NFL Football is back, ladies and gentlemen!
All 32 NFL teams are settling into training camp or soon will be, which means the regular season is right around the corner.
It also means it's time for another edition of NFL power rankings.
As the league gets ready for Week 1, there will be plenty of breaking news as some players will inevitably suffer unfortunate injuries, while others will get cut. Every team is subject to at least one unexpected development during the dog days of summer, but some suffer more than others.
For now, however, before the casualties start piling up on a regular basis, here's how the league stacks up at the start of training camps.
1. Seattle Seahawks
The more I ponder the union between Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin, the more I start to believe the Seahawks offense will become one of the most dangerous units in the NFL in 2013.
With Harvin playing alongside Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, Marshawn Lynch will have plenty of opportunities to exploit defenses that must account for the big play on the back end. Wilson has shown the ability to make every throw necessary, and his mobility is right up there with the best in the league.
Oh, by the way, Seattle features one of the stingiest defenses in the league and a home crowd that will make your ears bleed.
2. San Francisco 49ers
If not for Michael Crabtree's Achilles tear earlier this year, San Francisco would be at the top of this list. A team that can beat you with offense and defense, the 49ers will certainly be one of the most difficult to beat in 2013.
3. Denver Broncos
Even if Von Miller does serve a four-game suspension (he denies any wrongdoing, as noted by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com), the Broncos are well-equipped to come out of the AFC West with the divisional title.
4. Green Bay Packers
An improved defense and running game should give Aaron Rodgers all the help he needs to have an outstanding regular season for the Packers. Once in the playoffs, anything can happen. Nobody should be surprised if the Packers are once again playing for a title in Super Bowl XLVIII.
5. Atlanta Falcons
Will Steven Jackson be able to give Atlanta's offense the element it was missing last year? If he does, Matt Ryan and the Falcons will be darn-near impossible to stop. With a potent running game, teams won't be able to commit so much to stopping Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.
6. Houston Texans
With Ed Reed patrolling the secondary, J.J. Watt and his companions on the front seven should be even more dangerous in 2013 than they were last season.
On the other side of the ball, rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins has impressed coaches since he first showed up for OTAs this spring. He'll help balance the team's offensive attack, which has stagnated the past couple of years.
7. Baltimore Ravens
Anyone who understands how difficult it is to continue putting pieces together that fit in the NFL must appreciate the job Ozzie Newsome did this spring. After losing multiple key players, Newsome brought in a few savvy free agents who will minimize the sting.
Baltimore isn't going to suffer a big Super Bowl letdown, and if Joe Flacco continues to build on his postseason success this year, then the Ravens will be hard to beat.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton has no excuse for a bad season this year. A.J. Green is joined by a couple of rookie playmakers on offense, and you can expect big things from Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard.
On the other side of the ball, Geno Atkins and company comprise the most underrated defense in the league—a unit that can completely take over a game.
9. New England Patriots
Perhaps no quarterback in recent history has been able to make do with as little as Brady has throughout his career. This year will be his biggest test, as rookie Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola are his most decorated receivers on the outside.
Thankfully, Rob Gronkowski appears to be recovering nicely from his recent surgeries, and once fully healthy, he'll become a huge focal point for the Patriots offense this upcoming season.
10. Chicago Bears
New head coach Marc Trestman will do for Jay Cutler what Jim Harbaugh did for Alex Smith—mark it down. One of the most underrated offensive gurus of his generation, Trestman will help turn Chicago's offense into a well-oiled machine.
11. Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III took to his Twitter account to let the world know doctors cleared him to practice before the start of camp:
Overeager fans should temper their expectations, however, as RG3 isn't expected to play during the preseason, as noted by ESPN's Adam Schefter, and will be eased into things at camp. That said, Washington's 2012 NFC East-winning campaign was no fluke, as the Redskins will prove in 2013.
12. Indianapolis Colts
I've been touting Andrew Luck as my dark-horse candidate to win the league MVP award for a while now, and I'm not about to stop. Coming out of college, Luck was more polished and pro-ready than half the quarterbacks already starting, and he's going to have even more help this upcoming season.
The additions of running back Ahmad Bradshaw and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, along with some help on the team's offensive line, will give Luck more than enough tools to make his case as a burgeoning elite NFL signal-caller.
13. New York Giants
Even if Jason Pierre-Paul isn't ready to return from his back surgery in Week 1, the Giants are in good hands as long as Eli Manning lines up behind center. Look for a resurgent running game this season, as David Wilson and Andre Brown will make for a dynamic one-two punch.
14. St. Louis Rams
The Rams are in great shape to win a bunch of games in 2013, and if the team didn't play in the NFC West, it would have a terrific chance of making the playoffs.
General manager Les Snead did a fantastic job this offseason bringing in key players to fit the needs of his club. Sam Bradford should have more time to throw this year with Jake Long protecting his blind side, and he now has the weapons to move the ball efficiently on offense.
Chris Long, James Laurinaitis and Cortland Finnegan headline a burgeoning defense capable of shutting down even the most potent of offenses, as we saw from the team's handling of the 49ers last season.
15. Minnesota Vikings
If all the pieces come together for the Vikings this year, Minnesota will return to the playoffs. Christian Ponder was gifted with a couple of new weapons in Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, and if he can play as he did late last year, Adrian Peterson will run wild in the middle.
Xavier Rhodes and Sharrif Floyd should both see plenty of action, too. Rick Spielman has done a fine job building up his defense with talented young players the past couple of years.
