Traditional power rankings overreact to one HUGE WIN and one sad (!) loss. Rarely do they take in account the entire season. To give a more accurate representation of what’s going on, and where these teams currently stand, I will not equivocate or give into the yank of heartstrings the NFL season brings week to week.
Instead of living with such a short memory and being so myopic, here’s where all 32 teams rank after the real end of the 2021 season, along with their available cap space, potential free agents, and potential roster cuts.
32.) Houston Texans—Record: 4-13. Point Differential: -172 (30). DVOA: -24.4% (28). Cap Space $17,559,095.
Notable Free Agents: Tyrod Taylor (QB), David Johnson (RB), Maliek Collins (DL), Justin Britt (C), Christian Kirksey (LB), Desmond King (CB), Kamu Gruiger-Hill (LB), Danny Amendola (WR), Pharoah Brown (TE), Demarcus Walker (DL), Chris Conley (WR), Jon Weeks (LS), Justin Reid (S), Geron Christian (LT), Antony Auclair (TE), Jordan Akins (TE), Jimmy Morrisey (C), Jacob Martin (EDGE)
Potential Cuts: Brandin Cooks ($8.75 million), Eric Murray ($5.4 million), Marcus Cannon ($5.2 million), Ka’imi Fairbairn ($2.8 million), Kevin Pierre-Louis ($3.1 million), Terrance Mitchell ($3.1 million), Jordan Jenkins ($2.8 million), Justin McCray ($2.3 million), Max Scharping ($2.5 million)
Houston is going to trade Deshaun Watson for less than everyone expected, and everyone is going to be upset for two hours, and then those same masses will post: ‘LET’S GO’, ‘GOTTA GET RID OF HIM’, ‘THEY HAD TO DO IT’, ‘WOOO ANOTHER FIRST ROUND PICK’, and those still in tune with reality are going to log off for the rest of the summer, be right about everything, no one will care, and the cycle will repeat itself again next year.
31.) Detroit Lions—Record: 3-13-1. Point Differential: -142 (27). DVOA: -27.1% (29). Cap Space $21,203,118.
Notable Free Agents: Alex Anzalone (LB), Kalif Raymond (WR), Charles Harris (EDGE), Tracy Walker (S), Tyrell Crosby (OT)
Potential Cuts: Trey Flowers ($10.3 million), Halapoulivaati Vaitai ($3.5 million), Jamaal Williams ($3 million), Will Harris ($2.5 million)
Did Jared Goff just have the worst year ever? He watched his ex win a Super Bowl, was stuck getting obliterated in Detroit where there isn’t an Abercrombie and Fitch in sight, and could no longer hide behind an easy offense. Detroit will invest along the line of scrimmage then draft a quarterback early 2023.
30.) New York Jets—Record: 4-13. Point Differential: -194 (31). DVOA: -18.3% (26). Cap Space $48,196,471.
Notable Free Agents: Marcus Maye (S), Jamison Crowder (WR), Jaraad Davis (LB), Keelan Cole (WR), Morgan Moses (OT), Dan Feeney (G), Joe Flacco (QB), Tevin Coleman (RB), Folorunso Fatukasi (DT), Braxton Berrios (WR)
Potential Cuts: George Fant ($10.1 million), Conner McGovern ($9 million), Sheldon Rankins ($5.4 million), Greg Van Roten ($3.5 million), Ryan Griffin ($3 million)
Zach Wilson played better down the stretch, so I guess it’s time to invest in his rookie contract. They have a sieve for their offensive line for now, and will need to try to repair it in a single offseason once again, a la the 2021 Los Angeles Chargers, but they aren’t facing any major offseason losses. Resign Fatukasi and the rest can go.
29.) New Orleans Saints—Record: 9-8. Point Differential: +29 (T-14). DVOA: 4.4% (14). Cap Space —$75,993,406.
Notable Free Agents: Terron Armstead (OT), Marcus Williams (S), Jamies Winston (QB), P.J. Williams (S), Kwon Alexander (LB), Tre’Quan Smith (WR), Carl Granderson (EDGE), Shy Tuttle (DL)
Potential Cuts: David Onyemata ($3.8 million), Bradley Roby ($9.4 million), Tanoh Kpassagnon ($2.35 million), Mark Ingram ($2.3 million)
Negative $75 million. Years pushing that boulder up the hill, to try and carry Drew Brees to one last title run, and now it’s rolling back down and splattering everything in sight. If Winston didn’t tear his knee last season they would have become the playoff team no one wants to play against. Instead it was Taysom Hill forcing Sean Payton to retire. They put all their chips on the table. Now it’s time to fold.
