The 2022 NFL offseason will go down as one of the craziest ever and it’s resulted in plenty of shakeups in the NFL power rankings. With the NFL Draft behind us, we’re taking a fresh look at all 32 teams entering the summer.
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Blockbuster trades have shaped so much of the conversation this offseason. Quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan are all on new teams that should see significant improvement. Meanwhile, Super Bowl contenders like the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs traded away All-Pro receivers but made huge additions on defense through the NFL Draft.
Needless to say, the landscape and outlook is changing. So, let’s jump into our latest NFL power rankings.
32. Chicago Bears
Call it “Year Zero” if you want, any label comes with the same criticism. The Chicago Bears are setting quarterback Justin Fields up to fail. He’ll operate behind a bad offensive line with one of the worst receiving corps in recent memory and has an experienced play-caller drawing everything up. Months into the job, Ryan Poles is signaling Fields’ success and long-term outlook aren’t priorities.
31. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons certainly won’t be called ‘winners’ for their 2022 draft class, but they made a step in the right direction. The Drake London and Kyle Pitts pairing create a combo for how Arthur Smith wants his offense to be structured. As for Desmond Ridder, he should make a few starts this season.
30. Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is viewed as a lame duck. Through two NFL seasons, the former college coach hasn’t proven his methods work at the NFL level. He’s not going to get seven years to implement change, either. The Panthers could have turned things around by upgrading at quarterback this offseason, but they whiffed. We give Carolina some credit for not reaching with Matt Corral, but he’s not a starter and his odds of reaching his upside are very bleak.
29. Houston Texans
We like the start of the Houston Texans rebuild. It doesn’t necessarily mean anyone should buy into quarterback Davis Mills as the starter beyond 2022, but he showed flashes as a rookie. Paired with the talent added in the draft class and Houston’s collection of future picks, things should slowly improve.
28. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks did well in the 2022 NFL Draft, adding long-term pieces that will be integral parts of the core of this team’s success in the years to come. However, Drew Lock is going to be the starting quarterback in 2022. No team with that starter and this defense can win more than five games.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
There simply isn’t much to get excited about right now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Frankly, general manager Trent Baalke failed this offseason to take advantage of tremendous cap space and draft capital. Trevor Lawrence might improve, but credit should only go to him and Doug Pederson.
26. New York Giants
Daniel Jones is the only player holding the New York Giants back from being a top-20 team in the 2022 NFL power rankings. He might show some flashes with Brian Daboll, but the truth is he just isn’t the guy. The upcoming season is all about Daboll and Joe Schoen coaching up the next wave of talent.
25. Washington Commanders
After overpaying in the Carson Wentz trade, the Washington Commanders really had to make things count with the 11th pick. Instead of drafting Chris Olave, Washington traded down to recoup some of the picks it gave up for Wentz then reached for Jahan Dotson at No. 16. Oh, the Commanders also took Brian Robinson Jr. earlier than they should have. There’s no reason to trust the current regime.
24. New York Jets
The New York Jets fly up the NFL power rankings, not a sentence anyone expected to be written this year. However, this is an earned position. New York crushed it with its draft class, filling out needs with players who fit the scheme and are ready to make an impact. There’s a lot to like on this roster, we just need to see Zach Wilson make the second-year leap.
23. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions will be competing for the NFC North crown by 2024. Credit to general manager Brad Holmes for building a true foundation with the 2022 draft class adding more structure to a future perennial threat. Next season will be another stage in the rebuild, but Detroit’s future is bright.
22. Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings new regime made odd decisions this spring, with the trade down made in Round 1 easily the most questionable. Keep in mind, that this includes the front office making another financial commitment to Kirk Cousins. Hitting the reset button was the better play, but the Vikings chose purgatory this fall.
21. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots defense is poised to take a significant step backward in 2022. To make matters worse, the offense that fell apart towards the end of the 2021 season didn’t make any real additions outside of DeVante Parker. Throw in an iffy draft class, we’re not expecting New England to make the playoffs this winter.
20. New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are taking a win-now approach with a roster that doesn’t fit the mentality. There is plenty of talent on defense, especially after signing Tyrann Mathieu. But anyone betting on the playoffs for a team with Jameis Winston coming off a torn ACL, Alvin Kamara facing a suspension and a potential turnstile at left tackle isn’t making a wise decision.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s fair to wonder whether the Pittsburgh Steelers could have waited to draft Kenny Pickett until the second round. Either way, this team profiles to have an average offense and a good defense in 2022. That’s not enough to be a legitimate threat in the AFC.
18. Arizona Cardinals
Maybe overpaying for Marquise Brown works out, at the very least it helps make quarterback Kyler Murray happier this season. We’ve also seen what happens to this offense without DeAndre Hopkins and the pass rush when it’s just a one-man show. Right now, this is the third-best team in the NFC West and the Cardinals are a long ways from where they used to be in NFL power rankings.
17. Tennessee Titans
It feels increasingly like the Tennessee Titans no longer believe in quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He’ll be the starting quarterback in 2022, but Tennessee attempted to replace him via trade and just drafted Malik Willis. Between that and the A.J. Brown trade, we’re not betting on the Titans repeating their success from 2021.
16. Miami Dolphins
It all comes down to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Miami Dolphins offense is loaded with explosive weapons (Jaylen Waddle, Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, Mike Gesicki) and adding Terron Armstead fortifies the offensive line. On defense, we have no doubt this could be a top-12 unit. What separates Miami from the top teams in our NFL power rankings, is quarterback. It’s why Stephen Ross secretly tried to pull a fast one with his Tom Brady pursuit.
15. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys started the offseason as a top-10 team in our NFL power rankings. They’ve steadily fallen ever since. From giving away Amari Cooper to the departures of Randy Gregory and La’el Collins, this team simply got worse. Throw in worries that Mike McCarthy gets outcoached in big games, there’s a shot Dallas won’t win the NFC East in 2022.
14. Philadelphia Eagles
It’s all on quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Philadelphia Eagles added A.J. Brown, providing their young passer with a No. 1 receiver who makes plays after the catch. Meanwhile, general manager Howie Roseman used his 2022 draft class to greatly improve the defense. The secondary is now even better with James Bradberry opposite of Darius Slay. As of now, the Eagles look like the best team in the NFC East.
13. Cleveland Browns
Originally, it seemed like Deshaun Watson might only receive a six-game suspension. However, the latest allegations against the Cleveland Browns quarter suggest he could miss at least 10 games if not longer. Cleveland can get by for a few weeks, anything longer is a massive blow. The Browns cling to the 13th spot for now in our 2022 NFL power rankings, but they’ll drop a lot if Watson gets a year-long ban.
12. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts wanted to find stability and quarterback Matt Ryan delivers precisely that. While the days of him carrying a team are long gone, he’s a good fit for this run-first offense. We should also see improvements offensively with Alex Pierce and Bernhard Raimann joining the mix. As of now, the Colts look like a good but not great team.
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11. Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders didn’t have a top-80 pick in the NFL Draft, but they’ll happily accept that cost to have one of the best NFL offenses in 2022. Dylan Parham helps an interior offensive line that needed some help and fourth-round pick Zamir White will make a nice impact paired with Josh Jacobs. Ultimately, where this team finishes in 2022 will be determined by its defense and Derek Carr.
10. Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson looks good in his new jersey and he’s generating rave reviews from teammates. We’re counting on a huge step forward from the offense in 2022, seeing a ceiling for this to be one of the highest-scoring offenses. Winning a brutally challenging AFC West will be determined by the Broncos ability to protect Wilson and whether or not its pass rush consistently creates pressure. Denver can jump in the NFL power rankings, but it needs to prove itself first.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals will be a lot lower in Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings than consensus evaluations. It’s possible quarterback Joe Burrow is that Brady-like player that uplifts an entire organization for years, turning its hopes around. Right now, the history of Super Bowl losers and questions about the coaching staff and defense push Cincinnati to the 9th spot.
8. San Francisco 49ers
It seems like the San Francisco 49ers avoided the disaster scenario with Deebo Samuel. Assuming the All-Pro talent is committed to playing for Kyle Shanahan in 2022, this offense will have more upside than before thanks to Trey Lance. Just keep in mind that upside also means volatility and that will likely result in week-to-week fluctuations during the 2022 NFL season.
7. Baltimore Ravens (11)
The Baltimore Ravens were the biggest winners of the 2022 NFL Draft. Quite frankly, there’s a possibility that general manager Eric DeCosta snagged four starters. We’re expecting a top-10 defense this fall and if Lamar Jackson stays healthy, Baltimore is a darkhorse bet to win the AFC. This ranking might seem high, just remember the Ravens were 8-3 before being devastated by injuries last season.
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6. Los Angeles Chargers
After a busy free-agency period, the Los Angeles Chargers slowed things down with a more cautious 2022 draft class. Zion Johnson fortifies the offensive line and Isaiah Spiller is a nice complement to Austin Ekeler. While the Chargers dipped slightly in our post-draft NFL power rankings, quarterback Justin Herbert and an enhanced defense still make them a Super Bowl threat.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs crushed the 2022 NFL Draft. Needing more toughness and strength on the defensive line, Kansas City added impact edge defender George Karlaftis. On top of that, the Chiefs strengthened their secondary with corner Trent McDuffie and helped their run defense with linebacker Leo Chenal. While there’s no replacing Tyreek Hill, a trio of Skyy Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster paired with Travis Kelce will get the job done.
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4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3)
The only question remaining with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at this point is the future of Rob Gronkowski and Ndamukong Suh. Early draft picks suggest one, maybe even both, of the veterans don’t return. Losing either player would be a blow, but this team will dominate the NFC South and could easily win the conference.
3. Green Bay Packers
Some will move the Green Bay Packers down in NFL power rankings because they didn’t address wide receiver in Round 1. The truth is, this team got a lot better in other areas. With Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker joining the front seven, Green Bay’s defense can elite in 2022. Paired with MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and an improved offensive line, that’s all the Packers need to challenge for a Super Bowl.
2. Los Angeles Rams
There’s reason to believe the Los Angeles Rams can repeat as Super Bowl champions. Allen Robinson is an upgrade over Robert Woods and while Von Miller departs, linebacker Bobby Wagner fills a huge void at linebacker. However, questions about the Rams’ edge rushers and left tackle spot push them to the No. 2 spot in our summer NFL power rankings.
1. Buffalo Bills (1)
The Buffalo Bills aren’t considered winners of the 2022 NFL Draft, but they made some impressive moves. Kaiir Elam is the missing piece for a unit posted to be the best NFL defense in 2022. Meanwhile, James Cook slides into the envisioned role for J.D. McKissic. Oh, punter Matt Araiza should also round out the special teams. Put it all together, this is the best team in the NFL right now.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.