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NFL Power Rankings: Where Do You Think Your Favorite Team Should Be Ranked?

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Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

Around this time, many writers like to post their power rankings for this season. Well here is mine. I'm only giving reasoning for my top 5 so this doesn't get too lengthy. If you have any questions on my picks just ask.

#1. Seattle Seahawks- They were in the race for the Superbowl last year. With the addition of Harvin, their breakout QB Wilson, and strengthening their positions at DT and RB, the Seahawks should be a powerful force this year.

#2. Denver Broncos- This could be Peyton Manning's year if their defense can hold up. They had a strong first pick with Williams. However, they are still in need of another strong DT and even another LB. Manning provides the leadership this team was lacking. That combined with his talent and experience could result in another ring for Peyton.

#3. Atlanta Falcons- They filled their most apparent need in drafting Trufant. I'm not sure if i agree with the decision to double on CBs, but the Falcons are hungry for that ticket to the Superbowl and Matt Ryan could be the guy to lead them there with a very talented receiving core (White, Jones, and the return of Gonzalez).

#4. San Fransisco 49ers- They are an all around strong team on both offense and defense. Many have them ranked as #1. Now I know they will be a force to be reckoned with this season, winning a lot of games. I just don't see this as a SB repeat team and that's why I've ranked them at #4.

#5. New England Patriots- They didn't have the greatest draft this year, in my opinion. I know they are a strong team and late round picks have worked for them in the past... TOM BRADY (round 6). However, they are one of those teams that is almost always at the top. A big part of that is due to GM Bill Belichick. I see the Patriots as Superbowl contenders until either Belichick retires or Brady is no longer QB.

#6. Green Bay Packers
#7. Houston Texans
#8. Baltimore Ravens
#9. Indianapolis Colts
#10 Cincinnati Bengals
#11. New York Giants
#12. Washington Redskins
#13. St. Louis Rams
#14. Minnesota Vikings
#15. Chicago Bears
#16. New Orleans Saints
#17. Pittsburgh Steelers
#18. Tamba Bay Bucanneers
#19. Miami Dolphins
#20. Detroit Lions
#21. Dallas Cowboys
#22. Sand Diego Chargers
#23. Carolina Panthers
#24. Arizona Cardinals
#25. Kansas City Chiefs
#26. Philadelphia Eagles
#27. Cleveland Browns
#28. Tennessee Titans
#29. Buffalo Bills
#30. New York Jets
#31. Jacksonville Jaguars
#32. Oakland Raiders

Agree or disagree on my choices? Where do you feel these teams should be ranked? I want to know what you think.

Odysseus Morris
Odysseus Morris
Columnist

My team, the Packers, are #6 - that sounds about right. I'm not so sure about the Colts being #9. Yeah, they will be improved, but not THAT improved. I'd put them somewhere around 17-19. The Chiefs will be much better than their #25 ranking.

Leon Finck

Not a lot to disagree with,but if the Lions get any production at runningback and an injury free season from Stafford they could easily be a top 10 team.

Looking at the AFC North, I think this will another year where the Steelers take the division

Josh Mahoney
Josh Mahoney
Editor

I don't think Atlanta should be ahead of San Fran. Flip those two and then you've got a pretty good top 5. Also, you praise other teams for drafting for need and then knock the Patriots draft. They were lacking at WR and took two, they needed to add depth to their secondary and added 2 guys there (a CB and a S) and they added a couple LBs and a DE to add depth and pass rushing. I agree with them being ranked fifth, but I don't think their draft was that bad.

Also, I think the Ravens and Colts should be dropped a couple spots, the Redskins ranking relies completely on RGIII's health and that the Browns will be better than their #27 rank.

Aditya Trivedi
Aditya Trivedi
Senior Analyst

My teams the Browns and Panthers are 23 and 27 but that could change in my opinion. The Browns made some small moves that helped them and they've got a budding star in Josh Gordon and a soon to be top 5 RB in Trent Richardson.

The Panthers went after too many DT's in my opinion and didn't get any great corners or safety's......which they DESPERATELY needed. However....the offense got a boost with Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenick Hixon......both of whom can add depth to a Lafell and Smith combo. Honestly....if Newton's passing game is catching up.....they could be an even more dangerous offensive team. Stewart will barrel through anyone and if Williams stays.....he's also got the potential to rush for over 1100 yards. It'll be a hopeful year for me as a Browns and Panthers fan.

Then again....hopeful usual means horrid disappointment

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Josh Mahoney I wasn't necessarily criticizing the Patriots draft on who they drafted. I just don't think they really needed the extra picks that they traded down for. If they would have kept some of those picks they could have drafted some higher ranked players. They didn't have a bad draft. They just didn't get any players that really stood out to me.

As for the Colts, @Odysseus Morris I can see your point there. I think I was a little hopeful and seeing into the future. I do think Luck may just be the next Peyton Manning, but not this early. However i'd say 14-17. I don't see them beink ranked quite that low.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Aditya Trivedi you are right about Trent Richardson. He has some great potential. I'm not convinced that's enough to raise their ranking quite yet though.

The success of the Panthers is highly dependent on Newton's performance. This may be a make or break year for him. I'm hopeful that he will get it together this year, but he really has to prove himself.

Michael Almonte

San Francisco 49ers should be ranked No. 1!

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

I can't argue with the Jets at #30 (and I commend you for not being ridiculous like ESPN and placing them dead last -- if there's two teams we're better than it's Oakland and Jacksonville.) Personally, I think we're better than a few teams ahead of us (Bills, Browns) but that's the homer speaking in me.

FWIW, I think you're top 5 is all kinds of screwed up...I'd have San Fran #1 and New England #2. The Seahawks as the #1 team to me, after what? One playoff win? Not buying it 'till these guys play on the field.

Taylor Grafft
Taylor Grafft
Analyst

I'll say the San Francisco 49ers at No.1 simply because they are the most complete team in the NFL right now and just added 11 more guys to their roster to make them deeper. The Seahawks are a very close second and are also a top to bottom great team, but I just can't rank them ahead of the 49ers just yet until I see if Russell Wilson can keep up his incredible level of play. Denver at 3rd with the addition of Welker. New England at 4 and Atlanta at 5.

My teams are the Cowboys and Panthers. Cowboys added a lot of weapons on offense in the draft, but they're changing to a different defensive scheme/coach so they are probably ranked correctly until they prove it on the field. Panthers are still a mess. They added two DTs to help with the run defense, but their offense line is still not good. Stewart and Williams were never able to get going last year running the ball because there was no hole to runs through. Newton was also the most pressured QB last year in the NFL. I think a lot of their success depends on the line holding up and keeping Newton upright.

Dean Lake
Dean Lake
Editor

Looking at the AFC North, I think this will another year where the Steelers take the division. They've had a couple down years so it is time again to make another Super Bowl run. The Ravens will miss the players they lost to FA. Cincy has a tough schedule and I don't see them being better than 9-7. The Browns will be the same old Browns. Sorry, Aditya.

