Welcome to the first installment of The Ringer’s 2022 NFL Power Rankings. Every week from now until the postseason, I’ll be taking stock of who is up and down, relying on a mix of betting odds and analytics to rate the NFL’s risers and fallers. I’ll be breaking the league into tiers, from those with the best chance to make the Super Bowl to those who should start planning for the 2023 draft. For now, Josh Allen and the Bills claim the top spot, but there’s potential for a big shakeup depending on what happens when Buffalo faces Aaron Donald and the defending Super Bowl champion Rams in Week 1.
All betting odds provided by FanDuel as of September 4, 2022. All expected points added (EPA) statistics provided by RBSDM.com.
Super Bowl or Bust
1. Buffalo Bills (-750 to make the 2022 NFL playoffs)
No team has better odds to win the Super Bowl than Buffalo at +600, and rightfully so. Josh Allen is as talented as any quarterback in the league right now, and while the 26-year-old signal-caller will experience the first offensive coordinator change in his NFL career with Brian Daboll taking the Giants’ head-coaching position this offseason, expectations for the offense remain just as high under Ken Dorsey. GM Brandon Beane has built one of the best and deepest rosters in the league; that roster, and especially Sean McDermott’s defense, will get a big test Thursday night against the Rams.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-750)
Going from a 40-day dose of despair to favorites to win the NFC (+340) is quite the roller coaster of an offseason. During the five and a half weeks Tom Brady was retired, the expectation in Tampa was that stars like Carlton Davis III and Chris Godwin would leave in free agency, and you could picture the Bucs choosing to start second-year quarterback Kyle Trask as some sort of long-game tanking strategy. Instead, Brady’s abrupt return has him leading a star-studded roster that not only re-signed Davis and Godwin but also added guard Shaq Mason, slot receiver Russell Gage, and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Injuries to starting offensive linemen Ryan Jensen and Aaron Stinnie are concerns, but not enough to knock the Buccaneers off their Super Bowl course.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (-225)
Tyreek Hill is no longer in Kansas City. Neither are defensive starters Tyrann Mathieu, Charvarius Ward, Jarran Reed, and Anthony Hitchens. But the straw that stirs the drink, Patrick Mahomes, isn’t going anywhere, and that’s why the Chiefs rank so highly to start the season. In a down year by his standards, Mahomes threw for 4,839 yards and 37 touchdowns and ranked second in the league in expected points added (EPA) per dropback in 2021. The Chiefs go as he goes, and he remains the biggest cheat code of any player in the NFL.
4. Green Bay Packers (-500)
You know what Aaron Rodgers would say: R-E-L-A-X. Let’s not overreact to Rodgers’s offseason, which may have included a breakup but definitely included a 12-day panchakarma cleanse, his first tattoo, and aggressively long Instagram captions. The problem is that no detox process or astrological ink is going to help him replace Davante Adams, who accounted for 34 percent of the team’s receiving yards last season and now plays for the Raiders. Still, I trust that Rodgers, who has won back-to-back league MVP awards, will make the best of an Adams-less receiving corps led by Sammy Watkins and Allen Lazard. The Packers are a lock for a top-five spot on any 2022 preseason power ranking as long as Rodgers is in a Packers uniform.
