Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) after Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
At the mini-camp stage of the football season, we’re growing ever closer to the preseason. Just think football fans, we’re less than two months away from the start of the preseason, and less than three months away from the start of the regular season! We’ve been waiting long enough. Today, I give you my power rankings for all thirty-two NFL Teams. But before we do that, don’t you wonder where everyone else has teams ranked? Check this out:
[table id=7 /]
I love the fact that Walter Football went from last to first when they did their rankings, so I return the favor.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)
The Jags are a mess, and I honestly think this team is a strong candidate to move to London if the NFL ever locks that agreement up. The team parted ways with long-time running back Maurice Jones-Drew, which will make tons of Jags fans sad about their jersey situation. The Jags shocked the football world with the selection of Blake Bortles at #3 overall, but did get some help at wide receiver with the selection of USC’s Marqise Lee at #39 overall. It could be a lot worse in Jacksonville.
31. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Dennis Allen is on the hot seat, but don’t blame his coaching as the problem for the Raiders. The team dropped six straight to finish out 2013, but that’s what you get when your quarterback situation is utter turmoil and your star running back can’t stay healthy. I used to think Jacksonville was where your career died, but Oakland seems to be the favorite now.
30. Houston Texans (2-14)
We do know that a functional quarterback is needed to score points, right? I don’t disagree that J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney won’t be a terror rushing the passer, especially with Romeo Crennel entering the picture. Overall, there’s a ton of question marks with the Texans. They need to show some sort of life to eradicate the 14 straight losses from last year. Can Penn State’s Bill O’Brien help bring the Texans back to glory?
29. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
The Browns have upgraded tremendously on paper, mostly on defense, and they have their biggest attraction ready to fill the Dawg Pound. Whether Johnny Manziel is a true competitor to beat out Brian Hoyer remains to be seen, but let’s be more interested in what happens with the absence of Josh Gordon. Oh, and there’s a new head coach in town (Mike Pettine).
28. Washington Redskins (3-13)
Exit Mike Shanahan, enter Jay Gruden. If the universe would stop focusing so much about a team name that has been in existence since 1932, then maybe we could see some football. At any rate, the Redskins are banking on the fact that RGIII returns to his rookie-like form in 2012, and coupled with some new faces, the Skins could be potent on offense. However, it all centers around RGIII.
27. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1)
The biggest question for the Vikings is what they will get out of quarterback play this season. The team was able to land Mike Zimmer as their head coach in the offseason, and bring in Norv Turner to run the offense. The team should be much better this year, but it’s going to depend on who plays quarterback.
26. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
What’s going to become of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson this season? Jackson is said to have a reduced role in 2014, but as we’ve seen, Spiller has not been able to reach his maximum potential. It seems like every season that the Bills have a permanent black cloud around them with injuries, but maybe they can stay healthy enough to put together a decent campaign this year. Kiko Alonso is a beast.
25. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
I love these power rankings. So, what everyone is saying is, the return of Julio Jones makes the Falcons invincible! Forget the fact that the team lost Tony Gonzalez, has a swiss cheese offensive line, and no running game, Julio Jones can do EVERYTHING!
24. Tennessee Titans (7-9)
Despite all of the drama that surrounded the Titans, they were still able to finish at 7-9 for the season. Their leading rusher (Chris Johnson) is out of the picture, and it’s the last chance for Jake Locker. I love Ken Whisenhunt as a head coach, and I fully expect the Titans to make something of themselves this season. The team also nabbed former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton to run the defense.
23. Miami Dolphins (8-8)
The Dolphins front office is a terrible mess. I mean, giving up on first-rounder Dion Jordan so easily, and then looking to deal Mike Wallace after a year? There’s not much confidence when you play for the Dolphins (I guess that’s why Knowshon Moreno put on weight), and they had one of the ugliest stories in the history of sports last year (see Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin), but the team still finished out .500 in 2013. I’d say focus could help them, but in the same breath, the distractions can kill them.
22. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
We know the Cowboys can put up some points, but are they going to be able to stop anyone on defense? The team has already suffered a crushing blow by losing linebacker Sean Lee for the season in OTAs. The Cowboys remain optimistic, but if you know anything about these injuries, it’s pretty much over. The only thing going for them is a weak division.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
The Bucs finally got rid of their ugly curse of a head coach (Greg Schiano) and brought in Lovie Smith. I believe they serve a strong threat to become the league’s most improved team in 2014, but as you continue to read my rankings, there’s a reoccurring theme surrounding success, and that’s the quarterback play. Josh McCown is the Bucs sheriff now (I honestly believe that Glennon was right for their system), and has all sorts of tall toys to throw the ball too. Lovie Smith should get these Swashbucklers back to form.
20. New York Jets (8-8)
I could honestly rank the Jets lower based on the uncertainty of quarterback, but hopefully the additions of Chris Johnson and Eric Decker help the Jets out. The Jets boast a pretty stellar defense. Someone needs to overthrow the Patriots some day, maybe the Jets can?
19. St. Louis Rams (7-9)
The team had a bit of controversy around Sam Bradford at first, but the team wisely stuck with him at quarterback. The Rams boosted their defense this offseason, and have added Gregg Williams to run the defense. On paper, the defense is scary. However, the Rams will have to do some soul-searching to beat out the Seahawks and 49ers to get higher.
18. New York Giants (7-9)
It was just three short years ago that the New York Giants knocked off the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, thanks to another last-minute game winning drive by Eli Manning and company. Since then, the Giants have went 16-16 (.500), and it didn’t matter who was playing defense against the Giants offense, they were intercepting Eli Manning left and right. The team should have a more focused squad this season, but the departure of Hakeem Nicks puts a dent in the wide receiver situation. At least, they have a weak division to work with.
17. Detroit Lions (7-9)
Jim Caldwell pairs up with Joe Lombardi, and is planning to deliver a New Orleans Saints style offense in the Motor City. That’s fairly scary imagining what Calvin Johnson could do with Drew Brees passing him the ball all of the time. The Lions look to return to the team of 2011, when they finished 10-6, and Matthew Stafford finished as the Comeback Player of the Year. They have all of the tools in place, now they just have to execute.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
If you can’t beat ’em, trip ’em! Man, that sure was a funny moment by Mike Tomlin. The Steelers have a good one-two punch at running back with Le’Veon Bell and LeGarette Blount, but they’re a bit puzzling to figure out. In 2010 & 2011, they finished 12-4, but over the past two seasons, they’ve finished 8-8. Here’s to the unpredictable world of football.
15. San Diego Chargers (9-7)
The Chargers fended off early season woes, and finished winning five of their final six games to get in the postseason for the first time since 2009. Philip Rivers earned Come Back Player of the Year honors, and the Lightning Bolts even won a Wild Card game against the Bengals. The Chargers added Donald Brown to their team this season, which should help them in the long run.
14. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
The Chiefs looked like the most invincible team for the first part of last year, but then suffered from stage fright, dropping five of their final seven games. The once stout defense fell apart, and fell victim to a 45-44 loss against the Colds in the Wild Card round. The interesting watch centers around how the team will compensate for the loss of Dexter McCluster, and how their offensive line will look with the loss of several starters.
13. Chicago Bears (8-8)
Marc Trestman’s first season as the Bears head coach didn’t go like he wanted to. The Bears were poised to crack the postseason last season, but dropped their final two games of the year to finish 8-8. Now that the quarterback carousel is over, it’s all about Jay Cutler. Does anyone else think it’s going to be weird not seeing Devin Hester returning punts and kicks for the Bears? I’m just sad that we have to wait until November 16th to see Jared Allen take on his old team.
12. Carolina Panthers (12-4)
Is this team going to be able to pass? That’s the question. If you feel good about Cam Newton picking from veterans Jericho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, Jason Avant, rookie Kelvin Benjamin, and the unproven Marvin McNutt, then check yourself into a hospital ASAP. The Panthers defense can only carry the team so far. Without a passing attack, it leaves the 2014 Panthers in limbo.
11. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
The pressure is all on Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. The addition of Gary Kubiak as the team’s offensive coordinator should speak volumes for the Ravens attack. A two healthy tight end set of Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels should help Flacco and his checkdowns. I like the Ravens to emerge as the AFC North favorites this year.
10. Cincinatti Bengals (11-5)
Are we really talking about replacing Andy Dalton because he can’t crack higher than the Wild Card? By that logic, Tony Romo would already be out of a job. The Bengals possess a scary threat, but we’re just waiting for them to get past the Wild Card Round.
9. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)
Yes, a healthy Aaron Rodgers makes all the difference in the world. The Pack have most of their crew returning in 2014, and they should field a much better season. They also helped fill a huge void at safety by drafting Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Rodgers is the key to the Packers success this year.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
You’d think losing DeSean Jackson to the rival Redskins would be a bad thing for Chip Kelly’s offense. However, the team did their work to ensure they have plenty of weapons, and even acquired Darren Sproles through a trade with the Saints. The biggest questions on everyone’s mind in Philly remains: ‘Is Nick Foles the real deal?’ and ‘Is this defense getting better?’. In a weak division, the Eagles should threaten for another NFC East title, but where they go after that is up to them.
7. Arizona Cardinals (10-6)
The best team to not make the playoffs last year was the Cardinals. The team has extreme promise, and they’ll get to showcase running back Andre Ellington out of the gate with Rashard Mendenhall hanging it up. With a true monster returning on defense, it all boils down to which Carson Palmer enters the picture. This could be the last chance for the Cards to make some postseason noise for a while (see quarterback depth chart).
6. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
For Reggie Wayne’s sake, I hope the Colts can become a true contender this season. I like the fact that Andrew Luck now has a plethora of options when it comes to throwing the ball, but where’s the run support? Here’s to hoping Trent Richardson makes something of himself.
5. New England Patriots (12-4)
We’re going to have some interesting takes on the Patriots this year. Tom Brady was sacked 40 times last season, and by the start of the season, he’ll be 37. Over the years, the Patriots have had a model formula of taking a pool of veterans and making them contenders. I’m not quite sure if this works their way this season.
4. New Orleans Saints (11-5)
I’m sure the local flavor might look to revolt against me after this ranking, but hear me out. The Saints have made leaps and bounds to improve over last year, which is saying alot. There’s a glaring issue that doesn’t springboard the Saints in the top three, and that’s the health on defense. Free agent acquisition, Jairus Byrd, had elective back surgery this offseason, and John Jenkins had minor pectoral surgery. These two are said to be ready to go by training camp, but I believe the ‘proof is in the pudding’. Personally, I have no doubts that the Saints should deliver in 2014.
3. San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
Love them or hate them, the 49ers are easily the second (or third) best team in the NFC at this point. The team compensated for their loss of veteran center Jonathan Goodwin with the addition of a close to home replacement from USC, Marcus Martin. The defense did lose Donte Whitner to the Cleveland Browns, but brought in Antoine Bethea through free agency. They even got Kaepernick a colorful toy (Stevie Johnson) at wide receiver to compliment Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.
2. Denver Broncos (13-3)
Sure, Peyton Manning is locked up until 2017 on paper, but this may be his last hurrah. Manning took the Broncos as far as possible, but were dominated in every aspect of the Super Bowl. Looking across the rest of the AFC, there’s hardly a team out there to contend with the Broncos.
1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
Look, if we’re going to play this game, then how are you going to argue with the defending Super Bowl champs NOT starting out as the top contender on a power ranking system? Oh yeah, and they have a pretty stout defense coming back in 2014. I vaguely remember them helping win the Super Bowl.
Like our list? Hate our list? Who would you change out, and why?