NFL Power Rankings ahead of the 2021 NFL season:

Just three weeks away from the season-opener between the Cowboys and Buccaneers, I once again ranked all 32 NFL teams and split them into six different tiers, from Super Bowl contenders to – how I liked to call it – tanking teams. Putting this list together, I considered talent on the roster, how all the pieces fit together, the level of coaching and I project these teams to develop until the new year.

Of course, these will change over the course of the season, as injuries become a bigger factor, players improve/regress and teams get into a certain rhythm. Therefore I’ll come back to it, at the latest, mid-way through the 2021 season and move these groups up or down the board accordingly.

Here’s my list:

 


 

Super Bowl contenders:

 

So starting things off, I think there are three teams in the NFL that have kind of separated themselves from the rest. They all have top-tier quarterback play, great coaching and very complete rosters. Even if there’s one position group or area that we’re not 100 percent sold on, at least we’re not worried about it. It’s always smart to take the field, but I think the chance of one of these three to win it all is almost even to the other 29.

 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs 

You can certainly argue numbers one and two, but I went with the team that came up just short of repeating as NFL champs here. Kansas City addressed the area that was the biggest factor in them being outmatched in the Super Bowl, with four new starters on the offensive line potentially. They still have the biggest gamechanger (and the number one of my NFL Top 100 list) at the quarterback position, Clyde Edwards-Helaire should make a big jump, running behind this much-improved front and getting more involved in the pass game, they might have the deepest interior defensive front and they added speed on the second level with back-to-back second-round pick at linebacker. And once again, they’ll benefit from teams around the league not hiring offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, while also having Steve Spagnuolo’s creative mind, that really shines when putting together game-plans in their big matchups.

 

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

The Super Bowl winners certainly have a case for being atop this list, but this is projecting for 2021 to some degree and it took until December for this Bucs team to really kick into gear. Still, bringing back all 22 starters is absolutely unheard of and the biggest improvement for this squad should be the continuity on offense. Last season, their preparation was definitely restricted and for a while they were kind of running two different playbooks – the Bruce Arians heavy-personnel, play-action stuff and Tom Brady’s spread passing attack. We should see a more comprehensive plan this upcoming season and the development of this back-seven on defense is nothing to look past either. Would I have liked them to use their second-round pick on something wiser than a third-string QB? Sure, but it’s not like they really needed any more pieces.

 

  1. Buffalo Bills

The third and final team to join this group at the top is the one I think could have potentially defeated the Bucs in the Super Bowl. The biggest key to that would have been close to elite pass-protection, while having an almost equally as dangerous gunslinger under center. The development of Josh Allen each of the last two years has been astounding, especially coming into 2020, while Stefon Diggs turned himself into one of the top-tier receivers. They needed more production out of the backfield, adding a little more balance to their attack, but the side of the ball that has much more room for improvement is the defense. I have been a big fan of Sean McDermott’s play-calling for a long time, but they need the pass-rush to get home quicker – which they just drafted consecutive D-linemen for – and play reliable man-coverage in certain spots.

 


Second tier:

 

There is certainly a drop-off from the elite three, but the seven teams in this tier I believe will all play in January – and not just because of that 18th week added. At the same time however, they all present on real question, that I still need to see answered before I put them on the same level as the Chiefs, Bucs and Bills. There is a path for each of them to go all the way though.

 

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The first squad outside that elite tier is one that people like to doubt for multiple factors. Of course there are those crazy people saying Lamar Jackson isn’t a top-ten quarterback, they may look at some of the losses on defense and trading away Orlando Brown Jr., especially going to the team that they haven’t been able to get past in the Chiefs. To me what has held them back in those matchups was the lack of weapons and creative play-designs in the pass game, which they addressed with two of my top ten receivers in the draft, to go with signing Sammy Watkins, and bringing in a pass game coordinator in Keith Williams, to complement the exotic rushing attack of Greg Roman. Baltimore’s defense lacks a reliable alpha edge rusher, but DC Wink Martindale presents some of the most aggressive pressure looks to create issues. He just needs to learn how to change things up when facing the elite QBs.

 

  1. Los Angeles Rams 

The team receiving the most hype this offseason – and there is certainly reason for it – is the L.A. Rams. I have them in my top five, because I believe they did make a major improvement at the quarterback position by trading for Matt Stafford, but already had a great support system for him. Sean McVay has lost some of the shine, but he is still a top-tier offensive play-caller and they have the receivers to fit their system, working off all those jet motions, while focusing on the addition of speed to that unit, to take advantage of their big-armed signal-caller. Cam Akers being lost for the full season absolutely hurts, but running back is a position you can address more easily than others. And then of course they had the number one defense in yards and points allowed last season, with safety John Johnson as the one real loss.

