NFL Future Power Rankings 2022

NFL Future Power Rankings 2022 post thumbnail image

Projecting ahead and building for future success — beyond just the current season — is crucial in the NFL. That’s what the best teams all do to stay at the top of the standings. So which teams are best set up to pile up wins and show steady improvement over the next few years?

To project which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons (2022 through 2024), we asked our panel of experts — Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates — to rate each team’s quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching using this scale:

After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score: roster (30%), quarterback (20%), draft (15%), front office (15%) and coaching (20%). The result is a comprehensive ranking based on how well each team is positioned for the future. Our experts dove in on additional analysis for all 32 teams, hitting on biggest worries, stats to know and what could change in upcoming years, along with why each team landed where it did on the ranking.

Jump to:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LV | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

Note: Overall scores are rounded to the nearest tenth of a point.

Why they’re here: Brandon Beane has executed a masterclass in roster building since becoming the Bills’ general manager in 2017. The foundation of this roster has been built via the draft, but we’ve also seen calculated swings in both free agency and trades — most prominently to land receiver Stefon Diggs. The roster is loaded, head coach Sean McDermott is outstanding, and the Bills are poised for a major step forward this year. — Yates

Biggest worry: The concern last year was about the pass rush, and whether rookies Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham could step up and provide a timely boost when the team needed it the most. Although the Bills finished 11th in total sacks and sixth in pass rush win rate, Buffalo’s defense was unable to get off the field when it needed to late in the playoff game loss to the Chiefs. What does it all mean? For Buffalo to get over the hump, it needs its defense — both the front and the coverage — to deliver when it matters the most. And it remains to be seen if it can. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Buffalo must elevate the offense with a revamped running game. Quarterback Josh Allen is a great runner but has taken plenty of hits after 422 rushes over four years. Drafting James Cook and signing Duke Johnson should aid the quick passing game by creating favorable matchups out of the backfield. Veterans Devin Singletary and Zack Moss provide stability, too. Then on defense, the Bills have tough contractual decisions to make on 2023 free agents Tremaine Edmunds and Jordan Poyer. — Fowler

Stat to know: Last season, then-Rams edge rusher Von Miller recorded the highest pass rush win rate in a single postseason (41.5%) of any player in the history of the metric (since 2017). Now with the Bills, he’s a major addition to what was already the best pass defense in the league last year by expected points added per play. But at 33 years old, his impact might be more short term. — Walder


Why they’re here: No team has a better head coach and quarterback combination than Kansas City, as the Chiefs have owned the AFC for four straight years and are primed to stay in the hunt going forward. But it would be oversimplifying things to examine only the greatness of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, as Kansas City’s roster boasts one of the game’s best offensive lines, a defense with intriguing young pieces and an overall franchise sustainability that comes from top-down commitment. — Yates

Biggest worry: GM Brett Veach made some tough decisions this offseason, letting safety Tyrann Mathieu leave as a free agent and trading dynamic receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins after failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension. The concern going forward is always the same for a team with such high expectations: Are the players the Chiefs brought in, such as receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and safety Justin Reid, the right fit on and off the field for a team that has a combined 38-11 record over the past three seasons? — Riddick

What could change for the better: The Chiefs appear a few players away on defense. They could use a veteran corner to play alongside L’Jarius Sneed and rookie Trent McDuffie. An additional pass-rusher and middle linebacker could go a long way, too. On offense, the Orlando Brown Jr. situation bears watching after both sides couldn’t agree on a new deal, leaving the offensive tackle to play on the franchise tag in 2022. This complicates matters next offseason when sides renegotiate. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Chiefs ranked second in pass block win rate in 2021 at 67.8%. Even though Kansas City is rebuilding at wide receiver, the investment it made in the offensive line last offseason should set up Mahomes with strong pass protection for years to come. — Walder


Why they’re here: Most of the attention paid nationally to the Packers surrounds the latest beat from the Aaron Rodgers files, but a deeper dive reveals one of the best rosters in the NFL. GM Brian Gutekunst’s terrific eye for talent is unmistakable. Rodgers is under contract for three more seasons — the window we are examining here — and while he has made it clear that retirement has weighed heavily on him, this team is set up to compete for a Super Bowl with him around. — Yates

Biggest worry: While the QB situation for the short term has been settled/is secure with Rodgers’ new contract, it does not change the fact that it remains the biggest question mark going forward. With Davante Adams’ move to Las Vegas and a receiver group that is undergoing a major overhaul, no one knows when the reigning MVP will say he has had enough and walk away. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Green Bay has to figure out Jordan Love‘s future. He wants to play, but the Packers haven’t shown much trust in the third-year quarterback. The former first-round pick has immense talent, and by next year, the team should have a clear blueprint on how long Rodgers might play and whether Love is ready to take over. Also, Green Bay must decide which standouts — edge rusher Rashan Gary, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins — to pay next. — Fowler

Stat to know: Jaire Alexander led all outside corners in yards per coverage snap in 2020 at 0.7, just beating out Jalen Ramsey, per NFL Next Gen Stats. A healthy Alexander can be the key component of what could be a feisty Packers defense going forward. — Walder


Why they’re here: The champs deserve praise for so many things, but I often come back to this simple point: GM Les Snead identified that his squad was on the precipice of greatness early last offseason and committed to doing everything to win big right away. That decision was validated with a Super Bowl last season, but L.A. doesn’t project to regress soon, either. The Rams are loaded, incredibly well coached and smartly managed. And while they don’t pick in the draft often (in the premium rounds, at least), the Rams deserve more credit for their drafting than they get. — Yates

Biggest worry: The concern now is the ability of the front office to continue to draft well and develop depth outside of the first round to support what is a top-heavy roster. Considering defensive tackle Aaron Donald, quarterback Matthew Stafford, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and edge rusher Leonard Floyd alone account for $105 million of the 2023 salary cap — a year away — young, cost-effective depth is as a must. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Who will be the next great pass-rusher to complement Donald? The Von Miller trade worked because Miller did Miller things in the playoffs. But now that Miller is gone — and the Rams get the coveted compensatory pick for letting him walk — Los Angeles must replace him off the edge. Floyd is capable, and maybe Justin Hollins can deftly fill a pass-rush role full time. But Donald, for as great as he is, could use more help at age 31. — Fowler

