Updated: March 9
Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Previously: 32.
The Raiders have no talent. It's sad. They're usually the laughing stock of the league, but it's just sad. Try looking at their starting lineup and compare it to San Francisco's. Take notice that they have ZERO players who would start for the 49ers. How are they going to be competitive in their game against San Francisco next year?
Update: General manager Reggie McKenzie apparently doesn't know he can use the franchise tag. Can someone please buy him the book, NFL General Managing for Dummies?
Cleveland Browns (4-12) - Previously: 26.
My favorite feature in my power rankings is the Gong Rant:
I am convinced Browns should only hire from a LOSING team/franchise. Cuz winners don't know how to deal with losers. But Losers are experienced in losing and will know in graphic detail the what, why, and where, and how this losing keeps happening. Only then can the cycle break and a 8-8 season happen.
8-8 for a parade. 8-8 to be able to whine about back up Pro Bowl QB not being good enough. 8-8 to not fire everybody, every year. 8-8 to have 8 weeks that are watchable. My dreams will never come true. There were no dreams. There was only darkness anyway.
Update: Of course the Browns are going to pass on a quarterback at No. 4 so they can take Derek Carr later. That makes so much sense. No, really. The Browns always do eveything wrong, and this is obviously the worst possible strategy. That's why Cleveland is doing it.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) - Previously: 31.
General manager David Caldwell spent the second-overall pick on Luke Joeckel because of a Pro Football Focus study that said Blaine Gabbert did better with more protection on the right side.
Caldwell will now follow that up with using the No. 3 choice on feces. Why? I'm pretty sure someone like the SB Nation's Brian Floyd published an article breaking down the positive effect that hurling feces has against opposing offenses.
Update: The good news is the Jaguars signed Michael Bennett. No, wait, that was Red Bryant. That's still good. The bad news is that the latest NFL Draft Rumors say they won't take a quarterback at No. 3. Same old derpy Jags...
Washington Redskins (3-13) - Previously: 30.
The Redskins will rebound by default, as Robert Griffin will actually be healthy, rather than making stupid commercials about being "all in for Week 1" that ironically keep him from training and being prepared for Week 1. Unfortunately, the defense will probably still blow.
Update: It's great to see Robert Griffin working so hard this offseason. He's getting so much better at quarterback by modeling Baylor's new basketball jerseys.
Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Previously: 28.
The Bills haven't been in the playoffs since 1999 - the longest drought in the NFL. It feels like 1899. On the bright side, they were very solid at home this past season, and only five of their 10 non-Jeff Tuel losses were by double digits. OK, that's a decent amount, but Buffalo fans need some sort of optimism.
Update: Jairus Byrd apparently will take less money than the Bills offered him to get out of Buffalo. He must share Willis McGahee's same taste in women.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) - Previously: 29. I visited Tampa Bay during the summer. When I told Buccaneer fans that I had their team going 5-11, they looked at me like I was crazy. In fact, Charlie had to defend my season preview in local radio interviews. Considering that, it's funny that I actually overshot their win total.
The good news is that Josh Freeman's personal problems and Greg Schiano's poop-throwing tactics are no longer going to burden the team. Now, if only the Buccaneers can find a quarterback...
Update: With the dumb teams passing on quarterbacks, the Buccaneers just might have a chance to land one of the top three signal-callers. Amazing.
New York Jets (8-8) - Previously: 27.
It's a joke that the Jets were even considering firing Rex Ryan. Like any head coach not named Bill Belichick could win with crappy quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. Having said that, New York fans better not get high expectations. I recently had the Jets picking first overall in my 2015 NFL Mock Draft, yet despite the fact that I noted that the order was random, their fans peppered the comment board with complaints sounding like, "Hurr durr this mock sux Jet can't be drafting first hurrr durrr." Of course the Jets could be drafting first. If the Texans can go from winning their division to picking first, so can a Geno Smith-led team.
Update: Check out Tony Pauline's Pro Day Results for a crap ton of rumors about the Jets.
Miami Dolphins (8-8) - Previously: 24.
Here's what I wrote last year: "The Dolphins have a ton of cap space, so this offseason is crucial. I have a feeling Jeff Ireland is going to screw it up by signing at least one of the overrated free agent receivers in an attempt to help Ryan Tannehill. Perhaps Ireland's struggles are karma for asking Dez Bryant if his mom is a whore. If he had Bryant instead of the player he drafted in 2010 (Jared Odrick), he wouldn't really need a wideout."
How prophetic. At least Ireland is gone. To see a list of his blunders, check out the write-up for his firing grade.
