Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

Free agency and the NFL Draft have come and gone, so it's time to truly start looking ahead to the 2024 season, which means a new batch of Power Rankings.

These are the first look-ahead rankings, with updates coming before the season begins. But this is a start.

The two-time-defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs begin at the top. After winning it last season with a team that hardly looked dominant at times, who are we to doubt them? As long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy, they are the favorites. Period. 

The San Francisco 49ers, who lost the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, remain the favorite in the NFC, which is why they are in the second spot. The rest of the top 10 has some usual suspects in it, including the rising Houston Texans, who remain at No. 8 after cracking the top 10 in my post-Super Bowl rankings.

After making the playoffs with quarterback C.J. Stroud as a rookie in 2023, they should be poised to take a big step forward. The addition of receiver Stefon Diggs should help the offense. If Stroud makes the expected strides, he could be the MVP.

Another team on the rise is the Chicago Bears. Getting quarterback Caleb Williams with the first overall pick as well as adding receivers Rome Odunze (ninth pick) and veteran Keenan Allen in a trade could make the offense dynamic. If Williams is as good as most think, watch out for the Bears potentially winning the division, especially if you remember how good the defense was down the stretch last year.

The Carolina Panthers remain at the bottom of the rankings as new coach Dave Canales faces a tough turnaround, mostly trying to get Bryce Young to be a better quarterback. They did make a few moves in the draft to try and help him, but he wasn't good as a rookie and he has to show he can stand in and consistently make throws. 

The next batch of rankings before the season will be similar to these, barring some injuries or other issues that might take a player out. For now, it's the Chiefs again at the top and everybody else chasing them.

Biggest Movers
15 Jets
11 Saints
1 Chiefs As long as Mahomes is slinging it around, they will be the favorite. The big move of the offseason was making sure Chris Jones was happy and paid. --
2 49ers The nucleus of the team that went to the Super Bowl last season is back. They are the favorites in the NFC once again. --
3 Ravens With Lamar Jackson improving, and being another year deeper into the new offense, the Ravens will again push for a Super Bowl. Maybe next time they will run it more in a championship game. --
4 Lions The Lions showed how good they were last season by coming within a whisker of getting to the Super Bowl. Now comes the tough part: Dealing with being a hunted team. 1
5 Bills They will be a different team from 2023 in a lot of ways, but that might not be a bad thing. Josh Allen is still the quarterback, which is why they are still the best team in the AFC East. 1
6 Packers With Jordan Love showing he can be their guy for the long run last season and a lot of talented receivers, they will score. The defense will have a new look -- and it will be better. 1
7 Bengals As long as Joe Burrow is back healthy, they will push to win the AFC North. He just has to stay on the field. 10
8 Texans They've had a great offseason, adding a lot of key pieces, which means they should be the best team in the division. But now they have to handle dealing with expectations, which Jacksonville didn't do last season in the same division. --
9 Rams They had a terrific draft, but the retirement of Aaron Donald will be felt by the defense. Even so, Sean McVay will have them pushing the 49ers for the division title. 2
10 Eagles They had a nice draft, adding two much-needed secondary players, and the Super Bowl hangover is a thing of the past. The pressure is on for a bounce-back season for this group. 2
11 Jets It's go-time for the Jets. With Aaron Rodgers coming back at age 40, this has to be the year. They have all the pieces. 15
12 Jaguars They flopped midway through the season in 2023 because they weren't ready to handle the challenge. It didn't help that Trevor Lawrence was playing hurt. They will push Houston in the division after a nice draft. 3
13 Cowboys The supposed all-in offseason hasn't exactly lived up to that hype. They will essentially be the same group from a year ago, which means the same story: Pressure on Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy to win a few playoff games. 7
14 Browns They will get Deshaun Watson back healthy this year, which puts all the pressure on him to get this team to the playoffs again. Hey, Joe Flacco did it. 5
15 Dolphins The Dolphins lost some key players in free agency, but they have done a nice job of filling in for their losses. Oh, and they added more speed. 5
16 Buccaneers Re-signing Baker Mayfield and others gives them a chance to run it back as division champs. This is a team with a nice mix of young and old. 3
17 Bears By drafting Caleb Williams first and Rome Odunze ninth, they have the makings of a special offense. If Williams is the real deal, they could push to win the division. 4
18 Chargers Jim Harbaugh will instill a toughness into this group, but it will be interesting to see how he works with Justin Herbert. He can't turn him into a game manager. 12
19 Steelers They added a lot of physical toughness in the draft, which will help Russell Wilson on offense and improve the defense. Will it be Wilson or Justin Fields starting for most of the season? 5
20 Falcons Landing Kirk Cousins seemed to be the smart move, but then they drafted Michael Penix eighth overall. Cousins can't be happy about that and they didn't get better for the now by taking Penix. 3
21 Titans They've had a great offseason, which will really help Will Levis in his second season. I believe in Levis, which is why I think this team could push for the playoffs. 6
22 Colts They will have a healthy Anthony Richardson back, which is the best thing going into the season. He flashed as a rookie and will be another year into the offense. 4
23 Cardinals They've had two good drafts in a row as they build under general manager Monti Ossenfort and coach Jonathan Gannon. They could push to be a playoff team this season. 2
24 Raiders Is it Gardner Minshew or Aidan O'Connell at quarterback? By failing to land a quarterback in the draft, that's what they are left with in a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. 5
25 Seahawks New coach Mike Macdonald will get the defense playing much better. But this is a big year for Geno Smith after his play leveled off last season. 5
26 Vikings They landed quarterback J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick, which means it's his team now. It is a good situation for a young quarterback. 4
27 Saints They will have a new-look offense with a new coordinator in Klint Kubiak, but are they any better on that side of the ball when it comes to talent? Age has also crept in on defense. 11
28 Broncos They took Bo Nix 12th overall to be their quarterback. When does he play? When should he play? It's all about Nix now. 4
29 Giants They passed on a quarterback in the draft, which means it's all on Daniel Jones. If he doesn't play well, there will be big changes in New York. 1
30 Patriots They drafted Drake Maye to be their franchise quarterback. The question now is when he starts. It could be Jacoby Brissett for a while. 1
31 Commanders They have their quarterback to build around in Jayden Daniels now to go with a new owner and new coach. This is heading in the right direction. --
32 Panthers Their entire year will be gauging the improvement of Bryce Young. If he doesn't get better, they have major problems. --