NFL Power Rankings: Where Each Team Stands After Roster Cuts
Roster cuts were made over the weekend, so it's time to see how every NFL team ranks before the start of Week 1.
Preseason power rankings are always based on a combination of last season's results and moves made over the offseason.
There are usually surprises and disappointments, so rankings change throughout the season. Last year featured the Indianapolis Colts going from the worst record in the league to the postseason. Who will be this year's Colts?
Rosters are set for the most part, so here's the NFL preseason power rankings.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Last season saw the San Francisco 49ers switch quarterbacks in the middle of the season. Coach Jim Harbaugh made a gutsy move by switching from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick. It turned out to be a great move, and the 49ers went all the way to the Super Bowl.
San Francisco made the steal of the offseason when it traded a late draft pick for receiver Anquan Boldin. That acquisition will make up for the loss of Michael Crabtree, who tore his Achilles tendon earlier in the offseason. He will miss the first part of the season.
The offense will be without LaMichael James after he sprained his MCL in the preseason. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter are more than capable of handling the load. When the team gets James back, it will provide another dimension to the offense.
Corner Nnamdi Asomugha signed a one-year deal with the team. With Aldon Smith and Justin Smith on the line, the defense is going to have another good season.
Last season's Super Bowl loss was only a sign of things to come. The 49ers should contend for a championship this season.
2. Denver Broncos
Nobody knew what to expect out of Peyton Manning last season. Now everyone knows that he can still perform at a high level. Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will make up one of the league's top receiving corps.
Von Miller will miss the first six games, so the defense will need to show that it can survive without two of its best pieces from a year ago.
The Broncos look like the team to beat in the AFC. Adding Montee Ball should help the running game, but Manning will be able to carry the team in a weak division.
3. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons had an aggressive offseason, so they will be one of the top teams in the NFC.
Osi Umenyiora will help the defense after signing a deal in the offseason, and running back Steven Jackson was a great pickup. The running game improved with the addition of Jackson. He has rushed for 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons, and he can pound the ball in near the goal line.
The Falcons managed to get a playoff win last season and looked like they were on their way to the Super Bowl. Now they will try to send Gonzalez off as a winner.
4. Green Bay Packers
Greg Jennings is gone, but the offense saw new playmakers step up for Aaron Rodgers. Randall Cobb and James Jones will play a bigger role in the offense this season, and Jordy Nelson will be expected to have a big season.
Eddie Lacy should provide stability on the ground. The Packers haven't had a great running game in recent years, but Lacy could be a big contributor as a rookie.
The defense struggled at times last season, but it should have a good season even without Charles Woodson.
5. New England Patriots
Tom Brady will get to show just how great he is this season. A new set of receivers will require time to get into a flow, so give Brady time to work with his playmakers.
Danny Amendola will replace Welker. He signed a five-year deal with the team in the offseason, and he should fit nicely in New England's offense.
The defense should be much better this season as it has had time to grow. Denver is the class of the AFC, but the Patriots could challenge the Broncos.
6. Seattle Seahawks
New acquisition Percy Harvin won't be ready for the opener, but the Seahawks have plenty of talent. Russell Wilson now has a year under his belt, and receivers Golden Tate and Sidney Rice should help their young quarterback make plays.
The defense is definitely the strength of the team. Cornerback Richard Sherman has become one of the league's best, but he is just one of many talented players on the defense.
7. Houston Texans
Houston has won playoff games in back-to-back seasons, but now it's time for it to make a deeper run.
Quarterback Matt Schaub has always been a good fit in Houston. He still has Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels to throw to, and DeVier Posey should make an impact this season. Arian Foster will still be a force on the ground.
The Texans have one of the most balanced offenses in the league.
NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and Johnathan Joseph lead the defense. With those two leading the way, the Texans could have a big year.
8. Baltimore Ravens
At least for the start of the season, the Baltimore Ravens are atop the AFC North. Losing Boldin, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and others will be tough to overcome. When a team wins a Super Bowl, they deserve to stay atop their division until games are played.
The defense will have to prove itself. Signing Elvis Dumervil was a good start, but the rest of the defense is still an unknown after the legends have left.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
This will be a make-or-break season for Andy Dalton. The quarterback has led his team to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, but he has yet to show up and lead his team to a victory. His accuracy has come into question, so he must prove that he can throw the deep ball better this season.
The Bengals improved their offense through the draft. Running back Giovani Bernard will give the team a quicker option in the backfield, and Tyler Eifert should be a nice complement to Jermaine Gresham at tight end.
A.J. Green is the second-best receiver in the game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a good option at running back. Now the team just needs its quarterback to come through in the big games.
The defense should continue to make plays. Geno Atkins has quietly become a dominant interior lineman. Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap are great options at defensive ends, and this group will get to the quarterback this season.
James Harrison should help the team. He adds another element to the defense, and he will be looking to prove to the rest of the league that he can still play.
