Final Offseason Power Rankings

With minicamps wrapping up this week, the only true dead part of the NFL calendar begins with the league taking a five-week break until training camps open in late July. By that point, everyone will be frothing at the mouth for the league to return and kick the football marathon back off. 

Until then, it’s a perfect time for a power rankings article to set the table for the 2024 season. Every team feels like it got better over the past few months — all 32 of them. The reality is half of those teams will lose in Week 1 and more than half will miss the playoffs. 

So here’s a look at which teams feel poised to live up to the hype and which teams will have to go back to the drawing board next offseason. Teams are ranked 1-32 but I’ve also included tiers to better describe the differences between teams. For instance, the Jets are ranked six spots ahead of the Falcons and seven spots ahead of the Bears, but I have New York in the same tier as Atlanta and one tier ahead Chicago. 


Heavyweight Contenders

Early Super Bowl favorites

1 – Kansas City Chiefs

2023 record: 11-6 (won Super Bowl)

2024 betting win total: 11.5

The Chiefs have won the past two Super Bowls and are going for a third — a feat that has not been accomplished in the 58 years the game has existed. Kansas City has a legit shot to make it happen, though. The strength of last year’s team was the defense and most of the starters on that side of the ball are coming back, with the exception of CB L’Jarius Sneed. But Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo has more than enough talent between DT Chris Jones, CB Trent McDuffie, LB Nick Bolton, DE George Karlaftis and others to keep Kansas City in great shape on that side of the ball. 


The offense should be better, too. Last year it sometimes felt like putting the ball in the end zone for the Chiefs was like pulling teeth. Inconsistent skill position players limited the offense all year until QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce flipped a switch in the playoffs. This year, new WRs Marquise Brown and first-rounder Xavier Worthy should give Mahomes a far better supporting cast to work with and Kansas City’s offense should get back to being the explosive, dangerous unit the league has been accustomed to seeing. They deserve top billing until someone dethrones them. 

2 – San Francisco 49ers

2023 record: 12-5 (lost Super Bowl)

2024 betting win total: 11.5

Last year’s Super Bowl runner-ups brought back the bulk of the 2023 squad, giving the 2024 season a sort of “Last Dance” vibe with the futures of key players like WR Brandon Aiyuk and WR Deebo Samuel up in the air in 2025. But while the future is murky, the present looks promising. San Francisco returned nearly every single key contributor from last year’s stellar offense. Once again, 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan will get to torture defenses with Aiyuk, Samuel, RB Christian McCaffrey (the reigning offensive player of the year) and TE George Kittle, with new reinforcements like first-round WR Ricky Pearsall for QB Brock Purdy to throw to. 


On defense, the 49ers have a new coordinator but return the same core of the unit — DE Nick Bosa, LB Fred Warner, DT Javon Hargrave, CB Charvarius Ward and S Talanoa Hufanga. Shoring up the rest of the defensive line rotation and replacing DT Arik Armstead was the major priority. It would be a surprise if the 49ers weren’t a top-ten defense even with new DC Nick Sorensen

Midweight Contenders

Capable of winning a Super Bowl with good health and overcoming one or two weaknesses

3 – Detroit Lions

2023 record: 12-5 (lost NFC championship)

2024 betting win total: 10.5

Last season was a magical year for the Lions, and they were one bad second half away from punching a ticket to the Super Bowl to play a Chiefs team they had already beaten in Week 1. Instead, the 49ers rallied and Detroit has some scars to overcome in 2024. 


But last year doesn’t look like a one-hit wonder for the Lions. Detroit returns nearly every key player from last year’s roster and also scored a big win by keeping OC Ben Johnson for a third season after he coordinated back-to-back top-five offenses. Starting QB Jared Goff is a great fit with Johnson and there’s firepower with WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, TE Sam LaPorta, RB Jahmyr Gibbs and RB David Montgomery. The strength of the offense has always been the offensive line, and Detroit re-signed veteran G Graham Glasgow and added G Kevin Zeitler to try and ensure it remained the strength of the team. All the ingredients are in place for a third-straight top-five scoring team. 

The real progress seems to have been made on defense. The Lions improved from 2022 to 2023 on that side of the ball, going from terrible to scrappy. Another leap could be in the works in 2024. The Lions are starting to build a stable of disruptive defensive linemen and strength on the line of scrimmage could key a step forward just like it did for the offense. Former No. 2 pick Aidan Hutchinson and DT Alim McNeill are rising stars and the Lions signed DE Marcus Davenport and DT D.J. Reader to add a veteran presence to a rotation that also includes Josh Paschal, James Houston, John Cominsky and Levi Onwuzurike

The secondary should be better with Carlton Davis, first-rounder Terrion Arnold and Amik Robertson coming in to revamp the cornerback group. With S Kerby Joseph, DB Brian Branch and LB Jack Campbell, the Lions have some young core pieces to build around in addition to Hutchinson and McNeill on the defensive line. If the defense takes a step forward and becomes a top-ten unit, the Lions seem primed to challenge San Francisco for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. 


4 – Cincinnati Bengals

2023 record: 9-8

2024 betting win total: 10.5

I was high on the Bengals last year and thought they had a roster largely without weaknesses. But a calf injury to QB Joe Burrow helped lead to a 1-3 start. Cincinnati rebounded and Burrow found a groove, winning four straight including back-to-back over the 49ers and Bills. Then Burrow went down again, this time to a season-ending wrist injury. Despite an impressive performance by backup QB Jake Browning, the Bengals finished 9-8 and missed the postseason. 

