NFL Power Rankings: Bold Predictions for Each Team for Remainder of Season
The NFL—just like pretty much any other professional sports league—is unpredictable.
As soon as you think you have a team or a player figured out, the opposite happens. So, actually, it's predictably unpredictable.
That being said, let's take a look at my Week 2 power rankings, along with a bold season-end prediction for each team.
1. New England Patriots (1-0)
The Patriots win the Super Bowl.
I see more teams than usual with a legitimate shot at making it to New Orleans this year, but I'll always feel comfortable putting my eggs in Tom Brady's basket.
Anyways, Brady somehow has even more weapons than usual at his disposal this year and even has a strong defense—well, front seven, at least—to fall back on.
2. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
Alex Smith throws for 3,500 yards.
The Niners will coast through the regular season on the wings of their nightmarish—for other teams—defense, but they also made it clear, albeit against Green Bay's lackluster defense, that Alex Smith isn't just a game manager this year.
With better down-field threats, he won't be afraid to sling it at times this year.
3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Joe Flacco finally finds some consistency, enters the elite level of QBs, makes the Pro Bowl, regrows his mustache and loses in the playoffs.
I've been wacko for Flacco these last few years, and while he's shown glimpses of what he can truly do, he's never really carried that success throughout an entire season.
After a damn-near perfect Week 1 outing, the bandwagon is once again filling up. This time, he won't be kicking people off with his inconsistency.
4. Green Bay Packers (0-1)
The Packers miss the playoffs.
Listen, this Aaron Rodgers-led offense is pretty much unstoppable. But if Week 1 is any indication, the defense and lack of a running game is going to turn almost every game into a shootout.
You can turn a bunch of shootouts into a successful season, it just means every game will be much more unpredictable.
5. Houston Texans (1-0)
The Texans slip to the Wild Card Round but fight their way to the conference championship before losing to the Pats.
I'm enamored with this team. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are going to run it down teams' throats while the defense is going to force precisely 300 turnovers (they're off to a good start with three interceptions, three forced fumbles and three sacks in Week 1).
But the non-division schedule is brutal:
At Denver, at New York, vs Green Bay, vs Baltimore, at Chicago, at Detroit, at New England.
As long as the Texans make the playoffs, they'll be ready for anyone.
6. Chicago Bears (1-0)
Brandon Marshall leads the NFL in receptions.
During Marshall's two seasons with quarterback Jay Cutler in Denver, he racked up 102 catches and 104 catches.
Reunited and it feels so good.
7. Denver Broncos (1-0)
Peyton Manning will throw for precisely 4,218 yards, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Why? Because he's pretty much running the exact same offense he ran in Indianapolis, so he might as well put up the exact same stats he averaged for the "other" horsies.
8. Dallas Cowboys (1-0)
Kevin Ogletree leads the team in receiving.
Are Dez Bryant and Miles Austin more talented? You bet your bottom dollar they are.
But even the babysitter's club won't keep Bryant focused for the entire season (let alone for an entire game) and if Miles Austin stays healthy, well, then I just won't know what to think about anything anymore.
Slow and steady will win the race for the Ogletree.
9. Atlanta Falcons (1-0)
Matt Ryan leads the NFL in pass attempts.
If Michael "Slow Burner in a Dancing Backfield" Turner's Week 1 performance is any indication, the Falcons are going to have to throw the ball. A lot.
Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones. Yeah, I think they'll be OK with that.
10. New York Giants (0-1)
The Giants finish 8-8.
I like Eli, I like his receivers, I like the defensive line, but just look at that secondary, and more importantly, look at that schedule. Killer.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)
Michael Vick plays all 16 games and the Eagles make the playoffs.
I'm banking on someone slapping Andy Reid and making him never let Vick throw the ball 56 times in a game ever again.
The less times Vick is opened up for a rib shot and the more times LeSean McCoy touches the ball, the better the Eagles are. The defense will take care of the rest.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)
The Steelers' defense finishes outside the Top 10 in yards allowed.
I realize it's important not to jump to early, knee-jerk reactions, but the normally dominant unit looked a little slow against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Everyone has to rebuild at some point.
13. Washington Redskins (1-0)
Robert Griffin III has a street named after him.
Not only did RGIII prove in Week 1 that he has the skills to turn this franchise around, but he also has the swagger and charisma to win over just about every single person in Washington.
This kid's worth is going to extend so much further than just the football field.
14. New Orleans Saints (0-1)
Jimmy Graham breaks Rob Gronkowski's tight end touchdown record.
And bros everywhere weep.
15. New York Jets (1-0)
Tim Tebow starts one game, throws one touchdown and two interceptions. He is also elected President in November.
You know the drill.
16. San Diego Chargers (1-0)
We all get to utter the words, "Clipboard Jesus."
