Monday, September 24, 2018

Football Team Ranking System

I've done my baseball team rankings a while ago, and also showed how I used to stack them up back in the day.  Since football is just getting rolling, and I have a bit more of an opinion on those teams, here are my preferences when it comes to pigskin squads.  Unfortunately, I've undone any sets that I had in order the old way when I put them in binders recently.  Not sure I have any record of my old order.  But here's the current version:

1. Washington Redskins
It's one of the toughest tasks in football to be a Redskins fan, but I still do it.  Competing with Dallas and New York and the hype machines behind them, plus now the defending champions are the Eagles, the only thing that will make the pundits mention our names in the positive is the fact that AP is on the roster.  Our ownership has relented into just trying to market the team to their audience, rather than thinking we can ever win anything. We've had a couple good games so far, so we'll see how it goes.

2. Minnesota Vikings
The Ravens would have been here, but they have regressed the last couple years.  This offseason, there was a lot of quarterback movement too.  The most notable swap around here was, of course, Kirk Cousins going to the Vikings.  That team was a win away from the Super Bowl, and now it's going to be interesting to see if Kirk is the piece that puts them over the top or sets them back a step. He came out firing the first game, but a tie and then a drubbing by the not-so-lowly-any-more Bills makes it seem like things have changed.

3. Arizona Cardinals
I've kinda followed the Cardinals the last couple years.  Watched a their Amazon All Or Nothing show in 2016 and have had some of their players on my fantasy rosters.  When they had Carson Palmer at the helm and were very competitive, I thought if I wasn't a Redskins fan, (or if I disowned the team for owner shenanigans or something) that I could convert to a Cardinals fan.  This year seems a bit different, though.  Johnson is back, but ol' Sam Bradford has been pitiful, so we'll see if the rookie can bring them back up to snuff. 

4. Baltimore Ravens
A lot of teams go as their quarterback goes, as evidenced by my card choices for most of these listings.  That definitely rings true for the Ravens.  Joe Flacco (the most fun name to say of all QB's) determines the majority of their payroll, and as a result, also determines their competitiveness.  He's doing better this year, so the "other" local team is on the uptick.

5. Kansas City Chiefs
The "other red Indian team" has been on my like list ever since I won a couple fantasy seasons with (and started a major player collection of) Priest Holmes.  Now that their former veteran QB is running my favorite offense, it just adds to the appeal.  Not to mention that the kid in the picture is seriously killing it.  Always a quality organization and playoff contender in the last decade or two, this is a team I can get behind.

6. Denver Broncos
One of those staple teams for the 4:00 game on Sundays, the Broncos have been in the playoff hunt for most of the seasons since Jake Plummer stood under center.  I was never a big fan of Elway, but liked the team otherwise.  Peyton Manning cemented them as one of the top AFC teams, but they've kinda struggled since.  Case Keenum should bring some stability.  They will rely on his passing, since the times are gone when you could win with simply making 1000 yard rushers out of anyone that came to practice, like it seemed the Shanahans could.  (Until, of course, they came to DC.)

7. Los Angeles Rams
These guys are just coming up in the ranks of perennial contenders.  Of course, it's with a former Redskin coach.  It never fails that a former DC guy goes to another team and raises his game to another level.  The Rams are another afternoon game staple that make me think of Pat Haden, Vince Ferragamo, and Merlin Olsen - the latter more for calling the game than playing in it.  And Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce were pretty good too, not to mention guys named Faulk, Dickerson, Warner, and London Fletcher.  Rams games always seem to be high scoring, even though lately they've had some D-line studs.

8. Green Bay Packers
As I write this, Washington is celebrating their win over the Packers (again).  We seem to have their number in the last couple years.  But no one can deny that Aaron Rodgers is one of the all time greats.  And he inherited that title from the guy before him, that Favra dude who wouldn't quit.  Probably the franchise that the league can be most proud of, the Packers are the best at not being about the money, the hype, or the owners.  If we weren't playing them, they might be even higher on the list.

9. Atlanta Falcons
Yet another consistent winner with a marquee quarterback, the Falcons have been on the cusp of a dynasty for a good while.  They just seem to finish just short of winning it all every year or two.  The Michael Vick thing was kind of a blemish, but otherwise, they're sort of the dark horse big time team.  They have all kinds of star power, so it should just be a matter of time before they're over the top. I like them better now than back when they were the Dirty Birds.

