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The NFL preseason is centermost home. In aloof over two weeks, the Atlanta Falcons will accomplish the expedition to Philadelphia to face the Eagles in the 2018 analysis opener.
The all-important (or at atomic as important as exhibition amateur get) “dress rehearsal” amateur are advancing up this week, but already some things are allocation out beyond the league. Position battles are advancing into focus. We’re accepting a feel for which rookies could be set for big things in their aboriginal seasons. And some afflicted teams accept already been apathetic by the abrasion bug.
The affective and afraid beyond football over the accomplished brace of weeks has acquired some alive in the NFL adeptness rankings accumulated by Bleacher Report NFL analysts Brad Gagnon, Brent Sobleski and Gary Davenport.
As a amount of fact, for the third time in as abounding editions of these rankings, a new aggregation has claimed the No. 1 spot.
We’ll get to the top aggregation anon enough, but aboriginal off, we accept to alpha at the bottom—with a aggregation that has active that aperture from the beginning.
Note: Affective advanced with these rankings, a tiebreaker activity has been instituted. If two (or more) teams tie in accumulated ranking, the aggregation with the accomplished abandoned baronial will accept the college rank. If teams are angry in accomplished abandoned baronial as well, the aggregation with bigger Super Bowl allowance at OddsShark will “win” the tie. Ties are bad.
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Last Week: 32
Now that the Tampa Buccaneers are 2-0 in the preseason afterwards downing the Tennessee Titans aftermost week, admirers of the aggregation adeptness be apprehensive aback the Bucs are activity to get some account from the panel.
Well, the console wonders why the aggregation won’t accompany aback the “Creamsicle” uniforms. Activity is abounding of little mysteries.
The Buccaneers looked acceptable adjoin the Titans, but that doesn’t change the actuality that Tampa has abounding added questions than answers. Can Tampa authorize a constant active game? Will the NFL’s affliction aegis from 2017 be clearly bigger this season? And how will the Buccaneers break in altercation in an NFC South breadth three teams fabricated the postseason a year ago afterwards the casework of starting quarterback Jameis Winston over the aboriginal three weeks of the year?
The answers to those questions are not with Ronald Jones averaging beneath than a backyard a carry, not with the league’s affliction accessory already banged up.
And they won’t.
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Last Week: 31
It didn’t booty connected for our new tiebreaker to arise into play. The Dolphins angry the Buccaneers in accumulated ranking, but B/R NFL analyst Gary Davenport’s slotting of Miami at No. 29 gives them the No. 31 aperture in these rankings.
Chant forth at home: We’re not last! We’re not last!
Since it was Davenport who bankrupt the tie, we let him explain why the Dolphins aren’t the affliction aggregation in the league—or alike (in his opinion) the affliction aggregation in the AFC East.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Davenport said, “the Dolphins are not a acceptable football team. The pass-catching band is a mess, both curve are catechism marks, and if the first-team linebackers comedy all analysis the way they accept to date this summer, the team’s activity to acquiesce 427 yards a d on the ground. But Miami at atomic has a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill who has apparent he can be analytic competent aback advantageous (unlike the Buffalo Bills’ quarterbacks), and the accessory and arena d are bigger than the Buccaneers’. Miami will win aloof abundant to blend up its abstract slot.”
That “endorsement” didn’t arena alike a little.
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Last Week: T28
The acceptable account for the Buffalo Bills is that amateur quarterback Josh Allen looked abundant bigger in his additional preseason assignment adjoin the Cleveland Browns than in the aboriginal adjoin the Carolina Panthers. He was added absolute and authentic and connected a few plays with his legs.
The bad for the Bills is that Allen had bigger accept looked better—because with adept free-agent analeptic AJ McCarron now out indefinitely with a aerial breach of his collarbone, the allowance of Allen starting in Anniversary 1 adjoin the Baltimore Ravens accept gone way up.
The Bills now face an absurd decision. Roll a amateur quarterback out there on aperture weekend adjoin a acceptable Ravens aegis or achievement adjoin achievement that—despite aing to no passing-game aptitude to allege of—second-year pro Nathan Peterman will somehow be able to move the breach finer until Allen is accessible or McCarron is back.
And with three new starters on the abhorrent line, either youngster’s apt to spending far too abundant time attractive out his earhole.
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Last Week: T28
Maybe we’re sleeping on the New York Jets again.
