1. Los Angeles Rams
Come at the king. They lose Von Miller, but add Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson. And don’t be surprised if Odell joins late in the year when he’s ready. This team is just too complete to knock them off the pedestal to start the year.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
Football in LA is wild. I realize this is a big leap for a team that missed the playoffs last year, but this is a team with a great combination of old talent and young talent just entering their prime. Herbert, of course, is the key, and he’s surrounded with weapons galore. Then let’s just throw Khalil Mack on the other side of Joey Bosa and sprinkle some J.C. Jackson into the secondary. This team has a plan that’s reaching its peak.
3. Baltimore Ravens
I don’t understand how low I’ve seen Baltimore in rankings this year. The expectations are low, and it makes no sense. Unless you don’t realize just how good Lamar Jackson is. They lost their top two running backs for the season before the season started, and they were still the 1 seed in the AFC before Lamar got hurt. If he’s healthy, plus the return of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards in the backfield, plus a top 3 TE in Mark Andrews and some young emerging WRs… they’re Super Bowl contenders.
4. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo has a lot to be excited about, but I think they’re being crowned a bit early. Josh Allen can do just about anything on the field and he’s surrounded by weapons, and an already really good defense added Von Miller. They’ll be very good, and they’ll be near the top… but they have humps to get over first.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Much like Baltimore, Cincy isn’t getting a ton of love, almost as if their Super Bowl run was a fluke. What I saw was a team that found their groove late in the year. They barely got as far as they did despite their offensive line, then lost the Super Bowl in part due to that offensive line… then in the offseason they promptly addressed the offensive line. Joe Burrow is gonna throw for 5,000 yards and they could easily make another run.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Don’t bet against Brady. Just don’t do it. I don’t care what offseason whatever was going on or how much people think that will affect anything. It won’t. If they can avoid the absurd number of injuries in the WR room and the defense keeps performing at such a high level, they’ll stay near the top. And Gronk will show up in week 15 or so and average 2 TDs the rest of the way into the playoffs.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
I tend to be big on teams that focus on getting multiple big time players in their front 4 or 5. LV added Chandler Jones to join Maxx Crosby, and that should scare a lot of offensive lines. Derek Carr has his shot with former college teammate Davante Adams, and we’ve seen how college connections can transfer to the NFL with Burrow and Chase. This is Carr’s big chance, and hopefully this year it will be without the drama.
8. Green Bay Packers
Full disclosure: I’m a Packers fan for life. And because of that, I’d love to put them much higher than this. But it’s hard to do that until we see how well some of these young receivers work out. That said, this defense is top 5, and could be the best in the league with Jaire Alexander back.
9. Kansas City Chiefs
Tyreek was really good. I know that seems obvious, but like… really good. The hope with both the Chiefs and Packers is that losing their clear #1 receiver will force Mahomes/Rodgers to spread it around and be less predictable. That’s part of the reason these two teams fall in this fluid 8 and 9 spot where they could really be interchangeable.
10. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins will go down in history as squeezing the most money out of a slightly above average career in the history of the NFL. It’s really remarkable. But he’s efficient, he’s durable, and he’s stocked with weapons. Dalvin Cook is scary and Justin Jefferson is a top 5 WR in this league. They have very few weaknesses, but Cousins, despite his solid play, is one of them relative to QBs around the league.
11. Philadelphia Eagles
I like Jalen Hurts. I kinda like Miles Sanders. Adding A.J. Brown to DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert makes this a tough offense to keep down. And their defense is scary, especially after that draft. Jordan Davis could be unstoppable in short time, and Nakobe Dean was a ridiculous steal. If those two develop and their secondary proves as strong as it looks, Philly could easily move up this list as the season goes on.
12. Miami Dolphins
We’ve reached the spot on a “power ranking” that I hate… where a potentially 11-6 team could miss the playoffs. I really like Miami. It’s not just Tyreek. It’s the offensive genius of Mike McDaniel, the already emerging Jaylon Waddle, the previously poorly used Chase Edmonds, and the underrated Tua. I mean, really, with those weapons, all he has to do is get it there. Unfortunately, they’re in the AFC, where 4 of my top 5 teams on this list live, and they get to play 3 of those teams in the first 4 weeks.
13. Indianapolis Colts
Another interchangeble two spots… Titans and Colts. One will win the AFC South, one will go home. Jonathan Taylor lit up fantasy football boards and is capable of MVP-level play. Is Matt Ryan enough to put them over the top? Maybe not all the way, but he’s enough of an upgrade over Carson Wentz to put them over the Titans.
14. Tennessee Titans
Much of Tennessee’s year will hinge on the QB spot and Derrick Henry’s health. With 900 carries over the past 3 seasons, it may have actually been a blessing in disguise for Henry to miss half of last year. But a slow start could bring on calls for Malik Willis from a fanbase getting tired of Ryan Tannehill for whatever reason. If that happens, they’ll start falling fast as Willis takes his lumps.
