2020 NFL Power Rankings: Way-too-early 1-32 offseason poll

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Monday, February 3, 2020

Now that Super Bowl LIV is in the books and the Kansas City Chiefs are the champions, we can move on from the 2019 season and look forward 2020. That's exactly what we're looking to do with these way-too-early NFL Power Rankings.

There's no rest for the weary, and NFL teams will be spending the next six or so months trying to bolster their rosters and make it to the top of the heap when games resume in the fall. Between now and then, here's how we see things now, with each NFL Nation writer identifying a reason for optimism for the teams they cover. How we rank: Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluated how teams stack up throughout the season.

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NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF


1. Kansas City Chiefs

2019 record: 12-4

Reason for optimism: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes. As long as the Chiefs continue to build smartly around him, there's reason to believe they are in the early stages of a long run as legitimate annual contenders for the AFC championship. As for next season, the Super Bowl champs have enough good, young talent to make another go at it. With improvements on defense, in particular, the championship pieces remain. -- Adam Teicher

2. San Francisco 49ers

2019 record: 13-3

Reason for optimism: Continuity. The 49ers are coming off an impressive turnaround season that seemed a bit ahead of schedule and, given the amount of young talent on the roster, could be the start of a sustained run of success. Keeping all of that talent long term will be a challenge, but the Niners have only three starters scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency. Perhaps most important, coach Kyle Shanahan's staff looks as though it's going to remain largely intact, particularly at the coordinator positions where Robert Saleh (defense), Mike LaFleur (passing game) and Mike McDaniel (running game) are all slated to return, barring a surprise. -- Nick Wagoner

3. Baltimore Ravens

2019 record: 14-2

Reason for optimism: The Ravens are set to return Lamar Jackson and all the other starters from the NFL's highest-scoring offense. Jackson was virtually unstoppable in leading Baltimore to the best record in the league. The Ravens were the only team to average over 30 points per game (33.1) and scored a total of 58 offensive touchdowns -- seven more than any other team. Baltimore was 8-0 when scoring 30 or more points. This offense could get even stronger if the Ravens upgrade at wide receiver and along the interior of the offensive line. -- Jamison Hensley

4. New Orleans Saints

2019 record: 13-3

Reason for optimism: Back-to-back 13-win seasons and one of the NFL's most loaded rosters. Unfortunately that didn't amount to much this season, with a stunning first-round playoff loss to the Vikings. But there's a reason why the Saints have been in a position to suffer three consecutive gut-wrenching playoff exits. They had a total of 14 players named to either the Pro Bowl or an Associated Press All-Pro team this past season. And even if quarterback Drew Brees doesn't come back, backup Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 as a starter in 2019. It might be difficult financially to keep the entire roster intact this offseason, but a lack of talent won't be New Orleans' problem. -- Mike Triplett

5. Green Bay Packers

2019 record: 13-3

Reason for optimism: Year 2 in Matt LaFleur's offense. Despite the surprising 13-3 regular season and a trip to the NFC Championship Game, the Packers scuffled offensively at various points of the season. Last offseason, most of LaFleur's time was spent implementing the offense and getting to know what will work -- and what won't -- with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In his second offseason, LaFleur will be able to, in his words, "Reflect and see what we did well and see where we want to go with it. I know there will be some changes that we'll make and we'll try to implement some different things to try to be more efficient and more effective." -- Rob Demovsky

6. Seattle Seahawks

2019 record: 11-5

Reason for optimism: Russell Wilson. Over the past two regular seasons, Wilson's 66 touchdowns and 108.4 passer rating rank second and third, respectively, among NFL quarterbacks. He was an MVP candidate for much of 2019 before Lamar Jackson pulled away from him. Wilson's play has helped the Seahawks exceed outside expectations while making consecutive playoff appearances. Keep that in mind when you think about the work Seahawks general manager John Schneider has cut out for him this offseason, with 19 unrestricted free agents plus holes in Seattle's pass rush, secondary and potentially its offensive line. Having a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback in his prime can make up for deficiencies around him. -- Brady Henderson

7. New England Patriots

2019 record: 12-4

Reason for optimism: In Bill We Trust. Entering his 21st season as coach, Bill Belichick has come up with answers in the past when it looked like the Patriots could be regressing, such as after a wild-card-round loss in 2009 when New England used its top two draft picks on defensive back Devin McCourty and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots would benefit greatly from a similar type of draft this year and have some extra time to prepare after their early-round playoff exit -- just like after the '09 season. -- Mike Reiss

