NFL Power Rankings

My current NFL Power Rankings.

I’m going to use these rankings as the order for my 2020 NFL Mock Draft during the 2019 season. Follow @walterfootball.

I’ve gone from WORST to FIRST, so if you don’t see reverse numbering (via Javascript), don’t worry; the 49ers and Cardinals aren’t my top teams.

Updated: Aug. 26

  1. Miami Dolphins (7-9) – Previously: 32.
    The Dolphins looked like a train wreck against the Jaguars in their preseason dress rehearsal. It had me wondering how in the world they were going to win three games this year, and then I remembered that Adam Gase said they were planning on tanking. Well, it appears to be working. Trust the process.

  2. Washington Redskins (7-9) – Previously: 27.
    The Redskins are a mess. Case Keenum is going to start, but he stinks. Trent Williams is no longer with the team. Jordan Reed suffered the seventh concussion of his career. No one on the team can catch the ball. The team was on the verge of revolting last year, and I think the Redskins could quickly fall apart early in the year after some losses.

  3. Oakland Raiders (4-12) – Previously: 31.
    I’m bearish on the Raiders’ chances this year. Antonio Brown is already causing a major headache, and the games haven’t even begun yet. Also, don’t forget that the Raiders’ schedule is brutal. They don’t have a home game for about two months, spanning from the middle of September to the beginning of November, and they battle some tough teams in that span. I wonder if some losses will hurt the locker room, particularly concerning Brown, who has never been with a loser.

    As an aside, I was driven in an Uber by the Raiders’ new stadium in Las Vegas in July, and it’s coming along well. Unfortunately, Vegas citizens aren’t too keen on this, as they’re worried about what one driver called “idiot Californians” invading their great, tax-free state.

  4. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) – Previously: 29.
    I was already down on the Bengals, but they lost A.J. Green to a one-month injury and two offensive linemen to the injured reserve (Jonah Williams) and retirement (Clint Boling.) This team is a mess, but perhaps this is all a blessing in disguise, as it’ll put Cincinnati in position to select either Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert atop the 2020 NFL Draft.

  5. Arizona Cardinals (3-13) – Previously: 25.
    Unlike Josh Rosen, Kyler Murray is a winner who loves football. He has a much better chance of succeeding than Rosen. The offense will certainly be better with him, as well as Marcus Gilbert starting at right tackle. Meanwhile, the defense added some solid veterans like Terrell Suggs and Jordan Hicks, as well as top rookie cornerback Byron Murphy, who looked good in the third preseason game. I expect Arizona to be much more competitive in 2019, though the team is still likely to finish in last place in the NFC West.

  6. Tennessee Titans (9-7) – Previously: 23.
    It’s become clear that Tennessee cannot count on Mariota being available for important games, so the team had to overpay for a premium backup. It acquired Ryan Tannehill, who definitely qualifies as such. Remember that Tannehill helped lead the Dolphins to the playoffs a few years ago. He’s a huge upgrade over Blame Gabbert.

    However, the Titans have some major problems, with the most prominent being their offensive line. The blocking unit, which won’t have Taylor Lewan to start the year, figures to regress with offensive line coach Mike Munchak now in Denver.

  7. New York Giants (5-11) – Previously: 30.
    Wow, Daniel Jones has looked amazing in the preseason! Jones has been completely flawless outside of some ball-security issues, which are correctable. It’s such a shame that the Giants are married to Manning for some reason. They’d be so much more fun (and better, for that matter) with Jones under center.

    Many people are way down on the Giants this year, but I am not. They’ve improved their offensive line via the Kevin Zeitler trade, so once Golden Tate returns from suspension and Jones replaces the decrepit Manning, they’ll be pretty competitive in most games.

  8. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – Previously: 26.
    Back in 2007, Vince Young had a great season. Then, he reached the playoffs and battled the Chargers. He lost 17-6 and looked awful. He was never the same since. Sound familiar?

    For Lamar Jackson to avoid the same fate, he’ll need to watch countless hours of film and work extensively with a quarterbacks coach this offseason. He had some early success, but it’s clear that he’s far from a finished product.

    Jackson will need to have a big year because the defense lost so many talented players. Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle are all gone. Earl Thomas was signed to replace the latter, but Thomas is now in his 30s, and he’s coming off several injury-plagued seasons.

