My annual preseason power ranking tradition is to offer a “what’s to like” and “what’s not to like” for each team. I mean, besides “they’re going to start playing real football games soon” and “but we still have to get through another month before they do that,” respectively.
1 New Orleans Saints (13-3 final record last season, No. 1 final ranking)
What’s to like: Their roster … all of it. It is balanced, it is loaded and they have drafted extremely well. They’ve developed talent as well. Plus they get to eat jambalaya at Coop’s whenever they want.
What’s not to like: Drew Brees is 40 now. That used to be a concerning age for quarterbacks. But yeah, that’s basically the only thing at all.
2 New England Patriots (11-5, No. 7)
What’s to like: They’re the damn Patriots. There’s a better than 50-50 chance they’re winning the Super Bowl at all times. They’re going to fix Demaryius Thomas and make rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry a superstar and they have like 100 running backs.
What’s not to like: Losing Rob Gronkowski will hurt them, and we shouldn’t pretend like it won’t. Their run to three more Super Bowl titles coincided with Gronk’s rise. Sure, they’ve won while he’s hurt. But this is an entire season during which opponents won’t have to worry about him and … yeah, he’s probably coming back in Week 4
3 Los Angeles Rams (13-3, No. 3)
What’s to like: They still have the majority of the talent they had a year ago when we thought they were the Dream Team.
What’s not to like: They slept through a Super Bowl and rumor has it that sometimes that can create a bit of a “hangover” effect. Shocking, I know.
4 Kansas City Chiefs (12-4, No. 4)
What’s to like: They have a great deal of talent all over the field, including rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman, whose speed would seem to be a perfect fit for Patrick Mahomes.
What’s not to like: Tyreek Hill plays for them, so you kinda hope they somehow go 0-16 million. (And while far less important, their running-back room isn’t whelming enough to be underwhelming. They’re essentially notwhelming.)
5 Los Angeles Chargers (12-4, No. 5)
What’s to like: As long as they get Melvin Gordon back, their roster is fairly complete in all areas. They’re a very good football team.
What’s not to like: It’s REALLY hard to shake that they trailed the Patriots, 35-7, at the half in a playoff game. Like, harder to shake than “Old Town Road.”
6 Philadelphia Eagles (9-7, No. 15)
What’s to like: Carson Wentz is healthy again. Miles Sanders is the rookie running back everyone in your fantasy league is going to fall all over themselves to draft too early. Darren Sproles is probably 50, but he’ll definitely end up making five more unbelievable plays this season.
What’s not to like: Carson Wentz’s injury issues are starting to be a little too Carson Palmer-ish.
7 Houston Texans (11-5, No. 9)
What’s to like: Will Fuller is back, Tytus Howard should help the offensive line, and in case you forgot, Deshaun Watson is rather swell.
What’s not to like: One potentially good offensive lineman in a group of 10 sounds a little bit too much like the percentage of reasonable candidates on stage for the presidential debates this week. And getting the Jadaveon Clowney situation figured out could behoove them.
8 Indianapolis Colts (10-6, No. 6)
What’s to like: The additions of Devin Funchess and rookie Parris Campbell give them much needed receiver depth, and they’ve quietly put together a really solid defense.
What’s not to like: I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. I understand why the Colts are a trendy pick to finally break through this season. Maybe it’s just a “I need Andrew Luck to prove that he’s as good of a big-game quarterback as he is a fun Twitter meme” type of deal.
9 Chicago Bears (12-4, No. 2)
What’s to like: No single player’s arrival had a bigger impact on their team than Khalil Mack last season. His arrival immediately made them a Super Bowl contender and nothing has changed.
What’s not to like: Acquiring Mack came (understandably) at a price, so the Bears had no first-round pick this year. They probably could have used some more offensive weapons, which they have to hope later-round picks David Montgomery (running back) and Riley Ridley (receiver) will still prove to be.
10 Green Bay Packers (6-9-1, No. 17)
What’s to like: Aaron Rodgers as long as he’s healthy. He’s singlehandedly the reason why they’re in the top 10 … for now.
What’s not to like: It’s hard to figure out why they’d part with defensive tackle Mike Daniels. Frankly it’s been hard to figure out a lot of what the Packers have done in recent years. The New York Mets think they’ve made some puzzling decisions.
11 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1, No. 12)
What’s to like: These are the Steelers we’re talking about. You know, Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, 50,000 screaming lunatics who probably haven’t changed their underpants in a week singing a Styx song together? You know, the Steelers.
What’s not to like: You just can’t lose two of the best skill position players of a generation and think there won’t be any impact. I mean, I assume you can’t. I’m not exactly sure we’ve ever seen anything like this before.
12 Cleveland Browns (7-8-1, No. 16)
What’s to like: Probably more than I’m giving them credit for. But more than anything, their cocksure quarterback giving me an excuse to type the word “cocksure.”
What’s not to like: They’re the friggin’ Browns. We have no choice but to not get too carried away because going all in on any Browns team ever would be prognosticating negligence.
13 Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1, No. 14)
What’s to like: The running back, tight ends, receivers, offensive line, defensive front, secondary and kicker.
What’s not to like: The Kirk Cousins in games that matter.
14 Atlanta Falcons (7-9, No. 21)
What’s to like: They probably weren’t as bad as their record indicated a year ago and added a couple of talented rookie offensive linemen to strengthen their roster.
