NFL Power Rankings: Teams That Will Surprise in 2013

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 5, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 17:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins warms up during a timeout against the Houston Texans during a preseaon game at Reliant Stadium on August 17, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The 2013-14 NFL campaign kicks off on Thursday, as Joe Flacco and the defending champion Baltimore Ravens visit Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

The Ravens defeated the mighty San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl last season, but there are some doubts surrounding the team given some key losses in the offseason.

Meanwhile, Manning got a new toy in former New England Patriots slot receiver Wes Welker.

Will the Ravens push past the doubters this season?

I think they will.

Baltimore is just one of the teams I expect to surprise in 2013-14. Read on for my top contenders to surprise as well as my Week 1 NFL power rankings.

Note: The top contenders to surprise are ranked in order of most surprising.


3. Baltimore Ravens

So, legendary safety Ed Reed left in the offseason. So did safety Bernard Pollard. So did outside linebacker Paul Kruger. So did inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. So did receiver Anquan Boldin.

Oh yeah, and Ray Lewis retired.

With that being said, the Ravens also signed some guy named Elvis Dumervil, had a strong draft with safety Matt Elam and linebacker Arthur Brown, and grabbed a great fit in former New York Giants defensive lineman Chris Canty.

The Ravens still have Joe Flacco too. Flacco's value in the regular season can be debated, but there's no question that the veteran raises his level of play when the postseason comes around.


2. St. Louis Rams

Opinions vary on just how much St. Louis will improve this season after a strong offseason.

The Rams added two potential future stars in receiver Tavon Austin and linebacker Alec Ogletree, grabbed four-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jake Long, and added former Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook.

There are some concerns in the backfield after the departure of longtime stalwart Steven Jackson, but the Rams intend on employing a spread offense to at least partially mask Jackson's absence.

Quarterback Sam Bradford needs to show he can make a difference this season after improving in 2012. He has the weapons to do so. I think it could all come together for Jeff Fisher's squad.


1. Miami Dolphins

I liked what the Dolphins were doing the moment they hired former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin before the 2012 season.

First and foremost, Philbin has put in place a fine coaching staff. That was evident when young quarterback Ryan Tannehill gradually improved throughout the course of the 2012 campaign.  

Adding former Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Mike Wallace was another step in the right direction, as was inking former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes and former Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.

The Dolphins have toyed with the idea of going .500 every season since reaching the playoffs in 2008-09. I think the Dolphins do that and more in 2013.


Ryan Rudnansky's Week 1 NFL Power Rankings

1Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers
3Green Bay Packers
4Atlanta Falcons
5Denver Broncos
6New England Patriots
7Houston Texans
8Baltimore Ravens
9Cincinnati Bengals
10Washington Redskins
11New Orleans Saints
12New York Giants
13Indianapolis Colts
14Chicago Bears
15Pittsburgh Steelers
16Minnesota Vikings
17St. Louis Rams
18 Dallas Cowboys
19 Miami Dolphins
20Tampa Bay Buccaneers
21Carolina Panthers
22Detroit Lions
23Philadelphia Eagles
24San Diego Chargers
25Cleveland Browns
26Arizona Cardinals
27Kansas City Chiefs
28Tennessee Titans
29Buffalo Bills
30New York Jets
31Oakland Raiders
32Jacksonville Jaguars


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