1. Las Vegas Raiders (1): It doesn’t get better than the Silver and Black, featuring an awesome color scheme, fantastic logo yet overall clean look since the familiar presentation’s inception in 1964. But as the Raiders make their entry to Sin City, how about putting together a new Color Rush option – adding black pants with a silver stripe to the traditional jersey? After all, Raiders fans will now be betting black on those local roulette wheels.
2. Los Angeles Chargers (3): This is highly tenuous given the potential they could screw up a good thing next week. But I’m willing to follow their advice – “trust us” – after smooth rollouts of their new wordmark and the slight adjustment to the iconic lightning bolt that adorns the helmet. The permanent switch to the gold facemask last year was a solid move. I’m an outlier given my preference for the navy blue featured in the Junior Seau years, but predominant powder blue works just fine. If they stick with white helmets, how about going back to including numbers inside a blue lightning arc? Please, Bolts, don’t betray my trust.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2): The black and gold colors reflect the Steel City (in case you’ve never visited) as does the trio of hypocycloids in the logo, a callback to the Steelmark symbol used by the American Iron and Steel Institute. Pittsburgh is unique, too, as the only team to use its trademark on just one side of the helmet. And, take note Raiders, the Steelers have looked especially slick in the black-on-black Color Rush combo they adopted in 2016.
4. Seattle Seahawks (4): The “College Navy” and “Action Green” reflect the Emerald City (in case you’ve never visited) as does the hawk head logo, a callback to a mask designed by Indians native to the Pacific Northwest (it also resembles birds seen on regional totems). And, for my money, this 2012 reboot has been Nike’s lone home run since becoming the NFL’s apparel provider. The matte helmet with feathers tapering down the middle and “12” elements to honor their fan base, including 12 feathers along each side of the pants and along the neckline, are sweet subtleties.
5. New Orleans Saints (5): It would’ve been very Mardi Gras to outfit them in purple, green and gold … but thankfully the Saints have always gone with the beautifully contrasted black and “Old Gold.” And nothing says New Orleans like the fleur-de-lis logo. And whether it’s black or white, few teams do monochrome as well as the Saints.
6. Los Angeles Rams (6): The first team to decorate their helmets, Fred Gehrke painting on those famous horns in 1948. But very recent history is more worrisome, their confused St. Louis/L.A. combos of recent years the preamble to a new logo that landed with a thud among the fan base. Hopefully the yet-to-be modeled new uniforms won’t stray too far from the classic Los Angeles looks of the 20th century.
7. Indianapolis Colts (10): The famed horseshoe on the headgear still evokes memories of Unitas, Manning and Luck. And the just-announced changes nicely honor the font used from the franchise’s Baltimore days with a secondary logo that celebrates Indiana. Props.
8. Dallas Cowboys (8): Gotta respect the classic helmet star that signifies “America’s Team” and home white jerseys – chosen by original GM Tex Schramm to give fans a different look every time a visiting team wore its home colors in Dallas. I’ve always favored their blue road jerseys, though they’ve historically brought bad luck.
9. Minnesota Vikings (12): Underrated. The purple matte helmets are quite viking, still featuring the gold vestige of Norse headgear. The current shoulder silhouettes resembling a Nordic longboat are another deft touch.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (7): Topped with those signature wings, few helmets look cooler. Unfortunately, it’s probably only going to get harder to revert to Kelly Green given Philly finally won a Lombardi in “Midnight Green.”
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20): Anything looks good on Tom Brady, right? But seriously, I’ve almost always been a fan of their looks, dating back to the “creamsicles” with winking Errol Flynn logo up to the pewter pants and skull and crossed-cutlass pirate flag of the 2002 Super Bowl team – which has now been re-adopted after the disastrous dalliance with the digital font numbers instituted in 2014. Thanks for turning back those alarm clocks, fellas.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (9): The red and white uniforms are simplistic though clean. But the arrowhead logo stamped with the interlocking “K” and “C” has always been a classic.
13. San Francisco 49ers (14): You lose the Super Bowl to the Chiefs, your uniforms can’t rank ahead of theirs, right? Shame the Niners couldn’t wear their 1994 throwbacks on Super Sunday.