10. New Orleans Saints
Who Dey?  They're the Cinderella story of the NFL several years ago.  They got this guy Brees from the Chargers who was allegedly washed up, and watched him take them to the championship, and become one of the most involved players in his community.  I remember back in the day, the Saints were what the Browns are now, and today they're winners.  This team knit the fans and the surrounding area so tight together it's remarkable.  Plus Brees is small in stature, but plays like one of the biggest superstars in the league.  They just never seem to have much on the other side of the ball.

11. Oakland Raiders
Deh Rrrraaaiidahs are really making waves in the league lately.  With Jon Gruden back on the sidelines, and the team heading for Vegas eventually, they are the most interesting team in the league.  Derek Carr is playing very well, and if they can keep their stars healthy, they will go far.  They've gotten away from being the bad boys of the NFL, though the Black Hole grandstand is still full of menacing characters.  But it is fun to watch the silver and black.  They should mic up Chucky for every game.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I would have put Ryan Fitzpatrick as the image here due to recent developments, but he doesn't really have any significant Bucs cards yet.  I was afraid these guys were going to be the bottom feeders this year (as did a lot of the pundits), but FitzMagic is going crazy so far, and it appears that it won't slow down any time soon even when Famous (for all the wrong reasons) Jameis comes back.  I'm glad to see this team do well, though a lot of it was that I hoped Winston could get his act together and succeed.  We'll see.

13. Houston Texans
If I'd have done this last year, I don't think there would have been half this many quarterbacks as the representatives of teams.  But this year seems to be the biggest season that either new QBs are taking over, injured star passers are returning, or big names have changed teams.  J.J. Watt is the face of this team, but I was very impressed by Deshaun Watson in 2017 and was anxious to see if he'd duplicate the performance this season.  Doesn't seem like he's blowing it up nearly as much, but it's early.  The Texans are as close as a football team can get to still reminding me that they're a recent expansion club.  They're just don't have any kind of multi-decade legacy, so it just feels like they're a half step below the majority of the NFL.  It's hard to explain, but I still kinda root for them when they're on.

14.  Indianapolis Colts
Always connected to my home state in my mind, the Colts are the team that left Baltimore in the middle of the night, and drafted the other guy right before we got RGIII.  Between Peyton Manning's long career there, and coach Chuck Pagano's Chuck Strong saga (and subsequent quiet exit), I think of the Colts as more about those stories than they're onfield accomplishments.  Lately their potential has vastly outweighed their success.

15. (San Diego refugees to) LA Chargers 
What is it with California teams and relocation?  The Chargers are now the football Angels in that they messed up their name by moving out of the city where they belong.  I'll never call them the LA Chargers.  That was over in 1961. They used to be the top team that always played the late game.  I watched Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, and Charlie Joiner many Sundays running their Air Coryell offense.  Now, Philip Rivers has been there since 2004 and they always seem to follow the same pattern.  Start off slow, and then surge at the end to make the playoffs.  They reversed the trend a time or two recently, but haven't put it all together quite yet.  They miss LT and thought that the immortal Antonio Gates was done too, but he came back for this year. 

16. Jacksonville Jaguars
This image should have probably been one of their defensive guys, but I was looking them up by team and this R&S card came up.  Since I wanted to keep the card selections diverse, I went with it.  This is another emerging team that has made some noise from time to time but never really made steady progress.  Bortles is closer to Trent Dilfer than Mark Brunell, but he's shown flashes.  Guys like Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Jaylen Ramsey, and Myles Jack hope to be the newest version of the 2000 Ravens, who proved defense wins championships.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers
The most popular team in my local area, the Steelers have been moving toward being the football Red Sox or Penguins for the last couple years in my mind.  Big Ben plays great, but is kind of a putz in real life.  AB is amazing and he knows it.  These guys always win a few games by dumb luck or favorable calls, so they're no longer the team you marvel at like back when Bradshaw, Swann, Stallworth and Mean Joe ruled the field.  They have the biggest fan base of all 32 teams, but the hype is taking over just a bit too much for my tastes.

