NFL Power Rankings: Super Bowl Champs Fail to Make Top 5

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2013

NFL Power Rankings: Super Bowl Champs Fail to Make Top 5

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    With the 2013 NFL preseason now officially underway, and with all 32 teams set to compete this week, it is time to see how each franchise ranks following the offseason.

    This is not a prediction of how teams will finish at the end of the year, but a look at each team stacks up heading into the regular season.

    Rankings are based on a team's 2012 performance, offseason front office turnover and roster movement—including free agency and the draft.

    Existing injuries, suspensions and positional battles are also considered.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Like any team with a new front office in place, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot to accomplish this preseason.

    However, on top of learning a new system, the Jaguars must also settle an uninspiring quarterback competition between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne.

    Add in the fact that No. 1 receiver Justin Blackmon will be suspended for the first month of the regular season and it is easy to see just how tough it will be for Jacksonville to contend in the AFC South in 2013.

31. Oakland Raiders

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    Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has made a conscious effort to revamp the roster this offseason.

    Changes include a complete overhaul of the quarterback position, where Carson Palmer is out and Matt Flynn and rookie fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson have entered the mix.

    Considering the Raiders averaged just 18.1 points per game (26th in the league) while allowing 27.7 points per game (28th) on defense in 2012, it is fairly obvious why sweeping changes were in order.

    It is also fairly obvious why it could take more than a month of preseason action for this Raiders team to come together.

30. New York Jets

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    The New York Jets could be the biggest unknown in the entire league this season.

    The team has talent, but several of the key pieces that helped the Jets reach the AFC championship game in 2009 and 2010 are gone, including star cornerback Darrelle Revis.

    With new general manager John Idzik in place, one could assume that head coach Rex Ryan is already on the hot seat. The same could be said for quarterback Mark Sanchez, after the Jets used a second-round pick on West Virginia product Geno Smith back in April.

    Oh, and the New York Post has reported that top receiver Santonio Holmes believes he will miss the first month of the regular season.

    At least New York doesn't have to deal with the Tim Tebow drama anymore.

29. Buffalo Bills

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    With new head couch Doug Marrone looking for a philosophy change, the Buffalo Bills may go through some growing pains early in the 2013 season.

    Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is out, and the Bills brought in former Cardinals starter Kevin Kolb and rookie first-round pick EJ Manuel to compete for the rights to lead Marrone's up-tempo offense.

    The quarterback competition will be critical during preseason, as inconsistency at the position has bee the Bills' biggest weakness over the past few seasons.

    Buffalo appears headed in the right direction, but is currently in the early stages of what will likely be a lengthy rebuilding process.

28. San Diego Chargers

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    Once the bullies of the AFC West division, the San Diego Chargers have fallen off in recent years, and posted a disappointing 7-9 record in 2012.

    This led to the firing of head coach Norv Turner and the hiring of former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

    McCoy has worked wonders for the Broncos offense over the past couple of seasons, and if he can guide quarterback Phillip Rivers and Co. to similar success early in 2013, the Chargers could be on their way back to the top of the division.

    If implementing his system takes time, however, the Chargers could find themselves battling the Oakland Raiders for last place.

27. Philadelphia Eagles

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    With a new, unproven head coach in Chip Kelly, and an unsettled quarterback situation, the Philadelphia Eagles may have a difficult time improving on least year's disappointing 4-12 record.

    With a three-way quarterback competition between Michael Vick, Nick Foles and rookie Matt Barkley on deck for the preseason, there will be plenty to watch in Philadelphia.

    However, the biggest unknown for the Eagles is Kelly, who has never held a coaching position of any kind in the NFL.

    The up-tempo offense Kelly ran at Oregon made him a sought-after candidate during the offseasons head coaching search. However, no one knows quite what to expect from the Eagles offense in 2013, or how well the team's personnel will adapt to it.

