A very merry unpower rankings to you
Now statistics prove, prove that every site has a power rankings
Imagine what a boring page!
But Field Gulls has the only UNpower rankings
Then THAT should be the rage!
It's that time again, time for the first NFL UnPower Rankings of the year, where the worst is first and first is blurst. This time last year, in a post-draft UnPower Rankings (back when SB Nation liked me and let me post to the .com), the team I pounded home as the worst in the league were the Oakland Raiders. Well, the Raiders may have picked fifth but Football Outsiders pegged them 31st in DVOA.
Remember that they play in the AFC West, and just because you placed three teams in the playoffs in the AFC it doesn't make you a strong division. It just means that the Broncos and Chiefs get to add two wins to their final totals thanks to playing Oakland.
That being said, I had the Cardinals in the top five (I noted them as a sleeper post-signing Carson Palmer, but disliked their draft and the Daryl Washington suspension) and I also drove home the idea that the Texans were getting ready to take the next step.
Yeah, a pratfall.
(This joke killed in 1926.)
On the brightside, my bottom four teams all made their respective conference championship games, and the lowest team on my rankings were the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. And it's not all biased; at different times I considered the 49ers as the best team in football. Now we all know the truth about that.
With 95% of free agency complete and the draft all wrapped up, it seems like a good time again to start counting our eggs and see what hatches. Here are the unPower Rankings from the end of last season for comparison in a pre-playoff, post-we're-the-champions-my-friend world.
1. Miami Dolphins (2013 Record: 8-8)
Added: Ju'Waun James, Jarvis Landry, Billy Turner, Knowshon Moreno, Branden Albert, Jason Fox, Cortland Finnegan, Louis Delmas
Lost: Nolan Carroll, Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Bryant McKinnie
Okay, so let's kick it off hot with some "controversy."
Remember that the unPower Rankings don't just take into account strength-of-team, but a predictive draft order for 2015. Why would the Miami Dolphins collapse from 8-8 to 2-14? Well, why don't we ask ourselves these questions as well then if we're going to ask that:
- Why did the Texans collapse from 12-4 to 2-14?
- Why did the Chiefs collapse from 7-9 to 2-14?
- Why did the Colts collapse from 10-6 to 2-14? (Easier to deduce that answer)
- Why did the Panthers collapse from 8-8 to 2-14?
- Why did the Rams collapse from 7-9 to 2-14?
People want to look for the worst team next season and search for the worst teams from last season? Wrong. The NFL intentionally sets up the schedule and draft so that it's less likely that the worst teams from a year ago will be just as bad again. Only special teams like the Raiders and Browns know how to continually fail that test. But the Raiders rarely ever fail hard enough because they still gets plenty of games against last place teams. Just enough to avoid 1 or 2-win seasons.
And based on last season, the Dolphins schedule doesn't setup quite as easily as the Bills does.
Their offseason plan was apparently just a post-it note with "Add Tackles!" written in black Sharpie ink. The mess of Jeff Ireland/Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin will bleed into 2014, new GM Dennis Hickey will hire "his own" coach next year, and the Miami Dolphins will pick first overall in 2015.
2. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Lost: Terrelle Pryor, Rashad Jennings, Jacoby Ford, Jared Veldheer
AFC East, NFC West, Browns, Bills
We don't know yet if they actually upgraded at quarterback, or if Mack can avoid the same curse of DJ Hayden, Rolando McClain, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Darren McFadden, JaMarcus Russell, Robert Gallery....
Most likely will go 0-4 against the NFC West and could go 0-6 in the AFC West.
3. Tennessee Titans now with Ken Whisenhunt! (7-9)
Added: Taylor Lewan, Bishop Sankey, Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst, Dexter McCluster, Shaun Phillips
Lost: Chris Johnson, Alterraun Verner, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kenny Britt
AFC North, NFC East, Chiefs, Jets
Maybe it doesn't get this bad if Jake Locker stays healthy. Maybe if I cleaned my apartment I could have guests over.
Neither is likely to happen.
4. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Added: Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams, Cyrus Kouandjio, Brandon Spikes
Lost: Jairus Byrd, Alex Carrington, Stevie Johnson
AFC West, NFC North, Raiders, Browns
5. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Added: Zach Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Anthony Hitchens, Devin Street, Brandon Weeden, Henry Melton
Lost: DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher
NFC West, AFC South, Saints, Bears
I realize this won't also come without controversy, but I had to look for my "NFC collapse" and this is where I landed because:
- It's always a team from the NFC East
- If Dez Bryant was hurt, their starting receivers would be Terrance Williams and maybe Cole Beasley?
- They cut DeMarcus Ware
- Adding Melton was a wash from losing Hatcher
Dallas will have a new coach in 2015 and the media coverage of such will be really fun*
*No, we actually don't care that much!
6. Cleveland Browns now with Mike Pettine! (4-12)
Lost: Josh Gordon (?), Davone Bess, Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, TJ Ward
Schedule: AFC South, NFC South, Bills, Raiders
Tentative ranking based on a lot of things, including the status of Gordon, how Manziel looks in the offseason and preseason, and it's always difficult to assess new coaches. Last year I had the Browns about this high and got some flak for it; but the reason this usually works:
It's the Browns.
7. Detroit Lions now with Jim Caldwell! (7-9)
Added: Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, Kyle Van Noy, Travis Swanson
Lost: Nate Burleson, Louis Delmas, Willie Young, Jason Fox
NFC South, AFC East, Giants, Cardinals
I don't really like doing this either, because I like the Lions and I think they have enough talent to do much better things. But the Caldwell hiring was underwhelming, their secondary is still bad, Matthew Stafford still makes too many dumb mistakes.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)
Added: Blake Bortles, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Zane Beadlers, Toby Gerhart, Ziggy Hood, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Brandon Linder, Aaron Colvin
Lost: Blaine Gabbert, Justin Forsett, Maurice Jones-Drew
AFC North, NFC East, Chargers, Dolphins
They're getting there. Pete Carroll didn't build his empire in one season either.
9. Minnesota Vikings now with Mike Zimmer! (5-10-1)
Added: Anthony Barr, Teddy Bridgewater, Scott Chrichton, Jerick McKinnon, David Yankey, Linval Joseph, Captain Munnerlyn, Corey Wootten
Lost: Jared Allen, Erin Henderson, John Carlson, Kevin Williams, Toby Gerhart, Joe Webb
NFC South, AFC East, Rams, Redskins
Minnesota Vikings? More like the Meehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-nnesota Snore-kings, M. I. Right????
10. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Added: Dee Ford, Phillip Gaines, De'Anthony Thomas, Aaron Murray
Lost: Branden Albert, Quintin Demps, Jon Asamoah, Tyson Jackson, Dexter McCluster
AFC East, NFC West, Steelers, Titans
I don't think that I'm a super-genius for believing this time last year that the Chiefs were a possible playoff team following a 2-14 finish. (Though I did predict their 9-0 start.) Well, it's time to "Memento" this bitch and flip the script because some team out there is going to drop by 7 or 8 wins and I could see Kansas City doing this bad or worse.
They dropped six of their last eight games last year, including a playoff collapse against the Colts. They very likely could go 0-4 against the NFC West and either 1-5 or 2-4 against the AFC West. They "solved" their Alex Smith problem by drafting Aaron Murray, I guess? They drafted Dee Ford for reasons unknown. And if you take a closer look at it now, have a worse receiving corps than the Carolina Panthers now.
Corps? More like, corpse(s), K.C., right?!
If I'm looking for the collapses, I'm looking at Miami, Dallas, and K.C.
11. Washington Redskins now with Jay Gruden! (3-13)
Added: DeSean Jackson, Trent Murphy, Morgan Moses, Colt McCoy, Andre Roberts, Ryan Clark, Jason Hatcher
Lost: Fred Davis, London Fletcher, Darryl Tapp, Josh Wilson
NFC West, AFC South, Buccaneers, Vikings
If Dallas goes down to the bottom, then Washington rises up to the middle. In this division, that could even mean a playoff berth because 8 or 9 wins might get it done. They still aren't my favorites in the East by any means, but a healthy and active Robert Griffin III (and possibly with Gruden as a better mentor than Shanahan) plus the addition of Jackson, they might be able to outscore their terrible defense again. I'd peg them at 6-8 wins.
12. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
Lost: Dallas Clark, Bernard Scott, Michael Oher, Arthur Jones
AFC South, NFC South, Chargers, Jaguars
Color me unimpressed with the whole package. The Ravens won eight games last season and six of them were by five points or less. If everything does go right for the Browns, I could definitely see Baltimore finishing in last place next season.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers now with Lovie Smith! (4-12)
Added: Mike Evans, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Charles Sims, Josh McCown, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Clinton McDonald, Alterraun Verner, Major Wright, Mike Jenkins, Michael Johnson
NFC North, AFC North, Redskins, Rams
Going from Revis to Verner and from Williams to Evans should come out as a wash. They've upgraded at certain places, including head coach (I don't know, that Greg Schiano era was pretty popular) but someone has to finish in last place in the South. The Bucs have the greatest probability to do that.
14. Chicago Bears (8-8)
Added: Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Domenik Hixon, Kyle Fuller, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Ka'Deem Carey, David Fales
Lost: Josh McCown, Henry Melton, Zack Bowman, Corey Wootten, Major Wright, Devin Hester, Michael Bush, Julius Peppers, Earl Bennett
NFC South, AFC East, 49ers, Cowboys
Marc Trestman is a "genius" for what he did with Josh McCown. But now you're backing up one of the most fragile quarterbacks in the NFL with Fales and Jordan Palmer. The defense is probably still terrible. Even still, they might be the second-best team in the North, or could fall to fourth. You can call me Borth.
15. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
Added: Jake Matthews, Ra'Shede Hageman, Dezmen Southward, Devin Hester, Tyson Jackson, Josh Wilson
NFC North, AFC North, Cardinals, Giants
They've always been closer to average than their record suggests. This ranking just solidifies that. Adding Matthews is good, not great. What really matters is getting Julio Jones back, but the loss of Gonzalez really hurts.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
Added: Darqueze Dennard, Jeremy Hill, Will Clarke, AJ McCarron, Jason Campbell, Danieal Manning
Lost: Josh Johnson, Michael Johnson
AFC South, NFC South, Patriots, Broncos
This one hurts. Really. You don't understand how much this one hurts. They get back Geno Atkins just as they lose Michael Johnson. They lost both coordinators (which could be a good thing, we don't know yet, but could also be a bad thing.) But the most important thing of all is this:
The AFC, for the most part, sucks. However, for the "rest part" there are two teams that really don't suck in the AFC, the Patriots and Broncos. That means that for 2013 division winners Cincinnati and Indianapolis, they have to play those two teams. It could mean the slight difference between finishing first or second in the North.
The Bengals choosing another corner in the first and another running back in the second, does absolutely nothing for me. Andy Dalton's "hot seat status" (which I don't necessarily agree with) will also provide a distraction all season.
17. Arizona Cardinals (10-6)
Added: Deone Bucannon, Troy Niklas, Kareem Martin, John Brown, Logan Thomas, Ted Ginn, Jonathan Dwyer, John Carlson, Jared Veldheer, Antonio Cromartie
Lost: Karlos Dansby, Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Roberts
NFC East, AFC West, Lions, Falcons
I had to go with an NFC West team at some point, and this is the one I'm going with. If you want a better explanation:
18. San Diego Chargers (9-7)
Added: Jason Verrett, Jeremiah Attaochu, Chris Watt, Kellen Clemens
Lost: Charlie Whitehurst, Ronnie Brown, Danario Alexander, La'Ron McClain
AFC East, NFC West, Jaguars, Ravens
They're the "last team out" of the playoffs in the AFC, after finishing 1-3 against the NFC West and 2-2 against the AFC East. They split against the Jags and Ravens, sweep the Raiders, split against the Chiefs and Broncos, finish 8-8. They should've never let Whitehurst get away.
19. St. Louis Rams (7-9)
Added: Greg Robinson, Aaron Donald, Lamarcus Joyner, Tre Mason, Mason Alexander, Garrett Gilbert, Michael Sam, Shaun Hill, Kenny Britt
Lost: Kellen Clemens, Cortland Finnegan
NFC East, AFC West, Vikings, Buccaneers
This could definitely be the year that the Rams finally break through to the playoffs, and I clearly have them slightly ahead of Arizona, but I can't put them over the 49ers yet. Things get a lot more interesting in 2015.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)Added: Marcus Smith, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Maragos, Nolan Carroll, Mark Sanchez
Lost: Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant
NFC West, AFC South, Panthers, Packers
The Eagles and Giants play for the NFC East in Week 17. The Giants win at home.
21. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
Added: Jack Mewhort, Donte Moncrief, D'Qwell Jackson, Arthur Jones, Hakeem Nicks
Lost: Antoine Bethea, Donald Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey
AFC North, NFC East, Patriots, Broncos
Now we enter the playoff teams. All I can say is that Ryan Grigson really doesn't seem like a good GM to me, but Andrew Luck will continue to carry this team to the playoffs. Much like Peyton Manning, it's going to still take awhile before they get much further than that. While the Bengals can't survive the one-two punch of New England and Denver, the Colts sneak in with a wild card berth.
(Yes, a wild card berth. Spoiler alert.)
(I guess spoiler alerts are supposed to come first.)
22. Carolina Panthers (13-3)
Lost: Steve Smith, Ted Ginn, Domenik Hixon, Brandon LaFell, Jordan Gross, Captain Munnerlyn
NFC North, AFC North, Seahawks, Eagles
23. New York Jets (8-8)
Added: Michael Vick, Calvin Pryor, Jace Amero, Dexter McDougle, Jalen Saunders, Shaquelle Evans, Tajh Boyd, Breno Giacomini, Jacoby Ford, Eric Decker, Chris Johnson
Lost: Mark Sanchez, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, Austin Howard, Isaiah Trufant
AFC West, NFC North, Steelers, Titans
John Idzik has gone "full Schneider" after drafting 12 players this year. They sweep the Bills and Dolphins, take three from the AFC West, beat the Titans and find two more wins to go 10-6. The Jets won three of their last four games and may have won 11 or 12 games with even a slight upgrade over Geno Smith.
Michael Vick: A slight upgrade!
I could see them back in the AFC title game this year.
24. New York Giants (7-9)
Added: Odell Beckham, Jr, Weston Richburg, Jay Bromley, Andre Williams, Josh Freeman, Robert Ayers, Quintin Demps, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond, Mario Manningham, Zack Bowman
Lost: Hakeem Nicks, Justin Tuck
NFC West, AFC South, Lions, Falcons
Giants went 7-3 over the last 10 games. They lost a couple "key" players and then added a ton more, including the underrated additions of Ayers, Rodgers-Cromartie, and Thurmond. And Beckham could be a great receiver, and soon.
25. Houston Texans now with Bill O'Brien! (2-14)
Added: Jadeveon Clowney, Xavier Su'a-Filo, CJ Fiedorowicz, Louis Nix, Tom Savage, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Clemons (S)
Lost: Matt Schaub, Danieal Manning, Ben Tate, Owen Daniels
AFC North, NFC East, Bills, Raiders
Players on IR last season: Arian Foster, Brian Cushing, Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham, Johnathan Joseph, Ben Tate, Danieal Manning
Not even a surprise to me. This is much easier to predict than Kansas City was last year. Look at the players they placed on injured reserve. Look at the fact that they get to play the Bills and Raiders instead of the Patriots and Broncos. That they play the Titans and Jaguars twice, and while four of their last six games are at home, the Colts play three of their last four on the road. As the "worst team in the NFL" last season, they lost nine games by a touchdown or less.
There are far worse teams than Houston, and then all of a sudden they get to add the best defensive prospect to come into the draft in a decade. The quarterback situation isn't good, but it doesn't have to be in order for this team to win 12 games in the AFC. I don't believe Andre Johnson will want to be traded once he steps back and looks again at the state of the franchise, things are going to get a lot better next season.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Added: Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt, Dri Archer, Martavis Bryant, Shaquille Richardson, LeGarrette Blount, Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey,
Lost: Emmanuel Sanders, Ryan Clark, Jerricho Cotchery, Ziggy Hood, LaMarr Woodley
AFC South, NFC South, Chiefs, Titans
I don't really care about any of their offseason losses, they had an amazing draft, and they won eight of their last 12 games last season. They are also much more prepared to handle the loss of Le'Veon Bell, but with a full season from him and Blount, plus the speed of Archer, the Steelers probably finish with 11 wins and the division.
27. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)
Added: HaHa Clinton-Dix, Davante Adams, Khyri Thornton, Richard Rodgers, Jared Abbrederis, Julius Peppers
Lost: James Jones, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Marshall Newhouse, MD Jennings, Jermichael Finley
NFC South, AFC East, Seahawks, Eagles
Another case of injuries hitting hard, the Packers could play 16 games with Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, Eddie Lacy, Sam Shields and be just fine, but they also added Clinton-Dix, Adams, and Peppers. They're going to win the North by three games and be right up there with the elite teams again.
28. New Orleans Saints (11-5)
Added: Brandin Cooks, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Brandon Coleman, Jairus Byrd, Champ Bailey
Lost: Darren Sproles, Lance Moore, Roman Harper, Will Smith, Malcolm Jenkins, Jonathan Vilma
NFC North, AFC North, 49ers, Cowboys
Maybe a slightly easier schedule than the Packers. The only loss I care about is Sproles, and Cooks could possibly replace all of that and more. The addition of Byrd puts them over the top, however. (Assuming nothing weird happens with the Jimmy Graham situation, of course.)
29. New England Patriots (12-4)
Added: Dominique Easley, Jimmy Garrapolo, Bryan Stork, James White, Cameron Fleming, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Brandon LaFell, Will Smith, Patrick Chung
Lost: Aqib Talib, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, LeGarrette Blount
AFC West, NFC North, Bengals, Colts
I think that I took a lot of chances in my top 28, but it's all pretty chalk in the bottom four. The Patriots could be putting together their best team since 2007, and their schedule is easy as hell (at least compared to what the Niners and Seahawks have to deal with.)
Also remember that Rob Gronkowski missed nine games last season, and Jerod Mayo missed 10. They could win 14 games.
30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
Added: Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, Chris Borland, Bruce Ellington, Antoine Bethea, Chris Cook, Jonathan Martin, Blaine Gabbert, Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd
Lost: Donte Whitner, Tarrel Brown, Anthony Dixon, Mario Manningham, Carlos Rogers
NFC East, AFC West, Saints, Bears
The loss of NaVorro Bowman for awhile hurts, but so did the loss of Michael Crabtree, and they survived. Because as I said before, good teams don't rely on just a few elite players. There has to be support. This might turn out to be Trent Baalke's best draft (the bar isn't as high as you might think) plus landing Stevie Johnson was a nice coup.
I don't have any reason to assume the 49ers will be worse next year, I don't have any reason to assume they'll be better. Hence, this is where I put them.
31. Denver Broncos (13-3)
Added: Bradley Roby, Cody Latimer, Michael Schofield, Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders, TJ Ward, DeMarcus Ware
Lost: Eric Decker, Champ Bailey, Zane Beadles, Robert Ayers, Shaun Phillips, Knowshon Moreno, Trindon Holliday, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Wesley Woodyard
AFC East, NFC West, Bengals, Colts
Despite elite additions like Talib and Ware, the team still lost some pretty good players. Playing against the NFC West (while the Pats only have to play the North) could place them as the two-seed in the AFC, but it should be close. They'll avoid the "Super Bowl hangover", since they ended up not playing in the actual game.
32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3, Super BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWL CHAMPIONS)
Added: Paul Richardson, Justin Britt, Cassius Marsh, Kevin Norwood, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Jimmy Staten, Garrett Scott, Eric Pinkins, Kiero Small, Terrelle Pryor, Keith Price, Stephen Schilling, Chris Matthews, AJ Jefferson, Phillip Adams
Lost: Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Clint McDonald, Golden Tate, Breno Giacomini, Chris Maragos, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner
NFC East, AFC West, Packers, Panthers
The losses are more pronounced than we let on, and we're giving Pete Carroll a lot of credit based on track record of developing unknowns into stars, or at least, "really good dudes." Clemons, Bryant, McDonald, Tate, and Giacomini played a lot of snaps last season, and though the team made overtures in free agency for guys like Jared Allen, their "but we just won the Super Bowl!" goodwill didn't come with the discount they may have expected. They also have to face a much tougher schedule than Denver or New England, but it's nothing that the best team in the NFL can't handle.
The most important thing is that they locked up Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Michael Bennett to long-term deals, (plus an extension for Carroll), which should mean they continue to be as good in the future as they were last year.
That's tight, because they won it all last year. And I think they should do it again.