NFL Power Rankings: Where Does League Stand After Andrew Luck's Retirement?

By , RADIO.COM Sports

How much can one week in the preseason change the outlook on an NFL season? Quite a bit, it turns out.

After Andrew Luck's shocking retirement, here are the latest RADIO.COM Sports NFL power rankings with nine days until the 2019 NFL season kicks off.

1. New England Patriots (Last Week: No. 1)

Of the teams in the top five, the Patriots almost certainly have the worst roster. But the same was probably true entering the 2018 season, and they won their sixth Super Bowl regardless. The Patriots are a rare case in sports where it makes sense to have blind faith that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will bring things together in time to make another Super Bowl run. And said Super Bowl run will no longer include potentially having to face Luck in the AFC playoffs.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: No. 2)

What lengths are the Eagles going to protect Carson Wentz? 37-year-old left tackle Jason Peters - likely a future Hall of Famer - started in Week 3 of the preseason. Wentz didn't suit up. Entering his fourth NFL season, the Eagles have surrounded Wentz with an elite offensive line, improved running backs and a group of pass catchers that includes Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Dallas Goedert and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside. If Wentz plays a full season, the Eagles could win the Super Bowl.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: No. 3)

You don't want to overstate what Luck retiring means for the AFC postseason picture, but the Chiefs met with the Colts in the AFC Divisional Round a season ago. With Luck out of the picture, Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid and the Chiefs seemingly have one less legitimate threat to reaching the Super Bowl.

4. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: No. 4)

Todd Gurley's mysterious finish to the 2018 season - including running for just 35 yards in the Super Bowl - left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people. But while Gurley may have "an arthritic component" to the left knee that he tore in college, he's only 25 and ran for 1,175 yards in the first 12 games last season. Sean McVay may be forced to monitor the workload of Gurley more than he has in the past, but with an offense that's adding Cooper Kupp back into the fold, there's seemingly more than enough talent to do that.

Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers have Super Bowl aspirations in 2019.
Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers have Super Bowl aspirations in 2019. Photo credit (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Images)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: No. 5)

Philip Rivers and the Chargers may benefit the most from Andrew Luck's retirement. While their goal, of course, is to win the AFC West, a year ago the Chargers went 12-4 and still "only" won a Wild Card because they played in the same division as the Chiefs. If they are again pushed into a Wild Card spot, there's a very real chance they would have been competing with Luck's Colts either for one of the two Wild Card spots or on Wild Card weekend in the postseason.

6. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: No. 6)

Jared Cook has played for three different teams in the last four years, which is rather inexplicable. Still, he averaged 792 receiving yards the last two seasons on bad Oakland Raiders teams. It's pretty scary to think about what the 32-year-old will be able to do in a Sean Payton/Drew Brees offense.

7. Chicago Bears (Last Week: No. 7)

There was a crowd that was as high on David Montgomery as any running back prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Bears drafted the former Iowa State Cyclone in the third round an will pair him with Tarik Cohen in their backfield. The Bears added Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a defense that already included Khalil Mack and Akeem Hicks. In that sense, the rich got richer. Their Super Bowl aspirations will come down to whether they can generate enough offense to compete with the Eagles, Rams and Saints in the postseason.

8. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: No. 9)

It feels crazy, but even without the return of Ezekiel Elliott the Cowboys moved up a spot since last week's countdown. Perhaps that's because there's yet to be an indication - unlike Melvin Gordon with the Chargers - that Elliott and the team won't reach a new deal in time for him to play Week 1. Another item worth noting: Dak Prescott tossed 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions in nine games after the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper last season.

9. Houston Texans (Last Week: No. 8)

The Texans lost Lamar Miller for the season with a torn ACL over the weekend, which is a blow. That blow is lessened by the fact that they acquired Duke Johnson from the Cleveland Browns earlier this preseason. It's also hard to drop the Texans too far when a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback in their division retired a few hours after Miller's injury.

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks went 10-6 in 2018.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks went 10-6 in 2018. Photo credit (Shane Roper/USA Today Images)

10. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: No. 10)

There's a sense of certainty that the trio of Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the home field advantage that the Seahawks have at CenturyLink Field bring. The Seahawks clearly aren't as talented as the Rams and should see improvement from both the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers within their division. So their ceiling may be a Wild Card Round exit, but it feels hard to bet that they won't find a way into the postseason.

11. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: No. 11)

After what's been a loud preseason, the Browns may have more pressure on them to win in Week 1 than any team in the NFL. However, a home game against the Titans to open the season is seemingly a winnable game. And there's quite a few people in and around the NFL that are excited to see what Baker Mayfield can do in his second season with an offensive repertoire that includes Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and Nick Chubb.

12. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: No. 13)

Aaron Rodgers didn't play in Week 2 of the preseason because his back tightened up on the day of the game. The two-time NFL MVP didn't play in the Packers Week 3 preseason tilt against the Oakland Raiders because there were questionable field conditions in Winnipeg. So the debut of the Rodgers-Matt LaFleur in-game relationship will have to wait until Sept. 5, when the Packers travel to Soldier Field to open up the 2019 NFL season. For what it's worth, the feeling here is Rodgers is too dominant of a player not to have another great chapter in his career.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: No. 14)

Two-thirds of the NFL version of the 'Killer B's' are no longer employed by the Steelers, but you get the sense that could be addition by subtraction. Le'Veon Bell sat out the entire 2018 season, and even if he had legitimate motives, that hung over the Steelers season. And Antonio Brown, well, you can connect the dots on how moving on from him - even if he's a likely Hall of Famer - could be addition by subtraction. And in Ben Roethlisberger's 16th season, James Connor, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald still give him quite a bit of offensive talent to work with.

14. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: No. 15)

Dalvin Cook ran for an 85-yard touchdown against the Cardinals in Week 2 of the preseason. The former Florida State running back is nearly two years removed from an ACL tear in his rookie season. On top of Cook, the Vikings have two legitimate wide receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Mike Zimmer's defense has been a top five unit for three straight years. The Vikings have the talent to do damage in the postseason, assuming Kirk Cousins' play is both enough to get them to the postseason and go toe-to-toe with some of the game's elite quarterbacks if they get there.

With Andrew Luck's retirement, Jacoby Brissett will take over as the Colts starting quarterback.
With Andrew Luck's retirement, Jacoby Brissett will take over as the Colts starting quarterback. Photo credit (Reinhold Matay/USA Today Images)

15. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: No. 12)

In last week's power rankings, the only reason that the Colts weren't in the top seven was because of uncertainty about Andrew Luck's status. Well, there's certainty now, but in about the worst possible direction the Colts could have imagined. There's something to be said for the fact that Jacoby Brissett was probably the best backup quarterback in the NFL and started 15 games for the Colts two years ago. It's also worth noting that Colts head coach Frank Reich was the Eagles offensive coordinator when Nick Foles led the Eagles to a Super Bowl title two years ago after Carson Wentz tore his ACL. But when your franchise quarterback suddenly retires a couple weeks before the season, that's tough to overcome.

16. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: No. 16)

Even with the loss of Luck, a variety of factors keep the Ravens below the Colts. Most notably, it's unclear whether Lamar Jackson will be able to be an effective enough passer to succeed over a full season, and whether his style on the ground will allow him to stay healthy. Beyond Jackson, though, the Ravens had the No. 1 defense in the NFL a season ago, but lost C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and Za'Darius Smith in free-agency. It's hard to gloss over losing four starters on the best area of your team.

17. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: No. 17)

From a passing perspective, the Falcons should be able to compete with any team. Matt Ryan is a former NFL MVP, and has Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper at his disposal. In theory, the Falcons running game should be much better than they were a season ago (they were the 27th ranked rushing offense in 2018), though it is fair to be worried that Devonta Freeman played just two games in an injury-riddled season a year ago and Tevin Coleman left in free-agency.

18. New York Jets (Last Week No. 18)

Set aside any qualms you may have about Le'Veon Bell as a fantasy running back. Le'Veon Bell the real life running back and pass catcher is one of the game's most valuable weapons. Adding him to Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder should allow Sam Darnold to take a big step forward in 2019. The Jets, of course, also should benefit from getting to play four games against the Dolphins and Bills.

19. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: No. 20)

With Andrew Luck's retirement and Lamar Miller's season-ending ACL tear, it's becoming easier to talk yourself into a major bounce-back season from Doug Marrone's squad. Even in a 5-11 season a year ago, the Jaguars still had the No. 5 defense in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what Nick Foles is over a full season, but it's hard to imagine him not being an upgrade over Blake Bortles. If he provides that, the Jaguars could challenge for a division title in the crowded AFC South.

Cam Newton's status for Week 1 is unclear.
Cam Newton's status for Week 1 is unclear. Photo credit (Bob Donnan/USA Today Images)

20. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: No. 19)

Andrew Luck's retirement perhaps makes how Cam Newton ages even more interesting. Newton turned 30 in May, and it's hard to remember another quarterback in recent memory - maybe with the exception of Ben Roethlisberger - that has taken more of a beating the former NFL MVP has. Newton had offseason shoulder surgery, which appears to have been successful. In Week 3 of the preseason, he injured his left foot, though it does appear to be a good sign for his Week 1 status that he ditched his walking boot Sunday.

21. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: No. 21)

The only team in the AFC South that's posted a winning record in each of the last three seasons is the Titans. But the 9-7 record that the Titans have posted for three consecutive seasons is unlikely to be enough to earn a playoff spot in 2019. Marcus Mariota is yet to play 16 games in a season, and when he has played, the former No. 2 overall pick has been underwhelming when compared to the expectations he entered the league with. 2019 is a contract year for Mariota, so it's a make-or-break season for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

22. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: No. 22)

It turns out Jimmy Garoppolo's rather disastrous return from an ACL tear in Week 2 of the preseason probably wasn't a career-defining performance. The 27-year-old bounced-back well in Week 3 of the preseason, going 14/20 for 188 yards and a touchdown in Kansas City Saturday. The 49ers are in a tough division to try to reach the postseason, but they may have the most upside of any team in the 20s.

