NFL power rankings: Chiefs, Packers, Buccaneers stabilize after offseason drama; Patriots, Bears slip with weak 2022 drafts

The landscape of the NFL has changed dramatically in one wild offseason, causing a great shakeup from Sporting News’ initial early 2022 power rankings right after Super Bowl 56.

Between Tom Brady not retiring and other blockbuster trades involving quarterbacks and wide receivers, several teams improved or hurt their outlook for next season since early February. The 2022 NFL Draft helped some contending teams rebound and other rebuilding teams jump up a few spots.

Going into the quieter part of the offseason ahead of training camp with all the rosters reset, here’s how all 32 teams stack up against each other now:

MORE 2022 NFL DRAFT:
Full results | Team-by-team grades | Winners & losers

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NFL power rankings 2022

1. Kansas City Chiefs (previous ranking: 1)

The Chiefs’ selection of Skyy Moore after a strong first round to address other immediate defensive needs at cornerback and pass rusher restores their receiving pop for Patrick Mahomes, on top of adding JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Mahomes’ presence and a strong complementary defense always gives Andy Reid’s team a high floor near the ceiling.

2. Buffalo Bills (2)

The Bills should again be considered co-AFC favorites with the Chiefs as they have few weaknesses around their Josh Allen-led offense after a few tweaks. They also keep adding great depth and playmaking punch for Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier’s defense. The special teams has been improved, too, with rookie punter Matt Araiza when needed.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (19)

The Buccaneers thought Brady wasn’t returning for 40 days but reversing his decision before free agency made sure they would keep many keep components in their roster intact likely for one final run with the GOAT. They have taken some veteran market hits (see some offensive linemen, Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and, for now, Rob Gronkowski) but did their best to land adequate replacements through the draft.

4. Green Bay Packers (4)

The Aaron Rodgers drama ended just in time for the Davante Adams mystery to begin. They found their high second-round replacement for Rodgers’ go-to guy in rookie Christian Watson. Not making headlines is a healthier offensive line and a defense that got more dangerous with youthful juice in the front seven. The Packers remain right there as NFC heavyweights under Matt LaFleur.

5. Los Angeles Rams (5)

The Rams also took some hits after their Super Bowl run, including Andrew Whitworth, Von Miller, Robert Woods, Darious Williams and, for now, Odell Beckham Jr. But they also recovered by adding Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner before filling a few more smaller holes in the draft. With Matthew Stafford still operating the offense for Sean McVay, the champs stay on the Super Bowl short list.

6. Los Angeles Chargers (11)

Don’t sleep on the other L.A. team getting to Super Bowl 57, armed with the most important asset in Justin Herbert. They kept his key weapons intact, upgraded the offensive line again and boosted depth. But the biggest “win it all” now moves fall on defense, where J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack can be absolute fortune-changers for Brandon Staley.

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7. Dallas Cowboys (7)

The Cowboys made a smart decision to move Amari Cooper so Dak Prescott could move on well with CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz and Michael Gallup. They had to take some offensive and defensive line hits because of cap issues, but Jerry Jones delivered a strong draft after the key re-signings. Dan Quinn has more pop on D and Dallas should be more in a comfort zone with the passing game.

8. San Francisco 49ers (6)

The 49ers still have Trey Lance with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB but the bigger non-trade news is keeping Deebo Samuel as the primary key cog in their offense, supporting loaded weapons behind a sturdy line. They didn’t have the best draft because they didn’t really need one, but they will get a defensive boost from a healthy Javon Kinlaw and free-agent addition Charvarius Ward.

9. Baltimore Ravens (9)

The Ravens will simply be better by getting healthier across the board, starting at running back and quarterback and continuing with an upgraded offensive line. They dominated and stockpiled for both immediate impact in the draft, especially on defense. Lamar Jackson and the coaching of John Harbaugh can allow them to push for once again taking a tough division.

