#D46 Power Rankings 2015 Season


Now that the 2015 season is in the books, I put in my final #D46 Power Rankings for the “year in review” special. These are who I felt had the best season, from 32 to 1. Plus, I’ll be revealing their stance in the #D46 Power Rankings before the season kicked off back in September. Remember what I said about my profession, that one of the more important things is taking risks and not fearing being wrong. This will reflect on how wrong I was.

32. Cleveland Browns (3-13) — Cleveland’s one of the two teams who finished with only 3 wins on the NFL year, which is the most for the league’s worst since 2003 when four teams had 4-12 marks. For me, Cleveland’s the worst and it’s not debatable. They had the worst point differential in the league, fired their head coach, and have more quarterback instability they had coming in, as they’re really forced to go quarterback once again this draft with the 2nd overall pick, which would be their fourth first-round selection spent on a quarterback since 2007, but likely the first not used at the 22nd spot. Maybe it’ll bring better luck for the next one under center. “Preseason 26th”

31. San Fransisco 49ers (5-11) — To me, the 49ers are in the same boat as the Browns. They fired their head coach Jim Harbaugh, got worse, and fired Jim Tomsula. They have a lot of quarterback controversy, starting Blaine Gabbert eight games. The 49ers have become dysfunctional just three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. “Preseason 28th”

30. Tennessee Titans (3-13) — So I actually had this team being the worst coming into 2015, and they finished with the worst record in the NFL, and as much as I’d like to put them at the 32nd spot again and boast about me being right, I felt the Titans weren’t the absolute worst team in the NFL, or might not have been as ugly as I expected. Either way, 30th isn’t bad. “Preseason 32nd”

29. Dallas Cowboys (4-12) — This is a season you bury in the backyard and move houses. Starting 2-0, Tony Romo goes down, and that was the major of the many string of injuries, and they didn’t handle it too well. The defense held for three quarters, but with neither of the backup quarterbacks being able to sustain drives, they fell apart in the 4th. The Cowboys didn’t suffer from the loss of DeMarco Murray, but by not starting McFadden from the get-go rather than Joseph Randle, but this offense was ugly to watch. Speaking of Randle, he and Hardy were two who made headlines for poor off-the-field decisions which shadowed this team. “Preseason 6th”

28. San Diego Chargers (4-12) — I had high hopes for this team, and I can’t even remember why I did in the first place. The Chargers didn’t address their needs in the offseason, and it showed by not being able to use their running back depth to their advantage. The Chargers really needed guys on both sides of the line, and in a game where it’s crucial to be outstanding in both, San Diego had a bad season. Now they’ve made Eric Weddle upset, who is definitely not returning to the team, which is a huge blow. “Preseason 7th”

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10) — The Buccaneers, in a sense, overachieved. Jameis Winston seemed to adjust better than I expected and kept the Buccaneers close in some crucial games he’ll have to be able to win for the team moving forward. Tampa Bay’s defense was horrendous, and defensive minded head coach Lovie Smith was fired for it, while Tampa decided offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter deserved the promotion for his work with Winston. But overall, going from 2 wins to 6 isn’t bad. “Preseason 30th”

26. Baltimore Ravens (5-11) — I’m trying to wrap my head around why this team performed so poorly this season. They have a veteran quarterback, a Super Bowl winning coach, and I’m not aware of any big injuries that made this team’s winning total cut in half. I don’t believe it helped letting Torrey Smith go to San Fransisco and continue in the dismantling of the title-winning team just a few years ago, so as this team goes with more and more fresher faces, the more this team will struggle to get back to that level of play. “Preseason 12th”

25. Miami Dolphins (6-10) — The Dolphins had a lot of hype coming into the season, with many analysts thinking they could win the division and finally unseat the Patriots. I saw the fake diamond without putting it under a microscope, but felt an 8-8 or 9-7 record was logical for this team, or at least the minimum. Miami underperformed and fired head coach Joe Philbin early, which I didn’t expect going in, but then wouldn’t remove the interim tag from motivational Dan Campbell. I said before the year started they’d need a few years to close in on the Patriots, and maybe it’s set back by the firing of Philbin if Gase isn’t prepared to hit the ground running, but the talent’s there. “Preseason 13th”

