Submitted by Jim Feist on Friday, February 9, 2018 at 12:00 AM
With the NFL season over, every team can consider itself a contender again. We know that will sound good, but it’s not true for most. More than half the league will be thinking this will be the season where we can rise from the ashes and become the next world champs, just like the Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles' successful run to Super Bowl LII will serve as inspiration to organizations that have struggled for years. Frankly there are some teams that have had good runs and could be in for a fall. I guarantee that will happen.
Here is my look at all 32 teams, ranked from best to worst.
1. Eagles: No longer the underdog. With quarterback Carson Wentz on the mend and backup Nick Foles, Philadelphia looks to me the team to beat next season. The Eagles will have to decide how to proceed, having two starting QB’s on the roster. I don’t think it is possible to be able to keep both, considering the financial implication involved.
2. Vikings: I really like this team, especially their NFL top-ranked defense and head coach. On the offensive side they have decisions to make with Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford all set to hit free agency. Who do they want to keep?
3. Patriots: as long as the other teams in the AFC East underperform, the Pats will remain at or near the top of the heap in the Eastern Conference. Tom Brady vs. Father Time is a battle the NFL's latest MVP intends on winning, even if his opponent is undefeated. And who could deny his current form. The Pats may have lost the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t due to lack of talent at the QB position. As long as Brady and Bill Belichick remains at the helm — New England shouldn't slip far.
4. Saints: This is a team I feel should be right near the top, if they can handle the tough division they play in. New Orleans has given itself a rush of vitality with a sterling rookie class led by RB Alvin Kamara and CB Marshon Lattimore. Yet this is still Drew Brees' show, and the quarterback's expected return should give New Orleans all the confidence it needs to make another serious push.
5. Jaguars: I like this club and with their head coach and GM in place they could and should be there again. A defense loaded at every level and top-ranked run game led by Leonard Fournette indicates the Jags are here to stay. But I’m not sure I want to put much real money on the line with Blake Bortles under center. I’d suggest they make a roster change at this position and there are plenty of options in this offseason.
6. Rams: This is a team for the future for sure. They will have to battle the new blood in the division with Jimmy G and the Niners, though the Seahawks and Cardinals have slipped quite a bit. The Rams have a young head coach in Sean McVay, offensive player of the year Todd Gurley, and defensive player of the year Aaron Donald. Taking the next step, will depend a lot QB Jared Goff and his continued development.
7. Falcons: Dan Quinn has had plenty of talent to go all the way the last few years, and almost got it done vs the Pats two years ago. I’m thinking they may have wasted their chance to win it all. They play in a very tough division, which makes it tough to say they even make the playoffs. They have the Saints, Panthers and Bucs to contend with. Not impossible to win the division or make a wild card, but certainly not a shoe-in. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will have to improve on what he produced in 2017. Most of the time I will downgrade a club that seems to have missed their window.
8. Steelers: This division has continued to decline in recent years. Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland have regressed but so have the Steelers. Despite boasting a league-best eight Pro Bowlers, Pittsburgh hasn't done enough with what they have. They have the well-earned reputation of playing down to their competition. At times, their on field performance revealed defensive shortcomings. Like the Patriots, the Steelers play in a division that they should win easily. But that doesn’t mean they will. Most of the time I will downgrade a club that seems to have missed their window. However, because of their weak division they should end up on top and get in the playoffs.