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NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

After dominating the Browns, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers set sights on Titans in matchup of undefeated AFC division leaders

COVID-19 issues dominated the NFL newswire again but thankfully thanks went off mostly without a hitch across the league. While that discussion carried on off the field, on the field things were quite different as blowouts, incredible touchdowns, and some shocking results were the norm.

 

With all that in mind and factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings following Week 6 and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.

 

Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Power Rankings: ChiefsLast week: 2

 

After an abnormally early Monday night victory, the Chiefs now have head-to-head wins over fellow AFC contenders Baltimore, New England and Buffalo. Andy Reid really made it a point to establish the run and the conditions had nothing to do with that in an impressive return to the left-hand record column.

 

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Power Rankings: SteelersLast week: 6

 

What a statement win that was for the Steelers, not just in the division but in the AFC race overall. We all knew the defense was stellar but when Big Ben and Co. are hitting big plays like that, there's hardly anybody that can stop this team. Rough news about Devin Bush though.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks

NFL Power Rankings: SeahawksLast week: 3

 

It was a much-needed recovery week for the Seahawks as they embark on a critical stretch the next five weeks that could determine their ceiling in the NFC playoff race.

 

4. Baltimore Ravens

NFL Power Rankings: RavensLast week: 4

 

What is it about this team getting too comfortable while up big late? They nearly did it against Washington and did so again vs. the Eagles. It nearly cost them as being a little too lax against overmatched opponents and this no doubt is going to be a talking point from John Harbaugh in meetings this week.

 

5. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 9

 

Another week, another win even if it took blowing a lead and, eventually, overtime to get the dub. Derrick Henry may not garner too much love in the MVP race given what some of the QBs are doing but he's been on an absolute tear the past few weeks.

 

6. Green Bay Packers

NFL Power Rankings: PackersLast week: 1

 

The No. 1 offense in the league gets back their top weapon… and yet nearly scored as much for the other team as they did themselves. Aaron Rodgers seemed off in the Florida heat but, for now, perhaps that was just a bad one-off outing and not a sign of things to come.

 

7. New Orleans Saints

NFL Power Rankings: SaintsLast week: 8

 

Sure seems like Michael Thomas will be back in the starting lineup after the bye and the Saints could be prepared to go on a run the next few weeks before what could be a division-defining game at the Bucs next month.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 14

 

No need for Tom Brady to know how many downs there are late in a game if you're up by double digits most of the afternoon. The veteran QB was pinpoint with his passing on Sunday against the Packers in what might prove to be a key head-to-head win come playoff time.

 

9. Chicago Bears

NFL Power Rankings: BearsLast week: 12

 

A faux 5-1? Sure. But you won't hear the Bears complaining about the overall record despite the un-pretty nature of play each week. Perhaps the offense will improve as Nick Foles becomes more comfortable but leaning on that Chicago D seems to be working out okay.

 

10. Las Vegas Raiders

NFL Power Rankings: RaidersLast week: 10

 

The Sunday night game against the Bucs might be the toughest non-Chiefs game left on the schedule but the Raiders still have to take advantage and actually win the games to build up more momentum in Las Vegas.

 

11. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 5

 

Josh Allen's struggles the past few weeks will generate the headlines but what happened to the normally stout defense? Sure they rise to the occasion in spurts but the long-term trends don't look great for a team that normally prides themselves on their play on that side of the ball.

 

12. Los Angeles Rams

NFL Power Rankings: RamsLast week: 7

 

Just when you thought they were all set to make it a fun NFC West race, the Rams stumble in the primetime spotlight. Sean McVay lit into his team for their performance and it was pretty clear the execution was lacking to the point where that blame game was deserved.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 17

 

Kyler Murray moved to 7-0 as a starter at AT&T Stadium with that win over the Cowboys but the bigger story was the aggressiveness from the defense in getting some turnovers. Still hard to get a feel at just how good this team can be but it's pretty clear they're significantly improved from last year.

 

14. New England Patriots

NFL Power Rankings: PatriotsLast week: 13

 

Going to be a lot of debate over the performance of the team after the COVID-19 issues but the bottom line is they're 2-3 for the first time since 2001 and have a big hill to climb. It will be fascinating to see how Cam Newton bounces back from that kind of effort too as that was easily his worst outing with the Pats.

 

15. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 25

 

Great job by Kyle Shanahan against division rivals and no surprise, getting healthier had a little to do with that. Sustaining this momentum into the coming weeks still remains to be seen.

 

16. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 15

 

The record (4-2) is respectable but how sure are we that the Colts cross the line of being "good" in the NFL right now? They haven't played the greatest competition and needed a furious rally to come back against the Bengals. The team is capable of so much more but haven't shown it yet.

 

17. Denver Broncos

NFL Power Rankings: BroncosLast week: 28

 

Drew Lock and Phillip Lindsay's returns were good sure, but salty defense and Brandon McManus will win you a lot of games too. Inspiring effort against the Patriots but next week poses a much, much bigger challenge for a young team.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 11

 

Well, that was ugly. Much will be made about Baker Mayfield's struggles and the inability to run the ball but that's going to happen against good teams — especially in the AFC North. The bottom line is the team has to be better and can't get so far behind the chains early on. Maybe more concerning was just how lost the defense looked, especially on the back end.

 

19. Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Power Rankings: ChargersLast week: 21

 

Going to be interesting to see if Justin Herbert can keep up his stellar play after the bye. The Jaguars offer a great opportunity to do just that but the rookie still has to get it done next week before a tough pair of divisional games after that.

 

20. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 19

 

The positive momentum continues in South Florida even if beating up on the lowly Jets doesn't mean much overall. But hey, Tua Time for real!

 

21. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 16

 

Panthers came back to earth a bit against Chicago but the defense continues to outperform expectations. That was one area that looked circumspect coming into the season but Matt Rhule has quickly gotten his unit to play above its weight.

 

22. Detroit Lions

Last week: 26

 

That may not have been the best performance of the Matt Patricia era but it sure was close in thumping the Jags. The pass rush was encouraging but you want to pause any optimism before seeing if it will carry over into the coming weeks.

 

23. Houston Texans

NFL Power Rankings: TexansLast week: 20

 

Credit to the Texans for coming back against the Titans but you could tell by Deshaun Watson's reaction at the OT coin toss that he knew the defense wasn't stopping Derrick Henry in the extra frame.

 

24. Dallas Cowboys

NFL Power Rankings: CowboysLast week: 23

 

Credit to the Cowboys defense, they welcomed DFW-native Kyler Murray home in style (and made Kenyan Drake look really good too). Amazingly though, that loss didn't damper their NFC East chances at all. How 'bout them Cowboys indeed.

 

25. Atlanta Falcons

NFL Power Rankings: FalconsLast week: 27

 

So maybe Dan Quinn was an issue, huh? Too early to say definitively on that but an impressive outing on the road to thump the Vikings and deliver a cathartic beatdown.

