Way-too-early NFL Power Rankings: The Chiefs’ winning ways might just be starting
Maybe Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will just be Patrick Ewing. Or Charles Barkley or Karl Malone.
Burrow said of the Super Bowl win, “The window is my whole career” and while that’s a great line and Burrow is an outstanding player, it’s also possible that he, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence and someone else will be a top player. NFL. Ewing, Barkley, and Malone, who all went on to great careers but didn’t have rings because they played in the same era as the NFL’s Michael Jordan.
The Kansas City Chiefs traded wide receiver Tyreke Hill, who was an All-Pro this season, received no veteran help in the trade, made no significant additions as a free agent, and still won the Super Bowl. The rest of the NFL must be disappointed. If the Chiefs can trade one of the best players in football and still finish at the top, what chance does the rest of the league have?
There are a lot of good things being said about Patrick Mahomes, and you might be tired of them by now, but there’s no denying that Mahomes is on a different level than everyone else. When the Chiefs got the ball in Super Bowl LVII with just over five minutes left, the only question was whether the Philadelphia Eagles would get the ball back in enough time to match what Mahomes would have done. Stopping there, even for the Eagles’ fantastic defense before the Super Bowl, seemed impossible. And Mahomes pulled off that winning drive, leaving the Eagles with just eight seconds on the clock.
The Chiefs have some questions this offseason. Andy Reed danced around the topic of a possible retirement. Travis Kelsey was great at 33, but he’s still doing what no other tight end has ever done at his age, and the Chiefs offense without Kelsey at his peak would be different. The big question is whether Kansas City can re-sign free agent left tackle Orlando Brown. Protecting the Chiefs is a constant job.
But it seems silly to worry about much of it, given that the Chiefs set out from the Hill and never once missed it. The Chiefs had a really good draft with several rookies playing big roles in the Super Bowl. They have fourth and sixth-round by-picks in this draft still gained from the Hill trade. When your quarterback hits the $46.8 million salary cap by 2023, there are hurdles, but the Chiefs are actually pretty well set up around Mahomes for the next few years.
On the one hand, leaders need to be challenged for years. The talent of the AFC, especially as a quarterback, is impressive. This will make it very difficult for the Chiefs to continue winning Super Bowls.
But it must have been tough this season, with the Chiefs retooling a bit on the fly and still winning the Super Bowl. If the rest of the NFL can’t catch up with the Chiefs this season, it may not be soon.
Here’s the strength rankings as we begin the NFL offseason. These rankings will change a lot over the next few weeks and months, but consider this a snapshot of where your team is in the off-season (with results from this past season in brackets):
32. Houston Texans (3-13-1)
The Texans are incredibly lucky that the former great player turned out to be one of the best coaching candidates this cycle and wanted to return to Houston. DeMeco Ryans was a great hire, the type of under-performing Texans weren’t going to hire without luck. Hopefully Ryans can stabilize this franchise.
31. Arizona Cardinals (4-13)
It took some time for the Cardinals to find a head coach before hiring Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. It may have taken the Karts some time because the job, especially with Kyler Murray’s contract and current ACL injury, is a tough one. The Cardinals look like they’re a long way from being a playoff team.
30. Indianapolis Colts (4-12-1)
The coaching search for the Colts has been a long one, but at least Jeff Saturday hasn’t come up with an answer. That job went to Shane Steichen, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, who has a great reputation as an offensive mind. Now he just needs a quarterback to work.
29. Chicago Bears (3–14)
It makes sense for the Bears to go down from #1 in the draft to #4 with the Colts. Even better if they can move to second with the Texans first (if Houston has one QB goal they don’t want to miss) and then trade with the Colts. If the Bears are in fourth place and two quarterbacks are in the top three, they still get an elite quarterback and a lot of extra picks.
28. New Orleans Saints (7-10)
Will Derek Carr land in New Orleans? It makes sense for both parties. The Saints need it. The problem is the cap, which again is a mess for New Orleans. But no franchise does a better job of getting a credit card and carrying those big hits into the future.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)
The departure of Tom Brady was not so unexpected, but it opens up a new reality for the pirates. They have a lineup built to win now, as well as a quarterback predicament and cap issues that require a makeover. There shouldn’t be any regrets about the Brady era, but this day of reckoning was part of that package.