5. Los Angeles Rams (-270)
Losing Von Miller to Buffalo and veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth to retirement this offseason is the late-night boxed wine behind what could be a Super Bowl hangover. Add in the scare that is the Matthew Stafford elbow injury and several other departed starters (e.g. Robert Woods, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Corbett) and uncertainty about Odell Beckham Jr.’s status, and the Rams might as well be mixing in cheap tequila shots. But there’s still too much talent on this team, especially when factoring in the additions of Allen Robinson II and Bobby Wagner and the return of safety Troy Hill, to completely fall off a cliff. The Rams have major star power with Cooper Kupp, Jalen Ramsey, and Aaron Donald, and that’s reason for optimism, but I believe the Buccaneers and Packers are still better positioned to win the NFC.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (-162)
There’s something comforting about the Chargers resuming their rightful place as the most hyped team in August. But unlike in past years, these Chargers look ready to back it up. Star quarterback Justin Herbert is the favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards (+500) and all but cemented as a top-five player at his position. With a bunch of new defensive additions to help fix last year’s biggest weakness, there are no excuses for second-year head coach Brandon Staley and Co. They’ve spent as much as they can on the lottery ticket that is an elite quarterback on a rookie contract in Herbert. It’s time to cash in.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (-134)
The Bengals overachieved last season. With question marks across the defense and offensive lines and quarterback Joe Burrow coming off an injury, only the Lions and Texans had worse odds to win the Super Bowl prior to Week 1 of the 2021 season. Fast-forward one year, and expectations for Burrow’s Bengals are significantly higher. With a rebuilt offensive line, arguably the NFL’s best receiving corps, and Burrow, the Bengals’ expectation floor is winning multiple playoff games.
8. Baltimore Ravens (-156)
Baltimore missed the playoffs for the first time in the Lamar Jackson era last season after the roster, particularly the running back group and the secondary, was decimated by injuries. I’m here to remind you that Jackson is still the NFL’s most dynamic player and the primary reason the Ravens remain a deep postseason contender. Health permitting, which is far from a guarantee, Jackson should reassert himself as one of the league’s most prolific signal callers on his way back to the playoffs.
9. San Francisco 49ers (-225)
Trey Lance needs to be great, like, right now. The bar was set high when the team traded three first-round picks and a third-round pick to acquire his services in 2021. Even higher when Jimmy Garoppolo, who already took the 49ers to a Super Bowl after the 2019 season, led the team to the NFC championship game last season. And it was raised yet again last week when San Francisco elected to make Jimmy G the NFL’s highest-paid backup quarterback rather than trade him, effectively shortening the leash for Lance if he isn’t great right away. The highs of the still very young Lance era are awe-inspiring, but the sample size is small. The pressure is on for Lance, and the questions aren’t getting answered until we see more of him. The combination of Kyle Shanahan’s coaching ability and the team’s consistency on defense create for a high enough floor that San Francisco should be competing for the postseason, but the ceiling will be determined by just how quickly—if ever—Lance can exceed rapidly ascending expectations.
10. Denver Broncos (-146)
The pressure is on for star quarterback Russell Wilson—who last week received a massive contract extension to lock him in as Denver’s long-term starter—and head coach Nathaniel Hackett to make the Broncos relevant again. Wilson is already a much-appreciated presence in Denver and an obvious upgrade from their quarterback situation in 2021, but just an improvement over last year won’t be enough for the 33-year-old Wilson to overtake both Mahomes and Herbert in the AFC West.
11. Minnesota Vikings (-110)
New head coach Kevin O’Connell will live and die by how much he can maximize the habitually average Kirk Cousins at the helm of an offense chock-full of talent. Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook are both among the elite at their respective positions, and 32-year-old veteran Adam Thielen is drawing comparisons to his former dominant self in training camp. An influx of 11 personnel, creative route concepts, and early-down passing should be just what the doctor ordered for a Minnesota team desperate for postseason success going into the fifth year of the Cousins era.
12. Dallas Cowboys (-225)
You cannot make a rational argument that Dallas improved this offseason. They just lost too much. Burnt by salary cap hell, the Cowboys traded away wide receiver Amari Cooper for a fifth-round pick, cut right tackle La’el Collins, and both edge rusher Randy Gregory and slot receiver Cedrick Wilson left in free agency. And now star left tackle Tyron Smith is expected to miss a bulk of the 2022 season with a torn hamstring. All of that might not be enough for the Cowboys’ remaining stars in Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, and Micah Parsons to lead the team into the playoffs, but it is more than enough to keep the team outside of the top 10 teams in the NFL.