Getting Burrow back healthy should be a massive boost. The offense swapped out RB Joe Mixon and WR Tyler Boyd for RB Zack Moss, third-round WR Jermaine Burton and TE Mike Gesicki but the core of the unit remains in place with Burrow, WR Ja’Marr Chase and WR Tee Higgins. The defense will need to be a little better than it was last year but the hope is that key, targeted additions like DT Sheldon Rankins, S Vonn Bell and S Geno Stone will do the trick. 


If there’s a team that could topple the Chiefs in the AFC, I think the Bengals are the best bet. The Texans are getting all the buzz after winning the offseason and the Bills and Ravens still have good teams and superstar quarterbacks. But Cincinnati has historically given the Chiefs the most problems, and it looks like the Bengals are poised to continue as a thorn in Kansas City’s side. 

5 – Baltimore Ravens

2023 record: 13-4 (lost AFC championship)

2024 betting win total: 11.5

The Ravens probably took a step back this offseason in terms of raw talent on the roster. But they also had such a talented team last year that even a step back leaves them in great shape at the top of the AFC. The concerns for Baltimore in 2024 will likely center around all the upheaval on the offensive line. The Ravens are replacing three of the five starters up front, including both starting guards. That’s not ideal for a team that wants to build its identity around the running game as much as the Ravens seem to want to. 


Baltimore has a lot of practice with absorbing roster attrition, though. There are candidates to step up on the roster and the Ravens didn’t just sit on their hands, adding RB Derrick Henry in free agency to go along with reigning MVP QB Lamar Jackson, TE Mark Andrews and WR Zay Flowers on offense. The biggest question facing the defense is how new DC Zach Orr will fare replacing former DC Mike Macdonald who left for the Seahawks head coaching job after two great seasons in Baltimore. But Macdonald was a relative unknown when he took the job, too, and Orr will be keeping the same system in place. 

Overall, the Ravens should still be in the mix in the AFC and have plenty of talent remaining on the roster. They just don’t have quite the same horsepower they did last season. 

6 – Houston Texans

2023 record: 10-7 (lost divisional)

2024 betting win total: 9.5


It’s fair to say the Texans won the offseason with a series of blockbuster additions including a trade for WR Stefon Diggs and signing DE Danielle Hunter to a big free agent contract. Houston is loading up and aiming high in the follow up to star QB C.J. Stroud’s debut season which saw him win Offensive Rookie of the Year and lead the Texans to both a playoff berth and a playoff win. Stroud was an instant star and the Texans have two more years with him on a rookie contract to take advantage of. 

Now Houston has to follow all of this hype with substance. Teams who have “won” the offseason have a checkered history when it comes to following that up with regular season success. The Texans won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year and the expectations are a lot higher. 

It seems like the team has the goods, though. Stroud is terrific, they were able to retain OC Bobby Slowik which will be huge for the continuity of the offense. The offensive line will hopefully be healthier and that should help a run game that struggled in 2023. And not only does HC DeMeco Ryans look like a find as a team leader, Houston’s defense took a step forward under his watch last year and seems to be a unit on the rise. 

7 – Green Bay Packers

2023 record: 9-8 (lost divisional)

2024 betting win total: 9.5


I’m probably more bullish on the Packers than other offseason prognosticators will be. At various points last year, Green Bay looked headed for a top-ten pick and they only barely squeaked into the playoffs. However, it’s tough to ignore how well the Packers were playing down the stretch, keyed by a ridiculous hot streak from QB Jordan Love. If Love can replicate what he did in the second half of the season and in the playoffs over a full season, he’s an MVP candidate. 

Consistency is the key with Love — as it’s always been. The first half of the season was a different story and even in the playoffs, Love’s bad habits re-emerged and cost the team a chance to fend off the 49ers’ comeback for good. However, the Packers have seen enough to be comfortable investing a lot of money in Love this offseason, which is a stark contrast to how they handled his contract a year ago. 

But my optimism for the Packers goes beyond just Love. Packers HC Matt LaFleur flies under the radar but I think he’s one of the best coaches in the league and his record is not just a product of the quarterbacks he’s had to work with. Green Bay’s offense was lethal and LaFleur has plenty to work with on that side of the ball with a batch of young pass catchers and veteran RB Josh Jacobs signing in free agency to give the Packers a more reliable option than they had last year at the position. On defense, new DC Jeff Hafley is a bit of a wildcard, but the early impression is that his scheme should be a much better fit for the talent on the Packers’ defense than former DC Joe Barry


The Lions and 49ers might be the best teams in the NFC, but I think the Packers will give Detroit a real challenge for the NFC North and can go toe-to-toe with any team in the NFC. 

