1. Patriots (preseason ranking No. 1): As Nick Saban says, once you get to the top of the mountain, you are the mountain. The Patriots are officially a mountain range.
2. Chiefs (No. 2): LeSean McCoy gives this team a late kick in the butt that could come in handy against Team Mountain Range.
3. Eagles (No. 3): Has an elite team ever been so overlooked?
4. Cowboys (No. 4): Zeke is back, and now the question is whether they’ll give in to the temptation to overuse him.
5. Bears (No. 5): It’s on Mitchell Trubisky to take this team to the next level, or two.
6. Seahawks (No. 9): The Jadeveon Clowney bump is real, especially since the Seahawks already were legitimate contenders before he arrived.
7. Rams (No. 7): We’ll quickly find out whether a three-point output from Super Bowl LIII lingers into 2019.
8. Saints (No. 8): Between Father Time chasing Drew Brees and Lady Luck ripping out the team’s heart in two straight postseasons, it could be hard for the Saints to remain among the top of the league.
10. Chargers (No. 11): Last year’s impressive showing keeps them high on the list as the season starts. Now, they’ll have to try to stay there.
11. Vikings (No. 12): They scored one of the most underrated hires in the offseason by luring Gary Kubiak to town. The question becomes whether they’ll stick with a meat-and-potatoes approach to offense, despite having caviar-priced quarterbacks and receivers.
12. Browns (No. 13): How this team handles inevitable adversity continues to be one of the biggest questions looming over 2019.
13. Ravens (No. 14): If Lamar Jackson improves as a passer, the Ravens will be moving up, all year long.
15. Jaguars (No. 16): Nick Foles ensures 2019 will be more like 2017, less like 2018.
16. Packers (No. 15): The offense is an unknown; what is known is that Aaron Rodgers already has won his first power struggle with his new head coach.
17. Panthers (No. 18): Last year’s sluggish finish puts them in the middle of the pack to start the season. A healthy Cam Newton will put them in the playoff hunt, again.
18. Falcons (No. 19): The NFC South is sufficiently wide open to give an underrated Matt Ryan a chance to take control of it, again.
19. Titans (No. 20): They can beat anyone, and they can lose to anyone. They’ll bump significantly higher next week if they can beat the Browns.
20. Bills (No. 21): Either the Jets or the Bills will contend for an AFC wild-card spot; on Sunday, one of them gets a leg up in their head-to-head competition.
21. Texans (No. 17): They may be better offensively after a Saturday that eventually could make people quit talking about the Herschel Walker trade. But there’s a growing funk of dysfunction that not even a high-end coach like Bill O’Brien can fully escape.
22. 49ers (No. 22): Jimmy G is on the spot, and I didn’t mean that to be a double entendre when I typed it but what the hell.
23. Broncos (No. 23): As goes Joe Flacco will go the Broncos.
24. Jets (No. 24): There’s a big upside, including a potential playoff berth. But they’ve earned their placement in the lower third of the league.
25. Lions (No. 25): No one is paying attention to the Lions, and the Lions surely like it that way.
26. Buccaneers (No. 26): A boom or a bust is coming. However it plays out, it should be fun to watch.
27. Washington (No. 27): Some would say No. 27 is a little high.
28. Raiders (No. 28): The NFL is better when the Raiders are competitive, but for now I’m skeptical that they will be in their last year in Oakland.
29. Bengals (No. 29): Who precisely did the Bengals piss off to get sent to Seattle in Week One?
30. Giants (No. 31): The sooner they go with Daniel Jones, the sooner they become relevant again.
31. Cardinals (No. 32): They’ve shown us nothing about their new offense in the preseason, so there’s no way to bump them out of this hole.
32. Dolphins (No. 30): Tanks for nothing? Tanks for everything!