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Ranking each NFL team based on excitement factor

This NFL preseason has fans oozing with excitement as September approaches. And it is safe to say some NFL franchises are creating more buzz and excitement than others.

Teams coming off of a productive 2017 campaign might just be a little more fun to follow than clubs who look to struggle this fall. Personalities and talent come into play as well when assessing which NFL teams generate the most enthusiasm.

Sadly, some franchise has to rest at the bottom of the heap as we rank each NFL team based on its excitement factor.

32. Buffalo Bills

The Bills aren’t exactly generating a high level of thrills with the league’s worst quarterback roster, for starters. Rookie Josh Allen will eventually help this franchise become more successful, but that is not happening tomorrow. Running back LeSean McCoy cannot keep shouldering the load forever. This is provided that Shady will be on the field all season (more on that here). It is early to speculate, but this hum-drum squad looks to be nowhere near to repeating last year’s postseason visit.

31. Miami Dolphins

If anything should prevent quarterback Ryan Tannehill from suiting up, the much-maligned Brock Osweiler is the next man up. That in itself would be downright scary. On top of that head-scratching signing, the team traded away its best receiver while signing the oft-injured Danny Amendola. Also gone is defensive tackle Ndumakong Suh. We like the addition of running back Frank Gore, but at 35 he is no spring chicken. Furthermore, head coach Adam Gase is already considered to be on the hot seat and it is not even September.

30. Washington Redskins

The Redskins take on a new look with the ultra-conservative Alex Smith under center. He will be working with an offense not nearly as well-equipped as the one left behind in Kansas City. This offense, sadly, now does not include rookie running back Derrius Guice, who is already lost for the season. He was expected to take the Redskins’ run game to the next level. Defensively, it would be nice if cornerback Josh Norman started living up to that fat contract he signed. Placing better than third place in a competitive NFC East will be this year’s goal.

29. New York Jets

The excitement is beginning to brew for Gang Green. The team will be looking to build on its five wins from last year with potentially a rookie quarterback under center. Early speculation of Sam Darnold suggests that he could start in Week 1. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is dazzling as well and it will be interesting to see what the Jets might fetch for him in a potential trade. And, we know it is early, but the Jets defense is looking pretty decent in the preseason, keeping this team trending up.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback Jameis Winston’s looming three-game suspension definitely dampens the Bucs’ vibe approaching September. When Winston returns, he will work with an offense headlined by wideout Mike Evans, who is capable of making huge plays. Meanwhile, rookie Ronald Jones could refresh the team’s run game that managed only eight scores last year, but so far he’s been very unimpressive. Defensively, rookie cornerback Carlton Davis is garnering glowing reviews. And, the additions of Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry should make for a much-improved pass rush.

27. Chicago Bears

Big things are expected from second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky and his offense. Though, the brakes need to be pumped because Trubisky has not exactly had a glowing training camp. There are many wrinkles to iron out as he develops chemistry with practically an entire new receiving crew. The run game should continue to be sound as well as the team’s defensive attack. And, all eyes will be on new tight end Trey Burton who is supposed to play a “Travis Kelce” role working with head coach Matt Nagy.

26. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals would register higher on the excitement meter if they weren’t in a two-year playoff drought. Quarterback Andy Dalton needs to step up, as do second-year players John Ross and Joe Mixon. The latter is at least entering the season in better shape and has looked good in the preseason. Wideout A.J. Green remains a bright star, but the Bengals retaining injury-prone tight end Tyler Eifert is mind-boggling. Speaking of mind-boggling, why is head coach Marvin Lewis still employed?

25. Tennessee Titans

The Titans have all kinds of snazzy pieces that, if assembled correctly, would make a beautiful puzzle. Fourth-year quarterback Marcus Mariota will be attempting to have that stellar season many predicted would happen last year. Second-year wideouts Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor will hopefully lend a hand. In the backfield, Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis create an intriguing running back tandem. Tight end Delanie Walker is always a stud, and the Titans’ defense made some awesome offseason enhancements.

24. Denver Broncos

The Broncos defense hopefully won’t have to compensate too much for the offense’s shortcomings this year. Linebacker Von Miller and rookie pass rusher Bradley Chubb are going to be quite the dominant duo. The team is well-manned at its secondary as well. The weakness and lack of sex appeal falls on the offense. Case Keenum has not looked great so far and the team is potentially looking for veteran backup help while Paxton Lynch continues to flounder. Though, rookie Royce Freeman looks like the real deal, turning heads in a big way.

23. Seattle Seahawks

Boy, has this team turned into a train wreck. The Seahawks continue to neglect their offensive line, which will once again keep Russell Wilson under duress. The poor quarterback will have to deal with some serious pass rushers in the NFC West, like Ndumakong Suh, Aaron Donald (hopefully) and Chandler Jones, just to name a few. Rookie Rashaad Penny just had surgery on his finger, and star wideout Doug Baldwin is currently injured. Lastly, safety Earl Thomas has been a hold out on a defense looking more like the Legion of Gloom. Are folks excited yet?

