Updated: Sept. 4
New York Jets (5-11) - Previously: 31. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: The Jets are the worst team I've ever graded. They had just 15 stars in the NFL Position Ratings, and I can't remember any team being that low before. The Jets could easily go 0-16, as they have a difficult schedule to boot.
I don't know what I was more surprised about: Rich Eisen being shocked that Daniel Jeremiah referred to the Jets as having the worst roster in the NFL, or Deion Sanders believing that the Jets are trying to win now, which is what he told Jamal Adams in their interview. Jeremiah is right, and Sanders must have gotten confused, as the Jets have a legitimate chance to have the top choice in the 2018 NFL Draft. That said, I liked their 2017 draft class, so perhaps they can be somewhat competitive in 2018.
Indianapolis Colts (8-8) - Previously: 23. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: This ranking is obviously based on Andrew Luck not playing. He's almost certainly out for the opener, and based on the trade for Jacoby Brissett, he could miss a chunk of the 2017 season. The Colts, without Luck, are probably the worst team in the NFL, with the exception of the Jets.
The Colts seem to be in capable hands with Chris Ballard. I liked their draft, but they still didn't address their offensive line. Andrew Luck will still be under siege throughout the 2017 campaign, so it'll be more of the same for Indianapolis. At least for now. I'll give Ballard another year to fix Luck's blocking unit, but until then, the Titans will be the favorites in the division.
San Francisco 49ers (2-14) - Previously: 30. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: The 49ers have made some improvements this offseason, but they still have major colossal weaknesses. I don't understand why they opted to jettison Jeremy Zuttah; he provided some stability at center, but San Francisco doesn't have that anymore.
I questioned the John Lynch hiring when it happened, but I'll admit when I'm wrong, and I was certainly wrong in this case. Lynch conned the Bears into trading up and then went on to make some very promising selections. I also liked that he was up at 3:30 a.m., making phone calls around the league. Perhaps that's how he tricked the Bears; he must have called Ryan Pace a billion times when he was asleep, so Pace wasn't thinking clearly when he made the deal. Good job, John.
Chicago Bears (3-13) - Previously: 29. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I can't believe how good Mitchell Trubisky has looked this preseason. I also can't believe that John Fox couldn't refrain from playing Trubisky behind Mark Sanchez until the third preseason games. Yes, if you missed it, Fox wouldn't allow Trubisky to leap Mr. Butt Fumble on the depth chart for some unknown reason. Regardless, the Bears will improve whenever they opt to start Trubisky instead of the vastly overpaid Mike Glennon.
I labeled the Bears as an underrated team in my first power rankings of the offseason. Little did I know that the Bears were going to sign pedestrian quarterback Mike Glennon and give a combined $40 million to the trio of Marcus Cooper, Dion Sims and Markus Wheaton. I also didn't expect them to pull a Jaguars move, selecting an inferior quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky while passing on superior talents like Solomon Thomas and Jamal Adams.
The Bears aren't the worst team in the league because of their great interior offensive line and dynamic front seven. However, they are poorly run and won't ever reach their potential with Ryan Pace making stupid moves left and right.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13) - Previously: 28. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: Poor Blake Bortles. The Jaguars finally got fed up with his lacking passion for the game, so he won't be able to steal from ownership for another year. How is he going to afford to party at his favorite clubs in a few years? Let's all pray for him. At any rate, the Jaguars will continue to be pathetic with Chad Henne, but I have to say that I like Brandon Allen. He reminds me a bit of Jeff Garcia. I think he should start for Jacksonville. This is what I should've written. Unfortunately for the 12 Jaguar fans out there, Bortles is somehow the starter, while Allen didn't make the cut. Unreal.
It's clear that the Jaguars are run by a competent person now in Tom Coughlin because they avoided drafting an inferior quarterback over a superior talent for the third time this decade. Coughlin knows better than that, and I'm sure he's aware that there are much better quarterbacks available next year - check out my 2018 NFL Mock Draft - so he can replace Blake Bortles then.
The Jaguars did well in the draft, but they really need to work on their jokes. The whole, "Hey, Leonard Fournette, can you shave your beard before you come here? Just kidding" bit didn't work for me at all. There's also truth in every joke, so I'm wondering why the Jaguars actually want Fournette to shave his beard. My guess is that Coughlin is so old that he can no longer grow a beard, so he wanted to Scotch tape Fournette's beard onto his face. Just a theory, though.
