Seth Dunlap's NFL Power 12 - Week 1

Ranking the best dozen teams in the National Football League

Seth Dunlap
September 05, 2018 - 7:24 pm

The NFL Season is always littered with Power Rankings from every source imaginable.  The process of ranking all 32 NFL teams, in order, is a bit ludicrous.  So, I'm not going to do it.

Instead, we're unveiling my NFL Power 12 which we will update each week of the season.  The idea is to rank the dozen teams I expect to make the playoffs.  It's a talk that is still arduous, at best, but will give us a better idea of who the real playoff and Super Bowl contenders are as the season progresses.

The NFC is perhaps the most talented and competitive conference we've seen in the league since the mid-1990's dominance by the 49ers, Cowboys, and Packers.  I believe that at least three teams that didn't make this list -- the 49ers, Panthers, Seahawks -- would be favorites to make the playoffs if they resided in the AFC.  Another few teams -- the Lions, Giants, and Cowboys -- would at least have a punchers chance at a post-season berth if they swapped conferences. 

That's not how I'm doing these rankings, however.

With that preface out of the way, here is my initial NFL Power 12 of the season.


NFL Power 12 - Week 1

1.  Philadelphia Eagles:  A bumpy preseason, especially for QB Nick Foles, has folks in Philly worried and anxious for the return of Carson Wentz, who won't play in Week 1.   The Eagles are still the champs, and the NFC still runs through them until it's proven otherwise.

2.  New Orleans Saints:  The deepest roster in all of football likely belongs to the men in black & gold.  Their favorable early season schedule should allow them to get by without Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram without too much concern.

3.  New England Patriots:  The more we hear about the dysfunction behind the scenes, the easier it is to believe that the Patriots dynasty is in its last throws.  Still, look at the dumpster fire of a division they are in.  Anything less than 12 wins would be pretty surprising.

4.  Los Angeles Rams: Dream Team v2.0 hopes things work out better than it did for the 2011 Eagles.  The difference between those two teams?  Wade Phillips wasn't coaching Philadelphia's defense.  This star studded roster is perfect for the glitzy L.A. market.

5.  Atlanta Falcons:  The Falcons have a Super Bowl roster assembled yet again, but they'll be tested early.  Their first three games (@PHI, vs. CAR, vs. NO) are against playoff teams last year in the NFC.  We'll know a lot more about Atlanta by Week 4.

6.  Minnesota Vikings:   There's some people who think Kirk Cousins won't add much value over what the Vikings got last year from Sam Bradford & Case Keenum.  I'm not buying that.  Cousins has played at an elite level in Washington the last few years where his numbers have been comparable to Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers.  

7.  Jacksonville Jaguars:  We should know just how good this Jacksonville team is by Week 2.  They open at the Giants then play at home against New England.  Those are two great barometers for this ascendant team.  I believe they have the next generationally great defense, and they are easily the second best team in their conference.

8.  Green Bay Packers:  Superman is back.  Aaron Rodgers is healthy, and he's now the highest paid player in NFL history.  He also instantly makes the Packers a contender again, even in a stacked NFC.  Green Bay may be the prohibitive conference favorites if they played in the AFC, but not in the NFC.

9.  Los Angeles Chargers:  This looks like the most complete roster the Chargers have assembled around Philip Rivers since they finished the 2009 campaign at 13-3.  There are question marks at tight end, and in the defensive secondary, but this is easily among the best, most complete teams in the AFC.

10.  Pittsburgh Steelers:  I don't like teams who are feuding publicly amongst themselves just days before their season starts.  Throw in additional questions about Ben Roethlisberger's age and health, along with a defense that looks like a huge liability, and they are plummeting in my rankings from their offseason peak in the top five. 

11.  Kansas City Chiefs:   When Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill said his team would have the best offense in the NFL, most people laughed it off as brash confidence.  He actually might not be wrong.  Their offense looks absolutely explosive with quarterback Patrick Mahomes in a way it never was with Alex Smith.   Also, Regular Season Andy Reid is a real thing.

12.  Indianapolis Colts:   Andrew Luck is back, and we should all hope he stays healthy.  His talent is just too immense, and too enjoyable, for it to be cast off as a footnote in NFL history due to injury.  Luck alone makes the Colts a sneaky contender in the AFC South.


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