The 2022 NFL off-season has hit all its major points: Free Agency, the 2022 NFL Draft, and finally, Training Camp. As we head in to the three-game preseason, it’s time […]
The 2022 NFL off-season has hit all its major points: Free Agency, the 2022 NFL Draft, and finally, Training Camp. As we head in to the three-game preseason, it’s time to see how all 32 teams stack up against each other after a rollercoaster off-season.
The last time I ranked teams was in early April following 2022 Free Agency, so this list will factor in 2022 NFL Draft results as well as any additional signings or developments over the last four months.
Take these rankings with a pretty big grain of salt, as new-look team haven’t even taken a preseason snap yet. Something else to look out for: big name veterans can often be cut towards the end of the preseason, but one team’s trash is another team’s treasure.
With all of that in mind, read on for my full 2022 Training Camp Power Rankings, and if you’d like to debate or discuss any rankings, join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.
I ranked the Buffalo Bills #1 in my Post-Free Agency Power Rankings, and nothing over the last four months has changed that ranking. Josh Allen and the Bills ended last season on a super solid run, and thanks to new playoff overtime rules, no team will ever have to exit the postseason as deflated as Buffalo did last January, failing to get a chance to match Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in overtime. After adding Von Miller to an already loaded defense, to complement the spectacular offense of Allen (the best overall quarterback in the NFL, in my opinion), Stefon Diggs and company, the Bills are ready to make another postseason run in 2022-23: perhaps their deepest in quite some time.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers [Previous Ranking: 4]
Tom Brady un-retiring completely changed the landscape of the NFC and the NFL as a whole. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are locked and loaded to attempt to win their second Super Bowl in three seasons. After bringing back Brady, Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen, and Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay went out and traded for Patriots guard Shaq Mason, and signed veteran wideouts Russell Gage and Julio Jones. The Buccaneers offense was one of the best in the league last year, and its backed up by a defense that’s gritty when it needs to be. Pencil in Tampa Bay for at least an NFC Championship Game appearance.
Los Angeles Rams [Previous Ranking: 2]
Ranking the defending Super Bowl champions at #3 is hardly a slight: the Los Angeles Rams have virtually just as good a chance as the two teams in front of them to take home Super Bowl 57. But after losing Von Miller in free agency, Robert Woods via trade, Andrew Whitworth to retirement, and facing an uncertain future with Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams roster is *slightly* less loaded than it was last season. Then again, with stars like Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Cam Akers, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey on the team, there’s more than enough star power to go around. Despite not picking until the 104th selection of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Rams came home with a good collection of late-round prospects.
Cincinnati Bengals [Previous Ranking: 5]
During free agency, the Cincinnati Bengals addressed some key needs: namely, shoring up their offensive line with free agents Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, and La’el Collins. The Bengals then strengthened their secondary by taking three defensive backs in the 2022 NFL Draft, including two (Michigan DB Daxton Hill and Nebraska CB Cam Taylor-Britt) in the first two rounds. After making a slightly unlikely run to the Super Bowl last season, perhaps the best young quarterback-wide receiver-running back trio in the league (Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon) are installed as favorites to win the AFC North in 2022, and rank as my second-best team in the AFC.
Kansas City Chiefs [Previous Ranking: 3]
I can already feel myself being too harsh on the Kansas City Chiefs. When decided not to rank Patrick Mahomes in the Top 3 of current NFL quarterbacks, I cited last year’s up-and-down results. But with a 58-15 record when Mahomes is their starting quarterback, it’s hard to imagine the Chiefs won’t be sitting near the top of the standings again in 2022. Just because I ranked Kansas City at #5 doesn’t mean the team couldn’t still win 12+ games. The Chiefs did lose two key players, one on each side of the ball: speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill and shutdown safety Tyrann Mathieu. Kansas City may have to adjust to those losses, as well as increased competition in the AFC West, but will undoubtedly be a playoff team with Mahomes at the helm.