In the Playoff Hunt
13. Philadelphia Eagles (-194)
Philadelphia is gaining significant momentum as a much-improved postseason contender this season. The Sunday after the 2022 draft, during which they traded for star wideout A.J. Brown and added monster Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, the Eagles were +275 to win the NFC East. They’re now +150 as money has been poured on their division crown futures, and for good reason. Quarterback Jalen Hurts improved significantly from Year 1 to Year 2 under then-first-year head coach Nick Sirianni in 2021, and expectations should be for Hurts to continue to develop as his chemistry with Brown and receiver DeVonta Smith grows.
14. Arizona Cardinals (+118)
The Call of Duty lobbies are still laughing at the Cardinals. After a 10-2 start last season, the team lost five of its last six games, including a 34-11 blowout loss to the Rams in the wild-card round. The Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray era in Arizona has been infamous for late-season struggles, and their latest slump carried over into the offseason. Star wideout DeAndre Hopkins will miss the first six games of the 2022 season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy, and then there’s the a four-hour “independent study” requirement for Murray that was included in, and then deleted from, his new contract extension that included $104.3 million guaranteed at signing. Time is running out for Kingsbury and Murray to find enough consistency to produce a playoff win that keeps their star quarterback from streaming on Twitch in January.
15. Tennessee Titans (-110)
After surviving a Derrick Henry foot injury that had him sidelined for the last nine regular season games and earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Titans fell off a cliff. Henry was held to 3.1 yards per carry and Ryan Tannehill threw three picks in a 19-16 loss to the Bengals in the divisional round. Then, unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension, Tennessee traded away receiver A.J. Brown during the 2022 draft. The Titans spent a first-round pick on former Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks, but he’s not even in line to start Week 1. Tannehill, who finished tied for 12th in EPA per dropback last season, will somehow need to right the ship with downgrades in the receiving corps and Henry coming off an injury.
16. Indianapolis Colts (-172)
Getting off the Carson Wentz roller coaster after one season was a necessary step after his Week 18 collapse against the Jaguars that ultimately cost the Colts a playoff bid. Veteran Matt Ryan is a slight upgrade over Wentz over the course of a season, but a much safer, consistent ride week to week. The receiving corps is big and loaded with potential but still very young, and question marks remain at left tackle and outside corner opposite of Stephon Gilmore. This is an improved Colts team with Ryan at the helm, but I’m not yet ready to call it a great one.
17. Miami Dolphins (+142)
Miami’s offense was remarkably consistent through three preseason games, and the oft-doubted Tua Tagovailoa went an impressive 12-of-15 for 179 yards and a score in the two games he played. The jury is still out on Tua, but if he can’t carry preseason momentum into the games that matter, it won’t be for a lack of support. GM Chris Grier was aggressive in surrounding new head coach Mike McDaniel and Tagovailoa with stars, including wide receiver Tyreek Hill and left tackle Terron Armstead. Preseason expectations should lean optimistic until Tagovailoa gives us a reason not to be.
18. New Orleans Saints (+118)
The Trevor Siemian–Jameis Winston–Taysom Hill quarterback trifecta in New Orleans was a catalyst to a disastrous offense in 2021. The best-case scenario for 2022 is that even without now-retired coach Sean Payton, Winston leads a much-improved offense while throwing to a revamped receiving corps that includes a healthy Michael Thomas, first-round pick Chris Olave, and sure-handed slot receiver Jarvis Landry. Defensively, the hope is that everything stays the same, and new head coach Dennis Allen continues to maximize the team’s talent like he did as the defensive coordinator for the last seven seasons.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (+170)
Following the disastrous Jon Gruden-Mike Mayock era, the Raiders’ new braintrust of Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler have something the Raiders haven’t had since 2002: a plan. The duo signed edge rusher Chandler Jones to a blockbuster deal and traded for quarterback Derek Carr’s college teammate Davante Adams. They signed Carr to a contract extension that essentially puts him on a one-year deal with team options in years following. And they declined fifth-year options for all of the team’s 2019 first-round picks (Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Abram, Josh Jacobs). Opting for open competition across the board, none of the players from the previous regime are safe, evidenced by the move to cut 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood last week. Las Vegas very well could be the league’s most improved team but still miss the playoffs while competing in a loaded AFC West.