In 2017, the New York Jets were a contemporary aces in abounding circles to column a winless season. Gang Green didn’t arise close—the Jets won bristles amateur and absent as abounding added aing ones. Todd Bowles was hailed for accomplishing a lot with a little to at atomic accumulate the Jets in games.
Veteran quarterback Josh McCown deserves his allotment of acclaim for New York’s competitiveness, too. Not abandoned is McCown back, but Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold accept both had their moments in affected and the preseason. There’s some achievement that New York’s atrocious chase for a authorization quarterback may assuredly be advancing an end.
But 5-11 is still 5-11. McCown is 57 years old (or maybe 39…whatever). Bridgewater hasn’t played a abounding d that counts aback the 2015 playoffs. And Darnold’s aing regular-season pro alpha will be his aboriginal one.
Never apperception a aegis that looks…let’s go with “unimpressive” on paper.
It may be that we aren’t sleeping at all, and the Jets attending a lot like a 5-11 aggregation again.
At atomic they came in additional in the AFC East. So there’s that.
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Last Week: T28
Like abounding of the teams a the basal of the adeptness rankings, the Arizona Cardinals are in a aeon of alteration at quarterback. Carson Palmer is gone, replaced by a present-and-future duo of adept Sam Bradford and No. 10 all-embracing aces Josh Rosen.
If the Redbirds abhorrent band looks the aforementioned as it did aftermost season, the approaching will be the present by Anniversary 3.
In 2017, the Cardinals accustomed added sacks than any aggregation in the NFC—Arizona signal-callers were hauled bottomward a whopping 52 times.
Rosen was accepted for abounding things at UCLA. A able and authentic arm was one of them. Mobility was not. And if Bradford was anytime ambiguous alike a little, he isn’t now. He’s a 30-year-old on bad knees with an abrasion history as connected as the Grand Canyon is deep.
Arizona’s best audacious weakness aloof so happens to be the breadth the aggregation can atomic allow to be anemic in.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, spells trouble.
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Last Week: 26
The Cleveland Browns abandoned a atom this anniversary and are in the basal six abundantly because Davenport continues to rank the Browns aftermost in the league. He insists that no amount what happens in the preseason, that isn’t activity to change.
“I don’t affliction if Baker Mayfield hits Josh Gordon with a touchdown canyon that’s so appealing the zebras adjudge to accord the aggregation 10 points,” he growled. “Until the Browns win a d that counts, they are the aforementioned dumpster blaze of a authorization that has one win the aftermost two seasons. Now get off my lawn.”
However, fizz has been steadily architecture that aloof maybe the Browns aren’t a amazon can this year afterwards all. And Sobleski, who ranked the Browns 10 slots college than Davenport, is listening.
“It’s amazing how the Browns accept captured the NFL’s acuteness afterwards an 0-16 campaign,” he wrote. “Yet, this year’s Adamantine Knocks angel is far added accomplished compared to aftermost year’s squad. Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield (finally) accord the alignment a competent quarterback duo. The aggregation is abundant bigger at the accomplishment positions as well—which was accurate alike afore Josh Gordon’s return. As connected as all the affective pieces arise together, the Browns are activity to be abominable competitive.”
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Last Week: 27
The Colts are climbing! Attending at that surge!
Snark aside, the Colts didn’t bang up one atom this anniversary because of their defense. Said aegis was aftermost in the AFC in yards accustomed in 2017. Or because of an abhorrent band that surrendered 3.5 sacks a d a year ago.
Talk about offensive.
No, the Colts bumped up a atom because of one affair and one affair only—Andrew Austen Luck.
As Kevin Hickey arise for Colts Wire, accepting No. 12 aback on the convenance acreage has accustomed the accomplished aggregation a boost.
“It’s been from day one,” arch drillmaster Aboveboard Reich told reporters. “He’s had that, as you said, pep in his footfall and acceptable energy. I can’t accent that enough. Aloof really, absolutely acceptable activity advancing from him and the aggregation but acutely him as our baton on the field—one of our leaders on the field.”
If Luck is healthy, he’s the best signal-caller in the AFC South—and that abandoned is account for a admeasurement of optimism in Indy.
Optimism that Brad Gagnon is affairs into…at atomic somewhat.
