Some people may have doubted that this day would come, but we are actually here. The first game of the NFL season is tonight, which makes it the perfect time to release my first power rankings. While I truly am trying to be as subjective as possible during the writing of this article, I do acknowledge that it is impossible to not be biased towards your favorite team, and against your rivals. With the explanation for the headline out of the way, let’s get in to what you came to see!
1 | Kansas City Chiefs
It would be completely disrespectful of me to put anyone else in this spot. The Chiefs are bringing back almost an entire Super Bowl winning team. They have the best quarterback of this generation in Patrick Mahomes, one of the the most innovative offensive minds of all-time in Andy Reid and a litany of speed merchants and size mismatches along their pass catching corps. In this era of modern football, the Chiefs are built to dominate this league. The one thing that may slow them down is a few opt-outs along the offensive line. If they deal with some injuries up front, Mahomes becomes vulnerable to injury himself.
2 | Baltimore Ravens
This team could easily be number one by the end of the month. Set to feature Lamar Jackson, the league’s most electrifying talent at the position since Michael Vick, the Ravens offense will certainly be a Juggernaut. The Ravens success comes from running the ball, and they get even more when they can stop the run. By the end of the season the Ravens amassed 1800 more yards rushing than they allowed to their opponents. Despite the regular season success, the team struggled again in the playoffs. They restocked in free agency and the draft, adding Calais Campbell and Patrick Queen their defense in order to try and get them over the hump.
The team has said that Jackson is likely to run less this season, and that is perfectly fine with him. He knows he has Marquise Brown coming into a healthy second year and the front office gave him another weapon in the draft with Devin Duvernay. Oh, and they added JK Dobbins, one of the best backs in the Big-Ten, to that number one rushing attack. Look out.
3 | San Fransisco 49ers
I had to resist the urge to put them at 32…just kidding…maybe. All jokes aside, this team should be as hungry as ever after being so close to a Super Bowl. After the huge choke job in the biggest game of their lives–the NFC West loves to do that–they didn’t change up the roster much, other than losing DeForest Buckner. The move of Buckner wasn’t completely unexpected, as the team was going to be up tight up against the salary cap.
The team got a first round pick in the deal and drafted stud defensive tackle, Javon Kinlaw. It remains to be seen if Kinlaw can replace Buckner’s impact in any way. The team also spent their own first round pick, this one on receiver Brandon Aiyuk. If Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel can return from their current injuries and have productive seasons, the 49ers could be better than last year.
4 | Minnesota Vikings
Although they lost possibly their most experienced receiver (Stefon Diggs), pass rusher (Everson Griffin) and run stuffer (Linval Joseph) I believe the Vikings got better this off-season. The Diggs move got rid of a headache, lets just be honest. The Joseph release and Griffen being letting go freed up cap space for them to sign run-stuffing defensive lineman Michael Pierce. The team was able to keep star safety Anthony Harris on the franchise tag. The new look defense also added Yannick Ngakoue to an already fierce pass-rushing unit. Replacing Diggs will be tough, as his production speaks for itself. But, if the team can get more out of Irv Smith Jr, they can mitigate Diggs’ loss by becoming less reliant on the three-wide sets.
5 | Dallas Cowboys
Ok, I understand the defense lost Byron Jones and Robert Quinn. I understand they had a coaching change. This ranking isn’t about that. It is about the potentially record setting offense that the Cowboys are set to feature. First, Dak Prescott continues to play for a contract, making him even that much more likely to be putting up big numbers. Second, the team has Ezekiel Elliott to keep the defenses honest, and last but not least, the pass catchers. The Rams are the only team in the league that can run out as skilled of a four man pass-catching corps than the Cowboys. If the defense can hold teams under 25 points per game, the Cowboys should win their division easily.
6 | Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson is the best quarterback the Seahawks have ever had and Seattle is wasting his talents by employing Brian Shottenheimer. Seemingly shell-shocked from his awful tenure as offensive coordinator of the Rams under Jeff Fisher, Shottenheimer is far too conservative. The “Let Russ Cook” movement, shouldn’t have to be a thing, yet here we are. Although the team is being held back by the coaching staff, the players are a top-five unit altogether. The team may finally feel the pressure to let Wilson throw the ball more, and they might need to if the additions of Jordyn Brooks and Quinton Dunbar don’t improve the team’s defense.
