Updated NFL power rankings after 2019 NFL Draft
NFL power rankings are capable of going through considerable change even when teams are not winning or losing. That's because they are still playing a big game all offseason long.
The last time we looked at the teams from Nos. 1-32 right after Super Bowl 53, we had no idea how improved or weakened each would become after free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft. Now that we think we know who is better and who is worse, here is a new edition. With the new power rankings come hints about who is in for a playoff rise or slide.
1 New England Patriots (previous rank: 1)
The Patriots took some expected defensive hits in free agency and also saw Rob Gronkowski retire. But they addressed their immediate needs and reconstructed their depth with an excellent draft. And, oh yeah, the reigning champs still have the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick thing going strong.
2 Kansas City Chiefs (2)
The Tyreek Hill situation is somehow messier and uglier than what happened with Kareem Hunt. Patrick Mahomes, however, gives their offense a high ceiling no matter what, and they quickly found the right pieces for their new complementary 4-3 defense under Steve Spagnuolo.
3 New Orleans Saints (6)
The Saints got Latavius Murray and Jared Cook in free agency to give their offense extra juice, and Malcom Brown will do the same for their defensive line rotation. Their offseason of limited losses stamps them as big NFC favorites.
4 Los Angeles Rams (3)
The Rams took personnel hits on the offensive line and on every level of their defense while settling for more veteran presence in Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews. Coach Sean McVay will adjust and keep up the scoring to compensate.
5 Indianapolis Colts (7)
The Colts won’t catch anyone by surprise with Frank Reich and Andrew Luck this season, but with a handful of smart additions led by Parris Campbell and Justin Houston, they have few holes.
6 Los Angeles Chargers (4)
The Chargers got stronger defensively with rookies Jerry Tillery and Nasir Adderley, and Thomas Davis also gives their front seven that missing leader. The offense will be a little different with Hunter Henry and without Tyrell Williams but still plenty effective with Philip Rivers at the controls.
7 Cleveland Browns (8)
Believe in the offensive hype around Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr., and buy more into the improved defense raising its production for new coordinator Steve Wilks. There is too much talent here to ignore the Browns' new status as AFC North favorites.
8 Green Bay Packers (10)
Meet your new NFC North favorites, led by early coach of the year frontrunner Matt LaFleur. Aaron Rodgers will be rejuvenated for a big season, and all the major defensive upgrades will pay off to give coordinator Mike Pettine more of the impact he wants.
9 Chicago Bears (6)
The Bears will make sure the Packers don't have an easy time trying to take back the division. The growth of Mitchell Trubisky will allow Matt Nagy to get more out of the offense to compensate for the defense losing a few key pieces, led by the departure coordinator Vic Fangio.
10 Philadelphia Eagles (11)
There’s no more comfortable contingency for Carson Wentz, so it's on him to be durable and take advantage of all the bonus help the Eagles have given him. The backbone of Jim Schwartz’s defense keeps this team among one of the league’s most well-rounded.
11 Dallas Cowboys (14)
Dak Prescott is settled with a go-to guy in Amari Cooper to play his best off Dallas' running game. Plus, both Randall Cobb and Jason Witten will be welcome savvy on which the QB can lean. The Cowboys still lean on DeMarcus Lawrence and the linebackers lifting the rest of the defense.
12 Seattle Seahawks (12)
Russell Wilson got paid, but he might not have his venerable, go-to guy in Doug Baldwin anymore. The rebuilding defense also lost Earl Thomas, Frank Clark and Justin Coleman. Shocker, but there will be more on Wilson, even in a run-heavy offense, to keep them above .500.
13 Baltimore Ravens (13)
The Ravens lost some defensive front seven fixtures in C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, but they also gained a lot offensively with Lamar Jackson in mind. The additions of Mark Ingram, Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin indicate they are ready to open things up for their second-year QB to do a lot more than run and lead.
14 Pittsburgh Steelers (16)
The Steelers are now more of what Mike Tomlin wants without Antonio Brown in town: a team built around its running game and defense. The trick is getting back to the playoffs without going through identity-transitioning crisis.
15 San Francisco 49ers (21)
Jimmy Garoppolo returns to a more loaded, versatile, Kyle Shanahan-led offense with Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd joining Dante Pettis, George Kittle, Marquise Goodwin and Jerick McKinnon. Nick Bosa and Dee Ford change the face of the defense, too. We might have been a year early on predicting the 49ers' playoff breakthrough.
16 Houston Texans (9)
Deshaun Watson got some needed line help, but the running game and the defense still have familiar questions. There are also limited positive vibes after the Texans lost in the playoffs to the surging Colts.