 

  1. Green Bay Packers 

Well, I certainly feel a lot better about having the Packers this high now, with reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers back at camp. His relationship with the organization and a potential departure will be a big topic again next offseason, but the reason I have this NFC title game contender not with the other three teams playing on Conference Championship Sunday is that once again I’m underwhelmed with the additions to the roster. I actually think that second corner spot, that they addressed in the first round with Georgia’s Eric Stokes, was an important one, but so was inside linebacker, they lost the best center in football for nothing and I don’t care about trading for a somewhat washed slot receiver in Randall Cobb, when I think rookie Amari Rodgers is actually better. I like the switch at defensive coordinator to Joe Barry, but Green Bay is even at best, it feels like.

 

  1. Cleveland Browns 

While the AFC could have nine serious playoff contenders this year, I would say there is a big four at the top, which the Browns are the final team that should be part of that group. When you go through the roster top to bottom, there just isn’t much to complain about. I believe they will the best offensive line in football, the best duo of running backs, a quarterback who’s not afraid of rifling passes into tight windows when needed, a tight-end room that goes three names deep and a group of receivers, that if Odell Beckham Jr. can stay healthy, could be highly dangerous. Defensively is where they needed to make some moves – and they did at every level, with Jadeveon Clowney and a deep interior rotation, a completely overhauled linebacking core and their two biggest additions coming in the secondary, with an excellent veteran safety in John Johnson and a super-talented corner in first-rounder Greg Newsome.

 

  1. San Francisco 49ers 

Count me as one of the believers for the 49ers returning back to glory. Their bad injury luck in 2020 was at least on par with some of the things we saw out of the Chargers in years prior. I’ve said it many times – this group is not that different to the one ago, that was up by double-digits in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl just two years ago. With Trent Williams at left tackle, they are even better up front, their group of backs is deeper, Brandon Aiyuk to me is the X receiver this offense was missing and if Trey Lance is ready to play, he could be a major improvement under center. Trading away DeForest Buckner, who I just ranked as a top-20 player in the league, still hurts, but expectations for Javon Kinlaw to step into his shoes are big, while the return of Nick Bosa should certainly help. His development and the health of Jason Verrett are the two keys here.

 

  1. Seattle Seahawks

Every year I want to rank the Seahawks lower and project them to finish lower than they actually do, but I guess having Russell Wilson guarantees you double-digit wins. This has been an offseason that I can prescribe to more so than in recent years, even though their resources were limited. While they only had three picks in the draft, two of them could easily start as rookies, as D’Wayne Eskridge can give them an 11-personnel grouping loaded with speed and Tre Brown was one of my favorite undersized corners in the draft, who could fit in the slot or compete for an outside job, as they transition to more split-safety looks, heavy man-blitzes and off-coverage defensively, to evolve along with offense. Guard Gabe Jackson, as well as edge rushers Kerry Hyder and Aldon Smith were also great value free agency signings. Now it’ll be up to how much Pete Carroll is stuck in his ways of wanting to “establish the run”.

 

  1. Washington Football Team 

And closing out to the top ten is a team, that I think a lot of people like to overlook because they “barely won the horrible NFC East” and had a negative record last season. Washington was built inside out, with their best players being on the offensive and defensive lines. Now they’ve started adding the pieces around it. Adding Curtis Samuel and third-rounder Dyami Brown to Terry McLaurin gives them a potent receiving trio and they added what I believe is a super-rangy first-round linebacker in Jamin Davis and someone, who I believe is at the fringe of being a true number-one shutdown corner in William Jackson III. So the defense could be truly special and whatever you may think of Ryan Fitzpatrick, he has inarguably been a top-20 quarterback over these last two years. That’s already a major upgrade over a group highlighted by a one-legged Alex Smith in 2020.

 


Fringe playoff teams:

 

Looking at this group of seven teams, I’d say they all have like a 50 to 70 percent chance of making the playoffs. In terms of talent on the roster, each of them of could easily win double-digit games, but there’s just a couple of factors that keep me from calling them sure-fire playoff contenders, whether it’s a coaching staff that might not give them schematic advantages more often than not, below-average position groups or questionable depth.

