NFL Power Rankings: Chiefs, Ravens Battle For AFC Supremacy
There are a horde of questions surrounding the upcoming NFL season, one that promises to be unlike any in history. Will the preseason be shortened? Will there be fans in the stands? What will the ramifications be if a player or coach tests positive for COVID-19 in season?
What we do know is that the NFL plans to play this season and that 32 teams are slotted to play 16 regular season games. That means that it’s never an inappropriate time to consider how all the teams shape up.
SportsBettingDime’s Week 1 odds provide a nice glimpse into the NFL’s hierarchy as the season begins. We’re taking the baton and taking a stab at how the NFL will stack up at season’s end.
Disclaimer: These early power rankings are definitely not wrong.
32) Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow, the quarterback prospect with the best odds for changing the Bengals’ trajectory, was the obvious choice at no. 1. A.J. Green gracing the field also helps. But the lack of crucial in person offseason work for the rookie is going to hinder his immediate impact.
31) Jacksonville Jaguars
Starting quarterback Gardner Minshew and a coach who enters the season on the hot seat. No thank you.
30) Carolina Panthers
These Panthers have a new feel with Teddy Bridgewater under center and Matt Rhule gracing the sidelines. The team invested heavily in its defense during the draft but a turnaround still feels at least a year away.
29) New York Jets
The offensive line should receive a boost after the Jets drafted Mekhi Becton but the Jets offense really needed some upgrades this offseason.
28) Washington Redskins
Love the addition of Chase Young who can single-handedly disrupt an offense. Ron Rivera’s presence will only fortify a talented defense and improve the whole organization’s culture. But Dwayne Haskins has a ways to go before this team starts collecting wins en masse.
27) Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons lost more this offseason (Desmond Trufant, Devonta Freeman, Vic Beasley, Auston Hooper) than it gained (Todd Gurley and his mysterious knee, Dante Fowler, Hayden Hurst). Add in a presumably much improved Bucs team on the schedule twice plus the Saints and the number of winnable games begin to shrink.
26) Miami Dolphins
Judging by last year the organization has bought into Brian Flores, and if Tua Tagovailoa in anywhere near the QB they expect, the Dolphins will take a nice leap. But like Burrow, the rookie will likely be hampered by a mostly virtual offseason.
25) Detroit Lions
With offensive line issues remaining and Matthew Stafford’s shaky back, there’s little reason to believe this team makes a drastic leap from its dismal 3-win season a year ago.
24) Los Angeles Chargers
Per usual, the Chargers were burned by injuries during last season’s 5-11 campaign. They should be healthier (how can they not?) but their success or failure ultimately boils down to Tyrod Taylor under center.
23) New York Giants
The G-Men have a solid foundation in Daniel Jones and the electrifying Saquon Barkley. New rookie tackle Andrew Thomas is a gift to them both. But many questions abound elsewhere from corner Deandre Baker’s armed robbery case to the qualifications of rookie head coach Joe Judge.
22) Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders got more dynamic and explosive on offense, using the 12th overall pick on WR Henry Ruggs III, drafting RB Lynn Bowden in the third round and adding wideout Bryan Edwards in the third. Unfortunately the same boost can’t be said about the defensive line.
21) Los Angeles Rams
Having Aaron Donald on your roster is always positive not to mention Jalen Ramsey. But issues remain on the offensive line – LT Andrew Whitworth isn’t getting younger – and it’s hard to be fully sold on Jared Goff at this point.
20) Cleveland Browns
Kevin Stefanski is a coaching upgrade. The Browns solidified the offensive line by drafting Jedrick Wills, and they have an excess of talent (Odell Beckham, Myles Garrett, etc). But they’re the Browns, something will go awry.
19) Chicago Bears
The Bears should be a juggernaut on defense and signing Germain Ifedi will bolster the offensive line but the Trubisky-Foles battle doesn’t inspire much confidence.
18) Denver Broncos
John Elway believes in Drew Lock so much he bought him a litany of toys this offseason. Melvin Gordon in free agency, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the draft. If Elway finally got his quarterback choice right, the Broncos will hold their own in an explosive division.