Does anyone really believe the Eagles will only be the 26th best team in the NFL next year? It might take some time for the Chip Kelly offense to get clicking, but when they do they will be in the mix for the NFC East title. I'll bet they get a wildcard spot.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Michael Clark and @Taylor Grafft I do agree that the 49ers are the most complete team. As I said, my reasoning for ranking them fourth is that I don't see them going to the Superbowl again this year. I'm sure there are some discrepancies on what criteria is used for power rankings. In my opinion, the best teams don't usually make it to the Superbowl. If that were true, I think we would have seen the Patriots and Falcons in the Superbowl last year. What puts Denver and Seattle ahead of them for me are two very different things. Peyton Manning is my reasoning for the Broncos. He is much stronger and more experienced than Kaepernick. The Seahawks also have a rookie QB, but I think the Seahawks have a lot of momentum coming into this season. 49ers are used to being at the top. I haven't seen Seattle at the top in a while. I think they're more hungry for it and have a good chance of making it to the Superbowl, even if they don't win as many games as some other teams. Basically, their #1 ranking is due a lot to intuition. It's like anything with sports (mock drafts, fantasy teams, etc.), it's a mixture of statistics and ability, but with a bit of guessing thrown in there.

Michael Clark. Why do you see New England at number 2? Yes they're always a great team, but i don't think they've done a lot to improve this off season. I can see your argument for why they are ahead of Seattle, but what makes them deserve to be ahead of Denver this year?

Doug Schmeig
Doug Schmeig
Commentator

A few of the Top 5 may be up there but why are the Raven not up there? They got rid of some great players but they also added some young talent. They still have some great players. They will be in the Super Bowl again or at least the AFC Championship game.

Alex Bell
Alex Bell
Senior Analyst

The 49ers should be number one as @Michael Clark & @Taylor Grafft suggested. They made the Super Bowl last year, the NFC Championship the year before, and have the most complete roster on paper right now. Even if you put Denver at #1 (which is reasonable as well) I would put Seattle at #3, slightly behind San Fran ( very ** slightly all you Seahawks fans) simply because the 49ers are back-to-back NFC West champs. Additionally, I believe Andy Reid and Alex Smith may be able to pull off a couple upset wins for the Chiefs that get them to around the #20 spot. Don't forget, the Chiefs still have Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.

Dan Moberger
Dan Moberger
Senior Analyst

One thing I noticed while looking at the list is how many bad teams there are in the NFL there will be this year. I kept wanting to slide teams down on your board, @Erryn Finck, but a lot of the time I held off because the teams below seem just as bad. A pair of teams I do feel need to be higher are the Lions (dependent on Stafford's health, as always), and Eagles (I really like Chip Kelly, and never liked Andy Reid. I think Kelly's going to do some cool stuff we haven't seen before in the NFL). A few that should be lower are the Cardinals and Chiefs, as low as they already are, Dolphins, and the Seahawks are quite a stretch for No. 1. The Broncos could drop as well. Green Bay and Houston could easily crack the top five with Seattle and Denver falling, but you've got the top seven right. After those seven, I don't think there are any teams challenging for a Super Bowl. There just seems to be a huge drop off.

Justin Olexa
Justin Olexa
Senior Analyst

@Erryn Finck, I agree with you assessment of my team the Falcons. They are in contention for the Super Bowl and their draft really sured up the CB position, which was their biggest whole. It will come down to if their defense is strong enough competing with the Seahawks and the 49ers. I would probably move the niners up as others have said, but besides that the list looks good.

Josh Mahoney
Josh Mahoney
Editor

@Erryn Finck, you say * "I just don't think they really needed the extra picks that they traded down for. If they would have kept some of those picks they could have drafted some higher ranked players."* The Patriots traded one pick and got 4 in return. The higher ranked player they would have kept would have yielded them the 29th pick in the first round in a draft that wasn't exactly full of sure things. Instead they got four additional picks in other rounds where they have had much more success as you pointed out and you forgot about Gronk in the 2nd round and Hernandez in the fourth. So they made the right move in trading down out of the first round increasing their overall amount of picks from 5 to 8.

@Doug Schmeig there's no way the Ravens are in the AFC Championship game let alone the Super Bowl. I'll be willing to bet you reputation points once that feature becomes available.

@Dean Lake what is your justification for the Steelers winning the AFC North? They play most of the same teams that Cincy does so it's hard to say that Cincy schedule is significantly tougher and considering that Cincy was the better team last season, I don't see the jump to Pitt being better this season.

Alex Bell
Alex Bell
Senior Analyst

@Doug Schmeig, no way the Ravens make the Super Bowl again, let alone the AFC championship. After the offseason roster losses they will be lucky to win their division. As @Josh Mahoney mentioned, the Bengals are no joke.

Skyler Cable
Skyler Cable
Analyst

As a New England fan I can't agree or disagree too much with a number 5 spot. I could argue them to be a 3 or 4 team but your top 5 all seems to have a good chance. Knowing your a Minnesota fan, I think you kept it fair. I will agree that the Colts could be lower and Lions could be higher, if Reggie Bush performs again this year. But Doug, I think the Ravens are right where they should be. No way do they deserve to be above Green Bay or the Texans.

Kyle
Kyle
Analyst

I think that the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills at 30 and 29 is laughable, and really undermines the credibility of this power poll. The Jets are my team, but the Bills aren't, so I think I can maintain a little credibility here. The only thing that this gets right is that the Jets and Bills should be ranked back to back or at least close.

At the very least, both of those teams are much better than the Browns, Titans, Cardinals and Eagles. Last year the Jets faced the nightmare scenario, their best offensive and defensive players were hurt nearly immediately, and they suffered numerous other injuries. Imagine the Vikings without Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen last year, or the Patriots without Tom Brady and Wilfork. It's not a pretty picture. They still went 6-10, which is a bad record, to be sure, but it is still just a bad break or two away from 8-8. Hardly a 2-14 disaster like the Chiefs or Jaguars. Sanchez may or may not improve, but if he plays badly, they have a serviceable QB in Garrard and a potentially excellent fit in the WCO in Geno Smith. Additionally, they improved the run game by jettisoning Shonn Greene (addition by subtraction!) and adding two runners who have played extremely well in limited time (Goodson and Ivory).

The Bills improved their biggest problems by bringing in an offensive coordinator who will actually allow CJ Spiller to run the ball and Kevin Kolb to man the QB spot until Manuel is ready to go. Kolb is solid with a decent offensive line, which Buffalo certainly has. Additionally, Mario Williams was hurt last year, and much of the defense underperformed; they will likely bounce back next year. Stevie Johnson will benefit from having a competent player throwing him the ball, which will also open lanes for CJ Spiller.

Neither of these teams will finish in the bottom four this year, barring an absolute catastrophe

Lee Durstock
Lee Durstock
Analyst

My Bengals are number 10 on your list! Finally starting to get some love from people. I agree with what @Josh Mahoney said about the AFC North. The Bengals and the Steelers play many of the same opponents including each team in the division twice, so how will the Steelers be better? Perhaps if Ben and his OC can finally click this year then they could make some moves, but I see them coming in second, Ravens in third and as usual the Browns rounding out the AFC North at the bottom, sorry @Aditya Trivedi.

