The draft is done, the schedule has been revealed, and rosters are largely filled out. Unsigned players and undrafted free agents are trying to latch on wherever they can in hopes that they’ll get their shot. The husband of Simone Biles, Jonathan Owens, is on the Packers. And if he makes the team, Simone could be at the games and my wife, a former gymnastics coach, might actually want to watch a Packers game with me.
At least for week 1. If she keeps watching after that, it’ll probably be in a different room. I’m not an easy person to watch football with. If that is shocking to you, so be it. On with the rankings!
- 1. Kansas City Chiefs
- 2. Philadelphia Eagles
- 3. Cincinnati Bengals
- 4. Baltimore Ravens
- 5. San Francisco 49ers
- 6. Buffalo Bills
- 7. Los Angeles Chargers
- 8. Jacksonville Jaguars
- 9. New York Jets
- 10. Minnesota Vikings
- 11. Atlanta Falcons
- 12. Detroit Lions
- 13. Seattle Seahawks
- 14. Dallas Cowboys
- 15. Miami Dolphins
- 16. Pittsburgh Steelers
- 17. Tennessee Titans
- 18. Chicago Bears
- 19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 20. New England Patriots
- 21. New York Giants
- 22. Vegas Raiders
- 23. Green Bay Packers
- 24. New Orleans Saints
- 25. Cleveland Browns
- 26. Los Angeles Rams
- 27. Denver Broncos
- 28. Carolina Panthers
- 29. Houston Texans
- 30. Indianapolis Colts
- 31. Arizona Cardinals
- 32. Washington Commanders
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Putting the defending champs at the top didn’t work out well for the Rams last year, so my apologies to Chiefs fans for this curse. But if Patrick Mahomes is healthy, they’ll start the season in this spot. There’s just no way around it. Mahomes is other-worldly. For the fantasy footballers, out there, buy low on Kadarius Toney if you can.
Despite some losses, like losing Orlando Brown, Jr. to free agency and releasing Frank Clark, this team is still stacked. Losing Clark seems like it could be an issue, but George Karlaftis enters his sophomore season after an encouraging rookie year, and Felix Anudike-Uzomah was a steal with the last pick of the 1st round. Besides, Clark was maddeningly inconsistent. By the end of the year, when things really start to matter, Karlaftis and Anudike-Uzomah should be more than capable of helping Chris Jones deliver a consistent pass rush.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
There’s no doubt Philly had an incredible draft. They lost Miles Sanders but gained D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny. The scary thing for the rest of the league is how young they are and how much better their core group can get with each season. Consider the 5th year option decisions they’ll have to make the next few years:
*Note: 5th year option decisions have to be made during the offseason (early May) before the player’s 4th season
- 2024 (2021 draft)
- 2025 (2022 draft)
- DL Jordan Davis
- 2026 (2023 draft)
It’s not so much about the specific players as it is the increasing value of their positions, something teams legitimately have to consider with 1st round picks going forward.
The only scary things for the Eagles are the ages of Jason Kelce and Lane Taylor. There’s plenty of talk that they have players ready to transition into those spots, but you don’t just replace players at their level. Those transitions could come with some growing pains. On the plus side, not having to pay them anymore will make it possible to extend the 5th year players if they earn it.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Not a ton of free agency moves, but one big splash by signing the previously-mentioned Orlando Brown, Jr. from the Chiefs. He’ll be a significant upgrade over Jonah Williams at left tackle and is a significant investment towards keeping soon-to-be-quarter-billionaire Joe Burrow upright. I don’t know where they’ll find the money, but it sounds like they’re looking to extend Tee Higgins alongside Burrow. This would be an impressive feat, but also makes it harder to give Ja’Marr Chase the $30+ million a year he’s likely to get in his first extension.
Cincy had a solid draft, adding some big early talent with edge rusher Myles Murphy and corner D.J. Turner. Keep an eye on 6th round receiver Andrei Iosivas. He’s a freak of nature athlete with raw skills and he’s entering the most talented WR room in the league. He could make a late-season impact as teams scramble to contain Chase, Higgins, and Tyler Boyd.