Buffalo Bills (7-9) - Previously: 25. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: If the Bills are really in full tank mode and want to copy the genius of Sam Hinkie, they'll trade LeSean McCoy, Jerry Hughes, Marcell Dareus and some others. That's the only way they can get out of their annual 6-10/7-9 rut; they need to finish 2-14 so they can land Sam Darnold or Josh Allen in the 2018 NFL Draft (check out my 2018 NFL Mock Draft here.)
The Bills continue to be completely incompetent. Not that their draft was bad, but they foolishly fired their entire scouting department afterward. Who does that? As Charlie Campbell reported in the NFL Draft Rumor Mill, teams believe the Bills will have a tough time putting together a capable scouting department in the near future. Buffalo appears as though it'll be 7-9 or so once again.
Cleveland Browns (1-15) - Previously: 27. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: As predicted, Kenny Britt has looked like a sloth thus far. However, the Browns should be better. They'll run the ball well and be competitive, plus they have some promising young talent on defense. DeShone Kizer will make his rookie mistakes, but it'll be fun to watch this team grow as the year progresses.
I like what the Browns have done this offseason, outside of overpaying for Kenny Britt. They obtained two talented offensive linemen in Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter, so if everyone stays healthy, they could sport one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. That will certainly make them competitive, and Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers were some nice play-makers to add to the defense. The Browns won't get to the playoffs, or anything, but I don't think 6-7 wins is out of the question. I'll probably have them going 4-12 or 5-11 in my season previews this summer.
Minnesota Vikings (8-8) - Previously: 22. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: The Vikings looked as mediocre as ever during the preseason. Their offense sucks, while their defense still can't stop the run for some reason. It seems like they're going to pick up where they left off during last year's 3-8 finish.
The Vikings desperately needed offensive line help, so they paid big bucks to Riley Reiff to be their left tackle, and they also signed Mike Remmers. The good news is that they obtained a top-15 player from the 2017 NFL Draft in the second round, snatching Dalvin Cook off the board. Here's an article on why Dalvin Cook Slipped in the NFL Draft. It's a good thing that happened for Minnesota, but I still don't trust the shaky blocking.
Washington Redskins (8-7-1) - Previously: 16. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: Kirk Cousins has struggled in the preseason, so the Redskins could be off to a slow start again. Their schedule is pretty intense in the first nine weeks, save for the Week 6 guaranteed victory over the 49ers at home. I don't think the Redskins are that bad, but it is conceivable that they could begin 1-7.
I can't believe Jonathan Allen fell to the Redskins at No. 17 overall. He, Ryan Anderson and Fabian Moreau should be able to improve the defense. That would be great if the Kirk Cousins situation wasn't hanging over the team. The Redskins could make a run at the playoffs again, but they could also suffer as a result of distractions.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1) - Previously: 26. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: Nothing has changed for me regarding the Bengals. I have a tough time seeing them compete for a playoff spot unless some of the poor players on their offensive line improve by leaps and bounds. And if that happens, there will be some coaches who deserve big-time raises that they'll never get from Mike Brown.
The Bengals regressed last season because of injuries to some of their play-making offensive weapons. They're going to regress this season because they lost key members of their offensive line. Cincinnati's elite blocking was why the team frequently made the playoffs prior to 2016. With Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler gone, the Bengals almost certainly will not be playing in January. I did like their draft, but offensive line play is so important in the post-CBA NFL, and Cincinnati's blocking will be far worse in 2017.
Los Angeles Rams (4-12) - Previously: 32. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I'm disappointed. I wanted to call Jared Goff "Jared Goof," and as the person who created that nickname, I would go on to fame and fortune because of it. Alas, Goff has been more good than bad this preseason, thanks to the great tutelage of Sean McVay and Greg Olson. If this isn't a mirage, the Rams can compete for a wild-card spot, as they have a great defense, a strong running game, a legitimate No. 1 receiver, and an improved offensive line.
The Rams had a disturbing free agent period that saw them pay $39 million to Robert Woods. Their draft was pretty underwhelming as well. This all sounds horrible for the eight people who root for the Rams in Los Angeles, but it's actually a blessing in disguise, as they're front and center in the Suck for Sam Darnold sweepstakes.
