Midway Power Rankings 2017

Well we’re half way through the season and what have we learnt…

Not a great deal it would seem, the good teams sometimes play badly and the bad teams sometimes play goodly (real word). Regardless I thought now would be a good time to put together a totally accurate list of worst to best NFL teams in my 1st power ranking of the season. This is just my opinion on every NFL team and no matter what you may think, I don’t hate your team, so you know… don’t get too mad. That being said let’s start with my number 32 team, who are there so I could make a statement.

32) Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have just run on the spot for the last 4 years. Every effort at improvement has failed and the team has possibly already wasted the talent of arguably one of the top QB’s to come out of the draft in the last 15 years. It is way past time for rebuild, but once again I have to say it. Big changes are needed in Indianapolis and they might very well be in the market for a QB again.

31) Cleveland Browns: I don’t believe that a team with this much talent needs yet another rebuild. The last 2 drafts for this team seem to have been loaded with talent. So maybe what they need is someone who can get the most from them. Maybe what they actually need is a coaching change. It feels like this team starts strong, but struggles with making in game alterations, which is a problem.

30) San Francisco 49ers: There is a fair amount to like about this team, but they just can’t seem to convert that into winning even a single game. The Niners are however at the start of pretty extensive rebuild. Only in a couple of years time will we be able to tell if they were heading in the right direction. I like the Garoppolo move by the way. If he’s great they’ve got a potential franchise QB, if he’s not they simply need to let him go and they’ll have paid rookie rates for him and lost 1 of 2 2nd round picks. It’s got to be worth a go at least.

29) New York Giants: I struggle to call the last few years for the Giants their Superbowl window, but if that’s what you’d call it, it seems that it might be closed. At the very least it looks like they’ll need a change at QB and with that you’d hope they’d improve the offensive line, something they should have done last year.

28) Arizona Cardinals: Speaking of Superbowl windows… Yes the Cardinals window is now firmly closed. Palmer will almost certainly retire at the end of the season, as will Fitz and who knows what will happen with Peterson. That leaves a handful of talented players on defence and David Johnson on offence. The Cards simply haven’t done enough to stay relevant and that includes not improving the backup QB position.

27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If like me you never really had much faith in the Giants (although they exceeded any lack of expectations I had by a fair bit), then the Bucs are easily the most disappointing team in the NFL this season. Every improvement in the off-season seemed to be them moving towards an illusive playoff spot. But it just wasn’t to be. No one seems happy on the team (no matter what hard knocks would have you believe), the secondary is a mess and Jameis is not living up to expectation. The team will no doubt be making big changes in the off-season.

26) Miami Dolphins:  I don’t really know what we were expecting from Miami this season, but whatever it was, this feels disappointing. Cutler wasn’t great when he was on the field, but with Matt Moore they look fairly toothless. the defence does have some definite play makers, but it’s simply not enough to keep them relevant in the AFC East and the fact that unrest has caused them to trade Jay Ajayi, I’d have to say that the Dolphins might struggle for the rest of the season.

25) New York Jets: It’s rare that a team would be this low in the power rankings and we’d consider it a success. The fact is though that this was supposed to be a historically bad Jets team, and despite a lack of named talent they have exceeded any expectations. That being said they’re by no means perfect. Some of the decision-making will probably put Todd Bowles position as head coach into question in the summer and they are still short a long-term QB,  but so far this season could probably be considered “better than expected” for the Jets.

24) Baltimore Ravens: I got nothing. I seriously have no idea what to make of this team. Positives: The defence is characteristically solid, with a few uncharacteristic slipups. Alex Collins looks like he could be a legitimate running back for the Ravens, something they’ve been lacking for a few years now. Negatives: The rest of the offence. Flacco hasn’t been the same since winning a super bowl and they seem to have a problem finding anyone that can consistently catch a pass. So yeah. I just don’t know.

