NFL Week 1 Power Rankings: Jaguars, 49ers set to meet in 2024 Super Bowl thanks to talent and weak divisions

Sometimes your division really matters in the NFL

This is one of those years. 

That’s why I am picking the Jacksonville Jaguars to play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. The Jaguars play in a bad AFC South division, one that features two rookie starting quarterbacks, while the 49ers play in a division with two of the worst teams in the league in the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams.

That, coupled with a variety of other things — most notably talent — is why I think those two teams will play in the Super Bowl in Las Vegas.

For now, though, it doesn’t mean they top my Power Rankings. That might seem strange, but schedule and division play really matter — and I think both the Jaguars and 49ers will get better as the season moves along. They aren’t the best right now and I usually start the defending champions in the top spot, which is why the Kansas City Chiefs are No. 1 right now. 

The Jaguars have a young roster, but the offense, led by Trevor Lawrence, is loaded. That unit will score 500 points this season as Lawrence wins the MVP. Yes, bold for sure, but it’s what I think will happen. 

As for the 49ers, they have stars all over the field on both sides of the ball, which always matters. It’s all about quarterback Brock Purdy staying healthy for them. 

Both teams have coaches who are among the best in the league in Doug Pederson (Jaguars) and Kyle Shanahan (49ers). That’s why both teams will get better as the season enters December. 

For now, the 49ers are fifth in my Power Rankings with the Jaguars right behind them in the sixth spot. The Kansas City Chiefs, the defending champs, open in the top spot with the usual suspects right behind them in the Eagles, Bills and Bengals.

All of those teams are capable of winning it all, but the Eagles, Bills, Bengals and Chiefs all play in tougher divisions than the Jaguars and 49ers.

Like I said at the top, division matters. 

Biggest Movers








The champs open in the top spot and will once again push to win it all. That’s what having Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes does for a franchise. 0-0-0



They are now the hunted, which will make getting back to the Super Bowl tough to do. They are still are loaded with talent, but the Super Bowl hangover is usually real. 0-0-0



They are the forgotten AFC East team heading into the season with all the fanfare going to the Jets and Dolphins. But they are still the team to beat in the division with Josh Allen. 0-0-0



With Joe Burrow throwing it to those dynamic playmakers outside, the Bengals will be fun to watch on offense again. The defense is what will decide their season since there has been some changes. 0-0-0



If Brock Purdy plays like he did last year, they can win it all. He has so many playmakers, led by Christian McCaffrey, to make it work. 0-0-0



They will be explosive on offense and the schedule is favorable. That’s a great combination to have in order to be able to make a Super Bowl push. 0-0-0



Aaron Rodgers makes this team so much better. But they have a lot of young players who have to learn how to win. That’s easier said than done. 1 0-0-0



Lamar Jackson will be fun to watch playing for Todd Monken in the new offense. The defense has some major questions, which have to be answered if they are to be a Super Bowl contender. 4 0-0-0



The roster is impressive, so it’s all about Deshaun Watson. If he plays like he did with the Texans, this is going to be a playoff team. 5 0-0-0



This is the pressure year for Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy. The pressure is on both in a big way. Will Prescott handle it in big games? If he doesn’t, there will be changes next season. 3 0-0-0



If Tua Tagovailoa can stay on the field, they will score a bunch of points, even if the offensive line has some issues. The defense will be much better with Vic Fangio running it. 2 0-0-0



Will new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore unleash the power arm of Justin Herbert even more than in years past? He’d better do so. The Chargers have the talent, but it’s time for Herbert and gang to win a playoff game. 2 0-0-0



This season is all about Sam Howell, and I think he will be better than many expect. The defense will be nasty. They will be a playoff team. 5 0-0-0



With Aaron Rodgers gone, most think the Packers will fall off a great deal. Not with that defense and running game. Jordan Love will play well enough in his first year as a starter. 5 0-0-0



They are a trendy pick in the NFC North, but they have a lot of young players who have never won big games. That matters. They might be a year away. 4 0-0-0



Kenny Pickett appeared to make major strides in the preseason. If that carries over, the Steelers will push for a playoff spot. 0-0-0



The question for Seattle is whether Geno Smith can repeat his 2022 season. They have a lot of young players who are ready to ascend. 2 0-0-0



They play in a brutal division, which is why they might take a step back this year. But Brian Daboll is such a good coach that it’s hard to doubt them. 5 0-0-0



They have the tools to win the division, but age is creeping in at some spots. Getting Derek Carr does upgrade the quarterback spot, which is why they are favored to win the division. 1 0-0-0



If Baker Mayfield can play like he did in his best days with the Browns, they can push the Saints in the division. They have added a lot of speed to this roster. 4 0-0-0



They won a lot of close games last season to make the playoffs, but I don’t think they can count on that this time around. I do think Brian Flores is a good hire to run the defense. 4 0-0-0



They will be tough, physical and stay in most of their games. That’s the Mike Vrabel way. But this season is about Ryan Tannehill and the passing game. 1 0-0-0



The big issue here is whether Sean Payton can fix Russell Wilson. If he can’t, he just might turn to Jarrett Stidham at some point. Crazy? Maybe. 5 0-0-0



The defense should be solid, which will keep them in games. But the big question is Mac Jones and the passing game. Bill O’Brien will help, but how much? 3 0-0-0



With Bryce Young in at quarterback, they will have to take some lumps. He’s good, but that line is a question mark and it seemed to impact him in the preseason. 3 0-0-0



Anthony Richardson will start as a rookie, which means there will be growing pains. He will be fun to watch, but the Jonathan Taylor situation doesn’t help him. 3 0-0-0



They will be better this season, but I think their real push will come in 2024. The offense with Justin Fields will make strides in the passing game. 4 0-0-0



If Desmond Ridder improves, they will score a lot of points. But the defense has some issues. They will benefit playing in a bad division. 2 0-0-0



They are the fourth team in a tough division, which isn’t good. Can Jimmy Garoppolo stay on the field? This could be a challenging year for Josh McDaniels. 4 0-0-0



They are a year away. The roster is young and it will take time, especially with quarterback C.J. Stroud starting as a rookie. But watch out next year. 0-0-0



This is a young team that is paying the price for going after a Super Bowl two years ago – but at least they won it. Now it’s starting over time. 0-0-0



This is a tanking year – even if they won’t admit it. This team is in a complete rebuild. At least they have a lot of draft capital to do it. 0-0-0


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