NFL Preseason Predictions and Rankings 2024

Our 2024 NFL preseason predictions and team rankings, including season win totals, projected final standings, playoff and Super Bowl odds.

Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers will look to build on their success last season (Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire)

This post documents our 2024 NFL preseason predictions and rankings, including a preseason rating for each team, projected end of season records and standings, odds to make the playoffs, and more.

We are initially releasing these rankings in mid-May, after the NFL Draft and release of the schedule.

We will update them in August to reflect any significant news, player injuries, and market movement before the season.

Here is what you can find in this article:

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2024 NFL Preseason Rankings

The table below shows our 2024 preseason ranking for all 32 NFL teams, along with each team’s associated predictive rating (e.g. “+6.0” for Kansas City).

The team ratings are expressed as points better (a positive rating) or worse (a negative rating) than a “perfectly average” NFL team, when playing on a neutral field.

The final five columns of the table, from BASELINE to COACH, are sub-components of the final team rating and explained below.

1Kansas City Chiefs6.
2Baltimore Ravens5.95.40.0-
3San Francisco 49ers5.
4Buffalo Bills4.64.7-0.40.2-0.20.3
5Cincinnati Bengals4.25.20.0-0.40.0-0.5
6Detroit Lions4.13.9-0.6-0.11.1-0.3
7Green Bay Packers3.54.10.0-0.20.2-0.5
8Houston Texans3.34.20.6-1.7-0.10.3
9Dallas Cowboys3.
10Miami Dolphins2.92.40.4-
11Philadelphia Eagles2.
12New York Jets1.9-
13Pittsburgh Steelers1.3-1.52.3-0.4-0.21.2
14Cleveland Browns1.
15Jacksonville Jaguars0.6-2.0-
16Chicago Bears0.21.00.6-0.7-0.6-0.1
17Los Angeles Rams0.
18Los Angeles Chargers-
19Atlanta Falcons-0.3-
20Indianapolis Colts-0.7-0.3-0.1-0.3-0.80.7
21Seattle Seahawks-
22Tampa Bay Buccaneers-2.2-0.1-1.2-0.4-0.50.0
23Minnesota Vikings-2.7-1.4-
24Arizona Cardinals-3.4-
25New Orleans Saints-3.6-2.3-0.2-0.50.1-0.5
26Tennessee Titans-3.6-3.2-
27Las Vegas Raiders-4.0-
28Washington Commanders-4.4-
29Denver Broncos-5.4-3.7-1.3-0.5-0.60.7
30New England Patriots-5.6-4.5-1.10.1-0.30.1
31New York Giants-5.7-4.1-0.2-1.90.6-0.1
32Carolina Panthers-8.1-

Preseason Ratings Predictive Factors

Using more than a decade of NFL data, we’ve identified team-level stats and characteristics that are highly correlated with success in an upcoming NFL season.

Just as importantly, we’ve worked to identify and ignore often-cited information that actually has little to no predictive value.

Anyone can build plausible-sounding narratives that attempt to presage why an NFL team might be good or bad this season (great draft class, motivated from losing in the playoffs last year, etc.). But often times, those types of theories can’t be clearly substantiated by historical data.

For instance, despite what certain sportscasters may think, there is no strong correlation between the consensus projected quality of an NFL team’s most recent draft class and its upcoming season performance. However, the quality of draft classes three and four years ago does seem to make a difference, presumably because it typically takes a few years for talented rookies to develop into higher performers.

Here’s a quick explanation of the factors that currently do influence our NFL preseason ratings:

  • BASELINE: Mix of adjusted recent-season predictive ratings and betting market data
  • QB: Projected starting QB play, compared to QB play over the past few seasons
  • LUCK: Expected impact of regression of higher-variance metrics like turnovers
  • DRAFT: Expected impact of quality of players drafted in recent years
  • COACH: Expected coaching impact not already captured in BASELINE factor

The COACH factor is generally the largest when a team changes its head coach, but can also include situations where we think the betting market is not fairly valuing the influence of a particular coach on a team’s win total.

(You can read more about our research into some coaching factors and win total performance.)

If you’d like to learn about the methodology behind our (mostly) data-driven preseason ratings, please read our post about how we make NFL preseason rankings.

