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Mike Gordan

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  1. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    Aw, screw it! Let's do a Power Ranking on every NFL starting quarterback. For heaven's sake, I'm only going to cover the projected Starting Quarterbacks heading into next season and none of the rookies. Why? Because we have no clue who among that rookie class is going to succeed in the NFL as of yet, and thus we can't really gauge who the best ones are going to be among them. So...let's cover the projected starters: 32. Sam Bradford (Arizona Cardinals): He's probably going to get hurt on the first offensive snap of the pre season. Get his ACL and MCL torn yet again, and be lost before the season even begins. So if anybody seems all but guaranteed to get a starting job amongst this rookie class first in the NFL, it's gonna be Josh Rosen. 31. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): He may have some of the physical skill sets needed to succeed in the NFL, but he doesn't have the discipline or the mindset to succeed in the NFL. He's basically a head case bust quarterback on par with Jay Cutler. He isn't gonna succeed in the NFL, and yet the rest of the league will do everything they can to continuously give him another chance. 30. Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins): He's okay, but nothing that will elevate an entire franchise on his shoulders. He's coming back from a brutal ACL tear during training camp, and a lot of these QB's do not bounce back so very easily. Coupled that with the fact that the strength of the Dolphins two years ago was in their running game and offensive line--not the receiving core or defense--and those key pieces have been traded or released since then, and now Tannehill is gonna be forced to carry this team on his shoulders. 29. Teddy Bridgewater (New York Jets): The fact that this guy never got a chance to start last season, and only played for a little bit before the Vikings gave up on him is quite telling of his physical strength and endurance in the NFL. Because he was actually a pretty good quarterback before he nearly had his leg snapped off at the knees during the 2015-2016 offseason. It's doubtful that he would ever be able to play at full strength again. And even if we were to go with Josh McCown here over Teddy Bridgewater as the starting QB, this is about as high as I'm gonna go for now. I think if there's another QB that is all but certain to start, Sam Darnold is probably number 2 or 3 out of 5. 28. Tyrod Tayler (Cleveland Browns): I will at least admit that Tyrod Tayler was at least exciting to watch with the Buffalo Bills even if he wasn't one of the better QB's in the NFL. Still, the inescapable fact of the matter is, he is now playing for the Cleveland Browns. Even if you were to, say, plug Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson or Tom Brady in there, the Browns would probably not rank any higher than 23 on the QB power rankings. This is how futile things are for Cleveland as far as winning and the QB situation goes. Even if they do decide to start Baker Mayfield, I'd hesitate to rate him any higher than this. 27. AJ McCarron (Buffalo Bills): Honestly, I think Josh Allen is probably the 2nd likeliest rookie quarterback to start right behind Josh Rosen. But he could also potentially be dead last. AJ McCarron is a backup quarterback by trade. A journeyman if you will. He's pretty decent at taking over for somebody else in case they go down. But let's wait and see how well he fairs as a starter in the NFL. They rarely ever pan out (Nick Foles is an exception). Then again, all he pretty much would need to do to succeed this year is to play good enough for his running game and defense to win it for him, and to not make any mistakes. 26. Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars): Playing in three seasons of basement-dwelling futility has pretty much left Bortles in a raw state with some rather lacking physical and intelligent skill sets. Yes, a coaching change later, and he was on the door step of playing in the Super Bowl last season. But it was because their defense went zone against Brady, and their running game was compromised that the Jaguars ultimately sputtered in Bortles' hands. To make things even worse, the Jaguars kind of sputtered late in the season when they were, what? 8-3? And they went 2-3 to close out the season. I think many other teams are gonna come equipped to limit the damage the Jaguars can inflict on their opponents next season. And they're gonna do it by forcing the ball into Blake Bortles' hands. Maybe he proves me wrong. Maybe not. 25. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens): This team has sputtered big time since Ray Lewis had retired a Super Bowl champion back in 2012. Now, Flacco has gone from being the guy that only needs to do his job well to being the guy that has to carry this team, and outside of a single season in which his offensive coordinator was Gary Kubiak, the Ravens offense has been very lackluster, and Flacco has been mediocre. They were in prime position to make the playoffs last year, and they couldn't get it done. They made the Bills happy, sure. But given that they traded to pick up QB Lamarr Jackson as the last pick in the first round of the draft is definitely a signal being sent to Flacco that just shy of winning another Super Bowl for this team, he is on pretty thin ice as it is. 24. Eli Manning (New York Giants): I have to take into some context as well that Eli Manning had spent the entirety of the 2017 season not only without his entire receiving core, but also constantly having all the problems the Giants were dealing with blamed on him by an incompetent head coach in Ben MacAdoo. Eli Manning was never the kind of guy that could carry a team on his shoulders, except during the final two minutes of a playoff game. His offensive line might as well be nothing more than pylons, and there was no running game to speak of to at least keep the opposing defense honest (like what Russel Wilson had in Marshawn Lynch in Seattle). And compounding the fact that he is now in his late 30's and nearing the end of his career, one also has to take into consideration the possibility that Eli Manning may end up retiring soon. I guess that's okay because he's validated himself as a future Hall of Famer anyways. 23. Case Keenum (Denver Broncos): Similar to AJ McCarron, Case Keenum is more or less a backup quarterback, who only needs to not screw things up too bad, and let the rest of his pieces play out as intended. He is one of the better backup QB's, but not exactly what I'd classify as a backup QB. Still, I kind of wished the Broncos made at least some attempt at drafting a potential starting QB, and not wait until the 7th round to merely draft a 3rd stringer. Still, this is ultimately going to fall to coach Vance Joseph to prove himself to us. To prove that he isn't just a politically charged hire but a somewhat competent head coach. Because if all he's got going for him is that he's black, then Case Keenum's Bronco career is doomed no matter how well he plays. 22. Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago Bears): I keep receiving a ton of hype for this guy from both Trubisky and Bears fans alike. But the fact of the matter is, he is the last QB in these rankings not to have a whole bunch of success. Granted, he has just slightly more success than one other rookie later on in this Power Ranking, but he got hurt before the midway point. The fact of the matter is, even with Trubisky, the Bears' offense was ranked among the absolute worst units in the entire league last year, if not THE absolute worst unit in the NFL. And yes, he was a rookie, and for all we know, he may very well become this season's Jared Goff. But for now, I'm in a wait-and-see mode with him. 21. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs): Okay, so I suppose you could argue that Mahomes is the last unproven QB. Since his only start last season was in a meaningless season finale against the Broncos, which he won. I can definitely see that he does possess a couple necessary skills needed to succeed in this league. But similar to Trubisky, it's kind of a wait and see thing here. I honestly believe that Alex Smith's tenure was less Smith choking and more Andy Reid playing prevent offense when the game wasn't even out of reach as of yet. So if the same problems that were recurring under Alex Smith end up following Mahomes, then we know who's fault it ultimately was. 20. Alex Smith (Washington Redskins): And to think, I honestly believed that the Redskins would attempt to draft Lamarr Jackson. Now I know why they didn't. Still, if his NFL history means anything, Alex Smith seems to be more of a system's QB. As in, he is more likely to succeed when he has playmakers to throw to or hand the ball off to, and when he has a stellar defense backing him up. Smith is pretty much entering a new system that is currently rebuilding. And he's running out of time in the NFL. I honestly do not believe Smith is going to find much success in Washington, if anything. I suppose it was a fair trade off from the gratuitous offer Kirk Cousins was demanding, but at least Cousins could single-handedly carry his team to some wins even as everyone around him is completely ravaged by injuries. I don't think Alex Smith is that kind of guy, and we have his first six seasons with the 49ers as proof of this (in contrast to his seventh and eighth years). 19. Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans): I will perhaps give him the benefit of the doubt that Mariota has never played under a good or stellar head coach. His rookie year, he was under Ken Wisenhunt, who was utterly despised and a talentless hack whose sole claim to fame was having back-to-back playoff seasons including a Super Bowl berth with the Arizona Cardinals (and even then, the Cardinal organization was crediting QB Kurt Warner for their success during that brief period of time, not Ken Wisenhunt). Then they kicked him out midseason and replaced him with Mike Mularkey, who might as well be the head coaching equivalent to a Moderate panzy. Seriously, the head coaching last season was probably among the absolute worst last season, and the fact that they still made the playoffs and won a playoff game was more a credit to how loaded that roster was. It's hard to credit Mariota for much of this success when he isn't given any leeway to unleash himself upon the league because he's known nothing but bad coaching since coming into this league in 2015. 18. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals): Honestly, this is where things begin to get competitive as far as QB power rankings go, because starting with Andy Dalton, I can safely say that a lot of these QB's are actually quite good. The problem with Andy Dalton mostly comes from the fact that he's never won a Playoff game, and never made it past the Wild Card round. Still, it becomes increasingly apparent that the main reason why the Bengals have not won a single playoff game in 15+ years under coach Marvin Lewis is because of the culture that Lewis has instilled. He has instilled winning and having fun. But he's never really distilled discipline or perfection. He's more the politically correct head coach who at least has some superficial things to provide his organization--unlike a certain other head coach in Vance Joseph--but the fact of the matter is, whether it's because he's black, the owner is cheap, or there's a deep seated fear of returning back to the Bungle days of the 90's and early 2000's. I honestly do not believe that this mess is entirely Andy Dalton's fault. Keep in mind, in 2014 and 2015, he was injured heading into the Wild Card rounds, and they still found ways to lose against debatably inferior opponents. I have seen bright spots of maturity and confidence in his QB play. But because of how coarse the culture has become in Cincinnati, there isn't much he can do to elevate this roster, even in spite all the talent surrounding him. 17. Jared Goff (LA Rams): Honestly, Goff was surrounded by a team that was loaded with talent. The REAL question is, will he be able to carry this team to the next level and compete for a Super Bowl? Honestly, I keep blaming the coaching here, but it generally is that big a deal as far as coaching is concerned. Just imagine if the Browns knew of the future greatness of Tom Brady and decided to draft him first overall in 2000? Do you honestly believe Brady would have won 5 Super Bowls and 8 Conference Championships with the Browns? It's exceptionally rare for a QB to single-handedly elevate an entire franchise on his shoulders. I mean, a change in coaching staff was ultimately all it took to take the Rams out of the basement and straight into the division title winner. I ultimately believe that Goff is a systems' QB, and everything will need to go full throttle heading forward for the Rams to win the Super Bowl. 16. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders): From what I gathered, it seems that the Raiders' offensive line turned on Carr because he spoke out against the whole kneeling during the National Anthem controversy, which could explain why Carr was constantly getting massacred last season, and why the Raiders--in spite all of their talent on offense--really fell off a cliff. Well, that and having one of the absolute worst defensive units in spite of Kahlil Mack's best efforts. It's hard to tell if things will be better under Jon Gruden. Especially in the face of a relocation to Las Vegas that seems all but a certainty in the near future. 15. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts): One has to take some concern as to his health as well as his confidence. You see him in interview, and he looks like he's constantly on edge. Which is a shame because in his first three seasons as a starter, Andrew Luck pretty much single-handedly carried this team on his shoulders. We're talking about a guy who came back from a 28-point deficit to win a playoff game. And led his team to become the first unit to best the Legion of Boom during their Super Bowl run. But his injuries and confidence issues could actually cause him to drop further down this list. Well, that, and the NFL constantly evolving and shifting all around him. 14. Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys): From this moment forward, the Power Rankins only get tougher and tougher. So all I have to judge Prescott is two seasons. In his rookie year, he looked elite because his running back, fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot--was elite. His offensive line was elite. And his receivers were capable. In their second year, things started to go wrong for Zeke, and while Prescott wasn't terrible, the Cowboys suffered because of it. And now WR Dez Bryant was released for cap reasons, and TE Jason Witton had retired. It will be interesting to see how Prescott and the Cowboys bounce back in year three, but this may very well be their last opportunity to compete for a Super Bowl with their current core, provided of course that ship hadn't sailed away already. 13. Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings): Yes, I know I stated that Kirk Cousins is one of the few QB's that can single-handedly elevate an entire franchise on his shoulders, and that he was kind of a borderline case alongside Russell Wilson. But you know who the 12 QB's ranked ahead of him are, and you can pretty much tell the reasons why they'd rate so highly. Cousins doesn't rate any higher because in spite of his talents, he only has one playoff appearance to show for it--a division title in an otherwise weak NFC East back in 2015. And he was constantly helping the Redskins win 7-8 games a season. But he had an opportunity to secure a playoff spot in 2016 during the season finale against a Giants team that wasn't playing for anything (as they were locked into the 5th seed), and they lost. That loss permitted the Lions to make the playoffs in their stead as the Redskins fell to 8-7-1. And while injuries were the main reason the Redskins went 7-9, they still fell in a meaningless season finale game against a Giants team that was significantly worse than they were the year prior. Maybe his tenure with the Vikings will elevate him all the way to the top ten should he help the team finally win a Super Bowl. 12. Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans): I do think it's a bit unfair rating Watson ahead of Kirk Cousins after watching him for only about 5-6 games in the NFL. But when you witness just how explosive the Texans' offense was with Deshaun Watson under center, you'd understand why. That guy in his rookie year was a force to be reckoned with--so much so that I knocked the Patriots off the top spot in my Power Rankings even though they had won. The Texans' skyrocketed in my Power Rankings even though they lost that game as well. The only question is, will Deshaun Watson be able to make a full recovery and continue where he had left off before he had gotten hurt? Who can say? Things look pretty bleak for Bridgewater and RGIII. 11. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers): I do think Cam Newton is a proven commodity as far as QB's go, and as far as being considered elite. I do not think he is a particularly one of the brightest QB's, but when he's on fire, he and his team are able to compete for a Super Bowl title. At the very least, I can imagine this team being worse off should anything bad happen to him. Maybe not as horrendously wrong as what happened to the Texans or Colts without Deshaun Watson or Andrew Luck respectively, but still. And I think Cam needs to be able to stay calm, don't hold the ball too long, and know what the opposing defense is about to do. But, as far as being the team culture, he is pretty rock solid. 10. Jimmy Garoppolo (San Fransico 49ers): He has won his first 7 starts in the NFL in the row. His first two in 2016 in place of a suspended Tom Brady. And his five subsequent starts? All with an otherwise atrocious 1-10 49ers squad. Single-handedly made their record a rather respectable 6-10 team. Now they have gone from the basement to possibly competing for a playoff spot in a single year. All thanks to this head coaching change. And apparently, Bill Belichick didn't want to trade Garoppolo as he was intended to be Brady's successor to the Patriots dynasty after the latter retired. That should perhaps say a lot about how good this guy could possibly be. Only 7 starts--5 of which with an utterly trash team. Won all 7 games. That's like taking over for an 0-6 Cleveland Browns team, and then taking them all the way to the Super Bowl that very same year. 9. Philip Rivers (LA Chargers): I do think what has happened to his career is beyond criminal. We're talking about only one trip to the AFC Championship game with this franchise. And in spite being loaded with talent until about the 2010-2011 seasons, Rivers never could reach the Super Bowl. I think if the Chargers do not somehow get it done this year, then this could very well potentially become the biggest waste of a hall of fame career we have seen in the NFL since Dan Marino with the Dolphins. It is utterly criminal and sickening. 8. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons): Matt Ryan is a lot like a vastly improved Alex Smith--he's a system's QB, but even within those confines, he's very efficient and good at what he does. He went from a head coach in which he derped his way to just one win in four or five tries, to suddenly being able to win an average of one playoff game a year. And he even came close to winning a Super Bowl. Oh, so close, too. I honestly have to blame the coaching in the final three minutes as the primary reason the Falcons were not able to seal the deal against the Patriots though rather than on Matt Ryan himself. I think he is nearing, if not had already met, his ceiling. Now the question remains on whether or not he will ever be able to get it done. 7. Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles): Yet another injured QB. Except I fully expect Wentz to bounce back from his torn ACL. As I stated in my Power Rankings when I ranked the Eagles as number 1, Carson Wentz has the confidence; the drive; and the skills to elevate this franchise to a higher level. And he is more than grateful that he had a just-as-stellar QB backing him up in Nick Foles--maybe a little less so since Foles is yet another systems QB. But again, similar to Matt Ryan, I think Foles is one of the better systems QB's out there. I think Wentz is likely to bounce back, and to try and bounce back with a vengeance. His MVP-caliber season was cut short due to injury, and the Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl without him. Time for him to finish what he has started. 6. Ben Rothleisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers): He probably would have been number 5 if not for the fact that he is starting to get pretty old right now, and his teams' championship window is closing rapidly. He is a part of the same draft class as Philip Rivers and Eli Manning, and came into the league a year before Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers. He won both of his Super Bowls in his youth. And it's been a decade since his team last won a Super Bowl title. While Brady and Brees are the type of QB's that apparently make the concept of age seem meaningless, Rothleisberger still has a long injury history in the NFL, even by QB standards. He's tough, and he's only gotten better as the offense ultimately demanded him to be. But it's the age factor that's gonna keep Big Ben from being in the top five. Well, that and the rising QB stars in the NFL. 5. