The NFL is here. We decided the WNKC team should weigh in on the season.
The power rankings are a combination of two different lists. One list was made by myself. The other was made by Vince Dennis, co-host of the WNKC Podcast.
We utilized several talented writers for this project, and the contributor for each team will be notated. I will be NM.
Thank you to Evan Pilkington, EP, who is a senior at UMKC; Alex Dennis, AD, Rams.com staff writer; Carlos Garza, CG, Spotter and Broadcaster for Tico Sports (Kansas City Chiefs); and of course old VD himself, Vince Dennis.
– Nick Moreno
Editor and Founder of WNKC, Producer for Tico Sports (KC Chiefs), Staff Writer for University News.
1) Philadelphia Eagles
EP & NM
“Hold up wait a minute, ya’ll thought I was finished?”
The Eagles finally won a Super Bowl, and brought football nirvana to the city desperate for a championship. Nick Foles outplayed Tom Brady in the big game. And the dog masks propelled the team to a championship. Now they are back to reality.
There are lots of concerns at the quarterback position for the champs. Look at both the knee injury to Carson Wentz and the horrific preseason that Nick Foles showed.
However, Doug Pederson is still at the helm. Also, the defense, which set the team apart last year, is still intact.
The defending champs will hold the top spot until they show any flaws they might have.
The division is still in shambles. Making the playoffs should be a lock.
2) Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings reached the NFC title game last year.
They did this without running back Dalvin Cook for most of the year. Also, Case Keenum was the starting quarterback.
The defense is already elite. But, can the newly acquired Kirk Cousins, the $84 million man, take Minnesota to the promised land?
3A) New England Patriots
The Patriots lost a handful of very good players in free agency. We all know that Belichick never pays top dollar to his stars.
The Pats lost star offensive lineman Nate Solder, offensive weapons Brandin Cooks and Dion Lewis. They also lost Super Bowl snub Brandon Butler.
Don’t ring the alarms yet, this happens every offseason.
The Patriots took Georgia running back Sony Michel to fill the gap at running back.
Belichick will look to take some pressure off 41 year old star Tom Brady. Tom Brady will have to operate with a poor supporting cast,apart from Gronk. He is used to a lower tier team of weapons.
The Patriots wide receiver corps look weaker on paper than some college programs. Julian Edelman is still a great slot WR, but he is suspended for the first 4 games. Chris Hogan will look to lead this group.
Bust Brothers Phillip Dorsettt and Cordarrelle Paterson, from the Colts and Vikings respectively, are looking to explode in the Patriots system. Keep an eye on rising star Trey Flowers on the other side of the ball.
Look for the Patriots to rely more on their running game, and on their extremely underrated top 5 defense on their way to another 12 win season and one more Division title.
3B) Los Angeles Rams
The Rams enter the season as defending champions in the NFC West for the first time since 2004. The only difference this time around is the that the Rams will successfully defend the division crown.
The Rams are returning every member of the NFL’s highest scoring offense in 2017, apart from now-Chief Sammy Watkins. GM Les Snead replaced fire with fire by adding veteran WR Brandin Cooks. He extended Cooks’ contract as soon as he stepped off the plane.
Jared Goff now has a deep ball option entering his second year leading Sean McVay’s tricky offense.
Oh, and then there’s the new and improved defense, featuring an All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl Champion-studded defensive superstars Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and the newly extended Aaron Donald.
5) New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees may not have many years left in his career. He is 39 years old. And, he is entering his 19th season.
However, New Orleans looks poised to make one more run at a second-Drew-Brees championship.
The Saints’ offense is even more lethal than years past. Star RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas both having big play potential, a quality that Drew Brees rarely had from his skill positions.
The question as always will be on the other side of the ball, where they have consistently been a bottom third team in the NFL. These Saints are different. They finished top-of-the league in overall defense last year.
6) Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville boasts one of the league’s best defenses. They, undoubtedly, have the best cornerback duo in the game in A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. The pair is combined with a ferocious d-line.
The Jags seemed to have overachieved a bit last year, but with Leonard Fournette and a solid Blake Bortles at QB, they can make another run at the AFC this season.
The only problem for the Jags is the rest of its division, which is vastly improved this season.
7A) Carolina Panthers
The NFC South is the best division in football. I will fight whoever disagrees. Apart from the Buccaneers, all of these teams can win the Super Bowl.
Cam Newton is one of the best players in this league. At the same time he is one of the most disrespected. He is +2200 to win MVP, lower than both Deshaun Watson and Jimmy Garropolo.
