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    [2022] Start of the Season Power Rankings - Pt. 1

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    sjm-raiders-1128-122.jpg

    2021 was the year of Nick Hall and the Raiders. What does 2022 have in store? 

     

    Welcome to a new season of Power Rankings! At the start of the new year, we'll break these down into three parts, focusing on 3 tiers of teams. Today is teams #1-12...featuring both of our Kickoff Game participants. Happy 2022, everyone!

     

    Remember, if you don't like where you are in these rankings...play better!

     

     

    Start of the Season Power Rankings, Part 1 of 3 

     

    1. Las Vegas Raiders

    Ugh, the damn Raiders occupy the top spot. And they will until they lose. Which doesn’t look likely at any point, really. One does have to wonder if their slightly underwhelming OLine will get Nick Hall hurt at some point this season. But, in all likelihood, the Raiders (puke) find yet another stud that will emerge. I’m guessing it will be Malcolm Davis. Great, another guy to hate….

     

    2. Philadelphia Eagles

    I like what the Eagles did this offseason—basically just focused on making their core better. I believe they were one Marlin Whiting injury away from winning the whole things last year, and they are my Super Bowl pick this year. I like the Eagles a lot. If they take a step back, it will be because they didn’t inject enough youth into the equation this season.

     

    3. Miami Dolphins

    Miami is back in the mix, with a new selection of targets for Brian Brown to turn into demi-gods, and a new commitment to making everyone in the AFC look silly. If the Dolphins get to the Super Bowl—a distinct possibility—it’s because Coach Smackems has evolved as a schemer and Miami has evolved as a defensive force, too. I think it’s Very Likely the Dolphins make the AFCCG, what happens after is up to them…

     

    4. Green Bay Packers

    Green Bay, amazingly, is flying under the radar a bit. Perhaps Inspiral is getting tired of winning trophies. Perhaps Jason Johnson looked down and realized he’s been around the sim as long as Soluna has. Perhaps everyone looking at the new shiny thing in Chicago means the Packers can continue to mash opponents—or rather, dance around them lithely—and no one will notice until we look up in Week 13 and they’ve only lost once.

     

    5. Los Angeles Rams

    I debated putting the Rams this high. It appears as though Daveed Knox will be the ‘difference-maker’ the Rams have sought for sometime in the backfield, but way too early to tell. The Rams still have a stellar Defense, but if you look closely, you can see the cracks in the foundation beginning to get a little bigger. Gone is All-World Walt Peck, and in his place is O.K Walt Peck, plus a disgruntled Derrick Schwartz. Darrell Murphy is a year older, but is he a year better? Not sure. Says here the Rams MIGHT be the casualty in the NFC sandbox.

     

    6. Tennessee Titans

    The Titans were THISCLOSE to a Top 5 spot…then they traded Charles Woods. It was a fantastic move them, over the long-term, but I think there will be ripples of regret about making that move this season, even if it means one more Tyler Jones double-team than planned. That is how close the Titans are to the AFC Favorite, as opposed to a team looking to contend…

     

    7. Jacksonville Jaguars

    …and by “contend,” I mean contend with the other giant(s) of the AFC South, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Again, there are a bunch of guesstimates about how the Jags will do this season—we GUESS that Taylor Rodriguez will be productive in this offense; we GUESS that Sowell will shake off the rust of his injury and return to curb-stomping fools; we GUESS that the DLine will be as dominant as it was last season; we GUESS that Shamar Ware was the Steal of the Draft at his position and now no one will be able to run on the Jags—but I think we can give Soluna the benefit of the doubt.

     

    8. Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Steelers are gonna be FUN to watch. Either they blow up the AFC North (and maybe the rest of the AFC as well), or their gonna completely buckle under the weight of Norris Brooksheer’s shattered ego. I’m betting on the former, but the latter is at least half as likely. First actual question, though: who’s going to defend the pass on this team?

