2013 NFL preseason power rankings.
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Jack Dempsey / Associated Press[/caption]
The preseason has just begun so it's time to unveil my power rankings in the lead-up to the real action.
Take a look below and feel free to leave a comment.
The Elite Teams
1. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning will lead his Broncos to many wins this season, likely even more than last year. They lie in the weakest division in football and have once again drawn seemingly the easiest schedule in the league. With new additions including Wes Welker and a host of role-players, the Broncos will be disappointed with anything less than a Super Bowl championship.
2. Atlanta Falcons
I would expect to cop some flak for having these guys rated above the 49ers and Seahawks, but I just couldn’t put them lower with the team they have on paper. The Falcons boast the best receiver duo in the NFL, complimented by TE Tony Gonzalez, workhorse Steven Jackson in the backfield, the underrated quarterback Matt Ryan and an improved, opportunistic defense.
3. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are the most youthful and talented team in the NFL. Sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch and the electrifying Percy Harvin create the perfect offensive trio to compliment the stud defense led by Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner. Of course, Harvin will likely miss a big chunk of this season making life slightly tougher, but they got it done just fine without him last season.
4. San Francisco 49ers
Most people have the 49ers down as the top or second team heading towards the preseason. But when you delve a little deeper, you begin to see that quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still unproven and part of his success is due to lack of game planning from opposition. RB Frank Gore hit the age of 30 over the offseason, wideout Michael Crabtree will miss most of the year and there are actually more questions than answers on the offensive side of the ball. Still, the 49ers boast both the best defensive unit in the league as well as the most gifted offensive line.
5. Houston Texans
Houston is tip to win the Lombardi this season, but I won't rank them accordingly yet. Quarterback Matt Schaub is a huge question mark for me, but he was the eighth-ranked full year starter in passer rating last year with 90.7. Receiver Andre Johnson is ageing but still a weapon, while rookie DeAndre Hopkins will only compliment the passing attack. They have the best running back duo in the league with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, as well as a rock-solid offensive line anchored by left tackle Duane Brown and a top-10 (when healthy) defense. Brian Cushing is entering a contract year and should be out to prove his worth. I have a very good feeling about this squad this year.
6. New England Patriots
This admirable franchise will do well to keep up with its performances of recent years, despite the loss of Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos and Aaron Hernandez. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady will be 36 by the time the preseason begins. The scrutiny Hernandez brought to the club will haunt it this season, and the improving defence may have to carry a once-proud, powerhouse offence. The rushing attack will be leaned on much more, too. Love or hate the Patriots, you have to feel for them right now. I can’t see the them sinking below 10 wins, keeping them high on the list.
7. Green Bay Packers
The Packers receiving corps is the only reason they’re this high on the list. Without Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones they aren’t close to the top-10. Why? Because Aaron Rodgers is, simply put, overrated. The defense is horrible, but should be opportunistic this season. Jermichael Finley should bounce back and the offensive line will look to improve on their performance last season (recent horrifying injury to Bryan Bulaga aside) where they allowed Rodgers to be sacked 51 times.
8. Baltimore Ravens
The defending champions fit in here at No. 8. Despite popular opinion, the Ravens actually improved over the offseason with the additions of Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, Marcus Spears, Matt Elam, Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams to cover the losses of Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Bernard Pierce. The trade of Anquan Boldin irks me as a Ravens fan, but young Tommy Streeter could be one to watch in Boldin’s place.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
This team is looking very scary. The young talent they have in the Queen City is endless. From QB Andy Dalton, to receiver A.J. Green, to rookie runner Giovani Bernard, to tight end duo Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, to that defence with Geno Atkins and Vontaze Burfict... oh my goodness! The tough division may hold the Bengals back, but they definitely will compete.
10. Chicago Bears
It's a little hard to believe that a franchise that missed the playoffs last season and is sporting a new head coach and ageing defense is a top-10 team in the league, isn’t it? Yet here the Chicago Bears sit. Marc Trestman’s stint in the CFL came after a long tenure of floating around the NFL, coaching quarterbacks and coordinating offences and leading players like Rich Gannon, Bernie Kosar and Jake Plummer. If you ask me, Trestman has the tools to carry the new-look Bears offence to a successful season.
On the Cusp
11. Washington Redskins
If there were no questions about RG3′s health, the 'Skins would be in the top 10. But as this isn’t the case, they sit just outside at No. 11. RB Alfred Morris should actually take a step back from last year’s amazing effort when he was second only to Adrian Peterson. The defense wasn't aided much in the offseason, either.
12. Minnesota Vikings
This team went a little insane in a Madden-like offseason. They choose three players in the first round of the 2013 draft, and all look to be solid selections. Electrifying back Adrian Peterson will carry this team again, and the addition of WR Greg Jennings definitely helps struggling young quarterback Christian Ponder.
13. New Orleans Saints
With head coach Sean Payton returning from suspension, the Saints could be a lot higher on this list, but the worst defense in league will need to improve under new co-ordinator Rob Ryan for that to happen. Any team with Drew Brees will be in contention, and the addition of future stud Kenny Vaccaro to the secondary will help.
14. Indianapolis Colts
Headed by the most promising and young quarterbacks in the league, the Colts will look to maintain the success of last season and develop their inexperienced roster into a contender. They improved their defensive line depth through the draft and free agency, and also added break-out candidate receiver Darius Heyward-Bay.
15. New York Giants
In an attempt to defend the Lombardi trophy, the Giants failed to qualify for the playoffs last season. Overrated describes this team, from the quarterback to the defensive line. Yes, Eli Manning and the crew have won two Super Bowl rings in six years, but they have only had three playoff appearances in that time. Without consistency you cannot be great. They also made little improvement during the offseason.
16. Dallas Cowboys
How fitting that a team which has posted back-to-back 8-8 seasons slots in at the halfway point of the power rankings. The Cowboys have been one of the more talented teams in the league for years now, but there have been no results. Coaching and ownership issues have kept them out of contention, as well as Tony Romo’s crunchtime (in)ability.
17. Detroit Lions
One of my favorite teams heading into the 2013 season, the Lions boast the most potent offense in football with the addition of speedster Reggie Bush alongside the presence of Calvin Johnson and slinger Matthew Stafford. Too bad the atrocious defense keeps them in the bottom half of this list.
18. Miami Dolphins
Another vastly improved squad checks in. The 'Phins added some nice pieces to a potential future-contending roster, though all came overpriced. Dion Jordan is the ultimate boom or bust pick at No. 3 overall, and their success will hinge on the development of young sophomores quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Lamar Miller.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger’s outstanding numbers do not lie, but neither does the Steelers’ ageing defense and lack of offensive production last year. Jarvis Jones was a nice piece to add in the draft, but won’t make a difference this year. If Big Ben can stay healthy, they will undoubtedly be higher on this list come season's end.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccs added the best cornerback in the NFL this offseason (yes, Richard Sherman, sit back down) and forfeited little in comparison to what they received. They also added a solid backup quarterback in Mike Glennon. Tampa Bay will look to build on their semi-successful 2012 campaign.
21. St Louis Rams
The Rams took out the title for most improved team this offseason as a result of intelligent drafting and adding the right pieces in free agency, like Jake Long and Jared Cook. Still, they cannot be any higher until they’re proven and quarterback Sam Bradford has more riding on that than any.
22. Kansas City Chiefs
One of the most improved teams this offseason, Kansas City now possess a consistent quarterback, a successful and an experienced head coach as well as 2013 first overall pick LT Eric Fisher. All round, this team is one of the youngest squads in the league full of potential. The soft schedule helps, too as well as having Eric Berry at safety.
23. Arizona Cardinals
The Carson Palmer deal provides the Cards with the perfect transition quarterback, giving them time to find a long-term solution. Veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald should bounce back with fellow wideout Michael Floyd, an improved offensive line and a collection of defensive studs such as Patrick Peterson to assist him.
24. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are a promising bunch, but it’s going to take years for this franchise to pick itself up. They nullified the desperate call for defensive line talent by drafting Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, but sill need receivers to haul in Cam Newton’s passes.
25. San Diego Chargers
There is a misconception that at age 31, Phillip Rivers will reverse his consistent regression and suddenly find his old form. Unfortunately that thinking is optimistic with the oft-injured and ageing Antonio Gates alongside the absence of Vincent Jackson. Without RB Ryan Matthews staying healthy alongside an inconsistent defense, the team will struggle to win games.
26. Tennessee Titans
This team should be lower on this list, but based on the improvements to the offensive line and general improvement to the offensive unit they are rated higher. Jake Locker, Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Chris Johnson should all significantly improve this year, and the addition of guards Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack will be a big part in that.
27. Philadelphia Eagles
I’d love to have this squad higher, but there are just so many variables. What will the offense look like? Can new head coach Chip Kelly have a positive effect on the woeful defense? So much potential and upside, however even more uncertainty.
28. Buffalo Bills
The Bills reached for E.J. Manuel in the draft and signed incompetent ex-starter Kevin Kolb to compete for their QB gig. Two talented young receivers joined the team in Robert Woods and Da’Rick Rodgers, however new coach Doug Marrone will have to wait before he's leading a winning side.
29. Cleveland Browns
This team is tailing the second-strongest division in football. They will be lucky to nab one or two divisional games, let alone a few games here and there, but their young roster is just too weak right now to compete in the NFL. The defense is promising, but the offensive questions are still unanswered from years ago.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are showing signs of improvement throughout the offseason, with "offensive weapon" Denard Robinson turning heads and new head coach Gus Bradley beginning to make an impact. Quarterback is still a major area of need for the Jags, as neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne seem to be the answer.
31. New York Jets
Sometimes the Jets are put under more heat than they deserve. Other times they deserve it. As long as Rex Ryan is the head coach of the team they will not have a legitimate offense. This year, the Jets had needs at every offensive skill position and opted to use two top-15 draft picks on defense. They did mange to nab top QB prospect Geno Smith, however.
32. Oakland Raiders
What a mess this once-glorified franchise has found itself in. The Raiders are in the middle of one of the ugliest rebuilds in the past decade, but will have over $60 million in cap space next offseason. This year, however, two wins seems realistic as their roster is the weakest in the league. Look forward to the 2014 NFL draft, Radier fans!
Did we rate you're team too high or low? Let us know what you think in the comments below.