SportsPulse: Our experts weigh in on who makes the playoffs and which team is holding the Lombardi Trophy. Some of their picks might shock you.

The NFL’s 2018 regular season is nigh. However the preseason has produced a few curveballs when it comes to assessing the league’s overall power structure. A look at how all 32 teams stack up heading into Week 1. 

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1. Eagles (1): Nope, Carson Wentz isn’t ready. Yup, preseason a mess for Nick Foles and depleted offense. But champs retain our top spot until first L.

2. Patriots (2): Significant questions at left tackle, wide receiver and defense for AFC’s kings. But can’t take them lightly as long as TB12 is slinging.

3. Falcons (3): Fresh measuring stick for talented squad comes Thursday night, nearly eight months after its five-point playoff loss in Philadelphia.

4. Rams (5): They’re loaded on both sides of ball. But after keeping so many starters bubble wrapped in August, will they emerge firing on all cylinders?

5. Saints (6): With five of first six games against teams that failed to reach postseason last year, infamously slow starters should hit ground running.

6. Packers (7): Another team that should come out swinging as healthy Aaron Rodgers and retooled defense play four of first six contests at Lambeau.

7. Vikings (4): Impressive offensive firepower and a new sniper like Kirk Cousins could mean great things … if Minnesota’s blocking is up to the task.

8. Jaguars (8):Loss of nominal No. 1 WR Marqise Lee casts further doubt on their ability to dissuade opponents from stacking up to stop Leonard Fournette.

9. Chargers (9): If they can avoid bad luck for a change, few flaws to hinder them. Keep an eye on second-year WR Mike Williams in red-zone offense.

10. Steelers (10):Note to Le’Veon Bell — if it was a best practice to avoid your place of employment for eight months a year, wouldn’t everyone do it?

11. Texans (11): Deshaun Watson fired off 18 TD passes in six starts last year. Houston had 10 TD passes — combined — in its 10 other contests of 2017.

12. Redskins (14): NFC East seems to annually produce a dark horse. Washington could be it this time with Alex Smith, Adrian Peterson and refreshed D-line.

13. Panthers (13): Remarkably, Daryl Williams is practicing a month after tearing an MCL and dislocating a kneecap. Beleaguered O-line sure could use him.

14. Titans (12): Hate to read too much into preseason, but not a lot to suggest transition — especially on offense — is out of first gear under new regime.

15. Broncos (15): Perhaps no team will enjoy bigger boost from rookies as Denver unleashes LB Bradley Chubb, WR Courtland Sutton and RB Royce Freeman.

16. Bengals (25): With focus on revamped O-line and breakout candidate Joe Mixon, what could be a deep and unrelenting defense is flying under the radar.

17. Ravens (18): Return of guard Marshal Yanda, who might one day be a Hall of Fame inductee, one of this season’s more unheralded and underappreciated subplots.

18. Cardinals (21): Latest reason not to sleep on Arizona? How about defense that generated mind-blowing plus-15 turnover ratio in preseason. FWIW.

19. Bears (22): Their offensive potential has only grown … because newly acquired Khalil Mack ensures a few extra possessions over course of season.

20. Giants (24): They may have to win a lot of 31-30 type games, but an offense featuring Saquon Barkley and jubilant OBJ sure should be fun to watch.

21. Chiefs (19): “We will be the best offense in the National Football League … without a doubt.” Tyreek Hill needs to balance confidence with patience.

22. Cowboys (17): This defense may catch a lot of opponents off guard. It may have to, because battered offense is shaping up as The Ezekiel Elliott Show.

23. 49ers (20):Loss of RB Jerick McKinnon to ACL tear so close to opening day a horrendous blow to offense that couldn’t afford to lose a playmaker.

24. Lions (23): They’ve got a lot of intriguing parts, but whole was less than sum of those components in preseason for a franchise in midst of cultural makeover.

25. Browns (28): Waving goodbye to so many Hard Knocks buddies is difficult, but good to see this club in position to cut NFL-caliber talent for a change.

26. Dolphins (26): One of sports’ age-old axioms is that good teams are strong up the middle. If that holds true, Miami appears to be in serious trouble.

27. Seahawks (27): Players on both sides of ball spent summer offering testimonials for RB Chris Carson. He must justify hype to reduce load on Russell Wilson.

28. Raiders (16): They sent their best player packing. Khalil Mack’s departure will likely cost Jon Gruden good will in locker room, Oakland … and Vegas.

29. Jets (30): They couldn’t have asked for much more than Sam Darnold delivered in August. But Darnold must eventually ask for much more help around him.

30. Buccaneers (29): Their first three opponents went a combined 37-11 in 2017. All indications point to an 0-3 start even if Jameis Winston were present.

31. Colts (31): As preseason unfolded, Andrew Luck started looking like his old self — when rifling ball downfield … or taking ill-advised hits downfield.

32. Bills (32):Parking Josh Allen was right move. With so many holes, Buffalo could have seriously compromised top pick’s development. Good luck, Nate P.

Note: Previous week’s rank noted in parentheses


Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis


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