 

  1. Miami Dolphins

Pretty clearly the closest team to that second tier and the one capable of quickly moving up the board here is Miami. The reason I can’t quite put them up there is the fact that we just haven’t seen Tua Tagovailoa play at a quality starting level yet. I called him a breakout candidate for 2021, but I just mentioned how well Fitzy played for them last season. The Phins certainly did what they could to boost his development, bringing in a couple of guys to really open up an offense that lacked explosive plays in a major way, with speedsters Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle, encouraging him to throw the ball beyond the sticks more. The defense already made a lot of plays last season, thanks to creative overload blitzes and a well-schooled, opportunistic secondary. Plus, I truly believe their other first-round pick Jaelan Phillips is somebody who can consistently win his one-on-one matchups off the edge.

 

  1. Tennessee Titans

Man, this offensive lineup for Tennessee is really star-studded, with Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, now Julio Jones and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as somebody whose numbers are right up there with the NFL’s elite. The offensive line should be better in 2021 as well, with left tackle Taylor Lewan back from injury. Defensively, they need their pass-rush to make a big jump, ranking in the bottom-three in sacks and pressure percentage last season. Bud Dupree should help in that regard. But they also need young players in the secondary to step up, with first-rounder Caleb Farley probably being asked to be their number one corner immediately and one of my top safeties in Elijah Molden most likely starting at safety or nickel. The talent is absolutely there, but they are very dependent on first- and second-year players quickly figuring things out, while the roster severely lacks depth overall.

 

  1. New England Patriots

This feels about right for the Patriots, considering they did finish last season with a 7-9 record and you can argue all the pricy signings they made can be classified as overstated, but we know Bill Belichick can make his team play up to their full potential and their offense has to better than they were in 2020. People completely forget that Cam Newton looked really good through three weeks and they were a goal-line stop away from winning all those games – and then COVID hit. Cam was never the same, the receivers could not get open to save their life and there was minimal room for error, with them relying so heavily on their power run game. The defense quietly finished seventh in points allowed and they’ll get back the heart of that unit in Dont’a Hightower and it looks like a full version of Stephon Gilmore. Not sure if they have Super Bowl potential, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t in the running for a Wild Card spot.

 

  1. Arizona Cardinals 

Looking at the Cardinals last season, they had a fulminant 6-3 start, highlighted by the Hail Murray finish against the Bills. However, from that point on they went 2-5 and squashed their playoff dreams. Opposing teams started making Kyler Murray unfortunately, by not allowing him to get outside the tackles, the passing game was static for large stretches and their linebackers got exposed in coverage. Kliff Kingsbury has to create more optimal looks in the pass game and not have DeAndre Hopkins’ route-tree look like a bald bush. Vance Joseph’s defense is what gets me excited, because they already showed signs of confusing opponents with their creative pressure-looks last season. And while their corner situation is questionable, having two high first-rounders in Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins at linebacker fixes their biggest issue from a year ago, while J.J. Watt still can be a disruptive player when allowed to sub out a little more.

 

  1. Los Angeles Chargers

The hype may not be as great as the one for the more popular L.A. team, but there’s plenty to get excited about with the Chargers. After already breaking pretty much every rookie passing record, Justin Herbert will play behind a much-improved offensive line and have arguably the best dump-off option in the league returning in Austin Ekeler, if he does get into trouble. However, what I’m even more interested in is that defense under Brandon Staley. Sure, they’re losing Melvin Ingram, but he had become a frequent visitor on the injury report and we should hopefully finally see Derwin James back on the field, which would be an incredible match in that scheme, where they run so many split-safety looks and he could end up basically anywhere, when the ball is snapped. I also love their second-round pick Asante Samuel Jr. as their field-side corner and last year’s first-rounder Kenneth Murray as a true sideline-to-sideline backer. Plus, even though he’ll be a rookie head coach, it’s almost impossible for their game-management not to be better.

 

  1. Dallas Cowboys 

In terms of teams that get too much love – as they do pretty much every year – America’s Team is once again overrated to start the season, and this year I’m not going to buy stock in them. They should absolutely be better this season, with an offensive line that gets back three starters, a defense that can only go up, with Dan Quinn’s system fitting the personnel much better, and of course Dak Prescott back under center, who erased a lot of doubts for me last season, in a limited sample size. With that being said, let’s also bear in mind that they were 1-3 in a fist fight with the Giants when Dak got hurt last year. Washington beat them by a combined 47 points lost season and only got better and the Giants are built to give them trouble. Dallas might have one of the greatest fantasy teams ever, but their defense needs a lot of young guys to step up – especially in the secondary, and it was the run game that they actually got pounded with last season.

