NFL uniform power rankings 2020: Rams tumble, Chargers take top spot after seven teams change looks

Nate Davis

There isn't much going on in the sports world these days as the novel coronavirus persists as a global scourge.

But if it's levity and new developments you seek, look no further than NFL uniform trends given the Fashion Week flavor that's swept the league.

And while some new reveals fell flat or failed to make a ripple, the Los Angeles Chargers took the cake in April when their modified kit finally hit the runway. That smoke show set the bar quite high – and the cross-town Rams didn't come close to clearing it earlier this month when they finally showed the world how they'd altered their signature duds.

The Cleveland Browns unveiled a retro look earlier this offseason, subsequent to social media debuts featuring updates for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons. Even the Indianapolis Colts made minor tweaks to their classic look, and the New England Patriots decided to further switch things up amid their ongoing metamorphosis. 

It's all served to make me further mull NFL fashion, a topic that's entranced me since second grade. And with more than a half-dozen teams opting to tinker, seemed as good a time as any to update my uniform power rankings from 2019. And, yes, one year is sufficient for one's taste in haberdashery to shift, so this isn't a cut/paste/update of last year's order, which is noted parenthetically with all 32 teams.

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Argue breathlessly among yourselves to settle this very important debate ... 

1. Los Angeles Chargers (3): An iconic ensemble since 1960, the Bolts proved with April's drop – which vaulted them into the top spot after a brief stay at No. 2 in this post's initial iteration – that modernization and diversification don't necessarily have to wreck a glorious brand. Re-emphasizing powder blue, returning jersey numbers to the helmets under an ever-so-slightly tweaked lightning logo and offering a stunning Color Rush option featuring a navy bolt for the first time since 1966 equates to a football fashion version of the Air Coryell offense – visually innovative and refreshing. The permanent switch to gold facemasks last year remains a solid decision.

2. Las Vegas Raiders (1): Tough to top the Silver and Black, who feature an awesome color scheme and fantastic logo while maintaining an overall clean look since the familiar presentation's inception in 1964. But as the Raiders make their entry into Sin City, how about putting together a new Color Rush option – adding black pants with a silver stripe to the traditional jersey? After all, Raiders fans will be betting black on those local roulette wheels. The rebooted Chargers upped their game just enough, so seems time for Raider Nation to do the same.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2): The black and gold colors reflect the Steel City (in case you've never visited) as does the trio of hypocycloids in the logo, a callback to the Steelmark symbol used by the American Iron and Steel Institute. Pittsburgh is unique, too, as the only team to use its trademark on just one side of the helmet. And take note, Raiders, the Steelers have looked especially slick in that black-on-black Color Rush combo they adopted in 2016. 

4. Seattle Seahawks (4): The "College Navy" and "Action Green" reflect the Emerald City (in case you've never visited) as does the hawk logo, a callback to a mask designed by Indians native to the Pacific Northwest. (It also resembles birds seen on regional totems). And, for my money, this 2012 rebranding had been Nike's lone home run since becoming the NFL's apparel provider ... prior to this year's effort for the Chargers anyway. The Seahawks' matte helmet with tapering feathers and "12" elements to honor their fan base, including 12 feathers along each side of the pants and along the neckline, are sweet subtleties.

5. New Orleans Saints (5): It would've been very Mardi Gras to outfit them in purple, green and gold. Thankfully the Saints have always gone with the beautifully contrasted black and "Old Gold." And nothing says New Orleans like the fleur-de-lis logo. Whether it's black or white, few teams do monochrome this well.

6. Indianapolis Colts (10): The famed horseshoe on the headgear still evokes memories of Unitas, Manning and Luck. The new changes nicely honor the font used from the franchise's Baltimore days with a secondary logo that celebrates Indiana. Props.

7. Dallas Cowboys (8): Gotta respect the classic star that signifies "America's Team" and home white jerseys – chosen by original GM Tex Schramm to give fans a different look every time a visiting team wore its home colors in Dallas. I've always favored their blue road jerseys, though they've historically brought bad luck.

8. Minnesota Vikings (12): Underrated. The purple matte helmets are quite viking, still featuring the gold vestige of Norse headgear. The current shoulder silhouettes resembling a Nordic longboat are another deft touch.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (7): Topped with those signature wings, few helmets look cooler. Unfortunately, it's probably only going to get harder to revert to Kelly Green given Philly finally won a Lombardi in "Midnight Green."

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20): Anything looks good on Tom Brady, right? But seriously, I've almost always been a fan of their look, dating back to the "creamsicles" with winking Errol Flynn logo up to the pewter pants and skull and crossed-cutlass pirate flag of the 2002 Super Bowl team – which has basically been re-adopted after the disastrous dalliance with the digital font numbers instituted in 2014. Thanks for turning back those alarm clocks, fellas.

Tampa Bay wide receiver Chris Godwin (left), linebacker Lavonte David and linebacker Devin White model the three new uniform looks.

11. Kansas City Chiefs (9): The red and white uniforms are tastefully simplistic. The arrowhead logo stamped with the interlocking "K" and "C" has always been dope.

12. San Francisco 49ers (14): You lose the Super Bowl to the Chiefs, your uniforms can't rank ahead of theirs, right? Shame the Niners couldn't wear their 1994 throwbacks on Super Sunday.

