NFL power rankings entering the 2022 preseason (previous rank in parentheses):
1. Rams (1): The reigning champs have several key departures, and the newcomer, WR Odell Beckham Jr., is somewhere in the middle right now. But adding a guy like LB Bobby Wagner into the equation certainly won’t hinder the team’s quest to successfully defend its Super Bowl crown in 18 years.
2. Bills (3): The addition of OLB Von Miller and others could put the two-time defending AFC East champs over the final hump. Keep an eye on WR Gabriel Davis, who had five TD grabs in the 2021 postseason in a divisional round heartbreaker in Kansas City.
3. Bengals (2): QB Joe Burrow’s appendectomy and new RT Loell Collins’ back issues could hinder the early coordination of an offense breaking out on an almost entirely new line. However, the biggest challenges for the 2021 AFC champs will probably come from Cincinnati in a brutal conference that features a Baltimore squad challenging for the AFC North title.
4. Packers (5): QB Aaron Rodgers’ village of receivers — watch rookie Romeo Doubs — could add to the production of roughly departed Davante Adams. hmm Lombardi may actually be the ticket, as we’re thinking of slowing down the game with more comprehensive touches for RBs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.
5. Heads (8): Here’s assuming the Andy Reid-Patrick Mahomes offense will finally be fine, even without WR Tyreek Hill. The real question may be a defense that has been stripped of veteran leader Tyronn Mathieu and will now count heavily on first-round rookies Trent McDuffie at cornerback and George Karlaftis off the edge.
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6. Ravens (6): Baltimore still lists QB Lamar Jackson at 212 pounds, but says he’s roughly 230 after bulking up in the offseason. What this means for arguably the league’s most electric athlete remains to be seen, with 2021 falling short of a late-stage implosion.
7. Buccaneers (4): While the concept of WR Julio Jones is stirring against man coverage on passing downs, QB Tom Brady has injured Pro Bowl C Ryan Jensen in the lineup on passing downs … and all the other snaps.
8. Chargers (7): There is no other reason to be bullish about QB Justin Herbert. But he can still get better — and might want to start by lowering his interception (25) and sack (63) totals over two seasons.
9. Eagles (12): Good luck finding a team with more talent and depth in the trenches, a major reason why Philly excels wherever QB Jalen Hurts is in his personal practice. Former Temple star Haason Reddick, who had 23½ sacks over the last two seasons, could be one of the steals of free agency (again).
10. Colts (10): From Weeks 6-16 last year, they were an elite outfit, going 8-2 and beating the last four playoff teams. But former QB Carson Wentz’s COVID-19 diagnosis and subsequent missed practice time coincided with Indy’s season-ending spiral. Sustained veteran Matt Ryan should be a better fit, offering a smoother ride.
11. 49ers (14): A resolution of the Jimmy Garoppolo situation would be nice, but more important is fixing things with “wide back” DeBo Samuel, who will undoubtedly be a key part of Trae Lance’s transition into the QB1 role.
12. Patriots (13): Despite all the speculation about offensive playcalling and good feelings about QB Mac Jones’ development, perhaps the focus should be on a defense that lacks top-tier talent. New England has scored 150 points in its last five games in 2021.
13. Saints (9): Despite the departure of longtime coach Sean Payton, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this team reclaimed the NFC South throne thanks to the weapons on both sides of the ball. RB Alvin Kamara’s unsolved battery case will be considered a significant issue if the expected sentencing is handed down later in the year.
14. Raiders (11): They’ve got an exceptional group at the premier positions of quarterback, receiver, left tackle and pass rusher. But the balance of the lineup is at least equally suspect. Vegas hopes new coach Josh McDaniels learned something from Bill Belichick about masking weak points, valuable in designing plays.
15. Cowboys (19): It will be interesting to see how Dallas deploys Micah Parsons, whether newly signed LB Anthony Barr will hunt quarterbacks the way he used to at UCLA but never did in Minnesota despite his four Pro Bowl nods.
