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Mike Gordan

NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

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So Charles Woodson texted Reggie McKenzie and insisted his son retire instead of playing for the Chiefs, quoted as saying "No young man with the Silver and Black in his blood should wear the red helmet."  Yet he fails to realize, several players before have played for the Chiefs in their careers, including one of his own teammates. 

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So kneeling is going to get fined, and so far, we know that Carson Wentz is going to the White House.  We don't yet know if any of the other Super Bowl Champion Eagles will be making the trek, but I reckon that they probably will.

 

I'd say things are also looking bad for the Patriots--Tom Brady is becoming a bit of a narcissist, but perhaps that's what happens when you're 41, and no QB has ever lit it up that old.  Still, I'd hold off before I make any bold predictions.

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Posted (edited)

 

Now that the schedules have been released, we all have a better outlook on predictions. 

 

Ingram's suspension for the Saints makes those first 4 games a bit harder, unless Kamara makes us completely forget about him all together. I won't complain if that happens cause it took Ingram until the last two years to finally start living up to all that hype and the trade to get him in the 2011 draft. Kamara is the first Saints player in a few years that makes me want to run out and spend a ridiculous amount of money on a new jersey. 

 

Funny note, did you know the Saints are 4-1 all time vs the new Browns? That's right, since 1999 the Browns have posted a winning record vs the Saints. Of those games include the gut wrenching Tim Couch hail mary in '99, the beat down game in 2010 and the Brian Hoyer last minute drive hail mary in 2014. The Saints lone win vs the expansion Browns is from 2006 which was Drew Brees' first game in a Saints uniform. 

 

I can almost guarantee us fucking around and losing to the Browns in week 2 while everyone is hyping us up as a SB team. It would be the most Saints thing ever.  

Edited by _DEBERG

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Can somebody ease my troubled mind:  is Andrew Luck gonna be quarterbacking the Colts this season?

 

Because, I'm tired of all the hype.

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Bolt said:

Can somebody ease my troubled mind:  is Andrew Luck gonna be quarterbacking the Colts this season?

 

Because, I'm tired of all the hype.

 

There is no end to what they can do together.

 

 

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Okay, I guess it's time to analyze each team in the NFL.  I decided to revitalize my own Power Rankings here based mostly on the likely win-loss records and ranges.  It's basically a fresh coat of paint, so let's get started:

 

32.  Cleveland Browns:  There are 32 teams in the NFL.  31 of them are divided across tiers of Top, High, Mid, Erradic, Low, and Bottom.  But then there are the Browns.  Which might as be ranked below Bottom Tier at this point they are so pathetic.

 

Some reminders: 

 

A.)  They went 0-16 last season and 1-15 the year before.  That's 1 win in two years--a first.

B.)  Hue Jackson is still their head coach.

C.)  Jimmy Haslam is still their owner.

 

What are the chances this team wins any more than 2 games this season?  And that's being generous.  I would discuss upgrades and downgrades and whatnot, but it's a waste of time.  No matter how good they might look on paper, the fact remains, they're the Cleveland Browns.  Their culture sucks.  It's nihilistic.  There is no care to try and win games.  The people running the show are either blithering idiots or care about as much as the owner of Pepsi cares about Elitch Gardens (translation:  About as much as the Devil does about you going to Heaven).

 

What is there to praise?  What is there to condemn?  There is nothing.  Nothing at this point in time can possibly make me think they can win much, if any games.

 

They actually have to show what they are made of.  And I mean in the regular season.  The Pre season might give us a sneak peak at what we can possibly get out of these teams, but winning them isn't going to change their placement beyond, well, being ranked Bottom rather than below even that.

 

There is just a single sliver or hope for them.  Both the Browns predecessors--the 1976 Buccaneers and the 2008 Lions--followed up winless seasons with 2-win seasons.  Additionally, they both reached the Playoffs with 10+ wins three years after going winless and tieless.

 

The problem, however, is that the Buccaneers were an expansion team in an era where the NFL gave no craps about supporting expansion teams; and the Lions winless season was the final season of the notorious Matt Millen era.  Both teams gutted what was wrong and patched it up in a few short years.

 

The Browns?  Their strategy was to get rid of a rookie QB--in spite not being the principle problem of the roster; and keeping Hue Jackson as head coach on board.  After going 0-16.  Also, Jimmy Haslam is still the owner.  Translation:  Nothing of actual substance has changed.

 

The Cleveland Browns are the single worst team in the NFL last season.  As of right now, there is no reason to objectively think they can improve beyond winning one or two games.  None.  I pick the Browns to finish anywhere from 0-16 to 2-14.  I'm not picking the teams I think they might be able to beat; that's just the bar set by the Buccaneers and Lions that came before them.  To pick who they could beat at this point is futile.

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This video from December of last year is probably the best breakdown I've ever seen of the expansion Browns and how terrible they've been historically. 

 

 

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Okay, I scraped below bottom tier.  Now it's time to discuss the bottom tier.  There are quite a few candidates, but ultimately, it all boiled down to which teams are for certain going to have a losing record:

 

31.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  I know that a lot of people may consider teams like the Colts or the Dolphins for this spot, but at the end of the day, aside from the Browns, I have a feeling the worst team in the NFL would likely be the Buccaneers.  I will discuss why the Colts are not this bloody low when I get to them, but the biggest difference between the Buccaneers and the Dolphins is in the strength of schedule.  At least there is a distant chance of the Dolphins making the playoffs.  The Buccaneers?  They're in a division with three different teams quarterbacked by the likes of Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan.  These are all among the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now.  Jameis Winston, meanwhile, is starting to look more and more like a Jay Cutler--type of QB.

