Updated: Sept. 1
Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Previously: 28.
My LVH Supercontest partner, Matvei, made a short, but fantastic point about the Bills' issues in practice during a recent conversation: "The Bills are off the rails. No leadership. No focus. No quarterback."
So true. E.J. Manuel is not going to lead the Bills. The team lost key personnel this offseason to free agency and injury, and it will struggle as a consequence. It appears as though this team will completely bottom out.
New York Giants (7-9) - Previously: 25.
This team is a complete mess. The Giants' offensive line can't block anyone, while Eli Manning looks completely finished. I recently wrote that Manning has been playing like a dead animal in the preseason, but I feel like dead animals would be offended by that. If New York sustains more injuries, it could definitely have the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Winless for Winston, as CoryCurren put it. Check out my 2015 NFL Mock Draft, which will be updated soon.
New York Jets (8-8) - Previously: 32.
I loved a recent report that said the Jets' coaching staff was shocked that their veteran backup quarterback - the one who played for Philadelphia last year - didn't put much effort into winning the starting job. Oh, you mean the guy who drowned dogs with his bare hands didn't show enough heart? You don't say! Then again, if I were QBDK, I wouldn't want to win the starting job either; it would further expose how bad he is and would hurt his chances of getting paid for backup jobs in the future.
This Jets team is awful. Matvei had this to say in a recent conversation: "I thought you were too harsh on the Jets, but I retract that. Without any talent in the secondary Rex's defense just unravels."
I only disagreed because Idzik didn't spend a third-round pick on a punter, but he's still one of the worst general managers in recent memory.
Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Previously: 29.
I was going to have the Raiders No. 32 until the preseason finale, but Derek Carr gives them some hope. The thing is though that bringing in all of those hired-gun veterans will backfire. Once the Raiders are out of playoff contention - there's no chance they're making the postseason - those veterans will quit, and Oakland will lose every game by 30-40 points.
Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - Previously: 27.
Everyone is joking about the Cowboys going 8-8 again, but I think they'll be extremely fortunate to achieve that record this season. They have one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Sure, they have a few stars, but both Tony Romo and Jason Witten are getting up there, and the former is coming off his second back procedure. There's no way he'll last all 16 games. Then there's DeMarco Murray, who will suffer an injury at some point. And what's going to happen with that brutal defense? How will it stop anyone?
Unfortunately for Dallas fans, there's no hope. Jerry Jones will continue to run the team into the ground. In fact, I think Jerry has completely lost his mind. Four coordinators on a football team sounds like something a madman would come up with. On the bright side, I will have fun with him in Emmitt on the Brink this year in the wake of those pictures surfacing with that skanky woman.
Cleveland Browns (4-12) - Previously: 30.
My favorite feature in my power rankings is the Gong Rant:
The media hates Manziel cuz he gets laid by 30 hotties at once.
And doesn't even have to Roethlisberger them up.
Manzania will take off when it is supposed to. And that is around week 4 or 5 when the Browns are like what 0-4, like always and forever. Only then will his 22" python run wild on your girl and daughter and wife and mother
I don't have anything to top that, though I will say Cleveland is a bit underrated right now. The dumb media is bashing the team, yet it has a very good defense and solid running game. The Browns will be competitive this year despite how many chicks Manziel bangs.
Washington Redskins (3-13) - Previously: 21.
The Redskins are the only team that can challenge the Eagles in the NFC East, but two things need to happen: 1) Robert Griffin must stay healthy. 2) Griffin needs to stop sucking. Griffin has not been very good this preseason, and it's appalling that he still doesn't know how to slide. Someone needs to delete his Twitter account so that he actually focuses on such a simple aspect of the game.
As for the team name controversy, Phil Simms, Tony Dungy, Peter King and people of that ilk are being so completely stupid about this. I'll go into it more later, but as for now, I want to compensate for their refusal to say the Redskins' team name. So, I will write "Redskins" as much as possible from now on. In fact, let's start now:
Carolina Panthers (12-4) - Previously: 24.
I like the Panthers' chances... in 2015. Forget about them this year. The offensive line is in shambles; Kelvin Benjamin is still learning how to play professional football; and Greg Hardy is distracted with his off-the-field issues. Oh, and let's not forget about Cam Newton's ankle injury. Newton has shown no signs in any of the preseason games that he can move around.
Tennessee Titans (7-9) - Previously: 18.
What I wrote back in May still applies, albeit with one caveat:
I think we can all agree that NBC is stupid for canceling Community. The ratings weren't good, but only because NBC didn't promote it well enough. NBC is completely incompetent, so it was not a surprise to see a prominent NFL analyst from that network proclaim that the Titans were the worst team in the NFL.
