The 2020 NFL has been a wild, weird off-season so far with no preseason. After all that, it’s finally time for real regular season games.
Regardless of what the 32 teams look like on paper, no one will know how good or bad they all really are until everyone sees them in action. Week 1 brings a lot of the usual hype and anticipation, but also some fear and intimidation.
With the upcoming league kickoff, Sporting News ranks all teams with the same ultimate goal of being number 1 later – Super Bowl 55.
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NFL power rankings
1. Kansas City Chiefs (Draft ranking: 1)
The Chiefs remain loaded after locking up Patrick Mahomes as they also expanded Chris Jones to further anchor the defense. They’re pretty much the same starting team from Super Bowl 54, just a couple of opt-out players missing, and they sort of improved the offensive for Mahomes with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Andy Reid has a strong favorite who gets a second ring after just getting his first.
2. Baltimore Ravens (2)
The Ravens will be hot on the heels of the Chiefs in the AFC as they become a stronger run and low pass team for reigning MVP Lamar Jackson. The defense has a nice mix of veteran and youthful energy to serve as a better complement, minus Earl Thomas.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)
Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and now Leonard Fournette aren’t the only reasons they’re causing a lot of buzz. They give back the # 1 defense against the run, which should be better in the back seven against the pass. They have a proven turnaround trainer in Bruce Arians. The Bucs fully deserve to be among the top NFC competitors now led by the goat.
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4. San Francisco 49ers (3)
The 49ers have to deal with several injuries and play in a tough league, NFC West. But they have handled their losses to DeForest Buckner, Emmanuel Sanders and Joe Staley well, and they continue to be armed with the elite talent that brought them to the Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo should step up to better manage Kyle Shanahan’s run-dominant offensive, and pass defense is great from Nick Bosa to Richard Sherman from top to bottom.
5. New Orleans Saints (6)
The Saints cannot be forgotten right behind the Bucs in NFC South as they look for a title in the fourth division in a row. Another year from Drew Brees keeps his offensive elite and Cameron Jordan continues to make a well-rounded defense. However, New Orleans will have to shrug off more playoff disappointments to get out of an even tougher NFC.
6. Seattle Seahawks (12)
The Seahawks will make it hard for the 49ers to repeat themselves in the West and in the NFC. They have rediscovered their power running, deep passing, and tough secondary identities that took them to two Super Bowls early on with a younger Russell Wilson. For an older Wilson, these elements are more than complementary enough to get them back.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (13)
The Eagles also belong in the NFC heavyweight talk. Carson Wentz is looking for another fully healthy season with the promise of healthier support despite an outbreak of injury. Defensively, her front is stronger at Javon Hargrave and her secondary is solid at Darius Slay.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (8)
The Steelers are facing a big upswing with Ben Roethlisberger recovering to lead an explosive passing game. They also boast an evil passport defense with T.J. Watts has kicked off her Edge Rush and many more playmakers including Minkah Fitzpatrick at every level. They’ll work up a sweat on rival Ravens with a triumphant playoff return for Mike Tomlin.
9. Minnesota Vikings (7)
The long list of NFC champions also includes them. They lost some familiar defensive pieces to Mike Zimmer up front and in secondary, but Yannick Ngakoue was a great late night take and the complementary youth will serve them well. Offensively, Kirk Cousins with Dalvin Cook and the game in progress will give them a more efficient game without giving Stefon Diggs a big blow.
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10. Buffalo Bills (5)
Speaking of Diggs, the Bills put a lot of pressure on Josh Allen to turn the corner as a passer-by after giving him a true # 1 recipient. Sean McDermott’s defense and a juicier run game are still the foundation of how they’ll try to finally take the AFC East from the Brady-less Patriots.
11. Dallas Cowboys (11)
The cowboys are currently right outside the NFC power plants but can get there without Jason Garrett’s restrictions. You can get a higher attack limit when Mike McCarthy joins Kellen Moore to influence Dak Prescott, now with rookie first-class CeeDee Lamb in tow. Mike Nolan will also make the most of his defensive Front 7.
12. Green Bay Packers (9)
Overflowing with Matt LaFleur in season one, the Packers relied more on improved running play and defense and less on Aaron Rodgers. They still have that victorious identity, but they should regress a bit as they haven’t done much to keep Rodgers lifting for this season.
13. New England Patriots (19)
The Patriots choose Cam Newton to replace Brady in the short term, but they have many other offensive problems to deal with as they try to take advantage of Newton’s MVP advantage. Defensively they lost a lot of pass rush, but gained more youth and versatility for Bill Belichick. Belichick can do his best coaching job yet if he brings these special patriots into the playoffs.
14. Houston Texans (14)
The Texans may be a mess defensively and they will feel the loss of DeAndre Hopkins offensively, but they are also fortunate that Deshaun Watson’s talent and leadership give it high ground – and by far the most reliable and colorful QB game (still) in the AFC Süd.
15. Cleveland Browns (20)
The Browns went out of their way to fix Baker Mayfield, including improved pass protection, more versatile weapons, and a more run-oriented, efficient system with rookie trainer Kevin Stefanski. They should better live up to expectations offensively, while defense also does more key games. You are much better equipped for a playoff run than last season.
