By: Lucas Sreniawski
Now that the majority of offseason moves have been made and the draft is over, it seems like a good a time as any to make the first edition of the power rankings for the upcoming season. But, since I’m not crazy and it’s way too early to know exactly where each team stands, I just decided to put teams in groups of where I think they’re at going into the summer. The teams are listed alphabetically within the groups, so don’t try to read into the order I list them. So, with all that said, let’s get started!
Just Sell the Team
In this category, I put teams that just seem totally hopeless to me. If you’re down here, not only do you suck now, but I don’t see any reasonable plan for the future.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Just a few short years after getting hosed in the AFC title game, the Jaguars are back to floundering around at the bottom of the league where they belong. They decided to blow it up after the emergence of folk hero Gardner Minshew last season, but trading away some of their talent hasn’t exactly gone as expected as their owner has been beefing with some of the players he is trying to trade on twitter. Oh well.
- New York Jets: Speaking of hopeless, the Jets also have no idea what they’re doing. Last season they went through the entire offseason spending money and it looked like they had decided to go for it. Then, before the season even started, they fired their GM. Fast forward a year, and things are straight up not looking good in New Jersey. Sam Darnold looks like a bust, at least to me, and they are also having problems with their relationship with Jamal Adams. Not good New York, Not good.
- Detroit Lions: The Lions didn’t actually have a horrendous offseason, they lost Daruis Slay but arguably still upgraded at the position by adding Trufant in free agency and drafting Okudah out of Ohio State. Other than that, kind of business as usual in Detroit which will probably keep them in the basement of the NFC North for the foreseeable future. #FreeMattStafford
- Washington Redskins: I know I said I wasn’t going to rank individual teams, and I’m not, but the Redskins are by far the worst team in football in my eyes. Haskins is questionable at best, and the rest of their roster is just kind of devoid of talent as well. They did the right thing staying put in the draft to take Young, but other than that D-Line I just don’t see anything to get excited about.
Not This Year
If you find your team in this section of the power rankings, then that means that while they aren’t totally lost, they either have some good pieces to build around, or what seems like a solid plan going forward. So, while don’t expect to see them in the playoffs this year, they may make their way in that direction soon.
- Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals tanked themselves into the first pick of the draft this year and landed potential franchise QB Joe Burrow in doing so. The southeast Ohio native had perhaps the best season in college football history, totaling 65 touchdowns over the course of the season. If they hit on these picks and don’t ruin Joe, they could be contenders sooner rather than later.
- Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins also took a QB in this draft, selecting Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama. The Dolphins amassed something to the tune of 9 selections of in the first 2 round of this draft and the next, and some solid drafting could really vault them into contention in a new very competitive AFC East very quickly.
- New York Giants: Everyone made fun of the Giants for selecting Daniel Jones when they did, but a year later and it seems like he was a much better choice than Haskins. Part of that may just be because they aren’t a total dumpster fire of an organization like the Redskins are, but still things don’t look too bad over there in the big apple.
- Carolina Panthers: The Panthers seem like they’re doing a full rebuild, which is a bit of a bummer seeing as though it has left Cam Newton out of a job for the time being. Still, they’ve showed the ability to put together good teams in the past and everyone is rooting for Teddy Bridgewater, so maybe they will be able to do a fast rebuild in Charlotte.
- Las Vegas Raiders: With the turn of the season the Oakland Raiders officially become the Las Vegas Raiders, and they seem like they made the right decision to keep Derek Carr, at least for the time being. Their draft this season was puzzling as it seems like they reached on guys in the first round but if those turn out to be the right moves maybe it will be worth throwing some money down on Vegas’ new team in the not too distant future.
Could Surprise Us
This section for the list is for those teams that while you can’t really expect them to make the playoffs, I wouldn’t really be all that surprised if they found themselves sneaking in at the end of the season.
- Arizona Cardinals: After an exciting 2019 season, the Cardinals look like they have found both their coach, and their QB of the future. They also had one of my favorite picks of the draft by selecting Isiah Simmons in the first round. That dude can play pretty much everywhere on the defense except the line. Actually no, not pretty much, he can literally play every single linebacker and secondary position. The Cardinals say they’re going to play him at inside linebacker, so expect him to lock down TE’s and stuff run games week in and week out.
- Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers wildly underperformed last year, but that bad season allowed them to select Oregon QB Justin Hebert with their first-round pick. The Chargers have an excellent group of skill guys on offense, and plenty of playmakers on defense. That being said, it’s hard to see them overcoming a poor offensive line and a rookie QB to make any real noise.
- Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons defense is very, very bad. They always have a stretch of a few games where they play well, but they never really maintain that over the course of a season. But even with that they have a former MVP at QB and an offense that is just loaded with weapons, headlined by of course Julio Jones, and when you have that you always have a chance to win.
- Los Angeles Rams: The Rams had one of the worst off-season’s in the NFL, losing a plethora of impact players coupled with some questionable signings and trades. They were forced to do this due to the cap hell the Goff contract has put them in, and the fact that he doesn’t seem to be living up to that deal makes things even worse. But Sean McVay is still Sean McVay I guess, so maybe they’ll have a shot.
- Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings definitely had the worst free agency period of any NFL team, trading away and losing big name after big name. That being said, before that break down happened, they were an absolutely stacked roster so it isn’t like the cupboard is bare, and they actually had themselves a nice draft.
Have a Real Shot
If your team is in this portion of the power rankings, then while you can’t exactly call them favorites, they have enough talent to make the playoffs.
- Denver Broncos: I really like the Broncos draft this year. Last season, Drew Lock was my number one QB in the draft, and while right now it looks like Kyler Murray may have him beat, it’s clear that he should have been a top 5 pick in the draft last year. They spent free agency shoring up the offensive line in front of Drew by signing Glasgow to play inside, and spent the draft on some new weapons for him to play with. In all honesty, the only reason why I don’t know if they will make the playoffs is that the Chiefs are in their division. They will be fun to watch.
- Cleveland Browns: Ok look, should I have put the Browns in one tier lower? Maybe. But they just have so much talent on both sides of the ball, and they did invest in their offensive line a bit. So let me believe, if just for one more year that they may not be a massive disappointment.
- Indianapolis Colts: The Colts are one of the most well coached teams in football, but they also seem to be one of the most frugal. They Signed Phillip Rivers to try and pry a contention window open, but he doesn’t really have many guys to throw to. But they have a solid running game, and a solid defense, so if Phil can make something happen then I think they will have a shot to make it to the dance this year.
- Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have a good offensive line, a good runningback a great tight end, and a good Quarterback. Outside of that, their roster is kind of devoid of talent. Add on top of that the fact that Wentz can’t seem to stay healthy for any stretch of time, and you have a team that consistently underperforms. I hope I’m wrong, but this team really does scream 9-7 at best.
- New England Patriots: If this roster was any other team, they’d probably be down in the “Not this Year” category. Their offense especially is devoid of many recognizable names and their defense has always been greater than the sum of their parts. But without Tom Brady, I just don’t think you can call them favorites anymore. This should be the end of an era.
- Houston Texans: I will never in a million years understand the thought process of trading away arguably the best receiver in football in DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, and replacing him with inferior, but still expensive Brandin Cooks. The only reason they are this high on the list is because Deshaun Watson is a baller and that entire division is mediocre
- Tennessee Titans: I know they went to the NFC Championship game last season, but they still went 9-7 for the third year in a row, (check out my first ever edition of the power rankings where I predicted that they will in fact go 9-7 for the third time in a row) and I just need to see it again before I crown them as AFC South favorites. I love watching this team play though, watching Derrick Henry abuse defenders is always a blast.
If your team is in this bracket, they are nothing short of expected to at least make they playoffs, if not do some damage when they get here. These teams have very good rosters, but maybe are a little too one dimensional or have too many holes to be considered a favorite to make it to the big game.
- Chicago Bears: The Bears are up here because they could once again have the best defense in football by a wide margin. With the addition of Robert Quinn on that side of the ball, the Bears pass rush should be nearly unstoppable, and probably even better than it was in 2018. The secondary does have some more question marks than that team did, but 2nd round CB Jaylon Johnson has the potential to be an upgrade over Amukamara, and Eddie Jackson can easily cover up any weakness at the SS spot. I think it is realistic to say that this defense could hold teams to a measly 15 or so points a game, provided good health and that the offense can be competent. Speaking of the offense, that is clearly what is holding this team back. With the addition of Nick Foles, Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham and maybe even the speedy WR out of Tulane Darnell Mooney, they should have a more varied offensive attack. The success of this offense could either vault the team into the title favorite category, or send them down the list into the land of 8-8.
