Most of the time, preseason power rankings are the ugly union of last season's inertia and this year's guesswork. We take everything that happened last year, modify it slightly by what occurred in the offseason...and there you go.
The problem is, the NFL doesn't work like that.
Every season, playoff teams from the year before fail to make the postseason. Every season, hot contenders collapse. Every season, presumed nobodies rise up and challenge for division titles.
Even though we just saw the Houston Texans go 12-4 in 2012, keep that squad together and go 2-14, we still recoil against the idea that teams will suffer the same wild swings of fortune they inevitably do. That's why these rankings are a relative comparison of overall team strength.
That includes talent and production of the starters on both sides of the ball, injuries and suspensions, age of key players, strength and continuity of the coaching staff and end-of-2013 trends.
These rankings are not a prediction of each team's record in 2014; rather, they are a snapshot of each roster, how it stacks up against the rest of the league, and what the burning questions are going into training camp.
What follows might not match up with your expectations, and that's fine. Nobody truly knows what will happen when toe meets leather and helmets start cracking—and that's why we love the game!