The NFL season isn’t quite upon us yet, but we’ve seen numerous free agent signings, trades, and the NFL Draft to give us a good idea on how next season will turn out. Here’s how I rank the NFL’s top five teams before the season begins.
5. New England Patriots
The Patriots lost their big man on the line, Nate Solder, but used their first and third round picks on linemen. Tom Brady, who will be 41, is not the best at maneuvering within the pocket, so it’ll be very important for his line to keep him safe.
The Patriots also lost Dion Lewis, but the team quickly picked up Sony Michel in the first round of the NFL draft. As for receivers, I’m not at all worried about the Patriots losing Brandin Cooks. Brady has consistently shown what he can do with the receivers he’s given. Julian Edelman at slot, Chris Hogan on the outside, and Rob Gronkowski at tight end should give Brady enough of the help he needs.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
A couple years ago, if you said the Jaguars would be one of the league’s top teams, I’d call you crazy. Definitely a team led by Blake Bortles (sorry, Bortles fans).
If this team had a quarterback I could put my trust in, I might have them as my favorites to win the Superbowl. But they don’t. They rely heavily on their defense, which isn’t a terrible thing, but they need to have a consistent offense to be legit contenders.
Leonard Fournette proved to be a great pick at #4 overall in 2017 after putting up 1040 yards and scoring nine times his rookie season. He’s been the best part to this offense. I’m a little concerned with the receiving core after losing Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. Marqise Lee will now serve as the team’s top receiving option.
The Jaguars led the league in many defensive categories including forced fumbles, completion percentage, passing yards allowed per game, passer rating, and defensive touchdowns. They will have to repeat to prove they are a top five team in the league.
3. Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings won the sweepstakes for Kirk Cousins and signed him to a three-year deal worth $84 million. The Vikings proved to have one of the league’s top defenses and have landed the most sought after quarterback in free agency, which could make them one of the top threats in the league.
The Vikings have one of the most complete teams in the league and will have a shot to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
2. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams may have been the biggest winners during this offseason.
Even after finishing 11-5 last season and winning the NFC West, the Rams found a way to get better.
The biggest improvement was on the defensive side of the ball. Five-time Pro-Bowler, three time all-pro, and former defensive rookie of the year Ndamukong Suh will line up with with four-time Pro Bowler Aaron Donald. They also added the trio of cornerbacks Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and Sam Shields.
On offense, the Rams have a couple of young solid pieces in Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. They’ve also added a speedy wide receiver in Brandin Cooks in a trade with the New England Patriots. Cooks has put together three straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The former Superbowl champions take the number one spot on my list. After winning the Superbowl with backup quarterback Nick Foles, the Philadelphia Eagles will get their starting quarterback back. Carson Wentz is one of the league’s top QBs and will prove that this year if he can stay healthy.
The Eagles decided to bring back Darren Sproles on a one-year contract worth $1.4 million. The speedy running back, who will turn 35 this season, could play a be a big part of the team’s offense. Defenses should fear what damage Sproles can do out of the back field.
The team has also added Mike Wallace to the receiving core alongside Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Wallace had two games with more than 100 receiving yards and 748 yards and four touchdowns.
On the defensive end the Eagles traded a 5th round draft pick and Marcus Johnson for a 7th round pick and Michael Bennett. Bennett was one of the departures from the Legion of Boom in Seattle and has found a nice new home with the reigning champions.
The Eagles finished 3rd in total offense and 4th in passing yards last season and added a couple weapons on offense and slightly beefed up their defense in hopes of a repeat.