Cincinnati has the potential to win the AFC North, but until it shows that it can beat the good teams, it can't be placed above the Ravens.
10. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck had a phenomenal rookie season, and he should continue to develop into a great NFL quarterback. He took a team that went 2-14 in 2011 to the playoffs as a rookie, and that shows just what kind of player he can be.
The Colts need to prove that last year wasn't a fluke. They have the talent to get back to the postseason, but they won't be able to sneak up on teams this season.
11. New Orleans Saints
The NFC South has seen many teams go from worst to first. There was a three-way tie for second place, so it technically could happen with the Saints this season.
Sean Payton is back as coach. Drew Brees is going to have another phenomenal season throwing the football, and the offense will continue to put up points.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will have his hands full on defense. The unit was one of the league's worst, so he will have to work some magic in order to make it happen.
New Orleans has plenty of talent on offense and should be a contender this season. The Falcons are much better on paper, but anything can happen.
12. New York Giants
The Giants have suffered injuries to their receivers in recent seasons, so they have been tough to judge.
New York wants to play in this year's Super Bowl given that it's taking place in New Jersey. If the offense stays healthy and the defense comes through, the Giants may just get the opportunity to "host" the Super Bowl.
13. Washington Redskins
The Redskins need Robert Griffin III healthy in order to return to the playoffs. He looks like he will be starting Week 1, but his knee will be carefully watched all season.
Alfred Morris had a big rookie season last year and should help ease Griffin back into the flow of play. Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis need to stay healthy or Griffin could be forced to run the ball more this season.
Griffin is a great player when healthy, but he has yet to play against NFL teams recently. Washington fans hope that their quarterback can make it through the season.
14. Chicago Bears
Lovie Smith is out, Marc Trestman is in. The Bears went 10-6 last season and lost out on a tiebreaker to the Minnesota Vikings last season.
Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall picked up where they left off in their first season being reunited. Alshon Jeffery battled injuries throughout last season, and he should make a bigger impact this season.Matt Forte has been a good dual-threat in the backfield.
The defense will have to move on from the Brian Urlacher era. Chicago has the talent to make some noise in the NFC North, so keep an eye on the Bears.
15. Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson carried the team into the playoffs as he chased Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. He came up nine yards short, but now he will be even more motivated to reach 2,000 yards again.
Christian Ponder got some help on offense in the offseason. Greg Jennings signed with Minnesota, and the team drafted Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round. Ponder will finally have receivers to work with and help Peterson on offense.
16. Dallas Cowboys
The middle of the NFC East is about as unpredictable as any division in football.
Quarterback Tony Romo has put up big numbers throughout his career, but he hasn't been able to lead his team to a championship. The Cowboys had a chance at a division title last season but lost a winner-take-all game in Washington in Week 17.
The offense will move the ball this year. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin give Romo playmakers on the outside, and Jason Witten is a very good tight end.
17. Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly's offense will be the story of the season. It will be tough to duplicate what he did at Oregon, but he has several players who fit his system.
Michael Vick is the perfect quarterback for Kelly to work with. LeSean McCoy is a multi-purpose back, and DeSean Jackson may be the most explosive receiver in the league. The Eagles will be without Jeremy Maclin, but they still have players to work with on offense.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers aren't used to being overlooked, but they find themselves in that position right now. The Ravens are the defending champions, and the Bengals are seen as the team to beat. The team needs to find a way to bounce back after missing the postseason last year.
Pittsburgh finished 26th in rushing last season. Rookie Le'Veon Ball is out indefinitely. Felix Jones will battle with Isaac Redman for carries. Mike Wallace left in free agency, so the offense is going to be a mystery this season.
The Steelers usually find a way to be competitive, so don't count them out.
19. Miami Dolphins
Wallace left the Steelers and signed with the Dolphins in the offseason. He is a big threat at receiver, which will allow Brian Hartline to have a good season. Reggie Bush is gone, so the passing game will be even more important. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will need to grow in his second season in the league, and Wallace will be able to help him.
Cameron Wake will lead the underrated defense. He has turned into an elite lineman, and he will continue to put up big numbers.
Miami won't challenge the New England Patriots in the AFC East, but second place is a virtual lock. This could be the year that the Dolphins get back into contention.
20. Arizona Cardinals
One of the sleepers to watch out for is the Arizona Cardinals. The team has gone through quarterbacks in recent seasons, but now it has a legitimate passer.
Quarterback Carson Palmer will once again have good receivers to work with. Larry Fitzgerald will go back to being among the league's best. Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts are solid receivers. Palmer fits well in Bruce Arians' offense, so look for Palmer and Fitzgerald to have some fun this season.
Tyrann Mathieu could be the steal of the draft if he has a big year in the secondary, and Patrick Peterson will continue to develop into a great playmaker.
The Cardinals aren't going to challenge the 49ers for the division title. They could end up being this season's Colts, but fans should be happy if Palmer and Fitzgerald can get the team to an 8-8 record.
