Football season is here!! Most teams have rookies reporting to training camps, and now that veterans are beginning to arrive, it's officially time for some NFL power rankings.
Intro blah blah blah fuck it you know what this is. Let's go.
32. Seattle Seahawks
I shudder to think about this team's quarterback situation between Drew Lock and Geno Smith. In that NFC West division with the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals, Seattle has an uphill struggle to climb out of the NFL cellar. Might be time for Pete Carroll to get on the horn to San Francisco and trade for Jimmy G.
31. Chicago Bears
I hold out a little hope here because of Justin Fields. Can the offense he ran as a rookie be worse than Matt Nagy's garbage? It seems near impossible for the new Bears staff to fail that hard. Not helping Fields whatsoever is the fact that his WR1 is Darnell Mooney. Khalil Mack is no longer the anchor of the defense, a unit that may count on rookie DBs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker to start.
30. New York Giants
Even after drafting Evan Neal and upgrading at guard with Mark Glowinski, I don't love the Giants' o-line. That'll make it difficult for Saquon Barkley to run, and for Daniel Jones to capitalize on his biggest strength of downfield passing. Jones is working with one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. New G-Men head coach Brian Daboll showed a tendency to bail on the run during his time as Buffalo's play-caller. Not a huge fan of New York's secondary, either. The Giants are still far away from contending.
29. Houston Texans
As much as I loved the Texans' draft for personnel (and personal) reasons, they can't be counting on a bunch of rookies to be instant stars across the board. I do think QB Davis Mills has already proven he can play, which should help Houston be more competitive than many people are expecting.
28. New York Jets
I'll believe it when I see it from Zach Wilson. Sounds like he's been slinging more than passes this offseason. Like with most teams, everything hinges on the quarterback. I feel foolish in retrospect gassing Wilson up so much coming out of BYU. He looked atrocious in his rookie year. Still think there's a ton of talent there, albeit unproven. Also think the Jets need Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson to all have instant, massive contributions for Gang Green to even sniff the playoff hunt.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence has a much better, proven NFL coach in place in Doug Pederson now. Other than Travon Walker No. 1 overall, I actually liked the Jags' draft more than last year's myriad of fliers on high-usage/major injury history prospects. Hot take: I wouldn't be stunned if Jacksonville made a worst-to-first leap in 2022, crazy as it sounds right now. Lawrence has the most upside and talent of any QB in the weak AFC South and it's not close. Should he put it all together under Pederson's watch, a sophomore season breakout could be incoming.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Some saving graces on this team include QB Marcus Mariota reuniting with Arthur Smith, a dynamic cornerback tandem of A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward, and tons of big-bodied skill players that should make the offense interesting. Seriously it's nuts how huge these dudes are. Cordarrelle Patterson is 6'2", 220. Bryan Edwards is 6'3", 215. First-round pick Drake London is 6'4", 219. Auden Tate is 6'5", 228. Kyle Pitts is 6'6", 246. Seems like there's a large margin for error when Mariota drops back to pass.
25. Detroit Lions
Lotta people buying Lions stock. I love me some Dan Campbell. Jared Goff is still their quarterback. Much of Detroit's fate should boil down to precisely three players. Third-year cornerback Jeff Okudah must live up to his billing as the former third overall pick. Rookie EDGE Aidan Hutchinson needs to play at a Pro Bowl level. Jameson Williams' efficacy coming off a torn ACL is the X-factor in Detroit's passing attack.
24. Cleveland Browns
Some sort of Deshaun Watson suspension is imminent. Until he's on the field, or a trade is made for Jimmy Garoppolo, hard to endorse this talented team too strongly with Jacoby Brissett as QB1. There are always bad vibes around the Browns organization. This Watson debacle makes it even worse than usual.
23. Washington Commanders
Speaking of dysfunction, it doesn't get much worse than the Commanders. Ownership is a shit show. Their best defender Chase Young is coming off a major knee injury. Carson Wentz is their latest effort to Band Aid the most important position on the field. Color me unexcited about football in D.C.
