WOYSM PRE-Preseason NFL Top 10.
With NFL training camps beginning just over a month from now, the smell of sweat, the sound of players grunting under the pressure of another, the coaches screaming out at players, faithful/hopeful fans showing up at scrimmages cheering and jeering and of course bench coaching. Soon it will all be gearing up full throttle and with that in mind, it’s time to start thinking about which teams will be vying for Super Bowl LII (52) some seven plus months from now. So what better time than now for WOYSM’s Top 10 NFL Teams (PRE-Preseason Edition).
One thing you can count on when it comes to the NFL pretty much every season, of the teams that finish in the top 10, rarely do better than 40% of those teams wind up in the top 10 teams the following season. there have been rare seasons when better than 40% returned to the postseason the next year.
The belief is that for a league to have 100% team parity each team would have a 37.5% chance of making the playoffs year in, year out. The NFL is as close a league as there is to matching the percentage. Below is a chart of different spans from 1970-2014 of the percent of NFL teams that made the playoffs the following year w/ the best span from 1990-1994 when 43% of the teams returned to the postseason the following year.
1982 57% (Strike year)
The WOYSM 2017 PRE-Preseason Top 10 does anything but follow that tradition this PRE-Preseason by listing 80% of last years playoff teams and if we should be correct in our assumption we would have shattered any preseason poll to date, so if you are in to betting on the underdog or overwhelming odds, put your money on our poll because it is certainly the poll for you.
This could be a breakout year as far as teams returning to the post because of a couple of reasons. Youth movement and because six of the WOYSM top 10 teams have made the postseason a minimum of 3-straight seasons with those teams having been the the minimum number of times being the youngest.
Last years biggest youth movement came on the offensive side of the ball and the biggest impact on that side of the ball came from the WOYSM’s top ranked team leading into the season.
- Dallas Cowboys: Last season the Cowboys managed to pull off one of their best drafts in years, when they picked RB Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio St.) with the overall 4th pick and stole 4th Round pick QB, Dak Prescott (Mississippi St.) in a move similar to the 5th rounder used by the Patriots to pick then unknown QB, Tom Brady (Michigan). Even though it’s FAR too soon to even begin to compare the two QB’s, If Prescott’s rookie season is any kind of measuring stick for the future, the sky’s the limit for this young QB. The big question mark for the Cowboys lies with their defense. Dallas lost a hand full of defensive players to free agency, including CB’s Barry Church and former first round pick Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys hope they were able to offset their losses, they used 7 of their 9 2017 draft picks on defense beginning with their #1 pick which was spent on talented pass rusher DE Taco Charlton (Michigan). Bottom Line: If the Cowboys can get their defense on the same level as their offense, LOOK OUT NFL, but for now thats a huge gap to close. One big plus for QB, Dak Prescott is that he will no longer have former QB, Tony Romo lurking in the shadows, he can reside with the fact that this is his team now, Nomo Romo.
- New England Patriots: You have got to ask yourself, “Just how much more does QB, Tom Brady have left in the tank”? Last year the 18 (YES 18) year veteran showed NO signs of slowing down after making his record 7th Super Bowl enroute to winning his 5th title. you can mention who the Patriots have on their roster or who they drafted back in April if you want, but the only 2-words you have to say which describes what gives New England a fighting chance of winning it all year in and year out are the words Bill Belichick. Every year since Brady became the Pats. starting QB you could just about name a new supporting cast, very few of which hung around very long and very few were ever household names. One has to believe as long as Coach Belichick and Brady continue to be a tandem you have to consider them as one of the favorites. Bottom Line: If Brady can remain healthy thru yet another season as well as the rest of the team, you can bet Coach Bill Belichick will find a way to get the Pats. back to the post.