Uhh... what? They were 7-9 last year, and seven of their losses came by single digits. Oh, and the team was 3-1 at the beginning of the year when Jake Locker was still healthy. Yup, sounds like the worst team in the NFL to me.
I'm worried about the defense. The first-string unit allowed Matt Flynn and Luke McCown march down the field against them on their opening drives. I was never a fan of the switch to the 3-4, and it doesn't appear as though that was a good idea.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) - Previously: 31.
"If Jadeveon Clowney fell to the Jaguars, they still would have drafted Blake Bortles." - hot chick on ESPN. Ladies and gentlemen, the most incompetent organization in the NFL!
I wrote this in May. Well, maybe Jacksonville was on to something. Bortles looks like a stud, while the defensive line is pretty potent. Considering how awful the AFC is, it would not surpise me at all if the Jaguars edged near the .500 mark this season. Then again, that would require the coaching staff to make the right decision and start Bortles right away.
Houston Texans (2-14) - Previously: 17.
The Texans will rebound, as nine of their 14 losses this past season were decided by seven points or fewer. Unfortunately, they won't unseat the Colts until they have a franchise quarterback. Perhaps Tom Savage will be that guy, but he'll take a while to develop. If anyone can do it though, it's Bill O'Brien, who somehow transformed Matt McGloin into the second coming of Kerry Collins at Penn State.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) - Previously: 22.
I wrote this back in May:
The running joke on ESPN during the draft was that the Buccaneers have a power forward-type team because of all the 6-4 and 6-5 targets they now have on the roster in the wake of the Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins picks. That made sense because, you know, NBA power forwards are all 6-4 and 6-5.
I have to say this though: That type of ESPN proclamation is going to make the Buccaneers a bet-against team in 2014. You can make lots of money wagering against anything or anyone ESPN hypes up unnecessarily. Let's just see if the people on that network have a long-term memory with this "power forward" talk.
Well, no one's been talking about it because everyone's so focused on the 49ers and Browns. Josh McCown didn't look very good in his first two preseason games, but he was solid in his third. Then again, he was battling a dysfunctional Bills squad.
Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1) - Previously: 20.
The Vikings have a solid team, but they'll really be hurt by not having any home games this season. I remember back in 2002, the Bears, coming off a 13-3 season, had to play their home contests in Champaign because Soldier Field was being renovated. They started the season 2-0, but fell apart because they were so fatigued. The same thing happened to the 2005 Saints in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Atlanta Falcons (4-12) - Previously: 11.
I liked the Falcons as a bounce-back sleeper, but not anymore with Sean Weatherspoon and Sam Baker out for the year. Really, what's up with Atlanta players always getting hurt? The team must have poor training and/or medical facilities because it always seems like the Falcons lead the league in injuries.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) - Previously: 23.
I actually wrote this before the Alex Smith extension:
What the hell is going to happen with Alex Smith? He apparently doesn't want a pay-as-you-go contract like Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton have accepted. Newsflash, Alex: Kaepernick and Dalton are both better than you. Take what you can get now before you struggle against tougher opponents this year. A schedule like you navigated in 2013 only comes around once in a lifetime.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8) - Previously: 16.
Joe Flacco reminds me of that woman on Seinfeld who was either attractive or hideous depending on the lighting in the room. He looks so great sometimes, but then he has these moments where he plays like one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. I don't know why he couldn't score against Dallas' first-string offense, but that was very troubling.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - Previously: 14.
I like that the Steelers are getting back to their roots - strengthening what should be the core of their team: the front seven. Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt were both solid picks. With Pittsburgh coming off an 8-4 finish to its 2013 campaign, it would not surprise me at all if this team won the division. The Steelers, Ravens and Bengals all appear to be pretty even at the moment, with the latter perhaps holding a slight edge.
Miami Dolphins (8-8) - Previously: 26.
Miami's offensive line has held up well this preseason, and Ryan Tannehill has thrived as a consequence. It also helps that Tannehill gets to work with a real offensive coordinator this year instead of the overwhelmed Mike Sherman. The Dolphins will be decent this season, and they will be in contention for a playoff spot, but they're still light years away from challenging the Patriots.
Chicago Bears (8-8) - Previously: 7.
According to Chad Millman, many "wise guys" like the Bears to go under their posted win total. A guest of his, a guy who sells computer picks, said the same thing. I would disagree with all of them if I knew Jay Cutler could stay healthy. However, Cutler isn't making it through 16 games, and neither Jordan Palmer nor Jimmy Clausen is Josh McCown. Oh, and I'm also worried about Brandon Marshall flying out to New York every Tuesday to film some TV show. How could the Bears allow this to happen? The jet lag will definitely add up for Marshall, who will slow down at the end of the season.