    The good news for Jackson is that he received some reinforcements during the 2019 NFL Draft when Baltimore drafted Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and Justice Hill. The bad news is that Brown is hurt and Boykin has dropped almost every single pass thrown to him in the preseason.

  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) – Previously: 22.
    The Buccaneers had several important tasks to accomplish this offseason. Here are a few of the main ones:

    – Upgrade left tackle Donovan Smith
    – Find several better defensive backs
    – Obtain a viable running back

    Tampa did none of this entering the draft. In fact, the Buccaneers even extended Smith! That was an inexplicable move. Smith, in addition to being a terrible player, is lazy and unmotivated. Think about it this way: How would you feel if your boss gave a raise to the guy who always comes in late, takes 2-hour lunch breaks and gets nothing done? I imagine the Buccaneer players who want extensions have to be feeling similarly in the wake of Smith’s new contract. It’s a horrible message to send to the team; that lethargy can be rewarded. What an absolutely dumb decision.

    Now, you’d think the person behind this would have been fired at this point. Guess again! Inept general manager Jason Licht has been extended for some reason. Unbelievable.

    Having said all that, I like the Buccaneers to be more competitive this year, but Jameis Winston is almost certain to continue to keep acting and playing like a bozo.

  10. Detroit Lions (6-10) – Previously: 28.
    The Lions have done some things this offseason to improve, like signing Mike Daniels and Trey Flowers, and drafting T.J. Hockenson. However, I’m just not a believer in them. I don’t like the coach-quarterback battery, as Matt Patricia doesn’t have the best track record, while something always seems to go wrong with Matthew Stafford. Losing center Frank Ragnow and linebacker Jarrad Davis in the third preseason game.

  11. San Francisco 49ers (4-12) – Previously: 17.
    Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t looked quite right for most of the preseason, perhaps because he doesn’t trust his knee coming off surgery. The good news is that Garoppolo had some bright moments in his dress rehearsal, so perhaps we’ll eventually see the same Garoppolo who went undefeated at the end of the 2017 campaign.

  12. Indianapolis Colts (10-6) – Previously: 2.
    I had the Colts ranked as my No. 2 team prior to Andrew Luck’s retirement. They were my pick to win the Super Bowl. Then, we had one of the most surprising announcements in sports history. When I saw that Adam Schefter’s verified Twitter account reported the news, I thought there was a chance someone hacked his account until Luck held a press conference.

    The Colts could still be in the mix to make the playoffs because they have a great roster, but their Super Bowl aspirations are gone. For now, at least. Here are two quarterbacks the Colts could trade for to replace Andrew Luck.

  13. Dallas Cowboys (10-6) – Previously: 20.
    There’s a lot going against the Cowboys, so expect major regression. They were very lucky last year, winning five games by four or fewer points. Ezekiel Elliott is holding out. Dak Prescott’s safety blanket, Cole Beasley, is gone. Amari Cooper won’t be as good as he was last season. And Jason Garrett is still one of the worst coaches in the NFL.

  14. Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1) – Previously: 21.
    The Vikings have improved their offensive line a bit by adding Garrett Bradbury through the draft, but their defense won’t be as good without Sheldon Richardson. Ultimately, I worry about Kirk Cousins coming through in the clutch. Cousins’ record against winning teams is abysmal – he’s 5-25 versus teams with winning records – and I imagine he’s going to choke in the final few weeks of the season, just like he does every year.

  15. Buffalo Bills (6-10) – Previously: 19.
    The Bills are certainly an up-and-coming team, as they’ll be very competitive next year, thanks to the improvements they’ve made this offseason. They added a couple of professional receivers in John Brown and Cole Beasley, and they obtained some nice blockers like Mitch Morse and Ty Nsekhe. Going into the draft, I wrote that they “need some blockers, and they have to replace Kyle Williams.” They did just that, obtaining steals like Ed Oliver and Cody Ford.

    If Josh Allen takes the next step, the Bills will have a good chance to reach the playoffs in 2019. Allen looked great in the second preseason game, but made a major step backward in the dress rehearsal. I think we’ll see something in between in 2019.

  16. Houston Texans (11-5) – Previously: 18.
    I called the Texans overrated all last year. I just didn’t buy into them. Their offensive line couldn’t block, and it didn’t help that Bill O’Brien is a doofus of a head coach. Houston failed to fix its blocking this offseason. Had O’Brien not fired all of the talented front-office people, perhaps the Texans would’ve had a viable Plan B when the Eagles leapt ahead of them for Andre Dillard.

