Watching NFL Game Pass is daunting. There are 256 football games, and there are an infinite number of things you can watch for. Scheme, individual players, coaching tendencies, and technique are all examples of possible points of focus. If you go into it not knowing what you are watching for, or what you are trying to get out of it, you end up looking for patterns while your brain turns to mush. Even if you know what you are watching for, you don’t want to waste your time watching bad football teams do bad things. Finding out that Quincy Enunwa is an interesting player because of how his size takes advantage of smaller corners who are typically used in the slot isn’t worth your time.
So to get YOU ready for the 2017 NFL Season, Luke and I ranked which teams are the best to watch when you put that $125 you spent on NFL Game Pass to use. To come up with the rankings, we broke each team down by four different categories and gave them a ranking from 1-5. The categories are:
Relevance/Importance: How much of an impact will they have on the Super Bowl.
Transcendence: How many great players do they have that you have to watch individually.
Scheme: How interesting their play designs are and how it meshes with their personnel.
Aesthetics: How pretty their uniforms, scoreboards, and camera angles are. In other words, the overall appearance of their Game Pass broadcasts.
The final rankings are both of our combined scores. Without further ado, here are teams 32-17.
32.) Indianapolis Colts (11)
MW: I just spent at least a dozen hours watching this Colts’ offense. It’s bland. It’s just like their uniforms, their broadcast stock footage, their coach, and their fanbase. They shoot streamers after scoring touchdowns. They hang banners for being a finalist in the conference title game. Andrew Luck isn’t going to be healthy to start the year. Frank Gore is old. The Texans are still going to lose to Jacoby Brissett.
LB: The question about the Colts isn’t whether or not Andrew Luck is healthy. It’s about whether or not anyone else on the team can at least try to make up for the absence of Luck. Henry Anderson is a nice piece along the defensive line, and Ryan Kelly had a nice rookie season on the offensive line. T.Y. Hilton is still great, but his greatness is going to be tied to who is throwing him the ball, and that might be Scott Tolzien or Jacoby Brissett. I fear Jacoby Brissett like the Bengals fear T.J. Yates.
31.) Chicago Bears (13)
MW: The Bears have the worst game pass experience. Their sideline view is hideous. It’s zoomed in and sits at an awkward angle. Their scoreboard smells like the finger holes in a bowling bowl coupled with coffee soaked, bottom cup cigarette butts. The team is filled with solid, but not spectacular, players. Really, this is all about overanalyzing rookie quarterback play once Mitchell—not Mitch—Trubisky takes out a giraffe in Big Game Hunter.
LB: The Bears’ offense got one of the best gifts in football when they got Josh Sitton. He, Kyle Long and Cody Whitehair make one of the, it not the, meanest interior offensive lines in the entire league. The space they create for Jordan Howard and how Howard takes advantage of that space are probably reason alone to watch the Bears this season. The sideline view in Soldier Field is hot garbage, though.
T-30.) Philadelphia Eagles (16)
MW: Philadelphia is lower than they should be just because of Brandon Brooks and the rest of the offensive line. But a higher ranking is based on a projection. Last season they ran the same offense as Kansas City, but terrible—lots of quick passes and easy reads for Carson Wentz’s wagon that went nowhere. Hopefully this year, they try to use his arm and put together a more vertical passing game with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
Their isn’t much to see on defense other than four defensive linemen rushing wide and trying to beat offensive linemen individually with zone coverage in the secondary. Brandon Graham is incredible, and they have talent on this unit, but you would be better off watching Houston, or a different team.
LB: The Eagles’ defense is really exciting. Brandon Graham is wholly underappreciated due to the fact he’s sitting next to Fletcher Cox, who is one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league. This offseason, they added rookie Derek Barnett and Timmy Jernigan from the Ravens; that just makes it more terrifying. Watching them work in the trenches against the Cowboys and Washington offensive lines is going to be a treat. Zach Ertz also occasionally does dope stuff.
T-30.) New York Jets (16)
LB: Watch the Jets for Leonard Williams and Muhammed Wilkerson. Also because Christian Hackenberg might start a NFL game.
MW: The Jets are so bad that everyone forgot about Leonard Williams and Muhammed Wilkerson. Don’t forget about them.
