2020 NFL Preview: Chiefs Atop League Power Rankings Entering Week 1
The 2020 NFL season is just about upon us. Can you believe it?
The campaign is set to kick off Thursday night when the Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans. In addition to entering the season as reigning Super Bowl champions, Patrick Mahomes and Co. also will open 2020 as the No. 1 team on NESN.com’s NFL power rankings.
Here’s how the lest of the list shakes out after Kansas City:
1. Kansas City Chiefs
We shouldn’t have to sell you much on this one. The Chiefs followed up their Super Bowl LIV victory with a home run of an offseason, highlighted by new deals for Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, as well as the addition of rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
2. New Orleans Saints
The Saints are returning the bulk of their key contributors from 2019, which saw New Orleans go 13-3. Drew Brees also has a new weapon in Emmanuel Sanders and his offensive line was beefed up via the drafting of Cesar Ruiz.
3. San Francisco 49ers
DeForest Buckner now is in Indianapolis, but the blockbuster trade for the star defensive lineman parlayed into the Niners drafting stud defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. Rookie wideout Brandon Aiyuk also should thrive in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
4. Baltimore Ravens
The AFC’s No. 1 seed from a season ago arguably grew stronger over the offseason. Veteran defensive end Calais Campbell joins an already stout defense, and running back J.K. Dobbins could be in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
5. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys effectively stole CeeDee Lamb, who somehow slid to Dallas at No. 17 in this year’s draft. Dallas’ offense has a chance to be downright frightening with the Oklahoma product joining forces with Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
6. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks now feature one of the NFL’s premier secondaries after trading for arguably the league’s top safety, Jamal Adams. Veterans Carlos Hyde and Greg Olsen also were nice additions to the offense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette in the fold, the Bucs have one of the best offenses in football on paper. Should the defense exceed expectations, Tampa Bay could make a quick jump up this list.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers
There aren’t many — if any — defenses in the NFL better than the one in the Steel City. Pittsburgh also is set to welcome back a healthy Ben Roethlisberger and James Conner.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles boosted their strong defense back in March by trading for safety Darius Slay and added a new weapon to the offense in rookie wideout Jalen Reagor. We also should expect to see a motivated Carson Wentz after Philly spent a second-round pick on QB Jalen Hurts.
10. Green Bay Packers
You’re in a pretty good spot when arguably your primary concern is an offense led by Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay’s defense is among the best in the game.
11. Buffalo Bills
The third season often is when we see highly touted quarterbacks make “the jump.” This ascension will be made easier for Josh Allen now that he has Stefon Diggs to air it out to.
12. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons quietly had a solid offseason, including the additions of Dante Fowler Jr. and rookie corner A.J. Terrell. Atlanta also provided Matt Ryan with another above-average weapon in Todd Gurley and replaced tight end Austin Hooper with Hayden Hurst.
13. Tennessee Titans
The Titans, who were one win away from Super Bowl LIV, managed to retain 2019 rushing champion Derrick Henry. The defense also should be a force to be reckoned with now that Jadeveon Clowney resides on the front seven in Nashville.
14. Arizona Cardinals
Don’t sleep on the Cardinals in the loaded NFC West. Arizona landed jack-of-all trades LB Isaiah Simmons in the draft and seemingly fleeced the Texans in a trade for DeAndre Hopkins. Barring a sophomore slump from Kyler Murray, the Cards could be in the mix for a playoff spot.
15. Denver Broncos
Similarly to the Cardinals, the Broncos should not be overlooked. Denver’s defense has a chance to be ferocious once again with Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye now on board. Second-year signal-caller Drew Lock also has Jerry Jeudy and Melvin Gordon at his disposal.
16. Minnesota Vikings
The losses of Stefon Diggs and Everson Griffen likely will be felt, but the addition of star defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue should help alleviate those departures. Minnesota will need a strong campaign from Kirk Cousins to remain on the top half of this list, however.
17. Indianapolis Colts
Time will tell if Philip Rivers still is capable of leading a team to the playoffs, but his supporting cast in Indianapolis is solid. Both rookie running back Jonathan Taylor and wideout Michael Pittman Jr. appear to be NFL ready.
18. New England Patriots
Even if Cam Newton returns to above-average form, New England’s offensive arsenal leaves a bit to be desired. The Patriots also will be hard-pressed to replace the loss of four linebackers from the 2019 unit.
19. Cleveland Browns
There is no shortage of talent in Cleveland, and it’s now up to Baker Mayfield to live up to expectations. Perhaps first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski, a sharp offensive mind, will prompt a bounce-back season from the 2018 first-round pick.
20. Houston Texans
The Texans likely will go as far as Deshaun Watson can carry them in the 2020 season. But the upcoming campaign will mark the star QB’s first without Hopkins, and his top three wideouts all are injury-prone.
21. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers were dealt a tough blow with Derwin James undergoing knee surgery, which is expected to sideline the strong safety for 6-8 months. LA’s offense likely will be fair at best, but perhaps that will signal the emergence of Justin Herbert.
22. Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff lost a pair of offensive weapons over the offseason with Gurley joining the Falcons and Brandin Cooks being dealt to Houston. The Rams likely will need Sean McVay’s best coaching performance to date in order to be a playoff team in 2020.
23. Las Vegas Raiders
We might prove to look foolish for having the Raiders this low on the list to start the season, but it’s tough to have extended faith in Derek Carr. But the veteran QB will work behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, and he now has a bonafide burner in Henry Ruggs III to throw to.
24. Chicago Bears
The Bears defense still has the pieces in place to be a great unit. Mitchell Trubisky doesn’t inspire much optimism, however, and he doesn’t have a whole lot to work with.
25. Detroit Lions
The Lions were awfully competitive last season before Matthew Stafford went down with injury. His supporting cast was bolstered via the addition of rookie back DeAndre Swift, and Jeff Okudah is a star in the making.
26. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins strengthened their defense over the offseason by signing a pair of sure-handed veterans in LB Kyle Van Noy and CB Byron Jones. The offense isn’t shaping up to be all that good, but maybe Tua Tagovailoa will eventually change the narrative.
27. Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow very well could make the Bengals a playoff team in the years to come, but probably not 2020. His transition to the NFL should be made easier by a pair of veteran wideouts — A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd — and dual-threat back Joe Mixon, though.
28. New York Giants
Daniel Jones surely must be feeling more comfortable with Andrew Thomas now set to protect his blindside. But expectations should be tempered for a team with an OK roster being led by a first-year head coach.
29. New York Jets
The Jets did little to improve over the offseason. It wouldn’t be at all shocking to see Gang Green end up in the cellar of the AFC East.
30. Carolina Panthers
We’ll have to wait and see if Christian McCaffrey is capable of routinely stuffing the stat sheet with such a large workload. It also remains to be seen if Teddy Bridgewater is a true franchise quarterback.
31. Washington Football Team
Dwayne Haskins Jr. has the moxie of a star signal-caller and Chase Young has the chance to be one of the games best pass rushers for years. Washington fans probably will have to look forward to the future throughout the season.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars likely will be firmly in the mix to have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images