Baltimore Ravens [Previous Ranking: 6]
While I still have them just outside the Top 5, I’m quite high on the Baltimore Ravens, and could see them winning the AFC North or even the entire AFC. First thing’s first: Baltimore did part ways with Marquise Brown, the strongest component of an already less-than-star-studded receiving corps. But Lamar Jackson will be back, and that alone makes Baltimore a contender. The Ravens were 8-3 before Jackson went down last season, and in the offseason, Baltimore added safety Marcus Williams and put together a stellar draft: highlighted by first-round picks Kyle Hamilton (Safety, Notre Dame) and Tyler Linderbaum (Center, Iowa.)
Green Bay Packers [Previous Ranking: 7]
Look, the Green Bay Packers are going to do just fine this season, win the NFC North, and probably win 11+ games. But after earning the NFC’s top seed both of the last two seasons, I’m not sure Aaron Rodgers can push the Packers to heights quite as high without his go-to pass-catcher, Davante Adams. Throw in Za’Darius Smith (who to be fair, barely played last season) heading to Minnesota, and the Packers don’t look quite as talented as they did last season. Again, anything less than double-digit wins and a Top-Four NFC seed would be shocking, but I don’t think the Packers will be as good as they were last season.
Los Angeles Chargers [Previous Ranking: 9]
After coming within one game of making the playoffs last season, Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers look poised to made the jump to the postseason in 2022-23. The Chargers offense was already on point, with Top 10 quarterback and Offensive Player of the Year candidate Justin Herbert leading one of the league’s top offenses, featuring Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and more. But loading up to cover defensive shortcomings with Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson is what will really put the Chagers over the top this season. Los Angeles plays in a very tough AFC West division, which is the only thing that might stop them from making a deep playoff run.
Denver Broncos [Previous Ranking: 8]
The Denver Broncos easily made the most eye-popping move of the offseason, landing perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson back in March. While the roster didn’t receive much of an overhaul outside of the quarterback change, Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater were able to lead an injury-riddled squad to a 7-10 record last season. If Russell Wilson can add just three wins, Denver should be a playoff team (but again, the AFC West is stacked and might not be able to send all four teams to the postseason.) Training camp injuries are starting to pile up though, with wide receiver Tim Patrick already lost for the season.
Indianapolis Colts [Previous Ranking: 10]
Like the Chargers, the Indianapolis Colts missed the playoffs last season in heart-breaking fashion (though it was their own fault) after losing to the Jaguars in Week 18. Nevertheless, the Colts were a strong team down the stretch, and even if they returned the same roster in 2022, I would give them good playoff odds. But after swapping out Carson Wentz for former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, the Colts are the AFC South favorite. It’s not that Ryan is immensely more talented than Wentz, but rather that he won’t make the same bone-headed mistakes. Pairing Ryan with Jonathan Taylor (the best running back in the NFL?) as well as weapons like Michael Pittman Jr. should be a recipe for success.
Tennessee Titans [Previous Ranking: 11]
The Tennessee Titans have dropped in my Power Rankings since last season, primarily because they parted ways with A.J. Brown. But don’t get me wrong: Tennessee is still a strong squad. The passing game was never Tennessee’s strong suit anyway, and a healthy Derrick Henry will be back to terrorize opposing defenses. It’s important to note the Titans have gone 23-10 over the last two seasons, and earned the top seed in the AFC last year despite missing Henry for a stretch. Adding Robert Woods is a nice value move, and Mike Vrabel’s defense should be able to keep most games under control.
Arizona Cardinals [Previous Ranking: 14]
While there are some question marks and concerns surrounding the Arizona Cardinals, I still see them as a very good team. While Arizona has suffered from second-half collapses each of the last two seasons, the Cardinals still improved year-over-year. Last year’s late-season slump can largely be blamed on injuries, with superstar Deandre Hopkins missing down the stretch. That’s where the bad news starts: as Hopkins will miss six more games in 2022 for a PED violation. Kyler Murray also signed a mega-extension, and should be settled in for the long-haul now. He gets a shiny new weapon in former Ravens wideout Marquise Brown, and once everyone is healthy and active, the offense will be hard to stop.
Las Vegas Raiders [Previous Ranking: 13]
We’re only at #13 and we’ve already reached our fourth and final AFC West team: the Las Vegas Raiders. Unfortunately, this means I see them as the least viable contender in the division, but I can still absolutely see Las Vegas back in the postseason (whether the AFC West sends four teams or the Raiders outperform my expectations.) Getting arguably the best receiver in the league in Davante Adams makes Derek Carr’s offense even better. Las Vegas also added pass-rusher Chandler Jones to shore up a defense that gave up 25.8 points per game last season. Make no mistake: the Raiders will be a better team in 2022, but their record and ultimate postseason fate may not reflect that, as other teams around the division and conference have also improved.
Dallas Cowboys [Previous Ranking: 16]
The Dallas Cowboys have holes. Losing Amari Cooper is a huge blow, despite CeeDee Lamb’s presence on the roster: two above-average receivers is always better than one. Randy Gregory and La’el Collins also skipped town, leaving the defensive and offensive lines in worse shape than they were in 2021. But at the end of the day, Dak Prescott puts up points and throws for an incredible amount of passing yards and touchdowns every season. While I don’t expect Dallas to be as strong as last year, they’re still the favorite in the NFC East in my opinion.
San Francisco 49ers [Previous Ranking: 12]
This ranking is less about roster talent and more about the team’s direction. Technically, Jimmy Garoppolo, the quarterback that led the San Francisco 49ers to two NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl appearance in three seasons, is still on the roster. But the 49ers brass seems committed to Trey Lance at quarterback: a high-risk, not even high-reward gambit. Deebo Samuel is incredible, the defense is stellar, but if Trey Lance is the quarterback, I can’t see San Francisco winning more than seven or eight games.
Philadelphia Eagles [Previous Ranking: 20]
Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles caught fire down the stretch in 2021 to earn a playoff berth. Philadelphia is expected to compete with Dallas for the NFC East crown this season, and Hurts will get a big boost in the passing game from the arrival of big-bodied wide receiver A.J. Brown. Still, Philadelphia has more work to don on this roster, and despite improvements, anther 9-8 finish in 2022 sounds about reasonable.
Miami Dolphins [Previous Ranking: 17]
The Miami Dolphins went all-in over the course of the off-season: headlined by their acquisition of speedy Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Free agent signee/left tackle Terron Armstead will keep Tagovailoa upright, and running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert will provide speed and versatility out of the backfield. Still, I’m hesitant to call the Dolphins a playoff contender. While Miami roared from a 1-7 start to a 9-8 finish last season, I only see seven or eight wins in 2022. The Dolphins will probably be a better, more competitive team though, even if their record regresses slightly.
Minnesota Vikings [Previous Ranking: 19]
The next few teams have some pretty apparent question marks, so the Minnesota Vikings are the last team on this list where I see more upside than downside. The Vikings have talent all over on offense: from Kirk Cousins to Dalvin Cook to Adam Thielen. Minnesota’s defense needs to improve though, as despite scoring 425 points in 2021, the defense let up 426 points. The Vikings record was fittingly as close to .500 as possible, 8-9, but with an actual defense, Minnesota easily could have been a playoff squad. The Vikings did poach All-Pro linebacker Za’Darius Smith from the Packers, and loaded up in the draft with five defensive selections in the top 165 picks.
New England Patriots [Previous Ranking: 18]
The New England Patriots stumbled down the stretch in 2021, losing the AFC East lead and then eventually being eliminated in the postseason by their rival Buffalo Bills. New England received a necessary upgrade on offense in acquiring Davante Parker from the Dolphins, but also lost J.C. Jackson and Shaq Mason. NFL.com gave the Patriots a C+ draft grade (after handing out mostly A’s and B’s) on behalf of a slew of picks considered to be reaches. Either Bill Belichick proves us wrong once again, or Mac Jones and the Patriots may take a step back and fail to reach the playoffs in 2022.
Cleveland Browns [Previous Ranking: 16]
I don’t even know where to begin evaluating the 2022 Cleveland Browns. I hated the Deshaun Watson trade and extension, and think even if Watson is a perennial Pro Bowler for the next ten seasons, Cleveland overpaid in both trade capital and salary cap. We don’t even know if Watson will be the same player he was in Houston, or when he’ll be available this season. Watson-drama aside, the Browns have a nice offense, with the third-best running back in the league (Nick Chubb) and a new #1 receiver in Amari Cooper. There’s way worse starting options out there than the stopgap master, Jacoby Brissett, but with all the drama surrounding the Browns, my expectations for 2022 are severely tapered.
New Orleans Saints [Previous Ranking: 21]
It’s hard to peg exactly how the New Orleans Saints 2022 squad will look. Notably, long-time head coach Sean Payton retired, leaving defensive-minded coach Dennis Allen at the helm. There certainty could be a good offense that revolves around Jameis Winston, returning-from-injury Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, and new addition Jarvis Landry. An already-intriguing defense added Tyrann Mathieu as well. While I’m much more player-focused in my predictions, New Orleans’ fate may come down to coaching: this could be a Top 10 team or a Bottom 10 team, I can’t really tell yet.
Washington Commanders [Previous Ranking: 23]
Washington (playing as “Football Team”) had a respectable 7-10 finish last season despite a laughably bad defense. Taylor Heinicke was a fine quarterback, which makes acquiring Carson Wentz a bit of a head-scratching move. Yes, Washington wanted to upgrade at the position, but Wentz is simply a Top 25 quarterback, nothing more, nothing less. If I were Washington, I would have invested in other areas, but Wentz should make out pretty well with Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, and Curtis Samuel on his side. Still, Washington has quite a gap to close between themselves and Dallas/Philadelphia in the NFC East.
Pittsburgh Steelers [Previous Ranking: 22]
I’m not convinced Mason Rudolph, Mitch Trubisky, or Kenny Pickett are the answer for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fortunately, I also don’t think Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement leaves that big of a hole to fill. The Steelers have some nice weapons, like Top 10 running back Najee Harris and receivers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Defensive standouts include T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, but the Steelers are just a few pieces away from a complete product on either side of the ball.
Carolina Panthers [Previous Ranking: 26]
The Carolina Panthers were downright horrible after a surprising 3-0 start last season. But losing star running back Christian McCaffrey and having Sam Darnold on revolving availability certainly didn’t help. This season, former Browns quarterback and first overall pick Baker Mayfield will likely be the signal-caller: raising Carolina’s ceiling. The Panthers have a chance to shoot up these ranking if Mayfield’s offense clicks (25-year-old wideout D.J. Moore should be getting a lot of targets) and the defense can hold their own. For now, a cautious #24 ranking for Carolina.
Detroit Lions [Previous Ranking: 29]
The Detroit Lions went 3-13-1 last season, a regression from their 5-11 finish in 2020, but Matt Patricia’s squad was gritty and always played to the finish. The Lions also had some bad luck, losing six one-score games, including five by the time they reached an 0-10-1 record. Jared Goff is no All-Pro, but the former NFC Championship Game-winning quarterback offers more than the signal-callers of the other teams near the bottom of this list. I think just another go with the same squad would result in a better finish. But after signing D.J. Chark and drafting Michigan edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson second overall, Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams 12th overall, and Kentucky defensive tackle Josh Pascal 46th overall, the Lions have the tools to potentially double their win total in 2022.