22. Carolina Panthers
If he can keep his head on straight, a healthy Baker Mayfield at least gives Carolina a puncher's chance to compete for the postseason, as opposed to the perpetual disaster that is Sam Darnold. The rest of the roster isn't bad. O-line is upgraded from last year. All-world tailback Christian McCaffrey will hopefully stay on the field. It really is make or break for coach Matt Rhule. A regime change may come if Rhule suffers a third consecutive year of double-digit losses.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers
The typically mighty Steelers defense ranked DFL in yards per rush attempt allowed in 2021. Can't see that happening again. Nor can I see the offense being worse than it was with Big Ben at the controls. Whether it's Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh is bound to produce points and sustain drives more consistently. This ranking may seem high to some. I know better than to bet against Mike Tomlin by now.
20. Miami Dolphins
I'm a big believer in new Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel. Absolute offensive wizard. Somehow even better on the mic. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle might be the NFL's most explosive 1-2 receiver punch. You saw that Madden tweet. It all boils down to how much McDaniel can squeeze out of Tua Tagovailoa. I like Tua more than most from a skill set perspective. I'm more interested in what's between his ears and where he's at with that. We won't know till the actual games start.
19. New England Patriots
Mac Jones is a really good young quarterback. I'm baffled as to why New England hasn't done more to get a proven WR1 for him. I know that's not the typical "Patriot Way", but having Tom Brady helps offset some skill position deficiencies. Additionally, who the fuck is calling Jones' plays in Foxborough? We still don't know. Beyond a few nice pieces on defense and running back depth, there's not much else to fawn over with this roster.
18. New Orleans Saints
Dennis Allen replacing Sean Payton? Ehh. Jameis Winston at quarterback after tearing his ACL? Ehh. Relying on Michael Thomas to be an elite receiver again? Ehh. There's a lot to like about the Saints. Those three inquiries are why I have them just outside the NFC playoff picture at this early stage.
17. Tennessee Titans
WOW. The AFC's reigning No. 1 seed at 17!? Think about it. They just lost AJ Brown. Ryan Tannehill regressed last year when Arthur Smith left to take the Falcons coaching job. Derrick Henry will be piling up another year of heavy mileage on his gridiron odometer. Mike Vrabel and his staff have done a tremendous job helping Tennessee get the most possible out of this group. I just sense a down year coming.
16. Indianapolis Colts
Matt Ryan can't help but be a better/more accurate passer than Carson Wentz. Whether that's enough to carry the Colts to the AFC South crown or back to the playoffs is another matter. At this moment I believe Matty Ice will get it done despite a dearth of viable wideouts beyond Michael Pittman Jr. Having Jonathan Taylor to pound the rock is a huge luxury that'll take tons of pressure off Ryan. I do wonder how the defense will fare now that longtime coordinator Matt Eberflus has the big job in Chicago.
15. Minnesota Vikings
There are always new playoff teams to replace those from yesteryear. I think the Vikings will be one of them. Kirk Cousins has a QB-friendly coach in Kevin O'Connell who'll call the shots. For the first time in his Minnesota tenure, it looks like Captain Kirk will have the same play-caller for more than a season.
14. Arizona Cardinals
That six-game DeAndre Hopkins suspension is a legitimate problem for Arizona. The ongoing controversy surrounding Kyler Murray's new contract has at least been put to bed now, which is great. Kyler should still have enough weapons to produce until Hopkins returns. It's just that the Cardinals may dig themselves a 0-3 hole out of the gates in facing the Chiefs, Raiders and Rams.
13. Dallas Cowboys
I had the Cowboys and Eagles flipped until I remembered Dallas' WR2 Michael Gallup tore his ACL in Week 17. Beyond CeeDee Lamb and a disgruntled tight end Dalton Schultz playing on the franchise tag, who else does Dak Prescott have to throw to? Still, this Dan Quinn-coached defense has an 11-INT corner in Trevon Diggs who has lots of room to improve, and a sky's-the-limit, second-year superstar in Micah Parsons leading the front seven.
12. San Francisco 49ers
It's Trey Lance time, baby. Seems damn near everyone is skeptical about this young man. Don't count me among them. Sure, he's raw and inexperienced, but the talent is undeniable. Having Kyle Shanahan to put you in optimal positions to succeed helps, too. San Francisco can't afford almost any injuries in the defensive backfield. Other than that, I really like what the Niners have cooking.
11. Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson is automatically going to make the Broncos a playoff contender. They managed two seven-win seasons in the last three even with dated schemes and awful quarterback play. The AFC West will be a total grind, though. Russ has his work cut out facing the Raiders' pass rush, the Chargers' star-studded cast and, of course, outdueling Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
For whatever Jalen Hurts' faults are as a passer, his unique rushing ability makes the Eagles' offense very dangerous. Hurts has AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith as his top two receiver snow, which should only aid his ongoing progress. Getting James Bradberry should solidify Philadelphia's cornerback group and help them compete with Dallas for the NFC East title. My biggest question: Is Nick Sirianni actually a competent NFL head coach? I'm not totally sold yet.
9. Las Vegas Raiders
The acquisitions of veteran pass-rusher Chandler Jones and arguably the best wide receiver in the sport in Davante Adams boost Las Vegas into the top 10. Derek Carr happens to be best friends/former college teammates with Adams. Josh McDaniels is getting his second crack at a big boy job and I can't see him fucking this one up. The Raiders' main trio of offensive weapons in Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller rivals that of any in the league.
8. Los Angeles Chargers
Sometimes you want to wait to see how teams will jell with multiple new pieces. Cornerback J.C. Jackson and pass-rusher Khalil Mack are two stars you don't really have to guess on. The Chargers got better at every level of their defense this offseason. Justin Herbert is one of the best young QBs we've seen in recent NFL history. Even in the AFC West, it'd be stunning not to see the Bolts in the playoff mix.
7. Baltimore Ravens
They'll be so much healthier in 2022. John Harbaugh is one of the best coaches around. Baltimore has depth for days in its secondary. Lamar Jackson is (likely) playing for a new, huge contract. I'm expecting a huge Ravens bounce-back. Maybe that comes off as a little groupthink-y. So what? They won eight games last year with a decimated roster. Five of the six straight losses they had to close the season were by three points or less. Pretty sure they can do at least a couple wins better.
6. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is a back-to-back MVP. Unfortunately, he lost Davante Adams to Las Vegas. Rodgers tends not to play well with others. By that I mean he doesn't trust receivers not named Davante Adams. EDIT: Apparently this needs further clarification: Rodgers has had success sans Davante. It's just that his prickly personality may not play well with other inexperienced pass-catchers over the course of a 17-game season. Unedited from before: I still think he'll produce at an elite level. He should have great protection up front. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon should be a bigger emphasis in the ground game. Green Bay's defense is legit, too. I still have them as prohibitive NFC North favorites until the Vikings prove they've got their shit together.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Similar to what Rodgers is going through, Patrick Mahomes watched Kansas City trade Tyreek Hill to Miami. A new-look supporting cast is in place for the Chiefs' superstar signal-caller, and it's nothing to be pumped about. However, as long as Travis Kelce is on the field, Mahomes is taking snaps and Andy Reid is the coach, I'll give the Chiefs the benefit of the doubt.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
One glaring flaw for the defending AFC champions? Their offensive line. Signing La'el Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras filled that need about as well as any Bengals fan could've imagined. Cincinnati's recent change toward a proactive free agency approach has yielded massive dividends. Combine that with the drafting of Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase, and suddenly you've got a legitimate contender.
3. Buffalo Bills
There are a couple reasons this trendy Super Bowl pick checks in at No. 3. First: did you know Josh Allen, for all his playoff brilliance, completed only 63.3% of his passes in the 2021 regular season, down from 69.2% in 2020? Second: Allen's play-caller, Brian Daboll, is no longer around, nor are two of last year's key receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley. Something to at least think about before crowning the Bills.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When Tom Brady retired, things looked pretty bleak in Tampa. That was a short-lived, super bizarre situation. TB12 is back for at least one last ride with a stacked defense and one of the NFL's premier receiver duos in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. With Bruce Arians out of the picture (er, relegated to the front office), I imagine Brady will take even more control of this team and try to go out on top with yet another Lombardi Trophy.
1. Los Angeles Rams
Look what Sean McVay did in one year with a top-10 quarterback. Won a Super Bowl. Matthew Stafford could really boost his legacy with another championship. He still has Triple Crown receiver Cooper Kupp, a WR1-caliber second option in Allen Robinson and Aaron Donald wreaking havoc on the other side of the ball. We may witness the first Super Bowl repeat since the 2004 Pats.
Check out my NFL roster rankings: