Ranking NFL Teams by Tiers

    The NFL preseason is underway, as the Hall of Fame game has already taken place. With the 2023 NFL regular season fast approaching, it is helpful to rank all 32 teams by tiers to get an idea of where each team stands and what to expect for the upcoming season. See which tier your favorite NFL team belongs to in this article!


    Tier 1: Super Bowl Favorites- Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals


    If your team is listed here, congratulations; they are one of the four teams expected to compete for a Super Bowl. Two of these teams return from last year’s big game, with the Chiefs being the defending champions and the Eagles being the runners-up. Both conference championship losers are in this tier as well, with both the Niners and Bengals expected to remain competitive and challenge for a return to the big game, as both fell short of winning it all within the last few years. 


    The Chiefs and Eagles return most of their Super Bowl rosters from last season and have made offseason moves to replace the players lost in free agency. The Eagles bolstered their defense in the draft, while the Chiefs helped their defense and offense get better. Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are two of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, and they have the talent around them to return to the Super Bowl this season and remain competitive for a long time. The Chief’s receiving core is missing a deep threat but is more than capable, while their running back duo of Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon helped the Chiefs move the ball when their drives stagnated.


    Travis Kelce remains the top tight end in the league, while the Chief’s defense features Chris Jones, George Karlaftis, and free agent signing Charles Omenihu on the defensive line. The Chiefs also brought in Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith at offensive tackle to replace Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie and bolster one of the top lines in the country. The Eagles drafted Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith to add to the number of former Georgia Bulldogs on their defense. They also traded for D’Andre Swift and added Rashaad Penny to offset the departure of Miles Sanders as their lead running back. Their offensive and defensive lines may be the best in the NFL, while they have a top-five receiving duo in AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith.

    NFL playoff picks, predictions for divisional games: Bengals upset Bills; Eagles survive scare from Giants | Sporting News

    Photo Cred: Sporting News

    The Eagles are coming into this season with even more talent than last year, so the league had better watch out as they try to avenge their loss to the Chiefs and return to the Super Bowl this season. The two teams I think can seriously challenge them are the Niners and the Bengals. In the top-heavy NFC, the Eagles and 49ers are the two frontrunners to compete for the NFC championship and return to the Super Bowl. The Niners have a roster capable of winning the NFC and the Super Bowl this season. Their top defensive line, featuring Nick Bosa and offseason addition Javon Hargrave, is bolstered by a strong secondary, and the Niners have no shortage of weapons on offense, including Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel. The only question for the 49ers is at quarterback.


    Will it be Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, or Sam Darnold under center, and how consistent can he be for San Francisco? If the Niners get even above-average quarterback play, they can challenge Philadelphia and anyone else in their path for a Super Bowl. The Bengals have long had the Chief’s number, even with Patrick Mahomes healthy, and they return all their top talent. The Bengals have proven it in the playoffs, and we may see another Chiefs-Bengals classic in the AFC championship game. All four of these teams have deep playoff experience and some of the most talented rosters in the league, making them my favorites to make it to and win the Super Bowl this season.


    Tier 2: Super Bowl Challengers- Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets


    The next tier features teams with incredibly talented rosters; they have some question marks that have me hesitant to put them in the top tier. For the Dolphins, the main question is the health of franchise quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Star receiver Tyreek Hill pairs nicely with Jaylen Waddle, their prized offseason acquisition Jalen Ramsey has been injured and will miss a significant amount of time this regular season. The Ravens extended their own franchise quarterback in Lamar Jackson, and their talented receiving core brings in Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers. However, lead running back J.K. Dobbins and receiver Rashod Bateman are currently out with injuries, and like the Dolphins, both teams have failed to make deep playoff runs in the past.


    Out of this group, the Bills have been closest to the Super Bowl. They have failed to get over the hump, falling to the Chiefs twice and the Bengals last year in the AFC playoffs. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs lead Buffalo’s talented offense, and their defense features Von Miller and Greg Rosseau. They must overcome their playoff demons if they want to win the Super Bowl. 

