The NFL season starts tonight, with the reigning NFL Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers opening against the Dallas Cowboys at 8p.m. on NBC. Teams made acquisitions and cuts during the preseason to put their teams in the best position to compete for the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. Contract negations, coach changes and systematic schemes for first year starters did play a role with in this first top 10 list.
With that being said, here’s my top 10 power rankings heading into week 1.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The defending Super Bowl champions return, for the first time in the salary cap era, all 22 starters. The Bucs are playing in a weak NFC South division that features two first-year starters for their respective teams (Saints, Panthers), and flat out have better talent on both sides of the ball – not to mention, chemistry already instilled. A hungry Tom Brady with a full off-season to build around Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski and OJ Howard makes Tampa my early favorite to win it all.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes has the best offensive arsenal in all of football at his disposal. Having a healthy offensive line will be paramount for the success of this team (we saw in the Super Bowl how that can change the entire dynamic of this offense). Eric Bieniemy, the best offensive coordinator in all of football, has the one-two punch of Kelce and Hill on the outside and with a healthy Edwards-Helaire, say no more.
3. Buffalo Bills
MVP candidate Josh Allen put the league on notice last season that the Bills Mafia is a force to be reckoned with. Sean McDermott has turned this franchise from the bottom feeder of the AFC East to a Super Bowl contender with a balanced offensive attack led by Stephon Diggs, who led the league in receiving yards a year ago. Tre’Davious White can lineup against any team’s number one receiver and make them an afterthought.
4. Green Bay Packers
The curtain call for Aaron Rodgers in a Green Bay Packers uniform is inevitable. Surrounding the former MVP and Super Bowl Champion with talent has been his only concern. Davantae Adams and Aaron Jones help fill the void, but is it enough? Who is a viable number two option for A-rod to elevate this team to contending in the NFC?
5. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson, who was rumored to want out of Seattle during the off-season, completely silenced those critics by ensuring the 12th man he’s happy in Seattle. The Seahawks have a solid outside attack that featues D.K. Metclaf and Tyler Lockett. How healthy Chris Carson can stay in a brutal NFC West division is still unknown – which has kept the star running back out through vast majority of last season due to an ACL injury.
6. Cleveland Browns
Adding Ja’deveon Clowney on the opposite side of Myles Garrett is going to cause havoc for offenses to game plan around. With Nick Chubb in the back field with Jarvis Landry and a healthy OBJ, what else could Baker Mayfield need to solidify the Browns as a contender and not a pretender?
7. Tennessee Titans
Julio Jones tagged alongside A.J. Brown gives Ryan Tannehill two lethal weapons on the outside, which means you won’t have to use Derrick Henry so much out of the backfield – who rushed for over 2,000 yards a season ago. Bud Dupree being added to the defense with Janoris Jenkins gives the Titans depth. Losing Jonnu Smith shouldn’t be underestimated.
8. Los Angeles Rams
Not having consistency at quarterback has doomed the Rams for the last several years. Matthew Stafford is finally in the best situation of his playing career. Defensive player of the year Aaron Donald along with Jalen Ramsey will still keep the defensive side of the ball in the top tier all season. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and veteran Desean Jackson (when healthy) gives Stafford options.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
With so many story lines, where to begin. T.J. Watt still has yet to sign a much earned contract extension with a team that is not known to make contract negotiations during the season. He has given hints that he will play at Buffalo week-one, according to Mike Tomlin. Drafting Alabama rookie Najee Harris should help Ben Roethlisberger in the backfield where the Steelers run game was nonexistent last season. Ben threw over 600 pass attempts last season fresh off an elbow surgery – which is bonkers. A focused Diontae Johnson will help shred defenses over the top. Chase Claypool and Juju Smith-Schuster are a nice tandem within a battle tested AFC North.
10. Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson lost his number one tailback, J.K. Dobbins, due to an ACL injury suffered recently and now they turn to Gus Edwards – who rushed for over 5 yards a carry a season ago – to start in the backfield. They also signed former Steelers, Jets and Kansas City standout Le’Veon Bell to add depth. Mark Andrews, Lamar’s number one target, just signed a contract extension. The question here and every season is can Lamar pass out of the pocket consistently when defenses force him to stay within the trenches?