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2024 NFL Preseason Rankings Highlights

Here are some observations and notes from our preseason rankings and predictions:

Kansas City, Baltimore, and San Francisco As Top Trio

We’ve got Kansas City as the top-rated team entering the season, but it’s really a virtual three-way tie. Baltimore and San Francisco are just 0.1 points back.

The Chiefs may have won the playoffs last year, but it was actually Baltimore who finished the year as the top-rated team in the 2023 power ratings, followed closely by San Francisco.

However, some expected bounce-back for the Chiefs’ offense after a rough season by Patrick Mahomes’ standards, coupled with regression for both Baltimore and San Francisco, has this as a virtual dead heat for the top spot as we enter 2024.

Carolina At the Bottom, Washington Rises

Our end-of-2023 ratings actually had Washington (-9.1) as slightly worse than Carolina (-8.7), despite the Panthers earning the No. 1 overall pick, which they had already traded away.

But Carolina is projected for only slight improvement, and now easily No. 32 in our preseason rankings at -8.1. Washington, meanwhile, is all the way up to No. 28, at -4.4. That’s a nearly five point improvement.

The primary reasons are:

  • To adjust toward the betting market.
  • The fact that Washington’s biggest problem was poor defense. They were 32nd in points allowed, while Carolina’s was offense, at 13.9 points per game, and offense is stickier than defense.
  • Carolina has the same young QB back who was part of that awful offense, while Washington is replacing their inefficient young starter (Sam Howell) with a high draft pick rookie, and thus has more upside potential.

Kirk Cousins (and Michael Penix) to Atlanta

The Atlanta Falcons are the highest-rated team in the NFC South for 2024, and that’s thanks to the changes at quarterback. The team signed Kirk Cousins to replace Desmond Ridder, and then also (infamously) spent the eighth overall pick on Michael Penix, Jr. of Washington.

Atlanta only scored 321 points last year, but has a talented offensive core with WR Drake London, RB Bijan Robinson, and TE Kyle Pitts. Now, that group has the chance to take a big jump with the upgrade at the QB position.

Worst To First?

Based on our 2024 preseason projections, here are the teams most likely to go from last place in their division last season, to first place in their division in 2023-24.

TeamDivisionOdds to Win Division
Cincinnati BengalsAFC North33%
Los Angeles ChargersAFC West24%
Chicago BearsNFC North18%
Washington CommandersNFC East8%
Tennessee TitansAFC South8%
Arizona CardinalsNFC West8%
Carolina PanthersNFC South6%
New England PatriotsAFC East3%

Since 2002, a last-place division finisher has jumped to first place the next season no less than 23 different times. On average, that’s slightly more than one last-to-first jump per season.

Last season, the Houston Texans became the second AFC South team in a row (a year after Jacksonville did it) to go from worst to first, in QB C.J. Stroud’s rookie year.

Our projections only gave Houston a 10% chance of winning their division last season, but the eight last-place finishers from 2022 combined to add to an expected 1.21 last-to-first place teams in 2023. So while picking which specific team may go from worst to first is difficult, our overall expectation that one team would do it in 2022-23 was right in line with reality.

Our projections this year have Cincinnati with the highest chance (33%) of doing it. Cincinnati isn’t your typical last place team, as they finished in last in the AFC North while going 9-8, in a year in which QB Joe Burrow missed seven games due to injury.

While Kansas City is the clear favorite in the AFC West, the Chargers are expected to rebound as the most likely other AFC West team to contend. In Jim Harbaugh’s first season in L.A., the projections give them a 24% chance to win the division.

The Bears, meanwhile, are at 18%, as they also aren’t a typical “first overall pick” level team. They got QB Caleb Williams thanks to their trade with Carolina before last season, went 7-10 last year, and now have a potential QB upgrade.

When you add up of all of the probabilities, you would expect an average of about 1.08 division winners in 2024 out of last year’s eight last-place finishers. We project a 70% chance that at least one last place team from a year ago finishes in first place this year.