17) Houston Texans
Hard to argue with ESPN’s Bill Barwell who named the Texans’ offseason as the NFL’s worst. You don’t trade away the NFL’s best wideout in DeAndre Hopkins and not even get a first-rounder to show for it. And you don’t overpay for a bunch of players of average impact. But that’s exactly what Bill O’Brien did.
16) Arizona Cardinals
With DeAndre Hopkins and Isaiah Simmons in the desert, and Kyler Murray with a season under his belt, the Cardinals should automatically improve on their 5-10-1 record from last season.
15) New England Patriots
A toughie as the Patriots enter a new era without Tom Brady. In a bit of a surprise, the Pats are content rolling with Jarrett Stidham. They’ll also be stung by the loss of three of their starting front seven on defense, But they still play in a weak AFC East and still master coaching technician Belichick running the show.
14) Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings drafted well and added Justin Jefferson and Jeff Gladney to replace Stefon Diggs and a triumvirate of corners, respectively. But those are big shoes to fill across the board.
13) Tennessee Titans
Last year was a combination of great coaching and happenstance. Mike Vrabel knew when to turn to Ryan Tannehill, and Derrick Henry developed into the most dangerous and prolific non-QB in the league. The loss of Jurrell Casey will sting but the Titans have improved in others area, notably beefing up their offensive line.
12) Indianapolis Colts
Terrific offseason for Chris Ballard who traded for interior weapon DeForest Buckner, signed Philip Rovers and drafted intriguing skills players in Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor. Indy is as set up as any team in the AFC to occupy the top of the second tier behind Kansas City and Baltimore.
11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the more intriguing teams of 2020, Brady and Gronk will provide a boost and an expectation of success. But Devin White, Vita Vea and company are also poised to carry this team to a respectable season.
10) Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love? WHY???? The Packers really needed defensive help in the draft. But they still have Aaron Rodgers and enough talent in a non-juggernaut division to win a lot of games.
9) Seattle Seahawks
Pass rush. Pass rush. Pass rush. Boy, do the Seahawks need one. 28 sacks in 2019. Yikes. Jadeveon Clowney remains a free agent but reportedly hasn’t talked to Seahawks brass in months. Despite some defensive issues, ss long as Russell Wilson’s under center, Seattle is always a playoff contender.
8) Buffalo Bills
Love the addition of Stefon Diggs and bolstering the defensive line. If Josh Allen continues to take even incremental steps, Buffalo might finally snatch the AFC East from the Patriots, a title New England has owned since 2008.
7) Dallas Cowboys
Dallas impressed during the draft getting great value in WR CeeDee Lamb in the first round, CB Trevon Diggs in the second and DE Neville Gallimore in the third. Mike McCarthy replacing Jason Garrett could prove a massive impact as well.
6) Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles took care of their biggest hole by trading for talented corner Darius Slay. They also added more weapons for Carson Wentz in the draft. But why did they take Jalen Hurts in the second round?
5) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers won 8 games in 2019 with Ben Roethlisberger sidelined. A healthy Big Ben is back and the teams added more weapons including rookie wideout Chase Claypool.
4) New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is returning and made amends with his teammates after ill-conceived comments about not supporting those who kneel for the anthem. Brees could always meet a sharp decline but here’s guessing he doesn’t. Add in the most complete roster in football , which now includes Emmanuel Sanders as the second receiver, and the Saints are sitting pretty.
3) San Francisco 49ers
A few questions remain under center about Jimmy Garoppolo but the 49ers have elite coaching (except in Super Bowls). They also nicely filled the holes of retired Joe Staley (Trent Williams) and traded DeForest Buckner (Javon Kinlaw). They might be a slot higher with a proven elite wideout.
2) Baltimore Ravens
Rookie Patrick Queen could help fortify a defense that already has a lot of strength including new Raven Calais Campbell who was acquired via trade. [We would drop some doting adjectives for Lamar Jackson in this space but there are none left.)
1) Kansas City Chiefs
With a Super Bowl-winning roster kept largely intact, the Chiefs should be the least impacted by Coronavirus-shortened workout programs. As long as Patrick Mahomes is under center, this team should always be the favorite.