10. Cleveland Browns (16)

The Browns are here assuming Deshaun Watson will be playing every game for them in 2022 as their new major upgrade at franchise QB. He gives them a much higher running and passing ceiling offensively than Baker Mayfield and the Myles Garrett-led defense is built to be a great complementary force playing with more leads. Cleveland joins Baltimore in having a good chance to displace AFC runner-up Cincinnati in the North.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (3)

The Bengals don’t deserve to drop too much or considered one-season wonders because Joe Burrow gives them a high floor for playoff contention going forward. Everything remains loaded at the skill positions and the offensive line has been revamped. The defense also is pretty solid on every level and spectacular at times. It is just difficult to repeat in the AFC.

12. Denver Broncos (23)

The Broncos are stuck in a tough division, too, with Mahomes’ Chiefs and Herbert’s Chargers, which made it necessary for them to compete better at least for a wild card with a true franchise QB answer in Russell Wilson. He should get a lot more out of their talented receivers in the passing game and help them play better off the running game. The defense will suddenly perform better with more confidence in the other side.

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13. Indianapolis Colts (13)

The Colts were impatient with Carson Wentz’s playoff-costing late season slump and are hoping an aging, fading Matt Ryan can fare well playing off Jonathan Taylor’s running and a good all-around defense. Chris Ballard addressing their receiving weaponry and offensive tackle for Frank Reich in the draft is a step toward taking back the AFC South title.

14. Tennessee Titans (10)

Speaking of the South, the Titans and Colts will again be in a tight battle of run-heavy, defense-leaning approaches toward success. The Colts should be better offensively with the young, durable Taylor. The Titans need to hope Derrick Henry’s wear and Ryan Tannehill’s playoff woes don’t carry over, while also needing to quickly recover with a new-look receiving corps minus game-changer A.J. Brown.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (18)

The Steelers are back in business as AFC playoff contenders minus retired Ben Roethlisberger with first-round rookie Kenny Pickett giving them much needed pop in the passing game and more of an athletic complement to Najee Harris. They also plugged some key offensive line and defensive front holes in a last great run for GM Kevin Colbert.

16. Miami Dolphins (24)

The Dolphins made their biggest splash in free agency by trading for Tyreek Hill, but they also added Chase Edmonds, Cedrick Wilson, Terron Armstead and Connor Williams to upgrade the offense in key spots in an attempt to get a big Year 3 boost from Tua Tagovailoa under new offensive-minded coach Mike McDaniel. The defense still has some questions in key areas.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (12)

The Eagles are trying to take their offense to a higher gear with Jalen Hurts in Year 3 with the addition of A.J. Brown to help DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Jordan Davis, Haason Reddick and Kyzir White were good reinforcements for the defensive front seven. The Eagles will keep fighting for another wild card but Hurts’ growth would be key if they plan on pushing the Cowboys.

18. Arizona Cardinals (15)

The Cardinals are doing their best to keep Kyler Murray happy while they figure when and how much to pay them, including a trade for his former go-to wide receiver Marquise Brown and keeping some other weapons. They did get a little edge-rush help minus Chandler Jones but they didn’t really change much to feel like their big-play dependent defense will be more formidable.

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19. New England Patriots (8)

The Patriots have had a disappointing offseason ahead of Mac Jones’ second season. Wide receiver DeVante Parker and rookie guard Cole Strange are limited upgrades for the offense. Defensively, they moved on from Chase Winovich, Dont’a Hightower and J.C. Jackson and didn’t focus on critical replacements. Don’t forget about losing Josh McDaniels for Jones, too.

20. Las Vegas Raiders (25)

The Raiders did get Davante Adams for Derek Carr without losing Darren Waller, but they have a challenge to remain an AFC wild-card team with the Chargers and Broncos throwing down with big moves behind the Chiefs in a much tougher division. The defense remains an issue in an explosive offensive division.

21. New Orleans Saints (22)

The Saints are hoping Jameis Winston will pan out with his big arm with a revamped downfield passing game involving rookie tackle Trevor Penning replacing Terron Armstead and Chris Olave become the true big-play No. 1. With their cap issues, they couldn’t make big moves so new defensive-minded coach Dennis Allen has pretty much the same unit carrying over.