 

  1. Indianapolis Colts 

And then with the last team I think should theoretically be fighting for a playoff spot in week 18 now, there is a lot of insecurity right now. I believe the roster is good enough to not drop down one tier, but when Sam Ehlinger is taking reps with the one’s in training camp, you have issues. The timeline for Carson Wentz’s and Quenton Nelson’s return was mentioned to span from five to twelve weeks, when they both went under the knife two weeks ago. Those are the most crucial one, in terms of variance of outcome, and by far the best player on this squad. Indy could have one of the two or three most devastating rushing attack, spearheaded by Jonathan Taylor, and at least a top-ten defense, with potentially elite players at all three levels, with DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard and Julian Blackmon. Yet, if Frank Reich can’t turn around Wentz and some of those young players at receiver and defensive end don’t step up, the AFC will have too many good teams.

 


Around .500 teams:

 

This tier seems pretty self-explanatory to me. All of these squads should finish within one-and-a-half games of the .500 mark, which now is a little more confusing, with that odd number of games, even though a couple of them may have a wider range of outcome, depending on a key factor – mostly quarterback play. However, they are all solidly built overall I would say.

 

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 

This is the one I think people might say I’m hating on, as this list comes out, because it is a premiere franchises in the NFL and just won their division last season with a 12-4 record. And I could put together an argument here how they narrowly beat teams, that looked to be easy outs on their schedule, but winning just one game from week 13 on kind of tells the story already. The defense was dominant, controlling games up front and having the premiere play-making safety on the back-end in Minkah Fitzpatrick. However, Pittsburgh had the most predictable and one-sided offense in the league, as they were dead-last in rushing yards and yards per attempt, while routinely throwing the ball short of the sticks, with shallow crossers and screens, which teams started to jump as the year went along. They did lose a few pieces on defense, they’ll have at least three new starters on the O-line and we have yet to see Big Ben be able to go vertical since his arm surgery last offseason.

 

  1. New York Giants 

I actually wanted to put the G-Men up by one tier, because I really like what they are building, but at this point I just can’t quite do it, as long as Daniel Jones turns the ball over almost twice as many times as he’s responsible for touchdowns. Dave Gettleman and company have done everything they could to set him up for success, investing a lot of draft capital into the offensive line last year and then signing a big veteran down-the-field receiver in Kenny Golladay, to go along with a dynamic YAC threat in first-rounder Kadarius Toney. Oh, and of course the most talented back on the planet – Saquon Barkley – is back healthy after pretty much a full year of recovery. Yet, what really has me intrigued is this defense, which already created issues for opponents with their size up front, to force teams to become one-dimensional and then a deep secondary, combined with Patrick Graham’s different flavors of coverages and blitz packages.

 

  1. New Orleans Saints 

It feels a bit weird to have the Saints this low, after they were in my “Super Bowl contender” tier just a year ago. And the roster is pretty much intact, while the retirement of Drew Brees isn’t a huge deal for me, considering how his conservative play-call and limited physical tools at this stage of his career held the Saints aerial attack back at times, while the team was 8-1 over these last two seasons without him. I believe they have one of the better O-lines in the league and arguably the best all-around back in Alvin Kamara. To me, it’s much more about their starting duo of receivers to begin the year being Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway, with the status of Michael Thomas up in the air, and an aging defense, with four starters at the age of 32 or older, which also lost their most productive player in defensive end Trey Hendrickson. Throw in the fact that Jameis Winston has had infamous turnover issues and Taysom Hill has never thrown for 300 yards or three touchdowns in a game, and I’m a bit worried.

 

  1. Chicago Bears

Mid-way through last season, the only defense playing better than the Bears’ unit was the one I previously mentioned in the Steelers. They absolutely carried the team to a 5-1 start, but with Akiem Hicks getting banged up and the loaded to carry becoming to large, they started falling off, until taking advantage of an easy three-game stretch, where the offense finally started to find a rhythm, and some help from the Cardinals, to get that final playoff spot in the NFC by default. The positives from a season, where they never felt like they actually were up to challenging the elite teams, are the David Montgomery taking a step big step, as a physical presence between the tackles, the O-line coming together when they found the right starting five, and the level this defense showed they’re still capable of playing, when their offense can at least keep them off the field a little bit. Letting go Kyle Fuller and Charles Leno was surprising, but Andy Dalton should already be a more consistent option under center and Justin Fields has superstar potential, in an offense similar to what he excelled in at Ohio State.

