NFL Power Rankings: Excellent offseason makes Packers NFC's best, but an AFC powerhouse sits at No. 1 overall
The Packers might have missed the playoffs last year, but Pete Prisco is calling for a massive rise
NFL free agency, aside from a stray signing or two, has been over for a while. The draft is behind us. Rookie minicamps have started and mandatory veteran camps are around the corner.
So it's time for another batch of Power Rankings, now that we know all the rookies on each team coming out of the draft two weeks ago.
Some teams had what I considered to be great drafts, but they might not be as impactful this season as they will be in the future. That means those teams and those players could still be a year or so away.
But for the good teams, those impressive drafts can play key roles in 2019. One of those teams that had a good draft to help its roster was the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have had a great offseason all the way around – at least when it comes to adding to the roster -- which is why they are in the No. 2 spot in my Power Rankings.
After loading up on defense in free agency by landing pass rushers Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith, as well as safety Adrian Amos, the Packers came back and had a good draft. They added edge player Rashan Gary and safety Darnell Savage in the first round, while third-round tight end Jace Sternberger should help Aaron Rodgers in the middle of the field.
The Packers are much better now than a year ago – at least on paper. Oh, and they still have Aaron Rodgers. Yes, he's learning a new offense under first-year coach Matt LaFleur, but that could be a good thing. It's fresh. The Packers got stale on that side of the ball.
Green Bay still needs some young players to step up at receiver, but I think the talent is there. The offense will be dynamic again. And I think the improvements on defense make Green Bay the team to beat in the NFC.
The Patriots are still atop the rankings right now as the defending champs. They've suffered some hits in free agency -- losing pass rusher Trey Flowers being the biggest -- and they also saw tight end Rob Gronkowski retire. But as long as they have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, they will be just fine -- and should feel comfortable in the top spot in any Power Rankings.
|1||Patriots||Sure, they have holes on the roster. But doesn't Bill Belichick always find a way to make things work? It helps he has Tom Brady and a great staff.||--||12-4-0|
|2||Packers||What they've done to their defense this spring -- combined with the fact they still have Aaron Rodgers on offense -- makes them the team to beat in the NFC.||4||13-3-0|
|3||Rams||Some flaws on the offense showed up in the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. I think they will be fine on that side of the ball going forward, but how is Todd Gurley's health?||1||9-7-0|
|4||Chargers||I loved their draft, adding good pieces to the defense, and they were one of the best teams in the AFC down the stretch last year. I think that carries over.||1||5-11-0|
|5||Chiefs||The Tyreek Hill situation could be a major factor for this team. Will he play? If not, what does it do to the offense? If he isn't there, the speed factor isn't the same for sure.||2||12-4-0|
|6||Saints||As long as Drew Brees is slinging it, they will be just fine. The key will be the continued growth of the defense.||2||13-3-0|
|7||Eagles||Carson Wentz will be back and that will amp up the offense. What will Jordan Howard bring to help him?||1||9-7-0|
|8||Falcons||Fixing the offensive line was priority No. 1 for the offseason, and they've done that. Matt Ryan will be much better protected in 2019.||5||7-9-0|
|9||Seahawks||Pete Carroll did his best coaching job last season. Now all those young players who contributed can build on their playoff appearance going into this season.||2||11-5-0|
|10||Colts||Their season will be all about the growth of young players on defense and Andrew Luck staying healthy. If those two things happen, look out.||1||7-9-0|
|11||Browns||I love their roster. I love Baker Mayfield's game. But this team has to learn how to win big games. That's the next step in terms of team growth.||1||6-10-0|
|12||Bears||The defense, even with new coordinator Chuck Pagano, will be good again. How far they go will be all about Mitch Trubisky's improvement.||3||8-8-0|
|13||Steelers||The culture should be better with Antonio Brown gone and no Le'Veon Bell contract to worry about. Now it's all on Ben Roethlisberger to get this team back to the playoffs.||2||8-8-0|
|14||Ravens||It's all about the improved passing of Lamar Jackson. Can he take a big step forward? If not, they could take a step back.||--||14-2-0|
|15||Cowboys||They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. This season will be all about Jason Garrett's coaching.||3||8-8-0|
|16||Panthers||Cam Newton has shoulder concerns, which is never a good thing. But if he's healthy, they can push for a playoff spot.||1||5-11-0|
|17||Jaguars||If Nick Foles can find some of his playoff magic they will push for the division title. But is it sustainable over the course of a season?||1||6-10-0|
|18||Bills||This is a team that's a year away from contending for a division title. I love the direction they are heading. Sean McDermott has talent now.||6||10-6-0|
|19||Texans||Can their rookie offensive linemen turn that unit around? If not, Deshaun Watson will run for his life again.||3||10-6-0|
|20||Vikings||Year No. 2 will be big for Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. He has to show he's worth that big contract.||1||10-6-0|
|21||Titans||This season will be all about Marcus Mariota. If he has success, he gets a big deal. If he doesn't, he probably won't.||--||9-7-0|
|22||Jets||I like where this team is headed under coach Adam Gase. But I think they are a year away from being a real contender.||2||7-9-0|
|23||49ers||The return of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from a torn ACL will really improve this team. It's a big season for coach Kyle Shanahan in Year 3.||1||13-3-0|
|24||Broncos||John Elway seems to be all in on Joe Flacco for now. But what if he struggles early? Do they go to Drew Lock?||1||7-9-0|
|25||Buccaneers||Bruce Arians will liven up things in Tampa, but the questions remain on the defensive side of the ball. If they don't have Jason Pierre-Paul for the season, that's a huge hit.||--||7-9-0|
|26||Bengals||New coach Zac Taylor will bring some new energy to the offense, and improvement on the line on that side of the ball. It's a big year for Andy Dalton to show he's worth his contact.||--||2-14-0|
|27||Raiders||They've done a lot of improving this offseason, especially adding help for Derek Carr. Now it's on him to show he's the long-term answer.||--||7-9-0|
|28||Redskins||How soon before first-round pick Dwayne Haskins takes over at quarterback? It shouldn't be long.||--||3-13-0|
|29||Lions||If they get off to a slow start, coach Matt Patricia could be in early trouble. Have they done enough to compete in a tough division?||--||3-12-1|
|30||Cardinals||Starting a rookie quarterback takes time for a team to grow. But they had a heck of a draft. Kyler Murray will have growing pains, despite the notion he will walk in and be a star.||--||5-10-1|
|31||Giants||How long before Daniel Jones plays for this team? Does he play at all this season? Is it still Eli Manning's team for 2019?||--||4-12-0|
|32||Dolphins||Getting Josh Rosen in a trade is a good thing for this franchise. But they have a lot of holes on the roster and clearly are pointing towards the future.||--||5-11-0|
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