    If everything can come together during the preseason, the Eagles just might find themselves back in the thick of the NFC East race, but as of now, this team's future is uncertain.

26. Cleveland Browns

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    The Cleveland Browns have the potential to be a major surprise in 2013.

    With a new coaching staff that includes proven coordinators in Norv Turner and Ray Hoton, both the offense and defense appears to be in good hands.

    The team also boasts several young playmakers, including running back Trent Richardson, wide receiver Josh Gordon, rookie pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo and offseason acquisition Paul Kruger.

    The biggest question for the Browns is at quarterback, where 29-year-old, second-year man Brandon Weeden showed promise (3,385 yards passing), but also inconsistency (17 interceptions) as a rookie in 2012.

    Weeden's progress may be hampered by a two-game suspension for Gordon to start the season, but if the former Oklahoma State star can solidify the quarterback position, but Browns could prove to be surprisingly competitive in the AFC North.

25. Detroit Lions

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    The Detroit Lions had a down year in 2012, posting a disappointing 4-12 record, despite boasting the greatest single-season receiving performance (1,964 yards) in history by wideout Calvin Johnson.

    The key to improvement for the Lions in 2013 will be finding balance on offense.

    The team ranked second int eh league in passing (307.9 yards per game), but 23rd in rushing (100.8 yards per game).

    The team brought in former Dolphins and Saints running back Reggie Bush during the offseason, which should help add some punch to the ground game as well as a proven receiving option out of the backfield.

    While the Lions should have little trouble improving on last year's record, they face extremely tough divisional competition in Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota.

24. Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs have the potential to be one of the league's biggest surprises in 2013.

    New head coach Andy Reid is a proven winner, and new quarterback Alex Smith has the potential to make the Chiefs' offense relevant once again.

    Kansas City already boasts one of the league's top running backs in Jamaal Charles (1,509 rushing yards in 2012) and one of the top receivers (801 yards receiving in 13 games last season).

    If the defense can improve on its 2012 25th-place ranking (26.6 points per game allowed), the Chiefs could find themselves entrenched as the second-best team in the AFC West behind the Denver Broncos.

23. Miami Dolphins

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    The Miami Dolphins had one of the busiest offseasons of any franchise, bringing in wide receiver Mike Wallace, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Brant Grimes among others in free agency.

    The Dolphins also used a first-round pick on pass-rusher Dion Jordan in April's draft to complement budding star Cameron Wake on the defensive line.

    The trick for Miami will be finding a way for all these new pieces to mesh early in the season.

    The Dolphins already appear to be the second-best team in the AFC East, but cannot afford to fall behind in the conference standing early if the team hopes to make a late-season playoff push.

    Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has the look and feel of a future star, and if he can help bring the offense together quickly during the preseason, the Dolphins could be on their way back to relevance.

22. Tennessee Titans

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    The Tennessee Titans face an uphill battle in the competitive AFC South this season.

    Last year, the team ranked just 23rd offensively (20.6 points per game) and dead last in the league defensively (29.4 points per game allowed).

    However, if running back Chris Johnson can find his rhythm early in 2013, the team could still prove to be competitive. Johnson managed to rush for 1,243 yards last season, despite less than ideal blocking up front.

    The Titans acquired guard Andy Levitre and drafted Alabama lineman Chance Warmack during the offseason, which should help Johnson be much more effective this season.

    If third-year quarterback Jake Locker can take a step forward, the Titans could surprise, but will still likely sit behind the Texans and Colts in the division.

21. Arizona Cardinals

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    While the rest of the NFC West raised its level of play in 2012, the Arizona Cardinals continued to struggle, posting a 5-11 record and finishing last in the division.

    Defensively, Arizona was competitive, allowing 22.3 points per game (17th in the league), but were second to last offensively with a mere 15.6 points per game scored.

    Much of the Cardinals' struggles can be blames on inconsistent quarterback play, which is why new head coach Bruce Arians brought in former Bengal and Raider Carson Palmer during the offseason.

