Elliot Harrison has updated his power rankings now that we’re past the first wave of free agency. The biggest takeaway for me? The NFC is going to be brutal this year.
Last season, five of the six teams in the playoffs hadn’t been their the previous season. So we’re looking at an NFC landscape in which 11 of the 16 teams have been to the playoffs in the last two seasons. The five that haven’t? The Washington Non-Playoff Makers, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers. If Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky or 49ers QB Jolly Lollipop meet fans’ hopes, it’s going to be a very, very competitive season.
Harrison of course has the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles at the top with the Minnesota Vikings at 4, the New Orleans Saints at 5 and the Los Angeles Rams at 6:
Are these guys the best outfit in the NFC? They’re not far off. Amazing what GM Les Snead was able to pull off with the secondary, when it appeared a strong 2017 unit was going to be decimated by expiring contracts in 2018. The Rams instead made deals for Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, while surprisingly retaining Nickell Robey-Coleman for palatable dollars. Oh, and the offense is still good. Don’t harangue me about the Sammy Watkins departure, either. Not a huge deal. Well, it was costly ... for the Chiefs.
Hard not to feel fine about the state of things. The Rams played four of the five teams ranked higher last season beating two of them and hanging with the two others. We’re set up to compete. It’s just down to performance. It’s just so clogged in the NFC.
The Atlanta Falcons come in at 8 with the Green Bay Packers a spot later. The cross-town Los Angeles Chargers are in at 10 and should make the #FightforLA a lot more fun this season...if they can stay healthy. Back in the NFC, the Carolina Panthers are at 11 while the Rams’ divisional rivals come in at 13 and 15 in the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. So that’s nine NFC teams in the top half of the power rankings and seven from the AFC...which means the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants all sit in the bottom half of the rankings, all of whom were playoff teams just two years ago.
And that’s the nature of the NFC. It’s heavily in flux. It’s heavily competitive. And it’s going to make for a great battle in 2018.