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Week 1 NFL Power Rankings: Broncos start the season number one, Seahawks slip

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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

I am certain fans from around the league will criticize these rankings because the Seattle Seahawks did obliterate the Denver Broncos in the last meaningful game played in the NFL, but this is a new season and these are now completely different teams. The Seahawks are still good, but I do not believe they are as good as they were last year, while the Broncos have gotten deeper and much better. 2014 is going to be one hell of a year.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Preview

The NFL has much parity, but mostly in the middle where maybe half the league will finish .500 this season. The disparity comes from the upper crust and the bottom feeders, where it will be very easy for me to determine the rankings. If you disagree with a team ranking 21st, just know that they'd be one win away from ranking 13th given how close those teams are from a talent standpoint.

The "CHG" field is where they finished in 2013, so let's get to it. Welcome to the 2014 Regular Season Broncos fans!



Denver Broncos

So why are the Broncos ranked #1 in my NFL power rankings already? The answer is in how well the Broncos first team unit has dominated the first team units against supposed powerhouses in the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. Not only that, the Broncos on both sides of the ball suddenly found themselves some nasty that even those NFC West powerhouses can't seem to matchup against. Just ask Antoine Bethea.



Seattle Seahawks

At the conclusion of my 32 rankings in 32 days event after the 2014 NFL Draft, nearly 75% of voters believed the Seahawks were still the better team over the Broncos. However, since then the Seahawks have struggled on offense and defense in the preseason(troll) and appear to have some major holes to fill along both lines. Anyone putting them in the #1 spot is basing their opinion solely on how the played seven months ago in the Super Bowl. Sorry, but this is a completely different team and now everyone will be gunning for them.



New Orleans Saints

If there was one NFC team I could choose to take the conference title away from the Seahawks, it would be these New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees is as prolific a passer as there has ever been in the NFL and the team appears to be strong on defense. So strong, in fact, that they had to cut Champ Bailey. If 2013 was the year of the defense, it is certainly looking like 2014 is going to be the year of the offense.



Green Bay Packers

I had the Green Bay Packers ranked 4th in the preseason, because with Aaron Rogers at quarterback there is no way they could rank lower. The problem, however, is that this team just can't seem to stay healthy. Ever. It's already started too, with six players already on injured reserve before the season even starts. In fact, injured reserve was how the Packers got their team under the 75 player limit on the first cut day. Sheesh!



New England Patriots

The only way an AFC team will be able to stop these Broncos is by playing small ball. What I mean by that is an opponent must corral the offense completely and force a close defensive battle. I do not think the New England Patriots are built to achieve that and relying on the Broncos to beat themselves may work every now and then it won't work most of the time. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are going to be on the wrong side of this one again in 2014. Brady knows what its like to be left hanging.



San Francisco 49ers

Was there an elite team that had a worse preseason than these San Francisco 49ers? Not only did they get blanked 34-0 by the Broncos at their home opener, their players also apparently like beating up pregnant women. I had no choice but to drop them from a solid 3rd to 6th and I think I am being quite generous here. All that junk set aside, they are not playing like a cohesive offensive football team right now and could be in for a rough September.



Cincinnati Bengals

For some reason, Andy Dalton receives all of the blame for the Cincinnati Bengals inability to win playoff games since the 1980s. I wonder what the excuse will be once Dalton wins a playoff game. Probably something like, "Oh, he can't even win TWO playoff games ... what a loser!" Anyway, the AFC North really comes down to these Bengals and a retooled Baltimore Ravens squad. I'm not too excited about either of them.



Indianapolis Colts

A great quarterback can cover up a lot of organizational deficiencies and the Indianapolis Colts are the poster child for that having landed two great quarterbacks in a row to hide those issues for going on two decades now. So when "experts" come out and say the Colts are going to win it all, I laugh and look over the roster full of holes shaking my head. Who are these people?  Playoff team, yes. Super Bowl champion, no.



