It’s been one week since the start of the NFL’s new league year, and a lot has happened with free agency and trades. There are still a lot of free agents out there like Ndamukong Suh, DeMarco Murray, and Jeremy Maclin, and the draft is yet to come, but this is where I see each team standing as of now. Keep in mind, these power rankings could be very different, as NFL appears extremely deep right now.
1. New England Patriots | Previous: 1
The Patriots have lost their starting left tackle (Nate Solder), their leading rusher from last season (Dion Lewis), a former Super Bowl hero (Malcolm Butler), and a massively clutch receiver (Danny Amendola), but they did add cornerback Jason McCourty, defensive tackle Danny Shelton, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, running back Jeremy Hill, offensive tackle Matt Tobin, and wide receiver/special teams ace Cordarrelle Patterson. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are still there, so the Patriots belong in the top spot.
2. Philadelphia Eagles | Previous: 2
Already with one of the league’s best pass rushes, the Eagles added defensive end Michael Bennett from the Seahawks in a trade. While most people love the move, Bennett acts like a headcase too much—both on the field (jumping offsides) and off the field (lying about the Las Vegas police). Maybe this locker room can handle his personality, but we’ll see if he plays well enough to be worth the risk. The good news is Carson Wentz is throwing on his feet again, and he could be one of those people that recovers from injury quicker than most.
3. Minnesota Vikings | Previous: 3
After they were destroyed in the NFC Championship Game and the Eagles won the Super Bowl in their home stadium, the Vikings have gone all-in this offseason so far. Kirk Cousins was considered the biggest free agent price by many, and even if he’s not an elite, top-tier quarterback, he’s someone that hasn’t missed a game as a starter and should be there all season—and the team surrounding him is one of the strongest in the NFL with Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, an offensive line that keeps improving, and perhaps the league’s best defense (which added Sheldon Richardson).
4. Los Angeles Rams | Previous: 4
Sammy Watkins leaving leaves a void on the outside that must be filled via the draft, free agency, or someone on the roster, but Sean McVay and company should be able to figure it out. Defensively, the Rams geared up to Wade Phillip’s liking, adding Pro Bowl corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. The two talented corners can both be unpredictable at times, so team chemistry is a concern, but talent-wise it’s a scary thought trying to throw on the Rams this season.
5. Atlanta Falcons | Previous: 5
The Falcons didn’t do much in the first wave of free agency, but they added guard Brandon Fusco to help sure up the offensive line. It might not be as exciting as some of the other moves teams have made this offseason, but it’ll open up holes for Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman and give Matt Ryan more time in the pocket. They could use some help on the defensive line after losing Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn in free agency, but overall Atlanta is really solid.
6. New Orleans Saints | Previous: 7 (+1)
New Orleans didn’t make any huge surprising signings, but it’s hard to top keeping Drew Brees in town. They also added to two key pieces to the defense: linebacker Demario Davis and nickel corner Patrick Robinson. Look for the Saints to keep adding defense in the draft. Considering the Saints were a Minnesota Miracle away from playing the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game, it’s hard not to be optimistic about them this season.
7. Tennessee Titans | Previous: 11 (+4)
Titans GM Jon Robinson, who used to be in New England’s front office, continues to pick off some Patriots players—this year, signing cornerback Malcolm Butler and running back Dion Lewis. They paid Butler a lot, but he gives them a great trio of corners with him, Logan Ryan, and Adoree’ Jackson; with those three able to play man-to-man coverage, it gives defensive coordinator Dean Pees and new head coach Mike Vrabel options on defense. And Lewis will pair with Derrick Henry in what should be a formidable thunder-and-lightning duo to help take pressure off the passing game.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers | Previous: 6 (-2)
Like the Falcons, the Steelers have been relatively quiet in free agency, but they signed linebacker Jon Bostic a few days ago and safety Morgan Burnett yesterday. I think Burnett is one of the most underrated players in the league, and he provide a steady, all-around presence for a secondary that must play well to get out of the AFC in 2018.
9. Kansas City Chiefs | Previous: 12 (+3)
Alex Smith leaving is not to be taken lightly after the success he’s had over the last several years, but the Chiefs are putting second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes II in a great position to succeed after adding Sammy Watkins to the offense. And clearly, Andy Reid knows what he’s doing as a great offensive mind—with Mahomes, Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, and Travis Kelce, among others, Kansas City is probably going to be really exciting to watch this year. On defense, linebacker Anthony Hitchens will help solidify the run defense and pass coverage over the middle.
10. Oakland Raiders | Previous: 13 (+3)
During the legal tampering period, it didn’t look like the Raiders were going to do much in free agency, but that was not to be the case, as they added running back Doug Martin, safety Marcus Gilchrist, linebacker Tahir Whitehead, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, and wide receiver Jordy Nelson after he was released by Green Bay. I really love what the Raiders are doing, as they are going after productive players but are not overpaying for them.
