A Comprehensive Power Rankings Before the New NFL Season

The NFL regular season is mere days away from starting, and this will be a season more fascinating than pretty much anything we’ve seen. How will the ongoing coronavirus pandemic affect the season? Will the season be able to finish in its entirety without a bubble? How will the limited practice time affect the quality of play? We’re also going to see some faces in new places, like Tom Brady on the Buccaneers (It still feels weird to type). In the current situation, pretty much anything can happen, and almost anybody can win the Super Bowl.

Despite the unpredictability of the season, I think we will be able to see certain trends. Teams with continuity will be at a big advantage over teams with new coaches, new starters in key positions, and a lot of rookies to incorporate. I also expect to see a lot of parity this year. Looking around the league, there are very few teams which I think are truly bad or truly excellent, and a lot more teams which I think are about average. I think the unpredictability of the season will balance out this year, and there will be a lot more teams at 7-9, or 8-8, or 9-7 than in previous years. These pre-regular-season power rankings will include my projected record for each of these teams, as well as one key player that will need to perform for their team to be successful.

A lot of these teams were very close to each other, and I wouldn’t get mad at you if you were to switch around the order of a lot of these teams. Obviously I will be wrong, so don’t get mad if I put your favorite team more down the list. Also, be sure to note that the power rankings are not necessarily correspondent to the records. With all that out of the way, let’s commence the power rankings.

1. Baltimore Ravens

Predicted Record: 12-4

Team Overview: Despite their disappointing crash out in the divisional round against the Titans following their league-best 14-2 regular season, the Ravens, headed by dynamic signal-caller and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, are well equipped to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in eight years, with the marquee additions of defensive end Calais Campbell and rookie linebacker Patrick Queen helping to shore up the run defense. Jackson will need to continue his MVP play in the postseason for the Ravens to win a Super Bowl, however.

Key Players: Patrick Queen and his rookie linebacker counterpart Malik Harrison will have big roles and will need to step up in order to prevent debacles like Derrick Henry’s 195 yards last year in the divisional. The Ravens hope that these two rookies are immediately able to defend the run effectively. Queen’s coverage ability, in particular, will be put to the test after the release of Earl Thomas.

2. New Orleans Saints

Predicted Record: 12-4

Team Overview: The Saints have been Super Bowl contenders for the past few years, but they need to finally put it all together and win it all. After 3 consecutive heartbreaking eliminations and Drew Brees’s fortieth birthday, there is a lot of pressure on the Saints to finally get over the hump. Former Eagles star safety Malcolm Jenkins and Super-Bowl-winning wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders are the big additions, and they will have to pay off quickly before the inevitable cap crunch the Saints will face next year.

Key Player: One of the few question marks in the starting lineup is cornerback Janoris Jenkins. After getting cut by the Giants for offensive tweets, Janoris Jenkins settled with the Saints as a starting corner and provided competent play down the stretch. This year, he will be relied on to do it again. The Saints need to play lockdown coverage if they want to win the Super Bowl, and Jenkins playing well will be necessary for that.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Predicted Record: 11-5

Team Overview: The reigning Super Bowl champions relied heavily on their superpowered offense led by Patrick Mahomes last year, and it has gotten even better with the addition of dynamic pass-catching rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs will rely on stars Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu to cover some defensive gaps at linebacker and especially cornerback. Dynamic 2020 second-round linebacker Willie Gay Jr. will bring athleticism to the linebacking corps.

Key Player: The undrafted Charvarius Ward was the leader of a patchwork cornerback group during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run, and the Chiefs’ decision to not upgrade the group shows their confidence in Ward as the #1 cornerback on the depth chart. If he can build on his encouraging 2019-2020 season, the Chiefs are in a good position to repeat their title, and their defense should be in a good spot.

4. San Francisco 49ers

Predicted Record: 10-6

Team Overview: Coming off a loss to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, the 49ers largely maintained the status quo. The retirement of longtime stalwart tackle Joe Staley was offset by the trade for Washington Football Team superstar tackle Trent Williams. To save money, star defensive tackle Deforest Buckner was traded to Indianapolis for the pick that became athletic rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. The finally-healthy running back Jerick McKinnon and rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk will give quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo more weapons to throw to.