28.) New York Giants—Record: 4-13. Point Differential: -158 (29). DVOA: -29.6% (31). Cap Space —$12,019,020.
Notable Free Agents: Nate Solder (OT), Billy Price (C), Evan Engram (TE), Jabrill Peppers (S), John Ross (WR), Danny Shelton (DL), Reggie Ragland (LB), Lorenzo Carter (EDGE), Jaylon Smith (LB), Benardrick McKinney (LB)
Potential Cuts:James Bradberry ($12 million), Blake Martinez ($8.5 million), Sterling Shepard ($4.5 million), Kyle Rudolph ($5 million), Riley Dixon ($2.8 million), Devontae Booker ($2.1 million), Julian Love ($2.5 million), Darius Slayton ($2.5 million), Kaden Smith ($2.5 million)
I love teams like the Giants and Falcons. Bad, without cap space. Love it. Two top ten picks, Brian Daboll putting Daniel Jones’s feet to use, easy contracts to get rid of, and facing the loss of players who never made the expected impact. This is the team that needs to trade for Watson, but are too cowardly to do so. We’ve always wanted to see Watson in a Daboll offense, even it has to place in New York.
27.) Atlanta Falcons—Record: 7-10. Point Differential: -146 (28). DVOA: -29.6% (30). Cap Space —$7,316,88).
Notable Free Agents: Dante Fowler Jr. (EDGE), Cordarrelle Patterson (RB/WR), Hayden Hurst (TE), Erik Harris (S), A.J. McCarron (QB), Duron Harmon (S), Isaiah Oliver (CB), Fabian Moreau (CB), Tajae Sharpe (WR), Younghe Koo (K), Russell Gage (WR), Foyesade Oluokun (LB), Olamide Zaccheaus (WR)
Potential Cuts: Matt Ryan ($8.1 million), Jake Matthews ($4.1 million), Tyeler Davison ($3.6 million)
The Matt Ryan restructure made zero sense last year, and less sense now. They are in purgatory with him tied around his neck. Maybe at $25 million they could make another playoff run with him, but at $48 million it’s out of the question. They’ll either ride him for another year, or extend him to try and live in the twilight. Thankfully, Dante Fowler is finally out of here.
26.) Chicago Bears—Record: 6-11. Point Differential: -96 (24). DVOA: -10.0% (23). Cap Space $26,224,726.
Notable Free Agents: Allen Robinson (WR), Akiem Hicks (DL), Andy Dalton (QB), Jimmy Graham (TE), Germain Ifedi (OT), Tashaun Gipson (S), James Daniels (G), Jesse James (TE), Deon Bush (S), Alec Ogletree (LB), Margus Hunt (DL), Cassius Marsh (EDGE), Bruce Irvin (EDGE)
Potential Cuts: Eddie Goldman ($6.6 million), Nick Foles ($3 million), Tarik Cohen ($2.2 million), Angelo Blackson ($2.1 million)
Is Justin Fields good? I don’t know. He throws the ball downfield a lot, that’s all I know. It’s up to Matt Eberflus to hearken previous days with an elder defense.
25.) Carolina Panthers—Record: 5-12. Point Differential: -100 (26). DVOA: -24.1% (27). Cap Space $15,140,793.
Notable Free Agents: Stephon Gilmore (CB), Matt Paradis (C), Cam Newton (QB), Haason Reddick (EDGE), DaQuan Jones (DL), Juston Burris (S), Trent Scott (OT), Donte Jackson (CB), Ian Thomas (TE)
Potential Cuts: Pat Elflein ($2 million), Cameron Erving ($2 million), Morgan Fox ($3 million), A.J. Bouye ($3.4 million)
I’ll never forget the Panthers trading, and attempting to build around Sam Darnold with an awful offensive line, after we just watched Darnold play behind an awful offensive line. Yeah, we all saw what happens when Elflein is standing in front of him, and the sequel went the exact same. Cam Newton coming back was like Josh Hamilton returning to Texas. It was very cute, but he’s old and bad now. At least we had the early 2010s. Gotta dust off my copy of Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, and sign up for Hulu to binge watch Workaholics.
