NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

Teddy Bridgewater is 4-0 as Drew Brees' replacement as New Orleans is tied for the second-best record in the NFC

It's often said that the NFL is a "week-to-week league" and boy did this past weekend prove it as the unexpected became the norm. While the AFC continues to be a mess behind the Patriots, the NFC races grew ever more intriguing as the losses piled up by teams we thought were locks for the postseason.

 

With all that in mind and factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest 2019 edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.

 

Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New England Patriots

NFL Power Rankings: PatriotsLast week: 1

 

Can't read too much into the state of the Pats given the competition level the past two weeks but Bill Belichick has to like that his veteran-laden team went on the road and then had a short week and handled both well thanks to big second-half performances.

 

2. New Orleans Saints

NFL Power Rankings: SaintsLast week: 2

 

Teddy Bridgewater is the more talked about story but the Saints defense continues to come up big when the team needs a pickup. Cameron Jordan has been dominant and Marshon Lattimore continues to get better by the week after a slow start to the season.

 

3. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 5

 

If you didn't believe this 49ers team was for real, you probably do now after they went down to L.A. and dominated the Rams. If you can get pressure with your front four, you're tough to beat in this league as this group is proving.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks

NFL Power Rankings: SeahawksLast week: 6

 

The margin for error has been razor-thin for the Seahawks but they're still coming out on the right side of the ledger. One thing for sure is that Russell Wilson is your MVP choice at the moment.

 

5. Green Bay Packers

NFL Power Rankings: PackersLast week: 3

 

It wasn't pretty against the Lions — and they needed a little bit of help — but their grip on the NFC North is even tighter. Aaron Rodgers made some absolutely ridiculous throws down the stretch of that game, showing why he remains one of the best of all time.

 

6. Houston Texans

NFL Power Rankings: TexansLast week: 11

 

Deshaun Watson has played himself into the MVP conversation so far this season and it certainly helps the past two weeks that he's been kept upright and not sacked five times a game. Whether the Texans can sustain things remains to be seen but this just might be the AFC's second-best team right now after that performance in Arrowhead.

 

7. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 7

 

This is a critical stretch coming up for the Colts, who can cement themselves in the AFC playoff picture over the next month. They look a lot healthier after the bye but have to take advantage of what's in front of them.

 

8. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 10

 

Reports are that Cam Newton will return to practice after the bye, which will certainly force the coaching staff's decision at quarterback. Can they really make a change after the hot hand of Kyle Allen has won four in a row?

 

9. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Power Rankings: ChiefsLast week: 4

 

You could have made a lot of money going to Vegas before the season saying the Chiefs would lose back-to-back in Arrowhead. Yes they're banged up but there are no excuses for this slow start to 2019 given the talent on the roster.

 

10. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 12

 

It's still a little early to think playoffs but with the way the AFC has opened up, the Bills are sitting pretty at 4-1 with a good defense and penchant for finding ways to win.

 

11. Minnesota Vikings

NFL Power Rankings: VikingsLast week: 15

 

To quote Kirk Cousins from yesteryear, “You like that?”

 

12. Detroit Lions

Last week: 13

 

The Lions have every right to feel like they were robbed at Lambeau given the way that game was officiated on Monday night. But make no mistake, all those early field goals instead of putting the ball in the end zone played a big role in allowing a comeback too.

 

13. Baltimore Ravens

NFL Power Rankings: RavensLast week: 14

 

Over 200 yards passing and 150 rushing, have yourself a day Lamar Jackson. The competition level is about to get turned up to 100 the next few weeks though so the QB will have to continue to look superhuman if the Ravens want to keep winning.

 

14. Oakland Raiders

NFL Power Rankings: RaidersLast week: 17

 

Don't look now, but Jon Gruden's team suddenly has the door cracked open on the AFC West that they badly needed. Their road trip continues in Green Bay and Houston when we'll really find out if these Raiders are capable of running through it.

 

15. Chicago Bears

NFL Power Rankings: BearsLast week: 18

 

We'll see if the bye week is enough to get the Bears back on track but things won't be easy the next five weeks or so.

 

16. Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Power Rankings: EaglesLast week: 8

 

The secondary is brutal, the offense isn't performing like they're capable of… and yet the division is there for the taking — starting with a win in Dallas next week.

 

17. Los Angeles Rams

NFL Power Rankings: RamsLast week: 9

 

Blame a Super Bowl hangover if you want but the Rams have structural issues on defense and along the offensive line that have essentially eliminated any advantages they had last year. Sean McVay is smart enough to get things turned around by not if Jared Goff continues to play like an undrafted rookie.

 

18. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 19

 

Minshew Mania seems to have trailed off a bit with two straight losses but the schedule lightens up the next few weeks so the Jaguars can regain their footing.

 

19. Dallas Cowboys

NFL Power Rankings: CowboysLast week: 16

 

From Super Bowl contender to hot seat, Jason Garrett sure has been through the ringer the past few weeks. Jerry Jones is patient and supportive up to a point and both have to be wearing thin after that trip to New York.

 

20. Denver Broncos

NFL Power Rankings: BroncosLast week: 24

 

Has a corner been turned in Denver? Those close losses earlier have finally become close wins. If they can knock off the Chiefs, that division suddenly looks mighty winnable.

 

21. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 23

 

Given the schedule in the second half, one can't rule out a playoff run even sitting at 2-4 with a trip to Foxborough up next. But this is a poorly coached team and things will keep spiraling if Baker Mayfield continues to criticize the refs instead of turning the blame game on himself.

 

22. New York Jets

Last week: 29

 

Sam Darnold's spleen looks like it deserves some MVP consideration this week. The team isn't the best but the quarterback sure is a difference-maker.

 

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 20

 

Performances like the one across the pond only further reinforce that Jameis Winston may be the QB now for the Bucs, but he won't be down the road. He is who he is at this point.

 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Power Rankings: SteelersLast week: 27

 

Devlin Hodges? Sure, why not. The rookie looked like a veteran and the team certainly built a good game plan for him to pull off a win in L.A. The Steelers typically don't travel west well but that stadium was Heinz West.

 

25. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 28

 

At this point, it's hard to think anybody other than Kyler Murray is rookie of the year as he continues to put up impressive numbers and exceed expectations. Kliff Kingsbury is still a little rough around the edges but there's at least enough there that Cardinals fans can start buying in.

 

26. Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Power Rankings: ChargersLast week: 21

 

Two straight games without a first-half point is quite the indictment of the coaching staff's game planning. Yes the injuries have been a huge blow but the execution of those in the lineup is just as bad.

 

27. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 22

 

Marcus Mariota was benched and you have to wonder if that was the unofficial end to his time in Nashville.

 

28. New York Giants

Last week: 26

 

Rookie QB on a short week against the best pass defense in the league ended predictably. It was good to see some early fight against the Pats to tie things up but this group just can't win a second half given their current depth.