I was surprised to see the Seahawks at the very top of your list, but then I remember that they've had a great off season to back up their great regular season. With additions like Percy Harvin and Chris Harper on offense and and Jesse Williams on defense, their number one power ranking could definitely pan out if Russell Wilson plays as well as he did last year. I mean look, the guy is already a household name. I think I'd put the Seahawks at around six or seven though.

I was more surprised to see that Denver wasn't number one on your list like they are many peoples. Put Denver at number one, Seahawks farther down, and switch Atlanta and the 49'ers and your top five would be perfect.

Arka Ray
Arka Ray
Senior Analyst

As delighted as I am to see my Seahawks at the top of the list, for once I agree with @Michael Clark in that they haven't earned that spot yet. The team looks great on paper, and I have no doubt that the 'Hawks should be in every top 5 discussion. But fact is that the Niners (yuck ...) were in the Super Bowl last season, and instead of having a drop off in their talent level like the Ravens, they have reinforced the gaps in their roster via FA and the Draft. As much as it pains me to say this, but they deserve the top spot.

The only other gap I see in the Top 5 are the Pats. I am a fan of Belichick-Brady, but Danny Amendola cannot fill the void left by Welker. And we saw last season, especially against the Ravens, how badly that offense sputters when Brady can't go to a consistent outlet option from the slot. I believe the Packers should be higher than the Pats, especially since they've addressed glaring holes at RB and DE.

Sal Erickson
Sal Erickson
Senior Columnist

I agree with @Kyle on the fact that both the Bills and the Jets should be higher on the list. I am more bullish on the Bills than the Jets because I am not sure if Rex still has control of that locker room, but I guess we'll find out.

My dark horses for this season are the Saints and the Chiefs, and I expect the Colts to drop off some. Also interested in seeing how the Bucs pan out: They are in a really tough division, but I believe that they will be much improved this season.

Sal Erickson

In fact, I'd love to hear the opinion of our resident Bucs expert @Gil Arcia on how he expects the Bucs to fare this season, and if he thinks they should be ranked higher.

Kyle

@Arka Ray I agree completely--the 'Hawks made some dramatic and impressive moves, but I don't think they necessarily get the top spot. As they say, the Hawks haven't proved anything yet

Kyle
Kyle
Analyst

@Sal Erickson I think an argument can be made that either the Bills or the Jets will have the better season. It will definitely be an interesting battle for 2nd in the AFC East (even if that team won't make the playoffs). I am not nearly as sold on the Dolphins offseason (or Ryan Tannehill, who to me, looks like a prime mob logic "oh he had a decent first year, so clearly he will progress instead of regress" candidate) as a lot of people are, and I think that could be a 3 team dogfight and potentially a three-way tie at 8-8 or 7-9.

Dean Lake
Dean Lake
Editor

@Josh Mahoney The Bengals have the 12th toughest SOS and the Steelers have the 22nd toughest.

The Steelers added some key players they needed: depth at safety, a replacement for Mike Wallace (Markus Wheaton), and some competition at RB (Le'Veon Bell, Curtis McNeal, Stephens-Howling). They also revamped some of the offensive line. The problem with last year's team was mostly health and losing 5 of their last 7, four of those by 6 points or less.

Plus, they are DUE: 2005 Super Bowl, 2008 Super Bowl, 2010 Super Bowl...

It will be the battle for the top of the division, though. I think a 10-6 record will do it.

Alex Rose
Alex Rose
Commentator

Can't really disagree with the top five, but Seattle at #1 is a little extreme. A ton of offseason moves with marquee names doesn't necessarily translate into success. They draft well, but I would like to see a young team show me more than just one breakout year. How well do they perform when they aren't surprising anyone?

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

It seems that the consensus is that Seattle hasn't earned the top spot yet. Maybe they haven't, yet. But i can still see them at that number one spot at the end of the year. Last season, if anyone would have ranked the Baltimore Ravens at number one, most people would argue that they didn't deserve it. Yet, they were Superbowl champions. I initially had SF at number one, but i always analyze my choices before I put them in print. The top 5 more than the rest of the list. As i said, I do think SF currently has the best team. I won't argue against that. I just feel that Seattle is more likely to make it to the Superbowl than to have a San Fran repeat.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Kyle I'm curious where you think these teams should be ranked? I could see an argument for maybe a couple spots higher, but not any higher than 26 (and that could be a stretch). I was actually a lot nicer than ESPN, who had the Bills at 30 and the Jets dead last at 32.

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

So @Erryn Finck your reasoning is based on the expectation of who will & won't make the SB? Am I reading that right? If it's simply a projection, then fair enough...we can argue opinions all we want. The 9ers are simply a better team than the 'Hawks IMO and have been a top 4 team at the least the last two seasons (slightly coming closer to a SB every year.) I'll believe the 'Hawks are #1 when they hold the Lombardi trophy...or win more than one playoff game.

Also why wouldn't New England be #2? They're always the best in their conference. Longevity, playoff success...who's more likely to represent the AFC? Who has represented the AFC the most in the past decade? In the past five years? Again this is a what have you done for me lately league and what has Peyton Manning done for me lately? He hasn't won a playoff game since the 2009-2010 season. The Broncos haven't gone pass the divisional round since Jake Plummer was the QB. I know this is all history & we have a new assembly of players/coaches on the franchise, but it's all we have to go on that's concrete...rather than subjective projections of what we think will happen.

Besides, shouldn't you be downgrading the Broncos because they lost a pretty decent pass rusher in Elvis Dumervil...Peyton Mannings leadership doesn't replace 11 sacks

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

@Erryn Finck you forget the Ravens in 2011 were a Lee Evans drop away from a SB appearance (and a Billy Cundiff kick away from taking the AFCCG into OT.) If anyone laughed at ranking the Ravens #1 @ the beginning of 2012 (or thinking very highly of them) they simply don't know much about football.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

Is making it to the superbowl my sole reasoning for how i rank teams? Absolutely not, but it would also be stupid not to take that into consideration. Obviously a team who I feel will make it to the Superbowl has more power in my mind than a team that I don't believe will make it. Despite, the 49ers being an all around better team, which i've admitted. I think the Seahawks will perform better. They both have young quarterbacks and I tend to believe that Wilson is a bit better than Kaepernick. So, I believe that Wilson, combined with Seattle's improvements on both offense and defense, will help Seattle surpass the 49ers this season.

And what has Peyton Manning done lately. To put it simply 4,659 yards and 37 TDs. Yes, I know Brady is great too, but compare who they have to throw to. Manning has the tougher job in my opinion. Overall Manning is a better QB. I think losing Welker is a blow to the Patriots. It won't knock them out of the top 5, but it will hurt them. I also think the Broncos have the better defense this season, despite the loss of Dummervil. All around, I think the Broncos are a better team than the Pats this year. And that's coming from someone who doesn't even like the Broncos.

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

But @Erryn Finck if your criteria is based on who has the best chance to make a SB run, how can you justify the Broncos over the Patriots? The Broncos haven't gone deeper in the playoffs than the Patriots since 2005. The Broncos have a better team, sure...but the Patriots go further every year. In your scenario from before (9ers/Seahawks) you concede the 9ers being a better team, but think the 'Hawks will go further..what makes Pats/Broncos any different? Broncos are the better team, Pats will go further...what have the Broncos done in the off season that makes you think otherwise?

