Dunton text me asking why we have never done power rankings for the NFL here at Wayniac Nation. It was a good question that I had no answer to, so I asked him who he thought were the best teams. We went back and forth a bit, but narrowed it down to the first ever Wayniac Nation NFL Power Rankings.
Here’s the bottom line. The NFL is at an all-time low. I’m old enough to remember watching the scab season of 1987, and the bottom five teams in the NFL remind me of that. It’s a different era. Injuries are more rampant because teams are more careful. Instead of missing one week to recover, players are missing multiple weeks. Several teams are on their third or fourth quarterback or running back already. Practices are shorter, so that means the development takes longer. Since Roger Goodell rather make money off of four meaningless preseason games instead of cutting it down to two, most of the stars sit out much of preseason to avoid contact instead of working on the basics. Pure fundamentals are missing from today’s game.
So to pick ten good teams is a lot harder than it has ever been. Instead of picking ten overall, Dunton and I picked the five best from each conference. We will continue to do so until the playoffs at which point, our power rankings will consist of the 12 teams that remain.
AFC Top Five:
No. 5. The San Diego Chargers. I read a stat that if the game ended at the two minute warning for the Chargers first five games, they would have been 4-0-1. No team has been more ravaged by injuries over the past few seasons, but the Chargers are putting it together shorthanded.
No. 4. Kansas City Chiefs. Lost one of the best running backs in the NFL? No problem, we’ll make Spencer Ware a star. Lost ol’ reliable Alex Smith? No problem, we’ll get two wins out of Nick Foles. The Chiefs aren’t great at any one thing, but they are really good at everything.
No. 3. Denver Broncos. This is not the same team. The defense is still good, but the offense is even more inconsistent than it was with an old Manning at the helm. Still they are the defending champs, and must be respected.
No. 2. Las Vegas Raiders. In our Ridiculously Early Predictions series, I took a lot of heat for saying the Raiders would be 6-3 at their bye. Well, people we’re right, I was wrong. They are 7-2, knocking off the defending champs… just like I said they would.
No. 1. New England Patriots. This is a no-brainer. Tom Brady is immortal and Rob Gronkowski is just heating up. They just traded their best defender, which means they will likely become stronger on defense behind some guy you’ve never heard of.
NFC Top Five:
No. 5 New Orleans Saints. Dunton and I really struggled coming to an agreement. He felt the Panthers deserved credit, now healthy and seemingly coming together. But here’s the bottom line. The only team that has a better offense than the top two teams in each conference is Drew Brees and his Saints. They are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and they beat the Seahawks and nearly beat the Chiefs. They lost by one to start the season against the Raiders, and really didn’t look themselves until week four. Now they are rolling.
No. 4. Detroit Lions. Matthew Stafford should be in MVP talks. The Lions have not won or lost a game by more than a touchdown all season. They could easily be undefeated or winless at this point from all the close games. They pure uncertainty of who they really are makes them exciting to watch.
No. 3. Seattle Seahawks. They are the Seahawks. They could be 1-7 at midseason, and we would still believe they had a chance for the playoffs. Russell Wilson is a premier quarterback in this league and in an era of bad quarterback play, he will always keep the Seahawks contenders.
No. 2. Dallas Cowboys. That offensive line has turned Dak and Zeke into superstars. They are one of the most exciting teams to watch in a rather ho-hum 2016, and they’ve lost one game this season… by one point.
No. 1. Atlanta Falcons. Dunton and I went back and forth between the Cowboys and the Falcons, but it came down to this. The Falcons have played five teams on these rankings and they have rose victorious three times. The other two, they blew in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter and lost both by five combined points. Both the Cowboys and Falcons have suspect defenses, but the Falcons have simply competed at a high level against a much tougher schedule.
So… did we get it right? Let us know and come back next Tuesday for our second power rankings of 2016.