 

29. Atlanta Falcons

NFL Power Rankings: FalconsLast week: 25

 

The question is not if, but when, the Falcons fire Dan Quinn. Sure, he isn't to blame for a kicker missing an extra point but the defense is on him for sure. This team needs to start looking at 2020 already.

 

30. Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Power Rankings: BengalsLast week: 31

 

Just when you thought the Bengals would be able to surprise a team after jumping up early with a kick return for a score, the rest of the game against Baltimore played out as expected. The Bengals aren't too far away from notching their first win of the year but they still are not a great team either way.

 

31. Washington Redskins

Last week: 30

 

No coach, no problem? Not really, as chaos continues to reign in Washington but at least the team got rid of the goose egg in the win column. Barely surviving against the Dolphins isn't an encouraging sign long-term but perhaps it will hasten the arrival of Dwayne Haskins as the regular starting QB.

 

32. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 32

 

Perfect result for the Dolphins, a little FitzMagic late in the game but a failed two-point conversion helps them "win" a tie-breaker with Washington for the No. 1 overall pick. Brian Flores was aggressive in going for the win, which is good for the locker room even if it wasn't for the front office.


 

 

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New England Patriots

Last week: 1

 

While the final score (33-7) against Washington was about as expected, the first half for the Patriots wasn’t quite as crisp as one would have hoped it would be coming off a fairly sloppy performance the week prior. The defense remains the best in the league but how long before the offense comes around to match?

 

2. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

The trust between Sean Payton and Teddy Bridgewater continues to build and you saw that reflected in a game plan that took a lot more shots downfield. There was the hope that the backup would be able to keep the team afloat while Drew Brees rehabs but he’s done more than that, he’s gotten the Saints playing like the best in the loaded NFC.

 

3. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 5

 

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half against Dallas and nearly paid for it but there were finally signs of the offense starting to click under Matt LaFleur. Aaron Jones had his moment in the sun and it might not be the last the next few weeks either.

 

4. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

The injuries were a big factor in that downright shocking loss to Indianapolis but the lack of urgency the team had in the Sunday night game was also a bit eye-opening if you’re Andy Reid. The Chiefs will be fine long-term but games like that are a good reminder why the road in the AFC goes through Foxborough and not Arrowhead right now.

 

5. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 6

 

Impressive showing off the bye on Monday night to dominate the Browns at home. That was by far the sharpest the 49ers have looked the season and an encouraging sign that this hot start is not just a product of the competition level.

 

6. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 9

 

Did Pete Carroll get lucky to escape Thursday night with a win? You bet. But a win is a win and the Seahawks appear to be ahead of schedule with a manageable stretch between here and December to make a run at the division title.

 

7. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 14

 

Not much more you can do than tip your hat to Frank Reich, who might just be one of the best coaches in the game right now. Those that thought this team would tank after Andrew Luck’s retirement are probably busy deleting social media posts the rest of this week.

 

8. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 10

 

We’ll see if the defense can play like that (pick-six, the fumbles, all the sacks) when the competition has a pulse but that was an encouraging sign on that side of the ball against the Jets. At some point though, when does Carson Wentz's lackluster passing numbers the past three weeks become more of a red flag? He’s not throwing interceptions but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

 

9. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 7

 

The Rams can’t be happy to take that loss in Seattle off a missed field goal, given how tight the playoff races will be in the NFC and their own division. Still, there were some encouraging signs on offense that the Super Bowl hangover is finally wearing off.

 

10. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 21

 

As it should, the Christian McCaffrey MVP race is starting to pick up steam but the real looming storyline is what happens when Cam Newton is healthy? Kyle Allen is 3-0 as the starter this season and has a chance to keep adding to that resume as the team tries to keep pace with the Saints in the division.

 

11. Houston Texans

Last week: 12

 

You just know there were a few folks out there with Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller both sitting on their fantasy bench, just screaming at the TV every time the pair hooked up in torching that Falcons defense.

 

12. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 15

 

There’s winning and there’s winning ugly. The Bills certainly do the latter but it’s hard to argue with them sitting at 4-1 on the season thanks in part to Sean McDermott’s stout defense.

 

13. Detroit Lions

Last week: 16

 

The early bye can be good for some teams and bad for others. We’ll find out how Matt Patricia handles it but it does seem like this is a team that can take a step toward an elusive playoff berth in 2019.

 

14. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 13

 

Going on the road and winning games in the AFC North is nothing to overlook but you have to wonder if we’re going to see the Ravens start to turn it on like they did earlier this season or if these closer than they need to be wins will be more of the norm. One thing is for sure, the competition level is going to jump up severalfold after that game against the Bengals.

 

15. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 18

 

The off-field drama still seems like the bigger storyline in the Twin Cities but wins like that over the Giants no doubt help smooth things over in the locker room. It’s still unclear if the Vikings can rise up and challenge in the division but they’ve got the talent to.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 4

 

Dallas talk radio was given quite the gift this week in that loss to the Packers, which will surely serve as a referendum for Jason Garrett once again. The team hasn’t played well the past two weeks and seems to be unsure of things offensively. Whether that’s the league figuring out OC Kellen Moore or just this team playing the NFC’s two best teams remains to be seen.

 

17. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 23

 

That trip across the pond was not only a productive one for the Raiders, it had to be extra sweet in getting a little measure of revenge by beating Khalil Mack after getting endlessly ripped for trading him. Josh Jacobs, who was taken with one of those first-round picks the Bears handed over, really drove the point home in London.

 

18. Chicago Bears

Last week: 8

 

The bye week comes at a good time as the once fearsome defense seemed to lose their tenacity when Akiem Hicks went out of the lineup. Maybe you can blame jetlag for that performance but things could get out of hand quickly if they keep playing like that.

 

19. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 19

 

Gardner Minshew has been the story around Duval most of the season but giving up 285 rushing yards and allowing Christian McCaffrey to look like Superman is a bit more pressing for Doug Marrone to fix at the moment.

 

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 20

 

All things considered, a split of two games at the Rams and Saints is probably the best-case scenario for the Bucs even if the latter was more painful for their division hopes.

 

21. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 17

 

Yes, there have been injuries but that’s doesn’t explain how this still talented team keeps losing focus during games and making mistakes they shouldn’t. L.A. is lucky the AFC is still so fluid and open right now and losses to the lowly Broncos don’t completely hurt your choices.

 

22. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 23

The Bills have proven to be a tough opponent but being 0-2 at home in a pair of very winnable games is probably a sign that a reboot is coming in Nashville sooner rather than later. Can’t blame it all on Cairo Santos either.

 

23. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 11

 

Drops. Penalties. Turnovers. The Browns have the talent, but between the questionable coaching and penchant for shooting themselves in the foot, a season of promise is quickly going off the rails.

 

24. Denver Broncos

Last week: 27

 

Vic Fangio finally gets win No. 1 and it might just be enough to hold off some of the vultures looking at the roster hoping to pick it apart following a number of trade rumors prior to that trip to L.A.

