Over the last couple of seasons, Josh Houtz and I would conduct our weekly NFL Power Rankings in a draft style, alternating picks to select the team we best thought would win the Super Bowl. This year, we may head back to that style of the rankings, but honestly, I have not brought it up to him and we are already on power rankings day. Rather than try to get him to jump through hoops to make the picks this week, I am taking on the first week of our power rankings by myself.
Since it is officially Week 1 of the regular season now, it is time to get back into the rhythm of the season. These power rankings will come out at noon on Tuesdays - as soon as I get myself back on schedule. We will also take a look around the other power rankings on the web on Tuesday afternoons to get an idea of what people are saying about the Miami Dolphins. Again - assuming I am in my regular season rhythm.
All that said, it is time to get to the 2022 NFL Power Rankings for Week 1:
I tried every way possible to not put the Bills at number one because of the AFC East rivalry, but at the end of the day, they seem like the most complete team in the league heading into the season. As a Dolphins fan, I am hopeful Buffalo is not in the position long, but right now, they are slotted as the top team in the league.
With Tyreek Hill in Miami, having the Chiefs still ranked as the second-best team in the league feels a little high. However, I do not want to bet against Patrick Mahomes. Until the Chiefs start showing struggles without Hill, they will likely remain in the top part of the rankings.
Maybe the Buccaneers are headed to another Super Bowl. Maybe they are ready to crash and burn as age, and questions about desire, catch up to Tom Brady. Then again, questions about age have been floating around Brady for a decade, and he is still out there among the league’s elite. Never question Brady, no matter how many questions there seem to be.
Win the Super Bowl and get relegated to fourth in the next power rankings. There are enough changes and questions surrounding the Rams’ starting lineup from last year that they do not feel like the top team in the league, or even in the NFC, right now. Maybe they put it together and come out firing, but right now they are coming off a summer that saw several key names leave and has Matthew Stafford sidelined due to an elbow injury.
Losing Davante Adams will hurt, but there is a reason Aaron Rodgers is the back-to-back MVP. He has work to do, but as long as Rodgers is there, the Packers can win.
I feel like people have forgotten about the Ravens being a good team because they had struggles last year. And by struggles, I mean an entire roster’s worth of player on the injured reserve. They cannot be as banged up this year as they were last season, and that makes them move back up these rankings.
The Bengals caught lightning in an bottle last year and rode it to the AFC Championship. Will that happen two years in a row? They are a good team, but the Ravens improvement, as well as a Pittsburgh team that should have better quarterback play than a rundown Ben Roethlisberger could give them last year, makes the AFC North a tougher division. Sliding back to the norm some is a likely result for the Bengals in 2022.
The Chargers spent the offseason looking to build around Justin Herbert, adding to the offense and the defense. They have some key pieces that can turn them from an exciting team in the regular season into a playoff contender.
The AFC West is going to be stupid this year. We have three of the four teams in the top eight, and the one missing has Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller as receiving targets for Derek Carr. The Broncos thrust themselves into the arms race that is this division when they added Russell Wilson. They have weapons all over the roster and, while they are behind the Chiefs and Chargers in these rankings, there is no reason to think they cannot be the top team in the division once the regular season ends.
When you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. The 49ers are convinced they have Trey Lance ready to go, but then kept Jimmy Garoppolo when no one wanted to trade for him. Can Lance perform well enough to keep the Jimmy G pressure from overwhelming him? After an NFC Championship Game appearance last year, the pressure is already on in San Francisco.
Adding Matt Ryan at quarterback adds a solid, dependable starter for the Colts. They could be a sneaky team this year.
What does Josh McDaniels have up his sleeve as he finally agrees to a head coaching position and actually takes it? The Raiders should be good this year, and yet, in the AFC West, they face a tough climb to the playoffs.
13. Dallas Cowboys
This was a rough offseason for the Cowboys, who saw the salary cap catch up to them and have seen injuries already start to take a toll. They still have talent, especially on defense, and they should be able to compete in the NFC East, but there are questions that have to be answered early this year if they are going to stay this high in the rankings.