Philadelphia Eagles

We could be seeing the early stages of a Jimmy Johnson-like dynasty forming up with these Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly certainly surprised me and most of the league by having the kind of success he did in his rookie season and with the 4th most cap space in the NFL, the Eagles have the capital to seriously improve an already talented roster in 2015. The NFC better take notice!



Chicago Bears

It's hard to get excited about the Chicago Bears when Jay Cutler is the quarterback. The guy seems to know how to extricate a team from playoff contention in the final weeks better than any quarterback I've ever seen. Still, the weapons on offense should at least guarantee ten wins here, but ...



San Diego Chargers

Mike McCoy was a good hire for the San Diego Chargers and he has completely turned Philip Rivers around. This is a dangerous football team, but one that us Broncos fans won't really have to worry about until Peyton Manning retires. The Broncos could end up going 5-1 in their division again this year with the one loss being against these Chargers.



Atlanta Falcons

I was really high on the Atlanta Falcons last season and was horrified to see them tank so badly. Matt Ryan needs protection or he becomes ineffective. I'm not ready to re-anoint them AFC South contenders, but I think they will battle it out with the Carolina Panthers for that second place spot and potentially a Wild Card berth.



Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the more intriguing teams for me heading into the 2014 regular season. Just two years removed from winning the Super Bowl, this is almost a completely different roster now. Their young defense should be much better this season and Joe Flacco is elite, so the sky is the limit. :)



Carolina Panthers

It is historically difficult for great defensive units to put together back-to-back seasons of consistency, which is easily noted by the single Super Bowl victories of the '85 Bears, '00 Ravens, '02 Buccaneers - and soon the '13 Seahawks. It's just hard to keep winning on defense alone, even if you believe Cam Newton is a great quarterback. Some teams just have better Supermen.



Detroit Lions

Oh, those poor Detroit Lions fans. Matthew Stafford had you all believing playoff glory was at hand, only to choke badly down the stretch to finish not first, not second, but third place in the NFC North. I am also bitter because his play cost me money in my fantasy league, so yes, I am still bitter about it. I digress, the Lions should be a playoff team every single year, but I'm sure they will find a way to screw it up.



Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are caught in a death spiral of mediocrity. Bronco fans should be quite familiar with this as it was what Mike Shanahan finally led them into at the end of his tenure with the team. It will be at least a few more years of solid drafting - which I am not seeing from the front office - before the Steelers are truly relevant again. Ben Roethlisberger may not even see the playoffs again as a professional football player.



Arizona Cardinals

Pete Prisco has the Arizona Cardinals going 12-4 and winning the NFC West. Can I get a TROLOLOLOLOLOLOL? Seriously, 2013 was a fluke for this franchise and you will see them crash back to the mediocre part of the Earth in 2014. Sorry Cardinals fans, but its the truth!



Kansas City Chiefs

Oh, my favorite fanbase. Yes, I think your team is filled with a bunch of frauds. Thanks to how angry most of you were with me last year, I will be lapping up your tears all season long. It will be glorious. Did you know that Alex Smith is making just a few million less than Peyton Manning? HA!



Minnesota Vikings

Last season, I dissed the Minnesota Vikings hard after their surprising 10-6 playoff run in 2012. I took the heat, but in the end I was proven right. However, this year I am slowing becoming more optimistic about the direction of the team. They are young and they have dynamic potential at skill positions from Adrian Peterson at running back, Cordarrelle Patterson at wide receiver and Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, this franchise is poised for greatness in the years to come.



Miami Dolphins

Honestly, I hate talking about the other AFC East teams. Tom Brady and the Patriots have one nearly every division title over the last 15 years. So are the Miami Dolphins going to break through in 2014 and claim the title? LOL, no. They are a .500 football team.