 

The only difference?  Jay Cutler doesn't cause drama, and doesn't get suspended.  He just doesn't have any leadership skills and has no desire to develop any.

 

Jameis Winston, meanwhile, is starting to look more and more like a draft bust of epic proportions.

 

On top of that, quite possibly their best player in Doug Martin is now gone.

 

We're talking about a crap ton of drama involving a quarterback that is nowhere near the level of quality that his fellow NFC South rivals happen to be in.  And unlike Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars, their defense is nowhere near good enough to make up for Jameis Winston.  Their receiving core is pretty decent, and they have a couple good players on defense.  But there aren't any real stars on this roster anymore, and the few that might qualify--like WR LeSean McCoy or DE Jason Pierre-Paul--while might be able to provide some leadership on this team, are not exactly the greatest players in the league right now.  Especially not JPP, who is a shell of his former self anyways--even removing the fireworks incident, he is still getting pretty old.

 

What is ultimately going to doom this team and ensure they fail to win more than 5--maybe 6 games if lucky?  The strength of schedule.  Which always begins with the division.  And while the Dolphins seem to have many similar problems to the Buccaneers, the primary difference is that the Dolphins at least have a shot in their own division--especially if Tom Brady falls apart.  And while Drew Brees may very well suffer a similar fate, at least he is surrounded by playmakers on offense and has a good enough defense to not have to carry his team on his back in every game.  And besides that, there's still the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons.  I'm going to make some bold predictions on the Panthers, but for now, let's just say even they will be problematic.

 

The general rule of thumb is that if you want to win your division, you're going to have to win at least 4 or 5 games in there.  And if you fall just short of actually doing so, you'd still need to win at least 10 games just to have a shot at making it in as a Wild Card team.  That is when you get to the big, important stuff.  Specifically, the remaining ten games on their schedule.  The Buccaneers this year are paired up with the AFC North and NFC East.  And while they are not exactly the most difficult teams to play, they unfortunately have to play both of the toughest teams of their respective divisions this year within the first three weeks.  And even their last-place scheduling with the Bears and 49ers isn't much to hope for.  Especially since both teams are looking to make some serious noise this year.

 

First month of the season, they will have to play at New Orleans before hosting the Eagles and Steelers.  The good news is that they're hosting.  The bad new is, they're both very good football teams, likely top five, even.  Maybe they steal one off of a Monday Night matchup against a Steelers team notorious for playing down to their opponents' level like always, but aside from that, it's not going to get much easier.  They do host the Bears--which they beaten handedly last year, but again, they're likely going to be much better this year than the year before.

 

So if they do steal one off of Pittsburgh and then go in and win in Chicago, they will enter their bye week with perhaps a little bit of momentum at .500.  The problem is, the hardest part of their schedule will not involve Jameis Winston since he's suspended during that time.

 

After the bye week, we then have them playing in Atlanta before hosting the Browns.  Then they go to Cincinnati and Carolina.  And I could go on and on, but at the end of the day, that momentum is likely going to dissipate.  It is likely during the first half of the season, the Bucs could have anywhere from 1 to 3 win under their belt--with the most certain win being at home against the Browns.  Because again--even as a Bottom Tier football team, at least they're not the Cleveland Browns.

 

Yes, there are six teams on their schedule that all have losing records the previous season--the Browns, Bears, Bengals, Redskins, Giants, and 49ers.  And even then, the Giants had their entire receiving core completely wiped out in Week 4 of last season; the Bengals and Redskins both skirted 8-8; the 49ers went from utter trash to a respectable force in the NFL; and the Bears had gotten rid of their staff and are developing their key players.  The only easy win for them, if anything, is against the Browns.

 

If anything, the Buccaneers are one of those teams that drastically changed for the worse, and it doesn't even feel like they're attempting to rebuild.  They still have their old coaching staff; their best players are now gone; and the few bright spots they added in are either past their prime or aren't exactly what you can consider stars.  Even taking into account their brutal schedule last season, including their never-ending stream of bad luck against the AFC East as well as being in a division that saw all of their other division rivals make the playoffs with 10-11 wins on the season, they seemed to have gotten worse rather than better.

 

A lot of other teams that were really bad last season have gotten better.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers is probably the one team out of that bunch that I can safely say are in a worse position now than they were a year ago.  I am predicting anywhere from 2 to 5 wins for them.  Maybe they steal a game or two against their division rivals, and maybe they take care of a couple other bottom-feeder teams out there like the Browns.  But I don't expect them to win out against all of them, and I certainly will not pick them to so much as skirt the boundaries of 8-8.  If anything, winning 6 games in spite of all these things would be greatly exceeding my expectations.

 

All in all, if not for the Browns, I'd easily pick the Buccaneers to be the worst team in the NFL by a pretty wide margin.

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Okay, remember when I said that the Buccaneers--discounting the Browns--were the worst team in the NFL by far?  Well, there are two other franchises with similar tags.  The main difference again, is that they both play in the AFC East.  Specifically, the Jets and the Dolphins.  I debated on who was worse, but ultimately I had to go with... .

 

30.  Miami Dolphins:  I'll get into why I think the Jets by a mere one game minimal record has a slightly better chance of surprising than the Dolphins do, but at the end of the day, the Dolphins suffer many similar problems as the Buccaneers before them.  The main difference is that instead of a QB with off-field issues, Ryan Tannehill is decent but is recovering from a torn ACL.  Luckily, this ACL tear occurred during the offseason and wasn't anywhere near as severe as with Teddy Bridgewater before him.  That, and again, the AFC East is a significantly weaker division than the NFC South, even taking into account the New England Patriots.