 

26. Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Power Rankings: BengalsLast week: 22

 

That's a rough blown lead for a young team that is still trying its best to gain some momentum. The fact that they've been in pretty much every game late is good but getting over that hump remains a challenge for the coaching staff.

 

27. Minnesota Vikings

NFL Power Rankings: VikingsLast week: 18

 

Well, it was pretty clear that the inspired effort in Seattle was nothing more than a flash in the pan. Kirk Cousins was awful but then again, who wasn't in that dreadful performance against the Falcons.

 

28. Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Power Rankings: EaglesLast week: 24

 

If you could just bottle up that energy the team plays with when they're way behind, you can talk yourself into winning the division with an above .500 record. Sadly all four quarters count and Philly keeps putting themselves behind too much and don't have the juice to finish those comebacks.

 

29. New York Giants

Last week: 30

 

Good news: Joe Judge got his first win! Bad news: now all the media talk in the Big Apple will be about handing the No. 1 pick to the rival Jets.

 

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 29

 

There was a segment early in the season about the Jaguars' potential for making the playoffs before their Thursday night game against the Dolphins. That feels ages ago as the franchise has underscored they're still a bad football team in 2020. Bring on the race for Trevor Lawrence, et. al.

 

31. Washington Football Team

Last week: 31

 

Kudos to the WFT coaching staff going for two at the end, sparing us overtime and helping their chances at the No. 1 overall pick.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

For the record: Trevor Lawrence had one of the best games of his career on Saturday and you just know ratings for Clemson games will be through the roof in the NYC market the rest of the fall. Now just ignore the -110 point differential and feuding head coach/coordinators.



 

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 2

 

Not a bad off week for the Packers, who will rest up for a long run the next few months knowing the NFC is theirs for the taking the way they have been playing.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

Well, a loss had to happen at some point and a divisional game when the team just didn't have it in them seemed like the perfect spot. While there are some issues to correct, it's not time for panic by any stretch even if the margin for error in earning the No. 1 seed just got a little bit smaller at the moment.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 4

 

Never doubt Russell Wilson, even if you can doubt that Seattle defense on just about every drive.

 

4. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 3

 

An angry Ravens defense against a rookie QB was always going to be a lopsided matchup but kudos to the team for not letting up one bit against a divisional rival. They can't look ahead past next week and another lowly team in the Eagle, however.

 

5. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 5

 

We'll see if the long layoff will have any impact on the Bills, who seemingly had a lot of momentum going into a Tuesday night matchup.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 6

 

The Steelers let up at the end to allow their in-state rivals back into the game but thankfully that Big Ben-Chase Claypool connection kept coming up in the clutch. As the rookie later tweeted, 7-11 (their two numbers) is always open.

 

7. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 8

 

If the Rams had gotten that final stop against the Bills, would we elevate them into the conversation as the best team in the NFC? They might be the most complete even if they've taken advantage of some below-par competition.

 

8. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 9

 

Saints fans frustrated with the Taysom Hill package can at least ignore how the team's defense played for about three quarters against the Chargers. That was one of those better lucky than good performances on Monday night to advance the cause.

 

9. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 10

 

A win on Tuesday night could give the Titans an inside track to a No. 1 seed given events in Kansas City and the fact that they play in a lackluster AFC South.

 

10. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 14

 

Was this a breakthrough win for Jon Gruden and company? They certainly played one of their most complete games to notch the victory over the reigning champions and suddenly have some real aspirations in the AFC West. Have to keep the momentum going however or it won't mean much.

 

11. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 13

 

Be prepared for a lot of "the last time the Browns were 4-1" photos. With good reason as Kevin Stefanski has his crew playing well and buying into the system.

 

12. Chicago Bears

Last week: 15

 

This might be the flimsiest 4-1 team in the NFL right now but you won't hear the Bears fans complaining after notching a come-from-behind victory against Tom Brady — helping berth a timeless meme from the Buccaneers quarterback in the process too.

 

13. New England Patriots

Last week: 12

 

Who knows when we'll see the Patriots on the field next but it's pretty clear that they're starting to take control of the situation based on reports out of Foxborough.

 

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 7

 

Throw every excuse you want at the team (short week, injuries, etc.) but that was close to an inexcusable loss for a franchise that is aiming to make it to the Super Bowl in their own stadium. Tom Brady not knowing what down it was on the final drive was just the chef's kiss.

 

15. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 11

 

Phillip Rivers giveth, and he taketh. The Colts are getting the full experience from the quarterback, spoiling a short-handed defense's effort against the Browns.

 

16. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 16

 

The Panthers still might have one of the worst rosters in the league, which underscores the work Matt Rhule and Co. have done in getting a third victory before we've even hit mid-October. Perhaps so good, in fact, that OC Joe Brady could be one-and-done in Carolina if things keep going this well the rest of the way.

 

17. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 17

 

That was a "get right" game for the Cardinals against the Jets. The offense still seems a tad slow to ramp up but when Kyler Murray is going downfield to Deandre Hopkins, the team can be a fun one to watch.

 

18. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 21

 

Kirk Cousins has seemingly been playing the same kind of game against Russell Wilson dating back to college. He played well enough to win Sunday night but it felt like the team changed completely once Dalvin Cook went out with an injury against Seattle.

 

19. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 25

 

Brian Flores not only had an answer to Kyle Shanahan at every turn but Ryan Fitzpatrick turned the magic up a few notches just as the Tua Talk became extra loud. That long plane ride home from the West Coast was a lot sweeter after a win like that.

 

20. Houston Texans

Last week: 22

 

While it may have been the Jaguars on the other side making things easy, it sure seemed like the team played much looser in nabbing their first dub of the season. Wonder if that had anything to do with Romeo Crennel being in charge as he became the oldest head coach in league history to notch a win.

 

21. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 18

 

The Chargers truly have found themselves a quarterback in rookie Justin Herbert, who has been the equal or better of Tom Brady and Drew Brees in consecutive weeks. Of course, that's the lone bright spot for a team that still seems cursed when it comes to closing out games.

 

22. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 24

 

While one game won't undo some early progress, the regression to the mean for this team (and Joe Burrow) was bound to happen at some point. Against a good Ravens squad, it did. Now we'll have to see if they can respond.

 

23. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 19

 

It was just heart-wrenching to see that injury to Dak Prescott. 2020, still the worst.

 

24. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 20

 

It's incredible to think that even after all that has transpired to start the year, this team might now be the favorite in the NFC East. Not a ringing endorsement for the Eagles as much as it is the dreadful state of the division.

 

25. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 23

 

Yes there are injuries and the roster is bare but there are few excuses left to play like that at home against a team like the Dolphins. That Super Bowl run feels like a decade ago.

 

26. Detroit Lions

Last week: 26

 

Matt Patricia was off this week but he can't feel all that great watching the news ticker seeing another head coach get a pink slip.

