NFL Preseason Power Rankings
The NFL Season is upon us in a few days, and there are a lot of power rankings out there. Well, I am here to tell you that you should ignore every single one of those other ones and just focus on this list. After all, what do ESPN analysts know that a broke college kid doesn’t?
But seriously, here are my preseason power rankings, as well as some picks at the bottom. I’m going to try to do this every week of the NFL season, and I’ll update the weekly picks as the season goes along as well. In terms of awards and playoff picks, I’ll update them at midseason to see how poorly I did.
In terms of the rankings, everything is mostly a shot in the dark right now. We have no way of telling how these teams are going to play, especially given all the conditions. But I considered multiple variables and went through a few iterations of this list before I made the final rankings.
Love them? Hate them? Let me know what you think by tweeting at me (@AidanCharde), and make sure you come back every week to see my updates.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
I don’t think there’s much of a surprise here. The Jags could be good offensively if Minshew and Chark can connect consistently, but if not, there isn’t much promise on this team. The defense is virtually unrecognizable from the team that nearly made the Super Bowl two seasons ago, and the loss of Leonard Fournette will hurt the team. Here’s to tanking for Trevor?
31. New York Giants
Like the Jaguars, there’s very little to like about this team. Daniel Jones showed promise in his rookie season, but the team hasn’t been the same since that fateful picture on the boat in 2017. Saquon Barkley, one of the few bright spots on the team, will be very good this year, but he can only take so much before his knees give out from carrying the team on his back. The Giants finished 4-12 in the worst division in football, and there’s no reason to expect better this season.
30. New York Jets
Sam Darnold lost his favorite target in the offseason, CJ Mosely opted out, and Le’Veon Bell is still feuding with everyone. Oh, and Adam Gase is still the head coach. The Jets have no chance in the AFC East, even with the Patriots taking a bit of a tumble. However, they are a team that I wouldn’t be surprised if I am dead wrong about them. There is a chance that they show up out of nowhere and fill the hole left by Tom Brady in New England. But probably not.
29. Cleveland Browns
Man, I don’t think there was a more disappointing team last year than the Browns. They went from Super Bowl favorites to bottom of the league in just a few weeks. And despite the new coach, I don’t think much is gonna change. Baker Mayfield might not even finish this season as a starter if he plays like he did last year. But again, this team has a LOT of potential–there’s a reason so many people had them in the Super Bowl last year–and they could make one of the expanded playoff spots if they play up to it.
28. Carolina Panthers
Teddy Bridgewater will have a solid season in his first year as a starter, but there are too many question marks on defense for this team to do well in such a loaded division. The NFC South may very well have three playoff teams, and that unfortunately leaves out the Panthers. What I’d be most afraid about with the Panthers is that, similar to Barkley, McCaffrey is going to be trying to take too heavy of a load. If he isn't careful, he could end this season on the IR.
27. Miami Dolphins
For those who need a sign about how the Dolphins season will go, look no further than the team announcing that Ryan Fitzpatrick, not Tua Tagovailoa, will start the season under center. While I expect Tua to appear sometime around week 4, it either means that Tua isn’t ready to start (a bad sign for a 5th overall pick), or the team doesn’t want to risk injuring him (a bad sign for a team looking to make a splash in a weak division).
26. Los Angeles Chargers
Unlike the Dolphins and Tua, Justin Herbert not starting is not a terrible sign for Los Angeles. Anthony Lynn said well before the draft that Tyrod Taylor would start the season at QB, and even with Herbert under center, this team would struggle in a very good division. In a few seasons, the Herbert to Allen combo will be legendary. But for now, I think it’s best that they wait out the season to try and snag someone early in next year’s draft.
25. Detroit Lions
The difference in this team between when Matt Stafford is starting and when he’s not is truly staggering. Stafford is an all-time great player who’s talent has been wasted on a bad team in a good division. It’s hard to believe that a team with him, Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay, and Adrian Peterson can’t win more than 8 games, but it’s probably gonna happen this season. The defense needs to step up if they want a chance.
24. Washington Football Team
The Washington Football Team might not have made many improvements in the offseason, but I still have reason for optimism for them. Firstly, a new head coach can work wonders, especially when it’s one of the best in the league with Ron Rivera. And secondly, I think Dwayne Haskins has the potential to have an incredible season now that his coach actually wants him on the team. There was a point last year where the Football Team was at 2-10 and still in a position to possibly win the division. Why couldn’t that happen this year?
23. Denver Broncos
I’m actually surprisingly hot on the Broncos despite their low ranking. They are in a tough division right now, but with one of the scariest rushing attacks in the league and some speedy receivers to catch the ball, they could make a push for a wild card. But I haven’t seen enough from Drew Lock to be able to put these guys higher up. I’m completely open to moving the Broncos up fast, but I need some proof first,
22. Indianapolis Colts
Philip Rivers, while he is a Hall of Famer, is well out of his prime and won’t lead the Colts to the playoffs in a weirdly tough AFC South. TY Hilton isn’t the same without Luck and has struggled with injuries, and there’s not much more to look forward to on the offensive side of the ball outside of Quentin Nelson. Defense will keep them in games, but their lack of offense will end their season short.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are also in a tough position. They have an up and coming roster that has the talent to win a lot of games. They also, unfortunately, have to play in the same division as Lamar Jackson, who seems to have a firm grip on the North. Joe Burrow will have success in his first season, but it won’t be enough to bring the Bengals back to playoff glory. Not yet, at least.
20. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are a sleeper pick for many to get back into the promised land and restore their former glory of two seasons ago, but I don’t think they have a chance. They took a serious step back after their Super Bowl appearance in 2018, and while I don’t think they’ll be a bad team, I don’t think they’ll blow anyone away either. Todd Gurley is gone, and with him goes the running attack that was so deadly a few seasons ago. And Goff really just isn’t good enough to throw the team to victory.
19. Chicago Bears
The Bears passed up on big name free agents at Quarterback this offseason, instead trading for Nick Foles and taking on a lot of his guaranteed money, and then decided to roll with Mitch Trubisky anyways. Listen. I think Trubisky has a lot of talent and could join the ranks of the elite young QBs. But he is not playing up to his potential and Matt Nagy isn’t using him right. Maybe he needed the spark under him to get going, but if he doesn’t stun everyone this season, he’s gone.
18. New England Patriots
Yes, I think that Belichick is the greatest coach of all time and that if anyone can take this ragtag team far it’s him, but for now, I have no reason to believe the Patriots will be good this season. Even ignoring the fact that the Bills are quickly becoming one of the best teams in the league, the Patriots lost the best player to ever play for the franchise and replaced him with a worn out, washed up, former MVP. They added nobody notable at receiver or TE, and basically half of their defense opted out. This is going to be a tough year in Boston.
17. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys last year managed to pull off one of the most improbable feats last season. They managed to miss the playoffs with one of the best teams in the NFL. Sure, there’s a new coach in town, but as long as Jerry Jones thinks he knows what he’s doing, the Cowboy’s aren’t making it far. 10-6 is probably gonna be what they need to win the division, which means you know they’re going 9-7. There’s a lot of promise for this team moving forward, with Dak, Zeke, Lamb, Cooper, Vander Esch, and more, but they’ve shown they can’t get things done.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Right in the middle of the list, we have the team that had one of the worst starts to the 2019 season. Of course, they also had one of the best finishes. It wasn’t enough for a playoff spot, but if they keep that momentum going, they’ll be able to snag second place in the division, no matter how loaded it is. Competition brings out the best in Matt Ryan (unless he’s up by 25 in the Super Bowl) and the Bucs will provide a much needed reason to win.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Maybe I’m too hot on the Cardinals this year, but how can I not be? Kyler Murray was electric last season (side note: I want it in writing that Kyler Murray is my MVP pick for 2020), and he just added one of the best receivers in football. Add in Kenyon Drake and his renewed career and a defense that is good enough to slow down the offenses in the division, and you have a team that will surprise a lot of people. I hope I’m not wrong about them.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A lot of people are probably wondering why I have them so low right now, and so I can answer that by reminding them that super teams NEVER WORK in the NFL. Again, maybe I’ll be terribly wrong about this team. But Tom Brady doesn’t fit Bruce Arians’ scheme, and he’ll have a tough time throwing to Godwin and Evans who both love to go deep. Gronkowski will provide a much needed check down option, but he’s old and fragile. And that defense still has nobody to stop Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Matt Ryan, Michael Thomas, DJ Moore, Julio Jones, Todd Gurley, or so many more insanely talented players in this division.
13. Las Vegas Raiders
This might be my hottest take. No, of course they won’t win the division. But Jon Gruden has shown us that there is a method to his madness, and he quietly built a team that is ready to take on the offensive juggernaut that is the Chiefs. I am incredibly excited to watch Henry Ruggs III take the field, and Josh Jacobs has nowhere to go but up after his stellar rookie season. Kansas City has shown us that you need high speed offense to win games, and Las Vegas has taken that to heart.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last year, the Steelers really had their worst case scenario happen. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell left. Big Ben looked awful before going down with a season ending injury, and both backups played way below expectations. And to top it all off, James Connor and JuJu Smith-Schuster regressed well below their previous levels. But somehow, Mike Tomlin not only kept them afloat, but nearly brought them to the playoffs. That should scare everyone in the AFC. If the Steelers can go 8-8 and just miss the playoffs with the awful team they had, think of what they can do fully healthy.
