The Torch’s 2020 NFL Power Rankings

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David J. Phillip

Will quarterback Patrick Mahomes lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a second straight Super Bowl championship? As the NFL kicks off its 2020 season, the Chiefs are the team to beat.

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Coming off an incredible Super Bowl run, the Chiefs are returning 10 of 11 starters on one of the most high-powered offenses we have ever seen. Their only addition, rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, had 2.000 scrimmage yards and 17 TDs last year with LSU. With quarterback Patick Mahomes steadily improving every single year, we should expect to see more of the same from this offense. The only question mark is the defense, but they have enough playmakers and they will never be out of the game with their offense.

2. Baltimore Ravens: In any other year than last, the Ravens would have the number one offense in the league. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is looking to take a big step this year in his passing game. The Ravens definitely focused on defense this offseason with the acquisitions of defensive ends Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, and by drafting linebacker Patrick Queen in the first round. Their path to the Super Bowl is pretty simple, except for the team above them.

3. New Orleans Saints: Coming off a very disappointing playoff loss, New Orleans is looking to make a statement this year. The NFC is very much wide open and the Saints have an easy path to winning their division and getting a top two seed. They added veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an already crazy talented offense, and added another playmaker on defense in safety Malcolm Jenkins. If they can put everything together, a Super Bowl berth is definitely a possibility.

4. Seattle Seahawks: After a year where their defense was one of the worst of the Pete Carroll era, Seattle decided that they needed to do something to return to their glory days of the Legion of Boom. They traded for star safety Jamaal Adams, cornerback Quinton Dunbar, and drafted defense in the first two rounds. Quarterback Russell Wilson will always keep this offense dangerous, and with wide receiver D.K. Metcalf looking to take a huge step in year two, this Seahawks team could make a run in the open NFC.

5. San Francisco 49ers: History shows that the team that loses the Super Bowl tends to have a hard time getting back, and that’s what I think will happen this year. The path for this 49ers team runs through Seattle, who I believe surpassed them this offseason. They lost arguably their best run-stopper and an all-around great defensive tackle Deforest Buckner. This will prove to be fatal, along with teams loading the box to stop the run. If this team wins, it will be on the back of quarterback Jimmy Garapolo.

6. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys always seem to have the most pre-season hype, only to let their supporters down. This offense is without question more talented than last year’s with the addition of wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and another year for the Dak & Zeke Show in the quarterback / running back tandem of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot. Dak is also playing for a contract this year, as Zeke and Amari Cooper both got paid this year and last. This team has unarguably the easiest path to a division title, with the other three teams in the NFC East being mediocre or bad. The Cowboys will undoubtedly put up points, but you can only win so many games without defensive support.

7. Tennessee Titans: After a very unexpected playoff run last season, the Titans are looking to repeat that magic. They added two defensive playmakers this offseason in defensive end Jadaveon Clowney and linebacker Vic Beasly, who will really help this pass rush that ranked in the bottom half of the league last season. Their offense will continue to run through running back Derrick Henry, so if they want to make a run, Henry will have to carry this team.

8. Los Angeles Rams: Coming off a Super Bowl loss, this Rams team disappointed last year with a record of 9-7, but they are looking to get back to what they did two years ago. What got them to the big game, was their incredible offense, led by quarterback Jared Goff. The only difference between this team and the one two years ago is at running back where they are starting rookie Cam Akers, who was one of the most underrated running backs during his time at Florida State University. The Rams lost a few defensive playmakers but still have two generational talents in defensive end Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Look for this Rams team to shock some people and make a playoff run.

9. Minnesota Vikings: 2019 was a very up and down season for this Vikings team, most notably wide receiver Stefon Diggs’ calling out Kirk Cousins for not throwing to him. The Vikings traded Diggs to the Buffalo Bills this offseason for draft picks. Digg’s departure will open up targets for the remaining wide receivers and end up in more carries for running back Dalvin Cook.

10. Buffalo Bills: For years, the Bills got pre-season hype, but the Patriots never failed to win the division. However, the Patriots are not the same this season, so the Bills are the favorites to win the AFC East. They added WR Stefon Diggs to a not-so talented wide receiver group, but the success of the offense will be on the back of quarterback Josh Allen.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have high expectations coming into this season, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning after missing most of last season. Big Ben has a lot of talent on this offense, but we saw last season that some guys aren’t ready to step into the spotlight. If the offense wants to succeed, they need their playmakers to show up. On the other side of the ball, their defense should be dominant. Another year of linebacker T.J. Watt should prove to the world that he is one of the best pass rushers in the league, and the Pittsburgh secondary is filled with playmakers.