 

  1. Denver Broncos 

I just can’t say it enough – people don’t realize how loaded this Broncos roster is. That may sound odd to casual fans, coming off a 5-11 campaign, but outside of the quarterback position, they’re at least as good as any other team in the AFC West. Their offensive line, skill-position talent, defensive front and secondary are all at least top-ten league-wide – and that’s conservative. I believe in Pat Shurmur and Vic Fangio’s schemes on either side of the ball and they have the players for it. So it really all comes down to what they get from the QB position. Teddy Bridgewater would seem like the more appealing option to an oldschool defensive-minded head coach, who just wants that guy not to throw away games, but their ceiling is capped with him I believe. Drew Lock is the big wildcard, because his feel for the game and taking care of the ball need to turn around quickly, but he has the talent to take advantage of the talent around him.

 

  1. Minnesota Vikings 

The Vikings are in a bit of a weird place. They have star players on both sides of the ball, but many of them on defense are aging and probably overpaid at this point, their only reliable pass-rusher Danielle Hunter hasn’t been on the field since major back surgery that forced him to miss all of 2020 and Kirk Cousins is just flat-out average as a quarterback. Klint Kubiak taking over for his father Gary, with almost the same personnel should give them some stability and I wouldn’t expect a Mike Zimmer-overlooked defense to finish 27th in the league again, but there are certainly questions. Getting their two starting linebackers back from injury will be big and a lot of their young guys benefitted from receiving playing time last season, plus they added depth to their receiving corp. Following the principle of Minnesota making the playoffs every other year, they’d be due to play in January again, but that would probably be with a 9-8 record, with how top-heavy the NFC is.

 


Not proven yet:

 

Last year I only have five tiers, but it made sense to me to add one between the .500 teams and the bottom-feeders, especially with how I would describe the teams of this group. All of them have things to get excited about, but there are more question marks than answers at this point, whether it’s truly unproven players in key spots, changes at the quarterback position or teams that are still in the transition period overall, as I would call it.

 

  1. Carolina Panthers

I’m stunned to see how low the Panthers find themselves in a lot of these preseason rankings and I actually feel bad myself for having them relatively low. There’s quite a few things to feel good looking ahead to their future, with Matt Rhule running the show. The key will be Sam Darnold turning his career around, but they retain their young offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who seems poised to become the next wonderkid head coach, Carolina has a very underrated trio of receivers and Christian McCaffrey is looking to re-emerge as the top dual-threat weapon in football. The defense has some things to get excited about as well, with a really deep rotation up front, highlighted by one of the under-the-radar stars of this league in Brian Burns, and more in-your-face, press-man coverage to be expected after using a top ten pick on corner Jaycee Horn. I just need to see Darnold resemble the player I saw at USC again before I quite put them in the tier above.

 

  1. Las Vegas Raiders 

I just don’t get what the Raiders are doing. Sure, they weren’t in the best cap situation looking ahead, and they probably weren’t going to compete for the AFC anyway, even if their series against Kansas City last season may suggest so, but looking at the additions and departures, this just doesn’t seem like a team trying to compete at the highest level – if they even make any sense at all. The offensive line – their best position group over the last four or five years – now has to replace three high-quality starters, including one of the two best centers in football in Rodney Hudson. They released their two best interior pass-rushers and could have four new starters in the secondary (nickel personnel). While I do look the vision for this defense under Gus Bradley, which I discussed in detail before, they lack true impact players, they have one legitimate weapon in the pass game and continuity up front is something that still has to be established.

 

  1. Atlanta Falcons 

While the Raiders seem to be on the decline, the Falcons to me are just sending mixed signals. Drafting Florida tight-end Kyle Pitts fourth overall rather than going for Justin Fields suggests that they want maximize this window that they have with 36-year old Matt Ryan, but then they squash the Julio Jones situation so bad, that they have to trade him and make this a net even move at best. I think Mike Davis is significantly better than the option they had out of the backfield in 2020 and I thought they had a good draft overall, but defensively their duo of linebackers is by far the best they have going for themselves, with Grady Jarrett as the only proven disruptor up front and nobody proven in the secondary. Play-calling should certainly improve, with new head coach Arthur Smith bringing some of the best feel for situational opportunities and Dean Pees offering great complexity of defensive looks.