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions): Surprised? Yeah, you'd think this guy would rate much lower given his inconsistencies at leading his team to the playoffs; not being able to win the division; and having never won a Playoff game in spite having gotten there on three separate occasions. Well, honestly, through all intents and purposes, Matthew Stafford is literally the only reason the Lions even have a chance at making the playoffs. He is the quintessential quarterback that can elevate the entire team around him and yet not being able to get much done due to the utter lack of talent that surrounds him. We know he's hungry; everybody knows he's determined. He wants to win a Super Bowl badly. He is single-handedly the best NFL quarterback that has never known what it felt like to win a playoff game. And similar to all time great position players in Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford is yet another player who may not ever win a Super Bowl, much less play in one due to the Lions' inability to build an elite roster around him. Right alongside Philip Rivers, what is happening with Stafford is perhaps the biggest crime ever committed to a quarterback since Dan Marino. 4. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints): Speaking of constantly comparing QB's to Dan Marino, if not for his magical 2009 season, Drew Brees easily would surpass the likes of Stafford and Rivers of being the best QB's not to win a Super Bowl since Dan Marino. A lot of comparisons; he's the lone player that consistently gives his teams a chance to win every single year. His stat numbers are insane--we're talking about 5,000+ yard seasons on a regular basis when most of the other all-time greats only really put up such insane numbers once or twice. He is the biggest threat to Peyton Manning in surpassing him in most offensive categories as well. The main difference is that in spite all of his best efforts, he only made the playoffs in, 2004 (with the Chargers), 2006, 2009-2011, 2013, and then 2017. And all of that since 2001 when he was drafted by the Chargers. So while 7 trips in the span of 17 years can be considered a fair batting average--including a Super Bowl title during this period of time--for an elite QB, it definitely goes to show just how long and how much Brees had to do to elevate his players around him. And of course, he's turning 40 years old. I think during the playoff season. There's only one other QB older than Drew Brees, and that is.... 3. Tom Brady (New England Patriots): I don't think he needs much introduction. His entire history and legacy is what ranks him so high. But the reason he isn't ranked number 1 principally is his age. He is one of three of four QB's to have had a stellar season at age 40 or older (alongside Brett Favre and Warren Moon, as well as perhaps one other QB I may have slipped my mind), and the only 40-year-old MVP among them. And as far as I can tell, they all begun to fall apart at around this time, specifically at around age 41. I'm not saying Brady is gonna fall to pieces at Week 1. But keep your eyes open for some lackluster execution, in spite all of Brady's attempts to drink of the Fountain of Youth. 2. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks): Honestly, I do not say this boastfully, but had the Seahawks not have to depend so heavily on kicker Blair Walsh last season, the Seahawks would have made the playoffs, and possibly even win the NFC West last year. And that's in spite their injuries to the Legion of Boom, and the utter lack of an offensive line. I honestly think Russell Wilson is in contention for being the absolute best QB in the NFL as of this moment. Plus, he is young, now entering his seventh season as a starting QB. So even if he never makes it back to the Super Bowl, he could very well mold an easy and efficient Hall of Fame resume for himself. He already gotten the hard part out of the way when he was still a work in progress. And now he is single-handedly the one reason the Seahawks have a chance to compete this year. 1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers): The main reason why Aaron Rodgers ranks this high is because even in spite of the lack of talent around him, Aaron Rodgers is the one QB that proves time and time again that he can single-handedly and consistently lead his team back to the playoffs. No, that's not enough. Because a lot of QB's with similar skill sets to Rodgers tend to struggle to win playoff games. No, Aaron Rodgers is the single-handed force in the NFL that can will his team into Super Bowl contention year in and year out. Provided, of course, he stays healthy. His championship window is closing rapidly as he grows older. And I do believe he broke the same collarbone last year as he did back in 2013. So his time is running out in earning the distinction of being arguably the single greatest QB to have ever played the game--regardless of the lack of hardware. Another Super Bowl or two could definitely allow him to compete with the likes of Peyton Manning and John Elway in their single ability to elevate their entire team to compete on the next level; or even Joe Montana and Tom Brady in spite the lack of hardware compared to them. Could he do it? Possibly. But, similar to Elway, even if he single-handedly elevates his team to the Super Bowl, it's doubtful that the Packers could win. At least when they did win in 2010, the Packers had one of the most underrated defensive units in the league (we're talking about being able to win games by the score of 10-3, 7-6, and 14-10 at regular intervals that year). But ever since then, it's pretty much been all Aaron Rodgers as well as his receiving core.
  2. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    Don't want to read through all my Power Rankings? Well, then here's just the rankings on their own, and what my win estimates happen to be: 32. Cleveland Browns (0-16; 2-14) 31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13; 5-11) 30. Miami Dolphins (2-14; 6-10) 29. New York Jets (3-13; 6-10) 28. New York Giants (3-13; 8-8) 27. Chicago Bears (4-12; 7-9) 26. Cincinnati Bengals (5-11; 7-9) 25. Buffalo Bills (5-11; 8-8) 24. Oakland Raiders (3-13; 10-6) 23. Indianapolis Colts (4-12; 10-6) 22. Detroit Lions (6-10; 9-7) 21. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11; 10-6) 20. Denver Broncos (6-10; 10-6) 19. Arizona Cardinals (7-9; 9-7) 18. Washington Redskins (7-9; 9-7) 17. Dallas Cowboys (6-10; 10-6) 16. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9; 10-6) 15. Seattle Seahawks (7-9; 10-6) 14. San Francisco 49ers (7-9; 10-6) 13. New Orleans Saints (6-10; 12-4) 12. Tennessee Titans (7-9; 11-5) 11. Baltimore Ravens (8-8; 10-6) 10. Houston Texans (8-8; 11-5) 9. Carolina Panthers (8-8; 11-5) 8. LA Chargers (8-8; 11-5) 7. Green Bay Packers (9-7; 12-4) 6. Atlanta Falcons (10-6; 12-4) 5. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6; 13-3) 4. LA Rams (11-5; 13-3) 3. New England Patriots (10-6; 14-2) 2. Minnesota Vikings (11-5; 14-2) 1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4; 14-2)
  3. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    My final two teams in my Power Rankings. We know who it's gonna be--the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles. Even though the win range isn't a tie, I feel like it would be worth my time to discuss both of these teams simultaneously. Mainly because it's likely going to come down to a game later on in the season, homefield advantage, etc. That, and it wouldn't be much of a surprise which team would be number 1 if I did my number 2 team straight away. So, who's number 1 and number 2? Well.... 2. Minnesota Vikings As of this moment, the Vikings are the team to beat in the NFC North. We are beginning to see a shift in the balance of power in the NFC. We know for a fact that the AFC thus far belongs to the Patriots, with the Steelers playing second fiddle. The rest of the AFC is still sort of figuring things out for who will ultimately succeed the Patriots and to a lesser extent, the Steeler. But as of right now, we know of the Rams, Eagles, and Vikings looking like the dominant forces of the conference, with the NFC South trying to figure things out (still, I think it's currently a toss-up between the Falcons and Panthers whilst the Saints are on their last legs). I picked the Vikings to be my number 2 team simply because the Vikings did not upgrade their roster with a large chunk of the NFL's criminal element like the Rams have done. That, and I think Kirk Cousins is a much more proven QB prospect than Jared Goff. It feels more like Goff is a system's quarterback and isn't gonna be able to carry a team on his shoulders. I don't think Kirk Cousins is among the greatest of the great, either. But he's definitely an upgrade from Jared Goff. And while they probably had to pay up in order to get him, they didn't lose much if anything from last season's dominant defense. Kirk Cousins also has a pretty solid receiving core to throw to, and a fairly decent running back to boot. Nothing too game-breaking. But at least he doesn't fumble the ball at the most inopportune times. And then we have the defense, which carries over from last season with, again, little to no turnover. Kirk Cousins is not a systems' quarterback. He can elevate the quality of his own team and give them a shot to win week in and week out. This isn't like Josh McCown or Case Keenum, who can win games, but only if the offensive schemes are not fundamentally flawed, and can win a ton if they have a stellar set of receivers, a good offensive line, and perhaps a decent running back. His entire Redskins roster was devastated by injury, and while there was only so much Cousins could have done to help the Redskins win with all their injuries and lack of quality play makers, he still came close to 8-8 last season. It was a respectable finish considering their bad injury luck. So take that level of borderline talent that is perhaps shy the skill sets of Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, or presumably Jimmy Garoppolo; and then put him in an elite defensive unit (arguably the best in the league last season rivalled only by the Jacksonville Jaguars), and the Vikings can compete with the Eagles for a Super Bowl title pretty easily. I didn't discuss schedule because it's largely irrelevant. They do get the NFC and AFC West, New Orleans Saints, and Philadelphia Eagles; and given their skill sets, every team on their schedule is definitely winnable. Honestly, the real challenge is that between the Eagles and Vikings, the Vikings probably have the harder road to winning the division. Why? Because a healthy Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford could make the Vikings fight to earn it week in and week out, and I do consider both quarterbacks to be among the top five best in the NFL. Kirk Cousins, it's hard to consider him a top ten, though he's definitely up there. The problem is, he is prone to making some hasty mistakes that can cost his teams some games. And that's not without mentioning how the Bears could very well become a surprise playoff contender under Mitch Trubisky. If Jared Goff can go from looking like a bust of epic proportions in one year to being a quarterback just good enough to lead his team to a Super Bowl, then who knows how well Trubisky can elevate his team, especially given the hype Trubisky and Bear fans have of him. The NFC North is definitely a power house division, and one of--if not THE toughest--division in the NFL right now. Last year, bad injury luck as well as bad officiating (mostly in favor of the Falcons) ultimately resulted in the Vikings being the only team to escape almost completely unscathed. So really, strength in their own division is pretty much how I'm deciding who I think is slightly better than the other. As a result, I have them winning anywhere from 11-14 games this season. Although if the Bears really do surprise, Aaron Rodgers bounces back, and Stafford has an MVP caliber season, then defending the NFC North crown will become a nightmare of endurance for the Vikings. 