- Buffalo Bills: With the prospective fall of the Patriots, the Bills are in a prime position to host their first playoff game in what seems like forever. They will have to contend with the catastrophic loss of Frank Gore, but the addition of Stephon Diggs and continued development of Josh Allen, I see no reason that Buffalo shouldn’t win the AFC East.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Look, you can’t have Brady on your team and not be expected to make the playoffs. And while their defense definitely needs some work, the number of weapons they have on offense is just stupid. I mean come on, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin AND Gronk to catch passes? That is just not fair. If they manage to get Julian Edelman, I just don’t know how you stop that.
- Dallas Cowboys: Before I start this, I would like to say I firmly believe that 9-7 wins the NFC East this year, maybe you will need 10 wins if the Eagles get it together, but that division is not good. Now that that’s out of the way, I really liked the Cowboys taking Ceedee Lamb in the first round. If the Mike McCarthy experiment works out the Cowboys could actually be pretty good. But it probably won’t because like, they’re the Cowboys.
- Green Bay Packers: Speaking of bad off-season’s, what on earth is Green Bay doing? I get wanting to get the QB of the future, but this was the best WR draft class I have ever seen, and by far the Packers biggest need was wide receiver. So what do they do? They pass on WR the entire draft. Aaron Rodgers has to be absolutely livid. Green Bay had a chance to cement themselves as the far and away favorites in the NFC North, and they choked it by largely punting on free agency and wasting the first 2 rounds of the draft.
- Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks are up here basically because of Russell Wilson and Russell Wilson alone. But that should be enough, if it weren’t for the fact that the Seahawks would rather just run the ball with little to no success all game while a top 3 QB in the league does nothing after the handoff. If they would just learn to use their superstar QB, they would be so much better. But, they do not so here they are.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers are similar to the Bears in that they have a great defense supplemented by a suspect offense. Call me crazy, but I do not put a ton of faith in 38-year-old Big Ben coming off surgery on his throwing elbow leading a prolific offense that is also kind of devoid of weapons. But hey, he’s done it before and they do have a great offensive line so they should be able to make it to the playoffs as a wild card at least.
If your team is up here it is not only all but a lock they make the playoffs, they should be in the hunt to win themselves a ring. These teams ended 2019 as the cream of the crop, and they at least haven’t lost enough to get knocked down yet. Let’s take a look at the four most complete teams in football.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Everyone knew they would be up here. Their QB is already on his way to being the best in NFL history, and he is surrounded by an embarrassment of riches on the field, as well as one of the games best calling plays. Their defense is of course not great, but they do play pretty well with a lead, and they will have many leads this year. You would like to see them do a little more on that side of the ball, but they are clearly content to win by outscoring people, and who am I to argue that.
- Baltimore Ravens: Despite not winning a playoff game last season, I still expect the Ravens to cruise their way through the regular season, not only do I expect them to do that, but I expect them to make a deep run, possibly even challenging the Chiefs for AFC supremacy. (Plus, you know that would be an epic AFC title game to watch)
- New Orleans Saints: The Saints had a great offseason, adding impact players in Malcom Jenkins at safety, and Emmanual Sanders at WR. The additions of these players in my opinion makes the Saints by far the favorites to win the NFC, as they are just one of those teams that doesn’t really have holes. If Drew Brees can keep it up for another year, and I think he can, then they have a real shot to get themselves ring number two.
- San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers in all honestly probably could have been a tier lower, but I doubted them last year so I’m going to give them respect, at least for now. They did lose some key players in the offseason in DeForest Buckner and Emmanual Sanders, but they were mostly a scheme team to me in the first place. I’m not in love with their secondary but their pass rush is still good enough to cover it up, and they have a dominant running game. So with all that, and the fact that there aren’t exactly any perfect teams in their division, expect the 49ers to be in it late once again.