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Jul 31, 2014

NFL 2014 Pre Pre-Season Power Rankings

By on 10:10 AM

Football fever is my recurring illness, and I'm coming down with a bad case of it. With training camps underway, my illness will only continue to worsen. If you are like me, you need a steady diet of football information to get you to the kickoff of the NFL season in a little over a month.

So, for those of you that are equally ill as I, and simply must read someone's opinion of every NFL team before they break camp, here you go. These are my pre pre-season power rankings.

1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3) - Not much has changed from the team that destroyed the Denver Broncos for the championship in February. A few losses to the receiving corps (Tate, Rice) could be remedied by a full season of Percy Harvin. It is very difficult to repeat in today's NFL, but the Seahawks have a regular season home-field advantage that is unrivaled.  

2. Denver Broncos (13-3) - Despite being the top seed in the AFC last season, the Broncos may have one of the most improved defensive units in the league this season. Adding DE DeMarcus Ware, CB Aqib Talib, and S T.J. Ward as well as getting OLB Von Miller back should do be enough to see significant improvement on the defensive side. The offense may take a slight step back, but the Broncos are the class of NFC.

3. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) - The Niners will be missing a few players to start the season (NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith), but should have it rolling come playoff time. This was clearly the second-best team at the end of last season.

4. New Orleans Saints (11-5) - The Saints added a real franchise player through free agency in S Jairus Byrd. They also added one of the most dynamic playmakers on offense in the draft -- WR Brandin Cooks. Who Dat Nation has to be excited.

5. New England Patriots (12-4) - The Patriots have added secondary depth and drafted several defensive lineman, but who receives Brady passes if Gronk can't stay healthy? Belichick should get the best out of Revis.
6. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - The Colts had a difficult offseason with their owner being arrested, players being suspended (Mathis, Saunders, Brazill), and no first round pick. However, I have heard they have this guy named Luck that keeps getting better. Adding Hakeem Nicks and getting Reggie Wayne back helps, too.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) - Hopefully Andy Dalton hasn't peaked. This year, we will see as the calls for rookie QB A.J. McCarron will either be silenced or grow deafening. Losing DE Michael Johnson will hurt some.
8. Chicago Bears (8-8) - The Bears experienced more injuries on defense last year than any team in the league, and I love what they've done this offseason. Adding Jared Allen, along with the underrated Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, the Bears have the pieces to improve greatly. Their offense, which was second only to the Broncos in scoring last year, is still improving.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) - Adding RB Darren Sproles to an offense on the rise is scary; however, I still wonder if QB Nick Foles can actually improve without his favorite receiver, Desean Jackson.
10. Baltimore Ravens (8-8) - Winning it all in 2012, the Ravens had a season-long hangover. Adding Steve Smith opposite Torrey Smith will improve the passing game. C.J. Mosely could be the heir to Ray Lewis in the middle of the defense.
11. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) - While many are sold on the Packers this season, I remain skeptical. Their big addition, Julius Peppers, lost a step last season, and now he has to learn a new position at outside linebacker. Also, Aaron Rodgers keeps losing weapons on offense (James Jones, Finley). Hopefully Eddie Lacy avoids the sophomore RB slump trend.
12. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) - The Cardinals will have to fight for wins in their division as they did last year, but I don't see much improvement unless they upgrade at quarterback. Rookie QB Logan Thomas is nowhere near ready. This team may take a step back before moving forward.
13. Carolina Panthers (12-4) - After a season that sees significant winning improvement by a team, usually some sort of a drop-off is to be expected. The Panthers are a prime candidate for that with the questions surrounding DE Greg Hardy and the loss of WR Steve Smith. So tell me, who are their receivers now? 
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - Something about the Steelers is when you write them off, they have a bounce-back season. Losing Emmanuel Sanders hurts their offense, but they upgraded their defense through the draft. Ben Roethlisberger needs a new contract, too.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) - The Chiefs have to replace three starting offensive lineman with unproven players - two of whom were drafted in the 6th round. Not an easy task in an increasingly difficult division.
16. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) - Adding lineman to protect Matt Ryan was key, and that was done (Asamoah, Mathews). The talent is here to have a quick, bounce-back season. A healthy Julio Jones will help as well. This team should finish the season higher than I have them ranked.

17. San Diego Chargers (9-7) - Philip Rivers played phenomenal football last year, but that secondary was awful. If the rookie CB Jason Verrett can play well, then the Chargers can overtake the Chiefs in the division

18. St Louis Rams (7-9) - The Rams had quite a draft, taking the consensus top offensive tackle in Greg Robinson and the top defensive tackle in Aaron Donald. I loved both picks. This defensive unit is going to be nasty, and could wind up the best in football this season. Question is, will Sam Bradford stay healthy and finally deliver?

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) - If you're looking for a surprise team this year, look no further than the Bucs. Lovie Smith will get that defense playing very well with additions like DE Michael Johnson and CB Alterraun Verner. The offense boasts an improved O-line, a new QB in Josh McCown, and a new weapon in WR Mike Evans.

20. New York Jets (8-8) - Quarterback Geno Smith has been given some improved weapons with WR Eric Decker and rookie TE Jace Amaro. Any improvement or regression that Smith shows will be evident in the Jets' end record.

21. Detroit Lions (7-9) - The entire Lions team is undergoing significant changes to its offensive and defensive schemes, which will take some time for players to fully adjust. Improvements were made on offense (Golden Tate, Eric Ebron), but the defense lost some players (Willie Young, Louis Delmas). The secondary still needs help.

22. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - Losing DeMarcus Ware hurts when the Cowboys really don't have a replacement ready at DE. Perhaps Henry Melton softens the loss, but otherwise I don't see many areas of improvement. Maybe Dallas will perpetually be 8-8.

23. Miami Dolphins (8-8) - An overhauled offensive line will greatly help QB Ryan Tannehill, who is now a veteran. This year, he needs to take a huge step forward to help the Dolphins reach the playoffs. Very doable.

24. Tennessee Titans (7-9) - Rookie RB Bishop Sankey will be asked to do a lot for this football team. How well he and Jake Locker shoulder the offensive load will determine the Titans potential this season.

25. Houston Texans (2-14) - J.J. Watt has a new partner - Jadeveon Clowney. The duo that Houston boasts has scary potential, but who is playing quarterback? Ryan Fitzpatrick may start the year, but eventually there will be some growing pains with QB Tom Savage.

26. New York Giants (7-9) -  Losing Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph hurts, but adding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie helps. The Giants offensive line still doesn't look pretty, but maybe rookie Odell Beckham is the solution to their woes.

27. Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Losing LB Kiko Alonso for the season is a huge blow to the Bills. This offense should be fun to watch with the development of QB E.J. Manuel and his explosive receiver Sammy Watkins.

28. Washington Redskins (3-13) - Improvement is to be expected of Robert Griffin III this season with the addition of WR Desean Jackson. New head coach Jay Gruden has some potential to work with.

29. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1) - Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has the best running back in the game to open up passing lanes. He also has a solid team around him with some up-and-coming receivers. How quickly does he pick up the Norv Turner offense?

30. Cleveland Browns (4-12) - The headlines will be about Johnny Manziel, but this team could be solid. Brian Hoyer might start the season and has shown some promise. Losing Josh Gordon for the season due to suspension costs the Browns their best player.

31. Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Oh, the Raiders. This franchise seemingly always finds themselves drafting high every year with very little talent to show for it. The defense could be solid this year. Khalil Mack could become a star.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) - This season is about rookie QB Blake Bortles. He will play this year, and his development will be key. It sure would help if Justin Blackmon would stay out of the back seat of police cars.

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