32. Philadelphia Eagles
This is not as bad as it seems. The Eagles organization has finally declared through their actions that they are going to put their faith in younger players and start building from the bottom. It might make for a long season but it’s definitely a wise choice.
31. San Diego Chargers
This team is hard to understand. Each year they march out a ton of talent and somehow still fail to live up to expectations. It seems like it would have been a good year for the Chargers to consider rebuilding around a young running back and receiving core, instead they seemed to be determined to win now in one of the toughest divisions in the league.
30. Baltimore Ravens
A lot of experts seem to believe that last year’s total collapse was a fluke and that the Ravens will bounce back in 2016. After watching quarterbacks lick their chops on the way to face this Baltimore defense I have to believe the problem runs much deeper.
29. Los Angeles Rams
How bad is this Ram’s team right now? From where I stand they appear to be in total disarray. No answer at quarterback, no receiving core, a declining defense, a running back that proved he needs help from the rest of the team to be successful and a coach who’s never even managed a .500 record in 4 years coaching one of the most dominant defenses in the league.
28. Chicago Bears
The Bears were definitely better then their record showed last year. That sounds like it could be a positive, but that’s just business as usual for a team led by Jay Cutler. Add on the fact that they lost one of the best running backs and tight ends in the game and this team could be in serious trouble. The additions on defense could help them make another late season push if they develop chemistry in time.
27. Indianapolis Colts
This is where most of you will stop reading, but for the rest of you… This Colts team is an absolute disaster. Andrew Luck’s injuries last year were not an accident. He even admitted that he sustained them from having to be too aggressive. The Indianapolis front office failed him when they added old injury prone offensive players to try to win now, instead of building up the defense for the future. It worked when the AFC South was weak but things have changed.
26. San Francisco 49ers
This team has lost a ton of players recently and last year it showed in their play. This year they have a new coach and the players that remain have embraced his system. They face a horrific schedule in 2016 but if you remember right, even in a lost year like last year, they had the talent to completely dismantle what turned out to be a very decent Viking team in their first game.
25. Tennessee Titans
This team is determined to develop a smashmouth style of play to counteract the high-octane offenses that are trendy in the rest of the league. They just may have accomplished that by adding the Thunder-Thunder combination of Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry. It may not lift them to the top quite yet but it could make them very hard to handle and very fun to watch.
24. Cleveland Browns
Hue Jackson loves projects on offense and he’s got a depth chart full of them. If he can squeeze even half of the potential out of these players, Cleveland could be one of the surprises in the NFL this year. The question is whether or not a depleted defense can hold up their end of the bargain.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs took a step forward last year and should take another one this year. However, a very tough schedule might make it hard for them to show their true colors quite yet, especially while in the middle of a transition from being a defensive force to a well rounded team led by Jameis Winston.
22. Dallas Cowboys
This team is starting out the season without their starting quarterback and a decent chunk of their defense. The saving grace for this team is an offensive line that may not be quite as good as we once thought but may be salvageable now that the Cowboys realize they need a solid running back to make this offense work.
21. New Orleans Saints
The Saints have been blessed with a gift from on high with Drew Brees as their quarterback. The fact that they have failed to keep a consistent defense to prevent him from being in a gunfight every game is a shame. He still has the weapons but does he still have what it takes?
20. Cincinnati Bengals
At the end of last season we saw Cincinnati fall apart physically. In the playoffs we saw them break down emotionally. In the offseason we saw them lose key players. They are still a very solid unit talent wise but how much more adversity can this team overcome before enough is enough?
19. Buffalo Bills
You would like to thing that with their careers possibly on the line, the Ryan Bros., would try their hardest to not let this Bills team turn into one big circus. With the size of their egos and personalities, it’s hard to not see this team having some success but crumbling when it comes to crunch time.
18. Washington Redskins
This Redskins team was in no means a playoff caliber team last season and won’t be again this year. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have talented playmakers on both sides of the ball and a solid leader in, Kirk Cousins, who can keep them in quite a few games and keep the season exciting.