 

It is thus, acceptable to believe that the Dolphins could win some games.  In fact, if the Dolphins go 5-1 against the AFC East--sweeping the Bills and Jets, and then splitting a series against the Patriots (as per usual), all the Dolphins then have to do is find five more wins, and then they'll make it back into the playoffs, maybe as division champions even if Tom Brady falls off a cliff.

 

So, what is it looking like?  Where could their other five wins come from?  Well I'm glad you asked.  Because that is where the bad news come from.  Simply put; they are going to be matched up against the NFC North and AFC South this season--and both divisions are going to be much stronger than they were in years past.  Yes, when talking about the Buccaneers, strength of difficulty begins with their own division.  And by that standard, even with a couple manageable games, the fact remains they would still need to win one or two games in their division just to make the playoffs.  Because in the current landscape, no division can send everybody to the playoffs.

 

The Dolphins do not have the grueling punishment of having to overcome such grave obstacles like the Buccaneers do, but rather an opposite problem of finding a win against anybody outside of their division.  Maybe they steal a game against the Bengals or Raiders (I'd lean more towards the Raiders since they're a West coast team wearing black, which gives the Dolphins a huge homefield advantage against them), but alongside the ideallic 5-1 division scenario, that is pretty much it.

 

And again, every single team in the NFC North and AFC South have been souped up.  Yes, the Jaguars have the worst quarterback out of all four of their teams, but they also have the best defense by a wide margin, and all Bortles has to do is play smart to win.  In the NFC, the Lions and Packers both have Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers--both of whom are among the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now.  While on the other side, the Bears and Vikings both have overall the better rosters (with the Vikings in particular being a very good defensive unit with a more than capable quarterback in Kirk Cousins leading the charge).

 

The problems with a lot of these AFC East teams have more to do with the opponents they have to play outside of their own division.  However, what ultimately does it in for the Dolphins even moreso than the Jets is how much worse off they are now even compared to what they had last year.  Say what you will about Jay Cutler's performance or how Ryan Tannehill is now back, but the fact remains, Cutler still played pretty good with what he had last year, even beating a number of solid teams in the Falcons and Patriots.  Nothing spectacular, but something you'd perhaps see with Tannehill regardless.

 

But even with all that in mind, Tannehill's return is not that big of an upgrade compared to what they have lost.  They are currently in deep, salary cap hell.  Ndamukong Suh has been cut.  And even before the offseason, arguably their best offensive playmaker in Jay Ajayi (who single-handedly carried an otherwise atrocious Dolphins roster to a 10-win playoff spot) was dealt away to an Eagles squad I'm more than certain are happy to have him on their team.  And as a result, the team is pretty much gutted away with any semblance of a star.

 

In many ways, the Dolphins are objectively worse on paper than the Buccaneers.  I simply put the Buccaneers lower on the list because their division isn't going to do them any favors.  At least the AFC East could potentially be so bad that it'd help the Dolphins pad out their win total.  But the fact remains, what other wins do you see on their schedule outside of the AFC East?  Aside from maybe a home game against the Raiders, I just don't see it.

 

I'm picking them to go anywhere from 2-6 wins this season.  Again, I'm pretty sure those 6 wins, if they are to happen, would involve sweeping the Jets and/or Bills, steal one off the Patriots, and then win at home against the Raiders.  If there is a margin for error, maybe they might pull a massive upset.  But between the Buccaneers and Dolphins, both teams are in a similar gut; it's pretty close to call, but I decided that the Buccaneers were worse based off of the task of getting past their division.  At least it's possible to win your division with 6 or 7 wins, especially if the vast majority of them come from your own division.  Otherwise, both units are similarly very, very bad.

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I suppose my final Power Ranking for the time being would have to be....

 

29.  New York Jets

 

The Jets have several things going for them over the Miami Dolphins.  First and foremost, they have actually attempted to upgrade their roster.  They have a head coach, who even with the worst on-paper team in the league a year before, still greatly overachieved by winning 5 games including against a couple of playoff teams, whilst playing teams like the Patriots, Panthers and Saints tough even in defeat.  And of course, they play the Browns.

 

I think the biggest difference is that there's definitely a feeling that these Jets players want to win, and win badly.

 

The downside is that they seem to be one or two years off of finally making a big difference, but the potential to shock us is still there.  It was there a year ago when we all thought the Jets were for certain going to tank their season only for them to win five games instead.  It was there in 2015 when the team shocked us by going 10-6 and only missing a spot in the playoffs due to a tie-breaker situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And if they upgraded their roster, and the will to win thrives, what else is there to go from 5-11?

 

The only difference is that similarly, they can still disappoint.  Keep in mind that they are still not that great a football team.  I like their team spirit, and have inherited the title of loveable losers from the Jaguars after the latter had broke out of the basement and finally looked poised to compete for a Super Bowl.  And let's not forget that they really fell off a cliff back in 2016 coming off of that high a year prior.

 

But between the Dolphins and Jets, I at least have slightly more faith they can win their division, let alone a playoff spot.  Yes, similarly, 5-1 division record could still get them to the playoffs if they find some way to scrounge up another 5 games.  They may not be hosting the Raiders down in Florida, but at least they get to play the Browns.  And even within the confines of how brutal the rest of their schedule would be outside of their division, there's still a likelier chance the Jets can come in and steal some games, and perhaps actually shape the playoff race in the process.  They'll still be the underdogs against much of the AFC South and NFC North, but at least all of those games appear to be winnable for them.

