Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NFL: Power Rankings to Start Training Camp

The 95th season for the National Football League will kickoff Sept. 4th as the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks will face Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers.

However, training camp is about to be in full swing so I think it's time to throw my "a little early" NFL Power Rankings out there.

I'm not a biased NFL fan as my team is the New England Patriots. I'll be fair with you guys even though I think they'll perform well this season. 

Here we go!



Seattle Seahawks
It's only right that the defending champs are number one, right? There's no reason why anyone else should top this list. 


San Francisco 49ers
The pressure is on Colin Kaepernick to live up to his mega deal. Recent similar deals to fellow QBs haven't paid much dividends (I see you Flacco, Romo). The 9ers have improved on both sides of the ball, but if Aldon Smith can't stay out of trouble coupled with fellow All-Pro Linebacker Navarro Bowman's ACL injury, the defense may be looking for people to step up very early. This team still is the biggest challenge to the Seahawks for Kings of the NFC West and the conference as a whole. 


Denver Broncos
The Broncos will always be competitive with reigning MVP Peyton Manning at the helm. Their defense has improved with additions such as DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and TJ Ward. I feel as though the defensive side of the ball needed that injection of veteran talent to balance the firepower of a Manning lead offense. OMAHA!


New England Patriots
Winners of the last 10 of 11 division crowns, the Patriots train will continue to move steadily. Who says QB Tom Brady has lost a step? The top 10 defense of a year ago is back and better than ever with key additions of All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. A constant threat to win the Super Bowl, Brady will still play at an elite level, hopefully he'll have a bit more help.


New Orleans Saints
Though they were dethroned at the top of the NFC South this past season, this team, lead by QB Drew Brees always finds a way to contend for a championship. The Saints will once again be dangerous. I'm going on a limb and saying that they will reclaim their division title. 


Green Bay Packers
The Packers offense will be fine. Aaron Rodgers is at quarterback and that's all that matters. The question is, how will the defense that ranked near the bottom in total yards allowed perform after minor improvements outside of the addition of Julius Peppers were made? 


Kansas City Chiefs
From worst to...2nd? A 9 game improvement for the Chiefs under Andy Reid wasn't a fluke. Or was it? The Chiefs defense will be great again, and an offense lead by Jamaal Charles will be exciting to watch. Hopefully that bad taste of their 28 point meltdown in last year's Wildcard round has disappeared. C'mon, you let Andrew Luck pick up a fumble on the goal line?  


Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler has the luxury of throwing the ball to the best WR duo in the league (Marshall and Jeffery) and Matt Forte will continue to produce at an elite level. The question is, how will the defense play? Questioning the abilities of the defense is something rarely done when mentioning the Bears. The departure of Julius Peppers will hurt them the most.             


Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton cannot be mediocre again if the Bengals want to succeed. Marvin Lewis has to find a way to shake the monkey of playoff woes off of his back. New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has to put Dalton and co. in position to produce, especially if the Bengals are looking to give Dalton that Colin Kaepernick money. The defense is primed to perform well again lead by guys like Vontaze Burfict and Leon Hall.   


Philadelphia Eagles
The Chip Kelly experiment was a successful one. Nick Foles is at the helm for his first full season at quarterback, but the departure of WR DeSean Jackson will force some unproven wideout to perform at a sufficient level. Will the Eagles duplicate their top 5 offense -- or better? 


San Diego Chargers
QB Phillip Rivers found the fountain of youth last season and got back to an elite level of football after what turned out to be a rough last couple years of his career. The Chargers secondary was heavily revamped with additions of Pro Bowl CB Brandon Flowers, and rookie Jason Verrett. Watch out for the Chargers this season.                            


Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are faced with proving that a 10-6 season in the brutal NFC West was not a fluke. The Cardinals are young and deep and I feel as though they go as far as their young talent takes them. Surprising I didn't say Larry Fitzgerald huh? Well that's because Fitz is going to be Fitz, regardless.  


Baltimore Ravens
How will former Super Bowl winning QB Joe Flacco respond to new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's system? Will the Ravens offense let Ray Rice show that he hasn't lost a step? 


Indianapolis Colts
Quarterback Andrew Luck hides a lot of issues that this team has on the defensive side of the ball. It's going to be interesting how the loss of Robert Mathis (4-game suspension) will affect the Colts. 


Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have been up and down since they last captured the Lombardi trophy a few seasons ago. They are forever riddled with injuries and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger takes a beating every season. If Roethlisberger is afforded more time to at least breathe in the pocket, the Steelers offense will be fine. Key departures on defense give us something to keep an eye on.   


Detroit Lions
The Lions will definitely put points on the board but their porous secondary has to help keep opposing offenses off of the board as well.  


St. Louis Rams
WOW! Every team in the NFC West cracking the top 20? The division's last place team finished a game under .500. The defense will be fine. This also could be Sam Bradford's last chance to prove he's a viable option at quarterback for the Rams.                            


Carolina Panthers
The Panthers definitely will compete again this year. What the Panthers will not be, though, is 12-4. The loss of Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell gives the Panthers tons of questions on offense.  


New York Giants
This offseason marked a major roster overhaul for the Giants. Eli Manning will be playing in a new system this year and he has to cut down on turnovers for the Giants to be successful. 


Washington Redskins
Offense is new Head Coach Jay Gruden's area of expertise. They added WR DeSean Jackson who is coming off a career year and Alfred Morris is still carrying the rock. The Redskins are looking forward to third-year quarterback Robert Griffin III to give them the successes his rookie season brought them -- or more. With all of that said, hopefully the Redskins can be explosive and fun to watch on offense. The defense once again may be problematic, though.                                     


Dallas Cowboys
A healthy Tony Romo should be enough for Dallas to compete, right? Wrong. Their defense is nearly decimated and the Cowboys have to hope DeMarco Murray stays healthy to take pressure off of the Romo and the passing game. 


Atlanta Falcons
Don't be phased by the injury riddled 4-12 season for the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan will have most of his weapons back this season, minus future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez. The defense, however, will be faced with many questions.                       


New York Jets
The Jets defense will always keep them as a team to watch. They have a few questions on offense, though. Is Geno Smith the answer at quarterback, or might it be Michael Vick? Will Chris Johnson be productive? Amid these questions, Rex Ryan still thinks his team is playoff ready.       


Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New regimes usually mean new quarterbacks. New Head Coach Lovie Smith has brought in QB Josh McCown who many think will overtake incumbent Mike Glennon's job. I'm sure Glennon has something to say about that. The Bucs are looking more impressive every season, they are loaded with young talent and they've added a few nice pieces to give them a chance to compete in the NFC South.   


Tennessee Titans
New Head Coach Ken Wisenhunt knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful. He took his old team, the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl a few years ago. Wisenhunt loves quarterback Jake Locker. Who knows how good a fully healthy Jake Locker can be in Wisenhunt's offense, who by the way has one of the better offensive minds in the league.             


Miami Dolphins
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is becoming stagnant in progress, and he could be in for another tough year. The offensive line was problematic for the Dolphins last season and they are probably going to lose star Center Mike Pouncey for the season due to injury. The defense will turn a few heads; they are still a solid unit. Too many question marks have the Dolphins opening up training camp near the bottom of these rankings.                                    


Minnesota Vikings
Hey Mike Zimmer (new Head Coach), my question is how long will it take you guys to stick rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater under center; into the fire?                    


Houston Texans
Another team, another quarterback issue. Many people were shocked that it took the team until the fourth round to select a signal-caller. The Texans defense will be a solid unit but there are way too many question for this Texans offense. Hopefully new Head Coach Bill O'Brien will prove some people wrong.    


Cleveland Browns
This season will be about when Johnny Manziel gets on the field. Since he's unproven and loaded with talent like past Cleveland Browns quarterbacks, there's no telling if he'll end up just like the rest of them, failures. I'm hoping not.                      


Buffalo Bills
The Bills have made strides to compete in the AFC, and quarterback EJ Manuel has a new toy in his yard to play with, WR Sammy Watkins. The defense will make the Bills competitive and able to pull out a few games when their offense goes lacking. Still yet, that isn't the makings of a playoff team.     


Oakland Raiders
A lot of roster turnover for the Oakland Raiders this offseason on both sides of the ball. How will new quarterback Matt Schaub perform? The defense added some nice veteran pieces but the Raiders are a team who I think is playing for 2015 with the mindset of "whatever happens, happens", because honestly, the Raiders can surprise many a people.      


Jacksonville Jaguars
Dear Jacksonville Jaguars, 

Please Jacksonville, don't throw Blake Bortles into the fire with this squad, play for 2015. Please let Chad Henne be a bridge quarterback. 

P.S. When will Justin Blackmon play a whole season?


All those Jacksonville Jaguars fans.