16. Miami Dolphins
If potential won ball games, then the Dolphins would be shoe-ins for the playoffs in 2013.
With potent playmakers on both sides of the ball, Miami has a chance to make some noise. That said, it remains to be seen if the talented free agents and rookies assembled by general manager Jeff Ireland can learn to play as one.
17. New Orleans Saints
Victor Butler was signed during free agency to help Rob Ryan transition the Saints into a 3-4 scheme. Unfortunately he was injured in June when he tore his ACL, and he's out for the season.
That's a big blow, but thankfully, Drew Brees is reunited with his football soul mate, head coach Sean Payton, after the two of them were separated last year. The Saints will put up plenty of points this season and should at least challenge for a playoff spot in the NFC.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Another season is here, but the Cowboys face many of the same issues that have plagued the franchise for the better part of a decade.
The offense doesn't feature a strong rushing attack and will struggle to protect Tony Romo, who is brilliant unless it's a big game.
The defense will undergo a complete transformation under Monte Kiffin, too. Players who have gone their whole NFL career in a 3-4 scheme will now have to learn how to function in a 4-3, and cornerbacks who excel in man coverage will be forced to play in zone.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers
Losing Mike Wallace might not hurt the Steelers very much, as Le'Veon Bell will help the team re-establish a running game and balance out the offense.
The biggest concern for the Steelers is the team's inability to generate pressure on quarterbacks, which has led to a downturn in turnovers. Time will tell if Jarvis Jones will be able to become a terrifying presence on the edge. Pittsburgh desperately needs him to step up quickly.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bringing in Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson should significantly improve Tampa Bay's league-worst secondary from last year. That said, quarterbacks can carve up even the most talented of secondaries without any pressure.
It remains to be seen if the Bucs have the players to generate sacks and hurries, but last year's struggles were directly linked to poor production up front.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
I can't wait to see what happens at Eagles camp this summer as it pertains to the starting quarterback situation.
During OTAs, Nick Foles reportedly "got the ball out quicker than Vick, was generally more accurate, and is putting receivers in a better position to get yards after the catch," according to Jimmy Kempski of the Allentown Morning Call.
Foles and rookie Matt Barkley have both come out recently to say they believe they can win the competition, as noted by Les Bowen of Philly.com.
If you love high drama, then you'll love keeping track of this battle.
22. Carolina Panthers
If Cam Newton can take a huge step forward in his growth as an NFL quarterback, then the Panthers have the players to challenge for a playoff berth. After years of defensive woes, Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short join Luke Kuechly, Jon Beason and Co. to forge a dynamic front seven.
23. San Diego Chargers
It's hard to get real excited about the Chargers this year. Another season with a poor offensive line should lend itself to a sputtering offense, while on the other side, the defensive secondary is woefully short on talent and depth.
24. Detroit Lions
If Matthew Stafford has time to throw this season, then the Lions will be deadly on offense. Reggie Bush gives the team an added dimension at the running back position, and with Calvin Johnson running secondaries ragged he'll have running lanes to exploit.
25. Cleveland Browns
Even though he's only in his second season, you have to believe 2013 is a make-or-break year for Brandon Weeden. He'll likely be on a short leash, with veteran Jason Campbell waiting in the wings, and if he struggles, then the Browns will have another mediocre season.
26. Kansas City Chiefs
Though low in my rankings at this time, Kansas City has a chance to become a breakout team in 2013.
That said, the Chiefs head into the regular season with more questions than answers. Can Alex Smith play as well for Andy Reid as he did for Jim Harbaugh? Will the defense struggle again this season, or will it come together and play as one unit?
How the players answer these questions, among others, will determine whether this year will be about rebuilding or resurgence.
27. Arizona Cardinals
Like Kansas City, the Cardinals could surprise a lot of people by putting together a solid—if not excellent—season in 2013. A new defensive scheme and quarterback will be put to the test. Carson Palmer could be just the medicine Arizona needs to flourish on offense, but will he have enough time to throw?
28. Tennessee Titans
The Titans should be able to pound the rock this season, with guards Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack opening up holes for Chris Johnson. Jake Locker must learn to play with consistency, however, or the Titans will not be able to keep drives alive on third downs.
A poor offense will devastate Tennessee, as the team's defense is ill-equipped to handle extended time on the field.
29. New York Jets
Even with new management in place, New York is a dysfunctional mess.
Rex Ryan is still the head coach, and he's done nothing to show me he sees the need for a change in his coaching style.
Geno Smith isn't likely to start, but if Mark Sanchez "wins" the competition at quarterback, the Jets have already said Smith could see the field as a read-option quarterback, as noted by ESPN's Rich Cimini:
Because that worked so well before...
The circus never left town, and the Jets are primed for another season of failure.
30. Buffalo Bills
Without a quarterback, the Bills are doomed to cellar-dweller status in the AFC East.
Losing Andy Levitre to the Titans could hurt the team's offense more than people realize, and neither Kevin Kolb nor E.J. Emanuel will scare defenses into playing soft against the deep pass.
With an offense incapable of staying on the field, Buffalo's defense will languish.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
See Buffalo Bills...
In all seriousness, Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne are both proven underachievers, though it will be fascinating to see what "offensive weapon" Denard Robinson does this season for the Jaguars.
32. Oakland Raiders
Reggie McKenzie's rebuilding process in Oakland is just getting started. As noted by Elliot Harrison of NFL.com, the team could feature 14 new starters out of 22 this season, but that isn't a bad thing.
Oakland was headed in the wrong direction for years, and NFL franchises, like big ships, don't turn around overnight.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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