Ranking each NFL team based on excitement factor

Courtesy of Jake Roth, USA Today Sports
Courtesy of Jake Roth, USA Today Sports

Let’s face it. Some NFL teams possess more of a wow factor than others. A recent preseason tilt between one of our top-five least-exciting teams just received horrible viewership ratings.

On the other side of the ledger, other teams have no problem commanding popularity based on excitement. Certain players or bigger fan bases make those franchises more fun to view in action. Unfortunately, other clubs practically have to beg or pay fans to show up.

This list in no way is ranked according wins versus losses, despite our No. 1 pick for least-exciting. Instead, there will be teams here that put decent wins on the board, but do not exactly keep us awake when watching. Furthermore, some struggling clubs never fail to attract the fans by droves.

Here we present all 32 NFL teams ranked according to excitement factor.

32. New York Jets

The Jets' quarterback situation is laughable.

Complete with a starting group full of names most of us don’t even recognize, the Jets possess zero appeal. What is there to get hyped about with Josh McCown, or possibly Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty launching balls this season? More importantly, who will be catching them? The Jets managed ways to lose anyone who even resembled a legit wide receiver. It is no wonder the words dumpster fire, train wreck and last place are associated with this all-around least-exciting team.

31. Indianapolis Colts

A poor defense, and a cloudy forecast when it comes to quarterback Andrew Luck being ready to suit up is not much to look forward to. Even running back Frank Gore says the Colts are “going backwards” (more on that here.) Backup Scott Tolzien has not given fans much hope during a disastrous preseason. It is time for panic if Luck misses any extended time in the regular season. We really tried to come up with some reasons to be elated about the Colts in 2017, but drew a blank.

30. Buffalo Bills

First of all, the Bills fired head coach Rex Ryan. He and brother Rob Ryan (also fired) brought an element of excitement to game day. Winning or losing, laughs could still be had. Now, the Bills have gone into ultra-serious mode with new head coach Sean McDermott. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has regressed and the Bills shipped wide receiver Sammy Watkins out west. Now there are trade rumors circulating around running back LeSean McCoy. Will there be anyone exciting left to watch this year? Yawn.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

For two seasons in a row, the Jags have failed to live up to preseason hype. An intriguing roster filled with defensive talent is being overshadowed by the Jaguars’ quarterback problems. In his fourth year as a starter, Blake Bortles really shouldn’t be having “problems.”

He is regressing so badly that backup Chad Henne was called to duty. He is sadly no better than Bortles, which is evidenced by the fact that Bortles once again regained starter status.

The bright star to watch on offense will be Round 1 rookie pick, running back Leonard Fournette ‒ when he gets healthy. Good luck guys.

28. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have gotten destroyed with preseason injuries. They also lost the electric personality of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. to retirement. Now, who is the most-dynamic player on the team? Hmm. We aren’t coming up with much. Well, maybe it is kicker Justin Tucker who already looks to be the team’s highest scoring player ‒ again. At quarterback, backup Ryan Mallett has been utterly terrifying to even take a peek at. Thankfully, quarterback Joe Flacco, who is anything but Mr. Personality, is on track to start Week 1.

27. San Francisco 49ers

We would love to see the 49ers prove us wrong and become a more riveting team in 2017. But, it is hard to be thrilled about starter Brian Hoyer, who is injury-prone and playing with his seventh team since joining the league in 2009. Yippee! Perhaps the 49ers’ run game will help keep people engaged. Carlos Hyde and fourth-round pick Joe Williams will be key in the offense putting up points. Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster should be a joy to see in action too. But overall, expectations that the 49ers break the excitement scale should be tempered.

26. Los Angeles Chargers

We really hate to dump on a team trying to create a new life in a different city, but the Chargers preseason so far makes us worry. For one, fan attendance at the Chargers temporary L.A. digs has been pathetic. We are talking a small soccer stadium that should be a sold-out venue. Fans are clearly bored and have better things to do than sit and watch the team get romped by opposing defenses. If this is a sign of things to come in the regular season, the Chargers might need to start paying their fans to come and cheer them on. Come on Bolts!

