This season marks an odd season for the NFL. Win-loss records aside, the NFL may have the most bad or underperforming teams in recent memory. The AFC East is 9-3 this season, but that record - much like the Patriots - appears to be make-believe until proven otherwise. The NFC East appears ready to potentially send the first team with a losing record to the playoffs with homefield advantage, as someone will HAVE to win the division. There are probably only 10-12 GOOD teams in the NFL right now, and if that doesn’t change you could see a shift in the fan bases out there as discontent grows.
Fair-weather fans will follow whomever appears to be winning, and jump ship when they begin to lose. Living in Patriots country, I can tell you that I’ve seen this firsthand over the last 10 years. There are a number of tried and true fans that followed the Patriots since they were terrible in the 1980′s and mid-1990′s, but there are even more fans that were Giants fans, or Dallas fans before moving on to the Pats.
Amongst the league’s worst at the moment, there are a batch of teams that appear hopeless. They may have varying levels of talent and win-loss records, but the end result is the same. Throwing out the win-loss records since there are so many bad teams, in this column we’ll rate the teams on where they truly belong. This is a power ranking without records being heavily factored, and they’ll be shown in worst-to-first order with section titles based upon their performance thus far.
Hopeless: These are the worst of the worst, for various reasons. There appears to be no hope in sight for these teams, many are off to an 0-3 start
32. Jacksonville Jaguars – While there are a few bright spots, and they can’t possibly be THIS bad all season, this is a team that would welcome playing terrible – it would be an improvement on what they’ve shown thus far. This team has a firm death grip on the number 32 spot until they can prove otherwise.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One of these weeks, maybe they’ll show up to play. They have talent on both sides of the ball, but have appear to be hiding it all out somewhere in the mid-atlantic on Revis island. Beginning this week, they’ll have a starting quarterback that actually showed up for the team picture. Don’t be surprised to see Schiano go back to the college ranks before this season is over.
30. New York Giants: The offensive line can’t stop anyone. Eli is chucking and ducking when he’s not on his back or dropping the ball. With no hope in sight for anyone that can block, Eli may not make it out of a matchup against a nearly unblockable team this week against Kansas City.
29. Washingtong Redskins: Thus far this season, the Redskins have proven that they got back a shadow of RGIII, and can’t stop anyone. They may be at 29th on this set of rankings, but that is more a testament to horrific-ness of the Giants, Bucs and Jags. I hope the Rams enjoy the Redskins top 10 pick.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: This team appears to be falling apart, and has looked terrible until now. Big Ben is not as good as previously advertised, and neither is the team around him. Losing Pouncey, arguably their best player on offense has hurt this team badly, and they weren’t that good prior to his season ending injury.
27. Carolina Panthers: They looked stellar against the Giants, but really, who doesn’t right now?
26. Buffalo Bills: Their only good performance thus far was against the Panthers, who are just a step more terrible. EJ Manuel put on a decent showing early, but appears to have been figured out by teams that aren’t that much better at this point.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Even AP can’t win many games completely on his own. These guys are terrible, and the matchup in London this week against the Steelers is looking more and more like an NFL:Europe game than a true NFL game.
24. New York Jets: Don’t let the 2-1 start fool you. This team “showed up” against Tampa and Buffalo, who appear primed to both be selecting in the top 5 of the draft. Don’t expect the Jets to be picking later than 10th in the draft, either.
23. St Louis Rams: These guys look great for a minute here or there… unfortunately, they’re 24o minutes into the season… they need a bit more than that. Luckily for Rams fans, it appears that they should have two picks in the top 10 in next years draft.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly’s overhyped fast tempo offense came to the NFL, and left at half time of week 1. Since that time, the Eagles have been beat on pretty heavily. On a bright note, Chip might get another season before heading back to college. The uptempo offense this weekend would be the worst game call ever, as that simply serves to give Peyton & Co more time with the ball – not the best game plan this season.
21. Arizona Cardinals: Another team who’s offensive line appears to have a grudge against the quarterback. It’s a shame, as they’ve had some solid play in other areas.
These guys aren’t that great, but they’re not as bad as the bottom 12: In any other season, these guys would be ranked lower, but the teams behind them are not good at all right now.
20. Cleveland Browns: Ok, these guys SHOULD be terrible, but I don’t think anyone told them that yet. Well, they did, but Cleveland isn’t listening. Anyone who watched last week knows that they basically went out there and said “We’re going to have fun today. We’ve got nothing to lose.” – and they showed it. At least they’re going to be a fun team to watch, and they have a pretty damn good defense. They have one of the best tight ends in football, and should be able to do more with Josh Gordon back.
19. San Diego Chargers: This team pretended to be a contender, but they’re no where close. They have to play Denver and an up-and-coming Raiders team twice a year, as well as Kansas City. While that sounds like fun, I’ll pass.
