With another crazy week of college football, which included four of the top 13 teams in the country losing, I decided to make my own top 25 rankings. I largely agree with the top ten of the CFP and AP lists, I just flipped around numbers six to eight a bit. After that, I trust what I see when I put on the games each Saturday (and when I study the tape throughout the week). Of course I also have to take an outlook for each program into consideration as well, because I just can’t put any two-loss team from the Power Five, which doesn’t even have a chance to play in the conference championship game, above one who still basically controls their own destiny and has a chance to leave a mark on me and the committee. Without further ado, here’s my list:
We live in a crazy world right now in which the Jets share the same record as the Patriots. Last week I published an article about how underdogs dominated week three of the season and that trend continued into last Sunday, most notably the Bills winning in Atlanta, the Rams defeating the Cowboys at Jerry World and the Panthers bringing down the reigning world champs at Gillette Stadium. With all that swirling around in the air, it’s hard to point out the teams that are for real, but I tried to rank all 32 of them as of how good (or bad) I think they are right now and going forward. After week six of last season, the Vikings were a team at 5-0 many thought could win the Super Bowl because of how dominant their defense looked and I had to as my number among my power rankings back then, but they went on to finish the year right at 8-8 and miss the playoffs. So you can never know how things will pan out in the NFL, especially with the way the start of the season has surprised us already.
Once again NFL players voted for their peers to be named among the top 100 for this upcoming season. I want to reiterate that once more. The list might be based on what you saw from these athletes last year, but you project how well they will play in the 2017/18 season. I like the whole idea of it, but players seem to get confused with fellows who missed time or simply didn’t play at the level they’re capable of. Sure, you have to take availability into account, but as long as they’re cleared medically you aren’t supposed to project to them to be injured. At the same time you need to bump players who are suspended for a certain amount of games (like I did with Brady a year ago) or if there still are legitimate health concerns. I didn’t put offensive linemen as high as I would if the list was solely about the best players, since the question is how much value they present and that unit consists of five guys.
Now that we’ve cleared up the parameters, here’s my list. It might look pretty different to the official one, but I tried to really create it based on value.
The 2017 NFL Draft is in the books and every team got better last weekend. Yet, some teams did a better job than some others and a couple of players got help via the draft. On the other hand, there are a few prospects who saw their draft stock drop and they had to wait longer than expected to hear their name called, while a bunch of them did not have their phones ring at all. Here’s a recap of what happened in Philly:
Now six weeks into the season we have a pretty good picture of all 32 NFL teams. Sure, you never know what will happen over the rest of the year, but I tried to rank them by the way they’ve played so far and factor in how they’ve improved since the season started or what they can still get better at. As of right now the list looks like this:
Defenses run the table right now. Other than Pittsburgh’s and Atlanta’s high-powered offenses it’s the defensive units that have carried the premier teams over the first five weeks. Sure those team’s offenses make the critical plays and Tom Brady will be the main figure in New England from now on, but the top defenses have made the winningest teams go. The criteria for what makes those units elite has changed over the past decade or two, since the focus has shifted more to being able to lock down receivers and mix coverages well, but I feel like being able to make offenses one-dimensional by shutting down the run has a lot of value.
Heading into week 5 and with a quarter of the season already in the books (!) there have been a couple of surprises. I predicted the Ravens to win the AFC, but they are 1-3 right now, the Falcons are two more wins away from their 2014 total and the Eagles right now are at the bottom of the NFC East standings. To find a way to figure out all this craziness, I decided to rank all 32 teams. But instead of ranking them only based on the record, I wanted to give my opinion on who I think has played the best and how they will play from here on out.