1. Patriots (final 2018 ranking No. 1): The Kings of the Hill remains perched there until someone can knock them off.
2. Chiefs (No. 4): The non-suspension of Tyreek Hill keeps the Chiefs in position to topple the Patriots.
3. Eagles (No. 5): If Carson Wentz stays healthy, it could be two Super Bowl wins in three years.
4. Cowboys (No. 7): Expectations are high, but too many players want/need to get paid.
5. Bears (No. 9): When not having a kicker in July is a team’s biggest problem, a team doesn’t have many problems.
6. Colts (No. 8): If Andrew Luck is going to satisfy Jim Irsay’s desire to win three or more Super Bowls, it’s time to get to work.
7. Rams (No. 3): If Todd Gurley‘s best days are behind him, the Rams will be regrouping, at best, in 2019.
8. Saints (No. 2): Between a pair of heart-shattering postseason losses and Father Time gaining ground on Drew Brees, the Saints could be moving in the wrong direction, at least temporarily.
9. Seahawks (No. 11): If 2018 was 2012 all over again, maybe 2019 will be 2013?
10. Steelers (No. 15): They’re pissed, they’re determined, they’re on the same page, and they’re potentially very dangerous.
11. Chargers (No. 6): Philip Rivers, citing the team’s many close games in 2018, has said the Chargers could have been 16-0 or 6-10. Getting to 12-4 again may not be easy, especially since they’ll take no one by surprise.
12. Vikings (No. 14): It’s possibly an up-or-out year for Kirk Cousins, with fewer excuses for subpar play.
13. Browns (No. 16): How will a team with sky-high expectations but limited achievement handle adversity? That question could get answered as soon as Week One vs. Tennessee.
14. Ravens (No. 10): It’s the Lamar Jackson show in Baltimore. What that actually means is one of the NFL’s best-kept secrets.
16. Jaguars (No. 27): They’re starting at No. 16. They could be finishing much, much higher.
17. Texans (No. 12): At least I won’t have to worry about the G.M. calling to complain about a five-spot drop.
19. Falcons (No. 18): With all three coordinators out and three new ones in (and the head coach serving as one of them), it makes sense to watch and wait.
20. Titans (No. 13): They can beat anyone. They can lose to anyone. Until they take care of the latter, they’re in danger of sliding to the basement of the AFC South.
21. Bills (No. 23): Josh Allen has more weapons, and he could be on track to becoming a star.
22. 49ers (No. 29): Year Three of the Shanahan-Lynch regime brings another chance to get the players they need to make the offense go. Keeping key players healthy is the biggest challenge.
23. Broncos (No. 24): Vic Fangio is going all in, and it could make the Broncos a surprise team in 2019.
24. Jets (No. 31): With the stink of the Maccagnan firing lifting, the Jets could be quietly laying the foundation for something unexpected.
25. Lions (No. 22): The Lions love that no one is taking them seriously.
26. Buccaneers (No. 30): Bruce Arians gives the Bucs a nice bump, but it still comes down to Jameis Winston.
27. Washington (No. 20): Yes, there’s talent. But there are still real issues with the folks running the show, and they’ll find a way at some point to keep the team from being as good as it can be.
28. Raiders (No. 26): Jon Gruden is trying to will this team to relevance, like Dr. Frankenstein trying to will a cadaver of mismatched parts to life.
29. Bengals (No. 28): Other than the pre-Mariota Titans, has there been a less interesting team in the last 30 years?
30. Dolphins (No. 19): They decry tanking talk, because they have to. The reality is that the Dolphins are tearing it down in the hopes of someday building it up.
31. Giants (No. 25): It’s becoming more and more clear that this team currently makes all major decisions with a dart and/or Ouija board.
32. Cardinals (No. 32): If it works, it’s going to be spectacular. For now, though, someone has to be at the bottom of the stack — and the Cardinals have earned it.