The 2016 NFL season is set to kick off this week, and all 32 teams start fresh in their bid for the Super Bowl. Of course, some teams have a much better chance of winning the Lombardi Trophy than others. See which teams these are through our Week 1 power rankings.
1. Arizona Cardinals; last year’s record 13-3 – The Cardinals have every aspect of an elite team, and running back David Johnson is getting more hype than anybody. Will he live up to the lofty expectations?
2. Carolina Panthers; last year’s record 15-1 – Carolina has reason to be even more optimistic with Kelvin Benjamin returning after a missed season (ACL). But it’ll be interesting to see what the defense is like after losing CB Josh Norman, CB Charles Tillman, and DE Jared Allen.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers; last year’s record 10-6 – Le’Veon Bell begins the year with a 3-game suspension, but DeAngelo Williams is a very capable replacement. This team looks to take the next step by contending for a Super Bowl.
4. Seattle Seahawks; last year’s record 10-6 – Russell Wilson is a legitimate MVP candidate, and he has plenty of receiving options. The big question will be if Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls can fill the running back hole left by Marshawn Lynch’s retirement.
5. New England Patriots; last year’s record 12-4 – It won’t be easy for the Patriots in the early going, with Jimmy Garoppolo starting 4 games while Tom Brady serves his Deflate-Gate suspension. But we think that they can at least split their first two games.
6. Kansas City Chiefs; last year’s record 11-5 – Kansas City comes off of a strong season with most of its important pieces intact. The main question is if Jamaal Charles will be fully recovered from a second torn ACL.
7. Denver Broncos; last year’s record 12-4 – The defending Super Bowl champions enter this season with a big question at quarterback again. Can Trevor Siemian generate enough offense so that the defense can win ballgames?
8. Green Bay Packers; last year’s record 10-6 – Jordy Nelson is back after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. How well he recovered may determine if this Packers offense becomes great again.
9. Cincinnati Bengals; last year’s record 11-5 – Quarterback Andy Dalton played very well last year, tossing 25 touchdowns against 7 interceptions while boasting a 106.3 QBR. And he has plenty of weapons coming back this season too.
10. Minnesota Vikings; last year’s record 11-5 – The Vikings pulled a big trade to bring Sam Bradford in after Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season. Bradford could even be an upgrade over what Bridgewater offered last year.
11. Indianapolis Colts; last year’s record 8-8 – The Colts don’t have a complete team, but if they can keep Andrew Luck healthy then they have a good chance to win the AFC South.
12. Buffalo Bills; last year’s record 8-8 – With Tyrod Taylor starting, the Bills went 8-8 last season. As long as he can stay healthy and produce like last year, this team will fight for an AFC Wild Card slot.
13. Dallas Cowboys; last year’s record 4-12 – Even with Tony Romo’s injury, we still like the Cowboys to win another diluted NFC East. But Dak Prescott must be better than the trio of quarterbacks that tried to replace Romo last year.
14. Atlanta Falcons; last year’s record 8-8 – The Falcons have good pieces on offense, notably Julio Jones, who led the NFL with 136 catches for 1,871 receiving yards. But their defense could once again be a liability.
15. Miami Dolphins; last year’s record 6-10 – The Dolphins were the league’s most-disappointing team last season after getting lots of hype. This year, they come in a little under the radar.
16. New York Jets; last year’s record 10-6 – New York benefited from Miami’s struggles by surging to second in the AFC East. But a difficult schedule that includes 6 playoff teams in the first 8 games could be the Jets’ undoing.
17. Baltimore Ravens (0-2); last year’s record 5-11 – The Ravens were one of the league’s most-injured teams in 2015. With a healthy squad and new additions, it’ll be interesting to see how Baltimore fares.
18. St. Louis Rams; last year’s record 7-9 – St. Louis has a strong defense once again, and they solved the running game with second-year player Todd Gurley. But their quarterback situation might be a mess.
19. New York Giants; last year’s record 6-10 – While the offense is strong, the defense is where New York needed upgrades. They hope to have solved this by bringing in DT Damon Harrison, DE Oliver Vernon, and CB Janoris Jenkins.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; last year’s record 6-10 – Jameis Winston looks like the real deal. But the defense will be in transition, moving away from its traditional Cover 2.
21. Houston Texans; last year’s record 9-7 – The Colts’ failures were Houston’s gain last year as they made the playoffs. Can Brock Osweiler be the piece that takes the Texans to the next level?
22. Oakland Raiders; last year’s record 7-9 – Derek Carr and Amari Cooper could be one of the league’s best 1-2 punches.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars; last year’s record 5-11 – This is a make-or-break year for a Jacksonville team that has been building its program for a while.
25. Washington Redskins; last year’s record 9-7 – Was last season just a fluke, or can the Redskins string together successful seasons?
26. San Diego Chargers; last year’s record 4-12 – There’s reason for optimism, with Keenan Allen back and Melvin Gordon looking to make up for his rookie disappointment.
27. New Orleans Saints; last year’s record 6-10 – Drew Brees is healthy after playing through a torn rotator cuff last season. He may have to single-handedly take this Saints team to the playoffs.
28. Detroit Lions; last year’s record 7-9 – With Calvin Johnson retired and the defense not significantly improved, we don’t see the Lions going very far.
30. San Francisco; last year’s record 5-11 – Chip Kelly went from a bad spot to an even worse one this year.
31. Philadelphia Eagles; last year’s record 7-9 – With a rookie starting quarterback and a new coach in place, Philadelphia has some growing pains ahead.
32. Cleveland Browns; last year’s record 3-13 – We don’t see Cleveland as having done enough to avoid another miserable campaign.