Here we go again with our third installment of the NFL pre-season power rankings for 2017. This series of articles will finish on Friday, August 4th. The week football finally returns.
Without further ado here we go with 24-21:
24. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are another team like the New York Jets, who came in at 32 on this year’s list. The went into this year’s draft knowing they needed a quarterback but didn’t draft one that can play this year. Granted Nathan Peterman out of Pittsburgh could shock everyone.
Tyrod Taylor is their current starter, and he had flashes last year, but never looked like someone who could be an NFL starter. Throwing for 3,023 yards, with 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions his stats don’t jump off the page at you.
The rest of their offensive roster though is excellent. Boasting one of the best offensive lines the NFL has, along with a star running back in LeSean McCoy. The Bills should be able to be a contender off of their running game alone. Their receiving corps is another weak spot for them though.
The Bills used to have their defense to fall back on. After letting defensive end Mario Williams walk the last offseason, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore walk this offseason their defense is no longer as vaunted as it once was. So, the Bills offense will have to step up their game to make up for it. And with Taylor at the helm, I’m not sure that can happen.
23. Baltimore Ravens
I know I’ve been hard on the Ravens all year, but there’s a good reason for it. Their offense isn’t excellent. Which is confusing, they have the talent to be great.
The Ravens offensive line isn’t top of the line, but they’re okay. Their receiving corps is good, but they’re old. Their two starters, Jeremy Maclin, 29, and Mike Wallace, 30, are on their way out. They have guys beneath them who can play, but they need a few years before they are ready. The running backs, are on their way and can produce, but they are hit and miss.
Everyone on talented enough for them to be a great team. It just seems like no one is in sync on the field on gameday.
They worked on the defense this year and made it better. Drafting Corner Backs, Marlon Humphrey, and Jaylen Hill in this year’s draft to help sure up the outside of their defense. These players could make an impact early, and that’s what the Ravens are hoping happens.
Also adding five-year veteran safety Tony Jefferson to play alongside Eric Weddle, and sure up the defensive backfield. Their defense was already pretty good and adding these four players helped bring them along to greatness.
If the offense can just find their niche this year, the Ravens could be a contender. But in a division with the powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers, and perennial contender Cincinnati Bengals, it will be hard to win the division and make the playoffs.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Losing a star like Adrian Peterson will hurt any teams offense. Not only did they let Peterson walk their quarterback’s health is also a big question. They don’t have a viable target for their quarterback to throw to even if he was healthy.
Teddy Bridgewater, who tore his ACL in the 2016 offseason, and may miss the entire 2017 season as well. That leaves seven-year veteran QB Sam Bradford to take over the starting job.
After Bridgewater went down last year, the Vikings immediately made a trade for Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles. Playing for the Vikings in fifteen games last season Bradford threw for 3,877 yards, with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Bradford’s best season, since being drafted by the then St. Louis Rams, with the first overall pick, in the 2010 draft.
Even with Bradford’s best passing season in his career things fell apart for the Vikings. Starting the season off 5-0, they went into the bye looking like the team to beat in the NFC North. After the bye, however, things went downhill fast, and they only won three more games the rest of the season.
The blame can’t be placed solely on Bradford’s shoulders. Two weeks after the bye, with the Vikings sitting at 5-2 offensive coordinator Norv Turner unexpectedly resigned.
Bringing in a new offensive coordinator in the middle of the offseason, and trying to get the offense to learn a new system in that amount of time is hard. Most of the time it takes most teams a year before they start to gel. Bringing one in, in the middle of the season though, is an entirely different ball game. The entire offense had to learn a new system in a matter of weeks, and it showed they couldn’t.
Maybe after this year’s offseason the Vikings offense can figure things out and will be a better team overall. Their defense is already great. Hopefully, their offense can get it together, and keep up. If they can, then the Vikings will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC North, and entire NFL. However, Bradford has been hit-and-miss his whole career. It’s hard to have faith in him to be as good, if not better, this year than he was last year.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Poor Andrew Luck, I feel awful for the kid. A guy everyone had, and still has, pegged to be the next Peyton Manning. He has the talent to do it too. He was phenomenal in his first three NFL seasons. Throwing for a combined 12,957 yards, 86 touchdowns and 43 interceptions, Luck looked to be destined to take the Colts to the Super Bowl soon.
Luck lead the Colts to 11-5 seasons (2012, 2013, 2014) making it to the conference championship in 2014, against the Patriots losing in the infamous “Deflate Gate” game 7-45.
In the 2015 season Luck only played in seven games due to injury. The Colts played five different quarterbacks and ended up going 8-8.
Luck suffered multiple injuries during the 2015 season. A lacerated kidney and a tear of an abdominal muscle sidelined Luck for most of the season, and a shoulder injury suffered early in the season still has him sidelined going into this season. In fact, Luck still has yet to throw a ball in all the offseason programs.
The Colts problems can’t all be blamed Luck though. The defense hasn’t held its own, and it’s hard to win games when the opposing team can score at will on you. No matter how good your offense is, and the Colts have a pretty good offense too. The offensive line could use some work, allowing Luck to be sacked 156 times over his 70 game career. Aside from that, they have a good enough offense to make the playoffs each year.
With Frank Gore in the backfield, and T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett to throw too if Luck can nurse his injuries and return at full strength, and the offensive line can give him time, they Colts could be in the conversation for Super Bowl contenders again.
2017 NFL Pre-Season Power Rankings: 20-1 Coming Soon
We are winding this down. Getting closer to the end. Things will only get more interesting from here. Be sure to check back here next week for 20-17, and every week after that to see where your team lands. If your team is already on the list, then check back to see where your division rival ends up on the list.
Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to follow me on twitter.