Early NFL Power Rankings for 2022: 1-32 poll, and where Super Bowl teams Rams and Bengals land

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Monday, February 14, 2022

Now thatSuper Bowl LVI is over and theLos Angeles Ramsare the champions, we can move on from an unpredictable 2021 season and look forward to 2022. And what better way to do that than with these way-too-early NFL Power Rankings?

I'm sure you are wondering how our panel views Joe Burrow and the Bengals in 2022. Or where the Tom Brady-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers will rank. And what about those nine teams who have a new coach? While we are at it, here are next season's Super Bowl odds.

The grind truly never does stop, and so NFL teams will spend the next six or so months trying to find and gather all the pieces to a competitive team for when games resume in the fall. The new league year (and free agency) starts on March 16, with the first round of the 2022 NFL draft set for April 28.

Here's how we see next season now -- from 1 to 32 -- with our NFL Nation writers describing the offseason for the teams they cover in three or fewer words.

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.

Jump to:




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


1. Kansas City Chiefs

2021 record: 12-5

Offseason in three or fewer words:Repair the rush

The Chiefs went from 11th in sacks in their Super Bowl 2019 season to 19th in 2020 to 29th this season. They will never get the defensive consistency they desire without turning around this trend, as coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's system is based on getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. The Chiefs can build around Chris Jones, but Melvin Ingram III and Jarran Reed are prospective free agents while Frank Clark's contract might be too expensive for the Chiefs to give him another season. Some creative solutions might be in order, but improving the pass rush is a priority. -- Adam Teicher

2. Buffalo Bills

2021 record: 11-6

Offseason in three or fewer words:Improve problem areas

There will be no dramatic changes for the Bills this offseason, with much of the roster set to return and the team hiring from within to replace offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who accepted a head-coach gig with the Giants. Instead, the focus needs to be on adding to key areas like cornerback and getting more speed at receiver. Continuing to support quarterback Josh Allen in a variety of ways is important, while getting creative with some cap moves to add to the roster. -- Alaina Getzenberg

3. Los Angeles Rams

2021 record: 12-5

Offseason in three or fewer words: Run it back

The Rams know it's much easier said than done; look no further than the 2018 season when they came off Super Bowl LIII only to miss the playoffs in 2019. But with a core of stars scheduled to return, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, their foundation remains intact. As Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff recently said, for the Rams to reach the pinnacle of fandom in Los Angeles -- think Dodgers and Lakers -- they must have "great season after great season after great decade after great decade." That means an offseason of no setbacks and only continued growth and focus to return to the Super Bowl next season. -- Lindsey Thiry

4. Green Bay Packers

2021 record: 13-4

Offseason in three or fewer words: Get Rodgers back

Their whole offseason hinges on whether Aaron Rodgers wants to return. If so, then they'll do everything possible to keep Davante Adams and as many of their key players as possible while still making it fit under the salary cap, which they're currently projected to be nearly $50 million over. It will take creative accounting -- and sacrificing future cap years -- but they can make it work for another Super Bowl run with Rodgers. If he's gone, then they could be in a rebuild and might move on from several veteran players. -- Rob Demovsky

5. Cincinnati Bengals

2021 record: 10-7

Offseason in three or fewer words:Protect Joe Burrow

Once again, the Bengals ranked near the bottom of the league in pass block win rate. Cincinnati was 30th in 2021, a lack of quality that became apparent when the Bengals entered the postseason and Burrow was most notably sacked nine times in the divisional win over Tennessee. Cincinnati must figure out what to do at right guard and right tackle. Will Jackson Carman finally secure the starting spot that slipped out of his grasp at the beginning of the 2021 season? Will Cincinnati look to re-sign veteran Riley Reiff after a one-year deal? Whatever the answers are, the Bengals need to find the right ones. -- Ben Baby