 

For now, I'm probably am going to still consider them bottom-tier, though they are pretty darn close to low tier.  Their schedule may be brutal, but at least the beginning portions are manageable.  They begin their season on Monday Night at Detroit before hosting the Dolphins and then traveling to Cleveland for a Thursday Night game.  Brutal in terms of rest periods, but at least all three of these games are winnable.  They should still be playing teams like the Broncos and Bears--who, granted, are much tougher games than they appear to be) before their bye week, and then of course, there's the Vikings.  And after the bye, that is when they will start shaping up playoff seeding, even if they are no longer in the running for a playoff spot by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

 

I'm predicting anywhere from 3 to 6 wins, which is only a tad better on paper than the Dolphins.  But what if they are already at 6 wins by the time their Week 11 bye rolls around?  Suddenly, playoffs become a possiblity, especially if the Patriots end up struggling.  Make that 7 or 8 wins, and not only would they exceed all expectations, but would most certainly be in the running for a playoff spot, if not a division title.

 

But for now, I'm pretty much playing it safe.  3 to 6 wins seems to be a safe pick, but believe me; the Jets certainly could exceed even those prognostics.  What I don't think will happen is the Jets finishing with a worse record than 3-13.  I mean, the Patriots and Bills are still a worry for the Jets, and nearly every single team on their schedule not named the Browns will likely give the Jets a fight to earn a spot in the Postseason.

 

And from this moment on, it's pretty much a fight.  Of all the teams I think might have a shot at making the playoffs, I think the Jets have it the worse (aside from the Dolphins, Bucs, and Browns, who all have next to no shot).  So basically, I'm saying the Jets are the only NFL team in the bottom tier that I think has a decent shot at it.  But...who knows?

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28.  New York Giants

 

Much of the problems that plagued the Giants last season came from a horrible 0-4 start followed up by an entire receiving core being completely devastated.  Add on top of that an offensive line that might as well consist of nobody, and a head coach that constantly put the blame on Eli Manning, and you had a Giants team that was expecting to make a playoff run again, only to be the second worst team in the NFL based off of win total alone.  Granted, the drafting of RB Saquan Barkley was a hot enough draft pick to warrant some buzz, and they fired head coach Ben MacAdoo after a game in which he needlessly benched Eli Manning for no real reason.  But the fact remains, Eli Manning is getting on in years, and unlike other QB's like Brett Favre, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, isn't exactly known for being the type of guy that can carry teams on his shoulders.  Yes, he is probably the healthiest aging QB in the league right now--he's the only QB that never missed a game due to injury, after all.  But the window is closing on the Giants franchise to compete, and it's closing rapidly.

 

To be honest, it was a bit of a tough call as to whether or not to classify the Giants as a low or bottom tier.  Even within the confines of bottom tier, the Jets at least have a shot at a playoffs in spite having a roster that is on paper still in need of a serious rebuild.  Really, all the Giants need is either a good offensive line, or for Saquan Barkley to be such a force to be reckoned with that he masks the deficiencies of said offensive line.  They also would need to rely more heavily on the Pass Rush if they are to hope to contend.  Because if Eli Manning is going to have to carry this team to victory week in and week out, the Giants are going to have a hard time winning games.

 

He just isn't that type of quarterback.  He's good, but not THAT good.  Heck, an argument could be made that not even Drew Brees himself is that transcendent a talent to make his team a consistent contender all on his own; that's kind of why so many people consider him criminally underrated.  So let that be put into perspective when I explain that Eli isn't THAT good.

 

Granted, the NFC East isn't exactly an unachievable feat.  The Cowboys and Redskins both have problems, and while the Eagles may have won a Super Bowl last year, the Giants still played them tough both times last season and could have won either game and thus have a serious impact on the NFC's playoff landscape.  But similar to the AFC East, the Giants are going to be matched up with the NFC North and AFC South, which are going to be no slouch either.

 

However, in hindsight, the Giants and Jets probably should have switched places here.  I'll get to why I didn't a bit later, but the beginning of the Giants' schedule?  Absolutely brutal.  They begin by hosting Jacksonville, and this is one instant of an upset that absolutely needs to occur if they wish to get our attention moving forward.  Then they travel to Dallas and Houston before returning home to face the Saints.  They go to Carolina, then host the Eagles before going to Atlanta heading into their bye week.

 

The only team during that stretch with a losing record was the Houston Texans, and that was mostly due to all their best players having hit injury reserve.  At that stage of the season, the Texans are going to be healthy.  Otherwise, the Cowboys were the only other team during that stretch that missed the playoffs.  And again, the suspension of Ezekiel Elliot sort of played a big role in that.

 

I suppose the Giants could pull away with some major upsets here.  But in general, the Giants might as well be the underdog in every single game heading into their bye week.  And that seven week stretch is going to be crucial in the Giants having any hope whatsoever in making the playoffs.  The second half of the season may be a little easier, but not by much.  The Giants are going to need to set the tempo, and do so early on.  There isn't a single game that I can safely say, "Oh, yeah!  The Giants can definitely win this game."  As it stands, the Giants are the great, big underdog.

 

The edge I gave the Giants--and mind you, it's a very slight edge--over the Jets, however, comes from the fact that, in spite the strength of schedule, the Giants have a better roster.  And if they can get off to a good start, then the Giants could very well surprise us.  And keep in mind, I think the Giants have a slightly harder schedule than the Dolphins or Jets simply because they have to play the Bears and 49ers, and they don't get the Bucs until late in the season (at least the Jets got the Browns).  At least it's patently clear that the pieces are there for a successful playoff run for the Giants.  They just need to overcome a whole lot in order to do so.