Nipping at the heels of the Cowboys should be the Eagles this year. The strength of the team will be the offensive line, keeping Jalen Hurts upright as he continues his development. They have added weapons around Hurts, so the Eagles are poised to take a step forward this season.
15. Miami Dolphins
The change from Brian Flores to Mike McDaniel and offseason additions like Terron Armstead and Tyreek Hill is creating a buzz around the Dolphins. They have to put it together now and they have to show in Week 1 they are not the same old Dolphins.
I feel like the Dolphins and the Patriots are a coin toss at this point in trying to decide who is the better team. Has attrition to the coaching staff finally caught up to the Patriots, especially on offense? Is Mac Jones actually a Pro Bowl quarterback and worthy of the 85th position in the NFL Top 100 Players list?
If the Cardinals come out playing like they did early last year, they will quickly jump up the rankings. If they come out playing like they did in the second half of last year, they will plummet down the rankings. This was such a hot and cold team in 2021 that it carries over with them in 2022.
18. Tennessee Titans
The Titans were the number one seed in the AFC last year. Now, they are just a big question mark. Ryan Tannehill has looked strong in training camp, according to reports, and the Titans can always rely on Derrick Henry. They could rapidly rise in these rankings, but losing AJ Brown and Harold Landry could prove to be too big an obstacle.
I just do not trust a Jameis Winston offense yet. If he can prove that he is past the turnovers - and the ACL tear - maybe the Saints can move up the rankings.
The Steelers should have better quarterback play, even if that is coming from the question mark that has been Mitchell Trubisky throughout his career. Ben Roethlisberger simply could not get it down last year. Can the offensive line protect Trubisky or is he going to be running for his life out there? When does Kenny Pickett move into the starting lineup? Pittsburgh’s defense is going to have to take the lead on the team, but the offense should at least be better than last year.
I feel like the Vikings should be higher on this list, but I do not know where I would put them. They feel like a team that could land just about anywhere in the top 20 and you could make an argument for them at that spot. Kirk Cousins is Kirk Cousins. The Vikings have made a head coaching change, so can Kevin O’Connell build a creative offense using Calvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen, while empowering the defense?
22. Seattle Seahawks
Geno Smith? Drew Lock? The Seahawks have something to prove if they want to compete this year. The Seahawks could be floundering near the bottom of the league fairly quickly this year.
23. Detroit Lions
Call it the Hard Knocks bump. The Lions are probably a little too high in these rankings, but they seem to be starting to take on head coach Dan Campbell’s personality and they are going to be a tough team even if they fall down the rankings this season.
24. Cleveland Browns
Who knows? The defense should be good, but I have no idea what to think of this team at this point.
Can Baker Mayfield save the Panthers? In Week 1, he will get his chance against the team that dumped him, the Browns. It does not look good in Carolina though.
26. Houston Texans
New head coach Lovie Smith has his work cut out for him.
27. New York Giants
The Giants are the 2019 Dolphins. This is a team with a new head coach who is coming in looking to endure one year of losing to reset and rebuild the roster. New York could be on track for the number one pick.
28. New York Jets
The Jets should probably be a little higher on the list, but the Dolphins fan in me could not give them that position. Head coach Robert Saleh’s defense was disappointing last year and he has to have something better this year. Zach Wilson has to take a step forward or else it might be a battle between the New York teams for the first pick.
29. Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts might be the saving grace in avoiding the bottom of the rankings right now. There is some talent on the team, but they are in for a long season. If Marcus Mariota can put somethings together, maybe they have a chance of moving ahead of the New York teams.
I feel like the Jaguars could surprise some people this year, simply because they should be competent under Doug Pederson. Anything is better than the circus that was the Urban Meyer experience.
Carson Wentz? I have no idea how to read what the Commanders are doing. They have talent, but, unless Wentz comes out looking like a different quarterback, a roller coaster of a season could be in store for Washington.
32. Chicago Bears
The Bears are a team that is trying to rebuild, but they do have a quarterback they seem to like already. Will what is likely to be a rough season stunt Justin Fields’ development? Can Matt Eberflus do enough to keep the Bears together through this year?