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NFL Power Rankings: Training Camp Edition

As the NFL gets ready to hit Training Camp I will take a look at where the teams ranks. The Power Rankings are based on end of the season standings, stats, draft picks and what can be expected this season. No Power Rankings are perfect as this is one person’s opinion on how he sees the teams.

NFL Power Rankings (Training Camp Edition)

32. San Francisco 49ers: It was a toss up between the Niners and the Lions but considering Chip Kelly is at the helm I expect a disaster. No disrespect to Kelly but he inherits a team that lacks the talent he had in Philly. Players are learning a new system, building chemistry and coming off a 5-11 year in a division where every team but them seemed to improve. They have a lot of work to do in training camp.

31. Detroit Lions: The Lions will be bad, but I don’t think last team bad. With Calvin Johnson gone Matthew Stafford must prove that he is a NFL QB. He has a chance to make a name for himself but he needs help. Rookies will have to make an immediate impact and for a team that finished last in rushing yards in 2015, who will help take the pressure off Stafford?

30. Cleveland Browns: The Browns will be slightly better than they were last year but do not expect a dark-horse playoff contender. The Browns have a QB in Robert Griffin, playing with a chip on his shoulder. The Browns need offensive help and hope that a small rookie receiver from Baylor can provide a boost to an offense that was next-to-last in points scored.

29. San Diego Chargers: The Chargers still have Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates but Gates is on the decline and the rest of the receiving core must either stay healthy or learn to hang on to the ball. The ground game was awful last season but the job is still Melvin Gordon’s to lose. The Chargers focused on the defensive side of the ball during the draft, if the young guys like Joey Bosa can offer immediate help, expect the Chargers to rise in the next Rankings.

28. Tennessee Titans: The Titans are a team on the rise, but to place them higher without seeing how the pieces will fit might be a bit too much. I love their pickup of DeMarco Murray to pair with the young Marcus Mariota. The Titans also added Derrick Henry. I have them ranked here because we are still discussing a 3-13 team that relies on the TE for production. The defense is green and I can foresee issues in the backfield if the Titans decide to split carries between Henry and Murray.

27. Baltimore Ravens: I am going to catch plenty of heat for this one, but the truth is the Ravens are not that good heading into camp. Joe Flacco has the talent but no help. How long can the Ravens rely on Steve Smith? Their young receivers must step up. The defense is going through a make over but in order to improve in the standings a few of the young guys, especially Breshad Perriman must live up to their potential.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars: I expect the Jags to do well this season but they are still young, mistakes will happen that may cost them a game or two this season. The trio of Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns have the potential to put up outstanding numbers. The defense is where the Jags must make an improvement. With last year’s top pick Dante Fowler ready to go, teamed up with this year’s pick Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack, the Jags defense will be on the rise in 2016.

25. New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees has shown no signs of slowing down but in order for the Saints to make a run he needs help. The offense, well the passing game is top notch as young guys like Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead are proven weapons but everything hinges on the success of Mark Ingram. The defense ranked last in points allowed which negated all the Bress and the offense accomplished. With Rob Ryan gone, the hope are that they Saints defense can make a turnaround.

24. Chicago Bears: The Bears are in trouble. Matt Forte is gone and they have thrown their hopes in a one-year wonder, the same as the Seahawks. Jay Cutler still has his moments where he is good, then next half he goes missing. Points can be scored with the offense but as usual with most of the teams in the bottom half, it’s the defense that causes the headaches.

23. Los Angeles Rams: The Rams are home but does that equal more wins? The QB carousel appears to be over with the rookie Jared Goff taking over in the backfield with last year’s ROY, Todd Gurley. The season will depend on the success of Goff but there is a serious lack of receiver help for the young Rams. The defense is solid but in a division that host the Cardinals and Seahawks the Rams must be able to put points on the board.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck will not be the difference for the Colts in 2016. It’s not like he missed the entire 2015 season, but looking at his stats you would think so. The Colts are the Atlanta Falcons of the AFC, good QB and great receiver but shallow at other positions. It would seem they are throwing Frank Gore back out there as their feature back, which only spells trouble for Luck.

21. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman but it’s their defense, much like the Saints that will cause issues. The Falcons crashed hard in 2015 after starting 5-0, maybe it’s all mental. A pass rusher is needed and a true 2nd receiver.

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Sam Bradford is still the man for the Eagles which is good because he gives them their best chance at winning (can’t believe I just wrote that). If the Eagles can manage anything defensively on a consistent basis they could contend for the division.

19. New York Giants: I know a few people that like the Giants this year, and they could shake up the NFC East, only if the defense can stop anyone from getting to the endzone. Their ground game is awful, and the receiving core is reliant on one person. Eli Manning continues to be the model for consistency, good and bad but he still gives the Giant a chance to win every game.

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18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs will make a big leap this season. The pieces are there and with Jameis Winston, Doug Martin, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson finally healthy at the same time, expect fireworks. The defense was in need of a major upgrade but through the draft that area of concern is no longer.

17. Houston Texans: The Texans are a mystery. They play in a weak division but yet depend on a very suspect ground game while throwing all their hopes on DeAndre Hopkins, who continues to put up All Pro numbers despite the QB carousel surrounding the team. This season it’s Brock Osweiler at the helm on the offensive side while the defense is still led by JJ Watt. If the offense can manage to move the chains on the ground, expect a playoff run.

16. Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs are not a bad team, but they are not the team you want to put your money on either. Jamaal Charles, besides LeSean McCoy might be the most dangerous RB in the game, if he can stay on the field. He make their elementary-offense look dynamic but if he’s out that puts too much pressure on the defense and Alex Smith. Andy Reid has his work cut out form him, but he has proved he can get it done.

15. Buffalo Bills: The Bills have talent but will they be able to pull it all together? Rex Ryan has created noise, unless McCoy can’t return to his All Pro form the Bills are in trouble. Tyrod Taylor is young and will make mistakes along the way but now is the season for him and Sammy Watkins to build that chemistry or the Bills could be on the outside looking in, again.

14. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders are primed for their breakout season. The ground game is back, Derek Carr is proven and the receivers, Michael Crabtree and  Amari Cooper are a great team. The defense went big, fast and strong in the draft which should help as they maneuver themselves to win the AFC West.

13. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins may benefit the most with Brady missing 4 games. Tannehill is solid, his connection with Landry is gold and with the news that they have signed Arian Foster to pair with their young core of RB’s the offense seems good to go. The defense could use more help up front as they ranked near the bottom in sacks. If they can get pressure on the QB’s in the AFC East the Dolphins can take the crown.

12. New York Jets: I hate to put them here but the Jets have a serious QB problem on their hands. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not signed which has the team looking to give the nod to Geno Smith. The receivers can turn Smith into a Pro Bowler but Smith alone can turn the Jets into a bottom-of-the- barrel team. Matt Forte is an upgrade over Chris Ivory and the defense just received the best news with the signing of Wilkerson. If they can get Fitz signed they will move up in the rankings.

11. Minnesota Vikings: I wish I could place them higher but a lack of a true #1 receiver may slow them down. Adrian Peterson needs rest as we’ve seen in the playoffs last season. Teddy Bridgewater is emerging but a lack of viable weapons may stunt his growth. The defense is fast, but must do a better job of stopping the run.

10. New England Patriots: Normally they would be in the top bracket in any rankings but with Brady missing the first 4 games of the season, I can’t place them there. Patriots fans will be mad but, seriously? We have no idea who Garroppolo is and what he can do. The usual suspects are still there, combined with that suffocating defense but all eyes are on the QB. I can’t rank them any higher, and this was a reach for me.

9. Washington Redskins: The reigning NFC East have their QB of the future in Cousins, a great two-headed ground attack in Morris and Jones and wideouts that can go for possession or the distance in Garcon and Jackson. The defensive side got better with the addition of Norman but the Redskins still must find a way to get to the QB.

8. Green Bay Packers: Was last season the beginning of the end? I know that may seem hard to say when you have Aaron Rodgers but the Pack has not played up to expectations the last few seasons. Where is Clay Matthews? The receivers can’t stay healthy, Eddie Lacy can’t say no to hamburgers and Rodgers can’t do it alone. Something has to change.

7. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys will only go as far as Tony Romo takes them as we have seen for the past few years. The Cowboys are loaded at the skilled positions with Dez Bryant and RB Ezekiel Elliott. The defense could use better production from the front seven, finishing the year with only 31 sacks. The secondary is average but with a good ground game and Romo back under center the defense will be on the field less.

6. Cincinnati Bengals: This has to be the year the Bengals finally make a deep playoff run, if not then Marvin Lewis may be out of a job. Andy Dalton has great chemistry with A.J. Green but he must begin to trust Tyler Eifert more. The defense is good, the unit takes pride in not giving up many points but if Dalton struggles all will be lost for the Bengals.

5. Denver Broncos: The Broncos are the reigning champs but they are not the same team that won it all in February. Gone is Peyton Manning and a few of their defensive starters but the foundation is still there. Will the QB be Mark Sanchez or rookie Paxton Lynch? Either player can do no worse than Manning. It will be a little tougher as the AFC West have gained experience and will be gunning for the Broncos.

4. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are fighting Father Time and the Seahawks in their division. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald are still performing at an high rate, the defense still has one of the best secondaries which will have them in many games but will they be able to put their playoffs embarrassment by the Panthers behind them?

3. Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks are still built for a Super Bowl run and will cause headaches for opposing teams on both sides of the ball but as we’ve seen last year they can and will struggle. The offense is led by MVP candidate Russell Wilson, but he has weapons surrounding him with Doug Baldwin and Thomas Rawls. The defense is no longer the L.O.B but production has not fell off, maybe has gotten stronger. The Seahawks are real contenders.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers are loaded on offense and they may have the best in the league. Their defense is solid but with the way their offense scores the defense was sure to suffer some. Ben Roethlisberger is still the leader, but he must improve his TD-INT ratio. When you have the best WR in the NFL in Antonio Brown and possibly the best one-two punch in the backfield in Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams you can get away with making a few mistakes.

1.Carolina Panthers: The Panthers lost the Super Bowl but finished the regular season 15-1. The may have loss Josh Norman but everything else stayed intact. The Panthers, with MVP Cam Newton led the NFL in scoring and their defense was also ranked in the top half as well. The Panthers have a team first mentality and will be out for blood come 2016.



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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com