Update: Is anyone remotely surprised that Richie Incognito smashed his own car and then checked himself into a mental hospital? How is this Miami team going to function?
Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1) - Previously: 25.
I was hoping the Vikings would make a dumb coaching hire after unjustly canning Leslie Frazier after he finished the season on a 4-3-1 with Adrian Peterson sidelined for a couple of contests, beating the Eagles, Bears and Lions. Seriously, what else was Frazier supposed to do, s*** gold out of his a**? Would Rick Spielman not have made Frazier a scapegoat for his own poor drafting had the head coach presented him with 17 gold coins?
Update: Adrian Peterson apparently believes QBDK can lead his team into the playoffs. Sure, maybe if the other three NFC North teams were all abducted by aliens and anally probed for the entire season. QBDK does nothing but turn the ball over and get injured, so even if Minnesota were the only remaining franchise in the division, it would still have issues winning it with QBDK under center.
New York Giants (7-9) - Previously: 23.
I was actually surprised to remember that the Giants finished with a 7-9 record. They were so inept at times this past season that it seemed like they went 4-12, or something. The good news is that the team that had a similar campaign in 2012, the Chargers, improved exponentially. New York is certainly capable of rebounding, but the front office desperately needs to figure out how to protect Eli Manning, who undoubtedly has extra motivation after watching his brother disgrace the family name in the Super Bowl.
Update: Nothing interesting to say about the Giants, so check out the Free Agents Rumors for many possible targets of theirs in free agency.
Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - Previously: 22.
I love how I never have to change Dallas' record. Every year, no matter what, the "8-8" remains the same. Maybe Jerry Jones wants "8-8" to have a completely new meaning, as in eight offensive coordinators and eight defensive coordinators. There's no way this can backfire, right?
Update: Want to know why all non-Cowboy fans love to hate Dallas? Here:
Detroit Lions (7-9) - Previously: 19.
The Lions have discipline issues. Matthew Stafford has shown no willingness to improve his awful technique. Ndamukong Suh wants to usurp authority. Clearly, Detroit needed a coach who could kick the players' a**es. So, it makes total sense that the front office would bring in a head coach who can barely speak, right? I mean, getting a tough-nosed coach just made too much sense, so the team had to go with a guy who would allow the players to walk all over them.
Update: The consensus is that the Lions would be scary with Sammy Watkins playing across from Calvin Johnson. Maybe on paper... but then Matthew Stafford would throw a game-losing interception to the other team regardless.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8) - Previously: 17.
To Joe Flacco: Thank you for taking a contract that paid you much more than you are worth. With a high percentage of the cap dedicated to you, your front office can't spend the appropriate amount of resources on building a Super Bowl contender. Keep making money, Joe.
Steelers and Bengals fans
P.S. We would've asked the Cleveland fans to co-sign, but their team won't win anytime soon anyway.
Update: Ozzie Newsome has been a great general manager, but he whiffed on this Eugene Monroe trade. No playoff appearance, plus Monroe is hitting the market. Once again, the Ravens are going to lose multiple valuable veterans.
Houston Texans (2-14) - Previously: 21.
The Texans will rebound in 2014, provided they don't do something stupid like decide that Case Keenum deserves a shot at being the full-time starter. Believe it or not, I've seen some Houston fans advocate this on some forums. Why not just recommend trading back for David Carr while you're at it? He should be given another chance too!
Update: The "provided they don't do something stupid" included trading for Ryan Mallett. What are the Texans thinking if this is true? Mallett had reported drug problems at Arkansas. Not saying if that's true or not, but is that really the type of quarterback Houston wants leading its team?
Tennessee Titans (7-9) - Previously: 20.
It made me sad that I had to stop writing about Stupid Vince and Senile Bud, but rest assured, I will find a new home for Senile Vince next year.
As for this actual Tennessee team, I do have some optimism for Ken Whisenhunt, as he was the second-best coaching hire this offseason behind Lovie Smith in Tampa. Whisenhunt should be able to get the most out of Jake Locker, but can Locker stay healthy?
Update: The Titans are trying to trade Chris Johnson. In fact, their general manager put an ad in the classifieds:
RUNNING BACK FOR SALE! RUNNING BACK FOR SALE! THIS RUNNING BACK IS GETTING OLD AND DOESN'T GIVE A DAMN IF HIS TEAM WINS OR NOT. HE ALSO BLAMES HIS TEAMMATES FOR HIS INEPTITUDE AND REFUSES TO ADMIT THAT HE SUCKS! THIS RUNNING BACK IS AVAILABLE, AND IF YOU PURCHASE HIM IN THE NEXT 48 HOURS, WE'LL THROW IN THIS FREE GARDEN HOSE! THAT'S RIGHT - THIS GARDEN HOSE AND RUNNING BACK CAN BE YOURS AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE! PLEASE CALL THE TITANS IF INTERESTED!