Stat to know: No team had a larger gap in expected points added per pass play to expected points added per rush play last season (through the Super Bowl) than the Rams (0.29), who were dramatically better when passing the ball. In other words, there’s actually room for this offense to grow if the Rams keep the ball in Stafford’s hands more often. — Walder


Why they’re here: The rise of the Chargers since drafting Justin Herbert should only continue this year, as the team not only should see yet another leap forward by its prodigious quarterback but also enjoy improvements on both sides of the ball after an aggressive offseason. And while Herbert alone is reason for optimism, Los Angeles also has a collection of blue-chippers that will make up the core going forward. This could be the season the Bolts graduate to the elite tier of the NFL. — Yates

Biggest worry: Let the record show that I am a Brandon Staley fan. But that said, his aggressive, analytical, probability-driven coaching style is not for the faint of heart. You could argue that some in-game decision-making/risk-taking might have cost them in 2021, even though the Chargers set the single-season NFL record with 22 successful fourth-down conversions on 34 attempts. Until Staley leads this very good roster to the playoffs and a playoff victory, he will remain the biggest question mark. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Extending Herbert to a massive deal in the next two years could limit the number of supporting stars Los Angeles can pay. The Chargers have seven stars with a cap hit of at least $8 million in 2022, with receiver Keenan Allen ($19.2 million) and edge rusher Joey Bosa ($28.3 million) occupying nearly a quarter of the team’s salary cap. The Chargers have one of the league’s best rosters but must get creative to keep it that way, starting with safety Derwin James Jr., who is due a new market-shifting deal soon. — Fowler

Stat to know: Cornerback J.C. Jackson ranked second, behind only A.J. Terrell, among outside corners last season in expected pointed added allowed (minus-27.1), per NFL Next Gen Stats. And Kyle Van Noy led all linebackers with at least 200 coverage snaps in yards per coverage snap allowed (0.4). The two former Patriots should help boost what was a lackluster defensive unit. — Walder


Why they’re here: The future of the Bengals was clear after they went to the Super Bowl despite having such a young roster. GM Duke Tobin has architected some outstanding recent drafts — with no pick more important than quarterback Joe Burrow (No. 1 in 2020) — while also taking an unlikely dip into the free agency pools of late. The Bengals boast one of the league’s most explosive offenses and one that should take decided steps forward in the coming years. That’s nightmarish for opponents. — Yates

Biggest worry: I said a year ago that the Bengals would not be successful without protecting Burrow. I was wrong. The Bengals’ offense allowed 55 sacks in 2021 (30th in the NFL) but still came a play away from winning the Super Bowl. That play, though, ended in a sack of Burrow. Going forward, remember these three names: center Ted Karras, guard Alex Cappa and offensive tackle La’el Collins. If they stay healthy and play to their potential, the Bengals will win a Super Bowl in the next three seasons. — Riddick

What could change for the better: It might be time to prioritize paying home-grown talent over free agents. The Bengals bolstered the roster with swift free-agent pickups Trey Hendrickson, Chidobe Awuzie and D.J. Reader in recent years. But Cincinnati also has drafted well, and now players like safety Jessie Bates III are seeing free agents get rewarded while they go without an extension (Bates is playing on the franchise tag this year). This is a theme that will only reverberate with stars Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow and others. — Fowler

Stat to know: Burrow led the league in completion percentage over expectation (plus-6%) last season. While there remain questions about Burrow’s ability to avoid sacks — part of the reason he ranked only 12th in QBR — the fact that his accuracy is already this strong is an excellent sign for Cincinnati going forward. — Walder


Why they’re here: This exercise is about looking ahead, but at times looking in the rearview can be instructive. Baltimore has won at least eight games in every season but one since 2008, a testament to an organization that is structurally sound. Baltimore consistently drafts well, manages free agency shrewdly and has a pretty good knack for knowing when to retain or part ways with players. And while he does not yet have a deal secured for the long term, signs point toward Lamar Jackson being the Ravens’ centerpiece for years to come. When he is at his best, defenses have no answer for the most dynamic playmaker at quarterback in the league. — Yates

Biggest worry: My concerns surrounding the Ravens’ passing game remain from 2021, as they have not done anything schematically or personnel-related that would lead me to believe that they will be significantly better in 2022 and beyond. But some concern now shifts to the run game, specifically to the health of running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Jackson cannot be expected to carry the run-game load like he has so far in his career. Not only would this team continue to be on the outside looking in during the meaningful playoff games, but it also risks shortening Jackson’s career with increased hits. — Riddick

What could change for the better: This one’s easy. Baltimore has to crystallize Jackson’s future with the franchise. Will the Ravens lock him up to an extension or go year-to-year with the franchise tag? Are they comfortable paying high-market QB money for a dazzling playmaker with injury risk because of his style of play? It seems like everything is on the table. The entire offensive system is built around Jackson, so deciding sooner than later will help Baltimore plan accordingly with players around the 2019 MVP. — Fowler

Stat to know: Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley‘s last full season (2019) was exceptional. He ranked in the top seven in both pass block win rate (94%, fourth) and run block win rate (78%, seventh). If Baltimore can get a healthy Stanley back, it would be huge — especially considering 2019 was also when the Ravens’ offense was at its best. — Walder


Why they’re here: There is a balancing act in sizing up a team like Tampa Bay, as we all know that quarterback Tom Brady‘s future is extremely year to year right now and that he is not under contract for 2023. But Tampa’s short-term outlook is to be right in the mix to contend for another Super Bowl, and that carries massive weight in this calculation, on top of the fact that the roster organized by GM Jason Licht is darn good as well. Should Brady’s status change in 2023, Tampa Bay will have a QB search on its hands that could include 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask. — Yates