18. Oakland Raiders: This is a team that is on the rise. One of the few teams that should probably celebrate their ascension to this high in the rankings. They’re a few years out from being a contender – basically around the time Manning officially hangs up his cleats.
17. Baltimore Ravens: The defending champs, they lost damn near everyone to keep Joe Flacco – who also would be in the middle of the pack amongst starting quarterbacks in this league.
16. Houston Texans: I expected more from this team, as did a lot of folks. They’ve got some star power on this team, but until they can get it together they’ll continue to fall… and they drew the short straw and play Seattle this week.
15. Dallas Cowboys: The best team in the worst division in football doesn’t deserve a medal, folks. Congratulations, cowboys… you win the division by default since no one else showed up. Enjoy losing in round 1 of the playoffs in front of your home fans. They might even take a lead into the fourth quarter of that game, before bumbling it away in truly amazing fashion.
14. The New England Patriots: This is a team that hasn’t beaten anyone, but more-so had 3 VERY inept teams force the win on them. They can’t protect Brady, and Brady has no one to throw to. Rumor has it that Brady’s best two receivers – Gronk and Amendola – may pay the team a visit for a couple of weeks soon, but they will most likely be taking a vacation shortly thereafter to visit their good buddy James Andrews. The Pats SHOULD be exposed this week against an angry Atlanta team. Their spot in the rankings isn’t a testament to their play, but more-so to the poor play of the teams behind them.
Now we’re getting somewhere: These are some good teams that are either not-quite-there yet, or are battling injuries.
13. Green Bay Packers: They’re a good team with the injury bug right now, and a few other minor issues. They could be back in the top 10 by seasons end.
12. Tennessee Titans: There may not be a more overachieving team in football right now, but at this moment in time, this Tennessee team is giving other teams fits.
11. Chicago Bears: If they can hang in there against Detroit this week, expect them to move up in the rankings. They’ve earned a potentially better spot, but they are stuck between teams based on the other teams merits thus far, more-so than their own.
10. Detroit Lions: This is a tough team, who may shoot themselves in the foot but still manage to overcome all of the dumb plays. They may end the season as the most fined team in football, and may drop in the rankings by the mid point of the season as Reggie Bush’s wheels reach the annual drop off point, but for now, they belong here.
9. San Francisco 49ers: They had a strong showing against a bad Rams team last night without a number of key individuals, combined with the return of Vernon Davis, moves them back into the top 10, albeit further down than some folks would expect going into the season.
Very good teams:
8. Atlanta Falcons: They may sit at 1-2, primarily due to injuries, but they are still a top tier team. A win over the Patriots this week should put them back on track towards a wild card berth behind the Saints.
7. Indianapolis Colts: An impressive shellacking of the 49ers shows people that this is still a team to be reckoned with, and the Trent Richardson trade gives them an impressive 1-2 punch in the backfield to go with Andrew Luck. A wild card berth should await them at seasons end.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: This team is finally relevant again, and may have the best receiver in football. The Begnals are a solid team, though it will be interesting to see how they fair down the stretch. As it stands right now, they should handily win the AFC North.
5. Miami Dolphins: No one knew they would be THIS good, or that the rest of the NFL would be THIS bad. If they can knock off the Saints this week, which is a big task, they could skyrocket even further. They’ve already knocked off two very good teams in the top 10. The Dolphins are nearly through the toughest portion of their schedule, and will play a number of VERY bad teams soon. The Dolphins appear primed to take the AFC East based on talent, but also by default as teams go down the stretch. The development of Ryan Tannehill in his second year has been awe inspiring thus far.
4. Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City may be the best team that will not win their division, forcing a top seeded wildcard berth in the playoffs. Being in the same division as Denver appears to be their only weakness.
3. New Orleans Saints: The Saints are clicking on both sides of the ball, and the play of the defense and Jimmy Graham has been astounding. Drew Brees is as methodical as they come at picking teams apart, and would be a possible league MVP candidate if not for Peyton Manning.
2. Seattle Seahawks: This is a fun team to watch, and is solid on both sides of the ball. In any other season, they’d be the unquestionable number one. They should easily win their division, one that was supposed to be one of the toughest in football, and have home field throughout the playoffs.
In a league of their own: How is this team even possible?
1. Denver Broncos: Anytime your running backs play a game of “rock, paper, scissors” to decide who’s going to get THIS touchdown, you know the other team doesn’t belong on the same field… and then there’s this guy they have named Peyton, who I hear is doing ridiculously well. They lost their left tackle, but haven’t slowed one iota, and have been going for the kill early and not letting up against anyone. Provided Manning stays healthy, they should enjoy home field throughout the playoffs. They are also set to regain their best defensive player in the near future.