NFL Power Rankings: Redskins fall, NFC South on the rise after Preseason Week 1
Nobody would be surprised if these teams went on Super Bowl runs, but they just might not have the ammunition to get it done this year.
6. Kansas City Chiefs. As long as Patrick Mahomes is the quarterback of the Chiefs, they should be competitive. He seems unlikely to match his historic first season as a starter, but he will lead a very strong offensive attack.
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However, the team downgraded the trenches on both sides of the ball and switched to a 4-3 defense and sent some of their best players (Dee Ford and Justin Houston) packing as a result. Frank Clark will help replace them, but this defense still doesn’t intimidate many. The offense will allow them to keep pace, but the defense may blow a couple of close games and that could keep them from winning a title.
7. Green Bay Packers. With Aaron Rodgers back behind a healthy offensive line, the Packers look better on paper than they did at the end of last year. Especially with Davante Adams becoming one of the league’s most consistent receivers. They have improved on defense as well, signing Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Za’Darius Smith to help out on that side of the ball. They are an all-around solid team with few holes. Their only weakness is their lack of overall depth, which could become an issue if injuries strike.
8. Los Angeles Chargers. I initially had the Chargers in the top-five on this list, but I’ve moved them down because of their lack of stability on the offensive line. Russell Okung is still on the NFI list after recovering from a pulmonary embolism. That, coupled with Melvin Gordon’s holdout, creates some questions about the offense. Still, Philip Rivers should be able to competently lead this unit while the defense appears to be very strong on paper.
9. New Orleans Saints. Some may be surprised to see the Saints ranked this lowly, especially given that the team nearly made the Super Bowl last season. However, the team has suffered some big losses this offseason. RB Mark Ingram, DT Sheldon Rankins, and C Max Unger stand out, but Unger’s loss will be the biggest. He will be replaced by talented rookie Erik McCoy, but it could take time for him and Drew Brees to develop chemistry at the line of scrimmage. If so, the offensive line could be worse than expected. Additionally, Rankins’ Achilles injury weakens their pass rush, so that could negatively impact their defense.
The Saints can still win the Super Bowl, but their team certainly has regressed a bit since last year.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, but that should give them more unity in the locker room. Adding Devin Bush and Mark Barron to play linebacker should greatly improve the defense. So will the addition of cornerback Steven Nelson, so perhaps the demise of the Steelers is overexaggerated. They are still going to be very hard to beat in the AFC North.
11. Los Angeles Rams. The Rams made the Super Bowl last year, but it may be hard for them to get back there. They still have plenty of receiving weaponry and a brilliant coach/coordinator duo of Sean McVay and Wade Phillips. But the team downgraded two positions on the offensive line (left guard and center) and now that unit is shaky, especially with Andrew Whitworth turning 38 in December. Todd Gurley’s knee issues also could have an impact here and if the running game isn’t as strong, the passing game could suffer. The Rams are still playoff contenders, but I don’t think they’re as strong as they were last season.