Here we go again with our fourth 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’s 20-17:

20. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers drafted pretty well, bringing in targets for quarterback Cam Newton to throw to, and keep him safe when he drops back to throw. Focusing on the offense with their first three picks, picking RB Christian McCaffrey in the first round, and WR Curtis Samuel and OG Taylor Moton in the second round.

McCaffrey is the biggest name on the list, coming out of Standford with 3,922 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns in his three-year collegiate career. Rushing for 2,019 yards in 2015, McCaffrey got the attention of every NFL team. The Panthers took him eighth overall in this year’s draft in hopes that he will help the offense that struggled last year.

The Panthers went from winning their division and making the Super Bowl. To finishing dead last in the NFC South, only winning six games.

Carolina is in a tough division as well, having to face off against the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Atlanta won the division last year and made it to the Super Bowl. New Orleans is always a contender to go deep into the playoffs, thanks to star quarterback Drew Brees. And the Buccaneers made moves this year to help them make a serious run at the playoffs this year as well. The NFC South could be the toughest division in the NFC.

19. Los Angeles Chargers

It’s weird to call the Chargers the Los Angeles Chargers.

Phillip Rivers is one of the best to play the game. The Chargers have always been a contender to him. Having LaDanian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson helped him out too. When they were all together though, the defense wasn’t outstanding. Now, the defense seems to be going in the right direction, and the offense is getting better every year too.

The Chargers biggest problem appears to be keeping their players healthy. With offensive stars like wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Melvin Gordon both missing much the 2016 season. Along with cornerback Craig Mager, and inside linebacker Denzel Perryman also missing the majority of the season.

Los Angeles’ luck seems not to have changed so far as their first round pick wide receiver Mike Williams suffered a back injury back in May and is still on the sideline.

If everyone can stay healthy, they could have a chance at winning their division. But they are in the toughest division in the NFL. Every team in the AFC West can make the playoffs, and a couple could be in the Super Bowl this year if they get lucky against Brady and the Patriots. Here

Here’s to hoping everyone can stay healthy and the Chargers can make their first year in L.A. better than the Rams first year was.

18. Miami Dolphins

I don’t know what it is about the Dolphins, but I want them to do well. Maybe it’s just because I want to see someone dethrone Brady and the Patriots in the AFC West, and Miami has the best chance to do that.

They are finally figuring out their defense, their secondary still needs some work, but the front seven is above average, and they have a good set of corners too. It’s just their safeties that need an upgrade.

They are set on offense, with only a second wide receiver needed opposite Jarvis Landry, and a couple more offensive lineman to help keep quarterback Ryan Tannehill from getting hit nearly as often. They already have one of the best young running backs in the game, in Jay Ajayi, so they’re set there.

Their success, like every other team in the NFL, hinges on their quarterback’s play. Tannehill has had flashes of looking like the guy in Miami; then he has games where he seems like he has no clue what to do.

If he can figure it out this year, and play at a high level, the Dolphins may be a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.

17. Houston Texans

 

Houston by far got the best quarterback in this years draft class. Neither Mahomes (taken by the Chiefs) or Trubisky (picked by the Bears), is ready to play this year.

Trubisky might get thrust into the role for the Bears, but unless he improves by leaps and bounds before then, he’s not ready.

The Chiefs have said openly that this is Smith’s team for this year. So, barring an injury on Smith’s part Mahomes won’t see the playing field significantly.

Watson is ready day one, even though Head Coach Bill O’Brien has said it’s Savage’s job to lose. Should he begin to play poorly, or Watson shines, like Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson did in the 2012 pre-season; Savage will remain the starter until next year.

However, not many teams have faired too well when they change quarterbacks in the middle of the season. The Texans would be better off to name one guy and sink or swim with him. And it you’re going to do that, let Watson start and see where the rookie can take you.

They have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Second, only to the Patriots. So making the playoffs, no matter who’s under center, should be easy for O’Brien and the Texans.

2017 NFL Pre-Season Power Rankings: 16-1 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 16-13, 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.

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