 

It ultimately depends on how well the new coaching staff handles the current roster.  I'm picking anywhere from 3-8 wins, with a shot at the playoffs as it stands being pretty long--yet still in reach.  And mind you, I chose the range because most of the second half games are definitely winnable, and it's not like the Giants can't steal a game or two during the first half of the season.  But again, if they wish to exceed my own expectations for this team, they will have to do it during the first half.  At least 5-2 in order to make their chances at making the playoffs at least appear more realistic.

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27.  Chicago Bears

 

Okay, there is genuine reasons to start to feel excited about this new Bears team.  Yes, a year ago, Mitch Trubisky quarterbacked the worst passing attack in the season and the second worst overall offense in the league.  But he was a rookie quarterback playing under a deeply flawed offensive scheme from former head coach John Fox, and he didn't have much help in the receiving core.  The Bears have on paper, gotten better, and they're gonna look better at the same time.

 

I am a bit concerned that their defense may not be up to snuff.  They definitely are the team people are least confident in as far as winning the division goes.  Yes, they play in a grueling division in the NFC North--not as grueling as the AFC or NFC South, mind you.  But they still have to play Aaron Rogers and the Minnesota Vikings twice; they still have to play Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Jimmy G.  All that in of itself is a scary prospect.

 

With that said, there are only two games in their first seven weeks in which they are currently serious underdogs against--their opener in Green Bay, and a home date with the Patriots.  Every other game during that stretch is definitely winnable, if not outright favored to win.

 

Then they have their bye week, and the true challenge will await them.  They have to play in Buffalo, which, while winnable, is definitely a formidable place to play in.  They play the Lions twice in a span of three weeks, which they might steal a game against.  And we may even get a good glimpse as to who is truly better between the Giants and Bears.  But aside from that, it gets brutal, and it becomes a do-or-die situation for the Bears.  They play the Vikings twice, and they host the Packers and Rams before going to San Francisco.  In fact, their home game against the Packers is their final home game of the regular season.  During that 9-week stretch, they are going to have to find at least five wins during this stretch in order to make the playoffs.

 

The good news is, if they manage to pull off a miracle here, then ten wins will likely be good enough to get them back to the playoffs.  Granted, they won't have much, if any say over how the Falcons, Panthers or Saints perform, but they can definitely shape the playoff landscape, if not outright become a part of it by season's end.  A 5-2 start is very much a possibility.  But only two additional wins at most is likely a given in the second half of the season.  Still, if they can dig deep inside themselves and motivate themselves further in the second half of the season, they could find a way to win ten games.

 

As such, I think the Bears are likely to win anywhere from 4 to 7 games.  Keep in mind that if they struggle in the first half of the season, it's all but certain that they won't make the playoffs (they're not exactly going to have the easiest time dealing with the Cardinals, Seahawks or Jets, after all).  But even if they meet they meet 5-2, the second half will make them truly push the full extent of what they are capable of, and even then, a mere two--maybe three wins are the likely end result from that push.  So if they can find wins against teams like the Vikings, Packers, and Rams, they'll more than likely make the playoffs.

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Posted (edited)

26.  Cincinnati Bengals

 

You know how I said the Bears had the second worst overall offense in the NFL last season?  Well, the Bengals had the worst statistical offense in the entire league.  Their running attack was second worse, and while the passing attack was slightly better, still ranked in the bottom eight overall.  All of this because the Bengals offensive line might as well not even exist, and Marvin Lewis's coaching tree is now under great fatigue.  It's abundantly clear he has well outstayed his welcome after constant playoff failure that would make even Andy Reid blush (at least Andy Reid got to coach in the Super Bowl), and whether it is out of fear for the unknown or because Marvin Lewis is black, the Bungles front office refuse to let him go.

 

In fact, he got an extension.

 

It didn't matter that the Bengals looked like one of the absolute worst teams in the league until he pulled three or four wins out of the final sleight of games out of his arse to close out the regular season going from 3-7 to 7-9.  And even having severely impacted much of the playoff picture along the way, eliminating both the Lions and Ravens from contention.

 

That, and they get to play the Browns twice a year, which ought to be a huge plus.

 

And yet it seems like the Bungles roster is getting worse and worse with every passing season.  Nearly everybody worth jack is now gone.

 

Now for the good news.  The primary reason why I not only kept the Bengals in low tier rather than bottom tier is because through all intents and purposes, the Bengals' schedule is not that difficult.  Yes, they play the NFC South, and the AFC West has improved quite a bit.  But in general, there isn't really any point where one can classify as a difficult stretch.  Their hardest stretch is their first five games heading into their bye week, in which they play in Indianapolis before hosting the Ravens, and then traveling to Carolina and Atlanta before finally hosting the Dolphins.  Granted, it can definitely look bleak if things go horribly wrong.  But 2 or 3 wins (with Baltimore being a tossup and Indianapolis depending largely on Andrew Luck's status) won't exactly leave the Bengals in bad shape.

 

Granted, immediately afterwards, they host the Steelers and go to Kansas City (which will both be very tough games), but then they get home games against the Bucs and Saints, and the rest of their schedule sort of levels out from there.  Even so, their worst case scenario is likely four or five wins in the season (there's no getting out of the fact that they still play the Browns twice, and both games occur during the final stretch starting with Thanksgiving weekend).  So even if things begin atrociously, it is still likely that they will find a number of wins post-bye.  The Browns pretty much count as automatic wins, and the Bengals are still going to be favored to win over the Dolphins and Buccaneers.