 

27. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 27

 

The Dan Quinn era is over to nobody's surprise. He and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are unlikely to be the last to go in Atlanta either after a dreadful 0-5 start that has been made worse with each passing week.

 

28. Denver Broncos

Last week: 29

 

It's going to be interesting to see what the Broncos have done with the extra time off and if the move will be to go to Blake Bortles at QB going forward. Not exactly what fans want to hear.

 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 28

 

Losing three straight games to previously winless teams is a work of art by the Jaguars, even if they've at least been entertaining while doing so. That win against the Colts feels like it happened a decade ago at this point.

 

30. New York Giants

Last week: 31

 

While it's clear the Giants are improving in terms of their overall level of play, their inability to actually get over the hump for an actual win is reflective of just how far the franchise has to go.

 

31. Washington Redskins

Last week: 30

 

An incredible moment from the franchise and the league overall when Alex Smith trotted out onto the field for his first action since the injury. Sadly that was the lone high point for the team against the Rams as things have gotten away from the coaching staff quickly.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

You know things are bad when the only thing generating headlines in the New York media is about the team off the field now instead of on it.



 

Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

The Chiefs are 2-for-2 in looking fairly ho-hum (by their standards) against backup quarterbacks but it was nevertheless another win against a top AFC contender for that No. 1 seed. Yes, it would have been a lot more fascinating to see the defense against Cam Newton than Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham but you can only play who's in front of you.

 

2. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 2

 

Don't know what one can learn from destroying the Falcons at this point other than Aaron Rodgers is also in that crowded field of MVP candidates and playing as well as he has in years.

 

3. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 3

 

The short trip down to Washington was a productive one as the Ravens took care of business early against an overmatched opponent and didn't look back.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 4

 

Given the long trip, not surprising the team wasn't hitting on all cylinders but can't complain too much about another efficient Russell Wilson performance. The last time the team was 4-0 they made it to the Super Bowl so Seahawks fans are hoping for similar vibes this season.

 

5. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 5

 

Josh Allen added to his MVP case on the road Sunday, scoring three times while not tossing an interception. The 4-0 Bills are in rare territory and might have a chance to really seize control of the division race over the next few weeks.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 6

 

The Steelers didn't play because of the Titans' COVID-19 issues, so now Pittsburgh prepares for a stretch of 13 straight games, starting at home on Sunday against an Eagles team that finally has some momentum to build on.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

It was an uneven start for Tom Brady against the Chargers but when he flipped the switch, he certainly flipped it big time with five touchdowns and 369 passing yards. You can tell the offense is starting to find its groove and even managed to pick up their defense at times for the first time this season.

 

8. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 11

 

Overs have been killing it this year in the NFL but the Rams went the other way in a big swing against the lowly Giants. While Sean McVay will dislike such a performance but at least the team fought until the end — and we're not just talking about Jalen Ramsey.

 

9. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 12

 

The Saints gave the league quite the scare on Saturday but showed no issues the final three quarters against the lowly Lions. Drew Brees looked pretty crisp (including, shockingly, downfield passes) while Alvin Kamara was his usual self too. There's a very winnable stretch of games coming up but the team can't slack off now.

 

10. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 9

 

We'll file this week's update under IR/COVID-19 for the Titans.

 

11. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 13

 

Less than three yards per carry (2.7 to be exact) usually doesn't get the job done in the NFL but the Colts' defense came through to help save the day a few times against Chicago. This team still hasn't had a full, four-quarter performance against somebody with a pulse (sorry Jets) but they'll be tested against the Browns on Sunday.

 

12. New England Patriots

Last week: 7

 

A little tough to judge the team given all they went through but Bill Belichick's faith in Brian Hoyer and all those rumors about Jarrett Stidham being the guy in the spring and summer simply don't make sense after that Monday night game against the champs.

 

13. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 17

 

It's taken four games for Kevin Stefanski to match Hue Jackson's win total as head coach of the Browns. That says a lot about the franchise but is also a credit to how the new head coach has leaned into what the team does well offensively while mixing in a dash of creativity. It wasn't easy at the end but progress is progress.

 

14. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 15

 

While you can see signs of progress from the offense, the defense isn't on the same schedule in Las Vegas as the unit could not come up with enough stops. Derek Carr said he's tired of losing afterward but he is going to need some more help to change that sentiment.

 

15. Chicago Bears

Last week: 10

 

The run game was bad enough against the Colts but it felt like Matt Nagy just wanted to trigger the fans watching at home by running Cordarrelle Patterson in a key situation down the stretch. Simply not good enough for a team that now has to turnaround and improve on a short week.

 

16. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 20

 

It's still too early to say that the team's issues are fixed but progress is being made in a slow and steady way that will make Matt Rhule happy. That's two wins in a row but it was even nicer to see Teddy Bridgewater scrambling to find the end zone on the ground.

 

17. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 16

 

The offense still seems stuck in neutral for the second straight week but it was the defense that was appallingly bad on the road against a team that did not have the personnel to put up that amount of points or keep converting third downs like they did.

 

18. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 22

 

For about three and a half quarters, Justin Herbert was every bit the equal of Tom Brady and continued to unleash some absolute dimes down the field. A late turnover did hamper the performance some but there should be no going back at QB the rest of the way now no matter what Anthony Lynn says.

 

19. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 14

 

If you could just bottle that fourth-quarter energy up and unleash it over a full game, this team might just be the best in the league. But there are three other quarters to play and Mike McCarthy hasn't figured out anything to solve those issues. The defense being bad is an understatement and the only saving grace remains the division they are in.

 

20. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 29

 

Your first-place Philadelphia Eagles sounds much better than your one- win Philadelphia Eagles. The offense still needs a lot more work if they want to keep that position in the standings given what the next two weeks look like but some positive momentum is certainly welcomed after the city was on riot alert if they dropped another.

 

21. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 23

 

Let's all hope any subsequent wins don't include Adam Thielen trying to hit the Griddy anymore and leave that to Justin Jefferson. No rest for the weary though with the Seahawks coming up.

 

22. Houston Texans

Last week: 18

 

To add to the insult of the 0-4 start, it's not like the Texans can even tank since they don't own their early draft picks. Guess that's why GM Bill O'Brien was shown the door as much as Bill O'Brien the head coach was in the season's first firing.

 

23. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 19

 

At some point, the injuries were going to catch up to the 49ers and playing backup QBs is going to bite you. It happened Sunday night but it's not yet time to sell all of your stock in the team just yet.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 27

 

First of many wins for Joe B. and company. The team smartly utilized Joe Mixon all over the field and seem to have their quality young core in sync already. The competition will keep getting better but this isn't a team you immediately change the channel when they pop up — something that wasn't true of them last year.

 

25. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 24

 

Inspired performance against an NFC favorite but even with Ryan Fitzpatrick's solid effort again, the pressure from the outside to see what they have in Tua is just going to keep increasing with each loss. That's especially true given how well fellow top-10 picks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have played so far.