  17. Seattle Seahawks (10-6) – Previously: 16.
    The Seahawks entered free agency with the eighth-most cap space in the NFL, yet they weren’t able to address their anemic offensive line, aside from signing the oft-injured Mike Iupati. I bet the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl at 37.5/1 odds prior to free agency, so you could say that I’m disappointed that they didn’t make any upgrades. I’m even more pessimistic now in the wake of their poor draft. I don’t understand why they reached for third-day prospects in the first and second rounds like they did last year with Rashaad Penny.

    I’m down on the Seahawks, but they still have Russell Wilson. He’ll keep them competitive, and they’ll be in the hunt to reach the playoffs, solely because of him.

  18. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) – Previously: 11.
    I like the Falcons to bounce back next year. They suffered so many injuries this past season. They almost have to experience better luck in 2019. Plus, they fired Steve Sarkisian and found a better offensive coordinator, so that’ll help Matt Ryan.

    Speaking of Ryan, his pass protection has been awful this preseason, which gives me some pause. However, Julio Jones hasn’t played. Atlanta’s offense is obviously so much more potent with Jones on the field, so this issue could be resolved early in the regular season.

  19. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) – Previously: 13.
    Kudos to the Jaguars for sticking to their draft board and not reaching for need when Josh Allen fell to them at No. 7 overall. They easily could’ve went with Jonah Williams or T.J. Hockenson, but they selected the best player available. If the preseason is any indication, Allen will get the Jacksonville defense back to its 2017 glory days. If so, Nick Foles will actually be able to take the team the distance, unlike Blake Bortles.

  20. Denver Broncos (6-10) – Previously: 24.
    It seems like everyone bashed the Joe Flacco trade, which seems like a dumb sentiment to me. Flacco is a very clear upgrade over Case Keenum, yet only cost a fourth-round pick. Having Flacco around should help Drew Lock develop as well.

    Six years ago, Flacco piloted a team with a stellar defense to a Super Bowl victory. Perhaps he can do the same thing with the Broncos. He’ll need to stay healthy, which is an issue, but if he can remain off the injured list, he should be able to help Denver reach the postseason.

  21. New York Jets (4-12) – Previously: 15.
    The Eagles were my sleeper team for 2017. The Bears were my sleeper team last year. The Jets might be my sleeper team for 2019. Sam Darnold is going to be much better with experience, and Le’Veon Bell’s presence in the backfield won’t hurt. The Jets also upgraded their offensive line by trading for Kelechi Osemele, so their offense will be much better this year. Their defense, meanwhile, will be much better with Quinnen Williams, C.J. Mosley and Jachai Polite. I’ve already bet them to win the Super Bowl at 125/1 odds, and I also bet on Darnold to win MVP at 100/1.

  22. San Angeles Chargers (12-4) – Previously: 12.
    The Chargers endured a poor offseason entering the 2019 NFL Draft. They lost a few talented players – namely Darius Philon, Corey Liuget and Tyrell Williams – yet didn’t really gain anything prior to the draft outside of a backup quarterback and an aging linebeacker. Imagine how upset their fans would be right now if they had fans!

    Now, they won’t have Derwin James for most of the year, while their left tackle Russell Okung is dealing with blood clots. The Chargers, who won many close games last year, don’t seem like they’ll be as fortunate in 2019.

  23. Los Angeles Rams (13-3) – Previously: 14.
    No one should be surprised that the Rams struggled in the Super Bowl. They were overrated all year, barely scraping by bad teams and getting manhandled during the regular season by the Eagles, Bears and Saints. Jared Goff, while being a hard worker, doesn’t strike me as the most intelligent guy, so it made sense that Bill Belichick was able to outsmart him and force him into countless errors in the Super Bowl.

    Things will be more difficult for Goff in 2019. The Rams lost two starting offensive linemen – Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan – while left tackle Andrew Whitworth could decline a bit at 37. The defense, meanwhile, lost Ndamukong Suh and Lamarcus Joyner. I liked the Rams’ draft haul, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to save them from regression this upcoming season.

  24. New Orleans Saints (13-3) – Previously: 10.
    The Saints won five games by four points or fewer, so they could have been 8-8 instead of 13-3. With their center and top interior defensive linemen injured/gone, and Drew Brees now 40, the Saints could easily regress this year, especially considering that every other team in their division has improved.