1. Philadelphia Eagles In stark contrast, the Eagles as of this moment look so far ahead of the curb when it comes to their own division that it's hard enough to envision a scenario where they do not successfully defend the NFC East division crown. Literally the only precedent working against the Eagles is that no team had won the division in back-to-back years since the Eagles did it under Andy Reid from 2001-2004. And while the Eagles can definitely lose some games against each of their division rivals, it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Eagles do not win the division, much less fail to make the playoffs. Really, the only way things can go horribly wrong for the Eagles is if Carson Wentz ultimately goes the route of Teddy Bridgewater. And honestly, I doubt Wentz won't be able to bounce back. I look at the guy, and I see a guy that is confident, smart, and driven to win and succeed in this league. And even though he couldn't be the hero of Super Bowl LII, I have no doubt in his mind that he is proud to be a part of the Eagles first championship since 1960. And I have no doubt that he's gonna be driven to try and finish what he started last season. I guarantee you, at the very least, he wants to be the guy that starts and finishes a season a Super Bowl championship. He wants that opportunity to hold the Lombardi up with his left hand feeling this emotion that few of us could try and relate based off our own sense of accomplishment, but will never truly comprehend. And similar to the Vikings and, to a lesser extent, the Rams, the Eagles definitely have what it takes accomplish all of these things and then some. Granted, the Eagles are matched up with the NFC and AFC South, which, coupled with the their first place matchups with the Vikings and Rams, is significantly tougher than the Vikings. But again, strength of schedule begins from within your division, and while it is possible for the Eagles to lose to either of their rivals, they are still going to be among the easiest teams for the Eagles to beat. And even with probably the most brutal first place schedule of any team outside of their own division, every game on their radar is definitely winnable. This team is the most loaded, and much of their entire core is gonna return in tact. So what do I think? I think the Eagles will win their division, and I have them pegged to win anywhere from 12-14 games. Yes, my projections on the best team in football between the Vikings and Eagles were so close I had to look at their strength of schedule. Still, this is just a raw estimate on where all of these teams will rank based off of very little evidence to support my theories. If anything, I consider this a good starting point in order to shape my perceptions on where each and every team in the NFL is heading. Once we learn more from the pre-season, then we can begin to analyze what they have going for it, and recalibrate these Power Rankings from there. After the Pre-season, I will then update these Power Rankings before taking a leave of absence from these rankings until Week 4 when the first byes roll around. Then, I will begin updating these rankings every other week from there, with my final Power Rankings occurring right after Week 17, and then an overall ranking of each team after the Super Bowl.
  4. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    3. New England Patriots What a shocker. They're the team to beat in the AFC. They'll win at least 10 games, and up to 14. End of story. ……………. No, really! That's all I have to say. ……………. Alright, fine! Since you want to know why this team isn't number 1, allow me to elaborate! Tom Brady is 41 years old. Julien Edelman will be suspended for a few games--meaning he would have gone a really, long time since Super Bowl LI since last playing a game. Rob Gronkowski had been injury-ridden his entire career and is in an existential position. All it takes is bad injury luck, and Brady's career will be over. Really, the only reason they rate so bloody high is because the Patriots always have an incredibly easy schedule. Then again, it helps that the Patriots play in the easiest division in football--featuring two rookie rebuilding projects, and a QB that pulled a Bridgewater and is otherwise ravaged by a pretty awful off season. They are matched against the AFC South and NFC North, which might account for something as far as difficulty goes. They do get the Chiefs and Steelers this season; but they host the Chiefs in what will inevitably be Patrick Mahomes' first full season as a Starter; and the Steelers can't beat New England. And if you think the Patriots will lose eight games combined between these two divisions, you must be a massive pessimist for your franchise. Especially since neither team in the AFC South have beaten the Patriots in close to a decade (at best); and while the Vikings and Packers are the teams I am crediting for the Patriots 2 losses, I highly doubt they'll lose to the Lions and Bears. A lot of the off-season moves transitioning from 2016 to 2017 were with the desire to go all in for one last realistic hurrah at a Super Bowl title before Brady grows old and weary and is forced to retire. And we all know those moves didn't exactly pay out, and the Patriots were forced to get rid of a few key pieces of their second half dynasty. Still, all it takes is at least 12-13 wins including a head-to-head win against the Steelers, and the Patriots are likely to make it back to the Super Bowl. And honestly, they match up well against a lot of playoff and Super Bowl contenders from the NFC, including some dark horses. The 49ers--if they get there--might be a scary matchup for the Patriots. Same goes for the Saints. But outside of that, I definitely see the Patriots winning competitive matchups against teams like the Panthers, Seahawks, Cowboys, etc. And you also get some pretty decent matchups against the Rams and Falcons for good measure. I still think they'll lose to the Eagles and Vikings, but they aren't going to be significantly better than the Patriots. If their defense can bounce back; then they definitely have the talent to at least close the gap against the Vikings. And finally, until we see Brady going off the cliff, there's really no reason to believe the Patriots won't make the playoffs, much less lose fewer than 4 games. If you want to be a die-hard realist, then I can definitely see putting them down to losing 6 games. But dating back to 2010, they won at least 12 games every single year, and had reached the AFC Championship game starting in 2011. He has a stellar receiving core, and a tough offensive line, too--not the strongest, but they definitely get the job done. If the defense does its job, then Brady's failing strength will likely be easy to mask. Unless he gets hurt and is forced to miss some time. Still, the clock is ticking on this Patriots team. I personally think their championship window has closed. But it's the Patriots. It defies all logic and reason to jump to any conclusions. Especially since they have secured homefield advantage every year since Peyton Manning retired. And only once in franchise history had the Patriots secured home field advantage and not reached the Super Bowl--a 2010 Divisional upset at home against the Jets.
  5. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    4. LA Rams I considered rating them a bit higher. Like, number 2 or 3 high. But ultimately, I think there are a couple of factors working against them. This team has certainly gotten better at least on paper. Even though much of the roster upgrades this past off season involved adding much of the criminal element across the NFL. And taking into account the fact that the NFC West is gonna be a tougher division to play in, AND the Rams play a 1st place schedule, and they have a pretty grueling schedule ahead of them. Yes, Sean McVay had a really good rookie year as head coach, as he single-handedly took this team from being the absolute worst offense in the league one year to being one of the absolute best all in a single off season. We also saw a bit of a weakness in him, though. He is young. He may be brilliant. But when things go wrong for him, he has these deer-in-headlights look. That's definitely going to be a problem down the road. Not that they were terrible against playoff teams last year. They were about 50-50 against playoff teams, having won against the Jaguars, Titans, and Saints. They also lost to the Eagles, Vikings, and Falcons, with only the Vikings loss being rather brutal. But this year? They get to play the Eagles, Vikings, Saints, and Falcons yet again. Not totally out of their league, but they were 1-3 against them last year. And they also get play the Panthers and AFC West for good measure. And this is not forgetting the fact that Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo are definitely going to be able to give their respective teams a shot against this Rams team--especially if penalties become a costly problem for this franchise. Where these games end up being played it doesn't really matter all that much because the Rams, similar to the Chargers, have no home field advantage to speak of. Can they compete for a Super Bowl? Well, they are in the top tier, so that pretty much goes without saying. I do not think they'll be able to beat the next team on my Power Rankings should they get there; but if they cross paths with any other team in the Super Bowl, then not only do I think they definitely stand a reasonable chance, but they probably would win it. I think, while Jared Goff definitely turned things around, he seems to be in a similar tier and skill set as Alex Smith. So if anything, he isn't going to be able to elevate his team to the next level. But if everything clicks, he might just be good enough to return this team back to the summit. My win total has them winning anywhere from 11-13 wins. Their schedule this year is gonna be significantly tougher, but at the same time, they did sport a fair batting average against teams with winning records and have made the playoffs. Didn't really have any dumb losses, either, as their only important loss that year against a team with a losing record was a loss to an eventual 7-9 Washington Redskins (they rested their starters in their season finale against the 49ers).
