Welcome to the inaugural E2G Sports way too early power rankings for the NFL season. With the draft in our rearview, let’s take a look at where all 32 teams stand heading into organized team activities (OTAs) and mini-camps.

Each team had the opportunity to make an impact on their roster via free agency and the NFL Draft over the last few months. Carson Wentz is now a Colt, and with Jalen Hurts leading Philadelphia, how far can the Eagles fly? Can Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders make noise in a division dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs?

In a quarterback-driven league, teams with steady signal-callers tend to dominate power rankings. So if your team’s quarterback situation is murky, their ranking may be as well! Let’s get right to it!

32. Houston Texans

Last game: Lost vs. Titans, 38-41 (week 17)

This may be unanimous across all rankings lists. The Texans are neck-deep in the controversy surrounding their franchise quarterback, with no clear end in sight. Whether Deshaun Watson is suspended or not remains to be seen, however before allegations against him arose he already wanted out of Houston. And so did J.J. Watt, who turned tail to Arizona. Now with a new head coach, no draft picks in the first two rounds, and no clear vision of what the future looks like for the Texans; expect to see them hover down here in the 30s throughout the season.

31. New York Jets

Last game: Lost @ Patriots, 14-28 (week 17)

Shipping Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers was the clearest indicator that the Jets planned to take a quarterback in the first round of the draft this year. The frontrunners to land Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence for most of the season, the Jets actually missed out on that chance due, in part, to strong play from Darnold.

Now, the number two pick, Zach Wilson, will take the helm and try to contend once more in the AFC East. Free-agent veterans Corey Davis and Tevin Coleman as well as slot receiver Elijah Moore should help him with that.

30. Cincinnati Bengals

Last game: Lost vs. Ravens, 3-38 (week 17)

The Bengals took a leap of faith and reunited the Burrow-Chase combo that led LSU to a national championship in 2019. There was a lot of pressure for them to take an offensive lineman at number five overall, but Chase’s 2019 production (opted out in 2020) was too good to pass up. They did pick up tackle Riley Rieff and also got guard Quinton Spain back from Buffalo. Their defense gave up 31 points a game to AFC North opponents, so let’s hope former Longhorn Joseph Ossai can make an impact there.

29. Philadelphia Eagles

Last game: Lost vs. Washington, 14-20 (week 17)

The Eagles turned to rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts late in the season as Carson Wentz’s struggles led them to a 3-7-1 record. Hurts did not fare much better going 1-4 the rest of the way. However, there was some promise in that span. Hurts had a couple of 300-yard passing performances as well as a win over the NFC South champion Saints.

Hurts is now the guy in Philly as Wentz has moved on to the Colts. Newcomer Joe Flacco is no longer a starting-caliber quarterback and poses no threat to Hurts. The Eagles still have to make a couple of moves to become a playoff team, but anything is possible if you’re in the NFC East.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last game: Lost @ Colts, 14-28 (week 17)

Jaguars fans have been wondering what may have happened to their franchise if Myles Jack wasn’t ruled down on his strip fumble in the AFC Championship Game in January of 2018. They allowed the Patriots to come back from ten down and advance to the super bowl that year.

Since then, due to inconsistent quarterback play and even more inconsistent defense, the Jaguars have struggled. Enter quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who hasn’t lost a regular-season game since middle school. He’ll put that streak on the line as a rookie. It will help that only five of the Jaguars’ opponents this season are 2020 playoff teams.

27. New York Giants

Last game: Won vs. Cowboys, 23-19 (week 17)

Saquon Barkley returning from injury will give the Giants a chance to move up this list. Fortunately, the ACL tear was early in the 2020 season and Barkley should be available to go by midseason. The Giants helped themselves via the draft grabbing two SEC standouts, Kadarious Toney and Azeez Ojulari.

Toney, a Percy Harvin-type weapon on offense, and Ojulari, a pass-rushing force on defense, should both contribute immediately.  Daniel Jones should bounce back from a slight sophomore slump once Barkley returns.

 

26. Detroit Lions

Last game: Lost vs. Vikings, 35-37 (week 17)

For the first time since 2009, Matthew Stafford will not be on the Detriot Lions roster. The Jared Goff era will now begin. The Lions drafted offensive tackle Penei Sewell to protect their newly acquired quarterback. And with the major returns on the Stafford trade, the Lions have set themselves up to have a Browns-like turnaround in the coming years.

It will be interesting to see the running back tandem of D’Andre Swift and free-agent signee Jamaal Williams. A lot of talented youth on this roster, but they’re a few years away from contention.

25. Carolina Panthers

Last game: Lost vs. Saints, 7-33 (week 17)

The Panthers are a team that just could not find a way to win close games last season. of their 11 losses, eight of them were one-possession games. They’re in a tough division with the reigning Super Bowl champs as well as the powerhouse Saints.

However, if they can keep Christian McCaffrey healthy and Sam Darnold turnover-free, they have a chance to shake things up. The Panthers also added a good amount of talent in last weekend’s draft. Jaycee Horn is a certified lockdown corner and a great addition to a defensive backfield that already features a rising star in safety Jeremy Chinn.

