It’s not even August, and yet the NFL season is right around the corner.
This week, teams across the league reported for training camp. You know what that means! Soon enough, we’ll learn about quarterback battles, impressive rookies, wonky drills, and players appearing to be in the Best Shape Of Their Lives.
Then, on August 7, preseason games begin. From there, it’s only a short four weeks until Week 1.
Can you believe it? We certainly can’t.
In honor of the start of training camp, here is the first installment of our power rankings. It’s still early – way too early – of course, but then, isn’t that the whole point of these things?
32. Cleveland Browns
Last year: 3-13, fourth in AFC North
Biggest acquisitions: Signed QB Robert Griffin III to a two-year, $15 million deal
Biggest losses: Center Alex Mack signed with Falcons; WR Travis Benjamin signed with the Chargers
One thing to know: The Browns are doing the NFL equivalent of tanking – they let several decent free agents walk, signed few replacements, and acquired a ton of picks on draft night. This team legitimately might not win more than two games.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last year: 5-11, fourth in NFC West
Biggest acquisitions: Signed Chip Kelly after firing Jim Tomsula as head coach
Biggest losses: WR Anquan Boldin signed with the Lions
One thing to know: Vegas does not love the Niners, favoring them to win exactly zero of their 16 games this year.
30. Tennessee Titans
Last year: 3-13, fourth in AFC South
Biggest acquisitions: Traded for RB DeMarco Murray, signed WR Rishard Matthews, drafted OT Jack Conklin and RB Derrick Henry
Biggest losses: Fired GM Ruston Webster
One thing to know: It was generally a productive offseason for the Titans, who added running talent in Murray and Henry, and added another target for Marcus Mariota in Matthews, improving Mariota’s protection on the offensive line.
29. San Diego Chargers
Last year: 4-12, fourth in AFC West
Biggest acquisitions: Signed WR Travis Benjamin, drafted DE Joey Bosa with the third pick
Biggest losses: Safety Eric Weddle signed with the Baltimore Ravens
One thing to know: Melvin Gordon had microfracture surgery after his disappointing rookie season, so expect a steady dose of Danny Woodhead in the Chargers backfield.
28. Detroit Lions
Last year: 7-9, third in NFC North
Biggest acquisitions: Signed WR Marvin Jones, WR Anquan Boldin
Biggest losses: WR Calvin Johnson retired
One thing to know: The Lions will have to hope someone steps up on offense in the absence of Johnson.
27. Miami Dolphins
Last year: 6-10, fourth in AFC East
Biggest acquisitions: Signed RB Arian Foster and DE Mario Williams; traded for LB Kiko Alonso and CB Byron Maxwell; drafted OT Laremy Tunsil
Biggest losses: DE Olivier Vernon signed with the Giants; RB Lamar Miller signed with the Texans; WR Rishard Matthews signed with the Titans; WR Greg Jennings retired
One thing to know: Ryan Tannehill remains one of the more perplexing quarterbacks in football, and although he’s underwhelmed over the past few seasons, new head coach Adam Gase is widely considered a quarterback guru. The question is who, besides Jarvis Landry, will Tannehill throw to?
26. New Orleans Saints
Last year: 7-9, third in NFC South
Biggest acquisitions: Signed TE Coby Fleener, DT Nick Fairley, and safety Roman Harper
Biggest losses: TE Benjamin Watson signed with the Ravens
One thing to know: The Saints will once again have to rely on the magic of Drew Brees and Sean Payton, as they’ve surrounded Brees with a lackluster supporting cast on both sides of the ball.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last year: 6-10, fourth in NFC South
Biggest acquisitions: Signed OL JR Sweezy, DE Robert Ayers, and CB Brent Grimes; drafted CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Biggest losses: OL Logan Mankins retired
One thing to know: Jameis Winston is reportedly in the best shape of his life, and he’ll have Dirk Koetter, his former offensive coordinator, as his new head coach. Things should be on the upswing in Tampa Bay.