 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars 

Doesn’t this sort of feel like a re-brand, with Urban Meyer taking over organizational control and Trevor Lawrence praised as the savior of this franchise? I like their skill-position talent and they bring back all five starters on an O-line, that is at least average and has continuity. However, the defense is still a major question mark, with so many young players needing to step up right away and what you expect from Joe Cullen’s system, adapting to personnel that was originally built for a Seattle-style single-high safety heavy approach, with penetrating even fronts, while he was used to having space-eaters up front and exotic calls for the back-seven. We should see Lawrence have pretty much immediate success in what should be a very similar offense to what he had at Clemson, but they need the guys around him to grow up quickly.

 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals 

I believe the Bengals could easily be top-ten in terms of offensive weaponry and quarterback play this season already, if Joe Burrow is fully recovered. Unfortunately, they didn’t address the offensive line with the parts I would have liked them to and the defense has only like two or three established players, between Jessie Bates of course and a couple of guys on the D-line. With the loss of William Jackson III, they don’t have a true number one corner and at the second level, they’re kind of just throwing a bunch of mid-round picks together and see who will stick. I think having a healthy D.J. Reader will immediately upgrade the run defense and they stole what I believe is the best nickel in the NFL from Pittsburgh in Mike Hilton, but will have to win a few shootouts and I’m not sure how much better their protection will be.

 

  1. New York Jets 

I’m excited for Jets fans, because I see what Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh and company are building. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will lead to many wins this year already. This offensive line could quietly be pushing around defensive fronts on a weekly basis, with the investments they have made these last two years, the receiving corp is infinitely better, with Corey Davis coming over from Tennessee and rookie Elijah Moore being the star of training camp season, and I think they got a steal in fourth-round RB Michael Carter Jr. for a team that started Frank Gore for large stretches last season. Even more so, Saleh has a D-line resembling what he had in San Francisco, rangy players on the second level and a Pro Bowl-level safety in Marcus Maye. With his guidance, this unit could quickly be one that creates issues for opponents. However, having arguably the worst cornerback room in the league will definitely hurt them and lead to big plays going the other way.

 


Tanking teams:

 

In this tier, we have the teams that I believe have the potential to pick first in the draft come next April. With how unpredictable the NFL is and some position for all three having upside to change their fortunes to some degree, they could be fairly competitive on a weekly basis, but there are several factors, that have me believing they will be outmatched and on the losing end for the majority of the season.

 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles 

I don’t feel great about having the Eagles in this tier, because I would almost like to separate them with the two teams below them, but having two tier for three teams seemed absurd to me. They do certainly have the most motivation to win, in terms of a second-year QB in Jalen Hurts looking to establish himself as a starter, several veterans who want to get back to being competitive and a coaching staff, that Philly fans have been lukewarm on all along. So maybe “tanking” is the wrong way to say it, but the Eagles are clearly rebuilding. The reason I think there is separation to numbers 31 and 32 is that they are still built pretty strong up front on either side of the ball – at least if the O-line can finally stay healthy. Yet, with a quarterback that still has a long way to go as a passer and eight combined starters in their 30’s – with some concerning injury histories – I think this could end badly.

 

  1. Detroit Lions 

And once again, you could separate the Lions from the team coming in dead-last here, if we knew all the facts. While the defensive front is a bit of question mark, in terms of what they will run and how they will have at least two rookies starting on the interior, they have the potential to become of the premiere O-lines in the league a year or two from now. However, other than a few bright spots like T.J. Hockenson and Romeo Okwara, there’s not a ton to get excited about. I mean this is after all a team, that won five games last season, and has since seen a major downgrade quarterback with Jared Goff instead of Matt Staffor, lost by far their two best receivers, and really their only investment being a third-round pick into a secondary, that looked awful for most of last season. Plus, this seems like an organization, that has realized they need to let somebody build from the ground up.

 

  1. Houston Texans 

Here we are. Dead-last. And this potentially might not even be close. The whole Deshaun Watson situation is obviously hovering over this franchise and if he plays – which I still have a hard time seeing – he should will them to three or four wins by himself, even though his motivation appears to be at an all-time low. With that being said, by far their best player outside of Deshaun – and the only one to make my NFL Top 100 is left tackle Laremy Tunsil. The other four starters of the O-line are all below-average, they’ve now lost their best receiver each of the last two years, they for some reason have like five veteran running backs on the roster and the defense might not have a single true impact player – with Zach Cunningham and Justin Reid being the closest ones to fit that description. There’s really not much more to say. Tyrod Taylor won’t sink the ship, but they seem to have already hit the ice-berg and have to swim back to land now.

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