The 2017 NFL season is upon us, and nothing is more important than the first power rankings of September. Nothing.
But the Patriots are the favorites (+325 on Bovada) to win it all, while the Jets, 49ers and Browns are sharing the worst odds. After coming back from a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl 51, the Patriots deserve the No. 1 spot until they are toppled from it.
It doesn’t hurt that New England poured resources this offseason into winning while they still can with Tom Brady. The future Hall of Famer is 40 now, so the team struck big in the offseason by trading for Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett, and signing Stephon Gilmore.
It hasn’t all been roses, though. The Kony Ealy trade turned out to be a waste of time, and Julian Edelman is out for the season with a torn ACL, but it’s still the Brady and Bill Belichick show unless another team stops it.
Gearing up for another run
Teams that lose in the Super Bowl often fall back to Earth. A year ago it was the Carolina Panthers, who went from 15-1 NFC Champions to 6-10 and last place in the NFC South. The Falcons will try to avoid a similar fate after their heartbreaking loss in February.
But the team still has all the pieces that made them a nightmare to deal with last year. The offense is mostly unchanged and the defense added Dontari Poe and Takkarist McKinley. As long as Matt Ryan doesn’t revert to a player more like his 2015 self, they’ll be a problem to deal with.
Oh, what could have been if Derek Carr didn’t break his leg in Week 16. The team was 12-3 and had one of the NFL’s most exciting offenses, but got soundly defeated by the Denver Broncos in Week 17 and Houston Texans in the playoffs.
Now Carr’s back with a gigantic contract and the Raiders are hoping to make a run with Marshawn Lynch in the mix.
Quarterback concerns in the early going
Even if the Colts had Andrew Luck, the team’s roster is still under reconstruction in the post-Ryan Grigson era. Quick: Name as many Colts defenders as you can. Vontae Davis, Robert Mathis — wait, no that’s not right — uh ... Dwight Freeney?
But it looks like the Colts are going to try to win games with Scott Tolzein in the first weeks of the 2017 season. Good luck with that.
Like Luck, Cam Newton has been dealing with recovery from shoulder surgery. But unlike Luck, Newton has made an appearance in preseason. He didn’t do much though, and threw just two passes in the team’s third preseason game and sat out the finale.
How will he look when it’s time to actually play?
"You really won't know 'til the opener,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera. “Just the way it is. Nobody knew what he would be like his rookie year. That's kind of how this is going to be. We won't know until we open up in San Francisco."
Blake Bortles vs. Chad Henne. It’s like Joe Montana vs. Steve Young all over again.
|1||New England Patriots||-|
|4||Green Bay Packers||-|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs||-|
|9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-|
|14||New Orleans Saints||-|
|16||New York Giants||-|
|23||Los Angeles Chargers||-|
|25||Los Angeles Rams||-|
|29||San Francisco 49ers||-|
|32||New York Jets||-|