25. Minnesota Vikings

While the Vikings defense is fabulous to witness in action, not too many are blown away by watching quarterback Sam Bradford under center. He is a meticulous quarterback, but the team managed only 20 passing touchdowns last year. Plus, the Adrian Peterson-era came to a crashing halt. Instead of producing the booming ground game fans have always loved, the Vikings ranked dead-last in rushing. We are hoping rookie Dalvin Cook can help rekindle the spark.

24. Los Angeles Rams

Last year’s lowest-scoring team (14 points per game) should shake things up a little more in 2017, right? A young, new head coach starting his first full year, and an evolving second-year quarterback stand to breathe some life into last season’s 4-12 Rams. A promising preseason so far is also a positive. The presence of new wide receiver Sammy Watkins should help Todd Gurley overcome last year’s struggles. Top all of this off with a crippling defense, and there is something for Rams’ fans to smile about in 2017.

23. Detroit Lions

Much like their division-rival Vikings, the Lions’ run game last year was nearly as atrocious. If running back Ameer Abdullah had not gotten hurt and lit the ground game up, we would have the Lions ranked higher in excitement. This year, is Abdullah’s chance to prove he is not a bust. One thing that did make the Lions intriguing to watch was all of quarterback Matthew Stafford’s fourth-quarter heroics. Getting over the Wild Card playoff hurdle would also spice things up in Detroit.

22. Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton and Co. lost some pizzazz after missing the playoff boat for the first time since 2011. Plus, wide receiver, A.J. Green who is the most dynamic playmaker to watch, was lost for the season in Week 10 to injury. He’ll now be joined by the fastest guy in the 2017 NFL Combine, rookie John Ross. Plus, rookie running back Joe Mixon stands to spice things up on a three-headed running back committee. Things hopefully won’t get too spicy though when it comes to cornerback Adam Jones’ antics.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last year’s second-place NFC South team is continuing to pick up steam on the excitement train. Quarterback Jameis Winston and wideout Mike Evans are a young and dynamic duo bound to keep thrilling fans. DeSean Jackson was a great add during free agency and should make some flashy plays. The team as a whole is bound to surprise and upset some big-name franchises, just as it did on occasion last year. Some think the Bucs are a sneaky favorite to win their division.

20. Denver Broncos

Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian warming up before a Broncos game

Let’s face it. The Broncos lost a lot of wow-factor once quarterback Peyton Manning retired. The team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The offense, led by Trevor Siemian and occasional fill-in Patrick Lynch, was boring to watch. Plus, the run-game fell apart once C.J. Anderson was injured. A major part of why fans tuned in was to watch linebacker Von Miller and Co. shred opposing offenses. We are hoping for an overall more exciting campaign in 2017. But, Siemian needs to step things up and attempt to be as entertaining as former quarterback Tim Tebow was. We are not holding our breath.

19. Kansas City Chiefs

Things could get more heated around Kansas City if for some reason rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes finds himself starting sometime this fall. For now, the play it safe and cautious Alex Smith remains the starter. Hopefully, second-year receiver Tyreek Hill lives up to last year’s hype. If so, he is going to be dynamite to watch torching defenses. Speaking of defenses, the Chiefs managed a league-best 33 takeaways last year. Will defensive backs Eric Berry and Marcus Peters keep forcing those amazing turnovers? We sure hope so.

18. Washington Redskins

The competition in the NFC East never ceases to surprise. Quarterback Kirk Cousins for one, brings excitement and hope. Can he carry on successfully after the departures of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson? Meanwhile, wideout Terrelle Pryor will look to further develop at his new position. Defensively, cornerback Josh Norman typically drives up the drama meter. He will be aiming to terrorize his divisional opponents this season, including New York Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Fun stuff, right?