  6. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    5. Pittsburgh Steelers I think the Steelers, roster-wise--was pretty much at the peak in talent and destructive capability last season--only their Super Bowl teams and the 2004 team--were better. And now a large bulk of what made the Steelers such a force to be reckoned with is now gone. The three B's are still there--Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and LaVeon Bell. But just to keep them around, they had to let a number of talented players go, and it's only a matter of time before one of these other two would want an large contract expansion. And with Big Ben getting older, this is pretty much going to be the final year the Steelers will have to compete for a Super Bowl. Not to mention how the Steelers have a nasty tendency to play down to their opponents' level. The Steelers, of course, are matched up with the NFC South and AFC West this year, as well as the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars. The latter two of the three teams that had beaten the Steelers the year before (the latter not once but twice)--the other being Mike Glennon's Chicago Bears. And really, the biggest factor when it comes to the Steelers ability to compete for a Super Bowl is the fact that the Steelers have never beaten the Patriots in a playoff game--they met three times since Brady entered the league, and lost all three. In fact, ever since drafting Ben Roethlisberger, they have beaten the Patriots three times during the regular season--2004, 2005, and 2008. And yes, the last time the Steelers have beaten Tom Brady was all the way back in 2005. Brady was on IR in 2008. There really are only two reasons I am even designating the Steelers as a Super Bowl contenders then are that because Tom Brady is turning 41 real soon, and the Steelers' schedule is pretty easy. At least on paper. If they play down to their opponents' perceived level week in and week out, things could go horribly wrong. Still, even though I gave high rankings for the Falcons, and even gave the Panthers and Saints a shot, all three of these teams are winnable. They continually have the Chiefs' number; the Chargers have no home field advantage, but are otherwise a toss-up; depending on where they're being played, they could probably beat the Raiders; honestly, the scariest games on their schedule are probably going to be against Jacksonville, New England, and Denver. Yes, I am not particularly high on the Broncos, which is probably a reason why I think the Steelers could make a critical error of taking them lightly--especially if that defensive unit puts a real beating on Big Ben. The Steelers, on paper, should win anywhere from 10-13 wins, with their biggest threat of making it back to the playoffs, of course, being the Baltimore Ravens. The Falcons have two other teams in their division breathing down their necks. So the Steelers do have things lightly as far as divisional matchups go. Not the easiest, mind you. But still, it should be good enough to send them back to the playoffs. And if the Patriots falter, they may then be good enough to oust them from the AFC pedestal and finally make it back to a Super Bowl for the first time since 2010.
  7. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    6. Atlanta Falcons And this is where we get to Super Bowl contention that, barring some unseen force, seems all but certain to at least make the playoffs. These six teams were very, very difficult to peg down in rankings as they could all win or lose to each other in unnecessary ways. So I pretty much boiled it down to who I think will likely have worst-best case scenarios for their final record in determining this ranking. With all of that said, the Atlanta Falcons are the only team amongst the Super Bowl contenders that play in a really tough division. Maybe the Rams too, but I'll get to that when I get to that. Yes, they play the Buccaneers twice, which they'll need to beat both times. But they are also matched up with the AFC North, NFC East, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals. Based on the latter two teams alone, the Falcons have the easiest schedule in that brutal division. Of course, that isn't saying much. The Cardinals are not going to be an easy win, and while the Falcons have continuously had Aaron Rodgers' number as of late, the Packers are no gimmie, either. Outside of those two, they still have to play the Eagles in Philadelphia during the Opening Kickoff game before hosting the Panthers, Saints, and Bengals in back-to-back weeks. Then they go to Pittsburgh before returning home to host the Bucs and Giants heading into their bye week. And note too that the Falcons do have a poor distinction of playing all of their toughest games on the road. The only exceptions are the Browns and Redskins. Even against teams like the Browns, Giants and Bucs, it'd be foolish to assume that any game is a gimmie for the Falcons. Another reason why the Falcons rate so low is because while they do have a Super Bowl roster on paper, they do tend to play down to their opponents' perceived level, and they do tend to sit on their halftime leads rather than build upon them and close them out. This team even came close to losing to Mike Glennon's Chicago Bears last season. So there is some dependency issues. Still, ever since Dan Quinn was hired to coach this team, he had returned the Falcons back to relevance, and has attempted to screw their heads on straight. The Falcons, in spite all of their talent, were a consistently underachieving bunch from 2008-2012, winning a single playoff game during that stretch in spite very nearly giving it away. They still haven't shed away the mindset of thinking the game is over before half time, but like a feral kitten given constant love, attention and food, they have gotten better over time. And while they lost some of their talent, they are still loaded. And Matt Ryan in particular, while nowhere near the same level as Brady, Rodgers, or even Wilson or Brees; I do consider him a top ten quarterback in the NFL. I do think it is up in the air as to who will win the NFC South between the Falcons, Panthers and Saints. But based on my prognosis, I think the Falcons have the best shot and reclaiming the division. Do keep in mind that, again; the Saints have a brutal schedule, and Drew Brees is going to be turning 40 soon; and the Panthers tend to be so polarizing between really good and pretty bad/underwhelming. I'm picking the Falcons to win anywhere from 10-12 games this year, which will all but certainly be good enough to get them to the playoffs. I don't think they're going to exceed 12 games; again, they pretty much have their toughest games on the road this season (Green Bay, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh specifically come to mind), and if they do hit the gold number of 12 wins, it's likely going to be against either of them or a clean sweep against one or both division rivals. And it is worth noting too that the Falcons do tend to underachieve against weaker football teams. Reminder; they lost to the Dolphins and nearly gave away a game to the Bears last season. They also benefited from some bad officiating; a bad suspension; and a kicker who lost his confidence back in the 2005 Wild Card round. And dare I even remind people of 28-3? Yeah! I consider them the least dependable of the Super Bowl contenders right now, even more so than the next team on the list.
  8. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    7. Green Bay Packers And here we begin the transition from teams that I merely consider Playoff contenders and into the likely Super Bowl contenders. In other words, Top Tier. Let me put it this way: A healthy Aaron Rodgers from beginning to end will likely net you anywhere from 10-12 wins on average--maybe as high as 13 if he goes into a tear. Still, I put them in the range of 9-12 wins. The reason being is because the Minnesota Vikings are going to be a tough team to beat, and they were the primary reason why Aaron Rodgers got hurt and the team fell out of playoff contention (the only team that had a worse fallout from a key injury to its star QB was the Houston Texans). And since the Vikings' elite defense was largely left in tact in spite the acquisition of QB Kirk Cousins in Free Agency, the Packers are gonna have a tough road back in winning their division. Still, remember that the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers did win a Super Bowl as a Wild Card team. Specifically as the 6th Seed. And that season, only the Seattle Seahawks had a worse overall win total out of all Playoff teams that season (they were 7-9, but won their division). And while the Packers doesn't have anybody on defense that made them a unit not to be underestimated quite like Charles Woodson, Aaron Rodgers is definitely a prime example of a QB that immediately single-handedly makes his teams Super Bowl contenders. Although I made them an inbetweener between Playoff and Super Bowl contender. This is because of the NFC teams I've ranked ahead of them in this Power Rankings that I think will give them a run for their money once they actually get there. And even if they do overcome all obstacles and reach the Super Bowl, chances are, they're gonna lose to whoever the AFC representative happens to be. Whether it's the heavy favorites like the Patriots or Steelers, or any number of upstarts like Chiefs, Chargers, Texans, Jaguars, or Titans. The only possible playoff contenders that the Packers might are likely to beat are the Ravens, Colts, Raiders and Broncos. The Ravens and Broncos still have a questionable QB situation, and the Colts and Raiders do not have much on defense and are, if anything, mirror images of the Packers themselves; even then, I'd still rate Derek Carr and Andrew Luck significantly lower than Aaron Rodgers, who may very well be the last transcendent QB in the NFL right now. It makes sense for some people to argue Rodgers as the single-greatest QB in the NFL right now. Even though Tom Brady has all the hardware and yes, more League MVP's than Rodgers as of this moment, Brady always has almost always had a team around him. There may have been a few exceptions here and there. But when push comes to shove, Brady always had some help and an elite front office and coaching staff behind him. Aaron Rodgers, if anything, is pretty much the modern NFL's equivalent to John Elway, whereas Brady is more or less the modern NFL's Joe Montana. Even right down to general eras in which they were drafted respectively (and if you are curious, then I'd classify Drew Brees as the modern NFL era's Dan Marino--at least he got to win a Championship in spite the comparison). So much so that going over their schedule is largely pointless. Their biggest worries come from the Vikings, Falcons, Rams, Patriots, and possibly the 49ers, Seahawks. So it's they can't beat any of these guys, then they'll definitely have a hard time making it back to the playoffs. The Vikings in particular will make winning their division a tough act to swallow. And if Aaron Rodgers cannot stay healthy, then I can't imagine the Packers being a playoff contender at all. It was the second time in his career that he broke the same collar bone, and he's only gonna get older. Still, if he can play all 16 games, he will single-handedly be able to elevate his entire roster to contend for a playoff spot, if not a Super Bowl. Even though I think teams like the Chargers, Texans, Panthers, Saints, Ravens and Titans all have better rosters overall, Aaron Rodgers single-handedly elevates this squad. At bare minimum, they'd go 9-7 based on the difficulty of their schedule alone. But chances are, a healthy Aaron Rodgers from beginning to end will likely elevate the Packers to at least 10 wins, and maybe even compete for as high as 12-13 wins. So from this moment onwards, I am for sure going after the teams I think are gonna become Super Bowl contenders as of this moment. The ones that rank lower, however, are the teams I think have the likeliest shots at really falling off a cliff and not making it. So brace yourselves for some possible upsets (and no, the Patriots are not number 5; do not worry).
