Updated: Aug. 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) - Previously: 28.
Every year, there's a veteran team with a lame-duck coach that fails to meet expectations, then completely bottoms out. Last season, it was the Giants, and Ben McAdoo was fired. In 2016, it was the Rams, prompting Jeff Fisher's firing. I believe it will be the Buccaneers this year.
There's no questioning that Dirk Koetter is a lame-duck coach. He should've been fired this offseason, yet the Buccaneers stupidly continued to employ him. Meanwhile, I've heard bad things about Jameis Winston's focus this spring, and Winston is suspended for the first three games anyway. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a train wreck, so Tampa is likely to be 0-3 upon Winston's return, and when Winston plays again, he'll find that the offensive line and running game are both major concerns. The Buccaneers play in a brutal division as well, which is looking like an 0-6 venture for them.
Buffalo Bills (9-7) - Previously: 31.
Part of me wants the Bills to play Josh Allen right away, but then the other part remembers how horrible the offensive line is. The front couldn't protect A.J. McCarron, who broke his collarbone in the second preseason game. That's one quarterback down, and two to go.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-9) - Previously: 27.
The Bengals have really struggled in recent seasons. A big part of that, at least in 2017, was the decline of their offensive front. Fixing the blocking had to be priorities A, B and C this offseason, and the "A" solution was Cordy Glenn in a nice trade with Buffalo. The "B" part of that equation was first-round pick Billy Price, who will be a big upgrade at center. There was no "C," but the Bengals will definitely block better, giving them a chance to be competitive in more games. Not having Vontaze Burfict around in the first four games will hurt, however.
Miami Dolphins (6-10) - Previously: 32.
I wrote previously that the Dolphins are a complete mess. I was wrong. They're a mess, but an incomplete mess. There's definitely a distinction between the two. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I don't think Miami is the worst team in the NFL anymore. Ryan Tannehill's return will help immensely. Now, if you think Tannehill isn't very good, you'd be right, but he's much better than Jay Cutler, who is absolutely a complete mess, and yet the Dolphins still went 6-10 with him.
Indianapolis Colts (4-12) - Previously: 29.
"Indianapolis' ranking depends on Andrew Luck's health. If Luck is 100 percent, the Colts can compete for a playoff spot. If he's hurt, Indianapolis could go 4-12 again. For that reason, the Colts are the hardest team to slot."
I've written this in the previous three updates, and it still remains true. Luck has played in the preseason, but he didn't really showcase his arm strength at all, throwing mostly short passes. Luck is still smart and accurate enough to be successful, but I'm not sure he can still be the elite signal-caller who led bad teams deep into the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks (9-7) - Previously: 23.
The Seahawks are BAD. If you're surprised they're ranked this low, you haven't been paying attention to them. Outside of Russell Wilson, an injured Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and a couple of other half-decent players, they have nothing. Absolutely nothing. Their offensive line stinks. They have no running game. Their pass rush is gone. Their secondary is trash. If you replaced Wilson with a bottom-10 quarterback, the Seahawks would go 1-15 at the very best.
New York Jets (5-11) - Previously: 30.
Sam Darnold looks great. He's atop the NFL Rookie Quarterback Grades. If what we're seeing isn't a mirage, I don't think it's out of the question that the Jets could compete for a playoff spot this year. The AFC sucks beyond the top few teams, and the Jets should have four easy-ish wins in the division. Remember, New York was competitive last year despite starting Josh McCown and Bryce Petty. I like McCown, but Darnold is obviously the far superior talent.
Cleveland Browns (0-16) - Previously: 25.
The Browns were slotted No. 32 entering the offseason. Then, they made a billion trades to improve themselves, rising to No. 28. They followed that up by signing some solid players like Chris Hubbard, Carlos Hyde and E.J. Gaines. Joe Thomas retired, but the Browns added a franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield and then secured a potential shutdown cornerback in Denzel Ward. Myles Garrett, meanwhile, has looked like a mad man this preseason, so the Browns will be able to heavily pressure opposing quarterbacks. Cleveland is so much better than it was in 2017, and I don't think seven or eight victories is out of the question.
New York Giants (3-13) - Previously: 21.
The Giants weren't as good as they looked in 2016, but they weren't as bad as they finished in 2017 either, so they seem like a possible 6-10 or 7-9 squad to me. They lost some talented players this offseason, but added Nate Solder, who potentially gives them solid blind-side blocking for the first time in ages. "Potentially" is the key word there, however, as Solder has an extensive injury history.
General manager David Gettleman proceeded to put together a strong draft class. He selected a Marshall Faulk-type player in Saquon Barkley and then found a replacement for the departed Justin Pugh in guard Will Hernandez. The Giants still have some major holes, but they'll be much better than they were in 2017.
