By Nate Weitzer
We’re well into the NFL offseason and news is flying in to dominate the news cycle during a troubling time where all sports have been put on hiatus.
Tom Brady has signed with the Bucs, Philip Rivers with the Colts, and Teddy Bridgewater steps in under center for the rebuilding Panthers. DeAndre Hopkins was traded to Arizona for David Johnson, the Falcons scooped up Todd Gurley, and the Jaguars traded Nick Foles to Chicago.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of movement in the first week of the new league year, and sportsbooks are adjusting to all the NFL free agency player movement.
Kansas City opened as the favorite to repeat as Super Bowl Champions with +600 odds on DraftKings Sportsbook, followed by the Baltimore Ravens (+750) and San Francisco 49ers (+900). The New England Patriots (+1800) have dropped considerably with Brady gone and the Bucs (+1800) have jumped well up in terms of their odds to win it all.
In an effort to update throughout the offseason on the outlook of NFL teams ahead of the 2020-21 season, TheLines is providing a special pre-draft edition of our Power Rankings.
These Power Rankings look beyond records by predicting the actual potential of each team, thus helping fans think ahead when playing seasonal, Daily Fantasy Football, or placing bets on sportsbooks.
These rankings will serve as a starting point for placing futures bets on next season. Odds will change at sportsbooks, so stay tuned for updates.
Here’s the first free agency edition of our 2020-21 NFL Power Rankings, along with Super Bowl title odds courtesy of DraftKings.
2020 NFL Power Rankings
|Rank||Team||Super Bowl Odds
1. Kansas City Chiefs (Previous rank: 1)
With the most dangerous QB in football, one of the most creative offensive coaches of all time, and a full arsenal of weapons to deploy, the Chiefs should continue to innovate while defending their Super Bowl crown. They tagged DT Chris Jones to preserve a defense that is now more than just serviceable.
2. Baltimore Ravens (Previous rank: 3)
Landing massive pass rusher Calais Campbell for a fifth-round pick is a great return for a Ravens defense that was already stout, but can now go on the offensive more often. With Lamar Jackson capable of building early leads, Baltimore will be tough to catch.
3. New Orleans Saints (Previous rank: 4)
Drew Brees is back on a two-year contract worth $50M and the Saints are going all-in with signings around him. They added Sanders to work next to Michael Thomas, re-signed stud tackle Andrus Peat, and bolstered their struggling pass defense by adding veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins and D.J. Swearinger.
4. San Francisco 49ers (Previous rank: 2)
The Niners haven’t lost any depth on their elite defensive front, but let valuable veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders walk over to the rival Saints. Sanders proved to be a huge stabilizing force for Jimmy Garoppolo during the second half last year.
5. Dallas Cowboys (Previous rank: 8)
At some point, talent should shine through on a team that has underachieved for years under Jason Garrett. New HC Mike McCarthy has no excuses with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper back to lead the offense while new acquisitions Gerald McCoy and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gives veteran DC Rod Marinelli even more weapons.
6. Buffalo Bills (Previous rank: 11)
Mario Addison and Vernon Butler bolster the Bills fearsome defensive front and Josh Norman could form the best cornerback duo in the NFL opposite Tre’Davious White if he has a lot left in the tank. Trading a 2020 first-round pick for Stefon Diggs indicates that the Bills believe they can get past the Patriots and win now, and we’re inclined to buy stock in Buffalo.
7. Tennessee Titans (Previous rank: 6)
Mike Vrabel seems confident that his team can continue to thrive with Ryan Tannehill under center, since he didn’t seem to make a big push to snare Tom Brady. The Titans used the franchise tag to keep Derrick Henry and added OT Dennis Kelly to replace Jack Conklin.
8. Green Bay Packers (Previous rank: 10)
Hamstrung by limited salary cap space that might go towards extending Aaron Jones and/or David Bakhtiari, the Packers will likely field a similar team this year after looking formidable last season, yet completely unable to challenge the physical 49ers.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (Previous rank: 15)
Pass defense has been a consistent issue for the Eagles over the past few seasons and signing shutdown CB Darius Slay should solve some of those issues. A better year of health for Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and others should solve their offensive woes.
10. Minnesota Vikings (Previous rank: 7)
They might have stunned the Saints in NFC Wild Card round last season, but the Vikings aren’t necessarily a lock to return to the playoffs this year. Stefon Diggs is now in Buffalo, leaving defenses free to double Adam Thielen and stack the box against Dalvin Cook.
11. Seattle Seahawks (Previous rank: 9)
Will the Seahawks be able to retain Jadeveon Clowney? Russell Wilson is a foundational piece on offense and has an equally reliable TE to target now in Greg Olsen, but the Seahawks need to retool their backsliding defense to become a legitimate title threat.
12. New England Patriots (Previous rank: 5)
If the Patriots pony up for Cam Newton or Andy Dalton, they could quickly vault back into the ranks of true contenders. But if Jarrett Stidham or the ancient Brian Hoyer opens the season under center, they’re in for a rough ride while playing one of the toughest schedules in the league.
13. Tampa Bay Bucs (Previous rank: 19)
Tom Brady thrives on doubt and there is no shortage of fuel for the 42-year-old QB as he looks to prove he can win without Bill Belichick. Throwing to stud WRs in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will help him look good, and the Bucs are more of a complete team than some might think with a stifling rush defense and improving pass rush.
14. Los Angeles Rams (Previous rank: 13)
Although Todd Gurley’s health is no longer a distraction, the Rams need to find a capable back to replace him in a system that is predicated on play-action. Leonard Floyd is a stud DE who could put their stifling defense over the top.