7 | New Orleans Saints
The Saints are ready to push for a Super Bowl one last time under Drew Brees. The team loaded up once again, bringing in Malcolm Jenkins and Emmanuel Sanders as huge veteran pieces to help each side of the ball. The team would be higher on this list if it were not for two factors. The first is the pass-rush. The team is very concerned about this area, enough to be trying to sign Jadeveon Clowney to an unprecedented deal with draft pick attachments going to Cleveland. This late in training camp, only teams that are seriously questioning their pass-rush would be trying to make that bold of a move. The second issue is the crowds. There is no guarantee that there will be fans in attendance for the Saints home playoff games, which as we all know, is the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL.
8 | Buffalo Bills
This team will go as far as Josh Allen will take them. Period. With the additions of Stefon Diggs and Josh Norman, the Bills are signaling that they are ready to take over the AFC east. The only issue is that most evaluators do not think highly of Josh Allen. He has yet to make the huge improvements that you tend to see from passers early in their careers. He misses too many open throws and sacrifices his body a lot. This isn’t to say that Allen is completely unfixable, because that is far from the truth. The fact of the matter is that if he can take a big step forward this year, the Bills have all the other pieces around him to win some games in January. That is a big if, however.
9 | Los Angeles Rams
Most people have the Rams as a bottom-16 team in the league. Not only will that not be the case, but this will be a playoff team. Sean McVay is out for blood. He has experienced a lot since the Super Bowl loss and is ready to turn the team around after a disappointing middle of the season saw them miss the playoffs in 2019. The team is replacing a lot of key talent, most notably, Todd Gurley. A small problem might be that most of the players brought in to replace the key starters lost are rookies. Van Jefferson and Cam Akers can do a little bit of what they did, but as rookies can’t be expected to be pro-bowlers right away.
I think this is where most people go wrong on the Rams. The rookies aren’t expected to jump in and be starters right away. The team has depth at almost every position on the team and almost all of them have Super Bowl experience. If the offensive line holds up and the team can get good linebacker play, the sky is the limit for Los Angeles. Watch out for the losses of Dante Fowler Jr and Cory Littleton, as those are the two most likely pieces that the Rams will be regretting that they had to let walk.
10 | Denver Broncos
Drew Lock is the real deal. Let’s get that out of the way first. John Elway has primed the young man with every single offensive piece he could ever ask for. Losing Von Miller is tough, he is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL and he takes up a big chunk of their salary cap space. I originally had them seventh, but now the defense will have to try and ‘hang in there” as much as they can, similar to the Cowboys. T
he difference between Denver and Dallas is Denver plays in one of the best divisions in the league and Dallas plays in one of the worst. Look for some exciting shootouts with Kansas City for years to come. Denver could easily slide down this list if they pick up some losses along a tough schedule, but based on pure talent, this team is top-ten to begin the year.
11 | Cleveland Browns
As a “post-hype” team, the Browns are usually the type of team that I like to bet the over on their win totals in Vegas. Obviously I did that, picking them to win at least nine games, but it could be even more. The team is stacked on both sides of the ball, and is bringing in a head coach that is also one of the best offensive coordinators in the game. Kevin Stefanski turned the Vikings rushing attack into one of the league’s most feared and is hoping to do so for the whole Cleveland team. With all of the great players on this team, it takes a good coach to get them pulling in the same direction. The team has been waiting for it all to come together for more than two decades, hopefully for Browns fans sakes, Stefanski can make that happen.
12 | Pittsburgh Steelers
The return of Ben Roethlisberger will be the huge headline of the Steelers 2020 season, but the defense might end up being the meat of the story. Coming off a season that saw them lead the league in sacks, the team was surprisingly able to retain Bud Dupree. They had to use the franchise tag to do so, but also added insurance for if he leaves in intriguing linebacker prospect Alex Highsmith. The addition of his replacement should keep Dupree hungry, and on pace with their other star pass-rusher TJ Watt. This could be the same old story as last year, however, if the offense doesn’t improve. We all know Roethlisberger is a hall of fame quarterback, the only question is, how much does he have left?