Detroit Lions (9-7) - Previously: 20.
The Lions seldom had anything close to a complete roster this past season. In their most crucial game of the year, they were missing three starting offensive linemen. Detroit will be better in 2018 with improved injury luck, and perhaps Matt Patricia will improve the defense. That said, the preseason isn't a good sign, as the Lions still have major problems covering pass-catching running backs and tight ends, thanks to an abysmal linebacking corps.
Arizona Cardinals (8-8) - Previously: 26.
It's nice that the Cardinals don't have to rely on Sam Bradford. Once he suffers an injury walking into his house in mid-September, they can just insert Josh Rosen into the lineup. At any rate, I think people are undervaluing Arizona. David Johnson is at full strength again - he didn't even play a full game in 2017 - and the offensive line has improved, thanks to Justin Pugh's presence and Mike Iupati's strong camp.
Denver Broncos (5-11) - Previously: 17.
Case Keenum wasn't Denver's first option, but he's undoubtedly a big upgrade over Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. He's even better if you combine the three and form a super-crappy quarterback named Paxweilian.
That said, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious about how Chad Kelly could potentially improve the team. Kelly has earned an A+ in my NFL Rookie Quarterback Grades page - yes, I know he's not truly a rookie - while Keenum has struggled a bit in the preseason.
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) - Previously: 18.
The Jaguars reached the AFC Championship, but let's not forget that they almost lost to the Bills at home, and that they lost at Tennessee in Week 17, and that they were blown out in San Francisco the week before, and that they lost to Blaine Gabbert in Week 12, and that they were up just 10-7 at Cleveland a week earlier. The Jaguars were super lucky all year, both with their schedule and lack of injuries. They won't be as fortunate next year, and both Indianapolis and Houston will be back in 2018 (assuming Andrew Luck isn't a complete shell of his former self.) It's likely that the Jaguars will slip to 7-9 or so in 2018. I was previously more pessimistic, but I love the Andrew Norwell signing, and then Jacksonville put together a fantastic draft.
Still, it doesn't change the fact that Blake Bortles is the worst quarterback in the NFL (click the link for my quarterback power rankings.) If the Jaguars had, say, the 15th-ranked quarterback in the NFL, I'd pick them to win the Super Bowl. But Bortles will weigh this team down with his incompetence and indifference.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7) - Previously: 24.
I didn't know what to think of the story that Joe Flacco actually tried hard this offseason. My initial response was: "Why?" Why hadn't Flacco put in full effort in previous offseasons? Why didn't he throw to his teammates prior to training camp? It's inexcusable behavior for someone being paid so much, but that's now water over the bridge, as a Hall of Fame running back once said. Flacco looks great, and he has some nice weapons at his disposal in Michael Crabtree and a suddenly healthy John Brown. The running game is solid, while the defense is stout. Don't be surprised if the Ravens win the AFC North this year.
Dallas Cowboys (9-7) - Previously: 22.
The regression of Dallas' offensive line was a major reason the Cowboys struggled last year. Jason Witten's departure will hurt the offense further, but I'd rather focus on the defense, which looks stellar. Randy Gregory will provide a huge boost on the defensive front, while Jaylon Smith's resurgence is a huge factor. Dallas might just have a top-five stop unit this year, which will help the team compete for a playoff spot once again.
Tennessee Titans (9-7) - Previously: 15.
The Titans bolstered their secondary, while 2017 fifth-rounder Jayon Brown looks like he's evolving into a potential Pro Bowl linebacker. Tennessee's defense is going to be stellar in 2018, so the only question mark is Marcus Mariota. Can he stay healthy? Will he take to Matt LaFleur's offense? If the answer to both questions is yes, the Titans will be able to compete for a Super Bowl this year.
Oakland Raiders (6-10) - Previously: 13.
Everything I heard coming out of Oakland this offseason was very positive. The Raiders were working hard to get back on track after being a big disappointment in 2017. Remember, many considered them to be potential Super Bowl contenders, and they could easily revert to that status with a superior coaching staff. With better blocking, thanks to Kolton Miller, and superior secondary play, with Rashaan Melvin on the roster and Gareon Conley healthy, the Raiders seem ready to compete for the AFC West crown.
San Francisco 49ers (6-10) - Previously: 11.
It's amazing what a competent signal-caller can do. The 49ers had bad (Brian Hoyer) and abysmal (C.J. Beathard) quarterbacking last year, but Jimmy Garoppolo was great against the Bears, Texans, Titans and Jaguars. With Garoppolo, the 49ers are so much better than 6-10. They have a solid running back, two talented tackles, and several impressive play-makers in the front seven. They also added a solid center in Weston Richburg and Richard Sherman, so they'll have a chance at 11-5 or better in 2018. I just wish they didn't make a lateral move at No. 9 overall, picking Mike McGlinchey and then trading Trent Brown. Their defense would look so much better with Tremaine Edmunds, especially in the wake of Reuben Foster's suspension.