Biggest worry: All eyes are on the status of Brady from one season to the next. There is no way to quantify the effect his retirement will have on the entire organization, and when you add on the uncertainty, albeit minimal, surrounding Todd Bowles taking over for Bruce Arians as coach, the future will be a mix of excitement and challenges for the Buccaneers at the two most important positions in any professional football organization. — Riddick

What could change for the better: We already touched on it a bit, but it’s an obvious one here. The Bucs have to lock up a succession plan to Brady, who is a free agent in 2023. There are a bunch of directions Tampa Bay could go, and the 2023 draft is well stocked with passers. The roster is good enough to lure a free agent or veteran via trade, too. After all, that plan worked with Brady two years ago. — Fowler

Stat to know: New Bucs wideout Russell Gage ranked 16th among receivers with at least 150 routes run in receiving yards per route against man coverage (2.6). If Gage needs to step in as the No. 2 receiver while Chris Godwin recovers from a torn ACL, he has already shown he’s capable of producing. — Walder


Why they’re here: Indianapolis has strong leadership in GM Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich. Indy’s roster boasts difference-makers on both offense and defense, including guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard. The Colts’ greatest challenge rests in whether quarterback Matt Ryan is enough to push this team to a playoff win, as the veteran was acquired via trade this offseason to help accomplish exactly that. — Yates

Biggest worry: This is my team to watch for 2022 and beyond, but my biggest concern is the health/availability of key players and contributors. That includes players receiver Parris Campbell, rookie offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Julian Blackmon. If they can play full seasons at their normal level of effectiveness, I believe Indy is poised to make deep runs in the playoffs for the foreseeable future. But key players have to stay on the field. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Focus shifts to the Colts’ future at the pass-rush spot. Kwity Paye had a relatively quiet rookie year, and Yannick Ngakoue, recently acquired in a trade with Las Vegas, is a 2023 free agent. The Colts must figure out whether this duo is a long-term fix. And on offense, Indianapolis needs a complementary player, like Campbell, running back Nyheim Hines or receiver Ashton Dulin, to flourish in 2022. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Colts — led by running back Jonathan Taylor — averaged 0.1 expected points added per designed run in 2021, best in the league and a remarkably strong rate. While data suggests passing is usually more efficient than rushing, the Colts were a more efficient rushing franchise than 18 teams (including themselves) were at passing. If you’re running that well, it’s OK to keep handing the ball off. — Walder


Why they’re here: It’s irresponsible to have a football-only conversation about the Browns’ roster, as the highest-paid player on it — quarterback Deshaun Watson — faces four civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct after 20 others were recently settled. A punishment of significant magnitude would not surprise anyone at this point, though there is no timeline on the NFL investigation’s decision. The Browns do possess one of the league’s best rosters on paper with a nice blend of homegrown stars (edge rusher Myles Garrett, cornerback Denzel Ward, etc.) and those acquired externally (guard Wyatt Teller, receiver Amari Cooper, etc.) that set this team up to be excellent. — Yates

Biggest worry: Last year, I was worried about the long-term valuation of quarterback Baker Mayfield, but his performance in 2021 (likely impacted by injuries) led the Browns to go in a different direction and acquire Watson. But no one knows when we will see Watson on the field and what he will look like when he does return, and Jacoby Brissett could be leading this offense in the short-term. — Riddick

What could change for the better: The Browns can prioritize the passing game with more help on the outside. With a new quarterback in 2022, they will need reinforcements at wide receiver behind Cooper. Cleveland, known for its run-game prowess, attempted 520 passes last year, the sixth-lowest total in the NFL. All the teams in this range either don’t have a top QB or had injuries at the position last year. Tweaking the formula over the next few years will serve Cleveland well. — Fowler

Stat to know: Running back Nick Chubb has recorded at least 0.9 rush yards over expectation per carry in every season of his career, per NFL Next Gen Stats. In other words, the Browns have one of the most reliable runners in the league. — Walder


Why they’re here: This ranking might feel too low to some, as the 49ers were on the doorstep of the Super Bowl just last year with a team that returns many of its most important contributors. San Francisco is incredibly well coached, while the front office is both resourceful and capable at finding talent. The straw that stirs the drink for the 49ers going forward is quarterback Trey Lance, and if he validates the team’s decision to make a substantial trade up for him in the 2021 draft, then this team will climb higher in our ranks. — Yates

Biggest worry: I could cut and paste my 2021 worry for the 49ers right into this space for 2022: the development and usage of Lance. I still believe he is a perfect fit for the 49ers’ offense, but there are plenty of questions about just how well it will all work. Still, I remain optimistic because it’s just too good of a schematic match. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Fortify the interior offensive line. The battery of guard Colton McKivitz, center Jake Brendel and guard Daniel Brunskill combines for 47 career starts, and Brunskill owns 40 of them. For all the talk about re-signing receiver Deebo Samuel, which is crucial, this area might be just as important. Young quarterbacks have little chance for success without help up front. — Fowler

Stat to know: Per NFL Next Gen Stats, the 49ers have led the league in both yards after the catch per reception and yards after the catch over expectation per reception for two consecutive years now. That’s result of both scheme and player skill, but it’s safe to say coach Kyle Shanahan puts his players in position to gain ground after the catch. — Walder


Why they’re here: We have praised the Broncos for their nucleus of young talent and a solid draft track record for a few years now. Quarterback play has been the proverbial franchise wart, an issue that no longer exists after trading for Russell Wilson. Wilson is looking to return to form after a finger injury impacted his 2021 season and he finished slow down the stretch in 2020. Many of the elements are in place for Denver to get back to the playoffs this year and be a major factor going forward. — Yates