24.) Indianapolis Colts—Record: 9-8. Point Differential: +86 (7). DVOA: 9.8% (11). Cap Space $35,967,327.
Notable Free Agents: Eric Fisher (LT), T.Y. Hilton (WR), Mark Glowinski (G), Xavier Rhodes (CB), Mo Alie-Cox (TE), Kemoko Turay (DL), Julie’n Davenport (OT), Tyquan Lewis (DL), Antwaun Woods (DL)
Potential Cuts: Carson Wentz ($13 million), Jack Doyle ($5.4 million)
You can say things like Carson Wentz is going to excel with Frank Reich, or the Colts are going to catch the Titans and win the AFC South, or they’re a Super Bowl darkhorse, or, you can do the hard thing, and actually watch football. 2021 went exactly as expected for them. They are cursed forever after booing Andrew Luck with such hatred and ferocity, something that hasn’t been seen in Indianapolis since the corn pit was closed for renovations.
23.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 3-14. Point Differential: -204 (32). DVOA: -31.3% (32). Cap Space $59,247,427.
Notable Free Agents: Cam Robinson (OT), Andrew Norwell (G), A.J. Cann (G), Taven Bryan (DL), Jihad Ward (EDGE), Tre Herndon (CB), Damien Wilson (LB), Nevin Lawson (CB), Adam Gotsis (DL), D.J. Chark (WR), Tavon Austin (WR), Laquon Treadwell (WR), Andrew Wingard (S)
Potential Cuts: Myles Jack ($8.3 million), Marvin Jones ($3.5 million), Jawaan Taylor ($2.7 million), Carlos Hyde ($1.9 million)
The Jaguars have cap space, plenty of draft capital, a new head coach, and now a franchise quarterback! We have said the same thing year after year, and the same thing happens year after year. This year is different. I can feel it. Doug Pederson bringing the visor to Florida is what they need.
22.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Record: 13-4. Point Differential: +158 (4). DVOA: 27.6% (3). Cap Space $2,370,110.
Notable Free Agents: Chris Godwin (WR), Jason Pierre-Paul (EDGE), Ryan Jensen (C), Ndamukong Suh (DT), Rob Gronkowski (TE), William Gholston (EDGE), Leonard Fournette (RB), O.J. Howard (TE), Ronald Jones (RB), Richard Sherman (CB), Giovani Bernard (RB), Breshad Perriman (WR), Alex Cappa (G)
Potential Cuts: Cameron Brate ($5.3 million)
The Bucs are losing key players from their previous Super Bowl run, including the greatest quarterback of all-time. They can be in the market for a veteran quarterback on a trade. Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, they’ll just end up bringing Winston back. They have more pending problems than just the quarterback position now.
21.) Las Vegas Raiders—Record: 10-7. Point Differential: -65 (23). DVOA: -5.2% (21). Cap Space $19,602,443.
Notable Free Agents: Nicholas Morrow (LB), Marcus Mariota (QB), Jalen Richard (RB), Quinton Jefferson (DL), Solomon Thomas (DL), Casey Hayward (CB), Zay Jones (WR), Richie Incognito (G), DeSean Jackson (WR), Nick Martin (C), Desmond Trufant (CB), Brandon Parker (OT)
Potential Cuts: Derek Carr ($19.8 million), Cory Littleton ($1.7 million), Carl Nassib ($3 million), Kenyan Drake ($2.7 million), Denzelle Good ($4.1 million), Denzel Perryman ($3 million)
The Raiders were as below average as it gets. They lucked into the #7 seed, something that should be abolished, and they don’t have an avenue for easy improvement. Every fruit from the Bill Belichick tree is rotten.
20.) Miami Dolphins—Record: 9-8. Point Differential: -32 (21). DVOA: -11.1% (25). Cap Space $61,946,417.
Notable Free Agents: Will Fuller (WR), Emmanuel Ogbah (EDGE), Jacoby Brissett (QB), Phillip Lindsay (RB), Albert Wilson (WR), Justin Coleman (CB), Elandon Roberts (LB), Malcolm Brown (RB), Mike Gesicki (TE), Jason McCourty (S), Duke Johnson (RB), Nik Needham (CB)
Potential Cuts: Eric Rowe ($4.5 million), Jesse Davis ($3.6 million), Adam Butler ($4.1 million), Allen Hurns ($2.5 million), Michael Deiter ($2.5 million), Clayton Fejedelem ($2.7 million), Zach Sieler ($2 million), Myles Gaskin ($2.1 million), Cethan Carter ($2.5 million)
Draft capital is great, but you still have to put it to work. They found one offensive linemen during their rebuild—Robert Hunt. The other four pieces of the pie are abysmal. In a free agent, and draft class, filled with tackle prospects, now is the time to piece that part of the ball together.
