Well, the NFL season is almost upon us. In 2013, you would have to try really hard to avoid any type of coverage on upcoming season. This season looks to be a doozy (as always) with a bunch of storylines that are both extremely interesting and extremely annoying because it has been replayed over and over again (the Robert Griffin saga and the New York Jets sitcom). Before I present to you my nfl power rankings, I should mention that the entire team’s preseason play had no effect on their placement. However, I do pay attention to individual performance and think that is something tangible that carries over to the regular season. So without further ado, here we go:
The Seahawks claim the metaphorical throne of the inaugural 2013 NFL Power Rankings. They may have lost Percy Harvin before he actually got to see real action on the field for them, but almost all of the teams in the top 5 have suffered significant injuries/suspensions before the season even started. Speaking of suspensions, let’s hope the Seahawks stingy defense stays away from the deer antler spray and other performance enhancers. Just blame it on the Adderall, though. That little tangent aside, Russell Wilson should look to improve in his second season at quarterback, even if he might not put up as good of numbers he did in his rookie campaign. This team is solid all the way through.
What a competitive division. I gave the Seahawks the slight edge because I think their defense is a little bit better well rounded. San Fran lost their safety Dashon Goldson to free agency and cornerback Chris Culliver to injury, depleting their secondary. Additionally, the 49ers are in a similar predicament with their star wideout, Michael Crabtree, who is also out for an extended period of time. I am expecting Colin Kaepernick to develop into a better, more complete quarterback just like Wilson. Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers are an awesome team despite me picking nits with their secondary. On paper Seattle might be the better team, but if these two teams come face to face in the playoffs, it will be a toss up.
I thought the Broncos were overrated last season. After having the toughest first five games in the league, they had a ridiculous cupcake-y schedule the rest of the way through. But this is 2013, and I think Denver is going to be really good. No matter how much Wes Welker has left in the tank, that signing was great. Their running game should be better also, because I think Manning knows the ideal times to rush with his amazing ability to read defenses and adapt. If he can make Knowshon Moreno look good, I’m pretty sure Montee Ball/Ronnie Hillman will be fine. The big problem I have with them is their defense. Even if Champ Bailey continues to defy Mother Nature’s aging process, losing the NFL’s second best defender (Von Miller) for six games is a glaring hole; not to mention the whole Elvis Dumervil contract disaster. Even though I like the Kansas City Chiefs as a bounce back team this year, the Broncos have a very easy road to another division title and possible first round bye.
The Falcons just re-signed quarterback Matt Ryan, who is in the prime of his career. Needless to say, their window to win is now. The knock on Atlanta is that they can’t win the big game, which they somewhat proved wrong last year but not completely. People tend to forget San Francisco got just a couple more breaks to go their way to make it to the Super Bowl. Everyone knows how potent and capable this offense is, so I won’t go into that with much detail though I will say I liked the Steven Jackson signing. The offense will have to lead this team to the big game, because the defense certainly will not. They took a step back this year; losing their best pass rusher (John Abraham) and losing a serviceable corner (Dunta Robinson) which depletes their already suspect secondary. Asante Samuel is nice, but he can barely tackle a scarecrow. This team is almost a 100% guaranteed playoff lock, but it will be up to Matt Ryan to see how far they go once they get there.
Notice a trend? The NFC is stacked. The conference has three out of the four most promising young quarterbacks in the game, and they also boast the best one in the league. Aaron Rodgers should look to have another MVP caliber season. Everyone knows Randall Cobb is the new breakout star, softening the blow of losing Greg Jennings to the division rival Minnesota Vikings. They also drafted running back Eddie Lacy, who unfortunately slimmed down after training camp and limited my ability to draw comparisons with my ‘Eddy Curry is overweight’ jokes. No matter, now that they have some semblance of a running game, this offense should be better than their 2012 version. Another NFC trend: great offense, mediocre defense. Of the four teams in the top five, the Packers have it the worst. Who knows if they’ll be able to stop the vaunted read option after sending all their personnel to Texas A&M to be better acquainted with that type of offense. We’ll see if they improve, but this defense doesn’t impress me.
