NFL strength ratings: If AFC West loads better, Urban Meyer’s expulsion keeps AFC South out of bunker

Everyone loves power ratings, right? I mean except for people who really have to produce it on a regular basis (thanks for that contribution to the community, Pete Prisco).

Thank God I don’t have to talk to them much. But I like to wade sometimes, especially this time of year. I like my good divisional power ratings. He seems to blow people up, make a fuss and get people after me in signs. It always seems weird to me (Do Titans fans, for example, really feel a call to defend the AFC South, which is always bad, and if so, why?). There aren’t really divisional alliances and loyalties for the most part, and these teams are generally a heated competition, but I find it amusing when fan bases that would normally attack each other decide to fan their collective ire at me for not respecting the quartet of teams they happen to share the rankings with.

But, as with all power ratings – someone has to be at the top of the list and someone else at the bottom. This is the way it goes (again, thank Briscoe, its inventor). And who am I to stand between, say, the Panthers and the Hawks fans who stick to each other for absolutely nothing, even if it is to let the writer know what his ass is for believing that their team’s inability to compete will therefore affect the overall quality of the football being played In NFC South this season? Heck, I give them credit for still having a pulse about those perks at all. Give me the rage and rage of indifference any day.

So, in the spirit of bringing people together, here’s my 2022 ranking for the power of division. I am sure you will hate them.

1. AFC West

Do I really need to clarify this point? Did you notice the off season? And yes, the chiefs still live here. They’ve been at least doing well in the AFC title match since Andy Reed and Patrick Mahomes started playing on a regular basis. Any of the other three teams might be able to make a case for most improvements, and I don’t think anyone would blink if at least three of those four were in their extended postseason. I will go ahead and crown them here.

2. AFC North

We all know that the balance of power in this league has swung wildly for this conference. This is reflected in these ratings and forecasts. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are annual contenders for the playoff. Big Ben hasn’t been giving the Steelers much in the past few years and Mike Tomlin is still not losing the season. That “D” is legit. The Ravens can’t have a return for injury case in 2021. The Bengals look like a franchise model with all their young talent still cheap and the Browns would probably still be in a good position, but they have the makings of a better defense and if Deshaun Watson plays most of the season and does that At the level he has performed with the Texans, then all four of these teams have a legitimate post-season shot.

3. Western NFC

I don’t know what to do with this group, but there had to be a third person. The Rams may have a moxie to repeat and we know they will continue to add their veterans to the roster before the trade deadline to further this quest. San Francisco has a Super Bowl if Trey Lance is ready, but that’s a big deal. Kyler and Kliff’s drama isn’t good for the Cardinals, and their issues on the offensive and defensive line will prevent them from being more than wild fodder again. Seattle lacks talent and will need time to re-establish itself as a competitor without Russell Wilson. However, I think West is doing well for a few watershed NFC teams, giving it a boost here, without much conviction.

4. AFC East

The Bills might have the best roster in football. This should prepare for something. And there’s no shortage of Lombardi lust after another tough exit. Miami really intrigues me and I can see them pushing for a wild spot. But the Patriots are going to fall back, I think, and maybe dramatically. The jets are inches about crawling at the end of the cliff, I think, but the guy who is a deep hole to climb out of I think is six wins at best. And it’s not so much in the grand scheme of things. If the bates are really falling, this would seem to be too high for this split.

5. NFC South

The Bucs might send Tom Brady a champ forever this time around. Or maybe you send him to Miami with another ring for his ridiculous collection. Either way, they’re a legitimate threat even without Bruce Aryan as head coach. But it is an older team in many respects. After them it gets really mysterious. I’m buying the Saints as a playoff team, but that means James Winston is healthy all season and Dennis Allen is different then the Raiders got him as president. Sean Payton’s loss will leave a mark, either way. As mentioned earlier, the Falcons and the Leopards have a lot of holes and are afterthoughts for me this season. But a Brady bump lands them at 5 and no less.

6.NFC North

I don’t think the Packers win another Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers, I don’t think they’ll win as many games as they have in recent years, and I’m not sure they’re even the best team in that division. Those might be the Vikings…but the Vikings didn’t win the Super Bowl, and that’s it. If Green Bay is in retreat, this seems like the right place to slash this group. The Lions still have years to compete, but they’re heading in the right direction, and the Bears seem intent on breaking Justin Fields this year and their long wait before finally appointing a new coach and GM will continue to bring the team back for now and into the future.

7. AFC South

Oh man, they make it really hard not to open them in the eight hole every year and forget about it. They want to keep this spot with revenge. But this year is addition by subtraction. Once Chad Khan finally woke up and knocked Urban Meyer out of the league, they got a bump. Just the fact that we don’t make him make fun of him anymore makes them come out of the basement. This is tremendous progress alone. To be commended. The Colts have a chance to be a factor too, and Carson Wentz’s (to NFC East no less!) replacement for Matt Ryan is another upgrade. The Jags can’t be terrible in football with Urban’s departure, though the Titans’ window for a big win is closed with Derrick Henry/Ryan Tannehill and the Texans don’t even pretend they care about 2022 as part of their three-year breakup.

8. NFC East

NFC is still the least for me. None of these teams has shown recent pedigree to be anything other than terrible to mediocre at best with any consistency in recent years. There is no legitimate threat to the Super Bowl, although I think the Eagles will be better than some think. However, I bet only one team from this group makes it to post-season, even though they will be feeding off each other. The Cowboys are in decline, the leaders are always smelly and the Giants are awash in rebuilding (although I think Brian Dabul and Joe Schwinn will finally get them out of it in the end). Be careful what you wish for in Woodbridge, Virginia. And with whom do you deal?

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