Detroit Lions (7-9) - Previously: 19.
It's fantasy season, so this tweet that e-mailer Shreyas R. found on Twitter is topical:
If Comic Book Guy were here, he'd say, "Worst. Fantasy player. Ever."
I know fantasy football is just a game, but anyone this inept should be locked in a mental facility.
St. Louis Rams (7-9) - Previously: 9.
Why were people speculating that the Rams would trade for Mark Sanchez or Ryan Mallett in the wake of Sam Bradford's injury? Shaun Hill is better than both of them. Heck, Hill might be better than Bradford.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) - Previously: 15.
Another playoff berth and another first-round exit? Sounds about right.
Arizona Cardinals (10-6) - Previously: 8.
Like the Falcons, Arizona has fallen in these power rankings because of some major injuries. Daryl Washington and Darnell Dockett are gone, so now the team is missing two key defensive pieces on top of Karlos Dansby leaving this offseason. The Cardinals will still be a very competitive team, but it'll be tough for them to contend with the Seahawks and 49ers now.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) - Previously: 13.
The Eagles are a trendy, sleeper Super Bowl pick, but it's not going to happen. Nick Foles will regress now that he has to actually battle top-15 pass defenses. LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin will miss time with injuries at some point. Riley Cooper can't catch anything. Lane Johnson is out for the first four games. The secondary is still brutal. Luckily for Philadelphia, the rest of the division is garbage, save for the Redskins Redskins Redskins Redskins Redskins, perhaps.
San Diego Chargers (9-7) - Previously: 12.
The Chargers are a bit underrated. The perception is that they are all offense, no defense, but after they got Melvin Ingram back and made some changes to their defense, they surrendered 24 or fewer points in their final seven games.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Previously: 10.
Hakeem Nicks, if he stays healthy, makes this offense pretty potent. He, Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton will be a dangerous trio. And let's not forget that Trent Richardson vowed to actually learn the playbook, so he may improve. Let's just hope this isn't a long process. It would not be good if I there was some little girl teaching him how to process everything, with Richardson constantly asking questions like, "Why's there a 'G' in 'night?'"
Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) - Previously: 6.
The Packers remind me of the LeBron James-led Miami Heat, minus the douchebaggery. That's because like the Heat, the Packers will always have the best player in any matchup (Aaron Rodgers), along with a few stellar talents surrounding him. They'll have glaring liabilities, unfortunately, such as the secondary. They'll also be outcoached most of the time. It's amazing how Jim Harbaugh has owned Mike McCarthy over these past few years.
San Francisco 49ers (12-4) - Previously: 1.
I've dropped the 49ers considerably since my previous update. No, I'm not going to act like a stupid media member who pretends as if the sky is falling in San Francisco because the team hasn't been able to score this preseason. However, I am worried about the injuries, holdouts and suspensions the 49ers are dealing with right now. I picked this team to win the Super Bowl in July, but I'm going to backtrack. I'll announce my new prediction in a bit...
New England Patriots (12-4) - Previously: 5.
It'll be a huge upset if neither the Broncos nor Patriots make it to the Super Bowl. The former has the edge, however, because of stuff like this:
I've said many times, and I'll say it again: Brady's wife has completely derailed his career. I think he'd have at least five rings right now if it wasn't for her. Maybe that's why Belichick drafted Jimmy Garoppolo.
Denver Broncos (13-3) - Previously: 2.
The Broncos probably should be the top team in the power rankings, but I can't help but envision Peyton Manning choking against someone in the playoffs. Besides, I'm pretty pissed at Manning for whining to Roger Goodell, sparking these horrific illegal contact rule changes.
Seattle Seahawks (13-3) - Previously: 4.
I'll admit when I'm wrong, and it appears as though I was off about Russell Wilson. I thought Wilson would be distracted by his divorce, rumors of Golden Tate sleeping with his wife, basketball games, commercials and meetings with Jay-Z. However, he has looked better than last year during the preseason.
Having said that, I'm still concerned that these idiotic illegal contact rules will hurt the team. Roger Goodell is a moron for implementing them. Not only do the defenders have no shot now; they also severely slow down the game. It's almost like Goodell wants people to stop watching football.
New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Previously: 3.
My Super Bowl champion. Saints over Broncos. I think there are six teams that have a chance to win it all this year: New Orleans, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, New England and Green Bay. Of those six, the Saints are the only team that A) is healthy, B) gets to navigate through an easy schedule (Falcons and Panthers injuries help a lot) and C) doesn't have Goodell boning them with some stupid rule, unless you want to count Jimmy Graham stupidly getting flagged for dunking. If New Orleans gets homefield advantage, there won't be any stopping them.