Matt Tabeek's Wildly Important NFL Power Rankings: Eagles, Falcons begin the season in top five

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There are NFL power rankings and then there are the Wildly Important NFL Power Rankings. The 2018 season is finally upon us and so that means it’s time to unveil my preseason rankings before we kick this thing off on Thursday night.

There aren’t a lot of surprises here, at least not in my top five. The Philadelphia Eagles begin the year sitting in the top spot – and rightfully so. They are the defending champs, after all, and until a team knocks them off, they deserve to be No. 1.

The Falcons come in at No. 5 and they’ll get the first crack at the champs on Thursday night in Philly. We’re about to find out how good these Falcons really are.

Are the Chargers ranked too high? The Vikings too low? The other so-called experts might have different rankings, but that’s what make these wildly important. Every year is different and I expect there will be a major shakeup following Week 1. But for now, these are my rankings. Check ’em out below:

Table inside Article
RANK TEAM TABEEK'S TAKE PREVIOUS (Feb. 6)
1 Eagles (0-0) They're the defending champs. Duh. Until someone knocks them off, they'll be sitting here. 1
2 Patriots (0-0) Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Gronk are back. Super Bowl LII runners-up. What more do you want? 2
3 Saints (0-0) They’re the defending NFC South champs and got better on defense with Marcus Davenport. 8
4 Jaguars (0-0) They have the best defense in the league and it’s not even close. Jalen Ramsey is a rock star. 3
5 Falcons (0-0) When you have 19 of 22 starters back, including the 2016 MVP, you’re a tough out for anyone. 5
6 Steelers (0-0) They have some holes, but they also have Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Studs. 4
7 Rams (0-0) Pick either side of the ball and you can rattle off marquee player after marquee player. Stacked. 7
8 Chargers (0-0) Is this the year the Chargers finally start winning all of those ridiculously close games? Think so. 11
9 Panthers (0-0) Panthers finished the preseason with the top-ranked offense, averaging 373.3 yards per game. 10
10 Vikings (0-0) Word is that Dalvin Cook looks even quicker and faster after ACL surgery. If that’s true, look out. 9
11 Chiefs (0-0) Patrick Mahomes has an absolute cannon for an arm and has the best tight end in the league. 14
12 Packers (0-0) If Aaron Rodgers is healthy and on the field, the Packers have a chance – against anybody. 6
13 Cowboys (0-0) Don’t sleep on Rod Marinelli’s defense – they can get to the QB, plus they’ll have Zeke all year long. 12
14 Texans (0-0) They’re finally surrounding J.J. Watt with more talent, but is it enough to win the AFC South? 16
15 Ravens (0-0) The Ravens kept three QBs but, more importantly, they’ve added some nice parts around them. 17
16 Lions (0-0) Matthew Stafford and OC Jim Bob Cooter are back, but the D is changing. That’s a good thing. 13
17 Bears (0-0) Mitchell Trubisky should be better in Year 2 and, wow, that linebacker corps is suddenly very nasty. 24
18 Cardinals (0-0) New coach, new QB, new offense and defense … but Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson are still there. 29
19 Bengals (0-0) Do not be surprised if the Bengals are in a position to sneak into the playoffs by season’s end. 21
20 Giants (0-0) The Giants will look completely different on offense thanks to a rebuilt line and Saquon Barkley. 31
21 Titans (0-0) Marcus Mariota is coming off his worst season as a pro. Can he rebound and lead them to a division crown? 22
22 49ers (0-0) They might’ve won their last five games in 2017, but this team is a year away from catching the Rams. 18
23 Seahawks (0-0) The Legion of Boom is no longer and it’s the Russell Wilson Show on offense. Will a star emerge? 15
24 Dolphins (0-0) They’re committed to Ryan Tannehill, who has a 37-40 career record as a starter. Good luck. 27
25 Jets (0-0) This season is all about Sam Darnold. If he looks the part and shows promise, they’re in business. 23
26 Broncos (0-0) It’s hard to believe this team was on top of the NFL world and champs two-and-a-half years ago. 30
27 Buccaneers (0-0) There’s talent on this team, but Jameis Winston won’t be – not for the first three games anyway. 20
28 Bills (0-0) Buffalo’s defense should be decent but the offense could be abysmal. Tough year ahead for Bills Mafia. 25
29 Redskins (0-0) The Redskins haven’t won a playoff game since 2005. I don’t think that changes in 2018, either. 28
30 Raiders (0-0) There’s talent on offense, but Jon Gruden just traded away their best defender. Go figure. 19
31 Colts (0-0) Andrew Luck is finally back behind center. He could use more weapons, but can they keep him off his back? 26
32 Browns (0-0) The Browns have talent and they’re definitely entertaining, but can they bring it all together and win some games? 32

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