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) — The Jaguars definitely overachieved this last season. Jacksonville missed their first round pick Dante Fowler Jr, who got hurt before the season began, and this defense couldn’t get pressure and had one of the worst seasons defensively in the NFL. They showed the potential on this young offensive team with Blake Bortles, TJ Yeldon, and “The A-Team” of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Get Fowler back, draft a couple playmakers on defense and perhaps get a couple vets in free agency, this team can take the next step in contending in the weak AFC South. “Preseason 31st”

23. Chicago Bears (6-10) — I felt the Bears had a better season than anyone expected. Adam Gase seemed to work well with Jay Cutler, who wasn’t great but was a capable starter, and Cutler did this without Brandon Marshall who left for the Jets, and not to mention Jeffery only put in 9 games and 54 catches, and Matt Forte had his issues with injuries as well. I believe the Bears overachieved, a team who many felt would be the league’s worst and be selecting #1 overall this spring, but a few more wins than expected give them the 11th overall selection. “Preseason 29th”

22. New Orleans Saints (7-9) — I felt in a weak division, this was the favorite in the NFC South. I believed in preseason they’d embrace what Dallas did back in 2014, upgrading the offensive line and focusing on the run game to help elite quarterback Drew Brees, but they didn’t. Brees threw the ball 627 times, and that’s not the recipe for success they backed in the preseason. This isn’t without mentioning they fired Rob Ryan after a horrific year on defense, after giving him a linebacker Stephone Anthony (who I was high on at this time last year), and still underperforming. And with the Panthers representing the NFC in the Super Bowl this year, they should be covering their faces until they make a splash in the offseason. “Preseason 17th”

21. New York Giants (6-10) — Considering the Cowboys injuries, this team should have been playing in the postseason, not the Redskins. I went on note saying they posed the biggest threat to Dallas in the NFC East, and they failed to be so. Grant it, the Giants never had Victor Cruz, but they had a golden opportunity to win the division at 9-7. maybe even 8-8. The Giants disappointed me, dropping their final three games, and it was indeed Coughlin’s final year at the helm. This was a worse year than I expected from them. “Preseason 14th”

20. Oakland Raiders (7-9) — Talk about a team overachieving, where did the Raiders come from?! I loved Derek Carr before everyone else, but I didn’t expect him to get a first-round receiver and put this team in the playoff hunt in December. This is a young core between the offensive Carr and Cooper, and then on the defense with Khalil Mack, that this team can be good for years to come once they get better talent on the defensive side. “Preseason 27th”

19. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9) — I hate to toot my horn, but I said in my Preseason rankings that considering this team as favorites in the NFC East was beyond laughable. You couldn’t take a team’s best passer, rusher, and receiver away and expect to be 12-4, 11-5. The Eagles had more dysfunction than I realized, not using star DeMarco Murray the right way, and the defense was more than horrifying this year. They even fired Chip Kelly with one game to go in the season, what does that tell you? But yes, this was one of the teams I was right on. “Preseason 19th”

18. Indianapolis Colts (8-8) — I looked back at my Preseason Power Rankings, and it didn’t even sound like me considering I wrote this article, titled “#ChuckStrong Movement Over?”. The Colts didn’t win the AFC South this year, they weren’t the fifth-best team in the NFL, and they didn’t fire Chuck Pagano. In a year where star Andrew Luck was hurt for the most of it, the team still managed to put together wins with Matt Hasselbeck. Talk about being totally wrong. “Preseason 5th”

17. Atlanta Falcons (8-8) — Could you say the Falcons bounced back? Their offense really got going with Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman being the stars of that attack, two of whom were named to the Pro Bowl. The Falcons defense wasn’t as awful as 2014, but they made improvements to get to the .500 mark. But I’m sure knowing what you have on offense, there should be higher expectations within the Falcons organization for next year. “Preseason 24th”

16. St. Louis Rams (7-9) — Much like the preseason, I’d like to rank this team a little higher, but they just couldn’t get to .500 mark like I felt was their checkpoint. The Rams knew what they were doing taking Todd Gurley tenth overall last spring, but were exposed as dumb when they swapped Bradford for Foles, and then gave Nick Foles a huge contract, which proved to be a poor decision. I think this defense needs a final few touches, but the main focus has to be upgrading that offensive line and the receivers at the disposal of Foles if you want to give him another shot. “Preseason 16th”