Atlanta Falcons (10-6) - Previously: 14.
The Falcons were two kicks on national TV away from being 8-8. They also beat Dallas when the Cowboys lost Sean Lee and already didn't have Tyron Smith or Ezekiel Elliott. Even the win over the Rams was misleading; Los Angeles made so many mistakes, and the Falcons couldn't really do anything offensively until Michael Brockers got hurt.
Atlanta should have fired Steve Sarkisian, but it will have to endure his poor play-calling this year. Calvin Ridley's presence will help matters, especially if Julio Jones gets banged up again, but it seems as though the Falcons are behind the Saints and perhaps the Panthers at this point.
Carolina Panthers (11-5) - Previously: 5.
The Panthers dealt with lots of injuries this past season, yet were still able to finish 11-5. I wrote that Carolina would be able to contend for a Super Bowl with better luck in 2018. Unfortunately, the Panthers already lost two blockers to injury. Still, I think they'll be able to make a deep postseason run, as Cam Newton is really taking to Norv Turner's tutelage.
Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) - Previously: 9.
The Chargers had major center and kicker woes entering the offseason. Caleb Sturgis could finally cure the latter problem, while Mike Pouncey will be an update at center. Wait, what am I saying? That's not true at all. Something always goes wrong with the Chargers. I don't know why, but they're the Murphy's Law of the NFL. I don't know why, but disaster will strike in some shape or form most weeks.
Green Bay Packers (7-9) - Previously: 8.
The Packers signed just three players this offseason, but all were big names. However, all have some serious baggage. Muhammad Wilkerson was recently known as one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL before he quit football. Jimmy Graham used to be a great tight end, but he can barely walk. Tramon Williams previously performed on a high level for the Packers, but he now has an AARP card. Still, all three have upside, at least for this year, and there has to be even more optimism after a strong draft that saw Green Bay acquire two talented cornerbacks in the first couple of rounds. Iowa's Joshua Jackson already looks great, so there's every reason to believe the Packers will be better against the pass in 2018.
With that in mind, the primary concern is Aaron Rodgers' health. Can Rodgers remain on the field at 100-percent capacity this season? If the answer to that question is yes, then the Packers should be considered one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Houston Texans (4-12) - Previously: 4.
The Texans finished 4-12 last year, but they could be one of the top teams in the NFL this upcoming season. They'll have Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus all back from injury, and they added two talented players for their secondary in Tyrann Mathieu and Aaron Colvin. Watt getting hurt, by the way, may have been a blessing in disguise, as strange as it might sound. Watt injuring his knee allowed him to rest his back, and that could allow him to be 100 percent for the 2018 season.
As for Watson, he has packed on lots of muscle to perhaps avoid further injuries. His hard work translated to his first preseason appearance, where his only incompletions were drops by backup receivers.
Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) - Previously: 1.
If you're confused about why the Eagles have dropped out of the top spot in my power rankings, consider two things. First, they're banged up. Both of their primary quarterbacks are injured, while there's talk that Alshon Jeffery may have to begin the year on the PUP list. Second, the Eagles have looked very complacent in the preseason, playing very sloppily. If you don't think this is a big deal, you might be right, but it reminds me of how the Raiders handled the preseason last year. Granted, Oakland didn't just win a Super Bowl, but everyone was proclaiming the Raiders to be favorites to win it all, and the players bought into it. Oakland goofed around and let 2017 slip away. This is the same sort of attitude the Eagles have right now.
New England Patriots (13-3) - Previously: 3.
Things seemed bleak for the Patriots early in the offseason, as they lost Dion Lewis, Nate Solder, Cameron Fleming and Malcolm Butler to free agency. However, they traded for Danny Shelton and Jason McCourty, and signed Adrian Clayborn, so their defense should be better in 2018, especially with Dont'a Hightower coming back from injury. The problem is the offensive line, as protecting a 41-year-old Tom Brady will be a problem in 2018 unless new left tackle Trent Brown steps up. Brown has only played right tackle in the pros, so it remains to be seen how he'll fare on the blind side.
New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Previously: 2.
I hated what the Saints did in the 2018 NFL Draft, as surrendering a first-round pick in the loaded 2019 NFL Draft for a raw defensive end seemed like a terrible idea. The good news, however, is that New Orleans appears to be in a position to make a Super Bowl run now, with or without Marcus Davenport being a key contributor. The Saints have improved on both sides of the ball this offseason, thanks to the additions of Cameron Meredith, Patrick Robinson and Demario Davis, so they should definitely be one of the Super Bowl favorites. They are the new No. 1 team in my power rankings.