 

26. Detroit Lions

Last week: 21

 

Per Elias Sports, that loss to the Saints was the sixth straight the team had lost despite taking a lead of 10 or more points. Just when you think it can't get any lower in Detroit, the Lions come back and surprise you.

 

27. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 26

 

Matt Ryan's contract is pretty immovable at this point but given the trajectory of the team, how quickly could the Falcons pivot to tanking for (Georgia native) Trevor? One thing is pretty clear: there will be a head coach pivot soon enough.

 

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 25

 

In the words of the great Denny Green, perhaps the Jags are who we thought they were? The Gardner Minshew Show keeps the team in games but it does nothing if they keep giving up drives the other way all game long.

 

29. Denver Broncos

Last week: 30

 

Brett Rypien alternated from greatest ever to near goat against the Jets but came through in the end to notch the team's first win of the year. Not a lot to be proud of in the end but this team has to get the wins if they can against fellow bad teams.

 

30. Washington Football Team

Last week: 28

 

Think Chase Young would have helped against Lamar Jackson and company? While his absence was missed, so too was some offensive production aside from Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin.

 

31. New York Giants

Last week: 31

 

Odell Beckham Jr. had three touchdowns on Sunday, the same number of trips to the end zone the Giants have this season. Not much more needs to be said even if the defense stepped up against the Rams in a surprising way.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

It's never a good sign when the biggest source of your offense is Sam Darnold running the football and Joe Flacco has to enter the game. Also never a good sign when your head coach's job status is getting far more play from the booth than the action on the field. Such is life for the J-E-T-S.



 

Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Is Patrick Mahomes actually underpaid? It's a thought that crossed more than a few minds after that effort in Baltimore — which is, uh, saying quite a bit at how good the Super Bowl MVP is right now.

 

2. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 4

 

It was probably safe to think there would be some regression from this team when looking at things in the preseason but that hasn't been the case. A properly motivated Aaron Rodgers continues to age like fine wine and the defense looks like there's still a lot of room to grow if healthy. Given how open the NFC looks, they just might be the favorites for a return to the conference title game right now.

 

3. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 1

 

When the Ravens got down early, it was actually interesting to see if Lamar Jackson was going to be in a position to lead a comeback like his counterpart had so often in recent years. Things did get interesting late but the bottom line is that when the team gets behind by any significant amount, they get taken out of the system that leads to so much of their success. It's not worth causing panic in Baltimore yet but does make the road to a No. 1 seed that much harder.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 3

 

The defense remains an issue, especially giving up big plays, but Russell Wilson is just so good that it might not matter one bit. The MVP favorite threw for five TDs the second straight week and has thrown for more scores than anybody in NFL history at this point on the calendar.

 

5. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 9

 

Circle those wagons, these Bills are actually legit. Yes, the blown lead/near-collapse was concerning but the Josh Allen Experience is never easy nor pretty. In the end though, the results are what matter.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 10

 

Despite the undefeated start, this team really hasn't yet put together a full four-quarter effort on both sides of the ball. That's the scary thing about the Steelers given they might have the best overall defense in the league and a passing attack that seems to keep clicking as the game gets going.

 

7. New England Patriots

Last week: 5

 

Bill Belichick remains the king of getting his team focused after a tough loss and it almost was easy money thinking they'd run away with a win against the Raiders. Still a few issues to clean up, which we're sure the head coach will be harping on moving forward.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

Bit of a ho-hum effort against a banged-up Denver squad but taking care of business on the road is not to be overlooked in the NFL nowadays. The defense continues to be the best group on the field but you're starting to see yet more signs out of Brady and Co. as his weapons start to lock in with their Hall of Fame QB.

 

9. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 11

 

The Titans are 3-0 by the thinnest of margins but they'll take it, especially given what their chief division rivals have done to start the year. Still, the issues with giving up the big play are going to drive Mike Vrabel nuts for another week.

 

10. Chicago Bears

Last week: 15

 

The Bears are 3-0 thanks to two incredible fourth-quarter comebacks behind two different quarterbacks. What a wild ride it's been but now comes the really interesting part with this team having Nick Foles under center going forward.

 

11. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 6

 

Now the Rams really know what it's like to have a controversial pass interference call go against them in a crushing loss. As Sean McVay will tell his team this week though, don't get in a position to where you need to make incredible comebacks or rely on penalties to win the game.

 

12. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 7

 

The talk is going to continue to be about Drew Brees not throwing downfield but any judgment about him being done should be reserved until after Michael Thomas returns healthy. Just as pressing is the defense not at all living up to the hype they had entering this season.

 

13. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 17

 

Congrats to Philip Rivers on throwing his 400th career touchdown pass. The Colts didn't really need him to play at a high level given the opposition but the milestone sure was nice to celebrate on a day where many of the team's backups saw plenty of action.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 13

 

This team really is bailed out by the fact that they play in the lowly NFC East. While Dak Prescott isn't really the issue, not feeding Ezekiel Elliott enough so that the defense doesn't have to be on the field is something Mike McCarthy needs to figure out quickly.

 

15. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 14

 

The Raiders had a real chance to make a statement in Foxborough but gotten taken out of their regular game plan by Bill Belichick and never could adjust. The Raiders now get their shot against the Bills and need to find a way to maintain the early momentum or else they could be in store for a rough stretch the rest of October.

 

16. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 12

 

Kyler Murray simply wasn't good enough against the Lions. That's all it came down to as you can't gift even bad teams in the NFL and still expect to win. It was good that the team rallied to make things interesting late but that was too much to overcome having their defense on the field that long.

 

17. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 18

 

Hard to fathom what's crazier, that the Browns haven't been above .500 since 2014 or that Kevin Stefanski is off to the best start with the franchise since Butch Davis. The competition hasn't been great but any sort of win is taken without question in Cleveland.

 

18. Houston Texans

Last week: 16

 

Yes, it's about the toughest start you can get in the NFL but 0-3 is 0-3 for a team searching for some answers. There were some positives to look at in the first half but changes need to come quickly or their margin for error will be close to zero when it comes to any postseason hopes.

 

19. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 21

 

Kyle Shanahan remains a master at figuring out a game plan for a bunch of spare parts in order to get a win. Luckily for the team, they are done with MetLife and that truly awful turf.

 

20. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 28

 

Heck of a game plan from Matt Rhule to get win No. 1, even if nothing about it was pretty. Fans back in Carolina may not have enjoyed it given draft implications but a big first building block under the new staff.

 

21. Detroit Lions

Last week: 31

 

Matthew Stafford outplayed his hot-shot, young counterpart and the defense came through to get several short fields. There's still a lot of work left to be done but a step in the right direction for a franchise that took a few on the chin the first few weeks.

