As the playoffs kick into full swing, everyone is looking to figure out who the best team is. I’ve noticed that a lot of analysts are rankings teams based off their offensive weapons, so I figured I would do my own NFL triple threat ranking. Some are a bit obvious, and then others might come as a shock. One thing to note is that these rankings are not solely based off of stats, because stats can only tell so much about a player.
Some Important Forewarnings:
1. Some positions have offered multiple choices (Nick Foles or Mark Sanchez for the Eagles QB? Terrence West or Isaiah Crowell for the Browns RB? Demariyus Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders for the Broncos WR?), so I used better judgement with these decisions.
2. Some teams use their tight ends as a weapon more than their wide receivers, so I used the TE in the WR’s place in these scenarios.
3. Injuries don’t necessarily take away from the talent of a player, as reflected here. Sometimes, however, they do, as reflected here.
4. THESE DO NOT REFLECT THE TEAM AS A WHOLE. Playoff teams are below non-playoff teams, and the Bucs are NOT ranked 32. Defense is not taken into play here.
And here we go.
1. Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Big Ben has been having one of the best years of his career, with multiple 4+ TD games this season. Le’Veon Bell has emerged as the most dynamic running back in the league, and will be missed this week in a playoff contest against Baltimore. Antonio Brown has been the best receiver in the game this year, leading the league in catches and in yards. With this offense, I don’t see many teams being able to defend them in the postseason.
2. Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson Any time Aaron Rodgers is brought up this season, the MVP race must be included in the discussion. Aside from JJ Watt, Rodgers is the undisputed favorite to win the award and has proven so all season. Eddie Lacy battled injury earlier in the season, but has overcome that and emerged as a powerful back who is hard to stop. Jordy Nelson might not be the best receiver in the league, but he might be the most reliable. Even when he fails, Rodgers has Randall Cobb and Davante Adams at his disposal. Pure firepower.
3. Cowboys: Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant No disrespect to Romo, but put any quarterback behind that line and he will excel. Don’t get me wrong, he has had one of his best seasons in recent years, but much of that can be credited to the five guys in front of him. DeMarco Murray’s success can also be credited to this, but there is no mistaking his talent. This has been his first season injury-free, and has been able to give a more accurate representation of what he is capable of. Dez Bryant might be one of the hardest receivers in the league to cover, and with all the time Romo has in the pocket, he has no issue getting open and leading the league in receiving scores.
4. Broncos: Peyton Manning, CJ Anderson, Demariyus Thomas Peyton is definitely fading out, and his play has reflected that. Then again, “fading out” for him is merely a transition from “legendary” to “really, really good”. CJ Anderson takes some of the pressure off of the aging signal caller, and the undrafted rookie has been one of the most explosive backs in the league since he took over the starting role. Demariyus Thomas may only be one part of the three-headed dragon that is him, Emmanuel Sanders, and Julius Thomas, but he is without a doubt the best of the three and Peyton’s favorite.
5. Colts: Andrew Luck, Ahmad Bradshaw, TY Hilton Although the team hasn’t been the most trustworthy as of late, Andrew Luck is still a top 5 quarterback in the NFL after just his third season. If you’re asking me, the next Manning/Brady era will be the Luck/Wilson era, as long as Luck can get a ring sometime in the next few years. Ahmad Bradshaw is a threat on the ground and through the air, and Indy has definitely missed his presence after he went down. TY Hilton has shown nothing but promise since his rookie year, and now that Reggie Wayne is getting older, Hilton looks poised to take the spot of #1 receiver in Indianapolis
6. Lions: Matthew Stafford, Joique Bell, Calvin Johnson Matthew Stafford receives plenty of criticism that he isn’t for real, or that Megatron inflates his stats, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is a good quarterback. The playoff appearances back that up. Joique Bell has been the better back as Reggie Bush deals with injury and a regression in performance, and a back who has quietly been a threat is finally being vocalized. Megatron is a huge part of the reason that the Lions are so high up on this list, and while this season hasn’t been a Megatron-esque season, it’s still important to remember who he is.
