1. Seahawks - In one heartbreaking play call, Pete Carroll went from two time Superbowl champion to the supplanting Johnny Manziel as the butt of every internet joke and meme in the football world until draft day. Nevertheless, Seattle still has one of the best rosters in the league and adding Jimmy Graham to the offense should keep them atop the NFL pecking order.
2. Eagles - Chip Kelly has more riding on this season than any other coach in the NFL. The drastic overhaul made to the roster has theoretically strengthened both sides of the ball and could finally get this team past the first round of the playoffs. Bradford may not be worth the crazy first round money the Rams gave him but he’s definitely just as good, if not better, than Nick Foles.
3. Cowboys - Dallas couldn’t hang onto DeMarco Murray in the offseason but they did bolster their already NFL best offensive line that made Murray the breakout star we saw last year. Regardless, the Cowboys should have done more than sign an injury prone Darren McFadden to replace him especially with Romo always a hard tackle away from being sidelined with that frail back of his.
4. Rams - After building one of the most consistently dominant defenses in the league, Jeff Fisher finally has the offensive weapons to match. Foles and Gurley will supercharge this dormant offensive unit and make the Rams one of the biggest powerhouses in the NFC this year. Mark my words, this team is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
5. Dolphins - This is a make or break season for Joe Philbin and with a completely overhauled receiving corps and Ndamakahn Suh anchoring the defense, I think Miami may finally breakthrough the New England stranglehold on the AFC East. But all of it hinges on the expected continual progression of Ryan Tannehill, who’s certainly capable of taking this team to the next level.
6. Colts - The Colts have really only had to endure one awful season in the past 15 years so maybe that’s why management seems so inpatient in building a Superbowl contender now rather than waiting for the team to grow naturally. The AFC is definitely theirs for the taking but hedging your bets with aged veterans like Trent Cole, Andre Johnson, and Frank Gore could prove problematic with the offensive line acting as nothing more than turnstiles for opposing defenses. Luck’s running for his life on every play and if he goes down, it doesn’t matter how many veterans this team stacks in it’s offensive cannon.
7. Steelers - Pittsburgh finally cleaned house on their aging defense and as long as the new guys aren’t holding them back in the passing game as much as their over the hill veterans were, this team’s offense should be more than enough to keep the Steelers atop the AFC North.
8. Packers - Who would have thought Green Bay’s cataclysmic meltdown in Seattle would only be the second most devastating ending to a playoff game last season? And while any team with Aaron Rogers has a fighting chance, the defense continue to hold this team from any sort of deep playoff run.
9. Broncos - Seeing Peyton struggle the way he did last January against the Colts was jarring. Manning’s playoff record has never been spotless but seeing him physically unable to compete was something I don’t think anyone anticipated. But the team Elway has built around him should be enough to at least get him back in the playoffs. What he does from there is anyone’s guess at this point…
10. Texans - Houston’s defense is phenomenal and while adding Brian Hoyer may not be the headline grabbing acquisition of the postseason (hell Tebow’s signing got more press) but it should do wonders in improving the Texans’ offense. Cleveland’s going to regret letting him slip through their fingers because if things go right in Houston he could be somewhere the Browns haven’t been for what feels like an eternity - the playoffs.
11. Patriots - Dismantling the defense that finally got this team another Superbowl ring is almost as asinine as this whole deflate gate controversy. If this were any other team lead by any other coach, I’d say this team were destined for failure but I don’t think Belichic will let this team go down without a fight. I’m just not sure how much fight they’ll have left.
12. Vikings - Teddy Bridgewater turned out to be everything the Vikings could have wanted and more. And now with a reinvigorated Adrian Peterson in the backfield and Mike Wallace as his new number one receiver, the Vikings could be the sleeper pick of the 2015-16 season. 2nd year coach Mike Zimmer has the defense playing immeasurably better than when Leslie Frazier left it but this team will only go as far as Teddy can take them. Which has a huge potential for upside but it may be too much for the second year quarterback to bear. We’ll just see…
13. Chargers - Swapping the injury plagued Ryan Matthews out for Melvin Gordon should do wonders for stabilizing the San Diego offense and with the defense improving every year under Mike McCoy, the Chargers will remain an incredibly feisty opponent in a stacked division.
14. Bengals - Cinci has been the same middle of the road playoff contender ever since Andy Dalton started taking snaps and I don’t see that changing this year. Mainly because, they haven’t done anything to change in the offseason. Somewhere around 9-7 with impressive wins and galling losses, the Bengals will continue to be as mediocre as the man behind center makes them.
15. Chiefs - Am I the only one who finds it weird that Alex Smith’s receivers are the ones taking the blame for the fact that the Chiefs had 0 touchdowns from their wideouts last year? You know who has to get them the ball, right? Go ahead, add Jeremy Maclin and ditch Dwayne Bowe, it doesn’t matter when your quarterback looks like he’s throwing every pass underhanded. KC’s got a stellar defense, incredible coaching staff, and all star running game but Alex Smith will continue to keep this team as the best team to miss the playoffs year after year.
16. Bills - Buffalo’s added a lot in the offseason and with their smash mouth defense lead under the guise of new head coach Rex Ryan, the team could make a lot of noise next season. The problem however, as it has been with both the Bills and Rex for the past several seasons, is the instability at quarterback. Cassel did a hell of a job in his limited playing time in Minnesota but I’m not sure he’ll be able to shoulder the load in Buffalo, especially with a coach as offensively limited as Rex has been up to this point.
