NFL

Most Interesting Teams 1-32

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Which teams interest you the most heading into the 2016 campaign?

Well, we’re here to reveal our full list.

1. Denver Broncos – It’s only right to start with the defending champs here, but besides that fact, Denver really is very interesting for numerous of reasons.

General manager John Elways knows all about repeating since he did it back in the 90’s, however, Denver didn’t do anything to improve this off-season.

First of all, Peyton Manning retired as expected, but things didn’t look too bad since they had Brock Osweiler in waiting, or at least we thought.

The former second round pick decided to take the money in Houston, which leaves Denver with Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch. Also, Denver lost two key defensive players in Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan.

While Denver should still be fine defensively, the questions offensively aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

2. Dallas Cowboys – To no one’s surprise, Jerry’s boys are near the top of the list.

Every year, the Cowboys are a hot topic, but in recent years, the attention has been more negative than positive. Having said that, just two years ago, Dallas finished (12-4) and we’re two wins away from reaching the Super Bowl.

Last year was a different story, as Dallas had a horrendous (4-12) campaign, but a lot of that can contributed to injuries to their two best players, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

With those two back in the fold alongside rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, this could be a special offensive unit in 2016.

3. Oakland Raiders – The Oakland Raiders?

Yes, this team is ready to compete at a high level.

Oakland hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2002, but there’s a really good chance that drought will come to an end this upcoming season.

This past season, the Raiders showed signs of growth as they finished with a record of (7-9) and they only got better in the off-season.

Defensively, Oakland added veterans Bruce Irvin and Sean Smith, while also picking up rookie safety Karl Joseph.

On the other side of the ball, Oakland already has the pieces in place and they’ll only get better under quarterback Derek Carr.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Just like Oakland, the Jaguars are ready to compete now.

After a rough rookie campaign, quarterback Blake Bortles bounced back in a major way during his sophomore year. The former third overall pick tossed 35 touchdowns to go along with 4,428 yards while completing 58.6 percent of his passes.

Wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns deserve tons of credit for making life easier for Bortles and with both of them being young, things will only get scarier for opposing defensive coordinators in the near future.

Nonetheless, Jacksonville needed upgrades defensively and they got just that.

With additions of Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Prince Amukamara, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack, expect a major leap for this unit sooner rather than later.

5. Carolina Panthers – We couldn’t go too far down the list without mentioning the runner-ups from last year, so here you go.

Heading into their Super Bowl matchup against Denver, many were expecting Carolina to come out on top, but Denver’s stifling defense was too much.

Throughout the course of the season, no one was talking about the loss of Kelvin Benjamin.

Now, with Benjamin set to return, expect for the passing game to become more explosive.

However, after losing Pro Bowl corner Josh Norman to Washington, how will Carolina replace his production?

Well, it’s probably unlikely they’ll be able to completely replace his production, but after drafting three cornerbacks, they’re hopefully they’ll be able to do it by committee.

6. Green Bay Packers – Considering they were missing their top wide receiver in Jordy Nelson last season, this team was able to max out with what they had.

With Nelson back in the fold this season, Green Bay should be one of the favorites to come out of the NFC.

We’re used to Green Bay not doing much in free agency, which was the case this time around, but their current roster is good enough for them to compete for a championship.

7. New York Giants – Since their Super Bowl title run in 2011, the Giants haven’t made the playoffs since. Long-term head coach Tom Coughlin is no longer in the loop, which puts tons of pressure on new head coach Ben McAdoo.

Long snapper, Zak DeOssie, broke down the new vibe that comes with McAdoo.

“There is a new buzz going around the locker room,” he said. “Coach McAdoo has a new regime going and we’re kind of sticking and moving a lot more. We’re not in our seats going through meeting material all day. Sort of meetings on the field, back to the weight room, back to the meeting room, back to practice.”

Coughlin had a great run, but it was time for a new voice in the locker room and it was time for some new acquisitions in free agency.

The additions of Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison definitely increase their talent pool.

8. Houston Texans – Yes, the Texans made the postseason last year.

However, they benefitted greatly from a watered down AFC South division and their defense kept them in most games.

