NFL Nation: 2013 NFL Week 1 Power Rankings

Patriots 6th in Power Rankings

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
3:00
PM ET
The NFL regular-season opener is just two days away, and now that rosters have been trimmed to 53 players, ESPN.com's staff of seven voters has pulled together its final preseason Power Rankings.

The Patriots checked in near the top of list, settling in at sixth, behind just one other AFC team, the Broncos (fourth).

Writes the panel about the Patriots: "With Gronk's injury and Wes Welker gone, the Pats' offense rests on Tom Brady's chemistry with undrafted rookies Zach Sudfeld and Kenbrell Thompkins."

The duo of undrafted rookies emerged throughout the offseason, with Thompkins looking primed to play a top-three receiver role. Sudfeld, meanwhile, should see extensive playing time, particularly as Rob Gronkowski continues his rehabilitation.

As far as AFC East counterparts go, the Patriots are way out in front. The Dolphins sit 20th, while the Bills are 30th and the Jets pull up the rear at 32nd.

To see the full set of Power Rankings and read what the voters had to say about each team, CLICK HERE.
A weekly examination of the Packers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

ESPN’s panel of voters in the weekly Power Rankings see the Packers about how I do. In my preseason prediction, I wrote that this team has the look of one that can win the NFC North and win a playoff game or two but doesn’t appear to have enough pieces to get all the way to the Super Bowl.

The panel -- which is made up of ESPN colleagues John Clayton, Ashley Fox, Dan Graziano, Jamison Hensley, Mike Sando and Kevin Seifert -- would appear to agree. By placing the Packers fifth overall but fourth among NFC teams, the feeling is, at least at this point, that they are a notch below the Seattle Seahawks (No. 1 overall), Atlanta Falcons (No. 2) and San Francisco 49ers (No. 3). The Denver Broncos are the highest-ranking AFC team at fourth overall.

Of course, all of this is based on potential. No one has played a meaningful game in seven months.

NFL Power Rankings: Bengals stay No. 9

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
2:10
PM ET
ESPN released its Week 1 power rankings Tuesday afternoon. The Seattle Seahawks came in No. 1, while the New York Jets rounded out the list at No. 32. What do ESPN.com's six voters think about the Bengals entering the season opener? Read on to find out:

CINCINNATI BENGALS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 9

2012 record: 10-6

Those determining this week's power rankings still believe Cincinnati is a playoff-bound team, but they aren't quite sure if the Bengals have what it takes to be a next-level organization. To them, defending Super Bowl champ Baltimore does. As you are probably well aware, much higher expectations have framed a large portion of the chatter surrounding the Bengals this preseason. Perhaps buoyed by their appearance on HBO's "Hard Knocks," the Bengals have definitely been among this year's more trendy Super Bowl picks.

So why do the power rankings voters believe No. 9 is the perfect place for Cincinnati? They're unsure about the team's quarterback and his offensive line. They feel "Andy Dalton has to handle the blitz better to win in the AFC North." They also point out how Dalton was sacked a league-high 20 times when facing at least five rushers last season. It's also worth mentioning that Cincinnati was ranked ninth in the previous, post-draft power rankings.

A big win on the road at Chicago in Week 1 could change some of that insecurity about the Bengals. Even though the Bears have completely retooled their offensive line, the Bengals have to feel good about their chances of getting to Chicago QB Jay Cutler this weekend. If they can get relentless pressure, they may just set the tone for what could be a strong year in the Queen City.

AFC North rankings: Baltimore Ravens (No. 8), Cincinnati Bengals (No. 9), Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 16) and Cleveland Browns (No. 28).

Power Rankings: Bills No. 30

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
1:55
PM ET
It's that time of the year again.

ESPN.com's weekly NFL Power Rankings are out for Week 1, and at least in the eyes of our voters, the Bills have some proving to do.

Without any games having been played, the Buffalo Bills check in at No. 30.

Only the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets are considered worse at this point.