Biggest worry: The AFC West will unquestionably be one of the best, if not the best, divisions in the NFL in 2022 and beyond, and when looking for competitive advantages from one team to the next, the first thing I look at is coaching. The Broncos have a first-time head coach, first-time offensive coordinator and first-time defensive coordinator, while the rest of the teams in the division have the likes of Andy Reid, Steve Spagnuolo, Josh McDaniels, Patrick Graham, Brandon Staley and Joe Lombardi. When the games get close and come down to a last possession or critical decision, I’ll be watching the process that Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett uses. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Can Denver craft a successful marriage between Wilson and Hackett? Hackett will hope his offensive touch — which helped Rodgers to back-to-back MVPs in Green Bay with Hackett as the offensive coordinator — will boost Wilson, who was eager for a new offense after years in a run-heavy Seattle scheme. Wilson, despite his instincts, playmaking and deep-ball prowess, isn’t known to get a rid of the ball quickly, resulting in too many sacks. The challenge for Hackett will be making life easier for his quarterback with quick, manageable throws. — Fowler

Stat to know: Cornerback Pat Surtain II recorded the best targeted expected points added (minus-21.8) among rookie outside corners since the inception of NFL Next Gen Stats (2016-present). He beat out Denzel Ward, Marlon Humphrey, Tre’Davious White and Marshon Lattimore in their rookie seasons to top the list, showing he has superstar potential. — Walder


Why they’re here: While the Patriots are lower than we are accustomed to seeing them, this team has a chance to trend back up in the near future. Coach Bill Belichick gives them an inherent edge, and second-year quarterback Mac Jones is one of my picks for the NFL’s breakout player in 2022. I’m bullish on Jones not just because of what he does well on the field but also because of the leadership he shows that can set the tempo for a franchise. One of the team’s top questions going into this season is who will be working closest with Jones as the offensive playcaller, as no plan to replace Josh McDaniels in that capacity has been publicly revealed. — Yates

Biggest worry: The Patriots’ lack of explosiveness on the outside was concerning going into last season, but I’m more concerned this year about who will be in the ear of Jones when it comes to his development and the playcalling. That continuity, relationship and chemistry is not easy to duplicate, and given the coaches Belichick is seemingly choosing from to take McDaniels’ place — including offensive assistants Joe Judge and Matt Patricia — I have significant concerns. — Riddick

What could change for the better: New England could use an infusion of speed on defense. I talked to a few teams this offseason that thought the Patriots, though stout on defense, looked a step slow to the ball late in the year last season. Young players linebacker Josh Uche and safety Kyle Dugger must continue to develop. And Jones could use one more threat on offense, preferably at the outside receiver spot. — Fowler

Stat to know: Among receivers with at least 300 routes run, Kendrick Bourne ranked fifth in catch rate over expectation (plus-9%) and fourth in yards after catch over expectation (plus-156). Bourne had just 70 targets, but those kind of underlying numbers suggest he should probably earn more. — Walder


Why they’re here: When you have Mike Tomlin as your head coach, you are always going to receive the benefit of the doubt. The Steelers steer one of the steadiest ships, and Tomlin’s leadership is among the most critical aspects of the operation. Two notable retirements took place this offseason for Pittsburgh that will impact how this team fares going forward: long-time standout GM Kevin Colbert and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Be it Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, the transition at quarterback will decide just how far this team can go in the next three seasons. — Yates

Biggest worry: It’s all about offensive coordinator Matt Canada and his ability to design, teach, develop, refine and evolve his offensive system and take advantage of the skills of his new QB room. Too often in 2021 it appeared as though he didn’t maximize what he was working with from a personnel perspective. The Steelers need to get that corrected going forward. — Riddick

What could change for the better: This offensive line still needs work. The Steelers addressed it this offseason by signing free agents James Daniels and Mason Cole. But the Big Ben-led Steelers were last great with high draft picks David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert protecting Roethlisberger. Most of the Steelers’ highest earners are on defense, so they are due to spend more on the other side. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Steelers had the fastest time to throw (2.40 seconds) and second-shortest air yards per target (6.6) in 2021. While they lost a future Hall of Famer in Roethlisberger, a new quarterback won’t restrict the offense to an ultra-quick, ultra-short passing game. — Walder


Why they’re here: I’m not sure another player impacts how far his team can go this season more than quarterback Jalen Hurts. If Hurts cements his spot as the long-term answer at quarterback, this ranking will look way too low. This roster is really good, head coach Nick Sirianni assimilated into his role right away last year, and GM Howie Roseman is an exceptionally resourceful roster-builder. — Yates

Biggest worry: Assuming management has the person it wants running the show in Sirianni, the big question/concern is whether the Eagles have the QB who can take advantage of what seems to be a well-constructed offense and a defense that should be much better on all three levels. Following veteran additions and savvy drafting, it now falls on Hurts to shine. Because if he doesn’t, Philadelphia has the draft capital to go get someone else in 2023. — Riddick

What could change for the better: As Field and Louis pointed out, the Eagles have to decide whether Hurts and Sirianni can thrive long term. For all the positives with Hurts — intangibles, toughness and consistent improvement — one question looms: Can he drive the ball downfield consistently enough for Sirianni to run the offense he wants? In flashes, the answer is yes. But in the playoff game vs. Tampa Bay, the answer was a resounding no. Figuring that out over the next 17 games will help Philly chart its QB path. On defense, the Eagles could use safety help, too. Is there perhaps another move coming from Roseman? — Fowler

Stat to know: The Eagles ranked in the top five in pass block win rate (67%), run block win rate (74%) and pass rush win rate (49%) last season. And they added edge rusher Haason Reddick in free agency, too. Philadelphia is a force in the trenches. — Walder


Why they’re here: While the Saints are set to embark on the post-Sean Payton era, one thing has not changed: New Orleans has an innovative and aggressive front office that is unafraid to be audacious. The Saints have many of their key players signed for at least three more seasons and should hold up as one of the best defenses in the league during that stretch. Payton’s departure should not be ignored (Dennis Allen will take over as head coach), but if New Orleans gets solid quarterback play, it is set up to stay right in the playoff mix. — Yates

