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2019 NFL preview: Power Rankings Part 1—The bottom 8

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Kicking off our 2019 NFL preview with the lowest-ranked teams in the league.

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

A new NFL season is upon us, and that means all 32 teams will enter the year with an equal chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy next February. While everyone has the same record at the moment, there are still some clear separations between the teams. Over the next few days I’ll be ranking all 32 teams from top to bottom on who I think has the best chance to win the Super Bowl entering the new season.

Today we start at the bottom, with the eight teams that will need near miracles to even come close to postseason success this year.

32. Miami Dolphins

Jacksonville Jaguars v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins were one of the surprise teams of 2018, as they shot off to a 3-0 start and looked like a legitimate threat in the AFC East. Their roster’s lack of talent quickly caught up to them, though, and injuries ruined any chance they had to steal an AFC playoff spot. They finished at an underwhelming 7-9.

2019 may make 2018 feel like a fairy tale. On offense, the team traded for Josh Rosen to take over as the quarterback of the future, but they have not surrounded him with the talent he needs to succeed. The offensive line is still awful outside of tackle Laremy Tunsil, who may be traded away soon. The only dependable skill position players they have are receiver Kenny Stills and running back Kenyan Drake. While Albert Wilson was in the midst of a big year before being injured early last season, it’s hard to find reason to believe he won’t regress. Speedster Jakeem Grant and undrafted rookie receiver Preston Williams could be fun pieces, but fun does not mean particularly good.

On defense, Miami may have the worst front seven in the NFL. Their secondary looked fine, but the release of projected starting safety/linebacker T.J. McDonald makes it clear they are focusing more on youth than talent at the moment. Even the talent they do have back there has questions surrounding it. Will Minkah Fitzpatrick be able to build off of a strong rookie season? Can Xavien Howard avoid regressing after an out-of-nowhere standout 2018? Is Reshad Jones still good at football?

Tanking is incredibly uncommon in the NFL, but the Dolphins look like a rare case of it. Miami clearly is not building a team that will win in 2019 and is looking towards next year’s draft already. While this plan could be successful eventually, this year looks like a rough one in Magic City.

31. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals OTA’s Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals had a disaster of the 2018 season that saw them pick first overall in the 2019 NFL draft. They are entering what looks like a long-term rebuild, and may find themselves right back in the race for the top overall pick at the end of this season.

Arizona’s two biggest changes this offseason are at quarterback and head coach. They took a gamble on the electrifying Kyler Murray out of Oklahoma, drafting him first overall and dealing Josh Rosen, last year’s first-round quarterback selection, to Miami. They also hired Kliff Kingsbury to take over at head coach after he was let go by the Texas Tech Raiders.

Despite the flashy, headline-catching moves, expect more of the same from the Cardinals. The offensive line still projects horribly and they lost arguable their best offensive lineman in Oday Aboushi this offseason. Their skill positions include a few intriguing players in Christian Kirk, David Johnson and an aging Larry Fitzgerald but they will be depending on an aging, oft-injured tight end in Charles Clay and a washed out Michael Crabtree.

The defense could be serviceable. The cornerback duo of Robert Alford and Patrick Peterson could be great, but Peterson will suspended to start the season and Alford recently suffered a serious leg injury. Chandler Jones returns as well, and he has quietly remained one of the league’s better edge rushers over the years. Other than them there is not much to look forward to on this side of the ball. Terrell Suggs is old, Haason Reddick does not look like he will ever be the player they want him to be, and the combination of Budda Baker and D.J. Swearinger will probably not live up to expectations.

30. New York Giants

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

They really did it. The New York Football Giants spent a top-10 draft pick on Duke quarterback Daniel Jones.

While the team may still be a mess at quarterback—neither Jones nor Eli Manning inspire much confidence this season—their usually bad offensive line could be surprisingly good. The addition of Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers could solidify a rebuilding offensive line. That is great news for second-year running back Saquon Barkley, as he hopes to build on an incredible rookie season. Their receiving corps is looking great despite the loss of Odell Beckham Jr., with Sterling Sheppard and Evan Engram returning and Golden Tate—who will be suspended to start the year—could help make up for the loss of their star receiver.

New York’s defense may be awful, though. From front to back, every unit on that side of the ball is one of the league’s worst. The defensive line could not stop anyone after Damon Harrison Sr. was dealt to Detroit, and the loss of Olivier Vernon was their only dependable pass rusher. The team also chose to let star safety Landon Collins walk, signaling they truly were scraping any veteran defensive talent they still had. Neither rookies Julian Love nor DeAndre Baker should be much a boone in year one, and Jabril Peppers probably won’t be good enough to save the secondary.

The Giants are in a weird spot, though. Choosing to draft Barkley over the likes of Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen was a win-now move, but the departure of Beckham Jr., Vernon, Collins and Harrison Sr. clearly set the team back for the time being.