 

25. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 26

 

At this point, Dan Quinn will have a pink slip coming soon but the larger question for owner Arthur Blank is who else in the organization deserves one too if blowouts like that keep happening.

 

26. New York Giants

Last week: 24

 

A day like that against the Vikings is just going to happen to young QBs like Daniel Jones but it will be big for his future — and the team’s — seeing how he’ll bounce back on a short week against an even better defense on Thursday.

 

27. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 25

 

Perhaps the scariest moment of the season happened when Mason Rudolph got hit and blacked out. While it was great to see him eventually get up and say he’s good, that’s doesn’t seem to be the case with either the quarterback or the team itself.

 

28. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 31

 

Kyler Murray has his moments when he throws a bad pass like a rookie quarterback but by and large, it’s been impressive to see just how much he looks like a 10-year veteran on the field. Congrats to him and Kliff Kingsbury on win No. 1 together.

 

29. New York Jets

Last week: 29

 

The week began with overzealous discussions over spleens and ended with many Jets fans wondering if the bottom has truly been reached.

 

30. Washington Redskins

Last week: 31

 

Jay Gruden might be the happiest man in Washington after being let go from this train wreck of a franchise. While he is bound to land on his feet in the future, the same can’t be said for his ex-team as a whole.

 

31. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 28

 

It does not seem like there’s progress being made on offense, which was supposed to be what Zac Taylor was brought in to fix. The return of A.J. Green should help but this is a bad, bad team on both sides of the ball.

 

32. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 32

 

Undefeated in Week 5! That’s cause for celebration on South Beach. Given the state of disarray in their next opponent, there’s even a fleeting chance at a win next week despite the harm that would cause to their tanking hopes.

 


 

Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New England Patriots

Last week: 1

 

The fretting about the offense and Tom Brady playing like his age is going to be a running theme for the next few weeks until everything starts to click. That's not a huge deal considering how well this defense is playing right now but is something to file away when it comes time to play some of the AFC's best.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

The Chiefs tried to do everything they could to give the game to the Lions with all those fumbles but if that gets cleaned up, the team will be fine given that winning on the road should never be taken for granted in this league.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 9

Even though Teddy Bridgewater hasn't played well, you would have to think that Sean Payton is the early front-runner for Coach of the Year with what he's done for the backup and the Saints as a whole the past two weeks. The defense dominated in the trenches and took away everything Dallas tried to do, proving this is still a contender in the NFC.

 

4. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 3

 

It's not time for alarm bells to go off en masse after dropping a game at the Superdome but the Cowboys know they have to be better at running the football and using play-action than they were on Sunday night.

 

5. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 5

Something says that will be the last time we see Aaron Rodgers throw for 400-plus yards and still take the loss. The offense still isn't crisp under new head coach Matt LaFleur, which is a concern given the upcoming slate but something that does seem fixable inside and away from Lambeau.

 

6. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 8

The level of competition has not been great and the 49ers have had their own issues to deal with… but they're still the last undefeated team in the NFC. That's a productive bye week.

 

7. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 4

 

Jared Goff is a mess. Todd Gurley can't run the ball. The defense just gave up 55 points. That's a Super Bowl hangover if there ever was one. It's not time to freak out yet if you're in Los Angeles but it does put a lot of pressure on Sean McVay to figure out some answers.

 

8. Chicago Bears

Last week: 13

 

It's not often that your starting quarterback is injured and it might actually help on offense but that's where the Bears are. Chase Daniel can certainly win this team some games in the short term if he takes care of the ball because that defense is legit.

 

9. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 10

 

This team still doesn't establish the run like Pete Carroll would like but you're starting to see the defense improve with each passing week. Russell Wilson will cover up a lot of flaws either way but a huge game looms on Thursday night.

 

10. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 16

 

Inspired effort on a short week at Lambeau, as the Eagles came up with an answer nearly every time. That was a must-win given the way the season started but those injuries and defensive lapses will need some monitoring.

 

11. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 18

 

You kind of figured that this team was ready to break out after a week of hearing about all their issues. We'll see if they can keep it up but a good win to get the Browns pointed in the right direction.

 

12. Houston Texans

Last week: 7

 

Deshaun Watson was supposed to be protected better after the Laremy Tunsil trade but he's still running for his life. Ownership placed a lot of faith in Bill O'Brien to win games but that hasn't translated into more consistent play on the field.

 

13. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 6

Lamar Jackson has made progress as the offense continues to be tailored to what he does best but the defense getting worse each week of the season is holding this team back from being much higher on this list.

 

14. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 12

 

Luckily the rest of the division is just as middling right now but that was a real lost opportunity at home against an Oakland team that has been straight-up living on the road. It's probably tough to overcome the loss of T.Y. Hilton and Darius Leonard at the same time given how thin the margin is with this group though.

 

15. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 14

 

A home loss is always tough when you're likely battling for a wild-card berth come December but the Bills had to secretly be happy that they made things close against the defending champs from start to finish. The health of Josh Allen will be a big factor in this group continuing to excel.

 

16. Detroit Lions

Last week: 15

 

Few teams snatch a defeat out of the jaws of victory quite like the Lions, though Patrick Mahomes certainly played a role on Sunday. Still, if Detroit takes care of the ball in the red zone (or even closed things out against Arizona earlier this year), they might be talked about as the team to beat in the NFC North.

 

17. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 17

 

Probably can't learn much about this team playing Miami but we'll see what becomes of the offense with Melvin Gordon fully back in the fold. He's unlikely to improve the woeful offensive line but it's hard to argue with adding a player of his caliber.

 

18. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 11

 

The Vikings have a roster that should be contending for the NFC crown but as we have discovered their uneven — and highly paid — quarterback play is holding them back, especially on the road. That's not a great sign given the slate upcoming.

 

19. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 19

 

As soon as Denver scored late, all of Duval had to be confident in the fact that they simply left too much time on the clock. At this point, there really is a big decision looming when Nick Foles is healthy because Minshew Mania is very real.

 

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 24

 

That victory at the Rams after flying across the country might be one of Jameis Winston's best wins of his career. That game against the Giants continues to be even more of a head-scratcher after the result in the Coliseum.

 

21. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 21

 

It's going to be a very fun exercise around Carolina during the coming week to ponder what this team's record would be if Kyle Allen had been starting while Cam Newton got fully healthy.

 

22. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 23

 

It's no secret that if the Titans can run the ball, they have a chance. If they can run the ball and allow Marcus Mariota time to throw, this is one of the tougher teams in the league, as Atlanta found out in a big way. We'll see if they can keep this up and take advantage of the upcoming schedule and some injury luck the next two weeks.

 

23. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 22

 

The month-long exodus for the Raiders from Oakland has them sitting about right at .500 on the year. The talk of the NFL has been Vontaze Burfict but beyond the controversial linebacker, there's a potentially season-defining stretch with these next three games.