17. Houston Texans

The Texans finally have a quarterback cast that fans can happily embrace. Tom Savage is going to be the starter and his No. 1 wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins could not be more thrilled. But, some drama might erupt if the Texans decide to let rookie Deshaun Watson have the reigns. While that’s happening, the Texans defense headlined by sack-master J.J. Watt is one of the most exciting in the league. Hopefully, both Watt and pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney stay healthy and play a full season together.

16. Chicago Bears

The Bears have only won 14 games in the last three years, but the team’s fan base remains loyal. Minus Jay Cutler, the quarterback situation in Chicago is heating up. Rookie Mitch Trubisky is the quarterback looking more like the starter than the underwhelming Mike Glennon. If Glennon can’t cut it, Trubisky will get his chance. Running back Jordan Howard will be the cowbell his quarterback leans on. Will Victor Cruz and Kevin White stay healthy? So much excitement is on tap for a Bears team that desperately needs to win more this season.

15. Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler speaks to reporters ahead of NFL preseason Week 2

Most people would be lying if they said they don’t care about watching quarterback Jay Cutler under center. Everyone wants to take at least a peek. So far, Cutler has looked pretty good. But, he will be under pressure to keep the Dolphins swimming at last year’s winning pace. Then there is the other Jay. Running back Jay Ajayi is the team’s most explosive playmaker. He has not lost his step after a magnificent two-touchdown preseason debut. The only bummer is the Dolphins still have to compete with the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

14. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles will be aiming towards crawling out of last year’s last place finish. Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz will look to launch his career to the next level. Plus, shifts at wide receiver have already made a huge difference. Veterans Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith look like naturals as Eagles. All the while, offensive tackle Lane Johnson has offered to buy all of Philly beers if the Eagles win the Super Bowl. Cheers!

13. New Orleans Saints

As long as quarterback Drew Brees is slinging the rock, the Saints and their extremely decked out fans are not a boring bunch. The Saints produced the No. 1 ranked offense in 2016 and play in one of the most colorful cities in America. It is typically an exciting experience to visit New Orleans and watch a game in the Super Dome. This season should see Brees torching it up through the air once again. Plus, running back Adrian Peterson is sure to have brought much of his fan base to Who Dat Nation.

12. Arizona Cardinals

Excellent and strict coaching by Bruce Arians is why the Cardinals continue to be successful and entertain fans. Running back and top fantasy football prospect David Johnson continues to absolutely dazzle after he piled up a total of 2,118 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016. Veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald makes 33 look like 23 and third-year receiver J.J. Nelson is our sleeper pick for the Cardinals most explosive playmaker. Tie all this up with a defense that ranked No. 2 last season and sit back and enjoy the Cards in action this fall.

11. Cleveland Browns

Chaos at the Browns’ quarterback position makes for cheap thrills, but provides tons of allure. Brock Osweiler has been so putrid, launching footballs no one can catch. It’s so bad that the team is shopping him out for trade. Yeah. Good luck with that. Meanwhile, the Browns are close to announcing that rookie DeShone Kizer will start in Week 1. Fans should be ecstatic and hopeful for the first time since the Browns made the botched Johnny Manziel first-round pick in 2014. On the other side, rookie first-round pick Myles Garrett should be a pure joy to follow this year. Happy sacking.

10. Tennessee Titans

Courtesy of Derick E. Hingle, USA Today Sports

The Titans could be the team to steamroll the rest of the AFC South and come out on top in 2017. They are an up-and-coming franchise that has legitimately become enjoyable to watch with quarterback Marcus Mariota under center. Mariota is evolving into one of the league’s better quarterbacks and ranked No. 1 in red zone efficiency. He should really turn his performances up with Eric Decker now a Titan. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry led the third-best rushing offense last year. Really, folks, what is not to like here?

