Every week during the NFL season, Colin puts out his Herd Hierarchy NFL power rankings, and today he put out his first Hierarchy for 2017.
Here are his Top 10 teams heading into Week 1:
10. Minnesota Vikings – After struggling to run the ball last year, the Vikings have added rookie of the year candidate Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. Colin loves their roster. They have playmakers, a solid defense, and were great last year when Sam Bradford was upright.
9. Carolina Panthers– Colin has been critical of Cam Newton’s ability to win from the pocket, but he likes Carolina to bounce back from a 6-10 2016. The Panthers are 31-12 in Newton’s career when he doesn’t throw an interception, and if he can get the ball to Christian McCaffery and Greg Olsen on high percentage passes, it should cut down on his turnovers.
8. Oakland Raiders – Colin already loved Derek Carr and the Raider offense, and the addition of Marshawn Lynch, especially in short yardage and goal line situations should make them even more effective. They’re going to score a ton of points, and they’ll need to, because other than Defensive MVP Khalil Mack, their D is atrocious.
7. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys strength is their dominating offensive line, and even if Ezekiel Ellliott misses time due to suspension – which it looks like he will – they’ll still run the ball. Dak will continue to improve after an impressive rookie campaign. Zeke or no Zeke, the Cowboys are legit, but Colin still likes Philly to win the NFC East.
6. Tennessee Titans – The Titans were 4-1 over their last five games last year, and have an an unparalleled commitment to the run game with the two-headed running back monster of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Marcus Mariota established himself as a true franchise quarterback last year and will be helped by an upgraded receiving corps. They also get Indy without Andrew Luck and division doormat Jacksonville twice, which should be three guaranteed wins.
5. Philadelphia Eagles – Philly was 5-1 before losing tackle Lane Johnson to suspension last season. He’s back, and Carson Wentz has better weapons around him and should continue to improve. Pro Football Focus has their o-line ranked ahead of Dallas, which is a major factor why Colin has them winning the NFC East, and likes them as a dark horse to win the NFC.
4. Pittsburgh Stelers – The Steelers have the best skill position star trio in the NFL with Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. The return of wide receiver Martavis Bryant should make them even more dangerous. The additions of rookie T.J Watt and former Browns corner Joe Haden are defensive upgrades. Colin likes them to win the AFC North and grab a playoff bye.
3. Green Bay Packers – GM Ted Thompson has finally embraced free agency and improved key roster deficiencies in doing so. The Pack has made the playoffs in 8 straight seasons and should win a weak NFC North. With an MVP candidate in Aaron Rodgers and an elite head coach, the Packers are a contender to win the NFC.
2. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks have had a Top 5 defense for the past five years, and this edition looks like the best they’ve had since their Legion of Boom Super Bowl season. The late training camp trade for Sheldon Richardson from the Jets will instantly make their d-line even scarier. Russell Wilson struggled with injuries for most of last season, and should be considerably better in 2017 if he can stay healthy. Colin has Seattle as slight favorite over Green Bay to win the NFC.
1.New England Patriots – The defending Super Bowl champs lost Julian Edelman to a season ending knee injury, but Gronk is back, and new acquisitions Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett should pick up the slack in the slot. The Pats have won 10 or more games in 14 straight seasons, and should have the weak AFC East wrapped up early. Brady and Belichick make New England the clear cut favorite in the AFC, and the clear-cut best team in the NFL.