  9. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    Okay, we are now in yet another three-way tie, with ranges anywhere from 8-11 wins for each team: 10. Houston Texans Last season, when Deshaun Watson was the starting QB, and all their starters were present, the Texans were an epic force to be reckon with. Hypothetically, this team shouldn't be so utterly snake bitten with injury yet again. Off the top of my head, Watson, J. J. Watt, and Whitney Mercilus were the key injuries that occurred last season that killed any possibility of the Texans competing for a playoff spot, much less win any games. So while not as numerous as many other teams (like the Eagles last year lost a lot of key players to IR, and yet they still won the Super Bowl), the Texans was by far the team that was most devastated by said injuries (keep in mind that all three of the Giants wins last season occurred with their entire receiving core wiped out). Still the beginning to their schedule isn't exactly kind. They have to go on the road to play the Patriots, Titans, and Colts within the first three weeks. Their only home game is against the Giants during that stretch. They do host the Cowboys, Bills and Dolphins while visiting the Broncos heading into their bye week, so those games are all winnable (the only exception heading into their bye week might be their road game to Jacksonville). Post-bye, things do ease up a bit, with only a road game against the Eagles being particularly threatening. So let's say they start 1-3--maybe 2-2 if Andrew Luck isn't 100%. Though for now, let's go with a 1-3 start. Then, heading into their bye week, they go 4-1 to find themselves at 5-4. If they find themselves at that scenario, and all their key pieces are still in play, then not just a playoff berth, but perhaps the whole division all appear extremely likely. I'm picking 11-5 as a record they are most to close their season out. But only if they stay healthy, and certain other teams like the Jets, Broncos and Redskins do not take the Texans by surprise (and it also suggests that the Texans go 3-3 against their division rivals, too). I mean, the recent slew of injuries plaguing J. J. Watt is worrisome, especially. And who knows how well Deshaun Watson can bounce back. My dad honestly believes that Watson will for certain win the Texans a Super Bowl or two someday, so let's wait and see. 9. Carolina Panthers I think the primary concern with the Panthers as of right now would have to be with the changing ownership. Because all it takes to bring down an organization like this is an owner that doesn't give a rats rear end about football. We don't need another Jimmy Haslam blowing things up year after year after year. The hiring of a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner is also something to look out for; how well does the Panthers adjust to a new offensive scheme? While there wasn't much turnover as far as roster goes (replacing an aging Jonathan Stewart with CJ Anderson is definitely an upgrade), the Secondary does leave much to be desire (especially against teams like Atlanta, New Orleans and Detroit, whose quarterbacks love to throw the football downfield), so it's pretty much up to the defensive line to shut down any opposition. Still, perhaps surpassed only by the Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers have the second easiest remaining schedule as far as the NFC South is concerned. Granted, they do have to pay Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Detroit a visit. But getting Seattle at home is definitely a big plus. Their toughest games of the year are all road games. But again, if they go 4-2 against their division rivals, and take care of all of their easy games and all their home games, the Panthers will definitely make it back to the playoffs. Or they could get swept by the Falcons and Saints, and fall to 9-7. I originally had them finishing there at the bare minimum, and then took into consideration how even teams like the Cowboys, Ravens and Redskins could possibly upset this team. Even the Giants, should they unleash Saquan Barkley on them, could prove devastating to the Panthers' playoff prospects. Keep in mind that the Panthers are the single most polarizing team in the NFL, constantly going back and forth between being really good and really bad. The only reason they won the NFC South three years in a row was because the division as a whole was quite terrible in 2014. Still, the team has a winning culture; Cam Newton is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL; Ron Rivera is at least a top ten head coach in the NFL right now; and they have one of the easier schedules in a rather competitive NFC South. All in all, I can easily see things going unexpectedly wrong against inferior football teams. But if I have to take a guess, I'd say the Panthers make it back to the playoffs. 8. LA Chargers I think unlike the Texans and Panthers, who are only really limited by the potential problems both teams could face concerning their roster, the Chargers problems come entirely from their schedule. That, and the Chargers have no homefield advantage at all. The Chargers have not beaten the Chiefs since 2013--the last time they made the playoffs (and they even swept the Chiefs in order to claim the 6th and Final Seed that year as well). They start their season off with a home opener against the Chiefs. Then they go on the road to Buffalo and to the Rams (although both teams are LA, they play in different stadiums); and while the Bills rank pretty low on the Power Rankings, they are going to be very tough to beat at home, especially for a West Coast team like the Chargers. And then they host the 49ers and Raiders. This pretty much mean the Chargers could easily find themselves in an 0-4 hole for the second year in a row in spite all of their talent, if not 0-5 if the Raiders' experiment goes well. They do travel to Cleveland and play the Titans in London heading into their bye week; but by that point in time, both teams are gonna be winnable. Then they travel to Seattle, and while the Legion of Boom is no more and the Seahawks are a shell of their former selves, they still have that brutal homefield advantage. Then they travel to Oakland, then host the Broncos and Cardinals, and then travel to Pittsburgh. They close out their season hosting Cincinnati and Baltimore and going to Kansas City and Denver. In other words, to classify their schedule for a second place team, it's simply unfair. The main reason they rate as high as they do is because at the end of the day, I think even at 8-8, it'd still be good enough to make the playoffs, if not win the division. The Chargers still play many of the same teams, and must even include the Patriots and Jaguars into the equation. I think the Chargers would much rather take their chances in Buffalo and in London against the Titans than play the Patriots and Jaguars, even if neither team is gonna be as good as they were a year ago. Still, perhaps the Jon Gruden experiment doesn't work out right away; the Broncos still suck; and the Mahomes gamble doesn't pay off for the Chiefs? That alone is enough to elevate the Chargers all the way to an 8-11 win range. I think the Chargers are definitely good enough to compete for a playoff spot, if not the division title. Maybe good enough to compete for a Super Bowl. But let's not jump ahead of ourselves, especially considering how tough their schedule is gonna be.
  10. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    11. Baltimore Ravens Estimated win total is anywhere from 8-10 wins. I debated between the Titans and Ravens on who I'd rate higher since it wasn't an unofficial tie. But ultimately, I went with the Ravens by a single slot. I have to be consistent, or at least as much as possible, after all. Besides, it's easier to rely on a team that had drafted a new quarterback in the first round in the draft in Lamarr Jackson as a contingency for Joe Flacco than it is to rely on a team with a new head coach. We pretty much know what we are getting with the Ravens. We don't quite know what we're going to see with the Tennessee Titans yes. So it bares caution. At least we know that Flacco will remain the starter. And if he struggles, he's pretty much done for. Heck, anything short of a Super Bowl will probably end Flacco's tenure with the Baltimore Ravens. And we know why the Ravens failed to make the playoffs. Because of Flacco's play-calling. Because the Ravens' offense--thanks entirely to it's passing attack--ranks near the bottom of the league. Because the Ravens hadn't had a single, solitary quality win in all of 2017 (they played five games against playoff teams, and they lost every single one of these games, as well as losing to the Bears and Bengals). The Detroit Lions were the only team with a winning record all season long that the Ravens were able to win against, and neither team made the playoffs. We know their defense is solid. We know their running game is good. But now there's no more excuses. The ravens have one of the tougher schedules in the NFL right now. Outside of their division, they still have to play the NFC South and AFC West. They are then paired up with the second place teams in the AFC South and East Divisions. They get home games against the Bills and Broncos alongside road games against the Titans, Panthers, and each of their division rivals all before their bye week. They play the Steelers twice, and the Saints at home too before their bye. I think this team can do it. I think they have what it takes to make the playoffs. I know the Ravens were much better than a couple of other teams that made the playoffs the year before. I know they can do it. But there can be no more excuses. It's do or die time right about now. Even with the difficult schedule I do believe the Ravens will win anywhere from 8-10 games, and hopefully make the playoffs (at the very least, be able to impact the playoff race). I think they will for sure lose at least one game to the Steelers, and will probably lose to either the Saints or Panthers (if not both). They may lose one of their first three games (between the Bills, Bengals and Broncos, I'm not sure), but will probably finish 2-1. They'll lose to the Falcons as well. I'm leaning more towards a loss against the Chiefs. And then the Chargers and Titans are both tossups. So, yeah! 8-10 wins is a pretty good estimate. I do not think they are going to be utter trash this year, nor do I think they'll close out with a losing record.
