In an Interesting Twist on the “Future Power Rankings” Theme
In an interesting twist on the “Future Power Rankings” theme, The Athletic recently evaluated all thirty-two NFL teams to determine how well-positioned they are for success over the next three years, and then grouped the teams into tiers based on stock market terminology. It sounds weird, but it’s actually quite creative. It’s also behind a paywall.
Randy Mueller and Mike Sando placed all 32 NFL teams into buckets “based on the criteria we found important for projecting: quarterback, head coach, front office and ownership, in that order.” It seems pretty simple, but was probably anything but.
Tier One is the “Blue Chip” franchises – aka “well-established teams checking the most important boxes” – and includes three teams: the defending Super Bowl Champions, the defending NFC Champions, and the team that’s won the AFC East title the last three seasons. For those who only follow the Seahawks and would appreciate having that spelled out, the blue chippers are the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and Buffalo Bills.
Tier Two is the “Value” franchise (singular, not plural), which The Athletic defines as “a team trading at a discount on its recent performance at it works to more fully shake an increasingly dated reputation.” I’m sure some of you can guess the team based on solely on that description. For those that can’t, it’s the Cincinnati Bengals.
Tier Three is the “Preferred” franchises . . . teams that “can be counted on to pay consistent dividends,” but which “might be missing a key component needed to go all the way.” There are five teams in Tier Three: Interestingly, the teams aren’t listed in alphabetical order or by conference/division. One might therefore surmise that the order of the list represents the ranking withing the tier, with the Seahawks ranked just behind the 49ers and just ahead of the Ravens. If so, that’s not bad.
Questions at QB
As I see it, the common theme in the “Preferred” tier seems to be questions at QB:
- Pittsburgh: Can Kenny Pickett build on the last half of his rookie season?
- San Francisco: Is Brock Purdy as good as Kyle Shanahan made him look last year or was it all just smoke and mirrors?
- Seattle: Will Geno Smith regress or will he prove that his 2022 performance wasn’t a fluke?
- Baltimore: Can Lamar Jackson make it through the entire season?
- Green Bay: Was trading Aaron Rodgers a mistake? Is Jordan Love any good?
Seattle Seahawks in Tier Three
Here is the write-up on the Seahawks:
Why they’re here: Pete Carroll is a top-five head coach who appears likely to stay another three years despite his age. Mueller: The owner is unbelievably supportive financially, and Seattle might be the best-run organization in the league overall. The winning track record on and off the field speaks for itself. The current talent level on the field is good enough to continue winning ways. They’re still lacking a long-term answer at QB. That, combined with Carroll’s age, keeps them from being in the blue-chip group from my vantage point. Sando: Carroll has reached the playoffs with three starting quarterbacks in Seattle and gets more than expected from whoever is playing that position. That track record and the team’s recommitment to sound drafting principles has the Seahawks in a strong position. Carroll turns 72 this month but seems much younger. It shouldn’t shock anyone if he has Seattle pushing deeper in the playoffs sooner than later. Personally, I think Mueller might be wrong about the long-term answer at QB given that the time frame they’re evaluating is “the next three years” and Geno Smith just signed a 3-year extension. The rest seems accurate though.
Other highlights that might interest the 12s include:
- Our Week 2 opponent, the Detroit Lions, are one tier below us.
- The Los Angeles Rams are the first of five “Cyclical” franchises in Tier Five (“Volatility marks these teams”)
- Tier Six is comprised of seven “Common” franchises, including the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and Denver Broncos.
- Tier Seven basically confirms that the teams are ranked within the tiers because the last team listed is the Washington Commanders and Mueller and Sando acknowledge that “(w)e talked about placing Washington in the Penny Stock category” (aka Tier Eight). The other teams in Tier Seven are the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, and Indianapolis Colts – in that order, with Washington listed after the Colts.
- There are three “Penny Stock” teams: the Las Vegas Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, and Houston Texans. For what it’s worth, Mike Sando’s comments about the Cardinals are very sound: Tons of future draft capital is nice but doesn’t guarantee anything. Arizona is unproven at head coach, both coordinator positions and in the front office, with an owner fighting off accusations about bad culture, with many millions committed to an injured quarterback. As are his comments about the Rams: Betting on McVay seems a little risky given how close he came to walking away. He does seem recommitted and reenergized. Will he feel that way if the Rams struggle this season? I don’t see Matthew Stafford playing three years from now, and I’m not sure what to think of the long-term outlook for McVay. But recent history shows the Rams will do whatever it takes to be relevant in a market that accepts nothing less. And the 49ers: The Lance situation burned equity so that the 49ers will face harsher criticism if performance slips. This remains a strong team, but I fear the arrow could be pointing down slightly in another couple years. It’s difficult to field a top-five defense forever, especially after squandering so much draft capital. Purdy also must prove he can stay on the field. The 49ers’ inability to develop a high-end drop-back pass offense makes winning a Super Bowl tougher.