New York Jets [Previous Ranking: 28]
Zach Wilson and the New York Jets finished with a putrid 4-13 record last season, but have made improvements across the board. In free agency, Gang Green went out and got cornerback D.J. Reed, safety Jordan Whitehead, and tight ends Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah. The Jets also loaded up on NFL-ready talent with four selections in the Top 36: Cincinnati CB Sauce Gardener (#4 overall), Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson (#10 overall), Florida state EDGE Jermaine Johnson II (#26 overall) and Iowa State RB Breece Hall (#36 overall). The Jets will definitely be better in 2022, but unfortunately, the best-case scenario for “better” will likely be similar to this meme:
New York Giants [Previous Ranking: 30]
“The New York Giants should be a little better this year.” Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Saquon Barkley should be back at full strength. The Giants grab bag wide receiver room, which finished 2021 banged up, just like starting quarterback Daniel Jones, should also be ready to go by Week 1. New York made its most important decisions in January: firing David Gettleman and Joe Judge in favor of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll: both Buffalo Bills products. But with a 22-59 record since 2017, tied with their MetLife Stadium co-tenant Jets for the worst in the league, it’s hard to imagine a winning culture with the current roster. On a positive note, 2022 draft picks Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE, Oregon, fifth overall), Evan Neal (OT, Alabama, seventh overall) and Wan’Dale Robinson (WR, Kentucky, 43rd overall) have tons of upside. On a negative note, I do think this will be Daniel Jones last season a starter in New York: if he even makes it to Week 18 without being supplanted by Tyrod Taylor.
Chicago Bears [Previous Ranking: 24]
While I’m a fan of former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, he simply doesn’t have the tools necessary to succeed with the Chicago Bears. The Bears offensive arsenal features David Montgomery, a solid running back, a couple receivers that would be decent #2’s on most teams, and a slew of #3/#4 receivers. The offensive line isn’t great, which will hamper Fields’ growth, and for the first time in a while, Chicago’s defense isn’t looking too good. While Fields might make some personal strides in 2022, the Bears probably won’t improve on their 6-11 finish from last season.
Seattle Seahawks [Previous Ranking: 27]
For every team that acquires a superstar quarterback in the offseason, there is usually one left in the dust at the position. The Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson succession plan includes a combination of Geno Smith and Drew Lock: not the most inspiring bunch. Seattle was plagued by injuries last season, but still finished 7-10 because Wilson was that good when healthy. With the Legion of Boom long-gone as well, Seattle looks to be entering a rebuilding phase after a decorated decade of success under Wilson and Pete Carroll.
Jacksonville Jaguars [Previous Ranking: 31]
The Jacksonville Jaguars went all-in during free agency: signing wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, tight end Evan Engram, offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, and cornerback Darious Williams. Jacksonville also had a decent draft, despite a somewhat surprising pick of defensive end Tavon Walker at #1, going almost exclusively defense over seven selections. But the majority of last season’s 3-14 squad that got outscored 253-457 last season will be back, and I’m sorry, but I don’t think Trevor Lawrence will ever succeed in this atmosphere.
Atlanta Falcons [Previous Ranking: 25]
Despite being outscored 313-459 last season, the Atlanta Falcons still put up a better-than-you’d-expect 7-10 record in 2021. But with huge changes, like moving from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota at quarterback and wide receiver Calvin Ridley being suspended for the season, the bar is pretty low for 2022. I don’t think Mariota is a bad option, nor do I think the Falcons are doomed to be this low all season, but at the current moment I don’t see any reason to rank them higher.
Houston Texans [Previous Ranking: 32]
The Houston Texans might have a brighter future ahead after officially getting Deshaun Watson out of the organization, but as far as 2022 goes, sophomore quarterback Davis Mills and new head coach Lovie Smith will have their work cut out for them. Houston selected five players in the first 75 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft, highlighted by LSU defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. with the third overall pick.
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