- Oakland Raiders: Surprise, Surprise!! What would the Late Al Davis think if he were still around to see his Raiders return to prominence? Well it probably would depend on which Al you asked, the Al Davis that worked magic back in the 70’s and 80’s by bringing in troubled players rejected by other teams and making winners out of them or the Al Davis who became ridiculed by many for making so many bad choices when it came to draft choices or free agent acquisitions during his final years running the team. The Raiders failed to have a winning season 18 of the last 21 seasons and before last season when they were 12-4, they suffered thru 13-straight .500 win or less seasons. Enter 4-year veteran QB, Derek Carr, 3rd year WR, Amari Cooper and 4th year DE, Khalil Mack and you’ve got the nucleus of a championship contender. Bottom Line: Derek Carr must stay healthy. The Raiders showed they are very mediocre without the services of Carr after Derek suffered a season ending injury when he broke his fibula in week 16 against Indianapolis. Without Carr the Raiders lost in the wildcard rd. of the playoffs to Houston 27-14.
- Pittsburgh Steelers : The Steelers were up and down last season, barely qualifying for the post, But they do have plenty of talent and they showed it once the postseason did begin, falling one game shy of making it to the SB. QB, Ben Roethlisberger, RB, Le’Veon Bell and WR, Antonio Brown give Pittsburgh all the firepower they need on offense. Last season the Steelers defense was suspect, ultimately costing them a trip to SB LI in the end. The Steelers used their 1st pick of this years draft to select OLB, TJ Watt (Wisconsin) then in the 3rd Rd. they drafted CB, Cam Sutton (Tenn.). They used four of their eight picks on defense. Bottom Line: Two major factors will determine how much success Pittsburgh has in the upcoming season, 1. The health of Big Ben. Can he make it through the season with no major injuries? If he should go down the Steelers season is a lost cause 2. How much the defense improves from last season. If they are the same or worse they could miss the post if they are much improved and Roethlisberger can stay on the field then they got a chance to take it one step further than last season.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Head Coach Andy Reid got a nice pay raise and contract extension during the off season and rightfully so after he led the Chiefs to a 12-4 record last season. Since Coach Reid arrived at Kansas City in 2013 the Chiefs have enjoyed 4-straight winning seasons, making the post 3 of the 4 years. Even though incumbent QB, Alex Smith has had mediocre numbers at best, one thing he consistently does not do is throw Int’s. Since Reid’s arrival Smith hasn’t thrown over 8 Int’s in any one season. He has only 28-Ints. in 1,931 attempts over the four year stint. The Chiefs did however spend their #1 pick this year on QB, Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) whom Coach Reid is VERY high on, so there could be a change at the position in the near future. Bottom Line: Unless Smith is injured or unsuccessfully replaced by Mahomes, The Chiefs look primed to make the post for the 4th time under Reid’s guidance.
- Green Bay Packers: Anytime you have a healthy QB in Aaron Rodgers you always got a fighting chance to make the post and more. Even though Rodgers uncharacteristically struggled last season, it was due in large part to injuries. Rodgers looked more like himself when the Packers knocked the top seeded Cowboys from the playoffs and the big question marks for the Pack leading into this season are the defense which became a bit suspect last year and the weapons Rodgers will have at his disposal. The leading rusher last season was RB, Ty Montgomery with a mediocre 457 Yds on 77 carries with just 3 rushing TD’s. The 2nd leading rusher was none other than Rodgers himself and thats NOT a good thing. At WR the Packers are a bit more solid with WR’s, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. Bottom Line: If Green Bay hopes to make the post for the ninth straight season there’s no doubt Rodgers will have to remain healthy, they also need to have an established run attack much improved from last season in order to take pressure off Rodgers and their defense needs to improve. The O-line was good at times and at times not so good. Most importantly when you have the best QB in the NFL at your disposal you had BEST protect him.
- Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons Shocked the NFL world when they made the Super Bowl last season and almost shocked the New England Patriots when they jumped out to a 28 to 9 lead after 3 quarters. After that the football gods settled down as the Falcons stingy defense ended up yielding 19 4th quarter points to the Pats. enroute to a 34-28 loss. The biggest task for the Falcons will be making it back to a 2nd straight SB, but possibly not quite the task returning to the post. Atlanta still has a VERY potent team under 2nd year head coach Dan Quinn. QB, Matt Ryan, RB, DeVonta Freeman and WR, Julio Jones are still one of the best triple threats in the NFL. Bottom Line: The Falcons biggest challenge perhaps will come from within their own division as they will have to fend off up and coming Tampa Bay after the Bucs. posted their 1st winning season (9-7-0) under 2nd yr. QB, Jameis Winston and the losers of the 2016 SB, Carolina Panthers who will be trying to regain the top spot in the NFC South under the guidance of the Panthers pro bowl QB, Cam Newton.
- Seattle Seahawks: Last year the Seahawks showed signs of kinks in their armor and they nearly missed the playoffs altogether. QB, Russell Wilson was at best mediocre at times and very good when the team needed him most. The trademark of the Seahawks, their defense also showed signs of vulnerability. Seattle began the season looking like their typical winning self going 7-2-1 to start the season, they finished with a .500 mark the last six regular season games going 3-3-0, before going .500 in the post losing in the 2nd rd. of the playoffs to the Falcons. S, Richard Sherman seems to be unhappy these days in Seattle and RB, Marshawn Lynch has came back out of retirement, however NOT to play for the Seahawks, but the Raiders instead IF he still can. Bottom line: The Seahawks are going to have to become consistent again, they can’t pick up where they left off in 2016 or they could struggle to finish at .500. They have made the post in each of their last five seasons. One good thing is that for now the only threat in their division should come from Arizona.
- NY Giants: Many had the G-Men pegged to make the SB last season the way they played down the stretch winning eight of their last eleven. QB, Eli Manning had a good season completing 63% of his passes for 26 TD’s while throwing 16 Ints. with an 86.0 QBR. Even though Eli was in his 13th season he showed he still has plenty left in the tank. Under new head coach Ben McAdoo the Giants improved from their previous season under former head coach Tom Coughlin. One thing they managed to do that no one else could was sweep the Cowboys during the regular season. Manning has always been a thorn in the Cowboys side though. Bottom Line: Everything indicates that the Giants will have to continue to maintain pace with Dallas if they hope to win the east. They will also have to stay a step ahead of up and coming Philadelphia and Washington.
- Carolina Panthers: For the Panthers sake hopefully QB, Cam Newton has finally settled down after losing SB L to the Broncos. After Carolina manhandled the entire NFC in 2015 going 15-1 in the regular season and then looking like anything but against Denver in the SB. Last year they never got over the shock of that devastating loss only managing to win six games in 2016. The problem is they are a much better team or at least they were. RB, Jonathan Stewart is still a good back, Stewart managed 824 Yds. on 218 hauls with 9 TDs. Carolina drafted speedy RB, Christian McCaffery (Stanford) to hopefully take some of Stewart’s load. Newton currently has a slew of WR’s to choose from on the Panthers roster, thirteen to be exact. the most notable are WR’s Kelvin Benjamin and Damiere Byrd, neither of which pose a legit threat to the top defenses in the league. The Panthers defense looked anything but super in 2016 after the departure of CB, Josh Norman, they waited until the 3rd rd. of this years draft to pick a defensive player with their 4th pick. Bottom Line: QB, Cam Newton is just beginning to reach his prime and should have a LOT of good football left in him, of course he can’t do it all but the Panthers still have plenty enough talent to back Newton up. The question is will they be able to get up off the mat early after last years KO in order to gain confidence? If they falter early on it could get ugly, but for now we’ll give them a vote of confidence. Rank Team W L T
- Dallas 14 2 0
- New England 12 4 0
- Oakland 12 4 0
- Pittsburgh 11 5 0
- Kansas City 12 4 0
- Green Bay 10 6 0
- Atlanta 11 5 0
- Seattle 11 5 0
- NY Giants 11 5 0
- Carolina 10 6 0 Others Receiving Votes: Arizona, Tampa Bay, Tennessee & Miami Voters: Larry Leek & Zac Barnhart.