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AFC Preseason Predictions 2024

AFC EastWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SB
NY Jets9.57.552.7%27.2%6.4%3.0%
New England5.411.67.6%2.6%0.2%0.1%
AFC NorthWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SB
AFC SouthWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SB
AFC WestWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SB
Kansas City11.35.780.0%65.4%19.5%11.3%
LA Chargers9.08.044.3%23.5%4.5%1.6%
Las Vegas6.610.416.0%6.5%0.6%0.3%

The AFC is projected to be a little deeper than the NFC, with only four AFC teams appearing among the bottom 12 in our preseason power ratings. Two of those are in the AFC West, which is part of why Kansas City’s win projection (and odds to make playoffs and win division) are higher than Baltimore despite a similar underlying power rating.

Twelve of the 16 AFC teams are projected for at least 8.1 wins. The other four AFC teams (Las Vegas, Denver, Tennessee, and New England) are projected for 6.6 or fewer wins.

Last year, we noted that all four teams in the AFC North were projected for at least 8.8 wins, and then every team in the division did go on to finish with a winning record. This year, it’s similar, as all four teams are projected for at least 8.6 wins.

We also noted last year that it was pretty jumbled in the middle in the AFC, and predicting the playoff field was going to be difficult. That turned out to be prescient. We only predicted three of the seven teams (Kansas City, Baltimore, and Buffalo). Three of the others had QB injuries that impacted their season to varying degrees (Jets, Bengals, and Chargers), while the three we listed as just barely out, and with at least a 39% chance of making it all did.

The only true surprise was the Houston Texans, who went from having the first overall pick to winning the AFC South, as Jacksonville collapsed down the stretch.

This year, the story is very similar. Having 12 teams that are expected to be at least near-average means lots of uncertainty. Kansas City (80%) and Baltimore (71%) are the only two we estimate with over a 67% chance of making the playoffs. Ten other teams have between a 33% and 67% of making the postseason in the AFC.

Best No. 1 Seed Odds:
Kansas City (20%), Baltimore (15%), Cincinnati (12%)

Biggest Expected Increase In Wins:
LA Chargers (from 5 to 9.0), NY Jets (from 7 to 9.5), Cincinnati (from 9 to 10.5)

Biggest Expected Decline in Wins:
Baltimore (from 13 to 10.8), Cleveland (from 11 to 8.6) and Denver (from 8 to 6.0)

Most Expected Wins:
Kansas City (11.3)

Fewest Expected Wins:
New England (5.4)

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NFC Preseason Predictions 2024

NFC EastWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SB
NY Giants6.110.916.0%5.8%0.8%0.2%
NFC NorthWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SB
Green Bay10.16.966.9%35.4%12.3%5.8%
NFC SouthWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SB
Tampa Bay8.09.040.5%26.6%3.3%1.1%
New Orleans7.69.432.8%20.4%2.1%0.6%
NFC WestWLPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWin SB
San Francisco11.06.080.3%61.4%22.3%12.7%
LA Rams8.58.543.9%18.8%4.2%1.9%

In contrast to the AFC, the NFC has a pretty clear upper class when it comes to projected wins and playoff chances.

Six NFC teams are projected for at least 9.5 wins and over a 60% chance to make the postseason. Atlanta is not power-rated as highly as the others, but their weak strength of schedule in the NFC South puts them at the bottom of that sextet.

San Francisco is projected atop the NFC, but Green Bay and Detroit look like a strong pairing in the NFC North, and Philadelphia is expected to rebound defensively and compete with Dallas again for the NFC East.

After that there’s only two other teams, the Chicago Bears (8.8 wins) and the Los Angeles Rams (8.5 wins) projected above 8.0 wins in the NFC. So that final NFC Wildcard spot looks like it is wide open.

No. 1 Seed Odds:
San Francisco (22%), Detroit (14%), Dallas (13%)

Biggest Expected Increase In Wins:
Carolina (from 2 to 5.4), Arizona (from 4 to 6.9) and Washington (from 4 to 6.8)

Biggest Expected Decline in Wins:
Dallas (from 12 to 10.1), Detroit (from 12 to 10.2) and LA Rams (from 10 to 8.5)

Most Expected Wins:
San Francisco (11.0)

Fewest Expected Wins:
Carolina (5.4)

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2024 NFL Playoffs Projections

Based on our preseason predictions, we can project the playoff picture for each conference at the close of the 2023-24 regular season.

