Ah, preseason. That magical time when training camp fights and practice interceptions are somehow a super big deal. Every soft tissue injury is scrutinized, it’s hot everywhere, and giant padded helmets are doing Big Head’s job for them.
Enough of that, then. It’s time to play the games and for results to be real. That also means it’s week 1 power rankings time! As always, may all your teams win or your coaches be fired. Now gimme my theme music!
- 1. Philadelphia Eagles
- 2. Cincinnati Bengals
- 3. Baltimore Ravens
- 4. Kansas City Chiefs
- 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. Seattle Seahawks
- 13. Dallas Cowboys
- 14. Miami Dolphins
- 15. Tennessee Titans
- 16. Detroit Lions
- 17. Pittsburgh Steelers
- 18. New York Giants
- 19. Chicago Bears 20. Green Bay Packers
- 21. New England Patriots
- 22. New Orleans Saints
- 23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 24. Cleveland Browns
- 25. Vegas Raiders
- 26. Los Angeles Rams
- 27. Denver Broncos
- 28. Houston Texans
- 29. Carolina Panthers
- 30. Washington Commanders
- 31. Indianapolis Colts
- 32. Arizona Cardinals
1. Philadelphia Eagles
You’re wondering why the Chiefs aren’t here. I get it. Short answer, because the Eagles and other talented teams don’t have critical players holding out. The Eagles are as stacked as ever and then some. There is a shocking amount of skill position talent and a homegrown offensive line that will presumably continue turning over homegrown maulers.
And yet, they keep adding and letting absurd talent fall to them in the draft like it was their plan all along. They have some holes in the secondary, but if Nolan Smith and Jalen Carter can add to Hassan Reddick and Jordan Davis, who needs a secondary? Get a good punch at the line and let the pass rush feast.
The offense can only get better. Jalen Hurts is the kind of player who can somehow only get better. You could name him MVP of the history of the NFL and he’ll still play with a chip. And I love it so much.
2. Cincinnati Bengals
Still no Chiefs? Nope. This team added the Chiefs LT to help shore up the weakest part of their team. I imagine they’re hoping that will also help Joe MIxon get back over 4 ypc. They had a poor offensive line that’s now middling, a middling defense that’s now good, and possibly the best 3-WR combo in the league.
There’s talk they may have to start the year without Joe Burrow, but they started slow last season and had plenty of time to recover. They have a young defense that’s grown together and could be one of the best in the NFL this year.
3. Baltimore Ravens
Yup, go ahead and fight me. Lamar Jackson is still the most valuable single player in the league, and now he’s got his bag and some serious weapons. Health will be a concern across the offense, of course, with Odell Beckham, Jr., Rashod Bateman, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins all coming off multiple injuries the past couple years. Imagine all those players playing full seasons with a happy and paid Lamar, plus Mark Andrews.
On the defensive side, I’m not saying they’re the 2000 Ravens, but I am saying Ravens fans may have some flashbacks. Defenses today are so different, but Roquan Smith has shades of being today’s version of Ray Lewis. We no longer see the traditional middle linebacker thumpers as they’ve been traded in for off-ball linebackers who can run down 4.4 RBs from sideline to sideline while also smashing the gaps on inside runs, covering the TE up the seam, and picking up crossing routes while being careful not to hit a defenseless receiver. And for that, they’ve been devalued. Sigh.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
I couldn’t drop them any lower, but I want to be clear… This is how important Chris Jones is to their defense. Other teams can withstand losing a great defensive player. The Eagles and Ravens have so much defensive depth, all presumably happily under contract and all filling their roles. The Chiefs defense is a Jenga tower, and Chris Jones is the very bottom block. Pull him out, and every weakness he normally covers up will be exposed.
Offense looks great. No notes. Except maybe plan on scoring 35-40 points a game just in case.
5. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have their own defensive lineman contract dispute (see updates below), but the difference with Nick Bosa is that he’s somewhere around the middle of the Jenga tower. You pull him out gently and still have a fairly solid structure. Javon Hargrave greatly eases any blow to the defense if Bosa’s holdout lasts too deep into the season, though I doubt it will. As much as we’ve heard that there’s little communication between Bosa and the team (and even Chris Jones and his team), that just doesn’t pass the smell test. When a deal gets done, it’ll seem like it came out of nowhere because they’re likely close and keeping quiet until it’s done.