Everyone knows about the injury problems of Ryan Mathews, but if San Diego's makeshift offensive line doesn't get its act together soon, then Philip Rivers is going to have trouble staying upright and healthy.
Enter this man:
Even Ron Burgandy is impressed.
17. Detroit Lions (1-0)
Calvin Johnson finishes with 1,680 yards—one less than last year—and everyone credits his down year to the Madden Curse.
Guess what? Curses don't really exist, especially when they are trying to affect robots.
Johnson is going to have another monster year, and despite Detroit's lackluster Week 1 effort, I expect the Lions to grab a wild-card spot.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
Doug Martin finishes in the Top 10 in rushing yards.
Martin is clearly talented, and unless LeGarrette Blount decides to punch him, he's going to get all the carries he can handle behind a solid offensive line.
Bonus prediction: Teach me how to Dougie will be played behind every single one of Martin's highlight tapes.
19. Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Cam Newton improves on his rookie numbers, leads the Panthers to the playoffs
Everyone is ready for a dropoff from the self-proclaimed Superman, but I don't think we realize just how much of a freak this guy is.
Teams can game-plan all they want for Newton, it's still not going to be easy to stop a strong-armed, accurate quarterback who looks more like an NBA small forward and is more than willing to truck stick anyone in his way.
20. Seattle Seahawks (0-1)
The Seahawks lead the NFL in takeaways.
Speaking of guys who look like they should be playing different positions, the 'Hawks' secondary is essentially made up of four linebackers.
I still think the offense is a year away from propelling this team into the playoffs, but the defense is a unit you want to watch every opportunity you get.
21. Arizona Cardinals (1-0)
Ryan Williams starts more games at RB than Beanie Wells
Beanie Wells quietly hit the 1,000-yard mark and 10-touchdown plateau last year. You know who else has hit those numbers before?
Relevant? Probably not, but Ryan Williams has dreadlocks and so did Chris Johnson. Still not relevant? Well, Williams, despite an ugly Week 1, has much more upside than Wells, and that's exactly what the Cardinals' offense needs right now.
There we go.
22. Tennessee Titans (0-1)
Jake Locker wins MVP.
And I land a date with Kate Upton, Olivia Munn and Jennifer Lawrence—Katniss!—all in the same day.
I should probably mention that I went to the University of Washington, and while the Locker for MVP might not come to fruition, I do think he'll have a better-than-expected season.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
Andy Dalton to A.J. Green is less productive than it was in 2011.
A.J. Green is an absolute beast, but Dalton has been trending downwards ever since the last half of 2011.
24. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)
The Chiefs finish second in the AFC West.
Week 1's drubbing at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons was a bit of an anomaly. The Chiefs' defense was dismantled due to injuries and suspensions, and there was no way a bunch of second-stringers were going to slow down that passing attack.
Nonetheless, when all accounted for, this is a very good defense, Matt Cassel isn't as incompetent as you think (if that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is) and Jamaal Charles is healthy and looks explosive.
I don't think they'll catch the Broncos, but the Chiefs will surprise some people.
25. Buffalo Bills (0-1)
Mario Williams will lead the league in sacks.
That Buffalo front seven is very underrated, and Williams is going to benefit from it all year long.
26. Oakland Raiders (0-1)
Darren McFadden will lead all running backs in all-purpose yards.
What else are the Raiders going to do, throw the ball with Carson Palmer?
OK, Palmer didn't look half bad in Week 1, but the Raiders would be smart to give Run DMC all the work he can handle. Yes, McFadden clearly didn't drink his milk as a kid and his injury history proves that, but you win football games by feeding your All-Star.
This is finally the year that McFadden puts together a full, dominant season. Sorry, Raider fans.
27. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
The Vikings' offense finishes in the Top 12 in scoring.
And boom goes the dynamite.
Good enough for me.
28. St. Louis Rams (0-1)
And the Rams' defense finishes in the Top 12.
Boom goes the second stick of dynamite.
The offense is still as stagnant as ever, but Jeff Fisher has this defense going in the right direction. Cortland "Pauly D" Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins head a sneaky good secondary, while the pass rush is also capable of making big plays.
29. Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
Andrew Luck wins Rookie of the Year
I consider this bold because after Week 1, I'm guessing most people will have moved Robert Griffin III up in their rookie rankings.
But for any QB to go into Soldier Field and throw for over 300 yards—no matter how inefficient—in his first NFL game is extremely impressive.
Luck is for real.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
Maurice Jones-Drew surpasses the 2,000 total-yard mark.
31. Miami Dolphins (0-1)
Pat Devlin starts at least one game
The Dolphins are believers in Ryan Tannehill, but don't be surprised if they see what they have in their other youngster later in the season.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-1)
They win a game?
I'm sorry, Cleveland fans. Trent Richardson is going to be a star, and there are bright spots on this defense, but if Brandon Weeden continues to play like he did in Week 1, it's going to be a very long year.
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