14. Green Bay Packers (11): You lose the NFC championship to the 49ers, your uniforms can’t rank ahead of theirs, right? Aside from the colors, the teams sport a virtually identical look anyway. Would help the Pack to ditch the ugly throwbacks and try a dark green Color Rush
15. Chicago Bears (13): They haven’t changed much since 1962, which is fine. The “GSH” on the left sleeve honoring George Halas has long been a signature feature. The orange jerseys are terrible, but the old-school Michigan-esque helmets brought out of mothballs for the 2019 season were splendid as was the occasional return of the all-white “C” logo.
16. Buffalo Bills (17): Given their misadventures earlier in the century, the basic threads and restored white helmet featuring the charging buffalo are hardly objectionable.
17. New York Giants (16): Honestly, they look better in their 1980s-era, Lawrence Taylor Color Rush uniforms than the usual versions. The roadies with red numbers and gray pants seem tired.
18. New England Patriots (18): It will be interesting to see what post-Brady changes they choose, but nothing short of Pat Patriot’s return to vanquish Flying Elvis will vault them past the Giants … whom they never beat when it counts.
19. Houston Texans (15): Something to be said for sticking with your branding, which the Texans have done – the only team in the league to have never changed their helmet. But as clever as the Texas flag steer logo is, the overall look is too close to the Patriots.
20. Cincinnati Bengals (21): For my money, the tiger-striped helmet is one of the NFL’s most creative. And how great would it be if they could mix in a “white tiger” dome to enhance their Color Rush look next year? Otherwise, the pants and jerseys have been screwed up since 1997.
21. New York Jets (24): Last year’s update has slowly grown on me, though I still roll my eyes at “Spotlight White” and “Stealth Black.” Good to see the return of “Gotham” green helmets, but they’d be better with the 1980s logo.
22. Detroit Lions (26): The color alignment with Ford Motor Company is synergistic … though I’m definitely a Chevy guy. The “WCF” on the sleeve, a technique copied from Chicago, to honor late owner William Clay Ford is a recent addition. However, this franchise doesn’t do Color Rush or throwbacks well and should quit trying.
23. Miami Dolphins (28): Aqua and orange scream South Beach. But that new emblem just ain’t cutting it.
24. Atlanta Falcons (25): Thumbs up – matte black helmet and embrace of “ATL” on the new, largely toned-down uniforms. Thumbs down – silver facemasks, black/red gradient alternate jersey and failure to bring back the old falcon logo. C’mon, let’s go all the way and totally phase out all memories of Super Bowl LI, boys.
25. Baltimore Ravens (27): Black and purple are a nice backdrop to an Edgar Allan Poe story, but don’t work well together as primary uniform colors. If I were their equipment manager, it would be monochrome – purple, black or white – but not dijon – every week.
26. Denver Broncos (19): It’s just not wearing well, as 1990s as “Friends.” And the problem is amplified by how sharp their orange Color Rush unis with the old “D” logo on the helmet present.
27. Tennessee Titans (23): The imagery of a Roman centurion is kind of cool with the shoulder flaps and sword sheath on the hip. But though the navy helmets were an upgrade, there’s just too much going on here – including a muddled color suite with too many combinations. The Titans are sometimes hard to recognize week to week.
28. Cleveland Browns (31): As a non-Clevelander, I’m in the majority in hating the color scheme and have historically loathed the virginal helmet. But given how bad they’ve made the whole getup look since 2015, let’s give them points for re-embracing their historic look.
29. Carolina Panthers (22): They ripped Atlanta’s rollout on Twitter, but a team that looks more XFL than NFL doesn’t have a paw to stand on … especially if you remember ESPN’s “Playmakers.” Faded look with too many iterations.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29): Like the Panthers, their 1995 expansion brethren, they need a bona fide reboot after failed modifications and a 1990s insistence on using black. Carolina has a better looking cat than the Jags’ Chester Cheetah Cheetos knock-off, but at least it’s no longer plastered to a two-tone helmet.
31. Arizona Cardinals (30): Remember when the Bills were using all that piping and heavy color swatching over the shoulders a decade ago? You would’ve thought no one would ever try to replicate that look. Alas … What was wrong with the Pat Tillman era, featuring Arizona’s flag on the white jerseys?
32. Washington Redskins (32): Hideous color scheme wed to a logo (and team name) that rubs too many people the wrong way – unfortunate given the superior spear look from their past would easily remedy the situation … even if it’s very Florida State-y. For a rebooting organization, doing the same to the uniforms would be fine, too.