The NFL Season is about to begin and the Def Pen Sports team has calculated the 2022 NFL Power Rankings ahead of the week one games. This list was calculated by the averages of the three contributors and writers for this article. The contributors for Week one are Xavier Santos, David Loaiza, and Dylan Hargis.
2022 NFL Power Rankings: Week One
1. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl and we understand why. Josh Allen has arrived and the Bills’ offense looked borderline unstoppable when the team put the ball in his hands and asked him to make a decision on every play. He and the Bills’ offense took part in some epic shootouts and it’s impossible to ignore just how explosive that offense is. The most significant question mark is on the other side of the ball. Part of the reason the team was involved in so many shootouts was their inability to generate stops in key situations. Can they create a pass rush with their front four? Can their secondary hold up if they have to manufacture a pass rush through blitzes? Offensively, can they run the ball well enough to kill the clock and control the ball in the second halves of games? If yes, they are the likely Champions. They top the 2022 NFL Power Rankings.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles is ranked this high out of respect. In truth, last year’s championship team was top-heavy and thin at key positions. The offensive line is worse. The defense is still headlined by a couple of blue-chippers and a ton of question marks. Matthew Stafford has elbow issues that will likely carry into the regular season if not the rest of his career. Talent alone will not get them back to the mountaintop. A slow start shouldn’t be blamed on a Super Bowl hangover. The bill is coming due for years of ignoring the draft in hopes of winning a title. They won the title and have validated many of the moves they made but a teardown is coming.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
This Chiefs team will look and feel different than the one we’ve seen the past few years because of Tyreek Hill’s departure. You can’t plug in another speedster and assume he’ll fit the role left behind by Hill. His mere presence on the field allowed the Chiefs to pick and pop their way down the field with little resistance. We may see teams play a ton more man and force Kansas City receivers to create separation rather than allow them to run into open space. If any Head Coach/Quarterback combo can reinvent themselves, it’s Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. I expect the Chiefs to contend for the division crown and ultimately the Lombardi Trophy but there may be a transition period early in the season.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We’ve all heard the cliché- the only way to get to Tom Brady is up the middle. Well, this offseason has been a calamity for the middle of Tampa’s offensive line. With Rob Gronkowski gone and Chris Godwin a question mark after an ACL injury, the skill group looks questionable. And yet, this team has Tom Brady and you would be foolish to bet against him.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
The skill position talent is elite. They made some underrated signings in hopes of shoring up the middle of the offensive line and keeping Joe Burrow upright. The defense, however, leaves a ton to be desired. In particular, their cornerback situation is dire. Eli Apple is not a starting cornerback in the NFL. They’ll be in a ton of shootouts and I don’t trust them to get stops in key situations. The offense should be good enough to get them to the postseason but I’d be surprised if they went on another run come playoff time.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
We’ve been shotgunning cans of Charger kool-aid all off-season. They are absolutely stacked and have taken advantage of having a franchise quarterback on a rookie scale contract. Having Khalil Mack as a situational pass rusher is a luxury many teams simply can’t afford. If he and Derwin James can stay healthy, the defense is going to be a nightmare to play against. On offense, Justin Herbert is going to have to prove he is, in fact, worthy of all the praise being heaped upon his shoulders. His arm talent is undeniable but his decision-making in key moments will determine just how far this team goes.
7. Denver Broncos
Can Russell Wilson be an efficient pocket passer? His recent play indicates that may not be the case. He has everything he needs to succeed but his success has always come when plays have broken down and he is able to utilize his legs to extend plays. If his legs aren’t what they used to be, he will have to completely reinvent who he is as a quarterback for this team to make noise in a loaded division. I’m a believer but I can see the path to a disappointing season in Denver.
8. Green Bay Packers
The Packers have Aaron Rodgers and a top-three defense in the league. They should steamroll through the regular season thanks to a cupcake division schedule and an overall lack of top-end NFC teams. The team’s postseason outlook, however, may not be as rosy if the team’s lack of offensive playmakers comes back to bite them. Green Bay could shift either way on the 2022 NFL Power Rankings.
9. Baltimore Ravens
1. Lamar Jackson is incredible. 2. I don’t trust Lamar Jackson in the playoffs. Jackson, more than any other quarterback in the league, is game script-dependent. If he can play with a lead, he can use his legs to keep the chains moving and put teams away. If he’s down 10 points or more early and he has to sit in the pocket and lead a comeback through the air, things get a bit murky. They should be good enough to win the division but I don’t trust him in a shootout against the Chiefs or Bills.
10. Las Vegas Raiders
This ranking is …. Optimistic. This team was not a wide receiver away from being a title contender. The contract and draft capital was a huge overpay for arguably the best receiver in the game and that’s saying something. The offensive line is a disaster. The defense has question marks all over the field and years of poor drafts have left this team with no depth. On paper, they are the worst team in their division and shouldn’t be anywhere near the top ten. I get the hype but ultimately I think this team has .500 written all over them.
11. San Francisco 49ers
Last season, the 49ers were just one game away from the Super Bowl and the
team pretty much remains the same. Trey Lance will take the starting quarterback
position, opening a wide range of new options the team can try on offense. The one
downside to Lance is it will take him some time to adjust and unveil his full potential.
However, we trust on Kyle Shanahan to ease the transition for Lance and have the team compete for a playoff spot.
12. Arizona Cardinals
The only question with the Cardinals is their relationship with their star player
Kyler Murray. The contract extension took longer than expected and the team
added a tape study clause that had to be removed after the media coverage it had
when it was revealed. After that, the team has to be one of the favorites to win the
NFC West and give the Rams some competition.