11. Buffalo Bills
The Bills just miss out on my top 10, and it’s really mostly because of Josh Allen. Allen is the second best quarterback from that 2018 draft class, but he’s still not ready to be the face of the franchise, as we saw from his collapse in the playoffs last season. But the team is strong defensively and good enough offensively to win a weak AFC East and maybe make a run. If Allen can progress to the level of Lamar, the Bills should have Super Bowl aspirations. But for now, I’m keeping them just below #10.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
If the Cowboys managed to do nothing with one of the best teams in the league, the Eagles managed to do the exact opposite. Despite losing basically every receiver on the team at some point, the Eagles just barely snatched the division title. It’s gonna be harder for them this year, because the Cowboys really want to take it back, but they’re still the best team in this division by a little bit. This season, they need to shake things up, which they can do by using Jalen Hurts in creative ways. Sure, he’s your backup QB, but he can also run and catch the ball. Why not use him like Taysom Hill?
9. Tennessee Titans
The Titans shocked everyone last season and almost made it to the Super Bowl after narrowly earning a playoff spot. They’ll get one easily this year, but the question is if it will be by winning the division or earning a wild card. They are in no way a Super Bowl contender, but if they can hold on to the magic from last season, I could see them making another run. They could just as easily crash and burn, though, so this team has a lot to prove.
8. Green Bay Packers
Last season, I was quoted saying the Packers were “the worst 13-3 team in NFL history”. I stand by that claim. Aaron Rodgers is well past his prime and is looking like he’s going to be done soon, and the team added nobody for him to throw to. Once Davante Adams goes down (because he will go down), who does he have left to use? They’ll crack 11 wins again this season because they somehow always do, but don’t expect anything huge.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Even without Stefon Diggs, the Vikings are still the best team in the NFC North. If not for Kirk Cousins and his problems with winning important games, they would have won the division last year. Dalvin Cook is set to play his first full season, and he will most likely be carrying this team all the way to the division title and, hopefully, deep into the playoffs. If Cousins can finally step up and take control of the passing offense, this team could be scary in the postseason.
6. Houston Texans
Sure, they lost the best player in their team’s short history, but that’s no reason to worry, right? Right? But seriously, they’re still a team loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. This will be Deshaun Watson’s year to prove whether or not he’s elite, now that his favorite target was shipped off. But it’s also Bill O’Brien’s time to prove that he is a good coach. He has to be creative with his team and use Duke and David Johnson (no relation) in the passing game, or else the Titans could sneak up behind them.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carrol and Russell Wilson are an elite combo. The team that made the playoffs last year (and got screwed out of the NFC Championship) bore little resemblance to their 2013 Super Bowl winning team, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with. Seattle probably has the best chance to take the division title this year, especially if the 49ers have a Super Bowl hangover, and Russell Wilson will finally get his first MVP votes.
4. San Francisco 49ers
“But Aidan, you just said the Seahawks had a better chance of winning the division!” Yeah, I know what I said. But until I see any results from either team, I’m sticking with the safer option. The 49ers still have a better roster and performed better last season. But the Super Bowl hangover is real, and the 49ers will need to avoid the same fate as the Rams, Falcons, and Panthers have in recent years. This division battle will be even closer than last year, and will definitely be the one to watch.
3. New Orleans Saints
The Saints are the best team on paper and are my pick to win the Super Bowl. But that’s been the case for them the past three seasons, and they’ve yet to even play in the big game. This season is probably the last chance for the Saints to come out on top for the next few seasons. Obviously, Drew Brees is 41 and is nearing the end of his career. But more importantly, the Saints are projected to have $-78 million in cap space next season. Yes, you read that right. They are going to be almost $80 million over the limit, which means losing key players or restructuring contracts. They might have to sell the team this time next year, so it really is now or never.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson has struggled in the playoffs, but he’s been stellar in the regular season. The Ravens will once again take the top seed in the AFC, but they don’t have the experience to make it all the way to the Super Bowl. Watching the Jackson-Mahomes battle over the next 10+ years is going to be legendary, but for now, Mahomes holds the advantage. Im excited to watch this team play this season, especially now that the Titans have shown us exactly how to stop their explosive offense, but if anyone can overcome that challenge, it’s John Harbaugh.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have to be the favorite to be the best team in the league again next year. With the best QB in the game under center, a top rookie lining up next to him at RB, and an absolutely explosive set of receivers, it’s obvious that Kansas City is the force to be reckoned with. I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to repeat, but there are gonna be a lot of teams trying to take that crown from them. Now we just have to wait and see.
Weekly Picks - Week 1:
Chiefs over Texans
Eagles over Football Team
Patriots over Dolphins
Vikings over Packers
Colts over Jaguars
Lions over Bears
Raiders over Panthers
Bills over Jets
Ravens over Browns
Seahawks over Falcons
Bengals over Chargers
Cardinals over 49ers
Saints over Buccaneers
Cowboys over Rams
Steelers over Giants
Titans over Broncos
Lock of the week: Bills over Jets
Preseason Playoff Picks:
Super Bowl: Saints over Chiefs
MVP: Kyler Murray
OPOTY: Christian McCaffrey
DPOTY: Khalil Mack
COTY: Kliff Kingsbury
O-ROTY: Joe Burrow
D-ROTY: Jeff Okudah
CBPOTY: AJ Green