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16. Arizona Cardinals (21)
The Cardinals will hope that Kyler Murray will enjoy the same sophomore jump as Mahomes and Jackson, now armed with Hopkins in Kliff Kingsbury’s system. The defense also received some critical assistance for Chandler Jones and secondary rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Arizona is a well deserved team, but San Francisco and Seattle stand as obstacles to a real breakthrough.
17. Los Angeles Rams (25)
Before the 49ers and Seahawks played the playoffs together and the former played in the Super Bowl, it was the turn of the Rams as NFC champions. Sean McVay and Les Snead have found good replacements for Todd Gurley (Cam Akers) and Brandin Cooks (Van Jefferson), but their defenses have some problems somewhere between Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.
18. Atlanta Falcons (23)
Dan Quinn gets another chance to steer the defense in the right direction. Speaking of Gurley: The Falcons hope that a half-homecoming will help to balance Dirk Koetter’s passing offense against Matt Ryan. The Hawks can light the scoreboard at times, but there might be too much pressure to keep winning higher scoring games.
19. Indianapolis Colts (18)
Philip Rivers is their new starting quarterback and has to show that he still has it after a shaky last year with the Chargers. This team will lean well on its offensive line, keep the game going and reshuffle the receiving corps where rookies Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. will play big roles. The defense, however, remains on the solid side compared to the spectacular.
20. Los Angeles Chargers (22)
The chargers roll in with Tyrod Taylor to replace Rivers while Justin Herbert waits. They have a lot around Taylor to aggressively produce bigger pieces. Their defense looked pretty good in every way behind Joey Bosa until Durwin James suffered another major injury setback. Anthony Lynn’s team is somewhere between the 2018 outbreak and the 2019 washout.
21. Denver Broncos (15)
The Broncos are very excited about sophomore QB Drew Lock and an overworked group of skill players around him, but they are making a major transition in Pat Shurmur’s offense and have some line issues that can hold them back. Defensively they have good one-offs like Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Justin Simmons, but there are also some blatant holes for Vic Fangio.
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22. Tennessee Titans (13)
The Titans are set to cool significantly from their shocking AFC championship run with Mike Vrabel last season. Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and A.J. Browns are still the triplets leading the offense, but they need to find more answers there. Tennessee is also more defensive in midfield, despite some outstanding characteristics.
23. Las Vegas Raiders (17)
The Raiders are moving to their chic new home in the desert with more aggressive youngsters. Rookie receivers Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards are looking for big roles to join Josh Jacobs in his sophomore year support production for Derek Carr. Defensively, there are enough tweaks (see Linebacker) to make them a sleeper playoff team. Unfortunately, you should submit them to the Chargers and Broncos as good teams pursuing a great one at AFC West.
24. Chicago Bears (24)
The Bears are doing their best to hide the QB game, despite having an offensive coach in Matt Nagy. Neither Nick Foles nor Mitchell Trubisky inspire much confidence, because Chicago can’t rely on just defense and the game in progress to win enough games in an NFC North where any other team can do much better without hesitation in the most important position .
25. New York Giants (16)
The Giants are confident in sophomore rookie coach Joe Judge and QB Daniel Jones. But Garrett’s offense will be a sizeable adjustment, and despite some defensive investments there, they are still significant problems for that transition.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (27)
Joe Burrow gives the Bengals a lot of optimism that they won’t end up at the bottom again. He’s a perfect fit with Zac Taylor’s offensive and inherits a lot of skill, led by Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon, and a more promising offensive line with a healthy Jonah Williams. Defensively, the Bengals have invested in order to cause less chaos, but they are still underperforming there.
27. Detroit Lions (28)
The Lions are difficult to read. You could end up getting a top-notch QB game from Matthew Stafford that he delivered half a season before his back injury in 2019 and still disappoint in terms of the sweepstakes. That has to do with an inconsistent running game that they hopefully can fix with D’Andre Swift. Defensive will be the strong pressure on Matt Patricia to put the pieces together quickly.
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28. Carolina Panthers (29)
The Panthers definitely have more speed to compete with Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Seeing more pop to play with under Joe Brady and Teddy Bridgewater, Moore is a point guard for the job. Defense will be a big problem for Matt Rhule, however, as Luke Kuechly creates the most massive void.
29. Miami Dolphins (30)
The Dolphins don’t mind taking a few more lumps in their rebuilding as Ryan Fitzpatrick bridges the offensive against Tua Tagovailoa and Brian Flores works to jell his redesigned defense off the top corners of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones .
30. New York Jets (26)
Adam Gase was determined to bring his kind of offensive players around Sam Darnold. The reception corps is still looking a bit chaotic and the ongoing game continues away from Le’Veon Bell. With that in mind, the Jets ‘greater liability is Gregg Williams’ defense, now without Jamal Adams.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (32)
The Jaguars quickly flipped the 2017 team that made it into the AFC championship game and are somehow still being coached by Doug Marrone. Gardner Minshew puts them on the map in an offensive with more West Coast definition under Jay Gruden. Young edge rushers Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson are sadly the new bright spots in a largely gutted defense.
32nd Washington Football Team (31)
This is an evaluation and cleanup year for Ron Rivera and Jason Wright. Washington is looking to see if Dwayne Haskins is the answer, but it is also looking at some key questions in its critical support system. It’s more established liking Rivera and Jack Del Rio defensively, now with Chase Young as the cornerstone.