T-28.) San Francisco 49ers (17)
MW: I hate the city of San Francisco. It’s a hellscape for people like me who thrive in the heat; nything sixty degrees and below brings shivers. This city is sixty degrees all the time. That being said, those jerseys are simply perfect. I can put a 49ers game on just for aesthetics of it.
Which is important, because there isn’t much to watch closely here. The only thing I’m interested in is Kyle Shanahan's scheme and him proving it was worth giving Kyle Juszczyk $10.5 million guaranteed.
LB: Oh man, I forgot about the Juszczyk deal. I feel like if I had known that before ranking the Niners, I would have binned them. I adore Baby Shan though, and him with Carlos Hyde is gonna be interesting regardless of whatever warm body they have manning the QB position. Also look for the progress of the two Oregon defensive linemen, DeForrest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Buckner is the real deal, and Armstead could prove an ample deputy on that San Francisco defensive line, along with third overall pick Solomon Thomas.
T-28.) Jacksonville Jaguars (17)
MW: Like Houston and other teams, don’t watch this offense. It’s going to be grotesque. You can see all you need to see from GIFs and video clips of Allen Robinson leaping and bounding to make Blake Bortles look incompetent, or Leonard Fournette stiff-arming his way through a league lesser than the SEC.
That said, this is going to be one of the ten best defenses in the league. Malik Jackson is Calias Campbell Lite, and Campbell is J.J. Watt Lite. These two interior pass rushing, with the amount of stunts they can use with them and their inside linebackers and exterior rushers, is going to make me scribble with scratch paper to see how they generate pressure. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye is my favorite corner combo in the league. It’s going to be break my heart when Jags Twitter calls hem Bad & Bouye or something clever while I mutter, “The Texans should have franchise-tagged A.J. Bouye” over and over again.
LB: If you want to watch a team purely for schadenfreude, this is it. That offense went through so many changes trying to find a consistent identity that it was more confusing to watch them than anything else. It reminded me a bit of the Texans’ offense of the past few years. Just watching Jacksonville jump from gimmick to gimmick in a desperate attempt to try and make the offense work was painful.
T-28.) Baltimore Ravens (17)
MW: Last season Zach Orr and this Ravens’ run defense was one of my favorite things to watch. Now Orr is gone forever because he may die if he plays football again. It’s all very sad. Brandon Williams is still here to tie up two blockers at once, one in each arm. Their jerseys are cool. But seeing a worse version of something I loved, and this banal version of Joe Flacco dump the ball off to Danny Woodhead, is not something I’m signing up for.
LB: Joe Flacco was bad last season. He’s not helped by a run game that is anchored by Terrence West and Buck Allen. Flacco is rapidly decaying, from his body to his skills, to the point where in one to two years Joe Flacco might not even be the starter of this team. I’m going to be waiting for Breshaud Perriman like Vladmir and Estragon wait for Godot.
T-25.) Detroit Lions (18)
LB: ALL GLORY TO JIM BOB! MAY HE SHALL LEAD US FORTH INTO A GLORIOUS NEW AGE OF CHECKDOWN PASSES AND YARDS AFTER THE CATCH! Theo Riddick might get 100 targets this season. I’m really interested to see where that gets Detroit.
MW: Something, something, what Luke said, plus Ameer Abdullah
T-25.) Cincinnati Bengals (18)
MW: Does this next sentence interest you? Can Andy Dalton finally have a good season without great pass protection? If it does, you’ll love the Bengals. If it doesn’t, do something else. This offensive line is going to be insulting, but Dalton will have all of the skill players, and he’ll have to have success dealing with pressure if Cincy does anything.
LB: This defense line is what makes this team fun for the twelve games in which Tyler Eifert is injured. Carlos Dunlap is perpetually underrated and Geno Atkins is so damn strong that splitting double teams looks almost rudimentary to him. Jake Fisher and Cedric Obguehi are probably going to struggle, and the offense will suffer because of it. William Jackson and Darqueze Dennard are still not starters, but Adam Jones is.
23.) Washington Redskins (19)
MW: The devil and the never-ending debate of whether Kirk Cousins is worth $30 million a year is raging inside of me. Cousins benefits from yards after the catch, quick passes, and the talent around him. He’s also one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league. To be a football nerd in 2017 is picking one side of the Cousins argument. Here’s to 16 more games of it.