 

24. New York Giants

Last week: 26

 

Danny Dimes looked pretty good again in his first home start but the real development for the Giants was the defense actually showed up to play. We'll see if they can keep that up against somebody better than Washington going forward but hope springs eternal in the Big Apple.

 

25. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 25

 

Nice romp over the Bengals to get the first win of the season but the defense stringing together two solid games in a row has to be what Mike Tomlin is enjoying. The Ravens await however and that's a much stiffer challenge in the division.

 

26. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 20

 

The Falcons were beat up by the Titans at home and now the pressure is really on Dan Quinn, who might have the hottest seat in the league of anybody outside the nation's capital.

 

27. Denver Broncos

Last week: 27

 

The Broncos finally got a sack for the first time in the season... only to learn later that Bradley Chubb was lost for the year. Joe Flacco hasn't been great but has led two late go-ahead drives that were later spoiled by defensive lapses. Vic Fangio isn't on the hot seat by any means but the start to his tenure hasn't gone as expected.

 

28. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 28

 

The Bengals offense isn't quite as awful as it looked on Monday night but it will be difficult to win ball games if they can't run the football going forward. Perhaps that issue will be fixed in the coming weeks but it will be key for Zac Taylor getting his first win as a head coach.

 

29. New York Jets

Last week: 29

 

Sam Darnold still isn't cleared for the team's upcoming game and everywhere you look this team is a mess. The schedule is doing them no favors either as the promise of the playoffs has quickly given way to the promise of draft picks.

 

30. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 30

 

The Air Raid offense that was supposed to take the NFL by storm sure seems like it's been stuck in neutral ever since that second-half run in the opener. Kyler Murray and Larry Fitzgerald continue to make plays but the woeful offensive line and defense will make it a real challenge to get a win or two this season.

 

31. Washington Redskins

Last week: 31

 

After firm insistence from the top that he wouldn't play, it sure didn't take long in that lowly loss to the Giants for the Redskins to pull the plug on Case Keenum and insert rookie Dwayne Haskins. The former Buckeye looked like he hadn't practiced at all, which was not only probably true but a further indication that Jay Gruden is the odds-on favorite to be the first head coach fired.

 

32. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 32

 

There was a little competitive fire from the Dolphins early on in their loss to the Chargers but that might be best explained by a West Coast team playing an early game on the East Coast. At some point, the talk about Miami will be less focused on the NFL draft or tanking and the simple fact that the 2008 Lions are getting a run for their money.


 

 

Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New England Patriots

Last week: 1

 

Another easy win for the Patriots, which continue to sport Bill Belichick’s best defense in years and an offense that can beat you in so many ways. Still, the boss can’t be happy about the sloppy special teams play and mounting list of key injuries.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

It wasn’t the margin some were hoping for in KC but a very successful home opener for the Chiefs against one of the AFC’s better teams in Baltimore. At this point, one has to wonder what records Patrick Mahomes won’t set going forward.

 

3. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 4

 

Not much to say about an easy home win over the lowly Dolphins but it’s hard to find a quarterback in the NFC playing better than Dak Prescott is to start the season.

 

4. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 3

 

A win on the road against a division contender is nothing to discount but the Rams still aren’t clicking like they were last season to open 2019. The defense does look improved but Jared Goff simply has to play better on the road.

 

5. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 6

 

Aaron Rodgers looked like the QB of old early in that game against the Vikings before slowly coming back down to Earth. It’s worth monitoring given the coaching change but you won’t find many cheeseheads too upset with a pair of big division wins to open the year.

 

6. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 5

 

You had to like John Harbaugh’s aggressiveness on the road in a hostile environment and for Lamar Jackson’s ability to keep plugging away in the second half. Something says that might not be the team’s last trip to Arrowhead this season.

 

7. Houston Texans

Last week: 9

 

Deshaun Watson throwing for 351 yards and getting the win against that Chargers pass rush despite starting two rookies on the offensive line is a testament to the young signal-caller.

 

8. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 10

 

3-0 is 3-0 but that is an awfully thin line for the 49ers to be on given the way they played against an overmatched Steelers squad. The turnovers have to be fixed if the team truly wants to contend for the NFC West title and make the playoffs.

 

9. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 15

 

You just knew that Sean Payton would have Teddy Bridgewater ready to go but it was every other phase where the Saints really surprised up in Seattle. Given the state of the division, a playoff bid is certainly there for the taking in Drew Brees’ absence if the Saints keep this up.

 

10. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 7

 

It was probably a bad omen when Pete Carroll got hit in the face with a football before the game and needed stitches. Losses like that — at home with a team starting a backup for the first time — could come back to haunt the Hawks down the road.

 

11. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 14

 

Well, it seems Mike Zimmer is getting to run the ball like he always wanted thanks to a healthy Dalvin Cook. Can’t tell a ton from that victory over Oakland but the Vikings are certainly taking care of business at home.

 

12. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 16

 

The coaching staff can’t be happy at the lackluster finish even if Jacoby Brissett looked good to start in that win over the Falcons. While it won’t happen next week, we’ll find out in October just how good these Colts really are but so far, so good.

 

13. Chicago Bears

Last week: 17

 

Still a lot to clean up after that Monday night win but progress did seem like it was being made on the offensive end. Things don’t get any easier with a brutal stretch coming up before and after the bye.

 

14. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 18

 

The line between 3-0 and 0-3 is pretty thin with the Bills but credit to this crew for being one of the most resilient teams in the league so far.

 

15. Detroit Lions

Last week: 25

 

The Lions have done their best to Lions up all three of their games so far in 2019 but surprisingly haven’t lost. That was a big-time road win against the Eagles and while they may not be the most talented team in the division, that defense at least gives them a chance.

 

16. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 8

 

The injuries continue to pile up at just about every position as one of the best rosters in the league has turned into the most banged up. It’s not time for the alarm bells to sound off yet but it is concerning if you’re an Eagles fan.

 

17. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 13

 

The offensive line is a mess and Philip Rivers is paying for it as the lack of defensive depth is starting to show up in the second half of games already this season.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 12

 

Offensive line issues are no surprise but can we really be shocked by all the penalties from one of the least disciplined teams in the league? That’s a reflection on the inexperienced head coach, who rightfully got thrown under the bus for running a draw on 4th-and-long.

 

19. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 22

 

The Jalen Ramsey situation will continue to hover over the franchise but given the way Gardner Minshew is playing on the other side of the ball, does that really matter that much?

 

20. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 11

 

That win over the Eagles is looking more and more like a one-off. The really rough news is that the Falcons have played awful on the road and done so in the friendly confines of domes to boot.

 

21. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 21

 

After that romp in Arizona, it’s time for the franchise to do the right thing and keep Cam Newton out until he is truly healthy and ready to go. Things will be much harder despite Kyle Allen’s solid play but there’s at least some hope it won’t be all that bad in the interim.

 

22. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 19

 

You would think it can’t get any worse but then you’re reminded that the Raiders don’t play in Oakland until November. So maybe it can as there are only a handful of players left to knock on wood anymore.