Lightweight Contenders

Recent contenders on the downswing or reloading, but still enough talent to not be counted out

8 – Philadelphia Eagles

2023 record: 11-6 (lost wildcard)

2024 betting win total: 10.5

The Eagles looked like one of the best teams in football for the second year in a row after a 10-1 start last season. But Philadelphia had one of the most baffling collapses down the stretch, going 1-5 and losing to the Buccaneers in the wildcard round in a game that was barely competitive. Eagles HC Nick Sirianni demoted DC Sean Desai for Matt Patricia to try and halt that skid and ended up having to do a clean sweep of his coordinators this offseason, axing OC Brian Johnson


The Eagles replaced them with OC Kellen Moore and DC Vic Fangio, and those might be the single most important additions the Eagles made this offseason. There’s just too much talent on the roster for the Eagles to play as poorly as they did down the stretch. The skill positions on offense are loaded between QB Jalen Hurts, WR A.J. Brown, WR DeVonta Smith, TE Dallas Goedert and of course big-ticket free agent signing RB Saquon Barkley. The offensive line is still in good shape despite the retirement of C Jason Kelce with three remaining Pro Bowl starters. On defense, Philadelphia went out and got DE Bryce Huff, S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, first-round CB Quinyon Mitchell and second-round CB Cooper DeJean to complement CB Darius Slay, DE Josh Sweat, DT Jalen Carter and DT Jordan Davis

The plan is for Moore and Fangio to address the schematic deficiencies that the Eagles felt led to their underperformance last year. There are some roster questions too, like the transition on the offensive line in a post-Kelce world and the integration of new faces on defense at edge rusher, linebacker and in the secondary. But if Moore and Fangio are upgrades over last year’s coordinators, those are overcomable hurdles. 

9 – Buffalo Bills

2023 record: 11-6 (lost divisional)

2024 betting win total: 10.5


By trading Diggs and moving on from a number of other veteran players, the Bills have effectively admitted 2024 is going to be a reset year for the organization after a few years of aggressive roster building. The receiving corps is being rebuilt almost from scratch and there’s going to be a transition period on defense, too, especially in the secondary. 

As long as the Bills have QB Josh Allen, though, the floor can only be so low for the team. There might not be a big gap between the Bills and the rest of the AFC East any more but Buffalo is good enough still to win a fifth straight division title. There’s talent on offense with TE Dalton Kincaid, RB James Cook, second-round WR Keon Coleman and free agent WR Curtis Samuel. Bills OC Joe Brady was a hot name at one point and could revive his stock with a big season. Even with everything that went wrong defensively, the Bills finished No. 4 in scoring defense and No. 9 in total defense. 

On the flip side, the AFC is so competitive and the margin for error in the conference so tight that it’s entirely possible the Bills are on the outside looking in when playoff seeds are finalized. It’s possible that could spark even bigger changes. 


Playoff Hopefuls

Good enough to push for a playoff spot but major questions about ceiling

10 – Miami Dolphins

2023 record: 11-6 (lost wildcard)

2024 betting win total: 9.5

The Dolphins simply ran out of cap space to keep all the players they had on expiring deals this offseason and the result was a significant exodus of talent. With the need to balance a $55 million-plus deal for QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami worked to rebalance the roster with cheaper contributors this offseason. 

It’s an open question about whether those players can be as effective as the ones they’re replacing. Still, the Dolphins have a lot going for them with the track team of skill position players on offense spearheaded by WR Tyreek Hill and orchestrated by HC Mike McDaniel. They should be able to put up points, especially early in the season. Defense is a question mark with both starting OLBs Bradley Chubb (ACL) and Jaelan Phillips (Achilles) recovering from season-ending injuries and a new DC in Anthony Weaver taking over. But there’s talent on that side of the ball, too. 


Ultimately, the Dolphins have a lot to prove in 2024 but shouldn’t be counted out as AFC East contenders. Whether they can advance beyond the first week of the playoffs remains an open question. 

11 – Seattle Seahawks

2023 record: 9-8

2024 betting win total: 7.5

The betting markets are skeptical of the Seahawks and it’s understandable. Seattle is breaking in a first-time head coach in former Ravens DC Mike Macdonald, who replaces future Hall of Famer Pete Carroll. They missed the playoffs last year and haven’t won a postseason game since 2019. Starting QB Geno Smith has played well the past two years but it feels like there are still people waiting for him to revert back to bust status. 

Most of these are fair doubts — though I think Smith is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in football right now. First-time head coaches are wildcards and Macdonald also dipped into the college ranks to hire OC Ryan Grubb from the University of Washington. He’ll call plays in the NFL for the first time and in the past that’s been a significant transition for some coordinators. 


But both men have impressive resumes and schemes that have been at the cutting edge in college and the NFL, though. That’s one of the reasons I have a lot of optimism about Seattle’s 2024 outlook. Macdonald should help Seattle’s defense improve leaps and bounds, as talent hasn’t seemed to be the issue on that side of the ball. I’m also bullish on how Grubbs’ offense will translate to the pros, particularly with a passer like Smith and a receiving corps that includes D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. If the offensive line stays healthy — which was the biggest issue with the offense last year — Seattle could be dangerous on both sides of the ball. 

12 – Indianapolis Colts

2023 record: 9-8

2024 betting win total: 8.5

Colts QB Anthony Richardson was brilliant enough last year that there’s a ton of optimism about his long-term outlook. But after going down early in Week 5, Richardson is essentially still a rookie in a lot of ways in 2024. That’s probably why the Colts were far less aggressive this offseason than the division-rival Texans, though that’s also just how GM Chris Ballard rolls sometimes. 


The bottom line is Indianapolis brought back the bulk of last year’s team that was one game away from winning the AFC South and making the playoffs instead of the Texans — with Gardner Minshew at quarterback. If Richardson is a significant upgrade, the Colts should push for a playoff spot again. The highs with Richardson will certainly be better, it’s a question of what the growing pains will look like since he didn’t get to work through them last year. 

