The Patriots are the best team in the NFL, still. (Credit/Getty Images)

1. New England Patriots (2016 record 14-2)

The Patriots followed up their fifth Super Bowl title in February by winning in the offseason as well. Adding Brandin Cooks as a true No. 1 receiver for Tom Brady was a huge step forward for the offense, as was adding Rex Burkhead and Dwayne Allen. And then there's the defense. New England added shutdown corner Stephon Gilmore, resigned D'onta Hightower to an already scary-good defense.

2. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)

Seattle retained Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman while adding Eddie Lacy on offense. It doesn't matter that they traded out of the first round in April, they are one of the top teams in a tightly compacted NFL.


3. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)

The Falcons will have the same offense as last year — sans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan who headed west for a wild Cailfornia adventure with the Niners. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and company will be contenders in their conference yet again.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

Similarly to the aformentioned Falcons, Pittsburgh has an offense to be rekoned with, as Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell join Ben Rothlisberger for once again what could be a record-setting campaign (if they can finally all stay on the field).

5. Green Bay Packers (10-6)

As if Aaron Rodgers needed any help, the Packers added Martellus Bennett during free agency. But an experiment with youth at running back will determine how far their offense can take them (they took three running backs on the third day of the NFL draft).

6. Oakland Raiders (12-4)

If Marshawn Lynch can step in and pick up where Latavius Murray — now a Viking — left off, the Raiders should hit the ground running with a fully recovered Derek Carr. He'll have new toy Jared Cook to play with as the defense hopes their gamble on Gareon Conley pays off.

7. Dallas Cowboys (13-3)

The Cowboys added four defensive backs in the draft as well as two pass-rushers. With Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott holding down the offense, success of their new defensive players will determine how big a contender they become in 2017.

8. New York Giants (11-5)

If the Giants can beat the Cowboys again in 2017 — like they did last year — they could go pretty far. Adding Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram as weapons for an already loaded offense can only help Eli Manning. Neglecting to improve the offensive line and run game can only hurt.

9. Houston Texans (9-7)

Finding a way to kick Brock Osweiler to the curb was step one. Drafting Deshaun Watson was step two. If Bill O'Brien can turn the Clemson star into his franchise quarterback, the defense will do the rest.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

Andy Reid must really like Patrick Mahomes. He traded two first round picks for a quarterback who will likely sit out 2017. Chiefs fans better hope he was right.

11. Denver Broncos (9-7)

The Broncos had a pretty balanced draft addressing several areas of need, key among them offensive line. They did enough to stay in the mix in a loaded AFC West.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)

Jameis Winston's weapons now include DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, Vincent Jackson and Adam Humphries. Fantasy football fans are drooling already.

13. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

Corey Davis gives Marcus Matiota more firepower on offense while Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson shore up a defense that needed shoring. The AFC South could be competitive again.

14. Carolina Panthers (6-10)

Was a dreary 2016 just an abboration? With the do-it-all first round darling Christian McCaffrey now set to stand behind, alongside, flanking next to … pretty much everywhere on the field near Cam Newton, the Panthers should bounce back.

15. Detroit Lions (9-7)

Detroit went all in on the defensive side of the ball and are vying to keep pace with the Packers in the NFL North.

16. Miami Dolphins (10-6)

Miami was possibly the least noteworthy playoff team from 2016. Not a lot has changed on a team that is built for wild card contention but is no where near the top of the AFC East (and the Patriots).

17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

The Ravens have one target on their minds — as they always do — the Pittsburgh Steelers. Addressing a defense in need of addressing this offseason should help they get closer.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)

Carson Wentz is the key in the Philly and he will be stronger in 2017. Additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith will open up the passing game, but questions at running back will dog the Birds all offseason.

19. Minnesota Vikings (8-8)

Sam Bradford is most effective when he doesn't have to be. With Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook taking the pressure off of him in the run game, the Vikings offense should be better and more well-rounded next season.

20. Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1)

Hasson Reddick and Budda Baker are two possible rookie starters for an Arizona defense in need of a boost. But they'll only go as far as an aging Carson Palmer can take them.

21. Washington Redskins (8-7-1)

The loss of both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon hurt Kirk Cousins, but some smart defensive additions in draft picks Johnathan Allen and Ryan Anderson will help them in the loaded NFC East.

22. Indianapolis Colts (8-8)

Andrew Luck is the only bright spot on a once promising squad now mired in a rebuild.

23. New Orleans Saints (7-9)

They probably won't make the playoffs, but Adrian Peterson and Drew Brees make New Orleans an "NFL Red Zone" darling and must-watch.

24. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)

Phillip Rivers now has Mike Williams to play with — but competition in the AFC West will again be fierce.

25. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1)

Before last season, Cincy had made the playoffs in five straight seasons. Andy Dalton is good enough to get the team back on track. 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)

Jacksonville took a big swing this offseason adding A.J. Bouye and Leonard Fournette. Unfortunately it won't make a big difference.

27. Buffalo Bills (7-9)

The Bills had a successful but low-profile draft. However, new head coach Sean McDermott will have his hands full figuring out where the tortured franchise should go next. 

28. Chicago Bears (3-13)

Only one name matters for Bears fans right now: Mitch Trubinsky. The team more or less mortgaged the future to move up one spot to pick their hopeful franchise quarterback.

29. Los Angeles Rams (4-12)

The Rams have a new look — with a new set of coaches and Jared Goff slated to continue his work at trying to resemble a first overall NFL draft pick. The growing pains will surely continue.

30. New York Jets (5-11)

The Jets still have no quarterback and that's their biggest problem. They'll be stuck at the bottom of the AFC East — and these rankings — until they find one.

31. San Francisco 49ers (2-14)

John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and the Niners had a fantastic draft, nabbing two top prospects in the first round while also stockpiling picks for the future. They have a long way to go.

32. Cleveland Browns (1-15)

The Browns are last and they look to be becoming the Sixers of the NFL. Let the tank continue.

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