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NFL Power Rankings – Offseason Edition

July is the worst month on the sports calendar, but football is less than two months away. With the NFL Draft, the majority of free agency, and Deflategate behind us, let’s take a look at where each team stands through mid-July.

1. Carolina Panthers (2015 Final Ranking: 2)

While the Carolina Panthers may not be the best team, it’s tough to put another team here right now. They have one of the best defenses, and Cam Newton wasn’t suspended for four games for deflating footballs.

2. New England Patriots (2015 Final Ranking: 3)

Until Tom Brady and/or Bill Belichick decide to leave New England, they are going to be one of the two or three favorites in the AFC. If they can go 3-1 in their first four game without Brady, watch out. It’s Jimmy G time.

3. Green Bay Packers (2015 Final Ranking: 11)

Jordy Nelson is coming back, and that is the best news any Green Bay Packers fan could have gotten. Aaron Rodgers is poised to win another NFL MVP this season. Bring out the Crying Jordan’s on Jordan Rodgers’ face.

4. Seattle Seahawks (2015 Final Ranking: 7)

Usually not having a first round draft choice for four years can be troubling for a team, but Jarran Reed was a nice consolation prize. Thomas Rawls should be ready for the regular season after Marshawn Lynch hung up his cleats. Look for Russell Wilson to take the next step as an elite quarterback this upcoming season with a better offensive line, and his marriage to Ciara.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (2015 Final Ranking: 10)

A team with a top five QB, RB, and WR always has a chance to make some serious noise. If Pittsburgh can finally stay healthy going into the playoffs and the young defense keeps improving, this team could very well be bringing home their 7th Lombardi Trophy.

6. Arizona Cardinals (2015 Final Ranking: 1)

Don’t be fooled by a five-spot drop in the rankings (the last time the rankings came out, they were coming off a 40-point victory over GB). This team has a very real shot at winning the Super Bowl this year. Both the offense and defense can easily finish in the top five. If you haven’t watched Amazon Video and NFL Films’ “All or Nothing” about the Cardinals’ 2015 season, you should get on that.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (2015 Final Ranking: 4)

We all know that the Bengals have one of the best rosters in the NFL; the question is whether or not they can win a playoff game. This team should make the playoffs quite easily, but the loss of Hue Jackson will hurt the offense.

8. Kansas City Chiefs (2015 Final Ranking: 5)

The Chiefs’ season ended in New England after winning 11 straight games in the regular season and playoffs. The return of Jamaal Charles will help this offense, and hopefully #25 can play all 16 games this season.

9. Minnesota Vikings (2015 Final Ranking: 8)

In two years, the Vikings will likely have built the next great defensive unit in the NFL. The question over the next season or two will be if this young team can take the next steps while Adrian Peterson is still playing at an elite level. Will the loss to Seattle in the playoffs haunt them? Only time will tell.

10. Denver Broncos (2015 Final Ranking: 9)

Rarely do Super Bowl winning teams come back with a completely different roster (the 2012 Ravens are the only team I can think of in recent memory). However, this Broncos team will look very different from the team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy at the end of last season. Don’t expect them to win a second straight Super Bowl.

11. Houston Texans (2015 Final Ranking: 13)

DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt lead an interesting, well-balanced roster heading into 2016. Brock Osweiler won’t live up to his contract, but Lamar Miller could be very good for the Texans.

12. New York Jets (2015 Final Ranking: 6)

Ryan Fitzpatrick still hasn’t re-signed with the Jets, but his return would solidify the Jets as a playoff team.

13. Oakland Raiders (2015 Final Ranking: 16)

The most popular new playoff pick is the Oakland Raiders. Adding Bruce Irvin, Kelechi Osemele, Sean Smith, Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph, and Shilique Calhoun this offseason, Oakland could win anywhere from 6-11 games next season.

14. Indianapolis Colts (2015 Final Ranking: 17)

The return of Andrew Luck to full health should make for an intriguing season in Indy. However, this team still just has a lot of holes to fix. The defense is pretty shaky, and this offensive line is still a weakness.

15. Baltimore Ravens (2015 Final Ranking: 27)

No team had more devastating injuries than the Ravens last year. The return of Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, and others will help this team significantly.