The team added Torrey Smith, rookie D.J. Moore, and C.J. Anderson to the mix this year. Don’t forget about Dontarie Poe on the other side of the ball.
Last year, this club won 11 games.
Get ready for another big season from Cam Newton and the Panthers. They are my personal pick to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.
7B) Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are only two years removed from a Super Bowl. The loss was a collapse of epic proportion, but THAT team was impressive.
The offense does not look much different than THAT team two years ago. However, the loss of Kyle Shanahan brought their electric offense down to earth last year.
The Birds still managed a 10-6 record in one of the best divisions in football. Remember, they steamrolled the Rams on Wild Card Weekend, and were a dropped-fourth-and-two pass to Julio Jones away from going to the NFC Championship game.
Don’t sleep on this team. The Falcons are talented, and they might just make a trip back to the big game.
9) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are always a contender in the AFC, however, this year feels different. If everything goes right, they could win the Super Bowl.
But, if running back Le’Veon Bell doesn’t play (which he isn’t Week 1) and if Ben Roethlisberger regresses as he ages, they might be in trouble. And that’s without mentioning the defense.
Still, you can expect Pittsburgh to be the favorite in the AFC North this season. Their weapons on offense are the best in football, and we still can never count out Big Ben.
10) Green Bay Packers
Green Bay comes off a year where they missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
They did not have QB Aaron Rodgers for a large portion of the season. He suffered a broken collarbone in the middle of the season.
Rodgers is back with a gigantic new contract and a thirst for the postseason. Look for the Packers to compete for the division and be right in the middle of the playoff hunt.
11) Tennessee Titans
VD & NM
Tennessee won a division title in 2017. Then won their first playoff game since 2004.
They still hired a new head coach in former Patriots great Mike Vrabel. A top ten defense and dynamic quarterback Marcus Mariota entering his prime, the Titans should make another run at the postseason in 2018.
Their division may be a dog fight this year. After a week on game against the Dolphins, they will be facing the Texans, Jags, and Eagles in weeks 2-4.
They have little margin for error in their fight for the division. And, they have even less time to adjust to the new man in charge.
12) Houston Texans
Oh, what could have been for the Texans last season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was on pace to shatter the rookie TD pass mark before a torn ACL ended his season.
Watson’s talent combined with Deandre Hopkins and deep-threat Will Fuller V is enough to bring the Texans a division championship. But, the defense is what puts this team over the top.
JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will make quarterbacks’ lives a living hell in the AFC South. Look for 10+ wins for Houston.
13) Los Angeles Chargers
The newly branded Los Angeles Chargers and their fans are optimistic for a breakout season, and for good reason.
Despite season-ending injuries to CB Jason Verrett and TE Hunter Henry (classic Chargers am I right?), veteran QB Philip Rivers leads a scary offense with massive (fantasy) potential.
They also have three of the best defenders in the league in defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Also, All-Pro corner Casey Heyward Jr. A division crown is well within reach this year for LAC.
14) Kansas City Chiefs
VD & NM
The Alex Smith era in Kansas City is over. Young gunslinger Patrick Mahomes II is taking over in his sophomore season.
The Chiefs offense projects to be one of the most lethal in the NFL, which includes “The Cheetah” himself, receiver Tyreek Hill. They also added wideout threat Sammy Watkins, and retained Kareem Hunt.
The defense will be the question for this team. The Chiefs have allowed over 400 YPG in each of the last three seasons. They also lost their best counter long possessions: Marcus Peters. Look for an average to above-average season for the Chiefs Nation.
15) Baltimore Ravens
Drafting quarterback Lamar Jackson with the final pick in the first round of the NFL Draft seems to have lit a fire under veteran QB Joe Flacco.
Flacco has played lights out this preseason. Add Flaco’s resurgence to the stout defense head coach John Harbaugh trots out every season, the Ravens will be a tough out— especially at home. They will compete for the AFC North, but are also susceptible to disappointing losses.
16) San Fransisco 49ers
San Francisco enters 2018 with the least question at QB since jumping in headfirst for Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith en-route to the Super Bowl.
Former Patriot Jimmy(-G) Garoppolo showed the Bay Area some promise in 2017. He threw for 1,560 yards and seven touchdowns in five games.
The heartthrob’s efficiency and ability to keep the ball out of defenders’ hands remains largely unknown. Garoppolo threw five picks in his five games a season ago.
If the Niners want to sneak into a Wild Card spot in the NFC come January, Jimmy G must successfully sling the ball. Also, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh better hope his young defensive line figures out how to put pressure on quarterbacks and get some ducks in the air for old man Sherman (former BEST CORNER IN THE GAME!).
