Projecting ahead and building for future success -- beyond just the current season -- is crucial in the NFL. That's what the best teams all do to stay at the top of the standings. So which teams are best set up to pile up wins and show steady improvement over the next few years?
To project which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons (2022 through 2024), we asked our panel of experts -- Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates -- to rate each team's quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching using this scale:
100: A+ (Elite)
90: A (Great)
80: B (Very good)
70: C (Average)
60: D (Very bad)
50 and below: F (Disastrous)
After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score: roster (30%), quarterback (20%), draft (15%), front office (15%) and coaching (20%). The result is a comprehensive ranking based on how well each team is positioned for the future. Our experts dove in on additional analysis for all 32 teams, hitting on biggest worries, stats to know and what could change in upcoming years, along with why each team landed where it did on the ranking.
Note: Overall scores are rounded to the nearest tenth of a point.
1. Buffalo Bills
Overall score: 90.4
Why they're here: Brandon Beane has executed a masterclass in roster building since becoming the Bills' general manager in 2017. The foundation of this roster has been built via the draft, but we've also seen calculated swings in both free agency and trades -- most prominently to land receiver Stefon Diggs. The roster is loaded, head coach Sean McDermott is outstanding, and the Bills are poised for a major step forward this year. -- Yates
Biggest worry: The concern last year was about the pass rush, and whether rookies Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham could step up and provide a timely boost when the team needed it the most. Although the Bills finished 11th in total sacks and sixth in pass rush win rate, Buffalo's defense was unable to get off the field when it needed to late in the playoff game loss to the Chiefs. What does it all mean? For Buffalo to get over the hump, it needs its defense -- both the front and the coverage -- to deliver when it matters the most. And it remains to be seen if it can. -- Riddick
What could change for the better: Buffalo must elevate the offense with a revamped running game. Quarterback Josh Allen is a great runner but has taken plenty of hits after 422 rushes over four years. Drafting James Cook and signing Duke Johnson should aid the quick passing game by creating favorable matchups out of the backfield. Veterans Devin Singletary and Zack Moss provide stability, too. Then on defense, the Bills have tough contractual decisions to make on 2023 free agents Tremaine Edmunds and Jordan Poyer. -- Fowler
Stat to know: Last season, then-Rams edge rusher Von Miller recorded the highest pass rush win rate in a single postseason (41.5%) of any player in the history of the metric (since 2017). Now with the Bills, he's a major addition to what was already the best pass defense in the league last year by expected points added per play. But at 33 years old, his impact might be more short term. -- Walder