“So connected as Andrew Luck is advantageous and on track,” Gagnon wrote, “the Colts aren’t a bottom-five team. Am I anxious about Luck’s surgically-repaired throwing shoulder? Of course, but I’m giving him abundant of the account of the agnosticism to acknowledge that Indy is bigger than teams with accessible ceilings like Baltimore, Buffalo and Cincinnati.”
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Last Week: 25
There’s a appealing big gap amid the aerial and low rankings for the Cincinnati Bengals amid our panelists. Brent Sobleski has the Bengals central the top 20, but Brad Gagnon slid Cincy all the way to 28.
Davenport appropriate the two achieve it 18th century-style with a duel. In accompanying news, Gary isn’t an abnormally accessible person.
Frankly, which of our writers is actual will acceptable depend on the comedy of one assemblage aloft all else—the abhorrent line.
There’s been affluence accounting and said over the years apropos Andy Dalton’s addiction to advance in a apple-pie abridged but attempt in a big way beneath pressure. Granted, aloof about every QB in the alliance prefers not active for his life, but the gap is alike added arresting than accepted with “the Red Rifle.”
That band was abominable in 2017, and Dalton struggled. If newcomers Cordy Glenn and Billy Price advice coalesce it, the Bengals could be much-improved.
But if Glenn can’t break advantageous (again) or Price struggles to acclimatize to the pros, it’s activity to be addition connected year in the Queen City.
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Last Week: 24
Have you anytime dreamed of beginning through the band of scrimmage, antagonism bottomward the amusement and active into the end area for an NFL touchdown?
If so, afresh this may be your advantageous day—because the Washington Redskins are one abrasion at active aback abroad from accessible tryouts in the parking lot at Planet Fitness.
As Ian Rapoport arise for NFL.com, afterwards actuality hit adamantine by injuries at active aback (including accident amateur Derrius Guice to an ACL tear) the Washington Redskins are signing adept tailback Adrian Peterson.
That would be abundant news—if this was 2012. But Peterson averaged aloof 3.4 yards a backpack aftermost year in Arizona. In 2018, it looks like a Washington aggregation that was 28th in hasty aftermost year is activity to acquaintance agnate struggles on the ground.
That’s activity to put a lot of burden on quarterback Alex Smith to move the brawl through the air—with a so-so accumulation of pass-catchers and defenses alive abounding able-bodied that Washington can’t run the ball.
A compound for abhorrent success, it ain’t.
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Last Week: 23
Want to apperceive why the Oakland Raiders aren’t ranked central the top 20?
Because they’re a agglomeration of astigmatic dimwits, that’s why.
The Raiders are beneath than three weeks abroad from their analysis opener adjoin the Rams in Oakland, but the team’s best amateur is boilerplate to be found. The Khalil Mack arrangement impasse continues, and while the Raiders (per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area) accept no affairs to barter Mack, they additionally aren’t aing to an addendum for the 2016 Arresting Amateur of the Year.
Mack isn’t aloof Oakland’s best arresting amateur by a mile. He’s arguably the best arresting amateur in the absolute National Football League. A generational aptitude with the adeptness to booty over a game.
The abandoned advance of activity that makes beneath faculty than trading a amateur like that is absolution him languish because the team’s either too bargain or bankrupt to pony up the banknote Mack is worth.
In an offseason abounding with head-scratching decisions by the Raiders, the administration of the Mack adventure is the itchiest of the lot.
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Last Week: 22
This is the additional time in these rankings that we’ve had a tie in accumulated baronial acclimatized by the accomplished abandoned baronial tiebreaker.
It’s additionally the additional time that it was Davenport who bankrupt the tie, so it’s on him to explain his baronial of the Seattle Seahawks at No. 18.
“That I’m the aerial ranker of the Seahawks at 18th in the alliance is about as amazing an allegation of how far the aggregation has collapsed as the rankings of my colleagues,” he said. “For several years the Seahawks were the gold accepted of the NFC. Now they’re…well aloof attending at them.
“The abhorrent band is bad, baronial 31st in run blocking and 25th in canyon pro in 2017, per Football Outsiders,” he continued. “Even with a new OL drillmaster and an allegedly advantageous Duane Brown, it isn’t activity to aback become great…or alike good. The Legion of Boom is gone—no Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas (at atomic appropriate now). Rashaad Penny is already hurt. So is Doug Baldwin. There’s Russell Wilson, and…”
“Maybe I high-balled them.”
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Last Week: T19
If you’re the blazon who prefers to accentuate the positive, afresh the takeaway from this baronial is that there isn’t a lot of altercation amid the NFL analysts actuality at Bleacher Report.
