My sensational editors at NFL.com asked me to rank the most complete teams in the NFL. Notice that adjective, complete.
This is NOT a power ranking. It's NOT a playoff prediction.
I think the Packers are going to win double-digit games, yet they are not on this list. Neither are the Seahawks, even though I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Co. do damage in 2019. I wanted to add San Francisco, but had a few too many questions about that roster. If Carson Wentz weren't rehabbing from his second straight season-ending injury and/or my last name rhymed with ten, the Eagles would be listed below. And I just couldn't get myself to buy the Vikings.
I'm sure everyone will agree with all of my choices and there will be no debate whatsoever. So, without further ado, here are the most complete teams in the NFL as of May 2019, Schein Nine style:
1) Los Angeles Chargers
I believe the Chargers are the most talented, balanced and complete team in the NFL. Their outstanding general manager, Tom Telesco, has put together a deep and loaded roster. In a recent "Bold Predictions" column, I said the Bolts would field the NFL's best defense in 2019. Even if that proclamation comes up short, it won't be by much. Joey Bosa is heathy and ready to terrorize quarterbacks off the edge with his partner in crime, Melvin Ingram. Add in first-round pick Jerry Tillery on the interior, and that's a recipe for destruction. The linebacker core is solid, with Jatavis Brown, Denzel Perryman and the ageless Thomas Davis, while the secondary is quite strong. Derwin James has already established himself as one of the NFL's best safeties, as evidenced by his first-team All-Pro nod in Year 1. His elite play overshadowed the excellent work of Desmond King, who also earned first-team All-Pro honors. Meanwhile, second-round pick Nasir Adderley could be the perfect center fielder for this defensive backfield.
And that's just half the beauty.
Philip Rivers has shown no signs of slowing down -- I envision his name popping up in the MVP discussion yet again. The Chargers are deep and versatile at running back, with Melvin Gordon flanked by Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Keenan Allen is a pass-catching machine, while Mike Williams is poised for a breakout season (if last year's 10-touchdown campaign didn't already accomplish that feat). Tight end Hunter Henry is nearly a year removed from his torn ACL right now, so he should be fully ready to rock in the fall. And Rivers has operated just fine with far worse O-lines in the past.
2) Los Angeles Rams
Todd Gurley's status is obviously a huge factor here, but I'm no doctor. I don't know any more about his true status than you. So, for the purposes of this exercise, I'm going to assume he'll return to stardom in a few months' time. That takes significant heat off Jared Goff, allowing the quarterback to play like he did over the first three months of last season. Another thing that'll help mitigate Goff's late-season swoon: the return of Cooper Kupp, whose torn ACL halfway through last season put a major crimp in Sean McVay's signature 11 personnel package (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR). When Kupp's on the field with Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, defenses are put in a serious bind. McVay's genius maximizes this talent.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams just happen to boast the single best defensive player -- bar none -- in the NFL today. Aaron Donald, who just won his second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award, raises the bar and makes everyone on the Rams' D better. Thus, while L.A. only ranked 19th in total defense last season, the unit has a knack for being clutch.
GM Les Snead not only has great hair, but he has great flair for putting a team together.
3) Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are loaded. Still feels weird to say, but it's unquestionably true. Baker Mayfield is a budding star. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are the most talented 1-2 punch at receiver in the league today. Nick Chubb is quite good. Kareem Hunt, when he's eligible to play, is even better. And don't sleep on David Njoku's skills at tight end.
The Myles Garrett-led defense doesn't lack for talent, either. Not with a front that also features Sheldon Richardson, Olivier Vernon and Larry Ogunjobi. And snagging Greedy Williams to stick opposite Denzel Ward was a steal in Round 2.
Freddie Kitchens faces a whole lot of pressure in his debut season as a head coach. He also has a whole lot of talent at his disposal. Cleveland has to field a winner in 2019.
4) Indianapolis Colts
Chris Ballard is a rock-star general manager. That 2018 draft haul -- which produced a pair of first-team All-Pros (OG Quenton Nelson and LB Darius Leonard, who was also Defensive Rookie of the Year), as well as a starting offensive tackle (Braden Smith) -- was historic. You gonna bet against his latest gem-hunting expedition? Watch Rock Ya-Sin and his classmates provide immediate returns.
Here's another thing that can't be stressed enough: Andrew Luck is heathy. How great is it to not have his uncertain condition as an omnipresent storyline? One of the game's best quarterbacks is back to being just that, back to making everyone around him better. T.Y. Hilton is a tough, big-game receiver. And the Colts' run game is very underrated.
5) Kansas City Chiefs
We are still waiting to see what the status of Tyreek Hill will be for this year. But dealing in what we know, Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the NFL. He's a magician. And it's scary to think the reigning MVP is only scratching the surface. Travis Kelce is the best tight end in football. And the receiving corps still has depth and talent beyond Hill.
Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu were gigantic pickups on defense. Clark is an upgrade on Dee Ford, especially in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's defense, and the Honey Badger provides a presence the defensive backfield hasn't had since a multitude of health issues (including cancer) took their toll on Eric Berry. K.C.'s defense was shaky throughout the 2018 season, and the unit failed when it mattered most, in the AFC title game. So a massive overhaul was the only way to go.
6) Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott is a flat-out star at running back, the engine that makes this team go. Amari Cooper's arrival last October changed everything for the passing attack, and Dak Prescott is primed and ready to have his best NFL season yet. Randall Cobb and Jason Witten aren't what they once were, but they represent upgrades on last year's lineup. The O-line is still stout, especially if Travis Frederick's health uptick continues.
On defense, Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are young stars at linebacker. DeMarcus Lawrence rightly got PAID for being great. And the defensive backfield is really underrated. Talent-wise, the Cowboys are Super Bowl contenders, led by their defense and run game.
7) New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is still rocking at the ripe age of 40. I mean, the guy just completed 74.4 percent of his passes, breaking the single-season record that he'd set the year before. Alvin Kamara is a versatile weapon who keeps defensive coordinators up at night. Michael Thomas is a pure stud at receiver. The Saints' defense has more talent than in prior years, with Cam Jordan being the centerpiece as a bona fide game wrecker. But the light needs to go on for DE Marcus Davenport in Year 2.
Mickey Loomis and Jeff Ireland have done a fantastic job assembling this roster, and Sean Payton makes it hum beautifully.
8) Chicago Bears
Khalil Mack is an absolute stud -- one of the best players in the sport. He changes the entire feel of this team. Roquan Smith lived up to the billing in Year 1. And then there's the criminally underrated Akiem Hicks. And Eddie Jackson. And down the line. This defense is flat-out fantastic.
Mitch Trubisky's development is key, and I believe in Matt Nagy's ability to foster it. The surrounding pieces don't get enough pub for being really solid, from Allen Robinson to Trey Burton to Tarik Cohen.
9) New England Patriots
Too low? Too high? Just right? Who cares? Bill Belichick and Tom Brady make everyone around them better. I do love Sony Michel, though -- he's going to have a gigantic year. And don't forget 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn will debut this year after missing his entire rookie campaign due to injury. Big-bodied rookie N'Keal Harry adds sizzle at receiver. The defense will miss Trey Flowers, but New England stalwarts Dont'a Hightower, Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung remain in the fold. Not to mention, Stephon Gilmore might've been the NFL's best corner last season.
So many good players, but so much is a function of Belichick and the coaching staff. And the greatest quarterback of all time. Doesn't hurt having that.