4. Baltimore Ravens
I would take Lamar Jackson and any 21 other players if I was starting a franchise.
I said that in my Week 2 Power Rankings last year, and I stand by it. He’s worth every penny they gave him and more. Odell Beckham, Jr. is a fun signing and I’m sure he’ll have some impact. But getting Rashod Bateman back and drafting Zay Flowers is what really opens this offense up. Flowers and Devin Duvernay can both stretch the field and play slot. And they might even finally have both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards back healthy.
They return a strong defense with newly-extended Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen in a contract year (if he isn’t traded) roaming the middle, while adding Trenton Simpson in the draft. Oh, and Justin Tucker is a pretty good kicker. A healthy Baltimore team go could really far, especially minus the strength and conditioning coach who got an F- from the players after last season.
5. San Francisco 49ers
Who’s the QB? That’ll be the question lobbed at Kyle Shanahan all offseason and after every preseason game when one QB looks good and another doesn’t. I can’t find video of it, but I swear there was an interview last year at the owner’s meetings where Shanahan was asked what would happen if they went into camp with Trey Lance and Jimmy Garappolo both still on the roster. Kyle responded something like, “Yeah, what would happen?” as if to emphasize that having too many good players isn’t a bad thing.
Don’t be surprised if Lance wins and keeps the starting spot and they flip Purdy for a day 1 or 2 pick at some point.
My bigger concern with the Niners is that they took a kicker in the 3rd round. The kicker himself isn’t the problem… Jake Moody is great. The problem is that they had no 1st or 2nd round pick, and with a trio of 3rd round picks, they used one of them on a kicker. That’s the kind of move teams foolishly make when they feel sufficiently stacked everywhere else. And perhaps they are. But depth at high value positions should’ve been the focus. Find your 5th CB, your 6th WR, your 3rd LT. Taking a kicker or punter before the 5th round is just silly.
6. Buffalo Bills
I keep hearing that Josh Allen won’t be taking as many risks. I’ll believe it when I see it. Though I will say drafting Dalton Kincaid was a big step in that direction. I’ve elsewhere compared Kincaid to Dallas Clark, and he’s capable of being that similar mismatch that Peyton Manning used to always find open when he needed to get out of trouble. If Allen can learn to manipulate coverage and find Kincaid when teams are forced to cover him with slower linebackers or smaller corners, he can prolong his career.
I thought Buffalo might go WR early in the draft cause Gabriel Davis just isn’t it. And honestly never was outside of one playoff game. Kincaid may be a poor blocker, but he can be that second legitimate receiving option after Stefon Diggs. Not a receiver in position, but might as well be. They also added a great value pick in the 5th round with gigantic WR Justin Shorter. He could have an immediate impact stretching the defense to open things up for Diggs and Kincaid.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
I put the Chargers too high last year, and I didn’t learn my lesson. Last season’s offense dealt with a lot of injuries, including their top 2 receivers, their blindside tackle, their Pro Bowl edge rusher, and lingering problems with Justin Herbert that led him to offseason surgery for a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.
All those pieces will be back and healthy and it’s looking like Austin Ekeler will have to stick around to play out his contract. That means one of the best backs in the league trying to earn his last chance at a 3-4 year payday. They added Quentin Johnston to the receiver room, and despite my reservations about him, he’s in a great spot to learn from Mike Williams and Keenan Allen as the trio gives Herbert plenty of downfield targets.
With former OC Joe Lombardi out and replaced by former QB and Cowboys OC Kellen Moore, we may finally get to see Herbert actually throw it downfield. If Moore gets him slinging instead of dinking, defenses should be scared.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence is about to take a 2nd season jump. Yeah, I know, this is his 3rd year. But is it? That Urban Meyer season should just be a mulligan for the entire roster.
Last year, we finally got to see what Lawrence could be, not to mention Travis Etienne, Evan Engram, and Christian Kirk. Many of us laughed at the contract the Jags gave Kirk, but now it seems like a bargain. They also get Calvin Ridley off suspension.