    If Palmer can solidify the position, the Cardinals could prove to be a tough competitor in 2013, but are likely to have a tough time overtaking the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers within the division.

20. Carolina Panthers

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    Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has accomplished a lot during his two years as the face of the franchise.

    The former Auburn star has accounted for an astounding 9,367 combined yards rushing and passing with 62 total touchdowns.

    What Newton has failed to do is turn the Panthers into a winner, as the team has gone just 13-19 over the past two seasons.

    Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has publicly stated that it is "time to win," and until Newton delivers, the Panthers are likely to be seen as just another team in the NFC.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Just a couple of short years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were seen as one of the league's up-and-coming young teams.

    Over the past two seasons, however, the team has fallen back to mediocrity, posting a disappointing 11-21 record in that time.

    There were some bright spots last season, however, including then-rookie running back Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,474 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    The Buccaneers made it a point to upgrade their 10th-ranked defense (24.6 points per game allowed in 2012) during the offseason, bringing in former Jets star Darrelle Revis and spending a second-round draft pick on Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks.

    A lot is going to depend on the play of fifth-year quarterback Josh Freeman, who may have rookie third-round pick Mike Glennon looking over his shoulder, should he falter.

18. St. Louis Rams

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    The St. Louis Rams made some strides last season under new head coach Jeff Fisher.

    The team finished with a respectable 7-8-1 record, just a year after going 2-14.

    Both the defense (14th in the league with 21.8 points per game allowed) and offense (25th with 18.7 points per game) were average at best, but the Rams proved to be extremely competitive in the NFC West, posting a 4-1-1 record within the division.

    As long as St. Louis can continue to play well against divisional opponents, it will be difficult to keep them out of the playoff conversation entirely.

    The toughest task may be trying to find a reliable replacement for longtime star Steven Jackson, who has rushed for more than 1,000-yards in each of the last eight seasons.

17. Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings were a surprise playoff team in 2012, thanks in no small part to the tough running of one Adrian Peterson.

    Fresh off a 2,097-yard campaign, Peterson looks to again carry the Vikings offense in 2013, but just might have a little more help this time around.

    Minnesota brought in free agent receiver Greg Jennings and used a first-round draft pick on Tennessee wideout Cordarrelle Patterson. The duo should help alleviate some of the pressure placed on Peterson and should aid in the development of third-year quarterback Christian Ponder.

    The Vikings are likely to go as far as Ponder can take them this season. If the Florida State product continues to play at an inconsistent level, the team may be hard-pressed to make a return trip to the postseason.

    However, if Ponder can take a few steps forward, the Vikings may be a hard team to count out.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Since 2000, the Pittsburgh Steelers have posted just one losing season and have made eight playoff appearances and earned two Super Bowl victories in that span.

    2012 proved to be a down year, however, as injuries and inconsistency forced the Steelers into a third-place finish in the AFC North.

    Pittsburgh responded by taking Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell in the second-round of April's draft. Oregon State wideout Markus Wheaton was added in the third to help offset the loss of Mike Wallace, who left for Miami in free agency.

    Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was selected in the first round, and if he can continue to be a pass-rushing force as a pro, he should significantly help a defense that allowed just 275.8 yards per game (first in the league) in 2012.

    As long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can remain healthy, the Steelers should contend for a playoff spot, but may have a difficult time overtaking the Ravens and Bengals in the division.

15. Dallas Cowboys

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    The only team to notch a preseason victory thus far, the Dallas Cowboys are hoping their winning ways carries over to the regular season.

    After a pair of 8-8 campaigns in 2011 and 2012, the Cowboys have undergone some serious changes in the coaching department.

    Offensive play-calling duties have been taken from head coach Jason Garrett and handed to coordinator Bill Callahan, while the defense has been revamped under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.

    Dallas appears poised to take a step forward in 2013, but a lot will depend on the performance of quarterback Tony Romo, who was granted a six-year, $108 million contract extension during the offseason.