After getting embarrassed 30-0 at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs in the wildcard game, it was evident Houston needed a major boost offensively, which is why they cashed in on Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller.

For a quarterback that doesn’t have much experience as a starter, Houston has tons invested in Osweiler and while he can’t be much worse than Brian Hoyer, the Texans need him to be their franchise guy moving forward.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This is one of the sexiest teams heading into 2016.

Led by the talented Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay has the tools to be legitimate contenders for a wildcard spot in the NFC this season.

The additions of veteran defensive guys such as Robert Ayers, Daryl Smith and Brent Grimes should provide much needed leadership on that side of the ball.

10. New England Patriots – With Tom Brady staring a four-game suspension in the face, it’ll be vital for them to at least go (2-2) during that span.

Once Brady returns, New England will be well equipped to compete for another Super Bowl title. Their window doesn’t appear to be closing anytime soon.

11. Indianapolis Colts – After consecutive years of disappointment in postseason play, the Colts missed the playoffs entirely this past season.

A lot of the credit goes to Andrew Luck not being healthy.

It also didn’t help that Indy finished 25th in points allowed per game (25.5).

With that in mind, the Colts had a very quiet offseason, which tells me they’re banking on the return of Luck and the development of first and second year guys.

12. Chicago Bears – Not too many teams had a better off-season than Chicago.

After realizing their weakness in the middle of the defense, Chicago addressed that with the additions of inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman.

The re-signing of wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey was essential due to a very weak free agent class at this position. At the same time, Chicago will be without Matt Forte, so it’ll be interesting to see if Jeremy Langford can handle the load moving forward.

13. Tennessee Titans – After going (3-13), the only way for Tennessee to go is up at this point.

Marcus Mariota showed flashes of his potential before injuring his knee late in the season. In an effort to surround the former Heisman trophy winner with weapons, Tennessee brought in DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Richard Matthews.

More importantly, Tennessee brings in former Texans center Ben Jones an first round right tackle Jack Conklin, which were much needed pick-ups considering the Titans allowed a season-high 54 sacks last year.

14. Seattle Seahawks – It’s easy to forget about the Seahawks nowadays and quite frankly, I can’t blame you.

Seattle lost Russell Okung, Bruce Irvin and Marshawn Lynch to retirement.

Fortunately, Russell Wilson proved that he’s much more than a ‘game manager’, but there still isn’t much offensive firepower surrounding the former Super Bowl winning signal caller.

On the flip side, brining Brandon Browner back could be very beneficial for this secondary going forward.

15. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in 25 years.

Yes, 25.

Despite losing a couple of key pieces such as Marvin Jones and Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati was able to retain most of their guys, while not really adding much from the outside.

If healthy, odds are the Bengals will make the postseason yet again, but whether or not they’ll snap the drought is another topic within it’s own right.

16. Arizona Cardinals – With Carson Palmer only getting older, the championship window for Arizona is getting smaller and smaller.

This offensive unit averaged 30.6 points per game last season, so putting points on the board shouldn’t be an issue, but getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks was an issue.

In an effort to solve that, Arizona traded for pass rusher Chandler Jones, who totaled 12.5 sacks last season in New England.

17. Philadelphia Eagles – The Chip Kelly era is over and we’re not exactly sure what to expect moving forward in the city of brotherly love.

Doug Pederson is awfully familiar with this organization, but there’s tons of questions he must answer sooner rather than later, in particularly at quarterback.

Following trade speculation concerning Sam Bradford, it appears as if he’ll stick around, which creates some quarterback controversy since they drafted Carson Wentz with the second overall pick.

18. New York Jets – Speaking of quarterback controversy, we have an interesting development in New York.

There’s no doubt Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets want to stay together, they just aren’t sure on how to do so and meanwhile, Geno Smith is left answering questions about Fitzpatrick.

So, where did the Jets spend of their money at?

Running back.

New York re-signed Bilal Powell and signed veteran back Matt Forte, who has tons of mileage on him.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers – Considering the injuries Pittsburgh had to endure last season, it was amazing for them to reach the divisional round of the playoffs.