17) Seattle Seahawks
Speaking of Richard Sherman, remember the Legion of Boom? Seattle’s nightmare of a defense has officially vanished. Seattle fans might have to step it up and become the 12th, 13th, and 14th man to slow down the vicious NFC West.
Seattle’s offense lacks a sure-thing at running back. Running backs seemed to be a priority on draft night when the Seahawks took RB Rashaad Penny out of Arizona State in the first round.
Fortunately, Seattle has some legs under QB Russell Wilson, who will once again make impressive throws running from rushers, (most likely to WR Doug Baldwin) which should move the chains enough to be in some games on offense.
18) Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden is a fucking lunatic.
He traded away his best player before one second of legitimate football was played. Also worth noting, he hasn’t coached a legitimate football team in 10 years. He hasn’t won a playoff game in 16.
Couple all of this with Derek Carr being marked as the future of this club. Derek Carr is not currently a top-ten quarterback in the NFL.
The constant trainwreck in the Raiders front office, puts what was a promising young team in a very strange predicament. Now there are questions.
Where is this team going? And, how long will the Gruden experiment last in Oakland?
19) Detroit Lions
If you had to guess who was the active leader in 4th quarter comebacks, would you guess Matt Stafford? If so, you are correct.
Detroit hired former Pats defense coordinator Matt Patricia in the offseason and are hoping he can take them over the hump in the wicked NFC North. Watch for rookie Kenyonn Johnson to possibly have a breakout year at running back.
Still, a middle of the pack finish is more than likely for the Lions. They are, in fact, the Lions.
20) Chicago Bears
Could the Bears be a breakout team this year? They turned a good defense into a great defense with the addition of Khalil Mack.
The offense added Allen Robinson. He can be a superstar if healthy. He will compliment second-year running back Jordan Howard. The young back rushed for over 1,000 yards last year.
The team also added Matt Nagy at Head Coach. The Chiefs averaged 28.1 points per game in the 5 games he was the play caller. Look for things to turn around quickly in Chicago.
The Bears have the city behind them, including Super Bowl predictions from Kanye West.
21A) New York Giants
Odell Beckham got PAID! The giants reloaded their offense when they grabbed the electric Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the draft. The reliable Eli Manning is still at the helm they seem primed to bounce back on that side of the ball.
They also broke free of the reigns of Ben McAdoo. The man who went full Pat Riley with the haircut after a decent first year. -NM
Their worries are on the defensive side of the ball where their only real star is safety Landon Collins. If the defense can be even mediocre then the Giants could surprise the league.
Out with Kirk Cousins. In with Alex Smith. Is this really an upgrade though?
The loss of Derrius Guice threw a wrench into the offensive plans for this season, but maybe the addition of Adrian Peterson can be enough to keep the offense afloat.
Their defense is trending up with the return of Jonathan Allen and the veteran presence of Ryan Kerrigan and Josh Norman.
22C) Dallas Cowboys
This defense is significantly upgraded and could end the season as a top 5 unit in the league. Jaylon Smith has flashed all of the things he showed in college before his devastating knee injury. Randy Gregory has been reinstated and had a great preseason.
Unfortunately for Dallas, the offensive line has been ravaged by injuries, making what was once the strength of this team an area of concern.
Additionally, the Cowboys have lost three of their leaders in Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and Dan Bailey. Some guys need to step into those roles for them to have success.
24) Denver Broncos
The last quarterback to win a playoff game for Denver is currently playing minor league baseball under the name “Tim Tebow.” The Broncos did get a decent QB this year when they signed the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards Case Keenum.
There is not as much hype around this team as there has been in recent years, but the combination of a Von Miller-lead defense and the chilly, thin air of Mile High, they will compete in every home game.
25) Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis enters his 15th season as the Bengals head coach, and fans are wondering what sort of blackmail he has on the Cincinnati front office. He is 0-7 in playoff games and his team has blundered away games in every way imaginable.
They even gained a reputation as the “dirty” team. (cough, cough Vontaze Burfict)
Every Buffalo fan’s favorite quarterback Andy Dalton will try to navigate the offense through a tough AFC North to once again save his coach’s job.
Although, this season may be the final nail in the coffin if they fail to win more than seven or eight games.
I think this scenario is highly likely.
26) New York Jets
Winds of change are passing through Gotham.
After another disappointing season with 5 wins, and out of the playoffs, the Jets went all out in their never-ending search for a new Joe Namath.