 

Overall, I'm predicting the Bengals will somehow win 5-7 games, very likely.  They usually split their series with the Ravens, and who knows what's gonna happen with the Colts in Week 1.  Which, at a best-case scenario, probably will leave them stealing a game or two from either Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver, or Oakland.  The bad news is if they reach if not exceed this total, especially heading towards the end of the season.  Honestly, it leaves one to wonder how long the Marvin Lewis era is gonna go on with nothing but losing records and Wild Card playoff futility at every turn.  Something has to give.  And while I think at this point in time, the Bengals are likely better than teams like the Bears and Jets, I at least am optimistic at the possibility of them exceeding my expectations, and the Giants, even though I consider them to be longshots, at least are attempting to make some changes to give themselves a better chance.  But the Bungles are stuck in autopilot.  Not atrocious, but still below the ranking of mediocrity.  Maybe Andy Dalton returns to his MVP-caliber form from 2015, and the Bengals' defense clicks on all cylinders.  But deep-rooted problems remain unaddressed.

 

Until Marvin Lewis is gone, there is little to no hope of the Bengals getting better.  And there's very little hope of the Bengals being comparably bad, if not worse than the Browns, much less the Dolphins and Buccaneers.

Edited by Mike Gordan

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My final Power Ranking today, as it is the final Low Tier candidate I have left, and if anything, has the best shot out of getting back to the playoffs out of everybody so far:

 

25.  Buffalo Bills

 

Yes, I know they made the playoffs.  But by dealing Tyrod Taylor over to the Cleveland Browns, the Bills are basically deciding to enter a rebuilding phase rather building off of what they already have.  This is demonstrated by their decision to draft quarterback Josh Allen with their first pick in the draft.

 

A general rule of thumb when it comes to rookie quarterbacks is to not expect them to lead their teams to the playoffs in the first year in the NFL.  This is why I wasn't going on praising Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield, or making any comments on them.  Because simply put, we have no idea if they're even going to make it in the NFL.  Similar to Peyton Manning, John Elway or Jared Goff, they may look like busts of epic proportions in their rookie season only to turn things around in their second year onwards and reach the playoffs.  And possibly even compete for a Super Bowl.

 

It's rare to see a rookie sensation in the NFL, particularly in the quarterback position.  Yes, you see it all the time, but with a ton of rookies either getting drafted or picked up in free agency, it's a mathematical certainty that we see a potential star in the making somewhere in the NFL.  But sensational rookie quarterbacks are quite rare.

 

And to add more salt to the wound, the Bills don't exactly have much of a receiving core.  Last season, RB LeSean McCoy single-handedly carried the entire Buffalo Bills offense on his shoulders while their defense took care of the rest.  Opposing teams are going to learn how to shut him down this season.  So it is imperative that they develop a complementary receiving core, and to develop Josh Allen early on.  Yes, he did throw a ton of incomplete passes in his college career.  But then again, Tom Brady's overall technique was atrocious when he started out and look where he's at right now!

 

My point is, the Buffalo Bills should have reason to celebrate.  Their postseason appearance drought has come to an end.  But now it's time to see what's good, and what needs to be developed.  The Bills as far as I can tell, have no receiving core to speak of whatsoever.

 

Now, the reason why the Bills have the best shot out of everybody to upset the Patriots and make the playoffs?  Well, aside from their receiving core, the Bills are an overall solid football team.  There's also a matter of their homefield advantage; the Dolphins' homefield mostly takes into effect when facing teams wearing dark jerseys or coming over from the West Coast.  The Bills, as a whole, have a pretty brutal homefield advantage in which very few teams are able to enter and leave with a win.  That is key.

 

Then it's all a matter of who their road teams are.  And yes, the toughest parts of their schedule are all in their road games.  Since, aside from each of their division rivals, they still have to travel to Green Bay, Minnesota, Houston, Indianapolis, and Baltimore.  The Patriots may or may not begin to fall apart (and keep in mind, the Bills face the Patriots in Foxborough late this season).  So while they do get mostly road games in the first half of the season, they overall have an opening to make a serious run back in the playoffs.  In fact, not only do I think they have the best shot at getting to the playoffs out of all the teams on the low tier or lower, but I think they have the best shot at winning their division.

 

Keep in mind, even taking the Patriots into account, the AFC East is probably the easiest division in football, and it is thanks largely to this fact that the Patriots have been able to thrive for so long.  The Jets may give the Bills some fits, but at the same time, I don't think the Dolphins will pose that much of a threat.  Again, the hardest home game for the Bills is probably going to be the Patriots, followed up by either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans.

 

It is very possible that the Bills could finish anywhere with 5-8 wins at the likeliest.  But if they can somehow hit 7-1 at home, and then win on the road against the Patriots, Dolphins, and either the Jets or the Ravens, the Bills could definitely reach the playoffs, maybe even as AFC Champions.  But again, one has to check one's expectations because the Bills had drafted Josh Allen and will have to build around him.  At least with Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, they're likely not going to be starting right away.  Josh Allen pretty much has nobody start in front of him, and will more than certainly start from the word, go.  And if they decide to start A.J. McCarron or "NATHAN PETERMAN!?" ahead of Josh Allen and keep them in the starting lineup?  Things could get a little ugly.

 

I like to be optimistic.  And I am.  I just do not think they're seriously ready to seize the reins of the AFC East from the Patriots.  And even if Brady and Bill Belichick end up retiring at the end of the season, the New York Jets are still there, and like the Bills, they are developing their roster in much the same way.  At least the Jets have a couple of receivers to throw to.  But if we're talking about right now, during this very season, the Bills are by far the best equipped at challenging the Patriots for the division.

 

Now, the next batch of teams I'm gonna cover are all teams that, quite frankly, are too difficult to define as far as tier list goes.  Which is why I added in the category of Erratic.  Because the next four or so teams can ultimately be anywhere from Low to High tier.  There just is no telling where they would likely land.  And as such, I decided to sandwich them between the low and mid tiers since it is most likely that most of these teams will likely end up anywhere between low to mid tiers.  And that's in spite having enough strengths to get right back to the playoffs, too.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Mike Gordan said:

29.  New York Jets

 

4 hours ago, Mike Gordan said:

28.  New York Giants

 

4 hours ago, Mike Gordan said:

However, in hindsight, the Giants and Jets probably should have switched places here. 