Biggest worry: It still comes down to the QB position for this team, both in 2022 and beyond. How will Jameis Winston return from the torn ACL in his left knee that ended his 2021 season? I would feel better if Payton was still calling the shots, but with Allen now running the show and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael in full control of the offense, the Saints are in unfamiliar territory for the first time in a very long time. — Riddick

What could change for the better: New Orleans has to maximize a talented offensive line. The offense’s success will hinge, in part, on whether the Saints can keep the O-line nucleus intact. While guard Cesar Ruiz is two years into a rookie deal, Erik McCoy — one of the game’s best centers — is set for 2023 free agency. Guard Andrus Peat has a $18.3 million cap hit in 2023. And first-round pick Trevor Penning will be expected to win the starting left tackle job sooner than later after Terron Armstead signed with Miami. Luckily for the Saints, right tackle Ryan Ramczyk is signed for the next five seasons. — Fowler

Stat to know: Winston would have ranked fourth in QBR in 2021 (64.4) had he played enough to qualify and of course maintained his same level of performance. He has become underrated at this stage of his career, and there remains potential for him to deliver as the Saints’ QB. — Walder


Why they’re here: The 2021 regular season is a sort of embodiment of the Titans. You shouldn’t count them out even when the chips appear down. The team has not had a losing record with Mike Vrabel as the head coach and has an indisputable identity as a physical, no-nonsense squad that won’t go away anytime soon. But with receiver A.J. Brown traded, quarterback Ryan Tannehill playing below his own standard in 2021 and running back Derrick Henry coming off a major right foot injury, the offense will need to answer a few questions that currently persist. — Yates

Biggest worry: The road to the Super Bowl, at some point, is a road that involves taking flight and putting the ball in the air. Despite how effective and efficient Tannehill has been in regular-season play since taking over the team’s starting QB role in 2019, he has thrown for an average of just 150.8 yards per game in five playoff starts for the Titans, with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. His QBR dipped from 72.6 in 2020 to 55.9 in 2021, and now the wide receiver room is getting an overhaul. That doesn’t give me confidence things are going to change for the better any time soon. — Riddick

What could change for the better: What Tennessee does with its money in the next year will be significant. Disruptive defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons is a candidate to be paid this summer. Henry, who has two years left, could be in line for a raise. Then a handful of standouts under rookie contracts — including safety Amani Hooker, linebacker David Long Jr. and guard Nate Davis — are set for 2023 free agency. These are good problems to have, as all five players are homegrown talents, but with roughly $12 million in cap space, Tennessee must allocate wisely. — Fowler

Stat to know: Henry’s rush yards over expectation per carry (per NFL Next Gen Stats) quietly took a steep drop in 2021 from over a yard per carry in each of 2018, 2019 and 2020 to just 0.05 in 2021. If that’s a sign of decline for the 28-year-old running back, it could spell major trouble for the Titans’ offense going forward. — Walder


Why they’re here: Few teams had a more notable offseason than Las Vegas, which hired a new head coach and GM, traded for one of the best players in the league in Davante Adams and signed a feared pass-rusher in Chandler Jones. Candidly, if the Raiders weren’t in the AFC West, this rank might be much higher. The reality is that for the next three years, that division is going to be a bloodbath. But that should not detract from the foundation in place: The Raiders have a rock-solid quarterback with Derek Carr, a frightening group of pass-catchers to cover and a pass-rush duo (Jones and Maxx Crosby) that will be brutal to have to block. A playoff run this year and going forward should not surprise anyone. — Yates

Biggest worry: Vegas averaged 3.9 yards per attempt running the football last season (27th) and had the second-worst run block win rate (67.1%). And it didn’t make any significant changes to the offensive line. Knowing how new coach Josh McDaniels wants to win at the line of scrimmage and be a physically tough offensive football team, it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. — Riddick

What could change for the better: The Raiders have to attack the cornerback position in the next phase of the McDaniels/Dave Ziegler roster plan. Their new regime has prioritized pass-rusher in Year 1, snagging Jones in free agency and extending Crosby. But a cornerback depth chart that includes Rock Ya-Sin, Trayvon Mullen Jr., Nate Hobbs and free agent pick-up Anthony Averett is relatively unproven as a group. See how it goes with this quartet and be prepared for additions come March. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Raiders ran play-action on just 18% of dropbacks last season (second least), despite the fact that Carr led the league in play-action QBR (76.1). After a coaching change, we can expect that play-action rate to increase, and that’s free money for the offense. — Walder


Why they’re here: The Vikings began this offseason with a question to ask: Do they begin a rebuild or largely run things back with their roster from this past season? They opted to keep the roster band together under new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell, extending quarterback Kirk Cousins by a year and making win-now moves, including signing edge rusher Za’Darius Smith in free agency. The question surrounding Cousins has long been whether he is a quarterback who can carry a team deep into the playoffs or if his ceiling is simply reaching the postseason. The next two seasons are Cousins’ best chance to prove he is more the former than the latter. — Yates

Biggest worry: Can O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah truly build the productive partnership that leads to wins, division titles and titles? There appears to be a culture shift, and the arrival of O’Connell bodes well for the productivity/versatility of the offense, while the defensive additions this offseason in the veteran free agent market (Smith) and the draft (safety Lewis Cine) by Adofo-Mensah look great on paper. Now it all has to come together. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Make the full transition to Ed Donatell’s 3-4 defense. After the Vikings spent eight seasons in a 4-3 formation under Mike Zimmer, O’Connell turns to Donatell — Vic Fangio’s former coordinator in Denver — to retool the D. Minnesota has made several moves to accommodate this switch, including the signings of Smith and rangy linebacker Jordan Hicks. But some people around the league wonder how edge rusher Danielle Hunter, more of a traditional 4-3 defensive end, will fare in the new scheme, or what awaits long-time Zimmer lieutenants Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith. — Fowler

Stat to know: The last time Cousins cracked QBR’s top 10 was in 2016. Since then, he has been consistent, finishing between Nos. 13-18 in each of the past five seasons. That’s good enough to make a team average to above average, but in order to become a true title contender, either Cousins is going to have to kick it up a notch or the rest of the roster is going to have break just right. — Walder