11. San Francisco 49ers | Previous: 15 (+4)
The biggest move for the 49ers came before the new league year, as they swiftly signed All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman to a three-year deal after he was released by Seattle the weekend before free agency began. Then, they added running back Jerick McKinnon, who the team identified as a great fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and center Wenton Richburg to anchor the line (though it was messed up to trade former center Daniel Kilgore just a month after signing him to an extension).
12. Carolina Panthers | Previous: (-4)
The Panthers are a bit under the radar, but they made some calculated moves this offseason, re-signing defensive end Julius Peppers, who still gets it done as he gets closer to age 40, trading for wide receiver Torrey Smith to help stretch the defense, and signing defensive tackle Dontari Poe to help eat up space for the team’s great linebackers. They might need to add another outside receiver and use Smith as more of a situational deep threat, but new offensive coordinator Norv Turner should help get Cam Newton and the offense going.
13. Green Bay Packers | Previous: 9 (-4)
This is where the power rankings really start to show the current depth of the league. The signings of tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson show the new direction the Packers are taking in their free agency approach. Graham instantly gives them one of the best red-zone weapons in the NFL, and he should excel on back-shoulder passes from Aaron Rodgers. However, Green Bay parted ways with perhaps Rodgers’ best target, Jordy Nelson, which none of the players seem very happy about.
14. Los Angeles Chargers | Previous: 10 (-4)
The Chargers could easily be in the top five of the power rankings, as they have a great roster with excellent players on both sides of the ball, they have Philip Rivers at quarterback, and they played among the best football of anyone down the stretch in 2017. They haven’t done much in free agency, but they added Mike Pouncey to throw into the center of what should be one of the league’s best offensive lines if they all stay healthy. Remember, cornerback Jason Verrett is coming back from another knee injury and will help give the Chargers one of the best cornerback groups out there.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars | Previous: 14 (-1)
One of the biggest signings of the first wave of free agency was guard Andrew Norwell, who fits exactly what the Jaguars want to do on offense. Jacksonville has emphasized the interior offensive line, and Norwell will help open more running lanes for Leonard Fournette. The bad news for the Jags is the rest of the AFC South should be more of a threat for the division title in 2018.
16. Houston Texans | Previous: 17 (+1)
After adding safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Aaron Colvin in free agency, the pass defense of the Texans should be a lot better this season after they gave up a ton of big plays in 2017. Considering they get J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, and Whitney Mercilus back from injury, Houston could be one of those teams that goes from worst-to-first.
17. Seattle Seahawks | Previous: 16 (-1)
It’s weird to have the Seahawks this low in the power rankings, but they already showed this past season that they are no lock to make the playoffs, and they are apparently in a mini-rebuild/re-tool here. Because they haven’t had a strong running game in recent years, Jimmy Graham was a huge part of them converting goal-line opportunities into touchdowns—especially last season. With him gone, the Seahawks need to find other ways to punch the ball in and finish off drives (preferably with the run game so not everything is on Russell Wilson’s shoulders).
18. Arizona Cardinals | Previous: 27 (+9)
If all things were equal health-wise, I don’t think there’s any question Sam Bradford would have been considered the top free agent available this offseason. When he’s been on the field over the last two seasons, he’s been an elite quarterback. The offensive line must protect him, and the Cardinals probably need to add more weapons, but the trio of Bradford, David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald is among the league’s best. Defensively, there’s a lot of talent there, and new head coach Steve Wilks will look to get the most out of it.
19. Washington Redskins | Previous: 18 (-1)
Wide receiver Paul Richardson and cornerback Orlando Scandrick were the Redskins’ two free agent signings, and they should help steady two of the team’s shakiest groups from last season. Also, re-signing linebacker Zach Brown was huge, as he was great for them last season and might be the most underrated inside linebacker in the NFL. I’m interested to see how Jay Gruden’s offense will look with a more athletic quarterback under center.
20. Dallas Cowboys | Previous: 19 (-1)
Well, the Cowboys are the only team in the NFL to not sign any free agents, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they were an average team last season and the Dez Bryant contract/situation is limiting them. I get Jerry Jones likes Bryant, but I think anyone that’s watched over the last few seasons will tell you Bryant hasn’t played close to like a top-five receiver. The draft will be critical for Dallas.
21. Detroit Lions | Previous: 22 (+1)
Detroit lost linebacker Tahir Whitehead, which is likely to hurt, but they signed linebackers Christian Jones and Devon Kennard, who new head coach Matt Patricia was able to identify as two players that would fit his defense. Offensively, the signing of LeGarrette Blount will hopefully bring consistency to the running game, but it’s probably going to be up to the offensive line to open up holes for the backs. Taking pressure of Matthew Stafford via a strong defense and running game would have the Lions in instant contention.
22. Chicago Bears | Previous: 23 (+1)
Chicago predictably added a lot of help for second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this offseason, as they signed wide receiver Allen Robinson, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, and tight end Trey Burton early in free agency. Now, the Bears have a bonafide number one receiver in Robinson, and the skill positions on offense are deep across the board. With Matt Nagy as the team’s head coach and former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as the team’s offensive coordinator, Chicago’s offense could be one of the league’s most creative.