17. Lions - Detroit’s been a team carried by their offense for years but last season it was the exact opposite. Suh carried the defense and essentially the entire team and without him, Detroit’s going to have a hell of a team keeping up in the cutthroat NFC playoff race.
18. Ravens - Baltimore (and more importantly Joe Flacco) hasn’t looked the same since their Superbowl run and the massive contract that Flacco received shortly after. Losing Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels aren’t crippling by any means but it certainly doesn’t help them any. Neither does the loss of their offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak. Top that with the loss of Ngata and the only thing keeping this thing from the bottom of the AFC North is the Browns.
19. Cardinals - Arizona was the breakout story of last season but they lost a lot their key defensive players in the offseason. And while saddling up with Carson Palmer looked like a great idea in the moment, his injury plagued past and ever climbing odometer may have this team trending in the wrong direction this season.
20. Buccaneers - Tampa’s got a hell of a lot of potential this year adding Winston as their new franchise quarterback. Gerald McCoy is a bright spot in an otherwise underachieving defense, the offensive weapons are already in place for Winston to thrive and the NFC South is the softest division in football. It just depends how well Winston can handle the spotlight in the pro game.
21. Panthers - Carolina took quite a nosedive last season after dumping Cam Newton’s entire receiving corps and next season shouldn’t be any different. Newton’s maturation as a franchise quarterback has been impressive but his franchise needs to help him out a bit for this team to return to the postseason anytime soon.
22. Raiders - Second year quarterback Derek Carr got some nice additions to his arsenal in the offseason as new head coach Jack Del Rio could be in on the foundation of bright new start for Oakland. There’s still a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball but these are definitely not the downtrodden Raiders we’re used to seeing. They may only be a couple years away from being real contenders in the West.
23. Jets - Along with the Bills, the Jets also did quite an overhaul to their roster this offseason. However, New York’s going to need more than a too little too late Revis / Cromartie reunion to climb out of irrelevancy in the NFC East. Especially with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith duking it out for the starting quarterback position. Brandon Marshall’s a great addition but I don’t know who the hell is going to get him the ball.
24. Saints - New Orleans has some serious issues. The defense is a joke, Brees seems to be starting his decline and he just lost two of his best receiving options in the offseason. The cap will continue to haunt this team who can really only be described in one word: limited.
25. Giants - New York’s made some bad draft picks over the past few years that continue to haunt them but Odelle Beckham Jr. could be their saving grace. At least on the offensive side of the ball. Both of their defensive and offensive lines are huge issues and Eli’s interceptions are a huge problem. This team seems to be caught reliving the glory years, waiting for their once prominent saviors to walk into the sunset so they can start the next chapter. But Coughlin and Manning don’t look like their going anywhere, which could have this team anchored at the bottom of the NFC East until their inevitable exits.
26. Falcons - While Mike Smith’s exit in Atlanta was more than warranted, it does’t fix any of the personal deficiencies this team has on the defensive side of the ball. And while I like Matty Ice as much as the next guy, he just hasn’t looked the same without a steady running game to balance out the offense. It doesn’t matter how artificially loud your crowd is, there’s still not going to be much to cheer for in Atlanta. Well, unless you have Julio Jones on your fantasy team.
27. Browns - Cleveland had the playoffs within their reach last year but threw it all away on Johnny Football. And with Josh McCown as the only other option, this team’s offense is going to peter out even worse than last year. The team is solid in nearly every other facet but without a quarterback or steady running back, this team is going nowhere.
28. 49ers - San Francisco is being evacuated as if it were San Andreas in that awful Dwayne Johnson movie. No Harbaugh, no Greg Roman, no Patrick Willis, no Justin Smith, no Frank Gore, no Michael Crabtree? Who is this team? They’re even chasing kids under 30 into retirement. It’s crazy to think this team was in 3 consecutive NFC title games just a year ago. New head coach Mike Tomsula is in for one hell of a year.
29. Bears - I don’t really see John Fox as the savior the rest of Chicago does. Cutler’s immaturity continues to hamper this franchise and now that the defense has evaporated into thin air, there’s nothing special about this team whatsoever. They’ve got playmakers in Forte and Alshon Jeffries but that’s it. The rebuild in Chicago is going to take a lot more than chasing the old head coach out of town.
30. Titans - Getting Mariota is huge but that doesn’t fix one of the worst tackling defenses in the league. Munchack hasn’t done much of anything as a head coach in the league since Kurt Warner retired and if he can’t get this team playing better soon, he could be on his way out.
31. Redskins - Jay Gruden is in way over his head with this whole RG3 situation. And it’s only going to get worse. The team is floundering, with one of the league’s worst defensive units and an unreliable offense. To be honest, I think the team may be best to rid themselves of both Gruden and RG3 at this point.
32. Jaguars - Jacksonville has SOME pieces in place but mostly, they’re atrocious. They’re the worst team in the NFL yet again and losing their first round draft pick in OTA’s only helps to personify the misfortune this franchise has faced for over a decade. Hopefully Bortles continues to improve but with what he’s given to work with, it’s hard to see him having much of a chance.