From this perspective, the ranking might be a little harsh. I could see the Bills as high as No. 27 or No. 28 (are the Jacksonville Jaguars really better?), but until Doug Marrone's new regime in Buffalo shows what they're made of, it's hard to rank the Bills any higher than that.

What do you think?

You can comment below, or try you hand at your ranking teams yourself with our Rank 'Em.

Power Rankings: No. 24 Chargers

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
1:35
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Chargers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Rank: 24

My range: 22-24

Comment: Can’t argue too much about this slot. Nationally, I don’t think much is expected from this team in transition. I think the Chargers are moving in the right direction as an organization, but there are question marks on this team, and that’s why their initial ranking is so low.
A weekly examination of the San Francisco 49ers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

What are the Week 1 Power Rankings all about?

Respect and expectations. And the 49ers head into the 2013 season with plenty of both. Can’t complain too much about being ranked No. 3 heading into a new season.

Yes, I’m sure 49ers are fans wringing their hands over not being ranked No. 1. And it has to be particularly wrenching to see San Francisco ranked below NFC West rival Seattle (ranked No. 1), and the team the 49ers beat in the NFC championship game, Atlanta, ranked No. 2.

I get it. Why are they ranked below two teams they finished better than last year? It’s a legitimate question. But perhaps the slight knock serves as motivation for Jim Harbaugh.

And, most importantly, remember this -- I do not have a vote. I’m just messenger on this one.

Power Rankings: Jets dead last

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
1:14
PM ET
The Jets stink.

That's pretty much the feeling of an ESPN panel of voters, which ranked the Jets at the bottom of the league in ESPN's Week 1 Power Rankings. That means they're worse than the Raiders, worse than the Jaguars, worse than the Browns.

Worse than everybody.

I guess the panel didn't buy into the Jets' 3-1 preseason.

Is the panel right about the Jets? I'd say they're a bottom-eight team, for sure. It's hard to say a team is the worst of the worst, but the Jets are starting a rookie quarterback who didn't play well in the preseason ... their best playmaker is coming off a major injury ... they have seven new starters on defense ... and so on.

Look at the bright spot: Anything they accomplish will be considered overachieving.

Power Rankings: No. 15 St. Louis Rams

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
1:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Rams’ spot in the ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Whether you choose to look at them as the first power rankings of the new season or the last of the offseason, we'll have far more evidence to go on next week at this time, after actual games have been played. For now, the Rams check in at No. 15 on the weekly ESPN Power Rankings.

Considering the Rams finished last year 7-8-1 and were right at No. 16 in the NFL draft order, the small bump up to No. 15 feels about right going into the season. The Rams still have plenty to prove, and how high they can move this year will largely be centered on the performance of quarterback Sam Bradford and a new-look offense.

In looking around the rankings, it's obvious to see why many believe it will be a tough road for the Rams this year. NFC West division foes Seattle and San Francisco are Nos. 1 and 3, respectively, in the first edition of the rankings. That makes the opener this week against Arizona (No. 26) all the more important. Taking care of business at home against a team expected to finish below the Rams in the standings is imperative.

NFL Power Rankings: Buccaneers No. 22

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
1:00
PM ET
As we get ready for the start of the regular season, the ESPN.com Power Rankings are out and they have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked No. 22.

Maybe the panelists are putting some stock into Tampa Bay’s lackluster preseason, but I think they’re taking the Bucs too lightly. Detroit, Miami and Kansas City are the teams immediately ahead of Tampa Bay and I think the Bucs are better than those three teams.

In fact, I think the Bucs are going to be better than a lot of people expect. In our season predictions, I had Tampa Bay at 9-7 and just missing the playoffs.

I think the Bucs belong somewhere in the mid-teens.

Power Rankings: Falcons at No. 2

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
1:00
PM ET
Despite getting more first-place votes than any other team, the Atlanta Falcons wound up No. 2 in the latest installment of ESPN.com’s Power Rankings.

The Seattle Seahawks are No. 1. The Falcons got three first-place votes, but were dragged down by Mike Sando, who had them at No. 5, and John Clayton, who had them at No. 4.