18.  San Francisco 49ers
I resisted the urge to put Colin Kaepernick up here, but he's not playing any more anyhow.  The Niners will always be about Joe Montana and Steve Young.  But recently, they've been more visible for the National Anthem controversy than for their onfield play.  A lot of that is because they're on the left coast.  It's still strange to me that they made it to the Super Bowl a few years ago and now are just getting back to competitive form...maybe.  With all that's happened to put them in the headlines, it's easy to focus on everything but the team on the field.

19. Cincinnati Bengals
These guys play in the shadows of the Steelers and the Ravens most of the time.  And are even overshadowed by the Browns' futility (that hopefully just ended) as well.  Marvin Lewis has been there for what feels like forever, and they don't really make a lot of progress.  Delinquent players and injuries to key stars always seem to derail any hope they build up.  They have plenty of star power, but just keep hitting the wall at the playoffs.

20. Detroit Lions
Detroit and Cleveland should become sister cities.  Bound by a common thread of futility, those two should merge and maybe they'll catch a break.  But seriously, this team is like the Charlie Browns (no pun intended) of the National Football League.  If Stafford doesn't mess up in a critical moment, they'll get a bad call or bounce that kills their chances.  I think my friend Stuart (who's a fan of theirs) would agree that it's almost as hard to be a Lions fan as it is to follow the Redskins.  People just don't hate their owner quite as much.

21. Chicago Bears
Da Bears have had the second longest list of starting quarterbacks both since 2000, and in the entire Super Bowl era.  Trubisky succeeds a short period of relative stability that was vacated when Jay Cutler left (after Sexy Rexy departed for DC).  Chicago is always about defense, though.  Their legacy is linebackers, especially MLB's like Singletary, Butkus, and Urlacher.  Now they have Khalil Mack wreaking havoc and carrying on the tradition.  At some point, though, they'll have to figure out how to score points.

22. Buffalo Bills
I actually had Nathan Peterman here, but his tenure has ended quickly.  I feel for the Buffalo fans who not only joined Minnesota in witnessing four Super Bowl losses, but all in a row!  But that only goes so far since one of them was against Washington.  They could have beaten Dallas at least once!  But I digress... I really liked it when they went with the white throwback helmets and colors.  The red was just meh.  Too bad they may turn out to be starting over completely after just making the playoffs last year to end a long drought.

23. Carolina Panthers
I really rooted for Carolina in their Super Bowl against the Patriots with Jake Delhomme.  They just seemd to give up at the end.  The current team starts and ends with Cam Newton.  He's a great player, but is a little too full of himself.  I'd like him on my fantasy roster, but not as an actual teammate. My favorite Panther was Stephen Davis, but more for his time with another team.  (Three guesses).

24. Miami Dolphins
A long way from the undefeated squad from '72 (who capped it against the 'Skins), the 'Fins are making progress after a decade of .500 or less (except 2016).  The press on them this year was that they wouldn't do much, but Tannehill is top five in several QB categories.  Miami hasn't caught my attention since the Ricky Williams days, except when they continued the trend in the league of messing with their graphics, with an inferior result.  The logo isn't horrible, but the unis overall aren't as good looking.

25. New York Jets
The lesser of the New York teams, the Jets don't get nearly the love that the G-Men do.  Must be because that would divert attention from the league favorite Patriots in their division.  Though I will say that they've had two televised games already this year, and Sam Darnold is holding his own among the top fledgling signal callers.  Being more famous for butt fumbles and kissing Suzy Kulber doesn't bode well for their success.  They are very successful in maintaining a balance of classic and modern uniform design.

26. Cleveland Browns
I am glad to say that I witnessed the Browns' first win in more than two seasons.  The ultimate underdogs, you can't help but root for them at this point.  Though the administration has to have the worst draft legacy of all time.  They just can't seem to get it right.  Baker Mayfield hopefully breaks that tradition.  Putting the team name on the uniforms like the players and fans would otherwise forget wasn't the best decision either.  Yes, when I get to the bottom end of the list, I resort to uniform aesthetics.

27. Philadelphia Eagles
As a division rival, the Eagles automatically qualify for the back end of these rankings.  But as (another) team that defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl, they earn a couple bonus points.  I actually liked Donovan McNabb against everyone else, including T.O., but can't give them a high rank otherwise.  But I can say they're the least hated of the three NFC East competitors.  They got their championship, so maybe they're fans will mellow out a little.  The fans are more hateable than the team, really....