17. Miami Dolphins
One of the best teams on paper now has one of the most talented running backs in the league on their roster. This is their chance to step up and show the league what they are made of in spite of playing a very tough schedule.
16. New York Giants
No body questions that when Eli Manning is on, he plays at the level of some of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Since Odell Beckham Jr. has joined him Manning has returned to that level. If the Giants can establish a running game and get their defense to step up, this could be a very interesting team.
15. Oakland Raiders
Oakland has figured out how to build a franchise. That is why even though they are in a position to win now, they are in no big rush to salvage their future. They just keep adding a piece here and a piece there until it’s almost impossible to find a chink in their armor. Now they are allowing this team to mature into what could eventually become one of the best in the league and the experience they gather from another hard fought season should be the key to achieving that goal.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Last season I picked the Falcons to be one of the surprise teams of the year. I was right for the first seven weeks until this team ran into adversity and fell victim to a devastating collapse. They showed some promise again at the end of 2015 and I believe they will be back to surprising people again with a strong passing game, a versatile running game and a much improved defense.
13. New York Jets
This team has kind of become a punchline, lately, especially after the comical string of quarterbacks they’ve had in the recent past. However, it may be ill advised to laugh for too long, as they added another weapon to their offense in, Matt Forte, and still have a very talented defense and a couple of explosive receivers.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars offense seems primed to start taking over the world. Their young, talented defense is surrounded by question marks that can only be answered when they find chemistry and begin to gel. If Blake Bortles and Co. can hang tough through the first part of the season, this team should finish with a definite bang.
11. Detroit Lions
Last year this team was one miraculous play by Aaron Rodgers, away from finishing the season 7-1 after starting the year 1-7. Going into 2015 this team was considered a playoff contender and this year shouldn’t be any different. Losing “Megatron” could be an obstacle at first until Matthew Stafford starts to enjoy the freedom of having multiple targets but not enough to keep this offense down for long.
10. Houston Texans
One of the scariest defenses in the league now has a makeshift but respectable counterpart on the other side of the ball. It might not be a lot but should be enough to help this team overcome some of their struggles from last season and walk away with their division.
9. Green Bay Packers
This is a team loaded with talent but some questionable moves in the offseason have left them with some questions that still need to be answered. The Packers play the easiest schedule in the league, so winning in the regular season shouldn’t be an issue, but can they stay healthy and finish when it matters the most?
8. Pittsburgh Steelers
If you think losing a couple of players will somehow derail this offense, you don’t know anything about the magic of Ben Roethlisberger. With an improving defense ready to make their mark on the league, the only question is how far can they go before they suffer another collapse.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Does having a legitimate quarterback who can make throws downfield and take advantage of the fact that Adrian Peterson draws over a third of the defenders up into the box make that much of a difference? I think that question answers itself.
6. Denver Broncos
Denver’s defense willed this team to a Championship last year against the predictions of myself and most other experts, then a bunch of the members of that unit I went looking for other teams. Can the remaining remnants overcome tremendous odds to pull off the same feat again? Stranger things have definitely happened.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
There are a lot of reasons to like this team. They have been one of the most consistent defenses in the league and are slowly improving what was once a mediocre offense. A 10 game winning streak to end the season almost gave them enough to steal the AFC West last year. I find it hard to believe that they won’t in 2016.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle will struggle at times, similarly to what they did last year. Somehow though, they always find a way to to show up for the games that count. There is no reason this year should be any different.
3. Carolina Panthers
The one thing we know for sure about the Panthers, is that we can never know anything for sure about the Panthers. Last year they looked like they could struggle after losing one of their top receivers. They answered the questions by winning 17 out of 19 total games. This year he’s back.
2. New England Patriots
Why won’t the Patriots ever just go away? Because regardless of what you think of him, it is obvious “The Hoodie” possesses a very high dose of Midi-chlorians and he will find and use any method in the universe to leave your team feeling lost, confused and frustrated year in and year out.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Jerome Bettis, Ray Lewis and now Peyton Manning were all “fortunate” enough to retire on the coattails of a Super Bowl victory. How fitting would it be for the NFL if Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer and Chris Johnson could do so, all in the same year?