21. Detroit Lions
Another sleeper to watch for is the Detroit Lions. They have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, so it wouldn't be a huge surprise if they contend this season.
Matthew Stafford has a big arm, and he threw for nearly 5,000 yards last season. Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL. He will have a hard time following up his record-setting season, but he is going to have another big season.
Reggie Bush signed with Detroit in the offseason, so he should bring balance to the offense.
Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh are both filled with potential, and they could lead the Lions' defense to a big season.
The Lions made the postseason two seasons ago, and they have the talent to get back there. Green Bay is the best team in the division, but the rest of the division will be a great battle.
22. Kansas City Chiefs
Last season was a rarity in the NFL. Kansas City won only two games last season but sent six players to the Pro Bowl.
The Chiefs have two new leaders this year. Andy Reid will get to coach quarterback Alex Smith as they look to contend. Smith was good at not turning the ball over in San Francisco, and the Chiefs need him to be smart as he looks for a fresh start.
23. St. Louis Rams
Tavon Austin will give Sam Bradford a threat on the outside, but there won't be much else on offense. The running game took a serious blow when Jackson left for the Falcons. Daryl Richardson will take Jackson's place, and Isaiah Pead should also see some time at running back.
The Rams need more help for Bradford, and they could find themselves in the cellar of the NFC West.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin had a huge rookie season. He will be expected to build on a strong first year as the Buccaneers look to get better. Vincent Jackson had a huge year at receiver, but quarterback Josh Freeman must show that he is the right man for the job.
The secondary might be the most improved in all of football. Tampa Bay traded for Darrelle Revis and signed Dashon Goldson. For now the Buccaneers are low in the power rankings. They could quickly work their way up the list if Freeman and defense take steps forward this year.
25. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton is a rising star in the league, but he doesn't have much help on offense. Steve Smith is nearing the end of his career. DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Kenjon Barner each bring something to the table, but the Panthers need receivers to step up.
26. Cleveland Browns
Another year, another head coach in Cleveland. Rob Chudzinski takes over as coach, but it could be a long year for him.
Josh Gordon will miss the start of the season after being suspended, and Greg Little needs to grow into a reliable receiver. Trent Richardson had to battle injuries all last season. The team will struggle immensely if he doesn't stay healthy this year.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden will turn 30 in his second year in the league, and he didn't do anything as a rookie to show fans that he is the future of the team. He will have to battle to keep his job this season.
Joe Haden and T.J. Ward are talented members of the secondary. ESPN reported that rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo is unlikely to play in Week 1, and Browns fans continue to wonder how the franchise has such bad luck.
This year will be an audition for Weeden. He has to impress his new coach or risk losing his job after two seasons in the league. The AFC North is undergoing changes, but the Browns will have trouble getting out of last place.
27. Buffalo Bills
The quarterback job will go to rookie EJ Manuel at some point, and it will be up to him to challenge the Miami Dolphins for second place.
Buffalo isn't a great team, but it does have some pieces to work with. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are each good running backs. Steve Johnson is the team's best receiver, and Robert Woods could have a good rookie season.
Manny Lawson and rookie Kiko Alonso should help on defense. Mario Williams had 10.5 sacks last season and should get better now that he has had time to adjust to a new team.
The Bills have talent on offense but are relying on rookie quarterbacks. Although they probably won't contend this year, they should be good enough to finish ahead of the Jets.
28. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers has been a good quarterback for many years, but he isn't getting much help at receiver. Danario Alexander is out for the season, which takes away a major threat. The AFC West is weak, but the Chargers can't hope for anything better than second place.
29. New York Jets
Who knows what the quarterback situation is going to look like this season. It appears that Geno Smith is going to get the nod because of Mark Sanchez's injury, but that could change when Sanchez returns.
No matter who is throwing passes, this team is going to struggle. There aren't many explosive playmakers on offense, and Santonio Holmes will be returning from injury.
Maybe Smith can turn his team around like many rookie quarterbacks did last season, but the defense is going to have to lead the way.
30. Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker has played in 16 games over the last two seasons. He is going to have to take a big step forward if the Titans are going to contend anytime soon.
Chris Johnson showed glimpses of returning to form last season, and the Titans need him to be more consistent this season.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Receiver Justin Blackmon was suspended for the first four games. Blaine Gabbert will be the starting quarterback, and he will have a tough task ahead of him.
Maurice Jones-Drew will be coming back from an injury. The team will only go as far as he can carry it, and he won't be able to do it by himself. Another last-place finish is in the works.
32. Oakland Raiders
Not much needs to be said about the Oakland Raiders. There is a quarterback competition between Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor, and there isn't much help at receiver. Running back Darren McFadden has never played in more than 13 games in a season, but he is a big-time playmaker when healthy.
Oakland would be wise to give Pryor the starting job to see what he can do, but the Raiders aren't going to win many games either way.
The defense needs to improve a lot this season if the team is going to be competitive. Teams feasted on the Raiders' defense last season, and it doesn't look like there is going to be much improvement this year.
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