29. Cincinnati Bengals

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals had an opportunity to move on from long-time quarterback Andy Dalton this offseason, but weak free agent and draft classes at the position led to them holding on to him. This season may be Dalton’s last chance to hold on to his starting role, though.

Dalton will not get much help from the team around him this year. Wide receiver A.J. Green and running back Joe Mixon are absolute stars, but the team has no reliable tight ends and both John Ross and Tyler Boyd have not proven that they can regularly produce in the NFL. The offensive line that was a mess in 2018 still projects to be a mess again this year.

The defense has potential, though. Geno Atkins is still an elite interior defender, Sam Hubbard and Carlos Dunlap can be hell for offenses off the edge. William Jackson has flashed potential of becoming an elite corner as well, and Dre Kirkpatrick is still serviceable. Everyone else on that side of the ball is awful, though, and their defense might still get run over this season.

2019 will probably be a bridge year for the Bengals. Green is set to be a free agent and Dalton can be released without eating any dead cap next offseason. 2019 could be the last hurrah for this era of Bengals football, and it could prove to be a rough year.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, Tampa Bay seems to be a popular pick to be a surprise team in 2019. Don’t buy the hype, though.

The receiving unit is the strongest on the team. Mike Evans remains one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Chris Godwin is an intriguing WR2, and O.J. Howard is still a young stud at tight end who could make a huge leap this season. There is not much to look forward to on offense other than them, though. Jameis Winston is still a below-average quarterback and has a habit of setting things on fire when he has an off day.

Ndamukong Suh, Deone Bucannon and rookie Devin White should be interesting additions on defense, but one of the NFL’s worst defenses in 2018 will still have issues this year. The secondary remains one of the worst in league history, and the linebackers—outside of White—will have trouble stopping anyone.

The Bucs have a few exciting players on the roster, but unless they have a lot of over performers, the team could prove to under perform once again this year.

27. Buffalo Bills

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills are a hodgepodge group of talent that cannot decide what they are. Like many of the other teams on this list, they have a few exceptionally talented players, but many positions that are devoid enough of talent that they will inevitably weigh down everyone else.

Their offense looks like it will be a mess again this year. I am still not confident at all in the Josh Allen experiment, and it’s not like they have put much around him. The receiving corps features Zay Jones, John Brown and Cole Beasley, all great third options in a passing game but not true top receivers. LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore would be a Super Bowl level backfield in 2014, but, unfortunately, it’s 2019. The offensive line is still absolutely horrible.

The defense could save this team, though. Ed Oliver is one of the most exciting young prospects in the league right now and can anchor the defensive line for years to come. Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander are also intriguing pieces up front that can create a dominant defensive front seven. The defensive backfield can be an elite unit as well. Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer and Tre’Davious White all have potential to be top players at their position this season and can come together to anchor a top-tier secondary this year,

Buffalo’s defense gives them potential to surprise teams in the AFC this year, but their offense projects to be a disaster, which will most likely ruin them this year.

26. Oakland Raiders

NFL: Oakland Raiders-OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders will probably be awful in 2019, but they should be fun.

Oakland’s offense has a high ceiling and could surprise us is everything works out. Antonio Brown headlines a talented group of receivers that also features Tyrell Williams and rookie slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. Derek Carr is still a bad quarterback though, and human ticking time bomb Richie Incognito is their best offensive lineman. Rookie running back Josh Jacobs may be a star for your fantasy team this year, but he will not be the one carrying this team to postseason contention in 2019.

Their defense features a young starlet corner in Gareon Conley, and an aging Lamarcus Joyner proved last season that he could slide into an NFL secondary and produce at a high level. No one on the front seven seems like much of a threat, though. Outside of first round pick Clelin Ferrell, it is full of aging players on the wrong side of their prime.

Oakland is an aging team that looks like they are just set to tank out their last year in the Bay Area before moving to Las Vegas and hoping their wealth of draft picks can build a contender. It may be a good long-term plan, but it means things will be rough for them in the short term.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars-Training Camp Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars seem like another team in transition. They chose not to invest in a long-term franchise quarterback this offseason, instead signing former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year deal worth $88 million to bridge the team until they find a franchise quarterback.

The offense surrounding Foles does not have much going for it. Selecting Leonard Fournette in the top five of the 2017 NFL draft is a move that only looks worse as time goes on. They have a decent receiving corps with some talent, but other than D.J. Chark, none of their receivers look like long-term NFL players.

Jacksonville’s defense may not be as great as the unit that carried the team to the 2018 AFC Championship, but they are still a force to reckoned with that can win the Jaguars any game. Rookie defensive end Josh Allen, combined with Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell form one of the best pass rushing groups in the league. Jalen Ramsey is one of the league's best corners and while A.J. Bouye has regressed a bit over the years, he is still a formidable CB2.

Jacksonville’s offense will, yet again, be towards the bottom of the league, but their defense has enough fire power to compete with any team. The lack of offensive firepower will catch up to them, though, and it will probably be another rough year in Duval County.