24. Atlanta Falcons

Last game: Lost vs. Buccaneers, 27-44 (week 17)

The Falcons get the slight edge over their division rival Panthers on this list. It was a pretty down year for Atlanta, winning only four games and starting out 0-5. They get the edge because of Matt Ryan being a proven quarterback in the NFL.

If all available pass-catchers stay healthy and the running game gets going again, Ryan could indeed return to pro bowl form. They got help defensively in the draft with safety Richie Grant and got arguably the best player in the draft in Kyle Pitts.

Hopefully, they can both Rise Up.

23. Denver Broncos

Last game: Lost vs. Raiders, 31-32 (week 17)

Von Miller’s return this season should give this defense an instant boost from last season. Couple that with the addition of first-round pick Patrick Surtain II and the Broncos could be back in the mix. With the most uncertain quarterback situation in their division, Denver will go with game manager Teddy Bridgewater as their starter. Drew Lock turned the ball over 23 times for a team that lost seven games by a touchdown or less. I expect Denver to move up this list.

22. Minnesota Vikings

Last game: Won @ Lions, 37-35 (week 17)

A slow start to the 2020 season (1-5 in their first 6 games) left the Vikings on the outside looking in, as the rival Bears earned a playoff berth. Minnesota used the draft to improve their offensive line for standout running back Dalvin Cook. As well as drafting the heir apparent to Kirk Cousins in the second round, Kellen Mond.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer typically has solid defensive units and third-round selection Chazz Surratt should be an improvement over Nick Vigil. Former pro bowlers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr will match well with Surratt’s skill set.

21. Las Vegas Raiders

Last game: Won @ Broncos, 32-31 (week 17)

The Raiders came out the gates last season strong with a 6-3 start and playoff hopes. Losing five of their next six games dashed those hopes completely. Gruden and the gang have a chance to contend once again in the AFC West, but any similar losing streaks will have them sitting at home again next January. Safety Trevon Moehrig was a steal in the second round of the draft. Hopefully, he breaks the trend of high Raider defensive back draft picks that have struggled with either injury or performance.

20. Washington Football Team

Last game: Lost vs. Buccaneers, 23-31 (wild card round)

Washington deployed their fourth quarterback of the season in their wild-card game against the Bucs. Taylor Heinicke casually passed for 300 yards. They battled hard against the eventual world champions and the eight-point loss left an impression on most football fans. Ron Rivera plans to build off of that. Adding Ryan Fitzpatrick will give Washington a chance to compete again in the NFC East, but that division hasn’t had a repeat champion since Donovan McNabb’s Philadelphia Eagles in 2004.

19. Arizona Cardinals

Last game: Lost @ Rams, 7-18 (week 17)

The Cardinals have a lot of fresh faces this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Arizona will have a standout pass-rushing duo in Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt. They drafted Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins in the first round and paired with Isaiah Simmons should make the most versatile coverage linebacking duo in the league. And if cornerback Malcolm Butler can return to form, the departure of Patrick Peterson will be less noticeable. Injury-prone additions James Conner and AJ Green add some intrigue on offense. Both are pro-bowl players when healthy.

18. Dallas Cowboys

Last game: Lost @ Giants, 19-23 (week 17)

With several pro bowlers on offense, Dallas spent eight of their 11 draft picks on defense, highlighted by Penn State All-American Micah Parsons. However, every Dallas Cowboys fan is more anxiously awaiting the return of Dak Prescott. Prescott was in the process of lighting up the league (371 yards a game, 12 total touchdowns) before the ankle injury.

If he can shake the rust off and perform to that level, Dallas will be in the driver’s seat to win the East considering Washington finished first last season with a losing record. Keep an eye on backup running back Tony Pollard, who could take snaps away from Ezekiel Elliot if he has a slow start to 2021.

17. Tennessee Titans

Last game: Lost vs. Ravens, 13-20 (wild card round)

Defensive-minded head coach Mike Vabrel saw his offense stall in the playoffs against Baltimore. In spite of this, the Titans went defensive by signing Bud Dupree in free agency and drafting Caleb Farley. 2000-yard rusher Derrick Henry has carried the team to back-to-back playoff appearances and is ready to do so again. The AFC South is a two-team race with Indianapolis. With the improvements of other AFC teams that missed the playoffs last year (New England), and the three-headed monster in the North (Browns, Steelers, Ravens) there may only be one playoff spot for either the Colts or Titans.

Part I NFL wrap up

Not too many changes will be made between now and the start of training camp for these 16 teams. Keep an eye on injury updates, as the health of these team’s star players will be essential. Teams like the 30th ranked Bengals, for example, will need injured quarterback Joe Burrow to come back and play at an elite level. Strong quarterback play from a few of these clubs could ultimately push them into the top half of E2G’s rankings.

The Patriots were the talk of the free agency period, but did they push themselves into the top ten? With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the Packers are a top-five team, but where do they fall if he doesn’t play this season?

Find out when part II of our E2G rankings is released tomorrow!

If you feel your team should be higher on the list, let me know why in the comments below.

 

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