-6 and made the playoffs.
Atlanta Falcons (10-6) - Previously: 13.
Overrated NFL Team: The Falcons were two kicks on national TV away from being 8-8. They also beat Dallas when the Cowboys lost Sean Lee and already didn't have Tyron Smith or Ezekiel Elliott. Even the win over the Rams was misleading; Los Angeles made so many mistakes, and the Falcons couldn't really do anything offensively until Michael Brockers got hurt.
Atlanta should have fired Steve Sarkisian, but it will have to endure his poor play-calling next year. The team didn't do anything in free agency either, so the Falcons' chances of making the playoffs in 2018 are starting to look a bit bleak.
Tennessee Titans (9-7) - Previously: 20.
New offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur was part of the team that turned Jared Goff around, so Tennessee fans should feel optimistic about their 2018 chances. Marcus Mariota should be able to bounce back in 2018, though that was obvious even before the LaFleur hiring because the Titans canned Mike Mularkey and his super-awesome exotic run schemes that were anything but exotic. Dion Lewis' addition will help, while Malcolm Butler will make the secondary much better.
Oakland Raiders (6-10) - Previously: 10.
Underrated NFL Team: Everything I hear coming out of Oakland is positive right now. The Raiders are working hard to get back on track after being a big disappointment in 2017. Remember, many considered them to be potential Super Bowl contenders, and they could easily revert to that status with a superior coaching staff.
Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) - Previously: 15.
Overrated NFL Team: The Steelers are definitely not the same without Ryan Shazier, as they couldn't stop Alex Collins runs and Joe Flacco passes without him. The freaking Ravens scored 38 points against them! No one should be surprised that they lost to Jacksonville. Shazier, as of this writing, isn't walking yet, so he unfortunately won't be playing anytime soon. It'll be very difficult to replace him, though I did like the signing of Morgan Burnett.
San Francisco 49ers (6-10) - Previously: 12.
It's amazing what a competent signal-caller can do. The 49ers have had bad (Brian Hoyer) and abysmal (C.J. Beathard) quarterbacking last year, but Jimmy Garoppolo was great against the Bears, Texans, Titans and Jaguars. With Garoppolo, the 49ers are so much better than 6-10. They have a solid running back, two talented tackles, and several impressive play-makers in the front seven. They also added a solid center in Weston Richburg and Richard Sherman, so they'll have a chance at 11-5 or better in 2018.
Green Bay Packers (7-9) - Previously: 11.
The Packers signed just three players this offseason, but all were big names. However, all have some serious baggage. Muhammad Wilkerson was recently known as one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL before he quit football. Jimmy Graham used to be a great tight end, but he can barely walk. Tramon Williams previously performed on a high level for the Packers, but he now has an AARP card. Still, all three have upside, at least for this year, so the Packers should benefit from having at least two of them. Now, if only they could fix their atrocious secondary...
Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) - Previously: 9.
The Chargers had major center and kicker woes entering the offseason. Caleb Sturgis could finally cure the latter problem, while Mike Pouncey will be the new center. Pouncey is the bigger name, but I'm not sure he's the solution, given that he needs a new hip and all. Still though, the Chargers didn't really lose anyone, so they should still be competing for a playoff spot in 2018. It's just a matter of them not screwing things up for themselves.
Los Angeles Rams (11-5) - Previously: 8.
Overrated NFL Team: The Rams have the most talent in the NFL, except for maybe the Eagles. I don't think there's any question about that they're a top-two team as far as talent is concerned. However, I have some major concerns, and they actually remind me of the 2011 Eagles, which Vince Young famously dubbed the "Dream Team." The Rams have collected malcontents and misfits from every team. Brandin Cooks, Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are all exceptional athletes, but they've all been cast out because of character reasons. Meanwhile, the Rams lost two key offensive coaches, including quarterback guru Greg Olson, so I think it's reasonable to expect Jared Goff to decline a bit, at the very least.
Carolina Panthers (11-5) - Previously: 7.
The Panthers dealt with lots of injuries this past season, yet were still able to finish 11-5. Carolina should be able to contend for a Super Bowl with better luck in 2018. Some help in the secondary and receiving corps would help as well. Torrey Smith, by the way, isn't any sort of help. From a "help" perspective, he's like if an old lady asks you to help her cross the street, but instead, you fling her into an oncoming car.
Minnesota Vikings (13-3) - Previously: 4.
If the Vikings didn't have such a great roster overall - Sheldon Richardson will make their defensive line even more potent - I wouldn't be a fan of theirs in 2018. The Kirk Cousins signing is scary. Cousins is a solid quarterback, but he's not great, and the signing reminds me of when the Ravens brought in Elvis Grbac after winning the Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer. Grbac was more talented than Dilfer, but he disappointed after expectations were so high. Cousins is new to the team, so it may take some time for him to gel with his new supporting cast, and so it seems like letting Case Keenum go may have been a mistake.
New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Previously: 6.
What if the Saints had won? What if Marcus Williams didn't blow that tackle? Could the Saints have beaten the Eagles? It's definitely possible. Either way, New Orleans is looking great heading into next year, as its young, talented, defensive players will only improve. Plus, Alvin Kamara will continue to dominate, if his ability to carry SUVs on his shoulders is any indication.
Houston Texans (4-12) - Previously: 5.
The Texans finished 4-12 last year, but they could be one of the top teams in the NFL this upcoming season. They'll have Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus all back from injury, and they added two talented players for their secondary in Tyrann Mathieu and Aaron Colvin. Watt getting hurt, by the way, may have been a blessing in disguise, as strange as it might sound. Watt injuring his knee allowed him to rest his back, and that could allow him to be 100 percent for the 2018 season.
As for Watson, there are tons of positive things about his rehab. Not only is it going well, but he has packed on lots of muscle to perhaps avoid further injuries. It's great to hear that he's working so hard.
Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) - Previously: 3.
Underrated NFL Team: The Chiefs did a tremendous job of unloading Alex Smith. Not only did they obtain a big upgrade at cornerback in Kendall Fuller, but they also improved their situation at quarterback. Smith was solid last year, but Patrick Mahomes has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl winner, and I'm excited to see what he can do with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins as his downfield threats. Meanwhile, with Fuller in the mix, Eric Berry returning from injury, and Xavier Williams and Anthony Hitchens to bolster the interior, Kansas City's defense is going to be better in 2018, even with the departure of Marcus Peters.
New England Patriots (13-3) - Previously: 2.
Things seemed bleak for the Patriots early in the offseason, as they lost Dion Lewis, Nate Solder, Cameron Fleming and Malcolm Butler to free agency. They traded for Danny Shelton and Jason McCourty, however, so their defense should be better in 2018, especially with Dont'a Hightower coming back from injury. The problem is the offensive line, as protecting a 41-year-old Tom Brady will be a problem in 2018 unless someone like Antonio Garcia (2017 third-round pick) steps up.
Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) - Previously: 1.
It's pretty remarkable that despite a dubious cap situation entering the offseason, the Eagles were able to strengthen their defensive line by adding Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they may not have Bennett because he apparently likes to push down old ladies in wheelchairs, but if he does manage to play, he's going to help Philadelphia improve its front. Meanwhile, Mike Wallace isn't great, but he's definitely an upgrade over Torrey Smith, who seemingly dropped multiple passes each week.