13 | Tennessee Titans
I want to move Tennessee up on this list so bad, but I just do not believe in Ryan Tannehill or that offensive line. That being said, their running back and defense are absolutely legit. On defense, the pass-rush was a bit of a concern, until they signed Jadeveon Clowney. On offense, they must figure out a way to replace replace starting right tackle Jack Conklin–who left for Cleveland in free agency. If the team can do that, they can go a long way, but is it possible to replace a player of that caliber? The team tried to do so by drafting Isaiah Wilson in the first round to replace him, but he has yet to see the field due to Covid-19. This will will leave the job to veteran swing tackle Dennis Kelly…oof.
14 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This ranking may be one of the more fluid one’s of 2020. The Bucs’ signed Tom Brady in the off-season, as some of you may have heard, and are making a run at a Super Bowl. The offense can be as high-scoring as any in the league, but it is a vertical offense, possibly not best suited for Brady’s skill-set. It is hard to imagine that Bruce Arians would not be able to scheme a playbook for Tom Brady, however. Arians has done more with less than he has now.
Arians knows how to coach, and he knows how to pick his assistants. Byron Leftwich is one of the best coordinators in the game and will see head coaching opportunities down the line. If the Bucs’ defense can be any good, watch out, this team could challenge the Saints for the division crown. If the defense plays like 2019, though, they won’t even be a wild card.
15 | New England Patriots
Now that we are done with all of the teams that I predict to make the playoffs, I can move on to the organizations that I believe will be watching the games from their couches in January. For the first time in 20 years, the New England Patriots are starting a season without Tom Brady. This may also lead to them missing the playoffs for just the second time in that same span. Head Coach Bill Belichick is certainly out to prove that he can win without Tom Brady, and those of you who think he is tanking are absolutely crazy.
The man is a master strategist and would rather go to battle with a college team that a pro-bowl squad just for the challenge. The team also returns most players from a secondary that was the best in the NFL in 2019. This would easily be a playoff team under Cam Newton if it were not for the multitude of opt-outs that the team has incurred. They still might be.
16 | Green Bay Packers
The Packers had a chance to be much, much higher on this list with a good off-season. They failed at that. Despite picking up Christian Kirksey to replace Blake Martinez in the middle of their defense–(and for less money) the team might have downgraded as a whole. They had the chance to add receivers to Aaron Rodgers corps of misfits and Davante Adams, and they even drafted his replacement in the first round. As if taking a backup for their second-best offensive player wasn’t enough, the team also drafted a backup for their third best player–Aaron Jones. While Jordan Love and AJ Dillon might be the future of the team , the message being sent from the front office to the players is pretty clear, we don’t feel that you’re close to being a Super Bowl contender.
17 | Las Vegas Raiders
Coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock have slowly but surely built up a team that is in their mold. They want a physical, fast and aggressive football team that is technically sound. They have both been around the NFL but not with teams long enough to se how to build a winner. The Raiders are good enough to compete for a wild card spot this year, so many assumed they would draft a young quarterback to take them to the next level. But, as we have seen with the rookie class of quarterbacks, it isn’t a guarantee that the guy is ready to play come week one.
The fact that the Raiders aren’t even trying to develop someone yet shows that they believe Derek Carr can do the job. That confidence may prove to be unfounded, but it does make me feel more positive about their potential record.
18 | Philadelphia Eagles
This team might want to hire an entirely new training staff. Despite one of the best coach/QB combos in the NFL, the Eagles are not really a contender. This is because the team can seemingly never stay healthy. Before the season has even started they have lost pro-bowl guard Brandon Brooks and starting left-tackle Andre Dillard for the season. This is terrible luck for a team that dealt with major injury problems in 2019 and is also trying to work back their first-round pick into game shape.
The team struggled at receiver so they drafted Jalen Reagor in the first round, that was supposed to help. He might not be ready to start the year, however, due to a shoulder injury. This could be a long year for the Eagles, especially if Carson Wentz gets hurt yet again–he has already missed a few weeks of camp due to a hamstring injury.