15. Dallas Cowboys
This team has regressed. They lost one good receiver to trade, another receiver and DE free agency, then lost their LT to injury. Dak being another year removed from his gruesome injury will keep them in the playoff hunt, but this is probably Mike McCarthy’s last season in Dallas. Their only real shot is if they get wise and finally unleash the full Tony Pollard.
16. Denver Broncos
Russ is good and I really like Nathaniel Hackett, but I don’t think it will be as easy to just turn it on as people think. They aren’t necessarily in this spot on the list because the teams ahead of them are better. They’re in this spot because they have 6 games against the best division the NFL has seen in a long time, and coming out of that with a playoff record will be tough.
17. Carolina Panthers
Baker takes this team to another level. If I had any faith Christian McCaffrey could play even 12 games at full speed, I would consider them a playoff team. But he won’t. So they won’t. Matt Rhule might keep his job if they hover around .500, and I think Baker and DJ Moore can get them at least to 8-9.
18. Atlanta Falcons
Marcus Mariota will be better than you think. Their biggest issue is the offensive line that had Matt Ryan running for his life last year, but even a baby step forward should be enough for the more athletic Mariota. Their defense needs a lot of help. Expect some shootouts this year.
19. Arizona Cardinals
Long as Kyler gets his 4 hours of iPad study time every week, they should be okay. Some questions on defense, but the offense will be ready to take off once D-Hop gets back from suspension.
20. New England Patriots
I’m not fond of betting against Belichick, but this is as high up as I can put them. Mac Jones did just enough to be mildly excited for his sophomore campaign, but not enough to overcome a complete lack of targets and some glaring holes on defense.
21. San Francisco 49ers
They could move around this board a lot, mostly because I expect some inconsistency from Trey Lance. It’s also tough to know what their offense could be without Mike McDaniel’s mind and likely less running from Deebo. Their defense will keep them in a lot of games, but regression on offense and Lance taking his lumps will keep them out of the playoffs.
22. New York Jets
Arguably the best draft of 2022 might help some in 2022, but it typically takes a year or two. That said, Garrett Wilson could make an immediate impact, and 2nd year jumps from Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore make their offense sneakily good. Big upgrades on defense through the draft, plus a year of experience for their young players under defensive genius Robert Saleh. They could sneak into playoff contention if Zach Wilson can stay healthy.
23. Cleveland Browns
This is a tough one. Right now, they deserve to be lower, but in week 13, they’ll deserve to be higher. They still have a good defense and running game, with literally three viable starters in the backfield, but 11 games with Brissett at the helm will be too much to recover from.
24. Washington Commanders
Wake me up when Heinike is back running the offense.
25. New Orleans Saints
If Jameis, Michael Thomas, and Kamara can stay healthy, they could make a playoff run. I just don’t think that’s very likely, which is too bad cause their defense is stout.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
The addition of Doug Pederson and the subtraction of Urban Meyer is worth at least 4 wins. Trevor Lawrence may have a stilted sophomore jump thanks to Meyer’s ineptness, but he’ll come on later in the year.
27. Detroit Lions
How could you not love Dan Campbell? There’s a part of me that’s always sorta rooting for the Lions whenever they’re playing anyone but the Packers. Goff could be solid, they have some emerging weapons on offense with Swift, St. Brown, and Hockenson, and the defense is slowly coming together. They may not be ready for a playoff run, but they’ll surprise some people this year.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
I’m assuming they’ll insist on Trubisky starting for at least the first half of the season. Anything less than .500 at that point will lead to calls for Pickett to take over, and he won’t be ready yet. I’ll never understand starting a rookie QB, but fans be crazy.
29. New York Giants
Hiring Brian Daboll is pretty much all they have going for them. A full season from Daniel Jones and Saquon might get them to 5 or 6 wins, but that’s unlikely to happen.
30. Chicago Bears
I hate seeing a talented young QB have his second head coach in his second season. Fields will have a tough time slowing things down if they keep changing. It would be nice if they could surround him with talent, but this might be the worst front office in football. The way they handled the situation with Roquan Smith was pathetic.
31. Houston Texans
I’m not sure what Lovie can still bring to the table. It would’ve been a much better idea to keep David Culley and let Davis Mills grow into year 2 with the same coach. The fact that Culley pulled 4 wins out of this team last year is incredible. He should have been applauded, not fired.
32. Seattle Seahawks
It’s a rebuilding year. Time to plug your nose and look ahead to C.J. Stroud or one of the other QB prospects leading this team forward. Whoever it is will be put in a great situation with a lot of offensive weapons.