Skip to content

PFT’s Week Zero power rankings

images Getty Images

[Editor’s note:  The five PFT writers will vote each week on every NFL team, top to bottom.  We were going to call it something really cool like Pro32, but the AP beat us to it.  So here they are as we prepare for the first week of the season — power rankings.]

1. Packers (four first-place votes):  The best team on paper entering camp remains the best team on paper entering the season.  But who really uses paper anymore?

2. Giants (one first-place vote):  Lost in their conference, lost in their division, and lost in even their hometown, it’s still impossible to overlook the defending champs, who have a knack for winning when they need to.

3. Patriots:  The best team in the AFC doesn’t need its defense to get much better to make another run at another Super Bowl win.  It’s been eight years since the last one, and nearly all of the guys in the locker room don’t have rings of their own.

4. Ravens:  The offense keeps improving and the defense keeps hanging on.  The best news for the Ravens would be a season from quarterback Joe Flacco that forces the franchise to pay him like the elite quarterback he believes he is.

5. Texans:  Despite plenty of changes, the Texans continue to be among the league’s elite team until they prove otherwise.  And Matt Schaub will continue to be regarded as an injury-prone quarterback until he proves otherwise.

6. Steelers:  If the Steelers were any team but the Steelers, the transition and turmoil they’ve experienced would have been enough to knock them out of the top 15.  But the Steelers under coach Mike Tomlin typically find a way to contend, regardless of the changes.

7. Saints:  The key to getting to the Superdome for the Super Bowl will be making the road to the Superdome go through the Superdome.

8. 49ers:  Perhaps the most complete team in the NFL lacks the one thing it needs to get to the next level — a franchise quarterback.

9. Eagles:  They’ll need to finish higher than ninth to get Andy Reid a 15th season.

10. Falcons:  Better than they’re perceived, the Falcons won’t be taken seriously until they win a playoff game.

11. Bears:  A playoff team in 2012 but for injuries to Matt Forte and Jay Cutler, the Bears are in better position to contend than many realize.

12. Lions:  The ability of this team to take the next step hinges on quarterback Matthew Stafford staying healthy and the defensive backfield finding a way to keep the opponents under 50 points.  And, yeah, the ability of certain players to stay out of jail.

13. Cowboys:  All this talk about when the window is closing presumes it was ever open.  One playoff win in 16 years suggests otherwise.

14. Broncos:  Yes, Peyton Manning is now in town.  Unless he can play like he did before his 2011 neck surgeries, it may not matter much.

15. Panthers:  Ryan Kalil’s prediction of a Super Bowl win could be a little premature, but the arrow is pointing up for a team that could be in possession of the next great franchise quarterback.

16. Seahawks:  Then again, maybe the Seahawks have the next great franchise quarterback.

17. Bengals:  They’ve never made it to the postseason in two straight non-strike seasons.  That streak could end in 2012.

18. Bills:  They haven’t made it to the postseason at all since 1999.  That streak could end in 2012.

19. Chiefs:  If Matt Cassel can play like he did in 2008 and 2010, the Chiefs could be climbing, quickly.

20. Chargers:  Having a franchise quarterback and not much more makes for an interesting experiment in San Diego.  It also could make for a new G.M. and head coach by next year.

21. Titans:  If Chris Johnson can play like he did before 2011, the Titans could give the Texans a real fight for the AFC South crown.  It also would help if Kenny Britt can get healthy, stay healthy, and stay out of trouble.

22. Jets:  In an era of new-school, high-octane offense, a team built on an old-school, ground-and-pound approach seems destined to struggle.

23. Raiders:  To move in the right direction over the long term, this team needed to move in the wrong direction in the short term.

24. Redskins:  After 27 starting quarterbacks in 27 years, the Redskins finally have real hope at the position.  Here’s hoping that there’s not ultimately a repeat of the Shuler-Frerotte fiasco of 18 years ago.

25. Cardinals:  The Cardinals would welcome a Shuler-Frerotte fiasco right about now.

26. Colts:  Andrew Luck looks the part.  Then again, so did Peyton Manning as a rookie.  And he won only three games.

27. Buccaneers:  A year ago, there was plenty of hope in Tampa.  At least they now have an excuse for being unable to sell tickets.

28. Jaguars:  Barring significant improvement, playing one game per year in London won’t necessarily be the best way to build a fan base there.  Or anywhere.

29. Vikings:  The last time the Vikings won only three games, Bud Grant came out of retirement to save the day.  This time around, re-animating Lombardi wouldn’t be enough to make a difference.

30. Rams:  At some point during his first year of getting paid to coach the Rams, Jeff Fisher will long for his year of getting paid to not coach the Titans.

