Football is back! This early in the season, it’s difficult to rank teams fairly and accurately. How much do you put on last year? How much on preseason feel? How much on Week 1? There’s no science to it. For the most part, I’ve thrown away Week 1 and heavily lean towards my preseason feel for each team.
I see the Eagles and 49ers as the top two teams in the league, without question. The Eagles have no flaws on their roster. If they have a flaw, it’s their head coach. But they deserve this top spot, even with a subpar showing in their Week 1 victory. The 49ers’ only flaw is their QB. And it’s not even really a flaw that will be exposed until late in the playoffs. Purdy will continue to look good in their system and with their weapons, but eventually will need to make a play or two to beat a good team. Only then will we actually know who he is as a QB. The only team that looked better than the 49ers in Week 1 was the Cowboys. Their aggressive defense will have dominant games like that. I still don’t believe in Dak, but he’s good enough to be there for the ride with this team. In the AFC, the Bengals and Chiefs both stunk in Week 1, but they’ll both be there in the end. It’s destiny.
The next tier is led by the young, unproven Lions team that was very impressive to start this season. The offense will likely figure it out considering their weapons and that elite o-line. The defense is what makes them intriguing. It looked fast. The rest of the teams in this tier are from the AFC. I like the Dolphins ahead of the Bills. If Tua remains healthy, they have a chance to make a deep run. I’m convinced Josh Allen will never learn again how to protect the football, so I’m down on the Bills. They’ll be competitive all season though. Too much talent. The Jaguars might be one year away from truly contending, but their division is so bad that I expect them to have it won by Thanksgiving. And they may be a sneaky pick for the top seed in the AFC, which is a huge advantage. The Chargers probably don’t deserve to be in this tier, but I still believe in their talent. Their coach just stinks.
I might as well name the next tier the “AFC North”, considering 3 of the 5 teams reside there. I like all of these teams, the Steelers, Browns and Ravens. Any of these teams could make the playoffs, and potentially win a playoff game, and it wouldn’t surprise me. In the NFC, I love the Packers this year. Jordan Love is going to prove that he’s the real deal and this roster is loaded around him. And finishing out this tier is the poor Jets. I genuinely feel awful for them and their fans. They had legit Super Bowl hopes until Monday Night. Without Aaron Rodgers, this defense can only take them so far, as evidenced last season. Could they make the playoffs? Sure. Could they win a game? Absolutely. But unless they get a proven QB (maybe a QB brought to LA a couple years ago who won a Super Bowl), they won’t go far.
The Saints and Falcons will likely be in a battle all season long for that division. Neither of these teams will be elite by any means. But both of them are likely capable. The Rams beating the Seahawks this week was one of the bigger shocks. I like the Rams this year, but I seem to be alone with that opinion. Matthew Stafford is still elite. Aaron Donald is still elite. And Sean McVay is still there. It really comes down to Cooper Kupp’s hammy. I think the Vikings are in trouble this year. They’re defense is going to be bad. And their offense is going to be very one-dimensional. But they did win 13 games last year. And the Giants simply forgot they had a football game on Sunday. They’ll straighten things out.
Classic Bill Belichick making a talentless Patriots team competitive in Week 1 against the Eagles. Their defense will keep them relevant. But they won’t win many games. I was a little disappointed in the Commanders in Week 1, but they have talent on their roster. It really comes down to Sam Howell improving every week. I like the Raiders, but in a deep AFC, they’re likely on the outside looking in.
The rest of these teams would shock me if they aren’t top 10 picks next year: Broncos, Buccaneers, Panthers, Bears, Titans, Texans, Colts, and Cardinals. If I had to pick 1 of these teams that could have some success and get out of this tier, I’d pick the Panthers. Maybe the Texans. But it’s tough to envision more than 6 wins or so for any of them.