Of course, that acceding is that Denver’s neither abhorrent nor abnormally good.
To be fair, the Denver breach looked a lot bigger adjoin the Chicago Bears than adjoin the Vikings the anniversary before. Case Keenum wasn’t absolute at quarterback, but the Broncos amateur beneath centermost hit on 8-of-13 passes and led a brace of scoring drives.
The Broncos accept invested a lot of money in the acceptance that the Keenum we saw aftermost year in Minnesota is the absolute accord and not a one-year accident who will about-face aback into the artisan he was the aboriginal bristles years of his career. And Keenum has some weapons at his auctioning in wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
But those weapons aren’t accepting any younger, the arena d and O-line are abeyant concerns, and Denver’s aegis looks added “decent” and beneath the ascendant assemblage that propelled the Broncos to the Super Bowl 50 title.
That may able-bodied be the Broncos in a nutshell. Decent, but not great.
Nothing worse in the NFL than mediocrity.
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Last Week: 16
The Detroit Lions accomplished a free-fall of sorts in the Bleacher Report adeptness rankings, bottomward four abounding spots from No. 16 aftermost anniversary to No. 20.
Perhaps it’s because of the team’s blah achievement adjoin the New York Giants—a achievement that Lions exhausted biographer Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press intimated could be the aftereffect of the arduous convenance administration instituted by new arch drillmaster Matt Patricia.
More acceptable it’s the aftereffect of a Lions breach that hasn’t looked acceptable in the preseason. A Detroit arena d that was aftermost in the NFL in 2017 continues to struggle, and while Matthew Stafford has played abandoned a few series, those alternation accept resulted in adored few points.
The Lions are hardly a arresting juggernaut. If this aggregation is activity to be a amateur in the NFC North, it’s activity to be because of Stafford and the offense.
An breach that had bigger get its aggregate act calm in this week’s dress rehearsal.
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Last Week: 21
There hasn’t been a aggregation in the NFL that’s ping-ponged about added in contempo years than the New York Giants. Over the aftermost three seasons, the G-Men accept careened from a six-win aggregation in 2015 to an 11-win playoff aggregation to a 3-13 faceplant in an injury-ravaged blend of a attack aftermost year.
Two of the analysts actuality at B/R accept their doubts about Big Blue. However, Gagnon thinks the Giants could be a to backlash aloof as they did two years ago—provided they get the additional all-embracing aces in this year’s abstract aback soon.
“If Saquon Barkley’s hamstring abrasion lingers, the Giants will bead absolutely dramatically,” Gagnon said. “But it’s too aboriginal to alpha carper a aggregation that should be in band to animation aback in a aloft way with Barkley on board, Odell Beckham Jr. advantageous and Nate Solder attention Eli Manning’s dark side.”
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Last Week: T19
The Chicago Bears are headed in the appropriate direction. The breach added a cardinal of weapons in the offseason. The aegis was absolutely a bit bigger than best bodies apprehend aftermost year and added an actual appulse amateur in linebacker Roquan Smith.
That the Bears accept leap-frogged the Detroit Lions indicates the ample optimism surrounding the aggregation in 2018. But with a baronial of 23rd in the alliance (a abounding six spots lower than the next-closest writer), Davenport doesn’t arise to be affairs in aloof yet.
“Will the Bears be bigger than a year ago? They absolutely should be,” Davenport wrote. “The additions of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Anthony Miller accord adolescent quarterback Mitchell Trubisky abundant bigger targets in the casual d than a year ago. But in 12 starts aftermost year, Trubisky managed aloof seven touchdown passes and a passer appraisement of beneath than 80. In a analysis with three accurate adept quarterbacks, Trubisky’s the agrarian card—a agrarian agenda that relegates the Bears to fourth in the NFC North in my book.”
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Last Week: 18
The Baltimore Ravens abide to accomplish as abundant altercation amid our rankers as any aggregation in the NFL. Davenport ranks the aggregation on the outskirts of playoff altercation at No. 13. Gagnon, however, expects Baltimore’s struggles of the accomplished few years to not abandoned abide but accelerate.
If there’s one man who will actuate which biographer is right, it’s adept quarterback Joe Flacco.
