Guregian: Pre-camp NFL Power Rankings

Guregian: Pre-camp NFL Power Rankings

Guregian: Pre-camp NFL Power Rankings

After getting through a pandemic-plagued season, the NFL is on the verge of starting anew with more of a return to normalcy. Offseason camps were conducted, training camp is on deck, and there will be an actual preseason, unlike last year.

Along the way, several teams had coaching changes and major facelifts during the offseason, while others stood pat.

Where are teams as they head into training camp? Which team gets the nod at No. 1, and where do the Patriots sit after a 7-9 season in 2020?

Here’s where all the teams stack up in our power rankings before everyone hits the field.

1. Buccaneers: There’s no reason to move the defending Super Bowl champs from the top perch. Even with a slew of key players hitting free agency during the offseason, all the starters are back for another go-round. Yes, Tom Brady & Co. are primed for a repeat.

2. Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes has a retooled offensive line. He shouldn’t be running for his life every time he drops back, as was the case in the Super Bowl. They remain the team to beat in the AFC.

3. Bills: Can they take the next step and get to the Super Bowl? Or will they be one-hit wonders in the AFC East? The answer lies with Josh Allen, and if he plays up to the same level as last year or regresses.

4. Browns: They’re loaded on both sides of the ball. Like with the Bills, it’s more a question of how far Baker Mayfield can take them.

5. Packers: With Aaron Rodgers, they’re a top five team. Without Rodgers, they plunge down the board. Talk about pressure, Jordan Love would have to take over for the reigning NFL MVP. So they’re essentially a TBD.

6. Ravens: Veteran Sammy Watkins, and rookies Rashod Bateman (first round) and Tylan Wallace (fourth round) should spruce up the receiving corps with Hollywood Brown and Devin Duvernay. Translation? No more excuses for Lamar Jackson, who’s on tap for a mega-deal.

7. Titans: They lost Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis, but gained Julio Jones. So they’ll be fine offensively. Defensively, not convinced they fixed their pass rush woes, but did improve the secondary.

8. Rams: Swapping Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff has expectations through the roof for Sean McVay’s team. We’ll see if Stafford gets them over the hump. It’s hard not to like them at the outset.

9. Seahawks: Did they truly kiss and make up with Russell Wilson? Seems that way. Adding rookie slot receiver D’Wayne Eskridge and veteran tight end Gerald Everett helped. But still not sure they’ve done enough to protect Wilson.

10. 49ers: Is it me, or does Kyle Shanahan seem to want to coach every quarterback not named Jimmy Garoppolo? He actually admitted he was bummed he didn’t get Matthew Stafford. Jimmy G gets no love in San Francisco, that’s for sure.

11. Cowboys: The return of Dak Prescott promises great things for the offense. The defense? Still suspect. Prescott is going to have to put up a ton of points every game.

12. Colts: They can be summed up with this little ditty — Leonard, Paye, and pray for Wentz to keep the doubters at bay. Clearly, their success rides with exiled Carson Wentz returning to form under his former coach, Frank Reich.

13. WFT: They boast a great defense, and a magical offense, if you believe in the hocus-pocus factor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. They’re going to be a tough team to beat with that defense alone.

14. Patriots: Will they still be a sub-.500 team? Or was 2020 an aberration? The $160 million in guaranteed money spent in free agency should help determine which way the Patriots are headed. That, and who ultimately plays quarterback, because their defense is scary good.

15. Cardinals: They’re in a tough division, and still seem a hair below their NFC West counterparts. But as always, their offense will be fun to watch with Kyler Murray and a host of weapons.

16. Dolphins: Sink or swim time for Tua Tagovailoa. He has a better cast around him this season. The Fins passed on other quarterbacks. So it’s up to him to deliver.

17. Chargers: The arrow is definitely pointing up with Justin Herbert coming off an epic rookie season, and a new head coach on the sideline. We’ll see if Herbert has the sophomore blues.

18. Saints: Drew Brees’ successor? Sean Payton has to pick between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Or, he’ll likely use both. It remains to be seen if they can still contend with either.

19. Steelers: Having Najee Harris in the backfield with a remade offensive line will help, but Ben Roethlisberger is clearly fading. It’s hard to ignore Big Ben’s performance down the stretch last season.

20. Vikings: Is it bad form to suggest they’re praying Rodgers heads out of Green Bay in some form or fashion? They’re doomed to play second fiddle as long as Rodgers remains in the division.

21. Broncos: Unless they’re able to bring Rodgers to the Mile High City, it’s hard to get too excited about Vic Fangio’s team.

22. Giants: Based on their free-agent spending spree, they appear to be in win-now mode. One problem — Daniel Jones is still the quarterback.

23. Raiders: Why any team would dismantle a top offensive line is beyond comprehension in today’s NFL. Or any NFL. Hard to figure what Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are thinking half the time.

24. Bears: There’s plenty of excitement in the Windy City over rookie QB Justin Fields. But how soon will he leap over Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, or whoever else?

25. Falcons: In Matt Ryan they trust. Or, simply had no choice but to trust given the weight of his mega-contract making it impossible to deal him, or cut him.

26. Panthers: Will Sam Darnold’s freedom from purgatory ultimately cure the quarterback? He should be better with an improved cast, and Matt Rhule leading him. But the Panthers are still in Year 2 of a rebuild.

27. Bengals: If they keep Joe Burrow safe, unlike last year, they’ll win their share of games. Still not convinced their suspect offensive line is much better than before.

28. Eagles: Between the draft and free agency, they improved. But have they improved at quarterback? The clock is ticking with Jalen Hurts.

29. Jets: On paper, Zach Wilson looks like he has a better chance to succeed than Darnold, and not get to the point of losing his mind. But it’s still the Jets. Proceed with caution.

30. Jaguars: Don’t put Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence into the top 10 combo of best head coach/quarterback just yet. They have a long way to go.

31. Lions: Does Jared Goff have it in him to prove all his doubters wrong, and show the Rams were wrong to give up on him? Doubt it, especially playing in Detroit.

32. Texans: With the NFL’s worst roster, the Deshaun Watson disaster still unresolved, and a dysfunctional front office, it’s hard not to start them at the bottom.

Published at Mon, 19 Jul 2021 09:43:02 +0000

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