Every NFL team is a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, and no team excels in every area. Many of these teams have spent the first few weeks of the offseason trying to patch holes in their lineups. Others have been stuck watching strong units get weaker as free agents departed for greener (with money) pastures.
And a few teams have made strong units even stronger with specific free-agent signings and trade pickups.
Which teams are the strongest in which parts of their rosters? Below, I've ranked the top 10 teams in various units, using Football Outsiders' advanced stats combined with scouting reports and consultation with the FO staff. We looked at both past performance (not just last season) and what that means for our expectations for 2017. We also looked for both offseason player movement and injured stars from 2016 who are projected to return.
Note that rather than worry about defining different parts of the front seven for teams with different schemes, I ranked each team's front seven twice: against the pass and the run.
1. Green Bay Packers
2. New England Patriots
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Atlanta Falcons
6. Indianapolis Colts
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
8. Detroit Lions
9. Dallas Cowboys
10. Carolina Panthers
Aaron Rodgers finally returned to Aaron Rodgers level in the second half of last season, so he's No. 1. At some point, Father Time will come for Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but it's hard to predict which year that will be until it actually happens. We moved Atlanta down a couple of spots because 2016 was so clearly a career-best season for Matt Ryan, but it's not as if Ryan was subpar before that.
While picking the top seven or eight teams here was pretty easy, it's very hard to rank the teams in the 9-16 area. The problem is the difficulty of separating a quarterback from the offense around him, and knowing how to square statistics and film study when they don't agree on a player. No quarterback epitomizes these complications more than Washington's Kirk Cousins, although Oakland's Derek Carr and Cincinnati's Andy Dalton present the same issues. So does Dak Prescott, but right now ranking the Dallas quarterbacks means ranking not just Prescott but also the Prescott-Tony Romo combination. Until the Cowboys definitively trade or cut Romo, no team has better depth at the position. Without Romo on the roster, Dallas would fall out of the top 10, to be replaced by Oakland or Washington.
Meanwhile, Cam Newton presents the opposite quandary. No quarterback watches his wide receivers leave more yards on the field with drops or the inability to fight off defensive backs, plus the Carolina offensive line was a dumpster fire in 2016. But Newton's MVP season wasn't so long ago that we can't remember it, plus Derek Anderson gives the Panthers a solid veteran backup. Tampa Bay and Tennessee also get consideration in the 9-16 group, with maturing young quarterbacks who could move into the top 10 with a solid 2017 season.