8. Tennessee Titans

2019 record: 9-7

Reason for optimism: The Titans have found their identity as an offense and know which quarterback needs to be under center. Obviously, this all revolves around bringing back Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. But Tennessee has around $55 million in salary-cap space, making it likely that both will return to execute the plan. The Titans also have a valid complimentary passing game with budding star A.J. Brown at receiver. -- Turron Davenport

9. Minnesota Vikings

2019 record: 10-6

Reason for optimism: Gary Kubiak. The Vikings handed offensive coordinator duties to Kubiak upon Kevin Stefanski's departure, and it makes sense that the coach whose system Minnesota ran this past season is calling plays. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he wanted to prioritize continuity on offense, and maintaining that should be a fairly seamless process given that the players won't have to learn a brand-new scheme despite being on their fifth OC in five seasons. Kubiak has been able to get a lot out of his quarterbacks and running backs through the years, which bodes well for Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook. -- Courtney Cronin

10. Houston Texans

2019 record: 10-6

Reason for optimism: Quarterback Deshaun Watson. With the way the season ended, it might be easy to be pessimistic about the franchise heading into next season, but Houston still has Watson. Before the Texans drafted him, they had gone into offseasons with questions at the position. Watson ended the 2019 season healthy and coach Bill O'Brien said, "There's no substitute for experience. With all the experiences that he's had early in his career here, plus his work ethic, plus his talent, all those different things, plus who he is as a man, he's going to just keep getting better." -- Sarah Barshop

11. Buffalo Bills

2019 record: 10-6

Reason for optimism: An estimated $90 million in cap space, nine draft picks and a young core -- pick one. The Bills made the playoffs at 10-6 in 2019 and still have a bevy of resources at their disposal to help them take that next step. Given what GM Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott have been able to do over the past few offseasons with limited resources, there is a lot of reason for optimism in 2020. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

12. Dallas Cowboys

2019 record: 8-8

Reason for optimism: Mike McCarthy. That's what Jerry Jones believes, anyway. The Cowboys believe they have a talented team entering its prime on both sides of the ball and would do far better with a different voice leading the way. The past two times Jones went outside the family, the Cowboys improved in that coach's first season. After three consecutive 5-11 finishes, they went 10-6 in 2003 under Bill Parcells and made the playoffs. In Wade Phillips' first season in 2007, the Cowboys went 13-3 with a young-ish team. McCarthy has a track record of success, with one Super Bowl and four NFC Championship Game appearances in Green Bay. His arrival brings hope. -- Todd Archer

13. Los Angeles Rams

2019 record: 9-7

Reason for optimism: Sean McVay's willingness to adapt -- even if it means hiring unproven coaches. The Rams finished 9-7 in 2019 and were the only team with a winning record to miss the playoffs. Following the season, McVay could have remained content knowing his team was only a couple of plays away from earning a postseason berth. However, McVay made a bold move in not renewing defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' contract, replacing him with newcomer Brandon Staley. He also demonstrated that he is not too proud to bring in extra help on offense in his hiring of offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, who fills a position that's been vacant the past two seasons. -- Lindsey Thiry

14. Philadelphia Eagles

2019 record: 9-7

Reason for optimism: Carson Wentz. The growth of Wentz made 2019 far from a lost season. Not only did the quarterback make it through the regular season healthy, he ascended into a clear leadership position down the stretch by carrying an injury-ravaged offense on his back to punch Philadelphia's playoff ticket. Wentz quieted the dissenting voices in the locker room and sent a reminder to the league that one of the top signal-callers in the game resides in Philadelphia. -- Tim McManus

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

2019 record: 8-8

Reason for optimism: Ben Roethlisberger. There's still a way to go to find out if the franchise quarterback is hitting all the marks in his recovery from this past season's elbow surgery, but Roethlisberger's return answers a lot of questions for an offense that struggled with two backups in 2019. Every part of the offense needed Roethlisberger -- from the running backs who faced a loaded box to the wide receivers who could've benefited from a consistent arm -- and if his rehab goes as scheduled, he'll be ready to resume his role for the 2020 season. -- Brooke Pryor

16. Atlanta Falcons

2019 record: 7-9

Reason for optimism: Raheem Morris. The Falcons named him defensive coordinator, and moving Morris from coaching receivers to helping the defensive backs certainly made an impact this past season. As Morris puts his stamp on the entire defense, it could spark a bounce-back season for the Falcons after back-to-back 7-9 showings. Morris brings a new, infectious energy that the players feed off of. -- Vaughn McClure

