PFT’s 2020 preseason power rankings

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Hopefully, there will be a 2020 football season. Operating under the assumption (or at least aspiration), that pro football will happen, there’s no time like right now to stack up the various NFL teams from top to bottom, based on how they finished in 2019, what they did or didn’t do in the offseason, and where they currently are as the new season approaches.

This isn’t a prediction as to where the 32 teams will finish. It’s an assessment of where they currently are. Given the potential impact of the pandemic on the 2020 season, the teams that ultimately do the best on the field may be the teams who do the best job of keeping their players from testing positive for COVID-19.

1. Chiefs: The King of the Hill remains in the top spot until someone knocks them off. It helps that nearly every starter is back from the team that won the Super Bowl.

2. 49ers: Coach Kyle Shanahan quickly has established himself as one of the best coaches in football. He passed on a chance to swap Jimmy Garoppolo for Tom Brady in 2020. How well Garoppolo repays that faith in him will go a long way toward determining whether the 49ers can finish the job. First, they have to survive in the toughest division in football.

3. Ravens: Dominant in the 2019 regular season and loaded again for 2020, the Ravens’ biggest challenge will come in January, when the urgency to keep Lamar Jackson’s 0-2 postseason trend from becoming an 0-3 narrative will reach full boil.

4. Patriots: The only certainty amid so much uncertainty is that, whatever the rules or procedures or protocols for 2020, Bill Belichick will crack the code and win games. And he has Cam Newton. And Newton is apparently healthy and motivated.

5. Saints: Three years, three consecutive devastating postseason exits. They’ll go back to 0-0 and they’ll find a way to win a lot of games and they’ll try again, in what likely will be the final season of Drew Brees‘ career, to get back to the Super Bowl and win it.

6. Buccaneers: They had a 7-7 record through 14 games despite Jameis Winston‘s habit of throwing the ball to the other team. Swap out the NFL’s first ever 30-30 quarterback for the greatest quarterback of all time, and the Bucs suddenly become a major player.

7. Seahawks: They came within a play of winning the division last year, and they’ll once again be a factor in 2020. They could indeed knock off the 49ers, especially if Russell Wilson continues to perform like one of the finest quarterbacks in the league — even if not nearly enough people realize it.

8. Titans: After an unexpected berth in the AFC Championship game, the Titans coughed up the cash necessary to keep quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry on the team. To have a chance to build on their success in 2020, they’ll need both to stay healthy and effective. Given Tannehill’s history, that could be a roll of the dice that ends up in craps for Nashville.

9. Bills: Receiver Stefon Diggs gives quarterback Josh Allen an element he never has had, and it could be the ingredient that takes the team to the top of the division for the first time in decades.

10. Eagles: The good news for 2019 is that quarterback Carson Wentz stayed healthy for the entire regular season. The bad news is that few other players did. If they can avoid the injury bug in 2020, the Eagles can get back to the playoffs and make a run at another Super Bowl.

11. Steelers: Coach Mike Tomlin proved his value in 2019, nearly willing his team to the playoffs despite not having Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, or Antonio Brown. Ben is back this year, and the defense is becoming dominant. Questions remain as to whether Roethlisberger, who played only two games last year, can stay healthy.

12. Cowboys: Once again, the Cowboys look good on paper. Once again, they need to turn potential into performance. Once again, it won’t be a surprise if something keeps that from happening.

13. Vikings: It’s a strange crossroads for a team that is sort of rebuilding and sort of reloading and sort of in the last couple of chances before a full reset to deliver a Super Bowl return for which the franchise has been waiting for 44 years and counting.

14. Packers: Last year’s record became exposed as overachievement when the 49ers steamrolled Green Bay in the postseason. Instead of building on that success, the Packers took a step back in the offseason, hopefully to eventually develop the same kind of offense that the 49ers have — one that will feature Jordan Love at quarterback before too long, and Aaron Rodgers quite possibly finishing his career elsewhere.

15. Broncos: With a potential franchise quarterback finally in the fold, the Broncos are building something much better than what they’ve had. If only they didn’t have to contend with the Chiefs in their division, Denver could be poised to become an elite team.

16. Colts: Philip Rivers becomes the Band-Aid to Indy’s future. The present remains uncertain, because it’s unclear whether Rivers can still get it done — thanks to seven interceptions thrown in a pair of prime-time games last season. If he still can perform at a high level, the Colts could be a factor in 2020.