Even in your description all you talk about is Peyton Mannings leadership (which is a pretty flaccid point -- TIm Tebow's leadership won a playoff game in Denver; Peyton's didn't) but disregard losses like Dumervil.

Also, I know everyone's pooping on the Amendola over Welker choice, but I think it's telling that the Pats had a deal in place with Amendola for a higher price over what they offered Welker...Amendola is just as good, he just doesn't have the production to back it up.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

Also @Michael Clark you are kind of putting words in my mouth with the Ravens that weren't there. I said most people would say they didn't deserve a number one ranking. I never said they people would laugh at it or not think highly of them. That's a vast exaggeration.

As for why Denver will make it farther, again simple, Manning. He makes a HUGE difference. Yes, the Patriots have normally made it farther, but with Brady. If they didn't have him, I guarantee you they wouldn't have made it that far. No the Broncos didn't make it to the Superbowl Manning's first year with them, but come on, it was his first year there. Not to mention, he was coming off an injury.

What makes you think Manning won't be able to lead the Broncos to a Superbowl this year? Or why are the Patriots more likely to make it than the Broncos? What has changed this year to make the Patriots better? Manning has more experience with the team. It takes time to adjust to that kind of change. And as I said, their defense has improved as well. How have the Patriots really improved? Why would they do any better this season than last season, after losing their highest producing receiver?

And Amendola, I actually like. I think he will be good, but in time. I'm talking about this season, and this season, losing Welker will hurt the Patriots. Amendola could take his place, if he proves himself, but not in this season. No way, does he come out with even close to the production Welker was getting in New England.

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

@Erryn Finck nothing you're saying couldn't be applied to the Patriots. Pats wouldn't make it far without Brady? Really? Broncos wouldn't without Manning (or maybe they would -- currently teamless Tim Tebow took them to the same point a year before.) Moot point. Manning has "more experience with the team" (aka the Broncos)...so does Brady. Moot point. And if experience with a team is a factor on how to judge how well a team will perform, 13 > 1.

The injury point would be decent if you didn't already concede to the MVP type numbers Manning put up last year...lol.

You're kind of running in circles here by asking me questions I've already answered. The past indicates they'll continue to be better. Until we watch what happens on the field, no one knows what will happen. I can point to recent draft picks of the Patriots (which have been pretty solid all things considered) as reasons why they'll be better this year. And recent success. That's about it. It indicates that this draft class will be as solid as theirs was last year.

BTW, you haven't addressed my Dumevil point...unless Manning leadership/experience with the team will replace 11 sacks.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Michael Clark My point was that the Patriots made it further in the playoffs because of Brady. Therefore, your playoff argument is a moot point. They couldn't have done it without him. I realize the Broncos wouldn't be where they are without Manning. Yes, Brady has more time with the Patriots, but he's had plenty of time already. An extra year isn't going to make a large difference. Peyton is a totally different situation. Before last year, he had never played with the Broncos. So having that year for Peyton makes a big impact on the team compared to his first year. Just adding another year on for Brady is ho hum, not really significant. So it is absolutely not a moot point.

His MVP type numbers only make my point more relevant. If he can do that coming back from an injury, think what he can do this year. Another point that is in no way moot.

And i already said why the playoffs reasoning is a moot point. It's due to Brady. The Patriots have only appeared in one more Superbowl than the Broncos and the Broncos did it WITHOUT Manning. So if that's your argument it's a pretty weak one. From what i heard your only argument is they had pretty solid draft picks in the past. Well so has Denver. And they made it to the Superbowl one more time than the Broncos. If you want to use your specific example of playoff appearances, the Broncos actually have one more playoff appearance than the Patriots 17 to 16. So there it's pretty even. I guess i asked because I haven't heard a reason that i can agree with.

I did address the Dummervil point. Despite their loss of Dummervil, the Broncos defense is still superior to the Patriots defense. It's a loss but they are still better so they should be ranked above New England. It's a blow just not as big of a blow because they still have a solid defense. A better defense than New England.

You haven't addressed the loss of Welker, unless you really think adding Amendola makes up for Welker? That i'll believe when he puts up the numbers Welker did.

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

@Erryn Finck he puts those numbers up every year. Come on...nothing he did last year was more remarkable than the countless MVP-esque seasons he put up with the Colts. Keep in mind the Colts won 2 games without him & narrowly missed the playoffs. The Broncos the year before won 5 less games, but actually won a playoff game against the defending champions. This point only adds to how minuscule Peyton Manning's impact is on Denver in the grand scheme thus far (I'm not referring to his impact on the offense; I'm talking strictly team success.)

Also what 37 year old QB needs another year to get situated with a team? Peyton is who he's always been & he runs the offense just like he did in Indianapolis. He's not getting any better at the age of 37. Your point makes no sense. Actually, it makes about as much sense as me adding an extra year to Brady's tenure in New England (which was sarcasm BTW -- in fact, most of my reply was; maybe I should have specified that.)

"My point was that the Patriots made it further in the playoffs because of Brady. Therefore, your playoff argument is a moot point."

Of course they did. Do you think they'd be better with a lesser talent at QB? I wouldn't bet on the Broncos going to the playoffs without Peyton (even though it happened.) What's the point in even mentioning the Pats make it further in the playoffs because of Brady?

The 90s is ancient history. If we're going to use history we should at least keep it within recent history...which shows Brady led teams doing better than Manning led teams, Brady-Bellichick going further than Fox-Manning and Bellichick consistently having John Fox's number.

Saying the Broncos D > Pats D, thus Broncos > Pats in rankings still doesn't add up to your original premise. If you want to make that argument, then why is Seattle ahead of San Francisco, who you've already said is a better team? If this is a projection of the best teams, it should be San Fran > Seattle; Broncos > Pats. If it's a projection on just where you think everyone will end up by seasons end then it's fine. To which I still argue why is Denver ahead of New England when Bellichick-Brady has gone further than Fox-Manning; Brady led teams have done better than Manning led teams; Bellichick > Fox; etc. etc. etc.

Oh and FWIW, Broncos D was better than the Pats D last year...who was in the AFCCG again? Now that Broncos D lost 11 sacks in Dumervil...so because the Broncos D is still better than the Pats D, we should assume Broncos > Pats? Please, explain this backwards logic. Broncos do worse than the Pats...lose an 11 sack player...expected to now do better than the Pats? LOL.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

That's the whole point he came back from an injury to a new team and did that great. That's what makes it more remarkable. He received comeback player of the year.

Haha miniscule. Peyton Manning's impact on the Broncos as a whole is minuscule? That's so baffling to me that you would even try to argue that. He only impacts the offense, well duh. No QB impacts the defense. But he has a huge impact on the team. I am hoping that was part of the sarcasm you were talking about because that just sounds off the wall to me.

Anyone moving to a new team has to make an adjustment. The guys he's throwing to aren't the same as the players he had in Indianapolis. Of course, he has to get used to playing with different teammates. So to answer your question, every QB who moves to a new team needs to get situated, despite age, talent or experience. Some are just better at it than others.

The point of mentioning Brady is that their talent is so uneven. They aren't as well rounded as the Broncos. That's another reason why the Broncos deserve to be ranked ahead of the Patriots.