Full disclosure: I’m a huge Pats fan. But it should be known that I was trying to decide rankings it was basically a coin flip between them and the Baltimore Ravens, until I realized this was the regular season power rankings. The Ravens always seem to have the Patriots’ number, but I think New England is ultimately the better team. Everyone loves to talk about their offense, so you probably already know the details about it. My two cents: people are overreacting to letting Welker walk, and New England’s offense will adapt as they always do. Their rookie wide receivers will hit a few speed bumps as expected, but with Tom Brady under center they will be just fine. To their defense, real quick: I think they will be better than people expect. The lynchpin of this is Alfonzo Dennard, however. If he misses time due to violating his probation, it moves Devin McCourty to 2nd corner (he’s much better as a safety) and forcing either incompetent Tavon Wilson or unproven rookie Duron Harmon to safety.
At first glance, you think their defense has taken a big step back. Granted, they let Darnell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger go and the loss of their two defensive leaders Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are obviously huge. But they still have Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata and lost amidst their Super Bowl run was the massive blow of losing Ladarius Webb early in their season. Additionally, the Ravens are known for having bench and situational players step up big when they’re promoted to full time. Know how I know that? Because Kruger and Ellerbe just got a ridiculous amount of money to play for the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, respectively. For their offense, people are overreacting to the loss of Anquan Boldin. Not taking away from his fantastic postseason, but his regular season was remarkably average. The loss of Dennis Pitta is huge because he was Joe Flacco’s security blanket, but the offense as a whole should be fine assuming there are no significant injuries.
Again, this is regular season rankings. I like the Texans, but they aren’t going far if Gary Kubiak doesn’t stop being stubborn about sticking to his offensive gameplan regardless of how the game is going. That aside, Houston drafted DeAndre Hopkins who should look to finally compliment All-Pro Andre Johnson lined up across from him. Owen Daniels is a good tight end and Arian Foster is Arian Foster. Matt Schaub is an above average QB. I’m not sure he can win you a Super Bowl, but he can certainly lead this team to 11-12 wins in a weak AFC South. Their defense is still above average, even though they lost Glover Quin. Ed Reed is obviously a big name but it is unknown how much he has left in the tank. JJ Watt will still continue to wreak havoc, which will always make this team dangerous on the defensive end.
I like the Bears a lot this year and will be a very strong wild card team (same division as Packers). I think Jay Cutler is primed for a big year this year for a couple reasons. One is that he’s in a contract year, but also he has a new offensive coordinator (and head coach). I’m assuming that means Brandon Marshall won’t be targeted 194 times, which is absurd. Everyone knows how good Chicago’s defense is, even if less intelligent people are convinced they won’t be the same without Brian Urlacher. He was a shell of his former self the last couple years, so it’s not that big of a loss. The biggest question mark of this team is if their offensive line can improve to even be a league-average line.
Yep, the Bengals! Did you know they had the 8th best scoring defense last year? You already know they have Geno Atkins (who is threatening to be overrated because of how many people love to call him underrated) but they also have a solid secondary and an underrated linebacker core. However, Andy Dalton needs to step up in a massive way. This organization surrounded him with enough weapons to make it out of the first round of the playoffs at least, and if can’t show he has what it takes, this team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
By the time I started writing this, Robert Griffin III is confirmed a go for Week 1. Obviously he is the entire key to this team, so let’s move on. Alfred Morris is a great story, but he is definitely a product of Mike Shanahan’s running scheme. Regardless, that is incredible value at the 6th round. Their defense is average, but they virtually played the entire season with elite pass rusher Brian Orakpo. Paired along side Ryan Kerrigan, this pass rush is one of the best in the league.
I love this team. Couple reasons: Josh Freeman is in a contract year, and I think he has some serious potential. An overlooked storyline last year was that Tampa Bay lost their two best lineman early in the season, making Doug Martin’s already impressive rookie year last year even more legitimate. A certainly well discussed storyline was their acquisition of Darrelle Revis, a trade I would make 100 times out of 100. Also they signed Dashon Goldson, albeit at a pretty high clip but give them credit for fixing the weakest spot on their team.
