Welcome to the first of myriad versions of PFW's 2019 NFL power rankings, which we'll re-calibrate at least a few more times before kickoff of the regular season and weekly thereafter until February.
With the draft and the vast majority of the most consequential free-agent signings behind us, now feels like the appropriate time to share our first impressions of how we expect the offseason to impact each team's 2019 outlook. As always, the opinions of Hub and Arthur Arkush tend to vary — sometimes greatly — so we thought it'd be fun to share both of their rankings.
As the author of this piece, Arthur's rankings will be used, but note that Hub's rankings — wherever different — are included in parentheses.
1. New England Patriots
We're clearly not as fazed by the defections of Rob Gronkowski, Trey Flowers, Trent Brown and other key members of the Patriots latest Super Bowl roster as we are by the turnover on a few of the usual suspect AFC challengers to New England's throne.
2. Los Angeles Rams (HA: 4)
They endured a few notable changes up front in both trenches (John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold on 'O,' Ndamukong Suh on 'D') but could be even better in both backfields with another year under the belt for Jared Goff and by welcoming Darrell Henderson, Eric Weddle and Taylor Rapp.
3. New Orleans Saints
I loved the additions of Jared Cook, Malcom Brown and Erik McCoy, and it's easy to forget with Sean Payton and Drew Brees, just how young the Saints nucleus is. There's a lot of room for growth, and New Orleans showed it can use the previous year's heartbreak as fuel.
4. Los Angeles Chargers (HA: 2)
They might have the NFL's best roster, so I get Hub's thinking here. Still, they didn't improve an ILB corps whose injuries were crushing late and the O-line still gives me a bit of pause. But I can't wait to see rookies Jerry Tillery and Nasir Adderley in this stacked 'D.'
5. Chicago Bears (HA: 5)
Mitch Trubisky's table is now ready in Year 3, when he'll be the biggest question needing an answer before the Bears can be considered Super Bowl contenders of the highest order. But his margin for error will decrease with the defense unlikely to score six TDs and 36 takeaways again.
6. Indianapolis Colts (HA: 7)
Andrew Luck might be even better with a full offseason and the additions of Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell, and I'll be very surprised if the insertion of Justin Houston and Rock Ya-Sin — not to mention a few sophomore strides —doesn't upgrade what was a very sound defense.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (HA: 6)
I keep having to remind myself that I was wholly concerned about the defense entering last season, too, and now they officially have the league MVP covering it up. Still, the volatility, in addition to wholesale turnover defensively, is reflected in this ranking.
8. Dallas Cowboys (HA: 9)
Adding a healthy Travis Frederick and Amari Cooper for 16 games helps Dallas maintain the slightest of edges on the Eagles and helps convince me that we might just see Dak Prescott's best form yet.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (HA: 8)
The health of Carson Wentz, that's really my lone question, and gone is the invaluable layer of insurance named Saint Nick. Still, I won't be at all surprised if the Eagles return to the Super Bowl — it's a first-class organization from the top down and the title window remains open.
10. Cleveland Browns (HA: 16)
This might be a top-five — at least — roster, talent-wise. Obviously, it's up to Freddie Kitchens to balance all the egos and distractions, but he's even better positioned than the past couple offensive-minded Coach of the Year winners Matt Nagy and Sean McVay to cook up a contender.
11. Seattle Seahawks (HA: 10)
Sign me up for the Russell Wilson-D.K. Metcalf show. Sure, I'm a bit concerned about losing Doug Baldwin and Frank Clark, but like with last year's turnover, probably not as much as others, and I'm certainly not predicting their demise in what could again be a down division.
12. Baltimore Ravens (HA: 13)
Lamar Jackson won't be instant coffee in Year 2, either, but this is going to be an incredibly challenging offense to prepare for. The biggest question is how much of his slack a defense that suffered so many defections can still pick up. The answer will depend a lot on Earl Thomas.
13. Houston Texans (HA: 12)
Deshaun Watson deserved more help, and I have legitimate concerns with the secondary and how the team's biggest weakness at the end of last season will be strengthened despite apparent downgrades in personnel. But Watson and Watt have earned the benefit of the doubt.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (HA: 14)
It was one thing replacing Le'Veon Bell, but attempting to replicate their offensive success without him and Antonio Brown might take a miracle. I don't believe in the whole addition-by-subtraction theory, but I do think Devin Bush and Justin Layne can have a profound effect on 'D.'
15. Minnesota Vikings (HA: 11)
This might be too low for the Vikings, whose rookie OL infusion I loved. But it'll take time for that unit to steady in a division where it may not have that luxury. A healthy Dalvin Cook would do wonders.