17. Texans: What will be the consequence of blowing a 24-0 lead in Kansas City? The Texans and everyone else will find out. Deshaun Watson continues to be one of the best quarterbacks in football, but he may not have enough help around him to build on whatever it was that they achieved last year.

18. Browns: Last year, the bar was way too high. This year, it’s not. This year, the Browns have a head coach who may be far better prepared to run the team than Freddie Kitchens was. Maybe this will be the year that an 18-year playoff drought finally ends.

19. Falcons: A 6-2 finish after a 1-7 start plus a lingering nucleus of high-end talent could make them a surprise team in the NFC South, especially with so much focus on New Orleans and Tampa Bay.

20. Cardinals: The arrival of DeAndre Hopkins gives this team a significant bump. If the defense can hold up over the long haul, the Cardinals could finish a lot higher than where they’re starting.

21. Chargers: Tyrod Taylor has a winning record as a starter, and he’s never had a supporting cast like the one he has in L.A. The defense has significant potential, too, if the key players can stay healthy. In any other division, they’d be in much better shape to contend.

22. Raiders: There are reasons for optimism. There are reasons for pessimism. This one truly could go either way. Being stuck in the AFC West with a dominant Chiefs team and a dramatically improved Denver franchise will make it harder to make it go the right way.

23. Rams: Todd Gurley? Gone. Brandin Cooks? Gone. Wade Phillips? Gone. A pair of first-round picks and a fourth-round pick for a cornerback who may soon be gone? Gone. The Rams have pinned their hopes to a quarterback who needs more around him than what he has to justify the contract he’s gotten. Two seasons after getting to the Super Bowl, the Rams could end up at the bottom of their division.

24. Jets: Like the Falcons, the Jets went 6-2 after starting 1-7. They remain overlooked and disregarded. Which could play right into their hands.

25. Bears: Up and down and down and up and who knows how it will play out for a team that finally has a quarterback that fits the offense? There’s a chance it all falls together. There’s an equal chance it all falls apart.

26. Dolphins: Unable to trade up for Joe Burrow, the team in perpetual search of a franchise quarterback has pinned its hopes to Tua Tagovailoa. If he can stay healthy, he has a chance. His inability to stay healthy at the college level creates real concern as to whether he can do it at the next level.

27. Lions: Last season started with promise and potential and then it all fell apart after Matthew Stafford suffered a back injury. Maybe this year will be different. (“Maybe this year will be different” is how pretty much every season starts for Lions fans.)

28. Bengals: But for Joe Burrow, they’d be at No. 32. If he plays like he did last year at LSU, they could end up being a lot higher than No. 28. The more likely reality is that this one will take some time.

29. Giants: Second-year starting quarterback, first-year head coach, offensive coordinator who was just fired as a head coach, defense that lacks significant punch, offensive line that remains a work in progress. Maybe it all finds a way to work. Maybe it doesn’t. (And, yes, someone has to be No. 29.)

30. Panthers: Matt Rhule has become an expert at reclamation projects. He’s got another one on his hands. Fortunately, he also has one of the best running backs in the NFL under contract for years to come. There’s a quick path to potential relevance, if they stay healthy and get a little lucky. (And, yes, someone has to be No. 30.)

31. Jaguars: That 2017 appearance in the AFC Championship game feels as distant as 1999 and 1996. (And, yes, someone has to be No. 31.)

32. Washington: They’ve got the right coach for the job. Now, if Ron Rivera can focus on coaching and not coming up with a new name or cleaning up Bruce Allen’s mess, maybe they can get to work on turning the franchise around.

74 responses to “PFT’s 2020 preseason power rankings

  1. The Chiefs are required to be in a division, the Faders, sparks and donkies drew the short stick. For the next 12 years.

  2. Too high: Eagles, Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers, Washington…
    Too low: NY Giants, Texans, Bears…

  3. #14 is ok with me. Really, the only one of these that means anything comes out after the last day of the season. Otherwise, all these are is dust in the wind, tears in the rain.

  4. I think we will see the REAL Lamar Jackson this season….aka Vince Young, RGIII.

    Jackson is a Fraud, just like the whole Ravens team. Just watch, the Ravens will do no better than 9-7

  5. NinersFan1973 says:
    July 19, 2020 at 10:48 am
    Patriots at 4 is insanity. That would require Cam at his 2015 MVP level…

    Or is 2018 level for the injury

    68% completion 3400 yards 28 tds (4 rushing) 13 ints

  6. Ah yes, the Jags at the bottom as always. That’s what happens when you have an owner who doesn’t care about winning and a GM who is clueless.