I don’t have a vote in the Power Rankings. However, in case you missed it, I predicted the Falcons will go 11-5 in the regular season and then go on to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history.

NFL Power Rankings: Browns at No. 28

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
12:45
PM ET
ESPN unveiled its NFL Power Rankings for Week 1, and I'm once again one of the six voters. The No. 1 team is the Seattle Seahawks, and the No. 32 team is the New York Jets. Here's where the Cleveland Browns start the season:

CLEVELAND BROWNS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 28

My ranking: No. 28

2012 record: 5-11

ESPN Stats & Information: Brandon Weeden had the fifth-worst Total QBR on throws at least 15 yards downfield last year, but new offensive coordinator Norv Turner isn't shy about throwing deep.

My comment: The Browns are going to be improved from last year, but it's going to be difficult to show it, especially with a tough stretch to open the season. After playing the Miami Dolphins at home, the Browns face three playoff teams from a year ago: at Baltimore, at Minnesota and home against Cincinnati. This No. 28 ranking is a little better than last year's, when the Browns were the No. 31 team heading into Week 1.

AFC North rankings: Baltimore Ravens (No. 8), Cincinnati Bengals (No. 9), Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 16) and Cleveland Browns (No. 28).
The Titans don’t garner a lot of high expectations right now from analysts, pundits or bookmakers.

And, frankly, they shouldn’t.

The team added a lot. But it still has an unproven quarterback, a defense lacking star power and a head coach who is not a sure thing.

So Tennessee’s standing in the first version of this season’s NFL Power Rankings is an unsurprising 27th, same as it was after the draft.


I’m not high on this team at this stage because of the reasons above and because of the schedule.

But I think head to head on a neutral field against the five teams just ahead of them, they’d probably win two or three: The Buccaneers are 22nd, the Panthers are 23rd, the Chargers are 24th, the Eagles are 25th and the Cardinals are 26th.

The Titans will get head-to-head chances against San Diego and Arizona.

Power Rankings: No. 12 New York Giants

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
12:30
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Giants' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

The New York Giants come in at No. 12 in our initial Power Rankings of 2013. They tied, actually, for 11th with the Indianapolis Colts but lost the tiebreaker because the Colts had the better record last season.

I voted the Giants No. 11, one behind the Dallas Cowboys, whom I apparently like a lot better than the rest of the panel does. (We'll see on that one. They have burned me before.) The voter who's highest on the Giants is Kevin Seifert, who ranked them 10th to start the season. Jamison Hensley and Ashley Fox each ranked them 14th, which was the lowest.

Pretty much fair enough, right? The Giants were 9-7 last season and did little to ostensibly improve, yet no one fears too low a floor with this team because it's always a contender. So if they show us reason to move them up, I imagine we will. But benefit of the doubt keeps them on the fringes of the top 10 at the beginning of the season. In the most unpredictable of leagues, "Giants probably won't stink" feels like a rare thing on which you can count.

NFL Power Rankings: Ravens at No. 8

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
12:30
PM ET
ESPN unveiled its NFL Power Rankings for Week 1, and I'm once again one of the six voters. The No. 1 team is the Seattle Seahawks, and the No. 32 team is the New York Jets. Here's where the Baltimore Ravens start the season:

BALTIMORE RAVENS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 8

My ranking: No. 5

2012 record: 10-6

ESPN Stats & Information: Baltimore lost six Super Bowl starters and Paul Kruger on defense, but quietly reloaded. A defensive draft, plus Elvis Dumervil and Daryl Smith, will keep the Ravens' D formidable.

My comment: The defending Super Bowl champions come in a little lower than I project them. I have the Ravens at No. 5, which is higher than any other voter (cue the "homer" chant). At No. 8 on the Power Rankings, the Ravens are the No. 4 team in the AFC, trailing the Denver Broncos (No. 4 overall), New England Patriots (No. 6) and Houston Texans (No. 7).

AFC North rankings: Ravens (No. 8), Cincinnati Bengals (No. 9), Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 16) and Cleveland Browns (No. 28).

SPONSORED HEADLINES