7. Patriots: Tom Brady, Steven Ridley, Rob Gronkowski Age is a non-factor for Tom Brady, as this season, he as looked as good as he has in Super Bowl seasons. The running game brings this team down, as while Ridley is the undisputed top back, the shuffling of Vereen and Gray and Blount and Bolden take away from his credibility. To be fair, he’s not that great of a back in the first place, and nobody would consider him a top back if he wasn’t wearing a New England uniform. Rob Gronkowski might be the only Patriot in the Brady era to be better than Brady. In my opinion, he’s surpassed Graham as the most feared tight end in the league.
8. Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldwin Russell Wilson has really matured as a QB this past season, making the transition from good to great. In a year where mobile quarterbacks have struggled, Wilson has been dominant. Lynch is still the best power back in the league, and seeing him tackled by only one defender is a rarity. It’s a shame for Seattle that Lynch will likely be leaving after this season, but Robert Turbin is still a decent option. The only reason this team is below teams they are clearly better than is the lack of a passing game. With Harvin gone, Doug Baldwin has been the top receiver, and has failed to step up to the caliber he should be playing at, given his opportunity. This team really misses Golden Tate.
9. Eagles: Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin Foles isn’t the best quarterback for the Eagles, but neither is Sanchez. He’s not bad enough to the point that he absolutely cannot start next season, but he’s the safest option for now. LeSean McCoy took a while to find his groove this season, but he has still been one of the best in the league, and is most definitely fired up to top a season that didn’t meet his standards. Maclin is a solid candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, by posting incredible numbers after missing the entirety of last season. Him and Jordan Matthews make for a dangerous combination down the field.
10. Giants: Eli Manning, Rashad Jennings, Odell Beckham Jr. Eli might be the toughest quarterback in the league to figure out. One year he could win a Super Bowl, the next he could be one of the league leaders in interceptions, but the one thing to take away from everything is that he can play football at a high level. Rashad Jennings is a talented back who has done a great job blocking later in the season. Injuries have made a case for a carry split with Andre Williams, but I believe Jennings to be the better of the two. OBJ could be the Rookie of the Year this season if it weren’t for a fellow NFC East player named Zack Martin. Next season will welcome back Victor Cruz, which might make for the scariest receiving corps in the league.
11. Ravens: Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith Sr. Flacco might not deserve the paycheck he has, and he might not be the best quarterback in the league despite his own statements, but he’s done a great job this season. The AFC North has been tough to hang with, but he has gotten it done. Justin Forsett likely went into the season expecting to be a backup, but without Rice, he has outplayed Bernard Pierce and made his way into becoming one of the best up and coming backs in the league. Steve Smith may have fizzled out towards the end of the season, but with Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels also in the mix, the veteran is still playing at a high level in a new offense.
12. Saints: Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Jimmy Graham Brees may not have as many years left as people think, as he’s struggled to get the ball down the field all season. He may still be a threat, but he is definitely fading. Mark Ingram is the best of a messy backfield, as the former Heisman winner finally has his chance to shine with Thomas battling injury and Sproles being out of the picture. Jimmy Graham’s lackluster season can largely be attested to Brees’ struggles, but the tight end still remains one of the most dangerous weapons in the league and has big-play potential every down.
13. Texans: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Arian Foster, DeAndre Hopkins
14. Falcons: Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones
15. Bengals: Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill, AJ Green
16. Chargers: Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Keenan Allen
17. Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, DeSean Jackson
18. Bears: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery
19. 49ers: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin
20. Chiefs: Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce
21. Cardinals: Carson Palmer, Andre Ellington, Michael Floyd
22. Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, Knowshon Moreno, Mike Wallace
23. Browns: Brian Hoyer, Isaiah Crowell, Josh Gordon
24. Panthers: Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin
25. Bills: Kyle Orton, Fred Jackson, Sammy Watkins
27. Jaguars: Blake Bortles, Denard Robinson, Cecil Shorts III
28. Buccaneers: Mike Glennon, Doug Martin, Mike Evans
29. Raiders: Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, James Jones
30. Jets: Geno Smith, Chris Ivory, Eric Decker
31. Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, Jerick McKinnon, Greg Jennings
32. Titans: Zach Mettenberger, Bishop Sankey, Delanie Walker