  7. Steelers should be #1. The Steelers shrewdly gave Big Ben a 2 year $68 million dollar contract extension in April of 2019 and he promptly rewarded them by scorching the Patriots with a sweet, sweet, 3 points in last season’s opener. That’s just how good Big Ben is!

    GO STEELERS!

  8. Keeping the Brown’s low will hopefully keep the pressure off of them, The Browns need to play smart and keep the owner away from the team

  9. Do the Buccaneers have enough defense to be ranked in the top 7? I don’t know if a 43 year old QB (Aug 3) is enough, even with those WR weapons to overcome the lack of defense. Saints are a far superior team and I’d put the Bucs no better than 3rd in their own division. I’m a Vikings fan and I wouldn’t put them above the Packers (sad to say). I think the Packers will be tough this year if they actually do use their running game.

  10. Pats at 4 is the only one that really jumps off the page. That is extremely hopeful. With the defense and cam. 9-7 is probably the most likely reality.

  11. Wentz with two solid weapons takes the birds to 10 sorry non believer’s he is a stud ! Fly eagles fly

  12. For the first time in seemingly forever, the Bills are potentially poised to be a top 10 team and a legitimate threat to win their division… in a season that probably won’t even happen. Figures

  13. Justin Morris says:
    July 19, 2020 at 11:42 am
    People saying eagles are to high are about to get a reality check.

    ————-

    That’s right! They aren’t too high, they’re WAY too high!

  14. Do the Buccaneers have enough defense to be ranked in the top 7? I don’t know if a 43 year old QB (Aug 3) is enough, even with those WR weapons to overcome the lack of defense.
    ____________________________

    The Bucs were a top 5 defense the last half of the season. It took 8 games for them to start adapting to Todd Bowles new scheme and the young guys to come around. Couple that with having to be on the field all of the time because of the turnover machine at QB who also spotting the other team double digit leads. Defense isn’t much of a concern here. Offensive line is a bigger issue especially considering that Donovan Smith is saying that he’s not playing.

    That all said, I’m not buying the hype until I start seeing it on the field which unfortunately we may not get a chance to see this year.

  15. The 49ers went to the super bowl last year, but I don’t remember seeing their name on any of these pre-season lists. There are always surprises. I think The Raiders are the surprise team this year. Their defense has improved dramatically, and they have perhaps the best O-line in football. I also think Mariota could be the QB by week 5.

  16. The Chiefs are looking very deadly with the continuity in this limited training camp and pre-season. Their offense has the possibility of being the best offense of all time. If their defense continues the level of play they showed at the end of the year, this Chiefs team should easily win 14/15 games. Last year’s Chiefs team won 12 with a banged up RB core, Sammy hurt, Tyreek missing a large percentage of games, and Mahomes missing games. Mahomes and the Chiefs have the opportunity to become the next dynasty if they play their cards right.

  17. If the Vikes are #13 or above at season’s end, if there is one, I’d be pleasantly surprised given all the changes. I’ve got higher expectations for next year.

  18. so i wonder, as the season doesn’t happen, will PFT still do a weekly power ranking based on the health of the players not partying?

  19. What is the Achilles Heal of every team? Injuries.

    Who prepares for injuries before they even happen? Belichick.

    With Covid, rosters will be at increased risk. Watch Bill carry 3 QBs and one on the practice squad. He kept some studs at top dollar (Gilmore, Thuney, McCourtey) but most of the roster are good players at reasonable salaries. He is loaded at corner, running back and special teams.

    When injuries weaken an opponent Bill will attack that weakness. The Pats will morph into whatever form Bill thinks they need to be to win on a week to week basis. Yes, Cam needs to step up but is the a QB with more motivation?

    The Pats might not surprise Florio but they will surprise a lot of teams and fans.

  20. This is literally the dumbest list ever. PFT is so emotionally wrapped up in the name change and the sexual harassment allegations that it has lost its ability to objectively evaluate Washington. Let me clue you in — If there is season, Washington will win the Super Bowl. They have Haskins, MacLaren, Young, Collins and a two time NFL Coach of the Year. To list them last is preposterous.

  21. charliecharger says:
    July 19, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    The 49ers went to the super bowl last year, but I don’t remember seeing their name on any of these pre-season lists. There are always surprises. I think The Raiders are the surprise team this year. Their defense has improved dramatically, and they have perhaps the best O-line in football. I also think Mariota could be the QB by week 5.

    ____________

    Trubisky = Carr

    Trubisky = Mariota

    Raiders have no QB.