31. Dolphins:  At least they’ll outscore the Marlins.  Most of the time.

32. Browns:  Jimmy Haslam wants to know where the line is to return a $1 billion football team.

Permalink 66 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Top Stories
yo

Palmer tells Goff to be patient, prepare diligently

OXNARD, CA - MAY 06:  Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams and quarterback coach Chris Weinke discuss a play during a Los Angeles Rams rookie camp on May 06, 2016 in Oxnard, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

As a former No. 1 overall pick who didn’t play immediately, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has been where Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff is.

Palmer’s advice for Goff includes maximizing his time on the sideline and studying for Sundays knowing he won’t be a backup or a spectator for long.

“You have a chance to watch how you prepare as a starter, how you go about your business as a starter, especially if you’re coming from a very non pro-style offense,” Palmer said Wednesday. “Seeing how offenses prepare, seeing the different pressures you’re going to see and the different defenses you’re going to see…it’s tough if you’re not ready and you get thrown in there. If you struggle it can linger, so I think it’s important.”

The Bengals made Palmer the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft. He spent his entire rookie season watching from the sideline before taking over in 2004. Goff, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, is currently waiting behind Case Keenum.

Palmer said he understands every situation is different and said that while Goff waits, he needs to make sure he’s improving and mastering the offense.

“There’s such a fine line between throwing a guy in there, making him play…and he knows he’s going to go in and struggle because the team is not good like some guys have been,” Palmer said. “The Rams are different. That’s a very good team. They don’t need to throw a rookie in there and him learn on the run and the team suffer.”

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Russell Wilson fully participates in practice

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 37-18.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

High ankle sprain? Big deal. MCL sprain in the other leg? So what?

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has shrugged off both injuries to fully participate in practice on Wednesday.

The development is an encouraging sign regarding Wilson’s potential availability for Sunday’s game at the Jets.

Running back Thomas Rawls (fibula) didn’t practice. Limited were tight end Jimmy Graham (knee), tight end Nick Vannett (ankle), guard Germain Ifedi (ankle), receiver Tyler Lockett (knee), and linebacker Mike Morgan (hip).

Running back CJ Prosise (wrist) and defensive end Cliff Avril (hamstring) fully participated.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Brian Cushing returns to practice, could play Sunday

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09:  Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans leaves the field after their 30-0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news for the Texans, if there can be any on the day three-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt landed on IR, is that linebacker Brian Cushing could be back in the lineup, as soon as Sunday.

Cushing has returned to practice, two weeks and three days after injuring his MCL.

“It’s really good to get him back,” coach Bill O’Brien told reporters. “He looked good today. Moving around and looks like he’s ramping it up to be able to play in the game.”

O’Brien was noncommittal regarding whether Cushing will play against the Titans.

“The expectation is that he’s going to practice tomorrow and we’re going to see where that is,” O’Brien said. “Then he’ll practice Friday and we’ll see where that is.”

“[J]ust a lot of hard work,” Cushing said when explaining his ability to return so quickly. “I didn’t want to believe it would be four to six [weeks]. I’m not saying I’m all the way back yet. I’m not saying for sure what I’m doing, but I know I practiced today. I know I felt good. I’m happy about the progress, that’s for sure. I’ve been hurt too much in my career, in my opinion. It’s something that I don’t want to do anymore, or want to be, so anything I can do to get back and get out there as soon as I possibly can and be healthy and be effective, I’ll do. Just excited to be back out there with the guys.”

Cushing said there’s a “possibility” he’ll play Sunday, but that they’re “taking it day by day.”

The Texans may be a little hesitant to put Cushing back on the field so quickly, after what happened to Watt. But Cushing said that, structurally, his knee is “great.” If so, there’s no reason for Cushing to not play.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Spiller plans to sign with Seahawks

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 13: Running back C.J. Spiller #28 of the New Orleans Saints runs with the ball in the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** C.J. Spiller Getty Images

Veteran running back C.J. Spiller will sign with the Seahawks, per multiple reports.

The Saints cut Spiller earlier this month. The Seahawks have been hit hard by injury at the running back position, so taking a flyer on Spiller makes sense.

Spiller, 29, played for the Saints last season after five seasons in Buffalo. He has 12 rushing touchdowns and eight receiving touchdowns in his career.

The Seahawks are planning to be without injured starter Thomas Rawls for a few weeks, so Spiller will probably get a chance to play on third downs behind Christine Michael while he catches up with the offense.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dolphins cut Justin Hunter

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 23: Justin Hunter #15 of the Tennessee Titans runs for a touchdown after making a catch in the second quarter of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 23, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins released wide receiver Justin Hunter on Wednesday.