Denver Broncos (9-7) - Previously: 17. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: Denver fans have to feel pretty upset that Paxton Lynch hasn't been able to surpass Trevor Siemian yet. For all the great things John Elway has done in Denver as a personnel man, you have to wonder about him using a first-round pick on Lynch and relying on Siemian for two years in a row. That, and the state of the offensive line is quite troubling.
The Broncos lost DeMarcus Ware this offseason, but the bigger deal is that they added Garett Bolles and Ronald Leary to help an awful offensive line. The blocking unit still isn't very good, and quarterback could still be an issue if Paxton Lynch doesn't progress. Then again, if Lynch makes a big jump in 2017, the playoffs could be possible again for Denver.
Miami Dolphins (10-6) - Previously: 18. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: Signing Jay Cutler was the best thing the Dolphins could've done. Cutler had one of his best seasons ever under Adam Gase in 2015, so all hope isn't lost now that Ryan Tannehill is out for the year. Still, things aren't ideal, as the Dolphins have some major injury concerns on their offensive line.
The Dolphins signed players to some dubious contracts this offseason, including Andre Branch (3 years, $27 million) and Lawrence Timmons (2 years, $12 million). Doing so did not improve their roster at all. However, I liked their draft, so I think they can still compete for a playoff spot if their offensive line stays healthy, which did not happen last year.
Carolina Panthers (6-10) - Previously: 15. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: Despite the reports back in May, Kelvin Benjamin appears as though he's in great shape. Cam Newton and the offensive tackles are the only concerns. Is Newton 100 percent, and will the horrible-looking tackles be able to protect him at all? My guesses to those answers are both no, meaning the Panthers will likely have another disappointing season.
The Panthers added a ton of offensive weapons in the draft for Cam Newton. Things seem promising for 2017, but will Newton be ready for the season? And what about Kelvin Benjamin, and his supposed weight of 280 pounds? The Panthers have denied that Benjamin is 280 pounds, so perhaps he's 281.
Detroit Lions (9-7) - Previously: 11. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I loved the Lions heading into the offseason. Then, Taylor Decker and Kerry Hyder suffered major injuries. Both absences will be huge for the Lions, though I have to say that Greg Robinson's performance in the preseason has been shocking. He actually looks like a real football player. Maybe getting jettisoned from the Rams' roster was the swift kick in the a** he needed. I think Red Foreman would be proud.
Underrated NFL Team: I'll be the first to say it - the Lions have a legitimate shot to go to the Super Bowl this year. And no, I don't mean that the players will buy tickets and attend the game in the stands. I think they could be playing in February. And no, I don't mean playing outside in the snow with their kids. The Lions, who were 9-4 last season before a rash of injuries crushed them, have enjoyed an excellent offseason. They signed two talented blockers, and it now looks like they have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. They picked up a great defensive team leader in Jarrad Davis and a formerly considered first-round talent in Jalen Tabor through the draft to help their defense.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8) - Previously: 24. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: In the wake of all of Baltimore's injuries, I asked around about why certain teams keep having injuries, and why they don't fire trainers to improve in this area. The response I got was that head coaches are typically close with the training staff, and because the trainers typically aren't known to the public and media and don't get flak as a result, there's no pressure to fire them. If that's the case - and it's the most reasonable explanation I've heard - it's a shame that the Ravens are doing a great disservice to their fans by keeping incompetent people on the payroll. Unless they change their policy, Baltimore will continue to suffer countless injuries.
I gave the Ravens one of the highest marks in my NFL Draft Team Grades, but that doesn't mean I'm optimistic about their chances in 2017. Thanks to Joe Flacco's albatross of a contract, they have serious roster issues that one great draft won't change.
Houston Texans (9-7) - Previously: 20. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: Tom Savage was better than Deshaun Watson in the preseason game against the Patriots, but I can't help but think Houston is making a mistake by going with the veteran. Savage obviously isn't the long-term answer, so giving him the nod because he had a lucky performance against a vanilla New England defense doesn't seem right. Watson is the future, and he needs to learn how to play in the NFL. Giving him starts against easier opponents like the Jaguars and Bengals feels like a good idea.