Key Players: The 49ers cornerbacks behind star Richard Sherman were exposed by the speedy Chiefs receiving corps last year after an otherwise promising playoffs, and these two formerly undrafted corners, Emmanuel Moseley and K’Waun Williams, are back in the same roles. They will need to tighten their play against dynamic receivers for the San Francisco 49ers to bring this storied franchise another Lombardi.

5. Green Bay Packers

Predicted Record: 10-6

Team Overview: Despite the Packers’ steady building of a championship-caliber defense was finally completed last year, it let them down in the NFC Championship as Raheem Mostert of the 49ers rushed for 220 yards. Much to the anger of Packers fans, the team took a long-term approach to the draft, drafting Rodgers successor Jordan Love and backfield power backs AJ Dillon and Josiah Deguara. The positions they neglected, wide receiver and linebacker, will thus be manned by less-than-ideal options in 2020.

Key Player: 2019 #12 overall pick Rashan Gary is a defensive lineman brimming with potential, but he had a disappointing season last year, dealing with questions about his fit, position, and role. With some turnover on the defensive line surrounding stalwart Kenny Clark, Gary will be counted on to improve his play and help shore up Green Bay’s porous run defense with his immense athleticism.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Predicted Record: 10-6

Team Overview: The big story here is probably the arrival of the GOAT Tom Brady, and you probably already know all about him. However, his arrival would not be a reality if not for the huge improvement on both offense and defense spearheaded by head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Brady will be throwing to wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and legendary tight end Rob Gronkowski, Brady’s former Patriots teammate who came out of retirement to join him in Tampa. 2020 first-round tackle Tristan Wirfs will start immediately and protect Brady’s right side.

Key Players: Over the past few years, the Buccaneers invested a lot of draft capital in the secondary, and a few of these picks have finally started to pan out. The Bucs drafted safety Antoine Winfield Jr. in the second round this year, and he will be the centerpiece of a young secondary that also includes 2019 Day 2 picks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting that will need to cover for Brady and Co. on the other side of the ball.

7. Buffalo Bills

Predicted Record: 10-6

Team Overview: Coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have successfully completed a massive rebuild in the span of 3 years and now have a deep, highly skilled roster that should contend in the playoffs. The Bills will hope that trade acquisition Stefon Diggs can be an alpha wide receiver for young quarterback Josh Allen, and he should complete a roster that has good players at every position due to good drafting and smart free agency signings, including second-round edge rusher AJ Epenesa.

Key Player: The Bills succeeded to an extent last year despite the inconsistent play of flamethrower quarterback Josh Allen. Now that Allen has all the pieces around him he could possibly want, he will have to step up to not be the weak link. If he plays well, the Bills could very well win the Super Bowl. If not, the Bills might be forced to start over at the most important position on the field.

8. Philadelphia Eagles

Predicted Record: 11-5

Team Overview: The Eagles won the 2018 Super Bowl behind backup quarterback Nick Foles, who was forced into action after MVP candidate Carson Wentz was injured. Foles left in free agency, and Wentz was injured again in this team’s wildcard game loss against the Seahawks. However, Wentz is now healthy and will lead a team very deep on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Eagles traded for elite cornerback Darius Slay and signed defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to help fix a porous passing defense, and rookie wideout Jalen Reagor will bring more speed to the receiving corps.

Key Players: Despite the acquisition of Darius Slay and slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, the back seven on the defense still has several questions. The inconsistent Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod will replace elite safety Malcolm Jenkins, now on the Saints, and unproven linebacker duo Nathan Gerry and T.J. Edwards will man the middle of the defense. All of them must play well to fix the Eagles’ pass defense.

9. Seattle Seahawks

Predicted Record: 10-6

Team Overview: Super Bowl-winning quarterback and perennial MVP contender Russell Wilson is back to lead a perennial playoffs contender. One the other side of the ball, the Seahawks are constructing a new Legion of Boom defense, with a trade for superstar strong safety Jamal Adams to join the best linebacker in football, Bobby Wagner, and 2020 first-round linebacker Jordyn Brooks. The Seahawks will rely on free agent signing Bruce Irvin to steady a weak pass rush and trade acquisition Quinton Dunbar for solid cornerback play.

Key Player: 2020 third-round draft pick Damien Lewis will come in and start at right guard immediately. By all accounts, he has looked excellent in training camp, but if he plays well during the season and solidifies a spot on the otherwise consistently porous offensive line long-term, the Seahawks and Russell Wilson will be eternally grateful. Less running away from pass rushers and more throwing the football is never a bad thing.

