The NFL season is here, folks, and that can mean only one thing—it's time for power rankings!
With a full preseason now behind us, injuries to take into consideration and expectations for every team in the league, it's time to rank every team in the NFL before the games kick off on Thursday night. And for fun, I've included Super Bowl odds for every team.
Now, keep in mind that these rankings reflect how I rank these teams at this moment, not how I think things will necessarily shake out by the time the playoffs roll around. If key players are injured, that's reflected here. If a young quarterback is getting his first start, that's reflected here.
You get the idea. Let's get to the rankings.
San Francisco 49ers
There are a number of reasons why the 49ers top my list. I think Colin Kaepernick should take another step forward this year, I obviously love the defense, and there are enough weapons on the offense to make up for the loss of Michael Crabtree.
But I also think the Niners have the least glaring deficiencies, at the moment, of all the top contenders. The Seattle Seahawks are without Percy Harvin. The Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers don't have the elite defenses that the 49ers and Seahawks possess.
The Denver Broncos don't have much of a pass rush after losing Elvis Dumervil to the Baltimore Ravens and Von Miller to suspension to start the year. Plus, the Broncos running backs didn't exactly inspire confidence in the preseason.
The New England Patriots start the season without three of their top playmakers from a year ago, Rob Gronkowski (likely out to injury), Wes Welker (Broncos) and Aaron Hernandez (cut). And the Ravens have a ton of turnover from last year and will surely have an adjustment period.
Add it all up, and I think the Niners enter the NFL season as the league's strongest team.
Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts
Let's get one thing straight—my rankings of these two teams in no way reflects negatively on their young quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. I see both players taking big steps this year.
But I do think their teams will regress, hence my ranking of the Redskins at No. 15 and the Colts at No. 16 despite both squads being playoff teams last year. According to Pro-Football Reference, the Redskins had the third-easiest schedule in the NFC in 2012, while the Colts had the easiest schedule in football, period.
And remember, the Colts won a ridiculous nine games by seven points or less. That simply isn't sustainable. Both of these teams will be competitive, but as of now, I don't see either squad as a playoff contender.
Like the Redskins and Colts, the Vikings were a playoff team last year that I see regressing in this campaign. Unlike the Redskins and the Colts, it has nothing to do with last year's schedule and everything to do with the team's quarterback.
Sorry, folks, but I just don't believe Christian Ponder can lead this team to the playoffs again. I love Adrian Peterson, but NFL teams aren't going to allow him to rush for over 2,000 yards a second year in a row. Ponder is going to have to beat teams, and I don't see him doing it.
Besides, the Vikings don't have amazing weapons surrounding him in the passing game. Kyle Rudolph is a weapon in the red zone, but not much of one the rest of the time (79 receptions and 742 receiving yards, total, in the past two years). Greg Jennings isn't what he once was. Cordarrelle Patterson is incredibly raw.
Add in the fact that the Vikings have a suspect pass defense—and that the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions should both be better this year—and you have a team that looks primed to disappoint this year.
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