The Dolphins play in Cincinnati Thursday night. The timing of Hunter’s release indicates the Dolphins need a roster spot due to injury or other circumstances and could promote someone from their practice squad.

Hunter was released by the Titans in early September and claimed by the Dolphins. He played in one game this season and did not record a reception.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jets waive Dee Milliner from injured reserve

New York Jets v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

The disappointing Jets tenure of Dee Milliner has now officially come to an end.

Milliner, the former No. 9 overall pick in the draft, was waived/injured before the start of the regular season, and when he cleared waivers he went to the Jets’ injured reserve list. Now the Jets have waived him off their injured reserve.

That means if any team wants Milliner, he can be claimed on waivers. If he goes unclaimed he’ll become an unrestricted free agent and can play this season, assuming he’s healthy enough to do so. If he had stayed on the Jets’ injured reserve he wouldn’t have been able to play this year.

An excellent cornerback at Alabama, Milliner was a big disappointment in the NFL. He may still have a chance to catch on somewhere else, but he’s now officially done as a Jet.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rams claim Marqui Christian off waivers from Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01:  Defensive back Marqui Christian #25 of the Arizona Cardinals in action during the preseaon NFL game against the Denver Broncos aat the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 38-17.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals and Rams will square off this Sunday and the Rams have added a former member of the Arizona secondary to their roster ahead of the game.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Rams claimed safety Marqui Christian off of waivers on Wednesday, a day after the Cardinals dropped him as part of a series of transactions. The Cardinals said the move was due to the need to bring in another punter while Drew Butler is recovering from ankle and Achilles injuries.

Christian was a fifth-round pick by the Cardinals in April. He starred at Division II Midwestern State and was named the top small college defensive player last year, but hasn’t played in the regular season as it appears the leap in levels to the NFL has been a big one.

He may have some insight into the Cardinals that the Rams could find useful over the next couple of days, however.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chargers list Bosa as limited again

San Diego Chargers rookie defensive end Joey Bosa trains during an NFL football rookie training camp Friday, May 13, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) AP

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice due to a hamstring injury.

That means it’s a new week but the same story for Bosa, who’s still trying to get healthy enough to make his NFL debut.

The No. 3 pick in last year’s draft participated his first practice in pads last week but was ultimately held out of last weekend’s game. Bosa missed almost all of training camp and the preseason due to a contract dispute, then was injured in his first practice back.

Veteran tight end Antonio Gates remained out of practice with a hamstring injury. Offensive tackle King Dunlap missed practice due to migraines, coach Mike McCoy told reporters.

The Chargers host the Saints on Sunday.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hue Jackson won’t say whether Alvin Bailey will play on Sunday

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Tackle Alvin Bailey #78 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at CenturyLink Field on September 22, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Two days after offensive lineman Alvin Bailey was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, it’s unclear whether the Browns will take action against him for it.

“We will see,” coach Hue Jackson told reporters on Wednesday. “Obviously, this is a league matter. Those kind of things that happen, I’m not very excited about it at all. There will be consequences for it, but we have to follow league protocol as far as that is concerned. We will do what we feel is right.”

Alcohol offenses fall under the NFL’s exclusive jurisdiction, via the substance-abuse policy. A first offense generally results in a two-game suspension.

While teams can’t fine players accused of DUI or suspend them without pay, players can be released for arrests (like the Bucs did last week with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins), they can make them inactive on game day, and they can choose not to play them, even if they are active.

So will Bailey play on Sunday against Washington?

“You will find that out on Sunday,” Jackson said.

The Browns may have a separate problem in this case. Bailey reportedly told police he drank on the team flight back from Miami. Nine years ago, however, the NFL banned teams from providing alcohol on team flights.

There’s currently no evidence the team provided alcohol to Bailey or any other player. However, there’s also no evidence that Bailey or any other player snuck a bottle of booze or a six-pack of beer onto the charter, either.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL, Tom Coughlin’s agent deny meeting with Pegulas occurred

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants reacts in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

If Tom Coughlin eventually will be getting back into coaching in 2017 (or sooner), there’s no current effort in Buffalo to make that happen.

Both Coughlin’s current employer (the NFL) and Coughlin’s agent (Sandy Montag) have denied a report that emerged over the weekend indicating that Coughlin had met with Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

“This meeting did not happen,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email on Wednesday.

“I do confirm that a meeting did not occur,” Montag told PFT via email.

