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2018 NFL Season Preview: Game Pass Rankings (Part II)

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Matt Weston and Luke Beggs rank each team by their NFL Game Pass enjoyment. These are the top half of the rankings.

Minnesota Vikings v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Before you continue, check your bank account. Do you have $99? If you don’t, close the browser. Go mow some lawns, babysit some twenty-somethings’ children, donate plasma, and head to the Coinstar. Cool. You’re back? You do have $99? Onwards now.

Purchase NFL Game Pass and gear up for the best way to watch football. Watch the games LIVE that you care about, ignore the rest, go for a walk instead, and then come back. Examine the recent past with coach’s film and condensed games to see as much of what you want as quickly as you could want it.

Despite the convenience and the amount of information available, it’s daunting. There’s too many games, too many players, too many teams. There are too many ways you can waste your finite time on boring, bland, and uninteresting football.

To help you, and ourselves out for the upcoming season, we ranked every NFL team’s by their Game Pass entertainment value, just like we did last year. 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. Here’s Part One in case you missed it. Let’s talk about teams 15-1 you have to watch for the upcoming 2018 season.

T-15.) Washington Redskins (Last Year’s Ranking: 26)

Matt Weston:

This one is all my fault. Sadly, and I feel gross saying this, but Washington is my favorite NFC East team. I love the maroon and gold colors. I miss the Afterlife 360 bar in Manassas and listening to three teethed bikers screaming to break Eli Manning’s leg and friends complain about the women never closing the stall door. I’ll always miss seeing the leaves actually change colors instead of just drag on from green to slightly less green to naked and grey.

Aside from all that pathos, there are still #footballthings to enjoy here. Ryan Kerrigan is the most underrated pass rusher in the league. His biceps are boulders. Last season, he had 14 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 35 hurries. The year before, he had 11 sacks, 9 quarterback hits, and 40 hurries. The year before that, he had 9.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 29 hurries. I bet you didn’t know that. I love watching him play and didn’t know that.

Oddly, this offense is probably going to be better without Kirk Cousins around. Cousins never elevated his wide receivers. Look at Josh Doctson’s career. Look at what happened to Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor. Most of Cousin’s throws are short crossing routes generated by Jay Gruden. He averaged 8.1 yards per target (24th) and picked up 6.1 yards after the catch (3rd). Washington should get similar production from Alex Smith, for a smaller amount of money, and they also get someone who can run the ball. I think we will finally hit the final track of Is Kirk Cousins Good Or Not And The Devil Is Raging Inside Of Me.

In addition to this, the Redskins have some monsters on both their offensive and defensive line. Men the size of baby cows. Baby cows whose owners wished they were the size of Washington linemen to make a little bit of money. They’ll also probably finish second in the NFC East, make some noise as the second wild card, and blow it at the end. Pretty much the way things would have been with Cousins anyways.

Favorite Player: Ryan Kerrigan

T-15.) Houston Texans (26)

Matt Weston:

There probably isn’t a team with as much top individual talent as what the Texans have. Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt, Tyrann Mathieu, Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney, DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, and Will Fuller V are all must-watch individual talents. The depth is shabby, though. If they lose two of three of Watt/Clowney/Mercilus, or if heaven forbid something happens to Watson again, Houston’s season is over. And then, from there, it’s all inside runs, throws to the tight end in the flat, 3rd and 7 draws, 47 yard field goals, and punts at the opponent’s 40 yard line. I have no idea why and how we put up with that for as long as we did.

If that happens, this team is awful. Unless you’re hungover; then they are the best team in football to watch. If not, and you want to watch good football, you can ignore them the rest of the season if injuries occur. Hopefully the Texans stay healthy and we finally get that week 17 AFC SOUTH Title game. Thankfully we aren’t depending on the Titans to make that happen this year.