 

23. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 20

 

The Titans are now 0-2 in the division alone and the offensive line issues were on full display Thursday night against the Jags. While some of that is on Marcus Mariota, the structural issues in Tennessee are also pretty apparent.

 

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 23

 

There is no excuse — none — for losing like the Bucs did. Blame it on the kicker if you want but that was a collapse at home against a team with a rookie QB. One step forward, two steps back in Tampa.

 

25. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 24

 

It’s not often you’re plus-three (+3) in the turnover battle and you still lose. Mason Rudolph has to play better but did show a few flashes down the stretch to make Steelers fans think the team can at least get out of this awful 0-3 hole.

 

26. New York Giants

Last week: 31

 

Danny Dimes! Now that is how you make your first start in the NFL. As incredible a comeback as it was in Tampa, the Daniel Jones era getting underway is even more about giving Giants fans some hope that things will get better soon.

 

27. Denver Broncos

Last week: 26

 

Say what you want about the questionable offense with Joe Flacco but the most disappointing thing about the start of the Vic Fangio era has been the lack of pressure on the QB defensively. They may have drafted Drew Lock in the spring but maybe John Elway is keeping an eye on Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa just in case.

 

28. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 27

 

Andy Dalton nearly pulled out a rally late but once again that iffy defense proved to be the Achilles heel for a Bengals squad that just doesn’t have the talent to win on the road.

 

29. New York Jets

Last week: 28

 

It almost felt like a moral victory that the Jets covered the spread against the Patriots, which says plenty about the state of things in New York right now.

 

30. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 29

 

Any signs of progress that were being made by Kliff Kingsbury seemed to come to a halt in that game against the Panthers.


31. Washington Redskins

Last week: 30

 

Jay Gruden doesn’t want to make a change at quarterback yet and maybe that is indeed a wise move given the state of the offense. But something says a coaching change will be made first before the move to Dwayne Haskins.

 

32. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 32

 

Oregon’s Justin Herbert has 14 touchdowns with zero interceptions. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa has 17 touchdowns with zero picks. Just throwing those numbers out there for the few Dolphins fans who weren’t refreshing the stats page every Sunday instead of watching their team.

 

 

 

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings
 

1. New England Patriots

Last week: 1

 

After the expected romp in Miami, all the attention in New England turns to events off the field as the Antonio Brown saga continues to advance. That’s not what Bill Belichick wants to focus on naturally but the drama sure isn’t there between the lines for the defending champs.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

It’s still so early in his career but one might be better off pondering which passing records Patrick Mahomes won’t break down the road. The MVP looks primed to defend his title after those kinds of outbursts as he had in the second quarter against the Raiders.

 

3. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 3

 

The Rams certainly took advantage of some officiating mistakes and Drew Brees’ injury in their rematch with the Saints but beating two solid teams early despite not looking super crisp is probably mission accomplished so far in LA ahead of some big tests.

 

4. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 4

 

The competition level is a low bar but everybody around the league is taking notice of what Dak Prescott is doing in Kellen Moore’s offense. Combined with a salty defense that is, so far, pretty healthy and there’s a reason the Super Bowl talk is growing louder in Big D.

 

5. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 8

 

Lamar Jackson’s MVP buzz seems like it’s only going to increase weekly the way he’s playing in this offense. The rushing yards and ability to escape pressure is one thing but the downfield passing the young QB has delivered is the real reason why this team looks like the class of the AFC North right now.

 

6. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 6

 

Aaron Rodgers looked like the QB of old early in that game against the Vikings before slowly coming back down to Earth. It’s worth monitoring given the coaching change but you won’t find many cheeseheads too upset with a pair of big division wins to open the year.

 

7. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 13

 

It was a closer score than many Seahawks fans wanted given all the Steelers’ injuries but the team is sitting pretty at 2-0 despite not clicking on either side of the ball just yet.

 

8. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 5

 

The Eagles still have one of the better rosters in the league but you saw the one glaring flaw in the secondary exploited time after time against Atlanta. Not time to panic yet but there’s plenty of work left to be done.

 

9. Houston Texans

Last week: 10

 

Deshaun Watson continues to run for his life on one side of the ball while this defense managed to get the one stop they had to have on Sunday against the Jags on the goal line. We’ve seen the Texans get off to slow starts in years past and they’re not disabusing us of that notion in 2019.

 

10. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 16

 

That’s a heck of an East Coast swing for Kyle Shanahan’s crew, as Jimmy G. looked a lot sharper in Cincinnati than he did the week prior. So far though, the 49ers defense looking as solid as it has been is reason for optimism in the Bay.

 

11. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 24

 

Impressive, impressive win at home against a trendy Super Bowl favorite. There are still a number of issues facing this team but hey, Julio Jones is still Julio Jones.

 

12. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 11

 

Beating the Jets won’t earn this group many kudos but it was still nice to see the Browns keep the foot down against a bad team. The penalty and turnover issues are still looming large, however, especially with the level of competition ratcheting up a few notches.

 

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 12

 

You knew it would be tough for the West Coast team heading east but there are no excuses for that kind of a loss to the Lions if the Chargers really do want to keep pace with Kansas City in the division.

 

14. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 9

 

Vikings fans who were excited about Kirk Cousins’ joining the team now view that contract as an albatross, especially given the quarterback’s recent play in the red zone. There’s still a lot of talent on the roster but the consistency simply hasn’t been there.

 

15. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 7

 

There’s still a chance that the team can stay afloat even with Drew Brees’ injury taking him out of the lineup for the next six weeks or so. Teddy Bridgewater will be a lot better with more practice time but it would still surprise nobody if the Saints are sitting 1-3 come October.

 

16. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 19

 

It seemed like Adam Vinatieri was going to either retire or be cut after that closer-than-it-needed-to-be win over Tennessee. Frank Reich still has faith though but the Colts have to be better in all three phases if they want to stay above board with a difficult stretch coming up.

 

17. Chicago Bears

Last week: 18

 

There was actually some talk around Chicago that Mitchell Trubisky was an MVP candidate this season. Such a notion has been thrown out the window so far this year but at least the kicking woes appear to have been figured out.

 

18. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 23

 

There’s something to be said about finding a way to win, something this Bills team has seemed to have perfected under Sean McDermott so far this season. It hasn’t always been pretty against some of their bad in-state rivals but 2-0 is 2-0.

 

19. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 20

 

Feels like a lot of teams will be coming into the Coliseum for the last time and looking to leave with some positive memories. The Chiefs certainly did as the Raiders’ revamped defense was exposed by the MVP.

 

20. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 15

 

Titans fans probably knew it was a bad sign when the pregame show included a sideline fire that was far from planned. The defense has looked solid but it seems more and more that Marcus Mariota isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback for the franchise.

 

21. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 17

 

Cam Newton just isn’t right even if he threw for more than 300 yards on Thursday night. Add in the already heavy workload for Christian McCaffrey and the bad start could snowball for Riverboat Ron.

