NFL Power Rankings: Week One

NFL Power Rankings
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The NFL season is back which means every team has a fresh sense of optimism. A new season means new opportunities and a chance to end the year as world champions. Football is a strange game, and every team has some chance of surprising. However, some teams look significantly better than others at this point in the season. Judging teams before the season officially starts is kind of dumb, but we’re going to do it anyway in the Week One NFL Power Rankings

Week One NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots

Betting against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots is never a good idea. The Patriots are coming off their sixth Super Bowl championship and should be even better in 2019. Losing Rob Gronkowski hurts, but the offense should remain among the best with Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Demaryius Thomas. Even if the offense struggles, it sounds like Gronkowski would come back if Brady needs him. Defensively, New England has arguably the NFL’s best secondary and linebackers. The defensive line is relatively weak, but it should still be a solid unit with Michael Bennett effectively replacing Trey Flowers. This might be the most talented roster of any of New England’s recent teams, which should terrify the rest of the NFL.

2. Philadelphia Eagles

Top to bottom, this might be the best roster in the NFL. The offensive line is elite, the defense boasts playmakers at every level, and the wide receivers perfectly complement each other. Howie Roseman has built a ridiculous roster, and the Eagles should be one of the Super Bowl favorites. The real wild card here is quarterback Carson Wentz. If Wentz can stay healthy and play like his 2017 self, they should be the best team in football. However, if 2017 was an aberration, then the Eagles should “only” be a top-five unit.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs hadthe best offense in football last year, and one could easily argue that they got even better in 2019. Patrick Mahomes was the NFL’s best quarterback in 2018 and could actually improve if he cuts back on his turnover rate. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins are still in town, and Mecole Hardman provides yet another explosive element. The only reason the Chiefs didn’t make it to the Super Bowl last year is that their defense was an absolute train wreck. Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu will help, but is it enough to make a terrible unit merely average?

4. New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees slowed down at the end of 2018, causing fans to forget just how good he was throughout the majority of the season. Brees should have at least one more elite season left in his tank, while Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara should help reduce Brees’ offensive responsibilities. The defense should be one of the better units in the league, but this team could use some more depth if injury strikes. However, as long as this team stays relatively healthy, they should remain in the thick of the Super Bowl race.

5. Los Angeles Rams

The reigning NFC Champions are going to be hard-pressed to make it back to the Super Bowl. The NFL started to figure out Sean McVay last year, and the offensive genius will need to adapt if he’s to remain one of the NFL’s elite coaches. Jared Goff can’t carry a team, but he’s good enough to execute a gameplan in McVay’s system. The real key for the defense comes down to Aqib Talib. The defense was considerably better with Talib, and Marcus Peters couldn’t get the job done on his own in 2018. If Talib stays healthy, the Rams should remain in the NFL elite.

6. Dallas Cowboys

With or without Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys are going to be one of the best teams in the NFL. Dak Prescott is never going to be Tom Brady, but the former fourth-round pick is poised for a huge season under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Amari Cooper is a solid WR1 and Michael Gallup looks ready to break out. The offensive line is stacked and the defense is loaded with fantastic playmakers in the front seven. Winning the division isn’t going to be easy thanks to the Eagles, but it’s certainly possible.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers already proved that they don’t need Le’Veon Bell to be efficient on offense, and the loss of Antonio Brown could be addition by subtraction. Even without these two superstars, this offense is going to be good. Ben Roethlisberger is still a top 10-15 quarterback while Juju Smith-Schuster has what it takes to thrive as Pittsburgh’s top option. The defense should be better with Devin Bush adding to an impressive front seven. If the secondary can hold down their end of the bargain, Pittsburgh should return to the playoffs in 2019.

8. Los Angeles Chargers

Melvin Gordon or no, the Los Angeles Chargers are going to be a dangerous team. Philip Rivers is still capable of leading a team to a Super Bowl, and Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have the potential to be one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. The defense should be good, even if the loss of Derwin James limits the overall ceiling. The biggest problem on this team is the offensive line, but Rivers always finds a way to power through terrible protection.

9. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are going to be good in 2019, but they’re going to take a step back from last season. Mitchell Trubisky was one of the luckiest quarterbacks in the league based on expected turnovers, and that’s going to level out in 2019. Matt Nagy can try to hide Trubisky’s shortcomings through his great scheme, but ultimately Trubisky needs to take a huge step forward to make this team a true championship contender. The defense still has tons of talent, but Chuck Pagano isn’t nearly as good a coach as Vic Fangio. The Bears could still win 10-11 games, but it’s not going to be as easy as 2018.

10. Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings need to stay healthy if they’re to have any hope of winning that elusive Super Bowl. This team is one of the most top-heavy rosters in the league and doesn’t have much depth behind their star players. Kirk Cousins wasn’t entirely at fault for last year’s disappointing campaign, but he’ll need to be better with an improved offensive line. Missing the playoffs for a second straight year is simply unacceptable.

11. Baltimore Ravens

Nobody knows how good the Baltimore Ravens are going to be this year. Lamar Jackson and his run-heavy approach took the league by storm in 2018, but nobody knows if he can do it again. With a full season of film to analyze, will Baltimore’s offense be a one-year fad like the wildcat offense back in 2008? Only time will tell.

12. Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers wasn’t himself last year due to a Week One knee injury. With Rodgers now healthy and Matt LaFleur replacing Mike McCarthy, this team should improve on their 6-9-1 record from a season ago. Davante Adams is still a star, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling has a good shot to make a leap in 2018. The biggest question is the defense, as the Packers added several big-name defensive players in free agency. Trying to buy wins in free agency doesn’t always work out, so we’ll have to see if these new parts can form a well-oiled machine.

13. Cleveland Browns

For the first time in recent memory, there’s genuine reason for excitement in Cleveland. Baker Mayfield looks like a legitimate franchise quarterback while Odell Beckham should improve an already-dangerous passing attack. Defensively, Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon should form a formidable pass-rushing duo while Denzel Ward leads an impressive secondary. The offensive line is objectively bad and could be an issue if Mayfield doesn’t learn to let go of the ball a little sooner. Additionally, the relative inexperience across the roster keeps Cleveland from moving up on this list.

14. Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons had one of the best offenses in the league last year, but their underwhelming defense kept them from recording a winning record. The defense suffered an absurd amount of injuries in 2018, but a return to health might not be a fix-all for Atlanta. The defense was bad even when Deion Jones and Grady Jarrett were on the field, so these issues might run deeper than just health. Either way, this team is going to go as far as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones can bring them.

15. Houston Texans

The Houston Texans mortaged their future to bring in Laremy Tunsil while selling Jadeveon Clowney for pennies on the dollar. While Tunsil will boost the offensive line, he won’t be enough to singlehandedly save one of the worst lines in football. Additionally, Houston’s secondary needs help and this defense could be a mess if something happens to J.J. Watt. Fortunately, having Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins can help cover some of these issues.

16. Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks are going to take a massive step back this season. Brian Schottenheimer insists on running the ball at an absurd rate, and that outdated philosophy is going to come back to bite Seattle in 2019 like it did in the 2018 NFC Wild Card Round. Russell Wilson was unsustainably efficient last year, and a drop in efficiency could mean one or two extra losses. Additionally, the Seahawks don’t have a single reliable receiver outside of Tyler Lockett. When factoring in a defense that’s likely to regress, it’s easy to see Seattle missing the playoffs in 2019.

17. Indianapolis Colts

Losing Andrew Luck hurts, but this is still one of the most talented rosters in the league. Chris Ballard has done a phenomenal job of adding talent, and this team should be able to compete in a weak division. The ultimate success of this season rests on Jacoby Brissett. If he can play like a top-15 quarterback, then the Colts should win the division. If not, then Indianapolis is probably on the outside looking in.

18. Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers had a disappointing finish to 2018, but they were in the thick of the postseason race before Cam Newton injured his shoulder. If Newton can stay healthy (big if), this team could compete for a wild card spot. The secondary needs some help but the front seven is solid, and Curtis Samuel is ready to break out in a big way.

19. Jacksonville Jaguars

Nick Foles possesses an innate ability to look like a top-five quarterback one week and a bottom-five quarterback the next. Foles is an upgrade from Blake Bortles, but he might not be the savior Jacksonville wants. The offense doesn’t have too many established playmakers outside of Dede Westbrook, and Foles has never started more than 11 games in a season. If Jacksonville’s going to do anything this year, they’ll have to rely on their defense playing up to their 2017 form.

20. Denver Broncos

Joe Flacco actually showed some signs of life early in 2018 before a hip injury effectively ended his Baltimore tenure. Now surrounded by his best cast of playmakers since 2014, Flacco might be able to put up some adequate quarterback play. The defense is loaded with talent, and Vic Fangio is one of the finest defensive minds in the game. If everything breaks right, this team could make a push for a wild card spot.