The Texans missed out on both Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, so they panicked and traded next year's first-round pick for Deshaun Watson. Teams we've spoken to had Watson as a third-round prospect, so I hated the move, especially considering the 2018 NFL Draft is stacked. If Watson is anything like Dak Prescott, the trade will end up as a great one, but there's more of a chance Watson is a horrible hybrid of Vince Young and Tim Tebow - two players who were awesome in the clutch in college, but didn't have good pro careers for one reason or another.
New York Giants (10-6) - Previously: 19. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I've been calling the Giants overrated, but I may have been overrating them myself. In my NFL Positional Ratings, they had one of the worst overall scores for any team in the NFL. This is not surprising, as they have a regressing quarterback playing with only one viable receiver and no running game behind a horrible offensive line. The defense is mostly great, but that won't save the Giants, who were very fortunate not to go 7-9ish last year.
I still stand by the Giants being overrated. In fact, I think they're even more overrated after signing Brandon Marshall, who struggled last year. Marshall isn't what he used to be, and I wonder if he'll hurt the locker room at all. I mean, you have one receiver who marries kicking nets, and you have another receiver who trips on McDonald's bags. You can't possibly have two of these guys on one team, right?
The draft didn't help matters. The Giants reached for a tight end and failed to upgrade the offensive line. Plus, there's a chance that Eli Manning could be suspended as a result of the memorabilia fraud allegations. The good news is that Evan Engram is really good at determining the difference between near mint and mint, so he'll be able to assist Eli with any eBay orders.
New Orleans Saints (7-9) - Previously: 21. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: The Saints could just surprise everyone. We all know about their amazing offense, which will be even better with Alvin Kamara's game-breaking ability and Michael Thomas' experience. However, their defense will be much better if Marshon Lattimore and Alex Anzalone perform as well as they did in the preseason. Lattimore wasn't even targeted in his debut; that's how good his coverage was. A lockdown cornerback and improved play at linebacker will solve a lot of problems in New Orleans' defense.
The Saints had a golden opportunity to add numerous defensive talents to their roster, but they used a first-round pick on an injury-prone tackle and a second-day selection on a running back after signing Adrian Peterson. Assuming the Saints struggle immensely once again on defense, they'll only have themselves to blame.
Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1) - Previously: 14. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I still think the Cardinals are overrated based on where I've seen them in some power rankings, but they're definitely not a bad team by any stretch of the imagination. Carson Palmer looks better than he did last year, while some of the younger players - Robert Nkemdiche and Budda Baker in particular - appear as though they're going to step up and fill some of the new holes on defense.
Overrated NFL Team: I've seen the Cardinals slotted as high as No. 5 in some power rankings. I think that's crazy. They lost way too many important players in free agency, namely Calais Campbell, Kevin Minter and Tony Jefferson. Their defense clearly won't be as good next year, while their offense is also sketchy because Carson Palmer, who was just average in 2016, is a year older and could continue to regress. Haason Reddick and Budda Baker were potential great draft picks, so unless they both contribute at a high level right away, the Cardinals could struggle again this upcoming season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7) - Previously: 12. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I expressed some concern about the Buccaneers being overhyped earlier in the offseason, but for some reason, I don't feel that concerned anymore. Jameis Winston continues to make great strides, and it looks like his offensive line is much better. The defense has made some improvements as well. At this rate, I'll be surprised if the Buccaneers don't reach the playoffs.
The Buccaneers have added some big names this offseason, including DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. This might be a positive, but it could also hurt Tampa. The team is going to have high expectations now with these fancy additions, and big expectations often means big failures for unproven teams.
Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) - Previously: 13. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: The Chargers are another team, like the Ravens, can't seem to stay healthy. What do these trainers do, anyway? If a player comes in and tells the trainers that something's really bothering him, do the trainers say, "Tis merely a flesh wound?" I don't understand. And it's a shame because I'd like to name the Chargers as a team that could reach the Super Bowl, but I don't trust them to avoid major injuries.
I've seen the Chargers in the top 10 of some power rankings, which is more optimistic than where I stand. San Diego (I refuse to acknowledge them as Los Angeles) is a good team when things are going right, but when has that been the case? The Chargers are always nursing tons of injuries, and things are just seemingly getting worse because they signed Russell Okung, who tends to be hurt more often than not. That said, perhaps things will change as far as the offense is concerned, given that the Chargers drafted Mike Williams and a couple of talented guards.