17. Indianapolis Colts

2019 record: 7-9

Reason for optimism: General manager Chris Ballard. Ballard not only has eight draft picks at his disposal, but he also has more than $90 million in salary-cap space to work with. This is a huge offseason for Ballard, who is headed into his fourth season as GM, because losing Andrew Luck to retirement highlighted the Colts' roster flaws. Ballard acknowledged that he was "pissed" over his inability to put together a complete roster to help offset Luck's retirement. That will be his focus in the offseason, as wide receiver, tight end, cornerback, defensive line and potentially quarterback are areas that need to be addressed. -- Mike Wells

18. Chicago Bears

2019 record: 8-8

Reason for optimism: The defense remains formidable. Chicago's defense didn't have the same success it achieved under Vic Fangio in 2018, but the Bears still finished this past season ranked fourth in points allowed, eighth in total yards per game and ninth in passing and rushing yards allowed per game. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and cornerback Kyle Fuller are all Pro Bowl-caliber players in the prime of their careers. Chicago's offense is very concerning, but the team appears to be in good shape on defense. -- Jeff Dickerson

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2019 record: 7-9

Reason for optimism: The Bucs finished 2019 strong. They won five of their final eight games (and four of their final six), suggesting that coach Bruce Arians is starting to turn things around. And while the quarterback situation is currently unsettled with Jameis Winston, the Bucs' defense figures to take the next step as Arians said that keeping that group intact is a priority. -- Jenna Laine

20. Las Vegas Raiders

2019 record: 7-9

Reason for optimism: A new home and a new yard. Moving into $2 billion, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas does more than give the Raiders their own home for the first time in franchise history -- it arms the team with a huge weapon in free agency. Because, as general manager Mike Mayock said recently, players and agents alike are well aware that there is no state income tax in Nevada. That should bode well for a team that seems set at running back, tight end and offensive line and, yes, perhaps even quarterback. For now. And with five picks among the top 91 selections in the 2020 NFL draft, let the Las Vegas rebuild continue. -- Paul Gutierrez

21. Denver Broncos

2019 record: 7-9

Reason for optimism: The largest combination of salary-cap space and draft picks in John Elway's tenure as the team's top football executive. The Broncos will have more than $60 million in cap space before making a single roster move and project to have 12 draft picks at the moment, five of those coming during the first two days of the draft. Toss in the fact that eight-time Pro Bowler Von Miller has already started his offseason workouts with one of his private trainers and cancelled a five-week trip to Australia to keep working -- as well as the 4-1 finish in quarterback Drew Lock's five starts -- and you have the foundation of hope. -- Jeff Legwold

22. Cleveland Browns

2019 record: 6-10

Reason for optimism: The Browns will have a new coach (Kevin Stefanski), a new general manager (Andrew Berry) and a new overall outlook. Despite being one of the NFL's biggest disappointments this past season, the Browns still boast a talented young core of QB Baker Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb, RB Kareem Hunt, DE Myles Garrett and CB Denzel Ward. They still feature one of the league's top WR duos in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., too. If Stefanski can get Mayfield right while unlocking Cleveland's vast offensive potential, there's no reason why the Browns can't snap the league's longest playoff drought. -- Jake Trotter

23. Arizona Cardinals

2019 record: 5-10-1

Reason for optimism: Kliff Kingsbury's offense. The first-year coach orchestrated an offensive revival in 2019, laying the foundation for annual growth in a scheme that evolved and improved seemingly every week. By the end of the season, there was widespread optimism in the Cardinals' locker room because of how well the offense was playing. At one point, quarterback Kyler Murray said it was tough to watch Arizona's early-season games. Kingsbury's version of the famous Air Raid was run-heavy in 2019 and an 180-degree transformation from the offense he envisioned when he took the job last January. That development bodes well for Arizona's offensive productivity in 2020. -- Josh Weinfuss

24. Los Angeles Chargers

2019 record: 5-11

Reason for optimism: The Chargers should improve in one-score games. The Bolts were 2-9 in one-score games this season. A problem in those tight situations was turnovers -- taking care of the football and taking it away from opponents. The Chargers finished tied for a league-worst minus-17 turnover differential this season. They have nowhere to go but up and should improve in that statistic in 2020, which should result in more victories in close games. Two years ago, when the Chargers finished 12-4, they were 6-1 in one-score games, including the playoffs. -- Eric D. Williams