Your history point makes no sense unless you're solely comparing QBs. You can't fairly compare the success of Brady and the Patriots to the success of Manning and the Broncos. Manning has only been with the Broncos one year. Then you're comparing the Patriots and the Colts or Brady and Manning and that's a whole different discussion that is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

So to the main point of this whole comment. Forget the injury, forget Peyton and Brady. I will explain my top five as simply as I can. SB potential is PART of my reasoning, overall talent is PART of my reasoning. It's a balance not one specific quality that I'm looking at. So it's simple, Seattle and Denver to me are the two most complete teams with the most potential to make it to the Superbowl. Atlanta is another team that is complete and could be a SB contender I just feel they are a little less likely to make it. San Fran is a complete team but lacks the SB repeat potential, in my opinion. New England is a less complete team but as i said in the original post, they always have the potential to make it to the SB because of Brady and Bellichick.

That last paragraph explains why I think the Patriots are better despite losing Dummervil. You are still completely ignoring the loss of Welker... again.

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

That has nothing to do with next year. He'll put up the same numbers like he does every year. He's the same player. he doesn't need another year in the system. he's not going to be better because he has more experience in the system. he's 37 years old. he runs the offense. the same offense he did in Indianapolis. It's evident by the fact that he was an MVP candidate after the injury. Fact of the matter is Peyton won't be better next year than he was this year. and there's very little evidence to suggest otherwise...again, your point holds little weight. Even the bit about chemistry with the receivers/teammates as he did just as well with the Colts receivers as he did with his new ones in Denver.

You must have missed the part where I said on team success...as the Peyton Manning led Broncos did just as well as the Tim Tebow led Broncos.

With that we can agree to disagree. To which I still maintain my point that the Pats, despite a lack of talent, have recent history on their side...and as far as I'm concerned, there isn't a higher potential for any other AFC team to represent the AFC. This takes into account recent history in coaching, QB play, and general team success which still surpasses Manning (tenure w/ Broncos or Colts), the Broncos current roster or Jeff Fox (tenure in Carolina or Denver.) I don't think there's a better team to represent the AFC, and recent history supports that.

You already know what my feeling is on Welker...I mentioned Amendola. You can re-read it if you need a refresher.

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

I guess the first question you'll ask is why can't Peyton be better next year than this year...to which I'd argue how can he be better than an MVP candidate besides winning the MVP award? He's putting up comparable seasons post-injury. He's putting up comparable seasons with Denver's receivers. Clearly injuries and a change in personnel have done LITTLE to deter Manning's ability to be elite.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

I'm gonna make this first part short and address the main point as I tried to to do in my previous comment.
1. I think the offense as a whole will be better. I think the past year will help the offense as a whole you don't. No need to discuss this further.
2. I didn't miss the team part. Peyton does have a significant impact on team success. Stating otherwise is ridiculous.
3. You said that you think Amendola is just as good as Welker. If you take that literally as in Amendola IS as good as Welker, then he will be the number one receiver this year and produce at least close to the same numbers. I don't think he has a chance in hell of getting there this year. If you meant that he could be as good as Welker, that could eventually happen, but it won't make up for losing him this year.

Now as far as why the Broncos are ranked higher than the Pats you really reinforced my ranking, at least based on my reasoning. You agree other teams have more talent, but the Pats could be Superbowl contenders. I agree, for different reasons, but I agree. Therefore, the Patriots only meet one of my qualifications while the Falcons Broncos and Seahawks meet both.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

You're basing your argument on past success. Key word being past. The Patriots have only had to face the Peyton led Broncos for one season. They're competing against a different team than they were in recent years. Their past success holds no weight to their success this season. If recent history mattered the Ravens would be in the top 5 for both last season and, as you stated, their near SB appearance in 2011. If that's your reasoning the Ravens have had more RECENT success than the Patriots.

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
Senior Analyst

I think Amendola's better than Welker. I don't know if that will show up in the stat sheet or not, but I do. Welker's overrated and it shows in the money he was offered by the Pats & Broncos. Money on the open market says a lot about what kind of value he has to a team...the stat sheet is held way to heavily when it comes in regard for Welker. Look at the Welker offers & look at the Mike Wallace offer. The Dolphins overpaid, but that was the expected premium for a typical #1 receiver on the open market. Welker is not a #1 receiver.

Not much has changed in New England and not much looks to change as Bellichick and Brady are still around. Past success is the only substantial thing we can base anything on besides draft picks & FA signings. Since we disagree on the impacts of the latter two, history says the Pats will be better and you can't dispute that. You also can't tell me the Broncos will be better based on having a better team...since that was the case last season and the Pats still outperformed them. The Broncos lose a 10+ sack player, and now the Broncos will suddenly be better...again, your logic is skewed & a bit backwards.

There's weight to saying the Broncos are a better team & will be better because of that. I respect that. I think there are flaws in that argument (as i've consistently pointed out -- points that you've yet to rebuke without grasping for straws with meaningless arguments on unmeasurable drivel like "experience" and "leadership") but I'm fine with it. These points include, but aren't limited to the Elvis Dumervil impact, how minuscule Manning's effect has been thus far on team success, how the Pats have outplayed the AFC/Broncos despite a lack of talent in the past, etc.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

Or it says that Welker is 32 years old and the Patriots were looking for someone who has more years left in him, even if he's not as good. Same with Wallace he's much younger. If they were the same age your argument would have some legitimacy. Although I base how good a player is on how well they play not how much money they make.

Past success isn't a particularly meaningful way to evaluate a team. It's not substantial. What is substantial is talent, performance, leadership, offensive ability, defensive ability, etc. History says nothing because history is not an indicator of future success. And again you weren't listening. I think the Patriots had a better offense last year. Last year, I would have ranked them above Denver, but this isn't last year. I think the Broncos offense will improve and the Patriots will decline, putting them above the Patriots. The Patriots two star tight ends are full of injury issues, they lost their #1 receiver and you want to tell me they will be better than the Broncos. Yes, the Broncos will be just as good or better because they still have Von Miller and other players to make up for their loss. Dumervil leaving didn't completely dismantle their defense. Just because they lose Dumervil doesn't mean someone else can't replace him. Players come and go. Losing Welker is going to be more of a blow than losing Dumervil. That's perfectly logical. There's no logic in basing decisions off how your team performed in the recent past. If that's what matters, why don't you argue that the Ravens should be ranked in the top 5?

As i get to your last paragraph you're really just being rude and completely disrespectful. I'm not going to trade insults with you, especially on your opinions. I may not agree with what you say but at least i'm respectful. I'm not grasping for straws, my opinions aren't meaningless drivel. My opinions are based mainly on ability. I do feel experience is valuable, especially as a QB. I think if Kaepernick had more experience, he might have won that SB last year. I just explained Dumervil. The Pats have been a better team than the Broncos in the past so that last point doesn't even make sense. As for Manning not having an impact on the team's success, the only way to prove that is if Manning didn't start and they threw Dysert or whatever other QB they have in. I'm not going to continue replying. I appreciate debates, but when you start using insults and likening my opinions to drivel, it's no longer enjoyable. I've addressed every point that you say i've failed to rebuke. So I'm done. Say what you like, but I'm not going to reply. It was completely unnecessary and added no value to your argument. Demeaning others and their opinions, is not the way to defend an argument.