Favorite Player: Julie’n Davenport

Luke Beggs:

I wasn’t alive back in the 1960s when nuclear annihilation was a thing, but I imagine it evokes similar emotions to the ones we undergo as Texans fans. All it takes is literally one person to accidentally press ‘’launch’’ or hop block on Brian Cushing to make life come crashing down.

This team’s depth is scary. Do you trust Will Fuller to do something he’s never done before for and catch 10 passes in a game if DeAndre Hopkins goes down? Do you trust Christian Covington to step up and provide additional production if J.J. Watt or Jadeveon Clowney gets injured? These are honest questions that we have to ask about the Texans’ season. I’ve been waiting four seasons for Clowney and Watt to play together for an entire year. I just want it to be as kick ass as I’ve imagined it is in my head.

Deshaun Watson is also bat$hit crazy (in a good way). He’s going to have a game this season where he has 500 yards passing with 6 TDs, 2 INTs, and 2 Rushing TDs. It’s going to make every second of watching Tom Savage get concussed mulitple times last season worth it.

Favorite Player: Deshaun Watson

T-15.) Carolina Panthers (26)

Matt Weston:

Like the Rams, I just have a bad feeling about this team this year. Cam Newton has had his head smashed in too many times, has taken too many awful hits, and the refs never seem to protect him. Carolina’s offensive line lost Andrew Norwell and won’t be able to replace 50% of his performance this year. Daryl Williams is probably going to miss the majority of the season. Matt Khalil signed an insane contract he never should have received and will once again be bad this year, and oh, of course, he too is injured.

It would be different if Carolina was going to do a lot of super cool options, play fakes off those options, RPOs, and play action passes to make up for the offensive line. Instead Norv Turner is their offensive coordinator. He’s a traditional vertical play caller. I don’t think the line will give Newton enough time to make that kind of offense work, even if he has been able to play great without great blocking in the past.

The Panthers have switched from being a power team led by a grueling run attack and offensive line to a team with skill players. Devin Funchess can make a leap. D.J. Moore will end up being the best receiver Cam will have played with in his entire career. Team America Greg Olsen will terrorize the seams. Torrey Smith can run down field far and fast with a full heart. C.J. Anderson can run between the tackles. Christian McCaffrey, in theory, can do a little bit of everything. I just don’t think it’s going to work out well with Norv and without an offensive line.

Carolina’s defense will be in the top ten once again. They have mastered how to build a defense under the current salary cap structure. You can’t be good at everything, so they have a front four that can generate pressure without blitzing and a linebacker group that can stop the run and pass and cover the entirety of the middle of the field, which makes life easier for their secondary. As a result, they love to stay in their 4-3. Dime and nickel packages are lame. Carolina’s secondary is five dice in a red cup. They probably won’t roll duplicates or any patterns. It’s just a bunch of different young guys tossed out there in chaotic fashion.

The talent is here to tune in every week. There are great players making great plays. But overall, when it comes to what matters, eating Ws, Carolina will probably have a strange season where they are the best eight-win team in football.

Favorite Player: Kawann Short

Luke Beggs:

I have reservations about the Panthers’ offense too. They have the talent around Cam, just not enough of iinvested in protecting him. This season will be really interesting to see what becomes of Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey should be used like Alvin Kamara in New Orleans, and he was for chunks of last season to great effect. I’m honestly just fascinated at the idea of McCaffrey being essentially a Darren Sproles or Danny Woodhead figure in Norv Turner’s offense. That, and I think there’s a little issue regarding how McCaffrey is perceived because he was drafted so highly. To be the eighth overall pick in a era which the running back is becoming more and more marginalized in terms of a NFL team’s roster structure means that the running back has to be a special, special talent. Unlike many of the backs taken highly in the past couple of years, McCaffrey doesn’t explicitly profile as a 20-25 carry a game player with an additional 10 touches in the passing game. It’s fascinating because if McCaffrey maintains this ratio of pass/run touches he had last season, he will be more of a receiver than a traditional runner. What becomes of McCaffrey is the most interesting part of the Panthers this entire season.