What’s not to like: We’re almost three years removed from the Super Bowl debacle and you’re lying if you say it isn’t STILL the first thing you think about when you think about the Falcons.
15 Baltimore Ravens (10-6, No. 8)
What’s to like: It has to be exciting for an organization’s talking point to be “we’re going to revolutionize offense.”
What’s not to like: Considering that while they were paying a quarterback nearly $150 million their talking point was “what’s offense?” I’m probably gonna be over here wait and see-ing.
16 Dallas Cowboys (10-6, No. 10)
What’s to like: If they have Ezekiel Elliott, they really do have a complete roster capable of Super Bowl contention.
What’s not to like: Remember how a year ago we kept thinking “Le’Veon will HAVE to come back at some point?” Oh, and there’s also still a Dak Prescott question that needs to be answered. And not just, “Does he look a little bit like a skinnier Shawne Merriman?”
17 Seattle Seahawks (10-6, No. 11)
What’s to like: Russell Wilson’s a magician, so there’s no way they could be as bad as their roster on paper would otherwise lead you to believe.
What’s not to like: They want rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf to play football instead of his obvious calling: protecting the planet without a single weapon.
18 Tennessee Titans (9-7, No. 13)
What’s to like: They were a game away from the playoffs a year ago and their head coach REALLY wants to win a Super Bowl.
What’s not to like: No, you perhaps forgot, he REALLLLLLLY wants to win a Super Bowl.
19 Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11, No. 23)
What’s to like: Their previous quarterbacks were so forgettable that at some point in the not-so-distant future we’re going to forget that Blake Bortles and Blaine Gabbert were actually different people, and we’re going to joke about how “Blaine Bortles” was garbage. Nick Foles has to be better than that.
What’s not to like: Their receiving corps is a “who’s who” of “I didn’t know that guy was still in the league” and “I didn’t know that guy was ever in the league.”
20 San Francisco 49ers (4-12, No. 27)
What’s to like: To my knowledge, Jimmy Garoppolo has not been “blessed” by any porn stars this preseason. Also, they have a much better roster than they even did when they were winning football games with a healthy Garoppolo in 2017
What’s not to like: Things were such a disaster a year ago that it’s hard to remember that was ever a thing.
21 Carolina Panthers (7-9, No. 22)
What’s to like: Their parts.
What’s not to like: The sum of their parts. Go figure. A team with this much high-level talent really should be better. Perhaps they’ll end up proving they can get back to being that.
22 Denver Broncos (6-10, No. 19)
What’s to like: Joe Flacco is apparently a slightly better teammate than for some reason folks seemed to think he was. Go figure.
What’s not to like: His receivers are a pretty big question mark. Despite definitely being a better all-around group than he had in Baltimore in the last five years.
23 Oakland Raiders (4-12, No. 30)
What’s to like: Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams are a major upgrade over … yeah, I’m not going to pretend like any of us have any idea who played receiver for the Raiders last season so I’ll just assume “Tim Brown.”
What’s not to like: “Jon Gruden loves Nathan Peterman” was an even more predictable headline than “Miley Cyrus isn’t wearing all of her clothes today.”
24 Detroit Lions (6-10, No. 28)
What’s to like: The Da’Shawn Hand-A’Shawn Robinson-Mike Daniels-Trey Flowers defensive front is rather formidable.
What’s not to like: Nothing else really is.
25 Cincinnati Bengals (6-10, No. 24)
What’s to like: At least they can go into a season without the distraction of having to answer a bunch of questions about their coach’s future.
What’s not to like: So instead they can do that with their quarterback.
26 New York Jets (4-12, No. 31)
What’s to like: They spent a TON of money to improve the football team.
What’s not to like: They needed to spend a TON of money to improve the football team.
27 Washington Redskins (7-9, No. 20)
What’s to like: The defense was good before they added Landon Collins.
What’s not to like: You’re as likely to be capable of naming the winner of this year’s Tour de France as you are to being able to identify a No. 1 receiver on this roster. Also … they took a quarterback in the first round and for some inexplicable reason they’re not just making him the starter immediately. That’s dumb. That’s as dumb as … just about anything the Redskins would do.
28 New York Giants (5-11, No. 26)
What’s to like: Saquon Barkley and who knows, maybe even something else.
What’s not to like: I’m really struggling to come up with the “something else.”
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11, No. 25)
What’s to like: Bruce Arians. If there’s a team that NO ONE thinks is capable of being any good that can end up being halfway decent, it’s the Bucs just because of Arians’ presence.
What’s not to like: The decision to ride out Jameis Winston for another season is as questionable as it would be if Hollywood were to announce a “Holmes and Watson 2.”
30 Buffalo Bills (6-10, No. 29)
What’s to like: They certainly added a number of offensive skill position players this offseason.
What’s not to like: If I could say one thing about the players they added, it’s that “they certainly added a number of offensive skill position players this offseason.”
31 Arizona Cardinals (3-13, No. 32)
What’s to like: Kyler Murray is exciting and might be capable of putting together a Baker Mayfield-esque run as a rookie.
What’s not to like: Terrell Suggs wearing red.
32 Miami Dolphins (7-9, No. 18)
What’s to like: Fitzmagic.
What’s not to like: Everything. This is grotesque.
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