 

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 26

 

Minshew Mania certainly is a sight to behold, which makes it all the more puzzling that Doug Marrone decided to take the ball out of his hands on the two-point conversion. Add in all the upset players on the defensive side of the ball and this is a combustible situation in Duval.

 

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 27

 

Between beating the Panthers and seeing the Saints' injury woes, few teams had a better weekend for their division hopes than the Bucs. Jameis Winston remains a work in progress with the new coaching staff but it’s still a long way to go on both sides of the ball in Tampa.

 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 14

 

Being 0-2 isn’t even the worst part of this start to 2019 in the Steel City, with the Big Ben injury news quite the gut punch after an offseason filled with hope of a return to the AFC elite. At least the team can see what they have in Mason Rudolph but now there’s not even the promise of a high first-round pick if that doesn’t work out.

 

25. Detroit Lions

Last week: 30

 

Nice bounce back for the Lions at home in a game that is still hard to make sense of against the Chargers. Thirteen points aren’t going to cut it most of the time, however.

 

26. Denver Broncos

Last week: 21

 

Vic Fangio did the right thing in going for two and still lost the game, which speaks to a bad penalty called against the Broncos down the stretch and a little bit of bad luck. While the defense has been solid as expected, we’re not sure Joe Flacco is going to be the answer in the short or long term.

 

27. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 22

 

It’s a week-to-week league and the Bengals encapsulated that perfectly, playing a good team close in one of the most difficult stadiums for a road team... only to return home and get blasted by the 49ers. The lack of defensive stars on the roster is pretty evident.

 

28. New York Jets

Last week: 25

 

Sam Darnold going out with mono makes for a fun back page storyline in New York but there are numerous issues across the board for this team. Starting 0-2 probably dampens the outlook for this team after a very hopeful offseason.

 

29. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 31

 

Kyler Murray continues to put up some big numbers and looks more and more comfortable with each passing quarter. Going on the road to Baltimore and keeping things close is a pretty good result for this young team but it would be nice if their young head coach would be a little more aggressive instead of settling for short field goals way too often.

 

30. Washington Redskins

Last week: 28

 

Josh Norman would love to burn that tape of the loss to the Cowboys, if only the cornerback could stop talking long enough to notice how bad the rest of his team is playing as well.

 

31. New York Giants

Last week: 29

 

The Daniel Jones era can’t come soon enough in New York, which might have to make even more changes from the top down beyond a quarterback change given the state of the franchise. As bad as the offense is though, the defense might be worse.

 

32. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 32

 

We’re two weeks into the season and already there’s plenty of 0-16 talk about this team after they were trounced by the Patriots. To make matters worse, the team traded away Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers — making the rebuild easier but the rest of the season much harder with another young player gone.

 

 

Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots

The Antonio Brown news has significantly overshadowed the fact that the defending champs have one of the best rosters they’ve had in years — even before the drama-filled wideout joined the team. Injuries along the offensive line are a long-term concern for Bill Belichick and company but as we saw in the opener against Pittsburgh, this is the team everybody is chasing in the NFL.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

There was a split second where Patrick Mahomes had to go to the injury tent and Chiefs fans had to hold their breath. Luckily the MVP was alright and the destruction of Jacksonville continued but it was a strong start to the year for K.C. even with the Tyreek Hill injury news.

 

3. Los Angeles Rams

Given that Sean McVay didn’t play any of his starters last month that Carolina game amounted to a preseason effort for much of the team. The Rams have to be better on both sides of the ball if they want to return to the Super Bowl but going across the country and getting a win is a solid start to the season.

 

4. Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott channeled his inner Rod Tidwell with a "show me the money" game against the Giants. While his perfect rating was eye-opening, the real story was the impressive play-calling from OC Kellen Moore and Ezekiel Elliott looking like that Cabo training was just as good as preseason action.

 

5. Philadelphia Eagles

Falling behind Washington like that early wasn’t the kind of start to 2019 that Doug Pederson probably envisioned. Things did turn around as the Eagles showed what they’re capable of but that won’t be enough against better teams.

 

6. Green Bay Packers

Sure Aaron Rodgers and the offense weren’t really in sync but that defensive effort against the Bears was the most encouraging takeaway from the beginning of Matt LaFleur’s tenure. If No. 12 starts looking like his old self, watch out to the rest of the league.

 

7. New Orleans Saints

Slow starts are nothing new for the Saints at this point in the season but that was quite a second half for Drew Brees’ crew against a division favorite from the AFC. Given how the rest of the NFC South looked too, it was a solid debut that was made even better by that wild ending helping make fans forget (a little bit) about last season.

 

8. Baltimore Ravens

It came against the Dolphins so we’re going to have to that kind of performance with a few grains of salt... but wow, what a start to 2019 for Lamar Jackson and company. If his downfield passing continues on point like that, the league better watch out for this offense — to say nothing of the usually salty unit on the other side of the ball too.

 

9. Minnesota Vikings

Dalvin Cook looked fantastic slicing up the Falcons as the Vikings proved all the talk about running the ball wasn’t just offseason talk (10 pass attempts, 38 runs in the opener). Add in a defense that looked fast and physical and we might just have the team we thought we were getting in the Twin Cities last season.

 

10. Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson’s protection issues didn’t seem to be solved in the opener but at least the quarterback looked phenomenal and nearly leading the upset at the Superdome. The defensive issues that led to Drew Brees’ comeback might be a huge cause for concern.

 

11. Cleveland Browns

Anything that could go wrong for the Browns in the opener did. While the offseason hype train certainly was a bit much, this is still a very talented roster that is plenty capable of turning things around. That said, the offensive line, penalty and defensive issues have to get fixed in a hurry.

 

12. Los Angeles Chargers

Credit to the Chargers for responding after the Colts forced overtime but the game never should have gotten to that point. The offensive line remains a much more glaring issue than anything related to the Melvin Gordon holdout, however.

 

13. Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll is not going to enjoy watching the film of Andy Dalton slicing up his defense for more than 400 yards or John Ross running free seemingly every other play. The offense remained a work in progress too but a win is a win even if it unveiled more than a few early flaws.

 

14. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers heard all week how they were smart to jettison Antonio Brown when they did… only to get destroyed by the team he eventually signed with. Pittsburgh can still regroup and win the AFC North but that opener was hard to watch after several years of close games against the Pats.

 

15. Tennessee Titans

Game ball for Mike Vrabel, who got his guys ready to play and then some in perhaps Week 1’s biggest shocker. Still have a few things to clean up on offense but that’s quite the start to 2019 for a team not many were touting coming in.

 

16. San Francisco 49ers

That game against the Bucs was borderline unwatchable for long stretches, a sign of just how far this team needs to go if they truly want to challenge for the NFC West crown. The defense certainly flashed but more is going to be needed out of Jimmy G. under center.

 

17. Carolina Panthers

Credit to the Panthers for not folding after getting down to the Rams early but the comeback wasn’t enough to get the first win of the year. Cam Newton still doesn’t seem completely 100 percent but Christian McCaffrey certainly does at least.