19.) Pittsburgh Steelers—Record: 9-7-1. Point Differential: -55 (22). DVOA: -10.4% (24). Cap Space $28,731,582.
Notable Free Agents: Joe Haden (CB), JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR), Eric Ebron (TE), Trai Turner (G), Terrell Edmunds (S), Chukwuma Okorafor (RT), Robert Spillane (EDGE), Dwayne Haskins (QB)
Potential Cuts: Joe Schobert ($7.8 million), Zach Banner ($5 million), Chris Boswell ($3.2 million), Derek Watt ($2.7 million), Mason Rudolph ($3 million)
The Steelers have a great defense still sitting there, easy cap space to create, skill talent, but no quarterback. Losing Ben Roethlisberger will make them better. As long as it isn’t Mason Rudolph, this will be a fun squad in 2022.
18.) Philadelphia Eagles—Record: 9-8. Point Differential: +59 (13). DVOA: 3.8% (15). Cap Space $18,518,760.
Notable Free Agents: Anthony Harris (S), Derek Barnett (EDGE), Steven Nelson (CB), Ryan Kerrigan (EDGE), Hassan Ridgeway (DL), Jordan Howard (RB), Boston Scott (RB), Alex Singleton (LB), Greg Ward (WR), Nate Herbig (G)
Potential Cuts: N/A
The Eagles are losing their edge in the trenches. Brandon Brooks retired, they could lose Barnett and Ridgeway, and the linemen they have relied upon are white whiskered and suffering from injuries. If Jalen Hurts learns how to operate a NFL offense by getting the ball out in 2.3 seconds, instead of 7.3 seconds, he’s a franchise caliber quarterback. It’s a large leap though, larger than the one on the moon though, since that one never occurred.
17.) Cleveland Browns—Record: 8-9. Point Differential: -22 (20). DVOA: 4.7% (13). Cap Space $23,598,053
Notable Free Agents: Jadeveon Clowney (EDGE), Takkarist McKinley (EDGE), Malik Jackson (DT), Chris Hubbard (LT), Anthony Walker (LB), David Njoku (TE), Rashard Higgins (WR), Ifeadi Odenigbo (EDGE), Ronnie Harrison (S), Malik McDowell (DL), D’Ernest Johnson (RB)
Potential Cuts: Jarvis Landry ($14.8 million), Case Keenum ($7.1 million), Kareem Hunt ($6.2 million)
Baker Mayfield can’t run the easiest NFL offense to run because he’s 5’10”, and can’t win from the shotgun because of his footwork and decision making. The Browns fell from playoff caliber, to apart, because of the offensive line and running back injuries they suffered. Healthy, cap space, and draft picks, and they could get back to where they were in 2021. Mayfield has one more year. That’s it.
16.) Washington Football Team—Record: 7-10. Point Differential: -99 (25). DVOA: -10.0% (22). Cap Space $31,899,739.
Notable Free Agents: Brandon Scherff (G), Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB), Cam Sims (WR), Adam Humphries (WR), Ricky Seals-Jones (TE)
Potential Cuts: Landon Collins ($6.4 million), Kendall Fuller ($4.8 million), Ereck Flowers ($9.9 million), Matt Ioannidis ($6.8 million)
The boy who blocked his own shot, the team who needs a quarterback. Sick nasty defensive line. Talent at the linebacker position. A secondary confused by the change to zone coverage. Skill position talent. This looks like the perfect Deshaun Watson team, now that others seem to have balked. Cap space, young players to trade, draft picks, the perfect player for Washington to rehabilitate their image with.
15.) Denver Broncos—Record: 7-10. Point Differential: +13 (17). DVOA: -1.7% (18). Cap Space $38,052,012.