13 – New York Jets

2023 record: 7-10

2024 betting win total: 9.5

The hype around the Jets is a lot more muted this offseason after the bait and switch that was the 2023 season. Some of that could be due to last year exposing more problems with the team apart from just losing QB Aaron Rodgers four plays in to an Achilles injury. It could just be the Jets aren’t new and sparkly anymore. 

Right about here is where I feel solid about ranking them. With the talent on defense, the stability provided by Rodgers and foundational skill position players like WR Garrett Wilson and RB Breece Hall, the Jets are talented enough to be a playoff team. They just have to avoid the landmines more than anything. The Jets have to stay healthy on the offensive line, on defense and, yes, at quarterback. 


Even with a healthy Rodgers, I have the same questions I did last year about how high the ceiling for this team truly is. The last time we saw a full, healthy season out of Rodgers, he and the Packers were muddling their way to an 8-9 season. The Jets tried and failed to replace OC Nathaniel Hackett, but it’s still going to be Rodgers calling the shots most of the time. His inability to be both a star QB and star OC is part of what soured the end of his time in Green Bay. It will be hard to count on the defense being a top-five unit for the third straight year, and there’s a ton of pressure on everyone involved with the Jets that could snowball if things go south. 

That said, the Jets definitely do have enough talent to win the AFC East and make a playoff run if everything comes together. They’re just built like a house of cards, and people seem to understand that this year. 

14 – Dallas Cowboys

2023 record: 12-5 (lost wildcard)

2024 betting win total: 10.5


It’s hard to view this offseason as anything except a big step backward for the Cowboys. Dallas’ free agent losses were significant and the team did practically nothing in free agency to address needs, instead crying poor due to pending extensions for players like QB Dak Prescott, WR CeeDee Lamb and DE Micah Parsons down the line. Parsons has two more years under contract but extensions for Prescott and Lamb remain unfinalized and both are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next offseason. 

The only material way the Cowboys added to the roster this offseason was via the draft and that’s always a tough ask for rookies to be relied upon as instant starters, particularly on the offensive line where Dallas has few alternatives outside of first-round LT Tyler Guyton and third-round C Cooper Beebe. Dallas is also short on playmakers outside of Lamb and TE Jake Ferguson. Veteran WR Brandin Cooks seems like he’s slowing down and running back is a major question mark. 

Defensively, Dallas is transitioning at defensive coordinator from Dan Quinn to Mike Zimmer, who hasn’t run a defense since 2021 and hasn’t coordinated a top-ten unit since 2019. Zimmer has had a great career as a defensive mind but the NFL moves quickly and some coaches just get left behind. See Frank Reich last year with the Panthers. Zimmer’s also infamously old school and there are some mildly concerning quotes out of OTAs indicating he’s not yet on the same page with some players, most notably Parsons. 

In the grand scheme of things, Parsons and Zimmer have plenty of time to get on the same page, so I don’t want to overreact to that necessarily. But it’s just the latest example of how the vibes surrounding the Cowboys are not good. Dallas has too much talent to be an outright bad team (I think) but 10.5 wins is a little rich for me. I would not be shocked to see them miss the playoffs with major sweeping changes next offseason. 


15 – Jacksonville Jaguars

2023 record: 9-8

2024 betting win total: 8.5

Despite having identical 9-8 records in each of the past two seasons, the feeling surrounding the Jaguars has been polar opposite after each year. In 2022, the Jaguars started the season 2-6 before ripping off a 7-2 record down the stretch to make the playoffs and even earn a win in the wildcard round. Jacksonville was a media favorite in 2023 and started out 6-2 before fading down the stretch with a 3-6 record and missing the playoffs. 

There’s a lot more skepticism around the Jaguars coming into this year. The Jaguars leaned heavily on free agency once again this offseason, with a lean toward shoring up the defense for new DC Ryan Nielsen. Jacksonville signed DL Arik Armstead, S Darnell Savage, CB Ronald Darby, plus WR Gabriel Davis, C Mitch Morse and WR Devin Duvernay. They drafted WR Brian Thomas Jr. in the first round after missing out on re-signing WR Calvin Ridley. Overall, the roster seems to be in a similar spot to where it was last year. 


That puts more pressure on the coaching staff. Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence is still battling inconsistency four years into his career, though not enough to ward off the Jaguars from signing him to a $55 million a year contract that’s tied with Burrow for No. 1 in the NFL. Jaguars HC Doug Pederson has drawn some criticism for giving play-calling duties to OC Press Taylor, as Pederson’s offensive acumen was a major reason he was hired. Talent doesn’t seem to be the issue for Lawrence or the team as a whole, but the challenge for Pederson and the coaching staff is drawing that talent out consistently.  

16 – Los Angeles Rams

2023 record: 10-7 (lost wildcard)

2024 betting win total: 8.5

The Rams were one of the biggest surprise playoff teams in 2023 after being pegged by a lot of analysts as a dark horse candidate to tank for the No. 1 pick. Los Angeles hit a big reset button last year, particularly on defense, and there was uncertainty about the team’s outlook on offense with both QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp facing age and injury concerns. But Stafford stayed healthy, the Rams hit on former Day 3 picks like WR Puka Nacua and RB Kyren Williams, HC Sean McVay seemed rejuvenated after a cranky 2022 and a defense filled with relatively anonymous players outside of DT Aaron Donald punched above their weight. 