Skyler Cable
Skyler Cable
Analyst

@Erryn Finck coming from a Pats fine I won't say whether I agree with you or not. You two have already discussed that but nothing you said was drivel. You are right. @Michael Clark you were out of line. Just keep it friendly next time.

Kyle
Kyle
Analyst

@Erryn Finck well ESPN is...wrong...neither of those teams is worse than the Raiders, Jaguars or Titans, at the least. ESPN doesn't really put out quality content any more, it is just about pageviews, so I can't really even argue with what they say. (Notice how the player on the Jets that ESPN devotes the most time to made it on the field for about 10 meaningful plays last season).

That said, to answer your question, I would put the Jets and Bills tied (or in either order at 24). Below them would be:

The Cardinals: they play in the NFC West and are going to get destroyed again next year. They made some improvements, but so did the Jets, and they lost to the Jets in a horribly ugly game last year.

The Raiders: even Raiders fans admit, its going to be a long rebuilding year

The Jaguars: see the Raiders

The Titans: as much as I like Jake Locker (Huskies!) he has done nothing at the NFL level to instill confidence and CJ2k is looking more like CJ2ypc lately.

The Browns: see the Titans. I have no reason to believe in Brandon Weeden, he didn't look good last year. The Ravens retooled, the Steelers added younger talent, and the Bengals are dangerous. The Browns have 5-6 guaranteed losses next year right there.

The Chiefs: sure, they got Alex Smith, but are they worth an immediate four additional wins? (2-14 vs the Jets/Bills at 6-10)

That's six teams that both the Jets and Bills are clearly better than, IMO. I'd put them in the same tier as the Lions/Chargers/Eagles as teams that should win between 6-9 games, depending on how the ball bounces next year. They're just slightly worse than the Dolphins/Colts/Panthers/Buccanneers, who'll probably win 7-10 games.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Kyle I obviously agree with you about the Raiders and Jaguars. I can see your point with the Cardinals because of their division. It is a tough one for them. The Titans are another team they are possibly better than. They are kind of a toss up to me. KC has a possibility to be second in their division. They can easily beat the Raiders and should at least be competitive with the Chargers. The Browns also have a tougher division, but Trent Richardson is a huge asset. QB for them is still shaky. However, the Jets and Bills are also in that same situation. The difference for me is that Cleveland has a standout in Richardson. The Jets and Bills don't really have anyone like that in my opinion. You've convinced me on Arizona, mostly because of their division and possibly the Titans. KC and Cleveland though, I think deserve to be ahead. A 24 spot is still a stretch for me. Especially since even if they were better than those 6 teams it would only put them at the 25 and 26 spot. I could see 27 and 28 though.

Andrew Liu

I agree with most of the rankings, but think the San Francisco 49ers should be ranked number one. Sure, it will be tough for the 49ers to return to the Super Bowl, but I think Colin Kapernick will only get better. With the addition of Anquan Boldin, the 49ers offense should be even stronger. The 49ers defense will remain among the best both in yards allowed per game and ponts allowed per game. It will be a close NFC West race between the 49ers and the Seahawks, but after looking at both teams schedules, I think the 49ers will finish ahead of the Seahawks. The 49ers play the Falcons, Colts, and Texans at home, while the Seahawks have to play these three teams on the road. The 49ers have a road game at Washington, while the Seahakws have a road game at Minnesota.

Here is my NFC WEst predictions for wins and loses
49ers 13-3
Seahawks 11-5
Rams 8-8
Cardinals 6-10

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Andrew Liu I see your point on road games. Especially considering the Seahawks only won two road games last season. The 49ers are also against weak teams on the road. (KC, Tennessee, Jacksonville, etc.) It's going to be a close race between the Seahawks and 49ers.

Ben Bagamery
Ben Bagamery
Senior Analyst

@Erryn Finck -- while the Seahawks won only three (regular season) road games last year, the schedule was partly responsible for this, as road games early in the season were tougher to win because of Wilson's learning curve. He didn't really seem to completely "get it" and be trusted by the coaches to sling it around until around week 8 or so. In effect, the last half of the season looked completely different from the first half, which is why Hawks fans are so excited.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Ben Bagamery I obviously agree with you or I wouldn't have ranked them number one. However, I still can't deny that the road games that the Hawks have this year are much tougher than the road games of the 49ers. I still think the Seahawks have the ability to come out on top, but their schedule will make it tougher. I still wouldn't take them out of the number one spot

Ben Bagamery
Ben Bagamery
Senior Analyst

@Erryn Finck: I'm much more worried about the 10am games than I am the simple fact that they're on the road. A West Coast team playing an East Coast early-game is at more of a disadvantage than any other team in any other situation. Something should really be done about it.

Arka Ray
Arka Ray
Senior Analyst

@Ben Bagamery that really is an issue that needs to be addressed, especially since it's statistically almost a certainty that time-zones affect the performance of teams, especially PST teams travelling to EST for 10 am / 1 pm games. In fact, this other article, besides presenting a ton of very cool and compelling data, shows that there is a good chance that the problem is with the PST -> EST difference only, and may not manifest itself if PST teams are playing an early game in CST / MT: http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/discomfort-zone-impact-travel-nfl-games/14372/ .

Therefore the scope of the problem is pretty limited, and shouldn't be too hard to address. At a time when parity is valued above all else by the league, this seems like it should be a priority to fix.

Matthew A. Perry

I don't think it's fair to rank the 49ers at #4 purely based on the fact that they made the Super Bowl last year. I think that making the Super Bowl is a major accomplishment, and I think that the 49ers have made the proper improvements to their roster to garner a #1 ranking going into the season.

While the Seahawks have also made some major improvements, and are a strong argument for a #1 pre-season ranking going into the season, I think you have to look at the fact that the 49ers did what the Seahawks could not do, and beat Atlanta in the Georgia Dome to advance to the Super Bowl. I understand that the Seahawks were without Clemons, but the Seahawks will also be without Clemons for the majority of this season. So, we can't really guarantee that Avril and Thompson(?) will have the same impact. I also believe that the 49ers have a stronger linebacking core. It will be interesting to see how the addition of those d-lineman do for the run defense of the Seahawks early on.

I loved the signing of Percy Harvin, and I am excited to see what he can do, but people must also realize that Percy Harvin has dealt with a lot of injuries throughout his career.