Notable Free Agents: Teddy Bridgewater (QB), Graham Glasgow (G), Kyle Fuller (CB), Melvin Gordon (RB), Bryce Callahan (CB), Kareem Jackson (S), Alexander Johnson (LB), Bobby Massie (OT), Shamar Stephen (DL), Cameron Fleming (OT), Malik Reed (EDGE)
Potential Cuts: Mike Purcell ($2.8 million)
With Aaron Rodgers it’s a playoff team, forced to fight through a stacked AFC. Without Rodgers’, it’s a perfectly fine team. If Bridgewater wasn’t murdered twice, they could have made the playoffs. Instead it was a late season swoon. It feels like they want Rodgers, will do everything for him, and end up with Garoppolo.
14.) Minnesota Vikings—Record: 8-9. Point Differential: -1 (18). DVOA: 2.7% (16). Cap Space —$16,040,779
Notable Free Agents: Anthony Barr (LB), Patrick Peterson (CB), Sheldon Richardson (DL), Rashod Hill (OT), Nick Vigil (LB), Xavier Woods (S), Dede Westbrook (WR), Dakota Dozier (G), Chad Beebe (WR), Tyler Conklin (TE), Mackensie Alexander (CB)
Potential Cuts: Danielle Hunter ($14.6 million), Adam Thielen ($5.8 million), Harrison Smith ($5.8 million), Dalvin Cook ($2.6 million), Michael Pierce ($6.5 million)
Kevin O’Connell picked the perfect team. Wide-outside zone blueprint, dual wide receivers, incredible running attack, and a fringe top ten quarterback. Kirk Cousins is underrated now. He’s just paid $10 million too much.
13.) Seattle Seahawks—Record: 7-10. Point Differential: +29 (T-14). DVOA: 11.8% (8). Cap Space $34,843,530
Notable Free Agents: Duane Brown (OT), Quandre Diggs (S), Gerald Everett (TE), Brandon Shell (OT), Ethan Pocic (C), Rashaad Penny (RB), Al Woods (DT), Geno Smith (QB), Alex Collins (RB), Rasheem Green (EDGE)
Potential Cuts: Bobby Wagner ($16.6 million), Poona Ford ($5.2 million), Chris Carson ($3.4 million), Jason Myers ($4 million)
The Seahawks are losing their entire offensive line, but they now have cap space, to fix their offensive line. Every offseason they are a fat man eating his own foot.
12.) New England Patriots—Record: 10-7. Point Differential: +159 (3). DVOA: 23.3% (4). Cap Space $8,329,412.
Notable Free Agents: Devin McCourty (S), Trent Brown (OT), Dont’a Hightower (LB), J.C. Jackson (CB), Ted Karras (C), Matt Slater (WR), Jamie Collins (LB), Jakobi Myers (WR), Gunner Olszewski (WR)
Potential Cuts: Nelson Agholor ($4.8 million), Davon Godchaux ($5 million), Shaquile Mason ($7 million), Jonathan Jones ($5.6 million), Kyle Van Noy ($4.9 million), Henry Anderson ($2.6 million)
The Patriots are screwed. They went all in last season, and were slaughtered by Buffalo. They are what they are. Unless Mac Jones becomes Tom Brady, instead of a merely fine quarterback who runs a functional offense, they’ll be relegated to Wildcard round exits for now.
11.) Arizona Cardinals—Record: 11-6. Point Differential: +83 (9) DVOA: 10.9% (10). Cap Space —$813,256.
Notable Free Agents: Chandler Jones (EDGE), Zach Ertz (TE), A.J. Green (WR), Dennis Gardeck (EDGE), Maxx Williams (TE), James Conner (RB), Christian Kirk (WR), Chase Edmonds (RB)
Potential Cuts: D.J. Humphries ($15 million), Jordan Phillips ($4 million), Justin Pugh ($9.8 million), Jordan Hicks ($6.5 million), Devon Kennard ($4.8 million)
Pro Football Talk’s newest darling drama. Kyler Murray isn’t a leader, he was afraid of Los Angeles, he can’t play without DeAndre Hopkins, they need more from him, he needs to step up. He was afraid of Los Angeles.
10.) Baltimore Ravens—Record: 8-9. Point Differential: -5 (19). DVOA: -2.1% (19). Cap Space $8,768,345.