The Bills opted to say nothing, citing a “longstanding practice not to respond to media posts based on rumors.” While accounts of the Coughlin-Pegula meeting may have begun as rumor, Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported that a meeting occurred.

The fact that the Bills scored an unlikely win over the Cardinals likely contributed to the fizzling of the rumor/report. But if the Bills struggle again, talk of Coughlin could resurface. Regardless of what happens in the future, the NFL and Coughlin’s agent have been unequivocal: No meeting happened.

Permalink 44 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Pete Carroll would be surprised if Russell Wilson doesn’t play

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs out of the grasp of outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks #55 of the San Francisco 49ers the first quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle,Washington. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on Monday that quarterback Russell Wilson would be on the practice field Wednesday to kick off the on-field preparation for Sunday’s game against the Jets.

Nothing changed on that front over the last two days and Carroll confirmed Wednesday that Wilson will be working with the rest of the team after going through a morning walkthrough. The quarterback added a sprained MCL to an ankle injury during last Sunday’s victory over the 49ers, but, as reported by Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, he has been working with a physical therapist who has been living in his house this week.

Carroll said Wilson is feeling well at this point in the week.

“He’s upbeat and feeling good,” Carroll said, via Curtis Crabtree of PFT and 950 KJR. “We’ll know more after today.”

Carroll went on to say that he would be surprised if Wilson doesn’t play, something that’s supported by the fact that the team opted against working out any quarterbacks who could join Trevone Boykin as options in the event Wilson isn’t in the lineup.

Permalink 29 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Foster, Cameron, Pouncey, Misi out for Miami

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Arian Foster #29 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Dolphins face the Bengals in Cincinnati on Thursday night, four players will definitely not be playing.

Running back Arian Foster (hamstring), tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion), linebacker Koa Misi (neck), and center Mike Pouncey (hip) officially are out for the first game of Week Four.

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (groin) is doubtful, as is guard Anthony Steen (ankle).

Ten other Dolphins are listed as questionable, including receivers Jarvis Landry (shoulder) and DeVante Parker (hamstring), safety Reshad Jones (knee), tight end Dion Sims (ankle), and tackle Branden Albert (ankle).

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Edelman coy about his role on Sunday

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10:  Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots throws a touchdown pass on a flea flicker play during the second half of the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

If either Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett can’t suit up on Sunday, receiver Julian Edelman will serve as the backup quarterback, again. If both can’t go, Edelman will be the starter.

In a Wednesday conference call with Buffalo media, Edelman was asked whether he has spent time this week practicing at quarterback.

“It’s a team policy that we’re not allowed to talk about where we’ve been practicing, but I can tell you that what we have been doing has been tough because of the opponent, the Buffalo Bills and coach [Rex] Ryan, and what he does, he does so much,” Edelman said. “It’s one of those things where we have to really tap in in the classroom and bring it to the grass in practice and translate that into regular drills, team drills, and all those types of things because we know it’s going to be against a tough opponent this week.”

Asked later by Ryan himself (who identified himself as Walt Patulski of the Buffalo News) whether Edelman will play quarterback this week, the receiver said, “I’m going to do whatever the coaches ask me to do. If they ask me to go out and give a glass of water to someone on the sideline, I’m going to do that with a smile on my face if it helps our team win. You can ask coach [Bill Belichick] that one.”

Ryan had a smile on his face, because Edelman didn’t realize Ryan was the one posing the questions.

Permalink 56 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bengals list Eifert, Kirkpatrick as doubtful for Thursday

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 5:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Cleveland 31-10.(Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert’s return will likely wait at least another week.

The Bengals are listing Eifert as doubtful for Thursday night’s game vs. the Dolphins. Eifert had returned to practice last week.

Eifert had ankle surgery last spring after being injured in the Pro Bowl. Last week marked the first time he had practiced in a team setting.

The Bengals are also listing starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick as doubtful. Kirkpatrick has a hamstring injury and will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by Darqueze Dennard.

Safety Derron Smith, who has a chest injury, is listed as questionable.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Saints bring back veteran tackle Khalif Barnes

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 22: Khalif Barnes #69 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on August 22, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 20-12. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Saints are thin in a number of spots, but made a move Wednesday to shore up their offensive line.

According to Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints are signing veteran tackle Khalif Barnes.

Barnes was in camp with the Saints this summer, but was released as they got the roster down to 53.

The 34-year-old Barnes started one game for Oakland last year, but has 117 career starts with the Jaguars and Raiders.

Left tackle Terron Armstead has been out with a knee injury, and Andrus Peat started in his place Monday night. That was fine, until replacement left guard Senio Kelemete left with a hamstring injury and didn’t return, leaving them thin.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top