15. Buffalo Bills (8-8) — I felt this team would be the biggest threat in the AFC East, though falling short of the Patriots, I felt they could be a playoff team this year. I loved Tyrod Taylor coming in, and felt with LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, and the underdog “Seven-Eleven” Chris Hogan on this offense, they’d be able to make noise against some stacked defensive teams. I also felt the Bills defense would get even stronger after last year’s performance without Kiko Alonso either year, especially with Rex Ryan focusing on the team, but to no prevail. The Bills disappointed me, especially since they were a team I advocated for quite often in the preseason and early on. “Preseason 9th”

14. Detroit Lions (7-9) — It looked like at one point in the year, I’d be ranking them 32nd in this article, with one, or even no, win to their 16-game season. However, despite not changing coaches, they turned the ship around to fall just one game short of .500, and I feel that counts for something. I’m still shaking my head on how they exactly did, but they should be able to carry this momentum into the next season, as they finished on a 3-game winning streak, and won 6 of their last 8. “Preseason 10th”

13. Washington Redskins (9-7) — Playoff team. With a month left in the season, they were 5-7, but won out to finish 9-7 and win the division in Week 16, and can take credit for the firing of Chip Kelly. The Redskins division-winning season doesn’t happen if the Cowboys don’t deal with injuries, but it also doesn’t happen if the Redskins don’t deal with their own quarterback injury, Robert Griffin III. Griffin’s injury early on in the preseason caused Jay Gruden to evaluate Kirk Cousins in the perfect system, and Cousins worked so much better in the system than Griffin ever did. Imagine if Griffin never got hurt, the Redskins would be a 6-10 team at best. This defense also played lights out, which contributed to winning the division. “Preseason 21st”

12. Houston Texans (9-7) — Playoff team. Houston, in all honesty, shouldn’t have been a playoff team, but they benefited from the soft mediocrity from the Colts this year, and the Jaguars too young to grab the brass ring. The Texans made it to the playoffs on the back of DeAndre Hopkins and JJ Watt, that’s it. Once they made the playoffs, it showed their weaknesses, and they need a new quarterback. Either way, if you make the playoffs without a quarterback, it shows there’s a more complete team than you think. “Preseason 20th”

11. Green Bay Packers (10-6) — Playoff team. The Packers absolutely took a step back this year, and the loss of Jordy Nelson hurt Aaron Rodgers and the offense more than we had thought. This defense was good enough to bring them to the playoffs, and if it wasn’t, we likely have the Packers ranked 22nd instead of 11th. “Preseason 4th”

10. New York Jets (10-6) — The Jets were a laughing stock to begin this season, and from years past, they were rightfully so. The Jets had made some nice additions with bringing back Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, they brought in Buster Skrine, rookie Leonard Williams, Brandon Marshall, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Rookie head coach Todd Bowles had no problem with getting the Jets where they were this season, giving the team new hope moving forward. “Preseason 25th”

9. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) — Playoff team. At some point this season, everyone loved this team, bought in that they were on the right path, and some felt they had the best chance to unseat the Patriots atop the AFC, but that just wasn’t the case. Cincinnati got in their own way and lost to the Steelers in a playoff game, and proved that the entire season, one the Bengals performed at a high level, was all for nothing. “Preseason 11th”

8. Minnesota Vikings (11-5) — Playoff team. The Vikings took the season and ran with it, despite Adrian Peterson missing a year of football and Teddy Bridgewater entering his second year, the normal down-year for rookie standouts. Minnesota overcame that, but then the question was how Bridgewater would perform late in the season in the cold, and he proved the doubters wrong there. Minnesota only was eliminated in the playoffs by an uncommon Blair Walsh miss, and if that field goal’s made in one of the colder games in NFL history, the Vikings take down the Seahawks. Minnesota had an impressive year, but they need to find a way to duplicate it, which I doubt they actually will improve on this season. “Preseason 22nd”

7. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) — Playoff team. This team began the year with a 1-5 record, Jamaal Charles got hurt, and it honestly seemed they would need to use this upcoming draft to improve heavily on offense, but something clicked for the Chiefs and I have yet to find out why. Andy Reid got this team playing and Alex Smith managed the game like he knows best, bringing them to an 11-5 record and to the playoffs, finishing about where I saw them being after all. “Preseason 8th”

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) — Playoff team. Other than the Cowboys, the Steelers had some of the biggest plagues of the injury bug to some of their top players. But unlike the Cowboys, the Steelers overcame those and actually won games with their backup Landry Jones, a veteran running back DeAngelo Williams, a young receiving core, and a disrespected defense. Pittsburgh, in all honesty, could’ve been in the Super Bowl if they had Roethlisberger and Bell at full strength this season, and Antonio Brown for the playoff game in Denver. I actually underestimated this team in how they’d do, but winning two-plus games than I expected and winning a playoff game against your division rival, that’ll bump you up enough. “Preseason 18th”

5. Seattle Seahawks (10-6) — Playoff team. Like Pittsburgh, I felt the Seahawks had a legitimate shot of going to their third consecutive Super Bowl, and beating the Broncos in a rematch of Super Bowl 48. The Seahawks had to overcome an 0-2 start with Kam Chancellor’s holdout, the loss of Max Unger, Jimmy Graham not adjusting well and then tearing his patella tendon, and a worse home team than years past. I still believe the Seahawks were one of the better teams this season, and if healthy and upgrade the offensive line and find their running back, this team can better their record and be in the hunt again next postseason. “Preseason 1st”

4. Arizona Cardinals (13-3) — Playoff team. I’d put the Cardinals in the same boat as division rival Seahawks. They’re a NFC North defensive team, MVP candidate at quarterback, and they ended up losing to the Panthers in the playoffs, but I felt were capable of going to the Super Bowl and winning it. Arizona surprised me and performed better than I believed they would, and did this late in the season without Tyrann Mathieu, and the loss of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles who went on to have success with the Jets. The Cardinals have proven they can stick together, but will need to beat Father Time if at all possible. “Preseason 15th”

3. New England Patriots (12-4) — Playoff team. The Patriots, despite falling short of back-to-back Super Bowl victories, they had a really good year. For the most part, I and others believed this was the BEST team in the NFL, and I can go out on a limb and say if the Patriots closed the season out and got homefield advantage, they’re the ones that are Super Bowl champions, not the Broncos. New England had to overcome guys like Darrelle Revis leaving, and Malcolm Butler overcame the odds to prove his play at last year’s Super Bowl was no fluke, and that he indeed can play at this level consistently. “Preseason 3rd”

2. Carolina Panthers (15-1) — Playoff team. I’ll be honest with everyone, that I felt about putting “1A and 1B” for these rankings, but I couldn’t do that and be a cop-out, so the Super Bowl result was the tilting point. This Carolina team benefited from the NFC’s injuries, but were well put together, and that’s why I felt Cam Newton didn’t belong in the MVP discussion, because he had Greg Olsen, Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman, Thomas Davis, Kawann Short, and too many other key contributors to name. The Panthers did only lose a division game in the regular season, which those are always unpredictable, not even mentioning it was on the road as well. And with the best point differential during the regular season, you could make the case they are the #1 team from this year. “Preseason 23rd”

1. Denver Broncos (12-4) — Playoff team. In the preseason, I said they should be someone’s favorites in the AFC, I ranked them above the Patriots, and I said if they stayed healthy, they’d be a force to be reckoned with, and boy were they! Denver had to overcome Brock Osweiler starting half their games to make it to the Super Bowl with a withering Peyton Manning for the playoffs. This defense can be thanked for the Super Bowl victory the Broncos take away from this season, as it is one of the best defenses in recent memory for sure. “Preseason 2nd”

 

So looking back, it wasn’t so bad! Sure teams like the Panthers and Vikings surprised me, and then there were the Chargers and Cowboys who let me down, but all in all, I ranked the eventual Super Bowl Champions at 2 before the season began, so I’m sure I wasn’t THAT bad.

Here are the rankings from the preseason. If you’d like to read them, simply click here.

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