AFC Playoffs Picture

SeedTeamAvg. Projected WinsPlayoff Odds
1Kansas City11.380%
7NY Jets9.553%
Just MissedLA Chargers9.044%
Just MissedCleveland8.640%
Just MissedPittsburgh8.639%
Just MissedJacksonville8.542%

You can expect a dogfight in the AFC, as seven teams have between a 39% and 58% chance of making the playoffs, with three of them currently slotted for our playoff positions.

The Jets just get in, as we see if the second take of Aaron Rodgers’ Jets career lasts a little longer. They are just ahead of Jim Harbaugh and the Los Angeles Chargers. Houston is just ahead of Jacksonville in the AFC South. Baltimore and Cincinnati look like top contenders in the AFC North, while Cleveland and Pittsburgh are also in the mix in what is projected as the toughest division in the NFL.

NFC Playoffs Picture

SeedTeamAvg. Projected WinsPlayoff Odds
1San Francisco11.080%
5Green Bay10.167%
Just MissedLA Rams8.544%
Just MissedTampa Bay8.041%
Just MissedSeattle7.731%
Just MissedNew Orleans7.633%

Last year’s top seed in the NFC came down to the final day, and we see the three teams that were in contention battling for it again. An emerging young Green Bay team that surged to the playoffs last year, and a Philadelphia team that was in the Super Bowl two years ago could also crash that party.

In the NFC South, Atlanta is seen as the best of a mediocre lot of teams.

The final playoff spot goes to Chicago, where Caleb Williams will have a much better team around him than the typical No. 1 overall pick has to start his career. The Bears will likely be contending with the runner-up from the NFC South and whoever can emerge in the NFC West, between the LA Rams (who did it last year) and Seattle (who got the No. 7 seed two years ago).

We don’t list them here, but three other teams look like decent darkhorse options (>20% chance of making the playoffs) in what could be a wide open race for the final slot. Washington (with Jayden Daniels) and Minnesota (with J.J. McCarthy) are both likely to start rookie quarterbacks, and if they are better than expected, could surprise. Arizona, meanwhile, will have Kyler Murray at the start of the season, unlike last year, and they were much better on offense once he returned in the latter half of the year.

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How We Create Our 2024 NFL Preseason Predictions

As we explain in our article on how we create NFL preseason rankings, we have identified a set of team-level preseason metrics that have demonstrated predictive power.

We identified these metrics by reviewing over a decade’s worth of NFL data and applying significance tests to any interesting looking findings. We then built an algorithmic model that uses the metrics with predictive power as inputs, and computes a preseason predictive rating for all 32 NFL teams. We also continue to refine this approach a bit more each year.

A team’s preseason rating signifies how good we think it will be this coming season. Figuring out how many games we expect that team to win or how likely it is to make the playoffs, however, is a more complicated problem. To do that, we run thousands of computer simulations of the 2024 NFL season, using our ratings to determine implied win odds for each game.

Thanks to randomness, each season simulation plays out differently. Occasionally, an unheralded team like Washington or New England gets lucky and makes a run. Once in a blue moon, a team projected to be bad in the preseason even wins the Super Bowl.

After thousands of simulations, though, patterns in the results begin to emerge. The 2024 NFL preseason predictions presented in this post represent the averages of the thousands of season simulations we conducted.

What Do These Predictions Mean?

It’s important to understand how our system generates the results it does, and what those results imply. Here are the key details:

  • We end up projecting a lot of fractional wins.
    That obviously can’t happen in real life, but we don’t want to reduce precision in the numbers just to make them look prettier. For example, a team with 9.6 projected wins has worse prospects than a team with 10.4 projected wins. If we rounded our win projections, they’d look the same (10 wins each).
  • We may not be very confident that a team will end up with its exact number of projected wins.
    Let’s say we project a team with almost exactly 8 wins. In our season simulations, 8 wins was probably the most common outcome. However, that team may have ended up with either seven or 9 wins nearly as often, and sometimes with five or 11 wins. Our final projection, since it’s an average of all those numbers, ends up at 8 wins. But the odds of the team ending up with exactly 8 wins may be as low as only 15% or so.
  • Our season predictions can change slightly day-to-day, even with no new game results.
    Because we re-simulate the entire remaining 2024 season every day, randomness in simulation results may cause slight fluctuations in team projections from one day to the next, even if no new games have been played. So it’s wise not to read too much into tiny differences in our projections.