  11. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    12. Tennessee Titans Estimated win total ranges anywhere from 7-11 wins. The Tennessee Titans got rid of coach Mike Mularky in spite a playoff win the year before. Given how uninspired the play calling was in in 2017, the Titans still made the playoffs at 9-7. This is due in part to an easy schedule for the most part, as well as a strong conference record (the only NFC West team they were able to defeat was the Seahawks--and that was before the latter lost all their best players). Now, it's a whole 'nother chapter; they are building pieces to hopefully compete for a Super Bowl; and now they have a new head coach. On paper, the Titans should be good enough to compete for a playoff berth--provided, of course, that they stay healthy. And the Titans coach doesn't let them down. Off the top of my head, only coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns was significantly worse than Mularkey, with Vance Joseph of the Broncos rivalling him in ineptitude. So we're heading into new territory once again. The start to their NFL season isn't too bad. Yes, they do have to play Jacksonville and Houston--but excluding their division rivals, their toughest games prior to the bye week are against the Eagles and in Buffalo. They do play the Chargers, but in London. They also host the Ravens (more on them soon). In general, I think the Titans as far as schedule goes are in the middle of the pack. A couple tough games; a couple easy games; either way, none of their games are unwinnable. At least not as we know of. Yes, they play the Patriots after the bye, but for all we know, the Patriots may be a shell of their former selves. There's only one other team I can similarly compare to the Titans, although the win range is slightly different. It was tough to say who I think was better or worse. But the Titans are a question-mark with a successful-on-paper roster. It all depends on Marcus Mariota becoming a next level talent, and his head coach getting them there.
  12. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    13. New Orleans Saints My estimation for the Saints is to win anywhere from 6-12 wins. Yes, this one is sort of an erratic NFL team. Let me explain. The start of the Saints NFL season prior to the bye is a pretty good start on the season, with 4-1 very likely, if not 5-0. Then it gets a lot tougher for them afterwards. Keep in mind that the Saints play in the NFC South. And while they are currently matched up with the NFC East and AFC North, they get pretty much all the easy or winnable games right from the start. They still play with a first place schedule, and their division is still gonna be a pretty challenging one to win back. Once they get back from their bye, the go to Baltimore. Okay, pretty challenging, but still winnable. Then they go to Minnesota. Host the Rams. Go to Cincinnati. Host Philadelphia and Atlanta. Then they travel to Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Carolina before closing out the season at home against the Steelers and Panthers. Now, this is a pretty difficult stretch, and while there are two or three easily winnable games in there, it's not like the Saints can't beat anybody here. Because of this, in spite the erratic placement, I do lean more towards the Saints closing out the season with a winning record than with a losing record. They are as far as I can tell, the earliest Playoff contender in my book. If they do sink to 6 or 7 wins, however, it's going to be due to a combination of factors--specifically the strength of schedule, and Drew Brees' age. Drew Brees is going to be 40 years old this year. Only Tom Brady is gonna be older. The Saints are not exactly a transcendent roster that defies any laws of longevity, like what happened with the Patriots or, to a lesser extent, Peyton Manning's football teams. Brees has only reached the playoffs a handful of times: 2004 (with the Chargers), 2006, 2009 (Super Bowl Champions), 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2017. A fair batting average, but even when Brees has to carry his entire team on his shoulders, there really isn't much he can do when he seldom ever has a decent defense, and almost never a running back. Yes, they have addressed the running back situation; Alvin Kamara is a stud. But practically speaking, it's not healthy for Drew Brees to constantly throw 5,000+ yards a season--only a small handful of quarterbacks have ever thrown that much in a single season, much less a couple times--Brees has done it nearly every single bloody year since 2011. That tends to wear down on the quarterback arm strength, especially in the twilight of his career. And while we haven't exactly witnessed Brees hit that proverbial cliff as of yet, there's no telling when it's gonna happen. You generally begin to see the waning of a quarterback's skillset as a regular season wears on, and compounding this is the overall difficulty of their post-bye schedule. The result leaves me feeling a little bit cautious in ranking the Saints. I initially had them higher while the Panthers were ranked at around this area of my own Power Rankings because I have them leaning more towards playoff contention rather than mid-low tier a la Detroit Lions. But if they fail to meet expectations, and they begin to struggle, all I have to say is, brace yourselves for the possible end of a glorious era in New Orleans. As of right now, I like to think of them as a top ten contender, if not a Super Bowl contender. But they are pretty much my final erratic NFL team. From this point forward, every team in the NFL is what I like to consider Playoff Contenders.
  13. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    Okay, the next three teams all had projected 7-10 win ranges and pretty much make up the rest of the mid tiers. Yes, this is yet another one of these instances of a three-way tie. And even if we take into account off-season roster changes, the three teams have such drastic differences amongst themselves in what is right and what is wrong that I ultimately decided to rank each of these teams based on who I think have the biggest shot at making the playoffs with what they have, and based on what we know. And yes, this does include taking into account strength of schedule. 16. Kansas City Chiefs I will freely admit that the Chiefs is loaded with talent across the board. The offense is loaded with talent, and the defense--while having taken a few steps back in the offseason--is still a pretty solid unit. The big question mark heading forward then lies with QB Patrick Mahomes, who was a rookie last season and only started in a meaningless season finale game against the Broncos. And while he was good in that one game, let's face it; it's just one game. The most impressive thing about him was that after Andy Reid pulled him in favor of a third string quarterback, the Broncos immediately surged back in and nearly pulled away with a win before Mahomes was plugged back in to seal the deal so to speak. So I guess the main value Mahomes has is to give Andy Reid the Heimlich maneuver whenever he comes close to choking. Still, he does have a talented offense around him. So let's see how that works out. The main reason I ranked the Chiefs below the next two teams has more to do with the start of the schedule. They begin by playing the Chargers and Steelers on the road; hosting the 49ers; going to Denver; hosting the Jaguars; and then going to New England. While not the most difficult stretch by any means (I mean, the Chiefs haven't lost to the Chargers since getting swept by them in 2013--when the Chargers last made the playoffs), things could potentially spiral out of control if they lose their first two or three games--especially if the Broncos and Jaguars happen to be good, and the Chargers and 49ers are as good as many other analysts have advertised. And no, we cannot use 2015's 5-game losing streak or 2017's 6 losses in 2 months thing as proof that this unit can overcome all obstacles. Because again; it isn't Alex Smith leading the charge; it's going to be Patrick Mahomes. Yes, things do level out so significantly that it keeps the Chiefs from possibly being low or bottom tier (for the moment); but if they fall down a 1-5 or worse--an 0-6 hole under Mahomes, any chances of the Chiefs bouncing back would be all but nonexistent. But, we'll see. I doubt they'll be utterly terrible. 15. Seattle Seahawks What do I say about this team? Outside of the fact that this team is ranked far too high for my personal taste (and even then, it's entirely due to Russel Wilson becoming a premier quarterback in his own right)? Honestly, it's the utter dismantling of the Legion of Boom. Ever since they were devastated with injuries, the Seahawks only won, what, two or three games following a really good start on their season? They fell to 9-7? Of course, a good chunk of that has to be blamed on the fact that their kicker, Blair Walsh, has lost all confidence since the Wild Card fiasco back in 2015, and continued to eat a bag of shit whenever the outcome of the game was on the line. Blair Walsh is pretty much the main reason the Falcons made the playoffs instead of the Seahawks, as he whiffed a potential game winner to them; constantly whiffed throughout the Redskins game; and then whiffed again against the Retirement Home. And just like that, the once devastated elite unit is now gone. Only Earl Thomas remains of the Legion of Boom, and he's made it plain that he doesn't want to be there anymore. After this season, he's gone. And to add insult to injury, even though Russell Wilson is literally the only reason the Seahawks are mid-tier rather than low tier, the fact remains, neither he nor his running back is going to receive any help from the offensive line. Then again, the Seahawks' offensive line was never a particular strong point, proven by Wilson's scrambling ability and whatnot. And if anything, the only real offensive line that the Seahawks had from Wilson's first few seasons came from Beast Mode. Specifically Beast Mode being such a physically dominating force when handed the football that he single-handedly forced opposing defenses to stack the box against him and allowing Wilson to escape pressure--even when it came--rather easily. Ever since Beast Mode "retired," only to leave for Oakland instead, Wilson pretty much had to do it all for his offense to have any shot at winning. If he didn't have any worthwhile receivers or a solid Special Teams unit (outside of kicker Blair Walsh, anyways), Wilson would might as well be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Translation: So long as Russel Wilson is their quarterback, and he has receivers to throw to, the Seahawks are not going to stop being relevant. But as far as Super Bowl aspirations? They are done! If not for the fact that their overall strength of schedule is fairly balanced, only getting remotely tough starting at around Thanksgiving, I would have easily rated this team lower. No other team has systematically lost so much and did little to address it. They can't, because Russell Wilson's bloated contract is preventing the Seahawks from exceeding all expectations. God forbid he actually tears his ACL at any point in the season. 14. San Francisco 49ers I debated this placement for a number of reasons. Yes, we have a pretty good sample size at how good Jimmy Garoppolo could be. Before becoming the starting QB for the team (and it's pretty clear they didn't want to start him last season in order to avoid paying him a hefty amount of money), the team was 1-10 with their only win being against the equally atrocious New York Giants (only the Cleveland Browns had a worse record than either of those teams at that time). Then Thanksgiving came and went; Jimmy G. was tagged as the starter; and the 49ers suddenly looked like a promising playoff team. I do think the spending habits as far as Jimmy G. and many of their offseason acquisitions would likely limit this team's ceiling. But if Garoppolo is that one singular force that allowed the 49ers to escape the basement, then the road back to the playoffs will definitely be there for them to take. And considering that many of the teams they ended up defeating to close out their season were all playoff contenders (granted, the Rams decided to rest their starters in spite not being locked into the 3rd Seed), one has to at least give them notice given the upgrades to their roster in the offseason. Granted, their first game of the season will be in Minnesota. And they do have to play the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams twice (as well as the Packers in Green Bay). I mean, the schedule they have to overcome would be significantly greater than what they had overcame and defeated the year before. Again, the Rams were resting their starters; the Titans were not that great a team by any measures; and the Jaguars were beginning to waver down the stretch. Starting from Week 1, the 49ers will be dealing with fresh blood. So again, we'll see what happens. I think Jimmy Garoppolo's sample size with an utter trash NFL team--like Cleveland Browns level of bad--does give him and his team the benefit of the doubt.