Notable Free Agents: Calais Campbell (DL), Brandon Williams (DL), Sammy Watkins (WR), Patrick Ricard (FB), Jimmy Smith (CB), Justin Houston (EDGE), L.J. Fort (LB), Latavius Murray (RB), Josh Bynes (LB), Devonta Freeman (RB), Justin Ellis (DL), Pernell McPhee (EDGE), DeShon Elliot (S), Bradley Bozeman (C)
Potential Cuts: Marcus Peters ($10 million), Alejandro Villanueva ($6 million), Tavon Young ($5.8 million), Ja’Wuan James ($3 million), Miles Boykin ($2.5 million)
The end is NEAR. Lamar Jackson’s rookie contract is coming to a close, with one playoff win to show for it. They’ll have to decide to go all in on a rushing quarterback who is coming off his first injury riddled season, or something impossible to envision considering the circumstances. It’s a veteran team who is running out of veterans.
9.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 10-7. Point Differential: +84 (8). DVOA: 0.0% (17). Cap Space $49,427,379.
Notable Free Agents: Riley Reiff (OT), Larry Ogunjobi (DT), C.J. Uzomah (TE), Jessie Bates III (S), Quinton Spain (G), Auden Tate (WR)
Potential Cuts: Trae Waynes ($10.8 million), Tyler Boyd ($7.3 million), Vonn Bell ($6.4 million), Trey Hopkins ($5.9 million), Brandon Wilson ($2 million) Samaje Perine ($1.5 million)
The Bengals will be back. They just need to win three straight one possession games in the postseason again. Stop penciling Laremy Tunsil to Cincinnati. Jonah Williams isn’t the issue, and if they want to pay for a left tackle, they’d be better off trading up, or signing one in free agency. They also need a right guard, and left guard in addition to that.
EYES ON ARIZONA
8.) San Francisco 49ers—Record: 10-7. Point Differential: +62 (12). DVOA: 19.5% (6). Cap Space —$4,478,456.
Notable Free Agents: Jason Verrett (CB), Laken Tomilson (G), D.J. Jones (DL), Raheem Mostert (RB), K’Waun Williams (CB), Jeff Wilson (RB), Jaquiski Tartt (S), Dontae Johnson (CB), Arden Key (EDGE), Daniel Brunskill (G), JaMycal Hasty (RB)
Potential Cuts: Jimmy Garoppolo ($25.5 million), Jimmie Ward ($3 million), Samson Ebukam ($6.5 million), Emmanuel Moseley ($4.8 million), Charles Omenihu ($2.5 million)
Garoppolo won games. The team, talent, and scheme carried them. Trey Lance wasn’t good last year though. Maybe he will be next year, who knows.
7.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 12-5. Point Differential: +172 (2). DVOA: 30.9% (1). Cap Space —$22,154,885
Notable Free Agents: Keanu Neal (S), Leighton Vander-Esch (LB), Cedric Wilson Jr. (WR), Carlos Watkins (DL), Ty Nsheke (OT), Jayron Kearse (S), Randy Gregory (EDGE), Malik Hooker (S), Michael Gallup (WR), Dalton Schultz (TE)
Potential Cuts: Amari Cooper ($16 million), Tyron Smith ($5.4 million), Anthony Brown ($5 million), Blake Jarwin ($3.8 million), Jourdan Lewis ($2.3 million)
6.) Tennessee Titans—Record: 12-5. Point Differential: +65 (11). DVOA: -3.0% (20). Cap Space —$8,131,578.
Notable Free Agents: Ben Jones (C), Jayon Brown (LB), Anthony Firkser (TE), Rashaan Evans (LB), Geoff Swaim (TE), Harold Landry (EDGE), Randy Bullock (K), D’Onta Foreman (RB), Khari Blasingame (RB), David Quessenberry (OT), Teair Tart (DL), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (WR)
Potential Cuts: Zach Cunningham ($10.4 million), Kendall Lamm ($3.1 million)
Everything broke for the Titans last year. They fought through injuries to lock up the one seed, homefield for the postseason, Derrick Henry back from injury. Then Todd Downing happened. Ryan Tannehill is good enough to win a Super Bowl. Tannehill with Downing as his offensive coordinator isn’t. Thank God Tim Kelly will fix all that.
5.) Los Angeles Chargers—Record: 9-8. Point Differential: +15 (16). DVOA: 8.5% (12). Cap Space $56,298,356.
