The 2019 NFL season gets underway in seven short months, which has us already looking ahead toward what’s to come. Although we’re still waiting on free agency, the draft and the rest of the offseason, we’re not waiting to power ranking all 32 teams following Super Bowl LII.
No, you’re crazy.
No, there’s no chance these rankings change between now and the end of the calendar year.
1. New England Patriots: The Vegas favorites to win it all have been to three of the last four Super Bowls and should have Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower back. Only question is, can Tom Brady hold up at age 41?
2. New Orleans Saints: They easily could have won it all, and there’s no reason to think they’ll take a step backward in 2018. That 2017 rookie class should continue to do damage, and that young defense should be better.
3. Minnesota Vikings: That defense is so damn good, and they’ll have Dalvin Cook back. If they pick the right quarterback, they might be Super Bowl favorites by the start of October.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Get used to this. The Jaguars are right there with Minnesota on defense and have Leonard Fournette on the other side of the ball. If Blake Bortles is turning a corner, they’re going to wreck a lot of opponents in 2018.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers: Le’Veon Bell isn’t going anywhere. And while the Steelers are low on salary cap space, they’ll have a shot so long as the Killer B’s are healthy.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Take what you just saw and add Carson Wentz back. Only problem is Wentz might not be fully healthy for the start of the year, we still don’t know what to expect from Nick Foles long-term and the Eagles have no money, as well as a lot of good in-house impending free agents. It won’t be easy to become the first team in 13 years to defend a Super Bowl title.
7. Atlanta Falcons: The offense wasn’t right in the wake of Kyle Shanahan’s departure, but that’s not unusual. Year 2 under Steve Sarkisian should be better, and we know they have the weapons on both sides of the ball.
8. San Francisco 49ers: They finished the 2017 season 5-0, they’ve found their franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, they’ve got crazy talent on defense, they still pick in the top 10 and they have more salary cap space than anyone else in football. The 49ers will contend in 2018.
9. Oakland Raiders: They’ll have a top-10 pick and a fair amount of money to spend. Plus, expect a bounce-back year from a talented offense with Derek Carr healthy and under Jon Gruden’s wing.
10. Kansas City Chiefs: Fair to wonder if they have a ceiling under Andy Reid, but at least they’re mixing it up with Patrick Mahomes II. Don’t forget, they’ll get Eric Berry back and they now have Kendall Fuller in that secondary.
11. Los Angeles Rams: It’s possible they’ll come back to earth a little after a breakout season, as that happens quite often in cases like these. Still, they’ve got Super Bowl-contending talent on both sides of the ball, and some money to spend.
12. Los Angeles Chargers: After being way better than their record the last two years, the talented Chargers are due. Expect them to finally break through with a playoff appearance in 2018, especially if they can have better injury luck with their young players.
13. Houston Texans: They have to be considered a major threat in the AFC with a healthy Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt, especially now that they have a bunch of cash to spend in free agency.
14. Tennessee Titans: Really excited to see what Mike Vrabel’s coaching staff (Matt LaFleur! Dean Pees!) can do with that young, talented team, and general manager Jon Robinson once again has a lot of salary cap space. The Titans could finally emerge as a Super Bowl contender in 2018.
15. Green Bay Packers: The Packers have some serious flaws and I’m not sure they have the resources to fix them this offseason. Still, Aaron Rodgers alone can get them to the Super Bowl if he can stay healthy.
16. Dallas Cowboys: They went 9-7 despite not having Zeke Elliott for six games. In 2018, they’ll have him for all 16. For once, the Cowboys aren’t strapped for salary cap space. They’ll be in the playoff mix.
17. Carolina Panthers: You’ve got a shot with Cam Newton and that talent on defense, and Year 2 for Christian McCaffrey should be interesting. Still, they’re only the third-best team in a tough division.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Considering the state of the defense and the rest of the offense, this is a team that would rank in the bottom 10 if not for perennial MVP contender Russell Wilson.
19. Washington Redskins: I don’t think the transition from Kirk Cousins to Alex Smith will hurt badly, but it won’t make them any better and they’ll miss Kendall Fuller. The Redskins are a wild-card contender if everything goes right, but that’s their ceiling.
20. New York Giants: They’re so much better than 3-13 if they can stay healthy, but the offensive line and running game are still likely to cause problems and they’re getting old on defense. Similar ceiling to Washington’s, but a much lower floor.
21. Chicago Bears: Watch out! They feel a little bit like the 2017 Rams. Matt Nagy has the ability to breathe new life into the organization, and Mitchell Trubisky could take a big leap forward with a lot more support in his sophomore season. Plus, they’ve got some money to spend and a good draft position.
22. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford is the only reason why the Lions have a shot on a yearly basis. That’s just not enough.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Can’t miss the playoffs in a wide-open year with a joke schedule like that. This team hasn’t seen the postseason since 2014, and I don’t see any reason why that’ll change in 2018.
24. New York Jets: They aren’t about to contend, but 2017 was somewhat promising for a tanking team. Now they’ve got a high draft pick and tons of money to spend, so a quick turnaround might not be far-fetched if they can find their quarterback.
25. Miami Dolphins: Getting Ryan Tannehill back could help, but this is an aging team that could lose its top offensive player in free agency.
26. Buffalo Bills: A mediocre team with a so-so quarterback was in the right place at the right time in 2017. A new playoff drought will likely begin in 2018 for a team that allowed 57 more points than it scored last season.
27. Indianapolis Colts: They have a high draft pick, money to spend and (maybe) Andrew Luck, but that’s just not enough for the dysfunctional Colts and their horrendous defense. It’ll take some time to recover from the Josh McDaniels mess, and that “maybe” for Luck is a problem.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis is back, for some reason, and you can expect the stale Bengals to once again cheap out in free agency before entering a season in which 8-8 is probably the best-case scenario.
29. Denver Broncos: That defense is aging fast, they still don’t have a quarterback and they’re not even cap-rich. That No. 5 overall pick won’t likely save them in 2018.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They’ve got salary cap space and a good draft pick, but that didn’t help them much last year. I don’t believe in the brass, or Jameis Winston.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Unless they land a veteran franchise quarterback, the rebuild begins this year. They don’t even have a high draft pick or a lot of money to spend.
32. Cleveland Browns: They’ve won just a single game in two years, so I can’t justify placing them higher than this. That said, a team with over $100 million to spend and four top-35 picks is bound to improve eventually. I do expect the Browns to win a few games in 2018.