26. Atlanta Falcons (7-10)
The Falcons have a huge number of cap spots, second in the NFL at the moment. according to Spotrac (bears have the most, by a wide margin). With GM Terry Fonteno and coach Arthur Smith going 14-20 for two seasons, there may be some desperation to win in Year 3. That, and the flexibility of the constraint, can make things interesting.
25. Denver Broncos (5-12)
The path to acquiring Sean Payton was a strange one at times, but in the end the Broncos found a very good coach. It cost them Price getting Payton and Russell Wilson is amazing, but they needed a head coach to clean up this mess. Now we’ll find out if Payton can cure Wilson. If he can’t, it’s a losing cause.
24. Washington Commanders (8-8-1)
It must be disappointing that the Commanders seem to be skeptical about Chase Young’s fifth-year defensive choice. When he became the NFL’s top defenseman in 2020, it seemed like a no-brainer. Since then, he has played 12 games with 1.5 sacks.
“Well, what follows from this is that you have the opportunity to sit down, watch his record with our scouts, talk about how he played, what do we see in terms of development and growth?” Commands coach Ron Rivera said: via Richmond.com. “We will sit down with doctors, with coaches. ‘Where is he? How do you feel, is this something that’s going to be long term? Hey, don’t worry – as long as nothing crazy happens, he’ll be fine, it’s worth the risk.”
23. Tennessee Titans (7-10)
The Titans are teetering on the brink of collapse. Ryan Tannehill may not be one more season. Derrick Henry is incredible, but he can’t last forever. Mike Vrabel is an outstanding coach and we can’t underestimate his ability to get more out of the Titans than is possible, but the roster has some big questions.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (6-11)
Whoever the next Raiders quarterback is, I bet it will be someone with Patriot connections. Old Bill Belichick’s assistants are predictable in this regard. The Raiders are fine with the cap, which likely means they re-signed Josh Jacobs. Jacobs was unbelievable last season, but the track record of second contract runners isn’t great.
21. Carolina Panthers (7-10)
Frank Reich was a good employee. Reich is a good coach who is stuck with a revolving door on a Colts quarterback. The problem is, he’s joining another team that needs a quarterback. The best guess is that the Panthers will find a way to work out a permanent solution, because it’s unlikely that Reich will sign up for yet another endless carousel of forgotten veterans.
20. Cleveland Browns (7-10)
Kevin Stefanski has officially taken the path of Matt Nagy. Either the former NFL Coach of the Year will return for his fourth season at Cleveland, or he will be the latest coach to win the award in his first season and then fall quickly. And although the line-up can be improved in the off-season, its success largely depends on how Deshawn Watson plays next season.
19. New England Patriots (8-9)
You know the Patriots were bad offensive coordinators last season when Bill O’Brien’s hiring seems like a reason to rejoice. O’Brien was very ill with his trading decisions but he is a reliable offensive coordinator. It will help, but the rest of the AFC East seems to be getting past the Patriots.
18. Green Bay Packers (8-9)
It’s hard to walk away from a player like Aaron Rodgers, but now seems like the perfect time to do so. The Packers took a step back last season. They can get a lot back in a trade. Rodgers will turn 40 next season. It’s now or never for Jordan Love’s investment. And the Packers should be like everyone else: jaded by Rogers’ constant drama.
17. Seattle Seahawks (9-8)
It would be surprising if the Seahawks and Gino Smith didn’t sign after Smith had an amazing season that earned him the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. Assuming Smith is back, the offense is in good shape thanks to Smith’s improvement and a solid draft. But you need to work on the defense.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8)
The Steelers should feel good about Kenny Pickett after some promising moments as a rookie, but there are some improvements to be made. That’s normal for any quarterback. The Steelers should be doing pretty well because it was practically a recovery season and they still finished with a winning record.
15. New York Jets (7-10)
Hopefully the Jets don’t end up like the Broncos did in 2021 and 2022, putting their hopes on Aaron Rodgers, making decisions based on that hope, and then making a big mistake when Rodgers stays in Green Bay. The Jets are already on that path, hiring Rogers’ buddy Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. It’s easy for the Jets team to get carried away…