With star running back Le’Veon Bell set to return, it should take tons of pressure off Ben Roethlisberger.

20. Buffalo Bills – The biggest off-season news out of Buffalo is the franchises anointing of Tyrod Taylor as the franchise quarterback.

Now, Taylor won’t have to be looking over his shoulder, but it’s pretty disappointing that Buffalo didn’t give him another weapon opposite of Sammy Watkins.

However, you’d have to expect Rex Ryan’s defense to only get better.

21. Washington Redskins – The off-season was fairly quiet for Washington until top cornerback Josh Norman fell into their lap.

Upgrading their secondary didn’t stop there, they also added safety David Burton and two defensive backs via the draft.

No one expected Washington to make the playoffs last, but quarterback Kirk Cousins had a career year. We’ll find out soon enough if that was just a one year wonder or not.

22. Minnesota Vikings – It’s clear Minnesota wasn’t happy with their offensive line, which is why they obtained former Pro Bowlers Alex Boone and Andre Smith Jr.

In that same breathe, neither guy has played at a Pro Bowl level since 2012.

With veteran receiver Mike Wallace bolting, the Vikings are hopeful rookie Laquon Treadwell can live up to expectations.

At the end of the day, it’ll come down to Teddy Bridgewater making more plays.

23. Atlanta Falcons – Ever since 2012, the Falcons have struggled to replace center Todd McClure, but those days are finally over.

Even though they spent a pretty penny to reel in Alex Mack, it was well worth it.

On the other side of the ball, Atlanta finished with a league-low 19 sacks and they didn’t do much to address that issue.

24. Miami Dolphins – For a few years now, we’ve been waiting for Miami to burst onto the scene and guess what?

We’re still waiting.

The talent is there, but this franchise has been unable to put it together.

With hefty contracts already tied up on their roster, it was a long-shot for Miami to retain the likes of Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby.

25. Baltimore Ravens – From a talent standpoint, Baltimore’s 2016 team is on par with the 2015 team and although they finished (5-11), you must remember how riddled with injuries they were.

To end the backend of their secondary, Baltimore landed veteran safety Eric Weddle.

Also, they were able to provide Joe Flacco with reliable pass catchers in Mike Wallace and Ben Watson.

If they can stay healthy, expect for Baltimore to compete in the AFC North.

26. New Orleans Saints – It’s hard to make sense of what the Saints are doing.

This defense was one of the worst in the history of the NFL last season and yet they decided to give tight end Coby Fleener a five-year, $36 million deal.

Why?

27. Kansas City Chiefs – There isn’t much to talk about or look forward to here.

The Chiefs haven’t done anything in the off-season that makes me believe they’ll be significantly better or worse for that matter.

This is an organization stuck in mud, which isn’t the worst thing ever since they did make it to the divisional round of the playoffs a season ago.

Just remember, Alex Smith is still their quarterback and Albert Wilson is still their number two receiver.

Need I say more?

28. Los Angeles Rams – As expected, the most exciting thing surrounding this franchise is their move to Los Angeles.

It’ll be fun to see Todd Gurley in year two as well, but there doesn’t seem to be any moving of the needle this year.

29. San Francisco 49ers – When Chip Kelly was in Philly, you couldn’t blink without seeing a new transaction being made, but nowadays you can’t hear a peep from Kelly’s new team in the Bay Area.

After finishing (5-11), the 49ers haven’t done much of anything to show signs of trying to win anytime soon.

It’s going to be another long year in San Francisco.

30. Detroit Lions – It’s impossible to get better when your best player decides to retire at the age of 30.

Sure, they added former Bengals receiver Marvin Jones, but there’s no way he’ll be able to replace the production of Calvin Johnson.

31. San Diego Chargers – Just a few years ago, San Diego was looked at as a contender in the AFC, but those days are gone.

In a tough AFC West, San Diego looks to be the worst team on paper.

32. Cleveland Browns – While Cleveland seems to be heading in the right direction, how many times have we said this about this franchise over the years?

It’s just hard to give them the benefit of the doubt without seeing results on the field.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.