Bucs Storm Ahead
ITB's NFL Power Rankings: Tampa Bay Debuts At 1
In our weekly NFL team rankings, we’ll grade them by:
– Current Injury Issues
We don’t subscribe to the theory that a team with a lesser record can’t be ranked higher than a team with a better record. It’s about how they look as
of now based on the criteria listed above:
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): Once they get back veteran WR Mike Evans this week and get WR Chris Godwin back in the lineup soon, their offense will take off. And thankfully for them, their defense has been the best in the NFL, which is why they will go far this season.
2) Philadelphia Eagles (3-0): I know their schedule might be the most favorable in the NFL, but the Eagles have played the best football of any team in the NFL. We’ll get a true idea of just how good this team is when they play the Cowboys (twice) and Packers, but they’re off to a great start.
3) Kansas City Chiefs (2-1): We’re starting to see the loss of star WR Tyreek Hill take its toll the last two weeks. However, the good story with this team is the improvement of the defense, which could actually be a reason why they make another strong run in the playoffs.
4) Buffalo Bills (2-1): They have some very concerning injury issues in front of them in the secondary (CB, S), which could be a reason their regular-season record doesn’t wind up being as good as most thought it would be to start the season. However, they’ll still be a playoff team and will make a strong playoff run, as they have the best QB in the NFL and are well-coached.
5) Miami Dolphins (3-0): HC Mike McDaniel has put together an outstanding offensive scheme and is finding a way to use the offensive talent he has been given the right way, which was a big problem with the previous coaching staff.
6) Los Angeles Rams (2-1): Their offense hasn’t looked as good as many thought it would be to start the season, but HC Sean McVay is generally very resilient, so there’s no concern here for them making the playoffs.
7) Green Bay Packers (2-1): If this team wants to make another strong playoff push, QB Aaron Rodgers will have a find a way to trust his young group of wide receivers. The defense – as has been the case for the last few years – is one of the NFL’s best, which is why they’ll win the NFC North.
8) Dallas Cowboys (2-1): If anyone thought this team would be 3-0 (including last season’s one game) without starting QB Dak Prescott I’d like to hear legitimate reasons why. But in addition to the way #2 QB Cooper Rush has played, we’re starting to see why so many personnel observers around the NFL thought their defense was perhaps the best in the NFC.
9) Baltimore Ravens (2-1): There are some concerns with their RBs and OL, but overall, the Ravens will make a strong run to return to the playoffs this season.
10) Cleveland Browns (2-1): Give veteran QB Jacoby Brissett credit for his good start and HC Kevin Stefanski kudos for the way he’s managing the journeyman signal caller so far.
11) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1): As one of the NFL’s biggest surprises so far, the Jaguars loaded up their roster in the off-season with a lot of quality new talent on both sides of the ball and it has showed this far. They have as good of a shot as any of the four teams in the AFC South to win that division.
12) Cincinnati Bengals (1-2): It’s hard to believe, but their offensive line problems from last season haven’t gone away. Still, there’s enough talent on this team to win the AFC North or to earn a Wild Card spot.
13) New Orleans Saints (1-2): When you look at this team, it’s very talented in several areas. However, the real issue is at QB, where Jameis Winston needs to play consistently good football if they’re to make the playoffs.
14) Minnesota Vikings (2-1): They’ll be a team that will push for a Wild Card spot in the NFC, but will come up just short due to issues
at CB and a few other positions.
15) Denver Broncos (2-1): Nate Hackett certainly has looked a bit overmatched in the early going, but a lot of rookie head coaches have not looked good early on over the years only to get things going in the right direction as the season progressed. And if their defense can continue to carry them, the Broncos, could still make a late playoff push.
16) San Francisco 49ers (1-2): The loss of star LT Trent Williams (high ankle) is worrisome. And if veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo continues to play this poorly, they definitely won’t be a playoff team.
17) Los Angeles Chargers (1-2): Things were promising to start the season, but they have too many injuries at key positions and won’t be a playoff team this season.
18) Carolina Panthers (1-2): Their defense, like last season, will have to carry them this season if they want to push for a Wild Card spot in the NFC.
19) Arizona Cardinals (1-2): They’re what you could call a true “middling” team when you look at their issues on both sides of the ball (OL, pass rush, secondary).
20) Detroit Lions (1-2): They certainly are a fun to watch, but the Lions still need to find a win instead of finding ways to lose (see last week’s loss to the host Vikings).
21) Chicago Bears (2-1): Talk about a fraudulent 2-1 record. Can QB Justin Fields really be this bad?
22) New York Giants (2-1): Their 7.5 O/U win total before the season began, I thought was very fair. The coaching with this team will be a big reason why they’re more competitive than most thought, but the reason why they won’t be a playoff team is due to personnel issues on the interior of their OL, at WR, and the secondary at CB.
23) Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1): They’ll be competitive most weeks, but the Colts roster needs a boost at LT and in the secondary if they want to return to the playoffs. And they also need to find their future at QB.
24) Washington Commanders (1-2): Their OL issues will be a big reason why they won’t come close making the playoffs this season.
25) New England Patriots (1-2): QB Mac Jones (high ankle) will miss a lot of time and they were already offensively challenged before he suffered his injury.
26) Tennessee Titans (1-2): I give this banged up team credit for a very nice win over the lowly Raiders last week. However, their OL issues and lack of a pass rush due to injury will be too much to overcome, which will prevent them from making a playoff push.
27) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2): Their QB and OL issues will be hard to overcome this season and the absence of star pass rushing OLB T.J. Watt (pectoral) will be a big reason why they won’t make the playoffs this season.
28) Atlanta Falcons (1-2): Just like last season, this team just simply lacks enough talent to make a playoff run. This is a total rebuild.
29) Seattle Seahawks (1-2): I give journeyman QB Geno Smith credit for his nice start to the season. However, I know they don’t like the word rebuild, but that’s what the Seahawks are going through, whether they want to accept it or not. Smith is a fine backup, but they need a long-term answer at the position.
30) Houston Texans (0-2-1): They’re certainly more competitive this season than the last few, but the Texans are in a total rebuild and it will take some time before they push for a playoff spot.
31) New York Jets (1-2): They had a great draft, no question, but the Jets are at least a few years away from being a legit playoff contender. And their schedule was perhaps the hardest in the NFL to begin the season.
32) Las Vegas Raiders (0-3): In some radio interviews I did before the season started, I warned people that the Raiders would not be as good as last season when they clearly overachieved. They have real issues on the back end of their defense, offensive line and depth problems at several positions.
– Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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