    How can Dolphins slow Josh Allen after frustrating Week 1 run defense?

    Photo Cred: USA Today 

    The Cowboys are the team most known for their inability to get over the hump, as they haven’t made it to the NFC championship game since the 1995 season, their last Super Bowl win. America’s team has made many offseason acquisitions, including bringing in Brandin Cooks to pair with Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb at wideout, and Stephon Gilmore to start at cornerback across from Trevon Diggs. However, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will be counted out of the NFC championship game until they prove otherwise.



    Meanwhile, the most intriguing team in the NFL may very well be the New York Jets. By bringing in Aaron Rodgers, the Jets improved at quarterback while retaining a lot of the team that helped the Jets stay competitive despite being in quarterback hell last season. The running game, wide receiver room, and defense remain strong, and suddenly Jets fans are dreaming of the Super Bowl. The question is how quickly Aaron Rodgers can gel with his new teammates and get the Jets off the ground and if Gang Green can hang with the Bills and Dolphins in their own division. Time will tell, but Aaron Rodgers should at least send the Jets back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

    Aaron Rodgers shows off his new number in first photos of QB wearing a Jets uniform -

    Photo Cred: CBS Sports 

    Tier 3: Pesky Playoff Teams- New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers


    The next tier of teams are teams expected to make the playoffs as a wild-card team or weaker division winner but aren’t expected to make a big playoff run just yet. However, one or more of these teams may surprise viewers and win at least one playoff game. One team who did just that last season was the New York Giants. After a miserable 2021 season, the Giants hired GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, who turned around the culture and led them to a 9-7-1 record and a playoff berth.


    The Giants took advantage of their surprise playoff berth, going on the road and upsetting the 13-4 Minnesota Vikings. The offense adds new weapons in the passing game with tight end Darren Waller and wideouts Parris Campbell and Jalin Hyatt. Saquon Barkley returns after negotiating a one-year deal that allows him to beat the franchise tag with incentives and Daniel Jones looks to build on the best season of his career after receiving a $160 million contract extension over four years. Big Blue added players to join their ferocious defensive line and linebacker core and drafted cornerback Deonte Banks to join Xavier McKinney in the secondary.

    N.Y. Giants bring back 80s-90s look, promote 'Legacy Games'

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    The Giants are still a few years away from competing with the top NFC teams, but they are vastly ahead of schedule on their rebuild, and Super Bowls might not be too far away for Big Blue once again. Another team looking to compete for a wild-card spot is the Seahawks. Like Daniel Jones, Geno Smith had a breakout season for Seattle and led the Seahawks to the wild-card round. They lost and were outmatched by the Niners. The Seahawks have the roster to build on last season, but it depends if Geno Smith can retain his form from this past season.


    Over in the AFC, the Jaguars are on the rise, led by star quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his college and current running back Travis Etienne. The receiving core improved with Calvin Ridley returning from a year-long gambling suspension to join Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram. The offensive line has some question marks now. The defense is led by the linebacker duo of Josh Allen (not to be confused with the Bills quarterback of the same name) and former #1 pick Travon Walker. The Jaguars are now the clear-cut favorites to win the AFC South, with the rest of the division having taken a step back, but there’s work to do if they want to compete with an improved AFC playoff field, which includes not only teams like the Chiefs, but upstarts like the Jets as well.

    Jacksonville Jaguars News - NFL | FOX Sports

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    The Detroit Lions have vastly improved and continue to head in the right direction after missing the playoffs last season. Dan Campbell has led the turnaround in Detroit, and if the Lions can get off to a good start this season, they are also in decent shape to make the playoffs as a wild card, if not outright win the division.


