The 2015 NFL season is finally here on Thursday night, when Tom Brady lifts one finger on each hand and prepares to do to the Pittsburgh Steelers what he probably would love to do to Roger Goodell. That’s the plan, at least. But sometimes things don’t go according to plan and this is the NFL, so we rarely truly know what to expect.
We have an idea of who the best and worst teams are, but that can all change, while those pesky middling teams are the ones we really have to worry about. But there’s a starting point for everyone, and for us, that’s the week one NFL Power Rankings. Like Ricky Bobby says, if you’re not first, you’re last. Let’s get to it:
1. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks should once again be on top of the NFL. They added Jimmy Graham, retained Marshawn Lynch, and still have the NFL’s top ranked defense.
2. Green Bay Packers
The loss of Jordy Nelson doesn’t hurt the Packers very much in my opinion. I suspect they will rely a little more on the run game, and Aaron Rodgers could win 10+ games with a pile of undrafted wide receivers.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Frank Gore and Andre Johnson have been anomalies for being able to stay productive in their 30’s. I think they continue to produce, and Andrew Luck leads the Colts to an AFC title.
4. New England Patriots
Getting Brady back for the first four weeks makes the Patriots a top contender. Without Brady they would be mostly terrible, but as long as they have him the Patriots are contenders.
5. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning and Gary Kubiak is a winning combination. We all saw what Kubiak did with Justin Forsett last year, seeing what he can do with C.J. Anderson will be one of the stories to follow this season.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell are the best QB-WR-RB combo in the NFL. Even though Bell is out the first couple of weeks I think it will be a big challenge to defend the dynamic Steelers offence.
7. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are an offensive powerhouse, playing in the easiest defensive division in the NFL. The Cowboys should take at least four games in the NFC East, and will always be a tough team to compete against.
8. Arizona Cardinals
A potent defense and a returning Carson Palmer make for an interesting Cardinals team in 2015. The Cards were on top of the NFC West with the Seahawks until Palmer’s injury occurred.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
The most interesting team in the NFL added a whole new arsenal of dynamic offensive players. However, if Chip Kelly fails to get it done this year it will certainly be an interesting job for whoever replaces him.
10. Miami Dolphins
What I call the most underrated receiving corps in the NFL, also has one of the NFL’s best defenses. That, with a growing Ryan Tannehill, makes for the most promising season the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino was in town.
11. Detroit Lions
Megatron returning, DeAndre Levy locked down long term, and a dynamic rookie running game make the Lions a well rounded team. The loss of Ndamukong Suh hurts obviously, but the Lions are an offensive team at the end of the day.
12. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are a team that is going to win by having an upper-middle-level defense and offense. They are well rounded, and good everywhere, but not great anywhere. I believe this will hurt them when they play against really good teams.
13. Kansas City Chiefs
The addition of Jeremy Maclin makes the underrated Chiefs offense a little better. As always the Chiefs also have a strong defense. The return of safety Eric Berry will be the storyline to watch on the Chiefs this year.
14. Cincinnati Bengals
If Andy Dalton can play football a little bit the Bengals should be right around good enough for a wild card berth. If Dalton can play really well than the Bengals could leap to the top of the division. But that’s not something I’d be willing to gamble on.
15. San Diego Chargers
As long as Phillip Rivers is in San Diego the Chargers will be a threat. They will have to compete with the Chiefs and the Broncos if they want to win the division, but they’ll at least be in the mix. Whether or not rookie rusher Melvin Gordon can adapt on the fly will be key.
16. Buffalo Bills
This is a team with a ton of potential but I believe they are trying to force to many playmakers into an offensive system that won’t know how to use them properly. Their defense is still top notch, which is why they are ranked 16th.
17. New York Giants
A returning Victor Cruz and the inclusion of Shane Vereen to the offense should make for some exciting football out of the Giants. Unfortunately for the Giants, the Eagles and Cowboys are going to be tough to beat out to win the division.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Teddy Bridgewater looked great towards the end of last season. Now Adrian Peterson is back, and the Vikings acquired Mike Wallace in advance of this season. They certainly have a lot of offensive potential.
19. Houston Texans
J.J. Watt and a finally healthy Jadeveon Clowney will be a ton of fun to watch, unless you are an NFL team that is about to play against Houston. If Arian Foster could stay healthy they’d be ranked a lot higher. If they had a really good quarterback they could be top 10 potentially.
20. New Orleans Saints
The lowest I’ve ranked the Saints since Drew Brees has been in town is this year. Obviously with Brees they could finish in the top 10 just off of his play, but he has been a little inconsistent the last couple of years, trying to do too much for his team. The loss of Jimmy Graham will be a tough pill to swallow.
21. St. Louis Rams
One of the NFL’s premier defenses for sure. Their offense has a ton of question marks though. If Nick Foles can return to his 27 touchdown to 2 interception form from a couple of seasons ago the Rams could easily get hot and jump up the rankings.
22. Carolina Panthers
The loss of Kelvin Benjamin really hurts the Panthers. Of course they still have a strong defense, but when your only offensive weapon is a quarterback it is tough to win a lot of games.
23. San Francisco 49ers
This team has fallen from grace more than any other over the last two years. The coaching and quarterback play both greatly concern me. Especially in the division they play in.
24. Atlanta Falcons
No defense, but Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White will be trouble for a lot of NFL defenses. The Falcons play in probably the weakest division in football, so I wouldn’t count them out yet.
25. New York Jets
When Geno Smith returns I really think the Jets could put together a strong late season run. However that won’t be for several weeks, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has been on every single NFL team over the last three years (slight exaggeration), which to me means that there is something wrong with him.
26. Chicago Bears
People are overlooking Jay Cutler a little bit. I believe he is still a franchise quarterback, and with Forte, Jefferrey, and Bennett on the team the Bears could certainly get hot. But they play in a strong division and really lack defense.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston is in a better situation to start the year than Marcus Mariota, as he has Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans to throw the ball to. I feel like those two are as dynamic as the former Bears duo of Marshall and Jeffferey. This will help his NFL transition greatly.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Very underrated defense, and serious offensive potential are the storylines for the Jag’s coming into this season. If quarterback Blake Bortles can take a step forward this year it could be a decent upward trending season for the Jag’s.
29. Oakland Raiders
Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper make the Raiders a team to be reckoned with this year. Like Bortles, if Derek Carr can take a step forward this year the Raiders could also have a really nice upward trending season.
30. Cleveland Browns
With Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel as the Browns quarterback options I can’t trust the Browns. Also, the Browns have the ugliest receiving corps the NFL has seen in at least a decade.
31. Tennessee Titans
It’ll be tough for the Titans this year. They certainly have potential on offense, but the defense is not looking good. It might be a long year for Marcus Mariota.
32. Washington Redskins
The worst looking team in the NFL. The Redskins have some offensive weapons, but with a horrific quarterback situation, no defense, and playing in a division with ridiculous offensive fire power, it’ll be tough for the Redskins to win games.