23) Cincinnati Bengals: Another team that seems a little lost. The Bengals have definitely improved on offence since Bill Lazor took over playcalling duties, but it still feels like this team can’t get it together to do anything meaningful. The team will be treading water until they change-up the coaching. It’s time for a change in Cincinnati.

22) Tennessee Titans: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Titans played as well as they can last year, almost setting themselves up for a regression in 2017. This is another team that might be due some coaching changes or risk becoming stagnant.

21) Chicago Bears: John Fox has done a great job of turning the Bears into a dull team that can do just enough to get a narrow victory or more often the case, loss. Despite moving up to 2nd in the draft to get him, the Bears seem determined to keep Trubisky tied to an unimaginative, predictable offence that can’t keep them in a one score game. Fox very well might do enough to keep his job, which in my opinion is very bad for my beloved Chicago Bears.

20) Green Bay Packers: How good is Aaron Rodgers? Well with him this is probably the best team in the NFL. Without him I put them lower than I ever have on a power rankings. That’s not to say that this isn’t a talented team however. For my money this is the most talent rich Packers team we’ve seen in about 10 years. Just without Rodgers it’s tough to imagine them making the playoffs. This might be enough to force through some long overdue coaching changes however.

19) LA Chargers: It’s very possible I’ve put this team a little high, but they’ve managed to stay reasonably frisky, even in their losses they just seems to struggle to close out games and as a result have become their own worst enemy. More than any other team has beaten them, the Chargers have beaten themselves.

18) Detroit Lions: The Lions have similar issues to the Chargers. Last season they relied heavily on last-minute comebacks. This season bar a couple of games it just hasn’t happened for them, despite Stafford playing out of his skin. Maybe it’s time to give Stafford a little help.

17) Denver Broncos: Denver seems as good as ever on defence and have arguably the best secondary in the league (with the possible exception of another team higher up on this list). It’s the offence that are the biggest problem for the Broncos. Siemian hasn’t taken the next step to be considered the ongoing starter for the Broncos and CJ Anderson has been as inconsistent as ever in the backfield. In a competitive AFC West, the Broncos need to add some pieces on offence.

16) Washington: Every year I have concerns about how good this team will be and every year the exceed expectations. The team have caused problems in a tough division. Despite my belief that this is a good team, I can’t put them higher with the vast amount of offensive injuries they’ve got.

15) Carolina Panthers: I already regret having them this high. The Panthers attempted to make big changes on offence in the offseason by bringing in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, attempting to turn them into a short passing, yards after catch offence, to complement Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton. Sadly this simply hasn’t worked thanks to a combination of Cam Newton not being able to run the offence and some poor offensive scheming. The Panthers are not the force that anyone expected them to be, which leads neatly on to…

14) Atlanta Falcons: There was a thought that after a massive comeback loss in the Superbowl, the loss of an offensive “genius” a few key (yet understated) pieces and possibly less luck with injuries, that the Falcons wouldn’t have as good a season as they did in 2016.

That thought turned out to be correct. The Falcons have been disappointing this season. This, as I described on the podcast is the long hard road to the middle.

13) Oakland Raiders: This season has shined a light on the shortcomings of a team that we all (including myself) thought would be challenging anyone and every one in the league this year. What we discovered was that their wide receivers maybe weren’t as good as we’d hoped and the defence was just more of the same. The Raiders didn’t take the next step to become an elite talent in the league and now I honestly can’t figure out what they are.

12) Buffalo Bills: It’s the 1st team on this list that is truly surprising in a positive way. No one expected the Bills to be anywhere near as good as they have been on both offence and defence. Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy have kept the offence moving and the defence has kept games manageable. It’s easy to forget that this was a team that everyone thought was “tanking”, when they traded away a number of high ticket players. Sometimes, it would seem, teams actually do know what they’re doing.

11) Houston Texans: Houston have suffered injuries on defence that would end the season of most teams. Yet thanks to a shiny new QB in Deshaun Watson they remain firmly in the playoff picture. Whatever your feelings are about Watson, this is the closest they’ve got to having an actual franchise QB since the formation of the team. With Watson on the team all of a sudden all of the offensive weapons they’ve added over the years have become relevant and if the Texans can get healthy for next season then their window is wide open.