 

18. Chicago Bears

On the bright side: the defense got off to a good start against the Packers. On the other hand: a full offseason’s worth of work didn’t show up for Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears can still rebound but they’re behind in the division race right off the bat.

 

19. Indianapolis Colts

Jacoby Brissett was efficient in his first true game as QB1 for the Colts, taking a page out of his head coach’s book with an impressive second-half comeback to force overtime. The defense seemed to run out of gas down the stretch but there were plenty of good takeaways from close loss on the road to an AFC contender.

 

20. Oakland Raiders

Rookie tailback Josh Jacobs had a stellar start to his career and Derek Carr was better than expected tossing the ball all over the field. After so many weeks of Antonio Brown drama, that kind of win was badly needed for the franchise and Jon Gruden.

 

21. Denver Broncos

Vic Fangio waited a long time for his shot at a head coaching gig and not surprisingly, it was the offense that held his team back. Joe Flacco and that offensive line just isn’t a great combination but there were a number of issues the Broncos need to work on going forward.

 

22. Cincinnati Bengals

Given the environment in Seattle and the way the Bengals didn’t back down, that was actually one of the more encouraging losses the team has had in a while. Whether that carries over into next week remains to be seen but there were several positive takeaways even if they couldn’t get over the hump.

 

23. Buffalo Bills

The Bills had more turnovers than points for most of their game against the Jets yet still found a way to win. The bottom line is Josh Allen has to be better but those kinds of improbable wins have a chance to build some early momentum.

 

24. Atlanta Falcons

That effort in Minnesota was far from the kind of tone that head coach Dan Quinn wanted to set for the upcoming campaign. There was nothing to celebrate on defense and Matt Ryan was all over the place with his accuracy given the issues up front. 

 

25. New York Jets

The Jets looked like a different team as soon as C.J. Mosley left the game and his status will loom large over the coming weeks. It’s still a humiliating loss to the Bills and a very huge early damper on a team some thought was ticketed to the playoffs.

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Nick Foles lofted a beautiful touchdown pass to DJ Chark in the first quarter that had to excite Jags fans after years of watching Blake Bortles. Sadly it was a short-lived experience after he looks to be sidelined for a while. The Gardner Minshew Show can be a fun one but a rookie QB combined with defensive issues and undisciplined play is never a recipe for success in the NFL.

 

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Bruce Arians’ reclamation project with Jameis Winston got off to a rough start, with the signal-caller tossing some truly head-scratching interceptions to go with many other questionable decisions. The roster clearly needs more work done as it could be a long year in Tampa once again based on the first outing.

 

28. Washington Redskins

That game against the Eagles was probably going to be a good indicator of what’s to come for the team this year. Surprise teams early before fading as the game wears on. Jay Gruden is an underrated coach but there’s just not a ton to work with on this limited roster.

 

29. New York Giants

Daniel Jones saw his first action in a real NFL game against Dallas and it sure won’t be his last this season. Of more pressing concerns than the upcoming QB switch though, that defense looked like it was even worse than expected — and the bar wasn’t all that high to begin with.

 

30. Detroit Lions

There is no excuse, absolutely none, for that meltdown in the desert but at least Detroit fans were used to it and probably saw it coming. Matt Patricia was already feeling the heat coming into the season and that’s no way to cool things down.

 

31. Arizona Cardinals

It took three quarters for the Air Raid to get going but eventually, we all saw what Kyler Murray was able to do as the tempo was turned up and the throws were coming fast and furious. The offensive line remains a group of turnstiles but a better than expected debut for Kliff Kingsbury in nabbing a tie in a game the team looked destined to lose.

 

32. Miami Dolphins

Which hashtag will Dolphins fans use more, #Tank4Tua this season or #Tumble4Trevor the next two? Brian Flores’ rebuilding job is a steep one but there’s no excuse for that kind of performance on Sunday against Baltimore.

 

 

Way-Too-Early NFL Power Rankings for 2019 (Feb. edition)

 

1. New Orleans Saints

Last year: 13-3, lost in NFC title game

 

The Saints are still upset at the ending to their final game and will likely use that result as fuel throughout 2019 in what might be the last go-around with Drew Brees and company. The roster is in great shape no matter what and there should be plenty of veterans who they can pick up in free agency to help at the margins and get the franchise back to the Super Bowl.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last year: 12-4, lost in AFC title game

 

The Chiefs face several questions about their roster this offseason and even if they bring back guys like Dee Ford and Chris Jones, they have a ton of work left to do to upgrade on defense. While that is no doubt a priority for the front office over the coming months, they still have the NFL MVP in Patrick Mahomes and one of the most dangerous offenses in the league coming back.

 

3. Los Angeles Rams

Last year: 13-3, lost in the Super Bowl

 

It goes without saying that the franchise is well-positioned to keep rolling like they have been given the combination of terrific offensive talent (and Jared Goff still on a rookie contract) and head coach Sean McVay being in charge for years to come. Many big free-agent decisions are coming but players want to be in LA with this team and it’s easy to see why.

 

4. Los Angeles Chargers

Last year: 12-4, lost in the divisional round

 

Philip Rivers is likely to be back for one last rodeo and the core of this group will be right there to help him reach that elusive Super Bowl. While the Chargers are a little bit jealous of their crosstown rivals’ success in 2018, they have a chance to follow the same path as they make a few improvements on both sides of the ball.

 

5. New England Patriots

Last year: 11-5, won Super Bowl XLIII

 

Unless there’s a surprise retirement from either Tom Brady or Bill Belichick, you can expect the Pats to win another AFC East title and make another postseason run just like clockwork. There are a few key defensive and special teams decisions ahead for the front office but everybody knows just what they’re going to get out of this dynasty.

 

6. Chicago Bears

Last year: 12-4, lost in the wild-card round

 

Matt Nagy won NFL Coach of the Year honors last season as the Bears turned into one of the biggest surprises of 2018. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky should continue to get better and there are not a ton of free agents scheduled to depart. Replacing DC Vic Fangio will be tough but there’s plenty of talent on defense for a team aiming high in 2019.

 

7. Seattle Seahawks

Last year: 10-6, lost in the wild-card round

 

Hard to believe this will be Pete Carroll’s 10th season with the franchise and he’s coming off one of his best coaching jobs in Seattle, taking a below-average roster to the playoffs. Expectations will be high once again with Russell Wilson and company returning and far fewer distractions from the breakup of the Legion of Boom all done.

 

8. Indianapolis Colts

Last year: 10-6, lost in the divisional round

 

Andrew Luck rightfully earned Comeback Player of the Year honors and should get even better now that he’ll have a full offseason to actually throw the football around. The offensive line woes were fixed and the defense saw improvements too. Frank Reich’s squad will be true contenders in the AFC next year.

