2013 NFL Preseason Power Rankings
September 3, 2013 in NFL
Fanspeak's 2013 NFL PRESEASON Power Rankings:
NOTE: I've added my 2013 record prediction for each team as well. This, plus much more will be in Fanspeak's 2013 NFL Guide…Coming SOON!
-The 49ers came up just short last season in the Super Bowl, but figure to be the premier team heading into this season. Despite already losing WR Michael Crabtree to injury, the 49ers boost one of the most talented rosters in the league. The 49er have a tough schedule, but they have a stout defense and a talented offense to carry them through.
2. Denver Broncos (13-3):
-The Broncos went all in this offseason in boosting their offensive line and adding Wes Welker to their receiving corps. They were the 1st seed in the AFC last year, and figure to make a strong run this year as well. The suspension of Von Miller looms large early in the season, but this team should be more than capable of overcoming his absence.
3. Green Bay Packers (12-4):
-The Packers have added balance to their running game and much needed depth to their offensive line. The loss of left tackle Bryan Bulaga is big, but this team is capable getting by without him. If a couple of their defensive players step up in their 2nd year in the league, they should be an elite team. Regardless of their overall defense, when a team has Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews Jr. they are always a threat.
4. Indianapolis Colts (12-4):
-The Colts look to be one of the most up-and-coming teams, with a lot of young, high-upside talent. With their players a year older and some key free agent acquisitions the Colts could challenge for the AFC South title. Andrew Luck should break out this season with an offensive scheme that makes use of his greatest attributes.
5. New England Patriots (12-4):
-The Patriots are still favorites to win the AFC East, but how far they go will be determined by how their receivers and tight ends perform this year. Even if there is a drop off among Tom Brady's pass catchers, this team has in addition to Brady, a strong offensive line, rushing attack and a promising defense. If the defense can make a big jump this year they should maintain their place atop these rankings.
-The Falcons look to be one of the better teams in the league especially with the addition of Steven Jackson at running back. Their offense should be one of the better units in the league, with a dynamic passing attack and strong running game. Their defense could take a step back this season, but it won't be so bad that it cripples their postseason chances.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5):
-This could be the year where the Bengals jump from being a wild card contender to taking the AFC North. Defense typically wins this division, and it looks like the Bengals have a truly elite unit. Andy Dalton made big strides from year one to year two, and if he continues to develop this team could be a threat in the AFC. With an improved rushing attack and A.J. Green, the Bengals should have enough weapons to support Dalton this year.
8. Houston Texans (11-5):
-The Texans should be in a neck-and-neck race for the AFC South this year, but even if they miss on the division they should be able to make it as a wild card team. Matt Schaub struggled down the stretch last season, and will need to be more consistent this year for the Texans to be a bigger threat in the AFC. Houston's defense should improve as it gets some key guys back from injury.
9. Seattle Seahawks (10-6):
-The Seahawks have one of the stronger teams in the league, with a premier defense, a top running back and Russell Wilson who burst onto the scene last year. The Seahawks need to get a more consistent pass rush on defense, particularly given the talent they have in the secondary. On offense Seattle needs a receiver to step up now that Percy Harvin is out with injury.
10. New Orleans Saints (10-6):
-The Saints should have a bounce back year with Sean Payton back on the sidelines and some improvements to their defense. The running game needs to improve to add balance back to this offense, but otherwise it is up to the defense with how this team improves. If they can just be slightly better, Drew Brees is capable of carrying this team far into the playoffs.
11. Washington Redskins (10-6):
-More so than most teams the Redskins season will be decided by the injury report. They already have 8 starters and numerous contributors coming back from serious injuries. If the majority come back strong and stay healthy the Redskins could be a real threat in the post season. If they have a moderate return, the Redskins should make the playoffs, but likely won't be a significant threat. If too many guys suffer a set back the Redskins could plummet in the standings. Regardless of health the secondary and offensive line remain the two biggest question marks for this team.
-The Ravens are the defending Super Bowl Champions, but that status didn't make the Giants any better last season. The Ravens have dealt with a lot of turnover this offseason and while they did well to fill those needs, they may have some issues meshing together. They should still be a strong threat this year, but likely not the top threat. The biggest issue facing them might be who will Joe Flacco be throwing the ball to on a consistent basis. Until that question is answered, it is hard to think they will win their division.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6):
-The Steelers should expect a bounce back season as they get healthier and add the drafts premier pass rusher to a defense that has fallen off in that area. The Steelers biggest question marks remain in the trenches as they've been under-performing (or injured) the last couple of seasons.
14. New York Giants (9-7):
-The Giants figure to be in a battle with the Redskins for control of the NFC East and could have their fate decided the final week of the season. New York figures to have a strong offense once again, but the question remains how strong is this defense. They made some changes this year, but it is unclear how much of a positive impact it will have.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (8-8):
-The Chiefs figure to be the team that rises the most this season as new coach Andy Reid hopes to get the most out of the talent on this team. The Chiefs figure to have a strong offensive and running game and their passing attack should be improved with Alex Smith at the helm. The Chiefs defense already has a number of star players they just need to find a way to become more consistent.
16. Miami Dolphins (8-8):
-The Dolphins went out and were big spenders in free agency, but they also lost a considerable amount of talent. While they definitely are improved from a weapons standpoint, Miami's offensive line and running game probably took a step back and will negate some of the pick-ups. The Dolphins also face a very brutal schedule this year, and could have a tough time winning more than 8 games.
17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8):
-The Cowboys weren't able to add much this offseason due to their cap situation. While their passing attack figures to be one of the best in the league, their running game and offensive line is still filled with question marks. Defensively they are transitioning to a 4-3 and it will be interesting to see how that move impacts their level of play. Without a dramatic improvement on defense or in the running game it will be hard for Dallas to rank higher than 3rd in the division.
18. Minnesota Vikings (8-8):
-The Vikings should still be a strong team and could finish 2nd in the NFC North, but could have a tough time making it back to the playoffs in what looks to be a tougher NFC race this year. Though they made some improvements to their passing game, this team will still live and die with Adrian Peterson's legs. The Vikings defense should be good, but the secondary is still questionable.
19. St. Louis Rams (7-9):
-The Rams are one of the ore promising young teams in the NFL with an offense that has the potential to be elite and an improving defense. Unfortunately they play in a division with the 49ers and Seahawks, which will likely prevent them from making the postseason themselves.
20. Chicago Bears (7-9):
-The Bears went 10-6 last year but missed the playoffs, this year it is possible they take a small step back. Chicago got a number of wins due to their opportunistic defense that not only led the league in turnovers but had 9 touchdowns on their own. While the defense should still be very good and should create a number of turnovers, it is unlikely they can get 9 touchdowns again this year. The offense will hopefully be improved, but questions remain about how far Jay Cutler can lead the Bears.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9):
-The Bucs figure to be a team on the rise with a revamped secondary headlined by shutdown corner Darrelle Revis. Tampa already had a strong run defense, and now with a top notch secondary the Bucs should really cut down on their points allowed. Offensively Tampa should be solid, but it is time for Josh Freeman to take his game to the next level.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9):
-The Eagles are expected to have a new dynamic offense with Chip Kelly at the helm, and a revamped 3-4 defense. While they brought in a number of talented players they figure to be a year away from being a real threat in the division. How Michael Vick adapts to this system will be the key of how far this team can go.
23. Cleveland Browns (6-10):
-The Browns offense should be much improved just by moving away from the West Coast offense which was a poor fit for Brandon Weeden. Defensively the Browns used much of their draft and free agent dollars to bring in talent and it could make the Browns one of the stronger defensive units in the league. Unfortunately Cleveland still figures to be 4th place in the ultra tough AFC North.
24. San Diego Chargers (6-10):
-The Chargers have high hopes for a rebound season this year, but they are relying on a revamped offensive line and secondary that for the most part is unspectacular on paper. If the Chargers can't give Philip Rivers time to throw, their chances for success this year are pretty slim. How the Chargers ground game plays out will be another key factor to what their season looks like, as this offense hasn't been the same since Tomlinson left.
25. Buffalo Bills (6-10):
-The Bills quarterback situation to start the season could be a disaster, but if E.J. Manuel can return fairly quickly the Bills can have a solid season. They might not finish .500 or better, but they should be competitive and building on something for next year. The Bills running game figures to carry them this year behind star back C.J. Spiller. The Bills defense has the talent to be a strong unit, but last year had too much inconsistency.
26. Tennessee Titans (5-11):
–The Titans are hoping their investments along the offensive line will pay off this season, but the real question is if Jake Locker turns the corner here. If Locker shows positive development then the Titans could have a decent season, but it is likely they will face another year of growing pains and a disappointing season.
27. Detroit Lions (5-11):
–The Lions hopefully will be improved on the ground this year, but they still face a tough schedule and might not have the defense to get out of the cellar of the NFC North. This year will be a big test for Matt Stafford who has struggled mightily against teams with winning records in his career.
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-12):
-The Cardinals should be improved this season on offense with a stronger line, a new quarterback and multiple running back options. Their defense still figures to be pretty strong though it might take a slight step back in the secondary and with Darryl Washington's 4 game suspension. The Cardinals still figure to be 4th in the NFC West and at least a year away before they can contend.
29. Carolina Panthers (4-12):
-The Panthers ended the season strong last year, but questions still persist if this team is for real. The Panthers did make improvements on defense by taking a pair of tackles in the first two rounds which should dramatically improve their interior production. Questions still remain in the secondary and along the offensive line. Much of the Panthers season will come down to what Cam Newton shows up. If it is the Newton from the first half of the season, Carolina will finish well below .500. If it is the Newton from the final weeks of the season, then the Panthers could make a run at the .500.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12):
-The Jaguars passed on upgrading the quarterback position this year, and will likely struggled on offense this year. Their defense also figures to be a work in progress as they have a number of new starters. Jacksonville is also going to be without 2012 1st rounder WR Justin Blackmon for the first four games further hurting their offense.
-The Jets defense should continue to be strong, but their offense will continue to be a liability. They drafted Geno Smith, but he's likely a better option for 2014, meaning once again Mark Sanchez is healthy the team could turn back to him. That means that the Jets will be near the bottom of the offensive rankings, which should wreck their season.
32. Oakland Raiders (2-12):
-The Raiders completely gutted their team in an effort to start fresh and clear their cap in future years. Unfortunately this is going to be a long term rebuilding project. Their defense figures to be especially problematic and will likely be among the league's worst. Whether it is Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor at quarterback this will be a below average offense. The only positive is that the Raiders did the right thing to clear money for the future and finally get their team in order. Unfortunately that means they will likely end up as the worst team in the NFL this season.