There are no curtailment of bodies who anticipate Flacco is not about as acceptable as his paycheck—including all three writers who ranked these teams. But as Flacco told the Baltimore Sun (via CBS Sports) in acknowledgment to the affirmation fabricated by Jaguars bend Jalen Ramsey that Flacco “,” he doesn’t affliction what bodies think.
“I don’t absolutely accept abundant of a comment,” Flacco said. “I don’t absolutely care. There’s affluence of bodies out there adage things. Aloof add one added to the list. No big deal.”
The naysayers may not be a big accord to Flacco yet, but if the Ravens get off to a apathetic start, that could change in a hurry. With Lamar Jackson in town, calls for Flacco to get the angle could get loud…quickly.
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Last Week: 17
The San Francisco 49ers are one of the league’s added absorbed teams—especially on the abhorrent ancillary of the ball. With Kyle Shanahan allegorical a assemblage that shelled out big bucks for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tailback Jerick McKinnon in the offseason, abounding apprehend a huge bound advanced from the Niners in the accessible season.
The botheration is the aggregation is already banged up.
As Kevin Patra of NFL.com wrote, San Francisco GM John Lynch told KNBR Radio that McKinnon will absence the blow of the preseason with a dogie strain.
“The acceptable account is it’s not activity to be long-term,” Lynch said, “The bad account is it’s activity to booty him up to Anniversary 1, our opener, so his befalling to get added in accent in our system, that affectionate of goes out the door.”
It’s an abrasion that underscores that McKinnon has never been a featured aback as a pro—and that for all the abeyant in San Fran this year, there abide as abounding questions as answers offensively.
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Last Week: 15
Whether the Dallas Cowboys are the double-digit-win playoff aggregation of two years ago or aftermost year’s also-ran in 2018 apparently boils bottomward to one angle of the team. The big alien this year.
The casual game.
We apperceive the Cowboys will be able to run the brawl with Zeke Elliott abaft one of the league’s best O-lines. We additionally apperceive arresting end Demarcus Lawrence and linebacker Sean Lee will advance a aegis that, while not elite, is agilely solid (eighth in absolute aegis in 2017).
But we don’t apperceive who (if anyone) is activity to footfall up as the Cowboys No. 1 advanced receiver. Will it be amateur Michael Gallup? Free agent-addition Allen Hurns? Adept holdover Terrance Williams?
OK—it won’t be Williams.
For what it’s worth, Sobleski isn’t too anxious about the Dallas casual game.
“As connected as the Cowboys affection the game’s best accomplished abhorrent band and Ezekiel Elliott, they accept a chance,” he said. “But the team’s bigger concern—wide receiver—seems beneath so than aback training affected started. Dak Prescott’s affinity with his receivers continues to grow, and big-play adeptness still exists with Hurns, Tavon Austin and Gallup giving the aggregation options on the outside.”
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Last Week: T13
There were positives and negatives to be gleaned from Carolina’s two preseason wins.
Second-year tailback Christian McCaffrey has been a positive. McCaffrey broiled the Miami Dolphins aftermost week, demography his aboriginal backpack 71 yards for a account and axle up able-bodied over 100 absolute yards in bound action.
The comedy of the abhorrent band has been addition story. A advanced bristles that was hit appealing adamantine by cadre losses and injuries over the accomplished several months has struggled at times—especially in canyon protection.
The closing is added account for affair than the aloft is for celebration. McCaffrey is not activity to adeptness through acquaintance consistently. He needs holes to run through. And if the run d sputters and the Panthers accept to air it out, it takes the Panthers out of their abundance zone.
To be fair, the Panthers did aloof accomplished in that attention adjoin the Dolphins. But that was one analysis or so of one d adjoin a so-so defense…and alike afresh the canyon pro for Cam Newton wasn’t abnormally good. The anniversary afore adjoin the Buffalo Bills, McCaffrey managed aloof 11 yards on four carries.
At their best, Carolina wins by active the football and arena defense. By acceptable the activity in the trenches.
It fabricated the playoffs that way in 2017. Fabricated the Super Bowl that way at the cessation of the 2015 season.
Right now the Panthers aren’t acceptable those battles. At atomic not consistently.
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Last Week: 12
If Kansas City’s additional preseason d was any indication, it’s activity to be an absorbing analysis for the Chiefs.
There was a glimpse into aloof how atomic the Chiefs adeptness be offensively, with Patrick Mahomes hitting Tyreek Hill for a connected touchdown pass. Unfortunately, the Chiefs aegis was as bad as that comedy was good, putting up aught attrition adjoin Matt Ryan and the Atlanta starters.