20. Cleveland Browns (+170)
Deshaun Watson will serve an 11-game suspension before he throws his first regular season pass for the Browns, so this ranking accounts for a team quarterbacked by Jacoby Brissett, who was 2-3 in five starts with Miami last season. Brissett will lead a run-first offense that will live and die by the success of the offensive line and play-action passing game. The Browns defense has insane talent at all three levels and will need to play like an elite unit to keep Cleveland in playoff contention.
21. New England Patriots (+160)
Despite a promising rookie campaign from Mac Jones, there’s a weighty hand over the panic button in New England. With McDaniels in Las Vegas, coach Bill Belichick will have longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia and Giants castaway Joe Judge both contributing to the offensive play calling in a system blanketed by Belichick’s patented ambiguity. Reports out of New England tell a story of ugly training camp practices, and the performance of the first-team offense in preseason games was rough. The offense just isn’t talented enough to be this clunky. A lot can change over the course of the regular season, and Belichick’s defense will still be near the top of the NFL, but a lot needs to change, specifically on offense, for New England to have a legit shot at a postseason run.
Building for the Future
22. Pittsburgh Steelers (+330)
Mike Tomlin has been playing it coy about his quarterback plans, but we’re basing the Steelers’ initial ranking on the expectation that Mitchell Trubisky will be Pittsburgh’s starter for at least the first few weeks of the season. That’s a sound short-term plan. The long-term plan, with Kenny Pickett at quarterback, is much more interesting, and I’m not sure I’d want to see him playing behind a bottom-three offensive line in an uber-competitive AFC North. The Steelers defense should be very good and keep Pittsburgh in games, but might not be enough to overcome offensive struggles.
23. Washington Commanders (+152)
The Wentz trade was a head-scratcher for Washington, to say the least. The Commanders swapped 2022 second-round picks, traded a 2022 third-round pick and a conditional 2023 third-round pick to Indianapolis to pay Wentz $28 million to replace Taylor Heinicke this season. Per rbsdm.com, Wentz ranked 21st in EPA per dropback and completion percentage over expected (CPOE) composite last season with the Colts, while Heinicke ranked 22nd. Wentz just isn’t the upgrade over Heinicke that they think he is, and the reports out of Commanders’ camp have not been great. Wentz completed just one pass of 10-plus yards downfield and notably struggled when he wasn’t operating outside of play-action concepts during the preseason. The bar is low for Wentz in Washington, and he’s struggling to clear even that out of the gate.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (+450)
You can’t overstate just how much of an upgrade Doug Pederson is over Urban Meyer, and the higher the odds that Jacksonville’s head coach won’t kick his players or dance the night away in Columbus bars raises the floor and ceiling on the team’s outcome in 2022. Trevor Lawrence has flashed a lot of the same limited brilliance we saw last year throughout the preseason, but with improved coaching and an upgraded receiver corps, those flashes should become more regular occurrences. The Jags might not dramatically improve immediately, but there’s more certainty it won’t all crash down overnight.
25. Carolina Panthers (+410)
The Panthers defense is young and talented, but everything else isn’t. Baker Mayfield is an obvious upgrade over the failed Sam Darnold experiment, but Mayfield’s arrival likely comes too late to save Carolina from blowing everything up after this season. Head coach Matt Rhule got into this mess by botching the quarterback position ever since his arrival in Carolina in 2020, from the bloated Teddy Bridgewater contract to the Darnold trade and Cam Newton’s return last season. The Panthers offense ranked 29th in points, 32nd in yards per play, and 30th in EPA per play with Darnold and Newton both starting multiple games for the team in 2021. It’ll be very difficult for Mayfield to be much worse, but don’t be surprised if Rhule, the betting favorite (+300) for first coach fired this season, doesn’t reap the rewards from the improvement.