28. New York Giants
The blue is nice.  Lawrence Taylor was a beast.  And they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl - twice!  That's about all I like about the Giants.  They are behind only the Pats and Cowboys on the list of most hyped teams in the league.  Even if they're 0-for the season, they will be on TV every week, and the talking heads will go on and on asking why they aren't winning, like it's a violation of the league rules or something.  It's all about the market size.

29. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle, and the Oilers that became the Titans, were my other two favorite teams as a kid.  This was at the time of Earl Campbell and Dan Pastorini, as well as Jim Zorn and Steve Largent in the 'Hawks initial years.  Now, Seattle has become a hated matchup in the 'Skins few playoff appearances.  Plus, they're another QB-centric team like Carolina, who are a little overachieving (meaning lucky).  They've also delved into bizarre uniform color combos every now and then.  The Legion Of Boom have moved on, and with them the perennial playoff hopes of the remaining team.

30. Tennesee Titans
Not sure how the Titans ended up this far down.  Like Gregg Easterbrook used to call them, the Flaming Thumbtacks are a decent team.  Mariota has brought them up from total failure, but even when they changed divisions and got away from Pittsburgh and Baltimore, they're still stuck behind the Colts and Jacksonville most of the time.  They never show up on an East coast broadcast, so I don't have much else to say, except that they have done the most to mess up their unis this season.  Egad, those helmets are hideous!

31. New England Patriots
As I've said many times before, Brady is accurate, makes good decisions, and has played consistently forever.  But I just get sick of broadcasters gushing over his Godliness.  Put him on Buffalo or the Browns and see if he's still superhuman.  He doesn't throw 80 yard bombs, doesn't scramble, and won't get over 20 rushing yards a game.  They make it sound like he does everything himself.  Belechick is the reason they win so much.  Brady is just the guy who is there all the time.  Otherwise, they'll use 47 different guys on offense in the course of a season.  Gronk is goofy enough that you can't completely hate him.  And Pat Patriot was better than the Flying Elvis they have now.  They should do a Bills and go back to the retros full time.

32. Dallas Cowboys
There's Dak, on the sidelines where I hope to see him when they play Washington.  I'd put Ezekiel Elliott up here to mix it up, but I can't stand to look at him.  Dallas will always be my most hated team since they're the arch rivals to the Redskins.  Especially since their owner pays extra to get his way in the league.  And he's in the Hall Of Fame?  For what?  Revenue generation?  Puhleeze.  They're the biggest recipient of the Hype Machine in the entire league.  It's a league and media crisis when they're losing.  (And they are).  They stole the Thanksgiving tradition from Detroit.  And I can't even watch the cheerleader training show because it's just tragic to watch those innocent young girls be seduced to the Dark Side.

So there you go.  Like anyone, my rankings are based on winning, or star players, but often it's more about the connections to my #1 team, or merely uniforms.  At least I've seen more of these teams play a couple times recently.  There are some baseball teams that I never see.  At some point I may try to recreate my preference list I had as a youngster, but I'll have to find it recorded somewhere first.  I know it will be radically different from this one.  But the league changes every year.

1 comment:

  1. Great list. Way too challenging for me to rank the middle of the road teams, but here's my modified short list:

    #1t Seattle Seahawks - I became a Seahawks fan in 1981 after visiting my cousin at UW. He was a huge Hawks fan, so I followed his lead.

    #1t Green Bay Packers - I grew up in a 49er household and couldn't stand them. The Packers were my parent's 2nd favorite team (they met in Wisconsin), so it was kind of like a compromise (a team we could both cheer for).

    #3 Detroit Lions - My best friend's husband is a Lions fan and has converted her. I enjoy cheering for underdogs, so if they're not playing the Packers or Seahawks, I'll typically cheer for them.

    #4 Cleveland Browns - Another team that has sucked for so long... I'm pulling for them on most Sundays.

    #5 to #26 Any other team on this list

    #27 New England Patriots - Tired of seeing them win titles.

    #28 Arizona Cardinals - NFC West Rivals

    #29 Minnesota Vikings - NFC North Rivals

    #30 Chicago Bears - Packers biggest rival.

    #31 San Francisco 49ers - Most of my family are diehard 49er fans. I'm the odd man out. Seahawks biggest rival.

    #32 Dallas Cowboys - They're the New York Yankees of the NFL.