I wish I could gamble like the Panthers gamble every year with their secondary.

T-12.) Los Angeles Chargers (28)

Luke Beggs:

BOSA!

Joey Bosa is the Brett “Hitman” Hart of the NFL. He’s the technician, the beautifully calculated whirring machine of jabs, clubs and swim moves, all intended to befuddle and bemuse even the most grizzled of offensive linemen. Watching Joey Bosa is like watching J.J. Watt at times. When he gets it all together, it’s perfect. He’s got this crazy first step combined with such amazing hands that’s it’s a thing of beauty. I care for nothing else. My life is just endless loops of Joey Bosa snaps.

Favorite Player: Joey Bosa

T-12.) Atlanta Falcons (28)

Matt Weston:

Last year was expected. The one thing that was unexpected was the Falcons making the playoffs. Sure, they were crawling with a hole in their head and a grapefruit for an ankle, but still, they made it. The 2016 Atlanta offense was on an all-time great offense. Something spectacular and beautiful. A green tail and white head sparking across a desert for a splash of seconds. It was not repeatable.

Last year, the Falcons went from 540 points scored to 353, falling from 1st to 15th in the league. Their offensive DVOA dropped from 1st at 24.6% to 15th at 1.5%. Julio Jones scored just three touchdowns. Matt Ryan threw just twenty touchdowns. Their red zone offense fell from a DVOA of 3.0% to -11.8%. 2016 was unbelievable. Last year was an inevitable downturn. It’s just the way these things work.

This season, Atlanta’s offense should be rocking again. More touchdowns will be scored. Steve Sarkisian probably isn’t good, but with another year of being around these guys, he’ll be better. Calvin Ridley on the opposite side of Julio Jones is something we haven’t seen since Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall ran up and down the sidelines in Chicago. Atlanta’s offensive line is really good, but not great. Their backfield perfectly complements each other. Whether it’s coach’s film or condensed versions, Atlanta’s offense is going to be back, and it’s going to be a blast to watch.

Their defense for the last two years has been young and fast, but not very good. Maybe this is the year they become something more. I don’t know. Regardless, they have a bunch of fun individual players to watch. Vic Beasley is a wide ‘9’ edge rusher, Takk McKiney makes murderous tackles and is an enormous monster that reminds me of an orc from a Wacraft II instruction manual, Grady Jarrett has #elbowbrace power, and Deion Jones is a Telvin Smith teleporter who can cover running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers. I still don’t know if the defense will be good. But the individual collection of talent is fun as hell.

Atlanta will be better. You should watch them.

Favorite Player: Alex Mack

Luke Beggs:

Ya forgot one thing, Matty. Mohammed Sanu is still on the team, so we still get that one time a year where Mohammed Sanu throws that there football over the mountains and into the hands of Julio Jones. That is reason alone to watch.

Also look for the progression of Austin Hooper from year one to two. Matt Ryan likes throwing to tight ends and has always thrown to them since Tony Gonzalez was there. Hooper’s targets and receptions both saw a big jump last season, and despite the receiver corps expanding to include Calvin Ridley, I think Hooper has carved out a little niche for himself in Atlanta’s offense.

Defensively, you should watch for Vic Beasley being one of the best wide nine rushers in the game as poor lead-footed tackles that try to get out and reach him before he turns the corner. It’s like watching Wily Coyote trip over the detonator and blow himself up while trying to stop the Roadrunner.

Also, Keanu Neal is a human hit stick and he offers Dan Quinn the closest thing he’s had to Kam Chancellor since Quinn was in Seattle.

Favorite Player: Julio Jones

T-10.) Los Angeles Rams (30)

Matt Weston:

Analytically, I don’t have a reason for this feeling. It’s my heart opening, closing, and pushing blood. I don’t have a good feeling about the 2018 Rams. I think this is one of those teams that made a ton of moves this offseason, got the BIG names, and then they all band together to go up in flames. They have spectacular individual players and a great offensive and defensive scheme. I just don’t have a good feeling about this.

I’ll never like the Rams until they remove all the gold off their uniforms, too. It doesn’t match their white horns. It’s a remnant from the city they spurned. I hate it.

Favorite Player: Aaron Donald

Luke Beggs:

I don’t think those big names will start to become a problem until the Rams start to lose, and I don’t think that’s going to happen while Sean McVay controls that offense. Watching how McVay generates opportunities for Jared Goff to use that fantastic deep ball accuracy is going to be great, especially with Brandin Cooks outside to run deep crosses and posts.

My gut is less skeptical than yours. I think the combination of talent is just too much to justify any large drop-off, especially in this division. We’re honestly trusting that something goes horribly wrong such as:

-Sean McVay loses his golden touch.

-Jared Goff is revealed as the second coming of Alex Smith.

-Todd Gurley suffers a season-ending injury.

-Ndamukong Suh fights Wade Phillips.

-Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib engage in a never-ending game of snatch the chain.

That’s what has to happen, and while IT MAY YET HAPPEN, I don’t invest enough faith in it occurring to think that the Rams won’t go 12-4.

I prefer the Color Rush jerseys more and I’m okay with that.

Favourite Player: Aaron Donald

T-10.) Kansas City Chiefs (30)

Luke Beggs:

This offense is so ridiculous because all of its best receivers are guys who are best catching the ball at the line of scrimmage or 60 yards down the field. It’s wacky. It’s zany. It’s exactly the type of passing offense I want to watch. I don’t know if this is the year and team that Sammy Watkins figures it all out on, but it doesn’t matter. Pat Mahomes can fling the ball a million miles, Tyreek Hill can run a million miles an hour. Kareem Hunt is the frictionless man.

This team’s ball carriers are honestly so fun that they are one of the only teams that I actually still watch the special teams for. No matter how Tyreek Hill gets the ball, it has to be seen.

T-8.) Jacksonville Jaguars (31)

Matt Weston:

I always love when a team knows what and who they are and then doubles down on it. Last season the Jaguars’ mediocre defense erupted to become the best in football with the additions of A.J. Bouye and Calais Campbell. That, plus the improvements of Yannick Ngakoue and Jalen Ramsey, turned this pass defense into they type that won Super Bowls for Seattle and Denver. This was the horse that pulled the cart.

This season the defense is going to be just as FUN. Sure, they probably won’t have the same injury luck, and they’ll lose a few more players, but the defense is loaded, and that’s without even considering that Ramsey, Myles Jack, Ngakoue, Dante Fowler Jr., and Telvin Smith could all get better.

The offense is kind of fun now, too. They switched from a shotgun, sideline throwing pass offense to a run heavy, boot leg, spread it out wide and throw quick crossing routes offense. They let Blake Bortles run for it if nothing is open on third and ten. Whenever they get a lead, they’re almost impossible to come back against.

This past offseason, Jacksonville signed Andrew Norwell, let the A-Team go, and hunkered down on what they ran last year. It’s going to be even more of the same. Lots of Leonard Fournette running. Lots of Bortles running it out of bounds and punting. Lots of winning games in weird ways. The only sad(!) thing is Marqise Lee’s knee injury. I wanted to see more of him, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook all running horizontal, catching a pass, and then turning upfield. Oh, well. Like death, injuries are the final conclusion to everything. Anything that give Bortles a more troubling time is a fun thing as well.

Favorite Player: A.J. Bouye

Luke Beggs:

The only thing that gives Bortles a troubling time is the fact that the Rogaine isn’t’ working.

Jalen Ramsey is the best corner in football and will take away your best receiver every game. He will make it hell to even look at his side of the field. And while you’re looking there, one of the best pass rushes in football will be planting you in the turf in three seconds or less. I honestly think this will be the best defense in the game by the end of this season. They are that good. Myles Jack somehow fell to the second round!

