NFL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Falls Midway Through Preseason

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IAugust 21, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 16:  Quarterback B.J. Daniels #5 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass down field against pressure from the Kansas City Chiefs defense during the second half on August 16, 2013 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  The 49ers won 15-13. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders are locked in a fierce battle for the bottom spot in my power rankings. The battle for the top spot is also close, but it's not quite as hotly contested.

Considering I am a lifelong, unwavering Raiders fan, this ranking causes me some pain. However, the fact that the NFL season is rapidly approaching eases my pain. I'm just excited to do a power ranking and actually have preseason games to consider.

It is going to be another wild season in the NFL. One that will undoubtedly prove plenty of my following rankings to be way off base. However, this is how I see things stacking up as they are now.  

I will pay extra attention to several of the more interesting placements and mark those in italics. 

Langford's Preseason Power Rankings

32. Oakland Raiders

It's just preseason, but without Jared Veldheer at left tackle, the Raiders offensive line made the New Orleans Saints' front seven look like a team of Lawrence Taylor clones. 

This was enough for me to drop my beloved Raiders below the Jaguars in my power rankings. Veldheer should be back at some point this season, but the damage to the Raiders will be done by then. 

Quarterback Matt Flynn is going to face an endless amount of pressure, and he will be facing that while working with an unproven group of receivers and tight ends. 

Defensively, things don't look much better in the trenches for Oakland. It remains to be seen where this team's pass rush will come from, or how they will limit tough rushing yards. 

The Raiders are going to struggle at the point of attack, and that will derail everything this rebuilding franchise is trying to accomplish. 

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

Blaine Gabbert has a broken thumb. However, while he will miss the remainder of the preseason, he will be the man under center in Week 1. 

Not that any of this matters. The Jaguars' quarterback position is a nightmare, and Gabbert is a verified bust. For his career, he is just 5-19 as a starter while completing just 54 percent of his passes for 3,876 yards and with 21 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. 

This team is staring at a long rebuilding process and a dismal season.  

30. New York Jets 

Remember January 2011? Those heady days when the Jets made their second consecutive trip to the AFC Championship game?

Well, the effectiveness of the Jets has faded faster than Rex Ryan's waist line since. This franchise is a disaster. It is time to blow it up and start over.

29. Buffalo Bills

If it wasn't for bad luck, the Bills would have no luck at all. Rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel was having a fine preseason. Then he hurt his knee and is now on the shelf for a bit. 

It shouldn't keep him out of action for long, but any missed time is a detriment to a rookie quarterback, and the Bills were not in a position to suffer any setbacks. 

28. San Diego Chargers

Even if Philip Rivers remembers how to throw passes to the right team this year, he isn't going to have anyone to throw them to. Chargers wide receivers are dropping like they're hot...or severely injury prone.  

The Chargers had a lot of question marks hanging over them at the start of preseason and a suspect offensive line. The injuries to the wide receivers only compound these problems.

27. Tennessee Titans 

In an era dominated by wide-open passing attacks, the Titans are going to return to being a running team. It plays to their strengths, but this team doesn't have the defense to turn a ground-and-pound offense into a winning team.

26. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals made a needed upgrade at quarterback by adding Carson Palmer, but this is a mild upgrade—especially considering that Cardinals still have a suspect offensive line. 

This team will show flashes, but still has far too many holes to make a playoff push.

25. Kansas City Chiefs

Early in these power rankings, one thing becomes clear: The AFC West is going to be terrible. The Chiefs have some nice weapons in place, and some are buzzing that new coach Andy Reid will get this offense clicking.

However, the pass-happy coach lacks the weapons in the passing game to make this team dangerous this season.

24. Philadelphia Eagles 

This will conclude the Andy Reid section of the power rankings, as we discuss his former team. Under the guidance of Chip Kelly, the Eagles are going to be fun to watch. However, they have holes on defense and will struggle in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

23. Miami Dolphins

Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill throws a wonderful deep ball, but he is far from a complete quarterback at this stage of his career.

With the Dolphins' patchwork offensive line, Tannehill won't have the time to flash the best aspect of his game.  

22. Detroit Lions 

Despite the addition of Reggie Bush, the Lions are still a one-hit wonder on offense, and Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson isn't enough to take this team to the promised land.

While the Lions have immense talent along the defensive line, this team will still be vulnerable to the run and pass (when the opposition has time). 

21. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are a hard team to rank. They had a solid finish to last season and have the potential to make a playoff run.

However, Cam Newton must gain consistency, and Ron Rivera needs to show far better decision-making on the sidelines in his third year.

20. Cleveland Browns

The Browns have a nice young defense and the addition of Norv Turner to offensive coordinator looks like the perfect fit for quarterback Brandon Weeden. 

Weeden throws a wonderful ball and can strike with accuracy down the field. If there is one thing Turner has proven he can do it is get people open down the field. 

In his two preseason appearances this year, Weeden has gone 18-of-25 for 229 yards and three touchdowns. He looks like a legitimate fantasy starting quarterback, and the right man to lead the Browns this year. 

While the Browns also have a young and promising defense, this team is getting rocked with injuries. If the Browns can somehow find the luck to reverse their injury trend, this team is a real sleeper candidate. 

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs have slid into a holding pattern with quarterback Josh Freeman. He is playing just well enough to warrant another chance as the starter, but not well enough to warrant much else.

