NFL Power Rankings: Packers back on top, plus New Year’s resolutions for all 32 teams

Now that 2021 is in the rearview and we’re now in 2022, the NFL Power Rankings are looking ahead. While there are still playoff berths to be earned and championships to be won, we decided this was a perfect time for each franchise to give a New Year’s resolution for 2022.

To do that, we asked our NFL Nation reporters to pen their version of “Auld Lang Syne” and come up with a primary goal for the teams they cover over the next year. While the New England Patriots went rogue a bit, the rest of the responses mostly fell into a few categories. For contenders like the Green Bay Packers, short-term goals to set up a run at this season’s Vince Lombardi Trophy were the primary focus. For other teams, rewarding deserving players or surrounding stars with better help are what caught the reporters’ attention. And for your downtrodden franchises (sorry Jacksonville), simply taking a positive step down the long road to respectability was the call.

How we determine our Power Rankings: Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings: 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

https://crossfitcaliforniacity.com/sports-news/darren-gough-hires-two-ex-england-teammates-as-coaches-at-crisis-hit-yorkshire/

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)

Previous ranking: 2

New Year’s resolution: Help IR guys return

There’s a group of players on injured reserve — and not just any players but starters and some Pro Bowlers — who have a chance to return for the playoffs. Among them are CB Jaire Alexander, OLB Za’Darius Smith, LT David Bakhtiari, C Josh Myers and WR Randall Cobb. After Sunday’s game, Aaron Rodgers spoke optimistically about some or all of them coming back this year, although coach Matt LaFleur downplayed it slightly. The return of any of them could help in the postseason. — Rob Demovsky

2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)

Previous ranking: 1

New Year’s resolution: Re-sign Tyrann Mathieu

The Chiefs need to keep Mathieu around past the end of his contract in a couple of months. He has plenty of value as a player and an equal amount as a leader in the locker room. The Chiefs would struggle to find all that he brings at a lesser price than what it would take to re-sign him. They haven’t invested heavily in their secondary other than Mathieu, and he is one player they cannot do without. — Adam Teicher

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)

Previous ranking: 4

New Year’s resolution: Get healthy for the postseason

The Bucs are decimated by injuries. Chris Godwin’s done for the year. Leonard Fournette, Lavonte David and Giovani Bernard are on IR but could come back. Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are out because of knee and shoulder injuries. Mike Evans just returned from a hamstring injury and Antoine Winfield Jr. from a foot injury. Ronald Jones II left Sunday’s game because of an ankle injury. They’re limping into the postseason big time right now. To make matters worse, they must now replace Antonio Brown, who left the team. — Jenna Laine

4. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

Previous ranking: 5

New Year’s resolution: Eliminate turnovers

Matthew Stafford has undoubtedly ignited the offense, but if only the 13th-year quarterback could eliminate some of his turnover streaks, the Rams would be unstoppable. Stafford ranks second in the NFL with 38 passing touchdowns, but he also is tied for second with 15 interceptions — including four pick-sixes, which lead the league. The wild part is the Rams have overcome back-to-back multi-turnover performances to produce victories, enabling a five-game win streak. Imagine how dominant they could be if Stafford found a way to cut down on the multi-turnover games (he has five) or eliminate them altogether. — Lindsey Thiry

5. Tennessee Titans (11-5)

Previous ranking: 8

New Year’s resolution: Re-sign OLB Harold Landry III

The Titans haven’t had a pass-rusher finish with double-digit sack totals since Brian Orakpo had 10.5 sacks in 2016. Landry’s 12 sacks this season place him in a tie with Kyle Vanden Bosch for the fifth most in a single season in franchise history. Suddenly, the Titans have a formidable pass rush, led by Landry, that has 41 sacks, the sixth most in the NFL. The Titans drop Landry into coverage sometimes, and he is strong against the run. Landry has also been one of the team’s most durable players, as he has missed only one game in four seasons. — Turron Davenport

