The Best and Worst NFL Teams of 2016
Rest easy, National Football League fans. The 2016 football season is rapidly approaching. The 2016 NFL Draft came and went, and training camp is in session. Aside from a few roster moves involving veteran players who we will inevitably see before and during training camp, every team’s roster for the upcoming season is set.
With that being the case, we put together our post-draft power rankings, which reflect every team’s offseason moves. Here’s what we came up with.
32. Cleveland Browns
The reality of the situation in Cleveland is that the Browns have holes all over their roster — despite having 14 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft — and they are still a long ways away from being competitive in the AFC North. Expect to see things get worse before they get better for the Browns in 2016.
31. San Francisco 49ers
When you truly think about it, it’s shocking how far the 49ers fell over the last two seasons. In case you’ve missed it, they went from being one of the premier franchises in the league with one of the best head coaches in the business (Jim Harbaugh) on their sidelines to being arguably the worst team in the NFL with one of the most controversial coaches (Chip Kelly) in the game running the show. Needless to say, it will be several years before we see the Niners competing for another Super Bowl title.
30. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have a legitimate franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers, but beyond that, there isn’t much to write about. This team is officially in rebuild mode.
29. Tennessee Titans
The Titans have done well for themselves in the past two drafts, but still aren’t quite ready to contend in the AFC South. On the bright side, the addition of offensive tackle Jack Conklin should help them keep second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota upright, and on top of that, the team is armed with loads of draft picks next year.
28. Detroit Lions
Losing a future Hall of Famer in Calvin Johnson to retirement obviously stings, but that is far from the Lions’ only issue going forward. Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s career is at a proverbial crossroads, their offensive line play left something to be desired in 2015, and their defense took a major step backward last year. This team is capable of surprising some people, but we just don’t see it happening.
27. Chicago Bears
The Bears are a popular pick among NFL experts to turn things around in 2016, but we just don’t see it. Their defense is still ill-equipped to stop a playoff-caliber offense, and it’s hard to expect a step back from quarterback Jay Cutler now that Adam Gase is the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. To make matters worse, the Bears have to deal with two of the better teams in the NFC — the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings — within their division.
26. New Orleans Saints
Based on what we saw last year, future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees is inching closer and closer to being just another veteran playing on borrowed time, and their defense was laughably bad. The Saints should be better on the defensive side of the ball (which isn’t really saying much), but it’s still hard for us to consider them true playoff contenders in the NFC.
25. Miami Dolphins
There is no arguing that the Dolphins have a fair amount of talent. If they ever truly gel, there is a good chance that this could be a playoff team in 2016. With that being said, we just don’t see them ending their seven-year postseason drought in 2016.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
By all accounts, the Eagles are committed to giving their first-round draft pick, quarterback Carson Wentz, a redshirt season in 2016. The fact that they aren’t going to rush his development leads us to believe that the folks in Philadelphia are building for the future. That said, the NFC East is wide open, and the Eagles are talented enough to make a surprise run if things go well for them this season.
23. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens had a disastrous season in 2015, and we just don’t see things getting much better in 2016. Even with his outstanding play during the 2012 season, we aren’t sold on Joe Flacco being a legitimate franchise quarterback. We also have serious concerns about the Ravens’ rapidly aging defense. We don’t doubt that Ozzie Newsome, who is one of the best General Managers in the league, will turn things around in Baltimore, but it won’t happen in 2016.
22. Buffalo Bills
The Bills have talent all over the field, but will they gel, stay healthy, and put together a complete season in 2016? Only time will tell, but our initial suspicion is that their postseason drought will continue.
21. Atlanta Falcons
After failing to adequately address their defensive issues this offseason, the 2016 Falcons likely won’t be a much different team than they were in 2015. They should have no problems lighting up the scoreboard with an offense that is full of firepower, but it will be hard for the Falcons to win games if they continue to struggle on the defensive side of the ball.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have a young roster full of talent and potential. Their offense will give opposing defensive coordinators headaches if quarterback Jameis Winston takes the next step in his development. They were able to drastically improve their defense (on paper) this offseason. If things go well in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers could prove to be a surprise postseason contender in 2016.
19. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have their quarterback of the future in Jared Goff, an All-Pro caliber running back in Todd Gurley, and one of the best defenses in the league. However, with Goff looking like the team’s Week 1 starter as a rookie — behind a subpar offensive line — the Rams will likely struggle in 2016.
18. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts will only go as far as quarterback Andrew Luck carries them. For Luck to find success in 2016, he will need his teammates to stay healthy and his offensive line to do a better job of protecting him. The Colts will still have issues on the defensive side of the ball, but if Luck returns to the All-Pro form he flashed in 2014, this team will contend for a playoff spot in the AFC.
17. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders had an excellent offseason. On paper they now look like a team that could contend for the AFC West title in 2016. However, we need to see their offseason success translate to on-field success before we truly buy in.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are in a similar situation to the Oakland Raiders. They have a roster full of young talent — aided by their stellar 2016 draft class. If they play up to their potential, the Jaguars are capable of winning the AFC South in 2016.
15. Houston Texans
The Texans went all-in on quarterback Brock Osweiler, and as long as the 25-year-old signal caller proves to be an above-average player, the Texans will be tough. If he struggles, even J.J. Watt won’t be able to save them.
14. New York Jets
The Jets have a top-notch defense, and everything in place to be successful on offense if they can get their quarterback situation figured out before the start of the season. Simply put, if Ryan Fitzpatrick is back under center, the Jets are a playoff-caliber team.
13. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are talented and experienced, but in our eyes, they didn’t do nearly enough to close the gap between them and the other top contenders in the AFC this offseason. They will benefit from having running back Jamaal Charles back in their lineup, but if All-Pro pass rusher Justin Houston misses time, their defense will suffer. We won’t be surprised if the Chiefs make a return trip to the playoffs, but we will be surprised if they don’t make another early postseason exit.
12. New York Giants
The Giants spent huge money this offseason, and we are confident that their financial risks will reward them on the field in 2016. In a wide open NFC East race, the Giants are the team with the best quarterback (in our opinion), and they should be vastly improved on the defensive side of the ball this season. If they stay healthy and see things break their way, the Giants could be one of the better teams in the NFC in 2016.
11. Dallas Cowboys
As we learned in 2015, the Cowboys success (or lack thereof) hinges on the health of quarterback Tony Romo. If he is healthy and stays healthy, this team could be special in 2016. If not, the Cowboys could end up picking in the top-10 in the 2017 NFL Draft.
10. Washington Redskins
The Redskins surprised everyone on their way to winning the 2015 NFC East title. After their impressive offseason, they should be even better in 2016. As we previously mentioned, the NFC East will be wide open this year, but this time around the Redskins won’t sneak up on their opponents.
9. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have everything in place to contend in the NFC in 2016. They proved that they can play with anyone in the league last year, and were actually a shanked 27-yard field goal from knocking off the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 NFC Playoffs. A lot of their 2016 season will depend on the development of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but as long as Adrian Peterson is healthy and their defense is at the top of its game, the Vikings will be competitive.
8. New England Patriots
Don’t fly of the handle here. This ranking reflects the Patriots without quarterback Tom Brady, who as of now is suspended for the first four games of the season. If we knew Brady was going to have his suspension overturned, the Patriots would be the No. 1 team in our power rankings.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
Will this be the year that the Bengals finally get over the hump and win a playoff game? They have everything in place to be one of the top teams in the AFC (again), but it will be all for naught if they make a sixth-straight early playoff exit in 2016 (again).
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers may have the best offense in the league, which should be enough to keep them in every game they play this season. If their defense comes together, this could be a Super Bowl-caliber team.
5. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers will again be one of the top teams in the league, but we actually see them taking a small step back in 2016. Here’s why. They lost All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman and failed to adequately replace him, and they did little to improve their lackluster offensive line.
4. Arizona Cardinals
When it comes down to it, the Cardinals may actually have the most complete roster in the league. They proved in the past that they can play with and beat anybody, but they will have to stay healthy to do so in 2016. This team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
3. Denver Broncos
Most people are worried about the Broncos’ quarterback situation, but in reality, their quarterback play in 2015 was nothing short of disastrous and that wasn’t even enough to keep them from winning the Super Bowl. Despite losing Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, the Broncos should have one of the best defenses in the game again. As they proved last year, it is all they need to compete for a world championship.
2. Green Bay Packers
The Packers had a great offseason thus far. They will be one of the top contenders to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LI next February. They should be better on defense, and the return of wide receiver Jordy Nelson will definitely boost their offense. And, of course, they still have the best offensive player in the game in quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
1. Seattle Seahawks
As long as the Seahawks can keep their nucleus (Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Jimmy Graham, and Kam Chancellor) intact during the prime of their respective careers, they will be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. As of now, the Seahawks are the team to beat in the NFC.