Dallas Cowboys (13-3) - Previously: 10. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I'm beginning to think that my take on the Cowboys being underrated isn't quite right. Perhaps it's because people aren't as high on them in the wake of Ezekiel Elliott's suspension, but I don't think Elliott is all that important to the team in relation to the offensive line and Dak Prescott. By the way, it was a small sample size, but Prescott looked amazing in his preseason action. It looked like he took the next step, which is saying something because he was great as a rookie in 2016. It wouldn't surprise me if everyone sees Prescott as an elite quarterback in the NFL by year's end.
Overrated NFL Team: The Cowboys were definitely legitimate in 2016, but I think they'll take a step backward this upcoming season. They lost two members of their fantastic offensive line, while three key players in their secondary have departed as well. Things won't go as smoothly for the Cowboys in 2017, as either Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott seems destined to have a sophomore slump.
Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) - Previously: 9. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: The Chiefs have said they've been happy with Alex Smith's decision to be more aggressive, and it has shown in the preseason. Smith, believe it or not, has attempted passes longer than five yards on multiple occasions. I know, I know, maybe he's been replaced by a doppelganger, but there's a chance that Patrick Mahomes' presence has served as a wake-up call. Either way, the Chiefs will once again contend for a playoff spot and the divisional title.
All of Alex Smith's friendsbiased TV analysts with a clue opinion came to Alex Smith's defense following the Patrick Mahomes trade, but the deal was necessary if the Chiefs ever want to compete for a Super Bowl. Smith doesn't have what it takes to win multiple games in the playoffs. Mahomes, meanwhile, has unbelievable potential. He has Brett Favre upside, but needs to be coached up because he's raw. Andy Reid is great with quarterbacks, so I think there's a good chance he gets the most out of Mahomes.
Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1) - Previously: 8. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I never thought I'd say that George Fant's injury would hurt the Seahawks, but he was at least projected to be semi-competent. His backup couldn't even block the Minnesota practice-squad players in the preseason game. Seattle's only alternative is newly acquired Matt Tobin, who probably wasn't going to make Philadelphia's 53-man roster. The Seahawks will be very competitive with Russell Wilson, as usual - especially with Sheldon Richardson joining the defense - but the offensive line woes will once again be their undoing.
The Seahawks made a number of positive trades down to pick up lots of draft picks. It was impressing maneuvering, but I'm wondering if they wouldn't have been better served dealing up for Garett Bolles. Seattle is a stellar offensive lineman away from reaching the Super Bowl again, and Bolles, if he pans out, would offer Russell Wilson the vast improved protection he desperately needs.
Green Bay Packers (10-6) - Previously: 5. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: The Packers had a scare when Bryan Bulaga injured himself in a late August practice, but he turned out to be OK. Green Bay will be in major trouble if it starts losing offensive linemen, but as it stands now, the team is an overwhelming favorite to win the NFC North again. Given the injuries the Lions have suffered, something tells me it'll be easier for the Packers this year.
I had the Packers atop my power rankings in my first update, but they lost two offensive linemen (T.J. Lang, J.C. Tretter) and a key member of their secondary in Micah Hyde. I still think Green Bay is one of the better teams in the NFC - the Kevin King pick could help - but I don't think the Packers are overwhelming favorites to reach the Super Bowl now.
Tennessee Titans (9-7) - Previously: 7. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: The Titans struggled versus the Bears, but looked like a machine in their preseason victory against the Panthers. They did anything they wanted to versus the Carolina starters on both offense and defense, while Adoree Jackson's dynamic return ability is an underrated improvement Tennessee made this offseason. The Titans are certainly one of the better teams in the NFL, and I fully expect them to reach the playoffs and perhaps win a game or two in January.
The Titans reached for Corey Davis, but they at least obtained some much-needed weapons for Marcus Mariota. I love the Titans' chances of winning the divsion and perhaps getting as far as the AFC Championship. Their offensive line, running game and front seven were already awesome, and now, they have offensive weapons and an improved secondary.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-9) - Previously: 6. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I don't understand why the Eagles are viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender by the public. In the wake of the Ronald Darby acquisition, they have no weaknesses. Running back is looking dubious, but Wendell Smallwood could surprise. Regardless, the Eagles have an elite offensive line, a rapidly improving quarterback, and a terrific front seven. One of the top NFL handicappers in Las Vegas told me that he believes the Eagles will win the Super Bowl this year, and he could turn out to be right.