 

22. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 19

 

The narrative around this team might be a lot different if that hook-and-lateral had worked at the end of the game. Still, the Chargers played down to their competition and those offensive line struggles against a team normally not sporting much of a pass rush held back rookie Justin Herbert from having another solid effort under center.

 

23. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 20

 

There are a lot of disappointing teams in the league but it might be hard to top the Vikings given how bad they've looked for stretches in every single game. The defense remains a huge liability and might be the more pressing issue for Mike Zimmer to fix if he's holding any hope for a wild-card berth.

 

24. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 29

 

It's like Ryan Fitzpatrick kept hearing all that Tua talk and decided to channel a bit of that magic form to deliver a win out of nowhere.

 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 22

 

Minshew Mania came back down to earth on Thursday night and it came in a similar spot to where did a few times last year. Consistency is always going to be key for this team as the Jags try to keep proving people wrong.

 

26. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 23

 

What can you say at this point? Given all that has transpired already this season, there really is no reason to keep stringing Dan Quinn along.

 

27. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 24

 

Joe Burrow continues to impress even if the wins have not followed just yet. The offseason priorities along the offensive line are clear but the coaching staff also has to get Joe Mixon involved more down the stretch to take the heat off their rookie QB.

 

28. Washington Football Team

Last week: 27

 

The growing pains we saw from Dwayne Haskins aside, it was fellow Buckeye Chase Young who showed how critical he was to his team in a return to Ohio on Sunday. This team isn't quite ready to compete for a full 60 minutes anytime soon it appears.

 

29. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 25

 

It's now time to call a spade a spade and a bad team a bad team. Philly's only saving grace from this dreadful start to the year is that fans aren't in the stands to boo them in person and instead have to turn to talk radio in the city.

 

30. Denver Broncos

Last week: 26

 

Losing to the Bucs was expected given the injury list, which will put extra pressure to get a "W" on "Thursday Night Football" or else it could be an even rougher start to the year for the Broncos.

 

31. New York Giants

Last week: 30

 

It's one thing to lose at home to the reigning NFC champs. It's another thing to lose to the 49ers' JV team. The state of the franchise feels about as low as it's ever been lately and no amount of front office changes will alter that in the short term.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

It seems certain that it is only a matter of when, not if, Adam Gase gets the pink slip so the rest of the season regarding the Jets will have to center on if Sam Darnold is going to still be the QB of the future. Based on returns so far in 2020, that won't be the case either.


 

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 2

 

Is this the most fun team to watch in the NFL right now? No offense to the Chiefs or Kyler Murray's theatrics, but between that offense, the defensive takeaways and their special teams, the Ravens are rolling and next up is a visit from the defending Super Bowl champs.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

Getting taken to OT by a rookie isn't what the Chiefs were probably thinking about when they walked into SoFi Stadium for the first time. They at least pulled out a win as it seems like they love to dial up the level of difficulty in order to mount another comeback.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 4

 

Was that not the perfect Pete Carroll game? From finally letting (MVP favorite) Russell Wilson cook early, to a questionable short-yardage play call, to a terrific goal-line stand to win it and get an iota of revenge against Bill Belichick.

 

4. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 5

 

Back-to-back games of 40-plus points and the Pack is doing so on the ground as much as they are through the air. While many expected a bit of a regression from Green Bay given their luck last year, that hasn't shown up yet as they look like the easy division favorite.

 

5. New England Patriots

Last week: 7

 

While they lost literally in the final yard at the final second, that kind of performance might actually give credence to the team having a much higher ceiling with Cam Newton under center. The key flaw that Belichick will harp on when back in New England however is that secondary performance, with the team giving up as many TD passes to wideouts as they did all of last season.

 

6. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 10

 

The final score really doesn't indicate how in control the Rams were in their trip to the other coast. If they can stay healthy, there's little question they have the talent to make even more noise in the crowded NFC playoff picture.

 

7. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

Is it too early to panic in New Orleans? Certainly the offensive woes are the one item on everybody's mind and especially the hesitancy out of Drew Brees after he threw his first pick against the Raiders. One can't truly judge the upside with this group until Michael Thomas returns healthy but not quite the start the team wanted after Monday night.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

Tom Brady and company got a few of their issues cleaned up and it paid off with a convincing win. The defense stepped up against a bad team but the offensive explosion will be all that anybody is going to discuss the next seven days.

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 9

 

That just might have been Josh Allen's best ever game, even with all the weather-related interruptions. If you're on the coaching staff though, the fact that you got that kind of effort from the QB and still had the Dolphins sticking around all game is a bit of a red flag however.

 

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 6

 

Are they 2-0? Yes. Have they beaten up two bad teams? Yes. Do they have the pieces to still be a threat to knock off the AFC's top dogs? Yes. Still, they seemed to lose focus in the second half at times and that's something Mike Tomlin will no doubt address a number of times during practice this coming week.

 

11. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 11

 

This team just does not understand closing out wins and seem to prefer that flair for the dramatic. It may not make Mike Vrabel happy but at least the entertainment factor with the Titans is way ahead of where it was late last year.

 

12. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 14

 

The Kyler Murray MVP talk isn't going away at all, is it? Nor should it after these kinds of performances. The competition is about to start taking steps up but some pretty good signs of progress in Arizona as the team continues to look better by the week.

 

13. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 15

 

Never a doubt about that comeback, right Cowboys fans? Truly a great loss for the NFL in general to not have Jerry Jones conducting his normal postgame media scrum because it's badly needed in light of this start to the year from Dallas.

 

 

14. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 17

 

Viva Las Vegas indeed! After that shaky start on the road, the team opened their Death Star (or is it a Roomba?) of a stadium in fashion by upsetting a trendy Super Bowl pick. Derek Carr was pinpoint most of the night but the most encouraging thing might have been the run game continuing to look good despite missing a few key names up front. Given issues elsewhere in the division, might a window be opening for Gruden's guys?

 

15. Chicago Bears

Last week: 18

 

The team still needs to learn how to put teams away but a win is a win two weeks in a row. Neither of them were pretty but who thought we'd see a 2-0 squad and Mitchell Trubisky looking like he's stepping up his play for that contract extension?

 

16. Houston Texans

Last week: 13

 

Toughest draw in the first two weeks of the year anybody has probably faced in decades but predictable results for the Texans nevertheless. The puzzling decisions from Bill O'Brien seemingly every quarter make this a tough group to watch at times.

 

17. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 19

 

While we wouldn't say the run game issues are fixed but that was certainly a lot better on the ground at home. The end result? Not too much on their aging QB's plate and a much-needed victory.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 20

 

Run the ball. Play action. A simple formula that was executed well on Thursday night. Now comes the hard part: repeating it consistently against better teams. Still, some good momentum by the lake after getting run off the field in Week 1.

 

19. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 23

 

The Justin Herbert era began unexpectedly but went pretty well initially. The Chargers just failed to put away the reigning champs when they had a chance and thanks to a gassed defense allowing a big play or two down the stretch, they'll start off 1-1 instead of an excitement-inducing 2-0 in 2020.