Update before publishing: Reports are flying around that Bosa the Younger is likely to take his holdout into the season. which is exactly how you get the team from 29 a year up to 30, or to tack on another few mil in guarantees. Maybe he’s not playing week 1, but I still don’t think this lasts long.
Update to the update before publishing: Of course Bosa just signed a deal for 5 years and $170 million, and right before I publish because I should’ve followed my own stance that the league isn’t on my schedule. Still not sure if he’ll be ready to go by Sunday, but I’m sure he’ll be out there for some plays.
The offense will be as good as health allows. QB spot seems to be able to withstand an injury or two as long as it doesn’t happen all at once. Need time for Philip Rivers to kiss all his kids goodbye and hop a plane. Christian McCaffrey could be an MVP with a full year in this scheme. But again, if he stays healthy.
Despite constantly throwing in that injury caveat, it’s not generally something I take into account in rankings, especially in an offense with so many moving parts. McCaffrey or Brock Purdy or Deebo Samuel could go down and they still have Elijah Mitchell and Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. Stacked teams with creative schemes can shift the burden every week, and that in itself is such a dangerous weapon.
6. Buffalo Bills
Remember what I just said about not taking too much into account about injuries?
However, Josh Allen is to the Bills offense as Chris Jones is to the Chiefs defense. So SLIDE. TO. THE. GROUND. He can’t even do that in preseason. Hey Bills fans, you looked at the depth chart recently? You feel good about Kyle Allen or Matt Barkley coming in and leading an offense that’s maybe slightly above average outside of your star QB?
Yeah, probably not. We saw what happened when Allen was hurt last year. I’m not kidding when I say if he misses even half a season, I don’t think the Bills make the playoffs. Not in this AFC, and not in a conference with Aaron Rodgers leading the Jets and Mike McDaniel entering his second&amp;nbsp;year of evil-genuising. And, you know, the Pats I guess.
Someone get Marquis Grissom or Delino DeShields in here to teach Allen how to slide. That’s the only way I’ll call them a top 5 team.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
I don’t think Kellen Moore is some kind of offensive guru, but relative to Joe Lombardi, he’ll likely seem like a genius. If they let Justin Herbert start slinging, we’ll quickly see how good this offense can be just by not holding him back anymore. Austin Ekeler has something to prove, and it seems unlikely they’ll deal with the same injury issues another year.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
If you didn’t at least try to get the Trevor Lawrence–Calvin Ridley stack in fantasy, what’re you even doing? Jags offense should be really good. Travis Etienne, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, and a good pair of tackles round out a group that could put up points in bunches.
Not as sold on their defense. They need some youth to take big leaps, starting with last year’s 1st overall pick Travon Walker.
9. New York Jets
Expectations are skyhigh, and for good reason. The only question mark is offensive line, and I’m here to tell Jets fans that Aaron Rodgers can work with almost any offensive line as long as he has time to understand their capabilities. He’ll find a way to stay standing.
Jets defense is just scary. What possible area do you try to pick apart? It’s not like you can just throw away from Sauce Gardner, cause D.J. Reed is on the other side and almost as good. Quinnen Williams is a game-wrecker who just got fed an extension, and they have so many good edge rushers that their 1st round pick is sitting at 3rd string on the depth chart. This is a defense that won or kept Zach Wilson in a lot of games when he struggled.
10. Minnesota Vikings
I’m a little confused seeing analysts actually putting the Vikings last or even second-to-last. Losing Dalvin Cook will hurt, and they didn’t do much to improve the black hole in their secondary. But a 13-4 team with possibly the most talented WR we’ve seen in a long time doesn’t just fall out of playoff contention.
11. Atlanta Falcons
Yup, still on this bandwagon, and I’d like to point out just how long I’ve been on it. Before Bijan Robinson, while Grady Jarrett was still looking around wondering if anyone else on the defense planned on helping. The pieces were already there, and they did a nice job filling in weak spots.
I’ll cut this short cause if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about the Falcons since Desmond Ridder’s first start, you know how I feel.
12. Seattle Seahawks
What a difference a year makes! Almost exactly a year ago, Seattle was dead last on my power rankings. And one Seahawks fan told me that was still too high.