Why Is A Simulation-Driven Approach Valuable?

Despite some limitations, our simulation-driven approach to making preseason NFL predictions has some clear advantages over alternative prediction methods.

Some human NFL “experts” can be decent at projecting the future performance level of a team—especially one they’ve studied closely. But on the whole, humans tend to have a poor grasp of the potential impacts of probability and randomness over the course of a full NFL season.

In our experience, even knowledgeable football people tend to underestimate a great team’s odds of losing to a mediocre or bad team. And a lot of people like to look at a team’s future schedule and classify games into broad categories like “win,” “loss,” “toss-up,” etc. The implicit assumption there is that a “win” is a definite win, but no game in the NFL is a lock.

While it’s true that a team like San Francisco is unlikely to lose to a team like Arizona, even small upset probabilities keep adding up game after game. So you can’t discount them, especially when division titles can be decided by just one win. Just last year, for example, the Dallas Cowboys went 12-5, but  lost a game to the Arizona Cardinals, a team that finished with four wins for the season. The Houston Texans surged to a surprise playoff appearance and 10 wins, but were one of only two teams to lose all year to the Carolina Panthers.

Running thousands of computer simulations of the 2024 NFL season, and observing the distribution of outcomes generated by all the various probabilities, is a much more objective and precise way to understand what is likely to happen over the course of a full season.

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Final Advice On Interpreting Our Preseason NFL Rankings

Some people get quite worked up about preseason NFL rankings, especially when our numbers suggest that their favorite team is going to be worse than the prevailing consensus in the popular sports media.

That’s to be expected. No one else ranks teams exactly like we do, and our approach often discounts the impact of things that many media pundits believe to be important.

We also have a very specific goals for our preseason NFL team ratings (e.g. to accurately predict the margins of victory of this season’s NFL games) that don’t exactly match the motivations of many other rankings makers.

Just keep in mind that predicting how 32 different NFL teams are each going to do this season is no easy task. No system is perfect, including ours. It has strengths and weaknesses. We expect to get some teams slightly wrong, and some teams very wrong, for a variety of reasons.

But in the long term, our approach has done very well when measured by the yardsticks that mean the most to us, such as predicting margins of victory and team performance levels at the end of the upcoming season.

Look At Ratings, Not Just Rankings

Also, remember to look at team ratings and not just rankings, because ratings tell a much more precise story.

For example, in our 2024-25 preseason ratings, only 2.0 points separate No. 13 Pittsburgh from No. 20 Indianapolis. That’s the same difference as between Indianapolis and No. 23 Minnesota. So we see the Colts as being part of a large tier near the middle of the rankings, and would be no more surprised if they finished above average and in the Top 12 of the power ratings than if they were to end the year at No. 24 or below.

So don’t overreact to a team’s ranking. Look at the rating as well, and you’ll better understand how teams breaking out into rough groupings or tiers of expected performance level.

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NFL Preseason Predictions Historical Performance

Significant year-to-year accuracy fluctuations are always possible with preseason predictions, but our preseason NFL predictions have proven to be been quite solid.

Mike Lopez, the NFL’s current Senior Director of Data and Analytics, did the only third-party study of preseason projection systems that we’re aware of, in both 2013 and 2014. He found our preseason projections to be the most accurate system he studied in both years. Our system was also the only system he tracked that was more accurate overall than Vegas preseason win totals in both years.

Mike stopped his study after 2014, but we continued to track our win/loss results against win totals lines from leading sportsbooks. From 2011 to 2021, when our preseason prediction for a team indicated that there was at least 10% ROI on betting either the over or the under on its season win total, those implied picks generated +14.5 units of profit.

For 2o22 and 2023, we highlighted some of our favorite preseason NFL betting picks as part of our Staff Picks. Over the last two years we made six preseason win total picks overall, and they went 6-0 (Giants over 7.0 wins, Vikings over 8.5 wins, Panthers over 5.5 wins, and Bucs under 11.0 wins in 2022; Eagles under 11.5 wins and Broncos under 8.5 wins in 2023).

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