  14. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    The rest of the mid tier in the NFL Power Rankings were very, very difficult to piece down because the overall talent level is so bloody close together amongst all teams that everybody here has a realistic shot at the playoffs, or a realistic shot at underperforming. All these teams have very glaring problems to deal with. So, what became the ultimate deciding factor in figuring out where each team fits where? Well, the first rule is to look at strength of schedule. Then to decide on who you trust the most to make it far with the talent that they have. Number 17, however, not only has one of the most difficult strengths of schedule, but is also caught in a serious bind that they got themselves into: 17. Dallas Cowboys Estimating for them to win anywhere from 6-10 games depending on how they perform. The main difference between the Cowboys and Broncos in why the Cowboys are clearly mid tier in spite the same ranges has to do with two things; the strength of schedule; and their roster/cap space situation. The Broncos, through all intents and purposes, are rebuilding, and in spite the awesome array of talent, are still handicapped by a questionable head coaching hire, and as such, the schedule in question is largely irrelevant. At least until we know more. The Cowboys? We know what they are capable of. But it's abundantly clear that Jerry Jones had never really adjusted his salary cap skills and continues the same strategy that he used previously in cementing the 90's dynasty. The result is that the owner and general manager keeps drafting large swaths of talent, and then being forced to overpay nearly every single person. He has never adapted. He has never learned that the purpose behind the salary cap was to kill the NFL dynasty (which is why the Patriots are so utterly despised as they defy the very intent of the salary cap and human nature in general). And now the championship window is on the brink of closing for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot as nearly every single offensive playmaker worth jack is now gone. Granted, Dez Bryant and Jason Witton were both shells of their former selves, but they were at least the best receiver and tight end the team had had in all of 2017. Either way, once this season is over, guess what? Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot's rookie contracts will be up, and they will all but certainly be demanding ALL of the money out of Dallas. And considering how sunk deep the Cowboys are in cap space hell, that means only one thing: The Cowboys absolutely must win it all this year, or its bust. If they cannot, then they must get rid of even more talent. They do not sink much lower because the offensive line is still one of the best units in the entire league. It doesn't change the fact that the defense is very much a bend-don't-break unit. So if the offense struggles--if opposing defenses do not fear the pass--then all they need to do is stuff up Ezekiel Elliot, and it will then be up to Dak Prescott to carry the team on his shoulders. Going through all the motions of the off season, it goes without saying the Cowboys are in the absolute worst position out of everybody left in the mid tiers. Only the Cardinals and Redskins are in a blatantly worse spot on paper because it's clear both teams are rebuilding. As far as scheduling quirks go, only one other team has it worse than the Cowboys in mid tier, and I'll get to them in a second. Before their bye week, they will be rotating home and road games each week. On the road, they play the Panthers, Seahawks, Texans, and Redskins. At home, they play the Giants, Lions, and Jaguars. Let's assume then that they win the games they are supposed to win--at home against the Giants and Lions, but fail to get it done elsewhere? We'd be talking about a 2-5 start to the season, and they hadn't even gotten to the tough part of their schedule. Which is pretty much all but the final two games of the regular season. Why? Because then they get to host the Titans; then, they get to travel to Philly and Atlanta before heading back home to face the Redskins, Saints and Eagles again. They then travel to Indianapolis--which, you know, there's no telling how good or bad they could be, depending on the Andrew Luck situation--before closing out their season facing the Bucs at home and then travelling to New York to face the Giants. Again, let's just assume the Cowboys win the games they are supposed to win. Then, let's have them steal a win from either the Eagles or Redskins (maybe even both). Therein lies the projection of 6-10 wins. And keep in mind; they only look that good because maybe they go 4-2 or 5-1 in their division, beat the Bucs and Lions like they are supposed to, and then perhaps the Jaguars and Colts both have crap seasons that the Cowboys can capitalize on. Then all they would need to do to earn a tenth win is win one more against one of many tough opponents. Keep in mind that the NFC East is paired up with the NFC and AFC South divisions this year, and the Seahawks--a team specifically matched up with Dallas due to division rankings--are a team the Cowboys have historically struggled against, even in spite all the injuries to their Legion of Boom the Seahawks had suffered the year before. The Cowboys are running out of time to compete with the current core that they have, and the schedule certainly isn't going to be kind to their chances at actually making it back to the summit for the first time since 1995.
  15. Mike Gordan

    NFL 2018-2019 Season Discussion

    The beginning of the mid-tiers--the teams that on paper, are not good, but aren't necessarily bad, either. All have a shot at the playoffs. The first two teams in this tier list are all teams I was expecting to hit low or bottom tier. So it surprises me that these teams rate as highly as they did. 19. Arizona Cardinals My initial reaction was to put them in low or bottom tier due to the fact that coach Bruce Arians had decided to retire, alongside Carson Palmer. Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert (the latter having surprisingly his best season yet) are also gone. And the rest of the roster is currently in old age. Not to mention the rest of their division is actually looking pretty tough (hence the reason why they are the lowest ranked team in their division). The main difference between the Cardinals versus, say, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is that every NFC West team has their own brand of problems. And while the situation with the Seahawks looks the most bleak, at least Russell Wilson has grown into an MVP-caliber quarterback. The main issue with the Arizona Cardinals is that the team has become the league's retirement home. Most of their veteran talents are old as dirt and are no longer as talented as they once were. Still, they do get their running back in David Johnson back. And they traded up to land Josh Rosen at QB, who may very well be the best first round prospect out of that class (though there's no telling as of yet who's going to succeed...unless it's Baker Mayfield, in which case, pray on his behalf). Honestly, between the Cardinals and the next team, it's pretty tough to gauge who is worse than the other. I have them both pegged anywhere with 7-9 wins. Meaning they just have to exceed my expectations to make the playoffs. Though at the same time, they are probably mediocre. 18. Washington Redskins Yes, I am doing both teams simultaneously. The only exception is that Jay Gruden is still the Redskins' head coach. However, Kirk Cousins, as well as much of their playmakers are now gone, and the Redskins are currently in a rebuilding phase. Except they're not terrible enough to outright tank (and even if they are, it's doubtful that Jay Gruden would survive an atrocious season). They did trade to get Alex Smith from Kansas City, and while I do not consider Alex Smith to be a quarterback capable of carrying a team on his shoulders (just look back at the 49ers from 2005-2010; they were atrocious, and there wasn't much he could do about it), it could be argued that the Redskins had saved value on their salary cap by getting a guy that has very much a similar skillset to that of Cousins--even if Alex Smith is strictly a systems quarterback. I think what the Redskins gave up on talent never truly got replaced. But then again, they are rebuilding. And from what I gathered, the Redskins had a pretty solid offseason in spite the departures. Still, there's no telling just how successful things are gonna go. Remember how in past offseasons, the Jaguars and Browns had stellar offseasons? Guess what happened to them? Aside from a trip to the AFC Championship for the Jaguars last season (which could be credited to coach Gus Bradley finally getting fired), those teams continued to lose and lose in spectacular fashion. At least Jay Gruden is one of the better head coaches in the NFL given the talent or lack thereof he had to deal with. I still peg them anywhere from 7-9 wins. Again, not good enough to make the playoffs, but not bad enough to compete for top draft picks. The placement for the Redskins and Cardinals is very much interchangeable and I only gave the advantage to the Redskins simply because the Cardinals are likely going to have to depend on their rookie draft picks as well as a brand new head coach to win games. And they still need to compete against three teams that have much better shots at making the playoffs straight away. At least the Redskins have veteran talent and still have their head coach; and the rookies they did get are position players that aren't going to have to carry the teams on their shoulders. In other words, I think the Redskins had a slightly better offseason than the Cardinals (shocking, since they passed up on drafting QB Lamar Jackson). But, we'll have to wait and see. The mid-tiers are very difficult to rank properly.
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