By Bryan Dietzler
Well, folks, the 2017-18 NFL season came to a big close after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in a close contest that was a lot of fun. The Eagles are now the top team in the NFL and will be the team to beat in 2018. There are some that say that the dynasty that the Patriots have built is starting to come to an end. It might appear that way right now, but you cannot count this team out. They will continue to win and be one of the best in the NFL.
Now we get to our final NFL Power Poll of the season. The Eagles lead the poll of course, and all of the playoff teams are at the top. After that, we get an idea of where those teams that didn’t make the playoffs fit and what we might expect from them next year.
So, without further delay, here is the final NFL power poll as we head into the 2018 offseason. Where does your team rank?
- Philadelphia Eagles-The Eagles overcame a lot of adversity to win the Super Bowl. Who knew that Nick Foles would lead them to the promised land. Will there be a quarterback controversy next year or will Carson Wentz get his starting job back?
- New England Patriots-Was this to be the last hurrah for the New England Patriots? Not likely. There may be some changes this offseason, but this team is going to be one of the best and a tough one to beat in 2018. Expect them to return with a vengeance.
- Jacksonville Jaguars-Hey, the Jaguars almost beat the Patriots and would have had they had some playoff experience. Expect this team to be playoff bound again in 2017 as they make an effort to go to their first Super Bowl ever.
- Minnesota Vikings-The Vikings were crushed in the NFC Title game but if they can get most of their pieces back this year, you can expect them to be pretty solid next season. The quarterback spot will be the position to watch in 2018. What are they going to do there? Is Case Keenum going to be back or will someone else take over?
- Los Angeles Rams-The Rams have a lot to learn about playing in the playoffs and will figure things out eventually. This team is headed in the right direction and with some consistency and a couple of additional players, they should be able to repeat their playoff trip in 2018.
- New Orleans Saints-The Saints were just seconds away from an NFC title game berth but lost a heartbreaker. Now the question is will Drew Brees be around in 2018. Is he going to be too costly? Are they going to want to start building for the future at quarterback?
- Atlanta Falcons-The Falcons weren’t able to repeat as NFC Champions this season and have some work to do. Their defense needs some help but their offense, which was what got them to the Super Bowl in 2016, was not nearly as good in 2017. They need some new pieces there. Perhaps a second season in the offensive system will do them some good.
- Pittsburgh Steelers-Sure, the Steelers had an early playoff exit but this team is loaded with talent. A few more pieces in the right place and they will be a playoff contender again next season. But the big question remains, will Ben Roethlisberger keep playing or will he retire? We will see.
- Kansas City Chiefs-These guys should be ranked lower because of their playoff debacle as well as the trading of Alex Smith but I have some faith in them. Andy Reid should be able to get his squad ready for 2018. However, it will all hinge on the development of Patrick Mahomes and how far he can come along in 2018.
- Tennessee Titans-The Titans changed head coaches after their playoff loss to the Patriots so there may be a bit of a drop off in 2018. But not that much of one. This team is talented and if they miss the playoffs it won’t be by much. Expect big things out of Tennessee shortly.
- Carolina Panthers-The Panthers made a run for it but just couldn’t get anything going in the playoffs. With some additions to the roster, it should be a much better season in 2018 and they could almost easily make the playoffs again. They are a team on the rise.
- Buffalo Bills-There will be better days ahead for the Bills. Once they get their quarterback situation figured out, this will be a consistent playoff team. They are headed in the right direction.
- Baltimore Ravens-The Ravens had an odd season. There were periods where they couldn’t do a thing but then other times where they looked like world beaters. Consistency is what they lack and they will need to work on that to have success in 2018. Don’t be surprised if this team makes a strong playoff run.
- Seattle Seahawks-The Seahawks need to get some players back healthy and work on their offense a bit. With some retooling, they could easily become playoff contenders once again.
- Los Angeles Chargers-The Chargers had a nice run towards the middle and end of the season but fell just short of making the playoffs. They are poised to contend with the Chiefs for the division next year as you could expect Kansas City to take a step back. Will Los Angeles take advantage?
- Dallas Cowboys-It wasn’t a great year for the Cowboys and that’s what happens when you base your offense off of one player. In 2016, Ezekiel Elliot was the offense but due to his suspension for most of 2017, Dallas struggled. They will need to find other, better ways to win in 2018.
- Green Bay Packers-The Packers could be back but it could be much more difficult without some of their assistant coaches. Does head coach Mike McCarthy have a plan and will it succeed? Are the Packers headed for mediocrity? It’s possible they are.
- Oakland Raiders-The Raiders have their head coach but does he have the talent to turn them into winners? I believe there is some talent there and that this team will be in the Super Bowl in the next few seasons. Jon Gruden should be able to work his magic and get them there.
- Detroit Lions-Sure, a coaching change might set the Lions back a little bit but with the offense they have, they should still be competitive. Look for them to win a few games as they seek to rebuild their defense and get some additional weapons for Matthew Stafford.
- Washington Redskins-The Redskins are going to have a new quarterback but do they have anyone he can throw the ball to? And what about their offensive line and defense? Sure, they may have a great quarterback but the supporting cast isn’t going to help him win that many games.
- Miami Dolphins-Will head coach Adam Gase have the Dolphins ready to go in 2018? He has a new offensive coordinator in Dowell Loggains who failed miserably in Chicago. Will he be able to do any good in Miami or are the Dolphins doomed?
- San Francisco 49ers-The 49ers have their quarterback locked up with a huge contract. Needless to say they think he can do the job. Let’s hope he doesn’t turn out to be another Brock Osweiler or Mike Glennon. But there is something different about him. Can he be a success?
- Cincinnati Bengals-The Bengals have longtime head coach Marvin Lewis back and are poised to try to do better things in 2018. Will they be able to recover from a dismal 2017 campaign and get back on a winning track or are they doomed to repeat last season’s failure?
- Houston Texans-I would expect the Texans to move up in this poll when they get all of their players back healthy. Look for DeShaun Watson and J.J. Watt to be back and ready to help lead this team to bigger and better things in 2018.
- New York Jets-The Jets are a team that’s on the rise. Just a few more pieces and they should be able to contend for a playoff spot. They did a lot better than this writer thought they would do in 2017 and have nowhere to go but up.
- Chicago Bears-The Bears have nowhere to go but up. A new head coach should give them plenty to be excited about and they should do better. With some better players and an improved offense, Chicago could be playoff bound in a season or two.
- Arizona Cardinals-The Cardinals have a long way to go to get back to respectability. Quarterback is going to be their biggest issue and I would look for them to take one in the 2018 NFL Draft. Give them a couple years and they should be able to get back to some semblance of being a good team.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers-The Bucs will have one more season to get it right before their coach gets let go (should he not be able to right the ship). This team has a lot of holes and are a ways away from the playoffs. Maybe they will get the help they need this offseason.
- New York Giants-The Giants have a lot of work to do but should be headed in the right direction. Let’s hope that Pat Shumur does the right things and gets them moving forward again. A big question here is just how much does Eli Manning have left? How much longer will he play?
- Indianapolis Colts-The Colts are starting over with a new head coach so there could be some dark times before they see anything positive. Let’s hope that Andrew Luck is able to play in 2018. Without him, Indianapolis is pretty much sunk.
- Denver Broncos-The Broncos aren’t going to do too much until they get a quarterback. That should be their main goal this offseason. They also need to look at fixing their defense which took a step back in 2017. Will they get back on track next season?
- Cleveland Browns-There is nowhere for the Browns to go but up. After such a dismal 2017 campaign, can they have a better 2018?