NFL Power Rankings - Week 1
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It would be unfair to have anyone else take the top spot. Coming off a Super Bowl win, this Buccaneers team kept everyone who led the team to victory last year. With the perfect mix of youth on defense and experience all around, Tampa Bay is in the perfect position to make a push for a repeat.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Even after the discouraging Super Bowl loss last year, Kansas City still sits atop the AFC. Patrick Mahomes is the undisputed best player in the NFL right now, and he comes into this season still having a plethora of weapons to throw the ball to. Additionally, the Chiefs worked hard this offseason to build their offensive line, adding Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, and Austin Blythe.
3. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills also have a lethal weapon under the helm this year. With over 4,500 passing yards and 37 passing touchdowns last season, Josh Allen had one of the best non-MVP seasons that we’ve seen. Expect the Bills to continue to be pass heavy as they make a push for the top spot in the AFC.
4. Green Bay Packers
That brings me to the reason that Josh Allen didn’t win MVP last season: Aaron Rodgers. With Rodgers under center and DaVante Adams running routes, expect the Packers offense to continue to produce. But in order to dethrone the Bucs, Green Bay’s defense must improve.
5. Cleveland Browns
The Browns should have one of the best balance attacks on offense this season. Baker Mayfield proved to be an above average QB in the second half of last season, and will have plenty of weapons to throw to; especially with Odell Beckham Jr. poised to return. Add this to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield, the Browns offense should be lethal. On the other side, Cleveland continues to improve their defense behind Myles Garrett. Look for the Browns to win the AFC North for the first time this year.
6. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams took a big risk in their future by trading for Matt Stafford, but I believe it was worth it. Stafford working with Sean McVay should create a dynamic passing game for L.A. Losing Cam Akers hurts, if not for that they would have been higher. Nonetheless, with the best defense in the NFL, the Rams are bound to make noise in the playoffs this year.
7. Baltimore Ravens
With Lamar Jackson, the league's best dual-threat quarterback, and a stifling defense, the Ravens find themselves in the top 10 of my power rankings. That said, Baltimore continuously finds themselves behind early in big games, in which they seem helpless in attempting comebacks.
8. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson went through a rough stretch of football starting at week eight of last season. But before that, he was playing like an MVP favorite. Seattle will continue to run the ball a lot under Pete Carroll’s offense, but the offseason trade outrage from Wilson may lead to more passing attempts, something that will either make or break the Seahawks.
9. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans have a winning formula on offense with a top-five running back in Derrick Henry and an underrated quarterback in Ryan Tannehill-who put up over 3,800 passing yards and 33 passing touchdowns last season. The Titans finished with a top-three offense in yards per game last year. But it’s their defense-which landed in the bottom half of the league-that keeps Tennessee from being in the top-five contenders this season.
10. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are a team with great talent that was riddled with injuries last season. I think they have the talent on defense to rebound from last season and they have the ability to have an explosive offense as well. But the issue with the 49ers for me is their unwillingness to get behind a quarterback-whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance-which doesn’t typically favor well in the eyes of NFL history.
11. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals will continue to be explosive on offense behind Kyler Murray and their elite wide receiver corps. The rushing duo of James Conner and Chase Edmonds will also create plays for Arizona. I also believe that their defense made much needed improvements. That being said, the Cardinals' struggles will be in the hands of their tough schedule. This team is good enough to come in second, or even first, in a few other divisions in the league, but being in the toughest division in the NFL leads me to believe that this talented Cardinals team will finish in a disappointing fourth place in the NFC West.
12. Indianapolis Colts
This Colts team is expected to rely much on the running game this year, with Jonathan Taylor rushing behind the best offensive line in the league. I also expect Carson Wentz to outperform expectations this year. Add this to a top-ten defense and the Colts are set up to have an impressively built all-around team this season. Early injury issues-including Carson Wentz and T.Y. Hilton-has me worried about the health of this team going forward, which leaves them at 12.
13. Miami Dolphins
It’s finally Tua’s time to shine. Tagovailoa will no longer be in the shadow of Ryan Fitzpatrick and now has the team backing him fully. The Dolphins gave him some weapons, drafting Jaylen Waddle to go with DeVante Parker and Will Fuller V-who despite being suspended for week one, I expect to have a big year in Miami. Add this to the Dolphins already solid defense-led by Xavier Howard and Byron Jones-and Miami finally cracks the top fifteen.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott is back and all eyes are on him on Thursday night. With one of the top WR corps in the NFL and Ezekiel Elliott who looks far better when Dak is on the field, Dallas has the potential to be one of the top offenses in the NFL. On defense, Micah Parsons looked great in preseason but it is still the Cowboys’ biggest weakness, being bottom five in defense last year; and that is what will once again keep Dallas near the middle of the standings.
15. Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers are a great dark horse going into this season, but I’m not convinced yet. Their defense was bottom-ten in the league last year and it would take a Josh Allen type leap from Justin Herbert this year for the Chargers to really contend. That being said, the offensive pieces on this team are solid, so it is possible for the other team in L.A. to make some noise as well.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
Going into this year, the modern pass-heavy Steelers will have to rely on a 39-year old Ben Rothlisberger who is beginning to really show his age. It will also be interesting to see how successful rookie Najee Harris will be in taking some of that pressure off of Ben. Pittsburgh’s defense looks good, but their secondary remains shaky. The biggest reason they are even as high as sixteen, is because of Mike Tomlin, who in all fourteen years of coaching the Steelers, has never had a losing season.
17. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings will most likely continue behind a run-heavy offense behind Dalvin Cook to be able to open up the passing game to Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen. While these are elite weapons, Kirk Cousins won’t rise up to elite play. Minnesota added good defensive pieces and veterans to the team, but it won’t be enough to pick up the slack of the 29th ranked defense in the NFL last year. The Vikings will remain a team that fights to get into the playoffs, but won’t play up to the level of some of their adversaries.
18. New Orleans Saints
The Saints have weapons no doubt; and their offense has plenty of potential running behind Alvin Kamara. But the team has a lack of Quarterback security behind starter Jameis Winston and back-up Taysom Hill. This is the first time in 15 years that Drew Brees won’t be under center for New Orleans, and I think we’ll be able to tell. With Michael Thomas out for the first six weeks at least, Winston begins his comeback season with possibly the worst group of wide receivers in the NFL.
19. Washington Football Team
Even though the Cowboys are five spots above the Football Team on my list, I don’t expect the gap between the two best teams in the NFC East to be that big. Washington is a capable team with a top-five defense going into this season. The issue is that they had a bottom-five offense last season. They picked up pieces in the offseason, such as Curtis Samuel, but they’ll have to rely on a somewhat inconsistent Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead the offense. This team will continue to be around the .500 range, but that won’t be enough to beat out the Cowboys for their division.
20. New England Patriots
This team was four spots higher a week ago. The Patriots made the wrong decision by cutting Cam Newton and going with Mac Jones this season. Jones will be a fine game manager, but he won’t be anything special; especially going into his first season. New England is getting good defensive players back this season, but I wouldn’t expect much of a leap on offense, despite their big free agent splash.
21. Carolina Panthers
As a Panthers fan, it takes everything in me not to have Carolina crack the top 20. With Christian McCaffery coming back and a young, hungry defense who is bound to make another jump this year, the Panthers seem like a playoff-caliber team. But there are still many questions about QB1. Sam Darnold comes into Carolina looking to resurrect his career. His play will determine just how far the Panthers go this season.
22. Atlanta Falcons
Even without Julio Jones, the Falcons receiving corps. will be great this year behind Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. If Matt Ryan comes to play, I could see the Falcons having a top-10 offense. But their biggest obstacle will be on the other side of the field. No matter how good Atlanta’s offense looks, their defense will be what stops them from getting into the playoffs.
23. Chicago Bears
The Bears will come into the season with a tough defense, but a shaky secondary. They’ll have a solid running game and a good group of receivers. My issue is who will be throwing to those receivers come week one. In preseason, it looked as though Justin Fields had a real shot at being named the starting quarterback. But the Bears are rolling with Andy Dalton. Most people do expect this to change, but it needs to happen sooner rather than later before Chicago passes a point of no return.
24. Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have a good offense led by a good Quarterback in Derek Carr. But being just good won’t be enough to pick up the slack the Las Vegas defense will continue to have. After a draft that had most of us scratching our heads, I expect the Raiders to be a big disappointment for fans in the Gambling Capital of the World, leaving it difficult to bet on Jon Gruden.
25. New York Giants
The Giants might have one of the most underrated defenses in the NFL. And on the other side of the field, Saquon Barkley will cause a large improvement to this offense. The issue in New York is that Daniel Jones-who has 29 fumbles in 25 career games-will be put behind the league's worst offensive line.
26. Denver Broncos
Denver made some good moves this offseason to pick up their offense and I believe their defense will stay solid. But after a Teddy Bridgewater-Drew Lock race, which will put Teddy behind center, I don’t expect the Broncos to have enough power to hang with the teams above them on this list.
27. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the most exciting young teams in the league. Joe Burrow will be coming back from his knee injury, Joe Mixon is one of the top sleepers in fantasy, and the struggles we are seeing from Ja’Marr Chase this preseason don’t worry me as much as others. But the lack of a front seven will halt the potential the Bengals have this year.
28. New York Jets
The New York Jets made the right move by hiring Robert Saleh. He has already begun making good moves to improve the team, and Zach Wilson looked good in preseason, but there is still a lot of improvement to go. The future is bright for this young Jets team, but for this season things will still look a mess.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence creates a lot of optimism in Jacksonville. That’s about it. The Jags starters looked shaky in preseason leading me to believe Lawrence won’t have much help on offense and the defense doesn’t exactly look fantastic. Now, these things are expected from a team that was the worst in the league last year. But my issue is that I’m not even close to being sold on Urban Meyer’s first offseason. After a Chris Doyle hire that split the locker room-immediately followed by a firing, a violation in NFL rules, and a failed Tim Tebow experiment, Meyer is already creating quite the list of NFL dont-do’s.
30. Philadelphia Eagles
I expect the Eagles to go through the motions that most messy, poorly-run organizations do. This team has a work-in-progress defense and an offense that doesn’t set Jalen Hurts up to succeed. But after the terrible season, they will make Hurts the scapegoat and draft another quarterback in the first round, and continue to watch the rest of the team melt away.
31. Detroit Lions
The Lions are focused on their future. They accumulated picks for Matthew Stafford, built an offensive line with a lot of potential for the future, and have a very good and young D’Andre Swift in the backfield. But for now, being led by Jared Goff and the league’s worst ranked defense, the tank will continue in Detroit.
32. Houston Texans
Any surprises here? It’s crazy to think that the Texans were up 24-0 in a game against the Chiefs that would have put them in the AFC Championship game had they won. Yet, here we are. J.J. Watt is gone, DeAndre Hopkins is gone, and Deshaun Watson might as well be gone. By trading cornerback Bradley Roby to the Saints, the Texans prove that it is also tank season for them, and there is not much to look forward to this year.