 

20. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 16

 

Kirk Cousins posted a 15.9 quarterback rating against the Colts, which was an improvement from 0.0 he had most of the afternoon. In non-garbage time situations this year, the offense has been, well, garbage.

 

21. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 12

 

You really can't call it a Super Bowl hangover if every starter is on the IR. And to make matters worse, the team has to return to the Big Apple to play at MetLife again even after that all those issues against the Jets.

 

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 27

 

Gardner Minshew II is the QB many people thought Baker Mayfield was when he was drafted No. 1 overall. One thing is clear: there's so much fight in this group and they'll be a tough out every week no matter the talent disadvantage they're at.

 

23. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 21

 

Lol.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 30

 

The first of many backdoors for Joe Burrow and this team in 2020 on Thursday night and it was great for a national audience to get a glimpse at how much more fun this group is with their feisty rookie QB. The wins aren't there but the team looks light years ahead of schedule.

 

25. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 22

 

Pretty easy to fathom what the fans would be screaming at this team if they'd have been allowed into the Linc. Actually, don't think about that.

 

26. Denver Broncos

Last week: 24

 

Double whammy: the team drops a second game they could have won and see their young QB head to the sidelines with a shoulder injury. All the promise the Broncos had to begin 2020 seems to also have been put on the IR.

 

27. Washington Football Team

Last week: 25

 

Did the defense watch any film of Kyler Murray running around? Like, at all? Didn't seem like it at times as that once terrific front seven was sliced up on the road in another case of one step forward, two steps back in D.C.

 

28. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 26

 

Rough start to the Matt Rhule era and if there's one thing the head coach wants as part of this rebuild, it's to limit turnovers. That wasn't the case in Tampa and the lopsided result was therefore pretty expected.

 

29. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 28

 

Some nice fight out of the team in the second half and FitzMagic looked a lot better than he did last week. Still, concerns up front along the line and on defense — especially those highly priced additions — popped up yet again.

 

30. New York Giants

Last week: 29

 

On the bright side, at least the team had a shot to win it in the end. On the other end of the spectrum, there's Saquon Barkley's injury and, well, everything else for the Giants.

 

31. Detroit Lions

Last week: 31

 

We're in such a strange set of affairs in the world right now so perhaps the head coach firings won't come until as late as possible. But this miserable team looks like it is barreling towards a full house cleaning from top to bottom by the time the offseason rolls around.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

Alabama offensive analyst Adam Gase is definitely going on a business card in the near future.



 

Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

It’s not just that the Chiefs picked up right where they left off last year — it’s that they looked scarier. The addition of Clyde Edwards-Helaire appears to be as impactful as expected and the defense continued to show they’re not the Achilles heel it was this time a year ago. There will be tougher tests ahead but the reigning champs are showing no signs of slowing down.

 

2. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 3

 

There were a few points on Sunday where it looked like the Ravens were just toying with their AFC North rivals, really not needing to do much to run away with a win. Rookie J.K. Dobbins appears to be another dangerous weapon in the backfield and MVP Lamar Jackson seems even more comfortable in the pocket throwing the ball.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 2

 

The final score was not indicative of the fact that there were some season-opening struggles for the Saints on offense. Some of that is due to facing off against a good defense from a division rival but Sean Payton will be looking to fix some issues on third down and in the red zone. This is still the most complete team in the NFC right now but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 5

 

Russell Wilson playing nearly flawlessly and the run game looking efficient is a recipe for lots of success, especially after a certain division rival fell later in the day. Pete Carroll’s D also seemed to showcase their shiny new addition Jamal Adams frequently in clamping down on an opponent throwing a ton of first-round picks onto the field.

 

5. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 13

 

Well, the Aaron Rodgers middle finger campaign to the front office for drafting his successor got off to a hot start. Perhaps that 13-3 mark was less of a fluke than most thought it was for Matt LaFleur’s crew.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 7

 

Welcome back Big Ben. A little concerning to see him come up limping after the first five snaps but turns out that may have been for show after a pretty solid return to action. Still plenty of things Mike Tomlin will want to nitpick when they get back to Pittsburgh but still a fairly easy win after not having many of those recently.

 

7. New England Patriots

Last week: 15

 

Bill 1, Tom 0. Turns out giving the best head coach in NFL history a former MVP for peanuts might be an issue for the rest of the league.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

Not the kind of start many envisioned for the Tompa Bay era but it wasn’t awful either. The offensive line issues identified as a weakness showed up right away in terms of allowing pressure on the QB and not clearing the way in the run game. The defense played better than the stats indicated but the offensive brain trust seemed rusty in New Orleans.

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 10

 

Pretty ho-hum win over the Jets that featured the full Josh Allen experience. The team took their foot off the gas a bit after halftime, which is something Sean McDermott will certainly hope to correct going into that trip to Miami.

 

10. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 16

 

As long as this team can stay healthy, we know they have the top-end talent to make a playoff run. The creativity and execution were a tad lacking on Sunday night but a win is a win in that brand-new palace of theirs.

 

11. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 9

 

That will forever be known as the Stephen Gostkowski game and it will never be spoken of again around Nashville.

 

12. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 12

 

A Super Bowl hangover was expected but maybe not this quickly. Jimmy G. and company did not seem sharp at all and now the already-tight division race sees them behind the eight-ball right away. Kyle Shanahan is smart enough to get things back on track but the mounting injury list will pose a problem.

 

13. Houston Texans

Last week: 14

 

The combination of losing in the NFL opener like that and DeAndre Hopkins posting huge numbers in an upset win on Sunday sure made it a miserable Week 1 for Bill O’Brien. No rest either with the league MVP on deck.

 

14. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 22

 

The Kyler Murray Show remains the single biggest attraction in the NFL during the late windows the team often plays in and that DeAndre Hopkins addition continues to look like a highway robbery of the highest order after just one week. This was a trendy worst-to-first group prior to kickoff and the Cards made a loud statement confirming such status.

 

15. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 4

 

Cowboys fans had to be wondering if Jason Garrett had somehow used a mask to hide the fact that he was calling the shots on the sidelines for that game against the Rams. The complaints over the controversial OPI call are warranted but the bigger issue was bypassing the game-tying field goal earlier as Mike McCarthy’s tenure gets off to a bad start.

 

16. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 6

 

Many in the Twin Cities will concentrate on the defensive issues after getting run off the field by the Packers (and there were many) but the absence of Kirk Cousins’ crew for three quarters could hamper this team more in the long run. Bottom line, there’s a lot to tweak if the team wants to truly get back into the thick of the NFC race.

 

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 21

 

It’s still a bit strange to see LAS in the box score instead of OAK but a good start in the team’s first game repping Sin City. The offensive game plan worked to perfection with the heavy dose of Josh Jacobs but the other side of the ball still has things to fix as the talent level increases in the coming weeks.

