The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will play in the first game of the regular season on September 5. While that's still a little over a month away, it's never too early to start thinking about how your team compares to the rest of the field.
Last season saw the New England Patriots take home their sixth Lombardi Trophy—tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most wins of all time. While dynasties are still top contenders in 2019, some younger teams are on the rise as well.
Here's a breakdown of how the league looks going into the first week of the preseason.
The Saints' position at the top of the rankings was in jeopardy while star receiver Michael Thomas held out for a bigger contract.
However, after a six-day training camp holdout, he was given an almost $100 million five-year extension, making him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. And Thomas intends to “earn every penny” of the deal, according to ESPN's Mike Triplett.
They're hungry to make it to the Super Bowl after losing in the NFC Championship game because of a blown pass interference non-call, which should make for an interesting season for the Saints.
2. New England Patriots
It may be surprising to see the Super Bowl Champions not at the top of this list.
While the Patriots have shown they are a top contender regardless of Tom Brady's age, the absence of star tight end Rob Gronkowski—one of the 41-year-old quarterback's favorite targets—is sure to take a toll on the team.
That's not to say they won't make it deep into the postseason, as the Patriots and Saints are projected to be the top two teams in their conferences, but Brady's age and Gronk's absence doesn't guarantee the six-time champs a No. 1 spot.
The Chiefs still have their top receiver in Tyreek Hill, who was cleared for training camp.
The 25-year-old hauled in almost 1,500 receiving yards last season and led Kansas City wideouts with 12 touchdowns.
Patrick Mahomes now has another year of experience and high-level play under his belt, which can only make him better moving forward when facing off against veteran quarterbacks like Brady, Drew Brees and more.
However, Kansas City will be without top running back Kareem Hunt, who led the team with 14 total rushing and receiving touchdowns.
After falling to the Patriots in a 13-3 loss—the fewest points in Super Bowl history—the Rams are returning Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.
They shouldn't have any problem making it to the playoffs, but they will face some stiff competition in a deep NFC that holds New Orleans, Dallas and Chicago. In their own conference, they also have to be wary of the Seattle Seahawks.
However, after a successful year of experience and chemistry with his receivers and backs, Goff is stacking up to have another impressive season with his top-five team.
The Eagles have proved they're a hard team to keep down, sneaking into the 2018 playoffs by winning the last three games of the regular season, including against the Rams in Los Angeles.
Nick Foles took over again—after winning the Super Bowl for Philadelphia in 2018—when Carson Wentz suffered a late-season back injury.
Foles led the team to a win over the Bears in the Wild Card Round and brought his team within six points of the Saints in the Divisional Round.
You can never count this team out, as they seem to always have a few tricks up their sleeve. With a healthy Wentz for the upcoming season, Philly will be a top competitor once again.
The Colts ended their 2019 season on a strong note, clinching a playoff spot and going on to beat AFC South rival Houston in the Wild Card Round—even though the Texans had clinched the division.
Indianapolis will hope to carry that momentum into the new season, which Andrew Luck and Eric Ebron should have no problem doing.
7. Chicago Bears
Chicago suffered a tough 16-15 loss at the hands of the Eagles after Cody Parkey's 43-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the crossbar with five seconds left in the game.
Despite that devastating finish, the Bears had a phenomenal season in Matt Nagy's first year as head coach, finishing with a 12-4 record and clinching the NFC North for the first time since 2010.
The Bears wanted to use the loss as motivation for the future, and that will serve them well throughout the season.
After a phenomenal, 12-win season that ended in a divisional-round loss to the Patriots, the Chargers look like they may be in trouble.
Running back Melvin Gordon had over 1,000 total yards and 14 total touchdowns last season, but he is now holding out of training camp as he seeks a new contract.
Per ESPN, Gordon's agent has requested a trade for his client, as the 26-year-old player is not happy with the Chargers' initial offer of $10 million per season.
Despite depth in the receiver position, a Gordon trade or holdout would leave Los Angeles lacking in the backfield and could hurt them in the long run.
While this may be an overly hopeful ranking for the Browns, they are stacking up to be the most exciting team in football.
Whether you're a fan or not, you're going to tune in to see the likes of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt.