14. New Orleans Saints

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    After making the playoff for three consecutive years (including a Super Bowl win following the 2009 campaign), the New Orleans Saints found themselves 0n the outside looking in last season.

    A big reason for the Saints' falloff was the absence of suspended head coach Sean Payton, who has completely turned the franchise around during his time in New Orleans.

    The presence of quarterback Drew Brees should ensure that the Saints offense continues to be among the league's most explosive in 2013, and a few step forward defensively could catapult the team back into the NFC South race.

    With Payton back in the fold it is hard to keep the Saints out of the playoff conversation two years in a row.

13. Washington Redskins

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    The Washington Redskins were one of several surprise teams in 2012, and one of three teams to reach the playoffs with a rookie quarterback leading the way.

    Robert Griffin III has become the epitome of the new breed of NFL quarterback, and as long as he can return from last season's knee injury at 100 percent, the Redskins should have a chance to vie for the NFC East crown in 2013.

    However, Griffin is not expected to perform in preseason action, and there is no guarantee that he will be able to perform at the same high level (3,200 yards passing, 815 yards rushing and 27 total touchdowns) that he did a season ago.

    If Griffin can prove he is the same dynamic quarterback we saw last season, the Redskins should move quickly up rankings.

12. Chicago Bears

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    The Chicago Bears posted a 10-6 record last season, but still managed to miss the playoffs.

    This resulted in the firing of head coach Lovie Smith and the addition of former CFL head coach MArc Trestman.

    Trestman has built a reputation as a bit of a quarterback guru,and his presence should greatly benefit signal-caller Jay Cutler.

    While the Bears have not been the NFC's most consistent franchise, the team should be good enough to remain in the playoff hunt long into the season.

11. Indianapolis Colts

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    While the Indianapolis Colts may no linger be the pride of the AFC South, the team found itself right back in the playoff mix in 2012 by riding then-rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to an 11-5 record.

    This season should bring more of the same as long as Luck and the rest of the offense can continue to make strides on the field.

    However, the loss of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians (now head coach of the Cardinals), could result in a few minor setbacks and keeps the Colts out of the top 10.

10. New York Giants

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    The New York Giants narrowly missed the playoff last season, and will look to atone by getting back to the post-season in 2013

    Many of the key players from 2011's Super Bowl run are still around, which provides a winning mentality and plenty of leadership to a team that is now gliding under the radar.

    Now that the Redskins have become the darlings of the NFC East, the Giants face little pressure and have an opportunity to surprise the league this season.

    While everyone has their eye on the emergent Redskins, don't be surprised if the Giants make a quiet run at the NFC East title.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

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    On paper, the Cincinnati Bengals look to be serious contenders in 2013.

    The team has managed to reach the postseason in each of the past two seasons and seriously upgraded the offense by adding running back Giovani Bernard and tight end Tyler Eifert in April's draft.

    The Bengals have made it a priority to re-sign their own, which should keep the team in playoff contention for the foreseeable future.

    However, if Cincinnati hopes to become truly relevant, the Bengals are going to have to figure out a way to win in the playoff and avoid another first-round disappointment.

8. Houston Texans

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    After defeating the Bengals in the opening round of the playoffs the past two seasons, it is time for the Houston Texans to push for an even deeper postseason run.

    Boasting the league's seventh-ranked scoring offense in 2012 (26 points per game) the Texans offense may be even better with the addition of rookie wideout DeAndre Hopkins.

    The defense, which was ninth in the league (20.7 points per game allowed) last season, should be bolstered by the addition of free agent safety Ed Reed and the return of injured star linebacker Brian Cushing.

    The Texans will need to hold off the upstart Colts in the division, but appear headed to yet another playoff appearance.

7. New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots will have to prove they can maintain their divisional dominance after losing several key pieces on the offensive side of the ball during the offseason.