Houston Texans

I started to get excited about the Houston Texans when I heard they traded for Ryan Mallett, but then I realized that every Belichick castaway from recent memory has been a complete bust for the team that made the deal. With Tom Brady nearing retirement, I doubt Belichick would deal a quarterback with any real potential at greatness. Which means it has come to the greatest beard in the NFL to bring the Texans to the promised land. Yeah, at least their defense is poised to be dominant in 2014!



New York Giants

FIVE and OH! Eli Manning and the New York Giants went undefeated in the preseason. This must mean they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Tell that to the 2008 Detroit Lions. Anyway, this team has some major issues and the biggest of which is Manning's apparent regression into Ryan Leaf-like accuracy issues. Tom Coughlin is not going to enjoy coaching this football team in 2014, but his Hall of Fame abilities will lift this train wreck to near .500 respectability before the seasons over with.



St. Louis Rams

Michael Sam was cut and the media frenzy pretty much scared away every other NFL club intrigued by his potential. All you have to do is look at how much negative publicity the Rams received after cutting the guy. It's a sad reality of the stupidity of the media today, but the St. Louis Rams simply didn't need another pass rushing defensive end for their already stacked defensive roster. The Rams just don't have any offense and they play in the NFC West. Ouch.



Tampa Bay Buccaneers

When a career backup quarterback is your team captain, things are not exactly looking good for a Super Bowl run. It also doesn't help that the other three teams in the division are legitimate playoff contenders. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a long way from competing for the NFC, but they have a chance to upset things for their rivals.



Tennessee Titans

The funniest part of this ranking doesn't even have to do with the Tennessee Titans. Rather it has to do with how the Titans are 4 point underdogs to the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead on Week 1. Since the home team gets 3 points automatically, it means Vegas thinks the Chiefs are just a single point better than the Titans. Ha. Ha. Ha.



Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins are facing a growing trend of journalists who refuse to mention their name ... the "Redskins". I think it's silly and something that will work itself out eventually. Unlike the Redskins quarterbacking situation where draft position is trumping talent when it comes to Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. If I were the Texans, I would have thrown a high draft pick their way for Cousins and made my plans for future Super Bowl appearances. I'm not the Texans though.



New York Jets

I am trying to figure out why I ranked the New York Jets this high and I am drawing a blank. Perhaps I just really wanted to disrespect the Dallas Cowboys or something. Anyway, the Jets have a terrible quarterback and it doesn't get any better from there. They play in the AFC East though, so they should win more games than they are worthy of winning.



Oakland Raiders

Up until today, I had the Oakland Raiders near the bottom of the league, but naming Derek Carr the starter over Matt Schuab has me thinking they might just be a little better than I initially thought they would be. A rookie quarterback will still struggle though, but I think they end up winning a game or two more than with Schuab starting under center.



Jacksonville Jaguars

This feels too high for the Jacksonville Jaguars, because Chad Henne isn't very good. The coaching staff is committed to being idiots, so who am I to argue for Blake Bortles rightfully starting having outplayed and outperformed Henne since day one? The countdown starts today for when Henne gets benched in favor of the better quarterback.



Dallas Cowboys

Oh man, the Dallas Cowboys are bad. Like historically bad. Like could go 0-16 if they didn't have a good quarterback like Tony Romo to steal a few victories bad. After an 0-4 preseason in which they had a -56 point differential in four games, they head into the regular season with a laughingstock of a defense. I just wish the Broncos played them this year. 51 points would be the low, I think.



Cleveland Browns

It's so bad for the Cleveland Browns, that the fans are beginning to look into the read option to cover how terrible Johnny Manziel is. I thought about embedding an image of Johnny Football rolling up a twenty for what could only be a line of coke, but figured that was too, uh, distasteful. So I'll link to it instead!



Buffalo Bills

The word on the street is that E.J. Manuel has seriously regressed as a quarterback, which does not bode well at all for this franchise. I hate that I have to say this, but their best option now is to start Kyle Orton week 1 and hope Manuel figures things out. Otherwise, hand the ball of to Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller every single freaking time.