Still high on Patriots
1. Patriots (11-5 in 2018): The champions remain No. 1 to start the season and why wouldn’t they? If Josh Gordon can avoid off-field issues, he could be a huge weapon.
2. Chiefs (12-4): Patrick Mahomes will have a difficult time topping the 50-touchdown season he had last year when he won NFL MVP. Andy Reid has a wealth of talent on offense.
3. Rams (13-3): There are questions about the durability of Todd Gurley, who reportedly has an arthritic knee condition. Managing his workload is imperative.
4. Saints (13-3): Drew Brees, 40, doesn’t have a lot of time left, but the Saints made receiver Michael Thomas happy with an extension and Alvin Kamara is an all-around running back.
5. Bears (12-4): Mitch Trubisky is expected to take a big step forward in his second year in the offense. Chuck Pagano inherits a defense with elite players at all three levels.
6. Chargers (12-4): They are bracing for a holdout by running back Melvin Gordon. The loss of safety Derwin James is bigger, who will miss at least half the season with a foot injury. 7. Eagles (9-7): The Eagles did a fine job of handling some serious injuries last season and they absolutely need Carson Wentz to remain healthy as fix-it-man Nick Foles has departed. 8. Cowboys (10-6): With Ezekiel Elliott expected to arrive sooner than later, the Cowboys will have the team’s most important component in place.
9. Seahawks (10-6): The trade for pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney completes a rebuilt front seven after defensive end Frank Clark was traded.
10. Browns (7-8-1): The hype machine is probably running ahead of the Browns, but the job general manager John Dorsey has done in reshaping this roster is impressive.
11. Steelers (9-6-1): Things are a lot more tranquil in Pittsburgh with Antonio Brown gone, and that’s a good thing. JuJu SmithSchuster looks capable as a No. 1 receiver.
12. Ravens (10-6): Lamar Jackson is going to have to improve as a passer because it’s going to be challenging for him to remain durable running the ball as much as he did last season. 13. Vikings (8-7-1): The Vikings spent the offseason trying to upgrade an offensive line that did a poor job protecting Kirk Cousins last season.
14. Falcons (7-9): Injuries decimated the Falcons on defense a year ago. If they can have a little more luck and Matt Ryan gets hot, they could challenge the Saints in the NFC South. 15. Texans (11-5): The Texans made a bold move that will upgrade a porous offensive line by trading for Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Good news for Deshaun Watson.
16. Jaguars (5-11): If you believe in Nick Foles as a starter, the Jaguars could be positioned to return to the successes the franchise enjoyed in 2017.
17. Colts (10-6): Coach Frank Reich was dealt a tough hand with the retirement of Andrew Luck. The Colts like Jacoby Brissett a lot, but he’s going to need time to develop.
18. Packers (6-9-1): The marriage of new coach Matt LaFleur with two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers is likely going to work spectacularly or blow up.
19. Panthers (7-9): Cam Newton enters the season coming off an ankle injury suffered in the preseason, which has to be at least somewhat concerning.
20. Broncos (6-10): Vic Fangio inherits a better roster than the Bears had when he joined them in 2015 as defensive coordinator. But Joe Flacco isn’t the QB of the future.