2015 NFL Preseason Rankings
The 2015 NFL season is finally upon us. What’s the biggest storyline as we head into the season? No it’s not that Tom Brady had his suspension reversed (I mean, we all want cheaters to prosper, right?). No it’s not that Tim Tebow is once again jobless. And no, it’s not the return of Adrian Peterson. The biggest storyline, in my eyes, is the anterior cruciate ligament; commonly referred to as the ACL. More than two dozen players have suffered season ending injuries due to a torn ACL. What’s to blame? Is it reduced contact in practices? Is it too many preseason games? I don’t know the answer to that question, but what I do know is that injuries have become far too common, especially considering how many are the result of a non-contact play. It almost seems as if games are no longer decided by which team is best, but by which team is healthiest.This will be my seventh consecutive season bringing you weekly NFL power rankings and every year I try to add something to spice it up. Last year it was a section about what I thought would be the most entertaining game of the week. This year, I am going to provide my predictions for every Thursday Night, Sunday Night and Monday Night game of the season.
Thursday night pick: Patriots > Steelers
Sunday night pick: Giants > Cowboys
Monday night picks: Eagles > Falcons ; Vikings > 49ers
With that, here are the much awaited 2015 NFL preseason rankings as we head into Week 1:
- New England Patriots: Apparently playing for the Patriots isn’t “fun” according to Reggie Wayne. Then again, I guess cheating just isn’t for everyone.
- Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks added Jimmy Graham in the offseason but for some reason this team just doesn’t seem to be giving off the same vibe they have the past couple of years.
- Green Bay Packers: How do you follow up one of the biggest choke jobs in NFL Playoff history? Lose your best receiver to an ACL during the preseason. If any team can overcome such an injury, it’s the Packers but they can’t afford much more.
- Indianapolis Colts: The already impressive Colts added Frank Gore and Andre Johnson in the off season and are my pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. It all comes down to their defense in 2015.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers will be without Le’veon Bell and Martavis Bryant in the early going, but if they can survive the first few weeks, they could very well be a Super Bowl contender in 2016.
- Dallas Cowboys: Eight months later, and it still wasn’t a catch, Dallas fans. The Cowboys start the season with high expectations but what can be reasonably expected out of their running game?
- Denver Broncos: I think it goes without saying this is likely Peyton Manning’s last hurrah. But losing Julius Thomas to the Jaguars is going to have a much bigger impact than people think.
- Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens lost Torrey Smith to the 49ers and don’t have an overly physical running game. Joe Flacco is going to have to shoulder an even bigger load this season and I’m not sure that’s in Baltimore’s best interest.
- Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have looked good in the preseason, and if Sam Bradford can stay healthy, I really like the potential that this team has. The defense should be improved but in the end it will all come down the quarterback play.
- Detroit Lions: The Lions offense should continue to put up points so the defense will once again be the key for this team. The loss of Ndamukong Suh however will be tough to replace.
- Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals get Carson Palmer back which should increase their chances of overtaking the Seahawks for the division. The defense should again be the strength of this team but they will need Palmer to take care of the football.
- Kansas City Chiefs: The addition of Jeremy Maclin should do wonders for this team on the offensive side of the ball, so much so that I believe they will finish the season as AFC West champs.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Is this the year the Bengals put it all together and become a Super Bowl contender? I’m going with no, for the simple fact that it feels like this is about the fifth straight season in which that question has been asked about the Bengals.
- Carolina Panthers: Losing Kelvin Benjamin for the season is a monumental loss for this team. Cam Newton will have to shoulder the load and I’m just not sure they have enough firepower to be a playoff team. Their defense should be ranked in the top 10 but they are going to need to score 21+ per game on offense and I’m just not sure they have the talent to do it.
- Buffalo Bills: The Bills defense will once again be dominant but there are enormous question marks on offense. If they can find a way to score enough points, I believe they could have an outside chance of stealing the division away from the Patriots.
- San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are an interesting team this year. Antonio Gates is out for the first four games due to suspension, but that just means they will emphasize the running game a little more and we’ll get a very good idea as to how good Melvin Gordon could be. If he proves to be a #1 back, the Chargers could have one of the better offenses in the NFL.
- St. Louis Rams: That Rams defense should once again be ranked near the top, and as usual it will come down to their offense. With Nick Foles behind center, they should give themselves a chance to be a playoff team. However, they continue to lack weapons on the outside.
- Minnesota Vikings: If there is one team that missed the playoffs last year that has a chance this year, this is my pick. It all rests on the shoulders of Adrian Peterson, and with an entire year of rest, I like my chances.
- Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons’ season will rest on their defense. They have the weapons on offense but unless they can get stops, I don’t see them being better than .500 (which to be fair would have given them a home playoff game last year).
- New York Giants: If Victor Cruz returns to form, the Giants will have the best WR tandem in the league. Unfortunately, winning teams generally have a strong running game with a good defense, and I’m not sold that the Giants will have either.
- Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are starting to remind me of the Bengals. Year in and year out they seem to have all kinds of potential but it just doesn’t really go anywhere.
- Houston Texans: Even if Arian Foster makes it back from injury sooner rather than later, I don’t see this team being all that competitive in 2015. They could however have the best defensive line in football and if they can generate enough turnovers, anything is possible.
- New Orleans Saints: I anticipate the Saints moving up in the rankings fairly quickly, but without Jimmy Graham the offense just doesn’t scare me as it has in years past.
- Chicago Bears: This offense was easily top 10 with Brandon Marshall in the lineup but with him moving on to New York, Chicago’s offense slumps to the middle of the pack.
- Oakland Raiders: I could see this team winning seven or eight games this year and that would have to be considered a major win for this franchise.
- San Francisco 49ers: With the offseason this team had, there is absolutely no pressure on them. Which is exactly why I think they could surprise some people. Then again, maybe the only surprise will be that Colin Kaepernick is still a starting quarterback by the end of the season.
- Cleveland Browns: Other than Johnny Manziel, I’m not sure I can name anyone else on this team. That generally doesn’t bode well for a team’s playoff chances.
- New York Jets: Rex Ryan is gone, so there really isn’t anything of interest about this team to talk about. I expect them to finish in the cellar in the AFC East.
- Tennessee Titans: I’m anxious to see how Marcus Mariota translates into the NFL game, but with very little talent around him, it doesn’t seem as if we will be able to give him a fair assessment.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston was a winner in college, let’s see if that translates into the NFL. He has more talent around him than Mariota but also plays in a tougher division.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars recently traded their kicker, who may have been their best player. Then again, this is the same team that drafted a punter in the third round (a few slots ahead of Russell Wilson).
- Washington Redskins: What are the odds that the Redskins go the entire season ranked dead last? Probably roughly the same as RGIII never starting another game for them (in other words, pretty good).
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