What a year 2017 has been for the NFL. With so many unexpected moments, it is hard to predict what will happen next. The upcoming playoffs are sure to have some surprises in store for us, and we can’t wait! So with the regular season coming to an end, let’s take a look back at all that happened this year. I’ve broken down every team into tiers based on their performance during 2017- who do you think deserves the top spot.
Tier One: The Clear-Cut Favorites
The Patriots have dominated the league for a decade now, and it’s not going to stop any time soon. This year they’ve been on another level than anyone else in the NFL, with their only real challengers being from within their own division (see below). That said, there are a few teams that could give them some trouble come playoff time… if they can get past this tier first.
Tier Two: Contenders Looking To Pounce On Any Opportunity They Get
Pittsburgh has had an above average season but is missing key players like Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown at different points throughout the year left them unable to take advantage of potential opportunities when they came up. Atlanta has also had a decent season but have never been able to put together enough of a game in their division to be serious contenders.
Tier Three: Teams That Have A Shot If They Play To Their Potential
Dallas has the offensive firepower to take down anyone, so they can make noise as long as they don’t implode on defense. Tennessee’s defensive potential is there if they ever decide that offense isn’t an issue and start playing more like playoff-caliber football instead of preseason. Arizona should be better than what we’ve seen this year, but injuries at key positions may keep them below where some might think in terms of contender status for now until those pieces come back around… assuming it actually happens sooner rather than later.
Atlanta was always a team that could be contenders if everything went right, but with the injuries they’ve had to key players this year it’s hard for them to get a firm grip on whether or not they are going into next season as one of those teams…
Tier Two: Teams That Will Be Contenders If Things Go Their Way
Pittsburgh should have been in contention all season long. They were hurt by some bad luck at times and their defense wasn’t able to hold up when it mattered most. Still, even without much help from the injury bug Pitt can go toe-to-toe with anyone in football and come out looking good. Dallas has always looked like a contending team no matter what because of how well Tony Romo leads the offense and we know that Dak Prescott can be a game-changer. The defense has been solid for the Cowboys all season and it would take something HUGE to keep them out of contention next year.
Tier One: Teams That Will Always Be Contenders
Carolina was an absolute machine this year led by Cam Newton who put up some incredible numbers in his MVP caliber season. They didn’t have any major injuries on offense, which is rare nowadays, so Carolina should return as one of the favorites heading into next year’s playoffs…
Seattle had a dominant stretch towards the end of last season and they continued their success this year with Russell Wilson leading the way while also having one of the best defenses in football again behind him. This team will always make things difficult for opposing offenses and they should be a favorite to get back to the Super Bowl next year.
San Francisco was one of my favorites all season, but injuries at quarterback derailed their chances late in the season when it mattered most…
Tier Two: Teams That Are Still In Contention But Have Some Work To Do
Carolina had an absolutely monstrous regular season with Cam Newton leading them on offense and Luke Kuechly leading them from defense as well. They are going to have some issues moving forward though because Kelvin Benjamin is out for the remainder of this postseason which could mean that Carolina will need more depth wide receiver wise if he doesn’t return next year. The Panthers also lost Greg Olsen earlier this year so there’s still work left to do for them. Atlanta rounds out this tier and their season was a rollercoaster with ups and downs but when it came to the playoffs, they were completely overmatched by Green Bay in my opinion.
Dallas is another team that had an up-and-down regular season which led to some questions about their ability to compete for a Super Bowl title with Dak Prescott at quarterback…
This Tier: Teams That Will Likely Win One or Two Playoff Games But Won’t Get Any Further Than That
Miami comes into these playoffs on hot streak thanks largely to Jay Ajayi who has been running all over defenses lately. However, I don’t think Miami can hang against Pittsburgh because not only do they have one of the best offenses in NFL history still intact.