26. Detroit Lions (+410)
Dan Campbell has something all losing teams search for desperately in their rebuilding efforts: buy-in. Veteran Running back Jamaal Williams crying with passion in training camp is an extension of the same want-to and competitive mindset that had the team go 10-7 against the spread in 2021. The raw talent on the roster, however, is still limiting and will ultimately prevent the team from unleashing the hell they want to until long-term solutions are found at quarterback.
27. New York Giants (+225)
The Giants are playing the long game. The team’s brass didn’t fire Joe Judge and decline Daniel Jones’s fifth-year option for first-year head coach Brian Daboll and new general manager Joe Schoen to turn things around right away. They just wanted to stop the bleeding or, at a minimum, stop running quarterback sneaks on third-and-long. That process starts with creating a consistent team-building philosophy and a semblance of culture, similar to what Campbell has achieved in Detroit. Adding offensive tackle Evan Neal and pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux in the first round of April’s draft is a start, but the immediate road ahead remains bleak.
28. New York Jets (+710)
Last season, in his first year as the Jets’ head coach, Robert Saleh led a defense that finished the year last in EPA per play allowed, yards allowed, and points allowed—not a great start for a defensive-minded coach. Oh, and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson looked horrible in the 13 games he started, finishing the year 34th in EPA per dropback and CPOE composite among qualified passers, per RBSDM.com. The Jets are a mess and won’t be any cleaner until Wilson and Saleh’s defense aren’t literally the league’s worst performers.
Eyeing the No. 1 Pick
29. Chicago Bears (+410)
The Bears didn’t win a playoff game under Matt Nagy, and after a 6-11 season in 2021, Chicago decided to start over. Now the Bears press forward with first-year general manager Ryan Poles and rookie head coach Matt Eberflus, a duo charged with a long-term rebuild. They have a talented quarterback prospect in Justin Fields but I’d argue he’s been put in an unfair situation in 2022. The Bears don’t have question marks along the offensive line or in the receiving corps, they have flat-out problems, and the lack of talent in both of those units will make it very difficult for Poles and Eberflus to fairly evaluate Fields.
30. Seattle Seahawks (+540)
Trading Russell Wilson for two first-round and two second-round picks, in addition to a handful of other assets, firmly puts the Seahawks in rebuild mode, even if Pete Carroll and John Schneider are reluctant to admit it. Veteran quarterback Geno Smith earned the starting nod in a depressing preseason battle with Drew Lock, but he isn’t a long-term solution under center. The team still possesses relative star power with receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and safety Jamal Adams, but they’re not bright enough to outshine what is otherwise a roster without marquee talent at quarterback and other high-value positions like edge rusher and offensive tackle.
31. Atlanta Falcons (+790)
The Falcons will be bad, but they have the potential to be a fun football team in 2022. Defensively, A.J. Terrell should be in top-five conversations at the cornerback position, and both Marcus Mariota, the expected starter at quarterback, and rookie Desmond Ridder both looked comfortable in Arthur Smith’s offense in the preseason. Factor in two dynamic receiving threats in Kyle Pitts and Drake London and that’s enough to get me to tune in, even though the Falcons have significant questions on the offensive and defensive lines.
32. Houston Texans (+1500)
The Texans will play hard under new head coach Lovie Smith, but they won’t be the more talented team in any game they play this season. The Texans have a young core that includes quarterback Davis Mills, fourth-round rookie starting running back Dameon Pierce, and rookie defensive backs Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre. But the bottom line is that talent matters, and the Texans don’t have nearly enough of it.