Why they’re here: The Cowboys have a lot of foundation pieces on their roster that bring significant optimism. I’m bullish on quarterback Dak Prescott, Micah Parsons could be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and receiver CeeDee Lamb oozes stardom. The list goes on. But that theme has persisted for too long, as their rank in this list reflects too many years of falling short of expectations. And while coaching hot seats are a conversation usually better reserved for midseason at the earliest, there is unquestioned pressure on Mike McCarthy to win big this season. — Yates

Biggest worry: The story remains the same when it comes to coaching. Situational football. Clock management. Taking full advantage from a tactical standpoint of the personnel you have at your disposal, particularly on offense. That is all McCarthy’s responsibility. If Dallas is not better in those areas in 2022, it will likely have a new head coach in 2023. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Groom Lamb for top-10 receiver status. He’s on his way. Cultivate that relationship with Lamb and Prescott. Reinforce an aging offensive line. And prepare for life after Dalton Schultz, who won’t be eager to sign an extension after playing on the franchise tag this year. Dallas didn’t make spirited efforts to re-sign the tight end, and that wears on players. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Cowboys ranked third on defense in expected points added per play in 2021 (minus-0.05), but only 12th with interceptions and fumbles removed. Defense was a big part of the reason Dallas won 12 games last season, but being so turnover-dependent should lead to some skepticism that it can repeat that efficiency. — Walder


Why they’re here: The Jets are trending up after multiple offseasons of stockpiling both young and veteran talent, and Robert Saleh brought an energy that showed up down the stretch in his rookie season as head coach. If quarterback Zach Wilson becomes the player I believed he could be prior to the draft last year, the Jets are ready for takeoff. — Yates

Biggest worry: The Jets arguably have done as well as any team when it comes to offseason additions, but I still wonder if Saleh and his staff are the right coaching crew to extract maximum return out of this roster, and whether Wilson is the right QB in this city and division. He needs to show he was worthy of being the second pick of the 2021 draft. If management got it wrong in those two areas, struggles will continue in New York. — Riddick

What could change for the better: It seems like New York is still looking for another splash move in the secondary. The Jets were in the mix for several high-cost free agents and signed corner D.J. Reed but could still use one more playmaker. A rangy center fielder at safety would elevate what should be an emerging defense. — Fowler

Stat to know: Rookie corner Sauce Gardner allowed just one completion of more than 10 air yards in 2021 while at Cincinnati. Yes, one. And it went for just 13 yards. The Jets need stars, and Gardner has the potential to be one in the secondary. — Walder


Why they’re here: Miami has won 19 games over the past two years, has a young and imposing defense and supercharged its offense via a massive trade for receiver Tyreek Hill and a busy free agency. There is a palpable energy that has been absent for some time in Miami and with good reason — this team can be really good. Mike McDaniel steps into a head-coaching role for the first time, and the key determinant of this team’s ceiling this season is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa; if he becomes the player we’ve seen in flashes through two seasons, Miami will catapult up this list. If he does not, there will be questions next offseason about whether Miami ought to use its draft capital to make a play for one of the QBs in the draft. It’s a huge year for him. — Yates

Biggest worry: It’s the development and utilization of Tagovailoa and the support that that the Dolphins have put around him. That’s what McDaniel was hired to do — connect with Tua, support Tua and develop Tua, all while getting everyone around him to play to their potential. I have always been a believer, but I won’t be forever. This is a big year for this franchise in my eyes. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Let tight end Mike Gesicki catch a gazillion passes in 2022 on his way to free agency. Gesicki is set to play on the $10.8 million franchise tag, and with Hill and Jaylen Waddle occupying the defense, he is set for a career year. This buys Miami time to find its next George Kittle-type for McDaniel’s offense who can be a run-blocking, pass-catching threat. And don’t force the Tagovailoa trajectory. This year will determine a lot organically. — Fowler

Stat to know: According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Miami’s minus-0.31 yards per carry over expectation was third worst in the NFL last season, meaning the team’s running backs were costing them yardage. The Dolphins have brought in a slew of new backs to try to reverse that trend, including Chase Edmonds, who averaged 0.51 yards per carry over expectation last year. — Walder


Why they’re here: It would be unfair to overlook the Cardinals’ dramatic improvement over the past three seasons since hiring coach Kliff Kingsbury and drafting QB Kyler Murray. But the Cardinals find themselves in the bottom half of this list with question marks surrounding how they have finished in recent years, as the team faded down the stretch in a major way after finishing as the last undefeated team standing midway through the 2021 season. Their short-term future is not aided by playing a division that featured the two teams in last year’s NFC Championship Game and that they’ll be without receiver DeAndre Hopkins (suspension) for the first six games of this year. — Yates

Biggest worry: The Cardinals specifically approached last offseason knowing they needed better leadership late in the season. They wanted to prevent a November/December slide that could knock them out of the playoffs or hurt their momentum heading into the playoffs. Well … the same thing happened in 2021, as they finished the season 1-5 heading into the playoffs and then got blown out in the wild-card round by the Rams. So leadership still worries me about this team going forward. Do the Cardinals have the right mix? — Riddick

What could change for the better: Improving the offensive line to help Murray should be paramount. Center Rodney Hudson is on the decline at age 33, guard Justin Pugh is a 2023 free agent, and guard Will Hernandez and right tackle Kelvin Beachum are short-term solutions. Murray’s height (5-foot-10) makes a stout, expensive offensive line crucial to his success. — Fowler

Stat to know: Murray ranked second in completion percentage over expectation at plus-4%, per NFL Next Gen Stats. It was a career-high for Murray and a big jump from his negative-1.5% in his rookie season, a sign of his accuracy progression. — Walder