    Star receiver Wes Welker is now in Denver and the Patriots are pinning their hopes on former St. Louis Ram Danny Amendola.

    There are also serious questions at the tight end position, which is likely to drastically change the identity of one of the league's most consistent offenses in recent memory.

    Still, as long as quarterback Tom Brady is leading the charge, it is hard not to consider the Patriots as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

6. Baltimore Ravens

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    It is always difficult not to put the defending Super Bowl champions at the top of any preseason list, but at this point it appears the Baltimore Ravens are just a couple of steps below some of the other teams around the league.

    The biggest loss from a talent perspective is that of wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin helped transform the league's 16th-ranked offense (24.9 points per game) into a champion during the postseason last season.

    His departure is only magnified by a season-ending injury to tight end Dennis Pitta.

    Defensively, the Ravens should be as good, if not better, than they were a season ago, despite the loss of several players in free agency.

    The biggest blow to the defense will come in the form of leadership, as longtime standouts Ray Lewis (retired) and Ed Reed (free agency) are no longer heading the unit.

5. Green Bay Packers

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    Over the past few season, the Green Bay Packers have consistently fielded one of the most explosive offenses in the entire league.

    Despite losing wide receivers Donald Driver (retirement) and Greg Jennings (free agency), the Packers offense should again be in elite company.

    In fact, the addition of rookie running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin should bring more balance, and potentially more success, to an offensive unit that averaged 27.1 points per game (13th in the league) a season ago.

    The Packers defense is more than adequate (ranked 11th in the league, allowing 21 points per game last season), and should provide Green Bay with a fighting chance of returning to the Super Bowl in 2013.

4. Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks and then-rookie quarterback Russell Wilson were one of the league's biggest surprises a season ago.

    The young Seattle offense played well enough to make a deep postseason run, while the league's top-ranked defense (15.3 points per game allowed) hammered opponents on a regular basis.

    The Seahawks should again be one of the top teams in the NFC this season and would be even higher on this list had offseason acquisition Percy Harvin not suffered a devastating hip injury.

    An impending PED suspension for pass-rusher Bruce Irvin also hurts, but should be partially offset by the addition of former Detroit Lion Cliff Avril.

3. Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons finally secured that elusive postseason victory in 2012 and will look to go even deeper into the playoff this season.

    With future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez back for one more run and with star running back Steven Jackson along for the ride, last season's eighth-ranked offense (26.2 points per game) should be even better in 2013.

    The Falcons gave quarterback Matt Ryan a brand new five-year, $103.75 million contract during the offseason.

    What better way for Ryan to repay the franchise than to bring home a Super Bowl title this season?


2. Denver Broncos

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    The Denver Broncos nearly reached the AFC title game last season, and had the league's fourth-ranked scoring defense (18.1 points per game) not faltered against the Ravens in the divisional round, the team may have went on to win it all.

    The offseason saw the Broncos strengthen an already potent offense with the addition of free agent receiver Wes Welker and the drafting of rookie running back Montee Ball.

    However, the departure of pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil and the pending four-game suspension of linebacker Von Miller prevent Denver from claiming the top spot in the power rankings.

    Still, the Broncos appear to be the team to beat in the AFC and one of the top contenders in the league, heading into the preseason.

1. San Francisco 49ers

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    The San Francisco 49er fell just a few plays short of taking home the Lombardi Trophy in 2012.

    On paper, it appears the team has the necessary pieces to finish the job this season.

    The league's second-ranked scoring defense (17.1 points per game) from a year ago remains largely intact, while quarterback Colin Kaepernick enters his first full season as the starter in charge of a rather impressive offensive group.

    Running back Frank Gore and tight end Vernon Davis should continue to be among the best at their respective positions in 2013, and the addition of Super Bowl champion wideout Anquan Boldin should help offset the loss of injured receiver Michael Crabtree.

    Continuity will be key for San Francisco, who at this point seems to be the league's most complete team.