In the draft, they got potentially the best pure pass blocking left tackle in Anton Harrison. He could’ve and should’ve gone 10 picks earlier. They didn’t add much to a defense that finally pulled it together late last season. They’re likely hoping that momentum will carry forward. Edge rusher Yasir Abdullah was a good value pick in the 5th round, but he’ll take time to develop.
9. New York Jets
Yeah, I know, Jets in the top 10, how original. As I’m surrounded by a lot of Packers fans, I’ve heard quite enough of how Aaron Rodgers is washed up and the Packers should be glad to see him go.
Look, I don’t like the guy. He’s arrogant for the wrong reasons. He could be as arrogant as he wants about football and I’d be okay with it cause he can prove it. But Rodgers is arrogant about being this Joe Rogan-esque intellectual, which neither he nor Joe should pretend to claim. But Joe was hilarious on Newsradio, and Rodgers is a phenomenal quarterback, and I can still appreciate their talents when in their lanes. Last season Rodgers was marred by a broken thumb on his throwing hand, and while it was still injured, he was terrible and should’ve sat out a few weeks. After the team’s bye, he was back in MVP form, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be there when the next season starts.
Quinnen Williams is a gamewrecker, and Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed are a phenomenal corner combo on this strong defense. The only thing the Jets did wrong was let Elijah Moore go; I think they’ll regret that move. But If Rodgers stays healthy, there’s no reason they can’t go deep in the playoffs, and then anything goes.
10. Minnesota Vikings
As long as Kirk Cousins keeps hanging around, raking in guaranteed money for being slightly above average, the Vikings will hover around the top 10. He’s got beaucoup de weapons with Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, T.J. Hockenson, Alexander Mattison, rookie receiver Jordan Addison, and possibly Dalvin Cook if he isn’t traded soon.
With Cousins and his legendary pen lingering for at least another year, the offense is in decent hands. The defense, however, has issues. The secondary is a concern that they tried to address in the 3rd and 4th rounds, but those kinds of picks can take time to pay dividends. Patrick Peterson left for Pittsburgh and Harrison Smith is 34. If you watch the biggest secondary blunders by the Vikings last season, you’ll notice neither of those players was near it, which means teams know they can pick them apart as long as they stay away from that pair. And now one of them is gone.
11. Atlanta Falcons
I’m not kidding. It took everything for me to not put them in the top 10. I think their offense will be one of the best in the NFL and their defense… well, let’s just say the offense may need to score 40 a game. They get 6 games against the worst division as part of the weakest schedule in the NFL.
To face that schedule, they bring back QB Desmond Ridder, a decision that was scrutinized all offseason as they declined to make a run at Lamar Jackson, then declined to make a run at a 1st round QB in the draft. And I’m firmly in the camp that they made the right decision. Ridder came in late in the season and showed accuracy, poise, and rapport with his receivers. Now he heads into his sophomore season with Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Tyler Allgeier, plus the addition of Bijan Robinson, widely considered the best RB in the draft. Allgeier and Robinson immediately become one of the best backfield duos in the league, which is a great thing to have with a young QB.
And worst case, if Ridder flops or gets hurt, in comes Taylor Heinicke. An absolutely brilliant backup QB signing.
Even if some think they reached a bit to take Bijan at pick 8, they got absolute steals with OL Matthew Bergeron and edge rusher Zach Harrison in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, respectively. This team should walk away with the NFC South.
12. Detroit Lions
Lions should probably be top 10, especially after last season’s late momentum and a solid draft, (just flip the 1st and 2nd rounds around). But then they inexplicably replaced their entire backfield and Jameson Williams got a 6-game suspension. So once again, Amon-Ra St. Brown has to go into a season as the only legitimate weapon for Jared Goff. At least until the new guys get up to speed.
The sin of letting Jamaal Williams walk should’ve dropped them much further than this. As great as I’m sure Dan Campbell is at tapping into his players’ passion, guys like Jamaal Williams are the locker room leaders that take it over the top. Jamaal and Jahmyr Gibbs would’ve been a great combo.