Tampa Bay should be better on defense this year, but not good enough to carry this team. Second-year coach Greg Schiano is going to need Freeman to be outstanding if he wants to make a postseason push. 

18. Pittsburgh Steelers 

The Steelers finally have a decent offensive line. This will make things far easier on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

However, it remains to be seen if the Steelers can replace the production loss with wide receiver Mike Wallace bolting during free agency.

17. St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams are ready to make some noise in the second year of Jeff Fisher's tenure. This defense has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL.

Offensively, Sam Bradford is going to have to make big strides if this team is going to fulfill its potential, but the defense is enough to keep the Rams in every matchup.

16. New Orleans Saints 

As we discussed in the Raiders section, the Saints' defense looks much fiercer than last year's unit. Now, a big junk of this falls on the Raiders terrible line play, but it is still promising for New Orleans.

With Sean Payton back on the sideline and Drew Brees still rolling, the Saints will have plenty of offense.

In New Orleans, it all depends on how well the D holds up. 

15. Dallas Cowboys

The interior of the Cowboys' offensive line is in shambles. This is going to destroy the running game and leave far too much on the tired shoulders of Tony Romo. 

If, somehow, the line can come together to simply be a solid unit, the Cowboys will be dangerous. However, I'm expecting another season of hovering around .500 in Big D. 

14. New York Giants

The Giants' pass defense was a joke by the end of last season, and it is hard to see why it will be much better this year. 

If New York can get back a feared pass rush, the sky is the limit for this team. However, I'm not jumping on that bandwagon until I see it happen. 

13. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have made strides on offense that will lead to a wonderful second season from Andrew Luck. He should have a little more time to throw, and he will shine.

However, the Colts still have holes on defense.

While I expect the Colts to be a better team than last year, I'm not sure they make the postseason this year.

12. Washington Redskins

If Robert Griffin III comes back strong and stays healthy all year, the Redskins will be dangerous. I get the feeling I can just leave this sentence in front of the Redskins for the next 10 years or so. 

11. Minnesota Vikings

Christian Ponder looked great last year...when he was handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson. Other than that, he was a wildly inconsistent liability.

Ponder must make big strides this year. I don't think he has it in him. However, if he proves me wrong, there is nothing this team can't accomplish.

10. Chicago Bears 

The Bears have finally started to piece together a solid offensive line. Now, we'll see if a little extra time can help quarterback Jay Cutler from making the kinds of terrible decisions that have doomed him in the past.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have stripped away all excuses for quarterback Andy Dalton. This is a make-or-break season for the third-year passer.

With the defense of the Bengals, Dalton doesn't even have to be great for this team to be excellent.

8. Houston Texans 

With the addition of rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans already balanced offense got even more diversified.

Now, like Dalton, there are no excuses left for quarterback Matt Schaub. He needs to prove he can be the man when the lights are at their brightest.

7. Baltimore Ravens

After the typical pillaging of the roster that comes with winning the Super Bowl, the Ravens are going to look vastly different than last year. However, they've done a nice job of managing the losses, and will not give up their title without a fight.

6. Green Bay Packers 

Early in the preseason, the Packers look much improved on defense. If Aaron Rodgers has a defense behind him, his team will be a Super Bowl contender.

However, the Packers do have to keep him upright and healthy, and the Packers took a huge hit in those efforts when they lost left tackle Bryan Bulaga for the season with injury.

How the offensive line holds up will be the key to the Packers' season. 

5. New England Patriots 

After seasons of the Patriots stacking up offensive weapons for quarterback Tom Brady to decimate the league with, New England has gone back to a more diverse approach.

While New England lacks flashy weapons for Brady to throw to, the future Hall of Famer will ensure the passing game is excellent, and he will have a nice running game to aid this.

The addition of LeGarrette Blount to an already deep stable of backs will help the Patriots churn out tough yards on the ground.

Also, this defense should be improved from last season. With the likes of talents like Brandon Spikes and Chandler Jones, the Patriots will have a solid pass rush. 

New England is going to be a postseason factor once again. 

4. Seattle Seahawks

There is no denying that the injury to elite weapon Percy Harvin was a big blow to Seattle. However, Russell Wilson will be able to keep this offense moving as he makes strides in his second year. After all, he had a solid rookie campaign while Harvin was still in Minnesota.

Defensively, in a passing league, the Seahawks have the most complete secondary in the NFL. 

3. Denver Broncos

As long as Peyton Manning stays healthy, the Broncos are going to be dangerous. With Wes Welker joining Demaryius Thomas at receiver, Manning will have no problem picking defenses apart. 

Still, this team will have to cope with the six-game suspension of Von Miller, and his pass-rushing abilities are key to Denver's defense.


2. Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan has to be the envy of quarterbacks everywhere. He has the best wide receiver combo in the NFL with Roddy White and Julio Jones. He also has a surefire Hall of Fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez. He now also has the running and receiving ability of Steven Jackson coming out of the backfield. 

There is no one area of Atlanta's offense that opposing defenses will be able to hone in on, and this unit is going to produce big numbers.  

1. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers lack a weapon to stretch the field on the outside. However, they have everything else, and have it with depth. 

This team is loaded on offense and defense, and looks poised to take things to the next step after a close loss in last year's Super Bowl. 


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