1. Chiefs (previously No. 1): The Kings of the Hill got their rings last week. They start their quest for the next one this week, and they’re in better shape than most defending champions to pull it off.
2. 49ers (No. 2): There are plenty of reasons why most teams who lose the Super Bowl one year have a very hard time winning it the next year. The 49ers have the players and the coaching to become the fourth team to ever pull it off.
3. Ravens (No. 3): Another great season is expected; the challenge will come in January, when the Ravens will be under increased pressure to win in the postseason after going one-and-out in Lamar Jackson’s first two years.
4. Patriots (No. 4): The chaos and uncertainty and unpredictability of 2020 plays right into New England’s hands. Getting a highly motivated and by all appearances extremely healthy Cam Newton helps, too.
5. Saints (No. 5): Three special seasons, three heartbreaking playoff exits. A fourth special season seems inevitable. Is a fourth heartbreaking playoff exit inevitable, too?
6. Buccaneers (No. 6): The offense has gotten a huge boost, the defense is underrated, and the sky is the limit.
7. Titans (No. 8): Getting Jadeveon Clowney is worth a bump of at least one spot. Even at No. 7, they may be grossly underrated.
8. Seahawks (No. 8): If they turn Russell Wilson loose earlier in games, they could end up a lot higher on this list.
9. Bills (No. 9): Josh Allen could soon land in the franchise quarterback category.
10. Steelers (No. 11): If Ben Roethlisberger stays healthy, they’ll be playing deep into January.
11. Cowboys (No. 12): The talent continues to be there. Can they get the most out of it this year?
12. Vikings (No. 13): Yannick Ngakoue gives the pass rush a boost. The question ultimately becomes whether the Vikings will be able to throw when they can’t run.
13. Packers (No. 14): They overachieved last year. Can they avoid underachieving this year?
14. Eagles (No. 10): Way too many injuries have happened, and they haven’t even faced an opponent yet.
15. Broncos (No. 15): The offense is about to explode, and the defense is closing in on returning to form.
16. Colts (No. 16): All hope and hype aside, it’s impossible to forget seeing Philip Rivers throw seven interceptions in consecutive prime-time 2019 games.
17. Texans (No. 17): The offense could be effective, if everyone stays healthy; the defense may struggle, even if they have no injury issues on that side of the ball.
18. Browns (No. 18): The bar is much lower this year, and they should easily clear it this time.
19. Falcons (No. 19): A sneaky-good sleeper pick this year, after finishing 6-2 and having a solid nucleus of returning veteran talent.
20. Cardinals (No. 20): Kyler Murray is ready to be the NFL’s next big thing. That could prompt the Cardinals to make a big jump.
21. Raiders (No. 22): Derek Carr is finally stepping up. If he can avoid stepping in it, he could secure his future in Las Vegas.
22. Chargers (No. 21): The Derwin James injury hampers one of the best defenses in the NFL.
23. Rams (No. 23): Too many changes, too many questions, and too much money paid to the starting quarterback.
24. Jets (No. 24): They’re building from the inside-out not the outside-in, but they still have a long way to go to get to where they want to be on the inside and the outside.
25. Bears (No. 25): It’s hard to say whether Mitchell Trubisky winning the starting job says something really good about him or something really bad about Nick Foles. We’re about to begin finding out.
26. Dolphins (No. 26): The sooner the get Tua on the field, the sooner they’ll work toward getting the most out of him.
27. Lions (No. 27): Adrian Peterson didn’t sign with the Lions to stand on the sidelines.
28. Bengals (No. 28): It’s a work in progress, but progress could be made quickly if Joe Burrow quickly finds his footing.
29. Washington (No. 32): They’ve gotten through many summer challenges in a way that feels like they’re finally beginning to move past 21 years of dysfunction. It can’t get much worse than it has been.
30. Giants (No. 29): The potential is there. But it will take some time. And they need better offensive and defensive lines.
31. Panthers (No. 30): They’re stuck in one of the best divisions in football. It will make the rebuild even more of a challenge.
32. Jaguars (No. 31): 16 rookies on the 53-man roster, and a revolving door that has more guys going than coming. Even if they’re not tanking, they ship could sink again.