NFL Power Rankings: Teams That Will Surprise in 2013

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NFL Power Rankings: Teams That Will Surprise in 2013
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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

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Dolphins go .500 or better in 2013?

Submit Vote vote to see results

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

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

 

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