6. San Francisco 49ers

2021 record: 10-7

Offseason in three or fewer words: Get Lance ready

All signs point to Trey Lance taking over as starting quarterback in the offseason, which means every move the Niners make should be about setting him up for success. That means maximizing the return in a likely Jimmy Garoppolo trade, keeping key players like guard Laken Tomlinson and giving Lance a definitive plan on what to work on when away from the facility. Although he made two starts last season, there are no guarantees on how he'll fare as the full-time starter. This is the time for the Niners to do what they can to ease his transition. -- Nick Wagoner

7. Dallas Cowboys

2021 record: 12-5

Offseason in three or fewer words:Better win now

Mike McCarthy is on the clock, despite a 12-5 finish and NFC East title in 2021. It's about what the Cowboys didn't do in 2021, which was win at least one playoff game. Dan Quinn opted to remain with team, so maybe he could be the future Cowboys coach. For the Cowboys to take the next step under McCarthy, the offense has to find its form. Yes, they were No. 1 in yards and points in 2021, but those numbers are a bit hollow when looked at more closely. McCarthy's expertise is on the offensive side of the ball. He'll need to get the run game back in form and aid Kellen Moore when things are not going perfectly. -- Todd Archer

8. Tennessee Titans

2021 record: 12-5

Offseason in three or fewer words:Great around Tannehill

The final possession of the Titans' season ended with a Ryan Tannehill interception that set up the game-winning field goal for the Bengals. The Titans are committed to Tannehill as their quarterback next season. Mike Vrabel has said as much, but added that the Titans have to play great around Tannehill. That means they'll need to add playmakers on offense. Tannehill already has his favorite target in A.J. Brown and his chemistry with Julio Jones is growing. Adding a dynamic slot receiver and a threat at tight end would do wonders for the offense. -- Turron Davenport

9. New England Patriots

2021 record: 10-7

Offseason in three or fewer words:Mac and D

The Patriots need to build around rookie quarterback Mac Jones -- possibly by giving him a No. 1 option like the Bengals did for Joe Burrow with Ja'Marr Chase -- and fix the defense that didn't force the Bills to punt in each of the last two games against them in 2021. Oh, and get their special teams back to its usual dominant standing. -- Mike Reiss

10. Arizona Cardinals

2021 record: 11-6

Offseason in three or fewer words: Stop the slide

The Cardinals need to figure out how to avoid another second-half collapse next season, so that should be the primary focus of their offseason. If that means tearing everything philosophically down to the studs and rebuilding, so be it. If that means trashing every offseason, preseason and weekly plan to start fresh with new ones, so be it. Besides free agency and the draft, the Cardinals' focus should be on nothing but figuring out how to play a full season of competitive football, which would allow them to play deep into the playoffs. That's it. -- Josh Weinfuss

11. Los Angeles Chargers

2021 record: 9-8

Offseason in three or fewer words: Fix the defense

It was apparent throughout the 2021 season that the Chargers' offense was not the problem. However, the defense finished last in third-down conversions allowed (49.5%), was tied for 29th in points allowed (27.0) and 26th in expected points added (minus-80.49). It allowed 138.9 yards per game on the ground, third worst in the league and the most it has allowed since 2003. Toward the end of the season the Chargers were better -- in three prime-time games they held opponents to just 63 rushing yards per game -- but something needs to be done this offseason in order for this team to make the playoffs in 2022. -- Shelley Smith

12. Baltimore Ravens

2021 record: 8-9

Offseason in three or fewer words:All about Lamar

On the field, the Ravens need to better protect quarterback Lamar Jackson, and team officials understand that building a better wall in front of him has become a priority. In their season-ending news conferences, both coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta emphasized the importance of addressing the offensive line, which allowed Jackson to get sacked a career-worst 38 times. Off the field, Baltimore is working on a contract extension with Jackson, who is entering his fifth-year option. A new deal could create $10 million in additional cap space heading into free agency. -- Jamison Hensley

13. Indianapolis Colts

2021 record: 9-8

Offseason in three or fewer words:Who plays quarterback?