However, Hunt will be serving an eight-game suspension for violating to the league's personal conduct policy, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
With top talent in every position, though, the Browns are sure to make a push for their first playoff appearance since 2002.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas is in a bit of a sticky situation at the moment, as its three top players are looking for contract extensions.
While Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper are both taking a less aggressive approach and continuing to practice while they work out their deals, star running back Ezekiel Elliott is holding out of training camp until his contract is renegotiated.
Elliott will play a huge part in the Cowboys' success this year, and his appearance on the field will dictate where they fall in the preseason rankings and their ability to win games when the season begins.
11. Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson showed what he could do for Baltimore last season, and they decided to stick with him and traded away longtime starting quarterback Joe Flacco.
In addition to throwing 1,201 yards and six touchdowns, Jackson highlighted his potential as a dual-threat QB by rushing just under 700 yards and for five touchdowns.
This season will prove interesting for the Ravens, who will see if they made the right decision going all-in on the 2016 Heisman winner.
12. Houston Texans
The Texans had a nine-game win streak and won 11 games in the 2018 season, with Deshaun Watson leading the way alongside DeAndre Hopkins.
Like Jackson, Watson is able to take the ball himself when he has no options down the field.
Watson and Hopkins are the anchors of the team, and their chemistry will not only make them a fun duo to watch, but will also help them win games.
While Kirk Cousins had a solid first year with Minnesota—throwing 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns—his second year will cement his future with the team if he can keep up the same numbers while decreasing the number of interceptions he throws.
The quarterback has a pair of top wideouts in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, with whom he's showed chemistry, but he will need a boost from the offensive line to make an impact this year.
14. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle has some decisions to make in terms of its pass rush, after trading defensive end Frank Clark in the offseason and having key defensive tackle Jarran Reed suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the personal conduct policy.
While the Seahawks try to work out what to do about their defensive line for the first six weeks, they will rely on quarterback Russell Wilson to give them an offensive cushion.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
This will prove to be a vital season for the Steelers as they move into the post-Antonio Brown era.
Ben Roethlisberger has been throwing to Brown since the team drafted him in 2010, so this season is bound to be a learning curve for the experienced quarterback.
Brown's departure will also allow for receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to step up and take on more of the 37-year-old QB's passes.
The Panthers had some trouble at the end of last season with Cam Newton, who struggled with a right shoulder injury that put him on the injured reserve.
While the 30-year-old has thrown a 45-yard pass without pain, he has also sat out of drills during training camp, describing his return as "a process."
If Newton can't stay healthy, Carolina may not have a consistent enough quarterback to make a postseason run.
17. Green Bay Packers
Matt LaFleur begins his time as a head coach this season, leaving his offensive coordinator position with the Titans to lead the Packers.
While Green Bay has always had a powerful offense, led by veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers, its defense has been lacking. However, the team made defense a priority in the offseason, adding pass-rushers, safeties and more.
Rodgers described the defense as having "a little more juice," which may help them be stronger contenders this year.
18. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons struggled to keep their defensive backfield healthy last season, with injuries plaguing their defenders and making them the fifth-worst total defense in yards given up (6,152), according to ESPN.
While Atlanta had hope for this year, it has already suffered a loss after safety J.J. Wilcox tore his ACL last week and was ruled out for the season.
If the Falcons can't keep their backfield healthy, they are in danger of giving up the deep pass again this season.
19. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee is still wondering whether Marcus Mariota will solve its long-term quarterback problem.
After what seemed like an exciting 2017 season, his performance in 2018 left much to be desired as he threw eight interceptions to 11 touchdowns 14 games.
The Titans have stuck with the 25-year-old since they took him as the No. 2 overall player in the 2015 draft, but another forgettable year may put Mariota in trouble.
San Francisco had hoped up-and-coming quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would become its franchise QB after getting him from the Patriots in 2017.
While the 27-year-old may still do that, his first full season with the 49ers was cut short when he suffered a torn ACL in the third game last season. He's looked rusty in camp, according to Grant Cohn of Inside the 49ers, especially compared to backup Nick Mullens, who has gained more experience with the offense in Garoppolo's absence.
Garoppolo will have to find a way to get back in rhythm quickly when the season starts or risk being replaced again.
21. New York Jets
The Jets are up here for one reason only: Le'Veon Bell.