    You’re a clown JoeCORKronto!

  22. Washington is better than Jacksonville….Washington has a quarterback with more talent (just needed proper coaching to utilize it) and their defense (unlike Jacksonville) isn’t in a rebuild period. Washington’s defensive line will be a terror

  23. I agree with the Seahawks ranking. However, The Seahawks are higher than I would have guessed you would place them. They generally are given much lower rankings in every graded venue; the draft grades, the free agency frenzy, and the off season adjustments all give the Seahawks low marks. They usually end up getting put in the bottom half of the power rankings and climb near the top during the season.

  24. Let me clue you in — If there is season, Washington will win the Super Bowl. They have Haskins, MacLaren, Young, Collins and a two time NFL Coach of the Year. To list them last is preposterous.
    ———————————————————————-
    I won’t go THAT far, but certainly better than Jacksonville’s rebuilding team or even Carolina’s rebuilding team. Both of those teams will have a bad defense, Carolina may surprise offensively, but Brady, Brees and Ryan will have field days. As for Jacksonville, their best offense is Fournette. I don’t believe in Minshew and their defense lost too much

  25. NinersFan1973 says:
    July 19, 2020 at 10:48 am
    Patriots at 4 is insanity. That would require Cam at his 2015 MVP level…
    ————————————————————————————
    Especially given the toughness of their schedule. Hopeful, though.

    Go Patriots!

  26. The Cowboys have been mediocre for the past few seasons. It’s about time for them to go 13-3 and lose their first playoff game again, I think.

  27. the vikings with mike zimmer and cousins will be the team to beat for years to come….

  28. PrimeTime says:
    July 19, 2020 at 10:37 am

    I think we will see the REAL Lamar Jackson this season….aka Vince Young, RGIII.

    Jackson is a Fraud, just like the whole Ravens team. Just watch, the Ravens will do no better than 9-7
    ___________________________

    Lamar hate with no analysis. Vince Young actually retired record with a 30-17. How many dropback QBs can say that? It’s funny how people always pick on running QBs like they are failures. How many dropback QBs just come and go in the NFL? Running QBs actually have far more success.
    Please stop making RGIII the poster child for running QBs. The guy clearly had talent and he got injured, it happens. And VY didn’t have the mental fortitude to continue in the NFL.
    I don’t see this in Lamar. Dude, he works at his game too hard to fail. You can’t see that? The NFL catch up to him. Catch up to what? The Ravens play smash mouth football. We come right at you with no tricks and gimmicks like the Patriots. Good luck stopping that. Lamar is 19-3. You don’t luck your way to that.

  29. The 49ers name is Extremely Offensive and should be changed. The 1849ers committed Genocide against 100k Indigenous and non-white people during the California gold rush. #ChangeTheName

  30. That’s true. They should be top 5.

    5thorkid says:
    Eagles at 10 is laughable

  31. Swap out the NFL’s first ever 30-30 quarterback for the greatest quarterback of all time, and the Bucs suddenly become a major player.
    —————–
    i never tire of seeing brady universally recognized as the greatest qb of all time, so thank you again mike. not to quibble but the greatest qb of all time is also the greatest football player of all time.

  32. Aloha.
    Cam only has to be better than 2019 Brady. Pats D will be top 10. The O will be top 15. They will improve as the season goes on.

    Pats will make the playoffs. Then anything can happen.

  33. Packers at 14 is preposterous, they were a young team last year with a young HC and went 13-3. They should easily be top 5 with a year of experience now.

  34. Every year the Texans win their division and every year people put down their achievements. Once again the Texans are rated below two of their division rivals and once again they will win their division. Now, post season is a different story but these are regular season rankings and the Texans are a playoff caliber team. Again.

  35. I think there should be a little more optimism on the Bengals. I know they seem not to be good, but looking at the roster, I can definitely see this team stringing wins together.

  36. springfield says:
    July 19, 2020 at 10:39 am
    The Redskins are better than 32.
    ============================

    They have a huge question mark at QB, no overall offense whatsoever (McLaurin is good but can’t do it all himself) and now a massive scandal that will undoubtedly cause distractions.

    There is nowhere else they belong other than 32.

  37. Bruce Allen’s mess? Take the blinders off. This is owned by Snyder completely. Until the NFL does an independent investigation they will willfully look the other way.

  38. PrimeTime says:
    July 19, 2020 at 10:37 am
    I think we will see the REAL Lamar Jackson this season….aka Vince Young, RGIII.

