Dave Carney 9/15/2020
- Baltimore Ravens.
Wow, so Baltimore just went and got even better huh? How about that Patrick Queen (LSU) pick in the first round? How about the continued development of last year’s MVP Lamar Jackson (20-25, 275 yards 3TD’s 0 Ints)? Looking for weapons on the outside…well they’re covered there with “Hollywood” Brown (5 catches, 101 yards) or TE Mark Andrews (5 catches, 58 yards 2 TD’s), this team is loaded. In my preseason predictions I have the Ravens going a scary 15-1 and expect them to remain at the top of my weekly power rankings throughout the season.
- Kansas City Chiefs.
Likewise this is kind of a no-brainer. The SUPER BOWL champs came roaring out of the gates in a 34-20 win over the Houston Texans. It was the most expensive QB battle in the history of the league with Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Texans QB Desaun Watson each making over $40M a year..yikes! That said the game belonged to Mahomes who was uber efficient (24-32, 211 yards, 3 TD’s 0 Ints) and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU) who on 25 carries totaled 138 yards and a TD. That the Chiefs retained all of their key pieces from last years’ team and added star defensive tackle Chris Jones (3 solo tackles, 1.5 sacks) this team is loaded and will contend for another shot to go to the Big Game.
- Seattle Seahawks.
Russell Wilson. Is there anything this guy can’t do? Especially late in games? Wilson has played 46 fewer career games than Aaron Rodgers and still has 5 more fourth quarter comeback wins to his credit. Russell didn’t need that on Sunday though because he was brilliant going an assassin like (31-35, 322 yards, 4 TD’s 0 Ints) hitting targets like DK Metcalf, Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, and even TE Greg Olsen, Wilson was in complete control on offense. On defense, oh-no, watch-out…..the Legion of BOOM may be back with Jamal Adams in the secondary. Adams was an absolute game changer on Sunday tallying 12 solo tackles, getting 1 sack and controlling the energy and pace of the game. It’s rare to see a defensive player with as much impact as Adams, but that’s exactly what Seattle has at safety.
- Green Bay Packers.
Whatever it was that Aaron Rodgers saw on film from 2010-2011 must have been significant because the 36 year old Packers leader was surgical like in his approach against the hapless rookie corners of the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers scored 43 points on Sunday, the most ever given up by a Minnesota team coached by Mike Zimmer who’s been at the helm since 2014. The Packers offense especially was unlike any Packers offense before. Jet sweeps, run and pass fakes, tosses, short slants, and bubble screens were all on display. Matt Lafluer, who was at 13-3 the most successful first year head coach in Green Bay history has installed an offense that can keep up with even stout defenses like the Vikings. Where Green Bay still needs a little attention, defense. Giving up 34 isn’t going to get it done for 15 more weeks.
- New Orleans Saints.
The Saints stay in my Top 5, but barley. Beating what looked like a haunted ghost of a Tom Brady and a “why did I do this comeback thing” Gronk isn’t winning me over much. What is winning me over however is the total team package of the Saints and the coaching by Sean Payton. I’ve never understood why it was so impossible to sub in a QB for situational purposes? They do it for most every other position on the field, and heck in other sports, the starters get subbed out all the time. Point being, Sean Payton’s not afraid to buck conventional NFL trends and he’s going to use the weapons he’s got. Drew Brees still has some football in him, but not much in his arm. When the Saints need to go deep, they bring in Hill. When the Saints are hurting for some short yardage, they bring in Hill. I like seeing that, and it works. While it’s a little tough to tell just how good the Saints D is going to be after playing a shell shocked Bucs team, they did look pretty good Sunday. If that holds, I suspect their position in my Top 5 will as well.