While I still wouldn't draft him as No. 1 in my fantasy football league (made that mistake last year), he will most definitely make an impact on the field for New York this year.
The 27-year-old is hungry to show everyone he's still the 1,291-yard, nine-touchdown running back he was in 2017, and you can expect him to put on a show to prove it.
22. Denver Broncos
Joe Flacco has left his longtime home in Baltimore and will now be a veteran quarterback option for the Denver Broncos, who have struggled to find a consistent QB since their Super Bowl win in 2016.
Most recently, Case Keenum filled the role in 2018 and threw 15 interceptions, averaging just 6.6 yards per pass attempt.
Flacco, 34, will prove to be an interesting addition, with the Broncos continuing to be a bit of a mystery.
Jacksonville swapped Blake Bortles for Nick Foles, which is sure to help their somewhat stagnant offense from last year.
No one player had more than five touchdowns, and Bortles struggled to keep the ball out of the hands of defenders, throwing 11 interceptions.
Foles has proved he can make the most out of difficult situations, winning a Super Bowl and taking down top teams to battle his way into the playoffs. This can only help the Jaguars.
24. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are looking up this season with the addition of veteran star Antonio Brown.
Derek Carr didn't have a breakout receiver last season he could rely on and target consistently. However, that's no longer the case after Brown joined the team.
Playing with a new quarterback may take some getting used to—Brown had spent his whole NFL career with Ben Roethlisberger—but Carr and the former Philadelphia star have been working on their chemistry, with the receiver saying he's “embracing the new.”
Washington is watching a quarterback battle heat up in its training camp, where Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy and Case Keenum are competing for the starting position.
While all three bring different talents to the competition, Keenum and McCoy both have NFL experience and Haskins is the Redskins' first-round pick out of Ohio State.
It seems to still be anybody's game.
The story with the Bucs seems to still be quarterback Jameis Winston and whether he'll start performing like they need him to.
As the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, there were high expectations for the 25-year-old that he hasn't completely filled.
Tampa Bay has not made the playoffs since 2007, and Winston's performances each year have seemed to get worse; he threw 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2018.
All eyes will be on him once again, and he needs to step up this season if he wants the Buccaneers to keep investing in him.
27. Detroit Lions
Matt Patricia enters his second year as head coach of the Lions after only notching six wins in his first season—including a win over his former team, the Patriots.
Detroit has consistency in quarterback Matthew Stafford, and the addition of slot receiver Danny Amendola will give him another weapon down the field in addition to Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.
28. Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen has the potential to make a real impact in Buffalo.
Despite only notching six wins in his rookie season, the Bills' No. 7 pick threw just over 2,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also showed his ability to move quickly out of the pocket and run the ball himself, leading the team in rushing yards with 631 and rushing touchdowns with eight.
His second year with the team will show how much he has developed and where he can grow within the organization.
Veterans Andy Dalton and A.J. Green won the first four of five games last season, but then dropped nine of the next 11 to finish the season with six wins. The two will return for the Bengals this season, alongside young running back Joe Mixon.
However, the focus needs to be on the defense, after Cincinnati was blown out by the Saints and Chiefs last year, as well as giving up 20 or more points in 13 of their games.
30. Miami Dolphins
While the Miami Dolphins have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will guarantee them at least a few wins on the season, they are amid a major rebuild.
The team has some solid players in DeVante Parker, Kenyan Drake and Eric Rowe, but it is focused on the future.
And if Josh Rosen doesn't end up being a long-term fix for Miami, it'll want to have a high draft pick to have a chance at picking up a QB in the future.
31. New York Giants
The Giants were largely mocked after drafting Duke's Daniel Jones with the sixth pick, however, the rookie has shown some potential in training camp, being singled out as a Thursday standout.
The 22-year-old may get some opportunities to play if Eli Manning continues to struggle, even though the veteran looks likely to lock up the starting position with a dominant camp performance.
Saquon Barkley also makes the team fun to watch, but don't expect them to win too many games this year unless they make some drastic changes.
Yes, the Cardinals used their No. 1 pick to draft 2019 Heisman winner and top quarterback Kyler Murray. But, it will take some time for the rookie to get comfortable in their system and become a confident, successful starting quarterback in the NFL.
The 21-year-old will need some time to turn Arizona around, and the team will need to pick up some more weapons for him besides Larry Fitzgerald.