    The Minnesota Vikings is not a team to count out in the north. Fresh off a 13-4 campaign, the Vikings benefitted by winning numerous one-score games but also returned sufficient talent on both sides of the ball. Despite losing Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ receiving room led by Justin Jefferson looks solid, and so does their defense. The Lions and Vikings will battle for the NFC North, but more experienced and talented teams like the 49ers and Eagles will dispatch them with relative ease as they get deeper into the NFC playoffs.

    RB Dalvin Cook to be released by Minnesota Vikings - Pride Of Detroit

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    To finish this tier, the Chargers have the talent to be a deep playoff team, their combination of bad coaching and inconsistent play have them with a ceiling of a playoff team. Quarterback Justin Herbert is a top-five quarterback in the NFL and is surrounded by talent on offense and a capable defense. However, the Chargers continue to get in their own way, and until proven otherwise, I cannot rank them any higher than they are here. They will finish second in the AFC West behind the Chiefs and ahead of the Broncos and have the potential to win a few playoff games, but they could also flame out in the first round or miss the postseason entirely.


    Tier 4: Potential Wild Cards- Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Washington Commanders


    This next tier has teams with the talent to challenge for a Wild Card spot but have too many questions for me to project them in the playoff field. The Broncos are coming off a miserable season. New head coach Sean Payton looks to revitalize Russell Wilson in his second season with the Broncos. Wilson is coming off the worst season of his career, but he seeks to get back on track with a better scheme and a great supporting cast. My question is how much Russell Wilson, and the Broncos will be able to raise their level from the 5-12 team they were last season. Although I think they will make improvements, finishing ahead of teams like the Chargers and Chiefs still seems a little bit out of reach for Denver, and I see them falling a little bit short in a crowded AFC playoff picture. 


    Another team in a comparable situation to the Broncos is the Cleveland Browns. After being suspended for the first eleven games last season, quarterback Deshaun Watson was not the same player upon his return. He had the lowest passer rating of his career. The Browns feature star running back Nick Chubb and add receivers Elijah Moore and Amari Cooper for Watson to throw to, in addition to tight end David Njoku. On defense, Myles Garrett remains one of the top defensive ends in the game. The Browns are in a tough division, and finishing ahead of teams like the Bengals and Ravens will be a tall task, they may be able to sneak into a Wild Card spot if everything breaks right for them.

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    The rough equivalent in the NFC to these two teams would be the Washington Commanders. Although this team is behind the three other teams in the NFC East, the Commanders could be a feisty team all season that could sneak into the playoffs as a lower NFC Wild Card. Washington is starting a new quarterback again this season, with Sam Howell set to be under center. The Commanders have a solid receiving core, good options at running back, and a talented defensive line led by Chase Young and Montez Sweat. First-round draft pick Emmanuel Forbes highlights the young secondary.


    Competing in the tough NFC East will not be easy for last year’s last-place team. The Commanders finished 8-8-1 and tied the Giants in one game while taking a game from the Super Bowl-bound Eagles and the Cowboys. I wouldn’t count Washington out, as they were a few plays away from making the playoffs last year. It will depend heavily on the performance of Sam Howell and how the team performs in divisional games this season.

    Commanders rookie QB Sam Howell beats Cowboys in NFL debut

    Photo Cred: WDBJ 

    Tier 5: NFC South Contenders- Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints


    This next tier features three teams from the NFC South that would not be able to compete in any other division, in this division, one of these teams will make the playoffs, with a sub-.500 record. The Carolina Panthers is expected to start first-overall pick Bryce Young right off the bat, with veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton scheduled to back him up. The Panthers signed Miles Sanders from the Eagles in free agency to be the lead running back, and they also signed receivers Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark Jr. to lead the team’s pass-catching group. Another young team in the division is the Atlanta Falcons.