24. Los Angeles Rams
Last year: 7-9, third in NFC West
Biggest acquisitions: Drafted QB Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick
Biggest losses: CB Janoris Jenkins signed with the New York Giants
One thing to know: The Rams surrendered a ton to trade up to the No. 1 pick to draft Goff. Should he fall short, however, the Rams should still be competitive, thanks to a strong defense and more experience for Todd Gurley.
23. Chicago Bears
Last year: 6-10, fourth in NFC North
Biggest acquisitions: Signed LBs Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman; drafted OLB Leonard Floyd
Biggest losses: RB Matt Forte signed with the Jets, TE Martellus Bennett signed with the Patriots, and offensive coordinator Adam Gase left to take over as head coach in Miami
One thing to know: WR Kevin White is finally healthy after missing his entire rookie season, and fellow receiver Alshon Jeffery looks to play more than nine games this season. Losing Gase hurts, but a deeper receiving corp should help Jay Cutler.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
Last year: 7-9, second in NFC East
Biggest acquisitions: Drafted QB Carson Wentz with the No. 2 pick
Biggest losses: Traded RB DeMarco Murray to the Titans; traded CB Byron Maxwell and LB Kiko Alonso to the Dolphins
One thing to know: The quarterback battle between Sam Bradford and Wentz will be one to keep an eye on. How long of a leash will the Eagles give Bradford before turning to their promising rookie?
21. Atlanta Falcons
Last year: 8-8, second in NFC South
Biggest acquisitions: Signed center Alex Mack and WR Mohamed Sanu
Biggest losses: OL Jake Long signed with the Ravens; WR Roddy White was cut
One thing to know: After a hot 6-1 start last season, the Falcons fizzled to miss the playoffs. After an uninspired offseason, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be much better this season.
20. Baltimore Ravens
Last year: 5-11, third in AFC North
Biggest acquisitions: Signed safety Eric Weddle, WR Mike Wallace, TE Benjamin Watson, OT Jake Long
Biggest losses: Offensive guard Kelechi Osemele signed with the Oakland Raiders
One thing to know: The Ravens gave Joe Flacco some more weapons in Wallace and Watson, and with the hopeful returns of Steve Smith and Justin Forsett, they could be back in the playoff mix.
19. Buffalo Bills
Last year: 8-8, third in AFC East
Biggest acquisitions: Signed TE Charles Clay; drafted DE Shaq Lawson and LB Reggie Ragland; hired new assistant head coach Rob Ryan
Biggest losses: DE Mario Williams signed with the Dolphins
One thing to know: With Tom Brady missing the first four games of this season, the Bills will surely look to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East. Whether they are actually capable of doing so is another thing.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Last year: 4-12, fourth in NFC East
Biggest acquisitions: Drafted RB Ezekiel Elliott
Biggest losses: QB Matt Cassel signed with the Titans
One thing to know: The Cowboys should be much better if their best players can stay healthy, but a huge question is how much Tony Romo, at 36, can give them after two major injuries in 2015.
17. New York Jets
Last year: 10-6, second in AFC East
Biggest acquisitions: Signed RBs Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson; signed DE Jarvis Jenkins
Biggest losses: RB Chris Ivory signed with the Jaguars
One thing to know: Ryan Fitzpatrick still hasn’t re-signed, despite occasional contract talks and a reported meeting with Brandon Marshall in Chicago. That means Geno Smith will take over at the helm, just one season after – remember this? – getting his jaw broken in training camp.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last year: 5-11, third in AFC South
Biggest acquisitions: Signed DE Malik Jackson, RB Chris Ivory, CB Prince Amukamara, safety Tashaun Gipson; drafted CB Jalen Ramsey and LB Myles Jack
Biggest losses: None
One thing to know: The Jaguars showed improvement on offense last year and added more talent in Ivory. Now, comes the defensive improvement, with rookies Ramsey and Jack – two top prospects – the return of Dante Fowler, and the signing of Jackson.