But now, expectations are through the roof. The defense is a wonderful mixture of speed and experience. Not quite Legion of Boom-levels, but Tariq Woolen and Devon Witherspoon should be one of the better corner duos in the league.
Geno earned himself a payday, Kenneth Walker III gets joined by Zach Charbonnet, and eventually Jaxon Smith-Njigba will join D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Charles Cross is a solid blindside tackle. I actually wonder if Russ is looking at this offensive depth chart with some serious envy.
13. Dallas Cowboys
This is low. Or high? Whatever, yes, Dallas should probably be in the top 10 and I think they quickly will be, but first I need to see Jerry let McCarthy run the show. Maybe not in the last two minutes, or really with any clock management decision, but let Mike run his offense and get Dak back his star.
On the other side, Micah Parsons is the kind of scary that makes entire defenses better. Bottom of the Jenga tower, and you better believe he’s watching all these other negotiations with great interest. Because before next season, whatever Chris Jones or Nick Bosa get will be the floor for Parsons. Is Aaron Donald is still the highest at $31 million a year, that’s where negotiations start for Micah. Because this defense falls apart without him.
Update before publishing: Bosa’s deal has an AAV of $34 million a year, which is now the floor for Parsons. Jones price likely just went up. Parsons might get $40 million.
14. Miami Dolphins
Now we’re into “Could They?” territory, with Miami leading the way as they hold their breath every time Tua Tagovailoa goes to the ground. Btw, I just wrote that without even looking. That’s how much I’ve talked about him.
I’m glad they didn’t get Dalvin Cook or Jonathan Taylor, because De’Von Achane is about to be rookie of the year. While defenses are busy with Cheetah and Penguin, Achane will be coming underneath and breaking ankles. You better believe Mike McDaniel has schemes built up for this kid.
Defense is that perfect above average, could be better or worse, won’t win you games but won’t lose them. I like teams like that.
15. Tennessee Titans
Such a “Could They?” team. Could Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry absolutely dominate a shaky division as Coach Vrabel delivers weekly overachieving defensive performances? Actually, that seems kinda likely.
With 4 games a year against 2 of the worst teams in the league, they should be expecting playoffs, even if they can’t overcome the Jags for the division.
16. Detroit Lions
This is a bit of a drop from where I had them. I’m not fully off the hype train, but maybe hanging off the side trying to remember how to hit the ground from a moving train.
My biggest issue is at RB. I like the potential of Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery is okay. But what happens when some of those Jamaal Williams TDs last year start turning into field goals when they can’t punch it in?
I’m sure they’ll compete for the division, but the run-away-with-it nature of earlier predictions has lost its luster. There are still a lot of question marks.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
I really like this team. There are a few things I need to see first, but there’s a universe where we’re talking about their Super Bowl odds. So many offensive weapons that somehow Diontae Johnson is an afterthought. That’s scary.
Defensively, they just have that attitude and swagger I can’t quit. T.J. Watt needs to stay healthy, but there are some edge up-and-comers as well, like Nick Herbig, who I wrote about as a draft steal. Lots of talent here at all levels, and experience to bring along the young guys.s
The scariest thing is that Mike Tomlin pulled off 9-8 with last year’s team. And that team basically just got a year older and a year smarter.
18. New York Giants
I’m sold on Brian Daboll, and that’s about it. And that’s a scheme thing. I think he could develop Daniel Jones into a phenomenal player, but I don’t think Jones can stay healthy enough in this offense for it to matter. He’s running around like Josh Allen, but he’s not built like Josh Allen. Add in Circle Button Saquon and Darren Waller and holy crap they better be paying top-dollar on training staff.
Defensively is how they can stay in games regardless of who’s available on the other side. I’ve always liked it when teams hire an offensive coach and then stack talent on the defense.
19. Chicago Bears
20. Green Bay Packers
Let’s just put these together and let them sort it out on Sunday. Bears could put up a lot of points on a talented but always underperforming Packers defense. they’ll need to with that defense.
There are young bright spots on the Bears defense, but the holes are glaring and big enough for Jordan Love to pick apart.
The oldest rivalry in the league rounds out both the top 20 and the “Could They?” tier of the rankings.