17 Minnesota Vikings (15)
Kirk Cousins should play better this season now that the Vikings have committed to line help and again have a healthy Dalvin Cook. Defensively, however, they need more youth to serve them; they’ve gotten a little longer in the tooth.
18 Atlanta Falcons (17)
The Falcons are undergoing more needed coaching transition, and their baseline of talent, led by Matt Ryan, gives them a high floor. But they might not have the juice to push for the ceiling behind the Saints in the NFC South.
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19 Carolina Panthers (19)
The Panthers are experiencing less of a transition than the Falcons are, but until Cam Newton looks good with his shoulder in Week 1, the offense is a wild card. With Christian McCaffrey exploding, look for more of a foundational shift to running game and defense, especially with Ron Rivera now calling the plays for the latter.
20 New York Jets (22)
Adam Gase once got good, immediate results when he started coaching the rival Dolphins, and with Le’Veon Bell, Sam Darnold has the extra skill position help needed for a big jump in Year 2. Gregg Williams also will maximize the revamped defensive front, making the Jets a wild-card sleeper to watch.
21 Jacksonville Jaguars (28)
Nick Foles solves quarterback as both a more reliable caretaker and a more aggressive playmaker. While the Jaguars will be a better passing team, they need Leonard Fournette’s power running and the defense’s swarming to round back into playoff form.
22 Tennessee Titans (18)
The Titans were fine being a physical, pounding team with Mike Vrabel last season, as they had no problems with the defense and running game plan, especially after Derrick Henry established himself as a beast. The questions now, with another new coordinator and two new weapons (Adam Humphries, A.J. Brown), are whether they can open it up with Marcus Mariota and whether he can raise his game to match.
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20)
Bruce Arians is the ideal, offensive-minded coach for the skill set of Jameis Winston, so this is make-or-break regarding the latter's status as a downfield passer. Defensively, there’s a big schematic and personnel transition, too, which is bound to be bumpy.
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24 Denver Broncos (23)
With Drew Lock in waiting, the clock is already ticking on Joe Flacco's time as the Broncos’ latest bridge quarterback. Whoever is playing QB, this team’s level of turnaround success is more tied to — wait for it — Vic Fangio's defense and the return of the running game.
25 Oakland Raiders (31)
The Raiders didn’t waste their ample offseason resources (draft picks, money) under Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. Antonio Brown is the headliner, but they have a whole new receiving corps, a legitimate young feature back (Josh Jacobs) and potentially up to seven new defensive starters. So, yeah, Silver and Black is no longer fading to black.
26 New York Giants (24)
The Giants don’t have Odell Beckham Jr., but they do have Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Even Engram to help the peaceful transition of quarterback from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones. Defensively, they also got younger and more in sync with James Bettcher's 3-4 scheme.
27 Buffalo Bills (25)
The Bills got more quantity (John Brown, Cole Beasley, Tyler Kroft, Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon, Devin Singletary) with skill positions, but their true upgrade in offensive quality for Josh Allen is up front (Mitch Morse, Cody Ford, Quinton Spain, Ty Nsekhe, Spencer Long). We’re still not sure how it all will come together well enough for Buffalo to finish better than third in the AFC East.
28 Detroit Lions (26)
The Lions are yet another team going away from previous pass-happy days to make it more about — wait for it again — the running game and defense under Matt Patricia. To that physical end, T.J. Hockenson and Trey Flowers were great pickups. Consider this another Patriots copycat trying to match the champs’ adjusted identity.
29 Arizona Cardinals (32)
Kyler Murray will be a roller-coaster ride, matching the thrills with plenty of rookie spills for Kliff Kingsbury. While the new coach gets creative to make the offense basketball on turf, the defense has a much tougher transition in place with new personnel and in Vance Joseph’s new scheme.
30 Cincinnati Bengals (27)
There is a lot of natural offensive optimism with Zac Taylor taking over for Marvin Lewis to boost skill players such as A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. But they will miss Lewis’ influence on a struggling defense that received no upgrades.
31 Washington Redskins (30)
Case Keenum just wants to win, which means he just needs to accept being replaced by rookie Dwayne Haskins. The Redskins will see some QB struggles either way, meaning it’s more about — wait for it a third time — the running game and defense to keep them afloat. If they end up ranked 31st at the end of the season, then it likely will mean the end of the Jay Gruden era.
32 Miami Dolphins (29)
The Dolphins have embraced the idea of 2019 being a figure-it-out season for the Patriots-tinged leadership of Chris Grier and Brian Flores. They have assembled enough transitional rebuilding blocks for one to think they might not be the worst team in the NFL this season. But if they are, and if they're not feeling it with Josh Rosen, they can do QB over again with Tua Tagovailoa.
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