12. Houston Texans: In the most head scratching move of this offseason, the Texans traded star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson. Not to knock Johnson, but Hopkins is the best wide receiver in the NFL, and David Johnson hasn’t been good in two years. Quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston defense is good enough to at least make the playoffs, but a deep run is not likely good for this team.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers just had the craziest offseason we have seen in a long time. They added the best quarterback ever in Tom Brady, all time great tight end Rob Gronkowski, and running back Leonard Fournette. With all that said, I can’t see everything work out exactly as Bucs fans are hoping. They very well might have the best offense in the NFL, but the defense is shaky, and Brady is in the decline of his career.

14. Green Bay Packers: In a draft with probably the deepest wide receiver class we have seen in a while, the Packers failed to add weapons to the Aaron Rodgers-led offense. Even though the Packers made it to the NFC Championship game last year, I don’t see a path where this Packers team makes it close to that point, and quarterback Rodgers isn’t getting any younger.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles big move this offseason was trading for cornerback Darius Slay, who they then gave a three-year extension. He is their best cornerback since Asante Samuel, and will get the number one matchup every week. They also added Javon Hargrave, who adds more depth to an already stacked crew at defensive tackle. The Eagles offense stayed the same, except for drafting wide receiver Jalen Reagor, but yet again the success of this offense will be in the hands of quarterback Carson Wentz.

16. Arizona Cardinals: Arizona pulled off one of the biggest trade steals we have seen in a long time. They added Hopkins, which gives Kyler Murray the number one option that he needs. That connection could carry them to a playoff spot with the expanded playoffs this year, because we know the defense certainly won’t win them any games.

17. Indianapolis Colts: Indy took a flier on long-time Chargers free agent quarterback Phillip Rivers this offseason in hopes that he can at least be half as good as he has been in the past. Judging by last season, that will not happen, but they do have a two-headed monster at running back in Marlon Mack and rookie Jonathan Taylor, a very solid offensive line, and a defense that won’t lose them games. 

18. New England Patriots: We all knew this was going to happen sooner or later, but we thought losing Brady would put them in a downward spiral for at least a few years. But as we have seen for the past 20 years, the Pats just seem to find a way, which is why I don’t have them ranked lower. They lost nearly half their starters on defense due to opting out due to COVID-19, but that just means it’s the next man up. That next man up at quarterback will be former Carolina Panther signal caller Cam Newton. If they somehow make the playoffs for the 12th year in a row, I will not be surprised.

19. Detroit Lions: The Lions were undoubtedly bad last year. and quarterback Matthew Stafford getting hurt in the middle of the season didn’t exactly help. He was having a very solid year before he went out, but didn’t have enough talent around him to make the Lions competitive. They had a very uneventful offseason with the exception of trading Slay, but with that being said, the NFC North is potentially wide open, so don’t be surprised if the Lions make some noise this year.

20. Atlanta Falcons: It seems like every year the Falcons have a lot of hype before the season, just to disappoint by going 9-7 or 8-8. They have a very high powered offense, but they do every year. Their defense added defensive end Dante Fowler in free agency, who adds more depth as a pass rusher, but as a whole their defensive unit is not very talented. 

21. Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders have made their move. They now play in Vegas, in a new stadium, with a whole new fanbase. Will that get them over the hump? Not a chance. They do have a few bright spots like second year running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Darren Waller, and they have high hopes for rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. They added linebacker Corey Littleton on defense, but for the most part, they aren’t that talented on that side of the ball. This team will win its games by running the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage, so look for Jacobs to build off his impressive rookie year.

22: Los Angeles Chargers: This team was in desperate need of a rebuild this offseason, and they did little to address that need. They replaced the departed Rivers by drafting Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick, and also added guard Trai Turner, offensive tackle Brian Bulaga, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and cornerback Chris Harris, all of whom should offer some help. The Chargers also signed veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor to start until rookie Justin Herbert is ready to take over the reins. 

23. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins couldn’t even tank right last season, somehow tallying five wins with one of the worst rosters I have seen in a long time. But, they still got the guy they wanted in the draft in Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. They also went out and spent this offseason, focusing on the defensive side of the ball by signing cornerback Byron Jones, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, and defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson. They also got much bigger on the offensive line. With young and up-and-coming head coach Brian Flores ready to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke, the Dolphins have a bright future ahead.