22. Arizona Cardinals

For the foreseeable future the Cardinals will feature Sam Bradford, not rookie Josh Rosen, as their starter. Bradford is accurate, conservative, and smart, but he is also kind of boring.  We of course love that Larry Fitzgerald is returning for his 15th season and that David Johnson makes his comeback. On defense the Cards released former defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, which was quite the head-scratching move. This year sees new head coach Steve Wilks take over after former head coach Bruce Arians announced his retirement. We sure will miss Arians’ cool hat collection.

21. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are trending up with a healthy Andrew Luck back under center. He went well over 500 days without throwing a football, which was quite worrisome. This team will have to work its way through some preseason injuries and running back Robert Turbin’s four-game suspension. This might open the door for rookie running back Nyheim Hines to carve out a name for himself. On the other side of the field, the Colts wisely spent their three second-round draft picks on defensive enhancements. A bounce-back season should be in order.

20. Oakland Raiders

There is a lot malfunction going on with this team, but that does not take away from its allure. The Raiders have one of the biggest and boldest fan bases in the NFL and the team bringing back the feisty Jon Gruden to head coach is the cherry on top. Marshawn Lynch of course adds excitement value and we all are wanting to see Jordy Nelson succeed and make the Packers eat crow. Meanwhile, the Raiders really need to get things sorted out financially with a disgruntled Khalil Mack or this defense is going to be hurting should he miss regular season games.

19. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have been fun to watch in the preseason and should continue to spark excitement this fall. How the team plans to feature rookie Lamar Jackson is the burning question. He has definitely entertained so far, as has Robert Griffin III. The Ravens’ revamped receiving squad is earning rave reviews and Michael Crabtree is expected to be Joe Flacco’s No. 1 red-zone target. The defense should continue to sparkle as one of last season’s more stout units. And when all else fails, kicker Justin Tucker will come save the day.

18. Cleveland Browns

This “Hard Knocks” featured team went from having zero curb appeal last year to being the talk of the league in 2018. From top-secret quarterback meetings taking place in an RV clubhouse to Jarvis Landry’s fiery pep talks, fans are excited. Rookie Baker Mayfield is of course a showstopper looking to start sooner rather than later. Watching pass rusher Myles Garrett continue to flourish as the Browns’ enhanced secondary hopefully improves is all good as well. The next task at hand would be actually winning some games in 2018.

17. Dallas Cowboys

Win or lose, Cowboys fans’ loyalty runs deep. The hope would be that quarterback Dak Prescott rediscovers his rookie groove. He will have his work cut out with no more Jason Witten or Dez Bryant around this year. Look for rookie Michael Gallup to move up the depth chart while Ezekiel Elliott continues to dominate on the ground. Gone is that dreaded six-game suspension that derailed the whole offense last year. While the team looks to rebound, a suspect defense could be the Cowboys’ Achilles heel this year.

16. Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs fans are fired up and there is a lot of pressure for second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes to lead this team to the playoffs. Though, multiple turnovers in summer practices have been an issue. Fortunately, Mahomes works with one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce create quite the supporting cast. The Chiefs can only hope a defense that had one of the leakiest secondaries last year — now minus Marcus Peters — does not fail them.

15. Houston Texans

The Texans have picked up steam and seem to have found their face of the franchise for years to come. DeShaun Watson looked to be every bit the real deal prior to last year’s injury. He makes his return and has one of the most elite receivers, DeAndre Hopkins, to throw to. Hopkins at times makes for one-man offense, and his catching skills are simply amazing. Speaking of one-man shows, J.J. Watt can certainly perform on defense. Watt creates a hype-train no matter what he is doing on the field, or off the field enriching the lives of others. Let’s just hope this squad stays healthy in 2018.

14. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers combine for some of the most electric players and personalities in the league. What is not to enjoy about a vibrant Cam Newton and everything he brings to game day? This would include his eclectic fashion at his post-game pressers. Christian McCaffrey is supposed to see big uptick in touches (check out his 71-yard touchdown Friday night) and rookie D.J. Moore looks ready to take a prominent role. Veterans Julius Peppers and Greg Olsen remain the father figures the younger guys can look up to. The Panthers should continue to be a postseason threat, expertly coached by Ron Rivera.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last year the Jags snapped a nine-season playoff drought, earning the name “Sacksonville” along the way. The defense logged 56 sacks while managing 33 takeaways, both marking the second-highest in the league. More of the same is certainly on tap, as is the trash talking. Blake Bortles seems to have finally earned his team’s respect and Leonard Fournette should continue to break out. The only weak link here could be the Jags young and injury-prone slate of receivers. Otherwise, the bases seem to be covered.

12. Detroit Lions

The Lions are pretty drama-free which makes them one of the most loved, but sometimes underappreciated NFL franchises. Matthew Stafford sometimes falls into this category as well, though he should not. The dude has serious arm talent and has averaged 4,564 passing yards per year since 2011. He has a fabulous group of receivers and a promising new rookie running back to keep the offense competitive. The defense is where the Lions tend to come up short beyond Ezekiel Ansah, Darius Slay and Glover Quin. Though, it is not hard to root for a team that kicks off each Thanksgiving Day with some good old-fashioned football.

