NFL Power Rankings: Tiers
Hello and welcome to my NFL power rankings, tiers version. In this version of my very own power rankings, I divide teams not based so much on their individual standing in the league, but rather what group of teams would be similar to them. I use it to help me find value in Vegas spreads, which can also lead to DFS success. I have also entered the BetDSi handicapping contest this year, which is much like the Super Contest hosted by the West Gate Sports Book in Las Vegas, only much cheaper and done online. I have, in parenthesis, listed where I had each team before the start of the season, as well as what tier they were in.
For the first few weeks it’s a bit of a catch 22, as you need to be able to quickly adjust to teams that you were wrongly high or low on as to not get buried the first half of the season, but also need to not over react to the tremendous recency bias we see year after year. I will do my best to not remain stubborn while not over reacting, but I’d be lying if I knew where to draw the line. Without further ado, here is how I view the landscape of the league after week 1.
Tier One: These are the teams that are favorites to be in the Super Bowl. Each one of them are viable contenders, and it would be to the surprise of no one to see them playing in February.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (6, T1): Doug Pederson and a deep roster can fill the void until Wentz gets to 100%. I was wrong to not have them #1 to start the year.
2. Los Angeles Rams (2, T1): What made Jim Harbaugh so special was his ability to cover in terrible spots. Sean McVay just took a page out of his book. Slow start in Oakland but their talent came through. This team is stacked.
3. New England Patriots (3, T1): It doesn’t matter who Brady throws to, just as long as he is throwing.
4. New Orleans Saints (1, T1): Embarrassing showing against Tampa Bay to start the year. I expect the defense to bounce back.
5. Green Bay Packers (5, T1): They drop to Tier 5 if Aaron Rodgers is not playing. A hell of an effort from him Sunday Night
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7, T2): I underestimated the offensive line. An impressive showing from the run game against a terrific run defense in Cleveland. Still want to see how the defense performs without Ryan Shazier in now hurricane conditions in Cleveland.
7. Atlanta Falcons (4, T1): Red zone woes remain. I would not be surprised to see Steve Sarkasian fired if they continue to struggle in that area of the field.
8. Minnesota Vikings (8, T2): I may have been too down on this team entering the year. They probably belong in this tier so in they go. That defense remains nasty. If they can win while Cousins gets acclimated to the offense they will be right there in January. Offensive line remains a concern.
Tier Two: These teams are favorites, to make the playoffs and could make a run at the Super Bowl come January with some luck or amidst a hot streak.
9. Kansas City Chiefs (13, T2): The Chiefs let go of Alex Smith for a reason. I expect ups and downs for KC and Mahomes this year, but so far so good for the second-year signal caller. Will need a healthy Eric Berry to be a real threat.
10. Baltimore Ravens (10, T2): Trounced Buffalo, but that isn’t saying much. New and improved Flacco was on display week 1.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (9, T2): The biggest waste of talent the past 14 years. Anthony Lynn looks to ensure Rivers will never get a ring.
12. Chicago Bears (12, T2): Impressive showing against Green Bay. Trubisky was a little too conservative but the team played really well, just fell victim to Aaron Rodgers greatness.
Tier Three: Teams who will contend for the playoffs and are capable of winning one game in January, but not much else.
13. Washington Redskins (14, T3): The Cousins for Smith swap was a lateral move for now but will not yield them a Super Bowl. That said, they can compete with anyone in the league.
14. Carolina Panthers (18, T3): Will go as far as Cam and Kuechly will take them. Daryl Williams and Greg Olsen aggravated an injury and the secondary remains suspect.
15. San Francisco 49ers (15, T3): Outgained the Vikings in yards per play and first downs, but sloppy play overall did them in.
16. Dallas Cowboys (17, T3): They need a healthy offensive line to be competitive. Defense will remain underrated.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (21, T3): Impressive come from behind victory in Indianapolis. They sneakily have a very talented offense.
18. Indianapolis Colts (11, T2): The defense is worse than I thought which explains the tier drop. Luck might not be able to compensate for the severe lack of talent throughout the roster. 53 pass attempts might be the norm season.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (19, T3): Arguably the top roster in the league, but Blake Bortles will forever be their shackle. Impressive victory in a tough spot on the road. T.J. Yeldon performed well in Fournette’s absence.
20. Tennessee Titans (16, T3): Jack Conklin remains out, Delanie Walker is done for the season, and Marcus Mariotta exited twice vs the Dolphins with elbow issues and could potentialy miss next week’s game vs Houston. Mariotta was also already reportedly not synching with new offensive coordinator Matt Lefleur.
21. Detroit Lions (20, T3): Embarrassing showing against New York on Monday night. I don’t know what Matt Patricia was doing, as every time the camera would point to him he just made silly faces and stood still.
Tier Four: These are teams who will be competitive from time to time, but are no real threat to reach the playoffs.
22. Denver Broncos (24, T4): Case Keenum provides a definite upgrade from last year’s QB travesty, but the determining factor remains the defense. I just dont see any reason to be excited for this team with Vance Joseph at the helm.
23. Houston Texans (22 T4): Deshaun Watson is due for some heavy regression, and a putrid offensive line will not help matters any. The offense loses a lot of explosiveness with the absence of Will Fuller.
24. Seattle Seahawks (29, T5): Russell Wilson is the saving grace on an otherwise abysmal roster.
25. New York Jets (27, T4): Very impressive showing in Detriot. Todd Bowles remains one of the more under rated coaches in the league. Really good showing by the defense.
26. Miami Dolphins (30, T5): I probably underrated them a bit. Tannehill is a definite upgrade over Cutler.
27. New York Giants (23, T4): Improvements along the offensive line will not save twilight Eli Manning.
28. Cleveland Browns (25, T4): This would be an AFC playoff team if it weren’t for Hue Jackson. How do you not win after forcing 6 turnovers?
Tier Five: These are the bottom feeders, mouth breathers, 14 point road dogs of the league.
29. Arizona Cardinals (28, T5): They seemingly showed no life against Washington. There is hope for the offense, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Wilks is fired before the end of the season.
30. Oakland Raiders (26, T4): Poured their heart out on Monday Night. Now the train wreck can truly begin. Derek Carr might be a lost cause, which is the reason for the tier drop.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31, T5): They won their week 1 Super Bowl. Expect them to come crashing back down to Earth.
32. Buffalo Bills (32, T5): Can you really start Josh Allen behind that offensive line? Then again, can you really stomach 16 games of Nathan Peterman?
A couple of tier moves and movements within each tier, but nothing I feel is too egregious. Lets hope we can use these to find an edge in Vegas others may not see.