You could say the 2022 offseason for the Colts is a repeat of their 2020 and 2021 offseasons. The Colts again don't know for sure who their starting quarterback will be next season. General manager Chris Ballard could have ended any suspense by saying Carson Wentz will return as the starter, but he did the opposite by being noncommittal on the quarterback. The Colts have realized you need a quarterback -- like aPatrick Mahomes, Stafford, Burrow or Allen -- to make plays when needed. Wentz didn't do that. But the Colts don't have a first-round pick in this year's draft and it's not a strong free-agent group at the position. -- Mike Wells

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2021 record: 13-4

Offseason in three or fewer words: Life after Brady

The Bucs have, in many ways, a roster still built to win. But without a quarterback -- and arguably the greatest of all time at that -- what will they do now? Neither coach Bruce Arians nor general manager Jason Licht is calling it a "rebuild." But they'll need the same type of magic it took to land Brady-- and some real salary-cap work -- to lure another top quarterback and re-sign several of their key free agents. -- Jenna Laine

15. Las Vegas Raiders

2021 record: 10-7

Offseason in three or fewer words:Reload, not rebuild

Raiders owner Mark Davis referred to bringing in a new regime/tag team of GM Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels as "taking this to the next level" while complimenting Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock for building a foundation and Rich Bisaccia for fostering a positive culture. Still, the end game is to win games, right? And while the Raiders just went 10-7 and appeared in the postseason for just the second time since 2002, there are still questions -- such as what type of defense will new DC Patrick Graham deploy around Pro Bowl MVP Maxx Crosby? Biggest of all, though, how does Derek Carr, who is entering a contract year, fit in McDaniels' offensive scheme? -- Paul Gutierrez

16. Cleveland Browns

2021 record: 8-9

Offseason in three or fewer words:Decide on quarterback

These playoffs showed that elite quarterbacking is needed to have any hope of coming out of the AFC, now featuring Burrow, Mahomesand Allen, among others. After quarterbacking the Browns to the playoffs in 2020, Baker Mayfield struggled through an injury-plagued season, while finishing 27th in the league in QBR. With a loaded roster on both sides of the ball, Cleveland's championship window is now. Meaning the Browns have to decide this offseason if they believe a healthy Mayfield can bounce back. Or, if the time has arrived to make an aggressive move to acquire another passer. -- Jake Trotter

17. Miami Dolphins

2021 record: 9-8

Offseason in three or fewer words:Revamp this offense

It didn't matter who Miami's next coach was going to be, the task this offseason remained the same: revitalizing the NFL's 25th-ranked offense from a season ago. The Dolphins have the most salary-cap space in the league and must use it to build around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, which includes bolstering the offensive line and adding a high-level skill player. The 2022 season is a decision year for Miami in regard to Tagovailoa's future. And after spending the fifth overall pick on him in 2020, Miami has to do whatever it takes to get a return on its investment. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

18. Pittsburgh Steelers

2021 record: 9-7-1

Offseason in three or fewer words:Make quarterback plan

The only quarterback certainty in 2022 is that Ben Roethlisberger won't be the starter. The Steelers have a plethora of paths forward, but they have to choose one and build the 2022 team around it. The Steelers could hold the status quo withMason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins and a camp arm, or they could sign or trade for a veteran to add to the room. Both options could get them to a stronger 2023 quarterback draft class. Or there's the option of drafting a quarterback in the first round this year. Regardless, the team has to make a plan and lay out a blueprint for the future of Steelers football. -- Brooke Pryor

19. Philadelphia Eagles

2021 record: 9-8

Offseason in three or fewer words:In building mode

That's the term general manager Howie Roseman used at his end-of-season news conference; a step forward from 2021, which was described by team brass as a transition year. The Eagles have 10 picks in April's draft, including three first-rounders, and over $20 million in cap room to play with. Those resources will be used to elevate the level of talent around the likes of Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smithand Dallas Goedert. -- Tim McManus

