With the NFL season set to begin, JetNation is unveiling our NFL power rankings for Week 1. From the start of the season, here’s who I believe will finish on top, with weekly updates to follow.
1. San Francisco 49ers: The reigning NFC champs may have a hole at wide receiver with the loss of Michael Crabtree, but Frank Gore, the defense, and the rise of Colin Kaepernick has them as the favorites.
2. Green Bay Packers: It seems they finally have a solid featured rusher in Eddie Lacy and they spent this offseason upgrading their defense. Oh, and they have Aaron Rodgers too, the best quarterback in the league.
3. Atlanta Falcons: A solid offensive line is protecting Matt Ryan and the addition of Steven Jackson in the run game will give the offense a new dimension. If Osi Umenyiora can play like he did in his Giant days and rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant gets going right away, it will provide a huge boost for the defense.
4. Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning will have his most loaded receiving core yet with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker. The defense is suspect, but will be upgraded when Von Miller returns from suspension.
5. Seattle Seahawks: There’s so much depth on this team all around. The defense is ferocious and Marshawn Lynch is a beast running the ball, it just remains to be seen whether or not Russell Wilson can take this team to the next level.
6. New England Patriots: There have been a lot of changes in New England this offseason, but Tom Brady is still there, and a reliable running game and defense should get the Pats a bye in the week AFC.
7. New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton is back, and that should pay huge dividends for the Saints. The team often looked lost last season, but will be much more controlled and excel as long as Drew Brees doesn’t throw too many picks.
8.Houston Texans: It’s time to put up or shut up for Matt Schaub. Arian Foster, J. J. Watt, and the surrounding players are top-notch, so Schaub will need to get them to the next level.
9. Baltimore Ravens: It’s hard to bet on Joe Flacco after last season, but after losing Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, and Dennis Pitta, the Ravens don’t look so scary anymore.
10. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have a scary front line led by Geno Atkins and weapons such as A. J. Green and Giovani Bernard, but it’s up to Andy Dalton to have a breakout year if this teams wants playoff success.
11. New York Giants: The offense looks dynamic but the defense looks putrid. Still, with Eli Manning at the helm, the Giants are always a contender.
12. Chicago Bears: Head coach Marc Trestman will need to get some offensive balance for the Bears who have consistently fallen apart down the stretch.
13. Washington Redskins: If Robert Griffin III stays healthy, this is a playoff team with the potential to be more. If not, they’ll be rather lost.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers: With a beat up Ben Roethlisberger, an aging defense, and no running game, these Steelers look to be pretty average.
15. Dallas Cowboys: It’s the same old story for the Cowboys. There’s plenty of talent, but not good decision making, both by head coach Jason Garrett, owner Jerry Jones, and quarterback Tony Romo.
16. Carolina Panthers: Carolina finished last season winning five of six games. If Cam Newton can truly break out, they may contend for a playoff spot.
17. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck will improve, but the luck that the Colts had last year probably won’t, as they’re in for a decline.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Darrelle Revis addition is obviously huge, but this team’s success is on Josh Freeman. Doug Martin should help him out, but it’s time for Freeman to show us what he’s got.
19. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill’s growth and the addition of Mike Wallace have the Dolphins headed in the right direction, but they’re just not there yet.
20. St. Louis Rams: With Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, and Chris Givens, Sam Bradford has his best receiving corps yet. Too bad he’s in the NFC West.
21. Detroit Lions: After a hugely disappointing four-win season, expect Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson to go off yet again. Question is, can the defense hold up.
22. Kansas City Chiefs: Injuries decimated the Chiefs last year. Alex Smith and Andy Reid will make them better, but not that much better.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson is a mutant, no doubt, but he can only do so much to help Christian Ponder. Another lucky team last year, the Vikes are going to suffer a drop-off.
24. Cleveland Browns: The Browns defense is actually looking good this year, and having Trent Richardson as the centerpiece of the offense is promising. But this is a quarterback-driven league, and Brandon Weeden is just not good enough.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly’s offense has the potential to be explosive, but the defense has the chance to be awful. If Michael Vick gets hurt again, it’s going to be another long year.
26. Arizona Cardinals: Sure, Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians should lead a potent aerial attack, but the offensive line is still pretty bad, and they have to protect him.
27. Tennessee Titans: One of the most vanilla teams in the league, the Titans upgraded their offensive line this offseason, but still have plenty of question marks on both sides of the ball.
28. Buffalo Bills: E. J. Manuel has shown promise so far, but he’s still a long way away. Expect a lot of shootouts and a lot of C. J. Spiller.
29. San Diego Chargers: Phillip Rivers is past his prime and he’s throwing to pretty sad excuse of a wide receiving corps.
30. New York Jets: The defense will keep them in games, but the offense is painfully bad. This is Mark Sanchez’s last chance.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars finally have a solid rebuilding program set, but as long as they have Blaine Gabbert, they’re in trouble.
32. Oakland Raiders: It’s going to be another one of those years in the black hole. Oakland’s defensive and offensive options are both very troubling.