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) - Previously: 18.
The Chiefs' 11-5 record was such a farce. Their best victory in their 9-0 start was against the mediocre Cowboys at home, and they didn't even cover the spread in that contest. Kansas City is also mediocre, and will continue to be so until it upgrades the quarterback position. Sadly, that's not going to happen anytime soon. On the contrary, the Chiefs have discussed extending Alex Smith. Anyone who believes in Smith is in for a rude awakening when the Chiefs begin scheduling Division 1-A teams.
Update: Anything I write will prompt more Kansas City hate mail to come in, so let's just move on.
Chicago Bears (8-8) - Previously: 15.
I can't help but think what would've happened had the Bears stuck with Josh McCown. They went back to Jay Cutler, and they barely beat the Browns, got blown out at Philadelphia and then suffered a season-ending defeat at home against the Packers. Maybe the same thing would've happened with McCown, but it was the anti-Bill Belichick move. Belichick had the option of going back to Drew Bledsoe at the end of the 2001 season, and this was before he knew what Tom Brady would become. Would Marc Trestman have switched to Bledsoe?
Update: The Bears love Aaron Donald, per our NFL Draft Rumors page. He'd be a force in the middle of their defense, but he's just one of many upgrades they'd have to make.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - Previously: 13.
The Steelers went 8-8, but don't forget that they began the year 0-4, thanks to a slew of injuries. Of all the AFC teams that failed to make the playoffs this past January, Pittsburgh has the best chance of re-qualifying, in my opinion.
And if not? Maybe Steeler fans can laugh at this picture:
Update: It's nice that the Steelers are keeping their veterans around, but they are going to be in salary cap hell in a few years, much like the Cowboys.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) - Previously: 16.
The Bengals' streak of making the playoffs and losing right away could come to an end next season - and not in a good way. The team lost both coordinators, which is never a good sign. Going from Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer to Hue Jackson and Paul Guenther has to be worth at least two victories.
Update: Are the Bengals really going to give Andy Dalton an extension? If so, why? How has he proven that he can get the team over the first-round hump in the past couple of months?
San Diego Chargers (9-7) - Previously: 14.
You know what's weird? The 2013 Chargers were so much better than the 2012 Chargers, yet the '13 version had just two more victories (9-7) than the '12 squad. Isn't that strange? It feels like the 2012 Chargers went 4-12 and improved this past season to 11-5. That's how far apart the two teams were.
Update: I don't expect the Chargers to take a step back in 2014, but they are likely to miss the playoffs, considering that they go from playing the NFC East to the NFC West. There's no way in hell three teams from the AFC West are making the playoffs again.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Previously: 9.
The 2012 and 2013 Colts both went 11-5, but this latest version was definitely better, as it didn't have to rely on crazy, cancer-related rallies. Indianapolis will be even better in 2014 with Reggie Wayne back. Oh, and Trent Richardson vowed to actually learn the playbook. Now, there's a concept - a player actually learning the playbook. You don't see that nowadays.
Update: What the hell is general manager Ryan Grigson doing? Paying big bucks to a punter and a linebacker who doesn't fit his defense, yet playing hard ball with one of the league's better corners? Check out my Colts' NFL Free Agent Grades here.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) - Previously: 11.
To any sane Eagle fans out there, it's too early to anoint Nick Foles as the next great quarterback, right? Because every time I go over to my parents' house, my dad says something along the lines of, "Nick Foles is going to be better than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Watch." He actually sounds like this guy:
Update: How can any of the other three crappy NFC East teams compete with the Eagles next year? Philadelphia could have the NFC East locked up by Veterans' Day.
Carolina Panthers (12-4) - Previously: 7.
The Panthers have no cap room and 26 free agents, including Greg Hardy, Captain Munnerlyn, Jordan Gross, Travelle Wharton and both starting safeties. Oh, and don't forget Jimmy Clausen. Re-signing him will impact the entire landscape of the NFL.
Update: I had the Panthers way too high last time considering how many free agents they have. There's a reason Vegas set their over-under at eight.
Atlanta Falcons (4-12) - Previously: 12.
What are the odds that in five years, we'll discover that Gregg Williams, who is secretly still employed by the Saints, snuck into Atlanta's training facility and spiked the team's Gatorade with a muscle-deteriorating substance, thus ensuring that the entire team woul be injured? I'd say the chances of this are equal to Tony Gonzalez returning to the roster next season - which is about 100 percent.