LB: FedEx Field looks garbage. It doesn’t have the same kind of vibrancy that Soldier Field does. It just looks dull and muted. It’s a little drizzle away from turning into a mud bowl with some white lines running through it. Trent Murphy and Ryan Kerrigan are kinda fun to watch. Kirk Cousins will have Josh Doctson to throw to this season, which should be interesting considering Doctson came out of college as Jaelen Strong but with the ability to run routes.
T-22.) Arizona Cardinals (22)
MW: Some are expecting the Cardinals to bounce back this year. It ain’t happening. Carson Palmer is 37 years old. He just had a terrible season. The offensive line is going to be shoddy again. He’s going to get splayed and put on display by defenses. Blaine Gabbert is definitely starting games for the Cardinals this year, and he is going to be pretty good at getting David Johnson 30 touches a game.
If I’m wrong and things do work out for Arizona, this secondary is going to be something to focus upon. It’s filled with young fast defenders who can play multiple positions. I’m all in for seeing Budda Baker crater leaping receivers with all 185 pounds that he has.
LB: What’s going to be interesting about the Cardinals is how they manage to adjust with the loss of Calais Campbell, who was such a big part of that D-Line for such a long time. This is really where Robert Nkemdiche needs to step in and fill the space. David Johnson is worth the price of admission alone. The stadium looks like a mass of steel and concrete that’s been scantily decorated with some Cardinals-themed bunting.
T-22.) Buffalo Bills (22)
MW: Like the Ravens’ run defense, the most fun thing about the Bills is gone. The offensive coordinator that set up their complex and diverse running scheme, that led to the best rushing attack in the NFL, is gone and coaching the Chargers. TyGOD Taylor doesn’t have the receivers to drop deep bombs to. I’m legitimately sad. It’s going to be even dumber and even worse when they bench Taylor and LeSean McCoy gets injured.
LB: I’m one of the few people who might actually still like Jordan Matthews. Call me a sucker for a 6’2” WR who plays out of the slot and can’t catch the football.
Yeah, the Bills are going to be AFC South level bad. The defensive line is still looking good, though. Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus are fun to watch; it’s just that they won’t be enough to carry a lackluster secondary.
T-21.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23)
MW: Last year the Bucs were bad, but Jameis Winston was good. Seeing if he can take another leap is fascinating. It’s a shame they have the ugliest uniforms in the league. Flesh colors, orange, brown, and white don’t match.
LB: Gosh, golly, this offense looks fun. DeSean Jackson to stretch the field, Mike Evans to continue to be the tallest tree in the yard. Linebackers and safeties trying to cover O.J, Howard is going to be so fun to watch. Also one final thing: Can we take a moment to enjoy Gerald McCoy? He’s played on garbage lines for pretty much his entire career and he’s still kicked ass. Never forget Gerald McCoy.
T-21.) New Orleans Saints (23)
MW: The Saints are going to go 7-9 or 8-8. Their offense is going to be really good. Their defense is going to be really bad. They are kind of miserable to watch on Game Pass, though. They run so many plays. Each game takes a day to get through. Just watch the condensed versions or highlights instead.
LB: Matt’s right. The Saints are a slog and they aren’t going to be intersting to watch unless Adrian Peterson turns out to be Adrian Peterson again. I am optimistic about Marshon Lattimore and P.J. Williams as the two corners going forward, though.
T-19.) New York Giants (24)
LB: Watch Odell Beckham, Jr.
MW: Watch Odell Beckham Jr., Landon Collins, THE CLAW, Damon Harrison, and Olivier Vernon.
The offensive scheme is a lot of boring 1x1x3 quick passes and terrible run plays. But there is so much individual talent that’s impossible to not enjoy watching this team.
T-19.) Minnesota Vikings (24)
MW: It’s similar to the New York Giants. The offensive scheme is boring, but the defense has so many great players. Linval Joseph, Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, Harrison Smith, and a hopefully born again Anthony Barr. Just skip the offense. Watching Sam Bradford throw shallow drags and posts isn’t worth anyone’s time.
LB: Watch for the defense. Eric Kendricks is still great and hopefully Anthony Barr will be better. Xavier Rhodes is also had a A.J. Bouye-esque leap last season and is tons of fun to watch. RIP, Teddy Bridgewater’s bones.
Be sure to come back this time tomorrow for Part II.