23. Indianapolis Colts | Previous: 20 (-3)
The team most difficult to rank might be the Colts, who don’t have a strong roster but have one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Andrew Luck—but Luck hasn’t played in over a year and is not known to have thrown a football again yet. By trading back from No. 3 to No. 6, the Colts received a plethora of picks (No. 6, No. 37, No. 49, and the Jets 2019 second-round picks) over the next few years to rebuild the roster around Luck. And after Josh McDaniels back out of the job at the last minute, head coach Frank Reich was an excellent hire last month.
24. New York Giants | Previous: 28 (+4)
The signing of former Patriots left tackle Nate Solder was huge, as that’s been a position of weakness for the Giants for quite a while now. If they happen to draft guard Quenton Nelson early in this year’s draft (whether at No. 2 or after trading back), it would instantly turn the left side of the Giants offensive line into one of the league’s best. Solder alone should help make Eli Manning more comfortable back there in the pocket, and perhaps he’ll be rejuvenated and has his career lengthened if given protection up front.
25. Buffalo Bills | Previous: 25
Clearly, the Bills are attempting to get up into position to draft a quarterback, and the move to deal left tackle Cordy Glenn and the 21st pick in the draft for the 12th pick in the draft was great because it basically dealt a player they didn’t really need, as Dion Dawkins played very well as a rookie at left tackle last season. Buffalo made the playoffs in 2017, and they could easily be ten-plus spots higher in the rankings.
26. New York Jets | Previous: 26
While the Bills wanted to trade up for a quarterback, the Jets made a power move by going from No. 6 to No. 3, presumably ensuring they would get one of the quarterbacks they want in the draft. It would be a very interesting dynamic if the Bills trade up to somewhere like No. 4 (or even ahead of the Jets to No. 2) and two rookie quarterback with high expectations end up in the same division. Some were saying the Jets should’ve just tanked instead of giving up picks to move up, but that’s a loser’s mentality and ignorant—this isn’t fantasy football, and you don’t just tank in the NFL. If the Jets didn’t play so well (compared to expectations) last season, head coach Todd Bowles might have been fired. I think he and the organization made the right decision by acting like real professionals and attempting to win games.
27. Baltimore Ravens | Previous: 21 (-6)
The Ravens could also be a lot higher in the power rankings, but head coach John Harbaugh is on the hottest of hot seats, and who knows how the team will respond if things start to go wrong during the season? I really like the Michael Crabtree and John Brown signings, and they both seem like they’ll mesh well with Joe Flacco. The loss of defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who retired then decided to join the Titans in the same position, might be tough.
28. Miami Dolphins | Previous: 24 (-4)
Adam Gase and the Dolphins are attempting a culture change, and they just need time to see it through. Miami deserves credit for tagging receiver Jarvis Landry with the intention of trading him, and it worked out for them—especially because they were able to sign Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson in free agency. On the offensive line, they arguably improved by adding guard Josh Sitton and center Daniel Kilgore (while cutting center Mike Pouncey). If Ryan Tannehill stays healthy and the offensive line plays as well as it looks on paper, the Gase’s offense and team could be as good as ever in 2018.
29. Denver Broncos | Previous: 29
John Elway said the Broncos targeted Case Keenum to be their quarterback from the start, and I believe him. While it’s not quite as good as the situation in Minnesota, Keenum will be in a similar one with the Broncos, as Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders give him two strong options on the outside. However, Denver’s success will likely come down to the coaching of Vance Joseph and the performance of the defense.
30. Cincinnati Bengals | Previous: 30
The team signed linebacker Preston Brown, which is a solid addition to the defense, but they might be without star linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the first four games of the season after a reported violation of the league’s PED policy. In a league as tight as the NFL is today, not having one of your best players on the field for 25% of the season could be difficult to overcome. The Bengals need to hope left tackle Cordy Glenn can stay healthy and play well after they traded back nine spots to acquire him from Buffalo.
31. Cleveland Browns | Previous: 32 (+1)
Frankly, if Hue Jackson wasn’t the head coach, I would probably have the Browns higher than this after they added receiver Jarvis Landry, cornerback Damarious Randall, running back Carlos Hyde, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor, but Jackson went 1-31 over the last two seasons and made excuses in the process—while also claiming no one else could have done his job last season. I’m still surprised they kept him, but there will be no excuses if he doesn’t get at least a few wins this season.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Previous: 31 (-1)
Like many teams on this list, the Bucs could be much higher than the last spot. But last season, there were things not to like about the team (like immaturity from two of its best players), and a team has to be down here. It’s worth noting Tampa Bay might have more upside than most teams toward the bottom of the power rankings, but they need Mike Evans to be a leader after he was given a huge contract, Jameis Winston to stay healthy and not turn the ball over, and to be much more consistent (in every phase) to meet their potential.