6. Buffalo Bills (10-6)

Previous ranking: 7

New Year’s resolution: Find ways to win close games

The Bills are on their way to the playoffs and need a win over the Jets or a Patriots loss to the Dolphins to clinch the division for a second straight year. But Buffalo had the potential to take care of its path to the playoffs much earlier. Instead, the Bills have gone 0-5 in one-score games, with the offense having late opportunities to win the game or tie in four of those and falling just short. It’s not an easy thing to fix, like providing gloves for Sean McDermott’s clapping hands or finding a dominant running back of the future, but it’s something that needs to get corrected for a team that should be in contention for years to come. — Alaina Getzenberg

7. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

Previous ranking: 3

New Year’s resolution: Keep Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore

There’s only so much Jerry Jones can do if another team offers either assistant coach a head-coaching position, but he has been persuasive in the past with other coaches. Quinn has turned around the defense. Moore has been in quarterback Dak Prescott’s ear from the beginning. Starting over with a third defensive coordinator in three seasons under Mike McCarthy and perhaps shifting the offensive scheme would not be the best way to start the new year. — Todd Archer

8. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)

Previous ranking: 11

New Year’s resolution: Don’t have second-half meltdowns

Even though Arizona won Sunday in Dallas, the Cardinals have still lost five of their past nine, which still gives Kliff Kingsbury a second-half slide in every season he has been a head coach. If this season’s slide didn’t happen, the Cardinals would have likely won the NFC West by now and possibly been competing for or have captured the No. 1 seed in the entire conference. On top of all that, they could’ve been looking at 14 or 15 wins. It’s something Kingsbury needs to work on because it lowers his ceiling, and with a quarterback like Kyler Murray, having a limit to what a team can do on the field isn’t the way to win Super Bowls. — Josh Weinfuss

9. New England Patriots (10-6)

Previous ranking: 9

New Year’s resolution: Stop asking Bill Belichick about resolutions

After the team’s Week 16 home loss to the Bills, Belichick was asked if he had any resolutions. That predictably didn’t go too well. Then he was asked a follow-up on videoconference six days later and he said, “Those would all be personal anyway, so they probably wouldn’t mean much to you anyway.” — Mike Reiss

10. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

Previous ranking: 10

New Year’s resolution: Improve Joe Burrow’s protection

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Bengals QB is at risk in the pocket a little more than anyone is probably comfortable with. Before being dissuaded from this resolution by any positive comments, let’s take a look at the numbers. The Bengals rank 31st in pass block win rate, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. They were also 31st in 2019 and tied for 29th in 2020. Burrow has been contacted 89 times inside the pocket — the third-highest total in the league, per ESPN Stats & Information research. The Bengals need improvement from current players and some offseason acquisitions to finally get the pass blocking somewhere near par. — Ben Baby

11. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)

Previous ranking: 12

New Year’s resolution: Make a significant investment at cornerback

The Niners have put major resources into key positions like quarterback, left tackle and pass-rusher since GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017. But they haven’t done the same at cornerback, where the largest investment was in Richard Sherman when he was coming off a torn Achilles. In the draft, the Niners haven’t taken a cornerback earlier than No. 66, either. San Francisco’s raw passing yards allowed numbers are fine, but it leads the NFL with 19 defensive pass interference penalties. A top-level corner could elevate the 49ers’ defense back into elite territory in 2022. — Nick Wagoner

12. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)

Previous ranking: 6

New Year’s resolution: Make Carson Wentz more consistent

The Colts should be thankful that they have the NFL’s leading rusher in Jonathan Taylor (1,734 yards) because he is a major reason why they are a win away from making the playoffs. Wentz, whom the Colts gave up a first-round pick to acquire from Philadelphia last offseason, has lacked the steadiness to show they can win with him long term. Wentz looked great in the fourth quarter against Arizona on Christmas night but has issues with overthrows and is too often taking risks that still cause uneasiness. — Mike Wells

13. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

Previous ranking: 13

New Year’s resolution: Give Jalen Hurts some space

The Eagles want to be a “quarterback factory,” as general manager Howie Roseman once famously said, and that’s not a bad mindset to have — over investing in the most important position in pro sports is generally smart. But the QB1 also needs to feel supported. When Carson Wentz felt that was in question after the Eagles selected Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, things fell apart quickly. It might be enticing for the Eagles to use some of their handsome draft capital (they have three first-round picks this April) to secure a big-name quarterback, but Hurts has guided his team to the playoffs in his first year as a full-time starter, and at age 23, deserves some breathing room before the Philly brass gets the factory up and cranking once again. — Tim McManus

14. Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)

Previous ranking: 17

New Year’s resolution: Less drama

From Jon Gruden’s emails and swift resignation to Henry Ruggs III’s deadly car crash to Damon Arnette’s social media profile to five walk-off wins to an unlikely playoff chase to an offseason of uncertainty (whither GM Mike Mayock? Interim coach Rich Bisaccia? QB Derek Carr?), the Raiders could stand a more mellow 2022. Then again, they have thrived under adversity of late and are one win away from going to the playoffs for just the second time since (checks notes) 2002! — Paul Gutierrez

15. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

Previous ranking: 15

New Year’s resolution: Re-do Justin Herbert’s contract

I know Herbert is in the second year of his rookie contract and rules are rules, but his base salary this year is $1,818,125. He certainly won’t starve and will get paid big time in his second contract, but still. It seems low for a QB with a shot of leading his team to its first playoff berth since 2009, who made the Pro Bowl, just set a franchise record for TD passes at 35 (besting Dan Fouts and Philip Rivers) and is being paid far below players who have done far less: Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott. Herbert has proven himself. — Shelley Smith

16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

Previous ranking: 14

New Year’s resolution: Find a way to stay healthy

From training camp to the final week of the regular season, overcoming injuries have been an ongoing challenge. The Ravens have suited up 75 players this season, tying 2020 for the most in team history. Baltimore has started 45 different players for at least one game. Even Lamar Jackson, who had never missed a game due to injury in his first three seasons, couldn’t avoid getting sidelined. A right ankle injury has forced him to miss the past three games. When healthy, the Ravens believe they’re a Super Bowl contender. But Baltimore has been a shell of itself this season. — Jamison Hensley

17. Miami Dolphins (8-8)

Previous ranking: 16

New Year’s resolution: Support Tua!

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier has spent four top-90 picks on offensive linemen since 2019 — and they still own the worst pass-blocking offensive line in 2021. With nearly $80 million of projected cap space this offseason, it’s time to stop throwing draft picks at this problem and start spending serious money on it. While he’s at it, draft an impact running back on the second day of the draft; Grier’s preference is to wait until Day 3, and it shows on the field. Miami has a decision to make when it comes to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after next season. It needs to either put a supporting cast around him that can help him succeed or put the pieces in place for Tagovailoa’s successor if the team decides to move on. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1)

Previous ranking: 19

New Year’s resolution: Figure out Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement

Is it Mason Rudolph? A first-round rookie? Dare I say, Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson? With the wealth of issues to fix on the offensive line for next season, it probably isn’t the latter, but the Steelers have to figure something out. With Roethlisberger prolonging his career, the Steelers have procrastinated on the quarterback succession plan, but the assignment is due. The run game also enters the offseason needing significant help for the third year in a row, but all of that starts with determining the next signal-caller. — Brooke Pryor

19. New Orleans Saints (8-8)

Previous ranking: 18

New Year’s resolution: Surround the next QB with more talent

Choosing the right quarterback in 2022 is obviously the top priority for a Saints team that has used five different QBs over the last calendar year. Jameis Winston probably remains the front-runner, but the Saints will consider all options — blockbuster and otherwise — because Winston is an unsigned free agent recovering from a torn ACL. Regardless of whom they choose, the Saints must surround their next QB with better pass catchers and a more complete offensive line. Injuries were a major factor in 2021. WR Michael Thomas missed the entire season, while linemen Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk and Andrus Peat missed ample time. Now the Saints will face some tough financial decisions about how many of those guys they can bring back in 2022, in addition to adding more reinforcements. — Mike Triplett