There’s less hand-wringing about the offense this year even though Kupp battled injuries in 2023 and Stafford isn’t getting any younger (and wants a new contract from the Rams). Last year’s results along with the moves to fortify the offensive line in free agency are probably the reason. But the defense is still in a huge transition period after Donald’s retirement and losing DC Raheem Morris to the Falcons. If the Rams are going to make the playoffs again, it’s going to look a lot like it did last year. The offense will have to outscore teams and compensate for a defense still finding its identity, even with more young building blocks than it had a year ago. 

17 – Cleveland Browns

2023 record: 11-6 (lost wildcard)

2024 betting win total: 8.5

The Browns had to battle through a lot to make the playoffs last year, losing their starting quarterback after only six games as well as a plethora of other key players like RB Nick Chubb and the top four tackles on the depth chart. A spark from fresh-off-the-couch veteran QB Joe Flacco and an outstanding performance from the defense — which finished No. 1 in the league in total defense in DC Jim Schwartz’s first year — helped offset that adversity and get Cleveland into the postseason. It was a magical run.


The Browns are going to be hard-pressed to follow it up unless QB Deshaun Watson starts to live up to expectations. Watson has played in just 12 games since being acquired via massive trade and massive contract, and he hasn’t played well when he’s been on the field. With Chubb’s injury keeping the running game in flux — there’s a good chance he’s never the same player he was before the injury — there’s going to be even more pressure on Watson and the passing game. 

The defense probably won’t be No. 1 in the league again but the pieces remain for it to be a top-ten unit with essentially the whole core coming back. The offensive line should be healthier after a poor run of injury luck. All of that won’t really matter, though, if Watson can’t rediscover his mojo. 

18 – Pittsburgh Steelers

2023 record: 10-7 (lost wildcard)

2024 betting win total: 7.5


Pittsburgh didn’t have a sexy offseason and some of their biggest moves were for individuals who for one reason or another have become damaged goods. The Steelers overhauled the quarterback room, signing Russell Wilson and trading for Justin Fields after both were dumped by their former teams. They’ll execute an offense called by OC Arthur Smith who was fired after three seasons in Atlanta where his most well-known accomplishment was taking potshots at the fantasy football community. The Steelers drafted offensive linemen with their first two picks and three of their five picks in the first four rounds. 

As you can see by the betting line, the consensus about the 2024 Pittsburgh Steelers is not strong. But the Steelers are actually one of my favorite under-the-radar teams this year because all of their moves speak to a cohesive identity, one that fits like a glove with the culture of the organization at its best. Smith has his warts but even in Atlanta he called one of the league’s most creative and effective rushing attacks. With the offensive line reinforcements and returning skill position talent, the Steelers have all the tools to be a dangerous offense even without throwing the ball all over the yard. 

Eight wins would be HC Mike Tomlin’s first losing season in 17 years and he’s never dipped below that number. That’s included years with a heavy reliance on guys like Duck Hodges or Mason Rudolph at quarterback. Pittsburgh won 10 games cycling through Kenny Pickett, Mitchell Trubisky and Rudolph last year. Whatever you think of Wilson and Fields, those two represent an upgrade. Combined with the high floor Tomlin’s teams generally have, and I think the Steelers will be a team no one looks forward to playing this upcoming year. 


19 – Atlanta Falcons

2023 record: 7-10

2024 betting win total: 9.5

The Falcons are the preseason favorites in the NFC South by a projected two wins over the Buccaneers and Saints, with the acquisition of QB Kirk Cousins looming large. Cousins stabilizes the quarterback position for the Falcons who have struggled over the past couple of seasons. He teams up with OC Zac Robinson, the latest budding branch off the McVay/Rams tree, and talented skill position players like RB Bijan Robinson, WR Drake London and TE Kyle Pitts. Combined with a solid offensive line, the Falcons seem poised to be prolific on offense. 

However, it’s worth pointing out there can be a transitional period for veteran quarterbacks when they switch teams. Cousins has played in a similar system to Robinson’s the past couple of years, which should hopefully help, but his recovery from a torn Achilles is a bit of a wrench to monitor. 


The bigger issue is on defense where the Falcons made a conscious decision to invest less in that side of the ball. Their free agency dollars were spent on Cousins and WR Darnell Mooney, and they used the No. 8 pick in the draft on QB Michael Penix Jr. rather than the top pass rusher or cornerback available. New HC Raheem Morris has a background on that side of the ball and might feel like he can coach the players up more, but DC Jimmy Lake is a first-time NFL coordinator. There’s a lack of clear pass rush juice and big question marks in the secondary outside of CB AJ Terrell and S Jessie Bates

That’s why I don’t think the gap between the Falcons and the rest of the NFC South is necessarily as wide as the books have it right now. Atlanta’s certainly capable of winning the division and going on a run in the playoffs but the question marks on defense stop me from buying all the way in. 

Middle Of The Pack

Average teams 


20 – Chicago Bears

2023 record: 7-10

2024 betting win total: 8.5

There’s a world where No. 1 pick Caleb Williams hits the ground running for the Bears at quarterback, piloting a top-ten offense with a triple-threat at wide receiver into the playoffs. We just saw it with the Texans and Stroud last year. However, it’s important to remember winning seasons for rookie quarterbacks are the exception and not the norm, even for some of the most talented players in NFL history. It’s a hard position to play and there’s a learning curve, even for prospects as precociously talented as Williams. 