10. Tennessee Titans

Predicted Record: 9-7

Team Overview: After quarterback Ryan Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota midseason, the Titans went on a huge 9-3 run, knocking off the juggernaut Ravens on the back of superstar power running back Derrick Henry before losing in the AFC Championship. Rookie tackle Isaiah Wilson and cornerback Kristian Fulton will play key roles, and now the Titans have superstar pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney. Expect this team to make some noise, with Derrick Henry running over the opposition on offense and a well-coached, talented unit on the other side of the ball.

Key Players: Two recent first-round picks can raise the Titans’ ceiling. 2017 #5 overall pick, receiver Corey Davis, has disappointed, but if he dominates like he is capable of, the Titans will be thrilled. Coming off a torn ACL, 2019 first-round defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons played so well in the last few games that the Titans traded away star defensive lineman Jurrell Casey. Now, it’s up to Simmons to anchor the defensive line.

11. Minnesota Vikings

Predicted Record: 10-6

Team Overview: This team knocked off the Saints and advanced to the divisional round before losing to the 49ers, but it has gone through some roster turmoil this offseason. The team traded away dissatisfied receiver Stefon Diggs and drafted his replacement, first-rounder Justin Jefferson, to be a weapon for quarterback Kirk Cousins. They traded for pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue to complement superstar Danielle Hunter, and they cut several overpaid, underperforming veteran cornerbacks. This team will run a youth movement at corner, with 2020 first- rounder Jeff Gladney being the centerpiece.

Key Player: 2018 first-round cornerback Mike Hughes hasn’t really contributed to this team because of injuries and a once deep corner group. Now, Hughes is the most experienced cornerback on the roster, and if the Vikings hope to contend again this year, he will need to lead this young group by living up to his lofty draft status. He certainly has enough talent to thrive in his new role, but the talent must translate to the field.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

Predicted Record: 9-7

Team Overview: It speaks to the brilliance of coach Mike Tomlin that despite losing quarterback Big Ben Roethlisberger to torn elbow muscles in the first game of last season, the Steelers went 8-8 despite the worst quarterback play in the league. Pittsburgh ground out 8 wins with an incredible defense loaded with promising young talent and star veterans, and they took steps to fix deficiencies on offense by signing tight end Eric Ebron and drafting receiver Chase Claypool. Roethlisberger is back and fully healthy, and honestly, this projected record is probably the floor for this team in 2020.

Key Player: This team is so talented that the only thing holding them back is a very tough schedule, but there is always room for improvement. Almost all of their recent draft picks and free agency signings have panned out. The notable exception is 2018 first-round safety Terrell Edmunds, who has been fine but hasn’t fully lived up to his potential. If Edmunds can break out this year, the Steelers’ defense will be even more terrifying.

13. Dallas Cowboys

Predicted Record: 9-7

Team Overview: The hype around America’s team is reaching insane levels, as new coach Mike McCarthy has brought a new wave of optimism following a disappointing season last year where this team missed the playoffs. The talented wide receiver corps got even better with the addition of 2020 first-rounder CeeDee Lamb, giving quarterback Dak Prescott even more talented weapons to throw to. Second-round cornerback Trevon Diggs will step into a starting role immediately, and this team might sign superstar safety Earl Thomas. With this much talent, the team will almost certainly improve this year.

Key Player: One of the few positions which could be called weak is safety (hence the endless rumors about the Cowboys signing Earl Thomas). However, as of now the team is operating with Xavier Woods as the starting free safety. Woods, a former sixth-rounder who was effective last year, is a popular breakout candidate, and the Cowboys will rely on him again to lead a safety group that otherwise isn’t all that talented.

14. New England Patriots

Predicted Record: 9-7

Team Overview: This will be the first season in almost 20 years that Tom Brady will not start for the Patriots in Week 1, meaning their reign as perennial Super Bowl contenders (the entire 21st century) is likely over. Bill Belichick, the greatest coach of the modern era, still has more than enough talent to field a competitive roster, however. Former MVP quarterback Cam Newton, coming off multiple injuries, signed with the Patriots, and immediately earned a starting job. This team has been hit hard with COVID-19 opt-outs, but the team is rolling in depth, young talent, and stars, as the Patriots usually are.

