There have been countless changes around the National Football League since the end of the last season. From the time James White ran in the overtime touchdown to win Super Bowl 51 to week one of the NFL season, many teams have gotten better. On the flip side, many teams have also dropped off. The following list of rankings is a prediction of what 10 teams will dominate the league this year over the remaining 22.
New York Giants
The Giants capped off their season last year with an unfortunate loss to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. Making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2012, and also amounting to an unsuspected 11-5 season, the Giants were the only team in the NFL to take down the Dallas Cowboys with their starters playing; not once, but twice. With the addition of WR Brandon Marshall and TE Evan Engram, the Giants are more than capable to run away with the NFC East title if they can match the talents in Dallas. Led by two-time Super Bowl Champion Eli Manning, and All-Pro Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants have a good chance to make another playoff berth this season.
Do not let the Titans 9-7 record last season fool you. The emerging quarterback Marcus Mariota and pre-existing running game slated around DeMarco Murray has the Titans in a good position to make a postseason run this year. Said to have one of the better offensive lines in the league, Tennessee is projected to be a top ten scoring offense this year. After drafting WR Corey Davis back in the spring, opposing defenses are going to have a lot of ground to cover when in Tennessee. Although their defense is a tad above average for the league, keep an eye out for the Titans to finish well over 0.500.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers had an odd season last year to say the least. The decline of former RB Eddy Lacy meant that the Packers needed to fill the role. When WR Ty Montgomery was asked to swap positions and become a running back, he exploded onto the scene in the later half of the season. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is a two-time league MVP and six-time Pro-Bowler, got his main target Jordy Nelson back after being out a whole year with an injury. Although Green Bay has one of the best offensives in the league, their defense is an issue. Ranked 31/32 in pass coverage last year, Green Bay has been in the market for new linebackers and defensive backs. Nonetheless, every year the Packers find a way to do well, so they are most likely a lock to make it to the playoffs again this year.
Kansas City Chiefs
After losing RB’s Jamaal Charles and Spencer Ware to free agency and injuries, the Chiefs are left to start Kareem Hunt, who does not have much NFL experience. The running game may look uneasy, but on offense, quarterback Alex Smith has the offensive weapons of WR Tyreek Hill and Pro-Bowl TE Travis Kelce. Although the Chiefs are not a fantastic team on paper, they have very talented squad. Their defensive is ranked 3rd in the league by NFL Network and they have been in the top five each of the last four years. Keep a lookout for Andy Reid’s Chiefs who are favored to make it at least a few rounds into the playoffs.
“America’s Team” shocked the world last season, sweeping through the league with ease. After QB Tony Romo went down with a injury and rookie quarterback Dak Prescott took the helm, optimism was low. Prescott and another rookie, RB Ezekiel Elliott, combined to produce one of the most high-powered offenses in recent memory. Finishing the season at 13-3, Dallas looks to continue to steamroll their opponents this year. One of their main issues is their defensive line, which always seems to have gaps to fill, but either way, the Cowboys are favorites to win their division this year and group together behind Prescott, who recently won Rookie of the Year.
The Steelers are a crazy team. Every year they have one of the best paper teams, yet every year they fall just short. Their “Big 3” of Ben Rothlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell is up there for the best trio in the league, but injuries and suspensions always become a plague in Pittsburgh. Their defense is the definition of average, but their offense makes up for it averaging over 25 points per game. Key draftees like RB James Conner from this off-season, and returners like Martavis Bryant, have the Steelers being a heavy-favorite to win their division, and a high chance to be more than capable of reaching at least the Division Round.
The Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the NFL in the past 5 years. Making the playoffs nearly every year, coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson have a special combo that most quarterbacks and head coaches do not have. With the emergence of Doug Baldwin becoming a top receiver in the league, the addition of Eddy Lacy, and Thomas Rawls coming back from injury, the Seahawks will continue to be an NFL powerhouse. With the best group of defensive backs in the league, and arguably the best defense itself, Seattle has a 70% chance to advance to the postseason this year according to NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock. Seattle and the “12th man” are a heavy favorite to make a super bowl run this year, as they have reached it twice in the last four years.
Although many people are asleep on the Raiders, it is time to wake up. Last season quarterback Derek Carr was an MVP candidate before he went down with a broken leg. Amounting to a 12-4 record last season, the Raiders bursted onto the scene after having multiple under 0.500 seasons for what feels like the last decade. With the addition of RB Marshawn Lynch and the help of two Pro-Bowl WR’s, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, the Raiders are more than capable to make a super bowl run. Their defense on the other hand, is just as good. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack, leads a defensive squad that already features multiple Pro-Bowlers. Keep an eye out for Oakland and their crazy fanbase that is expecting nothing but a good season out of their team.
New England Patriots
Led by five-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, the reigning Super Bowl Champions are in a good position to dominate their division again this year. Although they lost WR Julian Edelman for the season, they acquired Brandin Cooks to fill the slot. They have a solid defense built around cornerback Malcolm Butler, and a good special teams group to provide field position for an already explosive offense. Tom Brady’s legacy is one of the most talked about topics in sports, which is acceptable considering his team is always on top of the league. The Patriots plan to doing nothing but keep the pressure on the gas this year.
After suffering a tragic loss to New England in the Super Bowl last year, the Falcons are set to have a bounce back season. With the MVP Matt Ryan at the helm, he will look to keep his #1 ranked offense moving by the help of Pro-Bowlers Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones. The defense had a breakout year last year ending the season ranked at 6, which was quite unexpected. With the addition of All-Pro defensive lineman Dontari Poe, the Falcons are expected to stay high up in the defensive rankings. Also gaining a new stadium, the Falcons are expected to make a big push for a title this year.