Man, another stacked conference in the NFC. Sean Payton is going to make a huge difference to this team and Drew Brees and all his awesomeness doesn’t need to be rehashed here. This defense is pretty miserable, but I am also pretty confident that their offense will be able to cover for their mistakes and missteps.
The reason this team isn’t higher is because they are not a good a regular season team, historically. Eli Manning will be his normal, hot & cold self. This defense, who has an above average defense line and secondary, also has an atrocious linebacker core that could end up being their Achilles heel.
This team is a popular pick for a regression season, for good reason. They exceeded their Pythagorean expectation by 3.8 wins (you can read more about that here) and should fall into the 8-8, maybe 9-7 category. Pushing stats aside though, this team does have a fight in them, winning numerous close games last year because Andrew Luck is the real deal. Despite the evidence pointing towards a regression, they certainly didn’t help their case by making questionable free agent signings (Erik Walden and the marshmellow man LaRon Landry)
Alas, we are halfway through the rankings. Are you surprised by my pick of the Chiefs? Don’t be, I think this team is legit. Everyone points to the Andy Reid signing as a big event, which it is, but I think this is a secondary point. The upgrade from the Matt Cassel/Brady Quinn debacle to slightly above average Alex Smith could be potentially huge (as Bill Barnwell explains). Besides, he has Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. The defense is really good also, their 2-13 record was more of a product of their quarterback play, or lackthereof.
17. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings season hinges on Christian Ponder. He’s a tough read as a signal caller, considering Minnesota handedly beat Green Bay last year as Ponder scored all their touchdowns that game. And then there’s the other Ponder that we are typically used to. He doesn’t have Percy Harvin this year, who was an early MVP candidate before he got hurt. Adrian Peterson is great, but there is almost no way he replicates his year from last year. For the defense, long time cornerback Antoine Winfield isn’t there anymore, and their linebacking core is spotty. We’ll see if they hold up.
Ah yes, the Cowboys. What a miserably run franchise. Anywho, let’s push their playoff drought out of our minds for a second and focus on the regular season. Although the new 100 million man Tony Romo led the league in interceptions last year, he also led the league in comebacks in 4th quarter with five. Jason Witten is still his same old All-Pro self, and Dez Bryant is emerging as a legitimate top 5 wideout. Their defense is another story, though. Sean Lee is back, who is an underrated linebacker. DeMarcus Ware is also a premier pass rusher, but that’s where the praise stops. The rest of this defense is bloated with bad contracts and replacement level players at critical positions. I think America’s Team misses the playoffs again this year though.
The Steelers are one or two seasons away from being a full blown mess. We saw last year how abysmal they can be without Ben Roethlisberger, and even if I believe that Mike Wallace is badly overrated his loss is still big. As of right now, Heath Miller is on the PUP list also; a favorite target of Big Ben’s in the redzone. Can Emmanuel Sanders be a number one receiver? I don’t think so, but Steelers fans should certainly hope so. Even worse than their offense is their rapidly aging defense. Troy Polamalu is a shell of his former self and their once feared linebacker group is also showing its age. Bad times this year, but even worse years in the future for the Steel Curtain.
I like the Rams, but they are stuck in a very good division. Tavon Austin is as safe of a bet as you can get for a rookie playmaker, but we know what we’re getting with Sam Bradford: a slightly above average quarterback. Their running game has the chance to be good or be really bad with two young guns platooning.
Miami went on a big spending spree this offseason, paying big bucks to the previously mentioned Wallace and Ellerbe. Interesting decisions to say the least, because they let Reggie Bush walk to free agency and he was big for them last year. Their defense is better than people give them credit for; Cameron Wake is a beast but they did lose Sean Smith, a pretty reliable cornerback.
The Lions were absolutely putrid last year for all the talent they have. Obviously we all know about Charles Rogers Roy Williams Mike Williams Calvin Johnson, but they also finally got a running back (Bush) to help out Matt Stafford. Their defensive line is awesome but the rest of their defense is pretty bleak. This team doesn’t move up in the rankings until they smarten up and stop taking dumb unsportsmanlike conduct penalities.