In short, I am saying that it is risky to make sweeping statements about the Seahawks as a pre-season #1 ranked team, because they have made a lot of new additions that will be expected to produce in large amounts to their NEW team/system, while the 49ers have made minor improvements to an already powerful core that can already be trusted to major contributions in their system. It also must be noted that the 49ers have improved upon their end of season mark in every year since Harbaugh has taken the reigns, which would equate to a Super Bowl championship in 2013-2014

Power Rankings:
#1 - 49ers
#2 - Seahawks
#3 - Broncos
#4 - Falcons
#5 - Patriots

Aaron Clark

I think the addition of Mike Wallace alone puts my Fins in the top 15, but I guess 19 is fair. The Cowboys did miss the playoffs last year, but are still VERY talented and if we are going on POWER rankings which includes talent and how good they are, especially in the off season, they should be higher. Cincinnati is WAY too high and I think 13 is a bit high for St. Louis as well, especially after losing Stephen Jackson.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Aaron Clark Mike Wallace hasn't proved much to me, other than he got paid a lot more than he's worth. They also lost Reggie Bush, which will hurt them. I wouldn't say Cincinnati is way too high. Look at their schedule. They have a few tough games in the beginning, but then Bills, Jets, Brown, Chargers, Lions, etc. They are going to win a lot of games this year. They also had a great draft and kept most of their key players. Not to mention, A.J. Green is a huge asset for them. Tony Romo is still a question mark for me. Some of his stats are great but the 19 interceptions last year worries me. They also have a huge gap at the safety position. I don't think their defense overall will stand up. As for St. Louis, that's a close call. It depends a lot on how Bradford performs and if Austin was really worth trading up for. They have potential to earn that 13 spot, but I could see your argument for why they might be a bit lower in the rankings.

Aaron Clark

@Erryn Finck I agree Bush is a key loss, but he isn't the conventional between the tackle running back that you need to have a consistent successful running game in the NFL. And if you do try to put him in that role, you run the risk of getting him injured.Yes he his electric and has big play potential and I think he would excel in certain packages or as a spell back as he did in New Orleans, but I guess we will see. I agree the Cowboys are so unpredictable especially on the defensive side but you can never count the out because they have a lot of talent. I agree A.J. Green is a great talent for Cincinnati and they do have a favorable schedule, but last year they lost to the Browns, Dolphins and Cowboys, all teams that failed to make the playoffs.

Matthew A. Perry

@Aaron Clark As a fellow Fins fan, I am excited to see them contend for a playoff spot this year. I loved the aggressive offensive signings throughout the offseason, and I was a major fan of them moving up to draft Dion Jordan.

I am most worried about our secondary, but we did draft 2 db's, so we will see how they pan out. I think our front-7 will be amongst the top front-7's in the league, and I am hoping that the pass rush will take some pressure off of our secondary.

I do think we overpaid Mike Wallace, but I we did not have a primary receiver last year, and I am confident that he can at least hold down the role of #1 option and deep threat for Ryan T. I think that we have a lot of potential to hit deep plays offensively, as Hartline is also a solid down the field receiver. While I am disappointed in the loss of Bess, I think that Brandon Gibson can do good things for us, and I am most excited about the signing of Dustin Keller to also help make-up for the loss of Davone's 'possession production'.

I think that the wild card race in the AFC will very exciting to watch this season, as there are pretty much clear favorites to take every division.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Aaron Clark Whether or not we agree on Bush's value the problem is that Miami doesn't have a strong running game, or much of a running game at all now. For Cincinnati, to be fair, those games were all early in the season with a rookie QB. If you look at the second half of the season they won most of their games and even beat SB champs the Ravens. Yes, they lost to Dallas, but by one point. I think they are going to do even better this year. You're right that the Cowboys have talent, and if Murray can stay healthy and Romo is consistent, they could be a lot better than their 21 ranking. However, that's a lot of ifs. I don't think they will have a great season, but you could be right about them.

Ben Bagamery
Ben Bagamery
Senior Analyst

@Matthew A. Perry: I like your thought process, but the Seahawks have picked up substantially more than just two pass rushers on defense. Avril and Bennett (one of the league's best pressure men) are two high-powered pass rushers, Antoine Winfield will be an excellent nickel corner to disrupt the run game and allow practically no run defense dropoff in the nickel package, and Clemons should be back by week 12 or so (projected) and rounding into form for the playoffs, which I feel would have swung the game in Atlanta in the Seahawks' favor.

Another wild card: The playoff game for the Seahawks was at 10am PST. This, to me, explains the extremely poor performance by the Hawks in the first half. Circadian rhythms are a very, very important thing. This should be addressed by the league and West Coast teams should not have to play at 10am PST in the playoffs, especially. There are only 4 true Pacific time-zone teams -- surely it wouldn't be difficult for the league to schedule games so they're not at such a huge disadvantage on the game's biggest stages. The 49ers game started at 12pm PST, a time proven to have a much smaller effect on the body's readiness.

Brett Remmel
Brett Remmel
Analyst

When it comes to NFL power rankings, everyone has their own opinions. Sure the Seattle Seahawks had a fantastic second half of the season last year, but will they their young squad be able to do it again? When examining NFL teams and rankings you must consider experience and the skill set of not only the players, but also the coaching staff. So here are my picks for the power rankings for the top 5 teams in the NFL:

#1 The San Francisco 49ers have taken the number 1 spot. With a coach like Jim Harbaugh and his elite staff, the 49ers have proven themselves as the best team in the NFL. They simply have it all. An explosive offense, led by Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, and the top ranked defense in the league led by Patrick Willis. Along with the acquisition of pro-bowl defensive back Nhamdi Asomugha and wide receiver Anquan Boldin, they look to take it all in the 2013-14 season.

#2 The Baltimore Ravens have shown us they are a power house team not to be reckoned with. Their young offense has finally matured into a freakishly athletic machine. Behind the agility and power of running back Ray Rice, and the hands of wide receiver Torrey Smith, the Ravens will once again be a team that will be feared all around the NFL.

#3 The Atlanta Falcons are team that we will being hearing a lot of for years to come. Wide receiver Julio Jones has is one of the best up and coming players in the NFL and will only continue to improve behind the guidance of superstar Roddy White. The Falcons have ditched long-time running back Michael Turner and have picked up the Rams Stephen Jackson, who will make an immediate impact on the ground game. Look for the Atlanta Falcons to be putting up huge numbers on the scoreboard with their brilliant offense.

#4 The New England Patriots have been described as a dynasty with the success of Quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. They continue to impress NFL fans every year with their consistent play. This year will be no exception, they may have lost Wes Welker but now is the perfect time to implement Julian Edelman as their new superstar receiver. Quick tip: Fantasy football fans look to draft Julian Edelman in the 6-7th round, he will not disappoint.

#5 The Green Bay Packers have Aaron Rodgers. To say it again, the Green Bay Packers have Aaron Rodgers. In the past two seasons the former MVP has thrown 86 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. The Packers may have struggled slightly last season, but once again they have Aaron Rodgers. Even though they have practically no run game, they have Aaron Rodgers.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Brett Remmel I can see putting Green Bay in the top 5 but the Ravens and at #2? I understand they won a Superbowl last year but Ray Lewis retired and they lost Boldin. They definitely aren't stronger and I don't think they were the strongest team last season. The Ravens even lost to Cincinnati, who granted have improved greatly but are by no means a powerhouse team. I think the Broncos are going to prove they are the better team in the season opener and deserve a top 5 spot more than the Ravens.

Jeremy Noel
Jeremy Noel
Columnist

the seahawks and niners can go 1-2 and it wont matter the order. these 2 teams match up perfectly against each other. i will say this whoever gets home field advantage in the playoffs will advance. don't expect a blowout loss by the niners in seattle again either. week 2 will be the hardest hitting game to set the tone for the rest of the season. @Erryn Finck i do agree with the whole top 5 you have, just different ordering is all.