10) New Orleans Saints: With the addition of a player like Alvin Kamara and the progression of Michael Thomas I think we all expected the Saints to be a force on offence. What was somewhat surprising however is how good they’ve been on defence. If this team can regularly keep scores low, then there’s no reason we shouldn’t see them in the playoffs this year.

9) Jacksonville Jaguars: At this point I have to say sorry Jags fans, but I’m on board with this team, which should doom them to win no more games this season. The defence is the best in the AFC and the offence does just enough to win. It’s a delicate ecosystem in Jacksonville, but it seems to be working.

8) Seattle Seahawks: The addition of Duane Brown should help solidify the offensive line enough to keep Russell Wilson upright long enough to win games. The defence is its usual predictable brilliant self, with just a potential issue in the secondary opposite Sherman.

7) Dallas Cowboys: Zeke has hit form and as long as he’s on the field the Cowboy will be high up on my power rankings. However with his suspension now upheld I do think they’ll struggle. Worth noting though that somehow Rod Marinelli has MacGyver’d a defence out of nothing..again. Well nothing and Sean Lee.

6) LA Rams: Let’s get this out the way. I love Sean McVay. McVay has come into the Rams and lit a fire under this offence. Todd Gurley all of a sudden looks like LeVeon Bell, the offensive line can block and Jared Goff suddenly doesn’t look like a bust. McVay On defence, Wade Phillips on defence has been instrumental in changing the hd trajectory of this Rams team. All of a sudden I actually care about a team I have had zero interest in for the last 5 years.

5) Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs have a little bit of a shaky stretch up until a pretty convincing win against the Broncos last night. They’re now 3 games ahead in the AFC West, dominating one of the toughest divisions in football. So why not higher? Honestly I don’t know, except that I don’t think they’re as good as the 4 teams ahead of them. I think that’s a good enough reason right?

4) Minnesota Vikings: There is a real team of destiny feel about the Vikings, with the Superbowl being played in Minnesota. The Vikings have had both their potential starting QBs, and their starting running back Dalvin Cook out injured, but it’s made little difference to the results, with Case Keenum and Jerrick McKinnon hitting some form under their 1st full year of Pat Shurmur. The real reason this team is rolling however is because of one of the best defences in the NFL, led of course by Mike Zimmer. The Vikings have combined an offence that can move the ball up and down field, and a defence that can keep the score low. The Vikings are a deep team that could cause a few problems.

3) Pittsburgh Steelers: It took them a little time to get going, but finally the Steelers seemed to have hit late 2016 form. The defence in particular seems to have taken the next step to becoming one of the best in the AFC, replacing old players with younger prospects with little to no fuss. On offence the Steelers are their same old selves, with Bell and Brown playing like the 2 best players in their class again. My concerns with this team are 100% about the QB however and more specifically some of the more questionable decision-making we’ve seen.

2) New England Patriots: Yes they don’t have a backup QB, but I’m all in on this team as are the front office. The fact is, that if Tom Brady goes down injured this team isn’t doing anything this season, more so than in any other year. This Patriots team has a number of flaws in key areas, but it hasn’t seemed to stop them doing just enough to win, which as we all know is generally start putting a streak together to get to the Superbowl. Never count the Patriots out.

1) Philadelphia Eagles: I love the Eagles this year, I just wish they could run the ba…. wait they’ve just signed Ajayi. I guess that might help things! In all seriousness, there are no teams that are as exciting to watch at the moment as the Eagles, with a QB who is legitimately on MVP form. Am I getting a little carried away about this team? Almost certainly, but until they give me a reason to doubt them. They’ll sit at the top of my power rankings.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to know your thoughts so head over to Gridiron Gents on twitter to let us know what you think. I’ll be back next week to see what’s changed in this crazy power rankings.