13. Seattle Seahawks
Love the Geno Smith contract, and love their draft. If not for the Texans pick 2 and 3 haul, I’d say the Seahawks easily had the best 1st round of the draft. They got Devon Witherspoon, who immediately pairs with Tariq Woolen to give them 2 lockdown corners. Then they got Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who many consider the best receiver in the draft. Smith-Njigba plus D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are a dominant trio of receivers. Sprinkle Zach Charbonnet into a backfield with Kenneth Walker III, one of my favorite 2022 draft picks, and
With the Rams and Cards flailing, Seattle could give the Niners a real run for the NFC West.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas has one of those teams where they have worldbeaters at multiple spots, but a lot of questions elsewhere. Ezekiel Elliot is gone, leaving Tony Pollard to finally take his rightful place as the lead back. One potential trade rumor has them acquiring Dalvin Cook, which would give them 2 versatile backs.
Their draft was… okay. I think. It was that weird kind of draft where it just felt like they took everyone 5-10 picks too soon, but they couldn’t have waited or they wouldn’t have gotten them. They got bamboozled out of Dalton Kincaid in the 1st round, and I don’t believe them for a second when they try to deny it, but added TE Luke Schoonmaker in the 2nd round. That should work out fine; with Dalton Schultz gone, Jake Ferguson can play a bigger role while Schoonmaker develops.
Mazi Smith gives them a day 1 presence in the middle of the defensive line, and DeMarvion Overshown gives them a lot of range at off-ball linebacker. It seems like those picks were specifically used to shore up places on defense so Micah Parsons can be moved around.
15. Miami Dolphins
I don’t know who this team is, which is probably perfect for Mike McDaniel. Just how he likes it. Mike White was a smart pickup to play behind Tua Tagovailoa, who will be watched closely by everyone every time he takes a hit. Yes, that’s an overreaction, and also reality. Can you imagine if he takes a sack in a preseason game? The first half dozen times he hits the turf, you can bet we’ll see it from every angle.
They lost Mike Gesicki, but with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, who really cares? The biggest offseason addition in my book was 3rd round back Devon Achane. That is a Mike McDaniel dream pick. Remember that weird football drama show years ago where the old RB and the young RB inexplicably raced a 40 yard dash during practice? I need to see Tyreek and Achane race. That’s my point.
The things McDaniel could do with Achane’s skillset are scary. Don’t be surprised if he sneaks into offensive rookie of the year voting.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
Out of every ranking here, this one feels like the most likely to be dead wrong. There’s a small chance they’re worse than this, but unlikely. There’s a much bigger chance they’re much better. I could easily see a big jump to top 10 status. Even after trading Chase Claypool, Kenny Pickett still has solid pass catchers in Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth. And if he’s ever in trouble, he can just put it up for George Pickens or 3rd round rookie Darnell Washington. Seriously, close your eyes and throw it high… one of those guys will find it.
Overall, the Steelers had one of my favorite drafts. All 5 picks in the first 4 rounds could have an immediate impact. OT Broderick Jones, CB Joey Porter, Jr., DL Keeanu Benton, the previously mentioned TE Washington, and edge rusher Nick Herbig. That is an absolute haul. Even if they’re not top 10 this season, it won’t be long. Mike Tomlin is coming for everyone who said he was on the hot seat last season. Glad I’m not on that silly list.
17. Tennessee Titans
Are we taking bets yet on when the fans start chanting for Will Levis? Despite how long Levis had to wait to get picked, and the money he lost from the fall, he may ultimately come to greatly appreciate the Peter Skoronski pick that started his drop. Skoronski is a set-and-forget lineman that will reliably protect his QB, Levis or otherwise, for years to come.
18. Chicago Bears
Similar to the Falcons, Chicago has an offense that could put up 40 points a game and a defense that could give up 45. After reaching for OT Darnell Wright at pick 10, they spent most of the rest of their draft loading up on defense. CB Tyrique Stevenson was a big-time pickup in the 3rd round who could compete to start right away at a weak position on the Bears depth chart. But it’ll take time for those dividends to pay out.