20. Cleveland Browns (7-9)

Previous ranking: 20

New Year’s resolution: Bolster the passing game

It’s far too lazy to solely blame Cleveland’s struggles through the air on quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has been playing through a torn labrum to his non-throwing left shoulder since Week 2. Mayfield has struggled, to be sure. But he’s hardly the only reason why the Browns suddenly own one of the league’s least dangerous passing attacks. The Browns have got to upgrade the talent at wide receiver, notably the downfield playmaking. In what appears to be another tantalizing WR draft, look for the Browns to target a receiver with their first pick. — Jake Trotter

21. Denver Broncos (7-9)

Previous ranking: 21

New Year’s resolution: Fix the offense

The Broncos have started 10 different quarterbacks, as well as running back Phillip Lindsay, behind center since 2016. But this team’s troubles with the ball go far deeper than its quarterback. They have refused over much of the past four seasons to match their offensive scheme to the personnel they have drafted or signed. They have broken two basic tenets of offense — they routinely call what they can’t block, and if their own defense was asked “is your offense difficult to defend,” the answer would be “no.” Yes, try with every resource they have to become one of the league’s most fortunate teams with a long-term answer at quarterback, but even the best option at quarterback will struggle if they can’t match a playbook to the team that is actually in the huddle. — Jeff Legwold

22. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)

Previous ranking: 22

New Year’s resolution: A clean start

The Vikings have not been above .500 in more than 700 days. They tried to do a soft rebuild approach, and it didn’t work. They tried to retool their defense to bring back the glory days of the 2017 season and couldn’t. Mike Zimmer brought this team to the playoffs three times in eight seasons, general manager Rick Spielman brought in draft picks like Brian O’Neill and Justin Jefferson and quarterback Kirk Cousins had one of the best years of his career in 2021. But it’s time to start over and move this franchise in a different direction with fresh ideas, new leadership and changes across the board in 2022. — Courtney Cronin

23. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

Previous ranking: 23

New Year’s resolution: Get line help — on both sides

In reality, this could double as a gift for quarterback Matt Ryan and cornerback A.J. Terrell — two of Atlanta’s best players. One of the things Falcons head coach Arthur Smith wants his team to be is physical on the lines — and despite the other holes on his roster, that is where to start when looking at the offseason. Atlanta continues to be unable to create a pass rush –no Falcons player has more than 4.5 sacks (Dante Fowler Jr.) or 12 quarterback hits (Grady Jarrett) — and too often quarterbacks sit back and pick apart Atlanta’s secondary, even with Terrell. On offense, Ryan has been sacked at least once in every game but two. In half of Atlanta’s games, he has been sacked three times. So fixing the fronts has to be a major priority for the Falcons if they want to take a step forward in 2022. — Michael Rothstein

24. Washington Football Team (6-10)

Previous ranking: 24

New Year’s resolution: Find a QB

There could be so many resolutions — starting with getting the new name right. But if Washington wants to win fans back, it’ll take more than a new name. Fans need hope, and nothing provides that more than a quarterback. Washington needs to be aggressive looking for one — whether it’s trading for an established veteran or finding the right guy in the draft. For many reasons, Washington fans have lacked hope for a while; give them a reason to believe that perhaps next year will be better. The franchise has started 32 quarterbacks since last winning the Super Bowl after the 1991 season; no stat better explains why it has won only two playoff games since owner Dan Snyder took control in 1999. Find that guy. — John Keim

25. Chicago Bears (6-10)

Previous ranking: 25

New Year’s resolution: Score more

Sometimes, New Year’s resolutions aren’t complicated. Lose weight. Be nicer. Read more books. Or in Chicago’s case, score more points. The Bears are in an endless cycle of anemic offense, including this season, when they’ve averaged only 18 points per game. Will a new coach help? Perhaps, but they’ve tried that route before. Is rookie Justin Fields even the answer? Again, perhaps, but without proper schemes and coaching it’s hard to tell. That’s why the Bears are in need of some divine intervention. Nothing else has worked, so maybe a simple New Year’s resolution is the way to go. Declare it to be so, and perhaps the points will come. Then again, Bears fans have tried that route, too. Prayer hasn’t worked much, so on second thought, let’s just get that new head coach. — Jesse Rogers