Why they’re here: A reset is underway in Seattle after trading away Russell Wilson this offseason. Seattle’s roster is still capable in certain spots — a dynamic wide receiver duo of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett leads the way — but few teams face as much of a quarterback question mark as the Seahawks, who are currently set to conduct a competition between Geno Smith and Drew Lock for the starting gig. Seattle is sitting on a stockpile of draft capital in 2023 that could prove the best path to solving that QB quandary, but an uphill challenge is ahead. — Yates

Biggest worry: This team has quietly gone about the business of retooling the roster, and I believe they have the ingredients to compete right away in their division if they can find a QB. Lock and Smith are not going to get it done. But the Seahawks have just about everything else they need, including a young improving offensive line, good running backs, excellent pass-catchers, potential pass-rushing stars on the edge and some exceptional talents in the secondary. But quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Figure out the best offensive line combination moving forward. Guard Damien Lewis underwhelmed at times in 2021, and new starters at left tackle, center and right tackle breed uncertainty. On defense, figure out what to do with safety Jamal Adams. His contract likely keeps him in the fold for at least the next two years, so accentuate his strengths as a line-of-scrimmage disruptor. Then brace for the Jordyn Brooks breakthrough in Year 3. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Seahawks ran designed rollouts on 9% of their dropbacks last season, a facet of the offense that coordinator Shane Waldron took from the Rams (who were the only team to run designed rollouts more often than Seattle). And that’s a good thing for Lock, Smith or whoever plays QB for the Seahawks. Plays with designed rollouts provide an advantage for the offense. — Walder


Why they’re here: The Commanders made a bet this offseason on QB Carson Wentz, one that figures to shape their fortunes for the next three seasons. Wentz is unlikely to rediscover the form he showed in 2017, when he was in the MVP conversation before a late-season injury, but he’s also capable of being a much better player than he has been over the past two years. If he makes the improvements Washington is expecting, it could find itself competing for an NFC playoff spot. Beyond Wentz, organizational stability must be accounted for, as owner Daniel Snyder remains embroiled in accusations that he fostered a toxic work culture. — Yates

Biggest worry: I still don’t think the Commanders found the long-term quarterback answer, and while I thought the defense — and specifically the defensive line — was a strength, I now have major questions about that unit going forward, too. Not the kind of progress I had hoped to see in Washington. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Washington has to make tough decisions on a talented but costly defensive line. The Commanders paid defensive tackle Jonathan Allen last year, and now edge rusher Montez Sweat and defensive tackle Daron Payne are coming up on windows for contract extensions. With around $13 million in cap space after completing the Terry McLaurin deal, Washington must decide how much its pass-rushing core is worth. It also needs linebacker reinforcements behind Jamin Davis and Cole Holcomb. — Fowler

Stat to know: Although edge rusher Chase Young managed just 1.5 sacks last season, his 19% pass rush win rate at edge would have ranked 16th among qualifiers. Last season was a disappointment, for sure, but it wasn’t as bad as the 2020 No. 2 pick’s sack total suggested. — Walder


Why they’re here: This exercise is about projecting forward, something Jaguars fans are excited about with Trevor Lawrence under center and after moving on from the ill-fated decision to hire Urban Meyer as the head coach. The team spent more guaranteed money in free agency than any other team in a single offseason in NFL history to bolster this roster. If Lawrence comes anywhere close to the player he was forecasted to be coming out of college, Jacksonville will rise to a fixture in the top half of the league. Steps were made forward this year, but a decade of futility (save the 2017 season) provides reason for caution about expecting too much too soon. — Yates

Biggest worry: What does the long-term relationship between coach Doug Pederson and GM Trent Baalke look like? Will they stay on the same page and work collaboratively in setting the direction of the franchise and bringing in the kind of players Pederson ultimately wants for his systems? This needs to be Pederson’s team. Keep a close eye on this one. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Draft a high-level receiver with whom Lawrence can grow. Free agent pickups Christian Kirk and Evan Engram are upgrades but don’t feel like long-term solutions (though Kirk’s contract says otherwise). Some evaluators around the league believe Jacksonville is still thin in this area. Next year’s draft should offer plenty of weaponry for Jacksonville to get a standout. — Fowler

Stat to know: Kirk recorded a catch rate over expectation of 9%, per NFL Next Gen Stats data, the second-highest among all players with at least 400 routes run (behind only Tee Higgins). The Jags certainly paid a hefty price for Kirk, but he should at least help Jacksonville’s offense. — Walder


Why they’re here: I’m a firm believer in the process GM Nick Caserio is following to build this roster back up and establish a new culture in Houston, which will largely be catalyzed by draft investments. Quarterback Davis Mills showed enough in his rookie season to suggest he can be a starter in this league, but 2022 will be an integral year in cementing that spot or leading Houston to the draft for a quarterback next year. It’s going to take time here — and that’s OK — as Houston has holes to fill, but the trajectory is up for this franchise. — Yates

Biggest worry: Is Lovie Smith the best option to lead this team on a massive roster rebuild/development project? I like what the Texans did from a talent acquisition standpoint on paper, but the man in charge of developing and using that talent, offensively and defensively, leaves me with more questions than answers relative to his peers. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Reestablish dominance across the defensive line. Houston isn’t rich in football tradition, but Mario Williams and J.J. Watt are names that come to mind when thinking about Texans folklore. Time to rebuild that front. Re-signing defensive tackle Maliek Collins is a good start but not enough. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Texans ran Cover 2 looks 34% of the time last season, the most of any team and almost double the league average of 18%. It was one of the Texans’ most productive coverages. They allowed 0.07 expected points added per dropback using Cover 2 as opposed to 0.12 for all other non-goal-line coverages (lower is better for defense). — Walder


Why they’re here: The Lions are generating some buzz heading into the 2022 season after a stellar offseason that included landed two prized additions in the draft: pass-rusher Aidan Hutchinson and receiver Jameson Williams. The team also played incredibly hard despite often being overmatched last season, suggesting the culture set by coach Dan Campbell is already translating. The lever for this franchise will be the QB position: Can Jared Goff be a proverbial rising tide, or is he a holdover until the team is able to add a young quarterback of the future? — Yates