16. Atlanta Falcons (HA: 20)
I much preferred Minnesota's shrewd O-line rebuild to Atlanta's, but Matt Ryan will be better protected with Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. Still, I have real concerns about the pass 'D,' where good DBs departed and the pass rush was neglected in a high-flying division.
17. Green Bay Packers
Like the Vikings, they might be too low, but this division will be unforgiving and Aaron Rodgers hasn't dealt with this amount of change — and scrutiny — ever in the NFL. He's more likely to win his third MVP than flop under Matt LaFleur, but the level of uncertainty is fair to point out.
18. Tennessee Titans (HA: 15)
Loved their draft after not really understanding the free agent approach, but let's be real: they'll go as far as Marcus Mariota takes them. And the fact is that he enters a potential walk year in search of his first fully healthy campaign, after a pair of duds.
19. Buffalo Bills (HA: 22)
Impressive work by Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane rebuilding Buffalo's O-line, but I still have some doubts regarding the playmaking cast for Josh Allen, and I don't know whether he can be the franchise, much less this year with an entirely new front wall and pass-catching corps.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (HA: 19)
Nick Foles might be the right guy for the job, I'm honestly undecided. I imagine the credibility he brings to the QB room will resonate on defense, but I also worry his streaky play could be compounded with inferior coaching. Fittingly, Jaguars are one of the season's bigger wild cards.
21. New York Jets (HA: 23)
Exciting offseason. Promising young quarterback. But in typical Jets fashion, there's still reported dysfunction swirling among the upper ranks and are we sure that Dowell Loggains and Gregg Williams was the coordinator tandem best equipped for the job?
22. Denver Broncos (HA: 21)
Vic Fangio should make this defense great again ... but it won't matter if, at a minimum, competent Joe Flacco doesn't reappear behind an O-line that still has questions. Like the Jaguars, the Broncos season could produce a wide range of outcomes.
23. Washington (HA: 24)
Dwayne Haskins probably isn't ready yet, but he'll start in Week 1 because he's so much more talented than Case Keenum and Colt McCoy. I loved the rest of their draft, too, but can't shake the feeling this team might be better in 2020 despite Jay Gruden needing to win right now.
24. Carolina Panthers (HA: 18)
Reports indicate Cam Newton is doing well in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, which is obviously positive. If second-rounder Greg Little can quickly stabilize the blind side and RT Daryl Williams seamlessly returns from injury, the Panthers will surprise. Huge "ifs."
25. Detroit Lions
Importing the "Patriot Way" hasn't really worked anywhere else. I think the Lions are an interesting team that will be better than last year's 6-10 club. Not sure it'll be more than a couple games better, which is fitting because they seem nondescript and average in a loaded North lot.
26. New York Giants (HA: 26)
Neither Daniel Jones nor Eli Manning really deserve the treatment they've received — Jones from the draft community and Manning from a franchise that won't quit him. But it should surprise no one not named Dave Gettleman when Big Blue misses the playmaking it failed to replenish when OBJ, Oliver Vernon, Landon Collins and even JPP were sent packing.
27. San Francisco 49ers (HA: 27)
Interesting team that still has too many holes but could surprise on offense if Jimmy G is healthy and late-2017 Jimmy G and Nick Bosa can follow in his brother's DPOY-caliber footsteps. But what to expect from the Niners secondary is anyone's guess.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Still stuck on TE Drew Sample with the 52nd overall pick, perhaps the only thing Cincinnati could do to make me love Jonah Williams at No. 11 less. But Williams can't solve three spots up front, and there's still too many unknowns for my liking on defense, not to mention in Zac Taylor.
29. Oakland Raiders
It's possible the influx of talent is mitigated by the influx of problems that come with it, but the Raiders will be better. They also could be the league's train wreck we can't take our eyes off.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The JPP injury really stings and makes it easy to second guess an off-ball linebacker with the fifth overall pick when Josh Allen, Jonah Williams, Ed Oliver and others were on the board. In theory, Jameis Winston and Bruce Arians should mesh, but isn't B.A. wanting to eat his cake and eat it too with a big-strike offense and mandate for Winston to better protect the ball?
31. Arizona Cardinals
They're going to be exciting, but it's hard not to expect plenty of growing pains along the way. I do think Kyler Murray is better positioned to succeed than Josh Rosen was a year ago in the desert, which is encouraging.
32. Miami Dolphins
Even with Rosen, this roster is full of warts and could set the Dolphins up for the first overall pick next year. That doesn't mean acquiring Rosen wasn't a no-brainer — it was — and he won't stabilize the spot for years to come.