 

The two are interchangeable.

 

 

Superbowl Sunday was out

all the women wanted

to see the game

and the men were pissed

at their insensitivity

 

-- Brooklyn Funk Essentials

 

Edited by Bolt

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Now to move on with the Erratic Tier:

 

24.  Oakland Raiders

 

And just to demonstrate where I'm talking about, the Raiders will likely finish anywhere in the 3-10 win column.  Just to be clear, they are about as close to possibly being Bottom Tier as any of these other teams in this special tier list.  As they lack a specific tier between high, medium and low, I decided to position them in the category of erratic.  Top and Bottom are, if anything, indicators of whether or not they have any sort of a near-guarantee of making the playoffs, or next to no shot at it, which is why those two tiers are not counted here.

 

And the very specific reason for the Raiders is that they still have no defense to speak of.  Sure, they have Kahlil Mack, but he is pretty much a one-man show on the defensive side of the ball.  This team didn't force a single turnover until Week 12 of the regular season last year, so let that sink in as to how bad their unit was.  The year before, even though they made the playoffs, their defense ranked next to dead last, and Derek Carr's injury all but killed any hope the team may have had in winning their first playoff game since the 2002 AFC Championship.

 

And this leads me to my next point; the Jon Gruden hire.  While not following up on an atrocious precedent per se, hiring a head coach that has been out of football for many years usually doesn't generate much results--even if it's a legendary Hall of Fame coach like Bill Parcels or Joe Gibbs.  Yes, Dick Vermeil did win a Super Bowl and help shape the Greatest Show on Turf, but that was following back-to-back basement-dwelling seasons, and it was his only winning record and final season with the Rams.  After being hired to coach the Chiefs, they reached the playoffs only twice and went one-and-done both times by Peyton Manning and the Colts.

 

Regardless, he is about as close to an exception rather than the rule when it comes to head coaches coming out of retirement.  So we'll have to wait and see how the Jon Gruden experiment pans out.

 

Speaking of which, even back in 1998 when he first got hired by the organization, Jon Gruden had a habit of hiring a crap ton of old men from other teams to help reshape and rebuild the roster.  Needless to say, even though his Raiders teams were pretty stellar from 2000-2002, this was also a contributing reason as to why the Raiders fell apart so rapidly and struggled to leave the NFL basement until relatively recently.  For all we know, he's probably only looking to develop some veteran leadership for his young studs to build off of.

 

But in the modern NFL--especially as far as all these injury concerns are cropping up--finding these veteran players who are both top-level AND hungry for more is exceptionally rare.  Keep in mind at the height of his teams' successes, the Raiders had Jerry Rice and Bill Romanowski on their roster.

 

I guess I should talk about their schedule.  Outside of their division rivals, the only powerhouse teams the Raiders really get to play are a Week 1 date with the Rams, and late in the season with the Steelers.  Aside from that, it's kind of a pointless exercise in futility at this stage in the game as to who it is that the Raiders are most likely to win and lose against.  Because we do not know for certain just how well the Raiders are going to handle it.  They could completely suck and only beat two or three other teams besides the Browns.  Or they could be really competitive, win 4 or 5 division games, and defeat the teams they ought to have a fair shot at.  It's not like their schedule is not that difficult on paper.

 

It's just really up to the Raiders.  A lot of these teams are going to be like this because there are some glaring question marks as far as the roster goes; their defense needs patching up; and their offense really took a nosedive from the year before.  But most importantly is whether or not the massive 10-year $100 million hire of a head coach that hasn't even coached in almost a decade could possibly pan out.  Or his strategy of inheriting the Over-the-Hill Gang from the 1970's Redskins could possibly pan out.

 

Even amongst the greatest of all time, it rarely ever works out.  And whatever success that may come usually occurs once or twice with very minimal results.

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23.  Indianapolis Colts

 

Yes, it is strange ranking a team that was utterly putrid the year before this high.  Perhaps it is way too high.  But, then again, as per my own projections, this is where the Erratic Tier comes into play.  Depending on the status of Andrew Luck as well as whether or not head coach Frank Reich is going to be an upgrade over Chuck Pagano will ultimately depend on how good or bad the Colts are going to be.

 

Andrew Luck did not see a single, solitary snap all season long, and we all saw how that turned out.  The entire original regime is gone; all that remains is owner Jim Irsay, who as per usual, is so bloody apathetic to what is going on that he might as well not give a crap about what's going on in the organization.

 

But it's not just whether or not Andrew Luck ever sees the field and whether or not he's healthy.  If you've seen him in interviews, he definitely looks fidgety and on edge constantly in spite never seeing the field.  It's not going to be all about getting him healthy and fit to play again.  The next big step is to restore his confidence.  Once that's gone, it's all over for him.  Don't believe me?  Ask Mark Sanchez or Matt Schaub and ask them if they feel like they have what it takes to win a Super Bowl.  Or more notoriously, Jim Everett.

 

That's easier said than done if Andrew Luck doesn't have an offensive line to protect him.  Keep in mind the reason the Colts are in the mess to begin with is because the previous GM Grigson refused to draft, trade, or hire off of free agency any capable offensive linemen to protect Luck, instead opting to stuff the depth chart with so many receivers and running backs that he couldn't possibly NOT score or some horse manure that needs to be shut down immediately.

