Monday Morning Quarterback’s Peter King has released his initial offseason rankings for the 2017 NFL Season and, no surprise, the New England Patriots rank #1. This isn’t a surprise because the reigning Super Bowl Champions should be the top slot on every single power ranking heading into next year; give me a call when they’re not at the top of the list.
King gave an unnecessary explanation as to why he has the Patriots ranked first and offers a nice projection for the team’s overall success.
“Not only do the Patriots have the best quarterback of his day and perhaps the best of all time, but Brady is part of a doggedly determined group of players and coaches who approach every game like a single entity and try to figure out how best to win it—and then play the 38th minute the same as the first and the 60th, no matter the score, no matter the conditions,” King writes. “What does that mean for 2017? Three new offensive pieces (Cooks, Gillislee, Burkhead) reinforce a strong offense. Assuming they learn the Patriot Way (who doesn’t?) New England should be in position to win AFC home-field for the 47th straight year.”
So King believes the Patriots will be the cream of the crop in 2017 and that Tom Brady and company should maintain their mental toughness as they pursue yet another Lombardi trophy.
But just because the Patriots rank #1 doesn’t mean it will be an easy task. King has four of the top five teams in the AFC.
2. Oakland Raiders
King notes that the Steelers have bolstered their offense and are hoping for some development from their defense. Pittsburgh made the final four of 2016, so having them in the top five makes sense.
The Titans are a surprise inclusion, but King believes their strong offensive line, improvements on defense (including the addition of former Patriots CB Logan Ryan), and the projected development of QB Marcus Mariota should push Tennessee towards the top of the league. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they get to kick around in an awful AFC South division.
And everyone should have expected the Raiders to make an appearance towards the top of the list because they’re portrayed as the underdogs with a chance of dethroning New England thanks to a great young quarterback in Derek Carr and a beastly defender in Khalil Mack.
With Carr healthy, the Raiders only lost three games in 2016: once to the NFC champion Falcons and twice to the AFC West champion Chiefs. However, they were forced to win a lot of shootouts thanks to a questionable secondary and were 8-1 in one-score games and 5-0 in games decided by fewer than 3 points; don’t be surprised if they go through a big regression.
King effectively projects the AFC playoff picture, with four teams from four different divisions in his top five. Add in the Chiefs in 8th and the Dolphins and Broncos at 12th and 13th, respectively, and that is a near repeat of the 2016 playoffs, with the Titans supplanting the Texans in the AFC South.
What do you think of these rankings?