Key Players: The Patriots have relied heavily on wily slot receiver Julian Edelman lately, but they desperately need other passing game weapons. 2019 first-round receiver N’Keal Harry spent most of last year injured, but he can be the alpha receiver the Patriots have desperately sought. Tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, 2020 third-rounders, can hopefully cover at least some of legendary tight end Rob Gronkowski’s production.

15. Los Angeles Chargers

Predicted Record: 8-8

Team Overview: The Chargers were bad last year, but that can be attributed to bad luck and injuries. Philip Rivers regressed, so after 15 years the Chargers moved on from their franchise icon and used their draft pick to select quarterback Justin Herbert. They signed cornerback Chris Harris and defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and they traded up in the 2020 draft to select linebacker Kenneth Murray, completing an incredibly talented defense. The team is starting mobile bridge quarterback Tyrod Taylor until Herbert is ready and obtained guard Trai Turner and tackle Bryan Bulaga to help a terrible offensive line.

Key Player: This is an interesting one. Since the beginning of time, the Chargers have been plagued by awful kicking. But in 2018, they found kicker Michael “Money Badger” Badgley, and at long last, the problem was solved. But Badgley missed almost all of 2019 with injury, and the kicking was awful again, directly leading to at least 4 Chargers losses. That’s insane. If Badgley is great again, this team can legitimately win 12 games.

16. Los Angeles Rams

Predicted Record: 8-8

Team Overview: After a 2018 Super Bowl loss, this team missed the playoffs last year because most of their key players regressed, including current quarterback Jared Goff. Then they dealt with a cap crunch this offseason, meaning several key players were let go. The team drafted running back Cam Akers and wide receiver Van Jefferson in the second round to replace Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks, respectively. Edge rusher Leonard Floyd and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson were signed to bolster the front seven. Some young players will need to thrive for this team to succeed, though.

Key Players: This team will still compete because of superstars like Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald, but somebody has to step up on the offensive line this year. Last year, the poor offensive line heavily hindered Sean McVay’s offense, and that can’t happen again. Some young players who need to improve are 2018 third-round guard Joe Noteboom, 2018 second-round guard Austin Corbett, and 2018 fourth-round center Brian Allen.

17. Indianapolis Colts

Predicted Record: 9-7

Team Overview: Last year, the Colts had built a young, talented, and deep roster and were poised to be Super Bowl Contenders until superstar quarterback Andrew Luck abruptly retired just before the season. Backup Jacoby Brissett was ok, but it wasn’t the same. This year, though, the team upgraded with motivated veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, and traded for star defensive tackle Deforest Buckner, who will be a defensive line anchor the team needed. The Colts also added two 2020 second-round picks, running back Jonathan Taylor and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., to the young corps.

Key Player: After releasing Pierre Desir and letting former first-round pick Quincy Wilson walk in free agency, the Colts had an unfilled boundary cornerback position. They took a shot on Xavier Rhodes, a former All-Pro with the Vikings and one of the best corners in the game until he fell off hard over the last few years, in hopes he could rediscover his All- Pro form. He might need to for the Colts to make a deep playoff run.

18. Houston Texans

Predicted Record: 9-7

Team Overview: Bill O’Brien’s horrible exploits as a general manager make us forget that he is actually a good football coach, as the Texans have won 4 division titles in his tenure. However, he gave away his entire draft class with zero understanding of trade value, and then traded DeAndre Hopkins, a superstar receiver, for essentially nothing, seemingly only making young star quarterback Deshaun Watson’s life harder. O’Brien brought in new receivers Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb and second-round defensive tackle Ross Blacklock (the pick Hopkins was traded for) to fill a defensive line need.

Key Player: Former Raiders cornerback bust Gareon Coley was one of the acquisitions of Bill O’Brien’s horrendous trading spree, as a third-round pick was traded for him (again, O’ Brien traded DEANDRE HOPKINS for a second-round pick). Conley surprisingly provided competent cornerback play in the second half of last year, and he will have to do so again this year on a depth chart that is hot flaming garbage behind Bradley Roby.