This is a big prove it year for Justin Fields. Whether he shows himself to be the future of the franchise will determine if the Bears pick up his 5th year option next spring, which is generally the event that immediately precedes the first giant contract extension. He’s got plenty of ability and now he’s got plenty of weapons. If you’re looking for the best fantasy value from his targets, I’d go Cole Kmet.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Baker Mayfield starts, the Bucs could quickly move up the ladder. If Kyle Trask starts, it’s very possible they drop. I would have to wonder at that point if they aren’t looking at getting in the Caleb Williams or Drake Maye sweepstakes.
They still have some dominant players at some positions, but health and age are taking their toll. Secondary is especially concerning, and they’re painfully short of edge rushers. Vita Vea and rookie 1st rounder Calijah Kancey may have to deliver much of the pass rush from the inside.
20. New England Patriots
I’m not entirely sure who this team is, and not in a fun way like the Dolphins. I don’t know who their QB will be, what their offense will be, and whether Bill Belichick will let Bill O’Brien actually run the offense. Mac Jones is the guy for now, but he may be on one of the shorter QB leashes in the league, and for no good reason. Despite his greatness, Belichick is clearly having trouble establishing an identity for his team, something he didn’t have to worry about for nearly 2 decades with Tom Brady.
There’s a lot of young talent here, and some very high value players were added throughout the draft. But it’s time to remove Mac’s collar.
21. New York Giants
Shocker: I’m not sold on the Giants. There are 3 players who will make or break this team. Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Darren Waller. All 3 are injury risks, and Circle Button Saquon is still pissed about his contract. They have a solid defense and added some really good depth to last season’s battered WR room. Offensive line is iffy, but has some solid pieces, and Evan Neal seems ready to dominate.
So again, it comes back to those 3. They can survive weeks without Waller, but Jones and Barkley need to play close to full seasons if they want a chance at a playoff run.
22. Vegas Raiders
So many Raiders decisions are coming back to bite them. They declined the 5th year option on Josh Jacobs, now have him on the franchise tag with seemingly no hope of locking down an extension. They traded 1st and 2nd round picks for Davante Adams and gave him a giant contract so he could come play with Derek Carr, who they then disposed of after the season. And Davante is not happy. Then they replaced Carr with Jimmy Garappolo, who’s 31 years old and played just a single full season in his career… in 2019.
Everything about this team is dysfunctional, save for their first 2 draft picks. But they still have time to screw that up, too. The Ghost of Al is strong, even in Vegas.
23. Green Bay Packers
If any Packers fans feel slighted seeing them this low, you should know that I’m a lifelong Packers fan and I actually think this might be too high. It’s impossible to know what Jordan Love will be until we see some real, extended playing time. He’ll get every chance to lock the spot down this season, but he won’t get a second or third season to play through struggles like a starting rookie might. Luckily, he’s surrounded by weapons, protected by a good offensive line, and buoyed by one of the more talented defenses in the league.
This is the kind of season where early losses may be accepted, but a corner has to be turned by Thanksgiving. Even if they miss the playoffs, they need to finish the season with momentum.
24. New Orleans Saints
How long before current 3rd string rookie Jake Haener is the starting QB? No, seriously. Maybe not this year, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if it happened. An injury here, some shaky play there, and Haener could catapult right past Derek Carr and Jameis Winston. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are back, though no one ever knows how many games they’ll play.
On the plus side, Chris Olave is the real deal and they went and got Jamaal Williams to bring his salsa dance TDs and subsequent fines for one too many hip thrusts. Defense is still good, but not getting any younger, so they either make a splash now or go full rebuild. Haener 2024. Book it.
25. Cleveland Browns
Welcome to the 25th Element. Below average but not terrible, and desperately hoping they didn’t make a monster mistake with Deshaun Watson. He’s played 6 games in the last 2 seasons, and in those games he completed just 58% of his passes for 7 TDs and 5 picks. I’m not sure what an acceptable ratio is for passer rating to millions of dollars, but 1.7 doesn’t seem high enough.
They still have a dominant run game, so Watson is in a good spot to hide his shortcomings if needed. But if he doesn’t quickly start earning that contract, and the team refuses to replace him, they could be the new permanent 25.
