No Sleep Till Football

Like Brooklyn Except It's Football

NFL POWER 15 – PRESEASON 2014

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 It’s difficult to have any other team in the #1 spot given how the Seahawks decimated the Broncos in last year’s Super Bowl. For the most part, Seattle brings back the same team offensively but they are hoping that Percy Harvin can have a healthy year in 2014. Harvin & Tate on the edge makes the offense that much more lethal especially now with Russell Wilson having the confidence of a Super Bowl winning QB. Seattle didn’t lose too much on defense either. DE Chris Clemons is gone but Cliff Avril should step into that role nicely. The big question regarding Seattle will be their ability to not be complacent. They are the obvious hunted going into 2014.
#2 I don’t know how you reset as a team after going 13-3 & making it to the Super Bowl but you have to give credit to the Broncos knowing that as long as Peyton Manning is playing like the greatest QB in history, the window of opportunity is still open. If there is one person with that laser like focus to put the past behind him, it’s #18. Denver could actually be better on offense replacing Eric Decker with Emmanuel Sanders & Cody Latimer. Scary. Defensively the Broncos went all in picking up LB Nate Irving, S TJ Ward, DE DeMarcus Ware & CB Aqib Talib. Denver also gets back healthy versions of Von Miller & Ryan Clady. This is one helluva football team.
#3 At this point it’s almost getting hard to get a read on the Patriots. The AFC East is terrible so padding their resumes with 6 wins is virtually meaningless although I suppose the Jets & Dolphins are decent. I think Belichick’s complete revision of the New England defense has been remarkable from his Super Bowl winning teams. The Patriots are young & very talented on defense. I love Chandler Jones & Dont’a Hightower on that side of the football. A big part of New England’s success is Rob Gronkowski who is coming back from injury this season. The Patriots are working him slowly but if he’s 100% it’s hard to see the Patriots losing more than 3-4 games.
#4 Something happened last year that should trouble EVERY other NFL team in the league. New Orleans picked up DC Rob Ryan who then made the Saints into a top-5 defense. With the kind of offensive firepower Drew Brees creates at QB, the last thing teams need is New Orleans having a defense. The other is that the Saints went on the road to Philadelphia and got a playoff win! That’s confidence. Mark Ingram is looks much improved & it almost seems unfair to think the Saints added rookie WR Brandin Cooks to that receiving corps. If the Saints get homefield advantage during the playoffs, you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll win the NFC.
#5 I almost feel bad putting San Francisco down here but they start the season with quite a bit of off-the-field turmoil surrounding Aldon Smith. Don’t forget too that ILB NaVorro Bowman is going to miss time this season recovering from a knee injury he suffered in last year’s NFC Championship game. The offense should actually be better with a healthy Michael Crabtree returning but defensively the 49ers have taken some lumps. SF will have to replace both corners & they lose Donte Whitner. Luckily Whitner is being replaced by Antoine Bethea, but there are certainly some questions surrounding the 49ers ability to be as dominant on D as they have been.
#6 Losing to the Saints in the 1st round of the playoff probably stings a little bit, but everybody was picking Philadelphia to finish last in the NFC East last season & they did all this with a first year starting QB! Offensively Chad Kelly added a few weapons in signing RB Darren Sproles & drafting WRs Josh Huff & Jordan Matthews. It will be almost impossible to replace DeSean Jackson’s numbers but if Jeremy Maclin comes close, the Eagles offense will soar. Philly’s defense returns virtually intact & should improve under DC Bill Davis as this will be their 2nd year under him. The Eagles should have no problem running over a very mediocre NFC East in 2014.
#7 It certainly helps when Aaron Rodgers is healthy. Last season Rodgers started just 9 games & the Packers were 6-3 with him as a starter. That equates to an 11-win team which isn’t fantastic but it’s 3 wins better than where Green Bay ended 2013. Eddie Lacy is a revelation & as long as Rodgers stays healthy, the offense will put points on the board. Defensively I think newly acquired OLB Julius Peppers has a chance to shine especially with Clay Matthews on the other end, but Green Bay was dealt a MASSIVE blow when DT BJ Raji got hurt & is now out for the season! Green Bay is breaking in a completely new DL from last season. That’s ominous.
#8 I’m keeping the Panthers relatively high although they took MAJOR losses on offense. About the only players similar are QB Cam Newton, RB DeAngelo Williams & TE Greg Olsen! Losing LT Jordan Gross is a major blow & brings into question just how effective Carolina will be offensively with so much turnover. Then again, Carolina won last year with defense as the offense was a tick below average in PPG. The defensive front-7 returns intact meaning opposing offenses will have their hands full. Carolina does take on some losses in the secondary, but I don’t see that being an issue. The NFC South is brutal if Atlanta returns to form, but I like the Panthers.