Brett Remmel
Brett Remmel
Analyst

@Erryn Finck Firstly, are you single? Because I would marry you. Haha jokes aside, you make a good point. But the Bengals aren't a bad team at all. AJ Green is one of the top 3 receivers in the league. The Ravens did lose Boldin but they have Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones who are two probowl caliber players. I hear you on the Broncos being a top 5 team, after all they did finish 13-3 and won like 10 games in a row. Therefore, I retract my statement and will put the Broncos at #5 and the Packers at #6.

Erryn Finck
Erryn Finck
Senior Analyst

@Brett Remmel I really have to disagree with you on Jacoby Jones. A little over 400 yards and 1 TD does not add up to a pro bowl player for me. I can't put them above the Falcons with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. Both receivers have over 1,000 yards. Green Bay may have lost Jennings but Nelson, Cobb, and Jones with Aaron Rodgers is another team I'd put before the Ravens. I just don't see Torrey Smith as enough reason to constitute a #2 ranking. If all you needed was one great receiver Detroit or Houston would be in the top 5. For me, Torrey Smith is good, but i'm not sure I'd even put him in my top ten receivers.

Brett Remmel
Brett Remmel
Analyst

@Erryn Finck Torrey Smith is simply a piece of the puzzle. The Ravens are known for their superior defense and run game with Ray Rice being a top 3 RB in the league behind Foster and Peterson. The reason I have the Ravens at #2 is they did just WIN the Super Bowl.... They deserve some respect in that sense. It's not all about numbers and what looks good on paper.

Brett Remmel

btw I am a 49er fan and despise the Ravens... Not sure why I am defending them hahaha

Andrew Liu

@Ben Bagamery, I checked the Seahawks and they have 5 road games that start at 10:00 AM Pacific time, at Carolina, Houston, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and New York Giants. Except for Carolina, all these teams finished with a winning record last season. The 49ers only have two such road games, @ Tennesse and Tmapa Bay. So the schedule clearly favors the 49ers. Last year the Seahawks were 3-5 on the road, with four of those road loses to losing teams, Arizona, St Louis, Detroit, and Miami. Sure their loses were all by 8 pts or less, but the Seahawks could not win any of those games. They did beat the Chicago Bears 23-17 on the road in OT in Week 13, and that game started the Seahawks five game winnning streak. But the Seahakws have a tougher road schedule this year than they had last year. For these reasons, I predict the 49ers will finish ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC West.

But I agree that the NFL should have it to where the six Pacific and Mountain Time Zone teams do not have to play a game that starts at 1:00 PM ET. If these teams have to play in the central time zone or east coast, have the games start at 3:00 P.M. Central or 4:00 PM ET. That could improve the road records of the west teams and improve parity.

As for my top five, I would say

# 1 San Francisco 49ers
#2 Denver Broncos
#3 Seattle Seahawks
#4 Atlanta Falcons
#5 New England Patriots

Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell
Columnist

San Fran overperformed last year. Seattle Seahawks will never go deep in the playoffs but will always be there due to a weak schedule.

Atlanta should be 1 or 2 and look to see Peyton age like fine wine.

Ben Bagamery
Ben Bagamery
Senior Analyst

@Gene Mitchell: Why won't the Seahawks go deep? Playing 5 games on the road at 10am is a weak schedule?

Atlanta dropped two 17+-point leads at home -- I'll have to see some major improvement in their defense before they'll be more than about top-6.

Ps Projekt
Ps Projekt
Columnist

Saints are for higher and Atlanta are not for top 5. I believe in Seattle but they are not number 1. In my opinion number 1 are the SF 49ers.They are chasing the cup the last years and always something happens. The Packers have a tough schedule, The Giants ???(Do they know where they stand in the power rankings???)...I think this year will have a lot of surpris(z)es by the nu era of the league.

Dan Moberger
Dan Moberger
Senior Analyst

@Ben Bagamery, I think you're overplaying the importance of early games. These guys are professionals. If they can't get their pre-game ritual started a little early and get pumped up to play in those contests, they're not real competitors and should find another line of work.

Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell
Columnist

@Ben Bagamery, you judge the Atlanta Falcons on two games, one in which they won? They lost to a team that mounted one of the most impressive comebacks of all time in the Super Bowl. If the Ravens D couldn't keep them down, what makes you think anyone could have?

Alex Bell
Alex Bell
Senior Analyst

@Gene Mitchell I'm a little confused. How exactly did San Francisco over perform? They made it to the NFC Championship in 2011 and then to the Superbowl last season (the year after). Isn't moving forward what a team is supposed to do?

Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell
Columnist

@Alex Bell, aren't we missing a little detail in that 2011-12 progression? In 2011, Alex Smith, who was paid 5 million dollars that year, was the starting QB. In 2012, Alex Smith, who was slated to be paid almost 9.5 million, got injured and backup das wunderkid Kaepernick took over, who was paid 1.1 million, and took San Fran to the Superbowl. Usually, and I'm just guestimating here, when the starting quarterback goes down, the team usually does poorly despite how good the rest of the team does.

Now, if Kaepernick comes back and puts up the same numbers, goes back to the Superbowl, becomes the next Tom Brady, San Fran can look back and say 2012 was where it all started. IF, however, I am right then next year should not be as good as last and neither will the next couple of seasons.

That means we'll have to wait until next year to find out if I'm full of it or not.

Alex Bell
Alex Bell
Senior Analyst

@Gene Mitchell I understand where your coming from, but you have to consider the following. While Kaepernick's success was obviously greatly attributed to his physical abilities, you have to give credit to Jim Harbaugh. He would have pulled the starting QB and put in the backup for the rest of the season without good reason right? Guess your right and next season will tell, but I don't see the 49ers dropping off.

Additionally, by your logic was Seattle's performance a fluke? I mean they replaced their starter Matt Flynn (who was just given an $11.5 million contract) for unproven rookie Russell Wilson ( $3 million contract)?

Remember, football is a team sport.

Ben Bagamery
Ben Bagamery
Senior Analyst

@Dan Moberger it's not a matter of professionalism or getting "pumped up" -- it's an issue of circadian rhythms. Their bodies are adjusted to different time zones. There's been some research done on this and it all points to the East-coast teams having a noticeable and measurable advantage in early games. So, why not just eliminate them for West-coast teams?

Pierre LaBossiere
Pierre LaBossiere
Commentator

I would put the 49ers higher than No. 4. You could argue Seattle and San Francisco are the two scariest teams in the NFL. The 49ers replenished their defense this year with a ton of draft picks. They really focused on their offensive line. And they made a couple of big moves with for Boldin and Asomugha. Boldin will especially help with Crabtree out until at least midseason. They might have a Super Bowl loss letdown, like a lot of teams seem to. Kaepernick may have been a fluke and Frank Gore has a lot of mileage, but I don't see the letdown happening.

Seattle will be tough, but then again ... there is always the possibility of a "fluke" factor with Russell Wilson.

My only problem with the Broncos is they will probably win at least 11 games and win their division, but Peyton Manning is just a poor postseason quarterback -- 9-11 all-time in the postseason. That stat is getting hard to ignore.

Patriots? Who knows? They have had a lot of turmoil this season, but weirdly enough sometimes that helps teams win.