    After starting Marcus Mariota for most of last season, Desmond Ridder will be the starting quarterback for Atlanta going forward. Falcons newcomer running back Bijan Robinson will be starting in the backfield. On defense, veteran Grady Jarrett is joined by new additions Jeff Okudah and Jessie Bates III in the secondary, as well as Calais Campbell on the d-line. Often the class of this division, the Saints bring in Derek Carr from the Raiders to take over at quarterback.


    The Saints retain top-flight running back Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas looks to pair with rookie sensation Chris Olave. On defense, Cameron Jordan is the star of the defensive line, with Tyrann Mathieu and Marshon Lattimore anchoring the secondary. Any of these three teams are good enough to win the NFC South, however, I do not see any of these teams advancing any further in the postseason, as they will run into a vastly more talented NFC Wild Card team.


    Tier 6: In the Hunt- Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers


    This tier features teams who will fall short of making the playoffs. They will remain in the mix throughout the season and will still be competitive, avoiding a high draft pick. To start with the Titans, they have a few options at quarterback, with Ryan Tannehill competing with much younger recent draft picks in Malik Willis and Will Levis for the starting job. Generational talent running back Derrick Henry pairs nicely with newly added receiver DeAndre Hopkins, however, the Titans’ defense looks suspect, and outside of the stars, their offense looks mediocre as well. The Jaguars have overtaken Tennessee after years of the Titans running the AFC South, and the Titans look to be an average team at best this season.


    Another team in this category is the Steelers. Kenny Pickett continues to improve at quarterback and with Najee Harris, George Pickens, and Pat Friermuth on the offense, the Steelers look capable of surprising teams. Pittsburgh’s defense features T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Alex Highsmith, as well as veteran corners Minkah Fitzpatrick and Patrick Peterson in the secondary. Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season coaching the Steelers, and if that continues to be the case, the Steelers will hang around the AFC playoff picture.

    Las Vegas Raiders Week 16 game review - Silver And Black Pride

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    The rest of the AFC North proves to make things difficult for the Steelers and I have them falling short of a playoff berth. The Raiders are another team welcoming in a new quarterback, with Jimmy Garoppolo set to take over for the departed Derek Carr. Josh Jacobs is currently holding out, unsatisfied with his franchise tag, while star receiver Davante Adams remains for the Silver and Black. On defense, star edge rusher Maxx Crosby pairs nicely with Chandler Jones, while Marcus Peters was an excellent addition at cornerback, however, the Raiders may struggle to keep up in a loaded AFC West, and their roster has too many holes for them to truly contend for a playoff spot. 


    Over in New England, the once-dynastic Patriots have fallen to a projected last-place finish in the AFC East and will struggle to stay in the mix for a playoff spot at all. Quarterback Mac Jones must continue to show improvement while adding JuJu Smith-Schuster gives the Pats a downfield weapon. Rhamondre Stevenson is a solid running back, and the defense is one of the league’s best with a particularly talented secondary. Bill Belichick will always coach the team well, which will help leave them in games against more talented opponents. However, the Patriots feel like the odd team out in the AFC East. With the Bills, Dolphins, and new-look Jets, the Patriots will be on the outside looking in come January.


    Another historically talented team currently in this situation is the Packers. Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will struggle even more this season. Especially more so considering the wide receiver room has little experience. Aaron Jones should help pick up the slack at running back, and Jordan Love has shown promise under center for Green Bay last season. The defense features young stars such as Rashan Gary and Jaire Alexander, but not enough talented pieces to make up for a lackluster offense. The Packers no longer run the NFC North, and this season without Aaron Rodgers will see them struggle to cling to the outer edges of the playoff picture. While these five teams will highly likely miss the playoffs, they will at least remain competitive this season. The teams in the next categories will have trouble even doing that much.

