The most optimistic people in the world are NFL fans in Week 1.
You all think your team is going to the playoffs, warts and all. The reality is the way the NFL is constructed now you are not that far off. There is always change from season to season in the league, good teams falling off and bad teams rising up.
But as we ready for the 2016 openers this week, there are constants: The best teams heading into the regular season are always the ones with the great quarterbacks.
Ben Roethlisberger is not far behind.
That’s why I have the Packers as the top team here in my Power Rankings. Rodgers is going to light it up this year, especially after some of the misguided started doubting him in 2015. The Packers were stale on offense last season, and the loss of Jordy Nelson was really felt in the way the Packers called games.
Nelson is back and Mike McCarthy is back calling plays full time. That’s a good thing. Eddie Lacy is trimmer, and the offense should be a lot better as a unit. There are some questions on defense, but Rodgers will cure those ills with his play.
Interestingly enough, I think both the Packers and the Patriots will lose their openers. The Packers will wilt in the heat in Jacksonville — early upset special — and Garoppolo will struggle with the blitz looks from the Arizona Cardinals.
After that, it’s smooth sailing to the Super Bowl for those two.
Those fan bases have reason for hope.
Do the others?
|Aaron Rodgers won’t have the same type of season he had in 2015, and they were close to the title game. That says a lot about what a great QB means.||3||0-0-0|
|The four-game start isn’t as daunting as some will make it out to be. One more thing: The Patriots defense is improved. A lot.||1||0-0-0|
|They added a nice pass-rush piece in Chandler Jones and they will again be explosive on offense. They will win the NFC West.||1||0-0-0|
|They will be right there with Arizona and will play better good football in the playoffs. The offensive line is key to the whole season. Will it be better?||1||0-0-0|
|They are a deep, talented team that might have been a Super Bowl team in 2015 if they didn’t lose Andy Dalton down the stretch. They will be right back in the mix again.||2||0-0-0|
|Their division isn’t tough and they return almost their entire team. They did let Josh Norman go, and that could hurt them in the long run.||—||0-0-0|
|Even with Le’Veon Bell missing time and Martavis Bryant gone, they will be a force again on offense. It’s hard to believe, but improvement on defense is the key.||—||0-0-0|
|They have a lot of uncertainty with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. He is the unknown. But that defense will keep them as a top team in the division.||—||0-0-0|
|They have made big-time improvements on defense and the offense should be good again. The offensive line has to make strides, but I think it will.||6||0-0-0|
|They won’t win the AFC West, but they will be close. Not having Justin Houston to start the season really hurts.||—||0-0-0|
|Losing Teddy Bridgewater for the season hurts, but they aren’t built around the passing game. That’s why they can still be a playoff team behind Adrian Peterson and that defense with Sam Bradford at quarterback.||—||0-0-0|
|The offense should be explosive, but it’s up to the defense to get this team to the postseason. They’ve added a lot of pieces, but are they good enough?||1||0-0-0|
|Can they hold on until Tony Romo gets back? It’s up to rookie Dak Prescott. One other concern: Who provides the pass rush?||1||0-0-0|
|Can this young team push the Broncos in the division? I think they might be a year away, and the schedule isn’t easy with a lot of 1 p.m. EST games, which will be tough.||5||0-0-0|
|Andrew Luck will be back playing well, but the concern is the pass rush. Will veteran Robert Mathis get any help?||1||0-0-0|
|It’s all about Brock Osweiler for this team. If he is what the Texans think he is, they will be higher on this list. J.J. Watt’s back injury bears watching — even though he’s expected back for the opener.||—||0-0-0|
|They get back Joe Flacco and some other players who missed much of last season with injuries. They will be back in the wild-card race again.||10||0-0-0|
|If Kirk Cousins can continue to play like he did last season they will be much higher here. Can he? The Redskins didn’t give him a long-term deal, so they must have doubts.||1||0-0-0|
|First-year coach Adam Gase will make Ryan Tannehill a better player. But there are other issues on this roster.||5||0-0-0|
|They have a lot of issues, which puts Rex Ryan on the hot seat. They might be in a lot of shootouts early.||2||0-0-0|
|It’s hard to get a real feel for this team after what happened on offense last season and the retirement of Calvin Johnson. Week 1 against Indianapolis will give us a good idea.||2||0-0-0|
|The defense still has major issues, but Drew Brees and the offense will again key this team. Brees is far from done.||6||0-0-0|
|Why do I have my doubts about Ryan Fitzpatrick duplicating last season? If he doesn’t do it, they won’t be any good.||4||0-0-0|
|This is still Philip Rivers’ team, and as long as he’s firing shots they will be competitive. But there are a lot of questions around him.||5||0-0-0|
|It’s all about Case Keenum. They have a good defense and Todd Gurley, but can they throw it around? If no, how long before top pick Jared Goff plays.||3||0-0-0|
|I think Jameis Winston will have a big season, but the defense needs work. It needs more size.||—||0-0-0|
|Jay Cutler has an improved line and has his weapons outside healthy. Now he has do more to carry this team.||7||0-0-0|
|The Falcons will be better on offense this season, but the defense still has too many questions and a lot of youth.||7||0-0-0|
|There will be growing pains by starting rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. But that’s the right decision.||4||0-0-0|
|I know they’ve done some good things in the preseason, but now it counts. Their style is too old school for long-term success.||1||0-0-0|
|The quarterback situation is a mess. It’s hard to believe they were a Super Bowl team four years ago.||1||0-0-0|
|This is an easy one. How many games will they win? Not many. The talent pool is thin.||—||0-0-0|
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / NFL Power Rankings: Think your team’s for real? Here’s your wake-up call