What’s more likely is that Williams and the Bears’ offense alternate flashes of brilliance with lots of learning moments. A lot also depends on a defense that became sneaky tough down the stretch last season but has another step to take to become a legitimate force. Chicago probably needs a little more pass rushing juice and for young players in the secondary to take a step forward and solidify the unit. 

While the Bears could push for a playoff spot, ultimately the barometer for success should be taking another step forward in the rebuild and establishing Williams as a viable franchise starter. 


21 – Los Angeles Chargers

2023 record: 5-12

2024 betting win total: 8.5

I’m fascinated to see what the Chargers look like on offense, with HC Jim Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman bringing a run-first approach to a unit spearheaded by QB Justin Herbert. The offensive line is in good shape and a quality offensive line goes a long way in the NFL. Is it enough to offset a skill position group with tons of questions? I have no idea. 

There’s similar uncertainty on defense with new DC Jesse Minter taking over in his first gig running an NFL defense. Minter comes from the same pipeline as Seahawks HC Mike Macdonald and was an assistant for the Ravens before taking Michigan’s DC job. He’s highly thought of but still a bit of a wildcard. The cupboard isn’t bare in terms of talent with the Chargers making it a point to keep edge rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack over WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams this offseason. Safety Derwin James is also a valuable chess piece in this system. There are some question marks with run defense and the other secondary positions that Minter will have to figure out. 


22 – Arizona Cardinals

2023 record: 4-13

2024 betting win total: 6.5

The Cardinals got about as much of a mulligan for last year as any team could expect with a clear and obvious rebuild being undertaken by HC Jonathan Gannon and GM Monti Ossenfort and QB Kyler Murray not suiting up until over halfway through the season. Now it’s time for progress with a healthy Murray and Year 2 of the new regime. Ossenfort has done a good job of acquiring picks over the past couple of years, now it’s time to see if they are legitimate building block players. 

The offense feels further ahead of the defense in Arizona with Murray, TE Trey McBride and first-round WR Marvin Harrison Jr. forming a promising Big Three. Last year’s first-round OT Paris Johnson looks like a hit and the Cardinals shored up the other spot by signing OT Jonah Williams. Veteran RB James Conner and third-round RB Trey Benson form an interesting 1-2 punch. The defense lacks the same star power and is probably a year or two off in terms of roster construction. That keeps the Cardinals from ranking much higher — for now. 


23 – Minnesota Vikings

2023 record: 7-10

2024 betting win total: 6.5

Like every team with a rookie first-round quarterback, the Vikings are thinking in terms of the future and less about the upcoming season. That doesn’t mean they’re throwing in the towel on 2024 but in Minnesota’s case, it seems apparent the plan is to lean on veteran QB Sam Darnold as a bridge until first-round QB J.J. McCarthy is ready. The organization will not force that in Week 1 or Week 3 if they feel it will hurt McCarthy’s long-term development track. 

Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell deserves a lot of credit for keeping the offense going at a relatively strong clip even after losing Cousins and cycling through multiple replacements. I think O’Connell’s offense can still be reasonably productive with Darnold under center. On the other side of the ball, the Vikings made it a point to get DC Brian Flores more talent to work with, and that should result in a step forward. The Vikings don’t forecast as a top-ten unit on either side of the ball but they also won’t be the worst in the league barring some catastrophic injuries. They’ll be right around here in the middle. 


24 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2023 record: 9-8 (lost divisional)

2024 betting win total: 7.5

There’s a good chance I’m underrating the Buccaneers again after I was one of the doubters who thought they could be one of the worst teams in football in 2023. Instead, they won the NFC South for the fourth straight year. There’s still plenty of veteran talent left over on this team from its peak in the Brady era, and QB Baker Mayfield was a revelation last year in a career revival that earned him a new long-term deal with Tampa Bay. 

That said, Mayfield will be adjusting to a new play-caller yet again after the Buccaneers lost OC Dave Canales to Carolina’s head-coaching job. Mayfield has worked briefly with new OC Liam Coen in his stint with the Rams but Coen wasn’t calling the plays and runs a slightly different system. That clouds the outlook for the offense for me even though the skill positions are in good shape and the offensive line is young and theoretically on the upswing. 


On defense, there’s a lot more personnel turnover. Tampa Bay is transitioning to new faces at edge rusher, linebacker and cornerback and there isn’t much in the way of proven production at those positions. Former third-round OLB YaYa Diaby had 7.5 sacks as a rookie but there’s not a clear double-digit sack producer on the roster unless Diaby takes a step forward. The cornerback group outside of Jamel Dean is a question mark, too. 

Tampa Bay is still capable of winning the division but that speaks more to the poor quality of the rest of the NFC South than it does the strength of the Bucs’ roster. It feels like they’ll be hard-pressed to make the playoffs via wildcard berth if they don’t win the division. 

25 – Denver Broncos

2023 record: 8-9

2024 betting win total: 5.5

Expectations are low for the Broncos after they pulled the plug on Wilson and ate an NFL-record $80 million dead cap hit (spread over the next two years) to avoid paying him even more had he remained on the roster. That sizable dead money hit impacted how they could address the roster and forced some salary cuts. They’ll replace Wilson with first-round QB Bo Nix. All of this taken together helps make the lack of buzz around the Broncos understandable. 