15. Houston Texans (Previous rank: 12)
Safe to assume the Texans aren’t in the “running backs don’t matter” camp. They dealt a top five WR in DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson, who lost his job to Kenyan Drake last season. Johnson should put up great numbers behind Houston’s zone blocking scheme, but Hopkins did wonders for their passing offense.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (Previous rank: 16)
Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return for one last ride and James Conner is also capable of bouncing back after an injury-plagued season. The Steelers defense dragged this team to an 8-8 record last year, so a competent offense could quickly put them over the top.
17. Cleveland Browns (Previous rank: 22)
Once again, the Browns have been extremely aggressive in free agency. They snared pro bowl OT Jack Conklin and made Austin Hooper the highest-paid TE in the NFL. Will former Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski succeed where Freddy Kitchens failed by getting the most out of this talented lot?
18. Atlanta Falcons (Previous rank: 14)
After a strong second half to the 2018-19 season, the Falcons could be ready for a resurgence and they’ll hope that Todd Gurley is healthy enough to serve as a big upgrade over Devonta Freeman.
19. Indianapolis Colts (Previous rank: 20)
Frank Reich and the Colts were able to design a system to mask Jacoby Brissett’s shortcomings after Andrew Luck unexpectedly retired. Now this staff has a savvy veteran under center in Philip Rivers, which should help them win a few close games and vie for a playoff spot.
20. Chicago Bears (Previous rank: 17)
Is Nick Foles actually an upgrade over Mitchell Trubisky? Getting the former Super Bowl MVP for a fourth-round pick isn’t a bad haul for Chicago either way, since his presence could light a fire under Trubisky.
21. Denver Broncos (Previous rank: 22)
Chris Harris Jr. is gone, but A.J. Bouye steps in at CB. Jurell Casey should shore up Denver’s rush defense, and Bradley Chubb will return from an ACL tear to spark the pass rush.
With Melvin Gordon leading the backfield and Drew Lock looking capable at QB, the Broncos might just finish second in the AFC West.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (Previous rank: 26)
However, if the Chargers land Cam Newton, they could quickly surpass Denver in terms of preseason hype among potential AFC West runner-ups. They’ve already traded for OG Trai Turner and signed OT Bryan Bulaga, setting up a potentially potent combination on the offensive line.
23. Arizona Cardinals (Previous rank: 25)
Kenyan Drake made David Johnson fungible, allowing the Cardinals to deal DJ for DeAndre Hopkins. Kyler Murray could take off in his second season with a true No. 1 receiver at his disposal.
24. Detroit Lions (Previous rank: 23)
Matthew Stafford should put up his typical numbers with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. doing damage down the field, but without a defensive identity, the Lions seem destined to underachieve once again and potentially end Matt Patricia’s young run.
25. Las Vegas Raiders (Previous rank: 21)
Marcus Mariota could push for Derek Carr’s job, although he still won’t have much to work with in terms of weaponry. Nelson Agholor is not necessarily a top WR and Jason Witten could just be in Oakland to study Jon Gruden’s broadcasting skills.
26. New York Giants (Previous rank: 24)
The Giants improve a vastly deficient defense by signing LB Blake Martinez and DB James Braberry, a sizable corner who can shut down even the most physical receivers. Their offense is loaded with talent around Daniel Jones, we’ll just have to see if he can reign in the turnovers.
27. Miami Dolphins (Previous rank: 28)
Brian Flores has proven to be an excellent head coach and his defense is going to look far more formidable this year with Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Byron Jones joining the roster.
28. New York Jets (Previous rank: 27)
Bringing back Adam Gase set the tone and the Jets front office followed through with a host of moves that scream complacency. They haven’t done much of anything to surround Sam Darnold with talent and seem prepared to let Robby Anderson walk in free agency.
29. Carolina Panthers (Previous rank: 32)
Teddy Bridgewater did a fantastic job filling in for Drew Brees last season, but he’s unlikely to look as good at the helm of a floundering Panthers offense. Christian McCaffrey can only do so much for that unit and the Panthers defense is bound to fall apart with Luke Kuechly retired.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (Previous rank: 29)
The Jaguars run defense was pillow soft last year and they’re unlikely to be much better without Calais Campbell there to set the edge. Their secondary won’t be very formidable either with Jalen Ramsey and now A.J. Bouye playing in other markets.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (Previous rank: 31)
The Bengals tagged A.J. Green and will hope that he pairs well enough with Joe Burrow to give fans reason for optimism. Of course, drafting Burrow first overall wouldn’t do much to fix a defense that finished 28th against both the run and pass last season.
32. Washington Redskins (Previous rank: 30)
Dwayne Haskins is unpolished and Ron Rivera isn’t typically very hands-on as an offensive coach. Alex Smith could return from his broken leg and nothing about this franchise inspires confidence in how they will handle a QB competition.
How to use NFL Power Rankings
Reading these weekly rankings (or even creating your own Power Rankings) can significantly increase your odds of placing correct bets against the spread each Sunday. You may even be able to create your own formula based on win probability, results over the past couple of seasons, and current updates.
Of course, you have to account for factors such as travel time, home-field advantage, and injuries as the season progresses. Yet early in the season, it’s possible to go against oddsmakers by sticking to your own process.
Sports bettors tend to overreact to transactions, such as Antonio Brown leaving the Steelers, and sportsbooks adjust the odds accordingly as money comes in. This creates opportunities to bet against the public as you see value appear in the market.
If you stick with the raw data, i.e. metrics on offensive line play, a quarterback’s record at home, and turnover differential, you might be able to cash big early in the season before oddsmakers and the betting public adjust. Trust your data and stay one step ahead with a comprehensive Power Rankings system.