26. Los Angeles Rams
It’s absolutely fair to say they still have Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald and those 3 could carry a lot of teams. But then you look at the rest of the roster, and there’s just not enough role player-level talent left. This is the price you pay when you trade away as much draft capital as they have over the years.
They put one in the case, a tradeoff a lot of people would take every time and I can’t knock the strategy. But the toll of those lost picks on their depth is starting to become more evident.
27. Denver Broncos
Broncos Country! Will Sean Payton rejuvenate Russell Wilson? They don’t exactly have a young up-and-comer to step in if Wilson falls on his face again, so it looks like Payton is ride or die with Russ. Javonte Williams is back and may be one of the more important players returning from a lost season for any team.
The defense returns a lot of talent, but not defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. Payton has a difficult task ahead of him, and the AFC West won’t make it easy. Now we find out if he’s worth the price they paid. Let’s Ride!
28. Carolina Panthers
Despite what seems like it should be the beginnings of a rebuild, the Panthers went out and got several veteran pass catchers with Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, and Hayden Hurst. That was a smart move and will be a great help in developing 1st overall pick Bryce Young. Giving up D.J. Moore was a steep price to pay as part of the trade up for Young, but it prevents them from having to give Moore that next big contract.
There’s still plenty of youth on this roster, but some bills are going to start coming due, starting with deciding on Jaycee Horn’s 5th year option next May and the potential of an extension after that. But having a QB on a rookie deal gives plenty of time and latitude to sort that out.
29. Houston Texans
As much as I loved the boldness of moving up to get both C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson, Jr., this roster is full of gaping holes. Many of those are on defense, where DeMeco Ryans can potentially get more out of a weak roster and hide those weaknesses with scheme.
This is a really good spot for Stroud. Some solid receivers with Nico Collins and veteran Robert Woods, a reliable TE in Dalton Schultz, plus they added Devin Singletary to the backfield with Dameon Pierce. Should be interesting to see if new OC Bobby Slowik can put it all together sooner than later.
30. Indianapolis Colts
Anthony Richardson will probably start right away, and it will probably be a mistake. One of the justifications I’ve heard is that because he didn’t play a lot in college, it’s best if he goes out and gets real playing time immediately. That is some bonkers logic. Lack of playing time very often means bad habits, poor footwork, and the potential to hit the bench at some point with shattered confidence. All the things that take time during practice to sort out. Maybe it worked in college cause no one could match his physical skills at that level, but you don’t work through issues in games at the NFL level unless you’re already established. Every defense has 4-5 guys with your size and speed.
The Jets right now are regretting how they managed their athletically gifted 1st round QB. Colts should take note and let Richardson learn while watching some Minshew Mania™.
31. Arizona Cardinals
Late season ACL injuries are the absolute worst. If it’s destined to happen, you almost wish guys would get it out of the way early on so you know they’ll be ready to go for the next training camp.
I don’t know where the Cards will be when Kyler Murray returns, but it’s highly doubtful his return will be anywhere near the beginning of the season. He’s far too young and expensive to put out there before he’s 100%, and that’s not counting any later complications that can creep up. In the meantime, Colt McCoy, Jeff Driskel, and David Blough are more likely to carry them to the top pick in next year’s draft than to any meaningful wins before Kyler is ready to go. Then we’ll see how much they believe in Kyler’s future.
32. Washington Commanders
I was weirdly excited when the Commanders signed Jacoby Brissett. I kid you not, I was ready to bump them up into the top 20. Then they were like, we believe in Sam Howell, and my jaw still hasn’t returned from the floor.
Jacoby Brissett is very much this year’s version of Taylor Heinicke and I refuse to sit here and watch them struggle with Howell when they could be a playoff team with Brissett. This team has sooooo much talent and they’re wasting it by going all-in with a 5th round sophomore. I’m very tempted to think this is a tank strategy to dump Ron Rivera and let new ownership pair a new coach with a top prospect.
This season has all the makings of another wild one, so let’s gooooo! If you enjoyed this article, let me know in the comments and subscribe so you can enjoy all my power rankings throughout the season. If you hated it, let me know in the comments and subscribe so you can hate all my power rankings throughout the season.
As always, may all your teams win or your coaches be fired.