16. Atlanta Falcons (2015 Final Ranking: 14)

The Falcons were one of the Cinderella stories when they started the season 5-0. However, it was obvious they were overachieving and they were one of the main candidates for a second half let down. Let’s see how Dan Quinn bounces back in his second year as a head coach.

17. Buffalo Bills (2015 Final Ranking: 15) 

The Bills have the longest playoff drought in the NFL. Will Rob Ryan help brother Rex finally see the postseason?

18. Washington Redskins (2015 Final Ranking: 12)

Kirk Cousins led the NFL in completion percentage in 2015, and got paid because of it. The addition of Josh Norman to a team that already is built to win in the trenches could be an intriguing story in 2016.

19. Dallas Cowboys (2015 Final Ranking: 29)

The questions with the Cowboys revolve around health. We know this team could be a contender if everyone stays healthy. Dallas has the best offensive line in the NFL, but there are reasons to be concerned about the team’s defense.

20. New York Giants (2015 Final Ranking: 20)

While the Giants went out and tried to make splash free agent signings, it may not really matter. This team lacks a lot of depth, and just one or two injuries could completely destroy their season.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (2015 Final Ranking: 25)

This offense was stellar last year and will only get better with age. On defense, the Jaguars added Malik Jackson, Prince Amukamara, Tashaun Gipson, Myles Jack, and Jalen Ramsey. In two years, they could be Super Bowl contenders.

22. Los Angeles Rams (2015 Final Ranking: 18)

Jared Goff leads the Rams into Los Angeles for the first time since 1994. The re-signing of Trumaine Johnson will be one of the bigger moves of the NFC offseason.

23.  Philadelphia Eagles (2015 Final Ranking: 19)

Like the Rams, the Eagles also feature an elite quarterback prospect in Carson Wentz. The addition of Jim Schwartz is underrated, but the roster was gutted this offseason.

24. Detroit Lions (2015 Final Ranking: 21)

The retirement of Calvin Johnson will hurt this team a lot. They already had one of the five worst offensive lines in football. Now Matthew Stafford has Marvin Jones and Andre Roberts to throw to instead!

25. Miami Dolphins (2015 Final Ranking: 26)

Bold prediction: Adam Gase will change Ryan Tannehill’s career for the better. Gase, as we saw in Chicago last year, has a way with quarterbacks. If Tannehill can turn his career around, the rest of the roster will look a lot better all of a sudden.

26. New Orleans Saints (2015 Final Ranking: 24)

The Saints made some good signings in Nick Fairley, James Laurinaitis, and Roman Harper, but they didn’t do enough to rebuild their secondary. The combo of Fairley and first rounder Sheldon Rankins could create a dominate DT pairing up front.

27. Chicago Bears (2015 Final Ranking: 22)

The Bears are in NFL Purgatory. They have a team that can win 6-7 games, but their roster isn’t good enough to turn into a Super Bowl team without a big rebuild. Getting rid of Jay Cutler would be a good start.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2015 Final Ranking: 23)

The Buccaneers are probably a year away from making a breakthrough of sorts. This team made smart signings and hirings this offseason, especially with Mike Smith as the new defensive coordinator.

29. Tennessee Titans (2015 Final Ranking: 32)

The Titans are starting the grow their roster, and, in turn, develop an identity. The additions of running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry give this team a dangerous trio of runners when combined with Marcus Mariota.

30. San Diego Chargers (2015 Final Ranking: 28)

The Chargers are led by a really good quarterback in Philip Rivers. Unfortunately, the trenches of this team need to be completely revamped. Their drafting of Melvin Gordon will go to waste if they can’t find offensive linemen to block for MGIII.

31. San Francisco 49ers (2015 Final Ranking: 31)

Rumor has it that Blaine Gabbert will start more games than Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Who would have imagined that when the 49ers had two quarterbacks just a couple of years ago, they would sit here going into 2016 without a viable starter?

32. Cleveland Browns (2015 Final Ranking: 30)

While the Browns have a handful of talented pieces in Joe Haden, Joe Thomas, Cam Erving, and Gary Barnidge, this team has no depth of talent. This team, like Oakland and Jacksonville have done, will need to start planning a long term rebuild.

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