The Jets brought back veteran Josh Mccown, signed Teddy Bridgewater, and drafted Sam Darnold from USC.
Months of quarterback competition later, and Bridgewater is now on the Saints; Mccown’s best friend is the clipboard; and we are living in Savior Sam’s world.
Darnold is set to start Monday night against the Lions, becoming the youngest QB to ever start in HISTORY! (21 years old, he could not even drink the day he was drafted) The Jets are a young, rebuilding team who is trending in the right direction. They are still a couple years away.
Darnold’s mistakes paired with a the total lack of pass rush, will cost the Jets a handful of games.
Keep an eye on rising stars Robby Anderson and Enunwa on offense, and Jamal Adams and Leonard Williams on defense. Look for the Jets to be an exciting, young team to watch, full of mistakes, as they make their way to a 6-11 record.
27) Miami Dolphins
The Adam Gase experiment is entering year three after very contrasting results. After blowing away the NFL in 2016 with 10 wins, the Dolphins lost their starting QB Ryan Tannehill for the whole season after multiple knee injuries.
The injury caused the Miami fan base to enjoy a FULL season of Jay Cutler. Tannehill is back, and,most importantly, the running game and the defense look strong.
Keep an eye on breakout candidate Kenyan Drake. He had a solid 883 scrimmage yards and 6 touchdowns on 2017. He will have to split time with future Hall of Famer Frank Gore.
Tannehill will count on Ammendola, Kenny Stills, Devante Parker and Albert Wilson, giving him one of the most complete wide receiver cast in the whole league.
Look for the Dolphins to be a very balance team, surprising a few people with their 8 wins.
28) Buffalo Bills
Starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was traded to the Browns. The Bills tried the AJ Mcarron experiment, but he ended up losing his starting job to Nathan Peterman. He was then shipped to the Raiders.
The Bills also went all in in the NFL Draft, nabbing Josh Allen from Wyoming. Allen is a HUGE project that the Bills will look to coach up.
The Bills offensive line looked atrocious in the pre season. Add to that that they probably have the worst starting receivers in the league.
Yes, Shady Mccoy is still in Buffalo, but he may get suspended. The defense is still solid, so they will be able to get a few wins.
Look for the young Bills QB to struggle mightily with the horrendous supporting group they have. The Bills will end up with around 4 wins.
29) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are the worst team in football. Don’t let this list fool you.
Jameis Winston will miss the first three games for what I can sadly now be described simply as: football player things.
Ryan Fitz-tastic will get the first three starts. They start the year with the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers. All of those teams will be favored against this club. The Bucs defense ranked 29th in the league last year.
Their season may be over before week 4.
30A) Indianapolis Colts
Captain Andrew Luck is back in town.
The Colts are in full rebuilding mode, with a very young and unproven roster. Indy’s win total, depends completely on Luck’s health. Andrew Luck spent more than a year nursing an injury to his throwing shoulder.
Not everything is bad for the Colts. They are going to feature Marlon Mack as their bell-cow, paired with the explosive rookie Jordan Wilkins. Ryan Grant is a very underrated addition to the wide receiver corps. Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron round up one of the best tight end combos in the whole league.
On the defensive side, the Colts are really skinny on talent. Look for Malik Hooker to continue shining, with not much help.
The Colts will have an explosive offense, but the defense is going to make them lose many games. Look for the Colts to finish with 6-7 wins, depending on how Luck plays.
30B) Cleveland Browns
I love Hard Knocks.
Baker Mayfield has the makings of a star. Tyrod Taylor pronounces his own name wrong. And Jarvis Landry can “bless” everything but the end zone.
On top of all the lunacy in Cleveland is the ineptitude of Hue Jackson. He is 1-31 in Cleveland. Hard Knocks does not do him any favors.
He seems to be in a struggle for power with his fellow coaches, including OC Todd Haley. Many speculate that the head coaching job may be Haley’s in the near future.
We are still yet to see Josh Gordon on the field. Their season could go in a million different directions. All of those directions, however, seem to be negative.
32) Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are more uncertainty than any other team in the division entering 2018.
Enter Steve Wilkes as a new head coach. Also, enter Sam Bradford over rookie Josh Rosen at quarterback. The quarterback position seems only temporarily set as the season begins.
Remember, Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh all but said he plans to kill Bradford (who was drafted ahead of Suh) Week 2 in L.A.
All joking aside, a new head coach, quarterback questions, and the return of running back David Johnson — who dominated in 2016, but missed 2017 to a wrist injury — leaves too much up in the air in Arizona.
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