The concerns I will raise are about Leonard Fournette. He is the focal point of that offense and maintaining a balanced work load is going to be very important. If he gets burnt out or hurt because he’s running a power iso for the 18th straight time, things become very, very concerning for the Jaguars’ offense going forward.

Favorite Player: Myles Jack

T-8.) Tennessee Titans (31)

Matt Weston:

TITAN UP, BABY!

After getting pantsed in the Divisional Round by New England like another one of our favorite AFC South teams, the Titans cut the heads off their coaching staff. Mike Mularkey, Dick LeBeau, Terry Robiskie...all gone like that Lit song. With that comes the end to a Titans’ team that has been a bad 9-7 despite their collection of talent. Their total DVOA was -5.6% and they exceeded their Pythagorean Record by 1.6 wins. The Titans are now led by a leader of men who will surely lead this group of men. With this new bright shining sun of leadership also comes offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

With LaFleur, it’s expected that the Titans will switch to more of an outside zone, play action, boot leg offense. I’m excited for this. There’s a comfort to watching this offense. Reminds of the good old days, like I Love Lucy on Nick at Nite. Or Code Red Mountain Dew. Or 99.5 Kiss. Actually, maybe those were the bad old days this entire time.

Derrick Henry is a natural for this one cut and go offense, and hopefully it will keep him between the tackles more often instead of taking everything out wide. Rishard Matthews’ post routes will be perfect off play-action passes. Marcus Mariota was great off play-action. The offensive line has the flexibility to run a variety of different things.

Defensively, Pees crafted a great pass defense in Baltimore without having an #elite defensive back and Terrell Suggs as their best rusher. The Titans have a similar collection of talent. They boast a secondary with talented players Logan Ryan, Kenny Byard, Adorree Jackson, and now Malcolm Buter. They don’t have the one through twelve front seven depth Baltimore has, but they have the same amount of top level talent. Maybe, just maybe, Pees can make this defense golden with a shower of his own.

Harold Landry should become the fourth rusher the Titans have needed. It’s been all Jurrell Casey, Brian Orakpo, and Derrick Morgan combining together to create a good pass rush. Landry can be the piece to give them that little lift from good to very good.

All of this doesn’t even account for the Titans having the best telecast fans in football. Their mascot is a hillbilly raccoon. They chave a Logan’s Roadhouse in their stadium. Jurrell Casey’s buttcrack is always hanging out. There’s always a toothless man screaming at the players for not being tough enough or wanting it enough. Finally, God bless and long live pineapple man.

Favorite Player: Jurrell Casey

Luke Beggs:

The in-between sequences in the All-22 film where it cuts to the scoreboard with the crowd milling near is the best when you’re watching Titans’ game tape. There is always someone or some people doing something weird, dodgy or funny. It’s like a debaucherous game of ‘’Where’s Waldo?’’.

I can’t wait to watch these men get led. Men are gonna get led like they’ve never been led before. Led here, led there, led everywhere.

Poking fun of Mike Vrabel and the circus surrounding him aside, this is a very scary looking team. Matt LeFleur comes from the Kubiak and Shanahan tree of build a game around play-action passes and outside zone runs, which fits this team perfectly. Marcus Mariota on the bootleg is going to be one of the more fun things to watch this season, along with Derrick Henry trucking fools.

Defensively, they just have to not be garbage. I think they have the talent and coaching to accomplish that. Unless Vrabel takes over the play-calling, I think their pass rush is solid. Jurrell Casey and his immense GIRTH won’t be complete pushovers. I’m excited to see Harold Landry. His first step burst was absolutely phenomenal in college and why he dropped out of the first round is a complete mystery to me.