20. Minnesota Vikings

2021 record: 8-9

Offseason in three or fewer words: Decide Cousins' future

With a better picture of their leadership structure in place with general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the Vikings must decide what they're going to do at quarterback for 2022.Kirk Cousinsenters the final year of his contract -- which comes with a $45 million cap hit -- and Minnesota needs to clear $13 million-14 million in cap space before the start of the league year. The Vikings should approach this one year at a time, and if they find a trade partner that is willing to not leave them footing an exorbitant amount to get Cousins off the roster, they should explore those options. The new coaching staff should get a year to determine whether Cousins fits into their plans. -- Courtney Cronin

21. Denver Broncos

2021 record: 7-10

Offseason in three or fewer words:Who's the quarterback?

The Broncos have hired their fifth different head coach in the past seven years, replaced their offensive coordinator for the fifth time since 2017 and have -- again -- announced a new day with new energy and new attention to detail, enthusiasm and football acumen. And by all accounts Nathaniel Hackett is ready for the job, works well with young players and the Broncos have a roster with plenty of youthful talent. But the quarterback position remains an enormous question mark, and even if the Broncos pull off the offseason blockbuster for Aaron Rodgers,it still will not be the long-term solution at the position the team hasn't had since John Elway arrived in 1983. -- Jeff Legwold

22. New Orleans Saints

2021 record: 9-8

Offseason in three or fewer words: Coach and quarterback

Yeah, yeah -- these are the two most important things for every NFL team to get right. But this is new territory for the Saints, who had it made for so long with Sean Payton and Drew Brees. So they have to nail those two decisions above all else with the hire of coach Dennis Allen and a QB yet to be named. But they've made it clear they don't plan to go into any sort of rebuilding mode, despite some daunting salary-cap constraints. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see them aim for the top of the QB market to pair with one of the NFL's best defenses. -- Mike Triplett

23. Seattle Seahawks

2021 record: 7-10

Offseason in three or fewer words: Retool around Russell

The chances of trading Wilson this offseason seem low for several reasons, one being the difficulty they'd have in finding a viable replacement in a bad quarterback draft. Even if they stick with Wilson -- who has said he wants to stay -- they'll have work to do after a 10-loss season and a last-place finish in a tough NFC West. In addition to whatever scheme changes that Pete Carroll and new coordinator Clint Hurtt make to their defense, they need to restock a unit that didn't generate enough pressure or turnovers in 2021. Offensively, they need to solve the third-down issue that plagued them even before Wilson hurt his finger. They'll have the cap space to find upgrades to their pass rush and offensive line in free agency, but they don't have a first-round pick. -- Brady Henderson

24. Atlanta Falcons

2021 record: 7-10

Offseason in three or fewer words: They. Need. Everything.

Look at a position on the roster, and in terms of either depth or a starter, they need some help there before the 2022 season begins -- from potential massive overhauls in the pass rush and at wide receiver, to the potential start of a quarterback succession plan, to figuring out who is going to run the ball and block for Matt Ryan. Even the specialists -- with kicker Younghoe Koo a restricted free agent and punter Thomas Morstead and snapper Josh Harris unrestricted free agents -- remain somewhat uncertain. Expect turnover. A lot of it. -- Michael Rothstein

25. Washington Commanders

2021 record: 7-10

Offseason in three or fewer words: Another QB search

Washington has started 32 quarterbacks since it last won the Super Bowl after the 1991 season -- and eight passers in the past three years. While the Commanders like Taylor Heinicke as a high-end backup, they're definitely searching for "The Guy" this offseason. Since Kirk Cousins left after the 2017 season, Washington has the NFL's worst total QBR (36.7). In Ron Rivera's first two seasons as coach the team is 30th (35.3). Washington will pursue the big names who might be available, but it will be difficult to not only get teams to agree to a trade, but then to have quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson or Watson waive no-trade clauses to come here. -- John Keim

