NFL Nation: 2013 Week 1 NFL Power Rankings

ESPN’s latest NFL Power Rankings came out Tuesday and the Chiefs are 19th. Hard to argue with that placement at this point. Every team ranked above them won at least five more games than the Chiefs in 2012.

I have the Chiefs finishing 8-8, which might eventually put them a few spots higher than 19. But right now the Chiefs have so many unknowns that 19 is probably about right.

The good news for fans is that the Chiefs’ schedule is filled with opponents ranked below 19. The Chiefs have nine games against teams now ranked 24th and below. Included is Sunday’s regular-season opener in Jacksonville against the Jaguars, who are ranked 29th.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, have just three games against teams ranked in the top nine.
A weekly examination of the Raiders’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Rank: 31

My range: 30-32.

Comment: OK, it’s never fun to start the season with such low expectations. I get it. But the reality is this is where the Raiders belong for now. This is not to say Oakland can’t grow as the season goes along with Terrelle Pryor as the quarterback. But for now, the Raiders should be ranked this low because of their inexperience and holes at several key spots. But, again, the arrow could always point up.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Based on ESPN's fresh-off-the press Power Rankings the Carolina Panthers need not show up for Sunday's opener against Seattle.

Twenty-third versus No. 1 spells major mismatch, right?

Stay tuned.

As for the Power Rankings, 23rd is close to where the Panthers should be based on last season's 7-9 record, the loss of running back Jonathan Stewart (PUP, ankle) for at least five games, a questionable offensive line and a young secondary.

Quarterback Cam Newton's leadership keeps coming into question, too.

But there's one thing that should keep them competitive against the Seahawks and others this season -- defense.

Last year's unit that was ranked 10th overall should be even better with the return of Jon Beason at linebacker and the addition of first-round pick Star Lotulelei to a strong defensive front. They should put above-average pressure on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.

By the way, I believe Wilson is the most likely of last year's star-studded rookie quarterback class to experience a sophomore slump. I don't even have Seattle winning the NFC West. That goes to San Francisco, ranked third in the Power Rankings.

Regardless, the Seahawks are loaded and the Panthers are full of question marks.

Seattle won this matchup 16-12 a year ago in Week 5 of a dreadful 1-6 start for the Panthers. This could be a similar type game, unless you based it on the Power Rankings.

That means it'll be a blowout.

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