Underrated NFL Team: In my previous update, I wrote: "If the Eagles nail their draft, they could go 11-5 or even 12-4, and they're my early pick to win the NFC East. They were practically undefeated with Lane Johnson on the field last year. Now, Carson Wentz has more experience, and he has two talented receivers to throw to. The defense, meanwhile, figures to be better. The only important player who departed was Bennie Logan, who had a down 2016 season. Chris Long and Patrick Robinson will help, as will any players Philadelphia obtains in the 2017 NFL Draft."
Well, the Eagles had a solid draft. They're severely underrated right now - I saw that someone had them at No. 20 in their power rankings - but they'll be great in 2017, and if Sidney Jones recovers, a Super Bowl is very realistic in 2018.
Oakland Raiders (12-4) - Previously: 2. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I'm dropping the Raiders a couple of spots because they've looked way too aloof this preseason. It doesn't look like they're taking seriously, almost as though they've been reading their press clippings a bit too much. Maybe Derek Carr should've waited until he was done playing football to begin his very promising music career.
If it's not the Patriots, I expect the Raiders to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. They didn't make a big splash in free agency, but they added Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson to improve their offense and special teams, respectively. Gareon Conley, if exonerated, is a great addition to the defense. The important thing is keeping Derek Carr healthy, and Oakland has the offensive line to do that. Then again, the Raiders could've said the same thing last year.
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) - Previously: 3. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: It pains me to say this, but I think grand douche Ross Avila might be right. He predicts the Steelers will win the Super Bowl this year, and I think there's a good chance that will happen. My only concern with the Steelers is whether Ben Roethlisberger will be completely focused, given his thoughts of retirement this offseason. If he is, the Steelers could claim another Lombardi trophy.
The Steelers didn't really change their roster very much in free agency. Jarvis Jones and Lawrence Timmons are gone, but they struggled in 2016. They've been replaced by the lackluster duo of Tyson Alualu and Coty Sensabaugh. However, the T.J. Watt pick was a promising one. Meanwhile, Martavis Bryant was reinstated, though he's hardly worth trusting. Counting on Bryant being available for all 16 games is like giving out your information to the Prince of Somalia, whose parents were assassinated, and now he trusts you to smuggle millions of dollars into the United States or him.
New England Patriots (14-2) - Previously: 1. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I'm dropping the Patriots to No. 2 in the wake of Derek Rivers' season-ending injury. Casual fans might not know who he is, but Rivers was expected to be the No. 2 edge rusher this year in the wake of Kony Ealy's struggles. Rivers won't be around, so I question New England's ability to get to the quarterback, which could hurt versus the elite offenses in the league.
The Patriots made so many moves this offseason, you'd think they just lost the Super Bowl rather than won it. I'm sure Tom Brady will enjoy the new weapons (Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen), while the defense will be better with Kony Ealy and Stephon Gilmore. Assuming some desperate Bills fan doesn't sneak Cheetos into Brady's OCD diet, the Patriots will be the favorite to win Super Bowl LII.
Atlanta Falcons (11-5) - Previously: 4. SEPT. 4 UPDATE: I picked the Falcons to go to the Super Bowl this year in my NFL Season Previews. I think they're the best team in the NFL right now. This, however, wasn't good enough for one e-mailer, Phil S. who wrote the following: "Walt, the only thing I can come up with is you were raped in Atlanta - when it comes to the Falcons, you are not rational and you grade downwards severely. ... I cannot believe you call yourself some type of expert - you come off like a teenager living in a basement w/ mom while popping zits. You consistently berate the Falcons." Man, these Atlanta fans are very difficult to please!
As long as Matt Ryan and his offensive line happen to be healthy, the Falcons will continue to be one of the better teams in the NFL. They signed a few players to horrible contracts in the offseason, but didn't really lose anyone outside of their fullback, so they should be 11-5 or better once again, barring injuries, or Takkarist McKinely drawing 594,615 personal fouls per game.