Pre-Free Agency Power Rankings: Potential Dumpster Fires


Free agency commences on March 13. With the eventual transition of some players to new teams, the power rankings will surely shift as a result of major signings. However, here at the very end of the 2018 league year, we will take one final look at the rankings.

Number 16: Pittsburgh Steelers (ELO: 1606)

The Steelers have a talent of a top 10, or even a top-five, team in this power rankings. However, with uncertainty surrounding quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, impending free agent running back Le’Veon Bell, and disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Steelers are in a relatively low position on the power rankings. With Bell and Brown likely to leave Pittsburgh at some point in the off-season, the Steelers must look to replenish their talent losses. Despite the losses, the Steelers will have a chance to win the division as the sophomore quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield could potentially struggle due to a learning curve. With the 20th pick the draft, the Steelers are in a position to snag a variety of talented players at nearly any position.


Number 15: Tennessee Titans (ELO: 1526)

The Titans were one game away from making the playoffs in 2018. The Titans have had very little change for them since the end of the season, but Delanie Walker should be back to start the 2019 season, giving them an offensive boost. The Titans may not improve dramatically, but they should figure to post a winning season for the fourth straight season in the 2019 campaign. In the final weeks of the regular season, former offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur unveiled a power running game headlined by Derrick Henry and his characteristically bruising style of running. If the Titans remain as an effective defense, quarterback Marcus Mariota will be in a prime position to push the Titans back into a playoff spot.


Number 14: Minnesota Vikings (ELO: 1555)

The Vikings had an incredibly disappointing 2018 season, failing to replicate a 13-win 2017 campaign. With new quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Vikings blew a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17. While Cousins will stay and most of the offense and defense has stayed in place, the luster of Cousins has faded dramatically, leaving the Vikings with room to fall down the power rankings if Cousins continues to struggle against top-tier opponents. Despite the rather poor showing for most of the season, the Vikings still landed minutes away from a playoff berth. Minnesota is in a position to contend in 2019, but they must resist any complacency in order to supplant the Bears.

Number 13: Cleveland Browns (ELO: 1431)

This is highest that the Browns have been in any power ranking in more than a decade. The Browns sport an electric quarterback in Baker Mayfield and a tremendous offense with the likes of Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and the potential output of Kareem Hunt after he serves an impending suspension. Defensively speaking, the Browns have Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward who have been stars even in their young days. The Browns look to win the AFC North for the first time since the original Browns relocated to Baltimore. While their current ELO rating does not reflect their presence in 13th place, the Browns have the highest ceiling of any team as they have stars all across the field.


Number 12: Seattle Seahawks (ELO: 1596)

The first of the playoff teams, Seattle had a rather effective 2018 season, finishing second in the NFC West and earning the fifth seed in the NFC. With an overwhelming amount of star power in the way of Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, Seattle can reach the upper echelon of the power rankings. However, talent at depth positions has been minimal in recent years, leaving Seattle without a guaranteed playoff spot moving forward. Receivers Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin were phenomenal in 2018, but Seattle’s real strength came from their league-leading rushing attack. Chris Carson was a revelation in the season, helping the potent attack reach its peak. In 2019, the Seahawks must replicate their innate ability to defeat teams at home in primetime scenarios. If the Seahawks can post a strong home record, they will almost certainly return to the playoffs.

Number 11: Houston Texans (ELO: 1521)

The Texans have one glaring weakness on their roster: the offensive line. While the Texans will look to address the offensive line over the next two months with acquisition through free agency or the draft, as of now, Deshaun Watson will spend most of the 2019 season on his back after being sacked. Watson does have arguably the best receiver in football in DeAndre Hopkins, but without a steady offensive line and effective running game, the Texans may be limited moving forward, especially with the rise of the Colts. Defensively, the Texans are led by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on the front line. Similar to their division rival Colts, the Texans started poorly before hitting a stride and winning almost every week after three consecutive starts to begin the season. If the Texans can balance their season, they could repeat as division champs and clinch a bye in the AFC playoffs.

Number 10: Indianapolis Colts (ELO: 1589)

The first of the division round losers, the Colts started the 2018 season with five losses in their first six games. After this terrible start, the Colts rattled off 10 wins out of 11 to secure a playoff berth and a date with the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round. After getting run over by the Chiefs, the Colts were left looking to the future as Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and the host of running backs had incredible seasons after the rough start. The Colts may have had the best draft of any team last season, acquiring All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson and elite linebacker Darius Leonard in the first two rounds. If the Colts can keep from starting out slowly again, they could be the number one seed in the AFC. Unlike years past, the Colts have a multi-faceted offense which does not solely revolve around the arm of Luck. Backs Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines proved to be capable of sustaining an effective ground attack both in the traditional way of running the football, but also in their abilities as receivers out of the backfield. Frank Reich worked wonders with the talent on the roster, and the Colts are poised to regain the AFC South title after a short hiatus.

Number 9: Baltimore Ravens (ELO: 1603)

The Ravens finished the 2018 regular season winning six of seven including road wins at Atlanta and at the Chargers. Despite the unproven nature of Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are in a situation to repeat as AFC North champions. With an elite defense, the Ravens will look to stay in the top 12 of the power rankings for the entire 2019 season, and any growth and Lamar Jackson’s ability as a passer could unlock the top few spots for the Ravens. With the promotion of Greg Roman to offensive coordinator, the Ravens have the brawns to repeat a commanding rushing attack from the 2018 season. After Jackson stepped in as the starter, the Ravens consistently produced gigantic running tallies as Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon broke run after run into the second and third levels of the defense. Despite the sudden halt to the season at the hands of the Chargers, the Ravens have the personnel to contend for a Super Bowl in 2019.



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