9. New York Giants

The Giants are without a doubt the more thrilling team of the two that call MetLife Stadium home. They’ll look to excite the fans that were let down after the G-men fell short in the Wild Card playoffs. An fun receiving cast including attention hog Odell Beckham Jr. and veteran Brandon Marshall should be awesome to watch. Do we want to see another kicking net meltdown? Sure, why not? The team’s defense is stoutly stacked as well. If the Giants can jump start that lagging run game, all would be complete.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Last year’s Super Bowl contenders are a hot NFL bunch to follow. That’s magnified by the fact that Atlanta put up a league best 33.8 points per game last season. It’s also going to be exciting to watch the Falcons play at their new Mercedez-Benz home stadium. The star-lined cast of MVP Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones, running back Devonta Freeman and sack-leader Vic Beasley should keep bringing in the crowds. If anything, the Falcons’ offense will help those who play fantasy football score big each week.

7. Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey during the NFL preseason

Despite a disappointing six-win season, the Panthers are still an electric unit to witness in action. We hope to see more footballs given to youngsters and many more end zone dance-off celebrations this year. Quarterback Cam Newton will hopefully have a healthier season, helping the team win more games. A happy Cam is an entertaining Cam. Plus, rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, has already been a gem to watch in the preseason. Let’s get ready for some fun in Charlotte.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

The land of the Terrible Towel and the team with the most dynamic offensive duo in the league has the Steelers sitting pretty high atop the excitement scale. This might be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s last season, so the team needs to finish 2017 with a bang. There to provide a lot of inside scoop is social media mogul Antonio Brown. He is far from boring and already got the NFL Commissioner’s endorsement to celebrate touchdowns. Will the Steelers push the box? Hopefully. Because that is what those in the land of the black and yellow really want to see.

5. Seattle Seahawks

It is difficult not to feel the exhilarating vibe when attending a Seahawks game. The home tilts, in particular, are something else. Just grab your earplugs. Russell Wilson looks healthy and should not fail to make huge plays through the air and on foot. And, who does not enjoy the Legion of Boom terrorizing opponents? Who will lead the team in carries? The running back mystery will keep fans engaged. Seattle will be attempting to make the postseason for the sixth year in a row.

4. Green Bay Packers

It is never a dull moment watching Packers fans clad in green, gold and cheese cheer on Aaron Rodgers and Co. The quarterback is one of the most flawless in the NFL and we are never sure which receiver will reap the touchdown rewards in any given season. It is also fun to bet which teams can survive the chilly winter home games that the Packers simply thrive playing in. There should be plenty players attempting to perfect their Lambeau Leaps when the high-rolling Packers start packing on the points.

3. New England Patriots

Sorry in advance for disappointing fans not expecting to see the Patriots listed here at No. 3. Of course the Patriots are an absolute thrill to watch. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is a combination of Superman and Spiderman when healthy. Quarterback Tom Brady is about as perfect as perfect gets. We are never sure who will be running the ball, but that adds to the allure at Gillette. Plus, what is not exciting about a team that overcame a Brady suspension and the “Deflategate” scandal, only to produce the biggest comeback win in all of Super Bowl history?

2. Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott Ezekiel Elliott Jason Garrett Dallas Cowboys

Winning the NFC East last year only has fans all the more pumped for 2017. And it is no surprise that Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott rank within the top-five in NFL jersey sales. The Cowboys’ offensive line is highly to thank for Prescott and Elliott’s mass production. From preseason speculation, it looks like wide receiver Dez Bryant and Prescott are up for some magnificent plays. Elliott’s suspension is unfortunately looming. But, Jerry Jones’ Cowboys have overcome bigger obstacles which only adds to the element of thrill.

1. Oakland Raiders

Things have reached the boiling point for this AFC team that is a legitimate threat to play in Super Bowl 52. We just mentioned jerseys. New Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch’s jersey is the second-best seller. Quarterback Derek Carr’s is No. 5.

The Raiders are hot and have one of the most decorated fan bases in the league. Beast Mode joining the mix was the cherry on top and he looks as sharp as ever at age 31. Raider Nation should be proud once again as the team pounds it out for a hopeful second-consecutive playoff run.