Updated: May 5
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. There are two starting linebackers with no NFL experience. The tight end has no NFL snaps either. Other than that, well, things still suck. The Dolphins could be the worst team in the NFL.
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 Sam Darnold.
Hopefully, Todd Bowles doesn't feel compelled to use Darnold right away. The team's offensive line stinks, and it's not like Josh McCown isn't a functional quarterback. The Jets aren't going to win this year anyway, so I'd rather see them wait and improve the blocking first.
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."
I've written this in the previous two updates, and it still remains true. The good news is that the offensive line should at least be better with the Quenton Nelson selection.
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. The "B" part of that equation was first-round pick Billy Price, who will be a big upgrade at center. There was no "C," but the Bengals will definitely block better, giving them a chance to be competitive in more games. Not having Vontaze Burfict around in the first four games will hurt, however.
Arizona Cardinals (8-8) - Previously: 30.
It's nice that the Cardinals don't have to rely on Sam Bradford. Once he suffers an injury walking into his house in mid-September, they can just insert Josh Rosen into the lineup. Unlike the Jets, the Cardinals should feel more comfortable using their rookie quarterback, as they have three or four solid blockers up front, thanks to the additions of Justin Pugh and Mason Cole.
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 the Browns added a franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield and then secured a potential shutdown cornerback in Denzel Ward. Cleveland is so much better than it was in 2017, and I don't think seven or eight victories is out of the question.
Buffalo Bills (9-7) - Previously: 17.
The Bills traded up for Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds. I liked those moves, as Buffalo didn't have to surrender additional first-round selections. The problem is, at least with Allen, is that the offensive line has some serious issues. Buffalo lost three blockers to retirement or trades this offseason, yet the only lineman it got in return was mid-round rookie Wyatt Teller. Allen has mobility, which is a good thing because he'll need to use it often to escape all of the pressure he'll encounter.
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.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7) - Previously: 22.
A conversation I had with my dad prior to the draft (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?
I guess I should've seen the Lamar Jackson pick coming. Flacco has been in decline because of injuries and poor protection for a while, so Baltimore has to prepare for the future.
As for the present, the Ravens' defense will make sure they're competitive in most games, but the offense will continue to sputter despite the additions of tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews. There's still a lacking running game, and the blocking isn't very good.
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.
General manager David Gettleman proceeded to put together a strong draft class. He selected a Marshall Faulk-type player in Saquon Barkley and then found a replacement for the departed Justin Pugh in guard Will Hernandez. The Giants still have some major holes, but they'll be much better than they were in 2017.
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, particularly on the defensive line, but not by a significant amount. The offensive front still stinks, and the secondary will continue to have issues, especially at safety.
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, however. I loved the Bradley Chubb pick, as Denver will have a tremendous edge rush, but I wonder if Quenton Nelson would've been better. The Broncos should addressed the blocking in the next couple of rounds, but they didn't. Keenum, as a result, will have a difficult time against good pass rushes in 2018.
Seattle Seahawks (9-7) - Previously: 21.
Overrated NFL Team: Outside of whatever Russell Wilson does, where exactly are the Seahawks proficient? They can't run the ball. They can't block. They won't be able to stop the pass because of their new secondary woes. Their pass rush doesn't seem great. I suppose they're good at stopping the run, but that's just about it.
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.
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 (assuming Andrew Luck can play.) It's likely that the Jaguars will slips to 7-9 or so in 2018. I was previously more pessimistic, but I love the Andrew Norwell signing, and then Jacksonville put together a fantastic draft.
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. The defense, meanwhile, will be better with Roquan Smith. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Bears went something like 10-6 and made the playoffs.
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 and Rashaan Evans will make the defense much better.
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 Ravens scored 38 points against them. Brett Hundley nearly went into Pittsburgh and won. No one should be surprised that Pittsburgh lost to Jacksonville. Shazier won't be back anytime soon, and no solutions were made to the linebacking corps.
Washington Redskins (7-9) - Previously: 19.
Underrated NFL Team: The Redskins were competitive last year when everyone was healthy. If you recall, they battled the Eagles closely in the opener; they beat the Rams in Los Angeles; and then they absolutely crushed the Raiders on a Sunday night. They then suffered lots of injuries on the offensive and defensive lines. If everyone's healthy, the Redskins will be able to compete for a playoff spot, especially with Da'Ron Payne on the roster to clog running lanes.
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. Calvin Ridley's presence will help matters, especially if Julio Jones gets banged up again, but it seems as though the Falcons are behind the Saints and Panthers at this point.
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. With better blocking, thanks to Kolton Miller, and superior secondary play, with Rashaan Melvin on the roster, the Raiders seem ready to compete for the AFC West crown.
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. I just wish they didn't make a lateral move at No. 9 overall, picking Mike McGlinchey and then trading Trent Brown.
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, especially considering that the offensive line has some major issues right now.
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. It's a good thing that general manager Tom Telesco added UCLA's Scott Quessenberry in the middle of the draft as insurance for Pouncey.
The rest of Telesco's draft was stellar. Derwin James is going to be a big upgrade in the secondary, and Justin Jones will provide a much-needed push up front.
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, and there has to be even more optimism after a strong draft that saw Green Bay acquire two talented cornerbacks in the first couple of rounds.
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.
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.
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. They needed help in the receiving corps and secondary entering the 2018 NFL Draft, and they did a good job of addressing those needs, selecting D.J. Moore and Donte Jackson in the first two rounds. Carolina seems poised to make a deep run into the playoffs.
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.
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) or Isaiah Wynn (2018 first-round pick) steps up. The good news is that Lewis figures to be properly replaced by other first-round rookie Sony Michel.
New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Previously: 6.
I hated what the Saints did in the 2018 NFL Draft, as surrendering a first-round pick in the loaded 2019 NFL Draft for a raw defensive end seemed like a terrible idea. The good news, however, is that New Orleans appears to be in a position to make a Super Bowl run now, with or without Marcus Davenport being a key contributor. The Saints have improved on both sides of the ball this offseason, thanks to the additions of Cameron Meredith, Patrick Robinson and Demario Davis, so they should definitely be one of the Super Bowl favorites.
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.