23. Detroit Lions (Last Week: No. 23)

In a division that could produce three playoff teams, it's hard to get especially excited about the second year of the Matt Patricia era. Whatever the place between quarterback hell and quarterback purgatory is, the Lions are there with Matthew Stafford. They do appear to have assembled a nice little group of skill position players around him, though. This past offseason, the Lions added Danny Amendola and C.J. Anderson to Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay and Kerryon Johnson.

24. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: No. 24)

Remember when it briefly appeared that the Bills were going to acquire Antonio Brown from the Steelers? They didn't, and they've managed to have a quiet Training Camp because of it. Still, the Bills needed an injection of offensive talent around second-year quarterback Josh Allen. They did land a future Hall of Famer, but it was 36-year-old running back Frank Gore, who will back up 31-year-old LeSean McCoy. Despite a defensive unit that was elite a season ago, the Bills seem too thin on players that move the needle offensively to be competitive.

Tyler Boyd (left) figures to become Andy Dalton's favorite target early in 2019.
Tyler Boyd (left) figures to become Andy Dalton's favorite target early in 2019. Photo credit (Aaron Doster/USA Today Images)

25. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: No. 25)

First-year head coach Zac Taylor will be tasked with leading an offense that will likely need to win despite their defense, which was ranked dead last in the NFL in 2018. While that may make the Bengals competing for the postseason in 2019 too much too ask, Joe Mixon has a chance to develop into an elite running back in his third NFL season, and Tyler Boyd is one of the more underrated players in the NFL. Still, there is a ceiling with Andy Dalton, and seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green figures to miss at least the first month of the season after July ankle surgery.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: No. 26)

The Bucs have gone from trendy breakout pick a couple seasons ago to largely ignored in the playoff picture. Their defense was gashed by both the pass and run a season ago, and after a mini retirement, Bruce Arians will be tasked with attempting to revitalize the career of former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston.

27. Denver Broncos (Last Week: No. 27)

Under Vic Fangio, there's reason to think that Von Miller and the Broncos defense will bounce back after slipping to 22nd overall in 2018. However, an offensive bounce-back is predicated on Joe Flacco having a major first season in Denver, where second-year wide receiver Courtland Sutton may be the team's best pass catcher.

28. New York Giants (Last Week: No. 28)

The Giants have had arguably the most encouraging preseason of any team in the league, though much of that is based around the success of No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones, who is expected to open the season as Eli Manning's backup. The guess here is that Jones will make his first start in Week 7 against fellow rookie Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. In the meantime, there's not much to get excited about beyond Saquon Barkley.

29. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: No. 29)

The Cardinals Week 1 tilt against the Detroit Lions should be one of the most interesting matchups in the NFL's opening weekend. No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray has been a mixed bag in his first preseason, though presumably rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury hasn't shown much of the Air raid offense. After averaging just 3.6 yards-per-carry in 2018, the Cardinals could use a major bounce-back season from David Johnson to limit the pressure on Murray.

30. Washington Redskins (Last Week: No. 30)

While the Redskins will see the New York Giants in Week 4, they have a pretty brutal schedule to open the 2019 season. In Week 1, they'll travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles, before hosting the Cowboys in Week 2 and the Bears in Week 3. After a brief reprieve in Week 4 against the Giants - which certainly is a game they could lose - Jay Gruden's squad will host the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in Week 5. The Redskins may feel Case Keenum gives them a better chance to win right now than first round pick Dwayne Haskins, but they probably didn't want to throw Haskins into a scalding-hot fire right away, either.

Jay Gruden tabbed Case Keenum as the Redskins starter to open the 2019 season.
Jay Gruden tabbed Case Keenum as the Redskins starter to open the 2019 season. Photo credit (Dale Zanine/USA Today Images)

31. Oakland Raiders (Last Week: No. 32)

Even if Antonio Brown's helmet drama subsides to start the 2019 season, this summer hasn't been a very good precursor for how the four-time All Pro wide receivers time with the Raiders will go. Still, if he's on the field for Week 1, he's an all-time great, which will make David Carr and the Raiders a better offense in the short-term.

32. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: No. 31)

Put aside for a second any disagreements wide receiver Kenny Stills may have had this preseason with owner Stephen Ross or even Jay-Z. Heck, for the sake of this exercise you can imagine the Dolphins with Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen at quarterback, whichever you think gives them a better chance to win. Their first four opponents are the Ravens, Patriots, Cowboys and Chargers, before they have a dreaded early bye week in Week 5. The stars are aligning for the Dolphins to compete for the No. 1 overall pick in Brian Flores' first season.