These Chiefs, as anon constructed, are congenital to win shootouts. The breach is loaded with playmakers—Hill, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and now Sammy Watkins. The aegis has Justin Houston, Eric Berry and…that’s about it.
Both of those players accept struggled with injuries of late, and this was a bad arresting aggregation with Marcus Peters a year ago.
If the Chiefs acquire a echo cruise to the playoffs afterwards acceptable the AFC West a year ago, it’s activity to be on the aback of the offense. Lots of 28-24 and 30-27 final scores.
These Chiefs aren’t endlessly anyone, though. So that playoff anchorage is a toss-up.
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Last Week: T13
As was mentioned aftermost week, it’s Gagnon who is assault the boom for Houston as a top-10 team.
“I don’t accept the abridgement of adulation for the Texans,” he said aftermost week. “Deshaun Watson wasn’t aloof active abroad with Abhorrent Amateur of the Year—the dude was an MVP applicant afore activity bottomward with a midseason knee injury. At that point, Houston had denticulate 33-plus credibility in bristles afterwards games. With a advantageous Watson and J.J. Watt, there’s little agnosticism this is a top-10 team.”
Davenport bumped the aggregation a brace slots this week, but he still isn’t a accepter that the Texans are austere contenders.
“I aloof don’t assurance this aggregation to break healthy,” Davenport said. “Or added importantly, I don’t assurance the players the Texans best charge to be acknowledged this year to break healthy.”
If Watson, Watt and Houston’s added edge-rushers can break healthy, this aggregation has the abeyant to be a force in the AFC South.
But accustomed their corresponding abrasion histories, that’s a big accumulation of “ifs.”
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Last Week: 11
The Tennessee Titans won a playoff d aftermost year. But the Titans don’t get abundant run as a accepted contender. Or alike as a top-10 team.
That’s breadth two of our analysts accept the Titans slotted.
New arch drillmaster Mike Vrabel affiliated a appealing abundant situation, at atomic by the standards of the squads best first-year arch men get. The Titans accept a accomplished adolescent quarterback in Marcus Mariota. Added accomplishment position aptitude than the aggregation is accustomed acclaim for. A young, beggarly abhorrent line. And a aegis that accomplished able-bodied central the top bisected of the NFL and added a Super Bowl MVP in the offseason.
The Titans should be able to run the brawl with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. The absence of Rishard Matthews hurts, but Taywan Taylor has fatigued acclaim in camp. Tennessee was advantageous abundant to alter the afflicted John Cyprien with addition accurate vet at assurance in Kenny Vaccaro.
On cardboard at least, this is a aggregation afterwards abounding holes.
And maybe bigger than abounding think.
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Last Week: 10
There’s a aberrant new affect ambit through the Chargers fanbase this summer.
The Chargers are a contemporary aces to win the AFC West in 2018. Per OddsShark, the boys in Vegas agree, instilling the Bolts as the favorites. Los Angeles is the highest-ranked aggregation in the analysis in these adeptness rankings as well.
It was a bound sample size, but the Chargers first-team breach fabricated those hopes arise justified. In his aboriginal d activity of the preseason, adept quarterback Philip Rivers teamed with tailback Melvin Gordon to move the Chargers bottomward the acreage and into the end area with ease. The league’s fourth-ranked breach in 2017 was in midseason form.
There are apropos defensively (stopping the run arch amid them) but strengths as well—a absurd pass-rushing duo and loaded secondary.
It’s odd to say this about the Chargers, and to be aboveboard it feels like agreeable fate—daring the creation to afresh rain bad luck on one of the best snake-bitten franchises in football.
But the Los Angeles Chargers are the best complete aggregation in their division—and it isn’t all that close.
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Last Week: 9
It was appealing audibly approved aftermost year that as goes quarterback Aaron Rodgers, so goes Green Bay. Aback Rodgers went down, so did the Packers—right into the toilet.
Something abroad has been approved during the Rodgers era in Titletown though—the affair that’s keeping Green Bay adjoin the basal of the top 10 here.
Even the abundant Aaron Rodgers can’t do it all by himself.
A Packers arena d that struggled to move the brawl with any bendability aftermost year has already apparent Jamaal Williams ache an abate injury. Green Bay’s accessory is young, and it’s been a while aback the Packers got afterwards opposing quarterbacks with any regularity.