19. Cleveland Browns

Predicted Record: 7-9

Team Overview: After the successful rookie season of franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Browns were getting some legit Super Bowl hype. They then proceeded to win 6 games, as Baker regressed behind a porous offensive line, and the defense did not perform up to expectations. The Browns proceeded to fix this offensive line by signing right tackle Jack Conklin and drafting first-round left tackle Jedrick Wills. The talented group of young players that caused so much hype is still here, and we will see if new coach Kevin Stefanski can get this team more wins than last year in its post-hype stage.

Key Player: One position which the Browns chose not to upgrade this offseason were the linebackers, which shows their confidence in 2019 fifth-round pick, linebacker Mack Wilson. Wilson was thrust into a big role in his rookie year, and he overperformed significantly, providing promising production. Now, he is the leader of the linebacker corps and will have to help stabilize a very young back seven on the Browns’ defense.

20. Atlanta Falcons

Predicted Record: 7-9

Team Overview: Everyone remembers the 28-3 debacle in the 2017 Super Bowl, but since then the team has refreshed its roster around star quarterback Matt Ryan. This team went on a massive win streak simply to reach 7-9 last year, as the offensive line and defense performed poorly yet again. 2020 first-round corner AJ Terrell will join the secondary, and 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley is the new running back. Star edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr., the Falcons big free agency acquisition, and 2020 second-round defensive tackle Marlon Davidson will boost the defensive line.

Key Players: You’ll notice that the Falcons didn’t upgrade their porous offensive line, and that’s because of two 2019 first rounders, guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary, both of whom who were injured most of last year. When they did play, however, they showed a ton of potential. If these two players can improve their play and stay healthy this season, the Falcons’ offensive line could be above-average for the first time in a while.

21. Las Vegas Raiders

Predicted Record: 7-9

Team Overview: I thought it was a bad decision to give Coach Jon Gruden a 100 million dollar contract, but since then he has rebuilt this team into a deep roster with good talent at nearly every position following the windfall of draft picks after the Khalil Mack trade. Free-agent acquisition and stud linebacker Cory Littleton joins a defense that also added 2020 first-round cornerback Damon Arnette. On offense, 2020 first-round receiver Henry Ruggs III and 2020 third-round receiver Bryan Edwards will likely start. Don’t be surprised if this team makes the playoffs behind the arm of quarterback Derek Carr.

Key Players: The Raiders will be relying on several key young players on their defense, with Arnette, 2019 first-round safety Jonathan Abram, and 2019 second-round corner Trayvon Mullen forming the backbone of a young secondary. In addition, 2019 #4 overall pick, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, and 2019 fourth-round pick, defensive end Maxx Crosby, who broke out in his rookie season, will be the primary pass rushers this year.

22. Denver Broncos

Predicted Record: 7-9

Team Overview: After the long search for a franchise quarterback following the retirement of Peyton Manning, general manager John Elway might have found his guy following the promising play of 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock. Lock will start this season, and he’ll throw to 2020 first-round receiver Jerry Jeudy and 2020 second-round receiver KJ Hamler. The team signed guard Graham Glasgow and drafted center Lloyd Cushenberry to help protect Lock, and it traded for star corner AJ Bouye to steady the secondary and stud defensive end Jurrell Casey to dominate on the defensive line.

Key Players: Optimism for the Broncos is at a high, but they need contributions from two players with two opposite career paths. Tackle Garrett Bolles was a first-round pick in 2017, but he has not played very well. As the starting left tackle, it’s crucial he plays up to his draft spot. Linebacker A.J. Johnson was undrafted in 2015 but broke out last season with his first big opportunity. Now, as the #1 linebacker, he must repeat that performance.

23. Detroit Lions

Predicted Record: 7-9

Team Overview: Matt Patricia’s attempts to turn the Lions into the Patriots 2.0 seemed to be going smoothly until franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford was injured and everything fell apart. The team rebuilt their cornerback corps, with star corner Desmond Trufant and 2020 #3 overall pick Jeff Okudah joining the group. Patricia obtained three more former Patriots who will start for him in defensive tackle Danny Shelton, star linebacker Jamie Collins, and safety Duron Harmon. This team also drafted running back D’Andre Swift in the second round and signed right tackle Hal Vaitai to block for him.

Key Player: 2018 fourth-round pick, defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand, played very well in his rookie season before dealing with injuries and an undefined role because of a deep defensive line group in 2019. Hand is back and healthy again, and this time around he will have a vital role and be a key starter on the D-line. This could be the season we see Hand truly develop into the star he proved he was capable of being two seasons ago.