 

Their defensive line is a little better, but could still need some much-needed adjustments as well.  Still, the top priority for the Colts going forward is to A). Restore Luck's health and confidence, and B). Rebuild that offensive line.  Doesn't matter how many receivers you can throw to if there's nobody to protect you.  And besides, without an offensive line, there really isn't going to be a whole lot your playmakers can do on their own.

 

It's pretty short, sweet, and to the point.  If Andrew Luck is healthy; if he is confident; and he has an offensive line that can keep Luck safe, there's no reason not to expect the Colts to possibly make the playoffs.  But if that offensive line cannot protect Luck, the Colts will not be getting anywhere close to a playoff berth.  And if he cannot stay healthy, or he completely falls apart on them, then they may need to seriously consider rebuilding, perhaps even drafting another quarterback to take Luck's place.  Maybe they can then deal him over to Denver, and my Broncos will be able to help him win a Super Bowl, just like his number 1 draft pick predecessors in John Elway and Peyton Manning.  Although he'd have to wait until the twilight of his career before winning a championship.

 

On second thought, maybe the Colts shouldn't be allowed to touch any further first round quarterback prospects until the entire Irsay clan is euthanized and sterilized out of existence because ever since Johnny Unitas, they have constantly found every conceivable way to destroy the careers of their top quarterback prospects, with Peyton Manning and John Elway (the latter having demanded a trade the second he got picked up) being the only quarterbacks to survive the horribly infamous mismanagement over there.

 

But it's as simple as that.  If Andrew Luck is A-Okay, and the Colts can protect him, then they could make it back to the playoffs, even amidst an incredibly crowded AFC South.  If not, then another 4-win season if not worse is likely in their future.  As such, I'm predicting anywhere from 4-10 wins for the Colts.

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22.  Detroit Lions

 

Okay, while the Lions aren't exactly what I would call an Erratic tier, it was still a fairly difficult team to spot, as I couldn't just rank them higher or lower than any of the Erratics.  Needless to say, I suppose you could sandwich them immediately between the Low and Mid tiers, and are sandwiched directly in the middle of the Erratic tier as a result.

 

The reason I say this is because while the Lions are not exactly a bad team on paper, I think it's safe to say that their best shot at winning a Super Bowl under Matthew Stafford has mostly sailed away.  And while they may have not lost a complete grip at possibly competing for a Wild Card spot, even that is steadily slipping away.  The ownership is getting impatient, and some of the problems the Lions have never really got fixed.

 

Firing Jim Caldwell may very well become a mistake.  Keep in mind that had the refs got the call right, the Lions would have made the playoffs over the Falcons.  A lot of teams got screwed over by bad officiating last season, and the Lions probably had it the worse.  At least the Steelers made the playoffs.  But in Caldwell's place, the Lions decided to hire Matt Patricia.

 

You know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, right?  Well, aside from Bill O'Brien, not a single solitary member of Bill Belichick's coaching tree has ever made the playoffs, much less had a winning season.  Every single one of his coordinators bottomed out in epic fashion.  And based off of Josh McDaniel's reasonings for spurning the Colts in favor of working under Bill Belichick makes it abundantly clear that Bill Belichick never shared any of his secrets with any of his coordinators.  He never got around to mentoring any of his own staff, and probably did so purposefully.  My guess is, it probably has to do with the fact that Belichick doesn't want anybody using his pearls of wisdom against him, and therefore likely won't share his secrets until he is ready to retire.

 

But that's a rant for another day.  The point being, precedent is working against Patricia being a successful head coach in the NFL.  And to add even more salt to the wound is that somebody from 20-30 years ago decided to pull a #MeToo on Patricia in order to destroy any possible chance he may have at success in Detroit.  Again, that's a rant for another day, though I will at least state that this isn't doing women any favors.

 

It's kind of difficult to talk about schedule without first bringing up the fact that they are in the NFC North.  They are going to be matched up with the AFC East and NFC West.  And considering that I have yet to tackle an NFC West division team, I'm going to leave it at "this division is going to be a tough one."  At least with the AFC East, the only definite problem team for them is the Patriots (until further notice).  They are also matched up with the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys; while those teams are sure tough, I do recall the Lions beating the Panthers a year ago, and they were much tougher then.

 

And I keep racking my head around the Lions chances at making the playoffs.  Green Bay still has Aaron Rodgers, and the Vikings are leaving them far behind.  The Bears may rank lower for now, but how long will that last?  They are right at their heels, and given another year of forward progress, and the Bears will definitely be contenders again. The Lions do still have Matthew Stafford, and while he did grow to the extent that he is able to carry the team on his back during the regular season, he still needs some playmakers; an offensive line; a running back; and a defense.  The Lions are looking more and more like Dan Marino's Dolphins during the late 80's, where Marino was constantly left on his own to win games for his own team.  At least Marino got to play in the Super Bowl and won a few playoff games.

 

Matthew Stafford has never won a playoff game; he's never ranked higher than the 6th Seed; and he's already becoming this generation's Dan Marino.  The quarterback that can win games for his organization, but can't carry them to a Championship.  The Lions are getting impatient, and they are being left behind in the dust.  It won't be long now before the Lions become a basement dweller again.

 

Realistically, I have them finishing anywhere with 6-9 wins, which may be good enough to look competitive, and even potentially shape the Playoff bracket; but it won't be enough to get them into the playoffs.  Not in this NFC landscape.  So long as Stafford is there, the Lions are not going to stop winning games.  But it's abundantly clear that he's just behind the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, John Elway and company as far as capacity to carry teams on his shoulders.

 

Time is running out for the Detroit Lions.

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      View attachment: tsb street var shots 1.png

      Documentation

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      -----
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      --

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