19 | Los Angeles Chargers
Derwin James being out is a big blow, but the team is already used to playing without him. Yes, they struggled, but last year was just a huge mess for the organization. Philip Rivers refused to pass the ball to his own team and kept delivering the ball to AFC west defenders. The team also got outdrawn by fans of opposing teams at their own stadium and generally lacked discipline. Not much of that is expected to change, but maybe Tyrod Taylor can lead them to a decent record. Most don’t expect rookie quarterback Justin Herbert to play much this year, so if you see him out starting at any point you know the Chargers are probably looking at development instead if winning.
20 | Atlanta Falcons
As a team that played much better down the stretch of 2019, the Falcons are a trendy pick for an improved record. They already have a great quarterback and two great receivers to go along with trade acquisition Hayden Hurst. The team also improved along both lines, getting key pieces back along the offensive line, and signing Dante Fowler Jr to come off the edge. Atlanta can certainly get after the passer and score points now, especially after signing red-zone monster Todd Gurley in the off-season. The issue for the Falcons will be improving a pass defense that allowed the 21st most passing yards per game in 2019. Those numbers have got to get better before the team can go anywhere.
21 | Indianapolis Colts
The Colts could be so much higher considering I love the young, fast defense that they are building. I l also love their offensive line, running backs and head coach. What I do not love is the quarterback. Maybe Philip Rivers was the victim of a bad offensive line in San Diego, but that cannot be to blame for the point blank interceptions he throws. He takes too many risks for a quarterback without the rocket arm anymore. Hopefully for him, and the Colts, he can turn it around under Frank Reich, but i have serious doubts. The receiver position is also not up to par. They need Parris Campbell to step up and stay healthy in order to take some of the load off of T.Y Hilton.
22 | Houston Texans
With a top-five NFL quarterback and receiver on the same team, one would think the Texans would be able to go further than they have. The team proved some of the doubters wrong with a decent post-season this past year, but still have major holes on the roster. Head coach/ GM Bill O’Brien is still trying to patch those holes with veteran players. The probelm is that heis doing so by trading away draft picks. That won’t come to bite them in the back until a few years from now, though. Does this team have one good run in them before they have to reset under DeShaun Watson? I don’t think so, but this is the year to get it done. Especially since Watson’s mega salary from the recent extension will kick in soon.
23 | Arizona Cardinals
Many people believe that the Cardinals are going to be a playoff team this season. Let me be the first to tell you they won’t. This is a last place team in this brutal division. They are going to struggle to win one division game this year. Even though they were tough against the big boys last year, the Cardinals have not improved an offensive line that was atrocious. Also, they have not added quality pass rushers around Chandler Jones. Yes, Kyler Murray is a special talent and he will go perfectly with DeAndre Hopkins. But that chemistry doesn’t usually develop at the beginning of a season, especially in a year with no pre-season. Look for the Cardinals to start slow and not be able to recover. They are on on their way to a fourth place finish in the NFC West.
24 | Chicago Bears
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Before last season, many were picking the Bears as a trendy Super Bowl pick. They seemed destined to make up for Cody Parkey‘s missed kick in the playoffs with a strong season. Then Mitch Trubisky happened. The Bears quarterback pulled his best Jared Goff impression and decided to regress out of nowhere. The team brought in Nick Foles and seemingly gave him all the chance in the world to beat Trubisky out, but it didn’t happen. Who knows if that means that Trubisky made improvements or if it just means that Foles is done? My bet is on the latter.
25 | New York Giants
The Giants made a coaching change in the off-season, but not enough changes to the roster to make me believe in them this season. They do have the benefit of playing in possibly the worst division in football. That is still unlikely to take them above the .500 mark. New York allowed the 28th most passing yards in the league in 2019 and just lost last years first round pick to gun charges. Maybe the coaching change will be a huge difference and I will be wrong. I’m just going off of what I see now. We have seen crazier things happen before, and this team has the offensive skill position firepower to stay in games. They also have a bottom-barrel offensive line, though. It should be interesting to see what Daniel Jones can make out of all of this.
26 | Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have the chance, much like a few others, to make a large jump by the end of the year. The team has added some very good veteran talent to a young, up-and-coming roster that is filled with potential stars. Unlike the Bears situation, the Dolphins seem to be playing out their best-case scenario regarding their quarterbacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a very good fill-in starting quarterback, but he always gets exposed. That will happen again, at which point Tu’a Tagovailoa will come in and try to win some games before the season ends. The Dolphins are not expecting to win anything until next year, so anything that comes now is just an added bonus in their eyes.