11. Atlanta Falcons

Falcons fandom is real and this is a team that garners plenty of love, despite sometimes crumbling at the worst time. The offense, starting with Matt Ryan, is filled with talent, doubly loaded at both running back and wide receiver. Julio Jones is the star of the show and often makes opposing defenders look absolutely silly. If Ryan could feed Jones more in the red zone, it would be perfect. Linebacker Deion Jones and cornerback Desmond Trufant should continue to dazzle on defense. It is time for the fun to begin.

10. Los Angeles Chargers

Well stocked on both sides of the ball, the Chargers are gaining significant momentum. Most thought the team was staged for doom when it abruptly relocated to Los Angeles. But instead, the team is thriving in its new digs. Philip Rivers appears to be ageless having not missed a game ever as a starter. He has powerful supporting cast headlined by Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen. The Chargers also boast a defense that should not be underestimated with Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa and Casey Hayward creating havoc. Next stop is, hopefully, the playoffs.

9. San Francisco 49ers

Boy have the times changed quickly here. Sign Jimmy Garoppolo and boom, the 49ers skyrocket up the popularity scale. Handsomely paid, even with only seven professional starts, Garoppolo has a ton of hype to live up to. Can his offense help make this happen? The 49ers do not exactly boast Antonio Brown or Todd Gurley-like talent and injuries are taking an early toll. Plus, the team’s young defense is a work in progress. Though, the addition of veteran corner Richard Sherman, a Bay Area fan favorite, is all kinds of exciting.

8. Los Angeles Rams

Folks in L.A. are all fired up about the Rams returning from a fun postseason jaunt. Big things are expected from this offense, which went from being the lowest scoring in 2016 to the highest scoring last year averaging nearly 30 points per game. Quarterback Jared Goff’s chemistry with his offense should only continue to improve, and the Rams now feature the highest-paid running back in the league. Aside from this, the Rams made some very bold offseason team additions that will hopefully pay off.

7. Minnesota Vikings

Skol! The Vikings head into the season with one of the most stacked rosters around. A new and very highly-paid quarterback will be the next to hopefully edge the Vikings into another postseason. The return of Dalvin Cook is huge as well. He was averaging 88.5 rushing yards per game before last year’s injury. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen look to keep thriving and Kirk Cousins should keep tight end Kyle Rudolph heavily involved in passing. On the other side of the field, the Vikings’ scary defense that allowed only 15.8 points on average per game last year is the best in the league.

6. Green Bay Packers

This Packers will flush 2017 down the toilet as the team looks ahead to a prosperous 2018. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is back and healthy which should result in plenty of touchdown celebratory Lambeau leaps. He is also developing a great chemistry with new tight end Jimmy Graham. Plus Rodgers has wideouts Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, joined by rookie fourth-round pick J’Mon Moore. An improved secondary, including rookie cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, appears to be developing as well. Watch out NFC North.

5. New Orleans Saints

There’s a great vibe in the Bayou as the Saints return from an 11-5 playoff season. This team has improved greatly on all sides of the field and is bursting with talent. Quarterback Drew Brees is still playing lights out as he enters his 13th year as a Saint. And, we are excited to see last year’s Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore, continue to build on their excellence. Look for the Saints to be the team to beat in the NFC South.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Showcasing the most explosive offense in the league, the Steelers continue to rank high on the excitement meter. This team has one of the most electrifying receiving duos in Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster for starters. The latter has already been dropping jaws in the preseason. A defense that allowed the fifth-fewest overall yards should continue giving offenses fits this year. And soon enough, All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell will make his long-awaited return. He led the league with 321 carries last year, and every touch of his turns to gold.

3. New York Giants

Not too many fans care that the G-Men won only three games last season. That’s ancient history and the Giants are riding quite the hype train. Odell Beckham Jr., who exudes energy, is back for his fifth season. He is reportedly on the verge of becoming the next highest-paid wide receiver. And speaking of money, the Giants made their second-overall pick Saquon Barkely the fifth-highest paid running back in the league. The team’s offense should own a brand new look this year. We just hope the defense can hold up its end of the bargain.

2. Philadelphia Eagles

This team is riding high after winning its first championship since 1960, and we cannot wait to see the Eagles’ creative touchdown celebrations continue in 2018. Philadelphia boasts a top-five defense, and its offense is equally as impressive. Starting quarterback Carson Wentz and backup Nick Foles are two of the most likable players on the planet. And, there is really not much not to like about this unit as a whole heading into 2018. Head coach Doug Pederson should feel very honored coaching such a well-oiled franchise.

1. New England Patriots

It was a close call for first place. But, when one of the Patriots’ star players does something simple such as having a birthday, it makes for front page news. Quarterback Tom Brady is already in mid-season form and is highly respected for his excellence in the game. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is a showstopper on practically a daily basis, as is head coach Bill Belichick with his dry personality at press conferences. All the while, the excitement level when in attendance at a Patriots game at Gillette Stadium is off the charts. Until this team takes a step back, it will generate plenty of love.

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