     

    9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Last season was a revelation for the Bucs (also: called it in these pages ☺ )—their solid team chemistry was aided by good coaching and excellent production from the quarterback, DT, and CB positions. And it led to a playoff spot. This year sees the Bucs with one more piece of the puzzle, but also facing a potential sophomore slump from DeNorris Jackson. Really, I could see them winning the South, or finishing 3rd. That’s how deep and loco the NFCS is this season.

     

    10. Detroit Lions

    Perhaps this is too high for a team that completely flamed out last year. BUT…this is the team that had the best draft in the League, and then went out and obliterated everyone in the preseason. I see two problems initially, that there MAY be a QB controversy in Detroit if LeCount doesn’t start well; and that an aging defense isn’t up to the task of shutting down the Bears/Packers four times this season. BUT…the heavy money is on Kenyon Randall making neither of the above much of a worry at all.

     

    11. Carolina Panthers

    I think this ranking for Carolina is a nod to the consistently good position they find themselves in at the end of every freaking season. Because I don’t think the Panthstars did much of anything this offseason to get better, other than make sure that Christian Skaggs showed up for Training Camp. I think the Panthers have to take advantage of their schedule early: beat the Raiders on Thursday night, and get a game or two up on the rest of the NFCS to hold them off at the end of the season. And give Mike Latta the damn ball.

     

    12. New York Jets

    The Jets have so many questions entering week 1 after an off-season of tough choices. How will the DLine play without big Bob Ballard? How will the secondary perform? How about the Linebackers? Granted, most of those questions had at least cursory answers in other talented players ready to step in. But it would be logical to assume a slight regression from the J-E-T-S. Let’s call 11 wins a disappointment.

     

    Parts 2 and 3 tomorrow and Saturday...cheers!

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    It feels crazy that I don't disagree with the Jets as low as 12, but I don't think there's any team they should unequivocally be over. I think you could argue for Tampa Bay or Carolina, but it's not clear-cut in either direction. There are a lot of teams that should have reason for optimism this season. Of these teams, I think the Lions, Bucs, Panthers, and Jets have the highest gap between ceiling and floor barring injury--where all four have Super Bowl ceilings, but clear points of stress that could grow critical. I agree that the Rams should be feeling the heat a little bit in the long run, but at the same time they might still be the heaviest division favorite in football even if they drop off a noticeable amount because the Niners (:ko:) and Cards have serious obstacles in front of them and I have no idea what to think about Seattle. But even in the scenario where they drop off and still win the division, the playoffs have a way of erasing the teams that don't belong.

     

    Also, Malcolm Davis is a good, conscientious person who deserves his stardom and I'm sure our mutual friend Eric Jennings would agree.

     

    Lastly, this is great work as usual, I'm glad that your power rankings are back, and I look forward to parts 2 and 3!

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    45 minutes ago, inspiral said:

    I'd be surprised if the Packers only have 1 loss in Week 13. There's some good NFC teams.

    It was more a commentary on how you’re flying somewhat under the radar despite being a title winner in 2020. In reality, I think you’ll have 3 losses by week 13.

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    21 hours ago, stormstopper said:

    Of these teams, I think the Lions, Bucs, Panthers, and Jets have the highest gap between ceiling and floor barring injury

    and its funny that you mention injury because the preseason and camp has been ugly for me already. Lost two starters to IR, and another will be out for half a season, with i believe a couple more with shorter term injuries. Something that has plagued us is depth at positions given a tight cap space. Rookie Guard and two rookie linebackers came in clutch for us last season. Not to mention i believe a rookie SS came in over half way through the season and played huge for us. i expected him to be meh or serviceable but we really considered letting go the starter in favor of him just because of how productive he was. Aaron Blakely even seemed to play better with tatum across from him.

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    22 hours ago, bingo415 said:

    I could see them winning the South, or finishing 3rd. That’s how deep and loco the NFCS is this season.

    Hopefully winning, but yeah, south is crazy. I feel like the winner of the south will have a 10-6 or 9-7 record, with a head to head tie breaker or something over the second place team

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