NFL power rankings entering 2022 regular season (previous rank in parentheses):
1. Rams (1): Pretty rare to see reigning Super Bowl champs open as underdogs at home. But if there’s more bite than bark in QB Matthew Stafford’s elbow, LA has a solid chance to be the first team to repeat since the 2004 Patriots.
2. Bills (2): A franchise that prides itself on a culture allegedly cultivated with great care somehow allowed that reputation to be undermined by a rookie punter. TBD if there are lasting repercussions for a team many believe to be on a Super Bowl arc.
3. Bengals (3): The last time a team returned to the Super Bowl the year after losing it? New England in 2018, and the Pats won. Piece of cake, Joey B.
4. Packers (4): Per coach Matt LaFleur, RBs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are, “1A and 1A … they can do anything.” Two big reasons, along with an underappreciated defense, that Aaron Rodgers and Co. will be fine without WR Davante Adams. Maybe even Lombardi fine.
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5. Buccaneers (7): Former HC Bruce Arians recently told Heavy.com that this Tampa Bay edition boasts, “the most talented roster we’ve had.” Then surely they’ll be Lombardi fine, regardless of the revamped interior O-line protecting statuary Tom Brady?
6. Chiefs (5): Quite obviously Lombardi fine, even after their divorce from game-breaking WR Tyreek Hill. After all, K.C. has already issued jersey No. 10, formerly worn by Hill, to rookie RB Isiah Pacheco – and his explosive potential was the talk of training camp.
7. Ravens (6): Interesting schedule quirk, Baltimore’s first four games coming against the entirety of the AFC East. Maybe that’s why QB Lamar Jackson doesn’t want to talk about a contract after Week 1 … though maybe he should given he’ll face the Jets and 2021’s worst defense in the opener.
8. Chargers (8): QB Justin Herbert’s trajectory suggests he’ll be a top-three MVP candidate by season’s end. The Bolts’ history of snakebites makes one worry if he’ll be on injured reserve by Week 3.
9. Eagles (9): The league’s No. 1 rushing team in 2021 didn’t have one 1,000-yard receiver. Former Titans WR A.J. Brown could make the biggest impact of any player to switch teams in 2022.
10. 49ers (11): Brilliant resolution – for now – of Jimmy Garoppolo’s situation given league’s best QB2 is a golden insurance policy behind Trey Lance … and now a much more fiscally attractive fallback elsewhere right up to November’s trade deadline.
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11. Colts (10): Your fantasy draft is probably over … but if rookie WR Alec Pierce slipped into your league’s free-agent pool, consider making a claim.
12. Saints (13): Speaking of scheduling quirks, very odd these days for a team to open its campaign with back-to-back-to-back divisional matchups. But New Orleans does, including a Week 2 opportunity to pillage the Bucs (again) at the Superdome, and can make a very early case that reclamation of the NFC South throne is coming.
13. Patriots (12): After going 2-7 in his last nine games at Hard Rock Stadium, Bill Belichick decided to take his team down to Miami five days ahead of Sunday’s opener. Good time to invoke that old quote, allegedly from Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Way to switch things up, BB.
14. Raiders (14): Assuming none of their trio of 2019 first-rounders are re-signed after this season – fifth-year options for DE Clelin Ferrell, RB Josh Jacobs and S Johnathan Abram have already been declined – this club won’t have one player former GM Mike Mayock took in Round 1 on the roster in 2023.
15. Cowboys (15): If it seemed like they might be catching the Bucs at the right time in Week 1 – Tampa breaking in three new starters on the O-line – welp, now it turns out Dallas has a 60% turnover up front itself following the hamstring injury that will keep LT Tyron Smith out for months.
16. Dolphins (16): A team that quietly had 48 sacks last season should rack them up again with Emmanuel Ogbah, Jaelan Phillips, Trey Flowers and Melvin Ingram forming the guts of what should be a scary pass rush.
17. Vikings (17): Meanwhile, up in Minnesota, the Vikes paced the NFC with 51 sacks in 2021 even though current starting OLBs Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith (a Packer last year) combined for just six. If that duo is healthy, look out.
18. Broncos (18): They hope to be the third team in three seasons to win the Super Bowl after bringing in a star quarterback during the preceding offseason … but nah.
19. Cardinals (22): They hope to be the third team in three seasons to win the Super Bowl on their home field … but nah.
20. Steelers (19): Job’s yours Mitch Trubisky … enjoy facing five playoff teams before Halloween in your bid to hold off rookie Kenny Pickett.
21. Panthers (24): How quiet was the 2022 preseason? QB Baker Mayfield’s apparent desire to exact revenge from Cleveland in Week 1 – “leaked” by NFL Media – qualified as a saucy story.
22. Titans (20): The loss of OLB Harold Landry III to a season-ending knee injury is the latest sign Tennessee may have to reboot sooner than later.
23. Lions (21): We haven’t finished “Hard Knocks” yet, but still wondering … did Detroit ever give any indication it had a starting quarterback?
24. Browns (25): Maybe tacking on five games to QB Deshaun Watson’s suspension feels insufficient to many. But given those contests are against Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Buffalo and Tampa Bay, that likely means an 0-5 penalty for Cleveland.
25. Jaguars (27): Should be fun to see former Clemson teammates Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, who missed his rookie year with a Lisfranc injury, finally teaming up as pros.
26. Commanders (23): Even if Washington doesn’t rake in a ton of wins this season, the first has already been secured given rookie RB Brian Robinson escaped serious injury after getting shot in an apparent carjacking.
27. Jets (26): It’s official, QB Zach Wilson is out for Week 1 as his recovery from knee surgery continues. (Unofficially, who doesn’t want to see Joe Flacco get his first crack at the Ravens anyway?)
28. Seahawks (28): QB Russell Wilson will be in Lumen Field on Monday night – just wearing a Denver jersey. Can’t wait to see how the overcaffeinated 12s receive Russ … and Geno Smith.
29. Giants (29): WR Kenny Golladay’s next TD for Big Blue will be his first … among the many issues facing this offense.
30. Bears (30): The most dramatic NFL storyline in Chicago this season could be the ongoing speculation regarding whether this team will wind up under a Soldier Field roof or move to the Windy City suburbs in the near future.
31. Falcons (32): Rookie QB Desmond Ridder’s preseason performance – and the state of this roster – suggest he could be under center by Thanksgiving.
32. Texans (31): Don’t expect much from Houston on the field, but pretty cool to see them – HC Lovie Smith and LBs Kamu Grugier-Hill and Christian Kirksey specifically – head to Uvalde, Texas, to offer a still-grieving community some extra love.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.