However, I don’t think the Broncos end up with a top-five pick in the draft like their betting odds suggest. Perhaps I’m giving HC Sean Payton too much credit. He’s 60 years old and the last time he called a top-ten offense was with Drew Brees throwing passes. But I don’t think Payton has totally lost his fastball. Nix is a good fit for what Payton wants to do on offense and I was higher than the consensus on Nix’s ability to translate to the next level. Denver is short on proven playmakers but Payton has a history of finding contributing players out of relative obscurity. Defensively, I think the Broncos are a little underrated as well. They were one of the worst units in football to start the season but turned things around in the second half of the season. 

It would be a shock if the Broncos seriously contended for a playoff berth but another eight-win season seems more likely than a top-five pick, as Payton has never finished with a worse record than 7-9 as a head coach. 

26 – Tennessee Titans

2023 record: 6-11

2024 betting win total: 6.5


The Titans will probably be careful to monitor expectations with a first-time head coach in Brian Callahan and coming off of a six-win season. But Tennessee was more active than usual in the veteran free agent market for an ostensibly rebuilding team. The Titans added WR Calvin Ridley, CB L’Jarius Sneed, C Lloyd Cushenberry, RB Tony Pollard, CB Chidobe Awuzie, WR Tyler Boyd and LB Kenneth Murray. The goal seems to be to put a veteran team around second-year QB Will Levis to try and let him and Callahan hit the ground running. 

The Titans might have the most volatile outlook of any team in this range for that reason. Callahan and Levis are two huge unknowns and the history of first-time head coaches and young quarterbacks like Levis suggests they have about a 40-50 percent chance of having success. If they both hit, the Titans suddenly turn into a surprisingly feisty team. If there’s a serious learning curve, Tennessee will be picking in the top ten for the second straight year. 

27 – New Orleans Saints

2023 record: 9-8

2024 betting win total: 7.5


The Saints have underperformed for two straight years under HC Dennis Allen and there are reasons to think a third is in the works. For starters, Allen’s history as a head coach is underwhelming. While his 16-18 record with the Saints is far better than his 8-28 record with the Raiders, it’s still not impressive. Allen’s leadership and his ability to hold the locker room also came into question last season. 

The Saints’ roster keeps springing leaks, too. The offensive line has been losing starters and depth over the past two seasons, with the biggest hit the career-threatening knee injury to RT Ryan Ramczyk. Formerly one of the best tackles in football, Ramczyk has barely participated in football activities this summer. The Saints drafted first-round OT Taliese Fuaga as a potential replacement, but the other tackle spot is an open question mark, as is left guard and the overall depth. The Saints are hoping new OC Klint Kubiak and his Shanahan-inspired offense can help install an offensive line-friendly system and also get more out of QB Derek Carr

On defense, DE Cameron Jordan seems to have lost a step and the Saints don’t really have anyone in the pipeline to replace him. That’s a concerning weakness that could blunt the strength of the back seven which is in good shape even if New Orleans ultimately trades CB Marshon Lattimore

Internally, the Saints expect to compete for the NFC South. But they’ve fallen short for the past two seasons despite underwhelming competition and I don’t foresee 2024 being any different. 


Bottom Of The Barrel

28 – Washington Commanders

2023 record: 4-13

2024 betting win total: 6.5

There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic in Washington these days. The Commanders have a new head coach, a new quarterback and most importantly a new owner. After years of Dan Snyder dominating the worst owner in football competition and ensuring even fleeting glimpses of success were snuffed out by incompetence and dysfunction, he was finally ousted by going a bridge too far — not giving up his fair share of revenue to the other owners. We don’t know if new owner Josh Harris is any good at owning an NFL team yet. But we know he’s not Snyder. 

Washington still faces a journey back to being a competitive football team. New HC Dan Quinn has his work cut out for him rebuilding the defense and changing the culture of the team — as well as proving he’s deserving of a second head coaching job. First-round QB Jayden Daniels is a dynamic dual-threat player in the mold of Robert Griffin III, but the offensive line is a work in progress and Daniels himself is adjusting to the league. I think improving on last year’s win total is an achievable goal for the Commanders. Anything much higher would be a surprise. 


29 – Las Vegas Raiders

2023 record: 8-9

2024 betting win total: 6.5

After firing HC Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler midseason last year, the Raiders went 5-4 to close out the year with interim HC Antonio Pierce and fourth-round QB Aidan O’Connell. It was a compelling enough performance to get Pierce the full-time coaching gig, as the former NFL linebacker had the Raiders feeling like they tapped back into the organization’s past swagger. 

Following that up will be a challenge, though. The Raiders weren’t able to land a more compelling upgrade at quarterback than veteran QB Gardner Minshew. He’ll compete with O’Connell to start but should be considered the heavy favorite given the $15 million guaranteed he got over the next two years. No matter who starts, the Raiders are going to be leaning on the running game a lot. Pierce wants a team that plays physical, punishing football on both sides of the ball. 


He’s closer to having that on defense than offense with DE Maxx Crosby leading the charge as one of the NFL’s best defensive players and a legitimate threat to win Defensive Player of the Year. The Raiders have sunk a lot of resources into the rest of the defensive line as well, including last year’s No. 7 pick Tyree Wilson and big-ticket FA DT Christian Wilkins this offseason. The back seven is a little more of a work in progress, however. 

