It’s hard to reach May as an NFL fan and not be convinced that your favorite team is significantly better than it was just a few months ago. Yes, they lost that one player — but he wasn’t that important anyway. If he was, they definitely would’ve made a bigger effort to keep him. And it doesn’t matter because they have that other player ready to take over his spot.
And how about that draft class? After watching some highlights of the players the team drafted, it’s pretty clear that the general manager knows exactly what he’s doing.
But unfortunately, there’s only one spot at the top of the power rankings and some poor team has to go at the bottom, no matter how convinced you are that the woes of 2016 were left in that year.
For now, there’s no reason to believe that the Super Bowl champions aren’t still the best team in football. Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger, but the New England Patriots are gearing up for wins in a big way while he’s still the quarterback — trading away draft picks for playmakers and signing splash free agents.
The Atlanta Falcons’ offseason wasn’t quite as bold, but it didn’t have to be. The team had one of the NFL’s best offenses and a young defense that got better as the year went on. For now, the Falcons are still behind the Patriots after the heartbreaking Super Bowl 51, but adding Dontari Poe and Takkarist McKinley keeps Atlanta hot on the heels of the champs.
Sliding down the ranks
The New York Giants went 11-5 last year with a strong defense leading the way, but let’s stop for a second and ask ourselves a question: Why was their offense ranked No. 25 in the NFL?
It certainly wasn’t Eli Manning’s best year, but he didn’t perform poorly. And the Giants have one of the best receivers in the NFL — Odell Beckham Jr., who’s paired with another exciting talent, Sterling Shepard.
The problem sure looks like the awful rushing attack that managed 3.5 yards per carry and a whopping six touchdowns.
Does adding hybrid tight end Evan Engram and receiver Brandon Marshall solve that problem? Maybe a healthier season and the addition of guard D.J. Fluker will help, but I’m struggling to see how New York actually got better this offseason.
Welcome to the world of contenders
The Oakland Raiders launched back near the top this offseason, but that’s mostly because Derek Carr isn’t going to be broken anymore. So let’s talk instead about the Tennessee Titans, who finally got Marcus Mariota some help and made aggressive moves to try to push the team from 9-7 into a real contender.
Mariota bumped his impressive rookie passer rating of 91.5 up to 95.6 in 2016 — and this was with Rishard Matthews, Delanie Walker, and Tajae Sharpe as his top three receiving options.
Now Mariota has first-round receiver Corey Davis and a pair of third-round picks to work with on offense. Oh, and let’s not forget that the team signed Logan Ryan, Johnathan Cyprien, and Sylvester Williams on defense before drafting cornerback Adoree’ Jackson late in the first round. All aboard the Titans hype train.
Bottom of the barrel
The Cleveland Browns actually looked halfway competent at the end of the year, finishing with a win in Week 16 and an overtime loss in Week 17. They’re not transforming into a contender quite yet, but they certainly don’t belong at the very bottom after adding three first-round picks and a few free agents who will be instant starters.
Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Rams, that No. 32 spot still belongs to them. Being a bad team is a hard thing to fix and it’s even worse without the benefit of a first-round pick.
Ultimately, the Rams’ climb from dead last could happen quickly if Jared Goff plays like a No. 1 overall pick and uses the additions of Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Gerald Everett to his advantage. But for now, the team looks like it’ll take some time to reassemble.
Offseason power rankings
|Rank||Team||Final regular season ranking|
|Rank||Team||Final regular season ranking|
|1||New England Patriots||1|
|6||Green Bay Packers||6|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs||4|
|9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12|
|14||New Orleans Saints||17|
|17||New York Giants||7|
|27||Los Angeles Chargers||27|
|28||New York Jets||28|
|29||San Francisco 49ers||30|
|32||Los Angeles Rams||32|