13. Green Bay Packers (11): You lose the NFC championship to the 49ers, your uniforms can't rank ahead of theirs, right? Aside from the colors, the teams sport a virtually identical look anyway. Would help the Pack to ditch their hideous throwbacks and instead try a dark green Color Rush 

14. Chicago Bears (13): Haven't changed much since 1962, which is fine. The "GSH" on the left sleeve honoring George Halas was an exclusive feature for years. The orange jerseys are terrible, but the old-school Michigan-esque helmets brought out of mothballs for the 2019 season were splendid as was the occasional return of the all-white "C" logo.

15. Buffalo Bills (17): Given their misadventures earlier in the century, the basic threads and restored white helmet featuring the charging buffalo are hardly objectionable.

16. Los Angeles Rams (6): The first team to decorate its helmets, Fred Gehrke painting on those famous horns in 1948. But the franchise's recent history is marring a masterpiece, their confused St. Louis/L.A. combos of recent years a preamble to a new logo that landed with a thud among fans. Then came the new-look unis – oy. The vibrant "Rams Royal" and "Sol" colors are fine, while the "Bone" look for their roadies is refreshingly unique, making the Rams the only club lacking a white jersey option. But even if you like the gradient jersey numbers – I hate them – they'll look dated before the end of the decade. And to monkey with those horns ... blasphemy! Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson nailed it, opining: "The horn, man, it’s horrible. ... It looks like two bananas is what it looks like." Yup.

17. New York Giants (16): They look better in their 1980s-era, Lawrence Taylor Color Rush uniforms than the usual versions. The roadies with red numbers and gray pants seem tired.

18. New England Patriots (18): Nothing short of Pat Patriot's return was going to remotely distract from Brady's defection. Promoting the Color Rush outfit and tweaking the road jersey with new shoulder stripes? Meh. Not going to vault them past the Giants ... whom they never beat when it counts.

19. Houston Texans (15): Something to be said for sticking with your identity, and the Texans are the only team to never change its helmet. But as clever as the Texas flag steer logo is, the overall look is a little too close to the Patriots.

20. Cincinnati Bengals (21): For my money, the tiger-striped helmet is one of the NFL's most creative. And how great would it be if they could mix in a "white tiger" dome to enhance their Color Rush look next year? Otherwise, the pants and jerseys have been screwed up since 1997.

21. New York Jets (24): Last year's update has slowly grown on me, though I still roll my eyes at the pretension of "Spotlight White" and "Stealth Black." Good to see the return of ("Gotham") green helmets, but they'd be better with the 1980s logo.

22. Detroit Lions (26): The color alignment with Ford Motor Company is synergistic ... though I'm definitely a Chevy guy. The "WCF" on the sleeve, a technique copied from Chicago, honors late owner William Clay Ford. However, this franchise doesn't do Color Rush or throwbacks very well and should quit trying.

23. Miami Dolphins (28): Aqua and orange scream South Beach. But that new emblem just ain't cutting it.

24. Atlanta Falcons (25): Thumbs up – matte black helmet and embrace of "ATL" on the new, largely toned-down uniforms. Thumbs down – silver facemasks, black/red gradient alternate jersey and failure to bring back the old falcon logo. C'mon, let's go all the way and totally phase out all memories of Super Bowl LI, boys.

25. Baltimore Ravens (27): Black and purple are a nice backdrop to an Edgar Allan Poe story, but don't work well together as primary uniform colors. If I were their equipment manager, it would be monochrome – purple, black or white (but not dijon) every week.

26. Denver Broncos (19): It's just not wearing well, as 1990s as "Friends." And the problem is amplified by how sharp their orange Color Rush unis with the old "D" logo on the helmet present.

27. Tennessee Titans (23): The imagery of a Roman centurion is kind of cool with the shoulder flaps and sword sheath on the hip. But though the navy helmets were an upgrade, there's just too much going on here – including a muddled color suite with too many combinations. The Titans are sometimes hard to recognize week to week.

28. Cleveland Browns (31): As a non-Clevelander, I'm in the majority in hating the color scheme and have historically loathed the virginal helmet. But given how bad they've made the whole getup look since 2015, let's give them points for re-elevating their historic look.

29. Carolina Panthers (22): They ripped Atlanta's rollout on Twitter, but a team that looks more XFL than NFL doesn't have a paw to stand on ... especially if you remember ESPN's "Playmakers." Faded mix-and-match getups.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29): Like the Panthers, their 1995 expansion brethren, they need a bona fide overhaul after failed modifications and a 1990s insistence on using black. Carolina has a better-looking cat than the Jags' Chester Cheetah Cheetos knock-off, but at least it's no longer plastered to a two-tone helmet.

31. Arizona Cardinals (30): Remember when the Bills were using all that piping and heavy color swatching over the shoulders a decade ago? You would've thought no one would ever try to replicate that look. Alas ... What was wrong with the Pat Tillman era, featuring Arizona's state flag on the simpler white jerseys?

32. Washington Redskins (32): Hideous color scheme wed to a logo (and team name) that rubs too many people the wrong way – unfortunate given the superior spear logo from their past would easily remedy the situation ... even if it's very Florida State-y. For a rebooting organization, doing the same to the uniforms would be just fine, too.


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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