1) Kansas City Chiefs: As the Super Bowl champions, Kansas City deserves to be atop everyone’s power rankings. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are the perfect marriage.
2) New Orleans Saints: This position will be frustrating for Vikings fans, but the Saints are a complete roster that, at least on paper, got better in the offseason. Adding Emmanuel Sanders will add an extra element to what was already an elite offense with Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas.
3) San Francisco 49ers: It won’t be shocking if the 49ers take a sizeable step back this season, but they deserve to be ranked highly given that they are the NFC champions. Kyle Shanahan is a tremendous coach, and John Lynch has done a good job with the roster. Similar to the Rams and Jared Goff, though, the 49ers may struggle to maintain elite offensive production with Jimmy G starting at QB.
4) Seattle Seahawks: After Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson is the best quarterback in the NFL. When coupled with Pete Carroll’s coaching, the Seahawks have been among the most impressive teams in the NFL over the past decade. The Seattle Seahawks are the team the Minnesota Vikings want to be.
5) Baltimore Ravens: Admittedly, I’m skeptical that Lamar Jackson will be able to maintain his elite production long-term, largely due to the dangers of being a running QB. He is an incredibly elusive, intelligent, and hard-working quarterback, but it only takes one hit to entirely change the trajectory of his career. That being said, I have nothing but respect for the Ravens, Jackson, and John Harbaugh, so I wish them all the best.
6) Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers are essentially the Vikings of the AFC: an impressive roster that finds a way to underachieve on a regular basis. Even though Justin Herbert is unlikely to contribute in his rookie year, Tyrod Taylor is a competent quarterback who is working with a stacked roster. Their defense is legit. Don’t be shocked if this team looks like the 2017 Vikings.
7) Dallas Cowboys: Like any number of football fans, I’m not sold that Dak Prescott is an elite quarterback. Even still, their offense has elite talent at RB, WR, and OL. While he didn’t look very good in his final couple season in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy should still be an upgrade over Jason Garrett.
8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Similar to Peyton Manning in Denver, Tom Brady will be rejuvenated by his move to Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians is a smart coach, so he will adjust his offense to complement Brady’s skill set. Given the talent at WR and TE, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Bucs go into the playoffs with a bye.
9) Green Bay Packers: Everything seemed to go right for the NFC North champions last season. The Jordan Love pick is either going to be the first step in Green Bay’s implosion (fingers crossed), or it will energize Rodgers, propelling him to the greatness that Vikings fans know he is capable of.
10) Minnesota Vikings: There is talent on the Vikings roster, which ensures that their floor is relatively high. Their ability to be a true contender largely falls on Kirk Cousins’s ability to continue elevating his game – especially in big moments – and Mike Zimmer’s ability to get consistent production out of a defense in transition.
11) Indianapolis Colts: Chris Ballard has done a really nice job with the roster, and Frank Reich should be able to rejuvenate Philip Rivers, a tremendous competitor. A strong offensive line and some sneaky talent on defense should make for a competitive Colts team.
12) New England Patriots: Don’t bet against Belichick. He has something planned, and it’ll be both evil and brilliant. With Cam Newton at QB, they’ll win their division.
13) Buffalo Bills: NFC North fans know how difficult it is for defensive-minded teams to maintain strong play from season to season. Just as the Vikings took a step after their elite 2017 season, so too did the Bears take a step back after their elite 2018. Don’t be surprised if the Bills have a good – but not elite – defense.
14) Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill proved to be a great pair last season. Time will tell, though, whether they’re able to maintain their success.
15) Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff will continue to hold back an innovative coach and a roster with talent. Aaron Donald is an absolute monster, so they won’t be an easy team to beat.
16) Chicago Bears: Not altogether unlike the Rams, the Bears are held back by a subpar quarterback. There is a lot of talent on their defense, but unless Mitchell Trubisky suddenly becomes competent or Nick Foles suddenly becomes consistent, the Bears will struggle to elevate above mediocrity.
17) Las Vegas Raiders: Jon Gruden’s and Mike Mayock’s vision is starting to become clear. In true Raiders fashion, Gruden added a speedster at WR in the draft. On defense, Gruden and Mayock target tough, competitive players, regardless of whether they need to reach in the draft.
18) Arizona Cardinals: It won’t be shocking if the Cardinals take a big step forward this season. Kyler Murray is a gifted player. Adding Deandre Hopkins while being able remove an albatross at running back means this team is considerably more dangerous.
19) Philadelphia Eagles: A lot will fall on Carson Wentz. There has been some turnover with key veterans. A poor season may be the end for both Wentz and Doug Pederson in Philadelphia.
20) Denver Broncos: There is some optimism surrounding Drew Lock, which I’m not sure is warranted. John Elway hasn’t really done a great job evaluating talent at quarterback, so fans shouldn’t be too quick to assume Lock is a long-term answer.
21) Cleveland Browns: Prove me wrong, Stefanski.
22) Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s difficult to know how the Steelers will perform this season. It’s entirely plausible that they perform far better than this ranking would indicate, especially given Mike Tomlin’s success.
23) Carolina Panthers: Like every NFL fan, I adore Teddy Bridgewater. He is a great leader, highly intelligent, and his athleticism is underrated. Teddy and Christian McCaffrey should complement each other well. Losing Luke Kuechly, though, is tough to overcome.
24) Houston Texans: Houston has some truly great players. Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt are among the best at their positions. It’s a shame that Bill O’Brien enjoys trading away elite talent for below average, expensive players.
25) Atlanta Falcons: It’s easy to cheer for Matt Ryan, but even with elite talent at receiver the Falcons have struggled over the past couple seasons. Until Dan Quinn proves that he can help elevate this team to their Super Bowl level, there is no reason to be overly optimistic.
26) Miami Dolphins: Selecting Tua Tagovailoa was a smart pick. Brian Flores has done a good job of leading a team in transition. Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins rank a lot higher on power rankings going into the 2021 season.
27) Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford is among the toughest players in the NFL. There is talent at receiver. Otherwise, I’m not sure how much there is to like in Detroit.
28) New York Giants: Daniel Jones did better than expected, but the roster needs work.
29) Cincinnati Bengals: Admittedly, I’m skeptical about Joe Burrow given that he has only one elite season. That being said, NFL analysts/commentators who are far more competent than me are enthusiastic about his abilities, so I’ll go into the season expecting Burrow to succeed.
30) Jacksonville Jaguars: A lot of the elite defensive talent is gone, and it’s a lot to ask for Gardner Minshew to elevate this roster to the playoffs.
31) New York Jets: I’m not buying the Sam Darnold enthusiasm. 4-12 seems about right.
32) Washington: Washington is a mess. Ron Rivera may end up being a great hire, but there is a considerable amount of work to do to make this a competitive roster, even with the talent in the defense’s front seven.