Update: I love the incorrect notion that the Falcons are so far away from being a Super Bowl contender. Some writers made this argument for why they shouldn't trade up for Jadeveon Clowney. Umm... weren't they in the NFC Championship two seasons ago? Wasn't their entire team injured last year? Derp dee derp.
St. Louis Rams (7-9) - Previously: 10.
Excluding a defeat to the Panthers, the Rams lost just one game outside of the division after Week 3. They crushed the Saints and Colts despite missing their starting quarterback. If Sam Bradford can remain healthy, this will be a dangerous team in 2014. That's a big if, unfortunately.
Update: If the Rams played in any other division, I'd say it was almost guaranteed that they'd make the playoffs in 2014, provided Sam Bradford stayed healthy.
New England Patriots (12-4) - Previously: 8.
I'd like to issue an apology to Tom Brady: I've made fun of him for choking in big games because of his haircuts, and he was once again in poor form in the AFC Championship, but he has never been blown out in a Super Bowl. If Brady had been watching the Super Bowl instead of getting the latest "Bieber" at his stylist, I imagine he would've been super excited with the result.
Update: Tom Brady stopped sporting Justin Bieber haircuts just as Bieber went to jail. Coincidence?
Arizona Cardinals (10-6) - Previously: 6.
The Cardinals would've done some major damage in the playoffs had they been included. It's just a shame that they played in the NFC West. Think about it: They went 2-4 in the league's toughest division, meaning they were 8-2 outside of it. Their only non-divisional defeats came against the Eagles and Saints, both on the road. They crushed the Panthers and Colts, and they were the only team to win at Seattle. Many will argue the 49ers would've beaten the Broncos in the Super Bowl. I think Arizona would've won the game as well, albeit by a much slimmer margin.
Update: The Cardinals would be the best team in four other divisions. Instead, they're No. 3 in the NFC West. Sucks for them.
New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Previously: 4.
The Saints proved they can beat decent teams (Eagles) and hang with elite competition (Seahawks) when playing outdoors in unfavorable conditions, but let's be real here - they're probably not reaching the Super Bowl unless they secure homefield advantage. This means that they can't take any games lightly this upcoming season. You heard me, Saints: No showing up drunk to play the Rams and assuming that you're just going to win.
Update: The Saints get bumped down a bit from losing Darren Sproles.
Denver Broncos (13-3) - Previously: 5.
Oh, you thought I forgot...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
It's minutes before the big game...
Peyton Manning: I'm so nervous, guys. If I screw this up, Eli's going to make fun of me because he has more rings, and my dad said he's not going to speak to me. What if I choke again?
Update: I wonder if Peyton Manning is still drunk...
Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) - Previously: 3.
My LVH Supercontest partner Matvei put a wager on the Packers at 16:1 to win the Super Bowl next year. I think that's a good bet. Green Bay shouldn't be the favorite with Seattle and San Francisco lingering, but there's a decent amount of value here. Remember that the Packers had a ridiculous amount of injuries this past season.
Update: The Packers overpaied a bit for Sam Shields, but they have tons of cap room and get to keep a top corner, so whatever. It's not the end of the world.
Seattle Seahawks (13-3) - Previously: 2.
I have the Seahawks behind the 49ers, but before any fans batter me with hate mail, keep in mind that I chose Seattle to win the Super Bowl back in August. I also had them as my Pick of the Month in the Super Bowl. I have two concerns though:
First, I don't think the Seahawks will be as hungry. They're champions, so the chip they had on their shoulder that helped them prevail in 2013 won't be there next year. Second, I don't like how Russell Wilson is becoming a superstar. He's been so awesome and so clutch, thanks in part to his great preparation. As a third-round pick, he had so much incentive to prove his doubters wrong. Now that he's a champion, however, he's hanging around with Jay-Z at boring Brooklyn Nets games and attending Texas Rangers spring training. He's a model wife and a Justin Bieber haircut away from becoming Tom Brady.
Update: I'd like to ask Russell Wilson how playing baseball helps him prepare for NFL games. Most baseball players are fat slobs who don't do anything but stand around for four hours. I'd really hate this if I were a Seattle fan.
San Francisco 49ers (12-4) - Previously: 1.
The 49ers are my No. 1 team heading into 2014. They nearly won in Seattle in the NFC Championship, which was a very evenly played game. They'll be hungrier after losing out to Seattle in the rubber match. They'll also have their top offensive weapons on the field for most of the season this time, unlike last year.
Update: I'm worried for the 49ers that this strange Jim Harbaugh story will blow up in their face. I just don't get it. Do the players not want to play for a top-three NFL coach? Do they want to go back to losing like they did in the Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan days?