24. Cleveland Browns: Last season, the Browns were everyone’s sleeper pick, and in typical Browns fashion, they disappointed. Quarterback Baker Mayfield took a huge step back from an above average rookie season, and their weapons on offense just didn’t seem to click. Their offensive line is still one of the worst in the league, and although their defense has some talent, they can’t seem to figure it out. Browns fans have suffered this long, and it seems like they will have to wait at least another year for any success.

25. New York Giants: The Giants were pretty quiet this offseason, only really making one impactful signing in linebacker Blake Martinez, but spending this offseason was not in their best interest. They have young playmakers all over their offense, most notably in running back Saquon Barkley, who I believe will have an MVP caliber season, and second year quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones is looking to build off a very solid rookie season, where he never had all of his weapons healthy for even one snap. This offense has a chance to be top 10 in the league, but they won’t win many games with their defense. With holes just about everywhere on defense, all they want to do this year is to get their young guys on defense, such as rookie safety Xavier McKinney, some experience to build on.

26. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals just might have stumbled into the next great young quarterback in Louisiana State’s Joe Burrow, but it’s not going to be perfect from the start. Like all first year quarterbacks, Burrow will have his fair share of “why are you on the field” plays, but he showed in college last year that he can absolutely take over a game at any time. He has weapons around him in running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver WR AJ Green, but the offensive line is below average, and the defense isn’t anything special. Similar to the Giants, the Bengals just want to develop their young playmakers so that in a few years they can go all in to win.

27. New York Jets: The Jets always seem to have some type of problem not associated with football. This time it’s running back Le’Veon Bell and head coach Adam Gase simply not liking each other. Now you may think that people don’t like each other all the time, but the fact that Bell said something about it, makes me think that this is just not going to work out. Third year quarterback Sam Darnold has shown some bright spots in his first two years, but for the most part has been very underwhelming. The Jets haven’t been serviceable since Mark Sanchez was their signal caller, and everything points to another disappointing year for Jets fans.

28. Denver Broncos: This team had promise coming into the season, but after the news about all-world linebacker Von Miller being out all year, I can’t take them seriously just yet. Quarterback Drew Lock showed that he can start games in the NFL, and although they seemed to have struck gold with young guys like running back Phillip Lindsay and wide receiver Courtland Sutton, this year is not theirs. There’s a lot to look forward to in this Broncos franchise, but this year is just going to be another year to develop their young core.

29. Chicago Bears: For some reason, the Bears still have hope for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who they traded up for and drafted over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Maybe it’s because they want their pick to look not as bad, but we all know that Trubisky is just not that guy. They gave Nick Foles $88 million to come in and backup Trubisky, which might be the worst signing for any team this offseason; additionally, they just don’t have anything on offense that will worry opposing defenses. Although their defense will always keep them in games, Bears fans are hoping that this is the last year they have to watch Trubisky start games under center.

30. Carolina Panthers: Although they have a top two running back in Christian McCaffery, that’s all that defenses have to focus on this year. They simply don’t have enough talent on this offense, although I do like wide receiver D.J. Moore, who had an impressive sophomore year last season. The Carolina defense has no difference makers, and they lost long time head coach Ron Rivera this offseason. They are no doubt in a rebuild, but besides CMC, there is not much to build around.

31. Washington Football Team: In what is the most ridiculous offseason I have ever experienced for one team, this team actually has some talent. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was borderline atrocious last year, but he was the 15th pick for a reason, so Washington really wants to see him improve this year. They drafted Ohio State defensive end Chase Young with the second pick this year, and if he is what everyone thinks he is, Washington might have landed an all-time defensive player. He is even getting compared to New York Giants Hall-of-Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, but if he is even half of what LT was, they got a great player. Expectations are low for this team, so any positive thing this year is a win.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars: This team flat out sucks. Their best defensive player, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, wants out, so he will be traded sooner rather than later. They also lost veteran defensive tackle Calais Campbell to free agency. They released Fournette, their number four overall 2017 draft pick from a few years past, after trying to trade him all offseason. The Jags just haven’t had much luck in the past few years, but with a generational talent in next year’s draft, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars should look to throw this year away in hopes that Lawrence can turn this franchise around.

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