 

18. Chicago Bears

Last week: 23

 

There were A LOT of social media posts deleted before the fourth quarter about QB Mitchell Trubisky. The jury remains out on this team overall this year but those kinds of comebacks can help lead to big things moving forward.

 

19. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 11

 

You can take Philip Rivers out of the Chargers but you cannot take Philip Rivers out of Philip Rivers. The gunslinger will get a lot of the attention due to the turnovers but the lack of a run game and Marlon Mack’s injury is a way bigger concern for the team than anything that happened in Duval. It’s hard to never punt and put up 445 yards but still lose to a team tanking.

 

20. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 18

 

New year. New coaching staff. Same old Browns. Yes, it was against one of the two best teams in the league but the lack of production from all those talented players reinforced why this is the greatest tease in the league every August.

 

21. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 19

 

Yes, they were playing a top NFC contender but those defensive issues from a year ago don’t seem any closer to being corrected despite some talk out of Atlanta this offseason. On the other hand, playing in a bunch of shootouts every week at least makes things a lot more fun for the rest of 2020.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 17

 

Carson Wentz gets the attention but that might be a conversation for another day after that woeful performance out of his banged-up offensive line. This team just hasn’t been all on the same page since they hoisted the Lombardi.

 

23. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 24

 

You know 2020 is bizarre when the Chargers are on the right side of a kicking snafu that costs somebody a game. A disjointed effort overall but a win is a win (and it should count extra in those gorgeous uniforms).

 

24. Denver Broncos

Last week: 20

 

What an awful loss despite being gifted some miraculous field goal luck the other way. Some early struggles probably are to be expected given the late loss of Von Miller and the fact that the offense is just so young and inexperienced but that could have been a key moment against a playoff team yet will go down as a loss all the same.

 

25. Washington Football Team

Last week: 30

 

Riverboat Ron and Dwayne Haskins helped put a ton of headlines behind them after an offseason that seemingly lasted forever. That defensive line was as advertised too but we’re going to need a lot more out of this group to truly get a read on if it’s a new era in D.C. on the field.

 

26. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 31

 

Matt Rhule’s debut did not result in a win but, considering the state of the roster, it was actually a pretty encouraging performance. If the team can make progress as the year goes on, the NFC South will live up to the billing as the toughest division in the league.

 

27. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 32

 

This team, and especially Gardner Minshew, apparently didn’t get the memo they were Tanking for Trevor (Lawrence). There are still some long-term concerns but an encouraging start in the lone game with some actual fan support in the house.

 

28. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 25

 

The calls for Tua have already begun after that stinker from the offense vs. the Patriots. They’re likely to keep growing as we’re reminded that the rebuild still needs some time to come together in South Florida.

 

29. New York Giants

Last week: 28

 

Veteran NFC East observes saw Jason Garrett's fingerprints all over that offensive performance. Sadly that's not a great thing for the Giants, who managed just 29 rushing yards — mostly by their quarterback.

 

30. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 29

 

Pretty good effort from Joe Burrow in his debut even if it was spoiled at the end by the kicking game. Still, they showed the Bengals were leaps and bounds better than they were at this point last season in several areas.

 

31. Detroit Lions

Last week: 27

 

There are losses in the NFL... and there are LOSSES. Not hard to figure out which the Lions regularly put up.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 26

 

Adam Gase wasn't the favorite to be the first head coach fired but after Week 1... he just might be. Sam Darnold stepped up to take some of the blame after the game but he does not deserve the lion’s share.


 

 

Pre-Week 1 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Few fan bases were rewarded after they won the Lombardi Trophy quite like Kansas City's after a busy offseason brought good news at seemingly every turn. The group remains loaded once again and even with guys like running back Damien Williams opting out that could wind up helping fuel Andy Reid's creativity given more reps for dynamic rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Getting the No. 1 seed has never been more important and you could wind up seeing KC give their all every single week as a result in 2020.

 

2. New Orleans Saints

Alvin Kamara's situation is worth monitoring but few teams are as all-in for a Super Bowl run as the Saints are. Health is always going to play a factor of course but the roster is deep and talented, the messaging from the top on down is clear and there's going to be a bit of extra hunger after the way they've exited the postseason in recent years. The NFC is there for the taking and few are as complete an option as there is in New Orleans.

 

3. Baltimore Ravens

Releasing Earl Thomas may not hurt as much as his big name suggests, both as a result of much-improved defensive depth and the simple fact that the offense should be just as dangerous as ever. Even if they don't take the league by storm like they did a year ago, Lamar Jackson continues to improve his all-around game and offensive coordinator Greg Roman is going to be on a mission to prove a lot of folks they missed out on hiring him last offseason.

 

4. Dallas Cowboys

No way having the 'Boys this high will back fire, right? No team may have benefitted from a coaching change (even in the middle of a workout-limited pandemic) than Dallas did going from Jason Garrett to Mike McCarthy. One of the league's best offenses got better just from that and then it adds CeeDee Lamb to the mix to boot. The defense has worried some in the Metroplex but this unit actually seems pretty solid in the front seven and just needs to be average at best on the back end to put a big run together this year.

 

5. Seattle Seahawks

The Jamal Adams trade told us all we needed to about this team going all-in for 2020. The lack of Jadeveon Clowney is worth monitoring but Pete Carroll has typically figured things out with his front seven even if it takes a few games. Going all in might also be key in the team giving into past instincts and simply let Russell Wilson cook for four quarters instead of just when they're trailing in the second half.

 

6. Minnesota Vikings

The rebuilt secondary is the thing to keep an eye on early but it kind of feels like things have come together on the other side of the ball this season. As good as Stefon Diggs was at times, he might not be missed with Justin Jefferson in the fold. New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak running the show suits Kirk Cousins and may finally get this team to where it wants to be.

 

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

Obviously a lot rides on the health of Ben Roethlisberger but even average play from their starting signal-caller can elevate a pretty talented roster within striking range of the Ravens in the AFC North. Mike Tomlin did one of his better coaching jobs down the stretch last season and will hope to carry over that momentum with other key guys back in the lineup.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

All reports out of the franchise have been overwhelmingly positive about Tom Brady and that the playmakers around him are elevating their games as a result — even previously disappointing players like O.J. Howard. As much as the offense has hogged the spotlight though, the defense could be the real difference-maker for this group as they aim to take the next step amid the hoopla.

 

9. Tennessee Titans

There's a lot to be said in the days of COVID-19 about a team knowing its identity and understanding what they need to do no matter who is in the lineup. Mike Vrabel has established that in Nashville and now comes the hard part of no longer being a surprise and instead being viewed as a threat.

 

10. Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen. That's it. That's all you need to know about the Bills this season. If he continues to show progress, then winning the AFC East is there for the taking in ways it hasn't been for two decades. If he stays about where he's been, there's still enough talent and a good enough coaching staff to get to the playoffs. But if things start to slip, a roll down the standings could happen quickly in upstate New York.