21. Buffalo Bills

If quarterback didn’t matter, the Bills could be favorites for a wild card. The defense has top-10 potential, the offensive line is average, and the wide receivers are one of the most underrated groupings in the league. If Josh Allen can learn to play smart and limit mistakes, this team could make a wild card push. However, Allen needs to prove he’s truly an NFL-caliber quarterback before moving Buffalo higher in these rankings.

22. Tennessee Titans

Can Marcus Mariota stay healthy? Probably not. Will the Titans make the playoffs if he does? Unlikely. The Titans are annually one of the most boring and tiring teams to watch, and that shouldn’t change in 2019. From the looks of things, Tennessee is going to once again try to run their offense though Derrick Henry. That doesn’t work outside of December, and it won’t work this time either.

23. New York Jets

Sam Darnold looked great in the preseason, the front four looks ferocious, and the safeties might be the best in the league. If Adam Gase and Gregg Williams weren’t the coaches, this team could be a legitimate playoff threat. However, Gase hasn’t been successful away from Peyton Manning, and Gregg Williams is….Gregg Williams. This duo could be the New York’s biggest circus since Rex Ryan and ultimately ruin an otherwise decent roster.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Every team up until now has legitimate hopes at making the playoffs. Barring a miracle, it’s hard to imagine any way the Buccaneers make the playoffs. Jameis Winston simply isn’t a franchise quarterback, the offensive line is a mess, and the defense is a dumpster fire. Bruce Arians has pulled off some miracles before, but making this roster competitive would be his greatest feat yet.

25. San Francisco 49ers

Even if Jimmy Garoppolo can stay healthy, does it really matter? Garoppolo has only started 10 games throughout his NFL career, so we really don’t know if he’s truly a starting-caliber quarterback. The front office didn’t do enough to fix a defense which couldn’t stop anything last year, and the offense isn’t good enough to consistently win shootouts. John Lynch is running out of time to fix this.

26. Oakland Raiders

Antonio Brown and all of his antics are going to be on the field, which will help the offense in the short term. However, Trent Brown alone can’t fix the offensive line and Clelin Ferrell isn’t enough to fix the defense. Drafting a running back in the first round with this many needs is just odd, and Derek Carr hasn’t looked like an above-average starter since 2016. Enjoy last place, Oakland.

27. New York Giants

What can be said about the Giants that hasn’t already been said? Eli Manning is old, the defense lacks playmakers, and the offense never truly replaced Odell Beckham. Fortunately for Giants fans, there is some good news. Daniel Jones looked great in the preseason and the offensive line has the ability to be average. If nothing else, it should be interesting to see if Jones has what it takes to be the quarterback of the future.

28. Detroit Lions

Bold prediction: Matt Patricia is going to be the first coach to lose his job this season. In an era where passing has never been more effective, Patricia and the coaching staff are intent on bringing the game back to 1982. Smart teams zig while the rest of the league zags, but smart teams also have a reason for not following the trend. Patricia has no good reason for what he’s doing, and the Lions looked sloppy and unorganized throughout training camp. This team doesn’t have much talent to begin with, but Patricia will not make the most of it.

29. Cincinnati Bengals

New coach, same Bengals. A.J. Green is hurt, first-round pick Jonah Williams is done for the year, and Andy Dalton is doomed to die behind an uninspiring offensive line. The best-case scenario for this team is going 2-14 and drafting the quarterback of the future in the 2019 NFL Draft.

30. Arizona Cardinals

It’s hard to imagine any world where the Arizona Cardinals are good in 2019. The offensive line is a mess, and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury couldn’t even coach a good defense at the collegiate level. Even if Kyler Murray plays up to his potential, this team will struggle to win five games.

31. Washington Redskins

How does Bruce Allen still have a job? The Washington Redskins face one of the most bleak futures of any team in the league thanks to years of poor management and Alex Smith’s unfortunate leg injury. Dwayne Haskins has made a few nice plays in the preseason, but he’s riding the bench to start the season. That’s probably for the best, as nobody could succeed in this atrocious setting.

32. Miami Dolphins

2019’s going to be ugly, but the Dolphins are poised for a bright future. Miami basically owns the entirety of the 2020 and 2021 NFL Drafts, giving them the opportunity to build a deep roster right as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick call it a career. Nobody likes watching a tank job as it’s happening, but the payoff is certainly worth it.

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