Favorite Player: Marcus Mariota

T-6.) Green Bay Packers (32)

Matt Weston:

Of all the great athletes I’ve watched in my lifetime, Aaron Rodgers is the one I haven’t appreciated. During his Super Bowl run, I was drunk in school and don’t really even remember it aside from the first half Falcons blowout. The second half of Rodgers’ Super Bowl win was super boring. I was sprawled out on a stained carpet, eating pizza and waiting for some girl to text me back like Godot. When Rodgers made that insane division winning touchdown against Chicago in Week 17 the following year, I didn’t have enough time because of soul-sucking traffic and trying to maintain a failing relationship to do anything (aside from watching the Texans play). The year after, I ran out to the desert.

Since then, Rodgers has been injured and when he hasn’t, he’s been carrying this roster around like a dead pigeon in his pocket. This year, that’s going to change. I’m going to watch Rodgers play a lot. I’m going to savor seeing the best, not the greatest, quarterback in the league. I want the fire breathing touchdown passes, the topsy-turvy missed tackles in the pocket, the run for your life rollouts that end not in disaster but downfield superhuman completions, and the game-winning, carried on the shoulders of offensive linemen into the locker room touchdown passes.

So who cares if they don’t have a running game, or a defense that will try to flop and chew to mediocre, they have Rodgers, and for this year that’s enough for me.

Favorite Player: Aaron Rodgers

Luke Beggs:

Yeah, Aaron Rodgers is the be all, end all on this team. If he’s there, this is a ten win team. It’s as simple as that.

They lost Jordy Nelson, which sucked. Watching the telepathic connection he and Rodgers had was always fun, especially when it led to some nutty toe-tapping shenanigans.

On the defensive side, I’m super excited about the Packers’ two new rookie corners and their returning cast. I adored Josh Jackson for his size and range, along with Jaire Alexander. Add to that a legitimate Cover Three free safety in HaHa Clinton Dix and the uber-athletic Kevin King as the other corner, and you have the makings of the rangiest back ends in all of football. A good Cover Three works here because each part is phenomenally athletic and can correctly guard seam routes. Rodgers is the main draw on this team, but how that secondary develops will be where the real fun is at.

Favorite Player: Aaron Rodgers

T-6.) Pittsburgh Steelers (32)

Luke Beggs:

Pay Le’Veon Bell, you cheap nerds!

Even without Bell, Pittsburgh is still interesting for a whole variety of reasons. They have the best running back and wide receiver in the NFL. Both are masters in their own unique way. Antonio Brown is the best route runner in the entire NFL; his breaks on his routes seem closer to teleportation than redirection.

Speaking of teleportation, Le’Veon Bell is a perfect back. Nothing breaks his stride, nothing catches him off balance. He’s just perfectly in sync with what’s happening in front of him and always know how to adjust and deal with it. It’s only just a nice coincidence that this sprightly fellow is also 6’1” and 225 lbs.

On defense, the thing that I’ll be watching will be what T.J. Watt looks like in his second year. If they can get Watt to add pressure from the edge and help out with their excellent front three of Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrove and Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers could build another version of the Iron Wall that made them one of the best teams in the league a few years ago.

4.) New England Patriots (34)

Luke Beggs:

It pains me to say this, but I love watching the Patriots’ offense. It’s a beautiful piece of soul-crushing efficiency that hits the weak spots of the team they are playing like an angry mother who keeps pointing out that you’re 24 and still living at home with no girlfriend and no job.

It’s a symphony of drags and crossing routes that overload zone defenses and put defenders in impossible positions. What’s even more impressive is it’s constantly adapting to find new ways of creating offense. Tom Brady and Co. have just been at this so long that it has become automatic. We assume they’ll be great and score 45 points a game. We never take a step back to actually marvel at how good they are.

I’m going to need a drink after typing out that last paragraph.

3.) Philadelphia Eagles (35)

Luke Beggs:

Come for Carson Wentz, Stay for Zach Ertz.

