In case you haven’t noticed, things are a little quiet in the NFL right now.
That’s right, we’ve reached the dreaded Dead Zone of the calendar, where most of the big free agents have been snapped up, trades are on hold as GMs lounge in $300 Yeti beach chairs in Maui, the draft is well watched from the rear view mirror and training camp is still a month away.
But it is also a good time to take stock of where things stand. After all the transactions, how do things stack up in NFC? Here are my midsummer power rankings of the National Football Conference, going worst to first.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Gannon is an NFL head coach. It’s so wild! He may be a one-and-done coach, but at least he got that purchase of mansion for 10 million dollars under the wire! DeAndre Hopkins is likely on his way out, and if he stays, he won’t be happy. Kyler Murray can play a little, but the rest of this team is a dumpster fire, and Gannon needs to crater.
15. Tampa Bay Bucs
I’m sorry, but Baker Mayfield stinks and he’s the one trying to keep a crumbling roster afloat? Nix.
14. Washington Commanders
It’s a strange team. With Eric Bienemy, the offense could improve a lot, but it all comes down to Sam Howell. He’s an intriguing prospect, but far from a sure thing, but then again, so was Hurts two years ago! I think there’s a little less certainty with him, as well as the rest of the roster, than the teams I have ahead of them.
13. Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love, in the very very short time we saw him against the Eagles, looked pretty good, but this is a team ready to take a step back without Aaron Rodgers. It could only be a one-year thing, but from the looks of it, they’re the last team in the NFC North.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Can Geno Smith do it again? I say no, but good for him to have his career year and get the big money deal!
11. Atlanta Falcons
Anyone can win the NFC South, and there’s no doubt Atlanta had a productive off-season, acquiring free agent safety Jessie Bates III, linebacker Kaden Elliss, defensive tackle David Onyemata and defensive end Calais Campbell. But at the moment I like the QB situations in Carolina and New Orleans a bit better. Desmond Ridder has shown flashes and they got a capable backup in Taylor Heinicke who can take over if Ridder struggles. Atlanta could be a surprise team this year, but at the moment I have them lower in the rankings.
10. Chicago Bears
Count me in on Justin Fields Takes A Big Leap Club. He will improve as a thrower and he is already the best running QB in the league. I think he’s setting up a Jalen Hurts 2021-esque season for Chicago this year and potentially getting them in the playoffs.
9. New Orleans Saints
I’ve never been the biggest Derek Carr fan. I think he’s a little above average, but in the NFC that might be enough to sneak into the postseason, especially in a weak division. Playing better than their record, New Orleans proved to be a tough opponent that the Birds saw in the penultimate game of the 2022 season.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Everyone has always wanted a glimpse behind the scenes of what makes Kirk Cousins tick, so I know we’re all looking forward to this new NFL Films documentary, right? Minnesota won with smoke and mirrors in the ’22 regular season, then was beaten at home by the Giants in the wild card round. Cousins could see some slippage this season, his age at 34 years old, and I think they almost miss the playoffs.
7. Carolina Panthers
Bryce Young is going to be very good in his first season. Look for a very solid rookie campaign and possible NFL Rookie of the Year honors for a team on the rise. And it would be nice to see Miles Sanders have a good run there as well.
6. Los Angeles Rams
I’m here for the Matthew Stafford season. Sean McVay is still overrated.
5. New York Giants
There will always be a limit to how good this team will be with Daniel Jones at QB, but they really had no choice but to keep him. They’ve gotten a little better at wide receiver, a little faster, and Darren Waller is good, but they’re not elite at anything they do, and they play in the brutally tough NFC East.
4. Detroit Lions
We’ve seen teams that miss the playoffs but make a late charge and just fall short, jumping into the postseason mix the following year. Jared Goff is serious about throwing behind one of the best offensive lines in football to a group of dynamic receivers, backed by an ever-improving defense. The lions will take the Nordics.
3. Dallas Cowboys
Dak needs to stop throwing picks. If he does, Dallas will challenge the Eagles for the top spot in the East. They are still very, very good, and if the Birds slide, they could very easily win the division.
2. San Francisco 49ers
It all comes down to the QB. Will Brock Purdy be back, if so when? And can he repeat his magical performance from last year? It seems like everyone just assumes Purdy is picking up where he left off, but I’m not there. If he doesn’t, can Trey Lance stay healthy and do the job? And can the entire team stop whining long enough to focus on the rest of their schedule and forget about the Eagles? Will there be one NFC Championship Game loss hangover?
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Most experts agree that if the Eagles don’t have the best overall roster in the conference, it’s at least the second best. There are still some holes at linebacker and safety and I don’t love the punter situation, but overall this is a team still stacked with talent with Jalen Hurts at the helm, the undisputed best QB in the NFC. And the smart money says they’re not done adding.