26. Seattle Seahawks (6-10)

Previous ranking: 26

New Year’s resolution: Be better on third down

It has been the offense’s Achilles’ heel and one of the more head-scratching aspects of the 6-10 season. The Seahawks are 28th in offensive EPA and 28th in yards per play on third down, yet they’re fifth in both categories over first and second down. So it’s not as though their third-down struggles are merely another symptom of a bad offense. And before you assume Russell Wilson’s finger injury is to blame, consider that the Seahawks were 27th in third-down conversion rate over the first four games before he went down in the second half of Week 5. They were dead last entering Sunday and improved to 27th by going a season-best 7-of-12 in their blowout win over Detroit. — Brady Henderson

27. Carolina Panthers (5-11)

Previous ranking: 27

New Year’s resolution: Invest in an offensive line

I’m not saying Sam Darnold is the answer at quarterback for the Panthers. I don’t think he is. But there’s no way to truly know considering how often he’s under duress. No quarterback should have to endure the lack of protection that Darnold has been under since joining the NFL, first with the New York Jets and now with Carolina. He has been sacked 2.67 times per game since 2018 and 3.3 times per game this season with the Panthers. No wonder he has been seeing “ghosts” since 2019. — David Newton

28. Houston Texans (4-12)

Previous ranking: 28

New Year’s resolution: Trade Deshaun Watson

Both parties have made it clear that Watson’s future is not in Houston. While the Texans and Dolphins tried to get a deal done at the trade deadline, the lawsuits against Watson alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior prevented that from happening. Obviously there are still a lot of unknowns for how Watson’s legal situation plays out, but at some point the Texans will move on from the quarterback and be able to move on to the next chapter in the franchise. — Sarah Barshop

29. New York Jets (4-12)

Previous ranking: 30

New Year’s resolution: Get Robert Saleh some players on defense

The Jets, ranked 32nd in points and yards allowed, have surrendered a franchise-record 477 points. It’s not a coaching issue, it’s a talent issue. Consider: The previous high was 457, set last season with a completely different staff and scheme. Saleh, who made his bones as a defensive coach, needs help on all three levels, especially linebacker and safety. The Jets have four draft picks in the first two rounds. If at least two aren’t on defense, there should be an investigation. — Rich Cimini

30. New York Giants (4-12)

Previous ranking: 29

New Year’s resolution: Be competent

Is this really too much to ask? The Giants have lost double-digit games in five straight seasons. Joe Judge insisted after Sunday’s loss to the Bears that this “ain’t some clown show organization.” How about some tangible on-field evidence to prove that? The bar is low with the Giants in this year’s resolution, which is what happens when an organization misses the playoffs five years in a row and in nine out of 10 seasons. — Jordan Raanan

31. Detroit Lions (2-13-1)

Previous ranking: 31

New Year’s resolution: A winning record

Lord knows how much Lions fans have suffered over the years. With just one playoff victory since 1957, the city is starving for some football success. They’ve had star players and solid coaching at times, but just can’t seem to put it all together. But let’s not even think about the playoffs, let’s focus on the regular season for this New Year’s resolution. We can start with a winning record. That hasn’t happened since 2017, the second of back-to-back 9-7 seasons under Jim Caldwell. If Dan Campbell can deliver at least a .500 mark, that’ll be good. — Eric Woodyard

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)

Previous ranking: 32

New Year’s resolution: Get the coaching hire right

Shad Khan has rarely done that in his 10 years as owner. Even the decision he did get right — bringing back Tom Coughlin as football czar and hiring Doug Marrone — backfired spectacularly after one good season. This was a lost year for Trevor Lawrence, and the franchise is at real risk of potentially ruining his career if Khan flubs another head-coach hiring. Based on his past record, there’s little confidence that Khan will make the right choice, unfortunately. — Mike DiRocco

Source: Read Full Article