22. Minnesota Vikings (14)

The Vikings have some enthusiasm as they begin a bright new era with coach Kevin O’Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Their offensive personnel is intact for a new scheme and their post-Mike Zimmer defense is set to have five new starters in Harrison Phillips, Za’Darius Smith, Jordan Hicks and rookie defensive backs Andrew Booth Jr. and Lewis Cine. The transition keeps them a distant second in the NFC North.

23. Washington Commanders (20)

The Commanders are the latest team to believe in Carson Wentz finding his early-career groove. They got one new weapon in big-play rookie wide receiver Jahan Dotson but there are concerns on what they will get from Wentz in Scott Turner’s scheme. They also didn’t upgrade much on defense, hoping better health will be key. Washington is set to be stuck in a frustrating third in the NFC East.

24. New York Jets (28)

The Jets are moving in the right direction as they keep making the right rebuilding personnel moves with GM Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh in Year 2 together. Offensive-skill rookies Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson are key help for sophomore Zach Wilson, as well as improving tight end and the line. The defense has more playmakers in rookies Jermaine Johnson and Sauce Gardner with veterans D.J. Reed and Jordan Whitehead also being key additions. It comes down to Zach Wilson staying healthy and making a big jump to see a significant team improvement.

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25. Seattle Seahawks (17)

The Seahawks chose to table addressing quarterback after trading Russell Wilson, setting for shaky Drew Lock or Geno Smith being an uninspiring bridge. They will hope that tight end Noah Fant adds another element and rookies Charles Cross, Kenneth Walker and Abraham Lucas can restore a run-heavy approach. The defense with a rebuild in progress will keep Seattle last in the division.

26. Chicago Bears (21)

The Bears are still rather thin on supporting talent for Justin Fields in Year 2 while he’s also transitioning into a total different offense from his rookie season. The defense also is stuck in recovery and more of a rebuild mode with Khalil Mack’s presence gone.

27. Atlanta Falcons (26)

The Falcons will have an interesting post-Matt Ryan QB battle between Marcus Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder, both better fits for Arthur Smith’s offense. The problem will be rediscovering the passing punch with Drake London in and Calvin Ridley out and having a more reliable traditional running. The defense need show a lot more, too, especially in the pass rush.

28. Carolina Panthers (29)

The Panthers have their own bridge veteran vs. rookie battle in Sam Darnold vs. Matt Corral. They did upgrade their offensive line and will hope their offense can be more efficient overall with Ben McAdoo, regardless of who’s QB. The defense has got some playmakers, but it needs to come together better.

29. New York Giants (27)

The Giants are hoping Daniel Jones will show something worth keeping beyond 2022 under Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka. It helps to upgrade his protection with some key additions, led by rookie Evan Neal. Jones also needs to get more out of his weapons and durable rushing help from Saquon Barkley. The defense might end up being the backbone of the team under Wink Martindale, now with rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux as the headline centerpiece.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

The Jaguars are starting over from Urban Meyer, hoping Doug Pederson can be the right influence to get Trevor Lawrence on track as a No. 1 overall franchise QB in Year 2. They overspent a bit on wide receiver and tight end but the line and running game should be the most comfortable assets. The bigger hope for pushing the rebuild back in the proper direction is the defense with Travon Walker, Foyesade Oluokun, Devin Lloyd and Darious Williams becoming four new key starters.

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31. Detroit Lions (31)

The Lions had another solid draft for Brad Holmes, taking advantage of their expanded capital to get cornerstone pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson and true new No. 1 wideout Jameson Williams. They still are lame-ducking at QB with Jared Goff, perhaps waiting for bigger prizes next year. That have a good identity developing through their personnel improvements, but the returns on investment will be seen only in 2023.

32. Houston Texans (32)

The Texans are still confident Davis Mills can be the franchise QB solution minus Deshaun Watson. They think they have decent weapons and enough protection to get more out of his big arm in the latest coaching transition to Lovie Smith. Smith can feel much better about the defensive rebuild, with rookies Derek Stingley Jr,, Christian Harris and Jalen Pitre set to be core rookie players.

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