#9 The Steelers got off to a brutal start last season but finished 6-2 in their final 8 games & barely missed going to the playoffs. Pittsburgh comes back virtually intact offensively except they are hoping that Lance Moore & Markus Wheaton can replicate Emmanuel Sanders’ production. All jokes aside, I think Pittsburgh is really onto something with LeVeon Bell & LeGarrette Blount at RB. That’s a great duo. Defensively the Steelers drafted DE Stephon Tuitt & LB Ryan Shazier. Both guys should have immediate impact. Ryan Clark & William Gay are gone from the secondary but that’s not too bad. Expect good things because I don’t think they start 2-6 again!
#10 The Bengals are one of the more interesting teams in the NFL because at a certain point they need to take a step forward or else they’ll just keep getting older but stay the same. The team is virtually identical to last year’s group although I think we need to give more credence to the defense having a healthy Geno Atkins back. What hurts too is that Cincy lost both of their coordinators in OC Jay Gruden & DC Mike Zimmer. Gruden is the HC of the Redskins while Zimmer is the HC of the Vikings. They still haven’t won a playoff game with Andy Dalton at QB although at least Dalton gets you to the playoffs. Something seems amiss here in 2014.
#11 The Colts almost have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to weapons for QB Andrew Luck to use, but the Colts are going to need more out of their running game if they are going to be as well rounded as they need to be. It was very disappointing to see Vick Ballard get hurt yet again meaning Trent Richardson needs to live up to his draft hype. Defensively the Colts made some changes bringing in DT Arthur Jones, LB D’Qwell Jackson & LB Jerrell Freeman. Indianapolis should be a lot better against the run this year which is something they lacked a year ago. The AFC South is pathetic so the Colts should walk away with another division crown.
#12 The Bears were 2nd in the NFL last season in points scored & the scary part is that they could be even better now that they are entering HC Marc Trestman’s second season. It’s amazing just how explosive the Bears could be with Cutler, Marshall, Jeffery, & Forte. Chicago’s big problem has been on defense & the Bears addressed those issues. Jared Allen & Lamarr Houston take over the DE positions while Jay Ratliff comes in to play DT. It’s a complete revamped & much better DL. The LBs should be better too with a healthy DJ Williams & Lance Briggs. Chicago also brings in 2 safeties. If the defense can be just league average the Bears will be incredible.
#13 The Ravens will have to suffer through a couple of games without Ray Rice, but you start to wonder if Joe Flacco isn’t an issue at QB. He’s got a Super Bowl ring so he’s entrenched as a Super Bowl winning QB, but he hasn’t completed over 60% of his passes in the last 3 years & during that time he’s thrown 61TD to 44INT while completing 58.7% of his passes. In that same time period Andy Dalton has completed 60.9% of his passes with 80TD to 49INT. I guess the difference is that Flacco has won a championship, but how can anyone think Dalton right now is better than Flacco? I also like Flacco’s weapons so a lot of this is on him. It’s very odd I think.
#14 The best team not to make the playoffs last season, the Cardinals have some significant issues they have to deal with that won’t make things easy in a brutal NFC West division. Offensively Arizona brings back a ton at the skill position but the O-Line is for the most part rebuilt. Carson Palmer is a shaky QB at best but under pressure his INT numbers could skyrocket & they are already high! Defensively the Cardinals have to deal with the loss of Karlos Dansby, Darnell Dockett & Daryl Washington. There are still some incredible pieces in place for the Cardinals, but you are taking 3 huge cogs out of the machine. They’ll feel some reverberations.
#15 I’m not sure that if you told me I could have any HC in the NFL to start a new team with, I wouldn’t take Mike McCoy. Of course Bill Belichick is the obvious answer but McCoy has to be up there. RB Ryan Mathews really came into his own last year & Keenan Allen was a beast! QB Philip Rivers had the best year of his career & the offense comes back almost intact. They could get better in McCoy’s 2nd season! Defensively there is no place to go but up as the Chargers defense was atrocious. Unfortunately SD brings back the same defense. Maybe they’ll get better because SD is a lot like Chicago in that they need better D to compliment a potent O.
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September 3, 2014 - Posted by | Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFL Power 15, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Power 15, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks

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