As for the rest of you in the 21-32 crowd, I have good news and bad news. Bad news is you probably won’t be very good this season. Good news is that last year I started the year with the Rams at 1 and the Seahawks at 32, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing to grace the worst third-ish of my rankings. It actually might be a curse to be at the top.
21. New England Patriots
I’ll say this about Belichick… he convinced me that he sees Mac Jones and what he’s capable of and will hopefully give him some room to grow this year. Cutting Bailey Zappe was *chef’s kiss* and they even got to keep him on the practice squad. Pats fans spent all offseason and preseason debating Mac or Zappe and Bill just comes out and says, “It’s Mac” the only way he knows how. Awkwardly and without saying a word about it.
That said, I need to actually see them untether Mac. Defense is really good as always, and they have weapons, and Mac has an incredible arm. UNLEASH MAC.
22. New Orleans Saints
I don’t think there will be a point this season where I’m sold on Derek Carr. I don’t think I ever was, even at any point with the Raiders. The deal he got from the Saints was weird and random and really doubt he’s the starting QB in 2 years.
Still like their defense, but the clock is ticking. Did you know a pregnancy at age 35 used to be called a geriatric pregnancy? Now they call it “advanced maternal age,” because duh. Doctors need better marketing teams. Point is, the Saints are advanced footernal age. Wait that sucks, I’ll think of something better.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
On the other end of the age spectrum, the Bucs roll in tons of youth and my man Baker Mayfield! Don’t sleep on him when the games become real. They’ve got some weapons and he’s got confidence. If the defense doesn’t get obliterated, the NFC South isn’t out of reach.
24. Cleveland Browns
Lmk when Dorian Thompson-Robinson gets his first start. I’m not paying attention until Stefanski tells the Haslams off, which he won’t do, and puts the best team on the field.
And no, this is not a hype train thing, either. I said DTR would eventually replace DeShaun Watson almost immediately after DTR was drafted.
25. Vegas Raiders
It’s not often that the sheer dysfunction of a team makes me drop them. The entire Jimmy Garapollo thing, the Josh Jacobs thing, and now this Chandler Jones thing? There’s something happening in that locker room and if they’re under .500 at midseason, Josh McDaniels will be feeling some warmth under his office chair. Or maybe a full-on upside-down fire from above.
You deserve better than this. Davante. But you made your choice.
26. Los Angeles Rams
The more I hear about it, the more the Aaron Donald extension just sounds like greed. Not by Donald, but by the team. They put a trophy in the case and delivered on an all-in promise, but then they were like, but what if…
Stop. What if nothing. Even with Donald and Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp (maybe) back, there are too many holes to fill. And those holes can’t be filled by the draft picks they don’t have because they went all-in.
This is the price. Enjoy the shiny.
27. Denver Broncos
If you think turning any team from bad into playoff contender is as easy as replacing the head coach, this might be a long year for you. Sean Payton’s offense is about precision and timing, literally the opposite of what Russell Wilson brings to the table.
Plus they traded Bradley Chubb and watched Ejiro Evero, the DC who made them competitive last season, just walk away. I’m happy Denver fans are excited, cause they deserve some happiness before the actual season starts.
28. Houston Texans
I don’t know what C.J. Stroud will look like, but I know he’s surrounded by weapons and has Laremy Tunsil, possibly the best blindside tackle in league, protecting him. QBs drafted this high don’t always get the opportunity to stand in the pocket, but with good pass blockers and the constant run threat from Dameon Pierce, Stroud is in a great position to succeed.
Houston is primed for a start slow season that ends with 2 or 3 straight wins to catapult them forward.
29. Carolina Panthers
Someday Bryce Young will be a good football player surrounded by young talent ready to take the step forward. But it is not this day.
Let’s check back in a year.
30. Washington Commanders
Jacoby Brissett is still the backup? I’ll check back when they’re serious about winning games. But it is not THIS day.
31. Indianapolis Colts
This one is sad because I think they actually want to win games, but Jim Irsay won’t shut up. Anthony Richardson should not be starting, Michael Pittman, Jr. has feet for hands, and who tf knows what we’ll see from Jonathan Taylor. Or if. This is ridiculous. Fire everyone.
32. Arizona Cardinals
Fire everyone here, too.
Oh, you did already? Okay, carry on.