25. New York Jets

2019 record: 7-9

Reason for optimism: GM Joe Douglas. This will be his first offseason with the Jets, his first chance to replenish a roster that lacks talent in many areas. Even though Douglas is somewhat of an unknown -- this is his first GM gig -- he's being embraced by the organization and its frustrated fan base because he represents hope. They hope his extensive scouting experience pays off. He will have an estimated $60 million in cap room, plus four draft picks in the first three rounds.-- Rich Cimini

26. Miami Dolphins

2019 record: 5-11

Reason for optimism: Picks aplenty. The Dolphins have a general manager's dream collection of picks in the 2020 draft (14 projected picks, including three in the first round and six selections in the top 70), which will play a significant role in replenishing a relatively barren roster. Miami should be able to attack needs at edge rusher, offensive tackle and running back in the draft, but it all starts at quarterback, where they seem to have a good shot at Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon's Justin Herbert. Combined with an expected $100 million in cap space after roster cuts and the promise coach Brian Flores showed in Year 1, there's plenty of reason for Dolphins optimism in 2020. -- Cameron Wolfe

27. Carolina Panthers

2019 record: 5-11

Reason for optimism: Last-place schedule? Seriously, there isn't much room for optimism. There's uncertainty surrounding quarterback Cam Newton, rehabbing from Lisfranc surgery. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly retired, and the Panthers and tight end Greg Olsen have mutually agreed to part ways. Then there's the new coaching staff. Head coach Matt Rhule has only one season of NFL experience, that as an offensive assistant for the Giants in 2012. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady hasn't called an NFL game -- or a complete game, period. He's only 30. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow has little NFL experience. This looks like a complete rebuild. OK, if you need optimism, Christian McCaffrey is back. -- David Newton

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 record: 6-10

Reason for optimism: The Jaguars have two quarterbacks who have proved they can win games in the league. Nick Foles won a Super Bowl with Philadelphia and Gardner Minshew won more games (six) than any other rookie QB in 2019. Foles struggled when coming back from a broken collarbone and got benched but has played well in long stretches before. Minshew could very well be the Jaguars' QB of the future. Coach Doug Marrone will have to choose between the two -- but that's much better than trying to figure out ways to win games without having one reliable quarterback. -- Mike DiRocco

29. New York Giants

2019 record: 4-12

Reason for optimism: Daniel Jones. He threw 24 touchdown passes his rookie season and did lots of good things. If he can take that next step in Year 2 -- limit the turnovers, make better decisions, improve his pocket presence -- the Giants will have a really good offense with Jones working alongside Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard. They will also have legitimate reasons to believe the organization is finally headed in the right direction. -- Jordan Raanan

30. Detroit Lions

2019 record: 3-12-1

Reason for optimism: Matthew Stafford's health. The quarterback said at the end of the season everything was projecting fine and he's been led to believe he'll have no ill effects from the back injury that kept him from playing in the final eight games of 2019. Considering Stafford was playing at a Pro Bowl level before the injury and has a clear connection with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, this is reason to believe in a team that spent a second consecutive year in the NFC North cellar. Having a healthy Stafford is a good start for a franchise needing to ace its offseason to have a chance in 2020. -- Michael Rothstein

31. Washington Redskins

2019 record: 3-13

Reason for optimism: Ron Rivera. The Redskins desperately needed change and Rivera will provide a level of discipline and attention to detail the organization hasn't seen in a while. There's a reason the Redskins always seem to underachieve. It was a poor setup, and the people with the most power -- team president Bruce Allen and owner Dan Snyder -- kept making bad decisions. Snyder remains, but everything else has changed. Rivera's choice of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will pay immediate dividends; internally, many in the organization felt former coordinator Greg Manusky was a primary issue. There's a good base of young talent and with the right coaching, the Redskins should be much better in 2020. -- John Keim

32. Cincinnati Bengals

2019 record: 2-14

Reason for optimism: Cincinnati had a full season learning and implementing what coach Zac Taylor is looking for. If Taylor's approach was effective, the record should reflect that in his second season. In 2020, that could be a bigger factor than drafting LSU's Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. Burrow could end up living up to the hype in his career, but it's still a lot to ask a rookie quarterback to completely transform a franchise in his first season. The good thing for the Bengals is bottoming out means there's nowhere to go but up. -- Ben Baby

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