Biggest worry: I’m going with the latter; the long-term quarterback answer is not on the roster. Until they find better than Goff, the Lions will be lacking at the most important position relative to every other team in their division. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Do what your roster moves suggest you’ll do — go big for a QB in the 2023 draft or trade pool. The Lions eschewed this year’s passers to bolster the rest of the roster. Improving the roster offers flexibility. Plenty of top passers will be available in the first round, or the Lions can sell a trade partner on how Detroit is built to win now, coming off two years of pain. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Lions threw short of the sticks 65% of the time last season, higher than any other team by a mile (the Panthers were next at 54%). Getting more aggressive in that department will be one of many areas needed to turn this team around. — Walder


Why they’re here: There is deserved optimism about the leadership of GM Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll for the Giants, but they take over an organization in need of major repair. Perhaps no team had a worse cap situation at the start of this offseason (the Falcons and Bears are also in this mix), so the first step in progress is going to be undoing some prior errors. Additionally, QB Daniel Jones is in a now-or-never season after the team declined his fifth-year option. But two top-seven picks this year and a healthier cap outlook going forward bode well. — Yates

Biggest worry: Can Daboll get out of Jones what none of his other coaches has been able to up to this point? Can running back Saquon Barkley still be even a fraction of what he showed as a rookie in 2018, the last time he played a full season without missing a game? Those are two huge concerns. — Riddick

What could change for the better: New York has to establish defensive cornerstones. The Giants’ draft hits on that side of the ball in recent years are scarce. Safety Xavier McKinney is certainly one. Edge rusher Azeez Ojulari has a chance, and New York has big plans for pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Giants need these three to create a young core that will excite the fan base for years to come. — Fowler

Stat to know: Among players with at least 150 routes run, receiver Kadarius Toney ranked seventh in targets per route run (29.8%) and 11th in yards per route run vs. man coverage (2.8). Although the playing time was limited, those numbers suggest significant potential for the 2021 first-round pick going forward. — Walder


Why they’re here: The Bears find themselves here after cratering in 2021 and having dispensed many resources in the past that proved ill-fated. GM Ryan Poles was hired to get this organization on track, and you can count on these facts: He will be disciplined, and he will pour endless hours into the draft. The fundamental reality of that is it will take time, and the Bears have an abundance of roster holes to fill. — Yates

Biggest worry: The offensive skill position personnel, excluding receiver Darnell Mooney, is not good enough for quarterback Justin Fields to make a jump in 2022, as I expect many QBs from his draft class to do. Look at what Miami did for Tua Tagovailoa, Philly did for Jalen Hurts, the Jets did for Zach Wilson, etc. This team could be in trouble both short and long term if it doesn’t get Fields going quickly, and that starts with a better supporting cast. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Continue the two-tiered plan of staying competitive but fortifying roster health for 2023 and beyond. The Bears aren’t overly talented this year but should have nearly $100 million in cap space for 2023. Under Poles, they can get better in a hurry and surround Fields with more talent. — Fowler

Stat to know: Fields was sacked on a massive 10% of dropbacks last season, leading the league among qualifying passers. His sack rate in college was at least an orange flag entering the draft, but 10% is a staggering figure that has to be reversed if he’s going to become a franchise QB. — Walder


Why they’re here: The Panthers’ defense is terrific, and that alone gives some reason for optimism. But two question marks persist for this franchise: the long-term solution under center (even after the Baker Mayfield deal) and the future of coach Matt Rhule. Rhule was handed a seven-year contract when he took over in Carolina, but there appears to be a lot of pressure on him and the franchise to take a leap this season. Mayfield, like Sam Darnold, is under contract for only one more season. — Yates

Biggest worry: Who will be coaching the Panthers beyond 2022? This team appears desperate and doesn’t seem to have a great plan for how to manage the QB position, and that usually results in people losing their jobs. — Riddick

What could change for the better: This is not the worst roster in the league. Far from it. The quarterback issues cloud a quality talent base. But the offensive line must improve, which the team has worked tirelessly on, drafting Ikem Ekwonu and signing Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett. Linebacker needs upgrades, with multiple starters having bounced around the league. But Carolina’s outlook isn’t as dire as it looks. — Fowler

Stat to know: Matt Corral recorded back-to-back top-10 QBR seasons over the past two years in college (89.9 and 80.5). If there’s a reason to have long-term hope in him as a solution at QB, it’s that: He was a productive college QB for multiple years. Carolina has Mayfield and Darnold in the fold, but Corral could be part of the future plans under center. — Walder


Why they’re here: When GM Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith were hired last offseason, they inherited a team with a disastrous salary-cap situation but still enough talent that enduring a rebuild was more of a decision than a mandate. But the Falcons have a long-term quarterback question mark, need a wave of youth on both sides of the ball and still have some contract situations to sort through. — Yates

Biggest worry: Same as it is for many teams bringing up the rear in this list, long-term QB play is a problem. Atlanta probably does not have the answer on the roster, and it isn’t good enough at other positions to make up for the talent void under center. Marcus Mariota will likely be QB1, but the Falcons did also draft Desmond Ridder in Round 3 in April, as Atlanta moves on from Matt Ryan. — Riddick

What could change for the better: Roll with the young core and escape bloated contracts. The Falcons are slowly reshaping the roster, starting with the Ryan trade this offseason. The next step could be moving on from linebacker Deion Jones via trade or release. His $20 million cap hit is an albatross, and although much of his 2022 money is guaranteed, the Falcons could eat some of the salary to facilitate a deal. Jones still has value for his skills in defending the pass game. Atlanta can continue to build around successful draft picks such as cornerback A.J. Terrell, tight end Kyle Pitts and interior lineman Chris Lindstrom. — Fowler

Stat to know: Terrell (0.6) and Casey Hayward Jr. (0.7) ranked first and second, respectively, in yards per coverage snap allowed, according to NFL Next Gen Stats data. Sure, Hayward is in the twilight of his career, but the Falcons have a superstar building block for their defense in Terrell. — Walder



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