NFL Power Rankings
|Date & Time||Thursday July 31, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
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The first NFL preseason game takes place this weekend between the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants. So, let’s break down the top 10 teams heading into the NFL preseason.
1. Seattle Seahawks – Not only are the Seattle Seahawks the defending Super Bowl champs, but they also have all of the key pieces returning. From quarterback Russell Wilson, to easily the best secondary in the league, the Seahawks look to be head and shoulders better than the rest of the teams out there. You can just watch the Seahawks play and get the feeling that they’re more physical and nastier than their opponents. Until further notice, the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL.
2. Denver Broncos – We all know about Peyton Manning and the weapons he has around him, which makes for the most dangerous offense in the game right now. However, it’s the fact the Broncos improved greatly on defense that makes them the second best team in the NFL. The Broncos added a true pass rusher in Demarcus Ware and a shutdown corner in Aqib Talib, not to mention they will also have a healthy Von Miller. The Broncos are still the team to beat in the AFC.
3. San Francisco 49ers – The only team that I think is capable of keeping up with the Seahawks physically are the 49ers. The 49ers are a lot like their division foe given the fact they rely heavily on a power running game and relentless defense. The 49ers will remain one of the top defensive teams in the league, while the offense should benefit greatly from another season with Colin Kaepernick under center. The 49ers are built the right way and will continue to give the defending champs competitive battles.
4. Green Bay Packers – We all know what a healthy Aaron Rodgers means for the Packers offense. Green Bay is going to score plenty and the threat of the passing attack is going to open up even bigger holes for running back Eddy Lacy. Defensively is where the Packers need to improve, but it’s hard to argue a defensive unit that features Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk, B.J. Raji and Julius Peppers. Yikes. Green Bay hasn’t gone anywhere and will enter 2014 as one of the top teams in the NFL.
5. New England Patriots – I question the lack of weapons around Tom Brady for New England to make a serious run, but the fact the Patriots still have an effective Brady in the first place is still good enough for me. Brady is still good enough to lead the Pats to the playoffs and give this team a chance to return to the Super Bowl. Defensively, the Patriots desperately need Dont'a Hightower and Darrelle Revis to return to form for this team to truly take that next level. It’s just too hard to bet against Brady and company, even though age is becoming a factor.
6. New Orleans Saints – Another year with Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator and a veteran piece in Champ Baily at corner, the Saints have a defense that should take another step to balance things out with their offense. Speaking of the offense, there’s no concern as long as some guy named Drew Brees is still on the team, and he’s throwing to Jimmy Graham. Not to mention the Saints are nearly unbeatable when playing in their dome, which is at least eight wins under their belt. The Saints are once again one of the better teams in the NFC.
7. Indianapolis Colts - I really, really like the Colts this season and suggest you throwing a little something on them winning the Super Bowl as a dark horse. Not only is Andrew Luck entering his third season, which is usually the breakout season for quarterbacks, but he has a ton of weapons around him, including newly acquired Hakeem Nicks. Defensively the Colts still need to make strides in order to take that complete next step, but on paper the Colts have a lot of positive things going for them. Don’t sleep on this team this season.
8. Philadelphia Eagles – Probably the best offense in the NFL got even better with the addition of running back Darren Sproles. Nick Foles is not a one-year wonder at quarterback and will continue to thrive under a mastermind head coach such as Chip Kelly. As was the case last season, the Eagles are going to be able to score whenever they feel like it. The trick now is figuring out how the offense can stay on the field a little longer to avoid putting the defense in a tough spot to get stops all the time. Still, the Eagles are a dangerous team due to its explosive offense.
9. Arizona Cardinals – I liked the Arizona Cardinals last season, and you have no choice but to like them this season with everybody returning. Carson Palmer should thrive with all of the weapons around him and another season on this squad to get comfortable. The Cardinals defense is a lot like Seattle’s with the way everybody flies to the football and makes plays. If the Cardinals weren’t in the same division with two other Super Bowl contenders, they’d be a team that would gain a lot more attention than they do. Even then, I like this squad to make the playoffs and really turn some heads.
10. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers would probably be a little higher on this list if Cam Newton actually had some guys to throw the ball to. One of the worst passing offenses in the league last season lost all of its key receivers and is stuck with a rookie and a bunch of no names. While the Panthers offense is going to need time to figure things out, their defense remains one of the best in the league with Luke Kuechly and Charles Johnson leading the way. They say defense wins championships, and it doesn’t get much better than what the Panthers have on that side of the ball.