 

11. Indianapolis Colts

This will be one of the better offensive lines Philip Rivers has ever played behind so it makes sense that he can cut down on turnovers and learns to do more with less inside of Frank Reich's offense. If the QB can resist those game-changing mistakes then this could be a surprisingly stout defensive team that loves to pair that with running the ball. While they might not be Super Bowl-caliber given some of their fellow AFC teams involved, winning the division isn't too much to ask.

 

12. San Francisco 49ers

This might be a surprising spot to find the reigning NFC champs but when you combine the awful injury luck they've had recently with the general Super Bowl hangover that losing teams have experienced, then it makes more sense. Mix in an even more difficult divisional road and we may see how thin that line is between good and great is in the NFL represented by the 49ers.

 

13. Green Bay Packers

There's got to be a certain amount of 'screw you' attitude that can lead Aaron Rodgers to one of his best years under center but as was mentioned quite a bit around the draft, there's not a whole lot of roster improvement that happened this offseason. It's doubtful they can be as lucky as they were in 2019 either so taking a half-step back despite more stellar play from their illustrious QB might be the play around Lambeau.

 

14. Houston Texans

The season may well come down to: can Deshaun Watson stay healthy? That has been the case for seemingly years in Houston but maybe never more so than with this group after the tumultuous offseason. There are still plenty of high-end starters that can help win the division but the competition isn't backing down anytime soon.

 

15. New England Patriots

The most intriguing team in the league? There are few that will garner the interest this group will given a different MVP under center, a ton of opt-outs and the general feeling around the Pats to begin every September. A lot is being placed on the shoulders of Bill Belichick to navigate, well, *everything* but if anybody can do it, it's him.

 

16. Los Angeles Rams

The narrative surrounding this group last year did not line up with their actual record, which has clouded their future somewhat this season. They still have the best defender in the league in Aaron Donald and tons of quality pieces for offensive savant Sean McVay to work with. Plus there's an increased energy around this group that might not have been present in the Super Bowl hangover of 2019. Will it be enough to reach the postseason?

 

17. Philadelphia Eagles

This team used to have one of the best rosters in the league but that may no longer be the case as depth is looking perilously thin. It's not just some of the camp injuries taking hold but the fact that there are a lot of new faces that may have to play key roles as the season rolls on. There are still quality front-line starters and Carson Wentz has a chance to return to MVP form but holding up over 17 weeks might be a little tougher this year.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

A new coaching staff is probably the greatest reason for optimism but more important may be the work the front office did in filling holes up front along the offensive line. The talent is certainly there on this roster but putting it all together and seeing a leap out of Baker Mayfield remains the tall task the Browns hope to move past.

 

19. Atlanta Falcons

There are first-round picks at nearly every position on offense but the real Achilles heel for the Falcons will once again be there defense. The late-season momentum was nice enough to save Dan Quinn's job but he's still on the hot seat and will have plenty of pressure to make a statement early in the campaign with this team.

 

20. Denver Broncos

Few teams underwent quite the transformation than the Broncos did on the offensive side. There's a lot of faith being placed in Drew Lock and with the additions in the backfield and receiving corps, that's not unwarranted. If Bradley Chubb returns healthy then Denver might move up quickly.

 

21. Las Vegas Raiders

Calling this team Las Vegas instead of Oakland is going to be strange and something everybody trips over until the calendar turns 2021. The offensive core is pretty good but the overriding issue is going to be the signal-caller. Any struggles from Derek Carr could be enough to turn the clamor up to play Marcus Mariota to a roar.

 

22. Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray as MVP? That's been the buzz this offseason based on what he flashed in his first year plus thinking about the growth he and Kliff Kingsbury can have after (needless to say limited) another offseason together. There's no question the talent level is better with guys like DeAndre Hopkins and Isaiah Simmons in the fold but the tough divisional race might hamper too much progress this year.

 

23. Chicago Bears

Will we see a return to an elite defense in 2020 or not? The talent is certainly there in the front seven. The larger question centers on the quarterback position — as it has seemingly since the dawn of time in the Windy City.

 

24. Los Angeles Chargers

"Hard Knocks" is contributing to some optimism around this team but they still have a rookie QB waiting in the wings to play and injury concerns across the roster. Add in such a competitive division and it might be tough to really show meaningful progress. At least they get to play in that grand palace of a stadium.

 

25. Miami Dolphins

Operation Tank for Tua was a success but how soon will we see the young QB take the field? It doesn't matter that much with some veterans ahead of him to handle the load so continued development of the young roster will determine this team's true ceiling as much as their floor.

 

26. New York Jets

It's a make-it or break-it campaign for QB Sam Darnold, who won't have a receiving corps that inspires confidence early in the year. His protection should be a bit better but we'll have to see how much of a difference that makes. Then there's that Jamal Adams trade to contend with and how the defense fills a rather large hole in the middle of the field.

 

27. Detroit Lions

This is becoming a trendy pick to go from worst-to-first in the NFC North largely due to the return of Matthew Stafford. While the signal-caller staying healthy undoubtedly makes the team stronger, there's still much left to be desired in terms of that defense.

 

28. New York Giants

Talk about a complete unknown for 2020, the Giants have question marks all over the board. That starts with their inexperienced first-time head coach Joe Judge all the way down to replacing a number of contributors in the starting 22. QB Daniel Jones has a lot riding on his shoulders moving forward.

 

29. Cincinnati Bengals

Zac Taylor has gotten off to a tough start to his tenure but things are at least looking up a bit with the arrival of rookie Joe Burrow. Having such a young quarterback doesn't usually work out in terms of wins but some growing pains are readily expected amid some cautious optimism. Maybe more of an issue is on defense, where a big free-agent signing will be out most of the year and the team has to break in a new defensive coordinator.

 

30. Washington Football Team

There's a pretty good set of pass rushers but plenty of uncertainty all over the rest of this roster. Dwayne Haskins will have a lot of attention on him but he does have a few weapons to work with at least. Add in everything that's been happening off the field combined with a new coaching staff trying to find their footing and it could be yet another long season in D.C. At least there will be another reason for all those empty seats at FedEx Field.

 

31. Carolina Panthers

Here's another team breaking in a number of new pieces, from head coach to offensive coordinator to quarterback. While they do have Christian McCaffrey to build around and Teddy Bridgewater has proven to be a solid starter, the roster itself is undergoing a pretty significant rebuild. This is a franchise looking much more at 2022 than winning this season.

 

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

One of their best players took a pay cut — in these times — to play elsewhere. There's a new offensive coordinator in charge and Leonard Fournette was unceremoniously cut. While Gardner Minshew has shown flashes, there's still much TBD if he's the guy long term. Add it all up and it could be a long season in Duval.

 

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

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