This is a tricky team. As always, their success or lack thereof depends on their quarterback, Cam Newton. The talent is there, but the intangibles are not. He’s not a leader on the field, and that inevitably grounds the Panthers from being successful. On top of that, this team is bloated with bad contracts and that hinders them from being more successful. Like Newton, you can see the potential in this team but it isn’t going to come to fruition this year.
Oh boy. I don’t necessarily hate the Eagles, but I know a lot of people like to make a hobby out of it. I will admit though they deserve everything they got last year, after that bonehead Vince Young painted a target on his team’s back with the “dynasty talk”. The nightmare of Nnamdi Asomugha is over, but their defense is still awful. Worse yet, that’s not even their Achilles heel. That would be their offensive line; and if it’s not improved this team is going absolutely nowhere. Chip Kelly is probably a good offensive coach, but if the line can’t block it doesn’t matter what offense he has the Eagles run.
The Cardinals’ record this year will not reflect the talent of this team because the division they are in is so good. But much like the Chiefs, the fact that even a competent quarterback is under center instead of the train wreck of last year is a big jump. However, the Chiefs have a great offensive line while the Cardinals are the complete opposite. Arizona’s defense is top notch, and will keep them in a lot of games and not force Carson Palmer to play above his talent level.
As we get to the bottom feeders of the NFL, you start to see a pattern. Much like the Panthers, this team has some bad contracts. Chris Johnson is a good running back, but I can assure you he’s not worth $13 million a year. The Shonn Greene signing was just an atrocious decision, excuse me because I just threw up my lunch thinking about it. I like Jake Locker as a QB, but he’ll never be anything more than a league average signal caller.
Surprisingly, Brandon Weeden had a pretty good end of the year last year. I’m not trying to vouch for him, because anytime you can draft a 29 year old quarterback in the first round you have to pull the trigger (kidding). Regardless, they’re under new management and are off to a solid start. They admittedly overpaid for Paul Kruger; but when you are the Browns you don’t have much say in free agents to start rebuilding with.
Alright, last five. Philip Rivers fell off the map fast, and the team did as well. Ryan Mathews is a walking porcelain doll, and despite some well known names, the wide receivers produced terribly last year. Their defense is entirely forgettable save for Eric Weddle who is criminally underrated. Thank me later for sparing you a Manti Te’o joke.
Not much to say here. Their pick of EJ Manuel was curious, but it wasn’t as preposterous as people made it out to be. CJ Spiller is a nice player, but I am dubious of him replicating his great year last year. Their defense has some bright spots (Mario Williams and Jairus Byrd) but as a whole the unit is below average.
I hope everyone is as sick of the Jets as I am, so let’s power through this. The Jets are straight up awful. A once respectable defense has lost their top cornerback, and they resigned above average players to salaries that paid them like stars. Now they’re old and slow and overpaid with no end in sight. Obviously it gets worse, because their offense is almost impossible to watch. Everyone loves to bash Mark Sanchez; but seriously can New York throw him a bone and get him some weapons to work with? They’re under the impression that Santonio Holmes is actually good, and Dustin Keller (Sanchez’s security blanket) is gone. This is going to be another miserable season for them.
This is Blaine Gabbert’s year. If he’s successful, then it will be his job for the future. If he plays like, well, Blaine Gabbert, then we’ll probably be seeing Teddy Bridgewater suit up for the Jags next season. Besides that little storyline, I can’t think of one other topic involved with this team that warrants a mention.
Jadeveon Clowney, step right up! God, where to start? By all accounts Matt Flynn should be charged for robbery because his 480 yards 6 TD passes on the Packers was the biggest fluke of the century. So Terrelle Pryor step right up as the Raiders QB? Sorry you are being subjected to this. All joking aside, GM Reggie McKenzie is doing the best he can, by signing cheap veteran players and rebuilding through the draft which is the right way to do it. This team is going to be bad for a while, but if McKenzie can push all the right buttons, relevance could be in the future for Raider Black.
So that concludes the 2013 NFL Power Rankings. There was some praise for the top organizations, but definitely more uncalled for jokes about teams. The NFL is the definition of parity so after a couple weeks there could be some major moves either up or down on this list. Anyways, let’s hope this upcoming season is one to remember and thanks for reading.
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