If all of those things abatement into place, afresh accomplish no mistake—the Pack can accomplish the playoffs. Win the AFC North. Heck, accomplish it to Atlanta and comedy in Super Bowl LIII.
But if they don’t, the Packers will be the aforementioned aggregation they’ve been added years than not with Rodgers.
A awry playoff adversary that can’t absolutely allowance the accord in the postseason.
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Last Week: 8
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in alien territory. They access the analysis as the favorites in their analysis afterwards advancing all the way to the AFC Championship Bold in 2017. The words “Jaguars” and “Super Bowl” are actuality said in the aforementioned book afterwards laughter.
The acumen for that is mostly the Jaguars defense. Jacksonville was one of the league’s stingiest defenses a analysis ago, acceptance an NFL-low 169.9 yards per game.
The Jaguars breach is addition story. It’s not that the Jags were a bad abhorrent team—they ranked sixth in the NFL. But Blake Bortles and the casual d were inconsistent, and as a aftereffect there were weeks aback that breach sputtered.
It’s that breach that gives Sobleski (who ranked Jacksonville abaft Tennessee at No. 11) concerns.
“No one can abjure the Jags’ arresting prowess,” he said. “The aggregation is as acceptable as it gets on that ancillary of the ball. Although, questions still abide about quarterback Blake Bortles—despite what Jalen Ramsey says—and advanced receiver. Furthermore, the AFC South has risen from the ashes, and the antagonism amid Jacksonville, the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and alike Indianapolis Colts will accomplish Jacksonville’s aisle to the playoffs far added difficult.”
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Last Week: 7
The Atlanta Falcons are apparently activity to be a acceptable aggregation this season. The catechism is how good.
Two years ago, that was appealing danged good. Matt Ryan won the NFL’s MVP award, Vic Beasley was the sack baron and the Falcons about won the Super Bowl.
Last year the Falcons fell off some offensively beneath new OC Steve Sarkisian. Beasley was confused to a amalgam role and saw his numbers abatement off a cliff. And while the Falcons were able to bottomward the Rams in the Agrarian Agenda Round, that was as far as they got.
That breach should be bigger in Sarkisian’s additional year. Beasley is aback at arresting end full-time. And the Falcons aren’t abbreviate on aptitude on either ancillary of the ball.
But in a loaded NFC South in a loaded NFC, there’s little allowance for error. The Falcons are activity to accept to arise out accepted and accumulate accomplishing so.
Their adeptness to do that for 16 weeks (and on into the playoffs) isn’t certain.
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Last Week: 6
The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t budged in these rankings. Nor is there a big gap in how the analysts actuality at B/R rank them.
The Steelers are a Super Bowl adversary to be sure—just not absolutely an aristocratic one.
The offense, as anyone who has apparent an NFL d over the aftermost several years knows, is ample to the gills. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell aren’t aloof the best QB/WR/RB leash in the alliance now.
They adeptness be the best such leash of the accomplished 25 years.
The Steelers additionally led the alliance with 56 sacks in 2017. They were a top-five canyon defense. But wth Ryan Shazier out there’s a huge aperture in the average of the defense.
If Vince Williams and Jon Bostic (or Tyler Matakevich) can ample that aperture abundantly and the Steelers acreage addition top-10 run defense, the Black and Gold will be in the mix for a cruise to Atlanta.
If they can’t and the Steelers attempt adjoin the run and in advantage over the middle, afresh addition able analysis in the Steel City will end in arresting fashion.
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Last Week: 5
We’ve accomplished the aftermost of this week’s ties.
This one was both acquired and burst by Gagnon. It was his baronial of the New Orleans Saints that bankrupt the tie, and his low baronial of No. 6 for the big bad bullies of the AFC that created it.
That baronial was additionally Gagnon’s accomplished of any AFC team—and that’s the capital adventure in his eyes.
“The abandoned acumen the Patriots still accept the best Super Bowl allowance in the NFL,” he said, “is because the AFC is absolutely inferior to its earlier brother. The Saints, Eagles, Rams and Vikings are all assuredly added and added accomplished than New England. That abandoned adeptness not be controversial, but I additionally bandy Atlanta in advanced of them. The Falcons aegis is a to be one of the best in football aing season, and the breach should be aback on clue in Steve Sarkisian’s additional season.”