Notable Free Agents: Linval Joseph (DT), Chris Harris Jr. (CB), Mike Williams (WR), Jared Cook (TE), Oday Aboushi (G), Uchenna Nwosu (EDGE), Andre Roberts (WR), Senio Kelemete (G), Michael Schofield (G), Christian Covington (DT), Jalen Guyton (WR)
Potential Cuts: Bryan Bulaga ($10.7 million), Michael Davis ($5.3 million), Drue Tranquill ($2.5 million)
Brandon Staley stole the show with his press conferences talking about humility, or coaching, or people, or whatever, while scheming for an all-time terrible run defense, getting ran out of the building by Rex Burkhead, and allowing Joe Lombardi to neuter Justin Herbert. He stands naked in the mirror, groaning, screaming. The Chargers should have been a Super Bowl contender. Instead they missed the playoffs because of their coaching staff. They have plenty of cap space to fix their defensive line. Enjoy it. Savor it. Don’t let Herbert’s rookie contract pass you bye.
4.) Green Bay Packers—Record: 13-4. Point Differential: +79 (10). DVOA: 11.5% (9). Cap Space —$53,610,970.
Notable Free Agents: Davante Adams (WR), Kevin King (CB), Robert Tonyan (TE), De’Vondre Campbell (LB), Lucas Patrick (G), Whitney Mercilus (EDGE), Rasul Douglas (CB), Equanimeous St. Brown (WR), Allen Lazard (WR), Krys Barnes (LB), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR)
Potential Cuts: Aaron Rodgers ($19.8 million), Z’Darius Smith ($15.2 million), Preston Smith ($12.4 million), Randall Cobb ($6.7 million), Billy Turner ($3.3 million), Dean Lowry ($4 million), Marcedes Lewis ($2.4 million)
If Rodgers stays, this is the best team in the NFC. As long as it isn’t snowing, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only team who could slay them. Without Rodgers, the Packers will have to suffer their first season without incredible quarterback play in 30 years.
3.) Kansas City Chiefs—Record: 12-5. Point Differential: +116 (5). DVOA: 17.5% (7). Cap Space $11,188,535.
Notable Free Agents: Tyrann Mathieu (S), Anthony Hitchens (LB), Jarran Reed (DL), Melvin Ingram (EDGE), Charvarius Ward (S), Daniel Sorensen (S), Byron Pringle (WR), Chad Henne (QB), Blake Bell (TE), Demarcus Robinson (WR), Alex Okafor (EDGE), Jerick McKinnon (RB), Andrew Wylie (OT), Orlando Brown (LT)
Potential Cuts: Frank Clark ($12.7 million), Mecole Hardman ($3.9 million), Harris Butker ($2.7 million)
It’s still the Chiefs, despite all their warts, and upcoming losses. Their rookies and young talent that excelled last year will only improve. As long as Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill are healthy, they’re up here.
2.) Los Angeles Rams—Record: 12-5. Point Differential: +88 (6). DVOA: 21.6% (5). Cap Space —$21,623,914.
Notable Free Agents: Von Miller (EDGE), Darious Williams (CB), Sony Michel (RB), Austin Corbett (G), Odell Beckham Jr. (WR), Joseph Notebloom (OT), Troy Reeder (LB), Sebastian Joseph (DT)
Potential Cuts: Andrew Whitworh ($16 million), A’Shawn Robinson ($5.5 million)
The Rams did it. They went all in year after year. Kept swinging. Kept missing. And finally they connected. Turning Jared Goff into Matthew Stafford allowed them to run a dominate shotgun passing attack when they’re default play action-wide zone game wasn’t cranking. This saved them against Tampa Bay, and Cincinnati, and now they can run it back.
1.) Buffalo Bills—Record: 11-6. Point Differential: +194 (1). DVOA: 27.7% (2). Cap Space —$6,358,197.
Notable Free Agents: Jerry Hughes (EDGE), Mario Addison (EDGE), Emmanuel Sanders (WR), Vernon Butler (DT), Mitchell Trubisky (QB), Levi Wallace (CB), Efe Odaba (DL), Isaiah McKenzie (WR), Harrison Phillips (DT)
Potential Cuts: Mitch Morse ($8.5 million), Cole Beasley ($6.1 million), A.J. Klein ($5.1 million), Jon Feliciano ($3.3 million)
Josh Allen went to Kansas City and outplayed Patrick Mahomes in a playoff game. He slayed the dragon, he did it all, then, like the Balrog, a long whip pulled him into the deep. Kansas City returned with him on the sideline, sitting atop the tower, while the impossible occurred. The Bills will have more talent than the Chiefs, and quarterback play just as good. They’re the team to beat.