  25. Cleveland Browns (7-8-1) – Previously: 9.
    Cleveland’s defensive line is ridiculous. The team sacked Jameis Winston six times in the first 21 plays of the game during the third preseason contest. Conversely, Baker Mayfield played like trash. I don’t expect him to perform that poorly very often, especially when he can throw to Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, but that showing was a bit worrying.

  26. Chicago Bears (12-4) – Previously: 8.
    Mitchell Trubisky will have to play better in 2019 for the Bears to repeat as NFC North winners. They had the best defense in the NFL last year, but lost two valuable members of their secondary, as Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos left via free agency. Chicago signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to replace Amos, and that’s only a slight downgrade. However, going from Callahan to Buster Skrine is a severe hit to the secondary, and defensive coordiinator Vic Fangio will be missed.

  27. Carolina Panthers (7-9) – Previously: 7.
    I heard that Cam Newton is healthy early in the offseason, and then Carolina signed Gerald McCoy. I put a wager on the Panthers to win the Super Bowl at 60/1 odds. Unfortunately, Newton hurt his foot in the preseason. The Panthers are cautiously optimistic about Newton, so I’m still bullish on their chances, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly concerned right now.

  28. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) – Previously: 5.
    The Steelers typically tend to be overrated because of all the fan support they have, but they might just be underrated right now. It would be foolish to completely write them off, as the bad opinion sports media tends to be doing in the wake of the Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell departures. Ben Roethlisberger is still the quarterback, while JuJu Smith-Schuster has the potential to be a better player than the aging Brown in 2019. I still like Pittsburgh’s offensive line and defensive front. Meanwhile, the linebacking corps will be much better with Devin Bush on the roster. I think there’s a good chance the Steelers will win the division in 2019, and perhaps even win the Super Bowl.

  29. New England Patriots (11-5) – Previously: 3.
    Things won’t be so easy for the Patriots in 2019. In addition to the fact that Tom Brady just turned 42, the Patriots will have a tougher time in the division, as I expect both the Bills and Jets to be substantially better (especially the latter.) Trent Brown’s departure will be huge as well; aside from Brady and Bill Belichick, he was atop the list of reasons why the Patriots were able to prevail in Atlanta. The departure of Trey Flowers will hurt, too.

    There is good news, however, and that would be the emergence of third-round rookie Chase Winovich, who has basically been camping out in opposing backfields in the preseason. I have no idea why Winovich dropped so much in the 2019 NFL Draft, but the Patriots look like they obtained a mega steal.

  30. Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) – Previously: 4.
    I feel like I say this every offseason, but the Packers’ upcoming season depends so much on Aaron Rodgers’ ability to stay healthy. Though he played almost the entire season in 2018, he got hurt right away in the opener and was never really the same after that. Rodgers at 100 percent could definitely win Super Bowl LIV, but it’s almost a sure thing that he won’t be 100 percent this upcoming year.

    On the bright side, the defense will be much better with Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos joining the team. I wish I could add Rashan Gary to that list, but Gary slacked off and did nothing in Michigan, so I don’t have much optimism for his pro prospects, especially after his poor preseason. Conversely, fellow first-rounder Darnell Savage looked great, so he’ll help the secondary.

  31. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Previously: 1.
    The Eagles spent lots of energy bolstering their defensive line this offseason, signing Malik Jackson and Vinny Curry. They also added some talented offensive players in Jordan Howard and DeSean Jackson. Second-round rookie running back Miles Sanders will add some much-needed explosion to the backfield.

    Philly fans have plenty to be excited about, as the Eagles should be considered one of the top favorites to win Super Bowl LIV. In fact, I bet them to do so at 21/1 odds.

    That said, there is some room for improvement, so I could see general manager Howie Roseman trading for Jadeveon Clowney. The Eagles have the money to do the deal, so I could see them trading with Houston.

  32. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) – Previously: 6.
    When I compiled my previous NFL Power Rankings, the Chiefs were sixth because Tyreek Hill’s status was unknown. It was unclear if he would be suspended, so Patrick Mahomes may have had to throw the ball to an injury-prone Sammy Watkins and rookie Mecole Hardman when not targeting Travis Kelce. With Hill safe from suspension, the Chiefs can be slotted atop this list. They have the best offense in the NFL, while their defense boasts some dynamic play-makers like Tyrann Mathieu, Frank Clark and Chris Jones.

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