The Raiders still feel like they’re a year away on both sides of the ball and need a quarterback more than anything else. There’s enough veteran talent that I don’t think the Raiders will truly bottom out unless Pierce ends up being over his head. They feel like a team with a lot less upside than some of the others I’ve ranked ahead of them though. 

30 – New England Patriots

2023 record: 4-13

2024 betting win total: 4.5

The honors of the lowest projected win total in football go to the Patriots. Brighter days may be ahead in New England, but the sportsbooks don’t think it will be in 2024. New HC Jerod Mayo is a blank slate with little idea of what to project, other than he’ll be different than longtime HC Bill Belichick in many ways. He has no prior head coaching experience and was previously the LB coach for New England. 


The bright side is the Patriots were solid on defense last year and there’s little reason to think they won’t still be solid in 2024 with the bulk of the same personnel and coaching staff coming back. New England has played good, fundamentally sound defense for years and there’s a lot of talented players who are good in the specific jobs they’re asked to do, even if there aren’t as many big stars as in the past. 

The offense will put a lot of pressure on the defense, though. There are only a couple of positions that are stable — running back, tight end, center and wherever the Patriots line Michael Onwenu up. Everything else is a huge question mark. There are a plethora of young players and discarded veterans battling it out for roles at receiver, left tackle and guard. The quarterback is a question mark, with journeyman Jacoby Brissett keeping the seat warm until No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye is ready to take the reins. The Patriots are going to take a lot of lumps this year and hope it benefits a young team in the long run as they continue to rebuild the organization. 

31 – New York Giants

2023 record: 6-11

2024 betting win total: 6.5


Last year was miserable for the Giants, with injuries and dysfunction riddling the season and making 2022’s playoff run seem like a distant memory. Unfortunately, while the Giants added some talented players this offseason, the roster remains deficient in some key areas — most importantly quarterback. 

Even in his best season in 2022, Giants QB Daniel Jones was more of a game manager who the team put tight guardrails on than a true difference-maker. Jones played well enough to earna  new deal after his fifth-year option was declined, but regressed in 2023 before getting hurt again. He missed a handful of games with a neck injury, which has been a recurring issue for Jones, then tore his ACL upon his return. Jones played only six games last year. The Giants tried hard to find an alternative to Jones this offseason in the draft but struck out on a trade up. 

Jones wasn’t the only issue for the Giants last year. New York invested a lot in veteran OL Jermaine Eluemunor and Jon Runyan to try and shore up the offensive line this offseason. They have one of the best left tackles in football in Andrew Thomas if he stays healthy and high hopes for C John Michael Schmitz. Eluemunor could be called on to replace former first-round RT Evan Neal who has struggled significantly in his first two seasons. The offensive line might be better than the last two seasons but it’s not a strong point of the team either. 

First-round WR Malik Nabers looks like a star but TE Darren Waller retired and RB Saquon Barkley departed in free agency, leaving the Giants light on playmakers. There will be a lot of pressure on Giants HC Brian Daboll to recreate the same kind of MacGyver magic he did in 2022 when the Giants were productive without many household names. While OC Mike Kafka was calling the plays that year, Daboll took over the job last year and will continue in 2024. 


Defensively, a trade for OLB Brian Burns gives the Giants a promising defensive line with Burns joining DT Dexter Lawrence and former first-round OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux. Lawrence is an elite player and the duo of Burns and Thibodeaux could both hit double-digit sacks. But depth is an issue, particularly when it comes to run defense, and New York’s back seven is a major weakness. If the Giants can’t hold up well enough on the back end, it will neuter some of the strength of their pass rush. 

Another season like last year might be hard for Daboll and GM Joe Schoen to survive, so there’s some pressure to get this rebuild back on track. The Giants don’t have to make the playoffs but they can’t be as bad as last year where the team was generating negative headlines for things happening on and off the field. 

32 – Carolina Panthers

2023 record: 2-15

2024 betting win total: 5.5


As you can see from the Panthers’ betting line, they could triple their win total from last year and still be among the worst teams in the league. That’s how far a hill Carolina has to climb. New HC Dave Canales and GM Dan Morgan need to add a lot of talent to this roster before the playoffs start to become a realistic consideration, with years of poor decisions to make up for — decisions that Morgan had a hand in since he was part of the front office under former GM Scott Fitterer

The only true building block the Panthers have on the roster right now who is a good bet to be on the roster in 2026 is DT Derrick Brown, who’s a great player and just signed a contract extension this offseason. It was a rare win for a front office that needed one badly after trading away players like Burns, WR D.J. Moore and RB Christian McCaffrey. Carolina hopes players like LT Ikem Ekwonu, CB Jaycee Horn, G Robert Hunt, rookies like first-round WR Xavier Legette and second-round RB Jonathon Brooks and of course QB Bryce Young become part of that core, but the jury is still out. 

Speaking of Young, it’s hard to have a worse rookie season than he did as the No. 1 pick, but it’s also true that there was almost nothing going right on offense around him. Year 2 with Canales should provide a much better barometer of Young’s NFL potential and the team put a lot of effort into improving his offensive line and weaponry. The single biggest win for the Panthers in 2024, way more than the result of any single game, would be getting Young back on track to where he was entering the league out of Alabama.


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