24. Arizona Cardinals

Predicted Record: 7-9

Team Overview: This team is a popular breakout pick after 2019 #1 overall pick, quarterback Kyler Murray, had a good rookie year in first-year head coach and offensive guru Kliff Kingsbury’s system. They swindled the Texans out of D’Andre Hopkins, who will be the alpha receiver for Kyler Murray immediately. This offseason, they drafted first-round super-utility defender Isaiah Simmons and signed linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips to bolster a rising defense. 2020 third-round tackle Josh Jones was a steal and is a good bet to be the long-term right tackle.

Key Player: 2019 third-round pick, defensive end Zach Allen, is a bit of a tweener but is talented enough to be a long-term starter on the defensive line. However, he struggled to make a noticeable impact last season and thus did not play a lot. By all accounts, he looks a lot better and has clearly developed his game from last year. Expect Allen to start at defensive end for the Cardinals, earn increased snaps, and possibly break out this season.

25. Chicago Bears

Predicted Record: 6-10

Team Overview: After ill-fated kicker Cody Parkey’s legendarily awful “double-doink” in the 2018 playoffs (please google that clip), the Bears searched the land for a competent kicker. They found one in Eddy Piniero, but then everything else fell apart last year. The offense, led by embattled quarterback Mitch Trubisky (2017 #2 overall pick) regressed heavily, and the star-studded defense fell off somewhat from its lofty heights. The Bears did sign star pass rusher Robert Quinn to play alongside Khalil Mack and rebuilt their tight end group with former star Jimmy Graham and 2020 second-round pick Cole Kmet.

Key Player: This one has to be Mitch Trubisky, who played OK in 2018 but then was awful last year. The Bears traded for 2018 Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles and his giant contract to compete with him, and many thought Foles would win. Trubisky somehow managed to keep his job, but if he doesn’t perform well, he will likely either permanently lose his job to Foles or be replaced by an altogether new franchise quarterback.

26. Carolina Panthers

Predicted Record: 6-10

Team Overview: After another disappointing season marred with injuries and mediocre play, the Panthers decided to reset the team under new program-building coach Matt Rhule. Out went franchise icon Cam Newton, and in came new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater will throw to new wide receiver Robby Anderson and be protected by new left tackle Russell Okung. Rhule devoted his 2020 draft entirely to defense, picking up athletic cornerstones in first-round defensive tackle Derrick Brown, second-round defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, and second-round safety Jeremy Chinn.

Key Player: The Panthers’ reset on both sides of the ball means that they will be relying on many young players, especially on defense. The cornerback group will be led by 2018 second-round pick Donte Jackson, who has been decent but needs to improve to give the Panthers consistency at the position. 2020 fourth-round pick, cornerback Troy Pride Jr., should start immediately at slot corner, and he has the ability to succeed in that role.

27. New York Giants

Predicted Record: 5-11

Team Overview: The first season of the Daniel Jones era went a bit better than expected, as Jones, the #6 overall pick in 2019, showed more potential at the quarterback position than expected. The Giants continued their methodical rebuild of the offensive line this offseason, drafting two tackles: Andrew Thomas at #4 overall and Matt Peart in the third round. On defense, the team signed star cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez to help steady a young back seven. Safety Xavier McKinney, a 2020 second-round pick, should develop very quickly once he returns from a foot injury.

Key Player: The key to the Giants’ success both short-term and long-term is new franchise quarterback Daniel Jones, who, as the successor to franchise legend Eli Manning, must live up to his status as the #6 overall pick. The selection of Jones was met with a lot of criticism, but his promising rookie season silenced some doubters. To silence the rest, however, this year Jones will have to build on his encouraging rookie season.

28. New York Jets

Predicted Record: 5-11

Team Overview: An easy schedule in the second half of the season inflated the Jets’ record and saved embattled coach Adam Gase’s job, but don’t be fooled: This team is still rebuilding. This team drafted freakishly athletic tackle Mekhi Becton in the first round to protect young quarterback Sam Darnold and receiver Denzel Mims in the second round to give Darnold another weapon. The shining jewel of the Jets’ defense, Jamal Adams, is gone, but the Jets now have a lot of draft picks to build the core of their next contender. In addition, star middle linebacker Avery Williamson is back from his torn ACL.