Ertz is one of those tight ends that sort of managed to be so good that he’s seen the ball as much as the team’s top wide receiver over the past couple of years. And with good reason. He’s a freaky athlete like all good tight ends, but he also has excellent route running skills and hands made out of glue. Go watch him high point the ball while running a seam route and tell me that’s not fun.

On defense, Brandon Graham is the spearhead of a great four man pass rush. Having him tearing off the edge is a sight to behold; he can win with speed, power, or just excellent technique. Plus they’ve added Michael Bennett from Seattle and Derek Barnett’s hopeful continued development means Philly could really develop into something even nastier than it was last season.

Sidney Jones was one of the best corners in last year’s draft and is coming off an injury from his rookie year, so seeing how he plays is going to be really fun to watch.

Matt Weston:

I don’t know when I’ll stop watching football and writing about it. But the more I think about it, the more I think I’m getting closer to it. I’m getting closer to locking that bedroom door, starving myself, thinking about the collection of images my life is and how they connect to one another, and writing about other things. I don’t know when that will be. Maybe after this year. Maybe next year. Maybe never. I don’t know.

But I do know when that time comes, watching the Eagles’ offensive line was one of the greatest joys I’ve had watching and writing about this stupid game.

Favorite Player: Brandon Brooks

2) New Orleans Saints (36)

Matt Weston:

There’s a million things I can say about loving this offense. Their broken tackle rate was 14.2%, which was first in the league last year. Drew Brees standing on his tippy toes so he can peek over the line of scrimmage to throw deep passes like a Tool Time neighbor. Ted Ginn Jr. sprinting down field. Mark Ingram putting his shoulder through people. Defenders sliding down Alvin Kamara’s legs like stripper poles and missing tackles. Slant, slant, wheel route combinations. Perfect screens. Great pass protection. Michael Thomas route running. Muah!

How New Orleans uses Kamara is going to be one of my favorite things to watch this year. He played 35% of his snaps as a wide receiver last year. The most carries he had in a game last season was 12. He was not only one of the best running backs, but one of the best wide receivers in football last year.

On defense, they do enough. Marshon Lattimore is a big, shining star. Marcus Williams was spectacular in last year’s Divisional Round game until he hit the ball back to Robert Horry. Cameron Jordan is one of the five most fun pass rushers to watch in football. He’s a pirate.

The one knock I have on the Saints is they should be playing football outside and not inside. There’s no dome sweet dome. I want it it hot and humid. Kill your air conditioner.

Favorite Player: Alvin Kamara

Luke Beggs:

I really like the Superdome. If it wasn’t artificial turf, I would love it more.

I think the NFC South is the Saints’ division to lose. They have a rapidly improving defense, with the same high powered offense that has been a staple of their team for pretty much all of the years that Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been together. Michael Thomas is a star. Their offensive line is really good. They have one of the most explosive and versatile offensive weapons in the NFL in Alvin Kamara. They have a solid interior rushing game built upon Mark Ingram trucking folks.

Cameron Jordan’s prime is going to be one of those things that’ll we’ll go look back on in a few years and go, ‘’Wow, he really was good, wasn’t he?’’.

1.) Minnesota Vikings (28)

Luke Beggs:

They went out and paid Kirk Cousins so they could remove the final obstacle to their Super Bowl roster.

I’m super excited to see Dalvin Cook back on the field. Minnesota’s run game struggled a bit when he got injured. Having a slash and cut runner like Cook who can also do great work in the receiving game should give the Vikings’ offense a further boost. Adam Thielen is one of the best route runners in football and he’ll be going up against some of the better defensive backs in the league this year.

On the defensive side of the ball, this team is still a monster. Eric Kendricks can tackle and cover anything between the tackles. Minnesota’s front four can still generate pressure without sending any extra blitzers. Harrison Smith is the best box safety in football; his presence and ability to sniff out plays at the line of scrimmage is a huge reason why this defense is worth your time watching.

Also, purple is a pretty neato color.

Favorite Player: Harrison Smith