    Jackson is a Fraud, just like the whole Ravens team. Just watch, the Ravens will do no better than 9-7
    _____________

    This.. 100%. Will not wil the division.

  39. nite2al says:
    July 19, 2020 at 8:03 pm
    PrimeTime says:
    July 19, 2020 at 10:37 am

    I think we will see the REAL Lamar Jackson this season….aka Vince Young, RGIII.

    Jackson is a Fraud, just like the whole Ravens team. Just watch, the Ravens will do no better than 9-7
    ___________________________

    Please stop making RGIII the poster child for running QBs. The guy clearly had talent and he got injured, it happens. And VY didn’t have the mental fortitude to continue in the NFL.
    ===========================

    There was farrrr more to RGIII’s fall from grace than just him getting hurt. Players get hurt all the time and still come back and excel (and are sometimes even better than before). RGIII was simply figured out by the league. He had a solid rookie year (thanks in large part to his RUNNING) and then once back from injury, could rely on his passing enough to get by in the league. It is no accident that he went from insanely overhyped wunderkind to forgotten man almost overnight. He was an excellent athlete who couldn’t make it as a QB when all else failed. It happens.

    That all said, he made an absolute killing from rookie endorsements, and is still in the league after 7 seasons. So I doubt he is losing any sleep over how things have gone for him!

  40. jdubkc says:
    July 20, 2020 at 9:11 am
    PrimeTime says:
    July 19, 2020 at 10:37 am
    I think we will see the REAL Lamar Jackson this season….aka Vince Young, RGIII.

    Jackson is a Fraud, just like the whole Ravens team. Just watch, the Ravens will do no better than 9-7
    _____________

    This.. 100%. Will not wil the division.

    _____________

    I would love to hear from the Ravens naysayers as to who will win the AFCN if not the Ravens? The only logical choice is COVID-19. Absent that, the Ravens are going to crush those other three average to below average teams. The Ravens will have the offensive, defensive, special teams, and coaching edge against all three of the AFCN teams, in every game in which they match up. And those are the facts.

  41. sllib12 says:
    July 19, 2020 at 9:22 am
    Titans way overrated

    ——————-

    Tell that to the 2 teams ahead of them that they eliminated in the playoffs.

  42. Buxs and Pats way too high. The marriage is over, not as great without one another. Winston was sacked 47 times last year. Not a good recipe for an aging Brady in Arian’s system. Pats? Simply too much turnover. Better than Saints, Seahawks, Packers and Texans? Not even close.

  43. The Patriots have the best coach. A huge advantage in football.

    They have the best defensive backfield. Another big advantage.

    They will have excellent special teams if their rookie kicker delivers.

    Their OL, receivers, tight ends and running backs are better than last year.

    They are weaker at linebacker and on the edge (maybe not).

    They lost the GOAT at QB, his intellect, and never say die competitiveness. That’s huge.

    Newton, Stidham and Hoyer indicate depth and open up the offense. They mitigated the loss of Brady the best they could and Belichick has done it before.

    They can take a big hit in any area without it being devastating. Not many teams can survive a big talent loss.

    Let’s hope they play.

  44. DeShaun Watson is 22-3 in the regular season when his defense keeps the opponent under 27 points. He has only lost two games in his 37 regular season starts by more than one score. There is no basis for having the Texans in the bottom half of the league.

  45. nite2al says:
    July 20, 2020 at 10:47 am
    Buxs and Pats way too high. The marriage is over, not as great without one another. Winston was sacked 47 times last year. Not a good recipe for an aging Brady in Arian’s system. Pats? Simply too much turnover. Better than Saints, Seahawks, Packers and Texans? Not even close.

    That’s because he did a lot of 7 step drops
    Arians isn’t going to totally change what Brady has done the last 20 years.
    Brady is smarter than Winston and knows before the ball is snapped where it will go.

    Don’t compare Winston to Brady. It’s foolish

  46. These rankings don’t look too bad. “Things could come together for the bears…or could just as easily fall apart for the bears”. This is hilariously accurate 😂😂

  47. Bias rankings pushing his narrative lol That’s okay, I still listen and read until I decide it is unbearable.

  48. kcfan67 says:
    July 19, 2020 at 11:32 am
    Broncos a little high.

    Well, yeah… they do reside in the Mile High City of Legal Weed…

  49. Switch the Cardinals with the Vikings’ spot.
    Switch the Giants with the Washington Warriors.
    Switch Broncos for the Steelers

    List is now perfect.

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