26. Chicago Bears

2021 record: 6-11

Offseason in three or fewer words: Find explosive players

Before new coach Matt Eberflus has a chance to shine, the Bears' new GM, Ryan Poles, needs to find him some playmakers. Quarterback Justin Fields and running back David Montgomery are a good start, but Chicago is void of wide receivers and tight ends who are true difference-makers. The Bears have several No. 2s at those positions, but none who can take over a game or beat a double-team consistently. Poles is likely to focus on the offensive line -- he played that position -- but the Bears will be an ordinary offense until they get explosive. That's a word Eberflus used several times when he was introduced as the new coach. -- Jesse Rogers

27. New York Giants

2021 record: 4-13

Offseason in three or fewer words: Reshape the roster

The Giants have a new coach, general manager and schemes. They are also over the salary cap coming off a 4-13 season. GM Joe Schoen has already stated an intention to shed $40 million in cap space this offseason. That will happen only with a shakeup of the roster via trades, cuts and new contracts. By the time this new regime is done, the Giants' roster will have a very different look and feel. Expect some big names to depart and perhaps close to half the roster to turn over. -- Jordan Raanan

28. New York Jets

2021 record: 4-13

Offseason in three or fewer words:Help for Wilson

The Jets can't repeat the sins of previous regimes, which squandered quarterback potential (see: Sam Darnold) by failing to build a strong supporting cast. Zach Wilson, coming off an underwhelming rookie year, needs another front-line wide receiver, not to mention a tight end who can make plays in the passing game. The offensive line also needs a strong run-blocker. With four picks in the top 38, and ample cap room, the Jets should be able to address some of these needs. -- Rich Cimini

29. Carolina Panthers

2021 record: 5-12

Offseason in three or fewer words: Fix the offense

It's hard to simply say fix the offensive line, which is a priority, because the quarterback position is such as mess as well. Sam Darnold isn't the answer, and with weak free-agent and draft classes, the solution isn't easy. But even if the Panthers wind up with Darnold as the starter, they need a major overhaul of the offensive line that was a primary factor in the offense ranking near the bottom in almost every major category. If that doesn't happen, even Tom Brady wouldn't stand a chance. -- David Newton

30. Detroit Lions

2021 record: 3-13-1

Offseason in three or fewer words: Find more playmakers

Even with a 3-13-1 record this past season, there's no question that coach Dan Campbell is establishing a hard-nosed culture in Detroit with guys who play hard until the end. However, if the Lions want to see it actually come to fruition on the field, they desperately need to find playmakers, not only in the NFL draft but also through free agency. The Detroit market is a tough sell for most players, based on the cold weather, past history and the lack of success, but GM Brad Holmes has an eye for talent, and he will need to hit on some talented guys, on both sides of the ball, who can flat out ball. -- Eric Woodyard

31. Houston Texans

2021 record: 4-13

Offseason in three or fewer words:Clarify quarterback situation

It's been more than a year since he requested a trade, and quarterback Deshaun Watson is still on the Texans' roster. He was a healthy scratch in all 17 games during the 2021 season after facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior, so the biggest question now is who will start at quarterback in 2022. Houston could trade Watson this offseason, but interested teams could be waiting for clarity on the lawsuits and any potential criminal charges. After a strong finish to the season, it looks like rookie third-round pick Davis Mills showed enough improvement to be considered the starter going into next season. Houston will need to sign a backup quarterback and could choose a veteran to compete with Mills for the starting spot. -- Sarah Barshop

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

2021 record: 3-14

Offseason in three or fewer words:Change is good

Not only did the Jaguars hire new head coach Doug Pederson, but owner Shad Khan is also committed to making changes in the front office structure by adding an executive vice president and another executive under GM Trent Baalke. Khan wants more football knowledge in the building to beef up their personnel decisions, especially at the draft. Only eight of the 52 draft picks from 2012 to 2018 signed second contracts with the team -- including offensive tackle Cam Robinson playing on the franchise tag in 2021. Only one -- quarterback Blake Bortles -- was taken in the first round. -- Michael DiRocco

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