27 | Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have undergone more changes than practically every team in the past few years. Not many have lost their all-time best coach, quarterback and linebacker all in one year and still have a decent outlook as a franchise. Even more, they have had to undergo an ownership change and general manager change as well. The team is in rebuild mode right now under new head coach Matt Rhule, but it may be able to compete. The offense is set to feature Christian McCaffrey again, but this time in Joe Brady’s offense. This is the same play caller that brought Clyde Edwards-Helaire from unknown nationally to a first round fantasy pick in less than a year. The defense is going to be their challenge, however, as they have to cover three prolific offenses in their division. Much like the Dolphins, they may just be a year or two away.
28 | Cincinnati Bengals
As we continue on along our “Close but no cigar” tour, we check in with the Bengals. Fresh off the worst record in the league, there is virtually nowhere to go but up. They decided to use the first pick and replace Andy Dalton with Joe Burrow. The sensational rookie just led LSU to possibly it’s best season ever, and one of the best in NCAA history for a quarterback. The man looks like a young Tom Brady, and if he can have anywhere close to the early-career success that Brady had, the Bengals will be ecstatic. However, much like Atlanta, the Bengals have not upgraded a secondary that was in the bottom third of the league last season. If you can’t cover in this league, you cannot win. Maybe next year, Bengals.
29 | Detroit Lions
Most people have the Lions higher than this, but it is hard for me to justify. The team is going to be very young at corner, and that is going to hurt them immensely. Jeff Okudah is going to have to take his lumps, but these are going to be some pretty big one’s. The rookie corner is set to face off twice each against Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Adam Thielen. Good luck, kid. The Lions also lack for playmakers, so they will need rookie running back D’Andre Swift to step up. They also have second-year tight end TJ Hockenson tready to deliver crucial first downs and touchdowns. The Lions are a team that has a coach and GM that are desperate to win. They need to in order to validate and/or save their jobs, but it is going to be an uphill battle.
30 | Jacksonville Jaguars
Although I do love the mustache, I am not a believer in Gardner Minshew. The sophomore quarterback set the league on fire last year with a surprising mix of accuracy and swag. He doesn’t have the biggest arm, but is a tough son of a gun. Minshew is also a leader on the field. Not even those traits, combined with the elite facial furniture, can bring this team out of the depths of despair, though. They also seem to be openly tanking with a floundering coach who is just merely a placeholder.
Undoubtedly Jacksonville has their eyes set on Trevor Lawrence and possibly even Dabo Swinney. We have seen “tank jobs” not end up with the first pick, however. My prediction is that is exactly what will happen here. Much like the Cleveland Indians in “Major League”, sometimes a little “extra motivation” in the form of a front office tank, is all a club needs to win a few extra games.
31 | New York Jets
The Adam Gase experiment has been an epic failure, and Joe Douglas might be going down with him. The Jets had a huge opportunity to get the right guy in to New York to get the job done. Instead, they took a coach that they knew probably wouldn’t win anything. They’re going with the school of thought that being a bottom feeder is better than being mediocre.
That is the only explanation for why Gase got this job, and the only reason why he still has it. I feel bad for the guy, because he seems like a tireless worker, but he is not a people person. NFL coaches, especially one’s in New York, can’t be like that anymore. You have to be personable to the media and more importantly, to your team. I have zero faith in Gase changing that part of his approach, so I have zero faith in this team.
32 | Washington Football Team
This team is going to be fun, but might end up becoming as big of a joke as their owner. Head coach Ron Rivera deserves more than what this franchise has thrown at him, and so do the fans. For far too long he has run this organization into a brick wall over and over. I cannot say I believe in this team but surely am rooting for them. At the very least they can use this season to let Chase Young take the final step in his development. He seems like an immediate stud. They will also be able to see what they have in Dwayne Haskins. Call me a believer in the young quarterback. Although, this teams record may not be the best at the end of the year, I believe he will be the franchise’s starter in 2021 and beyond.
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