I’m getting more and more nuanced and elaborate with the tiers:
At this point in the season, I felt it necessary to leave the top tier empty. Nobody is worthy of being up there. Many years there isn’t a team worthy of being put up in that Death Star tier. I’m talking a team like the 2007 Patriots, the 2009 Saints and Colts, the 2011 Packers, the 2013 Broncos, or the 2020 Chiefs–a team that is head and shoulders better than everyone else. I’m talking about a team that will lose 2-3 games max in the regular season–including resting their starters at the end.
It’s okay to not be in this tier, because if you recall, only one of those teams I listed off actually won the Super Bowl (the 2009 Saints). But it’s just a fact that the best team in the league in one season might not be as good as the best team in the league in a prior season, you get what I mean? The Bills were supposed to be that “Death Star”-tier team this year but they aren’t. There’s a lot more parity in the league this season.
The Eagles, given their record, could be in that Death Star tier, but I think most people would agree that Philly is unproven and has to win in the playoffs. A big thing about teams that achieve Death Star level regular season brilliance is that they’ve typically been good teams for a long time–in other words, we know they’re for real, because they’ve proven it to us in prior seasons. A lot of the time it’s a defending Super Bowl Champion (i.e. the 2011 Packers, the 2020 Chiefs). The Eagles, on the other hand, got beat up pretty badly by the Bucs last year in the divisional round. So we really haven’t seen Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni prove anything in the playoffs. I think Philly is an awesome team, but I am hesitant of crowning them just yet–even though they are likely to finish with 14-15 wins in the regular season.
I had the Chiefs in my Death Star tier up until this week, when they lost to the Bengals. The Chiefs are really good, possibly the best team in the league, but it’s starting to look like Cincy has their number, and that’s why I can’t put the 2022 Chiefs up in the Death Star tier. You can’t be in the Death Star tier if some other team out there has your number.
Okay, now, without further ado, every NFL team summed up in one sentence:
Eagles: Can Jalen Hurts lead this team to a Super Bowl?
Chiefs: Home field advantage is everything for them in the playoffs, as Patrick Mahomes has never played a road playoff game.
Bengals: Will they be able to beat the Chiefs in the playoffs?
49ers: Can their defense step up to a 2015 Broncos/2002 Bucs/2000 Ravens elite level and carry this team to a Super Bowl with Brock Purdy as the quarterback?
Vikings: 10-2 record, total point differential of +10 on the season.
Bills: Von Miller out for the season, huge blow.
Cowboys: Can people finally shut up about wanting to get rid of Mike McCarthy?
Dolphins: I just wonder if this team is capable of going on the road and winning in the cold in January.
Chargers: Get Brandon Staley away from Justin Herbert as soon as possible because 6-6 is unacceptable.
Ravens: Lamar shouldn’t be out long but this team is too inconsistent regardless.
Jets: Is this defense good enough to make a run in the playoffs with Mike White as QB?
Patriots: There’s chatter about Tom Brady possibly making a return to New England; they’d better hope it’s true because Mac Jones isn’t anything special.
Giants: Nice turnaround, but ceiling limited by Daniel Jones at QB.
Seahawks: I have a feeling they’re about to turn into a pumpkin pretty soon, but Geno Smith is an awesome story.
Commanders: For like 3 years they’ve tried to pretend Taylor Heinicke isn’t their best option at quarterback; now it’s pretty difficult to deny it.
Lions: Don’t look now but the Lions have figured out how to win games and play defense–this is a scary team to play.
Bucs: The Tom Brady era in Tampa is just about over, it feels like it’s time for a rebuild–also, while he’s a great defensive coordinator, I don’t think Todd Bowles has any idea what he’s doing as a head coach.
Titans: Their GM traded away AJ Brown, and then got fired after AJ Brown torched them last week–FAFO.
Browns: Is DeShaun Watson even good anymore after missing nearly two full seasons?
Jags: Very up and down young team, but I think that comeback win over the Ravens a couple weeks ago was a major turning point in Trevor Lawrence’s career.
Falcons: They’re not doing shit until they figure out the QB position; maybe Desmond Ridder will turn out to be good, but probably not.
Panthers: They’re probably going to draft whichever QB the Texans don’t take, right?
Steelers: Only question is whether Kenny Pickett is the guy; I actually think he’s flashed some promise.
Colts: They’re going to make a run at Jim Harbaugh in the offseason, aren’t they?
Raiders: I don’t even want to talk about this team; they disgust me.
Cardinals: They are wedded to Kyler Murray until 2028; I do not envy the Arizona GM.
Bears: Will Anderson or Jalen Carter?
Broncos: They cannot get out from under Russell Wilson’s contract until 2026–have fun!
Packers: Start Jordan Love the rest of the season and see what you have.
Rams: They’re fortunate they won the Super Bowl last year, because that window is slammed shut and won’t be open for a long ass time.
Saints: Injuries doomed this team, but they need a reset at QB.
Texans: CJ Stroud, who a lot of people are saying has Jared Goff vibes, or Bryce Young, who is severely under-sized?