16. Dolphins (21): Owner Stephen Ross’ illegal back-channeling to Brady and Payton cost Miami a 2023 first-round pick, among other things. Ironically, he may have taken the pressure off QB Tua Tagowailoa and increased his job security, which will probably make it harder to draft a QB in 2023 now…if that’s where the Fins want to go.
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17. Vikings (17): Justin Jefferson is the only player in the league with at least 3,000 receiving yards since 2020. Can he reach 5,000 runs over three campaigns in new coach Kevin O’Connell’s pass-oriented attack?
18. Broncos (18): There’s no sugarcoating the loss of WR Tim Patrick (ACL), but it could create an opportunity for KJ Hamler to showcase his speed — and few quarterbacks can leverage that more than deep ball sniper Russell Wilson.
19. Steelers (20): They will face Miami along with five 2021 playoff teams before their Week 9 bye. Not an ideal opening stretch for QB Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement … but hints that first-rounder Kenny Pickett could be in the saddle by Week 10.
20. Titans (16): RB Derrick Henry averaged 4.3 yards per carry in 2021, the second-lowest number of his career. What would happen to that number without WRs AJ Brown and Julio Jones to keep the defense honest?
21. Lions (24): C Frank Ragnow’s 2021 return from a foot injury means Detroit could be out with the league’s top offensive line in 2022.
22. Cardinals (22): It remains to be seen if $230.5 million can buy you happiness, leadership, maturity or playoff success. Regardless, QB Kyler Murray, who has a 22-24-1 record in the NFL, is always 43-0 in high school … the data point he believes remains Germany.
23. Commanders (26): Captain Terry McLaurin has been paid off, while fellow WR Jahan Dotson continues to show signs of emerging as the club’s next star. That’s doubly good news as Wentz tries to stabilize this organization and his career, which he’s already had a bumpy start to in camp.
24. Panthers (28): Now a halfway house for 2018 first-round QBs, Carolina could be playoff bound because of its defensive potential and quality offensive playmakers … assuming RB Christian McCaffrey stays on the field.
25. Browns (15): The uncertainty surrounding QB Deshaun Watson makes it difficult for any team to slot him, who was suspended six games on Aug. 1, a ruling the NFL appealed two days later. That decision makes it more likely that Watson won’t take a regular-season snap until 2023.
26. Jets (23): Their years of turmoil mirrored that of the airline industry. But this offseason’s talent infusion suggests NYJ could reach takeoff speed… but the onus is on second-year QB Zach Wilson to keep things on schedule while taking good care of the baggage.
27. Jaguars (27): With a legitimate coach like Doug Pederson now guiding 2021 No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence — and an offense getting another kickstart with 2021 first-rounder Travis Etienne chomping at the bit to make his NFL debut — Jacksonville could be important. Riot
28. Seahawks (25): So WR DK Metcalf, who Seattle only extended for three years, is now the face of this franchise? If not, then who? Maybe it’s been nine months since the 12th in the college quarterback?
29. Giants (29): While much attention will be focused on how effectively first-year coach Brian Daboll recalibrates QB Daniel Jones, the impact on new coordinator Dan “Wink” Martindale’s defense could define how far these Giants go.
30. Bears (31): The jitters may never actually end amid speculation that 32-year-old DE Robert Quinn (team-record 18½ sacks in 2021) could be the next veteran, and whispers that Chicago is already close to giving up 2021 second-rounder Teven. Jenkins.
31. Texans (30): If we spot you QB Davis Mills and WR Brandin Cooks, can you name three other starters for Houston? Good teams often emerge from anonymity, but it usually takes some time.
32. Falcons (32): If we spot you QB Marcus Mariota and TE Kyle Pitt, can you name three other starters for Atlanta … but that should be an easier bar to clear than Houston? Good teams often emerge from anonymity, but it usually takes a while … and the Falcons may take longer than the Texans.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.