13. Dallas Cowboys
Just like the past few seasons, someone has to win the NFC East and take that spot in
the playoffs. The Cowboys are the more well-rounded team in the division
with an established quarterback, receiver, and running back core. They also have a defense
that was ranked at the top last season. Despite that, they are no safe bet given
some early injuries and the lack of signings in the offseason. The Cowboys find themselves in an interesting part of the 2022 NFL Power Rankings.
14. Miami Dolphins
If they weren’t in the same division as the Buffalo Bills, we could talk about the
Dolphins winning a division title with this team. They brought Tyreek Hill, a top
receiver in the league, and Jaylen Waddle should take a step forward in his game.
The one question is how will Tua Tagovailoa perform? His rookie year was a rough
one taking the starting role mid-season with a team that wasn’t prepared for his type
of play and last season he dealt with injuries and wasn’t really healthy. This year is
a big one for Tua to show he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
15. Tennessee Titans
The AFC South is probably the division that is the hardest to predict between the
Colts and the Titans. Derrick Henry and the team’s defense will give them a good
chance to repeat. Also, last season they had the best record in the AFC while
everyone on the roster was dealing with injuries, so we can trust Mike Vrabel to put
up a fight.
16. Indianapolis Colts
Since Andrew Luck retired, the Colts have been looking for their next franchise
quarterback. So far, they had Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, and Carson Wentz; in
those three seasons, and only Rivers took them to the playoffs. Entering the season we knew it was his last year playing in the NFL. Now, Matt Ryan arrives in Indianapolis and
the hopes for the team are up. In addition, Jonathan Taylor looks like one of the
best running backs in the league.
17. Minnesota Vikings
Justin Jefferson is only behind Cooper Kupp in the receiver rankings to start the
season and with a Packers team that is debilitated, given the Adams trade, there’s
a chance they can win the division. Of course, this is something we haven’t seen while
Kirk Cousins has been with the Vikings.
18. New England Patriots
The Patriots remain the same as last season and the only way we see
an improvement is if Mac Jones improves dramatically. We also have to note that
the team doesn’t have a designated offensive coordinator and the play-calling
duties were divided between Matt Patricia, Joe Judge, and Bill Belichick.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are the second candidate to take the NFC East and pretty much the
only competition the Cowboys will have in the division. The team acquired A.J.
Brown in the offseason and, recently, have traded for some defensive back talent to
improve the secondary. Just like the Vikings, they have a chance to get the division
title but we still have to see it to believe it can be done.
20. New Orleans Saints
As of late, the Saints’ seasons can be summed up in giving Tom Brady a beating
every time they face each other. After that, we see them losing to the Jaguars
or Bears after beating the GOAT. It’s either one or the other, there’s no middle
ground. Jameis Winston will have the starting spot this season and they are under
new management after Sean Payton retired. They are a team that can compete for
a wildcard playoff spot but we don’t expect them to be there in January.
21. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns managed to take their two(ish) years of not being an embarrassment and ruin it all in one off-season. They have invested a ridiculous amount of money in a quarterback in the middle of a scandal that also hasn’t played regular season football in over a year now. Oh and that quarterback is suspended for the first 11 games of the season. Not good!
22. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers got a clear upgrade at quarterback this offseason, but it was Baker Mayfield. This team just isn’t ready to contend for a spot in the NFL Playoffs right now. While they may overachieve we just don’t see how it will be enough to make the Wild Card. Can they climb up the 2022 NFL Power Rankings?
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Defense is ready to compete and they have the skill potions to match that. Someone should have worked to build a better offensive line during that process. We also aren’t convinced that Mitchell Trubisky is the man for the job. This could be the team that ends up putting us in a position where we have to explain why we were wrong.
24. New York Giants
Well, a new Head Coach could change things for the New York Giants, in a few years. The problem is largely the same as last year and that is a simple fact that this roster is bad. A lack of talent is hard to overcome for the best head coaches. Let’s check back in next year and see how the team looks then.
25. Washington Commanders
Washington added Carson Wentz this offseason and while he is an upgrade, his injury history suggests that they should give rookie quarterback Sam Howell some preparation time to be the starter at some point this season. Maybe next year?
26. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan is now with the Colts and the rebuild in Atlanta can begin in earnest. Kyle Pitts may actually be the only player currently on the roster that should be a part of the team’s long-term plans.
27. Detroit Lions
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Lions this season. They have gotten better and have a great team culture. That being said, the team isn’t ready to contend in the NFL this season. While they won’t win many games, they’ll keep plenty of them competitive this season.
28. Houston Texans
The decision to name Lovie Smith the Head Coach was an interesting move if we want to be kind about it. Houston’s direction or lack thereof is concerning and we don’t really see where they go from here. There are worse teams, but Houston doesn’t have the same promising future as the others right now.
29. New York Jets
Zach Wilson still doesn’t have the roster he needs to showcase if he’s a franchise quarterback. This season is all about getting better and making fewer mistakes on the field. New York just doesn’t have the talent to compete with Buffalo, Miami, or even New England.
30. Chicago Bears
Justin Fields is going to have a rough year with a bad defense, a bad offensive line, and only one wide receiver that he can trust to catch the ball. The outlook for the team this year is bleak and we don’t have much to say beyond that.
31. Jacksnonville Jaguars
We took about as many shots as we could last year at Urban Meyer and the Jaguars finally moved on from him after an embarrassing season. There is nowhere to go from here but up for the franchise. It just won’t be this year.
32. Seattle Seahawks
The rebuild that needed to happen last year officially began this offseason. Pete Carroll is still the Head Coach, but is he really down for another rebuild? Time will tell, but this team’s win outlook is not great heading into the season. They finish at the bottom of the 2022 NFL Power Rankings for week one.