Countdown of NFL’s offseason power rankings and 2024 season preview

Our Frank Schwab counts down his NFL power rankings, grades each team’s offseason, solicits fantasy football advice and previews what the 2024 season might have in store for each team.

We’ll reach our No. 1 team on July 31, one day before the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the preseason when the Chicago Bears face the Houston Texans.

You can dive deeper with Schwab by clicking on the team’s name.

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers hired a new head coach, Dave Canales, coming off a very good season as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator. He did wonders for Baker Mayfield‘s career, which had to catch the Panthers’ interest. Carolina spent $153 million on guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis, traded for receiver Diontae Johnson and drafted receiver Xavier Legette, running back Jonathon Brooks and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders. Those were the first steps in helping QB Bryce Young reach his potential.

It’s not like the dark cloud is gone. Team owner David Tepper is still around, bothering bar owners who take a shot at him, ready to make the Panthers U-turn all their plans when he gets impatient with losing again. Young has a long way to go and he might never come close to Stroud as a player or to paying off what the Panthers gave up in that trade. The roster still has massive holes on both sides of the ball.

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

New England Patriots

The Patriots drafted North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, who along with head coach Jerod Mayo will lead the Patriots into a brand new era. The fact that multiple teams, including the Giants and Vikings, were very excited to trade up for that third overall pick should tell the Patriots that staying put and drafting Maye was the right thing to do. The Patriots need to restock the roster, but you don’t turn down a potential franchise quarterback. New England‘s rebuild gets a lot easier if Maye is a hit.

Maye had plenty of buzz. He was the QB1 in this draft class for Yahoo Sports’ Nate Tice. He has the entire package of skills to succeed, as long as his aggressive nature doesn’t become a big problem with turnovers. One issue is the Patriots still didn’t do much to improve the offense around him. They tried to get free-agent receiver Calvin Ridley, and while team owner Robert Kraft said Ridley chose the Tennessee Titans because his girlfriend wanted to be in the South, Kraft’s comment that “Part of it might be the quarterback situation as well” was probably more accurate. The Patriots aren’t a destination yet. That will take time. The first step has to be Maye becoming the type of QB other players want to join forces with.

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

Denver Broncos

Rookie Bo Nix isn’t guaranteed to start Week 1, but he’ll start soon. The problem is there isn’t much around him. Patrick Surtain II is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, the offensive line isn’t terrible, receiver Courtland Sutton scored 10 touchdowns last season and … well, that’s about it. It’s not a team that is equipped to win soon, even if the QB6 in this draft class is a hit right away. That’s what happens when you pay a heavy price for Russell Wilson and Sean Payton in trades. The Broncos somehow went 8-9 last season because Payton is still an excellent head coach but it’s going to be a challenge this season, next season and maybe 2026 as well.

None of this should have been a surprise. When Payton came aboard, everyone knew that a total teardown as the team suffered through the consequences of cutting Wilson was likely. One of these days, there will be something for Broncos fans to cheer about other than dusty memories of Peyton Manning and that 2015 team.

(Amy Monks)

(Amy Monks)

Washington Commanders

Grabbing a coach who was in demand, a GM everyone wanted and a quarterback who practically everyone ranked second in the draft class is a good offseason. That’s the type of nucleus that can turn around a franchise very fast.

The problem with using the Texans as an example of a quick turnaround is they hit an unprecedented amount of green lights. They hired a great head coach in DeMeco Ryans who probably would not have looked their way if he was drafted by another team way back when. They didn’t have the first pick of the draft but C.J. Stroud fell to them at No. 2 and ended up being perhaps the greatest rookie quarterback in NFL history. Many young players broke out at the same time. It’s hard to replicate all of that.

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