 

9. Philadelphia Eagles

Last year: 9-7, lost in the divisional round

 

Injuries played a big role in Philadelphia being unable to defend their Super Bowl title last season but the franchise is still on very solid ground with Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz leading the way in a division there for the taking. Finding help in the secondary is paramount this offseason for the front office as they also look to trade Nick Foles somewhere.

 

10. Cleveland Browns

Last year: 7-8-1

 

To borrow a line from Jim Mora: “Playoffs? Playoffs?” Yes, those are indeed the expectations around the league and certainly by the lake after the second-half progress shown by Baker Mayfield and company. There’s a bit of an unknown with Freddie Kitchens sliding over to the big chair but the roster is one of the best in the league and there won’t be many excuses to win big.

 

11. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last year: 9-6-1

 

There was drama at just about every turn for this franchise last year but you have to think that some of that gets resolved this offseason, no matter what happens regarding Antonio Brown’s future. There’s still plenty of talent in the Steel City for one more run at another Lombardi with Big Ben and company.

 

12. Houston Texans

Last year: 11-5, lost in the wild-card round

 

Deshaun Watson should improve further with a full, healthy offseason ahead of him and his offensive line has nowhere to go but up. The secondary will likely get re-tooled but there’s a solid core to lean on for Bill O’Brien.

 

13. Green Bay Packers

Last year: 6-9-1

 

The Mike McCarthy era is over in Green Bay and there’s optimism that the new coaching staff can get the best out of Aaron Rodgers going forward. Familiar names like Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb are likely out the door but with cap space, two first-rounders, and a good culture, a return to the playoffs can’t be ruled out on the frozen tundra.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys

Last year: 10-6, lost in the divisional round

 

Bringing back DeMarcus Lawrence is the biggest priority for Jerry Jones but there are several other key contributors who the team could be moving on from. Still, an offseason should do wonders for Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and new OC Kellen Moore to all get on the same page.

 

15. Minnesota Vikings

Last year: 8-7-1

 

Things did not go as planned in 2018 for the Vikings after making a wild postseason run the season prior and then signing Kirk Cousins. The quarterback knows he needs to be better in big games for Minnesota to take the next step but big decisions lie ahead for the franchise with Anthony Barr, Sheldon Richardson, and others hitting free agency.

 

16. San Francisco 49ers

Last year: 4-12

 

This was a trendy dark-horse pick a year ago thanks to the way they closed the stretch run in 2017. Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury changed all that but his return should pave the way to getting the team going back in the right direction, especially with plenty of high picks in the draft to work with.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens

Last year: 10-6, lost in the wild-card round

 

There’s a clear priority to find Lamar Jackson some help on offense so you can expect plenty of draft picks and free-agent money will be spent to that end. There are some hard decisions ahead with the stellar defense though with Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley among others hitting free agency.

 

18. New York Jets

Last year: 4-12

 

Looking for one team to make a big jump from year-to-year? Look no further than Gang Green. Sam Darnold will be firmly entrenched in his second year as a starter and is teamed up with an offensive-minded head coach in Adam Gase. Add in high draft picks and more than $80 million in cap space and New York is all set to turn things around quickly.

 

19. Atlanta Falcons

Last year: 7-9

 

Dan Quinn went for a full makeover with his coaching staff after a disappointing campaign for the Falcons and it will be interesting to see how that pays off going forward. Health will be a big factor in 2019 but the offense should get back to being near the top of the league.

 

20. Tennessee Titans

Last year: 9-7

 

Finding a few edge rushers will be a top offseason priority for Mike Vrabel but the biggest key to the future of the Titans will be how QB Marcus Mariota bounces back and goes through yet another change at offensive coordinator.

 

21. Oakland Raiders

Last year: 4-12

 

Jon Gruden’s first season in charge didn’t have a ton of bright spots and the team doesn’t even know where, exactly, they’ll be playing their home games in the year ahead but there are many factors that could point to the beginnings of a turnaround. All of those first-round picks are one driver but the Raiders have cap space too.

 

22. New York Giants

Last year: 5-11

 

It was a rocky debut for Pat Shurmur as head coach but things should get better in 2019 as the offensive core tries to make another postseason run with Eli Manning. The veteran QB still has to play better than he did but there’s a chance to turn things around.

 

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last year: 5-11

 

Bruce Arians will provide a much-needed presence in the organization and help the offense cut down on turnovers. Jameis Winston enters a make-or-break 2019 campaign but there’s still plenty of work left to do on the roster over the coming months.

 

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last year: 5-11

 

It’s all but certain the team will have a new quarterback for 2019, which is reason enough to think this group can get back on track like they were not too long ago. There’s not much cap space to work with though and several players need to step things up after the most recent season.

 

25. Denver Broncos

Last year: 6-10

 

Fans of the franchise are already excited about the prospect of Vic Fangio being a big upgrade on the head coaching front but there’s work left to be done on the roster for John Elway and the rest of the front office. Case Keenum might be the present at quarterback for the team but he’ll have to be much better during his second season in Mile High.

 

26. Buffalo Bills

Last year: 6-10

 

The Bills were unable to build upon their run to the playoffs but did see glimpses of a promising future out of Josh Allen. The team still needs to upgrade his weapons and offensive line though or else he will be a one-man show at times in 2019 too.

 

27. Detroit Lions

Last year: 6-10

 

The Lions were a wild ride in Matt Patricia’s first season and face some departures through free agency, like Ezekiel Ansah and LeGarrette Blount. We’ll see if a full offseason and draft cycle will be enough to help turn things around.

 

28. Carolina Panthers

Last year: 7-9

 

Why are the Panthers so low? It all has to do with Cam Newton, who underwent his second shoulder surgery in as many years and may not be back to normal. While the franchise hopes he’ll be ready by training camp, better safe than sorry given his importance to the team in years to come.

 

29. Arizona Cardinals

Last year: 3-13

 

Josh Rosen showed flashes as being a dependable franchise quarterback but hitting reset on the coaching staff twice in 365 days isn’t super encouraging. Kliff Kingsbury will surely have a bit of a learning curve but there are bigger issues with the team.

 

30. Miami Dolphins

Last year: 7-9

 

Brian Flores has a big challenge ahead in his first head coaching gig as the roster badly needs to get re-tooled at just about every level. Figuring out the quarterback spot is the biggest priority but it’s far from the only one.

 

31. Washington Redskins

Last year: 7-9

 

Jay Gruden actually did a pretty impressive job keeping the team in playoff contention as long as he did in 2018 but confidence in the franchise appears to be at an all-time low. Alex Smith seems like he won’t be back until 2020 but the challenges are not limited to finding a new QB.

 

32. Cincinnati Bengals

Last year: 6-10

 

It will be strange after all this time to not see Marvin Lewis in charge of the Bengals but incoming head coach Zac Taylor will be far from the only change made in Cincinnati. The free-agent list is long and just about every position group could see an upheaval for what will be a new-look team in 2019.

 

— 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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Include in Acu Data Feed: 
Exclude from Acu-data Feed

More Stories: