NFL Power Rankings – July Edition
1. San Francisco 49ers:
-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.
2. Denver Broncos:
-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.
3. Green Bay Packers:
-The Packers have added balance to their running game and much needed depth to their offensive line. 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. Atlanta Falcons:
-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, but their defense is still up in the air.
5. Baltimore Ravens:
-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.
6. Seattle Seahawks:
-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. Wide Receiver Percy Harvin was added to the mix this year and he figures to add another dangerous element to this roster. The offensive line is strong, but they still need better play from their right tackle.
7. Houston Texans:
-The Texans should be in a neck-and-neck race for the AFC South this year, but should be the year favorite with their experience. 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.
8. Indianapolis Colts:
-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.
9. New Orleans Saints:
-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 fares.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers:
-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 season.
11. Washington Redskins:
-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.
12. New England Patriots:
-The Patriots are still favorites to win the AFC East, but they have definitely moved down a few rungs on the power rankings ladder. Their offense should still be strong and maybe even very good, but it might no longer be elite. The defense should be improved but it probably won’t be by that much.
13. Cincinnati Bengals:
-The Bengals have gone to the playoffs in back-to-back years, but could come up just short this year in the division. They should be in the wild card hunt all season, but might miss it by a game. The big question is if Andy Dalton takes his game to the next level.
14. New York Giants:
-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. Minnesota Vikings:
-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. Though they made some improvements to their passing game, this team will still live and die with Adrian Peterson’s legs.
16. St. Louis Rams:
-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.
17. Chicago Bears:
-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.
18. Kansas City Chiefs:
-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.
19. Dallas Cowboys:
-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.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
-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.
21. San Diego Chargers:
-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. How the Chargers ground game plays out will be another key factor to what their season looks like.
22. Tennessee Titans:
-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.
23. Carolina Panthers:
-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 below .500. If it is the Newton from the final weeks of the season, then the Panthers could make a run at the playoffs.
24. Miami Dolphins:
-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 8 games.
25. Cleveland Browns:
-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. Unfortunately Cleveland still figures to be 4th place in the ultra tough AFC North.
26. Philadelphia Eagles:
-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. The big question remains who will be the quarterback, and how does he fit the system that Kelly is installing.
27. Arizona Cardinals:
-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.
28. Buffalo Bills:
-The Bills might take a step backwards if they go with the rookie quarterback this season, but look to be building for a stronger future. They have a good amount of talent on defense, but they desperately need to show greater consistency on that side of the ball.
29. Detroit Lions:
-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 Jim Schwartz and Matt Stafford, and hopefully they will be more like their 2011 seasons than their 2012.
30. New York Jets:
-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 will be at the head of this offense. That means that the Jets will be near the bottom of the offensive rankings.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars:
-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.
32. Oakland Raiders:
-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. If Matt Flynn can step up his game the Raiders could be decent on offense with a strong offensive line and some decent weapons, but there are too many what if’s to count on it.