1) Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 1 = E)
As I said on today’s show, the Eagles are currently the best team in football. However, that doesn’t mean they should be the favorite to win the Super Bowl right now.
With that out of the way, what we know about the NFL in 2017 is that top ten QB, top ten running game and top ten offensive line bolds well for the future which will be no different in Philadelphia. My concern lies on the defensive side where outside of Malcolm Jenkins, I don’t trust a single sole in the secondary.
I get this sounds weird to say about an 8-1 team, but I am reluctant to buy into this team…yet. I will tell the Eagles’ fans exactly what I need to buy in. Over the next four weeks, Philly plays at Dallas, Chicago, at Seattle and at the LA Rams, if they go 3-1 over that stretch I am all in. If not, I am still going to have serious questions about how much a Super Bowl threat they really are. Of course the fact that we are even talking about them in this way in an unexpected accomplishment in itself.
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 2 = E)
The Steelers had a bye week and no one underneath them did anything to step up enough. Here is what I said last week about why they are, yes, ahead of the Patriots:
I have been reluctant (an understatement) to buy into this year’s Steelers team. I have said it before I will say it again, this team is going to end up being the punching back for the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. However, now I would like to add a probably into that sentence.
Yes, it was a one week thing, but the emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster (or Martinis Bryant if the sides can work things out) would be huge. Adding a legitimate number two option behind Antonio Brown could reek havoc on a Patriots secondary and defense that has struggled to say the least.
3) New England Patriots (Last week: 3 = E)
A bye week for the Patriots was much needed as they still have a lot of question marks to figure out on the defensive side of the ball. Bill Belichick and company are nearly unbeatable after a week off and expect that to be the case against Denver next week.
4) Los Angeles Rams (Last week: 6 = +2)
I mean seriously, when are people going to start buying in on this team? Jared Goff and Todd Gurley are now consistently leading the charge of not only beating teams, but embarrassing them. They have the highest scoring offense and that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Believe it or not, their offense still hasn’t reached its full ability if guys like Sammy Watkins start to step up as well.
It sounds weird to say this about the Rams, but all they have to do now is take care of business against the Texans, Vikings, Saints and Cardinals over the next four weeks and go 3-1 which would put their record at 9-3. I get it sounds weird, but accept it, the 2017 Rams (who were projected with five wins or less on most sites) are about to be a ten-win team.
5) New Orleans Saints (Last week = 7 +2)
This offense is back to being the typical Saints offense. Drew Brees is on pace to have another nearly 4,500 yards season at the age of 38, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara make a very productive backfield, and after trading Brandin Cooks in the offseason, Michael Thomas and Ten Ginn Jr. have stepped up in a big way. They are the sixth ranked offense in the NFL and it isn’t a statical fluke.
Here is my problem, I can’t buy in on this Saints’ defense. A lot of the recent narrative has been about how much New Orleans’ defense looks different this year than past. Really? Because right now they rank in the middle of the pack statically. Don’t let that fool you though. Those are completely padded as they faced a Bears team with a rookie QB, the Bucs without Winston for the most the game, the Jay Cutler led Dolphins, and the Rodger-less Packers. When they did face a good offense, they gave up 36 and 38 points to the Patriots and Lions. Eventually, that is going to come back to hurt them. Probably not next week though when they face the Bills.
The rest of my top 10:
6) Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 5 = -1)
7) Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 10 = +3)
8) Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 4 = -4)
9) Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 8 = -1)
10) Carolina Panthers (Last week: NR)
-Article by Nick Friend
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