This team will be fun and competitive – book it!
15. Washington Redskins
Last year: 9-7, first in NFC East
Biggest acquisitions: Signed CB Josh Norman
Biggest losses: RB Alfred Morris signed with the Cowboys; Robert Griffin III signed with the Browns
One thing to know: Washington gave Kirk Cousins the franchise tag after a red-hot second half of the season. He threw almost no interceptions over that stretch, and he’ll need to keep the turnovers down because his team’s defense – Josh Norman aside – isn’t great. Luckily, nobody in the NFC East is especially great, so they should be right in the thick of things.
14. Indianapolis Colts
Last year: 8-8, second in AFC South
Biggest acquisitions: Drafted center Ryan Kelly
Biggest losses: LB Jerrell Freeman signed with the Chicago Bears
One thing to know: The Colts slogged through an injury-riddled campaign from Andrew Luck and an uninspiring game plan on offense and defense in 2015. They spent the offseason beefing up Luck’s protection, and they’re hoping he makes the jump this year into the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.
13. New York Giants
Last year: 6-10, third in NFC East
Biggest acquisitions: Signed DE Vernon Olivier and CB Janoris Jenkins; made offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo head coach
Biggest losses: WR Rueben Randle signed with the Eagles; CB Prince Amukamara signed with the Jaguars; head coach Tom Coughlin resigned
One thing to know: The Giants upgraded their defense, but the offensive line still looks worrisome. That will, in turn, make an already weak rushing game even weaker, leaving a lot of work for Eli Manning. Odell Beckham is still Odell Beckham, but there aren’t a lot of other promising receiving options. On the other hand, the NFC East is completely up for grabs.
12. Oakland Raiders
Last year: 7-9, third in AFC West
Biggest acquisitions: Signed CB Sean Smith, LB Bruce Irvin, G Kelechi Osemele, safety Reggie Nelson
Biggest losses: Safety Charles Woodson retired
One thing to know: While the Raiders’ young, intriguing offense continues to grow, the defense figures to make a big jump with Khalil Mack and Irvin attacking opposing quarterbacks, and Smith and Nelson covering opposing receivers. This team could be deadly if all goes right.
11. Houston Texans
Last year: 9-7, first in AFC South
Biggest acquisitions: Signed QB Brock Osweiler, RB Lamar Miller; drafted WRs William Fuller and Braxton Miller
Biggest losses: RB Arian Foster signed with the Dolphins; QB Brian Hoyer signed with the Bears
One thing to know: The Texans were a big winner this offseason, and now Bill O’Brien has his quarterback. With JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney terrifying on defense and DeAndre Hopkins torching secondaries on offense, this team looks promising.
10. Minnesota Vikings
Last year: 11-5, first in NFC North
Biggest acquisitions: Drafted WR Laquon Treadwell
Biggest losses: None
One thing to know: The Vikings were a missed field goal away from the NFC divisional round in the playoffs. The defense should remain stout, and they’re hoping the addition of Treadwell – one of the best receivers in the draft – and growth of Stefon Diggs will ignite their offense.
9. Kansas City Chiefs
Last year: 11-5, second in AFC West
Biggest acquisitions: Drafted DE/DT Chris Jones
Biggest losses: OL Justin Houston will miss a large stretch of the season with an ACL injury
One thing to know: Alex Smith’s options downfield are still not ideal. Other than Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin, the Chiefs’ best receiver might be Albert Wilson. Who? Exactly.