    Packers 27, Patriots 24: Patriots lose in OT on Mason Crosby's FG

    Photo Cred: The Boston Globe 

    Tier 7: Intriguing Rebuilds- Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams


    The next tier of teams is all rebuilding but have enough pieces where they will be better than the teams fighting for the #1 pick. This includes a couple of teams who recently won a Super Bowl and another who has been mediocre for quite some time recently. Starting with the Bears, franchise quarterback Justin Fields enters his third season in the NFL, and Chicago has some talent surrounding him, including running back Khalil Herbert, tight end Cole Kmet, and wide receivers DJ Moore, Chase Claypool, and Darnell Mooney.


    On defense, the Bears signed Yannick Ngakoue as their lead edge rusher. But the team is still too young and inexperienced to compete in a tough division in the NFC North. With not much going for them, the Bears may surprise and win more games than people would expect, but not enough to challenge for a playoff spot. Another team in a comparable situation is the Buccaneers. With Tom Brady, the Bucs barely edged out of a miserable NFC South division with an 8-9 record. They followed this by getting blasted by the Cowboys in Wild Card Weekend. With the retirement of Brady, the Bucs turn to a quarterback competition featuring Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. They are two options who are not exactly inspiring.


    The team does have talented players including receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as well as a defense featuring Vita Vea and Shaquil Barrett. However, they are missing pieces from the Super Bowl run and are expected to lag behind the rest of the division. Similarly, the Rams are a few years removed from their own Super Bowl run, and they too are missing a lot of pieces that got them there. Coming off a Super Bowl hangover season that saw them go just 5-12, the Rams aren’t expected to be too much better this year.

    Tampa Bay Bucs vs Los Angeles Rams: Week 9 Preview - Bucs Nation

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    Matt Stafford should have Cooper Kupp as his star receiver, along with Van Jefferson and Ben Skowronek, and Aaron Donald continues to be among the league’s best defensive linemen. However, losing players such as Jalen Ramsey, Sony Michel, and Odell Beckham Jr. hurts their chances of improvement. With the Seahawks and 49ers projected to be much better, the Rams are expected to finish third in their division and well out of a playoff spot.


    Tier 8: The Future is Bright- Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals


    In the lowest tier, these NFL teams are playing more for the future than the present. Although two of these teams have young rookie quarterbacks, all three teams are undergoing a rebuild and should be the favorites for the top few picks in the draft. The Houston Texans are expected to start first-round pick C.J. Stroud right out of the gate, and they also drafted the best defensive player in the class in Will Anderson. Both players should make an immediate impact. Dameon Pierce performed well as the lead back last season, and Houston adds tight end Dalton Schultz from the in-state rival Cowboys.


    Unfortunately, there are question marks about everywhere else. The Texans will not be able to turn things around so quickly. They will win a few more games this season, but it will take a few years before anything really gets going. Their division rival Colts might be in an even worse position. They also drafted a young quarterback in Anthony Richardson to compete with new addition Gardner Minshew. But with star running back Jonathan Taylor asking for a trade, and lack of skill players make the Colts likely to be one of the worst teams in the NFL regardless of who starts at quarterback.


    Finally, the Arizona Cardinals may be in the most precarious position in the entire NFL. With star quarterback Kyler Murray out with an injury to start the season, the Cardinals turn to career backup Colt McCoy, and the team’s best weapons are running back James Conner and wide receiver Marquise Brown. Tight end Zach Ertz is out to start the season as well, and the inexperienced offensive line does little to help.


    On defense, the lone bright spot is free safety Budda Baker. The inexperience on the defensive front will make things difficult for the Cardinals, in addition to a new head coach in Jonathan Gannon, who many Eagles fans disapproved of and wanted out of the door as Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator last season. Luckily for the Cardinals, they are projected to get the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. They can draft another generational quarterback in USC’s Caleb Williams. This season, the team has not shown much to inspire fans. 

    Arizona Cardinals Videos - NFL | FOX Sports

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    So, there you have it. All 32 NFL teams have been placed into a tier. From Super Bowl favorites to teams playing for future years and everywhere in between. Hope you enjoyed the article and good luck to your favorite NFL team this season!

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