Offseason NFL Power Rankings 1-10
By Ben Rolfe
Who are the top-10 in the offseason power rankings?
With the final few teams getting their rookies into camp it really does feel like football will be here before you know it. What better way to get in the mood for the season than assessing where all of the teams stand heading into the preseason festivities. On Monday we looked at teams 21-30 before turning attentions to teams 11-20 on Wednesday.
Naturally, these power rankings will be based upon talent and potential for success this season. However, a lot of teams are very similar at this point of the year. Therefore if a team is likely to put an entertaining product on the field they will get boosted over a team expected to be less entertaining. Winning trumps all, but if you are going to be bad I’d much prefer to watch a team who is bad but entertaining than a bad boring team.
10. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys could slide down these rankings very quickly if the Ezekiel Elliott saga stretches towards the season the way Le’Veon Bell did in 2018. Elliott is so important to what this team will want to do on offense and his production will be very hard to replicate. If he is on the field this offense has a chance to really pop, and potentially carry this team deep into the playoffs.
Defensively they will want to show the consistency we saw last season from them. If they can once again dominate games and restrict high-powered offenses, such as their performance against the Saints, then they will give a lot of teams a lot of headaches. The key is going to be the front seven. Can Demarcus Lawrence remain motivated after being paid? Will their two young linebackers perform to the same level? If those questions are yes then this tea has a lot of potential.
9. Cleveland Browns
This feels a little strange to have the Browns so high in my power rankings. The Browns have seemingly gone from laughing stock to a legitimate challenger in a matter of minutes. Realistically they have built this talented team slowly, before adding the finishing touches over the offseason. The addition of Odell Beckham and Kareem Hunt could take this offense into the elite level.
The defense is also stacked with talent, and adding veteran leadership in Olivier Vernon will only help. The question is around a young and inexperienced coaching staff. If they have a bad patch, can this coaching staff lead them through it? How they cope with adversity will define their season, perhaps more so than any other team.
8. Chicago Bears
Once the Bears added Khalil Mack they were always going to be a challenger. However, to go straight to a legitimate Super Bowl threat in one season was somewhat surprising. Ultimately, they fell short on wildcard weekend, but they were very impressive getting there.
The trouble is that their success was built largely on their defense, and defensive performance can be unreliable year-to-year. Therefore, they will need their offense to take the next step, and in the second year in the system, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to. The other issue is their division is so tough it will make getting home-field advantage in the playoffs tough, and they may well need that if they are going to make a run to the Super Bowl.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles were a surprisingly underwhelming team last season. Coming off a Super Bowl victory, a hangover was always possible. It took five wins in their final six games to take them to a 9-7 record and a wildcard spot. Now with no questions remaining about the playoff spot they will be looking to get back to 2017 form.
Their defense is where all the question marks will be. Can their defensive line survive their losses? Will the linebackers hold up against the run? Can the secondary stay healthy and be solid against the pass all season? If two of those three questions are answered with a yes then expect to see this team playing deep into January.
6. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts finished the season in 2019 as an absolute steam train. Their progress was stopped in the cold surrounds of Kansas City. However, there was so much to positive about, especially the step up in offensive line play, and the progress of Andrew Luck. Those two elements alone were always going to mean they ranked high in my power rankings.
Defensively they added some interesting pieces this offseason, and adding that to what they had in 2018 makes them real challengers. There are still some question marks and they will need to start the season better. However, with the other teams in the AFC South not really improving a huge amount heading into the season, the Colts have a chance to lay down a marker. They will want to try and get home-field advantage to avoid having to play too many games in the cold come January. Manage that and things could get interesting.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
The AFC West could be a fantastic showdown in 2019. Both the Chargers and Chiefs are trending up as a franchise right now, and they finished as the top-two in the conference last season. Offensively they really need to get Melvin Gordon on the field, but they have enough talent to manage is he is not.
Defensively they are absolutely stacked, with Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Derwin James the headliners. They got a little found out in the playoffs by the Patriots, so they will need to come back with fresh ideas. Gus Bradley is a clever defensive mind, and he has had a whole offseason, so I am confident they will have some answers to the questions they are posed this year.
4. Los Angeles Rams
2018 ended in a massive damp squib with the Super Bowl, but all of the good they did should not be forgotten. They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and one of the best head coaches around right now. If McVay can reinvent slightly to ensure that teams cannot work them out the way they did as the season wore on in 2018, then this offense can carry them a long way.
Where they are so dangerous is the ability of their defense to turn it on. They struggled at times last season, but with Aaron Donald on your defensive line, you will always have a chance. This team is too talented, and their division too meh for them to just crumble. While the 49ers and Cardinals should be better, the Seahawks could fall away a little. The Rams playing in the final weeks of January would not be a surprise at all for me.
3. New England Patriots
Spots two through four of these power rankings were so tough and could really be in any order. The Patriots will just do Patriots things in 2019. They will zig when other teams zag and they will zag when they zig. They have a supremely balanced offense and are able to operate through a strong running game or passing game depending on the situation.
Defensively they will just look to be what they always are. It may not be spectacular but they usually get the job done and done pretty effectively at that. There is no one who stands out on defense outside of the very special Stephon Gilmore, but they will hope the likes of Chase Winovich can help make up for the loss of Trey Flowers in the offseason.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs came so close to going all the way last season but lost out to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. They got a massive boost with the news of no suspension for Tyreek Hill, and it actually moved them up one spot in these power rankings. Whether you think he should be on the field or not you cannot deny he is a game-breaker. He just brings so much to this offense and allows the likes of Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce the comfort they are afforded by defenses. It is hard to overstate how important his presence is for this team.
Defensively they need to be better this season. Their defense felt like the only Achilles heel on this team, and getting above-average play out of them will make them instant Super Bowl contenders. Losing Dee Ford is not ideal, but Frank Clark may actually be a surprising upgrade for them. Their secondary is a major concern, but if the pass rush can dominate it will not matter. Anything less than a Super Bowl appearance will be a disappointment for this team.
1. New Orleans Saints
There was only ever one team getting this spot in my power rankings. I was terrified of the Saints last year. Their offense was incredible and their defense was really good. They did slow offensively as the season wore on, but my belief is that was tiredness on the part of Drew Brees. If that was the beginning of a decline, then this ranking could look awfully silly.
Defensively they will want Marcus Davenport to take the next step. If he does that then this unit could be a monster. Cameron Jordan is incredible, they have talent at linebacker and their secondary improved massively as the season wore on. They should have been going to a Super Bowl this year, and they are my big favourites to be there in 2019.