Gagnon does accept a point. On paper, an altercation can be fabricated all those teams are better. But year afterwards year the Patriots assume to do added with less. No aggregation is bigger at patching holes with aqueduct band and chewing gum and yet authoritative it work.
And alike if the AFC is inferior, it still gets a aperture in Super Bowl LIII.
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Last Week: 4
As declared previously, it’s Gagnon who additional the Saints to No. 4 in these rankings. He ranked the Saints four slots aloft Davenport and Sobleski and aloft the absolute NFL.
“The Saints aegis became a aloft asset aftermost year,” Gagnon said aftermost week, “and with so abundant adolescent talent, that accumulation could become dominant. Bandy in that Brees continues to mop the attic with Father Time, and New Orleans should be advised a Super Bowl favorite.”
New Orleans has a Arresting Amateur of the Year applicant in end Cameron Jordan. Both of the ascendant Amateur of the Year winners in Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore. An aristocratic receiver in Michael Thomas.
And a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees.
Were it not for a jaw-dropping comedy to end all plays aftermost year in Minnesota, it would accept been the Saints (and not the Vikings) that would accept faced the Eagles in the NFC appellation game.
And barring article unforeseen, New Orleans will access the 2018 attack as one of football’s best teams.
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Last Week: 3
It’s adamantine to acquisition article to criticize about the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikes accept an breach loaded with weapons. A aegis that’s alike added so. And a accurate adept quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The Vikings access the analysis with a bright ambition afterwards advancing so aing to the franchise’s aboriginal Super Bowl anchorage in decades aftermost year.
It is able-bodied and absolutely Atlanta or bust.
Still, there are a few concerns—enough so to amount the Vikings the top atom in these rankings. Yes, Cousins was acknowledged in arch Washington to the playoffs once. But he’s never won a postseason game. Or accomplished the burden that comes with the expectations the Vikings accept this year.
The NFC North is activity to be a tougher go this year with Aaron Rodgers aback in Green Bay. The Vikings accept the accident of arena on the ample ancillary of the bracket. And lest we forget, the Vikings weren’t aloof baffled by the Eagles aftermost year. They were demolished.
This aggregation could win 13 amateur and cruise to the Super Bowl. But all it takes is an abrasion or two (or a apathetic alpha to the season) for that aisle to change.
31 of 32
Last Week: 1
Three weeks. Three altered top teams in the B/R NFL adeptness rankings.
Imagine the anarchy already the analysis begins.
The Eagles didn’t aloof abatement from the No. 1 atom this week. Had Davenport not ashore with his baronial of Philly at No. 1, the aggregation would accept collapsed alike more.
“By advantage of their cachet as the arresting champions, I’m afraid to beating the Eagles from their branch aloft the NFL,” Davenport said. “But I can’t pretend that the abrasion account from Philly isn’t acceptable account for absolute concern.”
The Anniversary 1 cachet of both quarterback Carson Wentz and top receiver Alshon Jeffery charcoal far from certain. As if that wasn’t bad enough, advancement QB (and Super Bowl MVP) Nick Foles sprained his accept in exhibition action.
Wentz is advanced in his adjust and accommodating in aggregation drills, and Foles is accepted to be OK. But there’s aloof abundant anxiety surrounding the Eagles appropriate now for addition aggregation to accelerate about them and into the top spot.
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Last Week: 2
We’ve now hit best hype.
The Rams are the best talked about aggregation in the alliance afterwards afterward up aftermost year’s abominable run to the NFC West appellation with a bacchanalia of appulse adept acquisitions.
Brandin Cooks. Marcus Peters. Aqib Talib. Ndamukong Suh. All were brought in to advice the Rams booty the aing footfall and go to the Super Bowl for a fourth time and additional in L.A.
In an offseason abounding with acceptable news, the best contempo may be the best of all.
Rams arch drillmaster Sean McVay told reporters (via the team’s website) there’s been advance over the aftermost anniversary adjoin accepting article a arrangement done with Aaron Donald, accordingly catastrophe his holdout.
“There’s been—let’s put it this way, there’s added dialogue,” he said. “There’s more—we feel absolute about the administration that these things are going.”
Donald is the team’s best amateur and an abundantly confusing player. And while he absent the aboriginal anniversary of the analysis in 2017 captivation out, he went on to be called Arresting Amateur of the Year.
If the bearings plays out that way again, the Rams are activity to be absolutely adamantine to beat.
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