8. Seattle Seahawks
Last year: 10-6, second in NFC West
Biggest acquisitions: Signed DE Chris Clemons
Biggest losses: Tackle Russell Okung signed with the Broncos; LB Bruce Irvin signed with the Raiders; guard JR Sweezy signed with the Buccaneers; RB Marshawn Lynch retired
One thing to know: It was a bit of a rough offseason for the Seahawks, who saw many of their core players leave the team. The run game and pass rush will take a hit with the departures of Lynch and Irvin, and they lost what little protection they had for Russell Wilson in Okung and Sweezy. It should be another literally painful year for Wilson.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last year: 10-6, second in AFC North
Biggest acquisitions: Signed TE Ladarius Green; drafted CBs Artie Burns and Sean Davis and DT Javon Hargraves
Biggest losses: TE Heath Miller retired; WR Martavis Bryant will miss the season with a suspension; RB Le’Veon Bell could miss the first four games for missing a drug test, too
One thing to know: Pittsburgh’s offensive line remains a question mark for Ben Roethlisberger, and the suspensions of Bryant and Bell could mean that we again miss out on what could be one of the most electrifying offenses in football. Still a playoff team, to be sure.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
Last year: 12-4, first in AFC North
Biggest acquisitions: Signed LB Karlos Dansby and WR Brandon LaFell
Biggest losses: Safety Reggie Nelson signed with the Raiders; didn’t re-sign CB Leon Hall
One thing to know: The Bengals looked like true contenders until an ill-timed injury to Andy Dalton took him out of the playoffs. They should be there again this year with a sturdy cast around Dalton, though their defense may have taken a hit with the losses of Nelson and Hall.
5. Denver Broncos
Last year: 12-4, first in AFC West
Biggest acquisitions: Drafted QB Paxton Lynch; signed QB Mark Sanchez and OT Russell Okung
Biggest losses Peyton Manning retired; QB Brock Osweiler signed with the Texans; DE Malik Jackson signed with the Jaguars; guard Evan Mathis signed with the Cardinals; Danny Trevathan signed with the Bears; didn’t re-sign TE Owen Daniels
One thing to know: It’s easy to worry about quarterback, but it might not be worth it. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell suggests that Sanchez will likely be an upgrade from the play of Manning and Osweiler last season. Plus, when you have Von Miller, you should be fine.
4. Green Bay Packers
Last year: 10-6, second in NFC North
Biggest acquisitions: Signed TE Jared Cook
Biggest losses: Didn’t re-sign WR James Jones
One thing to know: The Packers could have a rebound year if Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target, Jordy Nelson, recovers fully from a torn ACL, and if Eddie Lacy has indeed gotten in better shape.
3. New England Patriots
Last year: 12-4, first in AFC East
Biggest acquisitions: Signed TE Martellus Bennett, DE Terrance Knighton, DE Chris Long, WR Nate Washington
Biggest losses: Traded DE Chandler Jones to the Cardinals; WR Brandon LaFell signed with the Bengals
One thing to know: You already know that Tom Brady will be out for the first four games of the season, but it’s hard to imagine the Patriots really struggling in his absence. Meanwhile, the Patriots brought in Dante Scarnecchia, an excellent line coach, to help improve their offensive line. That should help Jimmy Garoppolo and old man Brady when he returns.
2. Carolina Panthers
Last year: 15-1, first in NFC South
Biggest acquisitions: None
Biggest losses: CB Josh Norman signed with the Redskins
One thing to know: After coming up short in the Super Bowl, the Panthers may have taken a step back on defense with the loss of Norman, who was the NFL’s best cornerback last season. Fortunately, the offense should receive a boost with the return of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Last year: 13-3, first in NFC West
Biggest acquisitions: Traded for OLB Chandler Jones; signed LB Robert Mathis; drafted DE Robert Nkemdiche
Biggest losses: OT Bobby Massie signed with the Bears; traded guard Jonathan Cooper to the Patriots
One thing to know: The Cardinals enter training camp as the best team in football. The offense is dangerous; the defense even better. Bruce Arians has proved himself as a top coach in football, and if Carson Palmer can continue his stellar play, we could see the Cards make a deep run come playoffs.
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