Chicago Bears or Cleveland Browns Last in 2017 NFL Power Rankings?

Which team is last in early 2017 NFL Power Rankings? The Cleveland Browns have competition as the Chicago Bears may be closing in.

We established who the best team in the league is going to be in 2017. Both of us circled the Dallas Cowboys in the early going. But just as important is establishing the baseline. Which franchise is in the worst shape for the coming year?

Early NFL Power Rankings have many strong contenders for last in the league. Multiple franchises have little hope next season. Yet its the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears who vie for worst in the NFL.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, discuss the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

Obviously the Cleveland Browns have been the answer to this question for most of this decade. However, dare I say, things appear to be looking up, or at least looking not-down. The Browns have two top-12 picks in the 2017 NFL Draft and a ton of cap space. They also just signed Jamie Collins to a long-term contract and the organization even slashed season ticket prices for loyal fans!

Meanwhile, there are a ton of other horrid teams around this league: San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars.

The common theme among them is a lack of a franchise quarterback, or at least one we can believe in. The same goes for Cleveland, but that just means the Browns are on equal footing. They aren’t a major step behind any of these other squads. I guess the 32nd ranking comes down to whether you believe Cleveland’s new leaders are doing the right thing and have this team on the proper path. They jettisoned a lot of talent last year to rebuild, but that requires nailing a lot of draft picks in 2017.

Oh, who am I kidding. The Browns are the worst team in the NFL. Their breakout star, Terrelle Pryor, is even a free agent. Nothing is going right here. The other squads up for this debate were terrible in 2016, but they also have large swaths of talent on their rosters. The Rams defense can be elite. Jacksonville is so talented with young guys, people tabbed them as a potential playoff team in 2016. The Jets could be one player away; that player just happens to be quarterback.

My only caveat is in San Francisco. The 49ers hired a brand new head coach and a brand new general manager. If those men (Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch) are not good at their jobs, the organization is in store for more bad times. I just don’t have enough information to definitively say they make the Niners worse than Cleveland.

Dan Salem:

While Cleveland certainly owned the basement last season, they are far from a lost cause. It feels far too easy to peg them as the worst team in early 2017 NFL Power Rankings. Youth is king in the NFL, despite what the quarterback position might have you believe. The Browns are very young and very hungry to get better. So if Cleveland is not dead last, then which team currently holds the honor?

Its unfair to include five win teams in this discussion. You left out the Los Angeles Chargers because of Philip Rivers and because they simply underachieved last season. The same must be said of the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams. Both teams have too much talent to be considered anywhere near bottom of the barrel. Underachievement is certainly possible again, but they are far from the worst in the NFL. I’m also eliminating the Jaguars because they too underachieved enormously, yet still feel reasonably complete, all be it mediocre. This leaves Chicago and San Francisco as our contenders for last place.

You tabbed the 49ers as potential cellar dwellers, but I agree that their new coaching staff likely elevates them as a team. I really like Kyle Shanahan, so while his new team may stink in 2017, they have a ton of potential. That alone makes them better than last. Cleveland also has potential of sorts. Only the Chicago Bears leave me completely befuddled as to where they are going and who is the star or stars on the football team.

The Bears likely rid themselves of Jay Cutler, leaving a void at quarterback. Matt Barkley led the team in passing last season, but he is now a free agent along with quarterback Brian Hoyer. As is the team’s superstar wide receiver. Chicago likely sheds Alshon Jeffery and his big contract in an effort to rebuild and not overpay for an underutilized star player. Who on the Bears currently excites you right now?

Perhaps players at running back make you excited, or a few of Chicago’s young receivers feel like stars in the making. But from my perspective this is a team without a clear plan. At least I know what Cleveland is doing. The Bears are now rebuilding, but it doesn’t feel like they accepted the fact just yet. To me they are currently last in the NFL.

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