Key Players: The Jets do not have a lot of promising young players, but three recent third-round picks will hope to contribute meaningfully to the team. 2020 third-round free safety Ashtyn Davis should eventually start, 2020 third-round edge rusher Jabari Zuniga will establish himself at the top of a weak depth chart once he returns from injury, and 2019 third-round tackle Chuma Edoga can be a long-term bookend alongside Becton.

29. Miami Dolphins

Predicted Record: 5-11

Team Overview: The ascending Dolphins won more games than they expected but still were able to draft franchise quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick. Miami, with its innumerable draft picks and cap space, has obtained players such as 2020 first-round tackle Austin Jackson and second-round guard Robert Hunt, who will be blocking for Tua. Superstar cornerback Byron Jones, a free agency signing, and 2020 first-round cornerback Noah Igbinoghene complete a formidable cornerback group. Former Patriot and star linebacker Kyle Van Noy will help anchor Flores’s defense.

Key Player: Character concerns caused 2019 rookie wide receiver Preston Williams to go undrafted, but the talent was always there, and he put together a very good rookie season before tearing his ACL. He looks even better in training camp than he did last year, despite his ACL not being at 100%. Expect Williams to have a dominant breakout season and solidify himself as the #2 receiver behind Devante Parker for the future.

30. Cincinnati Bengals

Predicted Record: 5-11

Team Overview: This team was abjectly terrible last year, but as a reward for their suffering they got the 2020 #1 overall draft pick, quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow will be the face of the franchise for a long time and has already won the starting job. Star receiver AJ Green, returning from injury, and 2020 second-round receiver Tee Higgins will give Burrow great weapons to throw to. The team, which normally is extremely cheap, signed star defensive tackle DJ Reader, corner Trae Waynes, and safety Vonn Bell to add to a surprisingly talented defense. Don’t be surprised if this team is decent in 2020.

Key Player: Despite this team’s improvements, the offensive line is still terrible. 2019 first-round tackle Jonah Williams will return from an injury that caused him to miss all of last season, which should help, but the rest of the line is awful. Part of the reason for that is 2018 first-round interior lineman Billy Price not playing well. Cincinnati needs Price to step up for the sake of Joe Burrow and be solid on an otherwise bad unit.

31. Washington Football Team

Predicted Record: 4-12

Team Overview: New coach Ron Rivera will have to work through the endless drama surrounding this team, from outrage over the prior team name (the “Redskins”) to disturbing allegations levied against owner Dan Snyder and some top officials. If that wasn’t enough, this team is going through a massive rebuild and culture reset, with second-year quarterback Dwyane Haskins developing along with a young offense. On defense, #2 overall draft pick, edge rusher Chase Young, dominated at an unprecedented level in college and will instantly be a star on an already talented defensive line.

Key Players: Because this team is going to struggle mightily, they will take any growth they can get from young players. Three young skill-position players have the ability to break out this year: 2020 fourth-round receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, 2020 third-round flex option Antonio Gibson, and 2019 fourth-round running back Bryce Love. All have the talent and opportunity to cement their status as key players for the future of this team.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Predicted Record: 2-14

Team Overview: Yeah, this is gonna be a pretty rough year for Jags fans. The Jags had 6 Pro Bowlers on defense in 2017, and now all are gone. That’s brutal. This team is tanking (and signing Joe Schobert for some reason). It isn’t all bad, though. This team drafted cornerback CJ Henderson, edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, and receiver Laviska Shenault to be franchise cornerstones. Jacksonville will be helmed by the charismatic Gardner Minshew, a 2019 sixth-rounder who exceeded expectations with his gutsy play. With a boatload of future draft picks and several young stars, the future is bright.

Key Player: For how poorly run the Jags are, they actually are decent at drafting. They’re just awful at keeping them happy. Most of their high picks recently have succeeded, except for 2018 first-round defensive tackle Taven Bryan. Bryan’s first two NFL seasons have been disappointing, and in a rebuilding year, the Jaguars will hope to see growth from someone they thought would be a centerpiece on the defensive line.

This season promises to be entertaining and fun, as the NFL always is. Hopefully, the coronavirus does not derail the season, and we can get a full season of football played in safe conditions and minimal COVID-19 cases.